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August 17, 2019

A-infos

(en) Asr - Anarchist Union of Afghanistan and Iran: Fujian Life Anarcho Syndicalist Group: HESK - Hess the killer; [machine translation]

Every day, one hour before sunrise, the clothes of the inmates he had gathered last night were hard and fast. You would be hard pressed by the low water pressure, in a cramped, nauseous place where no one was even present. Stand there for a minute. You're in a hurry because it has to be washed and watered before it can be opened in the open air, so that it spreads out very quickly, which, even if it loses a few minutes, makes it more difficult for more than four hundred prisoners to move. And it even makes it impossible. Hacking means being humiliated so much that he wishes death. Hacking is humiliating four hundred pairs of eyes. The four hundred human beings who, when they see a tragedy, not only help him but laugh at his suffering and misery. . Yes, prison is not just a set of walls that confines and deprives one of the community. ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at August 17, 2019 06:25 AM

(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL - Freedom for Vincenzo (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

An Italian anti-capitalist activist was arrested and jailed by the French police on Thursday in Brittany. He was sentenced in Italy to 12 years in prison for taking part in demonstrations against the Genoa G8 in 2001. Demand his immediate release. ---- A few months ago it was Bolsanero who delivered Cesare Batisti to Salvini. Today it is the French state that delivers Vincenzo Vecchi. Mutual aid is between repressive powers. ---- Vincenzo is now incarcerated and threatened with extradition for having participated in the demonstrations against the G8 of Genoa in 2001 as well as an anti-fascist demonstration in Milan in 2006. Sentenced in 2012 by the Italian court of cassation, he decided to to flee this totally unjust and revolting punishment. ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at August 17, 2019 06:25 AM

(en) Bil'in, Friday 9-8-19, the 754th weekly demonstration (fr, it)

The non-violent demonstration against the occupation, the separation fence/wall and the settlers. In a hot Summer noon 5 Israelis with the anarchists against the wall initiative, and 2 international activists joined the villagers. We converged at the Abu Lamun oak orchard and marched from there towards the gate in the wall - chanting. When we arrived at the gate the soldiers climbed to the cages above the gate. We continued last week communication with the soldier who claimed even stronger his sympatry and said he would have open the gate for face to face chat if he had the key... After a long communication and chanting we marched along the wall (chanting more) to the point near the settlement to confront the settlers before we returned to the village. ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at August 17, 2019 06:22 AM

(en) Libertarian Communist Union Rennes: In support of Vincenzo to demand his release, tomorrow tomorrow 11H in the Parliament of Brittany! (fr) [machine translation]

Press release from UCL: ---- An Italian anti-capitalist activist was arrested and jailed by the French police on Thursday in Brittany. He was sentenced in Italy to 12 years in prison for taking part in demonstrations against the Genoa G8 in 2001. Demand his immediate release. ---- A few months ago it was Bolsanero who delivered Cesare Batisti to Salvini. Today it is the French state that delivers Vincenzo Vecchi. Help is between repressive powers. ---- Vincenzo is now imprisoned and threatened with extradition for taking part in protests against the Genoa G8 in 2001 and an anti-fascist demonstration in Milan in 2006. Sentenced in 2012 by the Italian Court of Cassation, he decided to flee this sentence totally unfair and revolting. ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at August 17, 2019 06:22 AM

(en) ait russia: Portuguese "left" government is trying to suppress the indefinite strike of drivers [machine translation]

The Portuguese government of the socialists, supported by the Communists and the "radical left" in parliament, intends to forcefully suppress the indefinite strike of truck drivers that began on August 12. The strike was announced by two leading trade unions of workers in this profession. ---- Already a few hours before the start of the strike, the Portuguese Prime Minister, speaking at the National Energy Agency, said that violating "civil law requirements" was "criminal disobedience" and could not "go unpunished." If the strikers do not provide "the minimum necessary services," the government will resort to civil law measures. ---- At midnight from Sunday to Monday, Portuguese truck warriors began an indefinite strike. The speech is essentially defensive in nature: drivers are trying to defend the rights for which they fought for 20 years. After two decades of work ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at August 17, 2019 06:05 AM

(en) ait russia: 39th Yellow Vests Protest Act in France [machine translation]

Despite the fact that the holiday season is in full swing, thousands of people continue to take part in the weekly protests of the yellow vest movement in France. On August 10, the rallies again took place on the streets of Paris, Toulouse, Montpellier, Bordeaux, Lyon, Besancon and other cities, at the crossroads of highways and at toll collection points on roads where protesters let passers through for free. ---- In Paris, demonstrators marched across the western regions of the capital, from Villiers to the André Citroen park, with the motto: "We won't back down! Purchasing power, housing, unemployment," active solidarity income ", allowance for disabled adults, referendum on civic initiatives ... " Demonstrators carried posters condemning police repression in France and around the world, demanded the resignation of the Minister of the Interior and lower prices for necessities. ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at August 17, 2019 06:05 AM

crimethinc

What They Can't Do with Badges, They Do with Torches : A Poster

Two years ago today, a thousand fascists converged on Charlottesville for the “Unite the Right” rally, hoping to normalize white supremacist violence as an ordinary part of US politics. The night before the rally, police were nowhere to be seen as hundreds of fascists marched through the streets with torches, shouting anti-Semitic chants; the next day, massive numbers of police stood aside and did nothing as white supremacists physically attacked local activists of color, clergy members, anarchists, and others who had gathered to protest. The police only revoked the permit for the rally when courageous anti-fascists successfully defended themselves, creating so much chaos that it was impossible for the rally to proceed as planned.

On the anniversary of those events, we have prepared a poster clarifying the longstanding relationship between police and white supremacist organizations.

Click on the image to access the poster.

Fascists are not the opposite of police. They are not lawless; on the contrary, the hope to intensify the violence with which laws are enforced. They count on police to protect them from the wrath of the public as they recruit new members and encourage them to carry out attacks. They hope that these attacks will give the police the excuse to clamp down further on the general population. Their aim is to normalize bigotry and violence, so there will be less outcry when the police intensify the discriminatory and violent ways that they enforce the laws.

Police are not the opposite of fascists. They harass, kidnap, incarcerate, deport, and murder more people of color, women, and queer people every year than any fascist group; they do more to advance the white supremacist agenda than any independent far-right organization. It was police who enforced the segregation laws of the Jim Crow era, police who cracked down on civil rights demonstrations, police who killed Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. Throughout history, there have been countless longstanding relationships between police and white supremacist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. But such relationships are not essential for the police as an institution to continuing playing a structural role maintaining the disparities of our unequal society.

If we permit the police to present themselves as the only ones who can protect us from white supremacist attacks like the one in El Paso so they can acquire more resources, legitimacy, and authority, that will enable them to intensify the institutional role they already play in maintaining these disparities. Still worse, the next time the government shifts further to the right, the police will have all of those additional resources at their disposal with which to escalate their violence.

It’s up to us to keep each other safe.

A banner hanging at the parking garage on East Market Street in Charlottesville on the side facing the entrance of the Charlottesville Police Department station, two years after anti-fascists shut down the “Unite the Right” rally.

Further Reading

The Two Faces of Fascism

Who Needs Fascists when There Are Police?

Last Year They Came with Torches—This Year They Come with Badges

August 17, 2019 05:02 AM

cyberguerrilla.org

Walking 450 kilometers for a Free Assange and a Free Catalonia

Jorge isn’t your regular activist. He’s been on a hunger strike 11 times to raise awareness for many causes. But this time things are different. He is not just on a hunger strike, he is Read more » 

by Anonymous at August 17, 2019 04:16 AM

August 16, 2019

jacobinmag

Portland’s Andy Ngo Is the Most Dangerous Grifter in America

Far-right forces will converge on Portland tomorrow, incited by the right-wing provocateur Andy Ngo. Though he poses as a journalist, the purpose of his platform is to sow harassment and violence against his targets on the Left — and the mainstream media have fallen for it.


alt Andy Ngo on Fox Business. (screenshot)

The media don’t know what to make of Andy Ngo. The New York Times calls Ngo an “independent journalist.” CNN describes him as a “conservative journalist.” Other outlets term Ngo a “conservative writer” to distinguish him from actual reporters.

But none of these labels get at who Ngo is. More importantly, they fail to define his role in far-right politics, media, and violence. An incident from October 2018 in Portland, Oregon, illustrates his role well.

It begins with Portland police killing Patrick Kimmons, a 27-year-old African-American male, in disputed circumstances. The Black Lives Matter–style activist group, Don’t Shoot Portland, called for a protest on October 6. Kimmons’s family members joined in what local media described as a “peaceful” and uneventful event.

There was one dicey moment during the march. A driver made an illegal right turn into protesters who were in a crosswalk and had the walk sign. A local TV station that recorded the incident wrote: “driver plows through protesters.” Video shows a man stopping in front of a silver Lexus that then strikes him and pushes him for more than thirty feet. Down the block, a brief confrontation ensues with a protester shoving the driver once and others hitting his vehicle. The driver left in his car without any more incident as protesters yelled, “Get out of here.”

It was unremarkable. But another video of the incident began circulating where it is difficult to see the protester being struck, enabling false claims such as, “#ANTIFA Anarchists Threaten Elderly Driver in Portland!” The story jumped to Fox News with Tucker Carlson replaying the obscured video, blaming everyone from Antifa and Occupy ICE to the Washington Post, Maxine Waters, Hillary Clinton, and protesters yelling at Trump officials in restaurants. Carlson’s guest was Andy Ngo playing an expert on lax law enforcement in Portland in an affected British accent. The Wall Street Journal gave Ngo a platform where he omitted crucial evidence that the driver deliberately struck a protester, while hyping outrage of a “mob” of “angry, agitated ingrates and criminals” marching for a dead black criminal, attacking a lone elderly white victim.

It’s farcical. The only significant lawbreaking was by the driver, who could have been charged with vehicular assault. But in a city that’s become an epicenter of far-right violence, the white nationalist friendly Patriot Prayer leaped on the faux outrage for a “Flash march for law and order in PDX” a week later. The march degenerated into street battles between right-wing fighters and masked antifascists as downtown bargoers looked on confused. At least one right-wing brawler was caught on video stomping a person on the ground, but no arrests were ever made. One reporter said they were maced by Antifa for no reason.

But it didn’t end there. The flash march created new viral moments. A video of a left-wing activist harassing a woman claiming to be a 9/11 widow was posted days later to The Daily Caller, which was cofounded by Tucker Carlson. (The woman appears to have lied about being a 9/11 widow.) Efforts to doxx the man hurling invective resulted in a professional skateboarder from Portland being falsely identified and inundated with death threats. Eventually the man in the video was identified, which started a new round of harassment. One source says the social service agency that fired him over the video “was flooded with hundreds of harassing calls and Facebook messages that were explicitly racist and threatening to harm and kill staff.”

Carlson credited Ngo with publicizing the videos. Ngo was a bit player, but the incident bolstered him. The incident was an example of a disturbing media model for the Trump era: opportunists using biased reporting, social media, and wild accusations inflame vigilante and digital mobs to target “enemies” such as the media, Democrats, and left-wing activists. Figures like Carlson and Ngo reap followers, prominence, and income from the outrage and threats of violence. But to keep the ratings and the money flowing, the outrage machine must be cranked ever louder, risking greater violence.

One political organizer in Portland who has received death threats stemming from Ngo’s work says, “It’s an arms race for money, and the narrative isn’t the point — the grift is. The larger, more offensive thing you can do, the system rewards it.”

This appears to be Ngo’s model. He uses social media to push biased opinions in conjunction with selectively edited videos that play to the bigotry of his audience. His followers get worked up, and this is often followed by a deluge of threats against his subject.

Jacobin has talked to six people in Portland, including journalists, political officials, and activists, who described harassing messages and threats of violence resulting from Ngo’s work or political involvement in Portland. Friends of two other activists claim they went into hiding after Ngo spread their names and they became targets of harassment. Some individuals who’ve tangled publicly with Ngo are reluctant to go on the record. They say they want to avoid the “trauma” of being subjected to a new round of death threats.

In fact, Ngo appears to rely on people not speaking up about his effect on them. He often writes of how activists won’t talk to him or they take down social media profiles after he focuses on them, seeming to imply they have something to hide. What he doesn’t mention is many say they are doing so to avoid harassment and threats of violence.

Madison, a Portland activist who tracks Ngo, says, “Ngo signals this is a person that should be targeted, should be harassed, and should be threatened. Andy puts a target on them and that results in the person being doxxed. Andy is giving people explicit permission to unleash hatred and violence on people. He absolutely knows what he is doing.”

Ngo is so intertwined with the specter of violence I encountered it after just a Facebook post. I wrote a post with the headline, “Andy Ngo is no journalist.” The post was shared by notorious right-wing figure, Carl Benjamin, aka, “Sargon of Akkad,” who has been featured on Ngo’s podcast and was banned from YouTube for repeatedly “joking” about raping a British Labour MP. In the comments on Benjamin’s post were calls for violence against myself, Antifa, and others. Within hours I started receiving threats directly, such as “You’re a bunch of retards and it will be a glorious day when you all are dealt with,” and “You are a disgraceful liar. If you or anyone of your ilk throws even a fucking tissue at me or my family watch what the fuck happens to your family lol.”

Now this model threatens to turn deadly. On June 29, Andy Ngo was attacked in Portland while videoing a Patriot Prayer rally heavily outnumbered by Antifa. A video shows him being punched, kicked, and hit with coconut milkshakes and silly string by masked individuals. Within minutes, videos of the attack and of a beaten Ngo narrating the incident were picked up by right-wing media such as Breitbart that have a dodgy relationship to facts. Headlines screaming brutal assault, vicious assault, and vicious attack by Antifa on Ngo were pumped out.

The sensationalism breached the mainstream with CNN’s Jake Tapper sending out an ill-informed tweet above a video of Ngo being attacked, writing, “Antifa regularly attacks journalists; it’s reprehensible.”

In a bizarre twist, the Portland police threw fuel on the fire by tweeting that some milkshakes thrown on June 29 “contained quick-drying cement.” The police never provided evidence and observers, including journalists, noted that many counterprotesters drank the milkshakes, making it extremely unlikely anyone could have laced them with concrete. But amplified by conspiracy theorists like Jack Prosobiec, the tweet went viral, whereupon right-wing media turned the disinformation into fact and the mainstream press treated it as a credible assertion. The police tweet incited the Right further and the group that made the milkshakes was deluged with death threats. It culminated in the city being flooded with death threats. Days after Ngo was attacked, City Hall was evacuated after a bomb threat. One source inside City Hall says the mayor’s office received “insane vitriol” and every office was receiving threats, including almost 100 harassing calls that tied up emergency service dispatchers.

Far-right figures responded to the June 29 attack on Ngo with graphic threats, and plan to hold an “End Domestic Terrorism” and “End Antifa” rally in Portland on August 17. Such is the level of far-right anger that many in the city fear the rally could become another Charlottesville, or worse — given the anti-Latino murder spree in El Paso and other foiled white nationalist plots since then.

To be clear, the attack on Ngo should be condemned. It serves no political purpose, and the Left should not be attacking media makers, even if they use dicey methods. Some Antifa activists in Portland also admit the attack played into right-wing hands by elevating him.

That is exactly what’s happened. Trump has beatified Ngo as one of his sinless followers — “A single man standing there with a camera who never got hit and never hit back before in his life” — under assault from the “evil” Antifa full of “sick, bad people.”

But it would also be a mistake to see Ngo as an innocent or as a journalist, considering that whoever he turns his camera, social media, or pen on is at significant risk of being inundated with violent threats from the far right.

Shane Burley is author of Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It, and a Portland-based journalist who covered the June 29 rally. He says, “I would never condone what happened to Andy Ngo, but I think there is a reason why he got in a conflict with protesters and dozens of other reporters present seemed to be left alone.”

Burley says, “One way to think of Andy Ngo is he is part of a far-right mediasphere that creates victimization narratives of conservatism and profit from it. It’s all about the embattled American man who is under siege at every turn, whether its trans children, immigrant criminals, anchor babies, or dangerous college campuses. ‘They are all out to destroy us and our values.’ It’s an entire infrastructure that’s moved from commentary like National Review to populist media hucksters drumming up a controversy. Ngo doesn’t seem to have many real journalistic credentials, and any he does is from creating controversy. He gets in the Wall Street Journal and New York Post from being a conservative celebrity. His actual reporting is very infrequent and sparse.”

Ngo adds a new element in facilitating violence, intentionally or not. Burley says, “He appears to target ideological opponents, which can make them fair game for harassment and violent confrontation.” The scale of the threats keep escalating. Now Portland is bracing for the August 17 rally.


Killing in the Name of Free Speech?

For the last few years, the far right has used fascistic language about “cleansing” Portland, while its brawlers wore T-shirts proclaiming themselves kindred to South American death squads that killed thousands of leftists in the 1970s. But in advance of August 17, the language and memes from the far right have become more extreme. They’ve posted dozens of threats on social media pledging to kill Antifa and naming left-wing activists in Portland who should be shot during the End Antifa rally.

Individuals affiliated with Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys talk of wanting to “slaughter” Antifa. Others have posted hair-raising images of a Portland activist and his partner with crosshairs over their faces and the words, “End Domestic Terrorist’s [sic].” Another image is of a knife cutting the throat of an antifascist with blood spraying out. This is especially ominous. In April 2017 white supremacist Jeremy Christian attended a Patriot Prayer in Portland and threw Nazi salutes while yelling “Die Muslims!” Weeks later Christian allegedly slashed the throats of three men, killing two, after they came to the defense of two black teenage girls, one wearing a hijab, whom Christian threatened by saying, “Go home. We need America here!

One organizer of the End Antifa rally is Joe Biggs, a former staffer at Alex Jones’s Infowars website who has “encouraged date rape and punching transgender people.” He shared an illustration for the rally of a Proud Boy punching an antifascist, warning, “Free speech was fought for and paid for with blood. It will not be lost for anything less!” Biggs, whose Twitter account was suspended recently, used the platform to advise his followers to bring guns and declared “DEATH TO ANTIFA!!!!!!”

After the FBI visited him, Biggs now says “he wants a peaceful demonstration and has told his followers to keep their weapons at home.”

But that may be too little, too late as the far right is encouraging potential mass shooters to come to the rally. Recently, Haley Adams, a provocateur in Portland who told a reporter last year, “Damn straight I support white pride,” said on Facebook she “couldn’t wait” to meet Thomas Bartram on August 17. Bartram is an Infowars fan who showed up in El Paso days after the anti-Hispanic massacre and was briefly detained after allegedly brandishing a gun and trying to enter a migrant solidarity center. The center claimed police did not search Bartram’s truck that was decked out with violent pro-Trump images, saying “he has rights.” After being released, Bartram told media he was headed to the End Antifa rally.

What connects these dots is Andy Ngo. He even did his bit to stoke right-wing paranoia in El Paso. In a July 29 tweet Ngo included an image of a flyer about an immigrant rights “border resistance tour.” Ngo claimed stick figures on the flyer represent “border enforcement officers being killed & government property fired bombed” as part of a plot by Antifa to “converge on a 10-day siege in El Paso, TX.” It’s been retweeted more than 11,000 times and hundreds of comments endorse violence against Antifa. Four days later Patrick Crusius allegedly killed twenty-two people in an El Paso Walmart in “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”


Gateway Bigotry

Ngo’s ascendancy began as an editor at the Portland State University newspaper, The Vanguard. At a university interfaith panel convened in April 2017, Ngo tweeted a brief video claiming, “the Muslim student speaker said that apostates will be killed or banished in an Islamic state.” The entire clip shows the student gave a long answer in response to a hypothetical question about Quranic law. The panelists stressed they weren’t experts, and the Muslim student later said “he may have misspoke.”

Ngo’s tweet was picked up by Breitbart. The Vanguard fired him days later for a “dangerous oversimplification that violated very clear ethics outlined by the Society of Professional Journalists.” The Vanguard said Ngo’s actions “placed a PSU student in significant danger.” Ngo twisted his termination into an article for The National Review, “Fired for Reporting the Truth,” which the student paper said was a “misrepresentation” that resulted in “unjust threats” against them.

Critics see this episode as establishing a pattern in Ngo’s work: using charged language and selective facts on social media that stoke bigotry, putting his subject at risk of harassment while boosting his own reach and status. It worked because in 2018 Ngo graduated to writing a “racist” and “massively Islamophobic” travelogue to two Islamic communities in England for the Wall Street Journal.

But it’s in the city of Portland and state of Oregon that Ngo calls home where the most damage has been wrought. Zakir Khan is board chair of the Oregon chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy and civil rights organization. Khan says of Ngo, “That guy is obsessed with us.”

Ngo has tweeted dozens of times about CAIR, saying it “has done PR for terrorists & their families.” He characterized CAIR’s representation of the surviving child of the Muslim couple who committed the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino as advocating for “the terrorists’ orphaned baby.”

Recently, in a sprawling New York Post opinion Ngo claimed a “suspicious rise” in gay hate crimes in Portland fits a pattern of hoaxes. (Ngo found space in his 2,100-word article to quote a member of the Proud Boys, which experts call a “gangnotorious for violence, as “the most welcoming organization that I have ever been a part of.”)

Khan says, “We are seen as experts on hate crimes reform, so I questioned Ngo’s groundless claims of ‘hate-crime hoaxes.’ He is not an expert in the field.” Ngo responded by accusing CAIR of “terrorism” and “terror.”

After the exchange with Ngo, Khan says, “We received dozens of threatening and harassing messages. We weren’t able to log them all.” One post that tagged Ngo, as well as Michelle Malkin (who signal boosts Ngo and started a “Protect Andy Ngo” fundraiser after the June 29 attack that netted him nearly $200,000), read, “CAIR IS HAMAS! If you stand with your Muslem neighbors; prepare to die with your Muslem neighbors. We will take our country back![sic]” Ngo frequently claims that Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, is connected to CAIR.

The irony of all this is that after CAIR challenges Ngo’s claim of hate crime hoaxes, he responds with what could be considered hate speech, accusing them of terrorism. This appears to have incited his followers to threaten and harass CAIR, actions which might qualify as hate crimes.

For his next act, Ngo joined Quillette where he is a “sub-editor.” Described as the voice of the intellectual dark web, Quillette published a report on May 29 claiming fifteen reporters who cover the far right were really “Antifa journalists.” According to the Columbia Journalism Review, the article by “estabished right-wing troll,” Eoin Lenihan, was picked up by the neo-Nazi Stormfront website within a day, and a day after that a video was uploaded to YouTube containing “imagery of mass shooters intercut with images of the [Antifa] reporters.” The names of the journalists were put on a list called “Sunset the Media,” while the video ends with a notorious neo-Nazi saying he won’t “disown” anyone who kills the reporters.

Two journalists, including Shane Burley, wrote of the unnerving effect of being put on a Neo-Nazi death list. Another targeted journalist wrote that Quillette had crossed the line from being merely reactionary to “reckless endangerment” and bluntly stated that its list “could’ve gotten me killed.”

The article was so shoddy, Lenihan was suspended from Twitter. But Ngo promoted the article and more significantly continues to promote it — just as eight months after the fact, Ngo continued to claim that striking the protester from the Patrick Kimmons march is really evidence of Antifa taking their anger out on an elderly man.

In at least one instance it appears Ngo has doxxed activists himself. During May Day 2019, Ngo published a YouTube video that included him talking to members of the Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America who were tabling for “Hands Off Venezuela.” The entire time Ngo points his camera at a sign-in sheet, not the person he is interviewing. In the video the sheet is digitally blurred. However, Connor Smith, a Portland DSA member, provided a still from what he claims is an earlier version of the video. The still includes a watermark of Ngo’s twitter handle, “@MrAndyNgo,” exactly the same as in the YouTube video. Eleven names can be seen on the sign-in sheet, including Smith’s, all of which have visible email addresses and six of which include phone numbers. Smith says at least one person on the list received threatening messages such as “Die commie.”

Smith claims it is a common right-wing tactic to doxx people on social media like YouTube and Twitter and then delete the offending material before it is removed for violating the platform’s rules. He says this cat-and-mouse game achieves the results the far right is looking for. “I’m sure some fascist has put all our names and phone numbers in a list.”

Ngo is more of a symptom, however.

Ngo couldn’t exist without social media companies which turn a blind eye to right-wing violence because having to monitor their platforms for hate speech would cut into their profits. Ngo also needs Murdoch-owned media such as the New York Post, Wall Street Journal, and Fox News that allow him to masquerade his bigotry as journalism. These outlets, in turn, are amplified by the larger landscape of mainstream media, which often fail to distinguish between fact-based journalism and pro-Trump, white nationalistic propaganda. Add in police who collaborate with the far right and weak political leaders, as in Portland, and you have all the conditions needed for opportunists like Andy Ngo to grab the spotlight.

Ngo is just the latest inflammatory right-wing agent in Portland who’s tried to vault to the big leagues. Before him was Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, who has seen his ranks of violent white nationalists dwindle due to infighting and long-overdue arrests.

Way back in 2016, before Gibson, was another media provocateur, Michael Strickland. Strickland shot his YouTube career — which mainly featured him doxxing and harassing local activists — in the foot after he pulled a gun on a Black Lives Matter protest while being armed with enough ammunition for a massacre.

That’s not to say the Left should ignore the likes of Andy Ngo or even Tucker Carlson. They are both the cause and effect of white nationalism and the violence that comes with it. Their synergy is also a reflection of the complex digital landscape. Legacy media like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and even Fox News need Andy Ngo just as much as he needs them. They gave him a platform not for his shoddy reporting and tired bigotry, but for the audience he’s amassed, even if it’s a digital lynch mob.


by Arun Gupta at August 16, 2019 11:35 PM

crimethinc

The Speech of Russian Anarchist Alexei Polikhovich in Moscow : For Which He Is Currently Imprisoned

In Moscow, at the end of August 10, plainclothes police officers arrested the anarchist Alexei Polikhovich on his way home from Russia’s largest opposition demonstration since 2011. A local Moscow court formally charged Alexei with “petty hooliganism” and sentenced him to 13 days in jail. The arrest stemmed from a combative and passionate speech Alexei gave to thousands in Moscow that day. You can follow updates on his legal status here. We consider it especially important to support Russian anarchists in view of the recent slew of torture cases in Russia and the other risks that dissidents face there. Likewise, we consider international solidarity between anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist movements to be the only hope for humanity, in contrast to all liberals, nationalists, and supposed leftists who throw in their lot with one faction of the global ruling class or another.

Alexey Polikhovich speaking at the demonstration of August 10 in Moscow (with English subtitles).

The massive rally on August 10 was the culmination of weeks of both authorized and unauthorized demonstrations in Moscow and elsewhere around Russia. The wave of demonstrations began on July 20, when 20,000 people gathered in Moscow to demand “fair” and “clean” local elections. A slew of liberal opposition candidates have been barred from running in the Moscow elections coming up on September 8. The July 20 demonstration was called to oppose what the opposition sees as collusion between the ruling United Russia Party, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, President Vladimir Putin, and their allies to prevent liberal opposition candidates from running.

While July 20 was large but rather quiet, one week later, on July 27, an unauthorized protest in front of Moscow City Hall took a different turn. Between 1000-1200 people were arrested out of a crowd of 3500, which included 700 journalists. The heavy-handed brutality against the demonstrators by the Moscow special police forces, the OMON, was nothing particularly new. Neither was the array of absurd charges, some carrying heavy fines and others potential jail time, that the Russian state doled out.

Surely this added to both the anxiety and resolve of those who gathered on August 3 for another unauthorized opposition protest, at which another 1000 people were detained. Footage circulated widely on social media showing the brute force of Moscow’s OMON.

