On February 2018, Arraijanal, one of the last parts of natural beach on the coast of Andalucia (Spanish state), was squatted to protect it from the attempt of environmental destruction in order to build a football stadium and sports town on this area. Some centenary trees were cut down and the area was fenced in, but that didn’t stop the activists from establishing a permanent protest camp.
This protest camp have been evicted several times, but our comrades managed to reoccupy it and keep the struggle during six months, and for now the building works have been stopped.
On May 24th, two comrades involved in this project got arrested while the police was trying to remove banners and camping material from the occupation. That resulted in a court case in which they are accused of resistance, offense against authority and bodily harm to the cops proceeding this arrest.
What the public prosecutor was asking for were two years and a half of prison, another year on the matter of a fine, worth 12 euro per day for each one of them and an a compensation to the cops about being injured of 40 euro day if they could work and 60 if they couldn’t. Gotta add that this harm suffered by the cops consists in two between four of them declaring that they couldn’t go to work during a month for being hurt on their pinky finger.
Today, 5th of March, they got offered an agreement on court that would consist on 720 euro of fine, the compensation mentioned before and 21 months of prison sentence on probation for three years for one of them and 490 euro of fine plus compensation, and 6 months of prison sentence on probation for two years for the other. The money of the compensation still need to be stipulated by the judge but our estimation is that would be of around 4000 euro in total.
After a lot of pressure from the court, threatening them with a larger prison sentence with no possibility of probation for one of them, they took the agreement.
So now on, we’re calling for solidarity for facing this case. You can help by spreading this information, or donate money to support the accused with the coming court costs and fines.
A 11 años de los hechos en San Martín de los Andes, Argentina
Solidaridad activa, Marcelo Villarroel Sepúlveda a la calle
La expropiación al Banco Security en el centro de Santiago el 18 de Octubre de 2007, la persecución mediática, policial y estatal que se desató contra varios compañeros subversivos cuando ellos tomaron la opción de fugarse para salvaguardar sus vidas fueron golpes que calaron hondo en toda una estructura que se muestra fuerte, intocable e invulnerable.
La detención de los compañeros Marcelo y Freddy el día 15 de Marzo de 2008 en San Martín de los Andes (Argentina) pone fin a su clandestinidad, momento en el que se encontraban con David Cid Aedo, quien es detenido, puesto en libertad y expulsado a Chile con posterioridad. En esta ocasión Marcelo y Freddy son acusados de porte ilegal de armas de guerra, por lo que son condenados a 3 años y 6 meses de prisión.
Durante el transcurso de los 21 meses desde la detención hasta el día 16 de Diciembre de 2009, Marcelo estuvo recluido en distintas comisarías y unidades en la Provincia de Neuquén en donde resistió palizas, aislamiento y hostigamiento mientras en silencio mantenía activa la opción de fugarse con todas las condiciones de encierro en contra.
Aún en estas circunstancias, junto a Freddy comenzaron a publicar textos donde mantenían firme su opción de lucha revolucionaria e iniciaron una huelga de hambre para conseguir mejores condiciones intrapenitenciarias además del refugio político en Argentina. Pero la condena mediática y estatal ya estaba dictaminada, por lo que Marcelo y Freddy son expulsados gracias a una alianza contrainsurgente entre los Estados chileno-argentino, la misma que se volvió a activar años después en la situación del lonko weichafe Facundo Jones Huala.
Con el cumplimiento de la mitad de la condena y consecuente expulsión, desde fines del año 2009 comienza un nuevo periodo de aislamiento esta vez en Chile, casi un año en la sección de máxima seguridad y luego hasta el día de hoy en la cárcel de alta seguridad. Proceso que consideró la prisión preventiva más larga de la nueva reforma procesal penal, hasta que se dio el vamos al juicio condenatorio que culminó a fines de Julio de 2014, dictaminando una condena de 14 años de prisión contra Marcelo Villarroel Sepúlveda*.
Marcelo ha continuado con su línea de vida en subversión -camino que optó desde niño- creciendo cotidianamente en ideas y prácticas y también en la resistencia carcelaria. Tras el “Caso Security” y/o “Caso Moyano” Marcelo ha estado en prisión en momentos donde anarquistas insurreccionalistas atacaban con gran recurrencia infraestructuras del Estado, periodo donde también han muerto compañeros de praxis. Hubo otros tiempos donde la lucha callejera desbordaba cualquier precedente y con todo eso pasando en las calles vinieron detenidos/as, procesados/as y condenados/as. Detenidos/as por bombas molotov, artefactos explosivos, expropiaciones, entre otras acciones, que aún persisten a la par de nuevas expresiones de rebeldía y lucha.
El cúmulo de circunstancias que han transcurrido simultáneamente a la resistencia carcelaria del compañero ha significado el hacerse presente con toda la experiencia para tender la mano a nuevas generaciones de compañeros/as que tienen que enfrentar la razzia represiva por tomar el control de sus vidas mediante la praxis subversiva concreta.
A 11 años de los hechos en territorio argentino y todo el tiempo de prisión ininterrumpida que ha resistido nuestro compañero en Chile, este Marzo de 2019 como “Red Solidaria” hemos hecho este 4° comunicado público a modo de transmitir estas experiencias que alimentan la lucha subversiva, pero recalcando por sobre todo la exigencia de que Marcelo vuelva a pisar, cuanto antes, nuevamente las calles.
Las batallas jurídicas que está llevando a cabo junto con su entorno cercano por acceder a beneficios intrapenitenciarios deben ser apoyadas por las personas rebeldes y conscientes desde lo simbólico a lo concreto, por lo que incentivamos la realización de acciones que transmitan un mensaje de unión y solidaridad activa, evidenciando aquello de que ningún compañero/a tras las rejas está solo/a.
¡FRENTE A LA INDIFERENCIA MASIVA: RESISTENCIA ANTICARCELARIA ACTIVA!
¡MARCELO VILLARROEL SEPÚLVEDA A LA CALLE!
¡MIENTRAS EXISTA MISERIA, HABRÁ REBELIÓN!
Red Solidaria Antikarcelaria con Juan y Marcelo.
Marzo de 2019
Santiago de Chile
* Recordemos que a demás contra Marcelo se mantienen vigentes las antiguas condenas emanadas por la nefasta justicia militar (pueden leerlas en nuestro segundo comunicado), aquello, es el gran obstáculo que impide el acceso a beneficios intrapenitenciarios. Las irregularidades de aquel proceso contra las acciones subversivas que se le acusaron cuando era miembro de la guerrilla urbana del Mapu-Lautaro tienen una fecha término irrisoria: 26 de Febrero de 2056.
Liebig34.Restera.Bruyante.Sale. Résistante… et plus que jamais! + Video
Vous l‘avez probablement déja entendu: le bail du squat anarchiste, queer et féministe „Liebig34“ situé à Berlin-Friedrichshain prend fin aujourd‘hui, le 31/12/18. Dès demain, le 01.01.19, le projet est menacé d‘expulsion. Mais juridiquement, avant que nous puissions être expulsé.es, Gijora Padovicz, spéculateur immobilier et propriétaire de notre maison, doit porter plainte contre l‘association et les habitant.es de la Liebig34. Une perquisition pourrait être le premier pas pour vérifier qui sont les habitant.es. Chez nos ami.es de la Rigaer94, on a pu voir à quoi une telle perquisition pourrait ressembler. Le passé a pu montrer encore et encore, que les keufs n‘agissent pas forcément sur une base juridique solide et qu‘ils peuvent expulser des squats dans toute „illégalité“. Donc, tout est possible.
Il nous faut profiter du temps restant pour augmenter la pression. Nous ne voulons pas quitter notre maison et nous allons la défendre. Nous n‘accepterons pas que notre espace de vie, de protection et d‘organisation doive disparaître en faveur des intérêts économiques d‘un spéculateur. Par l‘expulsion, la rénovation et la location de la Liebig34, Padovicz deviendra encore plus riche pendant que nous nous retrouverons dans la rue. Le quartier sera encore plus gentrifié, les loyers encore plus chers, le voisinage sera privé d’espaces non-commerciaux et autogérés, et le monde privé d’espaces féministes et safe. Nous ne partirons pas. Nous resterons et nous n‘arrêterons pas d‘être désagréables.
Nous avons expliqué que nous n’allons pas passer d’accords sales sur les dos d‘autres locataires.trices. Nous souhaitons garder notre maison, mais pas à n‘importe quel prix (politique) et seulement en solidarité avec tout.es les personnes concerné.es. Nous sommes conscient.es que l‘intérêt de l‘État pour la négociation ne vient pas de nulle part. Notre voix vient de la popularité internationale de la Liebig34 et des liens de nombreux.ses personnes autour du monde. De plus, notre position dans la partie nord de Friedrichshain (quartier de l‘est berlinois), à proximité d’autres projets politiques, notamment le squat de la Rigaer94 qui résiste depuis des années, nous donne de la force. L‘expulsion du squat de la Liebig14 qui était imminent en 2011 a produit un moment de résistance collective et est devenu une motivation pour la gauche radicale.
La Liebig34 n‘est pas tout seule. Solidarité avec toutes les personnes concerné.es par la gentrification et l‘éviction. Solidarité avec „Potse“, „Drugstore“ et „Syndikat“ qui sont priés de partir de leurs espaces, avec „Meuterei“, „Großbeerenstraße 17a“ et „B5355“ qui tournent leurs yeux vers un avenir incertain.
Même si nous n’arrivons pas à sauver notre maison, nous n‘avons pas non plus aboli le capitalisme. Il reste beaucoup à faire.
Il y a deux semaines que nous avons écrit que Padovicz ne peut pas nous faire expulser sans rien, qu‘il doit porter plainte avant. Nous avons expliqué qu‘il y avait encore quelque négociations en cours entre Padovicz et le district administratif (ndlt allemand « Bezirk ») . A ce moment là nous ne savions pas qu‘il avait déjà deposé sa plainte, il y a longtemps: Le 13.11.2018, LASCAR avocats, in persona Ferdinand Wrobel sur demande de Siganadia Grundbesitz GmbH und co KG ont porté plainte contre „Raduga e.V.“ (association responsable pour la maison) en vue de la restitution de la Liebig34. Malin comme il est, il a expliqué la plainte prématurée entre autre par notre volonté de ne pas quitter la maison. Le fait que Padovicz et ses avocats ont porté plainte avant même que les „négociations“ ne soient finies nous montre encore une fois que celles-ci n’ont été mises en place que pour nous distraire. Si nous pensions vraiment qu’une sortie de cette situation était possible, c‘était un espoir naïf qui nous aurait mené.es nulle part. Depuis 11 jours, „Potse, „Syndikat“ et nous nous retrouvons sans bail dans notre espace et envisageons d‘y rester. La plainte contre „Raduga e.V.“ nous rend furieux.ses mais nous ne voulons pas semer la résignation, mais au contraire canaliser notre colère et la tourner vers ceux et celles qui sont responsables. Avec vous, nous voulons montrer l‘amour pour notre maison et notre colère contre ce système capitaliste et ses représentantes comme Padovicz et Wrobel en résistant, créatif et variés. Le seul moyen qui nous reste est la pression qu‘on peut leur mettre dans la rue. Alors c‘est parti!
Contre le capitalisme et le patriarchat! Contre la ville des riches! Pour l‘amour de la vie et la ville d‘en bas! L34 résiste! 2019 sera une année très dure. Tellement de projets sont menacés d‘expulsion et l‘État prend des mesures encore plus répressives. Pendant ce temps, le racisme et le facisme se montrent de plus en plus forts. Il s‘agit d’attaques contre nos projets qu‘on ne peut jamais accepter. Il nous reste la riposte. Il nous faut nous défendre contre la gentrification et le fascisme galopant. Soyons encore plus actif.ves et montrons nos diverses formes de résistance! Pour plus d‘informations et d’actualités concernant la Liebig 34, suivez le compte twitter: @Liebig34Liebig (https://twitter.com/Liebig34Liebig)
ndlt: il ne s‘agit pas des textes entiers, mais de quelques extraits pour détailler un peu la situation autour la Liebig34.
On April 8th, 10th and 12th, 2019, the trial with 4 anarchists and one environmentalist accused in operation Fenix 2 will be taking place at the district court of Most, every day at 8:30 a.m. Come to support them at the courthouse or by any solidarity action. Let them know you are not apathetic to their future as you are not towards the freedom of all of us. Any way of expressing support is welcomed!
Ve dnech 8., 10. a 12. dubna 2019 proběhne soudní líčení se čtyřmi anarchisty a jedním environmentalistou obviněnými v kauze Fénix 2. Podpořte obviněné přímo u soudu nebo jinou solidární akcí. Dejte najevo, že jejich budoucnost, stejně jako svoboda nás všech vám není lhostejná. Jakékoliv vyjádření podpory je vítáno! Soud bude probíhat každý den od 8:30 u okresního soudu v Mostě.
Anarchist bookfairs are one of the most interesting features of anarchist life.
A bookfair is immediately recognizable as hierarchical. There are the booksellers and there are the consumers. What separates the two is not merely the physicality of a table, but the capital investment it represents. Those distroing have usually been required to purchase space in the bookfair. But moreover they have had to invest in the things they are now trying to sell.
And these investments are often well beyond the means of a good percentage of the anarchists they attempt to sell to. A table for a day can cost between 50 and 200 dollars, and while it used to be the case that anarchist bookfairs would usually provide extensive outdoor space for free tabling or blanketing, this practice has unfortunately dried up. While the SF Bookfair for example used to have dozens of folks laying out goods on blankets for free when it took place in peninsula park, these days you see at most two or four packed in on the sidewalk or side of a building. Where buying a table inside was once an act of luxury and largesse toward the organizers, today it is more of a requisite.
Few squatters or punks have that kind of money to casually throw away, and so there’s immediately a very clear ordering provided by the tables. Age, wealth, and social capital are tangled up in various ways table to table, but the looming sense of difference and inaccessibility is palatable.
Whereas, once upon a time, kids would casually bring their personal zines or collections of pamphlets in order to make a few dozen bucks, this is now blocked by the expense of formal tables. Thus, the only anarchists who can afford to table are largely publishing houses, formal organizations, and a few well established artists.
And the anarchist publishing houses sit on tens of thousands or even millions of dollars of built up investment. Staffed by bored middle aged punks going through formulaic interactions they’ve repeated in city after city, with the same people. Ostensible political enemies see each other in town after town, a cultured civility bleeding slowly into an old boy’s network dedicated to maintaining and containing the anarchist milieu. Today the nihilist has the syndicalist’s back, tomorrow the platformist calls the insurrecto to give him a heads up about some “crazy feminists.” While the kids party or fuck off, the elder book-slingers meet up in fancier restaurants afterwards in large polite clusters, perhaps dragging along a few new apprentices, dangling the promises of elite membership to them. Money is spent casually, to the silent alienated terror of the poorer friends dragged along, and rareified politicking is engaged in shamelessly.
Grumbling and snark about “Anarchy Mall” is universal among the rank and file, but it doesn’t change anything about the structure of the affair.
“Alas,” comes the immediate saccharine refrain, “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism.”
At every moment, in every square inch of an anarchist bookfair, the tension is apparent and laughed off. “Is anything you do under capitalism ethical? Is working or buying anything ethical? Of course not.” The bookfair is then seen as a kind of extension of the tensions and hypocrisies that we are forced into in our daily life, a space where we directly generate and replicate those tensions because, “what are you gonna do, you gotta earn a living.”
The problem here — and one of the core reasons that edifices of social capital are able to be built in backrooms of the anarchist milieu — is that a confused and impossible ideal is used to blind and derail all inquiry into better ways of relating to one another.
Anarchists have unfortunately been slid into opposing markets in and of themselves — seeing exchange, money, etc, as primordial evils or the core source and logic of capitalism.
As a consequence we dismiss considering how markets could be different as a reformist thinking. The notion of an “egalitarian” market is seen as an impossibility, and thus we surrender to the most perverse norms when we construct marketplaces.
This doesn’t have to be the case.
Let me elaborate on three possible changes, mostly centered around removing barriers to entry, and how existing hostility to markets impedes adoption of them.
1) Remove or dramatically undermine the cost and necessity of tables.
There are always tradeoffs when it comes to venues and the costs attendant to trying to make them accessible, but popup venues in parks or parking lots are totally possible. Imagine if bookfairs in a city were more frequent than giant annual events and more fluid. We might see anarchists doing small popup fairs where vendors mix alongside other uses of space like a free store or really really free market. Part of the reason bookfairs become such laboriously regimented and ossified undertakings is because few people are willing to put up with consistently organizing them, especially when there’s the cognitive dissonance of opposing markets. On the other hand small bands of young anarchists frequently find ways to put on small really really free markets and the like for marginal costs, but get starkly limited attendance in part because we frown upon selling and buying. Creating spaces where more individuals or informal groups are encouraged to have their own distro, art, or project and all table (or blanket) together would create more dynamism and active engagement. And if the giant publishers can’t afford to table in a random park this month in some town they don’t live in, with all the risk and randomness attendant to such schemes, all the better. That anarchism has for so long been dominated by Big Formal Publishers and Big Formal Organizations has always been an embarrassing disgrace.
2) Normalize putting your content online for free.
This one raises hackles because unfortunately many anarchists are gripped in the chains of marxist narratives around being owed reimbursement for your labor. In the worst form this looks like declarations that, “If you torrent a book you’re stealing from the author.” But more subtle variations are still common, “why should I put my manuscript online and deliberately hurt my own income?” Well let’s peel apart what’s unique about rendering information into a good in a transaction. When you sell someone pickles you are generally perceived as owing them honesty about the content of the good. A buyer can’t fully consent to a transaction when all the details about what is being transacted are hidden from her. The information asymmetry is sharp and can turn quite pernicious. Consider a famous writer whose books will be influential regardless of whether you find content in them deplorable. In order to stay aware of or craft defenses to his writing you are forced into paying him money. And this flips around to create barriers to the unknown writers tackling new material in challenging ways — why take a chance by buying a zine or book if you don’t know whether you’ll like it? Additionally while it’s easy to see people trading pickles in a free society, it’s hard to see intellectual property norms persisting, since they depend upon proactive censorship by the state. Information is not a naturally scarce good, unlike your particular batch of homemade pickles, it has to be forcibly made scarce. Anarchists of all stripes should see ourselves at war with the intellectual property norms of our society and seek to undermine respect for them in every way. A physical book is a scarce good with tangible costs to its construction, and there are reasons people can desire them instead of the raw text. Authors can always make money from their labor via explicit and more consensual methods of donation that don’t rely upon artificial information asymmetries. But most of all the distinguishing of an elite authorial class within anarchism is deeply pernicious and dangerous. An authorial class (and publishing house hierarchies) propped up by the state’s intellectual property norms is even worse. Whatever your position on property, treating information like property is far more pernicious than more normal sorts of property like pickles, and its unique injustices shouldn’t get obscured by “all property is bad” conflations.
3) Utilize sliding scales to blunt harm (and tax the rich).
It’s eternally amusing to me that we — the evil market anarchists — are frequently the only vendor at anarchist bookfairs utilizing an explicit sliding scale. Part of the reason for this is that making prices fluid feels like haggling to a lot of anarchists, and they want to avoid dwelling upon the reality of the transaction as much as possible. Money is typically exchanged quickly and with a faint sense of distaste and mutual apologia, the publisher grimacing when they give the price. But I feel it’s obviously unconscionable to charge a threadbare teen squatter the same as a surburbanite middle aged marxist. Sliding scale is often a fuzzy sort of haggling that leverages honor and personal ethics — and in rare instances someone openly takes advantage of it — but usually after the “well what do you suggest?” it becomes a more open and forthright conversation that helps situate both participants in the exchange to one another. Compassion and honesty is met with the same, a flickering moment of communism where both parties collaborate in figuring out how to reapportion goods between them to resolve issues of desire and cost. Unlike the imperious declaration of prices by some faceless org, this approach doesn’t hide from the nature of the exchange, but seeks to influence its character. It’s long been pointed out that one of the ways freed markets erode concentrations of wealth in the absence of the state is via an inability to hide behind some impersonal anonymization. The rich man always pays more at the local marketplace. And so to do the aloof bookfair tourists who I know won’t read or take seriously the things they buy. But there’s one more benefit of utilizing a sliding scale: it allows me to express on the market my own desire at getting certain material into particular hands. A pugnacious kid comes over to pick an argument and ends up being defused from the cartoonish narrative he came in with, hesitantly buying a single booklet while suspiciously eyeing another — I happily hand him the second for free. I write and reproduce the work of others in order to affect the world, to engage with it. If such effort has value to someone then I am happy to receive the gift of their money in exchange, but if not, then I have always been happy to substitute a little bit of pushing a mop or fixing a website to obtain the things of exchange value I want.
These three changes are not panaceas, there are deep and wider problems with the anarchist milieu and with the gentrified, centralized, precarious contexts of capitalism that frame us. But they would go a long way in revitalizing the rotting bookfair form. What they require is a solid sense of our core ethical values, and a less cartoonish and suffocating fear of markets.
