Japan, U.S., South Korea to hold missile tracking drill amid North Korea crisis

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 08:04

Japan, U.S., South Korea to hold missile tracking drill amid North Korea crisis | 10 Dec 2017 | The United States, Japan and South Korea will hold two days of missile tracking drills starting on Monday, Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force said, as tensions rise in the region. The United States and South Korea conducted large-scale military drills last week, which the North said made the outbreak of war "an established fact". This week's exercises will be the sixth drills sharing information in tracking ballistic missiles [provoking war] among the three nations, the defense force said.

Categories: News

Roy Moore calls accuser a liar after she admits she added notes to his yearbook inscription

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 07:46

Roy Moore calls accuser a liar after she admits she added notes to his yearbook inscription | 08 Dec 2017 | U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama stepped up his attacks Friday on the integrity of a woman who says that he sexually assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old waitress at a restaurant where he often dined when he was a prosecutor in his 30s. The woman, Beverly Young Nelson, conceded in an ABC News interview that an inscription Moore wrote in her high school yearbook included notes she added under his signature. Moore, whose campaign already had suggested his signature in the yearbook had been forged, said Nelson's remarks to ABC proved she was lying. "Let's count how many national outlets will ignore the fact that she admits to lying," Moore wrote on Twitter.

Categories: News

The Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen Is Very Much the Result of a US-Saudi War

Truth Out - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 05:00

 Mohammed Hamoud / Getty Images)A boy walks on rubble of Yemen's State Satellite Television Station after it was targeted by airstrikes of the Saudi-led coalition on December 09, 2017 in Sana'a, Yemen. At least four journalists were killed by airstrikes hit the Yemen's State Satellite Television Station. (Photo: Mohammed Hamoud / Getty Images)

Janine Jackson: The enormity of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is staggering. At least 10,000 people have died in the last two years of Saudi war in the country, already among the poorest in the region. The UN says Yemen faces the worst famine the world has seen for decades, with at least 7 million people in need of immediate food aid. More than a half million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, and millions more lack access to any healthcare at all. This while Yemen faces an outbreak of cholera that's being called possibly the worst in history.

Yet Americans have heard little about what's happening in Yemen, and still less about how it relates to us. Shireen Al-Adeimi is a doctoral candidate and instructor at Harvard University, working to bring attention to the crisis. She joins us now by phone. Welcome to CounterSpin, Shireen Al-Adeimi.

Shireen Al-Adeimi: Thanks for having me.

It has been noted that US media are doing really very little, particularly television, on the ongoing disaster in Yemen. One outlet that did, CBS's 60 Minutes, reported compellingly, and under difficult journalistic conditions, about the famine and the bombing victims, and they indicated the Saudis as aggressors. But despite being a US program aimed at a US audience, 60 Minutes said not one word about US involvement, leaving the impression of a regional conflict, fitted into this familiar, reductive "Sunni versus Shia" framework. What would you have Americans understand about this country's role in the Yemen crisis?

Thanks for bringing up the CBS report, because that was a huge disappointment. It was just one opportunity for a mainstream audience in the US to learn, for the first time, perhaps, what is going on in Yemen, and what our role is especially. But it was quickly, like you said, characterized as a Sunni/Shia conflict, which is far from the truth. And not once was it mentioned that the US is, in fact, very much involved in Yemen, and has been from the onset of the war.

So when the Saudis decided to attack Yemen in March 2015, the Americans, under Obama's administration, were right there along with them in the command room, helping them with targeting practice, helping them with logistics and training. The US military refuels Saudi jets midair as they're bombing. And so we have been heavily involved, we've continued to be involved under Trump's administration, and this is, of course, in addition to the billions in weapons sales that have occurred over the past couple of years.

There also is the role that the US plays in shielding Saudi Arabia at the UN, isn't there?

Exactly. Over and over, the UN has failed to really take any decisive stance against Saudi Arabia. In fact, there have been some really outrageous moves. For example, they've been allowed to investigate their own crimes in Yemen, and of course they come out, months later, saying that they were cleared. So it's just been an absurd game that they're playing in the UN, and people's lives are at stake here. And we've been shielding them from any independent investigation.

The latest headlines are about an easing of the Saudi blockade, with some food and vaccines coming through, but we're told not really to take that as a sign of real easing of the hardship there.

Not at all. So it's trickling in; whatever aid is coming right now is trickling in. And like you mentioned, 7 million people are in desperate need of that aid. You know, they need it immediately. But then you also have 20 million people who need food who can't afford what little food remains in the country. And so we don't only need aid coming in, but we need trade. And in fact we can't be begging the Saudi-led coalition to make these positions and [allow them] to hold an entire country hostage and to use starvation as a war tactic. In fact, we should be demanding that they end this intervention in Yemen, so that people can go back to their lives, and try to rebuild and deal with their internal conflicts.

The New York Times had a piece on November 22 that talked about how this isn't any sort of natural disaster. It used the phrases "when food is a weapon," "when disease is no accident," and "when civilians are targeted." And it even noted:

United Nations experts have warned that some of the actions carried out by the warring parties, the Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, could amount to crimes against humanity because of their systematic and widespread execution.

Still, that seems to me to be, at most, talking about the US pressing the Saudis, and not about US citizens pressing their own lawmakers here.

Exactly. This is presented as an equivalent war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and again it couldn't be further from the truth. There's very little evidence that Iran is involved at all in Yemen. And the way Yemenis see it is that this is very much a US/Saudi war on Yemen, with the help of other regional powers. And so to characterize this as something that's just happening over there in a foreign land, and we're trying to put an end to it, that's really not the case. We are at the center of this, and if our citizens don't really know our involvement, then there's no hope for us to be politically involved to try to push our elected officials to do something about our role in Yemen.

We have of course Donald Trump bragging about $110 billion of arm sales to Saudi Arabia, which the best thing you can say is that he's probably lying about that amount. But at the same time, the House of Representatives, they passed this resolution stating that US military assistance to Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen is not authorized under this authorization for use of military force, this post-9/11 legislation. Now, it's nonbinding, it doesn't actually stop the support, but it does acknowledge the US role. How meaningful do you think that resolution is?

So the problem with that resolution is that it was a compromise resolution. The previous resolution was House Concurrent Resolution 81, which actually called for the US to stop helping Saudi Arabia in any way, shape or form. And that was proposed by Congressman Ro Khanna in California. Basically he had invoked the War Powers Resolution, which meant that it had to go to vote, and they had to debate it in the House. But it was quickly stripped of its privileged status, and they had to negotiate this compromise bill that was, like you said, nonbinding. And, yes, it acknowledged that this war is unauthorized, but it doesn't mean anything for US involvement in Yemen; nothing changes. We continue helping the Saudis without any repercussions.

And am I right that there is nothing in the Senate that's comparable?

There's nothing in the Senate right now. There are a couple of senators who've been vocal against this, so Sen. Chris Murphy, for example. We need senators to introduce legislation that would extricate the US from the war on Yemen.

I read some of the comments after your appearance on the Real News, and one of them said, well, yes, you've outlined the suffering in Yemen, but what about the root causes? And what I hear in that is a suggestion that there could be some political or strategic consideration that would somehow make 7 million starving people make sense.

Of course the US has interests in the region. Yemen is at a strategic location at the Red Sea and it's at the Bab al Mandab Strait, and there's some oil barrels that go through there every day; not many in the grand scheme of things, but still, the US has interests there. And Saudi Arabia, of course, has always wanted to maintain control in Yemen, and they've been involved in Yemen's various wars and internal politics over the years.

But this comes down to this alliance between Saudi Arabia and the United States that we refuse to even reconsider given the tremendous humanitarian impact in Yemen. This is not just, as I think the Saudis had imagined, a war that was going to end in a couple of weeks, where they were going to come bomb, and leave, and things were going to go back to normal for them. They didn't anticipate that this was going to drag on for two years and eight months now.

So we should be reconsidering our help with the Saudis. We're not just selling weapons; like you said, we're so involved in many ways. And every ten minutes, a child is dying, 130 children are dying every single day. Sixty-three thousand children died last year, 50,000 more died this year. So the numbers are incredible, and the suffering is just horrendous. At what point do we stop and say, well, maybe we should reconsider this alliance, because it's not helping anyone?

To the extent that that 60 Minutes segment referenced a US role, it was by spotlighting the American who heads the UN's World Food Program. So if anything, we're sort of the heroes of the piece. I have a concern that even as headlines come in about people dying, about cholera, that Americans will then talk about the need for the US to "take action," you know, as if we weren't taking action now. So to be clear, if the US were to cut off the refueling and the targeting aid and the shielding at the UN, it would change the situation here?

Absolutely. Yemenis are not asking the US to come and save them from Saudi Arabia. We have to be very clear about that. We're not asking for intervention. We're asking for them to stop this intervention, to remove themselves from this conflict, to stop interfering in the politics of Yemen and causing this egregious humanitarian suffering by helping the Saudis at all these levels.

And so if the US were to stop, like you said, refueling, shielding the UN -- there are even reports that they're helping impose the blockade -- if we stop all of this, then there's no way that the Saudis can continue this war much longer, because they're so incredibly dependent on the US's support.

So if people are looking for something to do right now, in response to this information, what would you recommend?

I'd recommend that people call their senators and their congressmen, email them, visit their local offices, and really urge them to introduce or support legislation like House Concurrent Resolution 81, that really pushes the US to stop its support of the Saudi Arabians in their war against Yemen.

We've been speaking with Shireen Al-Adeimi. Her October article, "Only Americans Can Stop America's War on Yemen," can be found on Common Dreams. Shireen Al-Adeimi, thank you very much for joining us this week on CounterSpin.

Thank you so much for having me.

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Categories: News

Henry A. Giroux on Developing a Language of Liberation for Radical Transformation

Truth Out - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 05:00

At the moment, people in the US are enduring a numbing assault from an authoritarianism brought to full fruition under Donald Trump. However, a galvanizing hope can shape a new vision and activism that will be transformative in the battle against an oppressive capitalism, says author and scholar Henry A. Giroux, who talked to Truthout about his new book, The Public in Peril.

Hundreds of University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee students protest a Trump campaign rally on their campus, January 1, 2014. Protests by young people could become illegal in the future, according to Henry A. Giroux.Hundreds of University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee students protest a Trump campaign rally on their campus, January 1, 2014. Protests by young people could become illegal in the future, according to Henry A. Giroux. (Image: Joe Brusky / Flickr)

What are the longer-term trends that gave rise to the presidency of Donald Trump? What will be the national and global impacts? And what do we need to do to resist? Henry A. Giroux tackles these questions in The Public in Peril: Trump and the Menace of American Authoritarianism. "This courageous and timely book is the first and best book on Trump's neo-fascism in the making," says Cornel West. To order your copy, click here and make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout now!

Confronted with the rise of an authoritarian society affecting all institutions and individuals, there is a need for resistance based on radical transformation, says Henry A. Giroux in this interview about The Public in Peril. This resistance is embodied in mass action and a vision to achieve the hope of a life beyond capitalism.

Mark Karlin: What is the impact of domestic terrorism and authoritarianism on young people?

Henry A. Giroux: Under the authoritarian reign of Donald Trump, finance capitalism now drives politics, governance and policy in unprecedented ways and is more than willing to sacrifice the future of young people for short-term political and economic gains, regardless of the talk in the mainstream media about the need to not burden future generations with heavy tuition debt and a future of low-wage jobs. American society has declared war on its children, offering a disturbing index of a social order in the midst of a deep moral and political crisis. Too many young people today live in an era of foreclosed hope, an era in which it is difficult either to imagine a life beyond the tenets of a market-driven society or to transcend the fear that any attempt to do so can only result in a more dreadful nightmare.

Young people are not only written out of the future ... but are now considered a threat to the future.

Youth today are not only plagued by the fragility and uncertainty of the present, they are, as the late Zygmunt Bauman has argued, "the first post war generation facing the prospect of downward mobility [in which the] plight of the outcast stretches to embrace a generation as a whole." It is little wonder that "these youngsters are called Generation Zero: A generation with Zero opportunities, Zero future," and Zero expectations. Youth have become the new precariat, whose future has been sacrificed to the commands of capital and the financial elite. Moreover, as the social state is decimated, youth, especially those marginalized by race and class, are also subject to the dictates of the punishing state. Not only is their behavior being criminalized in the schools and on the streets, they are also subject to repressive forms of legislation aimed at removing crucial social provisions. At the same time, undocumented immigrant youth called Dreamers, brought to the United States by their parents as children, are now being threatened by legislation designed to expel them from the United States, the only home they have known since early childhood.

 Courtesy of the author)Henry A. Giroux. (Photo: Courtesy of the author)

Beyond exposing the moral depravity of a society that fails to provide for its youth, the symbolic and real violence waged against many young people bespeaks to nothing less than a perverse collective death-wish -- especially visible when youth protest their conditions. We live in an era in which there is near zero tolerance for peaceful demonstrations on the part of young and a willingness by the government to overlook the crimes of bankers, hedge fund managers, and other members of the corporate elite who steal untold amounts of wealth, affecting the lives of millions. How else to explain the fact that at least 25 states are sponsoring legislation that would make perfectly legal forms of protest a crime that carries a huge fine or subjects young people to possible felony charges?

The Trump administration needs education to fail because it fears the possibility of educated citizens developing the capacities necessary to meet the challenges of authoritarianism.

If youth were once the repository of society's dreams, that is no longer true. Increasingly, young people are viewed as a public disorder, a dream now turned into a nightmare. Many youth live in a post-9/11 social order that positions them as a prime target of its governing through [the] crime complex. This is made obvious by the many "get tough" policies that now render young people as criminals, while depriving them of basic health care, education and social services. Punishment and fear have replaced compassion and social responsibility as the most important modalities for mediating the relationship of youth to the larger social order, all too evident by the upsurge of zero tolerance laws along with the expanding reach of the punishing state. When the criminalization of social problems becomes a mode of governance and war its default strategy, youth are reduced to soldiers or targets -- not social investments. Young people are not only written out of the future ... but are now considered a threat to the future. Too many youth are now removed from any discourse about democracy and increasingly fall prey to what I call the "war on youth." The war on youth can best be understood through two concepts: the soft war and the hard war, [both] of which have been intensified under Trump's presidency.