Regardless of the liberal politics of the Russian opposition, these circumstances render the impetus for Alexei’s speech self-evident. Below, we present the text of Alexei’s speech that he posted on the internet prior to the demonstration.

Glossary

For the benefit of those outside Russia, here is a brief guide to some of the references Alexei Polikhovich makes in his speech.

Bolotnaya Square Case - The Bolotnaya Square Case stemmed from the Russian opposition movement of 2011-2012, in which hundreds of thousands of people participated. On May 6, 2012, the “March of Millions” ended with clashes in Bolotnaya Square in Moscow. A number of people were arrested, including Alexei Polikhovich and anti-fascist Alexei Gaskarov. This made the Bolotnaya Square Case synonymous with the struggle to free Russian political prisoners.

Berkut - The Berkut were the infamous riot police in Kyiv, Ukraine loyal to the regime of Russian-supported Viktor Yanukovich, responsible for policing and using lethal force against protestors during the Euromaidan uprising in 2013-14.

Commander Sergei Kusyuk - A former Berkut officer who oversaw operations against Euromaidan, Sergei Kusyuk is now working with the OMON in Moscow and was seen at one of the recent protests.

Ivan Golyunov - Russian police sparked a movement when they arrested the journalist Ivan Golyunov under false pretenses, planting drugs on him. His investigation into the corruption behind the Moscow funeral business sparked the police-mafia collusion leading to his false arrest. After considerable outcry, he was eventually released. He has become a symbolic figure for the opposition.

Alexei Navalny - Alexei Navalny is Russia’s most famous opposition/anti-corruption activist. As a liberal, he flirts with right-wing nationalism, and has produced famous investigations into Russian politicians and oligarchs revealing their unscrupulous earnings. He is able to mobilize a large base; as a consequence, he is regularly arrested for his opposition activities.

Alexei Polikhovich was jailed as a political prisoner in the Bolotnaya Square Case.


Alexei Polikhovich’s Speech

Hello everyone.

My name is Alexei Polikhovich, and I spent three years, three months, and three days in prison because of the Bolotnaya Square riot. I was imprisoned for grabbing the hands of a riot cop who was beating protesters. And now I’m standing in front of you because I am furious.

I am furious that history is repeating itself. I am furious because anonymous people in helmets, masks, and armor are beating defenseless people on the streets of Moscow. They are beating them again and again they will go unpunished. I am furious that Moscow is occupied by these storm troopers who consider us all enemies of Russia.

I saw them. I saw a man in a helmet with a baton furiously beating someone who was lying on the ground and screaming. I saw hordes of those people in helmets attacking people who were standing there peacefully. The only thing that was dangerous on July 27 was the law enforcement officers. They alone.

They learned to beat us—and then they learned to play victim in the courts and say how they were injured by a thrown plastic cup or from the touch of our warm, tender hands, just like they hurt from the chant “Cops are Shame of Russia.” They cry in their anonymous cowardly Telegram channels that they are the real Russian men and we are paid provocateurs. Hey men, what is it like to play victim in the courts against students, graduate students, bloggers, TV directors, volunteers? What will your children say about these stories when they grow up? Your children will hate you. Children of cops—hate cops!

I am furious that once every seven years, the ship of the Investigative Committee sails into Moscow and whisks young people away to the Cretan labyrinth like a sacrifice to the Minotaur. To insure that Athens—Moscow—remains a peaceful city of barbecue festivals. So that the fugitives and traitors of Berkut can safely practice fencing with batons on our bodies. So that Colonel Kusyuk can still wear his mustache on our land and command the crackdowns on peaceful demonstrations.

They come every seven years to sacrifice us. And so it is. Today I am furious and want you to feel the outrage too. I want you—all of us—to become Ariadne for the thirteen guys who have already been imprisoned in the riot case so far. I believe that we can handle it. After [the case of Ivan] Golunov, I believe that we have the strength to throw down a thread that will guide them out of the labyrinth of prisons, courts, and police brutality.

How many people are here now? Many thousands. I want to see these thousands under the windows of the Basmanny Court [the court that ordered the arrests]—here, we are very close to the Basmanny Court. I am not a supporter of Navalny, I do not believe in elections, I am just a Russian anarchist. A simple Russian man. I want us to shout to all the Kusyuks, the Moscow election commission, riot police, cops, judges, and bureaucrats. You are crazy fucks! They are crazy fucks! They are crazy fucks!

Support the people in prison. Come home and write a letter to them in jail. Donate money for food and the lawyer fees. Find the person with a donation box in the crowd now—it is my accomplice from the Bolotnaya case, Volodya Akimenkov—give him funds for political prisoners. Talk about it and go to the court; the protests beneath the windows of the court should never stop.

Remember their names. Remember their names—not as the names of victims or heroes, but as the names of your friends who will be home soon. Shout them out:

Alexey Minyailo
Vladislav Barabanov
Kirill Zhukov
Egor Zhukov
Ivan Podkopaev
Samariddin Radzhapov
Evgeny Kovalenko
Sergey Abanichev
Daniel Conon
Sergey Fomin
Aydar Gubaidulin
Danila Begletz
Dmitry Vasiliev
Pavel Ustinov

We affirm Alexei’s courage against the brutally repressive Russian state.


Привет, люди

Меня зовут Алексей Полихович, и я отсидел три года, три месяца и три дня по делу о массовых беспорядках на Болотной площади. Я отсидел за то, что хватал омоновцев за руки, которыми они били демонстрантов. И сейчас я стою перед вами, потому что я в ярости.

Я в ярости от того, что история повторяется. Я в ярости от того, что на улицах Москвы анонимные люди в шлемах, масках и доспехах бьют беззащитных. Снова бьют, и снова оказываются безнаказанными. Я в ярости от того, что Москва оккупирована штурмовиками, которые считают нас всех врагами России.

Я видел их. Я видел человека в шлеме, остервенело бьющего лежащего и кричащего парня дубинкой. Я видел стаи таких людей в шлемах, набрасывающихся на мирно стоящих людей. Единственную опасность для кого-то 27 июля представляли именно сотрудники правоохранительных органов. Именно они.

Они научились бить нас - и они научились потом терпилить в судах о том, как им больно было от брошенного пластикового стаканчика, от прикосновений наших теплых нежных рук, как им было больно от лозунга “Мусора - позор России”. Они плачут в своих анонимных трусливых телеграм-каналах, что это они - настоящие русские мужики, а мы - проплаченные провокаторы. Эй, мужики, каково вам быть терпилами в судах по студентам, кандидатам наук, блогерам, телережиссерам, волонтерам? Что скажут об этих историях ваши дети, когда вырастут? Ваши дети будут вас ненавидеть. Дети ментов - ненавидят ментов!

Я в ярости от того, что раз в семь лет в Москву приплывает корабль Следственного комитета и забирает молодых людей в Критский лабиринт, в жертву Минотавру. Чтобы Афины - чтобы Москва - оставалась смирным городом шашлычных фестивалей. Чтобы беглецы и предатели из Беркута могли безнаказанно упражняться в фехтовании дубинкой на наших телах. Чтобы полковник Кусюк по-прежнему мог носить свои усы по нашей земле и командовать разгонами мирных демонстраций.

Они приходят раз в семь лет и берут с нас всех эту жертву. Так вот. Сегодня я в ярости и хочу, чтобы вы тоже ощутили ярость. Я хочу, чтобы вы - мы все - стали Ариадной для пока тринадцати ребят, которых уже посадили по делу о массовых беспорядках. Я верю, что мы справимся. После Голунова - я верю - что у нас есть силы, чтобы бросить нить, которая выведет ребят из лабиринта тюрем, судов и мусорского беспредела.

Сколько здесь сейчас людей? Много тысяч. Я хочу видеть эти тысячи под окнами Басманного суда - здесь совсем недалеко до Басманного суда. Я не сторонник Навального, я не верю в выборы, я просто русский анархист. Простой русский человек. Я хочу, чтобы мы сейчас прокричали всем кусюкам, мосгоризбиркомам, омонам, ментам, судьям и чинушам. Вы охуели! Они охуели! Они охуели!

Поддерживайте людей в тюрьме. Придите домой и напишите им письмо в СИЗО. Скиньте денег на передачи и адвоката. Найдите в толпе сейчас человека с коробкой - это мой подельник по Болотному делу Володя Акименков, скиньте ему на политзаключенных. Говорите об этом и идите в суд - митинг под окнами суда должен не заканчиваться.

Помните их имена. Помните их имена не как имена жертв или героев, а как имена ваших друзей, которые скоро будут дома. Кричите их:

Алексей Миняйло
Владислав Барабанов
Кирилл Жуков
Егор Жуков
Иван Подкопаев
Самариддин Раджапов
Евгений Коваленко
Сергей Абаничев
Даниил Конон
Сергей Фомин
Айдар Губайдулин
Данила Беглец
Дмитрий Васильев
Павел Устинов

August 16, 2019 08:22 PM

Channel Zero

Kite Line- August 16, 2019: Not Better Than Jail

This post was originally published on this site

This week, we share a panel that took place last week in Indianapolis. As we heard last episode, Indiana Against E-Carceration has been organizing to educate the public about the issues surrounding electronic monitoring. They are struggling to prevent the grim possibility that sentencing and jail “reforms” set for 2020 will lead to an explosion of e-carceration, as surveillance paid for by prisoners turn homes and workplaces into the new prisons.  In this panel, we importantly hear first-hand accounts from people who’ve survived electronic monitoring and its accompanying cycles of re-incarceration, and learn more about the campaign against e-carceration.

 

by Channel Zero at August 16, 2019 06:24 PM

jacobinmag

Sara Nelson: “Solidarity Is a Force Stronger Than Gravity”

This month, Association of Flight Attendants union president Sara Nelson addressed over 1,000 delegates at the Democratic Socialists of America convention. Here's what she had to say about the labor movement's power to defeat bigotry, the proud legacy of democratic socialists, and why solidarity is the "greatest force for good in human history."


alt Sara Nelson speaking at the 2019 American Federation of Government Employees Legislative & Grassroots Mobilization Conference on February 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. AFGE / Flickr

Good afternoon, Democratic Socialists of America!

Since we are here in Atlanta it seems fitting to begin with some labor history that perfectly illustrates worker power.

In 1881, less than twenty years after the Civil War, so-called washer-women in Atlanta organized a strike for higher pay. Most would have said what they were attempting to do was impossible. There were no labor laws to protect them, there was no single employer with whom they could negotiate, and their low-skilled work could easily be taken over by others.

But they wanted a raise — to a dollar for every twelve pounds of laundry.

So, they formed what they called The Washing Society and announced their intent to strike if they were not given a raise. They went door to door, and spoke at church services, recruiting three thousand members in three weeks. They tapped into a wellspring of support among women like themselves, who worked seven days a week doing laundry for as little as four dollars per month.

With their organization growing, and their demands generating newspaper coverage, they generated real power. They didn’t back down in the face of arrests and massive fines. With creative tactics, the women — most of them former slaves who had only recently begun to work for pay — boxed in the elite families of Atlanta, forcing them to make a decision. Would they grant the pay raises demanded by the women, or hold out and risk the strike spreading to other domestic workers? And, in the meantime, who would launder their clothes?

Outmaneuvered by the washer-women, they granted the raises.

The law wasn’t on the side of those women. The political environment was not favorable to those women. The economy was not in their favor.

But they were smart, creative, and fearless.

Those women connected with each other and inspired others to take up their cause because they themselves were united first. The strikers were not faceless. They knew the harmony of their voices from singing every verse of “Steal Away” together on Sunday. They cried together for the children they lost and celebrated the birth of the new babies they cradled. They knew the dreams in each other’s hearts and the determination to leave the world better for their children. There was a common story and when they gathered in a church in Summerhill to tell it — each woman knew it as her own. They built a movement with their story and encouraged others to tell their version of it too. They listened, they shared, they took action.

They created an organization where none had ever existed, and mobilized thousands of their coworkers who knew nothing about collective action. They were smart enough to see that the rich people they worked for would probably pay more rather than face the consequences. They saw, in their own community, the power they could generate in mobilizing together. And, they were fearless in pursuit of what they knew in their hearts was right.


Solidarity: The Greatest Force for Good

Last night I promised DSA member and grassroots Chicago Teachers Union, Caucus of Rank-and-file Educators (CORE) organizer, Michelle Gunderson, I would bring her spirit of solidarity to this convention as she cares for her mother in Chicago. Now remember, it was CTU’s incredible strike in 2012, that not only won a great contract — CORE activists rekindled the militant, rank-and-file organizing approach that built the early labor movement over a century ago.

Late last night Michelle posted a proud mother moment. She explained her son Toby had brought home an unexpected guest who would stay several days. She overheard the two of them talking. The guest said, “Are you sure it’s okay with your parents that I stay here?” Toby replied, “My mom’s a socialist. She accepts everybody!”

This is true, and it’s one of the reasons I feel so at home among all of you now. But it’s also true that leading with love and organizing with open arms cannot be conflict averse. I often go to an essay on love by a woman who was a spiritual leader in Boston a century ago. She wrote, “Love is not something put upon a shelf, to be taken down on rare occasions with sugar tongs and laid on a rose leaf. I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results. Unless these appear, I cast aside the word as a sham and counterfeit, having no ring of the true metal. Love cannot be mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power.”

We are in the midst of crisis. But this is also our moment to change the course of history. To fulfill the promise that we are all equal and worthy of happiness.

At this convention you will talk about the urgent issues of our time and how you will love our children and grandchildren by taking action to heal our world, literally save our planet, secure health care as a right, build power for working people and an economy that provides a good job for everyone who wants one, eliminate student debt, ensure every person can afford a place to live, and stop the dark forces of hate-driven dictatorships on the march, much as they were in the 1930s.

Still, some ignorant political hack or media purveyor of hate is likely talking trash right now about democratic socialists. And here’s what I have to say. Helen Keller was a democratic socialist. And so was Albert Einstein, George Orwell, Bayard Rustin, and the Reuther family.

When Nazi troops came to the Warsaw Ghetto to kill the last Jews left, the men and women on the rooftops who met them with gasoline bombs were democratic socialists, and democratic socialists stood up against dictatorship throughout the twentieth century, they filled Stalin’s camps and Siberian graves.

The minimum wage, national health care, worker safety rules, Social Security — before the Great Society and before the New Deal, this was the democratic socialist agenda.

And of course there are our democratic socialist working heroes, Eugene Victor Debs, A. Philip Randolph, and Lucy Gonzalez Parsons. The police called Lucy Parsons “more dangerous than a thousand rioters” because of her skills as an orator, organizer, and rabble-rouser. Her cry that only direct action — or the threat of it — will move the boss is a lesson we can all do well to remember.

Solidarity is a force stronger than gravity.

When I repeat that phrase for a crowd there is often a pause as people take in the words, followed by nervous laughter and outright cheering at the awesomeness of it. We’ve seen examples of this all over the country this year from #RedforED teacher strikes promoting public good, to hotel and grocery workers fighting for one job to be enough or Amazon, Google, Uber, and Lyft workers fighting for respect, decency, human rights and the ability to organize their union.

I know the power of solidarity because I’ve lived it.

As a brand new flight attendant at United Airlines the company failed to pay me. With a balance of zero in my bank account and no idea how I would even eat that day I went down to the airline office to ask why I hadn’t been paid and what was going on. They had no answers and for the first time, I felt like I was just a number in an HR file. The tears started to roll when I felt a tap on my shoulder that changed everything. I turned around and saw somebody standing there who looked a lot like me. She’s wearing the same uniform; otherwise I’d never seen her before. She’s holding her checkbook and asking me how to spell my name. She hands me a check for $800. And she says, “Number one, you go take care of yourself. And number two, you call our union.” And I did call our union, and I had my paycheck the next day.

And that’s when I learned the power of being a part of a union — they fought for me in a way that I couldn’t have fought for myself alone. I learned that in our union, we’re never alone.

My first week on the job my flying partner of thirty-five years told me, “Listen, management thinks of us as their wife or their mistress and in either case they hold us in contempt. Your only place of worth is with your flying partners. Wear your union pin and if we stick together there’s nothing we can’t do.”

If we stick together there’s nothing we can’t do.

On June 26, 2015, a dear friend walked into my office just a few minutes after the Supreme Court decided for marriage equality.

If I’m being honest, I was feeling cynical when he walked in. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to celebrate. But at the time I was in the middle of a fight to prevent furloughs of our members, we were trying to stop the Obama administration from pushing a trade agreement that would gut millions of jobs, and our streets were filled with protesters demanding answers for the killings of black youths. I couldn’t see how this decision would have an impact on any of that.

But my friend was standing in my office with tears running down his face. And he is not a crier.

“I don’t have a partner,” he said to me. “I don’t know that I will ever be married. But that’s not what today is about. I didn’t realize until today the oppression I have felt my entire life. Today, my country recognizes me and the choices I make in my personal life as the same under the law. The feeling of being acknowledged as equal has moved me more than I ever expected it to.”

In those words, I remembered two things that are easy to lose sight of, but that we can’t afford to forget. One, every step forward makes the next step possible. And two, we cannot ever dismiss the oppression of someone else as their problem.

Recently, I received an email from an AFA member who wrote, “As a transgender person, I am terrified. I am turning to my union for help.” The call for help came to the right place.

Some of the earliest wins for LGBTQ rights happened not in a courtroom or in a legislature, but at the bargaining table. Years before San Francisco started issuing same-sex marriage licenses, long before Massachusetts became the first state to pass marriage equality, our union, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) negotiated for — and won — domestic partner benefits for every United flight attendant.

In fact, before any municipality passed antidiscrimination ordinances, unions representing all types of workers won antidiscrimination in contracts. Because on the job site, people realized that if management could fire a colleague for who they loved, he could sure as hell fire you for what you believed, or where you spent your Saturday night, or in the case of flight attendants just for getting married or having a baby or gaining ten pounds.

These discriminatory issues were the heart of why our union was formed. But our work is not done. We are always “forming a more perfect union” until all of us are equal and free in our minds and under the law.

As we beat back discriminatory practices through a contract at one airline, another soon followed suit. Just as important, it gave members a sense of the power they had to change their own lives.

Some of those members, and our union leaders, testified in the San Francisco hearings that led to domestic partner benefits and helped set the course to marriage equality.

When my friend came into my office, all the years of union activism fighting for those rights came flooding back to me. Suddenly the ruling wasn’t a distant thing handed down by a court, it was the natural outcome of years of hard work we won through solidarity, changing one contract, one workplace, one community at a time.

It reminded me that for every fight forward we win in a contract, until our nation recognizes each of our inherent dignity in equal rights under the law, we struggle under an invisible weight that sometimes we don’t even see ourselves.

I’ll tell you something — there’s a weight that every woman in this room deserves to have lifted.

Earlier this year, Virginia’s House of Delegates fell just short of a floor vote on the Equal Rights Amendment. If the vote had moved forward and won, Virginia would have become the thirty-eighth state to ratify, enough to tip the balance for a constitutional amendment to be approved and for women to be recognized as equal under the law of our land.

Our union had to fight tooth and nail for the women who once made up the entire workforce to be treated fairly on the job. We also fought to allow men to have the same right to this job. We fight every day for every member to have equal rights and benefits on the job. But when 80 percent of aviation’s first responders step off our planes here, we do so in a country that’s unwilling to say that we are full and equal citizens.

Evil dictators intent on controlling everything and stripping all people of our rights start with belittling women and treating women as less than human.

Sisters and brothers, sexism and racism have for centuries been the premier tactic of the boss to hold us down, keep us divided and deny us the power we have together to take what we are owed as workers for moving this country, teaching this country, feeding this country, building this country, communicating in this country, and around the world.

More than one hundred years ago Frederick Douglas told us all we need to know today.

The difference between the white slave and the black slave was this: the latter belonged to one slaveholder, and the former belonged to the slaveholders collectively … Both were plundered, and by the same plunderers … the white laboring man was robbed by the slave system, of the just results of his labor, because he was flung into competition with a class of laborers who worked without wages. The slaveholders blinded them to this competition by keeping alive their prejudice against the slaves as men — not against them as slaves.

No one is born with sexism, racism, ageism in their heart. These are the tactics of the boss, of those who want all the money and all the power to deny us solidarity, the greatest force for good. Expose it. Call it out. Deal with it. And in our unions and on our picket lines we can do exactly that.

Our union halls provide something social movements too often cannot: a home base in the storm, and a place where our common interests — a fair paycheck, equal treatment on the job, dignity and respect and opportunity to thrive — are grounded in an experience we all share, regardless of our color, creed, national origin, identity, expression or any other marker our opponents use to divide us.


Stopping the Shutdown

Just five years after I started my flying career the events of September 11, 2001 changed everything. I had frequently worked Flight 175, the plane you can picture hitting the south tower of the World Trade Center because that’s the image captured from so many angles after American flight 11 struck the North Tower 17 minutes earlier. That could have been me. But instead it was my friends, Amy, Michael, Robert, Kathryn, Al, Alicia, Amy, Jesus, and Marianne. Even as we grieved, over one hundred thousand aviation workers lost our jobs nearly overnight.

And then the bankruptcies came. I was our communications chairperson, still in my twenties, working around the clock to communicate new procedures, but mostly I repeated bad news. I remember a day in the office about six months in to the thirty-eight month bankruptcy when our union president called me to tell me to stop my work on communicating another pay cut, another closure of bases that was uprooting people from their homes. We already had nearly seven thousand on furlough. He told me, “United just called to tell me they are furloughing another 2,500 flight attendants.” It all became too much in that moment and I told him I needed a minute to cry. I did. Right then I knew how I was going to spend my life. We would have to fight like hell to hang on to everything we could so we could live to fight another day for what I knew the people I worked with deserved.

And it wasn’t easy. Our jobs, our health care, our pensions — it was all on the line. People felt out of control and focused inward or wanted to talk only about issues of little consequence.

All too often workers feel overwhelmed and powerless and desperate. But, in my union, I had hope. As a group we fought on when everything was stacked against us — bankruptcy, Wall Street, the White House. And we made a difference. They had all the power, but because we had our union we actually had a way to fight back. They stole our pensions — when eighty million would have saved them the court granted termination with one hammer of the gavel and in the next awarded $400 million in bonuses to the top executives. But we fought back, and because we fought we doubled the amount they planned to pay for a pension replacement plan.

When the teachers of West Virginia were grappling with whether or not to strike, the bus drivers told them “We’ve got your back. Not a single bus will drive students to school.” Too often, we don’t understand our own power. Look around — it’s all of us together.

When we start with what people feel and see in their lives, we can build solidarity. It’s amazing what solidarity on a worksite can do. People who may be on opposite ends of a political debate can find common ground when you ground that fight in the workplace.

Just a few months ago, my union went to bat for one of our members. Selene was a DACA recipient and graduate of Texas A&M who had arrived in the United States at the age of three and just begun her dream job as a flight attendant. She was assigned a trip to Monterey, Mexico. When she told her supervisor she couldn’t fly internationally because of her DACA status, she was told it was OK to take the trip. On probation and afraid to lose her job, she went.

But when she came back, CBP stopped her and turned her over to ICE. She was put in a private detention facility in prison-like conditions for six weeks.

When we learned about her case, our union mobilized and we got her released within eighteen hours. The comment I saw that sticks with me the most during that time was from a conservative member, a Trump voter who said that she wanted “strong immigration laws,” but this was too far.

Because the fight started in the workplace, because our members understand that in the union an injury to one is an injury to all, that flight attendant was able to see past her political beliefs to what was right and what was wrong. Now she’s someone we can mobilize to fight for a fix to the DREAM Act, and from there who knows.

People think power is a limited resource, but using power builds power. Once workers get a taste of our power, we will not settle for a bad deal. And we won’t stand by while someone else gets screwed, either. That’s what happened during the government shutdown.

The government shutdown was a humanitarian crisis with eight hundred thousand federal sector sisters and brothers who were either locked out or forced to work without pay. And another MILLION people — a MILLION people — doing contract work, locked out with no warning.

Only because of our unions, we heard the stories of real people. During the shutdown agencies were handing down memos from the White House to tell federal workers that they were forbidden from speaking to anyone about how they were fairing during the shutdown. AFGE and other federal sector unions put a stop to that to make sure people could express the personal hardship they were forced to face.

Federal workers were suddenly no longer nameless, faceless bureaucrats; the stories made them human to the public. No money to pay for rent, for childcare, or a tank of gas to get to work. The veteran and federal worker stretching insulin through the night and wondering if she will wake up in the morning. The transportation security officer in her third trimester with no certainty for her unborn child. The air traffic controller who whispered to his union leader, “I just don’t know how long I can hang on.” The TSA Officer in Orlando who took his life by jumping eight floors to his death in the middle of the security checkpoint.

Nearly two million workers were locked out or forced to work for free, with the rest of us going to work when our workspace was becoming increasingly unsafe.

The truth is that if our federal sector sisters and brothers can’t do their work, we can’t do ours. We’re connected.

We had to define what’s at stake, and understand what our leverage is to fix it. We called for a general strike, but we have to understand that a strike is the tactic, solidarity is our power.

Calling for a general strike, first and foremost, made clear who had the power. When it seemed there was no answer and no end in sight, labor led the way. The shutdown ended not so much because of a few grounded flights in LaGuardia, but because those ten air traffic controllers who couldn’t safely do their jobs any longer signaled a much more powerful threat to the GOP. Labor was rising and the very last thing they could allow to happen in this process was to let us taste our power.

Some thought the shutdown was about a wall. If you were looking on social media or network news, it appeared the wall was already built as the country seemed bitterly at odds over racist fearmongering. But it was all a lie.

I spoke with transportation security officers who told me that if it weren’t for the stress of not getting a paycheck, they’d never been happier at work.

Normally the security checkpoints are less than pleasant. But, instead of grouching during screening, people said thank you. They were kind. They offered help.

Most people want to choose kindness. We pull together when things get bad. I saw it after 9/11, and I saw it during the shutdown. Americans like to feel solidarity.

It was our unions that brought the stories of real people to the public. And the public had to face those people in their everyday life. And that built solidarity.


“Above All, We Must Fight!”

Health care. Unions long ago took steps to set a standard for our society. We broke new ground in our contracts in an effort to make health care a right for every person on this earth. What we legislate, we don’t have to negotiate. Today, every time we go to the table, management comes with proposals to diminish our care or transfer costs to our pockets. It is a massive win when we keep contractual health care at status quo.

But the for-profit health care system in this country is unsustainable. Most Americans, including many union members, have to choose between having health care or paying rent — or a low premium plan with a “cross your fingers” high deductible. Even the best plans with no premiums cover our care in hospitals that are drastically understaffed. Caregivers waste time getting approval for procedures and medicine rather than taking immediate action to save lives.

Trump and the GOP would love to have our country believe this issue creates a divide between union members and those without a union contract. But the truth is that an injury to one is an injury to all. And today, our family, our friends, our neighbors are dying because greed puts a cost on the lives of those we love. While Bernie Sanders proposes health care for all, Donald Trump and the GOP are right this minute trying to strip protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

We need to organize and tell the truth about what’s at stake, which side we’re on, and the leverage we have to fix it. We cannot retreat to our own communities. We must define our issues as ONE national objective, focused and well-coordinated while also conducting effective organizing that is adaptable to local context.

The marchers in Puerto Rico were spurred forward by the leak of emails and instant messages showing the governor and his inner circle mocking victims of a hurricane, spreading homophobic and misogynist lies, and joking openly about corruption.

Teachers, sanitation workers, nurses, drivers and civil service workers, organized through their unions and driven by the values of the island — marched and changed history.