The agora has always been a fecund site for anarchists. The marketplace a site for building prefigurative alternatives and mobilizing resistance. Selling burritos and tamales alongside IWW organizers shouting from soapboxes about the latest strike. We’ve allowed the simplistic middle class concerns about “consumerism” to crowd out the reflexive lumpen spirit of hustling.
So long as anarchists continue to fear markets we will lock ourselves up in tense hypocrisies that give cover to problematic dynamics and reinforce institutional power.
In this episode of the solecast i speak with anarchist rap innovators Drowning Dog And Malatesta. As far as I know them and Test Their Logik are some of the first rappers to come out and really rep anarchy front and center. They’ve been making music together for about 2 decades and have self released a number of ground breaking records, like Got No Time , Black Cat and their most recent “Sick Of This Shit”
Now living in Berlin by way of Italy and San Francisco we have an awesome in depth and highly informative conversation about a myriad of topics. The main thrust of our conversation is how their music relates to anarchist politics and radical struggle and what they’ve learned and seen living and traveling in all these different places. We talk about the importance of food, of multi generational spaces and why its important to have a more romantic view of daily life. We talk about the legacy of radical struggle and squat culture in Europe and some of the complexities of it. They highlight some of their favorite revolutionary projects they’ve encountered, talk about the pitfalls of fetishizing struggles elsewhere without considering context and most importantly how they approach their art and what its origins are…
Former political prisoner and anarchist Dmitry Palienko was detained at March, 20th around 10 AM at his apartments in Minsk. He is accused in committing crime at article 339 p. of the criminal code (“Exclusively malicious hooliganism”). The sanction of the article – from 3 to 10 years of prison.
As his friend Nastya Gusieva tells:
“People with machine guns, dressed in body armor, raided our flat around 10 PM. They put Dmitry on a floor and handcuffed him. Then they kicked out the door in a room and started the search”.
It is known that, allegedly, around a week ago Dmitry pepper-sprayed his drunk and aggressive neighbor, who punched him in a face.
The search took around an hour. Cops confiscated all electronic devices, leaflets, stickers, literature and mobile phone of Nastya Husieva. Actually, she noticed that the printed materials Dmitry had, interested cops much more then the case of alleged fight.
By the way, Palienko already has another criminal case on him – for painting a graffiti “Cops kill people”.
Generally, the comrades of Dmitry afraid that cops, who are really looking for the matter to isolate and punish Palienko for his anarchist activity, may use this common household episode and put him in prison for many years.
We have word from Eric. He is being held in segregation at McCreary. He was immediately intercepted by SIS officers upon arriving and put into the special housing unit. It appears McCreary is just a spot to hold him while the BOP is working out where they send him. Right now he can not receive books, photos, post cards or cards. EVERYTHING needs to be written in blue or black ink on standard paper. Please do not use any thicker stock or borders on the paper. Letters with mailing labels will be rejected.
Eric is only being allowed 2 envelopes a week so there is a good chance he will not be able to respond to letters, nonetheless they are appreciated and something for him to continue to feel connected to the world.
What Eric needs:
If you sent a book from his booklist please wait to see if Amazon returns it to you. If it is not returned can you shoot an email to erickingsupportcrew(at)riseup.net and let us know what book it was so we can put it back on his list. We dont know if the books will be returned but he will not receive them. When he gets where he is going he will need books right away.
Because he is sitting in isolation with hardly any stimulation he would love if folks could send him articles. He loves science, space, Manchester United football club, he loves silly jokes, to keep up on what is happening in the world, short stories… he is pretty easy to please. Please copy the text into a document before printing. any colored font will not make it in, so those pesky link texts seem to cause problems.
It is unknown how long he will be held here or if his communication will continue to be limited with his wife and children when he lands in the next spot. He is hoping that they will be able to visit as fast as possible when he lands. Any donation to travel funds would be appreciated.
Today marks 218 days in complete isolation for him. While it seemed that things were coming to an end, they back-slid again and we await what will happen next. He is one of only 398 of 180,193 prisoners in the BOP being currently held in segregation this long.
Your support has helped Eric get through this and not feel so alone.
If you follow the news about Russia, then you probably know what’s happening right now with opposition and political activists. Putin’s dictatorship focuses on torture and imprisonment of everyone who disagrees with authoritarian anti-social politics. If somebody is struggling against total poverty and unfairness, then they will face repression from government structures such as FSB (the modern incarnation of the KGB), the Centre for Combating Extremism (so-called Центр «Э», most of the torture is organized by them), the police, and contempt from conservative people. The only way to stay in power is terror. Putin is trying to save the state capitalist system, which makes him and his oligarch friends stronger. Anarchists have become one of the main targets of the repression machine, because they seem to be the most dangerous for the state. There are several noteworthy cases that I would like to review.
In October 2017, the FSB fabricated a large-scale criminal case against anarchists and anti-fascists, whom they declared members of the terrorist organisation called “The Network.” The FSB claims that the detainees planned to arrange explosions during the presidential elections and the World Cup. The defendants claim that they were subjected to torture, during which they were forced to memorize testimony that they were members of the terrorist network “The Network.” Some of them got abducted by FSB, like Viktor Filinkov. Viktor is a computer programmer and anti-fascist, he was arrested on 23 January 2018 at Petersburg Pulkovo airport. FSB beat Filinkov up in a dark-blue minivan, shocked him through his handcuffs, on the back of his head, on his back, and on his groin. After all troubles and torments, there are ten antifascists behind the bars. Those arrested face from five years up to a life sentence in prison. They still experience repressions inside the jail.
“People’s Self-Defense” Anarchists
“People’s Self-Defense” is a socio-political organization whose ideology is libertarian communism, which is a combination of socially oriented anarchism and non-authoritarian marxism.
February 2018, Crimean FSB arrested anarchist Yevgeny Karakashev. He is accused of “inciting hatred” and “justification of terrorism,” or in other words, posting a video on Russian social media page VKontakte. Karakashev is currently under arrest.
November 2018, anarchist and animal rights activist Vyacheslav Lukichev was detained in Kaliningrad. For 36 hours, he was deprived of sleep and food and tortured. The FSB demanded that he confess to administering the “Prometheus” telegram channel and publishing a post in support of Mikhail Zhlobitsky (a 17-year-old anarchist who blew himself up in the Arkhangelsk FSB building). On March 14, Vyacheslav Lukichev was fined 300,000 rubles ($4,600). He was found guilty of justifying terrorism.
February 2019, in Moscow, the FSB and spetsnaz conducted mass searches and detentions of anarchists. As a result of searches, at least 11 people were detained. Federal TV channels have reported the detention of “anarchist terrorists” from the People’s Self-Defense movement. Among the detainees, Azat Miftakhov, while being tortured by the FSB, was instructed to confess to the manufacture of explosives. Azat was beaten and tortured with an electric screwdriver, but he refuses to testify against himself. Another detainee, Daniel Galkin, was tortured by a taser. He was told to testify against Miftahov, agree to cooperate with the special services, and also to give a compromising anarchist interview to Channel One (Первый Канал). By evening, all the detainees were released, except for Azat Miftakhov. Azat was abducted inside a police station right in front of his lawyer. For almost two days, no one could find Miftakhov. Investigators refused to provide information on his whereabouts to lawyers. Finally, on the evening of February 2, he was found in a detention facility in the city of Balashikha.
Being an anarchist, I personally fear that the political police may kidnap me at any time, start torturing me soullessly, and the real criminals and terrorists will never answer for this. What we have today in Russia is a reflection of the Franco regime in Spain in an even worse form. The FSB will always gloat on anarchists, using them to sow fear and horror among the people. Putin’s regime has always rested on a society of spectacle and repressions against the opposition, but people’s hate is getting stronger and stronger. Anarchists around the world should enhance solidarity with Russian activists, and only mutual-aid strengthens people. The next wave of torture and batons will be worse, it can happen any day.
Both at home and abroad, Pierre Elliott Trudeau has often been seen as a figure of the left. Thanks to his early engagements with Marxist thinkers like Harold Laski, immersion in the progressive milieu of postwar Quebec, and proximity to figures in the labor and socialist movements before entering electoral politics, the former Canadian prime […]
Digital photography has changed a lot over the past two decades, with clunky DSLRs giving way to sleek smartphones. Over the next 10 years, expect a similar evolution as the science behind the art changes.
Much of the technology in use today represents the breakthroughs of the first generation of digital cameras. Film was stripped away and digital image sensors took its place, but much of the rest of the camera — things like lenses, shutters, autofocus systems — often stayed largely the same. Manufacturers centered camera designs on the single, fleeting snap of the shutter.
Now two big trends are reshaping our expectations of digital photography. Computational photography, which uses computing technology to improve photos, vaults over the limits of smartphone camera hardware to produce impressive shots. And the “mirrorless” movement, which drops hardware once necessary for film and elevates the image sensor’s importance, overhauls the mechanics of traditional cameras. Old assumptions about optics are being reconsidered — or discarded — as computer processing takes over.
“Cameras will change more in the next 10 years than in the past 10,” said Lau Nørgaard, vice president of research and development at Phase One, a Danish company that makes ultra-premium 151-megapixel medium-format cameras costing $52,000 apiece.
The changes will matter to all of us, not simply professional photographers on fashion shoots. New technology will mean better everyday snapshots and new creative possibilities for enthusiasts. Everything — selfies, landscapes and family portraits — will simply look better.
For much of camera history, bigger meant better. A larger frame of film could capture more image detail, but that meant a bigger camera body. Bigger lenses offered more detail, but that meant more weight.
Computational photography, which runs on powerful processors, will change that paradigm. And that’s good news because most of us rely on our phones for taking pictures.
Perhaps some of the most advanced computational photography available now is in Google’s Pixel 3 phone, which arrived in October. Here’s some of what it can do:
• Combine up to nine frames into a single shot with a technology called HDR+ that captures details in both dark shadows and bright highlights. • Monitor how much your hands shake the photo so it can snap shots during fleeting moments of stillness. • Compare multiple shots of photos to find the ones where people aren’t blinking or suffering from awkward facial expressions. • Brighten the parts of the image where it detects humans and slightly smooths skin to make subjects look better. • Zoom in better by capturing more data about the scene from multiple shots and and using artificial intelligence technology that predicts how best to expand an image. • Photograph in dim conditions by merging multiple shots through a technology called Night Sight.
Isaac Reynolds, Google’s Pixel camera product manager, says his company’s product underscores a fundamental change in what we think cameras are. Much of the Pixel 3’s performance and features come not from the lens and sensor but from software running on the phone’s chip that processes and combines multiple frames into one photo.
“You’re seeing a redefinition of what a camera is,” Reynolds said. “The Pixel 3 is one of the most software-based cameras in the world.”
Seeing in 3D
It’s all pretty radical compared with a shutter flipping open for a moment so photons can change the chemistry of film. And it’s only the beginning.
Two years ago, the iPhone 7 started using two cameras side by side, which lets the phone judge just how far away each element of the scene is. The phone’s computing hardware then constructs a 3D-infused layer of information called a “depth map” in which each pixel of a photo holds both color and spatial information.
Initially, Apple used the technology to re-create a style used in portrait photography that requires expensive camera lenses. Those lenses could shoot a shallow depth of field that focused on the subject but left the background an undistracting blur. Apple used software to do the blurring.
The depth map has more to offer. With Lightroom, Adobe’s widely used photo editing and cataloging software, you now can adjust an iPhone photo based on that 3D information. For example, you can selectively brighten shadowed subjects in the foreground while leaving a bright background unchanged.
San Antonino Castillo Velasco, Oaxaca, Mexico — Twelve years ago in the verdant Ocotlán Valley of Mexico, a group of men and women of Zapotec origin watched as their crops of vegetables and flowers began to wither away. A long drought seemed destined to turn their fertile valley into a desert area. But through a rainwater harvesting technique, they created a series of “absorption wells,” and since then life has re-emerged in this remote region in the South of Mexico.
As he irrigates his onion crops using the “drip technique”, Emiliano remembers those years when his crops languished for the lack of water from either the rain or the irrigation canals. In those days, back in 2005, they knew that in this area there was a 1967 presidential decree, which established a prohibition on agricultural use of water that required the payment of up to 24 thousand pesos (about $1,200 USD) to gain access.
The National Water Commission (Conagua) imposed a heavy fine when they continued to use the water, as well as excessively high electrical fees for use of their water pumps. The desperation of seeing their crops die and the lack of economic solvency caused peasants like Emiliano, Esperanza Alonso Contreras and Juan Justino Martínez González among hundreds of others to organize themselves and seek help from Flor y Canto, a social organization dedicated to the defense of life and territory; and since then the Coordinadora de Pueblos Unidos por la Defensa de Agua or “Copuda” was born.
Juan Justino Martínez González, founder of the Coordinator of United Peoples for the Defense of Water “Copuda”.
Now that they were organized, the Sowers of Water — together with Flor y Canto, headed by the indigenous rights defender Carmen Santiago Alonso — established two strategies for the defense of the aquifers in this area of the valleys of Oaxaca: The first one was to train people in the creation of absorption wells. They went to the Water Museum in the city of Tehuacán, Puebla, and from their training they built “pots” or large ponds where they accumulated rainwater, and also seven wells as a pilot. Currently there are more than 300 such wells that are planted in the fields.
The second route that the peasants took was the legal one. In 2011, they sued Conagua before the Superior Court of Fiscal and Administrative Justice for unfairly high charges without a consultation under ILO Convention 169. Two years later, in 2013, the Court ruled in favor of Copuda and ordered the indigenous consultation in 24 communities throughout the region.
The consultation process is the only one that has been done in Mexico for the defense of water, according to Santiago, a pioneer in the country in water rights. The case is currently in the fourth or “consultative” phase, and according to the farmers, the hope is that the government of Andres Manuel López Obrador will “lift the decree of closure” and to convert this region of the Ocotlán Valley into a “Regulated Area,” because the National Water Law endorsed by the government of Enrique Peña Nieto is in violation of their human and indigenous rights.
Land and water defender Carmen Santiago Alonso, who has seen the rebirth of crops in the Ocotlán Valley, stressed that this process of sowing and cultivation of water is the result of the organization of the people, who have learned to sow water for the simple love of the countryside and community knowledge.
Carmen Santiago Alonso, who has seen the rebirth of crops in the Ocotlán Valley, stressed that all this process of germination and cultivation of water is the result of the organization of the people, who have learned to sow water for the simple love of the countryside and community knowledge.
Now the community waits for the Mexican government to really keep its word at the end of the consultation and thus lift the decree and close and create a set of rules for the “Niza Microregion” of the Ocotlán Valley.
“We hope that at the end of the consultation, the government will respect the voice of the peoples of COPUDA who for many years have fought for water to be free,” she said. “Here we sow water under a community technique, we collect it for our crops, so that there is life; we only want to live freely and be respected.”
Last month, an alarming scientific paper warned that over 40 percent of all insect species are in decline. News of an impending “insectageddon”—a world either devoid of insects or plagued with pests—was broadcast far and wide by the media. There’s just one problem: Entomologists don’t buy it.
There’s no doubt that many insects are in trouble, and that human activity has a lot to do with it. But the idea that insects as a whole will soon be gone isn’t supported by the paper, which features systemic biases and data limitations, according to two recent response letters.
Both of those responses call out methodological issues with the paper, which was a meta-analysis of studies that track insect populations around the world. To see if they could tease out any global trends, the study authors from the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland searched the online database Web of Science for the keywords “insect,” “decline,” and “survey.” As critics have pointed out, these terms immediately limit the scope of analysis to studies that spot a negative trend (and to those included in the searched papers’ citations, per the meta-analysis’s methodology).
Another issue with the analysis was that of the 73 papers that fit the search criteria, the vast majority were in North America or Europe. While the authors freely admit this limitation, in their conclusions they justify making global extrapolations about insect declines—including that a third of insect species are threatened with extinction, and 41 percent are declining—because the root causes the analysis points to, agricultural intensification and agro-chemical pollutants, are problems the world over.
To a trio of UK-based biologists at the University of York and Cardiff University, this doesn’t pass the smell test. “Trying to extrapolate from population or biomass declines over several decades, or from threatened species lists, in ‘developed’ temperate zone countries to, say, 100‐year species‐level extinctions of undescribed endemics confined to the precipitous eastern flanks of the Andes does not wash,” these critics wrote in Global Change Biology earlier this month.
Finnish biologists at the University of Jyväskylä, writing in Rethinking Ecology this week, called out other issues, including the fact that local extinctions reported in some of the studies aren’t easily extrapolated to a broader scale, and at least one instance in which insects with the conservation designation “data deficient” were lumped in with those designated “vulnerable” and thus assumed to be declining when we can’t be sure.
These authors also had some backseat editorial criticisms, taking issue with the paper’s use of words like “shocking” and “dreadful.” Frankly, though, the paper’s alarmed tone does speak some truth. The whole point of the analysis was that many studies have reported precipitous declines in regional insect numbers, trends that have been tied to everything from agriculture to climate change. And the idea that we’ve pushed even a fraction of the world’s insects into irreversible decline is arguably awful, even if it isn’t 40 percent awful, or insect apocalypse awful.
We have a great show for you this week. We start off with news and headlines, and then get into an interview with members of the Little Big Union, which is the name of an IWW affiliated campaign to organize and unionize workers at Little Big Burger, an “eco-friendly” restaurant in Portland owned by the same company that owns the Hooters franchise.
We then get into our discussion, where we talk about Bannon’s recent far-Right organizing drive in Europe as he builds “The Movement,” the current situation at the border and how the crisis of automation may be used to scapegoat immigrants, and finally, an anarchist critique of Universal Basic Income (UBI).
All this and more, but first, let’s get to the news!
Living and Fighting
Let’s start off with some victories this week, shall we?
Last Friday D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Morin ordered all charges against the remaining defendants involved in the Disrupt J20 demonstration against the inauguration of President Donald Trump on January 20, 2017 to be dropped “with prejudice.”
This brings to a close an attempt by the State for over two years time to put anarchism and the black bloc on trial, and create a new legal precedent for repression of demonstrations.
After facing brave resistance from workers at the Convention Center, and under intense pressure from the community, Burgerville corporate is formally rescinding, with back pay, ALL of their retaliatory disciplinary actions since Convention Center workers filed for an election last Wednesday. Every ounce of credit here goes to the workers and community supporters who fought against corporate’s harsh, unjust treatment – never give the boss applause when the workers win a fight.
Finally, IWOC reports that a recent phone-zap campaign has been a success, with Kinetik Justice of FAM recently being let out of solitary and back into general population.
BREAKING: Kinetik Justice is out of solitary and in general population!
A motion filed by the defense in the case of United States v. Scott Warren last week in Tucson federal court has revealed the sweeping extent of government surveillance of No More Deaths/No Más Muertes and the retaliatory nature of Dr. Warren’s arrest in January of 2018. The Motion to Dismiss due to Selective Enforcement details months of communication between U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, beginning as early as July 2017 and discussing the movement and activities of No More Deaths volunteers in Ajo, AZ
According to the motion, law enforcement worked together to trade information about activists’ home addresses, their vehicles, and where they organized out of – without any mention of illegal wrong doing or a threat to the pubilc at large.
On January 17th, 2018, No More Deaths released a report documenting Border Patrol’s routine interference with humanitarian aid efforts. The report was released alongside footage collected over several years showing Border Patrol agents destroying and/or removing aid supplies left in the desert. The motion asserts that Dr. Warren’s arrest was a targeted act of political retaliation resulting from No More Deaths’ open criticism of Border Patrol’s human rights abuses
Read the full report on the No More Death’s website, here.
March 27: Winter Springs, Florida
March 28: Viera, Florida
May 16: Long Island, New York
July 11: Nashua, New Hampshire
Aug. 1: Lake Zurich, Illinois
In Deer Park, Texas near Houston, for the last several weeks and days, fires starting in chemical tanks have raged at an oil refinery. As Grist wrote:
According to initial reports, the company released 9 million pounds of pollutants in just the first day of the fire. On Thursday, the city of Deer Park, home to the facility, issued a shelter-in-place advisory after benzene levels spiked overnight. Long-term benzene exposure can cause anemia, lead to cancer, and damage women’s reproductive health.
In the face of this, the Bayou Action Street Team or BASH is currently doing disaster relief work and organizing in the area, donate to them here.
Fort Collins Mutual Aid will caravan from Fort Collins, Co to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (4/29 – 4/31) to assist in ongoing disaster relief and clean-up efforts in response to the Bomb Cyclone that has brought devistation to much of the midwest.
Finally in (literally) breaking news, Philly Anti-Capitalist reports that the home of an ICE agent was vandalized with “Resist ICE,” and the officer’s car was severely damaged. Read the full post, here.
March 30th: Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Solidarity (MAPS) will give presentation in Chicago. More info here.
In It’s Going Down news, we have brand new sticker packs, t-shirts, zine packs and more! IGD is run off of donations from our readers and listeners, so please, pick up some awesome swag from the store, and if you can, sign up to become a monthly supporter of this project.
That is gonna do it for us this week, enjoy the interview and discussion, and we will see you soon.
Paul Krugman and other critics of Medicare for All are relying on falsehoods to promote a "Medicare for America" faux-alternative.