The soft war involves the temptation and manufactured seductions of desire, and refers to the unyielding depoliticization and commodification of youth, waged through the unrelenting expansion of a global market society. Partnered with a massive advertising machinery, the soft war targets all children and youth, treating them as yet another "market" to be commodified and exploited, and conscripting them into the system through relentless attempts to create a new generation of hyper-consumers. In this instance, young people are not only viewed as consumers but also as embodied brands. Caught in the intrusive new technologies of advertising and public relations, there is no space for young people to be free of the commercial carpet-bombing they are forced to endure. Hence, their subjectivity, desires and ways of relating to others are endlessly commodified so that their presence in the world is marked by the fact that they are either selling a product (which they inhabit) or buying one. The soft war is rooted in neoliberal disimagination zones, which makes it more difficult for young people to find public spheres where they can locate themselves and translate metaphors of hope into meaningful action. The dystopian dreamscapes that make up a neoliberal society are built on the promises of uncomplicated consumption, an assumption that is both dehumanizing and central to the war waged by an authoritarian society on critical agency, the radical imagination, and visions of a more just society. Agency and self-renewal are increasingly limited to a sphere of raw consumption and change to the empty vocabulary of fashion and lifestyles. In a society of mass consumption, shallowness becomes a strength and the mythology of American innocence becomes a blinding storm.

Under Donald Trump, the ideology and violence associated with white supremacy has been moved from the margins to the center of power in the United States.

The hard war is about coercion and is a more serious and dangerous development for young people, especially those who are marginalized by their ethnicity, race and class. The hard war refers to the harshest elements of a growing youth-crime-control complex that operates through a logic of punishment, surveillance and repression. The young people targeted by its punitive measures are often poor minority youth who are considered failed consumers and who can only afford to live on the margins of a commercial culture that excludes anyone who lacks money, resources and leisure time to spare. Or they are youth considered uneducable and unemployable, therefore troublesome. The imprint of the youth-crime-control complex can be traced to the increasingly popular practice of organizing schools through disciplinary practices that subject students to constant surveillance through high-tech security devices while imposing on them harsh, and often thoughtless, zero-tolerance policies that closely resemble measures used currently by the criminal [legal] system. In this instance, poor and minority youth become objects of a new mode of governance based on decisions made by a visionless managerial elite. Punished if they don't show up at school, and punished even if they do attend school, many of these students are funneled into what has been ominously called the "school-to-prison pipeline." If middle- and upper-class kids are subject to the seductions of market-driven public relations, working class youth are caught in the crosshairs between the arousal of commercial desire and the harsh impositions of securitization, surveillance and policing.

How does neoliberalism affect higher education?

Higher education in our politically desperate age is threatened by a legacy that it does not dare to name and that legacy with its eerie resonance with an authoritarian past asserts itself, in part, with the claim that education is failing and democracy is an excess. The Trump administration needs education to fail in a very particular way, because it fears the possibility of educated citizens developing the capacities, intellectual and ethical, necessary to meet the challenges of authoritarianism. Hostile to its role as a public good and democratic sphere, it is attempting to reshape education according to the market-driven logic of neoliberalism with its emphasis on privatization, commodification, deregulation, fear and managerialism. Under neoliberalism, the market becomes a template for all of social life and not just the economy. Commercial values are the only values that matter, and the only stories that matter are written in the language of finance, profit and the economy. Under such circumstances, higher education is threatened for its potential role as a public sphere capable of educating students as informed, critical thinkers capable of not only holding power accountable but also fulfilling the role of critical agents who can act against injustice and resist diverse forms of oppression. The criminogenic machinery of power has now reached the highest levels of the US government, and in doing so, it is changing not just the language of educational reform, but also making it difficult for faculty and students to resist their own erasure from modes of self-governance and a critical education.

To read more articles by Henry A. Giroux and other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.

The killing of people abroad based on race is paralleled by (and connected with) the killing of Black people at home.

New forms of exclusion, unbridled commodification, and exclusion rooted in a retreat from ethics, the social imagination, and democracy itself weakens the role higher education might take in an age of increasing tyranny. Against the force of a highly militarized mode of casino capitalism in which violence is at the center of power, higher education is being weakened in its ability to resist the authoritarian machinery of social death now shaping American society. Neoliberalism views higher education in strictly economic terms and rejects any notion of higher education as a democratic public sphere -- as a space in which education enables students to be critical thinkers, learn how to take risks, hold power accountable, and develop a sense of moral and political agency through which they learn to respect the rights and perspectives of others. Under the regime of neoliberalism in the United States and in many other countries, many of the problems facing higher education can be linked to eviscerated funding models, the domination of these institutions by market mechanisms, the rise of for-profit colleges, the rise of charter schools, the intrusion of the national security state, and the slow demise of faculty self-governance, all of which make a mockery of the meaning and mission of the university as a democratic public sphere. With the onslaught of neoliberal austerity measures, the mission of higher education has been transformed from educating citizens to training students for the workforce. Students are viewed as clients and customers, and the culture of business replaces any vestige of democratic governance. At the same time, faculty are reduced to degrading labor practices and part-time contracts, administrators are reduced to a visionless managerial class, the college and university presidents inhabit the role of CEOs.

Rather than enlarge the moral imagination and critical capacities of students, too many universities are now wedded to producing would-be hedge fund managers and depoliticized workers, and creating modes of education that promote a "technically trained docility." Strapped for money and increasingly defined in the language of corporate culture, many universities are now driven principally by vocational, military and economic considerations while increasingly removing academic knowledge production from democratic values and projects. The ideals of higher education as a place to think, to promote critical dialogue and teach students to cultivate their ethical relation with others are viewed as a threat to neoliberal modes of governance. At the same time, education is seen by the apostles of market fundamentalism as a space for producing profits and educating a supine and fearful labor force that will exhibit the obedience demanded by the corporate order. The modern loss of faith in the marriage of education and democracy needs to be reclaimed, but that will only happen if the long legacy of struggle over education is once again brought to life as part of a more comprehensive understanding of education as being central to politics, and learning as a vital component of social change.

What has been the impact of the political triumph of white supremacism and racial cleansing?

Under Donald Trump, the ideology and violence associated with white supremacy has been moved from the margins to the center of power in the United States. Trump not only courts the favor of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, militiamen and other right-wing racist groups, he panders to them as central elements of his base. How else to explain his racist travel bans, his unremitting attacks on Black athletes and his constant equating of Black communities with the culture of violence and criminality? Or, for that matter, Trump's ramping up of the police state and his ongoing assertion that his presidency strongly endorses a platform of law and order. The current mobilization of fear and moral panics has its roots in and feeds off of a legacy of white supremacy that is used to divert anger over dire economic and political conditions into the diversionary cesspool of racial hatred. It might be best to understand Trump's racism as part of a broader movement of white supremacy across the globe, with its attack on immigrants and its emulation of fascist ideology and social relations. Throughout Europe, fascism and white supremacy in their diverse forms are on the rise. In Greece, France, Poland, Austria and Germany, among other nations, right-wing extremists have used the hateful discourse of racism, xenophobia and white nationalism to demonize immigrants and undermine democratic modes of rule and policies.

Much of the right-wing, racist rhetoric coming out of these countries mimics what Trump and his followers are saying in the United States. One outcome is that the public spheres that produce a critically engaged citizenry and make a democracy possible are under siege and in rapid retreat. Economic stagnation, massive inequality, the rise of religious fundamentalism and growing forms of ultra-nationalism now aim to put democratic nations to rest. Echoes of the right-wing movements in Europe have come home with a vengeance. Demagogues wrapped in xenophobia, white supremacy and the false appeal to a lost past echo a brutally familiar fascism, with slogans similar to Donald Trump's call to "Make America Great Again" and "Make America Safe Again."

Fascism in its various forms is about social and racial cleansing.

Trump's insistence on racial profiling echoes increasing calls among European right-wing extremists to legitimate a police state where refugees and others are viewed as a threat, unwanted and disposable. How else to explain Trump's insistence on reintroducing nationwide "stop and frisk policies" after the demonstrations in Charlottesville, North Carolina over the police killing of an African American, Keith Lamont Scott, in September of 2016? Trump willingly reproduces similar right-wing ideologies such as those condemning and demonizing Syrian and other immigrants trying to reach Europe. He does so by producing panic-ridden taunts, tweets and executive orders whose aim is to generate mass anxiety and legitimate policies that mimic forms of ethnic and social cleansing. Trump joins a growing global movement of racial exclusion, one that is on the march spewing hatred, embracing forms of anti-Semitism, white supremacy and a deep-seated disdain for any form of justice on the side of democracy.

State-manufactured lawlessness has become normalized and extends from the ongoing and often brutalizing, and sometimes lethal, police violence against Black people and other vulnerable groups to a criminogenic market-based system run by a financial elite that strips everyone but the upper 1 percent of a future by stealing not only their possessions but also by condemning them to a life in which the only available option is to fall back on one's individual resources in order to barely survive. At the national level, lawlessness now drives a militarized foreign policy intent on assassinating alleged enemies rather than using traditional forms of interrogation, arrest and conviction. The killing of people abroad based on race is paralleled by (and connected with) the killing of Black people at home. Trump is now a major player in shaping a world that has become a battlefield driven by racism and a stark celebration of apocalyptic nationalism -- a zone of social abandonment where lethal violence replaces the protocols of justice, civil rights and democracy.

Fear is the reigning ideology, and war its operative mode of action, pitting different groups against each other, shutting down the possibilities of shared responsibilities, and legitimating the growth of a paramilitary police force that kills Black people with impunity. State-manufactured fear offers up new forms of domestic terrorism embodied in the rise of a surveillance state while providing a powerful platform for militarizing many aspects of society. One result is that [the US] has become a warrior society in which the state and civil society are organized through the practice of violence. One consequence is that Trump's white supremacist attitudes have emboldened violence against minorities ... and has given new life to neo-Nazi groups throughout the United States. As the culture of fear is racialized, compassion gives way to suspicion and a demonstration of revulsion accorded to those others who are demonized as monsters, criminals, or even worse, bloodthirsty terrorists. Under such circumstance, the bonds of trust dissolve, while hating the other becomes normalized and lawlessness is elevated to a matter of common sense.

Hannah Arendt once wrote that terror was the essence of totalitarianism. She was right, and we are now witnessing the dystopian visions of the new authoritarians who trade in terror, fear, hatred, demonization, violence and racism. Trump and his neo-Nazi bulldogs are no longer on the fringe of political life and they have no interests in instilling values that will "make America great" (code for white). On the contrary, they are deeply concerned with creating expanding constellations of force and fear, while inculcating convictions that will destroy the ability to form the formative cultures that make a democracy possible. Fascism in its various forms is about social and racial cleansing, and its end point is the prison, gated communities, walls and all the murderous detritus that accompanies the discourse of national greatness and racial purity. This will be Trump's legacy.

What is the impact of a war culture on society?

War culture has been transformed in American culture -- moving from a source of alarm to a celebrated source of pride and national identity. War has been redefined in the United States in the age of global neoliberal capitalism. No longer defined exclusively as a military issue, it has replaced democratic idealism and expanded its boundaries, shaping all aspects of society. Evidence of a war culture can be seen in the war on civil liberties, youth, voting rights, civic institutions, the poor, immigrants, Muslims and poor Black communities. The distinction between war and peace, the military and civil society, soldiers and the police, criminal behavior and military transgression, internal and external security, and violence and entertainment are collapsing.

As violence and politics merge to produce an accelerating and lethal mix of bloodshed, pain, suffering, grief and death, the US has morphed into a war culture and reached a point where politics becomes an extension of war and war culture the foundation for politics itself. The violence produced by a war culture has become a defining feature of American society, providing a common ground for the production of violence at home and abroad. Militarism now pervades American society and increasingly organizes civil society mostly for the production of violence. Entrenched militarism now exercises a powerful influence on schools, an expanding police state, airports, a ballooning military budget and a foreign policy saturated in war and violence. Even universities are now intimately linked through research with the military.

What Steve Martinot calls a "political culture of hyper punitiveness" serves not only to legitimate a neoliberal culture in which cruelty is viewed as virtue, but also a racist system of mass incarceration that functions as a default welfare program and the chief mechanism to "institutionalize obedience." It should come as no surprise that many states, including California, spend more on prison construction than on higher education. The police state increasingly targets poor people of color, turning their neighborhoods into war zones, all the while serving a corporate state that has no concern whatsoever for the social costs inflicted on millions because of its predatory policies and practices.

At a policy level, a defense and arms industry fuels violence abroad, while domestically, a toxic gun culture profits from the endless maiming and deaths of individuals at home. Similarly, a militaristic foreign policy has its domestic counterpart in the growth of a carceral state used to enforce a hyped-up brand of domestic terrorism, especially against Black youth and various emerging protest movements in the United States. At the current moment, the United States is circling the globe with air bases and using its military power to bully and threaten other nations. War culture is the new normal, especially under Trump, and is sustained by media apparatuses that spectacularize the violence of a war culture while turning it into the defining feature of mass entertainment. At the same time, the extreme violence produced by a gun culture no longer becomes a source of alarm but is privileged as a source of profit for arms manufactures and the entertainment industries which extend from Hollywood films to the selling of violent video games to teenagers.

The US has morphed into a war culture and reached a point where politics becomes an extension of war and war culture the foundation for politics itself.

Americans are terrified by the threat of terrorism and its ensuing violence; yet, they are more than willing to protect laws that privilege the largely unchecked circulation of guns and the toxic militarized culture of violence that amounts to "58 people who die a day because of firearms." Moreover, as the important distinctions between war and civil society collapse, contemporary institutions become more militarized. For instance, the prison becomes a model for other institutions in which the boundaries disappear between the innocent and guilty, and public safety is defined increasingly as a police matter. At the same time, policies are militarized so as to suggest that state violence is the most important way to address an increasing range of problems extending from drug addiction and homelessness to school truancy. The police are militarized and now function as soldiers; students are viewed as criminals; and cities are transformed into combat zones. Under a war culture, neoliberal society not only creates numerous spaces of repression, insecurity and violence, it also functions as a kind of delegated vigilantism policing both bodies of the Other and boundaries of thought, while limiting questions that can be raised about the use of power in the United States and its role in expanding the reach of a punishing state and domestic violence.        