That was a general strike.

Last night Politico asked me what I thought about Bernie Sanders using his campaign list to turn people out for union actions. I told them Bernie Sanders believes unions are integral to our democracy so he’s taking action that reflects his core beliefs. But also, he knows that when you come out for someone else’s fight you’re much more likely to view it as your own fight. You’ve got a stake in the outcome. And when the fight is won, you feel that win too. He’s breaking down the “I’ve got mine” mantra that’s the worst of capitalism and a mindset that’s been bred to control people through fear that someone else gaining may cause you to lose.

On the picket line the opposite is true. The goal is collective and people who have never spoken share an experience that will change each of their lives. Bernie Sanders using his list to turn people out for strikes or protests is literally demonstrating, “Not me. Us.” It’s breaking through the politics of fear, building power, and bringing people together. It’s a living example of the president he wants to be and the way he plans to get results.

Wouldn’t it be great if the “social norm” were people rising up in a general strike if lawmakers didn’t secure health care as a right, equal pay, affordable housing, fully funded public schools, voting rights, democracy free of corporate money, and jobs that provide bread and roses too?

Wouldn’t we be stronger if we saw fear of someone else as a tactic by the powerful to divide the working class? Wouldn’t we be better if people different from ourselves raised our curiosity and we asked them to tell their stories? This happens on the picket line.

The last thing we can do is take the rights we’ve gained for granted. Mother Jones told us, “We will fight and win. Fight and lose. But above all, we must fight!” Our rights are never absolute. They exist because generations of workers died to give us these rights. They were shot down at Homestead Pennsylvania and in the hills of West Virginia. They were hanged for the Haymarket affair in Chicago, and beaten on an overpass near Detroit — all for taking a stand for the rights of working people. There were beatings at Stonewall and murders in San Francisco City Hall. These activists thought it was important enough to stand up against all odds and put everything on the line to make it better for their families — and for our families. Today it’s our turn.

Sisters, brothers, siblings, comrades, I ask you to put central to your agenda building our labor movement. Unions in this country have led mobs against immigrants, and we have lifted up immigrants. We have written union constitutions that excluded African Americans, and yet Dr. King gave his life on a union picket line.

We as a movement are not automatically on the right side. We have to choose to be. And we have to live that choice.

And today the choices haven’t gotten easier, they have gotten harder.

Our lives and our wellbeing are completely tied together with workers in Mexico and Canada, China and Germany. Yet politicians in every country seek to divide us, pit us against each other.

I learned the hard way, at the bargaining table with some of the world’s most powerful corporations stacked even with the power of the bankruptcy court — that the solidarity and courage of working people is the greatest force for good in human history.

So let’s use it! Spread the word that the labor movement belongs to all working people. Women, people of color, young people, join unions, run unions. We need your vision, your passion, your creativity, your leadership.

Say it with me. Unions belong to all working people. If we understand this, we can change the world. With our unions we have equal standing with owners. Women have equal pay. We have a voice, a means to drive change.

Spread the word that unions are for everyone. If you’re done with poverty, build your union. If you’re sick and tired of pension defaults for Main Street and stock buy backs for the Wall Street, build your union. If what you want for yourself, you’re willing to want for somebody else — even if they are different from you, build your union.

We don’t have to wait for the next election when we have a union. The power of solidarity gets results right away. In our union we can define what’s at stake, recognize racism and sexism and every ism as the bosses’ tactics rather than our brothers’ and sisters’ hearts. Change comes fast when the risk becomes too great for those in power. And power shifts to the people when we act in unity.

Finally, look to the people all around you — and tell everyone around you . . .

I’ve got your back!


by Sara Nelson at August 16, 2019 03:01 PM

resilience.org

22 States Sue the Trump Administration over its Climate ‘Plan’

Coal power plant

Twenty-two states and seven cities sued the Trump administration on Tuesday over the Environmental Protection Agency’s new plan for power plants. The lawsuit alleges that the so-called Affordable Clean Energy rule would accelerate the impacts of the climate crisis and impose health and safety risks on Americans.

by Rachel Ramirez at August 16, 2019 01:32 PM

Local Socialism and Civil Society

New Republic issue

Democratic socialism is, I think, at least potentially compatible with, and perhaps even capable of drawing strength from, the small towns and churches of U.S. society.

by Russell Arben Fox at August 16, 2019 01:12 PM

Dewayne-Net

Britain’s infrastructure is breaking down. And here’s why no one’s fixing it

[Note:  This item comes from friend David Rosenthal.  DLH]

Britain’s infrastructure is breaking down. And here’s why no one’s fixing it
There’s no lobby for public assets like the National Grid. That goes too for our libraries, youth clubs, parks and pubs
By Aditya Chakrabortty
Aug 14 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/14/britain-social-infrastructure-money-national-grid

Whole swaths of Britain experience a blackout and the country lights up with fury. Cabinet minsters, the press, members of the public rightly demand answers: why was Newcastle airport plunged into darkness? Who is responsible for rail services being halted for hours? Threats are issued of a whopping fine, an official inquiry, heads rolling. Days of rage for a power cut of less than an hour.

When it works, infrastructure is invisible. Point out the crumbliness, by all means, and lament the dangerous compromises – but as long as the wretched system judders on, voters shrug and politicians look the other way. Until the day the bridges collapse, the trains seize up and the lights no longer come on. By which time it is too late for anything but blame in 24-point headlines.

Between these two extremes lies a much rarer phenomenon, which blights Britain today. We are right in the middle of an infrastructure breakdown – we just haven’t named it yet. You’ll know what I mean when we list the component parts. More than 760 youth clubs have shut across the UK since 2012. A pub closes every 12 hours. Nearly 130 libraries were scrapped last year, and those that survive in England have lopped off 230,000 opening hours.

Each of the above is a news story. Each stings a different group: the books trade, the real-ale aficionados, the trade unions. But knit them together and a far darker picture emerges. Britain is being stripped of its social infrastructure: the institutions that make up its daily life, the buildings and spaces that host friends and gently push strangers together. Public parks are disappearing. Playgrounds are being sold off. High streets are fast turning to desert. These trends are national, but their greatest force is felt in the poorest towns and suburbs, the most remote parts of the countryside, where there isn’t the footfall to lure in the businesses or household wealth to save the local boozer.

When I am out reporting it is not uncommon to go into a suburban postcode short of money yet still bustling with people – but the banks have nearly all cleared out, the church has gone and all that’s left of the last pub is an empty hulk. The private sector has buggered off, the state is a remote and vengeful god who dispenses benefits or sanctions, and the “big society” never made it out of the pages of a report from a Westminster thinktank. I’ve seen this in the suburbs of London and in the valleys of south Wales, and the word that most comes to mind is “abandoned”.

Politicians bemoan the loss of community, but that resonant word is not precise enough. A large part of what’s missing is social infrastructure. It can be public or private. It is often slightly dog-eared and usually overlooked. But when it vanishes, the social damage can be huge.

The American sociologist Eric Klinenberg lists some in his recent book, Palaces for the People: “People reduce the time they spend in public settings and hunker down in their safe houses. Social networks weaken. Crime rises. Older and sick people grow isolated. Younger people get addicted to drugs … Distrust rises and civic participation wanes.” A New York University professor, Klinenberg’s observations hold as true for Brexit Britain as they do for Trump’s America. How often have you read about a grandmother found dead in her own home, with no one popping by for days? How many news stories do you read about teenagers experiencing mental illness as they compare themselves to the images on their screens? And how many times have you complained that everyone is so stuck in their own bubble that politics is hopelessly polarised?

In ripping out our social infrastructure, we are outraging a wisdom that goes back centuries and spans countries. Millions of Britons will spend part of this summer on a plaza or a piazza or people-watching on the public square outside Paris’s Centre Pompidou. The architectural historian Shu
mi Bose points out that library designs proliferated during the Enlightenment, alongside blueprints for monuments “to the exercise of the sovereignty of the people”. During the second world war, the Mass Observation collective wrote of the British pub: “Once a man has bought or been bought his glass of beer, he has entered an environment in which he is participant, rather than spectator.”

[snip]

by wa8dzp at August 16, 2019 12:40 PM

anarchistnews.org

The Social Centre Bulletin: GAS and bookfairs

From Freedom Press UK

Features,

Is there really anywhere else quite like a good social centre? Peter Ó’Máille considers the value of rebel community hubs and updates on what’s happening in our libertarian networks.

Interview: Bookfair at the 1 in 12 Club

A few hundred miles south down Bradford folk have come together and set up a brand spanking new Radical bookfair which will be on September 7th. In between our busy lives I managed to pull aside one of the organisers, Mikey from the Rebel Cat Collective, and pick his brains a little about the event.

What made you want to organise a bookfair mate?

I was involved in the failed attempt four years ago to do a Leeds one and wanted to do it. Last year there was a series of events around the spycops campaign that a mate and me wanted to do but for various reasons the Rebel Cat Crew decided to do a bookfair instead.

Why a bookfair tho?

Bookfairs are an important way to distribute ideas and information specifically on radical ideas and politics. With the rise of the internet and social media I think that bookfairs are even more important as a way of meeting people, networking and engaging people away from the false world that inhabits social media

Where is it going to be held?

We are holding the bookfair at The 1 in 12 Club in Bradford. The club was formed by members of Bradford’s Anarchist orientated Claimants Union in 1981. The immediate objectives of the club were to generate and sustain a social scene, accessible and affordable to both the low waged and unemployed. When, in 1981 a government investigation into benefit fraud (the ‘Raynor Report’) found that ‘1 in 12’ claimants was actively “defrauding the state”, the union adopted this statistic for themselves.

The 1 in 12 Club is a not for profit organisation relying heavily on the time donated by its unpaid members. The 1 in 12 Club is owned, managed and run by its members, founded on the anarchistic values of self-management, co-operation and mutual aid. Together we are a community of people aiming to provide an affordable, non-commercial venue for events, socialising, meetings & information.

The history and set up of the club makes the 1 in 12 a really unique place in Bradford. Its structure means the members are responsible for the well being and running of the entire place! That goes right from stuff like fixing the loos, book keeping to cleaning, to working the bar, website maintenance and putting on events.

We (Rebel Cat) have been putting on gigs there for 3.5 years, and I used to go to gigs, meetings and events there from the mid 1980s, it is an important space and need events to keep it going and to keep its ethos.

Will there be other events around the bookfair?

All money from the stalls (£5 or a donation collected on the day) will be going to the club. There is a Rebel Cat gig following the bookfair and the proceeds from this will be split between the club and the Rebel Cat Collective. The gig is an acoustic gig set around the UK tour of the ex Chumbawamba frontman Danbert Nobacon accompanied by Kira Wood-Cramer and supported by acoustic sets from the following punk bands, Nieviem (Lincoln), Distort (Bingley), as well as Gerrard Bell-Fife (Bradford singer songwriter) and Rich Gulag (Nottingham).

Cool what stalls have you got lined up?

We have the following stalls confirmed: Anarchist Federation, Anarchist Communist Group/West Yorkshire ACG, Cubesville zines, 0161 Festival, No Sweat/Punk Ethics, Haven Distribution, PM Press/AK Press/Active Distribution, Freedom News, IWW, Olive Branch Café, Red And Black Leeds (RABL), Hunt Saboteurs Association, Radical Routes, LGBTQ+ online Bookstore from Leeds, Pirate Press, and Solidarity Federation
(SolFed).

What talks do you have talks line up?

Anarchist Federation – Capitalism is Killing the Earth; An Anarchist Guide To Ecology & a Discussion on the General Strike for the climate on the 20th.

Between estrogenes and tough guy Hardcore – Trans*women(sic) in the punk scene by Maja Hagedorn.

Poetry Corner and Masterclass:
Kier Milburn a short talk on his new book Generation Left

Also IWW and ACG will hopefully be doing a workshop and a talk respectively.

Smashing mate, thanks for your time and I hope the bookfair goes well!
Make sure to check it out at the 1 in 12 in Bradford on the 7th of September. Here is the Facebook event.

Shiny books and dark inks at the Star and Shadow

The 1 in 12 isn’t the only social centre making itself available for Anarchist and Radical Bookfairs either, as we can now announce that next year on May 9th,the Star & Shadow Cinema will be playing host to the inaugural Newcastle Ewan Brown Anarchist Bookfair, which is being held in remembrance of Ewan Brown, a local Anarchist militant who died this year after police harassment.

It is being organised, alongside others, by the North East Anarchist Group which will be showing his films and his artwork during the bookfair as well as hosting stalls, workshops and music. They also plan to include a Mixed Martial Arts class at Newcastle Fight Centre, which is sure to be boy educations and – forgive me – kick ass.

Ewan was deaf and so one of the major issues for NEAG and the rest of the organising committee will be on working on making it accessible and it’s heartening to see them note: “This is, without question, a trans-inclusive event”. Due to limited space stalls will be by invite only, but we’ll let you know more about the event as the folk up in Newcastle pull it all together. If you share word about the event make sure to tag it with the hashtag #BeMoreEwan

They’ve chosen a fantastic space too, The Star and Shadow is a volunteer run, horizontally-structured social centre in Newcastle. They not only show some tidy films and hold fundraisers, they’re now playing host to an epic bookfair.

Social centres holding Anarchist bookfairs organised by rebellious mobs. That is for me the trifecta of awesome.

Look forward to them both!

Now for the third bulletin here I’ve decided to give the calendar of events a miss this month, see how that works. Instead I’ll direct people to the map of social centres on Organise!, most of which have calendars on their websites anyway.

So check out your Local
Centre and maybe even give ’em a nudge and pitch in a shift.

~Peter Ó’Máille


Social Centres to check out

Birmingham
The Warehouse Cafe

Bradford
The 1 in 12 Club

Brighton
Cowley Club

Bristol
BASE

Cardiff
Gentileza

Edinburgh
ACE (Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh)

Glasgow
GAS (Glasgow Autonomous Space )

Hull
Ground

Leeds
Wharf Chambers

Liverpool
Next to Nowhere

London
56a Infoshop
DIY Space For London
LARC (London Action Resource Centre)
The Common House
The Field
Sylvia’s Corner
MayDay Rooms
Decentre
The Feminist Library

Manchester
Partisan Collective

Newcastle Upon Tyne
Star and Shadow

Nottingham
Sumac Centre

Oxford
Oxford Action Resource Centre

Sheffield
HeartCure Collective

by thecollective at August 16, 2019 12:33 PM

jacobinmag

It’s 2016 All Over Again

Joe Biden is pitching himself as an electable moderate who can beat Donald Trump. We’ve seen this movie before — and we know exactly how it ends.


alt Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden speaks on stage during a forum on gun safety at the Iowa Events Center on August 10, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Stephen Maturen / Getty Images)

Summer, 2015. Breaking every rule and shattering every established convention of electoral politics, the former host of TV’s The Apprentice launched a novelty campaign for president and soon found himself atop the polls. With growing desperation, conservative power brokers and media elites did everything they could to arrest his momentum, only to fall flat on their faces like a pack of yokels trying to tackle a greased-up hog. Against all odds, an increasingly demented Donald Trump breezily glided through the mud — passing by the entire clown car of consultancy-hatched Beltway clones assembled against him — and handily secured the Republican nomination for president.

Reality was supposed to reassert itself then and there. Overconfident and utterly convinced a general election victory was inevitable, irritated Democratic elites narrowly fended off an internal insurgency of their own and coronated Hillary Clinton as their tribune. No matter that Trump had effortlessly squashed each and every one of his establishment-friendly adversaries; no matter that he’d seemed impervious to conventional tactics at every turn; no matter that the country was visibly sliding into oligarchy and that populist rage was palpably in the air. Running explicitly as a proxy for the Beltway itself, Clinton opted to campaign as an ally of normalcy and continuity.

All three would go down in defeat on the eighth of November.

In a world where anything still made sense, this experience might have prompted a wholesale reexamination of the beliefs and assumptions it had so thoroughly ground into dust — Trump’s victory, after all, seemed to tear through the fabric of reality itself, rendering every hitherto-established law or norm of politics instantaneously moot. For those nearest the center of the 2016 cataclysm, however, it fast became the opposite: a moment to reaffirm and double down on every strategy and reflex that had preceded the disaster — and so began an endless feedback loop that has recurred since 2016 without interruption.

It’s now nearly three years later, but the thinking of America’s liberal class doesn’t seem to have shifted one iota. Amid anguished condemnations of the president and his administration, conflict-averse Democratic leaders have proven unwilling to offer meaningful resistance or embrace the populist energy visibly sweeping the country. Hoping, as they’ve done from the outset, for a procedural remedy to a political problem, institutional liberals instead bet all their chips on a Republican cop handing them the next Watergate — only to see it nosedive as spectacularly as Rachel Maddow’s ratings. And just as they did in the months leading up to November 2016, liberal politicians and thinkfluencers have continued to coddle a tiny cadre of conservative grifters and Bush administration alumni who’ve decided to maintain their brands through limp denunciations of Donald Trump — all the while punching those to their left with more gusto than they ever muster against the president.

Parsing these threads, it soon becomes clear that the unifying theme has less to do with moral outrage at the evils of Trump’s America than it does with a hunger to see the old Washington restored along with the comforting sense of normalcy it once provided. There’s no grand rethink in the works, no questioning of liberalism’s guiding ideals or analyses, no attempt to carry out a realignment, build a new electoral coalition, or offer as an alternative to Trump anything other than the same hollow platitudes about inclusive capitalism that Democrats have peddled since a smirking Bill Clinton gleefully informed Wall Street that the party was now fully open for business. Institutional liberalism’s plan to defeat Trump, in other words, amounts to applying the same old formulas again and again and hope in vain they will suddenly and magically produce a different result.

That’s close to the popular definition of insanity, and it also happens to be the logic propelling the current front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

A few new characters have been added, and the mise-en-scène has been slightly rearranged, but as Democratic presidential candidates descended on Iowa last weekend, the whole thing seemed a giant exercise in déjà vu. Despite a larger field, the basic dynamic is uncannily similar to that of 2016: on the one hand, a populist insurgency; on the other, an ossified party machinery determined to keep the base in line and preclude any changes beyond the strictly aesthetic. While the Democratic HR department has been reviewing several résumés ahead of next year’s primary votes, their candidate of choice overwhelmingly remains former vice president Joe Biden.

As Clinton did four years ago, Biden has to this point enjoyed an aura of front-runner inevitability, despite being dogged from the outset by pesky questions about his record that he seems thoroughly unprepared and ill-equipped to answer. Evasive on ideological questions and vague on policy specifics, his candidacy is also premised on a return to the normal and the familiar: Biden’s crusade, if it can be called that, is nominally about recovering “the soul of America,” which in practice means winding back the clock to the moment before the Trumpian virus first infected Camelot. The former vice president said as much himself when — in a scene reminiscent of Clinton’s now infamous speeches to various banks and financial interests — he earnestly reassured attendees at a gilded New York fundraiser that, should he become president, “No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change.”

The ace up Biden’s sleeve is his supposed “electability” and, while recent polling has indeed suggested he might defeat Trump in a general election, his candidacy thus far has been more like a trainwreck in slow motion than something seemingly on the cusp of victory. Having entered the race soon after allegations of inappropriate physical contact by Nevada lawmaker Lucy Flores, Biden prompted more negative press by waxing nostalgic about his relationship with avowed segregationist James Eastland. Both Democratic debates have seen him stumble, the second memorably coming to a close as he robotically recited a sequence of random numbers plucked from the ether. Building on a historic legacy of gaffes and flubs, the week surrounding the Iowa State Fair saw the campaign’s would-be front-runner add a record number to his cumulative tally, with highlights including confusing Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May, incorrectly stating he was vice president during last year’s Parkland shooting while getting the locations of two other mass shootings wrong, and telling a room full of supporters that “Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”

If Biden’s slew of missteps finally got some people asking questions about the fragility of his lead in the polls, they also prompted a wave of defensive apologia from pundits and media elites — the worst of which was found in a lengthy CNN puff piece that from start to finish reads like it could have been a press release from the Biden campaign. (Excerpt: “It was one of the many times Biden displayed that air of confidence that only comes after decades in politics — the knowledge that there will be ups and downs, and the occasional reminder to aides and reporters that this isn’t his first rodeo”).

How much weight one ultimately assigns to Biden’s gaffes is largely a semantic question, given that the real issue is the inadequacy of his politics. From its wistful invocations of Washington’s bygone era of bipartisanship to its maudlin calls for a return to decency, the Biden campaign is palpably about seeking conservative restoration rather than progress; hell-bent on challenging Trump, as Clinton did to little avail, with yet another avatar for Wall Street and the Beltway at the helm. Biden’s age is less the issue than the Precambrian conception of liberalism his campaign represents: one pathologically intent on repeating past errors and expecting a different result; the political equivalent of blowing into a video game cartridge before ramming it back into a busted console and frantically tapping the reset button.

Fittingly enough, while some members of the press were busy shrugging off the establishment front-runner’s cringeworthy faux pas, a pearl-clutching chorus of Beltway elites was closing ranks to denounce Bernie Sanders for highlighting Jeff Bezos’s ownership of the Washington Post, a newspaper that once ran sixteen consecutive hit pieces against him in as many hours. Only in DC could one of the country’s most popular politicians denouncing corporate media bias be considered more of an onslaught against the free press than billionaires controlling the fourth estate.

As in 2016, much of the media is so openly contemptuous of Sanders that it sometimes feels trite to complain. Then again, the concurrent Biden/Sanders news cycles are part of the same endless feedback loop that’s run largely uninterrupted since Trump announced his candidacy in the summer of 2015. Then, as now, an establishment front-runner carrying decades of political baggage invokes bipartisanship and appeals to the nation’s better angles while reassuring its most powerful interests that their wealth and status were sacrosanct; then, as now, Democratic leaders and their allies in the media scramble to anoint the heir apparent while glibly shrugging off populist anger.

It’s the opening credits of a movie we’ve seen before. And unless a wrench is thrown into the projector, we’re in for exactly the same ending.


by Luke Savage at August 16, 2019 12:28 PM

anarchistnews.org

Montreal’s 15th Annual International Anarchist Theatre Festival Seeks Plays!

From Montreal International Anarchist Theatre Festival

Application deadline: November 7, 2019

The Montreal International Anarchist Theatre Festival (MIATF), the only festival in the world dedicated to anarchist theatre, is currently seeking plays, texts, monologues, dance-theatre, puppet shows, mime, in English and French, on the theme of anarchism or any subject pertaining to anarchism, i.e. against all forms of oppression including the State, capitalism, war, patriarchy, etc. We will also consider pieces exploring ecological, social and economic justice, racism, feminism, poverty, class and gender oppression from an anarchist perspective. We welcome work from anarchist and non-anarchist writers.

Application form & guidelines: www.anarchistetheatrefestival.com

by thecollective at August 16, 2019 12:18 PM

Channel Zero

This Is America #85: Once Now Into the Breach

This post was originally published on this site

The post This Is America #85: Once Now Into the Breach appeared first on It’s Going Down.

Welcome, to This Is America, August 15th, 2019.

In this episode we speak with someone from the New London Mutual Aid Collective about their ongoing work of planting a food forest on land left vacant after a giant pharmaceutical company’s land grab of an entire neighborhood through eminent domain feel through.

We then speak to someone involved in PopMob, or Popular Mobilization about the upcoming demonstrations against the Proud Boys in Portland, Oregon, the surrounding media controversy, and picking apart the false narratives coming from the Right and the Center.

We then switch to discussion, where we analyze the recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas.

All this and more, but first, let’s get to the news!

Living and Fighting:

It’s been revealed that the Department of Justice has been actively suppressing reports that show the drastic rise of far-Right, neo-Nazi, and white nationalist violence. This comes at the same time as new reports show that the FBI still views “animal rights,” anarchists, and “Black Identity Extremists” as some of the largest threats to the public.

Meanwhile, in New York during the trial against two Proud Boys, one who was video taped giving a fascist salute during the beating of anti-racist and antifascist protesters last year and was also photographed in court doing the same, it has been revealed that the DA went to great lengths to gather information on counter-protesters after the violent far-Right attack. According to the Daily Beast:

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office admitted it demanded Google hand over account information for all devices used in parts of the Upper East Side. They didn’t do this to find the Proud Boys; they did it to find Antifa members.

Reverse search warrants have been used in other parts of the country, but this is the first time one was disclosed in New York. Unlike a traditional warrant, where law enforcement officials request information on a specific phone or individual, reverse warrants allow law enforcement to target an entire neighborhood. Police and prosecutors create a “geofence”—a map area—and demand information on anyone standing in the zone. This flips the logic of search warrants on its head. Rather than telling service providers the name or phone number of a suspect, reverse search warrants start with the location and work backwards.

Meanwhile in Portland, Oregon, the city braces for a far-Right rally organized by former InfoWars employee Joe Biggs, who recently was visted by the FBI after weeks of continued violent threats on social media. Ironically, Biggs is rallying with members of the Three Percent militia, tied to multiple mosque bombings and the American Guard, founded by a neo-Nazi skinhead of the Vinlanders Social Club, in order to support antifascists being labeled “domestic terrorists” by the State. So much for being a “Libertarian!”

In the lead up to the rally, Portland police have made arrests of numerous Patriot Prayer and Proud Boy associates in connection to a violent attack against patrons outside of a bar on May Day that left one person hospitalized. Portland officials, law enforcement, and business owners also attempted to send a united message that “both sides” are to blame for “protest violence,” yet even some speakers selected for a press conference on Wednesday pushed back. Rabbi Debra Kolodny stated:

“Creating false equivalencies between violent white nationalists and those willing to defend our city against their violence is unacceptable. Pandering to a climate that accuses Portland of being soft on antifa is unacceptable.”

On Wednesday police also announced that a queer family in Portland and a neighbor had found unlit Molotov cocktails on their lawn and had also received anti-LGBTQ messages texted to their phone reading: “I dislike your type and the rainbow flag you displayed on the street too.”

In other Portland news, the Burgerville Workers Union, made up of members of the revolutionary anti-capitalist labor union the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) went out on a one day strike in the face of contract negotiations breaking down.

One statement from the union stated:

“I’ve had to sell the only things I had left from my dad before he passed away, just to put food on the table. I’m going on strike because they keep stalling and we need a raise and fair contract now,” said Betty Buchanan, a Burgerville worker at the Montavilla store, who went on strike on Friday because when Burgerville corporate delays bargaining on wages, it impacts her and other workers who can’t afford to keep waiting for a raise.

Friday morning, workers from across three different Burgervilles walked off the job, because none of us can afford to wait any longer for a raise. If a strike is what it takes to get Burgerville to bargain with us in good faith and bring us a serious proposal on wages, we’re here to prove with our actions that we’re ready.

Support striking workers by donating to the BVWU Strike and Hardship Fund, which helps pay workers lost wages while they stand up to the boss via direct action.

On Wednesday, the union announced that it had won holiday pay after a one day unfair labor practice strike and would continue to fight for better pay and conditions in negotiations and through another strike if necessary.

In other labor news, the blockade of coal trains by miners in Harlan County Kentucky continues, as support groups on the ground and community members remain active in gathering materials and funds to support the miners and their families and recently organized a free store at the blockade and are currently organizing to gather items for children of blockading miners who are going back to school.

On miner involved in the blockade recently told Time magazine:

“We are not stopping until we get paid. There is just tremendous support for all of us. We’ve had other blue collar workers tell us that they ‘need to do what the coal workers are doing.’”

In Mexico City, angry protests kicked off last Monday, after 4 police officers raped a 17-year old girl in their patrol car outside of the capitol. In response, angry feminist collectives and outraged community members smashed up the Attorney General’s office, demanding the guilty be punished.