Paul Krugman has a piece in the New York Times where he tries to compare Medicare for All to Medicare for America. The piece provides good insight into the developing centrist consensus on these matters, including its heavy reliance on straightforward falsehoods.
The sole argument Krugman uses to favor Medicare for America over Medicare for All is that the former lets people keep their current insurance if they want. This is objectively wrong.
The big difference [between Medicare for America and] a Sanders-type plan is that people would be allowed to keep private coverage if they chose
[. . .]
To me, then, Medicare for America — which lets people keep employment-based insurance — looks like a much better bet for actually getting universal coverage than Medicare for All.
Medicare for America has a lot of moving parts, but the relevant part for our discussion here is the one that creates a new public health plan and then lets employers forcibly switch all their employees to that plan. This is an option that the vast majority of employers are expected to exercise. Under prior analyses of this type of plan (previously called “Americare”), almost all employers switch over to the public plan because it has a much lower price.
What this means is that, under Medicare for America, most people with employer-sponsored insurance will not be allowed to keep private coverage if they chose. Instead, their employer will force them on to the new Medicare plan. If they like their current insurance, they will not be able to keep it.
The only difference for them between Medicare for All and Medicare for America is that they will be informed that their insurance has changed via a letter printed on company letterhead instead of a letter printed on government letterhead. That, and the fact that the financing for Medicare for America will rely on the head taxes we call premiums instead of payroll taxes, which draw more from the rich than the poor and middle.
That Medicare for America will result in at least tens of millions of people on employer insurance being forced onto the new public plan is undeniable. But one response you might hear to this characterization is to say that employers can already force employees to switch plans, so this is nothing new. And that’s true of course.
But what that response reveals is that the entire premise of the “forced switching” critique of Medicare for All is bankrupt. It is already the case that people can be forced off their employer-sponsored insurance either by being fired or because their boss decides they want to go with a new plan. Indeed, this happens literally all the time. In 2018, 66.1 million people separated from their job, each of them losing their health insurance if they got it through that job. In our current system, if you like your health insurance, you do not get to keep it. Your boss decides whether you get to keep it by deciding whether to retain you and by deciding each year whether to change health plans.
To be clear, this is not meant to be a criticism of Medicare for America. Indeed, one could make the argument that Medicare for America is clever precisely because it takes the wildly authoritarian system we currently have — where instead of individuals choosing their health insurance, their boss chooses it for them — and leans into it in a way that gets bosses to force most people onto Medicare. But that argument requires you to recognize what is going on, and so far pundits like Krugman seem to be entirely confused about this.
In terms of the “political argument,” I genuinely don’t understand how people can convince themselves that Medicare for America is less of a political problem than Medicare for All when both will result in huge swaths of people with employer insurance being forcibly switched onto Medicare without them having any choice in the matter. The only thing you could really say is that Medicare for America obscures what it is doing better and thus can trick the public more easily. That seems like a stretch to me, but then again, if they tricked Paul Krugman, then maybe they can trick a lot of people much dumber than him.
I don’t say that because I am particularly old or sick, but because I am at the front end of one of the next major secular trends in tech. Owning a car will soon be like owning a horse — a quaint hobby, an interesting rarity and a cool thing to take out for a spin on the weekend.
Before you object, let me be clear: I will drive in cars until I die. But the concept of actually purchasing, maintaining, insuring and garaging an automobile in the next few decades?
This could be the most important shift since the Cambrian explosion of the smartphone. Car-sharing continues to increase (Uber and Lyft are set to go public this year), new innovations emerge all the time (Scooters! Vertical-take-off-and-landing vehicles!) and all manner of autonomous technologies are inevitable (Elon Musk, whatever you think of him or the prospects of Tesla, is 100 percent directionally correct). Private car ownership declined globally last year, and it is a trend that I believe is going to accelerate faster than people think.
Not everyone agrees. After an initial rush of hype and hope, there was a backlashagainst the idea that autonomous and shared cars would soon take over.
But I am pretty good at this guessing game. In 1998, as one of the first Internet-focused reporters for The Wall Street Journal, I wrote a piece titled “I Cut the Cord” about giving up my land line and going all mobile.
That was well before “feature” phones — as the first dumber versions of smartphones were called — and almost a decade before the iPhone. There was not much out there for the general population. Nonetheless, I “snipped my copper umbilical cord” and predicted that everyone else would do the same, and sooner than they thought.
I did not find it easy, as I noted then: “My own all-cellular journey is strewn with technical glitches and innumerable lost connections, pricey millisecond charges that make using a cellphone seem like a bad addiction, and vague worries that perhaps too much cellphone exposure actually does cause brain tumors.”
But it was time. Absent the brain tumors, this was the thought that hit me recently when my clutch died on a hill in San Francisco. After spending my life buying cars, I will never buy another after I sell my last, a manual Ford Fiesta Turbo named Frank.
Since I first started driving I have named my cars: Cecil the Honda Civic, Jeanette the mighty blue Volkswagen Bug, Roger the Volkswagen Rabbit, Jerry the Jeep Wrangler, John the Jeep Cherokee, Alice the Honda Minivan, Sally the Subaru Outback, Abner the Mazda 3, Cindy the Mazda 5 and Frank. Why wouldn’t I name them, since they were an integral part of my life from my teens to my single days to motherhood?
Many people feel this kind of bond with their cars. They represent so many major life moments (prom!) and individual tropes (freedom!) that it is difficult to imagine giving them up.
But it will be easier than you’d think for a number of reasons that are increasing in speed and velocity, if you will excuse the pun.
Consider how swiftly people moved from physical maps to map apps, from snail mail to email, from prime time TV to watching on demand. What had been long-held practices were quickly replaced by digital tools that made things easier, more convenient and simply better. Some of the shifts have been slower to develop, but then accelerated quickly, like what is now occurring in retail with online shopping and quick delivery pioneered by Amazon.
Simply put, everything that can be digitized will be digitized.
That is harder to envision with the heavy hunk of metal and fiberglass that is a car, but it is not hard to see the steps. You start using car-sharing services, you don’t use your car as often, you realize as these services proliferate that you actually don’t need to own a car at all.
It’s also a small step toward a more carbon-free life, although my frequent cross-country flights pretty much make me a carbon criminal for life. (My fingers are crossed for not only an electric car, but an electric plane or even carbon-free jet fuel.)
It’s obviously an easier decision if you live near a major metropolitan area, like I do, where the alternatives — cars and then car pools and then bikes and now scooters — are myriad. (Why, by the way, this is a revolution led by private companies instead of public transportation is an important topic for another day.) In other countries, often with denser populations, there are even more ideas bubbling up, from auto-rickshaws and motorbike taxis to new bus services.
Obviously, the biggest change will be the advent of truly autonomous vehicles, which are still years or even decades in the future.
The 3rd Congress of Anarchist Political Organization-Federation of Collectives took place
on the 1st and 2nd of December at Mundo Nuevo squat in Thessaloniki. During the morning of
the first day, there was an open discussion-analysis on the social and political
situation, and also the collectives' open political assessment concerning the function of
the organization. Apart from the collectives-members of the A.P.O. (anarchist collectives
"Circle of Fire" and "Omikron 72" from Athens, collective for the libertarian communism
"Libertatia" and collective for the social anarchism "Red and Black" from Thessaloniki and
the anarchist collective "Untamed Horse" from Patras), the anarchist collective "Pueblo"
from Thessaloniki, took also part on the discussion. We continued by enriching the
positions of the political statute of A.P.O (by incorporating two new positions concerning
We must be Communists because in Communism we will realize real equality. We must be
Communists because people who do not understand collectivist sophistry can fully
understand Communism, as our friends have already remarked, Remly and Kropotkin. We must
be Communists because we are anarchists, because anarchy and communism are the two
conditions that are necessary for the revolution. ---- Carlo Kafirer, Anarchy and
Communism ---- In a conference[f. part of the First International]held in Paris from the
Center area, a speaker who stood out because of his ferocity against the anarchists said:
"Communism and anarchy would scream if they were together." ---- Another speaker who spoke
also against the anarchists, though less hard, shouted, speaking of economic equality:
"How can freedom be violated if there is equality?"
This article, with the guidance of anarchism as a theory, provides a critical analysis of
Zimbabwe and its current state, arguing against simple analysis and going beyond
individual politics. The real, underlying problem is a society governed by a class system
under the control of a predatory state that cannot survive a day without the exploitation
of its people. It is essential to organize and educate the masses for a revolution they
can claim as their own, against all forms of oppression and that builds on everyday
struggles to improve the deplorable conditions of Zimbabwe. ---- This article positions
itself not only outside of the state, but against the state, under the guidance of
anarchism as a theory. In it, I hope to give a critical analysis of Zimbabwe and its
current state, arguing against simple analysis and going beyond individual politics.
After the professional elections, the Confédération paysanne holds a conference on 17 and
18 April in Tours. The peasant agriculture it defends is caught between two fires: on the
one hand a pressure towards industrialization ; on the other, an environmentalist / vegan
movement that wants to eliminate an entire section of agriculture. Will the union find the
right answers to defend a profession that still makes sense ? ---- The elections to
chambers of agriculture, closed on January 31, revealed a slight increase in the peasant
Confederation in a large number of departments. It lost the management of two chambers -
including one in co-management with the Rural Coordination - and won two others: Mayotte
and Loire-Atlantique. The operation was generally positive since the union put an end to a
steady fall in its results.
On the morning of February 7 the police of the city of Turin deployed all their repressive apparatus with the intention of clearing the “Asilo Occupato” Social Centre of the Aurora neighbourhood. A social centre for more than twenty years in the area, which fought against borders and racism. A horizontal, self-managed space, which fights against social inequality, facing a more and more cruel capitalism.
For these and many other reasons we have to light the spark of solidarity with the comrades who resisted on the roof for over 36 hours.
On Friday February 25 we decided to attack the Italian embassy in Uruguay by throwing paint bombs on its disgusting façade and writing “Asilo Occupato resiste” on its walls.
For the comrades arrested under the antiterrorist law
A member of Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement (AWSM) attended a candlelight vigil for
victims of the mass shooting in Christchurch. ---- At 7pm tonight (16/3/19), a member of
AWSM, as well as representatives of other political, religious and ethnic groupings,
attended a one hour candlelight vigil in Rotorua in the central North Island, for the
victims of the fascist terrorist incident in Christchurch. ---- Approximately 500 people
from the local community gathered for the vigil at the grounds of the marae/meeting place
of the Ngati Whakaue tribe in the village of Ohinemutu near the shores of Lake Rotorua.
---- A series of rostered speakers gave expressions of aroha/love and solidarity for the
victims, which was followed by an open mic. This included impromptu waiata/songs and
speeches. A number of the people who took advantage of the latter and shared their
While climate change due to capitalism is accelerating and becoming more and more
sensitive, mobilization is also accelerating. But the forms and the speeches vary.
From the smooth talk of Alternatiba to the social, revolutionary and libertarian ecology,
from supporters of Murray Bookchin, through the petition " The business of the century ",
the climate strike, or the parliamentarism of EELV or the IF, what strategy to adopt to
stop running into the wall ?
Alternative Libertaire Grand Paris-Sud invites you to debate on March 28, from 19:30 to
Kaf'Conç, 114 rue Tolbiac (M ° Tolbiac or Olympiades).
Though full details have yet to be revealed, it is clear there have been multiple
fatalities and serious injuries due to a mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch
today. ---- Though full details have yet to be revealed, it is clear there have been
multiple fatalities and serious injuries due to a mass shooting at two mosques in
Christchurch today. ---- The Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement (AWSM) expresses sincere
and heartfelt feelings of commiseration for the victims and their families and stand in
support of them against the perpetrators, who are believed to be have been motivated by
fascist and neo-Nazi ideology. ---- An Injury to One Is An Injury to All! ---- No Pasaran!
Related Link: http://awsm.nz/2019/03/15/statement-on-mass-shooting/
In Azerbaijan today, the anarchist prisoners Bayram Mammadov and Giyas Ibrahimov gained
Bayram and Giyas, who had been in prison since May 10, 2016, surprised the father of
President Ilham Aliyev, the birthday of former President Heydar Aliyev, celebrated as the
Feast of Feast by the state, and the father of Aliyev in order to protest the injustices
of the elites ruled the country. wrote anarchist slogans on the monument in the center.
They were subsequently arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison under false pretexts.
Some comrades arrested on 19.02.2019 in Trentino during the repressive operation “Renata” have been transferred to other prisons (Ferrara, Rome Rebibbia and Tolmezzo, where Giulio and Stecco are already imprisoned). We remember that the main accusations against them are “attack with the purpose of terrorism” (article 280 of the penal code) and, not for all the comrades, to have constituted or participated in a “subversive association with the purpose of terrorism or subversion of the democratic order” (article 270 bis of the penal code).
Here are the updated addresses:
Agnese Trentin C. C. di Rebibbia femminile via Bartolo Longo 92 00156 Roma Italia (Italy)
Roberto Bottamedi, Luca Dolce (“Stecco”), Giulio Berdusco Casa Circondariale via Paluzza 77 33028 Tolmezzo (Ud) Italy
Nicola Briganti, Andrea Parolari C. C. di Ferrara via Arginone 327 44122 Ferrara Italy
While Niccolò, arrested on 7.02.2019 in Turin as part of the “Scintilla” repressive operation, who for some days had not been in the AS2 (“high security 2”) section of Ferrara prison but in a “normal” section, was transferred on 19.03.2019 to Ivrea prison (in the province of Turin). We recall that they are no longer accused of having established or participated in a “subversive association” (article 270 of the penal code), but on charges related to specific facts.
Here are the updated addresses:
Niccolò Blasi Corso Vercelli 165 10015 Ivrea (To) Italy
Silvia Ruggeri C. C. di Rebibbia femminile via Bartolo Longo 92 00156 Roma Italy
Antonio Rizzo, Giuseppe de Salvatore C. C. di Ferrara via Arginone 327 44122 Ferrara Italy
I want to remember how it felt to be shook by the beauty of the crowd. Fear and anxiety dissipate as a hundred-strong black bloc takes the street, realizing its collective power that compels police units to maintain a safe distance. It’s happening. We can do this.
Attacking luxury cars, hotels, and banks when the police have been made unable to defend them is an attack on the police, which depends on the perception that it can maintain law and order to be respected by good citizens and feared by the excluded. A call-and-response of shattering glass echoes down Peel Street, as projectiles fly at bank windows in quick succession. Not to worry, several rocks, flares, and at least one decent firework are reserved for the SPVM.
Spontaneity works pretty well sometimes, and it’s cool when people roll a dumpster out of an alley, someone else drops a flare in it to start a small fire, an “ACAB” gets tagged on the front, and others decide to charge with it at some cops up ahead, all in the span of sixty seconds, as though carefully choreographed. Our time together is limited, yet expansive.
Riot cops arrived from behind on Maisonneuve and quickly shot tear gas, which had its usual effect on such a relatively small demo. Two people were arrested, and some people were hurt. This brings us to the requisite tactical suggestions for next time:
Making dispersal dangerous (for the cops): when a demo splits into multiple directions after the police attack, we could try to keep our composure, check in with our friends and new surroundings, and see if we can regroup with the others who turned the same corner. We may be smaller in number, but the cops’ attention is divided, and they are unlikely to be positioned to attack us again right away. We might even come across isolated groups of police that are unprepared for a hostile crowd. The state is using chemical weapons and blunt force to cut short a joyous departure from the devastating routine of a prison society, and it might be injuring our friends: let’s respond to the height of their aggression.
Accelerant: let’s bring some/use it? The aforementioned dumpster would have made a better battering ram if it was more fully on fire.
Review of Black Bloc Manual 13th Edition, Chapter 12: choosing the right tool for the job. Not everything is a substitute for a good hammer. Secondly, covering your face isn’t enough to be anonymous. If your mask or something else about your attire stands out amongst the crowd, it could help the cops track you (via undercovers, livestream, or video footage after the fact), which could put you in greater danger as the demo is ending or afterwards.
The rear of the demo: the dispersal tactics on Friday and in the election night demo last October were identical: riot cops arrive about a block away behind the demo and shoot tear gas. The panic that circulates can allow them to drive vehicles straight into the running crowd, accelerating the dispersal. What could a combative crew of people holding down the rear of the demo accomplish? No specific proposals to make here, but we think this is an area for improvement.
Warm greetings to all the other crews and individuals who came out, and to everyone who was there in spirit. Let’s take care of each other and destroy all authority. We would like to hear how you experienced this March 15th.
Sending love to all the rebels behind bars. Fire to the prisons.
We also remember the sacrifice of Anna Campbell, an anarchist who fought with the YPJ in Rojava, who was killed along with four comrades by the fascist Turkish army one year ago, on March 15, 2018.
Revolutionary Greetings Comrades!
March 2019 is here already and I find myself thinking about our imprisoned sisters and brothers at the Federal Detention Center in Manhattan who were subjected to cruel and unusual punishment and conditions of confinement in January 2019.
Many times I send reports to my comrades in Brooklyn, at RAM-NYC (Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement-NYC) and I often wonder why they don’t always respond as quickly as I would like them to.
Popular Front interviews two anarchists fighting against ISIS with Tekoşîna Anarşîst (Anarchist Struggle) in Syria. One of those anarchists, Lorenzo (Orso) Orsetti, known in Rojava as Tekoşer Piling, was killed in battle on March 18th while fighting in Baghouz.
Guerrillas of the Free Women’s Troops (YJA-STAR) hit Turkish soldiers on Sivri Hill in Bêzelê (Aktütün) area in Hakkari’s Şemdinli district on March 11.
Footage published by Gerîla TV shows Turkish soldiers being targeted as they gather around the watch tower.
In a statement published after the action, HPG Press Office announced that 4 soldiers had been killed and another wounded.
In the wake of the action, the Turkish army bombed the area with howitzer and mortar fire.
Afrin Liberation Forces announced that at least ten invaders were killed, and six were wounded, in actions against Turkish occupation forces and the forces they control in Sherawa and Azaz.
Occupation forces were targeted in the Cilbire village in Afrin’s Sherawa district on March 19. Two occupiers were killed, and four were wounded in this action. On March 20 an action against a check point in the Cilbire village resulted in five occupiers killed, and two wounded.
Against all odds, the yellow vest movement is still alive more than four months after it erupted onto the French political stage. To the surprise of many, it drew a breath of fresh air last weekend in a new outbreak of rioting in Paris, proving that it has lost neither its fierce determination nor its unpredictable and unruly power. Anarchists and other anti-authoritarian participants seem to have outlasted every effort by police to crush the movement by brute force, by politicians to co-opt it into fruitless “dialogue,” by “leaders” to pacify and dominate it, by fascists to use it as a recruiting platform. It remains to be seen whether the developments in France will spread elsewhere around the world and whether the far right or other actors will be able to capitalize on the disorder to impose a new and even more repressive order in France. But the trajectory of the movement up to March 16 shows that the conflicts that generated it cannot easily be suppressed and offers a model for how to outlast repression and co-optation.
This grassroots movement has come a long way since it emerged in response to the French government’s decision to increase taxes on gas for “ecological” purposes. Developing outside the stranglehold of trade unions and political parties, this new model for a supposedly “apolitical” and “decentralized” movement has unsettled the longstanding ritualized framework of social and political struggles in France.
As a heterogeneous space, the yellow vest movement became a battleground where anarchists and other rebels were compelled to fight simultaneously against the state and its police and against reactionaries and fascists within the movement.
The number of arrests, trials, and injuries has surpassed those of any traditional social movement in years. The yellow vest movement sustained momentum throughout December despite brutal repression and state violence, government efforts to establish dialogue with the self-proclaimed “leaders,” political concessions intended to pacify the population, official calls to restore calm and order, and the time-honored strategy of forcing “good demonstrators” to dissociate themselves from “rioters” via threats. The movement even succeeded in defying the calendar: tens of thousands of demonstrators took the streets for the first national day of action of 2019.
The movement progressively lost momentum after the beginning of 2019 amid signs of strategic disarray. Yet last Saturday, on March, 16, 2019—the eighteenth act of the mobilization—the yellow vests once more became a raging wave that controlled the streets of Paris for a full day. The scenes of rioting and confrontation echoed the movement’s early days.
The future and legacy of the yellow vest movement remain uncertain. From one week to another its magnitude, character, and intensity seem to swing from one extreme to the other, at least in Paris. Yet it is significant that despite internal divisions, political attempts at co-optation, and the authorities’ New Year’s resolutions to clear the blockades from every road by any means necessary and pacify the situation via a national debate so people would express their discontent through legally sanctioned channels, the mood of defiance has not been tamed.
Last weekend’s chaos was a clear message to the French government that the movement has not fallen into its trap of dialogue and direct democracy. This is not surprising, considering the weeks of brutal state violence and class contempt that the demonstrators have experienced. Once more, the yellow vest phenomenon has thwarted the government’s plan. Macron and his henchmen thought that after the national debate, they could find finally get back to implementing their neoliberal agenda.