What do you recommend to instill courage in people who are dismayed and dejected in an age of full-blown state violence?

It is easy to despair in times of tyranny, but it is much more productive to be politically and morally outraged and to draw upon such anger as a source of hope and action. Without hope, even in the most dire of times, there is no possibility for resistance, dissent and struggle. A critical consciousness is the prerequisite for informed agency and hope is the basis for individual and collective resistance. Moreover, when combined with collective action, hope translates into a dynamic sense of possibility, enabling one to join with others for the long haul of fighting systemic forms of domination. Courage in the face of tyranny is a necessity and not an option, and we can learn both from the past and the present about resistance movements and the power of civic courage and collective struggle, and how such modes of resistance are emerging among a number of groups across a wide variety of landscapes. What is crucial is the need not to face such struggles alone, not allow ourselves to feel defeated in our isolation, and to refuse a crippling neoliberal survival-of-the-fittest ethos that dominates everyday relations.

Radical politics begins when one refuses to face one's fate alone, learns about the workings and mechanisms of power, and rejects the dominant mantra of social isolation. There is strength in numbers. One of the most important things we can do to sustain a sense of courage and dignity is to imagine a new social order. That is, we must constantly work to revive the radical imagination by talking with others in order to rethink politics anew, imagine what a new politics and society would look like, one that is fundamentally anti-capitalist, and dedicated to creating the conditions for new democratic political and social formations. This suggests contending with and struggling against the forces that gave rise to Trump, particularly those that suggest that totalitarian forms are still with us. Rethinking politics anew also suggests the possibility of building broad-based alliances in order to create a robust economic and political agenda that connects democracy with a serious effort to interrogate the sources and structures of inequality, racism and authoritarianism that now plague the United States. This points to opening up new lines of understanding, dialogue and radical empathy. It means, as the philosopher George Yancy suggests, "learning how to love with courage." A nonviolent movement for democratic socialism does not need vanguards, political purity or the seductions of ideological orthodoxy. On the contrary, it needs a politics without guarantees, one that is open to new ideas, self-reflection and understanding. Instead of ideologies of certainty, unchecked moralism and a politics of shaming, we need to understand the conditions that make it possible for people to internalize forms of domination, and that means interrogating forgotten histories and existing pedagogies of oppression. Recent polls indicate that two-thirds of Americans say this is the lowest point in American politics that they can recall. Such despair offers the possibility of a pedagogical intervention, one that provides a political opening to create a massive movement for resistance in the United States.

Rebecca Solnit has rightly argued that while we live in an age of despair, hope is a gift that we cannot surrender because it amplifies the power of alternative visions, offers up stories in which we can imagine the unimaginable, enables people to "move from depression to outrage," and positions people to take seriously what they are for and what they are against. This suggests trying to understand how the very processes of learning constitute the political mechanisms through which identities -- individual and collective -- are shaped, desired, mobilized and take on the worldly practices of autonomy, self-reflection and self-determination as part of a larger struggle for economic and social justice. 

How do we develop a new "language of liberation"?

First, it is crucial to develop a language in which it becomes possible to both imagine a future much different from the present. Second, it is crucial to develop a discourse of critique and possibility that refuses both to normalize existing relations of domination and control, and rejects the notion that capitalism and democracy are viewed as synonymous. It would be wise to heed the words of National Book Award winner Ursula K. Le Guin when she says, "We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable -- but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings." Third, it is imperative to reject the notion that all problems are individual issues and can only be solved as a matter of individual action and responsibility. All three of these assumptions serve to depoliticize people and erase both what it means to make power visible and to organize collectively to address such problems. Fourth, there is a need, I believe, for a discourse that is historical, relational and comprehensive. Memory matters both in terms of reclaiming lost narratives of struggle and for assessing visions, strategies and tactics that still hold enormous possibilities in the present.

Developing a relational discourse means connecting the dots around issues that are often viewed in isolated terms. For instance, one cannot study the attack on public schools and higher education as sutured internal issues that focus exclusively on the teaching methods and strategies. What is needed are analyses that link such attacks to the broader issue of inequality, the dynamics of casino capitalism and the pervasive racism active in promoting new forms of segregation both within and outside of schools. A comprehensive politics is one that does at least two things. On the one hand, it tries to understand a plethora of problems, from massive poverty to the despoiling of the planet, within a broader understanding of politics. That is, it connects the dots among diverse forms of oppression. In this instance, the focus is on the totality of politics, one that focuses on the power relations of global capitalism, the rise of illiberal democracy, the archives of authoritarianism and the rise of financial capital. A totalizing view of oppression allows the development of a language that is capable of making visible the ideological and structural forces of the new forms of domination at work in the United States and across the globe. On the other hand, such a comprehensive understanding of politics makes it possible to bring together a range of crucial issues and movements so as to expand the range of oppressions, while at the same time, providing a common ground for these diverse groups to be able to work together in the interest of the common good and a broad struggle for democratic socialism.

Finally, any viable language of emancipation needs to develop a discourse of educated hope. Naming what is wrong in a society is important, but it is not enough, because such criticism can sometimes be overpowering and lead to a paralyzing despair or, even worse, a crippling cynicism. Hope speaks to imagining a life beyond capitalism, and combines a realistic sense of limits with a lofty vision of demanding the impossible. As Ariel Dorfman has argued, progressives need a language that is missing from our political vocabulary, one that insists that "alternative worlds are possible, that they are within reach if we're courageous enough, and smart enough, and daring enough to take control of our own lives." Reason, justice and change cannot blossom without hope because educated hope taps into our deepest experiences and longing for a life of dignity with others, a life in which it becomes possible to imagine a future that does not mimic the present.

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I am not referring to a romanticized and empty notion of hope, but to a notion of informed hope that faces the concrete obstacles and realities of domination, [that] continues the ongoing task of realizing a future in which matters of justice, equality, freedom and joy matter. Casino capitalism is a toxin that has created a predatory class of unethical zombies -- who are producing dead zones of the imagination and massive ecologies of immiseration that even Orwell could not have envisioned, while waging a fierce fight against the possibilities of a democratic future. The time has come to develop a political language in which civic values, social responsibility and the institutions that support them become central to invigorating and fortifying a new era of civic imagination, a renewed sense of social agency and an impassioned international social movement with a vision, organization and set of strategies to challenge the neoliberal nightmare engulfing the planet. Such a strategy would have to revive the radical imagination and the task of thinking about a future without capitalism and oppression, launch a comprehensive education program to provide alternative narratives, memories and histories that enable the capacities for informed judgment, ethical responsibilities and civic courage, and last but not least, create those alternative public spheres where a new conversation can be opened up about the creation of a new progressive and socialist political formation. As Marx said, there is nothing to lose but our chains.

Categories: News

The Most Dire Climate Change Predictions Are Also the Most Accurate, Warns New Study

Truth Out - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 05:00

 Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)A resident packs her car as the Thomas Fire approaches the town of La Conchita early on December 7, 2017. A new study suggests that the planet is far likelier to become four degrees Celsius warmer by 2100 than previously thought. (Photo: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

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Climate change is occurring at a faster rate than has previously been predicted, according to a new study which suggests that the most extreme estimates of the effects of global warming are likelier than more optimistic predictions.

With the current level of greenhouse gas emissions remaining steady, researchers say, there is a 93 percent chance that the planet will be more than four degrees Celsius warmer than it is now by 2100. Earlier estimates held that there was about a 62 percent chance of this level of warming.

An earth that's four degrees warmer than it is today would bring severe prolonged heat waves and would likely eliminate coral reefs and small islands as a result of sea levels rising.

The study, published in Nature and completed by Patrick Brown and Ken Caldeira at the Carnegie Institution for Science, suggests that the world's "carbon budget" is smaller than has previously been thought and that carbon emissions must go down faster than previous studies have found.

The Paris Agreement on climate change, reached in 2015 by nearly 200 countries, holds that the governments must do their part to keep the earth from warming more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels—but according to Brown and Caldeira, the possibility that this goal is achievable is overly ambitious.

As Professor Mark Maslin, a climatologist at University College London, told the Independent in response to the study, "To achieve these targets the climate negotiations must ensure that the global emissions-cuts start as planned in 2020 and continue every single year thereafter."

Brown and Caldeira examined climate change models that have been used to predict the future of the planet based on its atmospheric conditions and compared them with recent satellite images of the atmosphere. The models that gave the most accurate predictions tended to show more warming of the planet in the future compared to those with more optimistic estimates.

"The basic idea is that we have a range of projections on future warming that came from these climate models, and for scientific interest and political interest, we wanted to narrow this range," said Brown. "We find that the models that do the best at simulating the recent past project more warming."

The researchers say their findings challenge the objections climate change deniers have put forth regarding the climate models that are used to predict global warming. Some have argued that since not all of the models have the same predictions, the science of climate change is up for debate.

"This study undermines that logic," Brown told the MIT Technology Review. "There are problems with climate models, but the ones that are most accurate are the ones that produce the most warming in the future."

On social media, observers highlighted the urgency of the study and called for an end to right-wing denials of climate science.

Yup, climate science is biased - it has consistently underestimated the risks. Time to wake up people! #climatechange

— Eric Beinhocker (@EricBeinhocker) December 7, 2017

Oh dear, 93% chance that global warming will exceed 4C by end of century! We need to act fast rather than just continuing ignoring it. #ClimateChange #GlobalWarming

— Laurie Ison (@Laurie_Ison) December 7, 2017

Every time scientists re-evaluate #globalwarming, things are worse than their previous worst case scenarios. Yet #Trump wants to help out one of his donors by allowing him to restart his old outdated coal-powered power plants.

— TruthBwana (@TruthBwana) December 7, 2017
Categories: News

Trump's Assault on National Monuments, in the Name of "Jobs," Should Not Be Believed

Truth Out - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 05:00

In shrinking Utah's two prized national monuments Trump not only ignored the 80 percent negative comments received in the review process, he never consulted the Native American tribes whose land and heritage will be most impacted. Moreover, opening up the land to ranching, fracking and mining will not only not generate enough jobs, it will destroy existing jobs in the eco-tourism industry.

 Michael Nigro / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images)Thousands of people converged on the steps of Utah's State Capital building to protest President Trump's plan to shrink protected areas across the country. Two of those areas are both in Utah -- Bears Ears and the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monuments. (Photo: Michael Nigro / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images)

In a landmark proclamation on December 4, President Trump slashed the size of Utah's Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 85 percent and 46 percent, respectively. This, in spite of the fact that 80 percent of commenters solicited in the review process opposed shrinkage, sparking a dearth of outrage at the intractability with which one man can impose his will upon public land.

Unlike previous uses of the Antiquities Act, Trump has given no credence to the public will with respect to his decision. He did not even consult with Native American tribes, even though it is their heritage that hangs in the balance. He ignored the comments solicited in the review process, and he bypassed the local eco-tourism industry, which is now in full-scale uproar.

Trump defended his decision by saying, "I called all of my friends in Utah and asked them ... they said this would be incredible for our country." Said "friends" included Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, who stands to make millions from the opening of previously protected lands to cattle grazing, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has received more than $470,000 from oil, gas and coal interests since 2012 , both of whom have thanked President Trump fawningly for his largesse.

But thanks have not come from the people of Utah. Thousands filled the streets of Salt Lake City on Monday, December 4, 2017, telling the president, "Keep your tiny hands off our public lands," and waving banners that read, "We stand on stolen land." Navajo President Russell Begaye condemned the shrinkage as the latest in a series of dispossessions that have cost "millions of acres of my people's land." Conservationists have joined the tribes in suing Trump for the proclamations.

The people of Utah are well aware of the capital intensity of the fracking, mining and cattle industries that will crowd out eco-tourism over the next few years. They know that fracking, for instance, creates a pitiful 6.5 jobs per $1 million invested in the industry. They have no illusions about the fact that Native Americans, who make up 70 percent of the people in poverty in San Juan County, Utah, will be the last hired for and the first fired. The people of Utah, and indeed of this nation, know precisely where the resource rents engendered by these proclamations will go: to the yacht purchases of cattlemen, the clubbing carouses of frackers and the first-class tickets of senators headed to scenic natural wonders that have yet to be eviscerated.

Sadly, cynical privatizations of public lands are a well-worn motif. The English Enclosure Acts of the 17th century, ostensibly a technocratic fix for inefficacious farming practices, was in fact a fire-sale of commonly-owned land, that enriched landowners at the expense of the dispossessed peasantry. Indonesia's President Suharto (in)famously amassed an egregious $15-35 billion by selling off "protected forests" ad libitum to cronies, friends and family members. And Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz notes that in the case of Russia, natural resources that would have provided income for future generations, were sold for a pittance to enrich a few dissolute oligarchs in the present: "Before, [they] could only steal the annual flow ... [but if they] privatized, [they could] sell the present discounted value ... going for the next ump-teen years into the future."

The danger posed by such sleights of hand cannot be understated in the era of climate change. A 2005 study found that "current annual rates of tropical deforestation from Brazil and Indonesia alone would equal four-fifths of the emissions reductions gained by implementing the Kyoto Protocol in its first commitment period." Selling off protected lands to logging interests has done immense environmental harm, and Trump's shrinkage of National Monuments threatens to do the same.

His proclamations have opened the door to cattle ranchers, who intend to move in with the greatest expediency. The belches and burps of our four-legged friends are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, trucks, ships, planes and trains combined. Meanwhile, methane -- the primary emission of concern to the climate -- is 23 times more potent than C02. 

Neither are mining or fracking conducive to a livable planet for future generations. Fracking's record is well known, with groundwater contaminationmethane leaks and greenhouse gas emissions being staples of its climate change rap-sheet. Mining stakes its claim as one of the least climate-friendly human activities on the planet with acid mine drainage, waste disposal and particulate expulsion. And both industries are colossal downgrades from the queen of climate friendly industries; eco-tourism.  