Abolish ICE actions continue, with this past week seeing demonstrations against ICE profiteers along with word that another larger bank, PNC, was divesting from private prisons. Protests took place in Troy, Michigan demanding that Prudential divest as well as in Olympia, Washington. Meanwhile in New York, a massive crowd of #NeverAgain protestors shut down an Amazon bookstore due to their contracts with ICE. On Wednesday, #NeverAgain demonstrators in the hundreds converged to shut down entrances to an ICE detention center in Rhode Island. Later in the evening a guard drove their truck through protesters blocking the road way while other guards proceeded to pepper spray them. Two protesters were sent to the hospital for injuries related to being run over by the vehicle and an 74 year old woman was hospitalized after being pepper-sprayed.

Meanwhile last weekend saw a massive raid of migrant workers in Mississippi, which targeted workers at 7 poultry plants. Many of those picked up by ICE were members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union who had fought to improve working conditions and stop racial and sexual harassment at the plants. As many have pointed out, this part of an ongoing trend by ICE, to specifically target plants where workers have fought back on the job and organized unions or launched lawsuits to improve their workplaces. This example also shows the degree in which ICE is not designed to “stop” immigrants from participating in the economy as a class of second class citizens with few benefits and lower pay, but instead acts as an auxiliary force, designed to scare workers from speaking up and fighting back whichs helps to keep wages low and the pockets of the bosses padded with cash.

Meanwhile in Louisiana, according to Perilous:

Approximately 30 immigrant detainees were pepper-sprayed following a protest in the cafeteria of the Bossier Medium Security Facility [in Louisiana]. The protest occurred in the midst of a hunger strike at the facility that began Friday, July 26.

Text messages from a detainee within the facility obtained by Mother Jones described the violent incident: “There are lots of cops who came from another prison, they beat up the Cubans, they pepper spray them and handcuff them. There’s even an ambulance here. Help us please this is ugly!”

According to Bill Davis, a spokesperson for the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office who spoke with Buzzfeed News, detainees “began yelling and becoming disorderly, throwing their food trays at the door.”

Guards responded with “a short burst of [pepper spray] in the air towards the disorderly group,” said Davis, who denied that the force used by guards went beyond pepper spray.

“We cannot have an uprising period,” he said.

According to Davis, the hunger strikers are upset about a lack of communication with ICE about their immigration cases.

The hunger strike at Bossier marks the third hunger strike at a Louisiana ICE Detention Facility in a month. The day after the cafeteria protest at Bossier, approximately 100 immigrant detainees at the ICE Processing Center in Pine Prairie were pepper-sprayed during a protest on the facility’s yard.

Then on July 27th:

Guards deployed pepper spray after more than 100 immigrant detainees held a demonstration in the prison yard at Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center, a privately run ICE detention Facility owned by GEO Group.

The immigrant advocacy group, Freedom for Immigrants, which fights to end immigrant detention, refuted the claim that there were no injuries. According to the group, 115 immigrant detainees who had been on hunger strike for over 5 days were “tear gassed, shot at with rubber bullets, beaten, placed in solitary confinement, and blocked from contacting their families or attorneys. ”The group posted photos showing detainees with bruises that they say are the result of being shot with rubber bullets.

Back in the Pacific Northwest, two rallies organized by Proud Boys and militia members fizzled in Eugene, Oregon and Tacoma, Washington and were met by much larger numbers of antifascists.

In other antifascist news, the bosses in Major League Soccer have attempted to ban fans from displaying the antifascist “three arrows” symbol and it isn’t going well, with many clubs of supporters openly continuing to display political banner and messages at games in defiance of security. Such defiance also comes a week after members of the Proud Boys physically attacked Seattle Sounders fans in the streets for wearing shirts displaying the antifascist “Three Arrows” logo, spurring many soccer fans to stand behind antifascists.

Soccer fans carrying antifascist flags in Seattle, Washington.

In New York, antifascist and anarchist groups also held a memorial for Heather Heyer and those injure at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Meanwhile in Charlottesville banners were dropped in memorial and in Atlanta, posters were pasted up.

Solidarity:

  • A member of Jacksonville IWOC was arrested at a meeting and is in need of solidarity! Please donate here to cover legal costs.
  • Help donate to the antifascist mobilization in Portland on August 17th! Donate here.
  • Be sure to support the Burgerville Workers Union strike fund!

Upcoming Events:

  • August 16th-18th: Indigenous Anarchist Convergence in so-called Flagstaff, Arizona. More info.
  • August 17th: Counter-mobilization in Portland against far-Right. More info.
  • August 22nd: Protest Migrant Prison Construction in Montreal. More info.
  • August 23rd-24th: Bend the Bars Conference in Lansing, Michigan. More info.
  • August 23rd-25th: Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfair happening in Asheville, North Carolina. More info.
  • August 24th: Protest against white nationalist “Straight Pride” parade in Modesto, CA. More info.
  • August 24th-September 12th: Rainbow Ridge Direct Action Mobilization to Save the Mattole. More info.
  • August 31st: Benefit for Political Prisoners organized by Bakersfield Anarchist Black Cross (ABC). Show with speakers happening in Bakersfield, CA. More info.
  • August 31st: Benefit for Miguel Peralta in Los Angeles. More info.
  • September 7th: Halifax Anarchist Bookfair. More info.
  • September 7th: Running Down the Falls in Philadelphia. More info.
  • September 18th-22nd: Symbiosis Conference in Detroit. More info.
  • September 21-22nd: Victoria Anarchist Bookfair. More info.
  • September 28th: Toronto Anarchist Bookfair. More info.

by It's Going Down at August 16, 2019 12:13 PM

anarchistnews.org

Eric Abruptly Transferred With Urgent Medical Concerns

From Support Eric King

On or around 8/3 Eric when in custody at USP Lee Eric woke up unable to use his left hand/arm whole side of his body. Unable to life his arm to brush his teeth. Slurred speech and paralysis of the whole left side of his face. When looking in the mirror he experienced mirrored-self misidentification which means that he did not recognize himself in the mirror. His brain could not connect that was him. Within 24 hours all symptoms were gone.

Medical staff came by without entering his cell and told him it was bells palsey which is a paralysis of the facial muscles after an infection. The thing is bells should be IMMEDIATELY ruled out with paralysis of the rest of his body, and the fact bells does not affect anything cognitively and the fact the earliest people can start see improvement is around 2 weeks (erics body was back to normal fully within 24 hours). Eric also carries an increased risk of stroke due to family history

The fact that he experienced stroke symptoms and it is absolutely not bells it is VERY urgent that he be seen by a neurologist.  The standard of care when this happens is to perform an immediate ct scan and ultrasound of the neck and be evaluated by a neurologist and have blood tests. The incident was witnessed by both his cell-mate and the staff on duty. There is no doubt this occured. 

What happened to Eric meets a lot of the qualifications of a transient ischemic attack or a mini stroke. Obviously without testing we can not know but if this is the case it puts him in danger. One in three folks w this go on to have a full blown stroke. If he doesn’t get medical intervention asap there is the possibility of  irreversible damage. If this happened on the outside he would have been taken seriously and ended up in the hospital for testing. While not surprising, or shocking his life is of less value due to him being in prison. Its pretty simple. Along with their sentenced prisoners are sentenced to shortened lives due to medical neglect and died, and sometimes death by prison healthcare. We have seen it happen to our comrades over and over.. 

In the past year in BOP custody he sustained 3 head injuries. At FCI florence he was kicked in the head and body by 6 staff telling him to die after being dragged into a broom closet (on tape) by a lieutenant and attacked. Denied medical care, no assessment for brain injury. Tied to a 4 point bed for 8 hours in his own blood and urine. Then at USP McCreary despite the lieutenant telling him he was going to be attacked they placed him on the yard, a week later guards escorted him to a fenced in area (on camera) where a large fash was waiting to attack him. Another head injury he wasnt assessed for. Then a person was put in his cell who was restricted from having cell mates due to attacking the last 4 cellmates who then attacked eric. Again was not assessed medically.

We received the info regarding his health probably 10-13 days later. We have no way of knowing what has happened since. He was abruptly transferred to the atlanta transfer center yesterday after only 2 weeks at USP Lee. We have no idea  where he is going, if he has received medical attention or really anything regarding his situation. We do not know how long he will be in atlanta because he is transferring through but there is the possibility he can receive letters. If you do i suggest copying them so you can re-send them when he arrives wherever he is going. 

No one can know if this was benign, if he is ok, anything because he hasnt received the necessary evaluations that can be lifesaving. There is always the possibility things are ok, but also a health situation that has the possibility of danger.

This is prison, life without parole is death by prison for folks. Tom Manning, numerous move folks… so many comrades have been killed by prison healthcare. Not to mention ALL of the social prisoners this is happening to every day who dont have a voice so we can not hear their suffering.

We have no asks at this moment besides keep eric in your thoughts. Write a letter and either send now or save it for his next facility if you can. Keep an eye out if he lets us know he needs help. 

All of the rage

-EK suppoprt crew

If you wish to write Eric in Atlanta this is his address. plain paper, black pen, no colored envelopes or even printer ink. no cards, no postcards

Eric King 27090045

USP ATLANTA
P.O. BOX 150160
ATLANTA, GA  30315

by thecollective at August 16, 2019 12:11 PM

The Speech of Russian Anarchist Alexei Polikhovich in Moscow

From Avtonom

The on August 10 was the culmination of weeks of both authorized and unauthorized demonstrations in Moscow and elsewhere around Russia. The wave of demonstrations began on , when 20,000 people gathered in Moscow to demand “fair” and “clean” local elections. A slew of liberal opposition candidates have been barred from running in the Moscow elections coming up on September 8. The July 20 demonstration was called to oppose what the opposition sees as collusion between the ruling United Russia Party, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, President Vladimir Putin, and their allies to prevent liberal opposition candidates from running.

While July 20 was large but rather quiet, one week later, on July 27, an unauthorized protest in front of Moscow City Hall . Between 1000-1200 people were arrested out of a crowd of 3500, which included 700 journalists. The heavy-handed brutality against the demonstrators by the Moscow special police forces, the , was nothing particularly new. Neither was the , some carrying heavy fines and others potential jail time, that the Russian state .

Surely this added to both the anxiety and resolve of those who gathered on August 3 for another , at which another 1000 people were detained. Footage circulated widely on social media showing the brute force of Moscow’s OMON.

Regardless of the liberal politics of the Russian opposition, these circumstances render the impetus for Alexei’s speech self-evident. Below, we present the text of Alexei’s speech that he posted on the internet prior to the demonstration.

Glossary

For the benefit of those outside Russia, here is a brief guide to some of the references Alexei Polikhovich makes in his speech.

- The Bolotnaya Square Case stemmed from the Russian opposition movement of 2011-2012, in which hundreds of thousands of people participated. On May 6, 2012, the “March of Millions” ended with clashes in Bolotnaya Square in Moscow. A number of people were arrested, including Alexei Polikhovich and anti-fascist . This made the Bolotnaya Square Case synonymous with the struggle to free Russian political prisoners.

Berkut - The Berkut were the infamous riot police in Kyiv, Ukraine loyal to the regime of Russian-supported Viktor Yanukovich, responsible for policing and using lethal force against protestors during the Euromaidan uprising in 2013-14.

Commander Sergei Kusyuk - A former Berkut officer who oversaw operations against Euromaidan, Sergei Kusyuk is now working with the OMON in Moscow and was .

Ivan Golyunov - Russian police sparked a movement when they arrested the journalist Ivan Golyunov under false pretenses, planting drugs on him. His investigation into the corruption behind the Moscow funeral business sparked the police-mafia collusion leading to his false arrest. After , he was eventually released. He has become a for the opposition.

Alexei Navalny - Alexei Navalny is Russia’s most famous opposition/anti-corruption activist. As a liberal, he flirts with right-wing nationalism, and has produced famous investigations into Russian politicians and oligarchs revealing their unscrupulous earnings. He is able to mobilize a large base; as a consequence, he is regularly arrested for his opposition activities.

Alexei Polikhovich was jailed as a political prisoner in the Bolotnaya Square Case.

Alexei Polikhovich’s Speech

Hello everyone.

My name is Alexei Polikhovich, and I spent three years, three months, and three days in prison because of the Bolotnaya Square riot. I was imprisoned for grabbing the hands of a riot cop who was beating protesters. And now I’m standing in front of you because I am furious.

I am furious that history is repeating itself. I am furious because anonymous people in helmets, masks, and armor are beating defenseless people on the streets of Moscow. They are beating them again and again they will go unpunished. I am furious that Moscow is occupied by these storm troopers who consider us all enemies of Russia.

I saw them. I saw a man in a helmet with a baton furiously beating someone who was lying on the ground and screaming. I saw hordes of those people in helmets attacking people who were standing there peacefully. The only thing that was dangerous on July 27 was the law enforcement officers. They alone.

They learned to beat us—and then they learned to play victim in the courts and say how they were injured by a thrown plastic cup or from the touch of our warm, tender hands, just like they hurt from the chant “Cops are Shame of Russia.” They cry in their anonymous cowardly Telegram channels that they are the real Russian men and we are paid provocateurs. Hey men, what is it like to play victim in the courts against students, graduate students, bloggers, TV directors, volunteers? What will your children say about these stories when they grow up? Your children will hate you. Children of cops—hate cops!

I am furious that once every seven years, the ship of the Investigative Committee sails into Moscow and whisks young people away to the Cretan labyrinth like a sacrifice to the Minotaur. To insure that Athens—Moscow—remains a peaceful city of barbecue festivals. So that the fugitives and traitors of Berkut can safely practice fencing with batons on our bodies. So that Colonel Kusyuk can still wear his mustache on our land and command the crackdowns on peaceful demonstrations.

They come every seven years to sacrifice us. And so it is. Today I am furious and want you to feel the outrage too. I want you—all of us—to become Ariadne for the thirteen guys who have already been imprisoned in the riot case so far. I believe that we can handle it. After [the case of Ivan] Golunov, I believe that we have the strength to throw down a thread that will guide them out of the labyrinth of prisons, courts, and police brutality.

How many people are here now? Many thousands. I want to see these thousands under the windows of the Basmanny Court [the court that ordered the arrests]—here, we are very close to the Basmanny Court. I am not a supporter of Navalny, I do not believe in elections, I am just a Russian anarchist. A simple Russian man. I want us to shout to all the Kusyuks, the Moscow election commission, riot police, cops, judges, and bureaucrats. You are crazy fucks! They are crazy fucks! They are crazy fucks!

Support the people in prison. Come home and write a letter to them in jail. Donate money for food and the lawyer fees. Find the person with a donation box in the crowd now—it is my accomplice from the Bolotnaya case, Volodya Akimenkov—give him funds for political prisoners. Talk about it and go to the court; the protests beneath the windows of the court should never stop.

Remember their names. Remember their names—not as the names of victims or heroes, but as the names of your friends who will be home soon. Shout them out:

Alexey Minyailo
Vladislav Barabanov
Kirill Zhukov
Egor Zhukov
Ivan Podkopaev
Samariddin Radzhapov
Evgeny Kovalenko
Sergey Abanichev
Daniel Conon
Sergey Fomin
Aydar Gubaidulin
Danila Begletz
Dmitry Vasiliev
Pavel Ustinov

Thank you for CrimethInc. .
Alexey Polikhovich speaking at the demonstration of August 10 in Moscow (with English subtitles):

by thecollective at August 16, 2019 12:05 PM

resilience.org

Iceland – Independent Economic Policy, Holding Finance Accountable and Experimenting with Local Democracy

Iceland financial crisis

Iceland’s economy had thrived on speculative finance but, after the meltdown, rather than making the public pay for the crisis, as the Nobel economist Paul Krugman points out, Iceland ‘let the banks go bust and actually expanded its social safety net’ and instead of placating financial markets, ‘imposed temporary controls on the movement of capital to give itself room to manoeuvre.’

by Rapid Transition Alliance Staff at August 16, 2019 11:58 AM

Deep Green Resistance News Service

Indigenous Leader: “We’re fighting NOT to have roads or electricity.”

Editors note: in her book Solar Storms, the Chickasaw writer Linda  Hogan describes the changes that come with electrification of a rural indigenous community:

In a split second, the world changed. Even the migratory animals, who flew or swam by light, grew confused… once seen, it could  easily have become a need or desire.

With the coming of this light, dark windowless corners inside human dwellings now showed a need for cleaning or paint. Floors fell open to scrutiny. Men and women scrubbed places that had always before been in shadow. Standing before mirrors, people looked at themselves as if for the first time, and were disappointed at the lines of age, the marks and scars they’d never noticed or seen clearly before. I, too, saw myself in the light, my scars speaking again their language of wounds. But it seemed the most impressive to those who had not long ago used caribou fat or fish oil to fuel their lamps…

…those who wanted to conquer the land, the water, the rivers that kept running away from them. It was their desire to guide the waters, narrow them down into the thin black electrical wires that traversed the world. They wanted to control water, the rise and fall of it, the direction of its ancient life. They wanted its power…

One smart village of Crees to the east of us rejected electricity. They wanted to keep bodies and souls whole, they said. Some of the Inuits said if they had electricity then they’d have indoor toilets and then the warm buildings would thaw the frozen world, the ground of permafrost, and everything would fall into it. They saw, ahead of time, what would happen, that their children would weaken and lose heart, that the people would find no reason to live.”

Many people, even leftists, still assume that so-called “development” is a positive thing. We at Deep Green Resistance, and many indigenous people and critics of modernity, disagree. Civilization and development are destroying the planet and impoverishing human culture. The costs of development far, far outweigh the benefits.

“UNITED NATIONS (AP) — To hear Ati Quigua tell it, New York City is a place where people who don’t know each other live stacked inside big buildings, gorging on the “foods of violence,” and where no one can any longer feel the Earth’s beating heart.

Quigua, an indigenous leader whose village in Colombia sits on an isolated mountain range rising 18,700 feet (5,700 meters) before plunging into the sea, is just one of over 1,000 delegates in town for the 15th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that ends Friday.

“On top of the temples of the goddess and Mother Earth, they are building castles, they are building cities and building churches, but our mother has the capacity to regenerate,” Quigua said. “We are fighting not to have roads or electricity — this vision of self-destruction that’s called development is what we’re trying to avoid.”

Read the full article on the Associated Press website.

Image by atiquigua, CC BY 4.0

by Deep Green Resistance Great Basin at August 16, 2019 11:00 AM

jacobinmag

Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar Are Victims of Anti-Palestine Bigotry

Israel’s attack on Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar was fueled by toxic anti-Palestinian rhetoric in the US. And it’s not just Trump — Democrats and the corporate media are to blame too.


alt Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib attend a news conference where House and Senate Democrats introduced the Equality Act, on March 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Last month, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to urge Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress, “to go back to her country.”

Yesterday, after Tlaib decided to go back to her country, to visit her family in the West Bank, Trump again took to Twitter to press Israel to block the Detroit congresswoman, along with Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar, from entering Israel and the Occupied Territories. “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit,” Trump insisted. “They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds.”

Israel followed Trump’s advice (and accepted the ammunition of Democrats who attacked Omar). On Thursday, the government announced the two congresswomen were personae non gratae. In an official statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained: “Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for and work to impose boycotts on Israel. Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting the legislation of boycotts against Israel in the American Congress.”

Immediately, David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, released a statement praising the ban: “The United States supports and respects the decision of the government of Israel to deny entry of the Tlaib/Omar delegation,” it read. (Bernie Sanders vehemently disagreed, saying last night on MSNBC: “If Israel doesn’t want members of the United States Congress to visit their country . . .  maybe they can respectfully decline the billions of dollars that we give to Israel.”)

When the president of the United States urges another country to prevent the entry of US congresswomen, it’s a perilous precedent. Yet the move is hardly surprising given Trump’s anti-Palestinian record. You could even call it a product of Palestinophobia, a term that hardly exists, but is so prevalent in US politics it may as well become part of the lexicon.

Tlaib, in particular, is tailor-made to trigger Trump: She was sworn in on the Quran in her traditional Palestinian thobe. She supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and opposes Israel’s occupation. On her first day in office, she seized on a congressional map of Israel and sketched the word “Palestine” on it. And she herself is Palestinian, which, for a president fond of demonizing Palestinians, is enough to justify telling a congresswoman who was born in the United States to “go back to where you came from.”

Trump’s antipathy for Palestine extends to the Palestinian people as a whole. As he put it in a lavishly capitalized tweet last January: “We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect.” Trump’s administration has since inflicted a series of collective punishments on Palestinians, ranging from moving the US embassy to Jerusalem to shutting down the Palestine Liberation Organization’s diplomatic office in Washington to endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex the West Bank.

But it’s not just Trump.

Democrats have enabled anti-Palestinian sentiment by parroting unfounded charges of antisemitism against Omar. They were the ones that decided to push a resolution slapping down the Minnesota representative for daring to break with the bipartisan consensus on Israel. They were the ones who gave Trump the rhetorical cudgel he’s eagerly used to bludgeon Omar and Tlaib.

The bipartisan hysteria surrounding the BDS movement — exhibit A for Palestinophobia — is another good example. US lawmakers and state legislators, both Democratic and Republican, have all but declared war on the movement (which seeks to pressure Israel to end its occupation), enacting over 120 anti-BDS laws that criminalize Palestinian rights activism in dozens of states. Following suit early this year, the Senate approved the Combating BDS Act of 2019, which clearly violates the First Amendment.

What perhaps distinguishes “Palestinophobia” from other political phobias is that it’s so severe among some US politicians that they resort to denying the existence of the derided object itself. For Mike Huckabee: “There’s really no such thing as the Palestinians.” For Newt Gingrich: “There was no Palestine as a state, I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people.”

Another symptom is blame-shifting, which involves faulting Palestinians, whether under occupation in the West Bank or under siege in Gaza, for their own dire conditions. Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, betrayed this symptom when he stood at the new US embassy in Jerusalem last year and miscast peaceful Palestinian protestors in Gaza “as part of the problem and not part of the solution.” Fifty Palestinians were killed by Israel as Kushner delivered his speech.

Following the massacre, US diplomats, led by Nikki Haley, launched an aggressive campaign to provide diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, blocking every single resolution that sought to hold Israel accountable for its atrocities against Palestinians. In a series of racist gestures, Haley walked out of the UN chamber as the Palestinian UN envoy began to speak, assured AIPAC that “there is a new sheriff in town,” and warned Palestinians, “I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement. It’s because if I see something wrong, we’re going to kick them every single time.” John Bolton, Trump’s national security advisor, threatened to eliminate the International Criminal Court altogether for its investigation into Israel’s war crimes in Gaza. The Trump team then pulled out of the UN Human Rights Council, citing “anti-Israel prejudice.” Showing total disregard for Palestinian lives, the administration was also quick to condemn a recent UN report that found Israel guilty of war crimes in Gaza.

Palestinophobia targets even the most powerless — namely, Palestinian refugees. Haley launched her UN mission by calling for a reexamination of Palestinians’ right of return. Kushner called for “an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA.” Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East peace envoy, warned that UNRWA “perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”

The anti-Palestinian animus is not confined to policymakers. Palestinians are rarely heard in the mainstream media, as if they, to quote the late Palestinian-American intellectual Edward Said, “have no permission to narrate.” Words like “occupation” and “apartheid” are taboo in many media outlets, and Palestinian is still a dirty word, not only in right-wing outlets like Fox News, but also in centrist and left-leaning ones. Just last week, CNN’s Jake Tapper used the mass shooting in El Paso to compare Palestinians to white nationalists. Last June, the Times published an opinion article by former Israel UN ambassador Danny Danon calling on Palestinians to declare a “national suicide” and surrender to Israeli occupation and apartheid.

Palestinophobia is also rife on US campuses, where the space for Palestinian rights activism is shrinking thanks to pro-Israel blacklisters like Canary Mission. Most recently, Fordham University, in a stark violation of free speech on campus, denied official recognition to Students for Justice in Palestine, a student organization that supports BDS and opposes Israel’s occupation. (A New York judge struck down Fordham’s ban last week.)

And Tlaib and Omar aren’t the only individuals Palestinophobia has recently ensnared. Last year, Palestinian-American educator Bahia Amawi lost her job at a Texas elementary school for refusing to sign a “pro-Israel loyalty oath.” CNN fired commentator Marc Lamont Hill for criticizing Israel’s occupation and gross violations of Palestinian rights in a UN speech. A civil rights group in Birmingham, Alabama reversed its decision to honor Angela Davis, the prominent radical scholar and BDS supporter, amid pro-Israel protests.

Trump’s Twitter barrage against Tlaib is only a symptom of a deep-seated animosity toward Palestinians in US politics and the media. Despite some positive change in recent years, including the election of Tlaib and Omar, and the growing support for Palestinian rights among young people and progressive Jews in the US, Palestinophobia is unlikely to disappear overnight, and will undoubtedly outlast Trump. That’s because collective phobias tend to linger, and unlike individual phobias, they cannot be cured within a few sessions, but will take years, perhaps generations, of bottom-up activism.


by Seraj Assi at August 16, 2019 10:51 AM

Viacampesina

Rural Youth: training and participation drive

One of the central challenges for the peasant movement is ensuring that the rural youth is able to stay in rural areas and has the knowledge and conditions needed to live and farm with dignity. This was acknowledged in the VII Congress of the Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo/CLOC-La Vía Campesina in Cuba at the end of June.

“The public youth policies of our neoliberal governments do not provide the necessary guarantees young people need in these areas. Therefore, without a good education, training and healthcare, young people are forced to move to cities to access the resources that are just not readily available in rural areas,” explained Raúl Eguigure, an organiser from Honduras who represents central America within CLOC, in an interview with ALAI. 

Margarita Gómez is from Argentina and is a youth representative for South America and member of La Vía Campesina’s International Coordinating Committee for youth from the Americas. She added that land access is also an issue, particularly for women, as well as access to work, which causes forced migration as people look for employment.

Furthermore, there are also cultural barriers that must be recognised: working on the land is not valued enough, and this is another reason behind youth migration. “I think that as peasants and farmers, we should have a qualification, because it is a profession” says Eguigure. “We create life in rural areas and that is not valued in the cities. If peasants stopped their production, there would be chaos in cities in terms of food supply.”  In the same way, people in cities should be made more aware of the value of what is produced in rural areas, which would in turn motivate young people to stay.

In fact, one of the youth articulation’s main proposals is to help those young people who have moved to cities fall back in love with rural life. “Many young people we meet in big cities, (and especially in towns), are people whose grandmothers, grandfathers and great grandparents left rural areas because of the difficulties they suffered there” explains Gómez. “Today, our job as young people is show the youth that there’s another rural life, a different reality to that of seventy years ago, which we owe to the hard work of our ancestors, and our own hard work that we have put in over the last twenty years.”

As a result, for a number of years now, there has been a push for collaboration and interaction between rural areas and cities. 

Through internships, camps and meetings, young people from the city get the chance to visit rural areas, understand how rural production works, and learn the principals of agroecology. They are also invited to study in the schools set up by rural organisations. 

Furthermore, urban agriculture is also encouraged. “In many countries, we see young people who didn’t previously know how to plant corn plants but who now do so because they learned how through work experience in rural areas” says the Honduran representative.  “As a result, they then start their own plots and allotments at home. If you have a patio or an outside space, you can grow things, and do it in an agroecological way too. This is one way to benefit whilst living in the city. Our dream is that all young people who have moved away return to rural areas, because that’s where life begins” adds Eguigure. Organisational processes are also being driven forward within cities.