The eighteenth act of the yellow vest movement proves that anarchists and other autonomous rebels still play an important role within the movement, retaining the capacity to open up new horizons. To explore all this in greater detail, we present the following update. This report picks up where our previous analysis left off, in the aftermath of the nationwide day of action of January, 5, 2019.
Searching for Momentum in All the Wrong Places
At the beginning of 2019, the yellow vest movement in Paris faced an identity crisis. The inner scissions between its “legalist” and die-hard tendencies, as well as the constant increasing pressure from media and authorities, were clearly affecting the movement. Fearing that the movement might not survive until the end of the national debate on March 15, 2019, let alone until the European elections in May, participants decided that they had no choice but to restructure and develop new strategies.
The results only made the situation worse. As explored here, organizers decided that, from then on, all demonstrations would be officially declared and permitted by the authorities. In doing so, these “leaders” hoped to make the authorities more lenient towards the movement in order that the repression might finally decrease. Not only was this new strategy a complete rupture with the “illegal” approach that the movement had embraced from the beginning, it also gave the government an opportunity to control and contain every action.
In addition, some yellow vest “leaders” who had not previously condemned the use of violence during demonstrations began to change their discourse, using pacifist and anti-riot rhetoric during interviews or communiqués, adopting a position similar to that of corporate media and the government. For a movement that initially rejected all forms of political structure from trade unions to political parties, it is difficult to understand why organizers suddenly decided to create their own security groups to supervise the crowd.
These strategies were clearly copied from the methods usually used by traditional trade unions. But an even more concerning issue emerged around these so-called security guards. Starting January 5, 2019, individuals wearing paramilitary berets and outfits were seen at the front of yellow vest marches. It eventually came out that the self-proclaimed leader of this yellow vest security service is Victor Lenta, a well-known far-right activist and ex-paratrooper who participated in the Donbass war alongside Russian troops during the Ukrainian uprising. For several weeks, Lenta and his friends have been in charge of “assuring the security” of the yellow vest movement, and some yellow-vested “leaders” considered the political affiliations of these men less important than their role in the demonstrations.
Yet again, we see the yellow vest movement haunted by its unsuccessful struggle to dissociate itself from reactionaries. The fact that members of the far right were in charge of security enabled other fascist groups to gain a foothold. On January 26, 2019, for the second week in a row, a group of fascists, known as Zouaves,attacked the anti-racist and anti-capitalist march. The following weeks, anti-fascists and other yellow vesters struck back, expelling fascists from the demonstrations. Elsewhere in France, similar struggles took place, notably in Lyons, where the streets became a battlefield between fascists and anti-fascists.
In the end, the attempt to restructure the movement was a complete failure. The organizers sacrificed momentum and spontaneity in becoming answerable to the authorities, who imposed a specific route on each demonstration and flanked each march from start to finish. What’s more, the brutal police repression did not cease! As a result, the yellow vest “leaders” reconsidered their decision of declaring their demonstrations to the authorities.
However, this strategic mistake had strong after-effects. As a consequence, it seemed that the movement had lost its offensive character. Saturday demonstrations became peaceful marches through the city with only a few confrontations, nothing more than one might expect during a traditional trade union demonstration. Week after week, even if the number of demonstrators was stable, it became obvious that the movement had reached a plateau, if not a dead end.
Another aspect of this decline is the fact that the movement has largely abandoned one of the cornerstones of its original success. Several months ago, widespread traffic circle occupations and road blockades comprised the movement’s lifeblood. Today, the movement mostly relies on weekly ritualized demonstrations in a few major French cities to stay alive.
Facing all these changes and the erosion of momentum, would the yellow vests movement be able to survive the national debate?
The State Looks Forward to the End of the Movement
Since mid-December, the French government sought to pacify the political situation via a variety of strategies: making some concessions to answer certain demands, being “open to dialogue,” and establishing an official “national debate” in which people could express their frustration without blocking traffic or burning things. In doing so, the government hoped to quench the thirst for direct democracy some yellow vesters expressed, especially through the demand for a Citizens’ Initiative Referendum (RIC).
However, these strategies did not suffice to get everyone to stop demonstrating. The government increased police violence in hopes of pressuring people off the streets. As a consequence, they continued to injure a tremendous number of people, as detailed here. (Trigger warning: some of these images are quite painful to see.)
By February, it seemed that the government was finally getting the upper hand. The yellow vest movement was losing momentum as the weekly demonstrations became less and less offensive. At this point, the French government was already projecting itself into the post-yellow vest era.
The government had plans for the future. Aware that the global social, economic and political situation will likely continue to worsen over the following years, the French government wanted to make sure that it would have all the tools necessary to prevent or rapidly repress any kind of social disruption, upheaval, or insurrection. Taking an aggressive if predictable authoritarian turn, last January the government presented a proposal for a new law against rioters: la loi “anticasseurs.”
Among other things, this legislation proposes that police should be allowed to search any individual, bag, or vehicle near the area of a demonstration in order to find possible weapons. The law would enable prefects to issue official documents prohibiting individuals from demonstrating if they are considered a potential threat to public order—in the same way that judicial judges already do today. Individuals who are not allowed to demonstrate would be automatically added to the police data file of wanted persons. “The act of intentionally hiding part or all of one’s face without a legitimate reason” during a demonstration would be considered a crime punishable with a one-year prison sentence and a €15,000 fine. Finally, people responsible for property damage would have to pay for it, even if not sentenced for their actions.
It is undeniable that this proposed anti-rioting law is designed to repress anarchists and other autonomous rebels first; but, as with any law, it will then expand its spectrum of applications to include any other potential threat. All these elements directly target our long-shared tactics of anonymity, property damage, and street confrontation. The war between the state and anarchists continues.
This proposed law was composed after the insurrectionary situations at the beginning of the yellow vest movement. So far, the National Assembly and the Senate have passed this law. It is now being reviewed by the Conseil Constitutionnel—an institution responsible for deciding whether proposed legislation conforms to the Constitution.
As the political experiment of the national debate was coming to an end, the French government was hoping that starting Friday, March 15, 2019, it could draw a line after the four months of the yellow crisis. What could go wrong? The yellow vest moment was now harmless, and the national day of action planned on March 9, 2019 was one of the smallest mobilizations that the movement had seen.
A Potentially Explosive Situation
Once again, the French government underestimated the explosive potential of the situation, both nationally and worldwide. For several weeks now, high school and university students have been going on strike every Friday to call attention to climate change. These strikes took place simultaneously in several countries at once. The chief objective is for the new generations to increase the pressure on their respective governments regarding environmental issues. This is why on Saturday, March 16, 2019, environmental organizations made a national call to demonstrate for climate justice and the environment.
Meanwhile, for the many yellow vesters who rejected dialogue with the government, the end of the national debate had nothing to do with whether the movement should end. A new call for a national day of action went out. Yellow vesters were invited to celebrate the end of the national debate by converging in Paris on March 16. On the same day, several collectives of undocumented people, victims of police violence, and leftist organizations made a call for a solidarity march to demonstrate against racism and police violence.
Understanding the potential of such a day of action, some radicals published a text entitled Ultimatum inviting everyone to join the struggles in Paris and elsewhere around France. In this text, the authors draw a connection between the situation in France and the current uprising in Algeria against President Bouteflika and his heavy-handed form of government. They stated that “Waiting has been our only mistake, forever. And convincing us to wait is the art of all rulers,” and concluded thus:
“Never, as in this epoch of apocalypse, has the slogan “revolution or death!” had more concrete meaning, and more scientifically confirmed. The maintenance of the present social organization is tantamount to suicide, and none among the capitalists intends to yield less to his rapacity. Only while some saw in revolutions the “locomotives of history,” we now see that they are rather the emergency brake. We must stop everything and rethink everything. It can be scary, but we have never seen sixty million people starve. And what we found in the heat of the roundabouts is the simplicity of organizing in good intelligence, each from his situation. And then, in truth, faced with governments that have set course for the worst, we have no choice. In Paris on March 16, and everywhere else in France afterwards, what better season than spring to get back on the ground? And what more beautiful spring than the end of the misery of the economy?”
The tone was set!
Actions speak Louder than Words
It would be impossible to detail all the events that took place in the streets of Paris on March 16. Here, we draw on narratives from several anarchists and autonomous rebels, complemented by information from corporate media and other sources. You can watch video footage of the events here and here.
This is a compressed summary of a personal account; the original is available in full here.
At 10 am, the author answered the call to gather in front of the Saint-Lazare train station, before joining the yellow vest demonstration at the Champs-Elysées. Rapidly, hundreds of people started moving towards their destination. The first slogans against President Macron rang out in the rich districts of Paris. Reaching Rue de la Boétie under the collective chant of “Paris, Paris, soulève-toi!” (“Paris, Paris, rise up!”) the crowd comprised about a thousand people. After passing through several streets and crossing a shopping arcade, the march reached its morning objective: the Champs-Elysées.
At 11 am, the author decided to get closer to the Arc de Triomphe, located at the top of the famous Parisian avenue. Battles had already started there. A mounted water cannon was in full use to disperse groups of rioters; dozens of police trucks and two tanks were protecting the national monument; demonstrators were attacking police forces with cobblestones and other projectiles despite a rain of tear gas canisters.
According to the author, the general atmosphere was similar to that during the second act of the yellow vest movement on November 24, 2018. Demonstrators were not dissociating themselves from radicals and rioters—confirming that in the collective imaginary, “violence and physical confrontation are understood as necessary to resist capitalist violence and the violence of its agents.”
Around 1 pm, the author left the Champs-Elysées in order to join the Solidarity March in the district of Madeleine. Walking down the avenue, they realized that the street actions weren’t only concentrated near the Arc de Triomphe. Burning barricades were covering the street; stores had been looted and their front windows smashed; walls were covered with poetic graffiti; and the Fouquet’s—an expensive Parisian brasserie that politicians like ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy are fond of—had been sacked and partly set on fire.
Unfortunately for the author, it was impossible to leave the Champs-Elysées, as police were blocking all the major exits. They continued walking up and down the avenue while observing scenes of joyful chaos. While some rioters looted every store in the avenue, others were constantly attacking and harassing law enforcement. The Fouquet’s caught fire for a second time while police continued to cover the street in tear gas.
Around 5 pm, demonstrators finally succeeded in exiting the avenue via an adjoining street. As the crowd departed from the Champs-Elysées, every single sports vehicle and luxury car was vandalized—one was even set on fire. The crowd slowly exited the perimeter controlled by law enforcement and continued its route towards the Saint-Lazare train station—and later on, the Place de la République. Again, every bank and luxury store was attacked, and numerous makeshift barricades appeared to slow the police. Unfortunately, this was not enough: near Bonne Nouvelle, police trucks arrived and dispersed the crowd.
Some friends who were also present in the streets of Paris contributed this short report on the events of March 16.
For this new day of action in Paris, we decided to wait a bit before joining the various demonstrations, hoping to collect further information about the police strategy and to obtain a broader perspective on the general situation in the morning in order to prepare ourselves accordingly. When it was only 11 am, we understood that most of the street confrontations were happening near the Arc de Triomphe and that their intensity was already setting the tone for the rest of the day. This is why we decided to go to the Champs-Elysées first.
As usual, the authorities had closed numerous metro stations in order to better control the situation. When we arrived at Saint-Phillipe du Roule, we ran into a large wave of yellow vesters who were flowing back from the avenue. It seemed that part of the crowd was unsure which direction to take. Nearby police seized this occasion to attack to crowd with tear gas canisters and rubber bullets. That was it—we were in the middle of our first street confrontations of the day. After this intense attack, lasting several seconds, if not minutes, the crowd of demonstrators was scattered throughout the entire district.
As the various access points to the Champs-Elysées were blocked by police, we decided to change our plans and go the opposite direction towards the Madeleine district where the Solidarity March was scheduled to take place at 13:12 pm. While leaving the area of our first confrontations, we noticed that the entire district—where the Ministry of the Interior and the Presidential Palace are located—was completely locked down by police forces. As we were slowly exiting the area with a crowd of yellow vesters, six unmarked cars came our way at full speed. They passed us and stopped. Members of the BAC (Anti-Criminality Brigade) jumped out, opened their trunks, and grabbed their LBD launchers (rubber bullet riffles). This created a movement of panic. It was time to leave, and quickly.
Reaching the Place de la Madeleine, we were able to get a glimpse of the law enforcement apparatus and strategy for the day. Police units were present in every sensitive area: around the Champs-Elysées and near the train stations and the official demonstrations’ meeting points. However, we were surprised to see that, for the most part, we were free to go wherever we wanted to. As soon as we reached Madeleine, we ran into a convoy of police trucks that was dispatched to block a major avenue in case the demonstration wanted to take another route.
As we were all waiting for the march to start, we decided to force the movement by taking another way. A crowd of radicals turned around the square, set a barricade on fire, passed in front of a police line, and started walking through a small street. The attempt to start a wildcat demonstration failed, as a group of policemen with LBD guns were waiting for us at the next intersection. In the end, we went back and joined the Solidarity March.
Several thousand people took part in this march. It was supposed to join the demonstration against climate change at the Place de l’Opéra before moving towards the Place de la République. Unfortunately, the Solidarity March didn’t bring what we expected; on this issue, we share the analysis of the author of this article. During the demonstration against racism and police violence, we saw several behaviors that we completely disapprove. In the manner of trade unions or political parties, the demonstration had decided to organize its own security service, the role of which was to make sure that everyone remained behind the front banner and followed their assigned roles. At one point, the procession crossed a group of undocumented people that was clearly showing solidarity to the march. Again, the security asked them to step aside and move to the sidewalk so the march could continue its course with no one blocking the view of the front banner. Such roles of control and authority are intolerable, especially considering that after this, the organizers chanted “Tout le monde déteste la police!” (“Everyone hates the police!”)
Once we arrived at Opéra, we were confused as to what to do. In our opinion, the Solidarity March had been a real waste of time, and now we were in the middle of a gigantic crowd—up to 100,000 participants, according to the organizers—marching for the environment. We had doubts regarding the effectiveness of such a demonstration, and we were right. We decided to go up the demonstration until we reached Place de la République, discussing our next strategy and objectives along the way.
Once at République, we left the Solidarity March behind to continue its course until reaching Stalingrad, and the climate march, which was about to celebrate its political action with a big outdoor show during the evening. Our objective was clear: street confrontations and interesting events were still happening near the Champs-Elysées. Without further delay, we left the square and headed towards the avenue.
As we were approaching the Champs-Elysées, we walked through streets that showed the signs of intense riots and confrontations. Rubber bullets, tear gas canisters, and all kind of projectiles lay everywhere. Walls, cars, and front windows had been all destroyed; the vestiges of barricades were still visible; some comrades had lost their goggles and masks. Surprisingly, the streets were wrapped in silence, which only intensified the surreal atmosphere. Tension and adrenaline slowly rose until we reached our destination.
Once we entered the Champs-Elysées, the situation was completely euphoric. Far in front of us, the Arc de Triomphe was concealed by thick clouds of tear gas; the well-known high-standard brasserie Fouquet’s was on fire; barricades were everywhere; groups of anarchists and other rebels were fiercely attacking police; others were targeting every store and restaurant, then sharing their loot with the rest of the crowd. The rage was unstoppable—every symbol of capitalism and its order had to fall!
In the middle of all this creative chaos, thousands of yellow vesters were showing their solidarity by participating in the actions or else discussing, chanting, cheering, or hugging each other. In other words, we were thousands of proud “accomplices” of what was happening on the “most beautiful avenue of the world.” (The use of the term “accomplices” in the previous sentence is a direct reference to the vocabulary used by the authorities to threaten those who refuse to dissociate themselves from rioters.)
However, as police were progressively pushing us down the Champs-Elysées in order to kettle us at some point, we decided to exit the avenue via the same street we had taken to come in. Among hundreds of yellow vesters, we walked through the devastated streets of this rich neighborhood, where every car that had remained untouched until then was attacked. Then, at the intersection between avenue Franklin Roosevelt and rue du Colisée, we passed the ruins of a bank that had been set on fire several hours before. Unfortunately, there were apartments above the bank; firemen had to evacuate inhabitants, including a woman and her baby. [If you ever find yourself considering setting a bank aflame, make sure you will not put anyone’s life at risk—remember the Marfin tragedy in Greece.]
The yellow wave continued its route through the rich districts of Paris with a joyful and offensive atmosphere. As police were nowhere to be seen, some participants took the opportunity to expand property destruction tactics in other districts. Storefront windows, banks, and real estate agencies were attacked, and construction site material appeared in the street as makeshift barricades. As people had earlier that day, the crowd chanted “Révolution! Révolution! Révolution!”
We passed the Saint-Lazare train station, then turned to reach the luxurious Parisian department stores. They had to close their doors in a hurry, locking international shoppers and passers-by inside. Then we continued our course through the large boulevards that would lead us directly to République. There were still no signs of law enforcement, so some people continued to attack symbols of capitalism. Suddenly, arriving at Bonne Nouvelle, the presence of police forces created confusion among us. Due to our hesitation and lack of responsiveness, police units took this opportunity to block our progress, which created a moment of panic. As the result, the march dispersed.
We took this opportunity to vanish in the dim light of the evening.
For this report, we summarized the concluding part of another personal account in order to add some additional elements to the general narrative. You can read the original version in full here.
In the end of the afternoon, a massive wild demonstration left the Champs-Elysées and headed towards the Grands Boulevards. Everywhere things were smashed or burnt, people were cheering, screaming, making connections, talking, and, above all, expressing their hatred towards this world. The joyful and determined march of about 2000 people was never threatened by police forces. However, the authorities had two key strengths: the helicopter and the “voltigeurs”—police units on motorcycles armed with LBD launchers.
While the procession was marching towards République, a cordon of police forces blocked our way. Without thinking twice, we took the first street on the right. The wildcat march was now smaller; nevertheless, everyone decided to walk through the trendy district of Montorgueil in order to express our rage in this usually quiet and peaceful district.
Again, front windows were smashed and some stores were looted in a joyous atmosphere. Progressively, the wild wave of demonstrators was approaching the shopping district of Châtelet Les Halles and its police station. Suddenly, the crowd ran into an empty police car. Without thinking twice, the windows were smashed. Everyone wanted to participate in the destruction of this symbolic object.
As a tribute to all the comrades sentenced in the case of the police car set on fire during the Loi Travail, flames swallowed the vehicle. As several groups of ”voltigeurs” arrived on site, the raging crowd dispersed.
In the eighteenth act of the yellow vest movement in Paris, about 80 banks, real estate agencies, restaurants, luxury and fashion stores were attacked. Among them, about 20 were looted or set on fire. As described in this article, intense scenes of confrontation with police resulted in dozens of injuries. Someone lost an eye due to a rubber bullet; someone else suffered sinus and orbital floor fractures; a third person lost part of their foot due to a GLI-F4 grenade. In addition, 256 people were put in custody, of whom 101 were released without any further investigation.
Last Monday and Tuesday, 86 individuals were presented to a judge as a consequence of the events of Saturday. In the end, 23 people were sentenced to prison time, with one facing a year imprisonment; 19 received suspended sentences; 10 were sentenced to community service; six were discharged; one person received a fine; and 27 saw their trials postponed. Altogether, 17 people are in prison today for Saturday’s events, either serving sentences or awaiting trial. In addition, the public prosecutor’s department in Paris initiated two investigations involving 12 individuals, three of whom are already in detention.
In addition, since the beginning of the movement, judges have been delivering almost automatically a one-year ban on being in Paris to each person who goes to trial.
Did the Movement Fall into a Trap?
Some, looking on from a distance, have implied that in engaging in self-defense and property destruction last Saturday, the movement fell into a trap intended to discredit it and legitimize state repression. Of course, it is true that the state is trying to use scenes of “violence” from last weekend to discredit the yellow vest movement; insofar as government depends on a monopoly of violence, every government must always struggle to discredit anyone who uses force to defend themselves against it. But Macron would certainly prefer for the movement to have already been pacified and harmless. Had there been no “violence” on Saturday, that would have confirmed that his strategy to create a civil dialogue had succeeded, which would have been more advantageous to him.
The idea that thousands of demonstrators fell into a trap planned by a few authority figures suggests the same sort of mindset that we associate with conspiracy theory. Imagining those who hold power to be omnipotent, conspiracy theorists attribute all events to the machinations of a few, denying themselves and others agency. This is a fundamentally paranoic and disempowering framework.
On March 16, the authorities had very clear orders regarding how to contain the demonstrations. In the past, authorities have changed their strategies according to what they were dealing with. During the Loi Travail demonstrations in 2016, close contact with police forces was the norm; last May Day, authorities decided to stay away from us to avoid any injuries in their ranks and let us smash everything, afterwards using the images to target radicals.
Regarding last week, it is possible that on the Champs-Elysées, police received the order to contain the crowd while avoiding contact with demonstrators as much as possible; we may never know. But the demonstrators were not “permitted” to get away with anything. Other groups of police were also attacking demonstrators at close range. There were confrontations in the neighboring streets involving police and rioters, and a great number of people were injured and arrested. All this seems to undermine any supposition that the police planned to let property destruction happen strictly in the Champs-Elysées and got what they wanted.