The real threat -- and indeed insult, as Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez put it -- manifest in the Trump proclamations is one of cynicism being played on credulity. The Trump administration is trying to disguise clientelism as "populism" by dangling the specter of "distant bureaucrats" and the carrot of mining jobs in front of the American people. The manifestation of such a state of affairs in the 21st century US would not only be a disastrous setback in the political evolution of humankind, but could very well turn climate change from "the biggest collective action problem in history" to "the last collective action problem in human history."

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Categories: News

GOP Tax Plan Is Igniting a Movement for a Moral Economy

Truth Out - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 05:00

If you're expecting a gift card from your boss as an end-of-year bonus, enjoy it this year because you probably won't get one in 2018.

The Senate tax bill would ban such rewards. Why? Republican lawmakers are determined to prevent ordinary workers from pocketing a $25 or $50 gift card without reporting it as taxable income.

Meanwhile, these same politicians are planning to dole out billions of dollars in tax breaks to the very wealthiest Americans. For example, they're planning to gut or entirely eliminate the estate tax, a curb on extreme wealth concentration that currently applies only to fortunes worth more than $11 million per couple.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley explained the reasoning: "Not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it's on booze or women or movies."

Republicans are using this prejudice against working people to justify a massive giveaway to wealthy political donors. While giving the rich and big corporations huge tax breaks, the Republican tax plan would raise taxes on 87 million middle-class families, throw 13 million people off health insurance, and cut Medicare by $400 billion.

This moral abomination is already igniting a firestorm across the country. Over the past two weeks, protests have erupted at 50 universities and in least 100 cities, while nearly 50 people have been arrested on Capitol Hill.

And whether or not President Trump achieves his goal of signing this tax deal into law by the end of the year, this fight is just beginning.

On December 4, prominent faith leaders announced plans for one of the largest waves of civil disobedience in US history. Dubbed the "Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival," this effort will mark the 50th anniversary of a similar initiative in 1968 that was undercut by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

The campaign co-chairs, the Rev. Liz Theoharis and the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, are determined to pick up the baton from King and other 1960s leaders. They've called the Republican tax plan "an act of gross violence against America's poor." But this is just one of the motivations.

"We are witnessing an emboldened attack on the poor and an exacerbation of systemic racism, ecological devastation, and the war economy that demands a response," Rev. Barber said.

new Institute for Policy Studies report I edited reveals that conditions in each of these areas have worsened since 1968 by many measures. The documents the increased number of Americans below the poverty line, the acceleration of economic inequality, and the emergence of new forms of voter suppression laws and mass incarceration that further entrench systemic racism. It highlights the growing imbalance in government spending on the military relative to social programs, and the intensification of racial and income disparities in access to clean air and water.

Starting next spring, the Poor People's Campaign aims to bring tens of thousands of poor and disenfranchised people, clergy, and other moral leaders to rallies at statehouses in at least 25 states, leading up to a major demonstration at the US Capitol on June 21.

While Republicans may succeed in scoring a short-term win for the political donor class, their tax plan is sparking a new moral movement that will lift up the millions of Americans living in poverty and build power for transformational change.

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Categories: News

Amid Travel Ban, Refugee Women Cope With Trauma and Stress Through Drum Circles

Truth Out - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 05:00
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More than three dozen women and children sit in a circle inside the conference room of a public library in El Cajon, California, each holding a hand drum on their laps. No one is speaking.

I stand in the center and ask who in this group of Afghan, Iraqi, and Syrian women has suffered loss. Several hands go up. I then ask: "Who would like to volunteer to express their feeling of loss, using the drum as their voice?"

Sahad Alboshokaf, a 44-year-old Iraqi woman, wearing a grey tunic and a hijab, raises her hand. She closes her eyes and begins tapping her drum, tentatively at first and then with deliberate purpose. The rest of us listen and then join in, blending our beats to match the rhythm of her lead. Soon the room is filled with the reassuring sound of our collective beat.

Alboshokaf, like the rest of us in the room, is a refugee -- part of a unique refugee-led drum circle designed to help new arrivals not only cope with stress in their lives, but integrate into new homes in this country.

Adding to their anxiety has been the Trump administration's attempts this year to ban travel from predominantly Muslim countries, where many of these women still have family. It has made them feel targeted. A US Supreme Court ruling Monday allowing the administration to fully enforce visa restrictions for people from six countries -- Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen -- means the wait for some of them to reunite with loved ones may have grown even more uncertain.

The drum sessions create an atmosphere of belonging and put us in rhythm with each other. The drums become our voice. Studies have shown that recreational music-making in general and group drumming in particular can decrease stress and change the genomic stress marker. Drumming has the "therapeutic potential" to relax tension and soothe emotional wounds.

Many, if not all the refugees in our drum circle suffer some form of PTSD or depression. All together, we speak four different languages and dialects. Transcending those barriers, drumming gives us an avenue for self-expression. After each woman has "spoken" her feelings through her music -- desperation, frustration, happiness, fear -- the rest of the circle provides verbal feedback and insight into what we heard in her beat.

The drum circle arose organically as a way to address the psychological needs of newly arriving refugees in the San Diego area, which has the largest concentration of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the US While there has been an outpouring of local support for their material needs, "what we need is ongoing services to help the refugees find their way," said Dalia Alzendi, founder of Bridge, a local nonprofit specializing in psychosocial integration for refugees.

The idea for the circle is the outgrowth of a unique Colorado-based nonprofit called Musical Ambassadors of Peace. MAP ambassadors study the indigenous songs and music of countries that receive unfavorable media coverage in the US and Europe and then use that music to build cross-cultural bridges between the people of those countries and people in the US

Its co-founders, Cameron Powers and Kristina Sophia, have been utilizing music's transformative power for two decades and can perform songs in 13 different languages. Shortly after the American-led invasion of Iraq, the two traveled to Baghdad and, armed with only an oud and Iraqi love songs, began playing and singing in the streets. The Iraqi people, who up to that point had mostly encountered only US military personnel and contractors, were seeing a different side of America.

They saw their trips to different countries as a form of musical mission work. "We call ourselves reverse missionaries because our job is to listen, not to preach," Sophia says. Now the group has several musical ambassadors from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Their motto: Healing the world through music.

Earlier this year, MAP set out to provide an ongoing music-centered service for US refugees, many of them from countries the group has visited. As a refugee from Iran, I knew I wanted to become a MAP ambassador and took a workshop to become a HealthRhythms facilitator.

Now, alongside another refugee, Dilkhwaz Ahmed, an Iraqi who founded the nonprofit License to Freedom, I co-facilitate the San Diego area drum circle. How ironic that Ahmed and I both were children on the opposite sides of the Iran–Iraq war of the 1980s, with different languages but similar experiences. Now we are not only friends, but allies in the mission to help fellow refugees succeed. We drum twice a month and hope to increase it to once a week next year.

Originally, Ahmed, who also translates my English instructions for the circle's Arabic-speaking members, had reserved the library space so that refugee women and children could meet a few times a month to talk and do arts and crafts. That meeting morphed into the drum sessions.

After Alboshokaf is done drumming, I ask her if she feels heard by us. "I do," she replies, in Arabic. "Do I have your permission to ask everyone what they heard in your beat?" I ask. She nods.

"Desperation," a middle-aged woman in a striped sweater says. "Hopelessness," a young Syrian woman chimes in.

Naturally. Alboshokaf says later that she still feels the loss of her father and two brothers, who were executed by Saddam Hussein. She lives with her two teenage sons, anxious for the day her husband will join them here. But because of restrictions imposed on refugee visas by the Trump administration, she's lost hope that it will be anytime soon. Music helps her express these feelings of loss, frustration, and confusion in a nonthreatening way.

I ask the group if anyone else has felt loss and found a way to transform their feelings. Nahidah, a hijabi woman with a bright smile, begins drumming a whimsical beat. We all follow and the mood of the room shifts to one of playfulness. I ask Nahidah about her experience with transforming loss. "Happiness is always just a step away. It's good to mourn, but laughter waits for you," she says.

Often, these sessions bring me back to my time when I first arrived in the US as a 14-year-old refugee and stumbled across my first drumming circle. I was living in Austin, Texas, and the group of hippies my friend and I found in a park were quite different from the refugees I work with now.

But the impact of their music was no less impactful. Like a moth drawn to the flame, I made my way to the middle of the circle and began dancing until I was drenched in sweat. My friend wasn't surprised. She had seen me dance spontaneously whenever I heard music. In fact, for my first few years in America, I listened to music incessantly and sought out every opportunity to dance because in Iran, the county I escaped from, music and dancing were illegal.

I ask if anyone else in the circle would like to drum their feeling. Nasima Hossaini, a dignified young Afghan woman, raises her hand. Hossaini looks to me for permission and then begins beating the drum with explosive fury, changing the mood of the room yet again. Reinforcing her feeling, we all join her beat for several minutes. She later recounts her experience as an Afghan refugee in Iran, where she encountered prejudice on a daily basis. After the US invasion of Afghanistan, she returned home, where, to her dismay, she came across more prejudice for belonging to the Hazara ethnic minority. This sense of not-belonging has injured her far worse than the trauma of war.

One by one, women come forth to drum their feelings with the group -- a woman who lost her favorite cousin to a car explosion; an overwhelmed single mother who's worried about her autistic child. Soon the bounds of language and otherness dissolve and our hearts open up to the rhythmic telling of one story after another. One of those was Ahlam Salem's, an Iraqi woman who afterward shared the harrowing details of being kidnapped, tortured, and raped for eight days. She had been on a bus in Baghdad heading home when armed men stormed the bus at a bus stop and took her to an unknown location. Salem is still dealing with the aftermath, but she feels strong and wants to let other women in similar situations know that they don't have to identify with their trauma. "We are much more than that," she says in Arabic. She is hopeful and wants to advocate for women's rights. "The drumming makes me feel more relaxed and confident," she adds.

As we begin to wrap up, 8-year-old Yousif Mikaeel raises his hand and asks, "Can I drum my feeling?" Children know they're part of this community and want to participate. Several people praise Mikaeel for his courage, and he begins. He drums an anxious beat and the rest of us follow along for a while. A young woman volunteers to help transition the beat of fear to a more hopeful one and Mikaeel, and the rest of us, follows her lead.

By the end of the session, we are all giddy with a sense of camaraderie. And as we pack away the instruments, many of the women explain how these sessions help them navigate the language barrier, culture shock, and the stress of finding their way in a different culture and country. "Our gathering helps me immensely," Alboshokaf says as she walks out with her younger boy. "I feel the stress dissolve in the sounds of our rhythm. I feel calm and more able to deal with my life."

Categories: News

Otherworlds Review #4: Snakes

Anarchist News - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 15:06


Sun in Sagittarius, Full Moon in Gemini

Issue 4, December 2017

“The avenger that completes the task of liberation in the name of generations of the downtrodden. This conviction, which had a brief resurgence in the Spartacus League, has always been objectionable to Social Democrats. Within three decades they managed to erase the name of Blanqui almost entirely, though at the distant thunder of that name the preceding century had quaked.” – Benjamin, On the Concept of History

“Let us finally conclude the immanence of the smallest scraps of matter. Although their lifespan is of one second, their rebirth is boundless. The infinity of time & space is not the exclusive privilege of the universe as whole. It also belongs to every form of matter, down to the infusoria and grains of sand… Therefore every one of us has lived, lives, and shall live endlessly under the form of billions of alter egos… The stellar systems carry us along within their immortality. Being the only organization of matter, they possess its fixity and its mobility all at once. Each of them is but a strike of lightning, but such strikes illuminate space eternally.” – Blanqui, Eternity by the Stars

On the 17th of November, when the new moon met the sun in Scorpio – the sign of desire and careful attack – rebels in Olympia, WA began a blockade of the railroad leading to and from the dreadful port of Olympia. This auspicious night for new beginnings also marked a year since the eviction of a blockade of the same line; a blockade erected in solidarity with the struggle of indigenous water protectors and their accomplices against the DAPL pipeline – the Black Snake.

In spiritism, and other necromantic traditions, it is held that it takes a certain amount of time after death before a spirit can fully takes its place among the ancestors. In many traditions, one must wait a year before calling on an individual spirit, as an ancestor, for strength and guidance. It’s thought that it takes that much time for the spirit to work through the pain and confusion of their own death, to adjust to the otherworlds and to their new existence in them. When a year has passed, and the departed has joined its ancestral house (or wherever other collective or place it is joining), then and only then, can we begin to speak of conjuration.

Yes, the world is full of wandering and lost spirits, those stuck and incapable of moving on. And yes, anyone with a ouija board or tarot cards can get one of those spirits on the line, but to conjure real otherwordly strength means to act in partnership with and to call forth the spirits of a given tradition who form an ancestral line onto themselves. When the state ended last year’s blockade, sent it to the otherworlds, they unknowingly set it on the path that all spirits walk: the labyrinthine meander of the worlds beyond, of the chthonic.

The golden tablets buried with the Orphic initiates tell us that in the underworld we are given the choice to drink from the waters of forgetting or the waters of memory. Those who’ve seen the mysteries know to resist the temptation of forgetting and to ask for the cool waters flowing from the Lake of Memory. When the dis-membered spirit re-members and is re-membered, they gain the strength to join the other of their lineage. Last year’s blockade drank the waters of memory and in doing so joined the collective of spirits hereafter referred to as ‘the Commune.’

With initiation comes the powers, goetic and mantic, to invoke and truly conjure the Commune. The Commune, a composite being – one and many wolves – comes when called by those who know the way to call it forth. That so many “call” to each other, without ever calling the spirits, explains why their so-called communes look more like everyday life than its interruption. When the spirits who compose the Commune (and the spirit of the Commune itself) assert themselves, they make their presence unmistakably known. Time moves differently, old divisions fall away, new roads open, there is an immanence to spirit and potential. Then, and only then, can a moment of space-time be named the Commune. That presence requires a break, a fissure, a doorway between this world and the others. To build the Commune one must open the door and call the spirits through it. To do one without the other (the break and the remembrance) risks fascism and worse.