At the same time, these links between rural areas and cities enable the rural youth to become familiar with the problems and struggles of the city and consider these in their actions.

Technical and political formation and training

Youth leaders have identified both political and technical training as a main priority and goal.  The main mechanisms used to achieve this are the Institutos Agroecológicos de América Latina (IALAs), promoted by the CLOC/LVC. There are six of these, in a number of different countries, in addition to other agroecological schools.  Organisations are responsible for maintaining and running the IALAs, and each country is committed to sending a quota of young people to the training events.

“We alternate within the schools. That is to say, we spend some time in the classroom and some working in the community, to avoid losing touch with the land” says Gómez. Students can do the practical work in their own communities, or in the communities local to the IALA where they are studying.  The subjects studied, although different in each school, combine political training with technical and practical teachings.  The teachers are members of the organisations or academics from partnered universities.

A decade of work

The CLOC-LVC youth articulation has been going for at least a decade.  The first Youth Assembly was held in Paraguay in 2010.  Since then, the organisation has made progress on a number of levels: on the local grassroots level, as well as regionally and nationally.  Today, CLOC representatives from each country must include at least one young person and one woman, chosen by the organisations. There is also a male and female youth delegate from each region on La Vía Campesina’s International Coordinating Committee.  In this way, through grassroots exchanges, youth proposals and suggestions have an impact on the political agendas of both the CLOC and La Vía Campesina.

“As young people, we understand the importance of working with older colleagues” says Margarita Gómez. “This empowers us to keep working on all of the political discussion topics that exist within the CLOC. We are represented in all of the spaces where decisions are made and discussions take place, and this allows us to continue to grow and to press ahead with many of the struggles that affect our land”.

The CLOC’s policy of driving forward youth organisations has also served as an incentive to increase participation in local and national organisations.  However, young people recognise that this is not always an easy process. “We must make leaders see that if we are not represented in these spaces within organisations, we are not going to learn” stresses Raúl Eguigure, adding that this then allows them to take on larger roles of responsibility within their organisation.  In this way, he hopes that his older colleagues “will continue to give us opportunities, and realise that if we are a part of this process, we can give opinions, make suggestions, and improve the organisation, because youth has always been at the forefront of this. Often, we have been put to work in other ways but now we are being given access to spaces that are really important for us, and for that we are grateful.”.

V Assembly in Cuba

Both youth representatives had positive experiences in the V Assembly in Cuba, and highlighted that, for the first time, urban delegations were also represented.  According to the Argentinian representative, “At the assembly, there were a lot of exchanges during which we could meet and get to know young people from Cuba” and discuss the revolution, the construction of socialism, internationalism and unity. “We also want to see revolution in our own countries and regions; the assembly allowed us to see and experience the agrarian reform we dream of, as well as food sovereignty and revolution.”

In terms of expectations, she pledged to “continue building our socialism, getting involved in struggles and taking the fight to the streets. That is a key part of our role as young people and as a part of rural life. Continuing with grassroots work, building our training spaces, contributing to these spaces that already exist and remaining active, making them stronger, that is our commitment. To continue fighting on the ground, producing, and being able to carry out this training with young people form the city, and to learn from them too.”

They especially appreciated visiting peasant farming communities in Cuba where young people were active: “We were able to see the agroecology and, above all, the organisation that exists in Cuba. The Cuban youth is united under one organisation, the Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas de Cuba (UJC), and that is something we would like to see in our own countries; however, that will be the hardest battle.”

Finally, Gómez reinforced the commitment of solidarity with the Cuban people regarding the economic block, much like that commitment made to the people of Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela. She outlined the desire to continue fighting for food sovereignty in every country and highlighted the importance of building on the Declaration of the Rights of Peasants, approved by the United Nations.

Source: https://www.movimientos.org/es

The post Rural Youth: training and participation drive appeared first on Via Campesina English.

by abhilash at August 16, 2019 10:39 AM

resilience.org

Restoring Soil can Help Address Climate Change

no-till

I believe it’s time now for a global “soilshot” to heal the land. Rebuilding healthy fertile soil on the world’s agricultural lands would require fundamental changes to agriculture, and a new agricultural philosophy.

by David R. Montgomery at August 16, 2019 10:28 AM

On Sacrifice

Sacrifice of Isaac

Raising the spectre of sacrifice is the all the vogue in current climate denier and delayer circles: it is representative of our current moment in time. Having comprehensively been routed on the denial of science, the minions of fossil fuel lobbies have moved on to delay the onset and diminish the scope of action.

by Julia Steinberger at August 16, 2019 09:47 AM

Practices for Eco-Grief

grief

While the common tendency with ecological grief, as with most forms of pain, is to turn away in an effort to protect ourselves, if we understand grief and love as interwoven, then to turn away from grief is to turn away from love, to close and harden our hearts.

by Laura Johnson at August 16, 2019 09:27 AM

Ecosia

Tree-Planting Update: Episode 19

Tree-Planting Update: Episode 19

We filmed our latest tree update on the mountains of southern Ethiopia during a recent visit to see your trees there. We spent time with a group of women’s co-operatives and visited their homes, where they have planted fruit trees they received as a benefit for their work in the nurseries. We also visited a two-year-old Ecosia forest to check on the density of the trees growing, and saw many examples of natural regeneration.

We will also use this method in Malawi, where we are helping farmers grow back trees using the public radio station.

The rainy season in Ethiopia has begun, but the rains in Peru just ended. Now, hundreds of thousands of trees have been planted in the highlands of Sierra Pura.

And finally, I want to tell you about our tree fund. In our financial reports, you will see that we invest some of our revenue into an internal savings account each month. Planting trees requires a lot of planning, and our tree fund ensures that we can reliably pay our partners each month regardless of fluctuations in income.

See you next month!

by Pieter at August 16, 2019 09:18 AM

jacobinmag

German Unions Are Waking up to the Climate Disaster

The call to stop the production of coal and cars often sounds like a threat to jobs. But German trade unions have realized that the green transition needs to happen — and they’re fighting to make sure it’s bosses, not workers, who pay for climate justice.


alt Supporters of the Fridays for Future climate change movement participate in a demonstration during a five-day Fridays for Future congress on August 2, 2019 in Dortmund, Germany. (Juergen Schwarz / Getty Images)

If the summer holidays interrupted the school walkouts, the teenager-led Fridays for Future movement hasn’t let up its fight to save the planet. Ever since the start of the movement, leaders like Sweden’s Greta Thunberg and Germany’s Luisa Neubauer have worked to build broader social ties than previous generations of environmental activists, including with organized labor. In this spirit, September 20 will see the beginning of the “Earth Strike,” a planned week-long general strike around the world to stop production and draw political attention to the climate emergency.

The need to “save jobs” has historically been counterposed to the call to shut down harmful industries. Yet the sheer scale of the catastrophe we face has focused minds on the need to overcome the divide between green and labor activism. In particular, the mainstreaming of the demand for “climate justice” — arguing that the poor, vulnerable, and exploited shouldn’t be the ones paying for the transition to a green carbon-neutral economy — has shown that saving the planet and social justice really can go hand in hand. This is epitomized by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s call for a Green New Deal.

Germany has an especially deep-seated history of ecological mobilization, with even radical campaigns enjoying wide popular support. Its environmental movement has historically been characterized by a strong anti-authoritarian current — indeed, in the 1970s and 1980s, the movement to halt nuclear-waste transports used forms of civil disobedience associated with the US civil rights struggle.

Unlike in many other countries, these movements are not on the fringes of politics but are deeply rooted in neighborhoods and communities. Yet whatever the strength of climate activism, labor unions have traditionally remained aloof from green struggles. But now, riding the wave driven by the Fridays for Future movement, organized labor is beginning to adopt the call for the green transition as its own.


Jobs First?

There’s plenty of obstacles to such a conversion. In recent years, civil-disobedience climate activists have focused their attention on shutting down two open-cast lignite coal mines, one in the Rhineland and the other in Lausitz in the former East Germany. Lignite coal is one of the least efficient and dirtiest energy sources, but a key job creator in both regions. This has sparked repeated clashes between members of the chemical and miners’ union — the IG BCE — and the activists who came to the Rhineland to occupy the Hambach Forest and the open-cast mine. The IG BCE’s general secretary, Michael Vassiliades, insisted on the need to put jobs first and think about environmental issues second — guaranteeing conflict between labor and climate activists.

This stance matched the IG BCE union’s record participating in the German government commission to phase out lignite — a slow process that actually sets the country in contradiction with the Paris climate agreement. For now, all stakeholders, including the unions, agree that coal production should stop by 2038, yet IG BCE’s focus on jobs alone has isolated it from any notion of “climate justice.” Certainly, there are reasons for concern — the renewable energy sector (both wind and solar) is notoriously anti-union, in contrast with the social dialogue and partnership engrained in older forms of production. Yet the risk is that precisely this blindness to green issues will allow employers alone to assume the mantle of directing the ecological transition.

Not all of organized labor remains mired in such a purely defensive position. Following Fridays for Future’s demand to shut down coal production by 2030, the ver.di services union’s general secretary, Frank Bsirske, stated that the phaseout should be hastened as far as possible. This call has sparked a mobilization by the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), which has opportunistically attacked Bsirske as anti-industry and wanting to harm the German worker. Nor have Bsirske’s comments endeared him to all unions. During activists’ “Ende Gelände” climate camp, the youth wing of the IG BCE camped out to demand job security and the continuation of the open-cast mine.


Out of the Rut

As we see, Germany’s green consciousness, the rising fortunes of the Green Party, and the prevalence of Bioläden stores selling ecologically friendly food do not necessarily translate into unions taking more progressive stances on climate issues. If anything, the radicalism of the climate activist milieu, as well as the corporatism of “jobs first” trade unionism, has created a deeper rift between labor and environmental groups than exists in other countries.

However, the climate strike on September 20 promises to begin to overcome the diffidence between unions and environmental groups. While German labor law does not permit political strikes of any kind, Fridays for Future’s climate strikes have already struck a chord with trade unions in both manufacturing and services industries. And they’re beginning to mobilize.

In June, Germany’s largest union, the IG Metall, organized a demonstration to demand a fair and ecological transition. The wider crisis of the German car industry, concentrated in the scandal over Volkswagen faking its emissions figures, has highlighted the particular ills of the auto sector. Given the close relations between industrial manufacturing unions, German companies listed on the DAX stock exchange, and the German state, this demonstration could represent a step forward for a convergence between unions and environmental groups. This labor-green alliance is particularly necessary given that climate change, as well as new technological developments, are going to force German auto factories to switch to producing e-cars or different vehicles altogether.

Organizing this demonstration, IG Metall chartered ten trains and eight hundred buses to fill the streets of Berlin with tens of thousands of metalworkers. This represented a significant step for the union and its engagement with the green transition. While no representative from Fridays for Future addressed the demonstration, it is unthinkable that it could even have happened without the ongoing Fridays for Future mobilizations. At the time of writing, the IG Metall is still discussing whether to support the September 20 climate strike.

More promising are developments in the transport sector, where railworkers’ union EVG has advertised its own members’ presence on the Fridays for Future demonstrations as well as its support for the movement’s goals. This should not come as a surprise given the movement’s demands for better and more accessible public transport. The next step is for this self-interested solidarity to also translate into conductors and other staff bringing trains to a halt for the Earth Strike.

But the unions quickest and most vocal in aligning themselves with the burgeoning climate strike movement and the strike call are those in the services sector. Here, the relationship between employers, the state, and unions is not so defined by corporatism, and workers do not need to fear job loss to the same extent.

Last week, Bsirske argued that ver.di members should follow Greta Thunberg’s call and join the September 20 strike. Ver.di’s Twitter account shows Bsirske saying, “Whoever can do so should clock out and go out on the streets. I will definitely go.” Luisa Neubauer, one of Germany’s most prominent young climate strikers, termed Bsirske’s call “an infinitely important step,” showing that the climate strikers are taking note of the power of organized labor.

Ver.di is not directly calling its members out on strike. But the union is encouraging members to collectively take a day off to support the movement or organize an “active lunch break” — a lunchtime assembly outside of their workplaces. This could be a useful way to engage union members and other workers in the fight for the planet and at the same time raise the profile of the Earth Strike. Given that a recent rank-and-file-led petition on climate change gathered more than 46,000 signatures, it appears that service workers in both the public and private sectors could begin to move into action.

Unlike in the United States, where teachers have been at the forefront of building social-movement unionism and striking across right-to-work states, German teachers are civil servants and thus do not have the right to strike. While they cannot walk out, the education union GEW has, however, backed the students in doing so. The union’s executive member for schools, Ilka Hoffmann, has publicly supported the strike but also criticized it for not doing enough to emphasize the issues of labor exploitation and social justice that relate to workers. The North Rhine–Westphalian section of the GEW has also decisively argued for a stop to reprisals against students who take strike action, though it remains unclear what forms of action educators will themselves be taking in the Earth Strike week.

The strike also looks set to affect the construction sector. Germany’s largest construction and property services union, the IG BAU — which coincidentally has the word “umwelt” (environment) in its name — has called on its members on building sites to join the climate strike. It demands that Germany reduces its CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020.

German labor law forbids workers from taking political strike action. The IG BAU is thus pressuring employers to give their employees the opportunity to participate in the Fridays for Future demonstrations. This intelligent move plays the ball back into the employers’ court, forcing them to show how far their proud identification with “corporate social responsibility” and “green workplace” initiatives really goes. Such a move to pressure employers to shut down could give the Earth Strike an entirely different dimension.


Making Transition Reality

If unions are going to marry the green transition to the defense of workers’ interests, they need to think hard about how they can use their institutional and organizational power at the workplace and sectoral level. After all, 53 percent of workers and employees are still covered by collective agreements, giving many unions a great deal of leverage in shaping the labor market.

Those enjoying such a strategic position could use it to demand upskilling for workers in key industries that have no future in a carbon-neutral economy, enshrine new health and safety regulations that could contribute to a decrease in carbon emissions, and force employers to change the way goods are produced and services are provided. Among others, unions could use their collective agreements to move toward a four-day week, which would also reduce CO2 emissions.

Despite all these positive developments within the union movement, Germany’s mainstream media continues to frame the emerging dialogue between Fridays for Future and the trade union movement in binary terms, as if the defense of jobs will inevitably act against the wider interests of the planet. This is exactly the narrative that unions need to explode.

Thus far, German unions’ support for the Fridays for Future movement may remain symbolic — certainly, they could do a lot more to challenge Germany’s carbon economy. However, their participation on September 20 could start to close the gap between organized labor and Germany’s already strong environmental movements. This is more necessary than ever if working people are not to pay the price for a transition toward a green economy.


by Mark Bergfeld at August 16, 2019 09:06 AM

InterPressService (global south)

A Key Role for 1.8 Billion Youth in UN’s 2030 Development Agenda

Students in Primary Seven at Zanaki Primary School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania during an English language class. Credit: Sarah Farhat/World Bank.

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 16 2019 (IPS)

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is convinced that the world’s 1.8 billion adolescents and youth– a quarter of the global population—have a key role to play in helping implement the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda.

In an interview with IPS, UNFPA Deputy Executive Director (Programme) Dereje Wordofa, said “young people are at the centre of sustainable development”.

“If we do not work with, and for them, there is no way we can achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030, or UNFPA’s three transformative results,” he warned.

Through “My Body, My Life, My World!”, UNFPA is also contributing to each of the five priorities of the UN’s overall Youth Strategy, “Youth 2030”.

“If we make coherent, tailored, large-scale reforms and investments, especially in health (including sexual and reproductive health), skills development, and employment, those nations can achieve a huge demographic dividend from their healthy, empowered young populations"

Dereje Wordofa, UNFPA Deputy Executive Director (Programme)

“These are engagement, participation and advocacy, informed and healthy foundations, economic empowerment through decent work, and peace and resilience,” he pointed out.

Speaking during International Youth Day on August 11, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres complained schools are “not equipping young people with the skills they need to navigate the technological revolution.”

Last year, he also stressed the importance of young people in addressing the challenges confronting the contemporary world, including peace, impacts of climate change and growing inequalities.

“The best hope [to address these] challenges is with the new generations. We need to make sure that we are able to strongly invest in those new generations,” said Guterres, urging the international community to be fully engaged in addressing a key problem of youth unemployment.

Asked how realistic was UNFPA’s strategy in poverty-stricken communities struggling to survive on less than $1.25 a day, Wordofa told IPS: “Having lived and worked in many countries affected by poverty and deprivation, including in my own Ethiopia, I couldn’t agree with you more”

He said Sustainable Development Goal 1 (SDG 1) is a lynchpin for all the other SDGs, and in all sectors of development “we are contributing towards reducing poverty. I believe empowered young people will play a vital role here too”.

“At UNFPA, we firmly believe that one of the most essential routes to achieving sustainable development lies in educating and empowering young people to make decisions about their health and wellbeing, giving them the tools to take charge of their lives, to drive development, and to sustain peace”.

“We must recognize that adolescents and young people make up the majority of the population in many economically poor nations,” he declared.

“ If we make coherent, tailored, large-scale reforms and investments, especially in health (including sexual and reproductive health), skills development, and employment, those nations can achieve a huge demographic dividend from their healthy, empowered young populations,’ said Wordofa, who earlier served as the International Regional Director, Eastern and Southern Africa, at SOS Children’s Villages and Regional Director for Africa at the American Friends Service Committee.

In this context, he pointed out that UNFPA’s “My Body, My Life, My World!” is a human-centric approach: “we are emphasizing how all the different issues affecting adolescents and youth today are interlinked and inseparable”.

“For example, without rights and choices over their bodies, it is not possible for young people to have full control over their lives and actively shape their communities and end poverty. So we must continue to address the complex determinants that affect young people’s health and wellbeing,” he noted.

 

UNFPA Deputy Executive Director (Programme) Dereje Wordofa.

 

 

Excerpts from the interview:

IPS: How best would you describe the UNFPA’s new strategy on adolescents and youth? 

WORDOFA: UNFPA’s vision is to create a world where every young person can make their own choices and enjoy their rights. The strategy titled “My body, my life, my world!” is our new rallying cry for every young person to have the knowledge and power to make informed choices about their bodies and lives, and to participate in transforming their world.

The strategy puts young people – their talents, hopes, perspectives and unique needs – at the very centre of sustainable development, and offers a new approach to collaborate with, invest in, and champion young people around the world. It encompasses everything that was called for and promised by world leaders at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) back in 1994 in Cairo.

“My Body, My Life, My World!” provides a new narrative for all of UNFPA’s youth work, building on the organization’s strategic plan and the UN’s “Youth 2030” strategy, and putting young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights at the core of what we do both in development and humanitarian settings.

In addition to the crucial need for young people to enjoy their right to sexual and reproductive health, the strategy also includes their fundamental right to participate in sustainable development, humanitarian action and sustaining peace.

By working with and for young people, we will deliver across the three spheres that matter to them – their body, life, and world. This will be essential if we are to finally fulfil the promise of the ICPD of rights and choices for all adolescents and youth.

IPS: Are you working on a deadline for its implementation?

WORDOFA: UNFPA seeks to achieve its three transformative goals by 2030; namely zero unmet need for family planning, zero maternal deaths and zero violence and harmful practices against women and girls. “My Body, My Life, My World!” will be a key accelerator to achieving these three goals.

IPS: Do you think the world’s 1.8 billion adolescents and youth now remain largely marginalized in decisions relating to reproductive health, marriage and child-bearing?

WORDOFA: Yes! It is a sad fact that far too many young people are still a long way from being able to exercise their reproductive rights, despite being promised them by world leaders twenty-five years ago at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo.

The numbers are staggering: 21 per cent of girls worldwide are married before age 18. Tens of thousands of girls get married every day. And every day in developing countries, 20,000 girls under age 18 give birth: this amounts to 7.3 million births a year.

The choices young people make—or are forced to make—determine their lives now, their futures as adults, and the health of future generations. A single choice, for example, to stay in school may protect against early pregnancy, child marriage, gender-based violence and HIV infection.

Yet many young people will not be able to make that choice. Poverty, humanitarian crises, race, ethnicity, gender and cultural traditions are just some of the barriers that may stand in the way.

IPS: What role can civil society play in promoting the Youth strategy in the developing world?                   

WORDOFA: Making a real difference in the lives of young people rests on shared leadership and shared responsibility. Youth-led and youth-serving organizations, governments, community leaders, UN entities, civil society, academia, the private sector and the media all have essential roles to play.

As UNFPA, we take pride in being a trusted ally and partner for youth leaders, organizations and networks. We systematically invest in strengthening national and regional youth-led networks, and pioneering models for youth leadership and participation in many countries.

Adolescents and youth both benefit from our programmes, and as our close partners, offer vital contributions to shaping their design and implementation.

For “My Body, My Life, My World!” we are excited to strengthen and broaden our partnership base and collaborate with youth-led organizations, community-based organizations, but also iNGOs, to scale up joint implementation efforts with young people.

IPS: How will your young professional network – the Tangerines – described as the first of its kind in the UN system, be deployed in promoting your new strategy?

WORDOFA: The Tangerines played an important role in formulating and shaping the strategy. We will continue to provide a safe space and promote an organizational culture that encourages young professionals within UNFPA to be closely linked to the implementation of “My Body, My Life, My World!” We know we need to start by walking the talk.

At the conception phase of the Strategy, we conducted a global survey with Tangerine members and consulted with our Executive Director, Dr Natalia Kanem, and the UN Secretary General’s Youth Envoy to explore how UNFPA was delivering for young people and what could be strengthened.

We are planning to collaborate closely with the Tangerines for the global launch and promotion of the Strategy, as well as when thinking about how we can reach young people and operationalize the strategy.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

The post A Key Role for 1.8 Billion Youth in UN’s 2030 Development Agenda appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Thalif Deen at August 16, 2019 08:27 AM

Establishing a Science & Technology Park is No Walk in the Park

The Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research. Credit: IAEA Imagebank/CC By 2.0

By Tengfei Wang
BANGKOK, Aug 16 2019 (IPS)

The success of Silicon Valley has been inspirational for many countries worldwide wishing to establish science and technology parks. In Asia, successful science and technology parks can be found in many economies, including China, Japan and Thailand.

Despite this, if the precursory conditions are not in place, a science and technology park could turn into a white elephant project. This is a key message from the ESCAP guidebook titled Establishing Science and Technology Parks: A Reference Guidebook for Policymakers in Asia and the Pacific.

Worldwide and in the region, most science and technology parks are in economically advanced or large economies. As developing economies attempt to close the technology gap, governments are increasingly turning to science and technology parks as a key driver of their national strategies.

For example, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reported that approximately 80 per cent of the countries surveyed (including developed, developing and least developed countries) planned to use specialized zones, including science and technology parks, as a part of their 21st century industrial or science, technology and innovation (STI) policies.

Placing the physical infrastructure of a science and technology park is often straightforward. To make it work, however, is more complicated. Only 25 percent of science and technology parks in an advanced economy could be regarded successful in achieving their goals.

How do we ensure a science and technology park is a success?
Before a science and technology park is developed, it is essential to check whether the pre-conditions are in place. These key precursor conditions are:

  1. The key tenants or the anchor tenants – such as national research institutes – are committed to staying in the science and technology park. Anchor tenants are crucial to ensuring that a science and technology park has its backbone and may be useful in attracting other firms to co-locate;
  2. A management team with all the skills necessary for managing the science and technology park can be identified and assembled. The management team needs to have expertise in not only research and development, but also business, marketing, negotiation and communications. Furthermore, the management team must be able to adjust its strategy to an ever-changing environment. Such multi-tasking means, for many developing countries, that assembling an effective management team is a real challenge;
  3. A strong science base in the surrounding areas of the science and technology park is already available. This factor is important because a science base in the surrounding area will provide potential tenants of the science and technology park. In addition, this will ensure that the firms within the park can easily communicate with firms outside the park;
  4. The city or area where a science and technology park will be built is attractive to talented researchers and entrepreneurs.;
  5. An entrepreneurial culture is available in the city or country where a science and technology park will be built. This factor is particularly important if the key objective of a science and technology park is to foster start-ups and entrepreneurs;
  6. Finance, especially seed and venture capital, is available in the city or country where a science and technology park will be built. These resources are critical to support long-term STI initiatives and build upon existing research.

In addition, it is important to assess a science and technology park in a broad national or local economic context. In this connection, key questions should be asked on what can be achieved by establishing a science and technology park and whether there are better but alternative ways to achieving that goal.

While a science and technology park can be developed by the private sector, if a government or public sector finances the development of the park or provides other incentives such as tax exemption or reduction, the science and technology park needs to provide social benefits such as advanced research and development, which subsequently boosts its national STI and/or economic development.

The guidebook was launched at the inaugural Asia-Pacific Innovation Forum. Close collaboration with the Asian Science Park Association ensured not only the relevance of the guidebook but also its effective dissemination.

Tengfei Wang is Economic Affairs Officer, Trade, Investment and Innovation Division, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

The post Establishing a Science & Technology Park is No Walk in the Park appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Tengfei Wang is Economic Affairs Officer, Trade, Investment and Innovation Division, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

The post Establishing a Science & Technology Park is No Walk in the Park appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Tengfei Wang at August 16, 2019 08:04 AM

Forests, Food & Farming Next Frontier in Climate Emergency

By Ruth Richardson
TORONTO, Canada, Aug 16 2019 (IPS)

The special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  on climate and land, launched last week, makes it clear that without drastic changes in land use, agriculture and human diets, we will fall significantly short of targets to hold global temperature rise below 1.5°C. 

Agriculture and food systems are identified as they key drivers of land degradation and desertification, with carbon emissions and extractive activities affecting 75 per cent of the Earth’s land surface. Now, as forests, food, and farming become the next frontier in the climate emergency, there is an urgent need to accelerate creative and effective solutions.

It is against this backdrop that a new report  – Beacons of Hope: Accelerating Transformations to Sustainable Food Systems – showcases 21 initiatives from across the world that are already working in diverse ways to achieve sustainable, equitable and secure food systems.

Each Beacons of Hope is disrupting the status quo and regenerating landscapes, enhancing livelihoods, restoring people’s health and wellbeing, reconnecting with Indigenous and cultural knowledge, and more, in order to achieve a resilient food future.

There is an opportunity to learn from these initiatives, as well as apply those learnings to facilitate and accelerate more food systems transformations.

The report makes the case for why we must pinpoint the drivers of change and seize the opportunities they bring. Climate change is called out as the predominant overriding challenge facing Beacons of Hope and is identified as a key driver of change across food systems.

An awareness of the health impacts of current food systems and the desire to improve community health and well-being also emerged as important drivers of change across many Beacons of Hope. As well, migration and immigration – the movement of people from rural to urban areas, as well as across borders – was found to significantly impact agriculture and health outcomes.

Yet, though food systems are vulnerable and complex, this report makes clear that they can be transformed to provide the people- and nature-based climate solutions we urgently need to address a multitude of issues – from climate emergency, urbanization, and the need for healthier and more sustainable diets.

 

In Andhra Pradesh, India

 

In particular, the report details that we need to accelerate agroecological approaches as a way to achieve transformation with many Beacons of Hope putting agroecological principles at the core of their work and their vision of the future.

Take for example how the Climate Resilient Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) initiative in Andhra Pradesh, India, promotes food resilience through traditional, chemical-free farming and agroecological processes and plans to scale from 180,000 farmers today to a massive 6 million by 2024.

At the same time, the Agroecology Case Studies (from the Oakland Institute) present evidence that agroecology can provide better yields, pest management, soil fertility, increased biodiversity, and increased farmer incomes compared to conventional farming.