Let us not forget, Macron had to cancel his holidays on the day of the riots in order to return to Paris in a hurry. The government met that night and fired three important officials; they are now facing another political crisis. What government would want this to happen? Even before the events of March 16, the yellow vests movement had already done more than 170 millions of euros in property damages. If they needed “violence” to discredit the movement, they already had enough “violence” to work with; permitting more to take place would be unforgivable from a capitalist perspective.
Nothing can be completely planned in advance. The scenes of chaos that took place were not prepared ahead of time. People simply seized opportunities. We should never underestimate our own power and our capacity to escape inertia and outmaneuver the authorities and their plans.
The yellow vests movement is not dead! Last Saturday exceeded our expectations. Who would have thought that, four months after its birth, the movement would still be capable of producing such intense moments? Once again, it has reshuffled the cards for the political situation in France, pushing the current government in its retrenchments.
Several weeks ago, we thought that the yellow vest movement had reached a plateau; now it is the government that is facing an impasse. As riots were taking place in Paris, President Macron had to cancel his holidays skiing in the French Pyrenees in order to hurry back to Paris to solve this new crisis.
On Saturday night, the French government improvised a meeting in the crisis room of the Ministry of the Interior. President Emmanuel Macron said: “What happened at the Champs-Elysée is no longer a demonstration. These were people who wanted to destroy the Republic and everything with it. All those who were there are complicit.” Macron promised a “strong response” from the government to these acts of violence.
As a first measure, the government dismissed the Prefect of Paris, Michel Delpuech—holding him responsible for the rioting—as well as two other persons in charge of security. However, as one journalist rightly says: “In one afternoon at the Champs-Elysées, the head of the State has lost a good part of the political credit regained thanks to his risky bet of creating a national debate. At the time when the executive was perfecting its exit from the crisis, the social movement that was losing momentum returned to center stage.”
The yellow vest movement emerged victorious from the last national day of action, and it is undeniable that anarchists and other autonomous rebels are partly responsible for this success. Comrades from all over France converged in Paris, granting us greater numbers than usual during the actions.
In doing so, we have been able to add our own tactics to the movement, thanks to our experience in street confrontations. While writing these lines, how can we not think, for example, of our courageous comrades who created a efficient and mobile offensive block protected by dozens of black umbrellas? All day long, our presence in the streets enabled the demonstrations to harass police forces and maintain a certain level of intensity and momentum, as well as also sharing important moments of solidarity with yellow vesters.
The other reason why the movement was able to defeat the government last weekend is that the yellow vesters present in the streets of Paris stayed side by side with rioters, even if they were not involved in street actions themselves. By doing so, they prove that the government’s strategy of dissociating “good demonstrators” and “rioters” is completely obsolete. The government still doesn’t understand how riots and other experiences in the streets can radically change individuals and their perceptions of the world that surround them. For example, last weekend at the Champs-Elysées,yellow vesters cheered when a group of autonomous rebels arrived near the Arc de Triomphe with a reinforced banner to confront police forces.
To highlight this, here are some of the new developments in the yellow vest movement since its origins. People are going to demonstrations now with at least goggles and bandanas or gas masks to protect themselves from tear gas; unfortunately, they are still too many people not covering their faces while engaging in street confrontations and property destruction or looting. Due to the brutal police violence since the beginning of the movement, most yellow vesters still present in the streets nowadays know exactly what the real purpose of police forces is; little by little, yellow vesters have started to use radical theoretical tools to describe their living conditions and their claims—such as the concept of class, state violence, and capitalism. Finally, even if it can be considered futile, for the first time last weekend, on several occasions yellow vesters chanted “Révolution!”
All this proves that, more than ever, strong connections are possible between autonomous rebels and yellow vesters on the basis of our shared experiences, mutual effort, and solidarity. So far, it is impossible to know what the next national day of action will bring—although the French government has requested the assistance of the army to protect some buildings—or even whether the movement will maintain the momentum it regained last week. However, it is undeniable that what happened and what has been collectively created over the last four months won’t easily be erased.
The yellow vest movement has revealed the true nature of the French democratic and so-called progressive government, which, like any other form of government—from dictatorship to leftist social-democracy—is prepared to go to practically any lengths to protect its power and privileges and the system that establishes them in the first place. Due to the use of “excessive” force by French police during yellow vests demonstrations, the UN has requested an investigation.
But this atypical form of social movement has also proved its capacity to escape the inertia of the order that has been imposed on us. By connecting to others, sharing common perceptions and realities, and working collectively to regain control of our lives at an individual and local level, the yellow vest movement has opened some breaches in the normal course of life, redefining the horizon of possibilities and threatening the stability of the current government, if not the entire political system itself.
More than ever, as we previously emphasized, we need to pursue our efforts to “open up spaces of autonomy, stripping legitimacy from the state and developing the capacity to meet our needs directly;” to develop relationships based on cooperation, mutual aid, and self-determination; and to establish new anti-authoritarian and horizontal commons. No government will ever give you freedom!
Appendix I: Tomorrow’s Repression
The new Prefect of Paris has announced the law enforcement plan for March 23, 2019 in Paris. Starting at 6 am, the entire Champs-Elysées, as well as numerous streets near the Presidential Palace, the Concorde square, and the National Assembly will be completely locked down; every gathering in those areas is strictly forbidden.
Moreover, in the same restricted area, all kind of potential weapons, gas masks, goggles, hoods, balaclavas, and other pieces of cloth that could potentially cover a person’s face are forbidden. Any person caught with one of these elements will be immediately arrested and fined for participating in an illegal gathering. Any person who is not able to prove their identity will be taken to a police station for further investigation.
All this is an indication of what the situation will be like for demonstrators in France in the future. It remains to be seen if this will crush public gatherings, or simply radicalize people further.
Appendix II: “The Reasons for Wrath,” Raoul Vaneigem
We include this text from the venerable Situationist to convey the enthusiasm that the yellow vest movement has inspired in veterans of earlier movements.
Translators’ note: This short article by former Situationist Raoul Vaneigem on the gilets jaunes or “yellow vests” movement was first published by Sine Mensuel in December 2018 under the title “Les Raisons de la colère,” a play on Les Raisins de la colère, the French title of John Steinbeck’s famous anti-capitalist novel The Grapes of Wrath.
We have to wonder why it took so long for such a great number of men and women, whose existence is a daily struggle against the profit machine and the deliberate undertaking of the desertification of life and the Earth, to rise up from their lethargy and resignation.
How could we have tolerated, with such persistent silence, the arrogance of the financial powers that pull the strings of both the State and the supposed representatives of the people (that only truly represent their own selfish interests) to enforce laws and morals?
The silence was truly well-maintained. We diverted our attention toward making a great deal of noise around political quarrels, where the conflicts and coupling of the Left and the Right became exhausting, sinking into ridicule. We have even, at times surreptitiously, at times openly, incited a war of the poor against the poorest—against migrants chased by war, poverty and dictatorial regimes. It was at this moment that we realized that during this perfectly orchestrated distraction, the meat-grinder for the living had been running endlessly.
Therefore, we had to be aware of this progression of desertification, of the pollution of lands, oceans and air, of the growth of both capitalist greed and poverty which currently threaten the very survival of so many species—including our own.
The silence held by the deception of our informers is a silence full of noise and fury.
This has clarified many things. We finally understand that the real thugs are States and the financial interests that sponsor them, not the window-smashers of luxury stores that mock the victims of consumerism and rising poverty with the same cynicism of the politicians, regardless of their party or faction.
The men and women that took the Bastille on July 14, 1789 had very little knowledge, except through vague glimpses, of the philosophy of the Enlightenment. They discovered later, without realizing it, the freedom yearning to see the light that Diderot, Rousseau, Holbach, and Voltaire espoused
This freedom was able to destroy tyranny. This deep-rooted refusal of despotisms resisted the guillotines of the Jacobins, the Thermidorians, Napoleon Bonaparte, and the restoration of the monarchy. It later resisted the rifles aimed at the Paris Commune, passing over Auschwitz and the gulags.
Certainly taking over the Élysée Palace would be giving too much credit to the grotesque paladin in power that the Order of Multinationals put in charge of doing the cops’ dirty work. We should not be satisfied simply with the destruction of symbols. Burning a bank does not destroy the banking system and the dictatorship of money. Setting government buildings and the paperwork of administrative centers on fire does not abolish the State (no more than deposing its public figures and high-ranking officials).
Another reassuring sign: while crowds and social assemblies can be easily manipulated—as the clientelism of both the far-left and far-right suggests—we can note that, at least for the moment, the absence of leaders and appointed representatives greatly frustrates power; from which end should they catch this moving nebula? Here and there we observe that individuals, who are usually drowned out within the mass, are among themselves manifesting the creative humor, initiatives and ingenuity of human generosity (even if things can always go wrong later).
From the yellow vests movement, there emanates a joyous wrath. State authorities and capitalists would like to say it’s blind. It is only searching for clarity. The blurred vision of governments is always searching for glasses.
A woman in yellow states, “I would like Macron, who lives in a palace, to explain to me how I can live on 1500 euros a month.” And thus how can people tolerate budget restrictions that affect public health, non-industrial agriculture and education, that lead to the cancellation of rail lines and the destruction of landscapes to profit real estate and commercial complexes?
And the petrochemical and industrial pollution threatening the survival of the planet and its populations? Here the First Paladin responds with an ecological measure. He taxes fuel, whose costs fall on consumers. That keeps him from touching the profits of [French oil company] Total and its associates. He already showed his environmental concerns by sending 2500 cops to Notre-Dame-des-Landes to destroy community vegetable gardens, a sheep pen, self-built houses, and the experience of a new society.
And what of all those taxes and duties which, far from benefitting the average citizen, are used to bail out bank embezzlement schemes? What of the hospitals lacking medical personnel? The farmers re-naturing soil while private subsidies go to an agribusiness industry that pollutes land and water? The high school students in their factory farms where the market goes to choose its slaves?
“Proletarians of all countries,” [Belgian Surrealist and anarchist] Scutenaire once said, “I have no advice to give you.”
Quite evidently, as verified by the trend of democratic totalitarianism, all forms of government historically and presently have only worsened our bewildering inhumanity. The cult of profit cripples solidarity, generosity and hospitality. The black hole of cost effectiveness slowly absorbs the joie de vivre of its galaxies. Without a doubt the time has come to reconstruct the world and our everyday existence. Without a doubt the time has come to “handle our own business” against the businesses working against and disintegrating us.
Judging by the freedom of commerce that exploits and kills the living, freedom is always fragile. It would take almost nothing to reverse it and change it to its opposite. And it would take almost nothing to restore it.
Let’s take care of our own lives—they concern the life of the world.
Volunteers Answering your Calls: Monday/Wednesday/Friday - 10am to 2pm 541-396-1825 ~ email@example.com PO BOX 942, Coquille, OR 97423
URGENT NOTICE: There is no vehicle access to Cob Cottage Company or the Foresver Forest of Walker Creek (aka Mountain Homested)! Due to the heavy flooding down Walker Creek the banks under the access bridge have given way and the bridge is no longer safe for vehicles to cross - we had hoped for a few more months while we could fundraise to replace the bridge this summer, but now we are asking for your help NOW! Chip and Jennifer will be replacing the bridge with a permanent metal one (railroad car) and have put up a GO FUND ME Website. PLEASE PLEASE we ask all our loving supporters from years past and futures to come, please help replace the bridge and donate any monies that you can. Just click on the GO FUND ME LINK HERE and support access forever to this magical place to allow both sites to continue sharing and educating others. THANK YOU!!!! Ianto, Linda, Rebekah, Tammy and All who gather here!
NEXT TOUR DATE: Our next tour date will not be until May 26th as the access bridge to our complex is in dire need of replacement, which we hope will be underway this next week (If you have already signed up for the upcoming tour, please contact us to discuss parking across the creek and walking up the path.). Please Join us for a free tour and potluck to follow. Meet the staff, see what we have been up to. See over a dozen cob demonstration buildings and garden walls, huge sustainable garden and new kitty cat! Call 541-396-1825 to RSVP for a free scheduled tour. Or if those dates do not work for you, call and ask if you can schedule a private tour for a $100 donation. And if you want a longer stay - come camp and join in the next workparty just call. Can't make this tour, maybe join us for our next tours and potlucks: May 26 1pm; June 16 1pm; July onward - 3rd Sunday of each month at 1pm unless otherwise posted.
WISH LIST - WE ARE IN NEED OF THE USE OF A GAS POWERED UTILITY CART WITH DUMP TRAILER and a spare small car that we can borrow for a few months - PLEASE HELP IF YOU HAVE ONE OR HELP US RENT ONE!!! We are finishng up our solar system install and trenching and need to get the rocks up. But because the bridge is impassable to large trucks and heavy loads (UPDATE: BRIDGE IS NOW OUT AND UNUSABLE BY VEHICLES) we must hall the rock in by hand and need to store a car on the other side of the bridge to transport Ianto and supplies up to the trailhead. If you can help, please Call Linda ASAP at 541-396-1825 we can really use the help!
STILL ROOM - DON'T MISS OUR ON THE MASTERS CLASS! Once in a lifetime opportunity to work side by side with master Rocket Stove instructor Kirk Mobert and Ianto Evans. See our workshop schedule for this course coming up in April! You definitely will not wan to miss this one! Reserve your space NOW as there are only a few spots available!
2019 SCHEDULE IS UP!!! .... Thank you for your patience. We have new and exciting offerings this year - including our new Air B&B Mud and Meals program (open every Friday through Monday - see schedule by clicking on the menu bar to the left), and Weekends in the Garden with Ianto! (see schedule - starting July they will be held every weekend unless otherwise noted, please call to schedule past July). Please keep posted for workings on Timber Framing, Spoon Carving, Living roofs, work parties and more! There will be many opportunties for you to come be introduced to Cob and sustainable living at our home complex in Coquille this year, as well as our sister sites in Bandon and Point Arena. We will also post our alumni workshops as they are scheduled throught the world! Hope to see you this year! Best wishes always! CCC
TAKE SURVEY - Hello! I'm doing a PhD on cob, comparing old Japan cob with new Oregon cob. Since I'm in Japan, I need help learning about Oregon cob. I've created a survey. If you have a cob structure, please take a moment to fill it up. Thank you! EmilyPlease help Emily gather more Cob data and participate in her Cob WALL SURVEY HERE
A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM IANTO EVANS...
Ten Ways Natural Building can Address Climate Change
In 2009 Ianto was a featured speaker at the Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen. 180 nations were present for a week, discussing ways to slow down global warming. Here’s the paper Ianto read, with minor updates.
Amid the distraction of everyday life, the urgent banality of pandemic advertising and the media’s creation of daily “crises” it’s hard to remember that climate change is by far the most urgent agenda for all of us. And it’s sometimes a surprise to realize that Natural Building is one of the few easy solutions. Natural Building won’t stop global warming, but it stands a good chance of slowing it down.
In the United States, it’s estimated that half of all energy use goes into buildings, the majority of them houses. In housing, natural construction can probably save 50-80% of this energy, so in terms of low-hanging fruit, these apples are right there at basket level.
Natural Building offers a number of strategies and principles that, when applied on a large scale, will drastically reduce the amount of carbon emissions associated with construction, heating, cooling and maintaining houses. Here are some of them in brief:
1. Use of local materials, minimally processed
The local foods movement is in full tilt. We’re understanding the implication of buying corporate apples from Chile versus pruning our own apple trees. As for building materials, what’s the sense in hauling away your local trees to a distant sawmill, then buying back inferior standardized products at half the strength and ten times the price? Do you really need to bring bricks from giant factories hundreds of miles away when we have earth to build with right here in the backyard?
2. Earth, the main material, is abundant world-wide, long lasting, reusable indefinitely
We know how to use earth to make beautiful strong walls, floors and plasters. Cob houses in England are still lived in after 800 years. In the Middle East, there are earthen buildings 3,000 years old. Most of China’s Great Wall is earthen constructions and is doing well after millennia.
3. With durable construction, no need for early replacement
Wood-frame houses with fiberglass insulation and sheetrock walls typically fall apart in a few decades, then there’s the cost, both budgetary and environmental, of rebuilding or replacing. Earthen buildings can stand for centuries with hardly any repairs. If the average wood framed house is in good shape for even 50 years and the cob equivalent for 500, over time the ecological cost of sustainable buildings in only one tenth of the alternative, even assuming no other savings.
4. Build gloves, not boxes. Smaller buildings have less heat loss, less maintenance, less everything
We don’t clothe ourselves in boxes, why try to live in one? Wrap the buildings around the use, as knitted socks fit your feet. A tight fitting building can be much smaller, and a curved (not circular) space feels roughly twice the size of one with square corners and straight walls. If we could do only one thing to cut global warming it would be to live in smaller homes that fit us better.
5. Observation of nature tells us what will work well
Building that accommodate natural principles will last longer, need less maintenance, create less pollution, and use less energy. Nature has 10 billion years of slow experimentation to arrive at what works well. We can learn from her. For instance, she never repeats anything; if every daisy in the field looks identical, we’re not looking closely enough. She makes almost nothing square or straight. Could it be that humans discovered a geometry of frailty? Also, geological materials outlast biological ones.
6. As a movement it can model non-consumer satisfaction, by making not buying
Building your own shelter effects a paradigm shift for almost anyone. The awareness and self-confidence it creates overflows into other parts of our lives such as what food we eat how we spend our time. We’ll now enjoy other home-based activities – playing games with the family, making clothes instead of buying them, perhaps even starting a home business. No more commuting means one less car.
7. Management by personal skills and observation, not by automation
Living in a natural house implies being engaged in its management, deciding when to open the curtains, let in fresh air, or make more heat by burning wood we cut, split and stacked ourselves. We get basic satisfaction from these primary atavisms, involving us daily in Nature’s cycles. Re-focusing our attention at home has many side-benefits, from strengthening family relationships to decreased consumption.
8. Natural Building builds a network of resistance to compulsory consumption
As corporations gain more control of our lives, restrictive laws force us to consume more, over our own reluctance. Building regulations ensure that legal construction is overbuilt and very expensive. Well-intentioned consumers get trapped in a maze of insurance, taxes and fear of prosecution. Almost by definition, consumers are isolated. Yet because Natural Building is a social activity, it quickly creates networks of like-minded independents who gain self-confidence by being part of the movement. By sharing stories and strategies, we understand our rights and options better. Together we can stand up to societal manipulation.
9. Older industrial societies model the advantages of traditional building
China just gained the distinction of being the world’s biggest polluter, as a fifth of the world’s people fight to own a personal car, to eat meat daily and to buy plastic throw-away junk. Most of the world now aspires to a big concrete house with a giant TV. Who taught them? For decades, though media and international “aid” Americans have projected the American Dream as the only worthwhile goal. Even if some of them hate us, many of the world’s people still look to the US for models of how to house themselves. But 8 billion people living in US-sized houses will commit us all to starvation. It’s time to model high-profile ecological buildings that work better and cost less than the industrial throwaways. We already have their attention so now let’s project a sustainable, joyful model for the rest of the world to emulate.
10. Natural Building attracts attention because it is a public performance
This field has been shown to grow exponentially, autonomously and democratically. Almost anybody building with earth attracts helpers. People just passing by join in because it looks like fun. From small beginnings only 20 years ago, it has now become a worldwide movement. Reasons for its success? The techniques are simple; in a couple of weeks you can learn to build your own home. Then you can teach that to other people and they can teach others. Also, natural builders are manifestly having fun. They’re inspired partly by the cooperative, friendly, humorous approach. The most unlikely people become aficionados at their first exposure, bubbling with excitement. But who ever feel in love with concrete blocks?
By 2009, the industrial building industry was at a standstill. Stories abound of unemployment, bankruptcies and withered hopes. By contrast, natural builders have been fully employed, the whole time. There’s a backlog of work for skilled natural builders. Here’s a window of hope: the construction industry is desperately looking for ways to stay in business. Maybe we have a key. Is it time to let the secret out?
By Geneva Centre GENEVA, Mar 22 2019 (IPS-Partners)
(Geneva Centre)– The rise of exclusionary politics and xenophobic discourses can only be addressed by embracing diversity and promoting empathy between people, it was concluded in a panel debate held yesterday at the United Nations Office in Geneva.
The meeting “Celebration of diversity: beyond tolerance the path towards empathy” was organized on the margins of the 40th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council by the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue and the Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to UN Geneva. It was held on the occasion of the 2019 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
In a message of support to the co-organizers of the debate, HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal’s appealed to Christians and Muslims to raise their collective voices in repulsion and condemnation of terrorist and violent extremist attacks like the ones witnessed in Christchurch, New Zealand. “Terrorism has no nationality and religion but is an aberration that can be stimulated by irresponsible political discourse thousands of miles away,” HRH Prince El Hassan said.
“The terrorists intended to spread fear and hatred. On the contrary, we are here today to send a message of peace, tolerance and human brotherhood,” the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to UN Geneva, HE Obaid Salem Al Zaabi, added in his statement.