The anarchists, indigenous activists, punks, queers and other communards in Olympia proved their adeptness in summoning the Commune to full force. For twelve days the spirits flooded to the site of interruption and made it spread. There was dancing, streetfighting, a punk show, coyotes, workshops and discussions, plant medicine, prayer, a piano on the tracks. For twelve days now-time was given material space. For twelve days the doors stood wide open.

Yes, The police destroyed the Olympia Commune. They tore its encampment apart, scattered its children, severed its spirit from this world, dis-membered it. But we arm ourselves with Memory – anamnesis, not-forgetting. We sing the mourning songs of the goetes and in our singing send the Commune on its way, strengthen it for its journey to the waters of memory and forgetting, where it too will make its choice. Our remembering it can only help it to remember as well. It too, if we all do our part, will find its way to the weblike assemblage of ancestral communes, the Commune itself. And when the moment is right, those who know its name can call it back to the Earth.

Over the Oakland Commune hung a banner – Paris 1871, Oakland 2011 – to which we joyously now add Olympia 2017. We mourn the commune, tend to the void it has left in the hearts of those who knew it, but we know it shall return. Just as the wine from the grapes grown on Montmarte hill is pressed and opened and drank as the blood of the communards; as a sacrament of the Commune – the interruption in space-time – which died there with them. We too drink the wine, the waters of memory, and vow to live in the time-between-Communes in ways which anticipate the return.

The Olympia Commune remembered other spirits as well, other stories. It remembered the encampments at Standing Rock which in turn remembered the Lakota prophecy of the terrible Black Snake which would come bearing destruction. The awareness of this prophecy was a weapon in the hands of those who were called to wield it.

Snakes, especially where they involve themselves in matters of apocalypse and prophecy, are found in mythologies and eschatologies the world over. Norse lore tells that when the serpent wrapped around the world releases its grasp on its own tail, it will do so in order to fight the Gods at Ragnarok. But the Orphics also knew that a snake was also there at the beginning, wrapped around the world egg, waiting for the hermaphroditic god Phanes – the light bringer; all genders and species manifest together – to crack its shell wide open with its dancing and thereby bringing the cosmos into existence. Before he could build his oraclular temple at Delphi, Apollon first had to slay the serpent which already held court at that gate to the otherworlds. That his prophetesses thereafter took the name pythia – pythoness – bears this memory. The transgendered shaman Tiresias and the animistic prophet Melampous slew and saved snakes respectively and each gained the true sight by way of their encounters. Snakes unnerve us because of their ambivalence and alienness, their force of interruption. And yet they always come bearing the gift of knowledge. Lucifer too was a light bringer who offered knowledge as an apple from the Tree.

The Black Snake has arrived as the interruption of the sacred waters and the ways of life which depend on them. It arrives as apocalypse and poison and empire. But empire too can be interrupted. It was, after all, a nocturnal vision of a snake coiled around Spartacus’ face which revealed to his wife, a prophetess subject to the Dionysiac frenzy, that he would catalyze the largest slave revolt the Roman Empire had ever seen. They led a years long interruption of that Empire’s hold over hundreds of thousands of lives, and they did so moved by the illumination of that vision. We live under the reign of the true descendant of that Empire and thus share common cause with the spirits who fought to destroy it. Such remembrance requires knowledge: the knowledge to open the door and to call the spirits through it.

Some within the Olympia Commune responded to the tired call for demands by issuing 20 of them:

1. make the port a beach again
2. blow up the sun
3. the complete destruction of time itself
4. a brick for every window
5. a wrecking ball
6. that, while science still exists, one of us be endowed with an Adamantium laced skeleton
7. a swift and brutal end to the exploitation commonly referred to as “science”
8. the destruction of all dams, and the return of the salmon
9. no motor boats ever again
10. that fascists and politicians spontaneously combust
11. compost the police
12. release of all prisoners and the Total Destruction of prison, in all of its forms
13. cessation of all space exploration
14. the return of the Tasmanian wolf, the aurochs, the dodo bird, the coral reefs, and all other creatures and habitats that have ceased to be
15. the wilderness
16. total freedom
18. the liquidation of Pacific Union’s assets, to be equally distributed among all children
19. mandatory clown uniforms for all Olympia parking employees
20. that steve hall fight a bear

From the very first they emphasize their commitment to memory but we call your attention, dear reader, to the seventeenth.

17. [ ]

This is the door, situated there between freedom and liquidation, thrown open by the Olympia communards. The door is the refusal to play the game of the state’s discourse; the refusal to forget its betrayals and false promises. May we always remember that door that we may call it to presence again. Let us commit its passphrases to memory that we may recall them when we meet again.

Nothing is over; everything continues.



“Every second was the narrow gate, through which the Messiah could enter.” The anarchists of the Golden Age would have understood—they do understand, for our ancestors are always with us—when we speak of devotion. In the Roman battlefield ritual of devotio, a general promised himself and all of the enemy legions to the divine dead and the earth in exchange for victory. A self-sacrifice, but not a christian one: no forgiveness for foes here, no renunciation of the earth. But the Roman devotio served the State, ours seeks to ruin it. Nor is the Revolution to be forever in the future, to be earned through wretched asceticism, the protestant-capitalist work ethic, and crawling progress.

“Liquidating the lie of the transitional period means making the revolt itself a different way of conceiving relations.” When we speak of devotion, we speak of the insurrectionary imminence and immanence of our gods, their fiery and shining presence in our lives, the bolt of lightning that consumed Semele when she asked to see Zeus in his true form, the torches of the Battle Crow blazing from the skull of Cú Chulainn. We speak of “the Idea,” of “the faith,” of Anarchy! Our incendiary goddess, for whom Elia Corti and so many others gave their lives. For it is our lives that we offer, not our deaths. We speak of the hearth fires around which we gather, around which we have always gathered, which have kept the continuity of our communities and our struggles alive even in the bleakest of times. We fight for that which we are already a part of, even—especially—when the war demands negation. At the same time, we fight for the unknown—that is, for our relationship to it, for that which is familiar only through déjà vu. How can the Gods meet us face to face till we have faces?

From the hearth fires of devotion, the torches of liberatory fanaticism are kindled. In a world that has seen so much horror perpetrated by religious and rationalist authoritarians alike, we recognize the danger of this language, but we do not shy from embracing it. Our lineages, our kin: the Boxers, the Ghost Dancers, Carlota Lukumi and the rebels of Triunvirato, the Vouduisants at Bois Caïman, the Yellow Turbans, the black-clad firebrand-throwing women of the Isle of Mona, the maenads—those Dionysian fanatics of old. All those who rejected the armor of Leviathan and sought protection from the spirits through dance, through possession. Fanatic: from Latin fanum, “temple, shrine, consecrated place” – spoken in an ecstatic state; spoken while possessed by spirit. We who have consecrated ourselves as sacer are above all man-made law, partaking only in the sovereignty of the Otherworlds. We are outlaws, wargs, wolves—one and many. We are the affinity group, the gang, the pack. Our informal organizations exist unto themselves, but in relation to civilized society, we are always a threat. And our forms of organization are mirrored in the spirit world, our accomplices are found in all the realms. Wolves on the surface of the earth, snakes descending into the subterranean depths and back again, corvids in the heavens. Always shapeshifting, always mediating between life and death, always accompanied by the howling and hissing multitudes of our collective ancestors.


“Our world is going through a rather peculiar moment of dread and confusion – one for which there does not seem to be a ‘proper name’ yet. And yet naming our time is part of what is at stake. In this regard one thing at least is clear – ours is a time of planetary entanglement. But the planetarity of our predicament is not all there is. As it happens, times of planetary entanglement are propitious for all kinds of accelerations or escalations. They are propitious for the renewed production of things, forms and imaginaries both baroque, grotesque and dystopian if only because such forms/things/and imaginaries generally strive to generate their own actuality through sheer excess and stupefaction.” Achilles Mbembe, January 2017

“The duality of our relationship with reality can also carry us towards armed struggle, especially after so many years of disorientation. We want to see practical results, we think it’s possible to go beyond the abstraction of round-table politics, we want to see some concrete action. The urge to construct forms of action for ourselves is sometimes very strong, since we’ve had to put up with so many years of empty speeches. And imagination? It helps us to bear the clash with reality; in this case it helps us to avoid seeing what we don’t want to see. Certainly it slips into and supports fanaticism. But men become fanatical under the yoke of their ideological schemas while we, more often than not, are driven by the violence of our dreams.” Anonymous, Italy, 1991

“The virtual and the actual together make up two mutually exclusive sides of the real. The actual is a given states of affairs that is populated by bodies. The virtual is a ‘pure past’ of incorporeal events and singularities that have never been present, which have ‘the capacity to bring about x, without (in being actualized) ever coming to coincide or identify itself with x, or to be depleted and exhausted in x’ while ‘without being or resembling an actual x.’ In this sense, the virtual includes all potential worlds, everything that inhabits them, all of their really-existing potentials, and their every potential to differ that coexists with the actual.” Deleuze, Difference and Repetition

Twin existences play out more openly when the twins of Gemini find their full moon in the sky of December. Under and over, within and without. There is a blend of the known, unknown, familiar and strange, blessed and cursed. Cold gets colder. The earth spun this way before and the body starts to know this air. The communal web of consciousness takes the breath. The philosophical inheritance of Sagittarius howls.

One labyrinth of solitude might reveal that “the predominance of the closed over the open manifests itself not only as impassivity and distrust, irony and suspicion, but also as love of Form.”

EVOCATION: Earth, 114 million years ago, one morning just after sunrise: the first flower ever to appear on the planet opens up to receive the rays of the sun. Prior to this momentous event that heralds an evolutionary transformation in the life of plants, the planet had already been covered in vegetation for millions of years. The first flower probably did not survive for long, and flowers must have remained rare and isolated phenomena, since conditions were most likely not yet favorable for a widespread flowering to occur.

One day, however, a critical threshold was reached, and suddenly there would have been an explosion of color and scent all over the planet – if a perceiving consciousness had been there to witness it. Without our fully realizing it, flowers would become for us an expression in form of that which is most high, most sacred, and ultimately formless within ourselves. Flowers, more fleeting, more ethereal and more delicate than the plants out of which they emerged, would become like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of physical forms and the formless. Palpable tenets of gaseous sentience, sense perceptions, dial into the spaceless space found at the Olympia Commune, at the Ghost Ship, at the walls of the prison. The spaces are bridges to cross. The spaceless is the “new quality [that] emerges in a leap as the slow accumulation of quantitative changes, long resisted by a stable system, finally forces it rapidly from one state into another.” The doors opened by every act of rebellion, by every spirit of refusal, by the ancestors of freedom are our passages through protected thresholds.

Blessings to Feral Pines and all who passed at Ghost Ship!
Blessings to Robîn Agiri: Şehîd Namirin!
Santiago Maldonade Presente!

Tags: olympia communeolympiafrackingcategory: Essays
Categories: News

Finland: 100 Years Are Enough! (Video)

Anarchist News - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 14:44

via insurrection news

Compilation video of anarchist and antifascist street activity in Finland between 2013 and 2017.

The 6th of December marked the 100 year anniversary of the Finnish State.

For the abolition of all states.

For anarchy.

Tags: Finlandcategory: International
Categories: News

Uruguay: Solidarity with the Anarchists Persecuted by Operation Erebo in Brazil

Anarchist News - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 14:36

via insurrection news

Since October the 24th, a new operation of repression and intimidation is being carried out against the anti-authoritarian and anarchist movement in general in the city of Porto Alegre, attacking individual houses, social centers, occupations, libraries and anarchist spaces.

The actions of the civil police, the press and its media spectacle have also led to the preparation of a persecutory montage with the intention of generating fear, isolating the struggles and solidarities, generating the context to intensify the repercussions and intensify the harrassment of anarchist comrades and their associates.

Named like previous operations from a malicious reading of Greek mythology, Operation Erebo was initially carried out by the civil police in Porto Alegre, however since the latest series of raids that began on November 30th it is now presumed that the Federal Police of Brazil are also participating.

This operation is another addition to the history of persecution against anarchist and anti-authoritarian ideas and practices. The mass media are reporting on the possibility of the newly approved anti-terrorist law in Brazil being applied.

We believe it is necessary to make visible the situation that is being experienced in the social spaces and anywhere that is positioned in resistance.

We encourage comrades to keep abreast of events and to show solidarity with the rebels persecuted by the Brazilian state.

Hands outstretched to the comrades, closed fists for the enemy!!
Anarchist Solidarity!!!

(via Turba Negra)

Tags: Operation Érebouruguaybrazilcategory: International
Categories: News

India May Ban Petcoke, One of Dirtiest Fossil Fuels Exported by Koch Brothers

deSmog - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 14:14
Petcoke stockpiles

While U.S. power plants have considered petroleum coke or “petcoke to be too dirty to burn, India, on the other hand, has been importing this coal by-product of tar sands refining for years. However, it may be seeing its last days in the country which has served as its biggest importer.

In the aftermath of an Associated Press investigation published on December 1, India's Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has said the country is formulating plans to phase out petcoke imports. The AP investigation, filed from New Delhi, revealed that citizens who live near petcoke refining facilities have come down with a range of air pollution-related illnesses in recent months and years.

The AP also points out that among the largest exporters of U.S. petcoke are Koch Industries subsidiary Koch Carbon and Oxbow Carbon, the latter of which is owned by the twin brother of David Koch, Bill Koch. The advocacy group Oil Change International referred to petcoke as “the coal hiding in the tar sands” in a 2013 report documenting the carbon footprint of petcoke production and combustion.

var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12431'; [Reuse options] Click here for reuse options! Tags: Koch brothersMexicobraziljapanchinaUS Energy Information AdministrationEIABP WhitingbpindianaChicagoIllinoisRahm EmanuelKochoil sandscoaltar sandskoch industriesOxbow CarbonIndiaPetroleum KochDavid KochCharles KochBill Koch
Categories: News

#NOACP: Fighting the ACP and MVP Pipelines in Virginia

It's Goin Down - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 09:18

The post #NOACP: Fighting the ACP and MVP Pipelines in Virginia appeared first on It's Going Down.