Both these Beacons of Hope challenge the dominant narrative around food production that pressures national governments to privilege industrialized agriculture and foreign investment over local natural resource management through agroecology.

They also demonstrate that knowledge transfer and skills training, through farmer-to-farmer mentoring, is fundamental to not only building the capacity of farmers and communities over time, but to also challenge top-down approaches to reform and/or single-focused interventions that can cause unintended consequences.

As forests, food, and farming become the next frontier in the climate emergency, there is an urgent need to accelerate creative and effective solutions

Another of the Beacons of Hope – Agricultures Network (AN) is producing regional and global magazines that put farmers at the center of the development of agriculture, and thereby, is facilitating knowledge co-creation between farmer communities, researchers, civil society actors, and others.

Crucially, AN brings to life how sustainable food production also: reduces inequality; fosters healthy society, soil, and environment; and reduces youth unemployment.

Another key takeaway from the report is that new market mechanisms should be identified, developed, and supported by policy and practice. Environmental and social externalities should be internalized by policy and markets in order to balance the playing field on which initiatives addressing sustainability are currently disadvantaged.

This is something that was done, in part, at the Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) in Zambia. Established in 2009, this Beacon of Hope channels market incentives to rural economies, promoting income generation, biodiversity conservation, and food security by training poachers to be farmers and farmers to be stewards of the land.

Now, thanks to this initiative, the farmers involved are able to grow their own food and create a livelihood outside of elephant hunting, which benefits the environment as well as the health of the smallholder farmers and their families.

Ultimately, there’s little doubt that we need systemic change, new policies, and a shift in power dynamics in order to realize a safe, resilient, and fair food future. We need to see systems-thinking in order to facilitate transformative processes in place-based, contextual ways.

Equally, we need to see long-term thinking, and creative partnerships and investment from across the private sector, civil society, and government committed to transforming food systems. Only then can we ensure that the negative externalities are minimized and positive benefits — economic, social, ecological, and cultural — are enhanced and properly valued.

The Beacons of Hope show us that transformation is not only possible, but is already happening. This creates space for hope, possibility, and opportunity through the groundswell of people transforming our food systems in beneficial, dynamic, and significant ways, through nature- and people-based solutions accelerating meaningful food systems transformations at this critical time.

For more about the Beacons of Hope, visit: www.foodsystemstransformations.org/

The post Forests, Food & Farming Next Frontier in Climate Emergency appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Ruth Richardson is Executive Director, Global Alliance for the Future of Food.

The post Forests, Food & Farming Next Frontier in Climate Emergency appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Ruth Richardson at August 16, 2019 08:02 AM

A-infos

(en) Greece, [Thessaloniki] Occupied Liberties and Colleges Freedom Festival By APO [machine translation]

Liberty Festival of Occupied Areas and Collectibles ---- 4 DAYS FOR ANARCHISM AND LIBERTARIAN COMMUNISM ---- September 3-6, 2019 ---- The world designed by the rulers has no vision of a different social institution for a perverse life. They want us to stop fighting forever, to think about smiling. The world of modern state-capitalist totalitarianism is a world of increasing exclusion of excluded strata, barbaric exploitation of workers, and a constant state of emergency to curtail freedom. ---- The new government that emerged after the July 7th elections is trying to capitalize on the right-wing agenda everything that the left-wing government has generously delivered over the past. It is clear that the new management will try to take advantage of whatever popular consensus it has gained to move even more vigorously on the path it has taken: ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at August 16, 2019 06:36 AM

(en) Turkey, Yeryuzu postasi: Response from the We Want to Live Together initiative to IMM and Esenyurt Municipality (tr) [machine translation]

In response to the increasing attacks on Syrian refugees, deportation practices and the return of Syrians who were not registered in the city to Istanbul, Esenyurt Municipality responded to the announcement of Esenyurt The return of Syrians started with the support of IMM as. ---- In the announcement of Esenyurt The return of Syrians started with the support of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Esenyurt of Esenyurt Municipality, Our guests returning to their country will not return to Turkey for 5 years. "expressions were used. ---- Tepki We want to live together gösteren, which reacts to the situation. @EsenyurtBLDYS @istanbulbld should not support unlawful deportation practices and should not be a partner in this crime. Recently, Syrian refugees have been massively detained under various pretexts, many of ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at August 16, 2019 06:36 AM

(en) Libertarian Communist Union Rennes: In support of Vincenzo to demand his release, tomorrow tomorrow 11H in the Parliament of Brittany!

Press release from UCL: ---- An Italian anti-capitalist activist was arrested and jailed by the French police on Thursday in Brittany. He was sentenced in Italy to 12 years in prison for taking part in demonstrations against the Genoa G8 in 2001. Demand his immediate release. ---- A few months ago it was Bolsanero who delivered Cesare Batisti to Salvini. Today it is the French state that delivers Vincenzo Vecchi. Help is between repressive powers. ---- Vincenzo is now imprisoned and threatened with extradition for taking part in protests against the Genoa G8 in 2001 and an anti-fascist demonstration in Milan in 2006. Sentenced in 2012 by the Italian Court of Cassation, he decided to flee this sentence totally unfair and revolting. ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at August 16, 2019 06:34 AM

(en) anarchist communist group ACG: A Business Not a Party?

Party leader Nigel Farage says that the Brexit Party is a business not a party... and that it is a party (often in the same breath). ---- So which is it? Probably both and neither. It is a business because it exists to make money through exploiting people (the members); and it is a party because it is using organisation, money and the electoral system to try to effect political change. ---- It has learnt from the Italian 5 Star party, being populist and superficially radical ‘anti-establishment'. Organisationally, it is heavily engaged with its members via the internet, giving them the illusion of control and being listened to, but the policy is decided entirely by the leader. ---- Uniquely, it's a political party with only one policy - the U.K leaving the European Union. Farage claims that he left UKIP because it had been taken over by far right ‘thugs and extremists' ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at August 16, 2019 06:34 AM

(en) Russia, avtonom: Interview with anarchist Ekaterina Muranova accused of "justifying terrorism" [machine translation]

Journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva, accused of "justifying terrorism" for the author's column about Mikhail Zhlobitsky, met with anarchist Ekaterina Muranova, who is charged with the same article for commenting on a contact. ---- Most of the criminal cases brought under the article "Justification of Terrorism" after the explosion in the Arkhangelsk building of the FSB on October 31, 2018, have still not reached the court. The state punishes suspects in a different way - by adding their names to the list of existing terrorists and extremists of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service. Among such "terrorists" is a young mother, Ekaterina Muranova, from the city of Medvezhyegorsk in Karelia. Without money and without work, she is locked in her town and is waiting for trial for a short comment on VKontakte. ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at August 16, 2019 06:30 AM

(en) Britain, north eastanarchist group: Book Review: The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

Note: This is a review of the first ‘The Good Immigrant' book, not ‘The Good Immigrant USA'. ---- I stumbled upon this book when looking for more books by people of colour to read. The book is a collection of 21 short stories by black, Asian and minority ethnic writers (BAME), mainly first and second-generation immigrants, who have grown up in the UK and details the difficulties they have experienced, and the racism and prejudice they have faced here. The stories range from somewhat humorous anecdotes to a more sombre approach to the subject matter, so there's a pretty broad mix of styles included. ---- A lot of the stories focus on the idea of a ‘good' and ‘bad' immigrant and this idea that immigrants, or basically, those who are non-white, have certain expectations pushed upon them by society that white people just don't have to contend with. There is the idea that people ...

by A-infos (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca) at August 16, 2019 06:30 AM

actforfree.nostate.net

Avis de tempêtes #19/20

Avis de tempêtes – bulletin anarchiste pour la guerre sociale n°19/20 (juillet-août 2019) vient de sortir.

Pour lire, imprimer et diffuser ce petit bulletin autour de soi (il est en format A5, et celui-ci fait 16 pages), on pourra retrouver chaque nouveau numéro tous les 15 du mois, ainsi que les précédents, sur le blog :

https://avisdetempetes.noblogs.org

“Dans le cadre de ces réflexions et dans la définition de perspectives qui puissent nous orienter sur les chemins incertains et inexplorés de la révolte, nous pensons qu’il faut éviter de se confronter à la réalité avec des yeux remplis d’enthousiasmes faciles qui risquent de nous faire
voir des insurrections à tous les coins de rue, des complices dans
chaque indigné, des sujets révolutionnaires dans chaque exploité.

En même temps, nous pensons qu’il est tout aussi dangereux de rester ancrés dans une sorte de réalisme pessimiste qui risque de nous immobiliser par les temps qui courent, de nous transformer en attentistes emprisonnés
dans une logique de type déterministe. Ce qui nous semble fondamental, c’est de se placer dans une optique d’observation lucide qui peut nous permettre de saisir les transformations en cours, d’identifier les aspects vulnérables de l’ennemi, afin d’évaluer au mieux quoi et comment attaquer.”

by actforfreedom at August 16, 2019 05:41 AM

Frankfurt, Germany: Siemens Car Torched in Solidarity with Anarchist Prisoners

During the night of the 12th to the 13th of August we torched a Siemens car in Frankfurt-Bockenheim.
Siemens earns its money by building locking mechanisms for prisons, supplying surveillance technology to Turkey, among other countries, and upgrading Frontex and the EU’s external borders.
We send greetings to Lisa imprisoned in Spain, the Park Bench 3, Loic and all the others who are held captive by the State or on the run. We are with you in our thoughts and our actions, may these sparks of rebellion penetrate through the walls and the bars to you! We continue, despite the circumstances, against the false pacification of the public space and for the moments when we can still feel our love and our freedom.
For a world without prisons, freedom for all prisoners!
———————-
via: anarchistsworldwide

by actforfreedom at August 16, 2019 05:37 AM

France: Update about Anarchist Vincenzo Vecchi arrested, convicted for the G8 in Genoa in 2001

Anarchist Vincenzo Vecchi was arrested on Thursday, August 8, 2019 in France. The arrest was carried out by the French cops
and (as reported by the scum media) was made possible by the contribution of the agents of the “Service for the fight against extremism and internal terrorism” and of the Antiterrorism section of the DIGOS of Milan, which through “a close investigative connection” with the French police were able to identify the comrade.
Against him two European arrest warrants had been issued by the prosecutors of Milan and Genoa.
The contact  address is:
Vincenzo Vecchi
Centre pénitentiaire de Rennes-Vezin
Rue du Petit Pré
35132 Vezin-le-Coquet
France (Francia)

by actforfreedom at August 16, 2019 05:30 AM

InterPressService (global south)

Producing Energy from Pig and Poultry Waste in Brazil

Romário Schaefer, 65, stands between the biodigester buried in the ground on the right and the blue tank holding whey that is mixed with the manure of the pigs he fattens in a row of pig pens (top left) to produce biogas, in the southern Brazilian municipality of Entre Rios do Oeste. In the background is his brick factory, which saves about 6,500 dollars a month in electricity by using biogas. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Romário Schaefer, 65, stands between the biodigester buried in the ground on the right and the blue tank holding whey that is mixed with the manure of the pigs he fattens in a row of pig pens (top left) to produce biogas, in the southern Brazilian municipality of Entre Rios do Oeste. In the background is his brick factory, which saves about 6,500 dollars a month in electricity by using biogas. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

By Mario Osava
ENTRE RIOS DO OESTE, Brazil, Aug 16 2019 (IPS)

Romário Schaefer is fattening up 3,300 pigs that he receives when they weigh around 22 kg and returns when they reach 130 to 160 kg – a huge increase in meat and profits for their owner, a local meat-processing plant in this city in Brazil.

Schaefer is not interested in the pork meat business. What he wants is the manure, which he uses to produce biogas and electricity that fuel his brick-making factory.

“I’m not a farmer,” he says as he shows us around his Stein Ceramics company in the middle of a 38-hectare rural property on the outskirts of Entre Rios do Oeste, a farming town of 4,400 people in western Paraná, one of three states in Brazil’s southern region, on the border with Paraguay.

He is explaining the difference between himself and neighbouring pig farmers who produce biogas and sell it to the Mini-Thermoelectric Plant inaugurated on Jul. 24 to generate energy that serves the Entre Rios municipal government and all of its facilities in the town itself and the rest of the municipality.

For them it is a new agricultural product, and has been recognised as such in Paraná for commercial and tax purposes. But for Schaefer it’s an input for his factory, which makes bricks.

Animal waste, which pollutes the soil and rivers, is becoming an important by-product in southwestern Brazil, where pig and poultry farming has expanded widely in recent decades.

The Haacke farm, in the municipality of Santa Helena, south of Entre Rios, uses the waste produced by its tens of thousands of hens and hundreds of cattle to produce biogas, electricity and biomethane.

Its biomethane, a fuel derived from the refining of biogas which is employed as a substitute for natural gas, is used in vehicles at the giant Itaipú hydroelectric plant shared by Brazil and Paraguay on the Paraná River, which forms part of the border between the two countries.

In Mariscal Cándido Rondon, a few kilometres to the north, the Kohler family, pioneers in the use of biogas on their large farm, took on another role in the chain of this energy which is more than just clean – it actually cleans the environment.

Part of Stein Ceramics, whose prosperity and ecological production were made possible by the biogas produced from the manure of 3,300 pigs. The factory produces enough bricks monthly to build 200 60-square-metre homes in the state of Paraná, on Brazil's border with Paraguay. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Part of Stein Ceramics, whose prosperity and ecological production were made possible by the biogas produced from the manure of 3,300 pigs. The factory produces enough bricks monthly to build 200 60-square-metre homes in the state of Paraná, on Brazil’s border with Paraguay. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

They created a biodigester company, BioKohler, which is present in many projects spreading throughout Paraná and other Brazilian states, not only selling equipment but also sharing know-how brought from other countries.

The new family initiative that can guide new projects is a biogas-fired power plant with an installed capacity of 75 kilowatts, built on the farm in partnership with the German company Mele, with many “tropicalised” technological innovations.

“Such a unit is only viable above 150 kilowatts of power, a scale that allows the cost of the investment to be recovered,” Pedro Kohler, who leads the family’s industrial branch, told IPS.

Schaefer looks at the question from the angle of the consumer who generates his own energy. “Without biogas my factory would not be viable, I would not be able to compete and survive in the market,” he said.

In recent years, many ceramic products factories, including brick-makers, went bankrupt in Brazil, something that also happened in the west of the state of Paraná, after the national economic recession of 2015 and 2016, which especially affected the construction industry and aggravated the rise in energy costs.

The pig fattening contract with the slaughterhouse allowed him to avoid bankruptcy, the businessman said.

Pedro Kohler, who heads a biodigester company in the western Brazilian state of Paraná, stands between a biodigester and deposits of biogas and biofertilisers from the thermoelectric plant he installed on his family's farm in the municipality of Cándido Rondon. Innovative technologies and equipment, provided by their German partner Mele, will modernise the biogas sector in Brazil. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Pedro Kohler, who heads a biodigester company in the western Brazilian state of Paraná, stands between a biodigester and deposits of biogas and biofertilisers from the thermoelectric plant he installed on his family’s farm in the municipality of Cándido Rondon. Innovative technologies and equipment, provided by their German partner Mele, will modernise the biogas sector in Brazil. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

“The meat-packing plant supplies everything: food, medicine and technical assistance. What I provide is the installations and the workforce; a couple of workers is enough because everything is automatic, and I keep the manure,” he told IPS on his rural property.

That makes it possible for him to deposit 1.8 million litres of pig waste in the biodigester, a large closed ball of black canvas, half buried in a pit measuring about 10 metres in diameter, where it ferments thanks to anaerobic bacteria.

The biodigester is the source of the biogas that feeds a generator which produces 23,000 megawatts/hour per month, enough to save 25,000 reais (6,500 dollars at the current exchange rate) – almost half of his electricity bill.

Actually, his mini-plant operates only four to five hours a day. It does so during peak evening consumption hours, when the electricity supplied by the distribution company is most expensive.

In the next few months, Schaefer hopes to put an additional 2,000 piglets in his fattening shed, where he is building new pigsties. He would thus expand biogas production, both to generate more electricity and to feed the kilns, replacing the burning of briquettes and wood waste.

The businessman has 19 years of experience with biogas, initially focused on burning it as a substitute for firewood, which was scarce, and on preventing pollution. As he explains, he proudly points to his “smokeless” fireplace.

In 2013, rising costs forced him to expand the biodigester and install the electric generator.

He also had to automate his factory to survive. “In the past we employed up to 90 workers, today there are only 20 and production has risen threefold,” he said.

Long sheds where thousands of pigs are fattened are becoming a familiar part of the landscape in rural areas of Entre Rios del Oeste, in southwestern Brazil, where a Mini Thermoelectric Plant was inaugurated on Jul. 24. The plant runs on biogas produced by a network of 18 pig farms and supplies the city government facilities. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Long sheds where thousands of pigs are fattened are becoming a familiar part of the landscape in rural areas of Entre Rios del Oeste, in southwestern Brazil, where a Mini Thermoelectric Plant was inaugurated on Jul. 24. The plant runs on biogas produced by a network of 18 pig farms and supplies the city government facilities. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Behind the progress made was great persistence, the ironing out of numerous problems and third party assistance. Sometimes he almost gave up, he confessed. Some solutions came to him by chance, like the biodigestion mixer recommended by a German embassy official, during a visit to his company.

Similarly, he learned about the advantages of incorporating waste whey into cheese production. This offers the dairy industry a sure way to dispose of it, while preventing pollution.

The main source of learning, technical support and drive for the various projects in western Paraná is the International Center for Renewable Energy-Biogas (CIBiogas), which operates in the Itaipu Technology Park.

Founded in 2013 as a non-profit association of 27 national, local and international institutions, CIBIogas has a specialised laboratory and implemented 11 biogas projects on farms and in agribusiness enterprises.

It is an energy source with varied uses and inputs that requires a lengthy learning process and depends on business models and markets that have yet to be defined and are not yet consolidated, said Rafael González, director of Technological Development at CIBiogás.

Each project has its unique characteristics. Changes in animal feed, which primarily seek to improve the production of meat or eggs, for example, can negatively affect the production of biogas.

“The hormones in pigs change their waste and biogas,” González told IPS.

There are also differences between animal manures, said Daiana Martinez, information analyst at CIBiogas. Cattle manure, for example, is more productive, but contains a high level of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) that causes corrosion, requiring more refining.

González said biomethane is the fuel currently used by 82 Itaipu cars and has already been approved in tests with tractors, buses and other large vehicles. It is best to produce it from bird droppings, which facilitate the removal of hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide, he explained.

Biogas can meet up to 36 percent of the electricity consumption of this South American country, which is the size of a continent and is home to 210 million people, CIBiogas estimates.

This potential is basically divided between agricultural waste, which includes livestock and sugarcane vinasse, and urban waste, including sewage and garbage dumps.

In addition to avoiding pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases, biogas has been shown by local experience to promote local development, through energy projects and a chain of businesses, such as equipment industries, services and productive arrangements, González said.

The post Producing Energy from Pig and Poultry Waste in Brazil appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Mario Osava at August 16, 2019 04:13 AM

AMW

August 15 Actions by the Guerrilla: 10 Dead

HPG Press Center announced that the guerrillas saluted the 35th anniversary of August 15 with a series of actions where one intelligence officer and 9 soldiers were killed. HPG Press Center said, “On August 15, our forces carried out a series of actions against the Turkish army to salute the 35th anniversary of the August 15 lunge as part of the Martyr Bager and Martyr Ronya Revolutionary Move.” The actions were carried out in Yuksekova and Cukurca districts of Hakkari.

August 16, 2019 12:00 AM

August 15, 2019

Dewayne-Net

In order to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation.

[Note:  This item comes from friend Mike Cheponis.  DLH]

In order to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation.
By Matthew Desmond
Aug 14 2019
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/slavery-capitalism.html

A couple of years before he was convicted of securities fraud, Martin Shkreli was the chief executive of a pharmaceutical company that acquired the rights to Daraprim, a lifesaving antiparasitic drug. Previously the drug cost $13.50 a pill, but in Shkreli’s hands, the price quickly increased by a factor of 56, to $750 a pill. At a health care conference, Shkreli told the audience that he should have raised the price even higher. “No one wants to say it, no one’s proud of it,” he explained. “But this is a capitalist society, a capitalist system and capitalist rules.”

This is a capitalist society. It’s a fatalistic mantra that seems to get repeated to anyone who questions why America can’t be more fair or equal. But around the world, there are many types of capitalist societies, ranging from liberating to exploitative, protective to abusive, democratic to unregulated. When Americans declare that “we live in a capitalist society” — as a real estate mogul told The Miami Herald last year when explaining his feelings about small-business owners being evicted from their Little Haiti storefronts — what they’re often defending is our nation’s peculiarly brutal economy. “Low-road capitalism,” the University of Wisconsin-Madison sociologist Joel Rogers has called it. In a capitalist society that goes low, wages are depressed as businesses compete over the price, not the quality, of goods; so-called unskilled workers are typically incentivized through punishments, not promotions; inequality reigns and poverty spreads. In the United States, the richest 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of the country’s wealth, while a larger share of working-age people (18-65) live in poverty than in any other nation belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (O.E.C.D.).

Or consider worker rights in different capitalist nations. In Iceland, 90 percent of wage and salaried workers belong to trade unions authorized to fight for living wages and fair working conditions. Thirty-four percent of Italian workers are unionized, as are 26 percent of Canadian workers. Only 10 percent of American wage and salaried workers carry union cards. The O.E.C.D. scores nations along a number of indicators, such as how countries regulate temporary work arrangements. Scores run from 5 (“very strict”) to 1 (“very loose”). Brazil scores 4.1 and Thailand, 3.7, signaling toothy regulations on temp work. Further down the list are Norway (3.4), India (2.5) and Japan (1.3). The United States scored 0.3, tied for second to last place with Malaysia. How easy is it to fire workers? Countries like Indonesia (4.1) and Portugal (3) have strong rules about severance pay and reasons for dismissal. Those rules relax somewhat in places like Denmark (2.1) and Mexico (1.9). They virtually disappear in the United States, ranked dead last out of 71 nations with a score of 0.5.

Those searching for reasons the American economy is uniquely severe and unbridled have found answers in many places (religion, politics, culture). But recently, historians have pointed persuasively to the gnatty fields of Georgia and Alabama, to the cotton houses and slave auction blocks, as the birthplace of America’s low-road approach to capitalism.

Slavery was undeniably a font of phenomenal wealth. By the eve of the Civil War, the Mississippi Valley was home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Cotton grown and picked by enslaved workers was the nation’s most valuable export. The combined value of enslaved people exceeded that of all the railroads and factories in the nation. New Orleans boasted a denser concentration of banking capital than New York City. What made the cotton economy boom in the United States, and not in all the other far-flung parts of the world with climates and soil suitable to the crop, was our nation’s unflinching willingness to use violence on nonwhite people and to exert its will on seemingly endless supplies of land and labor. Given the choice between modernity and barbarism, prosperity and poverty, lawfulness and cruelty, democracy and totalitarianism, America chose all of the above.

Nearly two average American lifetimes (79 years) have passed since the end of slavery, only two. It is not surprising that we can still feel the looming presence of this institution, which helped turn a poor, fledgling nation into a financial colossus. The surprising bit has to do with the many eerily specific ways slavery can still be felt in our economic life. “American slavery is necessarily imprinted on the DNA of American capitalism,” write the historians Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman. The task now, they argue, is “cataloging the dominant and recessive traits” that have been passed down to us, tracing the unsettling and often unrecognized lines of descent by which America’s national sin is now being visited upon the third and fourth generations.

They picked in long rows, bent bodies shuffling through cotton fields white in bloom. Men, women and children picked, using both hands to hurry the work. Some picked in Negro cloth, their raw product returning to them by way of New England mills. Some picked completely naked. Young children ran water across the humped rows, while overseers peered down from horses. Enslaved workers placed each cotton boll into a sack slung around their necks. Their haul would be weighed after the sunlight stalked away from the fields and, as the freedman Charles Ball recalled, you couldn’t “distinguish the weeds from the cotton plants.” If the haul came up light, enslaved workers were often whipped. “A short day’s work was always punished,” Ball wrote.

Cotton was to the 19th century what oil was to the 20th: among the world’s most widely traded commodities. Cotton is everywhere, in our clothes, hospitals, soap. Before the industrialization of cotton, people wore expensive clothes made of wool or linen and dressed their beds in furs or straw. Whoever mastered cotton could make a killing. But cotton needed land. A field could only tolerate a few straight years of the crop before its soil became depleted. Planters watched as acres that had initially produced 1,000 pounds of cotton yielded only 400 a few seasons later. The thirst for new farmland grew even more intense after the invention of the cotton gin in the early 1790s. Before the gin, enslaved workers grew more cotton than they could clean. The gin broke the bottleneck, making it possible to clean as much cotton as you could grow.

Enslaved workers felled trees by ax, burned the underbrush and leveled the earth for planting. “Whole forests were literally dragged out by the roots,” John Parker, an enslaved worker, remembered. A lush, twisted mass of vegetation was replaced by a single crop. An origin of American money exerting its will on the earth, spoiling the environment for profit, is found in the cotton plantation. Floods became bigger and more common. The lack of biodiversity exhausted the soil and, to quote the historian Walter Johnson, “rendered one of the richest agricultural regions of the earth dependent on upriver trade for food.”

As slave labor camps spread throughout the South, production surged. By 1831, the country was delivering nearly half the world’s raw cotton crop, with 350 million pounds picked that year. Just four years later, it harvested 500 million pounds. Southern white elites grew rich, as did their counterparts in the North, who erected textile mills to form, in the words of the Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner, an “unhallowed alliance between the lords of the lash and the lords of the loom.” The large-scale cultivation of cotton hastened the invention of the factory, an institution that propelled the Industrial Revolution and changed the course of history. In 1810, there were 87,000 cotton spindles in America. Fifty years later, there were five million. Slavery, wrote one of its defenders in De Bow’s Review, a widely read agricultural magazine, was the “nursing mother of the prosperity of the North.” Cotton planters, millers and consumers were fashioning a new economy, one that was global in scope and required the movement of capital, labor and products across long distances. In other words, they were fashioning a capitalist economy. “The beating heart of this new system,” Beckert writes, “was slavery.”

Perhaps you’re reading this at work, maybe at a multinational corporation that runs like a soft-purring engine. You report to someone, and someone reports to you. Everything is tracked, recorded and analyzed, via vertical reporting systems, double-entry record-keeping and precise quantification. Data seems to hold sway over every operation. It feels like a cutting-edge approach to management, but many of these techniques that we now take for granted were developed by and for large plantations.

[snip]

by wa8dzp at August 15, 2019 11:58 PM

Mpalothia

Boodaville permaculture, Matarranya, Spain

Celebrando TODO…!!!

IMG_1973

(Gala celebrando la vida, en la cima de la montaña Santa Bárbara, Horta de Sant Joan)

Hoy es el día de todas las celebraciones, aquí al aparato estoy yo: Claudia, y me siento algo rara, porque normalmente pienso que no se cómo va esto de celebrar y ahora me toca una marathon…

 

IMG_1889

(foto de mayo, Caseres, Ágave empeznado a florecer)

 

Celebrar, es una parte esencial en el diseño permacultural, ¡¿cómo podríamos formar parte de la alternativa si no celebramos y nos cuidamos después de trabajar?! Pues bien, como os podréis imaginar si conocéis Boodaville y si no os lo cuento: no ha sido fácil llegar hasta aquí y me siento muy orgullosa de poder celebrar con vosotrxs tantas cosas hoy  (¡o al menos intentarlo!)