In this connection, the moderator of the debate, the Geneva Centre’s Executive Director Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, observed that the world is “witnessing a rise of exclusionary politics and a vociferous repetition of discourses of division.” “In such a context, diversity is being rejected as an alleged source of weakness,” he added.
Ambassador Jazairy reiterated the importance of identifying “inspiring ideals to foster unity in diversity and to be guided by our common humanity.” “Tolerance is not an end in itself, but it is the path that leads to empathy. The latter is the gateway to peace,” he underlined in his opening remarks.
Echoing Ambassador Jazairy, Reverend Dr Peniel Rajkumar, the World Council of Churches’ Programme Coordinator at the Office of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, highlighted that “hospitality and empathy have something to offer – as they both have the element of moving beyond our own comfort zone into the life of the other.”
In his opening remarks, Mr Alexander Mejia, Director of the UNITAR Division for People and Social Inclusion, spoke of the importance of dialogue in the framework of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development which has to be people-centered and where peace and tolerance have been put in priority. In this regard, faith based organizations need to play a major role and focus on those left behind.
Giving examples of Spain and Fiji, he illustrated successful efforts in combatting violent extremism, youth radicalization and building community resilience. Mr Mejia added that it is crucial to garner the support of public opinion in promoting tolerance and acceptance of the Other.
Tolerance and empathy will open pathways for dialogue and lasting peace
The conference focused on the outcome of the historical visit of HH Pope Francis and the Great Imam of Al-Azhar HE Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyib to the United Arab Emirates in February 2019.
During the visit, the Joint Document entitled “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” was adopted on 4 February 2019 by these Eminent Dignitaries reiterating the importance of harnessing the collective energy of religions and faiths to uphold equal citizenship rights and in the promotion of tolerant and inclusive societies.
Dr Farouk Hamada, Spiritual Advisor to the Court of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, underlined that the future of humanity lies in the promotion of peace and security but that a tiny minority of terrorist spread fear, hatred and destruction.
A great responsibility therefore rests with religious and lay leaders as well as educational institutions. In this context, he cited the example of the UAE which represents a contemporary model of cooperation, co-existence and tolerance with 200 nationalities among which the law makes no distinction in terms of rights and justice.
A unique development – he said – was the meeting on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi between HH the Pope and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar resulting in the adoption of the Joint Document on Human Fraternity which built upon the foundations of tolerance and convergence laid by the founder of the UAE HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Dr Hamada added that the 25 June World Conference expressed the same principles and vision. The speaker added that the current President of the UAE HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan followed the same path and proclaimed 2019 as the Year of Tolerance in the country.
In this regard, the Permanent Observer of the Sovereign Order of Malta to UN Geneva, HE Ambassador Marie-Thérèse Pictet-Althann, stated that the Joint Document on Human Fraternity is a recipe for addressing the “challenges humanity faces in its efforts to restore and spread a culture of tolerance.”
“It supports the view of citizenship based on equal rights and obligations, demonstrating the need to reject any form of discrimination as well as the term of minority, which brings about sentiments of inferiority and isolation,” she added.
Ambassador Jazairy in turn cited the provisions contained in the Joint Document on Human Fraternity, stating that it “expresses almost identically” the fundamental values and messages contained in the Outcome Declaration of the World Conference on “Moving Towards Greater Spiritual Convergence Worldwide in Support of Equal Citizenship Rights” that was adopted on 25 June 2018 at the World Conference on religions and equal citizenship rights.
This conference which was held by the Geneva Centre and its partners in Geneva on 25 June 2018 under the Patronage of HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and which received strong support by the UN Secretary-General through a video message.
“They both contain vibrant calls to celebrate diversity, promote a culture of fraternity and cultivate profound empathy towards the Other,” he said.
It was also noted at the panel that a resolution was unanimously adopted by the participants at the XIV International Conference on “A New Concept for Human Security” held on 26 October 2018 in Belgrade by the European Centre for Peace and Development – UN University for Peace, endorsing the World Conference Outcome Declaration.
The Geneva Centre has likewise submitted draft resolutions to The League of Arab States, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the African Union and to the Organizing Committee of the 5th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue requesting the endorsement of the Outcome Declaration. The participants expressed their keen desire to join in supporting this milestone Outcome Declaration.
In conclusion, the former Permanent Representative of Yemen to UN Geneva, Dr. Ebrahim al-Adoofi, moved that the meeting address a message of appreciation to the government of New Zealand in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Muslims praying in two mosques in Christchurch on 15 March. The meeting which adopted this proposal unanimously felt that the handling of the aftermath of this terrible event stood out as a shining example of the potential of convergence between world religions and a recognition that it is empathy and not ethnicity that create and maintain the community.
During the meeting, the panellists and the audience observed a minute of silence in solidarity with all innocent victims of violence and hatred worldwide.
Last week, we heard the first part of a lecture by Max Felker-Kantor on policing in Los Angeles, from the Watts Rebellion in the 60s to the brutal police beating of Rodney King in the 90s. This week, he continues to talk about the police murder of Eula Love, and how her death affected the growing anti-police sentiment and protest in 1970s Los Angeles. Felker-Kantor talks about how the chokehold, a once common police restraint tactic, was shown to be used predominantly on Black Los Angeles residents. He also walks us through how anti-police protests continued to shape the landscape of policing in the area, as the LAPD focused on perceived gang and drug activity in the 1980s. He ends with the 1991 beating of Rodney King, and its aftermath. You can hear the first part of his talk on last week’s show.
Former political prisoner and anarchist Dmitry Palienko was detained at March, 20th around 10 AM at his apartments in Minsk. He is accused in committing crime at article 339 p. of the criminal code (“Exclusively malicious hooliganism”). The sanction of the article – from 3 to 10 years of prison.
As his friend Nastya Gusieva tells:
“People with machine guns, dressed in body armor, raided our flat around 10 PM. They put Dmitry on a floor and handcuffed him. Then they kicked out the door in a room and started the search”.
It is known that, allegedly, around a week ago Dmitry pepper-sprayed his drunk and aggressive neighbor, who punched him in a face.
The search took around an hour. Cops confiscated all electronic devices, leaflets, stickers, literature and mobile phone of Nastya Husieva. Actually, she noticed that the printed materials Dmitry had, interested cops much more then the case of alleged fight.
By the way, Palienko already has another criminal case on him – for painting a graffiti “Cops kill people”.
Generally, the comrades of Dmitry afraid that cops, who are really looking for the matter to isolate and punish Palienko for his anarchist activity, may use this common household episode and put him in prison for many years.
This week we will look into the Anarchist relationship with Art, in both its visual and conceptual modes. Art can be in natural affinity with the anarchistic impulse and often overlaps with radical politics directly, that is until it gets recuperated... How helpful are critiques of revolution, utopia and specialization for anarchists when considering art? How would a more aestheticized approach be valuable to us? Are artists self-creating individuals, merely workers or something else? What kind of art inspires us to create new worlds? In what ways does Art reinforce the ideology of the world we want to destroy?
The investigation into the murder of Marielle Franco keeps bumping up against the most powerful people in Brazil — like President Jair Bolsonaro. They don’t want us to find out the truth.
Just two days before the March 14 one-year anniversary of Marielle Franco’s assassination, civil police arrested two men alleged to be directly involved in the murder of the black, favela-born, bisexual city councilor for the Radical Left Party of Socialism and Liberty (PSOL) and her driver Anderson Gomes. Marcelo Freixo, Franco’s fellow PSOL member, political mentor, and friend, called the one-year wait for arrests “unacceptable.”
The arrests seemed almost deliberately timed to coincide with mass mobilizations in Rio and across Brazil demanding an answer to the questions: Who killed Marielle and Anderson — and more importantly, who ordered them killed? It’s one more coincidence in a case in which everything reeks of coincidence and conspiracy.
Ronnie Lessa, the man suspected of firing into the car carrying Franco, Gomes, and Fernanda Chaves — Franco’s aide who survived the attack and just recently returned from hiding in Europe — happens to live in the same gated community in Rio’s Barra de Tijuca neighborhood (Rio’s glitzy, fake version of Miami) as Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. This, despite a meager pension of 8,000 reais (slightly over $2,000 USD). The District Attorney also confirmed that Bolsonaro’s youngest son, twenty-one-year-old Renan, dated Lessa’s daughter. But, the office emphasized, those are just coincidences.
And Élcio Vieira de Queiroz, suspected of driving the car from which Lessa fired the thirteen rounds from a submachine gun rarely found outside police departments in Brazil, has at least two pictures with then-presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro.
Lessa, according to District Attorney for Rio State Letícia Emile Petriz, has not been proven to be connected to any paramilitary criminal organization. He’s said to have acted out of “repulsion for [Franco’s] political activity” in defense of “causes related to minorities.”
This account helps those in power sidestep the key question: who ordered Franco’s assassination? With Lessa acting nearly alone, with just Queiroz behind the wheel, we can depoliticize a political assassination.
Police carried out thirty-four other raids and arrests related to the case, one of which led to the seizure of 117 M16 assault rifles in what police say is the largest stock of guns ever apprehended in Rio. The guns were found in the home of one of Lessa’s childhood friends. The homeowner claims he was just doing a favor for his buddy.
As Marxist theorist and Situationist Guy Debord warned about the relationship between the state and organized crime in this stage of late capitalism: “There are ever more people trained to act in secret; prepared and practiced for that alone.”
In Rio, there is a name for these people: The Office of Crime, a hit squad comprised of elite police officers (like BOPE, a unit similar to SWAT).
Coincidentally, when he was a congressman for Rio State, now-senator Flavio Bolsonaro used to employ the mother and daughter of Adriano Magalhães da Nóbrega, the fugitive ex-BOPE officer suspected of heading the band of hired assassins.
At this point it would be a conspiracy theory to suggest that the Bolsonaro clan, or someone very close to it, called for the assassination of Marielle Franco. Coincidences are the bread and chem trails of conspiracy theories. However, between coincidence and full-blown conspiracy lies the act of conspiring. The assassination has shed light on the open secret that Rio’s political class, including the Bolsonaro clan, does conspire with deadly militias. This conspiracy with militias secures votes through intimidation, illegal campaign funds, and the deaths of political rivals.
Given the recent threats against Marcelo Freixo and fellow PSOL congressman Jean Wyllys — leading Wyllys to go into exile abroad — another open secret is that these acts of violent conspiracy are increasingly targeting socialist politicians.
Militias in Plain Sight
For those familiar with Rio, there never seemed to be any question that Franco’s assassination was carried out by one of Rio’s infamous militias. These bands of active and former police officers, military personnel, and firefighters purport to combat drug trafficking gangs but largely operate as extortionary mafias who also dabble in arms and drug trafficking. They control large swaths of Rio’s territory inhabited by the predominantly black and brown working class. They are particularly active in Rio’s still chaotically urbanizing West Zone, of which Bolsonaro’s Barra neighborhood is a nouveau riche, shopping mall-riddled enclave.
Indeed, the evidence of militia involvement has long been apparent in the public security knowledge present in the plot itself. The thirteen bullets fired at the car came from an allotment stolen from the federal police in 2009 and associated with the 2015 massacre of seventeen people in São Paulo. The two Cobalt model cars used in the drive-by shooting bore cloned licensed plates. Security cameras near the scene of the assassination had been turned off, though cameras did record one of the cars outside of the “Black Women Changing Power Structures” event that Franco attended prior to her death. Reports indicate that Lessa had Google-searched places that Franco frequented prior to the assassination. Everything indicates that this was the work of professional hitmen with political connections and that Queiroz and Lessa, who was shot by a masked man on a motorcycle while at a beach near his home just one month after the Franco assassination, are co-conspirators.
Incidentally, the idea that Lessa and Queiroz acted alone goes against much of the earlier official announcements related to the case. In late November, the federal Minister of Public Security Raul Jungmann, who oversaw the military intervention of Rio that Franco herself denounced and that failed to prevent her assassination, stated that based on testimonies “it is clear that a powerful scheme involving public agents, milicianos, and politicians does not want the case to be solved.” In other words, the assassination and the cover up were, and continue to be, a political conspiracy.
At Tuesday’s press conference, PSOL called for a national parliamentary inquiry into militias. Such an inquiry would mirror Freixo’s 2008 state-level investigation — which Franco worked on as his then-aide. The report implicated over two hundred Rio state politicians, police officers, and other public officials, though resulted in fewer arrests.
Militia activity has actually expanded since the 2008 inquiry. For his part, Freixo has received death threats ever since its publication, most recently in December of last year. Those threats, in fact, came on nearly the same day civil police raided the addresses associated with several militia members with sensationalist paper Veja even running a headline declaring: “Police arrest first suspects in Marielle’s Case.”
The Bolsonaro Clan and the Office of Crime
During Bolsonaro’s campaign, and preceding political life, the connections between his family and militias seemed mostly rhetorical. Jair Bolsonaro had adopted his “a good thug is a dead thug” campaign slogan from a former Rio miliciano and politician. He even openly praised death squads in Bahia on the floors of Congress, stating that “as long as the state does not have the courage to adopt the death penalty, these extermination groups, in my understanding, are welcome.”
Yet suspected direct links have recently emerged due to an investigation into irregular deposits involving his son, Flavio Bolsonaro, former congressman for Rio State and recently elected federal senator.
At the center of the ongoing investigation is Fabricio Queiroz (not to be confused with the Élcio Vieira de Queiroz suspected of driving Lessa in the hit against Franco). Fabricio Queiroz is a longtime friend of Jair Bolsonaro’s and served as an aide and driver to Flavio when he was a state congressman. In December, the Financial Activities Control Council (COAF) released a report documenting how Queiroz moved over 1 million reais in and out of his bank account between January 2016 and January 2017. He even cut a check to Jair Bolsonaro’s wife Michelle for 24,000 reais, though the family has brushed it off as a repayment for a personal loan. Queiroz has since confessed to using the funds to hire even more staffers for Flavio ahead of his senate campaign — supposedly without his boss’s knowledge. Additionally, as a congressman, Jair Bolsonaro employed Queiroz’s daughter Nathalia as a staffer, though she was rarely if ever in his Brasilia office.
Isn’t it ironic, or at least an interesting coincidence, for a family that propelled itself to political power vowing to combat corruption?
But that’s not the end of it. The investigation into Queiroz’s transactions revealed Flavio Bolsonaro’s connections to Nóbrega, who the reader will recall is suspected of heading the “Office of Crime” militia hit squad. This militia allegedly operates out of the West Zone favela of Rio das Pedras, where Queiroz allegedly hid out to avoid questioning about his irregular bank activity.. The Bolsonaros insist that Queiroz bears sole responsibility for contracting Nóbrega’s wife and mother to Flavio’s congressional staff. Yet Flavio used his position as a state legislator to award honors to Nóbrega for his police activity — not once, but twice. Nóbrega is currently at large.
The investigation into Franco’s assassination revealed the existence of “the Office of Crime,” and even with the apprehension of Lessa and Elcio de Queiroz, it remains one of the principle lines of investigation into the case. On August 19,O Globo first reported the existence of the hit squad — led by current and former elite police officers — via the testimony of one of its members.
The assassins for hire operate throughout Brazil for prices ranging from 200,000 to 1 million Brazilian reals depending on the target. The Globo report goes so far as to say police have unconfirmed information that the Office of Crime charged 200,000 reals for Franco’s murder, but sought more after the overwhelming public repudiation of the crime both locally and internationally.
Governance by Conspiracy Theories
The Bolsonaro family has proffered their own conspiracy theories. Throughout the investigation and even following Tuesday’s arrests, the Bolsonaro family has appropriated the rallying crying for justice for the deaths of Franco and Gomes, asking, “who ordered the death of Jair Bolsonaro,” in reference to the September 6 stabbing of the then-candidate at a campaign rally in Minas Gerais. However, Bolsonaro’s alleged attempted murderer, Adélio Bispo da Oliveira, was apprehended shortly after the incident and has since been cooperating with the investigation.
In his most bizarre retaliatory conspiracy theory, President Bolsonaro took to his Twitter account to claim that “decades of governments with a socialist bent” had turned Brazil’s iconic carnival into a scene of depravity. Incidentally, this year’s celebrations largely mocked him and paid homage to Franco. His proof — tweeted out to the world — was a video of a Carnival revelers partaking in a (consensual) golden shower. He followed this up with the now immortal tweet, “O que é golden shower?” (“What is a golden shower?”).
Bolsonaro’s presidency by pornography came amidst Fabricio Queiroz’s confession of siphoning cash to irregular staffers for Flavio, and a corruption scandal within Boslonaro’s party in which “shell” female candidates were run in order to secure public campaign money and meet federal gender quotas for parties.
To ensure that conspiracy theories overshadow Bolsonaro’s own acts of conspiring, the Sunday before the arrests, the president again took to Twitter to attack Estadão de São Paulo journalist Constança Rezende, who has reported on the links between Queiroz and Flavio. Rezende happens to be the daughter of Chico Otávio, the O Globo journalist who broke the story of Ronnie Lessa’s arrest.
A Murder on the West Zone Express
However, before the Lessa connection, the police had been pursuing other lines of investigation that converge in Rio’s West Zone and coincide with the open secret of militias.
The early stages of the investigation maintained Franco’s fellow city council member Marcello Siciliano as a person of interest in the case. As early as May, testimonies tied Siciliano and former military police officer Orlando Oliveira de Araújo, known as Orlando de Curicica, to the assassination. Oliveira has been in prison awaiting conviction since 2017 for murder and heading a militia in the West Zone neighborhood that gave him his nickname. Testimony claims that Siciliano finances the militia that de Araújo heads, and that both men called for Franco’s execution because of her political activity in the West Zone. One of Siciliano’s assistants was murdered shortly after Siciliano’s own police interrogation, raising concerns that he was attempting to cover up his role in the assassination.
Siciliano has repeatedly denied any involvement and after police searched his home and office during the December raids, he called for the Federal Police to take over the investigation. Globo then reported that money laundering and land fraud could be possible motivations for the crime, as Franco’s staff were carrying out an investigation into irregular land titling in a West Zone neighborhood dominated by militias and from which Siciliano received much of his electoral support. He and Franco both started their first city council terms in 2016, and Siciliano contends that their tenure together was too short to lead to such violent animosity. Even Freixo, at a December 14 press conference, questioned whether Franco’s land fraud investigation, which never reached parliamentary inquiry status and had not been completed prior to her death, would be sufficient motivation for her assassination. He also emphasized her minimal role in the 2008 parliamentary inquiry.
For his part, Orlando Oliveira de Araújo has also denied any involvement, and as early as May maintained in a letter that the testimony against him is an act of revenge by another military police officer-turned-militia member. In the letter, which was partially published by both Globo and O Dia newspapers, de Araújo names the officer despite not being privy to any information involving the case. In August, de Araújo then claimed to the Federal Prosecutor General that he was coerced into confessing to the murders by Giniton Lages, head of the Civil Police Homicide Division overseeing the case. According to de Araújo, Lages pressured him while he was still in state prison in Rio, threatening to send him to federal prison if he did not confess to his and Siciliano’s involvement. De Araújo was relocated to federal prison in June.
De Araújo’s testimony provided much of the substantiation for the existence of the Office of Crime, though he long asserted that the police actively refused to investigate it due to the regular payments they received from the organization.
Jungmann’s November claim that powerful actors within Rio’s security forces have been stalling the investigation stem from de Araújo’s testimony to the Prosecutor General and led to a Federal Police investigation into tampering with the investigation. A report on that investigation, also released on Tuesday to little media coverage, substantiates many of de Araújo’s claims and the unnamed, vengeful officer has admitted to the lie.
Meanwhile, Rio Governor Witzel, who infamously commemorated the destruction of a memorial street sign dedicated to Marielle Franco at a campaign rally in the city of Petropolis, has just announced that Lages will no longer head the investigation into the murder, and instead participate in a police exchange in Italy.
Those who conspire seem to know when other conspiracies have turned against them.
One additional line of inquiry has received far less media attention. In August, reports emerged that three state congressmen from the Brazilian Democratic Movement party (MBD), Edson Albertassi, Paulo Melo, and Jorge Picciani, were also being investigated. MBD dominated Rio politics for the last decade, holding the governorship from 2007–2018 and the mayor’s office from 2009–2016, before recent corruption revelations led it to suffer electoral defeats. All three legislators have been arrested in connection to the anti-corruption probe Operation Car Wash, as have former MBD governors Sergio Cabral and Luiz Pezão. Picciani served as the state assembly president five times since his first legislative term in 1990 and was presiding over his sixth when he was arrested. Investigators posit that Franco’s death may have been retaliation against PSOL for preventing Albertassi from assuming a position within the state’s Court of Auditors, which would have maintained his political immunity and thus prevented his arrest.
Militias proliferated under the tenure of multiple MDB governors and mayors, who oversaw much of the expansion into the West Zone through mega-event projects for the World Cup and Olympic Games. Militias aren’t around by accident; they are the foot soldiers of a criminal political conspiracy to control land and votes.
In an interview on Globo’s Fantastico program this Sunday, Franco’s aide Fernanda Chaves, recently returned from hiding in Europe, asserted that Franco “did not have militias as a target [of her political projects]” and was much more committed to “questions of gender and violence against women.” No specific project or problem, according to Chaves, would have “set in motion a situation that would culminate in her assassination.”