Photo from Jason Lappa

In this episode we discuss with a guest from #NoACP, the ongoing resistance to both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in Virginia. Moreover, we touch on the connection between the pipelines themselves and the Trump administration, and also how the pipelines bosses are responding to growing public anger to pipelines and the danger they pose in terms of spills, leaks, and explosions, as well as their connection to climate change.

We will not be silenced!
If the water board passes ACP this Tuesday we will be enraged.Anger ignites fires in our collective bellies. #noacp

— No ACP! (@NO_ACP) December 9, 2017

We also talk about the state of the anti-pipeline and anti-extraction movement across North America, going into 2018. Our guest emphasises that the movement is growing stronger and that there is broad support for resistance to pipelines, however much needs to be done in terms of activating people to support physical on the ground action, and we talk about ways that people outside of areas affected by pipelines can offer aid to ongoing direct action campaigns.

Look at the faces of Virginia #Appalachia and who will be affected by the #MountainValleyPipeline. Current water quality certification #DEQ hearing happening today and tomorrow in #RVA | #NoMVP #NoACP #WaterIsLife #waterislifeVA @Bold_Alliance

— Madelyne Ashworth (@madelyne_ash) December 6, 2017

The fight against the ACP and the MVP has been underway for already four years, and has already delayed construction of the pipeline for one year. In doing so, the organizing has brought together rural people, people living in cities, indigenous people, and those who are threatened with eviction in the pipeline’s path.

With a vote on the ACP happening over the next week which is expected to end with a green light for construction, (one for the MVP having already gone through), we hope that this timely interview encourages people to get involved with the ongoing battles happening across the US against the black snake. Lastly, we end by talking about End of the Linean ongoing podcast about the growing anti-pipeline movement in the US.

More Info: No ACP on Twitter and on Facebook, Pipeline Overview, and End of the Line.

Music: 21 Savage

Categories: News

Pakistani Air Force ordered to shoot down US drones

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 09:13

Pakistani Air Force ordered to shoot down US drones | 09 Dec 2017 | Pakistan's Air Force (PAF) commander has reportedly ordered to take down drones violating the country's sovereignty, including that of the U.S. The jabs against America, a key ally, came Thursday in a speech Aman delivered at a ceremony of aviation students gathered in Islamabad. The top military official, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, praised Pakistan's air prowess, saying their forces are prepared to defend sovereignty of the country. "We will not allow anyone to violate our airspace," Aman said as cited by The Times of India, adding, that he has ordered the PAF "to shoot down drones, including those of the U.S., if they enter our airspace, violating the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Categories: News

Declaration From The Regional Encounter For The Defense Of Our Territories – Oaxaca, Mexico

It's Goin Down - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 07:38

The post Declaration From The Regional Encounter For The Defense Of Our Territories – Oaxaca, Mexico appeared first on It's Going Down.

On the 6th of December, this year, we met in the community of Morro Mazatán, Municipality of Santo Domingo Tehuantepec, as the Agrarian Authorities and representatives of the communities of: San Miguel Chongos, Guadalupe Victoria, Santa María Zapotitlán, San José Chiltepec, Santa Lucía Mecaltepec, Santa María Candelaria, San Pedro Sosoltepec and San Pedro Tepalcatepec, all members of the Asamblea del Pueblo Chontal para la Defensa del Territorio [Chontal People’s Assembly for the Defense of the Territory]; as well as representatives of Morro Mazatán, Santa Gertrudis Miramar, Tilzapote, San Pablo Mitla, Tlacolula de Matamoros, Rincón Bamba, Asamblea de Comuneros de Unión Hidalgo [Comuneros’ Assembly of Unión Hidalgo], Colectivo Matzá [Matzá Collective] from the community of San Miguel Chimalapa, and Tequio Jurídico AC [Collective Legal Work Civil Association], to advance the “Regional Encounter for the Defense of Our Territories,” with the goal of informing each other and articulating ourselves for our own defense in the face of megaprojects that dispossess us and extractive projects, among them, mining and Special Economic Zones.

In our analysis, our territories find themselves at risk under a capitalist system which in our country began to deepen in the 90s with the reconfiguration of the state’s legal framework. This included reforms to constitutional article 27, the mining law, the foreign investment law, and the entry into the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, generating legal conditions favoring national and international businesses that seek to impose neo-extractivist projects such as mining, wind energy projects, hydroelectric dams, high-tension towers, Special Economic Zones, tourist projects and as a consequence the militarization and paramilitarization of the territory.

In this encounter we listened to the experiences of regional organization processes from San Pablo Mitla and Tlacolula de Matamoros, who are defending their territory in the face of the installation/relocation of a military zone by the federal government through the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA), the state government, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Municipal Presidents of San Pablo Mitla and Tlacolula de Matamoros.

Thanks to citizen organization, they have suspended this project; however, they remain attentive before new threats to reactivate the project utilizing a real estate company on land in Tlacolula. The residents also denounced the mining concessions in the district of Tlacolula de Matamoros.

Likewise, we listened to the experiences of the Chontal People’s Assembly for the Defense of the Territory, who have organized to defend themselves faced with the imposition of the mining concession Zapotitlán 1 granted to the companies Zalamera SA de CV and Minaurum Gold by the Ministry of the Economy. It would strip 5,413 hectares [13,375 acres] from six Chontal communities in the high region.

In this encounter, the representatives of the communities of Tilzapote and San Francisco Cozoaltepec, Municipality of Santa María Tonameca, denounced the supposed small proprietors Pedro Martínez Araiza and Domitila Guzmán Olivera. The community doesn’t know these people, who are trying to take away their territory under the argument that they are executing a resolution of the Unitary Agrarian Tribunal that recognizes them as the owners of 300 hectares [741 acres] where the village sits, in so doing, displacing them from their community. The Agrarian Ombudsman’s office, the Ministry of Agrarian, Territorial, and Urban Development, the National Agrarian Register, and the aforementioned Unitary Agrarian Tribunal Number 21 are among those responsible for this situation, putting the pueblo—composed of 70 families—at risk. These government institutions and small proprietors threaten the inhabitants with the loss of 300 hectares, which spans the entirety of their territory, and the neglect of their personal defense. [Translator’s note: read more about this situation here, and there is a video in Spanish here.]

Those representing the Matzá Collective from the community of San Miguel Chimalapa denounced the fact that their 134,000 hectare [331,000 acre] communal territory has been pierced by a series of landgrabs characterized by agrarian conflicts with the state of Chiapas and mining concessions, which span 7,200 hectares [18,000 acres] of communal lands. The companies involved are Zalamera, Minaurum Gold, and Gol Cooper, and their projects would put at risk the Espíritu Santo, Zacatepec, and Ostuta rivers, on which the lives of the Zoques, Binniza, and Ikoots peoples depend.

The representative of the Comuneros’ Assembly of Unión Hidalgo denounced the illegality of the contracts on common lands signed by wind energy companies like France Electric and EDEMEX with supposed small proprietors. The Unitary Agrarian Tribunal of Tuxtepec does not acknowledge the experts’ reports offered by the agrarian community, and validates these contracts.

As the Regional Encounter for the Defense of Our Territories, We Denounce:

  • The intimidation and aggression against land defenders.

  • We denounce the strategies that the government uses for the dispossession of territory in Tlacolula by using supposed real estate companies to put in a military barracks.

  • The internal division of pueblos caused by megaprojects of death.

  • The threats and arrest warrants against the community of Tilzapote, as well as the supposed eviction on December 8, 2017.

  • The imposition of mining projects, special economic zones, hydroelectric dams, wind farms, and all types of megaprojects that may affect our territory.

  • We reject the approval of the Federal Special Economic Zones Law and the Internal Security Law that allow the plunder of our territories and a military presence in the streets, which puts human rights at risk.

  • The utilization of the pain of families affected by the earthquake to impose the interests of the voracious wind energy companies, among them the company EDF France Electric (France Eolian).

  • We reject the extraction of minerals and materials from Unión Hidalgo’s territory, as well as the concession built into the company Cooperativa Cruz Azul.

As participants in this encounter we propose:

  • We assume the work of strengthening our forms of organization, prioritizing community agencies, assemblies, community authorities, and the pueblos’ communal education to defend the territory.

  • To propel true communication among the pueblos to defend our territory.

  • To maintain these spaces of communication, exchange, and territorial defense.

  • We will not allow the imposition of mining projects on our community lands because they mean death.

  • To work for the strengthening of the communitarian structures and the participation of new generations in defense of the territory

  • To accompany the activities that the community of Tilzapote promote as part of the defense of their territory.

  • To strengthen historical memory as an element for the territorial defense and resistance of our pueblos.

  • To put in the necessary legal resources against the projects, citing indigenous rights.

Our total support to the community of Tilzapote!

Our total support to the communities in resitance!

To defend our territories from the killer megaprojects!

Morro Mazatán, Santo Domingo Tehuantepec, December 6, 2017

Categories: News

Banner Drop Against Columbus Murals at University of Notre Dame

It's Goin Down - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 07:36

The post Banner Drop Against Columbus Murals at University of Notre Dame appeared first on It's Going Down.

“South Bend, Indiana”—Studying for their final exams, University of Notre Dame students in the library on Friday morning looked up and saw a banner unfurled from the second-floor balcony. The banner proclaimed,

This is Potawatomi land! FUck the KKKolumbus murals!

The message comes as students have been organizing against murals displayed by the entrance of the university’s main administrative building. According to a pamphlet issued by Notre Dame, the nineteenth-century murals “create a heroic impression” of Christopher Columbus, despite the conqueror’s record of mass enslavement and murder. Moreover the paintings portray indigenous people in ways that Native American students say are stereotypical and insulting.

Students are collecting signatures for a petition titled “Dear Father Jenkins, The Murals Must Go.” Signed by more than 600 people, the petition argues, “The Native persons are depicted as stereotypes, their destruction is gilded over, and their slavery is celebrated. The murals commemorate and laud the beginning of the centuries-long systematic removal of Native American persons and culture from the United States.”

The following statement was offered by Julie Dye, a Pokagon Band Potawatomi Elder and descendant of Leopold Pokagon and Simon Pokagon:

These murals are symbols of oppression that do not represent local Native Americans—but yet Notre Dame calls the location ‘A Potawatomi Place.’ They contribute to the erasure of Native culture by feeding myths of history and perpetuating stereotypes.

The original intent does not negate the detrimental impact on the audience—especially the races depicted. Images matter. Teach the truth. Honor Native people by relocating the murals to a museum or gallery.

The group behind the banner drop, Rising Tide Michiana, takes direct action confronting the root causes of climate change. They said, “White supremacy must be dismantled as part of the fight to preserve life on Earth. We will take further actions in support of indigenous people’s demands to address these racist murals.” They may be contacted at

Rising Tide Michiana has received statements of support from the IWW GDC Local 26, the Graduate Workers Collective of Notre Dame, and Fossil Free ND.

Categories: News

Here's the Teacher-Friendly Antidote to Heartland Institute's Anti-Science School Propaganda

Truth Out - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 05:00

On a Monday morning at the end of October, Rob Ross asked a group of earth scientists and educators a question: How many of them had received copies of the Heartland Institute book Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming?

You could feel an immediate sense of frustration in the air. Roughly half of them raised their hands. The Heartland Institute is a Chicago-based think tank that rejects the scientific consensus that humans are changing the climate and has received funding from the conservative billionaire Koch brothers and fossil fuel industry.

In March, it mailed, unsolicited, a 135-page book and accompanying DVD to tens of thousands of science teachers at public high schools across the US, with plans to keep that up until the report was in the hands of every last one.

While it received swift backlash -- including from Democratic senators, Heartland's most recent effort (though not its first) to spread climate science denial in public schools had a somewhat fortuitous timing. Ross and his colleagues at the Paleontological Research Institution were putting the finishing touches on their own book for science educators, The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change.

We "had it mostly done when we learned about the Heartland Institute's project to distribute misinformation" to teachers across the country, Ross told DeSmog. He recalls finding out about Heartland's teacher mailing either through Facebook or the news. It caused an immediate stir among the community of earth science educators.

"At first, we were, of course, incredibly alarmed but our second thought was, 'Well, OK, we have a product to counter it,'" said Ross, who was one of The Teacher-Friendly Guide's editors.

"This gave us a really strong motivation to get the book in the hands of as many teachers as possible across the country."

Don Duggan-Haas, who also contributed to the guide, says their team felt compelled to respond more directly to Heartland's misinformation but in a way that wouldn't delay their own publishing date.

The Teacher-Friendly Guide already had 11 chapters covering everything from the evidence and causes of climate change to the obstacles in addressing and reasons for teaching it. Adding a final chapter, written by Alexandra Moore, in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQ) seemed like the best approach.

Taking on Heartland Institute Myths

While they don't explicitly mention the Heartland teacher mailing in the FAQ, Duggan-Haas pointed out, "The first question of the FAQ chapter is 'Is there a consensus among climate scientists that global warming is occurring and that humans are the cause?'"

The title of the Heartland book, of course, was Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming.

"That's a pretty direct response to the theme of their publication," he said.

In keeping with best practices for science communication, Duggan-Haas said they didn't want to trigger the "backfire effect," a phenomenon that may occur when trying to correct misinformation.

"We're trying to avoid restating the myth in a way that would reinforce it," he said.

Ross agreed: "We did not dwell on the Heartland Institute, even in the FAQ, but we did try to make sure we addressed some of the most important points that the Heartland Institute was making in their propaganda."

In its FAQ, the Paleontological Research Institution's teacher guide answers 18 questions touching on common climate science denier points, including why we can trust the proven reliability of computer climate models and why humans, rather than natural variation or the sun, are the most likely explanation for observed global warming.

One of the questions, "Are people who are arguing that global warming is happening being alarmists?" is a likely reference to the derogatory term, "alarmist," frequently used by the Heartland Institute and other climate denier organizations.

Heartland and NIPCC Called Out

While The Teacher-Friendly Guide doesn't mention the Heartland Institute's propaganda sent to teachers, it does call out the science-denying think tank by name. Question 16 in the FAQ reads like this: "Climate websites refer to both the IPCC and, more recently, the NIPCC. What is the difference between these two organizations?"