Nuestro proyecto llega hoy exactamente a su ecuador!!!!!!

Son fiestas en toda la región y todas las calles están coloridas!!!!!!

Es el santo de María !!!!! (y su mamá ha hecho pastel y se lo ha dado a su vecina)

y por fin… (redoble de tambores) 

¡¡¡¡tenemos puerta en casa!!!!!

 (stay tunned para ver pronto foticos!)

 

Y aun más cosas: mañana es el cumpleaños de Inge, nos hacen queso vegano en la pizzería y aun hay agua para regar el huerto a pesar de la super sequía!!!!

El sábado vamos a visitar los huertos de Lxs Pamies y a un curso de poda para frutales para mantener sano y alegre nuestro bosque comestible.

Gracias a todxs lxs que nos acompañais y formais parte en este bonito viaje

a Adam, estás con nosotros,

y a las preciosas flores de calabacín que me dan esperanza cuando se nubla por dentro y me recuerdan lo que es celebrar la vida!

IMG_9292

(el mismo Ágave, florecido, en Agosto)

 

by boodaville at August 15, 2019 07:22 PM

Dewayne-Net

Elon Musk’s Neuralink: Both an evolution and a plan for radical change

Elon Musk’s Neuralink: Both an evolution and a plan for radical change
Neuralink will probably fail in interesting and worthwhile ways.
By JOHN TIMMER
Aug 13 2019
https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/08/elon-musks-neuralink-both-an-evolution-and-a-plan-for-radical-change/

When Elon Musk first started talking about launching a brain-computer interface company, he made a number of comments that set expectations for what that idea might entail. The company, he said, was motivated by his concerns about AI ending up hostile to humans: providing humans with an interface directly into the AI’s home turf might prevent hostilities from developing. Musk also suggested that he hoped to avoid any electrodes implanted in the brain, since that might pose a barrier to adoption.

At his recent public launch of the company (since named Neuralink), worries about hostile AIs did get a mention—but only in passing. Instead, we got a detailed technical description of the hardware behind Neuralink’s brain-computer interface, which would rely on surgery and implanted hardware. In the process, Neuralink went from something in the realm of science fiction to a company that would be pushing for an aggressive evolution of existing neural-implant hardware.

Those changes in tone and topic are a sign that Musk has been listening to the people he hired to build Neuralink. So, how precisely is Neuralink pushing the envelope on what we can already do in this space? And does it still veer a bit closer to science fiction in some aspects?

The big picture

Before taking a look at the individual components that Neuralink announced recently, let’s start with an overview of what the company hopes to accomplish technology-wise. The plan is to access the brain via a hole less than eight millimeters across. This small hole would allow Neuralink to implant an even smaller (4mm x 4mm) chip and its associated wiring into the brain. The chip will get power from, and communicate with, some wireless hardware located behind the ear, much like current cochlear implants.

Inside the brain, the chip will be connected to a series of small threads that carry electrodes to the relevant area, where they can listen in on the electrical activity of neurons. These threads will be put in place using a surgical robot, which allows the surgeon to insert them in a manner that avoids damaging blood vessels.

The chip will take the raw readings of neural activity and process them to a very compact form that preserves key information, which will be easier for their wireless hardware to transmit back across the skull. Electrical impulses can also be sent to the neurons via the same electrodes, stimulating brain activity. Musk thinks that it would be safe to insert as many as 10 of these chips into a single brain, though Neuralink will obviously start testing with far fewer.

All of that is an evolution of some of the existing work on brain-computer interfaces. But the details behind some of these features provides a better sense of how Neuralink is pushing the field forward.

The robot

The Neuralink introduction included a video of the brain during surgery, revealing how the wrinkly organ constantly shifts with breathing and blood flow. This makes implanting electrodes a challenge, especially since much of the brain is laced with blood vessels that the electrodes could easily puncture. Plus, due to their incredibly small size, the electrodes themselves are susceptible to damage.

The robot keeps a surgeon in charge, but it turns the process of electrode implantation into something closer to a video game. Using a microscope integrated into the robot, a surgeon is given a static view of the underlying brain, thanks to software that compensates for the pulsing and shifting. With the static view, implanting the electrodes becomes something like a point-and-click activity: the surgeon selects a location, and the robot inserts the electrode there while compensating for any ensuing movement of the underlying tissue. Although video showed its insertion method as looking like a violent stab, the hardware protects the electrodes from damage at this point.

This method certainly has the potential to make electrode implantation safer, in part by minimizing the risk of blood-vessel damage. But let me be clear: while the electrodes are small enough that they’re not dramatically larger than the neurons they interact with, there’s still the potential for damage to those neurons or their support cells during the electrode insertion, as well as some disruption of the connections among neurons. That potential may be lowered by the robot, but it’s not going away.

One other issue that the robot doesn’t obviously solve is that several of the images displayed during the Neuralink introduction showed the chips being located somewhere other than where the electrodes were targeted. There’s certainly enough play in the wiring of the electrodes to allow a bit of distance between the two, but it’s hard to understand how this can be managed with a single, small surgical incision.

The electrodes

In existing systems, the electrodes are their own distinct hardware component, but Neuralink is seeking to change this. The company hopes to do so by producing the metal portion of the electrodes as it’s building layers of metal into the chips used for processing the electrode data. This provides some real advantages, as the process technology used there is already operating at the sort of fine scales that make structure of the electrodes easy.

This setup would also do away with any bulky connector hardware currently needed to link electrodes with the rest of the system—they’re already part of it. Presumably, Neuralink will manufacture chips with electrodes of different lengths to allow for flexibility in the implantation process.

In use, multiple electrodes will be combined into a single “thread,” with polymer layers providing insulation to avoid cross-talk. Additional polymer layers will protect the thread from the environment of the brain, which Vanessa Tolosa of Neuralink described as “harsh.” The electrode and polymer materials were both chosen to limit inflammatory and other immune responses.

Overall, this part of Neuralink’s approach seemed solid, although a full evaluation will have to wait for longer-term studies of a thread’s safety and useful lifetime inside an actual brain. Scar development was a real problem with early electrodes made by others, but further development has limited this problem. Presumably, Neuralink has already learned from others here.

[snip]

by wa8dzp at August 15, 2019 05:59 PM

Re: Who Killed Tumblr? We All Did

[Note:  This comment comes from friend Wendy Grossman.  DLH]

From: “Wendy M. Grossman” <wendyg@pelicancrossing.net>
Subject: RE: [Dewayne-Net] Who Killed Tumblr? We All Did
Date: August 15, 2019 at 8:05:52 AM PDT
To: dewayne@warpspeed.com

And before tunblr usenet. Every social medium follows this pattern once it reaches a certain size. You can practically carbon date people by the version whose loss they lament.

wg

Who Killed Tumblr? We All Did
What plagues the internet today hit the social media platform hard and early.
By Kara Swisher
Aug 14 2019
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/opinion/tumblr-sold.html

by wa8dzp at August 15, 2019 05:29 PM

anarchistnews.org

Britain, anarchist communist group ACG: Jackdaw issue 6 out now!

From ainfos

Issue 6 of Jackdaw, the ACG's free bulletin is back from the printers and is winding its way to ACG locals and stockists up and down the country.
We aim to publish Jackdaw quarterly and it gets handed out on street distributions, demos,
at meetings and can be found in radical bookshops and social centres.
This issue is 12 pages and contains articles on climate change, Atos, immigration camps,
Johnson, the Brexit Party, Essex libraries, No war but the class war, workplace notes and
more.
If you want to see the low resolution version, it can be downloaded

by thecollective at August 15, 2019 04:09 PM

Anarchists Are Gathering in Denton This Weekend to Debunk Stigmas

from The Observer, by Taylor Adams
Organizers of a Denton event hope to see anarchists flock to their city this weekend. Their goal isn't to protest, but to invite others to learn about their cause.“We want to bring the radical community in North Texas, and/or regionally, closer together. And (with) the local community, we want to introduce people to the philosophy that has a lot of stigma attached to it and maybe debunk some of the propaganda that has been going around,” says Cien of the Trinity River Lookout, which hosts the North Texas Anarchist Book Fair.

Cien, who says he just goes by that one name, believes this offers an opportunity for people to go beyond anything they might think about the extreme left. There are few but louder voices in the community. Take the most recent mayoral campaign, when candidate Alyson Kennedy, a self-proclaimed socialist, talked about workers’ rights followed by inviting audiences to join her in Cuba. “I think a lot of people think that socialism, libertarian socialism and any sort of leftist ideas, that it's going to be a new world order, that 1984 big brother-type thing.” — Cien

The event will feature speakers like "political prisoner" and former Anonymous member Barrett Brown and activist Niecee X, vendors, and punk bands, all sharing not an agenda, but an ideology Cien believes can resonate. Vermin Supreme— yes, you read that correctly — is also a headliner. Vermin Supreme is a performance artist and activist who wears a boot as a hat and has campaigned in the past for zombie apocalypse awareness.“The biggest cure for ignorance is seeing for yourself,” Cien says. “It's free, and so if you want to keep your preconceived notions, you can stay at home and watch TV. If you want to learn what it's really about from the people who live it day-in and day-out, you can come and get some free stuff, learn some things and hear some great music.”The North Texas Anarchist Book Fair will be from noon to midnight Saturday, July 27, at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, 411 E. Sycamore St. in Denton.

by thecollective at August 15, 2019 04:01 PM

jacobinmag

No Neutrals in Harlan County

Mineworkers and their families in Harlan County, Kentucky, have blockaded the railroad tracks of a deadbeat employer. It’s a reminder of the county’s heroic history of struggle and solidarity.


alt Victory photo after the miners of the Highsplint mine voted to join the UMWA. (Robert Gumpert / Appalshop Archive)

Miners in Harlan County, Kentucky, have drawn national attention with their direct action — occupying a railroad track to halt a coal train until the miners get paid the wages they are owed for digging it up. Although these miners today have no union, the mines of Harlan County have a storied history of grassroots labor militancy. Cal Winslow takes a look back.

They say in Harlan County, there are no neutrals there
You’ll either be a union man or a thug for J. H. Blair
Which side are you on?

The song “Which Side Are You On?” became the anthem of a reborn United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) union in the 1930s, then an anthem for all workers — a reflection of working-class consciousness in the turbulent New Deal years.

Florence Reece wrote the song. She was the daughter of a Kentucky coal miner and married to Sam Reece, an organizer for the radical National Miners Union, then embroiled in the bloody 1931 Harlan County War.

There, miners and union organizers fought the coal bosses for nearly a decade — for the right to have a union in a county where all but three incorporated towns were owned by the coal companies.

The number of miners murdered by mine guards remains unknown. Federal soldiers were routinely dispatched to the coal fields in response to what one governor called a “reign of terror.”

“Which Side Are You On?” was written in the immediate aftershock of a midnight raid on Reece’s home and her children by Harlan County sheriff J. H. Blair, in search of her husband.

The 1920s, a decade of defeat for American workers everywhere, left the UMWA in a shambles. In 1932, only in anthracite country had the union held its own. In Pennsylvania and Ohio, it had collapsed. In the southern Appalachian fields stretching from West Virginia to Alabama, there was no union at all.


Great Rebound

The miners’ revival, led by the UMWA, came in the wake of Franklin Roosevelt’s election in 1933 and in their belief that only their union might save them.

Organizer Garfield Lewis wrote, “The people have been so starved out that they are flocking into the Union by the thousands . . . I organized 9 Locals Tuesday.”

By the end of the year, the UMWA was once again the nation’s largest union; it would go on to bankroll the organizing of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and the labor upsurge of the ’30s.

It was perhaps the greatest union rebound ever.

Still, the Wall Street bankers and East Coast industrialists who owned the vast seams of the Southern coalfields would not give up without a fight, and Harlan remained “Bloody Harlan.” Armed company guards and sheriff’s deputies patrolled the steep mountains and narrow valleys of the Kentucky Appalachians.

Union members were beaten, their families terrorized. Organizers were shot at, their homes gassed. “Strangers” were kidnapped, then lucky if they were just taken to the county line.

Only late in 1939 did intransigent Harlan coal masters reluctantly sign on with the union. By then, a powerful UMWA represented 400,000 working miners, promising safety at work and an escape from the poverty that had consumed generation after generation.


Wildcat Strike Wave

Alas, catastrophe awaited, this time in the booming ’50s. Aging autocrat and UMWA president John L. Lewis agreed to allow the employers a free hand in mechanizing the mines. New machinery would transform underground mining — but at the expense of the coal miners themselves.

In 1959, when Lewis retired, the union had been reduced to 180,000 members, and the southern coalfields, Harlan included, were non-union once again. The union staff, now led by a Montana official, Tony Boyle, encamped in the union offices and rarely ventured into Appalachia, where the depression of the ’30s seemed never to have ended.

Rank-and-file miners responded with a series of wildcat strikes, in 1964, 1966, and 1971, and in 1969 they won the great West Virginia Black Lung Strike, one of the few political strikes in US history. Striking miners in the coalfields of southern West Virginia forced the Republican governor to sign a bill that allowed compensation for black lung disease. Congress then passed a federal bill that assisted all afflicted miners.

In 1969, Tony Boyle was challenged for the UMWA presidency by Jock Yablonski, who promised democracy in the union. Boyle had Yablonski murdered. He hired two drifters in a Cleveland bar, and on New Year’s Eve, they murdered Yablonksi, his wife, and his daughter in their beds.

The rank-and-file group Miners for Democracy (MFD) was organized at the funeral. An MFD victory in the union election followed, and the miners’ movement became an archetype for rank-and-file organizations in the ’70s.

The 1973 UMWA Convention in Pittsburgh was a celebration of workers’ democracy and workers’ power. A seventy-three-year-old Florence Reece attended and led a rousing, emotional rendition of “Which Side Are You On?”


The Brookside Strike

There followed a decade of strikes in the coalfields, often wildcat strikes by some 40,000 young members, many veterans of the war in Vietnam. The new union leadership pledged to organize (or reorganize) the unorganized.

Again, Harlan County took center stage, this time at the Brookside Mine — exposing, again, the poverty of coal country, as well as the vicious indifference to life of the owners, in this case Duke Power.

I visited Harlan in 1974 with a contingent from the British miners’ union. Staff at the Harlan Hotel seemed pleased to show us the bullets still embedded in the failing façade of the aging building. A UMWA organizer who welcomed us displayed a revolver on the dashboard of his car.

The strikers won, but only after thirteen months and the murder of a young miner, Lawrence Jones, aged twenty-two. The Brookside strike is vividly recounted in Barbara Kopple’s masterpiece, the documentary Harlan County, USA.


Nonunion and Deadly

Today, US coal comes mostly from the Western plains, dug out by huge earth-moving machinery and carried to the coasts on mile-long, dust-spewing trains.

There is still coal in Appalachia, but also deep poverty. The union, with all that it promised, is gone. The mine owners have as little regard as ever for the lives of miners and their families.

The 2010 disaster at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine at Montcoal, West Virginia, cost twenty-nine lives. Managers pleaded guilty to impeding the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s enforcement efforts. CEO Don Blankenship was convicted of willfully violating safety standards and spent a year in prison.

Still, there is a spirit that lives in Harlan, along with the ghosts of battles past. On July 1, Blackjewel LLC abruptly shut down its six Harlan mines, filed for bankruptcy, and sent the miners home without pay. Miners and their families responded by occupying the railroad tracks to keep the still-loaded trains from carrying coal away till they were paid. The local community rallied behind them.

The question is back: “Which Side Are You On?”


by Cal Winslow at August 15, 2019 02:48 PM

Dewayne-Net

India Shut Down Kashmir’s Internet Access. Now, ‘We Cannot Do Anything.’

India Shut Down Kashmir’s Internet Access. Now, ‘We Cannot Do Anything.’
Pharmacists can’t restock medicines; workers aren’t being paid. But the government still loves to block the internet for “peace and tranquillity.”
By Vindu Goel, Karan Deep Singh and Sameer Yasir
Aug 14 2019
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/technology/india-kashmir-internet.html

MUMBAI, India — Masroor Nazir, a pharmacist in Kashmir’s biggest city, Srinagar, has some advice for people in the region: Do not get sick, because he may not have any medicine left to help. 

“We used the internet for everything,” said Mr. Nazir, 28, whose pharmacy is near the city’s famed clock tower. He said he normally went online to order new drugs and to fulfill requests from other pharmacies in more rural parts of Kashmir Valley. But now, “we cannot do anything.”

As the Indian government’s shutdown of internet and phone service in the contested region enters its 11th day, Kashmir has become paralyzed.

Shopkeepers said that vital supplies like insulin and baby food, which they typically ordered online, were running out. Cash was scarce, as metal shutters covered the doors and windows of banks and A.T.M.s, which relied on the internet for every transaction. Doctors said they could not communicate with their patients.

Only a few government locations with landlines have been available for the public to make phone calls, with long waits to get a few minutes of access.

The information blockade was an integral part of India’s unilateral decision last week to wipe out the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, an area of 12.5 million people that is claimed by both India and Pakistan and has long been a source of tension. That has brought everyday transactions, family communications, online entertainment and the flow of money and information to a halt.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promoted the rapid adoption of the internet, particularly on smartphones, to modernize India and bring it out of poverty, the country is also the world leader in shutting down the internet.

The country has increasingly deployed communications and internet stoppages to suppress potential protests, prevent rumors from spreading on WhatsApp, conduct elections and even  stop students from cheating on exams. Last year, India blocked the internet 134 times, compared with 12 shutdowns in Pakistan, the No. 2 country, according to Access Now, a global digital rights group, which said its data understates the number of occurrences.

“Shutting down the internet has become the first go-to the moment the policethink there will be any kind of disturbance,” said Mishi Choudhary, founder of SFLC.in, a legal advocacy group in New Delhi that has tracked the sharp rise in web shutdowns in India since 2012.

In Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority territory where security forces constantly worry about attacks by separatist militants, the internet has been blocked in at least part of the region 54 times this year, according to SFLC.in’s data. The authorities simply order internet service providers and phone companies to stop providing access to the web or to mobile networks.

But this latest shutdown has been far more sweeping than others, Kashmiris said.

Umar Qayoom, who used to spend his days running around Srinagar signing up merchants for Paytm, a digital payments service, is now stuck in his house. He said he had not been able to contact his girlfriend since the shutdown began, and his smartphone — his primary source of entertainment, with its endless supply of videos and social media — is an inert hunk of metal.

“I don’t know when to sleep, when to wake up, what to do with my life,” he said during a rare foray outside on Monday evening for Eid al-Adha, the holiest festival in Islam. “There is no life without internet, even in Kashmir.”

Muheet Mehraj, founder and chief executive of Kashmir Box, a start-up that buys traditional handicrafts like pashmina shawls and pottery from local artisans and sells them online, said he could not check incoming orders or communicate with his suppliers. His 25 employees are idle. If the shutdown lingers, they will soon be out of work.

“We’ve seen more than 400 shutdowns,” he said. “This has been the worst of them all.”

[snip]

by wa8dzp at August 15, 2019 02:34 PM

India was a miracle democracy. But it’s time to downgrade its credentials.

India was a miracle democracy. But it’s time to downgrade its credentials.
By Ramachandra Guha
Aug 14 2019
https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/14/india-was-miracle-democracy-its-time-downgrade-its-credentials/

Were I a biographer of the Buddha or a historian of the Mughals, there would be little overlap between my politics and my profession. However, as a historian of modern India, I find there is a continual and often agonizing tension between how I think as a scholar and how I feel as a citizen. The past few days — following the government’s decision to scrap the special status of Kashmir — have been, even by Indian standards, extraordinarily tumultuous for my country and its people.

Meanwhile, I was asked to write this essay to coincide with the anniversary of my country’s independence from British colonial rule. How can the events of the past two weeks affect a broader (and deeper) understanding of what Indians have done with 72 years of freedom? Can I set aside what I feel about my government’s persecution of my Kashmiri fellow citizens when considering, dispassionately and objectively, how India has fared since 1947?

I must, or must at least try.

Kashmir sits on one of India’s foundational fault lines, that of religion. With the rise and consolidation of an aggressive Hindu majoritarianism, many rightfully worry about India’s future as a multicultural democracy. But no assessment of our recent history can be complete without first acknowledging what I, as both historian and citizen, see as India’s three most striking achievements.

A nation out of many nations

Had the country been a start-up in 1947, not even the most venturesome of venture capitalists would have invested in it. Shortly after India became free, the last British commander in chief of the Indian Army, Gen. Claude Auchinleck, wrote: “The Sikhs may try to set up a separate regime. I think they probably will and that will be only a start of a general decentralization and break-up of the idea that India is a country, whereas it is a subcontinent as varied as Europe. The Punjabi is as different from a Madrassi as a Scot is from an Italian. The British tried to consolidate it but achieved nothing permanent. No one can make a nation out of a continent of many nations.”

Such predictions were ubiquitous in the early years of independence. India could not survive as a single nation, said the smartest of Western observers, and it could never become a democracy either. But it did. Another former British official who was in India during the first general elections of 1952 wrote home that “a future and more enlightened age will view with astonishment the absurd farce of recording the votes of millions of illiterate people.”

But India defied its skeptics to remain united, and stay somewhat democratic. To be sure, there was violence at its birth, and rebellion afterward, in Kashmir, Nagaland and elsewhere, put down by force. But when one considers how much blood was shed in the forging of the British or American or French or Chinese nation, I think Indians have gotten off relatively lightly. That a poor, divided and still not fully literate country is a democracy is an even greater feat. Each general election is the greatest exercise of free will in human history — and with many states being larger than some European countries, holding hundreds of provincial elections is rather impressive as well.

There is a third thing Indians should be proud of: our record in sustaining linguistic pluralism. Americans are paranoid about people who do not speak English; yet the rupee note in my pocket has not just 17 languages, but 17 scripts printed on it. Wisely, the founders of India rejected the conventional wisdom that a single language would enhance national unity and refused to impose Hindi across the republic. On the other hand, in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, linguistic differences helped provoke bloody conflicts and even secession.

Indeed, as a large, diverse multilingual political unit with a single market and free movement of people, India anticipated the European Union by many decades.

Failures and fault lines

But set against these achievements are three major failures.

India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, vowed not to let India become a Hindu Pakistan. As he wrote to state chief ministers in 1947: “We have a Muslim minority who are so large in numbers that they cannot, even if they want to, go anywhere else. They have got to live in India. That is a basic fact about which there can be no argument. Whatever the provocation from Pakistan and whatever the indignities and horrors inflicted on non-Muslims there, we have got to deal with this minority in a civilized manner. We must give them security and the rights of citizens in a democratic State.”

With independence, India assured Muslims and Christians and Sikhs and Parsis equal rights. So long as Nehru was alive there was little religious conflict, but after his death in 1964 riots between Hindus and Muslims began breaking out episodically.

These conflicts have only accelerated since the 1980s, with the rise of the Hindu-first Bharatiya Janata Party. With the BJP now in power in Parliament and in most major states, and with many of its leaders and virtually all of its cadres being absolutely majoritarian in their outlook, India is closer to being a Hindu Pakistan than at any time since 1947.

One of the reasons that the Indian state has, in recent years, shown such a harsh hand in Kashmir is that the majority of Kashmiris are Muslims. Yet, because of Pakistan’s long-standing role in fomenting Islamist terrorism in the valley, and the cult of personality around India’s current prime minister, Narendra Modi, these repressive methods have attracted applause rather than criticism from Indians outside Kashmir.

[snip]

by wa8dzp at August 15, 2019 02:16 PM

Who Killed Tumblr? We All Did

Who Killed Tumblr? We All Did
What plagues the internet today hit the social media platform hard and early.
By Kara Swisher
Aug 14 2019
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/opinion/tumblr-sold.html

It’s most definitely a nasty digital world out there these days. But it’s not just President Trump and his daily dose of toxic tweets. Or the insane conspiracy theories that cycle through social media like raggedy-edged tornadoes, causing damage that is impossible to fix. Or the endless flood of news that flashes so fast past your eyes like bright headlights on a dark road that it brings only blinding disorientation and little illumination.

It’s all that, but more broadly, it’s that this is the ugly place where we live now, and it’s very hard to figure out how to find our way out. Are you completely exhausted by it? Me too.

Which is why, sometimes really late at night when it is quiet, I think about an alternate universe for the internet: one in which the internet actually managed to remain a pretty nifty place, as it was in the early days. 

Is it just a fantasy? Maybe, but it certainly seemed that could be the internet’s path when I first saw Tumblr. 

In its earliest incarnation, the kaleidoscope of a microblogging platform was rich with quirky communities, wonderful memes and, most of all, where vibrant creativity once reigned and often astonished. It was one of the most delightful places one could be at the time.

I am not, of course, talking about today’s Tumblr, which was bought this weekby WordPress’s parent company, Automattic, from Verizon, which had bought AOL, which had bought Yahoo, which had originally bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion in 2013.

Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr caused a giant hubbub in the social media space after it was heralded by Yahoo’s chief executive at the time, Marissa Mayer, as the cornerstone in her plot to take over the digital media world. She promised not to meddle with Tumblr’s magic and not “screw it up.”

Oops. It was soon meddled with and screwed with a lot by a series of owners. Its slow decline is a fact that should have come as no surprise to anyone, given the sloppy handovers from one brain-numbing corporate entity to another over the years, as well as a series of vexing internal and external challenges it could not easily overcome.

The price today? It reportedly sold for as low as $3 million, which many have pointed out is about what one will pay for a middling Silicon Valley dwelling. Ha. Ha. Ha. Sigh, because such a joke is peak 2019, even though the minuscule sale is hardly the point anymore.

This was not the fate anyone imagined when Tumblr was founded in early 2007 by David Karp and Marco Arment. It quickly became the brightest in a flurry of truly innovative social media developments of the time. Pronounced “tumbler,” it allowed users to post all kinds of short-form blogs called tumblelogs, which could be followed by others.

And tumble they did, especially the much-coveted teen demo and also the more fringe types who had no interest in the dull blue suburb that was the then 3-year-old Facebook. Unlike that site, which its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, called a “utility,” Tumblr was the hippest club in town, attracting wonderful blogs like Scanwiches (yes, scans of sandwiches) and Garfield Minus Garfield (just what it sounds like) and one of my faves, which I could really relate to at the time, called STFU Parents (“You used to be fun. Now you have a baby.”) And so much terrific art and so many amazing photos and a cornucopia of funny bits and pieces of just about everything.

I even had (and still have) what is now a moribund blog there, called “Graffiti From the Gods,” which I explained a decade ago: “I find signs everywhere. On sidewalks. On walls. Sometimes misspelled. I cannot ignore them. So it is written, so it shall be posted.” 

I really enjoyed posting there. And why not? The always twitchy Twitter had only started the year before with significantly fewer bells and whistles and, more to the point, the social networks that would really supplant Tumblr — Instagram and Snapchat — would not appear for several years. That left the field to Tumblr.

Thus, it quickly got its lofty valuation with $125 million in investments from tech’s smartest investors and took off. It hit a billion blog posts by 2010, and when the site started accepting advertising in 2012, Tumblr seemed golden.

Fool’s gold. What plagues the internet today hit Tumblr hard and early. There were the inevitable copyright problems and spam and security problems and product problems. And the content itself, which started as edgy, got rather gnarly, from self-harm sites to neo-Nazis to what really tanked Tumblr: sex.

[snip]

by wa8dzp at August 15, 2019 02:15 PM

jacobinmag

Bernie Is Right to Go After Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post

The corporate media is freaking out over Bernie’s criticism of Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post. They're not only wrong, they're hypocrites.


alt Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders delivers a campaign speech at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair on August 11, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

If you’ve paid attention to the news in the last few days, you’ve probably heard about Bernie Sanders’s dangerous, scurrilous attack on the US media.