But Franco did “make other people uncomfortable.” A definitive answer to who ordered the killing would only increase that discomfort. Her presence challenged the racism and sexism of institutions like the city council where fellow lawmakers refused to take the elevator with her. Her policies, mostly geared towards combating violence against women and increasing access to nighttime day-care, centered working people rather than the monied, connected class. And her political activism in favelas and peripheries constantly shed light on the open secret of state-sanctioned police violence.
Rio’s Militia Politics at Home in the Presidential Palace
Historian and essayist Perry Anderson notes that Bolsonaro’s presidency represents a “signal shift.” This shift is not simply an ideological one from the decade of social-democratic governance under the Workers Party (PT) administrations of Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff. It is also geographic.
As Anderson points out, a quarter of Bolsonaro’s ministers are from Rio, and Bolsonaro himself is the first president to constitute his political base in Rio since the capital moved to Brasilia in 1960. Bolsonaro himself was born in São Paulo State and is thus not carioca — a person from Rio city proper. However, he embraces a carioca-way of doing politics — a politics of conspiring and conspiracy.
Rio’s return to political prominence began under Eduardo Cunha, the Machiavellian former MDB president of the House of Deputies and prime candidate for the title of Brazil’s most powerful gangster. Cunha stayed out of jail just long enough to oversee Rousseff’s controversial, and conspiracy-theory driven, impeachment. Cunha himself has his own murky history of connections with Rio’s militias in the Baixada Fluminense. The chickens, and the militias, are coming home to roost.
For Bolsonaro’s die-hard supporters, this is all, of course, fake news, a conspiracy theory forged at the communist São Paulo Forum to take down the man who will Make Brazil Great Again (Bolsonaro visited Trump this week). For them, Franco is not an embodiment of the meritocracy they claim to hold so dear — despite the fact that she attended a prestigious private university, obtained her Master’s, and earned her votes rather than hanging onto the coattails of her father. Instead, they see her as a nuisance at best, and a closet gang member at worst. The surge in leftist black and LGBT candidates who ran for state and federal congress as “the seeds” of Franco’s legacy, simply need to be “cleansed” or “exiled,” according to Bolsonaro’s supporters, as evident in their elation at Jean Wyllys’s decision to leave Brazil.
Bolsonaro’s inability to govern is attributed not to his sheer mediocrity or the lunacy of his cabinet. Supporters instead claim that if everyone, including members of his own party, just shut up and let The Myth reign, things would turn around. (The raining twitterstorm of golden showers was weird, they admit.)
The unfortunate truth is that governance by Twitter conspiracy theory will be tolerated by many of his diehard supporters so long as gun ownership is liberated, no matter if that leads to school shootings, and letting police — so what if they are also milicianos — kill the black and brown poor, at will. All the better if they are leftists.
Rio’s Mangueira samba school won this year’s competition with a parade showcasing the untold story of Brazil’s indigenous, black, and poor populations, culminating in a cathartic tribute to Marielle Franco.
Rio city councilman Carlos Bolsonaro then took to Twitter to remind his followers that “they say” the school’s president, Chiquinho da Mangueira, “is arrested, [for] involvement with trafficking, illegal bookies and militias.” This was a sign that “the country is truly upside down.”
He failed to mention what “they say” about his father or brother’s involvement, or that he and Chiquinho are members of the same political party.
When it comes to the politics of conspiring that defines Rio, Debord again offered prescient insights: “It is always a mistake to try to explain something by opposing Mafia and state: they are never rivals. Theory easily verifies what all the rumors in practical life have all too easily shown. The Mafia is not an outsider in this world; it is perfectly at home.” It’s the hit squad next door, with no rivals in the presidential palace.
The working-class filmmakers behind Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s viral campaign video are launching their next challenge to capitalist hegemony, Means TV. The socialist streaming service has an internet sensation behind its launch: Nyan Cat.
Launched Thursday morning, Means TV plans to bring a leftist lens to news and entertainment in the burgeoning subscription video-on-demand industry. “Basically, it’s a cooperatively-run, anti-capitalist Netflix,” said co-founder Naomi Burton, the goal of which is “to help create the cultural foundation and support needed to build socialism in the U.S.”
In a spirit of anarcho-syndicalism, a friend of the founders handed over the reins to the YouTube page that published the original Nyan Cat video in 2011. The meme has since been viewed more than 165 million times, for no reason that would be obvious to most people, let alone executives at corporate news and entertainment conglomerates. But the virality of the Nyan Cat video means that YouTube’s algorithm recommends it routinely to viewers, drawing thousands of new subscribers to the channel each month.
Because of that, Means TV launched with more than 125,000 subscribers, the kind of number that a new streaming service would easily pay six figures to purchase.
Burton and co-founder Nick Hayes think that the corporate dominance of the entertainment space leaves captivating worker-centric stories untold, and that Means TV can fill the void. The YouTube channel will serve to drive viewers to the subscription service, which will go live next week. In the meantime, the founders, who launched their introduction video on Thursday, are seeking donors to crowdfund the effort, which will include animated comedy, scripted programs, reality TV shows, news from the field, and political explainers.
Means TV’s founders have a second rationale for publishing on YouTube: to battle the “alt-right” on what has become its turf. White nationalists and the “alt-right” have come to dominate the political space on YouTube, exploiting the platform’s nihilistic algorithm with the aim to radicalize young, disaffected boys, curdling their adolescent anxiety into misogyny, then racism, then full-blown white supremacy.
“We wanted to start fighting the YouTube war with this. We’re tired of watching as Midwestern 12-year-olds get sucked into the ‘alt-right,’” said Hayes, noting that the “alt-right” dominance of the algorithm is so strong that it recommends one of the more potently toxic trolls even to Hayes, “I get Jordan Peterson videos recommended to me.” Peterson, an eccentric Canadian author and psychologist, has just under 2 million subscribers.
Means TV will need all the help from the Nyan Cat it can get, as it’s entering an increasingly crowded space. It comes on the heels of the launch of OVID, a collective of eight independent film distributors pooling resources to provide access to thousands of films and documentaries not available on other streaming services. OVID’s featured offering out of the gate is a six-part series called “Capitalism.”
Corporate giants are also surging into the space currently dominated by Netflix, Amazon, HBO, and Hulu, the latter a joint venture with the Walt Disney Company, which owns 60 percent of the company, as well as Comcast and AT&T. New services by Apple, Disney (which recently purchased Fox Entertainment), AT&T (which purchased Time Warner), and NBCUniversal are expected in 2019 or next year. Smaller, well-financed players like CuriosityStream.com, CriterionChannel.com, and Gravitas Movies keep joining the market. And then there’s Snap Originals, Pluto TV’s recently announced expansion, Quibi, and the Young Turks, which has more than 4 million subscribers on YouTube (and where I’m a contributor).
Within anarcho-primitivism plays an ongoing dialectic pinpointing origins of the problem of civilization. Impugning only capitalism or the industrial age is seen as much too timid. From the left, radical environmental activist leader and author Derrick Jensen notably impugns the point people exceed their capacity for self-sufficiency, the dawn of cities. In Ishmael and The Story of B novelist and civilization critic Daniel Quinn renders agriculture as human’s dichotomizing choice to be Givers or Takers. Couple cities with agriculture and you’ve hit the anprim sweet spot.
Looking farther back than agriculture as the start of humans’ split with nature slashes approval. Anarcho-primitivist author and Anarchy Radio host John Zerzan’s look back to origins of art and language has appealed to some but with less enthusiasm. In his 3/13/19 radio show Zerzan reals in others’ analysis on the catalyst of controlled fire, instead positioning civilization’s origins at the point humans domesticated animals and plants. Some say looking back only ~10 millennia paints too shallow a picture, ignores all the props setting the stage for humans igniting the world with civilization.
The debate on civilization’s origins parallels the debate on what qualifies as a technology. Values connoted by technologies are biased to support the interpreter’s view on origins. For example, those who blame agriculture see the plow as an obvious tool of civilization. Those who include controlled fire in the blame see hearths uncovered in archeologic digs as technological shifts in humans’ relationship with living communities that set the stage for domestication of plants and animals. Agriculture-blaming purists deny that using fire is technology toward civilization, perhaps to justify keeping fire in their rewilding repertoire, or perhaps in an effort to ward off criticism of hunting and cooking animals. In the premise set forth here placing civilization’s origins with the beginnings of human primate’s colonizing lifeways, inventions such as mortar and pestle are not catalysts toward civilization if they are not used as colonizing instruments, but spears are catalysts toward civilization if they are used as colonizing instruments, no matter how ‘simple’ in design. Yes other species use hunting implements, but not in a way that degrades and massacres large scale living communities in a mega-regional, or even worldwide colonizing scheme as humans have.
Even today various prehistoric fire methodologies manifest, adding insight into how civilization might have transitioned in through fire use. I’ve joined Pemón people in southeast Venezuela in slash & burn jungle ‘gardening’, turning yucca into bread to trade with nearby villages. I’ve surveyed evidence of rotational camas plot burns abandoned centuries ago on a Salish island tribes once used not to inhabit but just to grow and harvest the tasty bulbs. I’ve seen Karuk burn redwoods’ underbrush clearing space for huckleberry and oak ‘gardens’, and grazing meadows for hunting deer and elk, cultivating ‘crops and livestock’ into the forest (their words) for so long that elements that made the pre-human forest robust are replaced by and made dependent on human lit fires. And I’ve heard female native docents frustrated with male docents’ focus on telling stories of hunting and war rather than how wild edibles were foraged and fire was used to extensively clear land for planting of domesticates maize, beans, squash, and melons, the less masculine staple plant foods provided by women’s labor.
Observations such as these spark wonderings on impacts of earlier humans’ fire use on habitats, and in turn on their own culture. To what extent did controlled fire lead to agriculture? Being domestication was likely not the original purpose of many inventions like fire mastery, what were the transition periods, catalysts, and factors setting the stage for civilization to erupt? How did early human actions shape early human ethos, and vice versa? How do these moves toward civilization form an overarching theory on humans’ adaptations and evolutions from their origins into H. sapiens current domesticated form?
Comparative anthropologist and anarcho-primitivist author Layla AbdelRahim’s theory is that human primates shifted away from symbiotic habitat roles as seed spreaders into a predatory mindset, lifeway and foodway. No matter the exact nature of the cause, the problem is revealed in the shift from foraging plants to hunting animals. AbdelRahim’s conception connects with other analysis on the impact of early human ‘progresses’. Back to Zerzan’s Anarchy Radio show, the following week 3/19/19 I called in with a follow up question on his ‘domestication not controlled fire made us civilized’ statement: What set the stage for domestication? His answer: division of labor and ethos of control. Despite how long ago humans’ first sparked flame then how long it took to integrated it into routine use on a widespread basis, it is more than conceivable that fire mastery was a crucial step toward not only dividing labor but controlling, preying upon and colonizing bioregions. One could argue that other animals have domesticated other life, or have divisions of labor, or shaped entire ecosystems with control over elements like water; but no other has gained perhaps the supreme control, control over fire. Changes in ethos and world impact were certainly monumental.
In primatologist and biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham’s book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, cooking allowed for increased calories to shift from the gut to the brain for inventive thinking that gave humans a new advantage, a power over other species. Human relations not only changed with other species, but within our own. For example, men shifted their focus from foraging to hunting, providing periodic meat, while women continued foraging and gathering to cook vegetation and occasionally meat. While men went out on risky hunting quests, women were tasked to provide steady sustenance, staying closer to the hearth. Cooking was susceptible to pilfering, so a ‘primitive protection racket’ formed pairing cooking women with stronger male counterparts to control food distribution. Hence cooking instigated the cultural practice of food as property and men’s subjugation of women through pair bonding, an ownership-of-women patriarchy continuing to this day. And yes, some women have hunted; imitating and adopting the way of the oppressor happens. Generalities in cultural analysis tell a generalized story.
With men’s shift to hunting specialization resulting in not only predation upon other animals but domination of female mates, one might question if women’s later shift from gathering and cooking specialization to joining men in adopting agriculture might equalize the power imbalance. But agriculture further polarized the sex power imbalance. Researcher on gender and technology Deborah Spar is wrapping up her latest project with the book:The Virgin and the Plow: How Technology is Changing Who We Are, and How We Live and Love. She finds that agriculture settlement needed children to both work and to inherit accumulated property. For men to know who their children were, as their rightful laborers and heirs, they began controlling women’s fertility. Agriculture honed the notions of adored female virgins and monogamous wives. As humans domesticated themselves and others, this quest to establish paternity intensified a patriarchal hierarchy with men at the top, and women, children and other animals leveled beneath as property to exploit.
AbdelRahim’s anthropological predation theory parallels an anarcho-ecology colonization theory. Wild communities thrive through intricate interactions, responsive dynamics, cycles of life becoming death becoming life, and a constant striving toward diverse connectedness and homeostasis of primal freedom. Mutual aid is the way of the wild. Changes are met with attempts to re-stabilize the living system. Species slowly shift their ranges, reforming networks through co-adaptations. Defense mechanisms ward off more invasiveness than a community can withstand. Species die offs occur but are limited. This is generally how hominids lived with others from their first steps out of trees for millions of years, notably as more prey than predator. But as human primates invented a series of technologies giving them not just abilities to survive and thrive with and within wild habitat, but powers to expand, control and conquer their predators and all others, they adapted and evolved into a colonizing species, in time degrading all Earth’s bioregions.
When one Homo species honed the ability to control fire, changing their foodway and making their brain even more inventive, did this cascade into Homo colonizing the planet? Long before animals and plants were brought under H. sapiens total control, humans virtually wiped out all their predators, spread across Earth, and reformed continents of habitats. In their book Man the Hunted: Primates, Predaotrs, and Human Evolution anthropologists Robert Sussman and Donna Hart smash the man-the-hunter myth with evidence of early humans succumbing to predators such as cats, dogs, hyenas, snakes, crocodiles, and raptors. Progression from prey to colonizer of the planet implies myriads of inventions, catalysts and adaptations, some more impactful than others. For the foraging primate, fire mastery meant not only protection from predators, but turning predators into prey with fire-formed weapons, then cooking them to further feed their inventive brain. Fire’s warmth welcomed expansion into colder climates. Fire mastery may have been the most significant technology transfiguring a resourceful species from foraging prey living within habitat ranges to Earth’s most effective predatory colonizer.
Imagine the immense series of ‘advances’ with accompanying progress trapping repercussions, cycles of stories with the same motif differing only details. As various bands of Neanderthals mastered fire with flint (Andrew Sorensen, Emilie Claud, and Marie Soressi, Neanderthal fire-making technology inferred from microwear analysis, Scientific Reports, 8, article number 10065, 2018), it may never be revealed the extent fire altered their lifeway and environments. By analyzing DNA in plaque on Neanderthal teeth, paleomicrobiologists discovered a band seemingly with fire under a thousand miles from a band seemingly without fire. One from Spy cave in Belgium mostly ate meat like woolly rhinoceros and wild sheep. Others in El Sidrón cave in Spain were entirely vegan, no trace of meat, just mushrooms, pine nuts, tree bark, and moss. The Belgian Neanderthals hunted; the Spanish ones foraged. (Laura Weyrich, Sebastian Duchene, and Alan Cooper, Neanderthal behavior, diet, and disease inferred from ancient DNA in dental calculus, Nature 544, 357-361, 20 April 2017) Imagining the outcome of contact between fire and non-fire human bands serves as a lesson in how supremacy expands by applying a theory in Andrew Bard Schmookler’s The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution. Spoiler alert: Evolutionary dynamics drive power in unavoidable ways people don’t choose.
Play along: Imagine Neanderthal groups living within reach of one another. If all choose the way of life without aggressive fire use, then the entire region may live in homeostasis. But what if all but one choose mutualism within habitat, and that one uses fire for ambitious expansion and conquest? What are the possibilities for others confronted by the aggressive fire powered neighbor?
One group is attacked, defeated and destroyed, leaving lands seized as spoils of war.
Another is defeated, but not exterminated; rather, subjugated to serve the conquerors.
Another flees into some less livable place, ceding former habitat to the growing power-seeking fire-controlling Neanderthals.
Observing these events others decide to defend their autonomy. But the irony is to win, they too must become powerful. Since the aggressors honed ways to grow their power with innovations in organizing strategies using fire technology with ferocity, the defensive Neanderthals must transform into something more like their adversary.
The four possible outcomes are destruction, absorption and transformation, withdrawal, or imitation. In every possible outcome the lifeways of predation and colonization are spread. And, neither the oppressor nor the oppressed are free, but owned by the technology, the ethos. While the Neanderthal line was cut short, H. sapiens continued on with impacts well known. This parable explains for example why both civilized men and women comply with cultural norms on pair bonding and monogamy. They are fixed in perpetual compliance with cultural normatives established as far back as the geneses of agriculture and fire mastery.
Was it not humans’ shifts toward predation and colonization that changed the nature of plants and animals through preferential selection, not just in how others live in relation to the new powerful primate, but who lives and who dies? Would H. sapiens have been able to domesticate eventually the entire planet without predation, without colonization, and without the fire that sparked them?
Denial of catalysts toward agriculture such as controlled fire and hunting is denial of human supremacy through patriarchy and speciesism. This is why anprims struggle with defining human habitat ranges – they don’t want limitations experienced by wild animals as homes, they are trapped with craving a destructive sham freedom to colonize, they are accustomed to the entitlement to roam so extensively and fearlessly that they no longer sense total belonging within a bioregion’s community of life. This is why anprims laud hunting, justifying it in the wings of more recent indigenous people’s cultures and mythology of earlier humans ‘primal ventures in wild but predatory ways – they don’t want to live as foraging primates, they have been conditioned to crave the hunt of animals, unknowingly craving civilization’s catalyst. This is why anprims mock veganism, devaluing and dismissing it with invalid claims of being nothing more than leftist drivel – they don’t want to acknowledge their own innate compassion for animals suppressed by predatory indoctrination. As in the parable of the tribes’ futile ending, is it not a choice to rewild? Do attempts to rewild clash with the human as the embodiment of civilization?
Civilization is not one event in time, but a labyrinth of invasive actions that become practices and mindsets of H. sapiens’ supremacy, bewilderingly manifesting overtly in those who strive for a way pre-civ, or anti-civ, or post-civ. Painfully and tediously pulling back the veils gets one nearer to understanding humans’ wild freedom. An anti-colonizer finds the way of primal anarchy to be resisting civilization, refusing to relent, while rewilding earth toward abundant flourishing.
In today’s ruined wilds, the way of primal anarchy is de-cultivating civilization. Technologies that perpetuate civilization can be retooled to discard civilization and the ethos that led to it: predatory control and colonization. This colonizing Homo-driven sixth mass extinction event is no time to play the fabled caveman exploiting pristine remnants. The first step in rewilding is sensing Earth’s call for healing and responding to it. Sciences such as restoration ecology can be utilized until humans awaken their lifeway that innately co-tends wild co-homes. In giving back to the wild, humans return themselves to the wild, reviving the ethos of mutualism in habitat.
Hello world! Pre-election struggle is an internal matter of every country. However, at the moment some politicians’ interests are more often causing large-scale interstate conflicts and frame-ups as well as become a pretext for bigRead more »
Young migrant women record a video during a digital media workshop aimed at building their skills and confidence. The training was conducted by WACC partner Ideosync Media Combine. Credit: Ideosync Media Combine
By Marites Sison TORONTO, Mar 22 2019 (IPS)
When the most devastating flood in Bihar’s history came in 1987, Renu Devi recalled that the rampaging waters and landslides had swept away people who were sleeping, along with their beds.
There was no water to drink and people went hungry for days in the aftermath of the disaster. “It was the most painful time. Sometimes I think no one should suffer so much,” said Renu, who recorded her experience in a two-minute video that included recent photographs of her, as well as historical images found online of the great flood.
The flood – which destroyed more than 1.7 million homes and killed 1,399 people and 5,302 animals – had brought Renu and her husband to the slums of JJ camp, on the outskirts of Delhi, where they have lived in a shanty ever since.
“We had lost everything then,” she said. They had no money to buy a train ticket, so they sold the watch that her mother had gifted her son-in-law. “We sold that and bought a 25-rupee ticket to come to Delhi.”
Renu was one of 20 migrant women and girls who produced a video after taking part in a year-long project implemented by WACC partner Ideosync Media Combine, which sought to empower migrant women by building their skills and confidence through the use of digital media.
Women and girls from three urban areas on the outskirts of Delhi – the JJ slum cluster colony on the Faradibabad Bypass Road, Khan Badarpur Border and Palla Urban Village – learned how to operate mobile phones and use them to take photographs, record audio and video, edit short photo stories and browse the Internet.
The project, Fair/Dem Sarai, developed a training manual with audio/visual stories focusing on freedom of expression, gender equality, right to information and other human rights, and shared this in workshops that were often held on doorsteps and laneways of the communities.
The goal was not simply to teach them new skills, but to “open a new window of possibilities” for women and girl migrants who often have no voice in their homes and communities.