The former, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), consists of thousands of climate scientists and was created by the United Nations. It has reviewed more than 9,000 scientific publications and released five reports on the state of climate change science, written by 500 lead authors and checked by 2,000 outside scientists.

But the NIPCC, the "Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change," is a product of the Heartland Institute and regularly directs criticisms at the IPCC reports.

The Teacher-Friendly Guide goes on to describe Heartland and the NIPCC:

"The 'Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change' is sponsored by the Heartland Institute, a US-based conservative think tank best known for fighting government regulation of the tobacco and fossil fuel industries. Heartland has campaigned to downplay threats posed by second-hand smoke, acid rain, and ozone depletion, as well as against the Endangered Species Act. The Heartland NIPCC also issues periodic reports, timed to coincide with the release of IPCC assessment reports and formatted to look like them. NIPCC reports are authored by fewer than 50 individuals and the most recent report cites only 72 papers, mostly written by the NIPCC authors."

The National Center for Science Education handily debunks the NIPCC  -- and so has DeSmog.

Correcting the Record With More Mail for Teachers

Published in May, The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change has its work cut out for it. Ross says their plan is "to send a guide to every high school in the country with CDs for every teacher in the high school."

And they're crowdfunding to raise more money, on top of their original National Science Foundation grant, in order to pull that off.

But Heartland reports that it has delivered its publication to "more than 300,000 K-12 and college-level teachers all across America."

And while Duggan-Haas says his earth science teacher colleagues did not fall for it -- and even discussed plans for using it in lessons on detecting biased publications -- he acknowledged that American science teachers, generally and unsurprisingly, reflect the knowledge and attitudes of the broader American public on climate change.

Still, six months after the first release of The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change, it seems to be in high demand: the paperback version ($25 each) has already run out but will be available again in early December. But anyone can access a free PDF of The Teacher Friendly Guide online right now.

In these troubling and surreal times, honest journalism is more important than ever. Help us keep real news flowing: Make a donation to Truthout today.
Categories: News

We Will Not Be Your Disposable Labor: Graduate Student Workers' Fight Goes Beyond the GOP Assault

Truth Out - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 05:00

Contingent labor is in every stratum of the university today and graduate students are just one part of it, so campus organizing needs to have a "social movement" rather than a paycheck-oriented focus, says Tom DePaola, a graduate student worker at the University of Southern California. DePaola was among the people arrested at Speaker Paul Ryan's office for protesting the proposed tax on tuition waivers.

Tom DePaola and his chapter of the SEIU protest in front of Paul Ryan's office to protest the newest GOP tax bill.Tom DePaola and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) demonstrate in front of Paul Ryan's office on December 5, 2017, to protest a proposed tax on tuition waivers. (Photo courtesy of SEIU Faculty Forward)

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Welcome to Interviews for Resistance. We're now nearly a year into the Trump administration, and activists have scored some important victories in those months. Yet there is always more to be done, and for many people, the question of where to focus and how to help remains. In this series, we talk with organizers, agitators and educators, not only about how to resist, but how to build a better world. Today's interview is the 98th in the series. Click here for the most recent interview before this one.

Today we bring you a conversation with Tom DePaola, a third-year Ph.D. student graduate worker at the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education. DePaola studies urban education policy and academic labor in universities.

Sarah Jaffe: We are talking today because you were one of several people protesting in Paul Ryan's office [Tuesday] over the tax bill and what it would do to graduate student workers like yourself. First of all, tell us about the action yesterday -- what ended up happening? Any reaction from Paul Ryan?

Tom DePaola: We were hoping against hope that Paul Ryan would actually sit down with us and hear our quite reasonable concerns. He didn't and that was no surprise, but we decided to do everything we could to elevate this issue and make our voices heard anyway. For several of us, that included taking arrests and that was something that we were happy to do.

We came together really quickly and with a lot of support from SEIU [Service Employees International Union]. We felt very protected. They had really fantastic lawyers standing by that were ready to pounce if anything went awry. We had hoped that there would be more time to tell some of our stories using the people's mic and to get some more said before they started hauling us off. Unfortunately, it didn't pan out that way. I think I was basically one of the only persons who got to do that.

If we are getting taxed as though we make close to six figures, then that is going to be a way of just forcing us out of school altogether.

We showed up and there was some press. We did some interviews. We were a little thrown off at first, because it was clear there were two cops for every one of us in the hallway. They were quite an intimidating presence. For many of us, this is definitely the first action of this gravity that we were undergoing, and the first time many of us were taking arrest.... Several of us flew 3,000 miles to get arrested, essentially. [Laughs] But I think it was worth it.

I believe the Senate version that they passed did not actually have the grad student tax, but the House version did. Is that correct?

That is right, but who knows what is going to come out of reconciliation. I am sure a lot of the senators who voted on the Senate version had no idea what was in it ... I am sure that the talk was, "Don't worry. We will fix it once we go back to the House." There were contradicting measures in both bills. Some of those things bought us some time. They were clearly in a hurry, and for good reason.

The more that people look into either version of the bill, the scarier it starts to look. The tuition waiver was a big issue for me and for many of my colleagues, because you can't tax money as income that one never sees. We make barely enough to get by in an expensive city like L.A., where those of us from USC were coming from. We get enough to pay rent and try to eat regularly. That is about all we can hope for. If we are getting taxed as though we make close to six figures, then that is going to be a way of just forcing us out of school altogether....

Even if we are getting educational benefits from this work, we are still paid employees and have a right to have a structural voice in our workplace.

We are all sitting on lots of student debt already. We are certainly not going to take out additional loans that are literally going into the pockets of donors to people like Paul Ryan to pay taxes. That feels just outrageous. If we have to go down there and get arrested to make that point, then we will, and we did....

Talk a little bit more about the union organizing campaign, because one of the big challenges that graduate student workers have in organizing is that the university tries to claim that you are not working.

The last time that graduate workers had the right to unionize was just the short window from 2000 to 2003/4. During that time, there was obviously a lot of energy around the country. Many schools found that graduate workers were unionizing and then once their status [as workers] was revoked, many schools tore up those agreements.

There was this question of primary status. What they had argued over for forever was, "Are we primarily students to earn educational benefits from our work at the university?" or "Are we primarily employees being paid a wage to perform a service?" That is why there has been all of this flip-flopping, depending on what administration was in power at the national level and who they were appointing to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The key difference with the most recent decision in 2016 by the NLRB was that they said, quite correctly, that it doesn't matter what the primary relationship is, you can be both. Being both doesn't negate your rights in either sphere.

Even if we are getting educational benefits from this work, we are still paid employees and have a right to have a structural voice in our workplace. That was a really key distinction in the most recent turn. It remains to be seen what difference it will make in the event that Donald Trump's NLRB decides to come in and mess with our status again. We know that universities ... are waiting and hoping for this administration to swoop in and save them from the horrors of having to negotiate with their own workforce over working conditions.

It should give us a bit of hope, even in these sorts of dark times, that collective power is something that we can wield in nearly any context.

It seems sort of silly because there is a lot of empirical research that shows, in fact, having a unionized graduate workforce is not going to affect the quality of student/faculty relationships, which is a claim that is often made. There is research that shows it doesn't impact the bottom line. These are always the things that they level in the fear-mongering campaigns that tend to come out of these battles. As we organize, we are trying to be cognizant of the tactics that will be used and the ways that these tactics are being used uniformly across the country. We see that largely, these institutions are hiring the same law firms. They are spending millions of dollars to obtain legal help to fight us when we are no threat to their bottom line. Which should indicate it is not actually about bottom lines; it is about power.

The other important piece is that in 2004, when all of these institutions tore up their previous agreements, that only galvanized some unions further. So NYU's graduate union, through sheer militancy, managed to get voluntary recognition some years later from the university just to keep them from drawing all this bad attention. That was key, because eventually in 2016, the Columbia decision was able to cite NYU as evidence that, in fact, all of these concerns that the universities like to put out there of how unions will negatively affect them are unfounded. It should give us a bit of hope, even in these sorts of dark times, that collective power is something that we can wield in nearly any context.

It doesn't mean that it is equivalent to not [having] a legal status. It certainly isn't. If Right to Work passes, that would be incredibly tragic and make things immensely more difficult. But at the same time, there is no reason to feel like we are on the path to certain defeat. I have never been so heartened to see so many people trying to genuinely organize and figure out how to wield power together....

How have the universities reacted to the fact that this tax bill would potentially tax grad student tuition waivers as income?

I think that they are nervous. Not because of ... overt sympathy toward their workers, but because we are, relatively speaking, cheap labor for them, and if they remove the ability to have this cheap labor force doing a lot of their instructional labor, doing a lot of their research labor, we know it's likely to get much more expensive for them to fulfill these needs.... It seems like there are grant eligibilities tied up in the problem, and that is partially why there has to be tuition charged and waived, but nothing ever changes hands. No one is paying tuition and then paying it back. It is all on paper. Which makes it all the more absurd that they would tax this fictive income.

As long as there is an army of disposable labor running the university, you are never going to be safe.

But they are also scared about their endowments.... Universities -- particularly elite universities ... they are in this position where they are deeply dependent on the current administration and their insidious tactics in order to be able to keep these democratic movements at bay and ultimately wash their hands of it. In the event that the NLRB is able to step in on their behalf, they can say, "Oh, well, we would have negotiated in good faith, of course, but this wasn't up to us." It is all connected.

Ultimately, we have to try to democratize these institutions.... I see tenured professors lamenting the loss of academic freedom, and I want to just shake them and be like, "Where do you think it came from? If you want academic freedom, if you want those threats to go away, then you should be aggressively trying to organize your colleagues and advocating for your students who are also employees, to have a voice." We can only protect that sort of thing together. As long as there is an army of disposable labor running the university, you are never going to be safe. That seems like a really basic lesson that a lot of these older tenured professors just haven't learned somehow....

I feel like it is up to us to show them how to do that. I hope that we can, because I don't think that there is an intrinsically hostile relationship between a unionized graduate worker body and the faculty. We, in many ways, want the same thing. We all want a strong university, a robust and democratic space of scholarly inquiry. The only way we are going to have that is if we combine our forces.

This is another side issue, but unionization is not just about graduate workers, it is not just about adjuncts. They may be the ones that get talked about most, but what we call contingent academic labor is in every stratum of the university today. People who end up graduating with Ph.D.s and then doing post-docs for a decade, desperately trying to get a permanent position in the academy and never doing it, getting cycled out altogether. You have contract researchers that are doing lots of work, bringing in tons of grant money, who are also precariously employed. And, of course, the wealth of non-academic labor that keeps things moving smoothly at all levels, from office clerical workers and office staff, all the way to maintenance staff and food service workers. It used to be the case that maintenance workers [and] food service workers had the full benefits of being university employees. Their children could have tuition breaks, they had access to all sorts of benefits. Now, increasingly, it is just contracted out to some third party who brings on temporary workers who are probably scheduled 19 hours a week so they don't have to pay them their wages in benefits.

Republican donors are pouring money into student elections because it is much cheaper than congressional elections and these are future generations of leaders.

This is about more than just the graduate student workers, it is about more than just the instructional labor. If we want a university that lives up to any kind of ideal as a university, we are going to have to build it the hard way together. It has never really existed. The university that we want has yet to come into being. That is the crucial thing to keep in mind.... The truth is, universities aren't these passive victims of corporatization.... They are actively trying to interface with the market as much as possible and those incentives are really firmly in place.

It is important that without balancing out the relationships in the workplace and actually giving the workforce a structural voice, it doesn't matter how much money there is; we will never have that kind of academic ideal where people can pursue the life of the mind. Right now, that is a myth.

I think this is much bigger than just the tax bill. It is much bigger than just graduate students. I try to keep that in mind, because in past iterations of the labor movement in the US, I think that there were a lot of fatal mistakes made when we may have pivoted too hard to bread-and-butter issues as opposed to what we might call "social movement unionism," where we are all advocating for each other, we are all standing up for each other....

We, students, the workers themselves, we have to come together to protect each other because really that is all we have. The university isn't going to protect us... None of us have the time to take days to fly down to Paul Ryan's office to get arrested. But at the same time, we are not going to step aside while folks come in and just try to rip our careers out from underneath us....

The right wing is obsessed with the university as a place where the left has power.... There's an article where a conservative economist basically admitted that they are targeting grad students in this bill not because it raises a bunch of money, but because it targets the left. I wonder if you could talk about that particular obsession with the campus as the "place of the left" and what that means in this moment.

I think it is deeply disingenuous for them to pretend that this is about closing holes in the budget. Ultimately ... there is no way that this education would continue to be tenable if we were responsible for a tax burden like this. Honestly, even without that, with changes to health care and all sorts of other things, we walk a very fine line. I think we could see a massive exodus [of graduate students] from universities. I think that is what excites people like Paul Ryan far more than the prospect of us paying a higher share of taxes, because there is obviously a lot of energy being put into these really insidious kinds of legislative moves. To the extent that they see universities as bastions of critical thinking and, yes, of essentially leftism, this is one response to that.

Another is ... the extent to which Republican donors are pouring money into college campuses in really sketchy ways. Opening research centers funded by the Koch brothers and pouring money into student elections because it is much cheaper than congressional elections and you are talking about future generations of leaders....

They want to fuel these tensions on campus because it creates fodder for them to further delegitimize ... scholarship, in general. I think we are living in dangerous times where we have to be very, very careful and thoughtful about how it is that we defend ourselves and how it is that we try to secure a future for any of us, for academic inquiry, for empirical knowledge. I have no doubt that they would much rather shut down a lot of these places, where people can start to question the hypocrisy coming from the right....

How can people keep up with you and whatever else you are doing to resist this?

I am part of what we call USC Forward.... Anyone that wants to look at our particular campaign, we are, but it is part of a much broader campaign by SEIU called Faculty Forward. They have been organizing contingent instructors for a long time. I encourage any graduate students who are listening, I am sure that there is something happening on your campus related to this. You should seek out those folks, because there are people trying to organize right now. We need to figure out how to wield power together and show solidarity to one another, because the university can only function because we do our work. That comes with tremendous power, and it is right now latent and we need to realize it.