“Do you know how much Amazon paid in income taxes last year?” Sanders asked a crowd, prompting cries of “Zero!”

“I talk about it all of the time,” he continued, “and then I wonder why the Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn’t write particularly good articles about me.”

The line instantly elicited a hurricane of denunciations from both the media and prominent Democrats. Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron dismissed it as a “conspiracy theory,” and various of the paper’s reporters chimed in to this effect, with one charging that Sanders “sounds a lot like Donald Trump.” MSNBC’s Brian Williams called it a “Trump talking point,” while Meet the Press (more specifically, its Twitter account) labeled it an attack on the free press, after assembling a panel to rubbish the remarks. One of the participants included the Center for American Progress’s Neera Tanden, who said that, at a time when Trump is attacking the press, lines like Sanders’s give Democrats a queasy stomach.

There are several layers of absurdity here. One is that Sanders’s point is not particularly controversial. While it’s understandable that a corporate-controlled press wants to pretend otherwise, there are countless examples of corporate media muzzling its own reporting, whether the wholesale silencing of anti-war voices after September 11 by companies like Disney and NBC, or the editing out of a news station’s parent company from a report on US industry’s use of shoddy materials (also NBC). A less alarming version of this also happens at the Post, which prohibits its employees from criticizing its partners and advertisers on social media.

This isn’t something that just happened back in the day, either. Last year, a standoff developed between the newsrooms and upper management in the newspaper empire of Digital First Media, or DFM, which had been bought by a hedge fund in 2010 that was now ransacking its own newspapers for profit. Editors and reporters were gagged and forbidden from writing critically about what was happening to their own paper, sometimes due to explicit directives from DFM executives, but in some cases simply because editors and publishers preemptively put a stop to such stories to avoid any potential reprisal.

That’s the other thing. As others have pointed out, the idea that corporate censorship solely, or even mostly, takes the form of someone at the top sending a memo or making a phone call — and, make no mistake, that certainly does happen — has never been the left-wing critique of a corporate press. As figures like George Seldes and Noam Chomsky have explained, from our earliest days, we are enveloped by an architecture of beliefs and assumptions that tells us what we should and shouldn’t think, from popular culture to the educational system to the news.

After that, a ruthless process of self-selection means anyone deviating from that line isn’t seen or heard from. As Chomsky explained to a British reporter who balked at being accused of self-censorship: “I’m sure you believe everything you’re saying. But what I’m saying is if you believed something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.”

Second, what makes all of this particularly ironic is that the very same news outlets decrying Sanders’s criticism as an unfair, Trumpian attack have themselves utilized the same logic to smear reporters. CNN raced to criticize Sanders’s statements, complaining he provided no evidence of bias, yet just months earlier the network had Maffick, a left-wing news outlet, removed from Facebook largely because it received funding from the Russian government. Unlike the coverage Sanders is complaining about, which is often either outright wrong or cartoonish in its attempts to play down the senator’s campaign and policies, CNN noted that Maffick’s content “fits comfortably within fairly mainstream American politics.” In other words, its only crime was that its content gelled with the Russian government’s presumed goal of “exploit[ing] existing divisions and tensions in the country.” This same mindset had led the Post to earlier cast several legitimate, independent news sources as “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda,” a story Baron personally promoted.

In other words, the corporate media is entirely comfortable with casting aspersions on otherwise factual reporting based on who owns the news outlet in question, at least when who owns it is a foreign government the United States opposes. For some reason, it’s only criticism of corporate ownership that makes reporters uncomfortable.

Finally, it’s curious that Sanders’s criticism has launched such a furious pushback, including accusations of “attacks [on] the free press” and comparisons to Trump, when, for the past three years, prominent Democrats and liberals have relentlessly attacked the media for their coverage of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, including Clinton herself. In some cases, those who lobbed the most vicious criticisms of the press are now solemnly mourning what Sanders said.

Take Neera Tanden for instance, who did just that on Meet the Press (a program, incidentally, whose host once wondered out loud whether a US journalist should be prosecuted for publishing government secrets). You can find example after example of Tanden criticizing reporters and the media for their reporting on Clinton’s email server scandal, and for having the temerity to report on the newsworthy contents of her campaign’s hacked emails.

Tanden has said that “every reporter who gleefully trafficked in stolen emails via WikiLeaks abetted a crime” and that “all those who printed WikiLeaks emails helped a foreign adversary.” Nothing Sanders said remotely comes close to the extreme, nearly intimidating nature of these statements from one of the country’s most influential Democrats, who herself has a habit of censoring the supposedly independent reporters whose outlet her think tank owns, and who once suggested that the Clinton campaign use “brown and women pundits” to “shame the Times and others” into more positive coverage.

So harsh have these criticisms been, they’ve since been internalized by reporters, some of whom now feel bad for having done their jobs and failed Clinton in her bid for the White House. The Times itself decided that “every major publication” that reported on the emails had become “a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence.” Who needs an edict from above when media outlets voluntarily decree that adversarial journalism is a Russian plot?

Sanders’s words have afforded the media their best chance yet to trot out the lazy narrative that Sanders is just another version of Trump, an outgrowth of the media’s general tendency to lump all “populists” together. We saw this line tested in last month’s Democratic debate, when Jake Tapper suggested that Trump’s and Sanders’s rhetoric about ending wars potentially makes them indistinguishable to voters.

But it’s also a testament to the ideology that prevails among America’s newsrooms, places that are still more likely to feature the voice of a “never-Trump” Republican than a socialist. These journalists genuinely don’t understand that the criticisms they have of newsrooms owned by autocratic governments might also apply to those owned by autocratic corporate leaders. Marty Baron is right when he says there’s no conspiracy; there doesn’t need to be.


by Branko Marcetic at August 15, 2019 02:12 PM

Dewayne-Net

Talk about unintended consequences: GDPR is an identity thief’s dream ticket to Europeans’ data

Talk about unintended consequences: GDPR is an identity thief’s dream ticket to Europeans’ data
Revenge plan morphs into data leak discovery
By Iain Thomson
Aug 9 2019
https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/08/09/gdpr_identity_thief/

Black Hat When Europe introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) it was supposed to be a major step forward in data safety, but sloppy implementation and a little social engineering can make it heaven for identity thieves.

In a presentation at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas James Pavur, a PhD student at Oxford University who usually specialises in satellite hacking, explained how he was able to game the GDPR system to get all kinds of useful information on his fiancée, including credit card and social security numbers, passwords, and even her mother’s maiden name.

“Privacy laws, like any other infosecurity control, have exploitable vulnerabilities,” he said. “If we’d look at these vulnerabilities before the law was enacted, we could pick up on them.”

Pavur’s research started in an unlikely place – the departure lounge of a Polish airport. After the flight he and his fiancée were supposed to travel on was delayed, they joked about spamming the airline with GDPR requests to get revenge. They didn’t, but it sparked an idea to see what information you could get on other people and Pavur’s partner agreed to act as a guinea pig for the experiment.

For social engineering purposes, GDPR has a number of real benefits, Pavur said. Firstly, companies only have a month to reply to requests and face fines of up to 4 per cent of revenues if they don’t comply, so fear of failure and time are strong motivating factors.

In addition, the type of people who handle GDPR requests are usually admin or legal staff, not security people used to social engineering tactics. This makes information gathering much easier.

Over the space of two months Pavur sent out 150 GDPR requests in his fiancée’s name, asking for all and any data on her. In all, 72 per cent of companies replied back, and 83 companies said that they had information on her.

Interestingly, five per cent of responses, mainly from large US companies, said that they weren’t liable to GDPR rules. They may be in for a rude shock if they have a meaningful presence in the EU and come before the courts.

Of the responses, 24 per cent simply accepted an email address and phone number as proof of identity and sent over any files they had on his fiancée. A further 16 per cent requested easily forged ID information and 3 per cent took the rather extreme step of simply deleting her accounts.

A lot of companies asked for her account login details as proof of identity, which is actually a pretty good idea, Pavur opined. But when one gaming company tried it, he simply said he’d forgotten the login and they sent it anyway.

The range of information the companies sent in is disturbing. An educational software company sent Pavur his fiancée’s social security number, date of birth and her mother’s maiden name. Another firm sent over 10 digits of her credit card number, the expiration date, card type and her postcode.

A threat intelligence company – not Have I been Pwned – sent over a list of her email addresses and passwords which had already been compromised in attacks. Several of these still worked on some accounts – Pavur said he has now set her up with a password manager to avoid repetition of this.

“An organisation she had never heard of, and never interacted with, had some of the most sensitive data about her,” he said. “GDPR provided a pretext for anyone in the world to collect that information.”

Fixing this issue is going to take action from both legislators and companies, Pavur said.

First off, lawmakers need to set a standard for what is a legitimate form of ID for GDPR requests. One rail company was happy to send out personal information, accepting a used envelope addressed to the fiancée as proof of identity.

[snip]

by wa8dzp at August 15, 2019 01:50 PM

jacobinmag

The Indian Occupation of Kashmir Is Only Getting Worse

A report from inside Kashmir, where Indian authorities have created an open-air prison with millions captive.


alt A view of a closed market during the first phase of the elections of the lower house of the Indian parliament, on April 11, 2019 in Uri. northwest of Srinagar, Kashmir, India. Yawar Nazir / Getty

Kavita Krishnan from the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), economist Jean Drèze, Maimoona Molla of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) and Vimal Bhai from the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) spent five days in Kashmir after the government nullified Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated the state.

We spent five days (August 9–13, 2019) traveling extensively in Kashmir. Our visit began on four days after the Indian government abrogated Articles 370 and 35A, dissolved the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.

When we arrived in Srinagar on August 9, we found the city silenced and desolated by curfew, and bristling with Indian military and paramilitary presence. The curfew was total, as it had been since August 5. The streets of Srinagar were empty, and all institutions and establishments were closed (shops, schools, libraries, petrol pumps, government offices, banks). Only some ATMs and chemists’ shops — and all police stations — were open. People were moving about in ones and twos here and there, but not in groups.

We traveled widely, inside and outside Srinagar — far beyond the small enclave (in the center of Srinagar) where the Indian media operates. In that small enclave, a semblance of normalcy returns from time to time, and this has enabled the Indian media to claim that life in Kashmir is back to normal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We spent five days moving around and talking to hundreds of ordinary people in Srinagar city, as well as villages and small towns of Kashmir. We spoke to women, school and college students, shopkeepers, journalists, people who run small businesses, daily wage laborers, workers and migrants from UP, West Bengal, and other states. We spoke to Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs who live in the Valley, as well as Kashmiri Muslims.

Everywhere, we were cordially received, even by people who were very angry about the situation or skeptical of our purpose. Even as people expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the government of India, they extended warmth and unstinting hospitality to us. We are deeply moved by this.

Except for the BJP spokesperson on Kashmir Affairs, we did not meet a single person who supported the Indian government’s decision to abrogate Article 370. On the contrary, most people were extremely angry, both at the abrogation of Article 370 (and 35A) and at the manner in which it had been done.

Anger and fear were the dominant emotions we encountered everywhere. People expressed their anger freely in informal conversation, but no one was willing to speak on camera. Anyone who speaks up is at risk of persecution from the government.

Many told us that they expected massive protests to erupt sooner or later (after restrictions were relaxed, after Eid, after August 15, or even later), and anticipated violent repression even if the protests were peaceful.


Reactions to The Government’s Treatment of J&K

When our flight landed, and the airline’s staff announced that passengers could switch on our phones, the entire flight (with mostly Kashmiris in it) burst into mocking laughter. “What a joke,” we could hear people say — since mobile and landline phones and internet have all been blocked since August 5!

As soon as we set foot in Srinagar, we came across a few small children playacting in a park. We could hear them say “Iblees Modi.” “Iblees” means “Satan.”

The words we heard over and over from people about the government decisions on J&K were “zulm” (oppression), “zyadti” (excess/cruelty), and “dhokha” (betrayal). As one man in Safakadal (downtown Srinagar) put it, “The fovernment has treated us Kashmiris like slaves, taking decisions about our lives and our future while we are captive. It’s like forcing something down our throats while keeping us bound and gagged, with a gun to our heads.”

In every lane of Srinagar city, every town, every village, that we visited, we received an extensive schooling from ordinary people, including school kids, on the history of the Kashmir dispute. They were angry and appalled at the manner in which the Indian media was whitewashing this history. Many said: “Article 370 was the contract between Kashmir’s leadership and India’s. Had that contract not been signed, Kashmir would never have acceded to India. With Article 370 gone, India no longer has any basis for its claim over Kashmir.” One man in the Jahangir Chowk area near Lal Chowk, described Article 370 as a “mangalsutra” (sacred necklace worn by married women) symbolizing a contract (analogous to the marital contract) between Kashmir and India.

There is widespread anger against the Indian media. People are imprisoned in their homes, unable to communicate with each other, express themselves on social media, or make their voices heard in any way. In their homes, they watch Indian TV claim that Kashmir welcomes the government decisions. They seethe with rage at the erasure of their voices. As one young man in Safakadal put it, “Kiski shaadi hai, aur kaun naach raha hai?! (It’s supposed to be our wedding, but it’s only others who are dancing!) If this move is supposed to be for our benefit and development, why not ask what we ourselves think about it?”


Reactions to The Abrogation of Article 370 and 35A

A man in Guree village (Anantnag district) said: “Hamara unse rishta Article 370 aur 35A se tha. Ab unhone apne hi paer par kulhadi mar di hai. In Articles ko khatm kar diya hai. Ab to ham azad ho gaye hain.” (Our relation with them [India] was through Article 370 and Article 35A. Now they have themselves committed the folly of dissolving these Articles. So now we are free.”) The same man raised slogans of “We want freedom” followed by slogans of “Restore Articles 370 and 35A.”

Many described Article 370 and 35A as Kashmir’s “pehchan” (identity). They felt that the abrogation of these articles is a humiliating attack on Kashmir’s self-respect and identity.

Not all demanded restoration of Article 370. Many said that it was only the parliamentary parties who had asked people to have faith that India would honor the contract that was Article 370. The abrogation of Article 370 only discredited those “pro-India parties,” and vindicated those who argued for Kashmir’s “azaadi” (independence) from India, they felt. One man in Batamaloo said: “Jo india ke geet gate hain, apne bande hain, ve bhi band hain! (Those who sang praises of India, India’s own agents, they too are imprisoned!) A Kashmiri journalist observed, “Many people are happy about the treatment the mainstream parties are getting. These parties batted for the Indian state and are being humiliated now.”

“Modi has destroyed India’s own law, its own Constitution” was another common refrain. Those who said this, felt that Article 370 was more important to India (to legitimize its claim to Kashmir) than it was to Kashmir. But the Modi government had not only sought to destroy Kashmir, it had destroyed a law and Constitution that was India’s own.

A hosiery businessman in Jahangir Chowk, Srinagar said, “Congress ne peeth mein choora bhonka tha, BJP ne saamne se choora bhonka hai.” (Congress had stabbed us from the back, BJP is stabbing us up front). He added, “They strangled their own Constitution. It’s the first step towards Hindu Rashtra.”

In some ways, people were more concerned about the effects of the abrogation of 35A than that of 370. It is widely recognized that Article 370 retained only nominal, symbolic autonomy and had already been diluted. With 35A gone, though, people fear that “State land will be sold cheap to investors. Ambani, Patanjali etc., can come in easily. Kashmir’s resources and land will be grabbed. In Kashmir as it stands now, education and employment levels are better than in the mainland. But tomorrow Kashmiris will have to compete for government jobs with those from other states. After one generation, most Kashmiris won’t have jobs or be forced to move to the mainland.”


“Normalcy” — or “Peace of The Graveyard”?

Is the situation in Kashmir “normal” and “peaceful”? The answer is an emphatic no.

One young man in Sopore said: “This is bandook ki khamoshi (the silence at gunpoint), kabristan ki khamoshi (the peace of the graveyard).”

The newspaper Greater Kashmir had one (front) page of news and a sports page four at the back: the two inside pages were full of cancellation announcements of weddings or receptions!

Between August 5–9, people had suffered for lack of food, milk, and basic needs. People had been prevented even from going to hospitals in case of sickness.

The government claim is that only Section 144 has been imposed, not “curfew.” But in reality, police vans keep patrolling Srinagar warning people to “stay safe at home and not venture out during the curfew,” and tell shops to close their shutters. They demand that people display “curfew passes” to be allowed to move about.

All of Kashmir is under curfew. Even on Eid, the roads and bazaars were silent and desolate. All over Srinagar, mobility is restricted by concertina wires on streets, and massive paramilitary deployment. Even on Eid, this was the case. In many villages, azaan was prohibited by the paramilitary and people were forced to do namaaz prayers at home rather than collectively at the mosque as it usual on Eid.

A checkpoint in downtown Srinagar on August 10, 2019. Photo: Fact-finding team

In Anantnag, Shopian, and Pampore (South Kashmir) on the day of Eid, we only saw very small kids dressed in Eid finery. Everyone else was in mourning. “We feel like we’re in jail,” said a woman in Guree (Anantnag). Girls in Nagbal (Shopian) said, “With our brothers in police or army custody, how can we celebrate Eid?”

On August 11, on the eve of Eid, a woman at Sopore told us she had come to the bazaar during a brief respite in the curfew, to buy a few supplies for Eid. She said: “We were prisoners in our own homes for seven days. Even today, shops are closed in my village Langet, so I came to Sopore town to shop for Eid and to check on my daughter who is a nursing student here.”

“It’s army rule not Modi rule. There are more soldiers here than people,” said a young baker at Watpura near Bandipora. His friend added, “We’re afraid, because the army camp nearby keeps imposing impossible rules. They insist we have to return within half an hour if we leave home. If my kid isn’t well, and I have to take her to the hospital, it may take more than half an hour. If someone visits their daughter who lives in next village, they may take more than half hour to return. But if there’s any delay, they will harass us.” The CRPF paramilitary is everywhere, outside nearly every home in Kashmir. These are clearly not there to provide “security” to Kashmiris — on the contrary, their presence creates fear for the people.

Sheep traders and herders could be seen with unsold sheep and goats. Animals they had been rearing all year long, would not be sold. This meant they would incur a huge loss. With people unable to earn, many could not afford to buy animals for the Eid sacrifice.

A shopkeeper from Bijnore (UP) showed us the stacks of unsold sweets and delicacies going to waste, since people could not buy them. Shops and bakeries wore a deserted look on the eve of Eid, with their perishable food items lying unsold.

An asthmatic auto driver in Srinagar showed us his last remaining dose of salbutamol and asthalin. He had been trying for the past several days to buy more — but the chemists’ shops and hospitals in his area had run out of stocks. He could go to other, bigger hospitals — but CRPF would prevent him. He showed us the empty, crushed cover of one asthalin inhaler — when he told a CRPF man he needed to go further to get the medicine, the man stamped on the cover with his boot. “Why stamp on it? He hates us, that’s why,” said the auto driver.


Protests, Repression, and Brutality

Some 10,000 people protested in Soura (Srinagar) on August 9. The forces responded with pellet-gun fire, injuring several. We attempted to go to Soura on August 10 but were stopped by a CRPF barricade. We did see young protestors on the road that day as well, blockading the road.

We met two victims of pellet-gun injuries in SMHS hospital in Srinagar. The two young men (Waqar Ahmad and Wahid) had faces, arms, and torso full of pellets. Their eyes were bloodshot and blinded. Waqar had a catheter in which the urine, red with blood from internal bleeding, could be seen. Their family members, weeping with grief and rage, told us that the two men had not been pelting stones. They had been peacefully protesting.

A pellet victim in Srinagar’s SMHS hospital. Photo: Fact-finding team

On August 6, a graphic designer for the Rising Kashmir newspaper, Samir Ahmad, (in his early twenties) had remonstrated with a CRPF man near his home in the Manderbag area of Srinagar, asking him to allow an old man to pass. Later the same day, when Samir opened the door to his house, CRPF fired at him with a pellet gun, unprovoked. He got 172 pellets in his arm and face near the eyes, but his eyesight is safe. It is clear that the pellet guns are deliberately aimed at the face and eyes, and unarmed, peaceful civilians standing at their own front doors can be targets.

At least 600 political leaders and civil society activists are under arrest. There is no clear information on what laws are invoked to arrest them, or where they are being held.

A very large number of political leaders are under house arrest — it is impossible to ascertain how many. We tried to meet CPIM MLA Mohd Yusuf Tarigami — but were refused entry into his home in Srinagar, where he is being held under house arrest.

In every village we visited, as well as in downtown Srinagar, there were very young schoolboys and teenagers who had been arbitrarily picked up by police or army/paramilitary and held in illegal detention. We met an eleven-year-old boy in Pampore who had been held in a police station between August 5 and August 11. He had been beaten up, and he said there were boys even younger than him in custody, from nearby villages.

Hundreds of boys and teens are being picked up from their beds in midnight raids. The only purpose of these raids is to create fear. Women and girls told us of molestation by armed forces during these raids. Parents feared meeting us and telling us about the “arrests” (abductions) of their boys. They are afraid of Public Security Act cases being filed. The other fear is that the boys may be “disappeared” — i.e, killed in custody and dumped in mass graves of which Kashmir has a grim history. As one neighbor of an arrested boy said, “There is no record of these arrests. It is illegal detention. So if the boy ‘disappears,’ the police/army can just say they never had him in custody in the first place.”

But the protests are not likely to stop. A young man at Sopore said: “Jitna zulm karenge, utna ham ubharenge” (The more you oppress us, the more we will rise up) A familiar refrain we heard at many places was: “Never mind if leaders are arrested. We don’t need leaders. As long as even a single Kashmiri baby is alive, we will struggle.”


The Gag on Media

A journalist told us: “Newspapers are printing in spite of everything. Without the internet, we do not get any feed from agencies. We were reduced to reporting the J&K-related developments in Parliament, from NDTV! This is undeclared censorship. If the government is giving internet and phone connectivity to police but not to media, what does it mean? We had some people come to our offices, speaking on behalf of the army and CRPF, asking ‘Why are you publishing photos of the curfew-affected streets?’”

Kashmiri TV channels are completely closed and unable to function.

Kashmiri newspapers that carry the barest mention of protests (such as the one on Soura) are made to feel the heat from the authorities.

Foreign press reporters told us that they are facing restrictions on their movement by the authorities. Also, because of the lack of internet, they are unable to communicate with their own main offices.

When we visited the press enclave in Srinagar on August 13, we found the newspaper offices closed and the area deserted except for a few stray journalists and some CID men. One of the journalists told us that papers could not be printed till at least August 17, because they have run out of newsprint which comes from Delhi.

As mentioned above, one graphic designer working with a newspaper suffered pellet-gun injuries during a completely unprovoked attack by CRPF.


Does Kashmir Lack Development?

In an August 9 op-ed in the Times Of India, former foreign secretary and ambassador Nirupama Rao wrote: “A young Kashmiri told this writer a few months ago her birthplace was in the ‘stone age’; that in terms of economic development, Kashmir was two hundred years behind the rest of India.” We struggled to find this “backward,” “stone age” Kashmir anywhere at all.

It is striking how in every Kashmiri village, we found young men and women who go to college or university; speak Kashmiri, Hindi, and English fluently; and are able to argue points of constitutional and international law in relation to the Kashmir conflict with factual accuracy and erudition. All four of the team members are familiar with villages in North Indian states. This high level of education is extremely rare in any village in, say, Bihar, UP, MP, or Jharkhand.

The homes in rural Kashmir are all pucca constructions. We saw no shacks like the ones that are common in rural Bihar, UP, Jharkhand.

There are poor people in Kashmir, certainly. But the levels of destitution, starvation, and abject poverty seen in many North Indian states is simply absent in rural Kashmir.

We met migrant laborers from North India and West Bengal at many places. They told us that they feel safe and free from xenophobic violence that they face in, say, Maharashtra or Gujarat. Daily wage migrant laborers told us “Kashmir is our Dubai. We earn Rs 600 to Rs 800 per day here — that is three or four times what we earn in other states.”

We found Kashmir refreshingly free of communal tension or mob lynchings. We met Kashmiri pandits who told us they felt safe in Kashmir, and that the Kashmiris always celebrate their festivals together. “We celebrate Eid, Holi, Diwali together. That is our Kashmiriyat. It is something different, special,” said one Kashmiri Pandit young man.

The myth of the “backward” Kashmiri woman is perhaps the biggest lie. Kashmiri girls enjoy a high level of education. They are articulate and assertive. Of course, they face and resist patriarchy and gender discrimination in their societies. But does BJP, whose Haryana CM and Muzaffarnagar MLA speak of “getting Kashmiri brides” as though Kashmiri women are property to be looted, have any right to preach feminism to Kashmir? Kashmiri girls and women told us, “We are capable of fighting our own battles. We don’t want our oppressors to claim to liberate us!”


The BJP Spokesperson’s “Warning”

We met the BJP spokesperson on Kashmir Affairs, Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, at the office of Rising Kashmir, a Kashmir newspaper. The conversation was initially cordial. He told us he had come to Kashmir from Jammu to persuade people to support the abrogation of Article 370. His main argument was that since the BJP had won a 46 percent vote share in J&K and had won an unprecedented majority in Parliament, they had not only a right but a duty to keep their promise of scrapping Article 370. “46 percent vote share — that’s a license,” he said.

He refused to acknowledge that this vote share while winning only three Lok Sabha seats (Jammu, Udhampur, and Ladakh) was possible only because the voter turnout in the three other LS seats (Srinagar, Anantnag, and Baramulla) was the lowest in the whole country.

Should a government impose an unpopular decision on people of Kashmir who have not voted for that decision, at gunpoint? Chrungoo said, “In Bihar when Nitish Kumar imposed prohibition, he didn’t ask the alcoholics for their permission or consent. It’s the same here.” His contempt for the people of Kashmir was evident from this analogy.

Towards the end of the conversation, he became increasingly edgy when confronted by facts and arguments by us. He got up and wagged a finger at Jean Drèze, saying “We won’t let anti-nationals like you do your work here. I am warning you.”


Conclusion

The whole of Kashmir is, at the moment, a prison, under military control. The decisions taken by the Modi government on J&K are immoral, unconstitutional, and illegal. The means being adopted by the Modi government to hold Kashmiris captive and suppress potential protests are also immoral, unconstitutional, and illegal.

We demand the immediate restoration of Articles 370 and 35A.

We assert that no decision about the status or future of J&K should be taken without the will of its people.

We demand that communications — including landline telephones, mobile phones, and internet — be restored with immediate effect.

We demand that the gags on the freedom of speech, expression and protest be lifted from J&K with immediate effect. The people of J&K are anguished — and they must be allowed to express their protest through media, social media, public gatherings, and other peaceful means.

We demand that the gags on journalists in J&K be lifted immediately.

Jean Drèze, economist

Kavita Krishnan, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and AIPWA

Maimoona Mollah, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA)

Vimal Bhai, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)


by Vimal Bhai at August 15, 2019 01:47 PM

resilience.org

Mindfulness and Social Change

mindfulness

We don’t view mindfulness as a panacea that will cure the world’s ills. But socially-engaged mindfulness and mindful social action can contribute to addressing our individual and collective challenges.

by Luke Wreford at August 15, 2019 01:33 PM

Campesino Past, Biodynamic Future

Biodynamic farming

Our objective is that, for whatever reason, biodynamics can really become the new agriculture. The objective is to gradually permeate the fields, the soils and the minds of the farmers.

by Tracy L. Barnett at August 15, 2019 01:18 PM