NOTE: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Interviews for Resistance is a project of Sarah Jaffe, with assistance from Laura Feuillebois and support from the Nation Institute. It is also available as a podcast on iTunes. Not to be reprinted without permission.

Categories: News

These Nazis Just Want to Be Your Neighbors

Truth Out - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 05:00

Tony Hovater could be a case study for "The Banality of Evil: 2017 Hipster Edition."

At least, that's how reporter Richard Fausset seemed bound and determined to portray him in a recent New York Times profile of the neo-Nazi.

After it was published, Fausset's piece caused a huge outcry. It's pretty easy to see why.

Fausset spends much of the profile "humanizing" Hovater and his wife, presenting them as a perfectly normal couple...except, oh yeah, for the fact that Hovater's a Hitler-loving neo-Nazi who in 2015 co-founded the Traditionalist Worker Party.

Members of this fascist organization have repeatedly engaged in violence and provocative actions, including during the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where numerous anti-racist activists were injured and Heather Heyer was killed earlier this year.

Lines from the Times piece -- like "Weddings are hard enough to plan for when your fiancé is not an avowed white nationalist" -- along with references to Hovater's cats, his wedding registry and his "polite and low-key" demeanor angered many readers.

Fausset wrote that Hovater is a big Seinfeld fan who supposedly "prefers to spread the gospel of white nationalism with satire." The article compares his embrace of fascism to a "hipster's" love of heavy metal and remarks on Hovater's "Midwestern manners" that would "please anyone's mother" (as long as your mother isn't Jewish or Black or any other group targeted by Hovater and his neo-Nazi buddies).


After the outcry that greeted the story, the New York Times took the unusual step of having its National Editor Marc Lacey as well as the reporter Fausset respond in print. The Times also removed a link in the original story to swastika armbands for sale on the Traditionalist Worker Party website.

Lacey and Fausset "regretted" that the story offended so many people -- but said that, especially after the violence in Charlottesville, the issue of the growth of the far right in America is a complex one, with no simple answers.

"Sometimes all we can bring you is the words of the police spokesman, the suspect's picture from a high school yearbook, the acrid stench of the burned woods," Fausset noted in poetic prose -- while misusing a reference to a song by the punk band the Minutemen. "Sometimes a soul, and its shape, remain obscure to both writer and reader."

Except there's not a lot that's "obscure" about the Traditionalist Worker Party -- whose stock-in-trade is scapegoating Jews, minorities, liberals and anti-racists.

Its members are open admirers of Hitler. In Hovater's case, he claims the Holocaust was "overblown." Proof? None -- Hovater simply claims in the Times profile that "Heinrich Himmler wanted to exterminate groups like Slavs and homosexuals, [while] Hitler 'was a lot more kind of chill on those subjects.'" The murder of 6 million Jews doesn't come up.

Hovater never comes out and says he's for gassing Jews or lynching Blacks. He just claims that it's common sense that white people are suffering because Blacks and other minorities receive special treatment and Jews control the media and financial system.

Fausset writes that Hovater is "adamant that the races are probably better off separated, but he insists he is not racist." Neither he nor his editor bother to ask how both things can be true. In fact, the Times profile is striking for how derelict it is in compelling Hovater to answer any serious follow-up questions or even noting where he ducks them.


Fausset notes that Hovater was on the scene during the far right's rampage in Charlottesville in August, but he never talks to anyone who witnessed the deadly violence of the Traditionalist Worker Party and their neo-Nazi brethren.

Members of the group have not been shy about their role. After the killing of Heather Heyer, Matt Parrot, a member of the affiliated Traditionalist Youth Network, proudly talked about how the group helped escalate the violence at the city's Emancipation Park: "With a full-throated rebel yell, the League [of the South] broke through the wall of degenerates [anti-racist protesters] and TradWorker managed to enter the Lee Park venue itself while they were largely still reeling."

Matthew Heimbach, another co-founder of the party, is also quoted in the profile of Hovater about the need for the group to recruit "more families. We need to be able to just be normal."

Heimbach was also in Charlottesville, where, dressed in a black shirt and German-style military helmet, he repeatedly urged the group's supporters to push through the ranks of the anti-racists.

After Heyer's death, Heimbach told the New York Times that the day was a rousing success: "We achieved all of our objectives...We asserted ourselves as the voice of white America." Fausset noted that, on social media, Hovater's takaway from Charlottesville was similar: "We made history. Hail victory."

"Our reporter and his editors agonized over the tone and content of the article," Timeseditor Marc Lacey wrote in his defense of the piece. But they didn't agonize the way Heather Heyer's mother has.

On the same day that Heyer was killed, an African American protester named DeAndre Harris was brutally beaten in a parking garage by a mob of white supremacists, leaving him with a spinal injury and a head laceration that required 10 stitches. Video of the attack showed at least one man, Jacob Scott Goodwin, was wearing a Traditionalist Worker Party pin.

It's a safe bet that DeAndre Harris has a different view of the Hovater's "Midwestern manners."


In one especially thorough takedown of the profile of Hovater that circulated online, one commenter pointed out how the Times gave "a racist an unchallenged platform," while failing to talk to civil rights organizations or even ask follow-up questions, like about the ideology of the Traditionalist Worker Party.

Even a cursory Internet search would have turned up reams of information about the party, its Holocaust denial and connections to other neo-fascist groups and the violence and bigotry of its leading figures.

Thus, the Times didn't see fit to mention that Heimbach advocates an America in which homosexuality and interracial marriage are illegal. Those who are gay or in favor of interracial marriage should be sent to re-education camps, he has said. "In any healthy society [gays] would be dragged off to therapy to help you cope with your mental illness, not given glitter and assless chaps to parade down the street."

The group uses language calculated to appeal to the political polarization in the U.S. and economically struggling white workers in particular. This includes ostensibly anti-capitalist and pro-environment rhetoric.

While the Times noted that the party is attempting to recruit on campuses, it didn't say what that means. How do the students at Murray State University feel, for example, after the Traditionalist Worker Party reserved a table in September and posted flyers that talked about "fighting to take back our communities"?

And what about the multiracial residents of Sacramento, where last year some 30 members of the Traditionalist Worker Party engaged in a violent confrontation with anti-fascist counterprotesters that left 10 people injured, some seriously? After the violence, one neo-Nazi bragged that anti-fascists "got one of our[s] but we got six of theirs."


Despite claiming to seek an understanding of Hovater's motives, the Times article doesn't attempt to show the impact of a fascist group on the people who suffer real abuse and injury as a result of its organizing.

Not DeAndre Harris, injured in Charlottesville; not the members of Congregation Beth Israel, the city's sole synagogue, who were forced to flee when the neo-Nazis marched in front, chanting "Sieg heil" ("Hail victory"); not the many more people beyond Charlottsville who today feel unsafe on their campuses and in their communities because of the Traditionalist Worker Party.

Presenting a Nazi as the mild-mannered "boy next door" who cares deeply about his community is nothing new. Racism is American as apple pie in a country built on the enslavement of Blacks, and the attempt by white supremacists to normalize their hate is a longstanding tradition of America's far right.

Particularly in its modern incarnation, the Klan has mixed racist terrorism with more benign activities in an attempt to gain a larger foothold in political and social life. David Duke, a former Grand Dragon of the KKK in Louisiana, built a political career on trying to get the Klan "out of the cow pasture and into the hotel meeting rooms."

After Charlottesville, a series of anti-racist mobilizations against planned far-right rallies from Boston to Berkeley, California, helped drain some of the wind from the sails of the fascists. Even so, they have been given a boost by the current occupant of the White House who, as Matthew Heimbach noted back in 2015, "is blowing the dog whistle for white racial interests harder than any other candidate."

Just last week, Trump re-tweeted false and virulently racist and Islamophobic videos from a far-right group, Britain First -- an action that various administration officials then defended.

With this kind of racist "fake news" being circulated by the current occupant of the White House, it puts a premium on journalists doing a better job of exposing the far right -- and on all of us building opposition in our workplaces, campuses and communities.

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Categories: News

The Necessity of Imagining an Unimaginable War

Truth Out - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 05:00
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The prospect of nuclear war with North Korea has repeatedly been described as "unimaginable" -- and in fact, most of us have literally failed to imagine it. As the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof points out, "We're complacent -- neither the public nor the financial markets appreciate how high the risk is of a war, and how devastating one could be."

Admittedly, with biological, conventional and nuclear weapons expected to kill millions, the scenario is genuinely difficult to comprehend. We struggle to translate such high numbers into pictures of individual men, women and children suffering.

Nevertheless, we can no longer afford to be in denial. Top military and political experts warn that the risk of war is at an all-time high, the threat is imminent and the impact would be catastrophic. Even before North Korea's latest missile test, former US Army General Barry McCraffrey, Council of Foreign Relations President Richard Haass and the International Institute for Strategic Studies Executive Director Mark Fitzpatrick all estimated that the risk of war was 50 percent. General McCaffrey expects that war will breakout by summer 2018.

There is a significant risk that a war would escalate beyond a regional conflict. China has warned that it would intervene on behalf of North Korea in the case of a US preemptive strike, and international security experts Nora Bensahel and David Barno argue that China may launch attacks on "US bases in the region or possibly even the US homeland, especially since radiation would inevitably blanket some of its territory." China has been carrying out military drills near the Korean peninsula since July, and tested an ICBM capable of hitting the continental United States on November 6. Russia also recently publicly warned that it is preparing for war as well.

Even if the war was confined to the Korean peninsula, however, it has the "potential to cause mass starvation worldwide," as a result of nuclear winter, according to nuclear experts Alan Robock and Owen Toon.

In other words, World War III is no longer just the stuff of sci-fi movies -- it may be right around the corner.

With such high stakes, it is critical that we voluntarily imagine the "unimaginable," as uncomfortable as it may be. Those who do imagine war are much more likely to take action to prevent it. Journalist and author Jonathan Schell advocated for this position in his 1982 book The Fate of the Earth, writing that "Only by descending into this hell in imagination now can we hope to escape descending into it in reality … the knowledge we thus gain cannot in itself protect us from nuclear annihilation, but without it we cannot begin to take measures that can actually protect us."

It is no coincidence that members of Congress who are war veterans have been some of the most outspoken and active in raising the alarm over the crisis in North Korea.

Although President Reagan never personally experienced war, a movie depicting a nuclear attack on the United States was enough to activate his imagination and change his entire orientation to nuclear war. After seeing the "The Day After," he wrote in his diary that the film "left me greatly depressed … We have to do all we can to have a deterrent and see there is never a nuclear war." A few months later, he announced that "reducing the risk of war, and especially nuclear war, is priority number one." His shift in perspective is often credited with being one of the most important factors in de-escalating the Cold War.

As our brains are hard-wired to protect us from thinking about large-scale suffering, we too may need to take proactive efforts to imagine a potential war. For example, we can look at pictures of Hiroshima and read the stories of atomic bomb survivors, transposing such scenarios to our own cities. We can use nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein's Nukemap to understand what would happen if a bomb was dropped on our own cities. We can ensure that we stay updated on the crisis and that we obtain information from reliable sources with expertise.

However, while imagining the prospect of war may be necessary, it is not sufficient: Americans must mobilize quickly and effectively to address the threat. If they are able to do so, there is good reason to believe they can prevent war.

First, there are viable options to resolve the Korean crisis -- the Trump administration just hasn't tried any of them yet. In 1994, the Clinton administration successfully negotiated a framework agreement that centered on the idea of a freeze-for-freeze: North Korea suspended its nuclear program in exchange for the US suspending some of its military exercises. The agreement held up until 2003 when the Bush administration  -- not North Korea -- ended the agreement.

A new freeze-for-freeze (which North Korea has repeatedly indicated it would be open to), in combination with legislation preventing Trump from launching a pre-emptive strike, would be the best possible option to solve the current crisis. Essentially, if North Korea doesn't feel threatened, it will probably stop threatening others.

Second, there is already an existing grassroots structure with the capabilities to organize an effective large-scale movement. Since Trump became president, "an astounding number of new grassroots groups, at least six times the number the Tea Party could boast at its height," have formed according to grassroots leader L.A. Kauffman. Activists have already done the hard part -- they have formed movements, mobilized large segments of the American population, and proven their efficacy, successfully organizing to prevent the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, for example.

Third, unlike with Obamacare, there is already bipartisan support for efforts to prevent war with North Korea. There are already over 60 co-sponsors, including two Republicans, to the "No Unconstitutional Strike against North Korea Act" in the House. Although there are only three Democrats co-sponsoring the Senate bill, several Republican senators -- including Bob CorkerJeff FlakeDan Sullivan, and John Thune  -- have all publicly expressed concern about Trump's approach to North Korea.

However, there hasn't been any movement on the bill since it was introduced in October, nor on various other bills that would restrict Trump's power to start a pre-emptive war. Public pressure is needed to ensure that Congress prioritizes such legislation.

Although no bills have been introduced as of yet to support a freeze-for-freeze, 61 members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in August highlighting the success of the aforementioned 1994 Agreed Framework, stating that there is an "urgent need to replicate these successes." While the Trump administration is responsible for making international treaties, Congress could still force a freeze-for-freeze by passing legislation that prevents funds from being used for the most provocative military drills.

Fourth, there is a historical precedent for a large-scale nuclear freeze movement. During the Cold War, as activist and writer Duncan Meisel explained, over a third of Americans participated in "a series of city and state referendum campaigns calling for a Nuclear Freeze." What's more, "Reagan's militaristic temperament" --  according to Andrew Lanham of the Boston Review  -- actually aided the movement's efforts to garner support across the political spectrum.

However, all of these advantages are meaningless if activists fail to focus sufficient attention on the North Korea crisis. With so many important issues at stake, activism can feel like triage these days: Efforts tend to be focused on whatever legislative calamity is most imminent. The problem with that approach is that activists' focus becomes determined by Congress' agenda rather than grassroots priorities.

If activists take a breath from firefighting long enough to imagine a potential war with North Korea, they may realize that they need to proactively organize to insist that Congress urgently focuses its attention on the North Korea crisis, and implements an effective legislative strategy to prevent war.

As the Bulletin of Scientists President Rachel Bronson says, "we have reversed the hands of the Doomsday Clock before. We can do it again."

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