“Women and migrants are also vulnerable because of existing patriarchal structures that restrict their mobility and make them victims of other forms of violence,” said Lorenzo Vargas, WACC Program Manager for Communication for Social Change.
Ideosync Media Combine, in its project report, noted that the lives of young girls living in these communities are often restricted because the city is known to be unsafe for women.
The project also wanted to record the experiences of Delhi’s migrants, which often do not find their way into the mainstream media. Its initial research showed that women and girls in these communities were concerned about such issues as domestic violence, lack of sanitation, unemployment, safety, drug and alcohol abuse.
“Most women work from home and a large number of girls drop out from school before completing secondary education,” the report noted.
Migrant women learn how to use a mobile phone to tell their stories during a new media training conducted in the outskirts of Delhi. Credit: Ideosync Media Combine
While access to mobile phones and the Internet are generally available in these areas, they are largely used by men, it added. Many women who were initially interviewed said they had no use for new technology or felt inadequate because of their lack of education.
After taking part in the project, however, women and girls found “they wanted to tell stories – stories of how they came to be in the city and what it means to them,” said the report. “They cried as they recorded their own voice and spoke of the hardships they have endured to eke out a living here. Girls told stories about their mothers, questioned gender inequality, learned to report on garbage and education issues.”
In a video testimonial, Poornima, a young girl from Tajpur Pahadi, Badarpur, spoke enthusiastically about how she learned how to take better photographs and make a video that she could show to her community. She expressed the hope that other girls would be given the same opportunity.
“I just want that every girl should get a chance to do something in their life. I am feeling good,” she said, adding that she would teach others so they, too, can tell their own stories.
Nirmal, a middle-aged migrant, said in video testimonial that she learned how to use the cellphone, browse the Internet and YouTube, take photographs, videos and audio recording. “Now I am not dependent on anyone, anymore,” she said.
Most of the participants said they would use their new skills to document events in their community. “These trainings will help us further. It’s a good way to solve community problems,” said Kusum, from Block B, Madanpur Khadar, in another testimonial.
Participants produced 37 stories in total, which have had several public screenings in communities and have helped them establish ties with local NGOs.
Migrant woman learns how to use a cellphone to browse the Internet during a training workshop. Credit: Ideosync Media Combine
While most participants “found it hard to focus on just their migration experience,” the report said there were several stories around the tyranny of landlords, lack of electricity in their homes, the hardships of earning a living on the streets as vegetable vendors facing police violence, the longing for their language, the injustice of the newly-introduced digitally-verifiable identity card (Aadhaar) system, which several of them are unable to access to get support as people living below the poverty line. (Most migrants are from the states of Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.)
The project – which ran from February 10, 2018 to February 28, 2019 – produced many “unintended positive consequences,” among them a marked increase of levels of capacity and reported self-confidence, the report said.
Half of the trainees bought their own mobile phones and one started his own YouTube channel and became quite popular with his regular posts after the project. An older migrant woman learned how to navigate the web and now regularly uses YouTube and Google search engines to explore new designs for her tailoring shop.
“The project went very well,” said Ram [LAST NAME], executive director of Ideosync Media Combine. “In some ways, the network of migrant women is still finding its feet. But, all in all, it is a much more stable and coherent community communication process than when we started.”
The project has brought together a group of committed and informed women from the community “who have begun to recognize the need for raising their voice,” Ideosync’s report noted. “In this sense, this project has worked towards empowering migrant women to advance their communication rights in order to advance other rights as well.”
Scientists can’t say when fracking will cause earthquakes due to a “paucity of validated predictive models to forecast site-specific seismic hazard.” But the quakes not only pose threats to nearby communities, they can make further fracking more difficult and dangerous.
Due to the high numbers of migrants arriving from Latin America and the Caribbean, Florida’s diverse refugee communities from countries such as Syria, Iraq Palestine, and Ethiopia are often overlooked.
Oftentimes, the resources needed by these small refugee groups are limited, due to the absence of socio-cultural understanding, and lack of services available to them in their native language.
Although the Syrian refugee population in South Florida only amounts to roughly 90 people, groups such as the Refugee Assistance Alliance and Muslim Women’s Organization of South Florida are determined to help not only Syrian, but all underserved refugee communities.
Undoubtedly, according to Refugee Assistance Alliance’s founder and executive director, Kristen Bloom, refugee families’ main setback comes through their lack of English. Although the refugee resettlement process offers English classes, many cannot attend due to limited transportation, lack of childcare and conflicting schedules.
Furthermore, as English classes cater to predominantly Hispanic students with English-Spanish bilingual teachers, oftentimes, the families feel both culturally and linguistically isolated in the classroom and prefer to stay at home.
Significantly, non-profit groups have placed a keen focus on educating the Mothers of the households with no external occupation, as they are the least likely to be exposed to the language.
Refugee advocates believe by empowering the female head of the family, all the other family members will feel confident in their new surroundings.
For example, an ongoing Syrian refugee gathering, “A Taste of Syria” held in Miami, empowers Syrian chefs, always women, to cook food and earn a profit from it.
For many Syrian women, this is the first time they have provided for their family financially and it has granted them with a new sense of purpose.
Last month, a second-generation Cuban migrant recounted the story of his father’s journey to the United States at a Taste of Syria event. His father was met with open arms in an American restaurant as a waitress proclaimed “Welcome to America” and did not charge him for his meal.
The man claimed that most Floridians know what it’s like to be uprooted from the country of their birth and start all over again.
He extended a warm welcome to all the refugee families present. “We want you to thrive and succeed here.” He said to the group of refugees at the dinner, just as the waitress said to his father many years ago, “Welcome to America”.
Ultimately, the main objective for all refugee families in the United States is to become self-sufficient. Ideally, the families will pass on the skills they have learned to incoming refugees as “mentors.”
Refugee support organizations across South Florida would no longer need to exist if this goal is met. However, refugee rights advocates hope that if incoming refugee numbers increase, they will always have someone to help.
What’s more, for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY 2019) the Trump administration proposes a resettlement cap of 30,000 refugees. This figure lies in stark contrast to Obama’s cap of 110,000 refugees in FY 2017.Oftentimes, due to strict vetting processes, the quota is not even met.
Many Floridians are unaware of the small yet underserved Syrian, Iraqi, Ethiopian etc. refugee communities that surround them.
By advocating for refugee rights and empowering them through entrepreneurship, education and inclusion, the divisive “fear” and stigmatization shadowing refugees and migrants will eventually break down.
As a global society, we must continue to include refugees in our communities, so they may become self-sufficient and contribute in the most impactful way.
The Tories are incredibly racist, and have been forever, and somehow they’re still getting away with it.
Shortly after the Christchurch killings, a Conservative party activist, who had posted photos of himself out campaigning for the party, wrote in a Jacob Rees-Mogg supporters group, “I was going through a few magazines the other day down at the local Mosque. I was really enjoying myself. Then the rifle jammed,” garnering several likes from group members. When a Buzzfeed UK reporter presented the evidence to the Tory party, he and twenty-five other members were investigated — though the Conservative party refused to divulge how many were suspended.
For years, the Tories have denied they have an Islamophobia problem, or any issue with racism at all. The most egregious examples of racism are dealt with occasionally when exposed by the media, but these instances are treated as one-offs, lone bad apples, and not representative of a structural problem with racism in any way.
After spending two years campaigning for the Conservatives to acknowledge and combat their Islamophobia problem — both the way Muslims are treated within it, and how other members speak about and act towards Muslims — one senior Conservative, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, finally called for a formal inquiry in July 2018. Even as she continued to highlight hate speech from members on Twitter, and criticize the party leadership’s silence in the media, she has, until very recently, been roundly ignored. Brandon Lewis, the Conservative chairman said, “I would dispute that [Islamophobia] is a problem that exists” within the party, and other Conservatives have claimed never to have witnessed any instances of racism or heard concerns about Islamophobia in the party raised.
On Tuesday, Warsi told a British radio station “Islamophobia within the Conservative Party is at best an indifference towards the concerns of British Muslims and at worst is a deliberate political strategy… but there is no doubt the problem is institutional.” Despite her spending three years devoting a considerable part of her time highlighting Islamophobia, the party has pretended neither she nor the problem exists.
The Muslim Council of Britain was unequivocal in its condemnation: “The Conservative Party has been caught trying to cover up who it decides to suspend and the reasons why. This is the latest in a long line of incidents that have led to a total breakdown of trust in Brandon Lewis’s personal handling of the crisis. On the one hand, we hand recall his claim that the party deals with complaints quickly even though Conservative activists have said that is not the case. On the other hand, we recall Lewis’s misleading remarks suggesting there is no problem despite evidence to the contrary. There needs to be an independent inquiry to shine a light on this issue. Anything less is not good enough.”
Anyone noting the disparity between media treatment of Labour’s antisemitism crisis and the Islamophobia issues within the Tory party has by and large been dismissed and accused of whataboutery. Back in May 2018, on the BBC, I asked the vice chairman of the Conservative party whether he would back an inquiry into Conservative Islamophobia. He insisted he would. Nothing happened. On the same show — a primetime show on a national broadcaster — the Times columnist Melanie Philips argued with me that Islamophobia was often justified whereas antisemitism never is. There was little to no outcry over her comments.
Britain is a racist country, and prejudice exists within all parties. Labour has attempted to deal with antisemitism in its ranks, not always successfully or adeptly. The Conservatives have ignored the problem. It is not whataboutery to argue that no political party should harbor racists of any hue. But the Conservatives have been able to ignore their own issues and problems because Islamophobia is more broadly acceptable among the public and the media class.
A common trope within the British media is that the working class are the racist class and therefore must be pandered to through policy in Westminster. But research this month by the non-governmental organization Protection Approaches found that the prevalence of racist opinions was far greater in higher earning brackets than in the very poorest. Quintessentially, target Tory voters were happy to harbor extremist thoughts about migration, Muslims, and anyone different from them.
That naturally applies to media personnel, which, in turn, affects the degree of accountability to which political parties are held. Rightly, antisemitism is condemned by the public and media. But Islamophobia is seemingly given a free pass, with a wink and nudge, by the middle classes. It is treated not as what it is — simple, outright racism, rooted in the marrow of many Conservative voters and activists — but as a natural reaction to migration. Muslims remain other, and therefore fair game for coded, or in many instances, naked racism.
The Conservative Party has so far managed to ignore the outcry from its own senior members, but slowly the media is awakening to the fact that racism is endemic in the party. The shame is they will never face the same degree of scrutiny as Labour, simply because so many within the media and the wider public are perfectly comfortable with Islamophobia.
Colombia’s Fundación Karisma is a civil society organisation devoted to encouraging the use of digital technology and enhancing freedom of expression on the internet. The organisation offers a rare space to discuss many issues at the intersection of human rights and technology in the country.
Mohammed al-Maskati is a Bahraini activist and digital security consultant who provides digital security training to activists in the Middle East and in North Africa. Working as Frontline Defenders’ Digital Protection Consultant for the MENA Region, Mohammed teaches activists – ranging from vulnerable minorities to renowned campaigners taking on whole governments – to get the truth out despite governments’ attempt to shut them down. He educates them on the use of VPNs, and how to avoid falling into phishing or malware traps, create safe passwords and keep their accounts anonymous.
SFLC.in (Software Freedom Law Centre) tracks internet shutdowns in India, a crucial service in a country with the most online blackouts of any country in the world. The tracker was the first initiative of its kind in India, and has quickly become the top source for journalists reporting on the issue.
It’s been 72 years since India gained independence from Britain, but sedition remains entrenched not only in law (Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code), but also in the mindset of successive governments.
In 1922, Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement, was tried and prosecuted for “bringing or attempting to excite disaffection towards the British Government established by law in British India”, under Section 124-A.
“Affection cannot be manufactured or regulated by law,” Gandhi said while on trial. “If one has no affection for a person or system, one should be free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection, so long as he does not contemplate, promote, or incite to violence.”
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The City University of New York system has been ravaged by austerity. Educators have gone on strike throughout the country, but CUNY employees are hamstrung by anti-strike laws. CUNY’s biggest union wants to change that.
Since February 2018, the country has seen a wave of strikes in public education, with major work stoppages in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Oakland, and shorter strikes in Louisiana, Washington, Kentucky, North Carolina, Colorado, and Virginia.
Though the biggest strikes were in public primary and secondary education, a number of higher education workers also went on strike, including at Columbia, the New School, Wright State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and across some of the largest campuses of the University of California system. Meanwhile, after working without a contract since July, faculty at Rutgers, the largest public university in New Jersey, are currently conducting a strike authorization vote.
What about New York, of the largest states in the country, and the state with the second highest density of union members? While there were two important private sector strikes in New York — Columbia and the New School — there seemed to be no danger of the public education sector strike wave crashing there. At first glance, this seems even more odd given that several of the country’s largest, oldest, and most powerful local unions in the education sector are in New York.
Among the most important factors that set the organized labor movement in New York apart from other parts of the country is the Taylor Law. An important component of the New York State Civil Service Law, the Taylor Law provides many important protections for workers and unions in the state and local public sector. But the law also makes it illegal for public sector workers to strike.
Workers have broken the law, with varying degrees of success, since its inception in 1967. But in the most recent New York public sector strike, TWU Local 100 faced harsh penalties in response to its 2005 strike, including a $2.5 million fine and jail time for the union’s president.
In 2018, progressive gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon called for changes to the Taylor Law to legally allow public sector workers to strike. While Nixon lost the primary to incumbent Andrew Cuomo, her call for amending the Taylor Law gained a lot of media coverage. When pressed, Cuomo and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio both said they opposed changing the law.
Now, New York educators could be taking up amendments to the Taylor Law head on. In February the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), passed a resolution calling on the state teachers federation to work to repeal the no-strike provision of the Taylor Law. Representing faculty and support staff across the City University of New York system, PSC is one of the largest education unions in the state and one of the largest higher education unions in the country.
Rank-and-file union activist and New York City Democratic Socialists of America member Ben Beckett spoke with PSC president Barbara Bowen about conditions at New York City’s public colleges, the union’s desire to repeal the no-strike provision, and where the resolution goes from here.
What are conditions like for PSC members? What about CUNY students?
Conditions are austere. The deliberate underfunding of CUNY has reached a crisis point, felt equally by CUNY students and PSC members. Classrooms are overcrowded, library hours have been cut, buildings are in disrepair, salaries are uncompetitive, and the ratio of students to mental health counselors is nearly ten times the recommended average. Close to a quarter of undergraduates report not being able to register for a course required for graduation because course offerings are inadequate. One college library is dependent on student government for the money to buy books. Roofs leak, classrooms are sometimes without heat, drinking water can be unsafe, and repairs can take years.
Both New York City and State governments have actively disinvested in CUNY over the course of decades, and the effects are inescapable. Despite CUNY’s cringe-worthy self-description, “the greatest urban university in the world,” CUNY has been systematically starved of the resources needed to stay afloat, let alone be the greatest urban university in the world.
The university’s fiscal condition cannot be separated from its student demographics. The long withdrawal of public support for CUNY began in New York City’s 1975 fiscal crisis, five years after the doors of the colleges had been forced open by a student movement. Thousands of black and Latino New Yorkers entered CUNY for the first time. Today, more than three-quarters of CUNY undergraduates are people of color, and most have family incomes under $30,000. It’s a question of political will: if New York State and City wanted this population to thrive, they would invest.
The only public voice consistently challenging the underfunding of CUNY is the PSC. Three years ago, the PSC stopped a half-billion-dollar budget cut to CUNY with a militant, broad-based campaign. And every year we make inroads against economic austerity through budget activism and our contract.
For nearly two decades, the PSC has approached collective bargaining as an arena of struggle against the austerity conditions endured by our students as well as our members. We have been animated by the same principle at work in the powerful wave of teachers’ strikes across the country: teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions.
The collapse of sufficient public funding for CUNY is not an accident of nature. It is a political policy reaffirmed every time an inadequate State or City budget is passed. New York City’s support for CUNY, while still far from adequate, has risen under Mayor de Blasio, but New York State slashed per-student support for CUNY’s four-year colleges by nearly 20 percent just between 2008 and 2018.
Lacking the political courage to demand the funding the university needs, the current CUNY Board of Trustees apparently sees their job as managing scarcity. As public funds have diminished and enrollment has risen, they have balanced the university’s budget by doing two things: shifting costs to students and cutting labor costs. The result is a stripped-down, hollowed-out, impoverished institution in which faculty, staff, and students struggle heroically to carve out space for a serious college education.
Student tuition rose 46 percent between 2008 and 2018, and it’s still on the rise. The university’s biggest cost is of course labor, and that’s where CUNY has turned for most of its cost-cutting. Most CUNY courses are now taught by adjuncts — part-time, contingent faculty — who are paid near-poverty wages. Full-time salaries for CUNY faculty are tens of thousands of dollars lower than those at Rutgers, Penn State, or other comparable schools. Adjunct salaries are near the level of poverty.
Factoring in the number of hours required to prepare for a course and evaluate student work, CUNY’s 12,000 adjuncts earn close to minimum wage. An adjunct carrying a full load of courses would earn just $25,000 a year. As one adjunct, Elizabeth Hovey, put it in public testimony: “CUNY exploits our passion for our students.”
The last contract between CUNY and PSC expired in 2017. Why have PSC members been without a contract for so long?
The issue is funding. CUNY management delayed more than a year before putting an economic offer on the table. Last round it took them five years. Our bargaining process is unusually complex, even for public sector bargaining, because it involves both State and City governments.
But the PSC has also raised the stakes in each round of bargaining since the current leadership caucus was elected in 2000. We have made it clear that we will not settle for contracts that deepen austerity.
Taking that position sometimes puts us in direct conflict with a political agenda of denying resources to the university that represents the only chance for a college degree for hundreds of thousands of poor and working-class New Yorkers and people of color. In previous rounds of bargaining, union members have organized and mobilized until we broke through the resistance to such provisions as adding paid parental leave, providing health insurance to adjuncts and graduate employees, creating a more reasonable faculty teaching load, achieving secure three-year appointments for adjuncts, and simply securing back-pay.
This time our biggest economic fight is for the additional funds required to transform adjunct pay. The PSC bargaining team has told management across the table that we will not accept a contract that does not address our demand to raise adjunct pay to $7,000 a course. Nor will we accept a contract that funds additional adjunct pay by cutting the already low pay of full-time faculty and staff.
The only solution is increasing investment in CUNY and in the lives of those we teach. In a zero-sum game, everyone loses; the PSC refuses to accept the premise that there’s not enough money in this rich state to provide a fair college education to our students. And winning that fight takes organizing and research and coalition-building and time.
What are the PSC’s most important demands for the new contract and what are the barriers to achieving them?
We’re fighting for four major priorities: 1) increased salaries for all full-time and part-time faculty and professional staff, to bring our salaries closer to being nationally competitive; 2) additional equity increases for certain lower-paid full-time positions, whose salaries have lost ground; 3) an increase in the minimum adjunct pay from the current $3,222 per course to $7,000 per course; and 4) several non-economic improvements that are especially important in the context of CUNY’s modest salaries.
Every one of the changes we advocate would enhance the education of CUNY students. And every gain would help every PSC member. Our members understand that all PSC members share a material interest in improving conditions for the lowest-paid workers as well as a moral imperative to end CUNY’s reliance on exploited labor. Unity is more than an aspiration for us; it is the basis of our fight.
The main challenge is the political decision over decades by New York State and City governments and those whose interests they represent to starve CUNY of public funds. Equally challenging is the acceptance of that decision by CUNY management. The PSC membership is pushing hard to overcome both.
Why is it important to amend the Taylor Law? What motivated the PSC to pass this resolution now?
Section 210 of the Taylor Law strips public sector workers of the fundamental human right to withhold their labor. It forbids public sector unions to “cause, instigate, encourage, or condone” a strike. And “strike” has been defined by the courts to include a wide range of workplace actions, not just a complete work stoppage.
The Taylor Law’s sweeping prohibition on workplace action has no place in a state that prides itself on being progressive and friendly to labor. Repealing it should be at the top of labor’s agenda.
Strikes are a uniquely powerful tool of working people. Historically, and as recently as this year, they have been decisive in winning rights not just for the workers involved, but for all working people. Many rights and protections that are now considered bedrock conditions of public life were won only because workers were willing to strike: the eight-hour day, the right to collective bargaining, the prohibition on child labor, workplace safety regulations, and much more.
By outlawing strikes, the Taylor Law inhibits the power of the strongest sector of organized labor in one of the strongest labor states in the country to win more for all working people. And by issuing a ban on even “encouraging” a strike, the Taylor Law does massive unseen damage. It imposes what William Blake called “mind-forged manacles” on workers and their unions. The strike prohibition has had the effect of straitjacketing not only political action, but also political imagination.
The Taylor Law has limited even the way unions think about their power. The impact can be measured in gains not made both for public sector workers in this state and for the communities we serve. Would our public schools, public hospitals, and public colleges be better funded if New York public sector unions had the legal right to strike? The answer is yes.
Several factors have converged to make this the right moment to propose a change in the law. Many unions, including the PSC, have long taken the public position that the strike prohibition should be repealed. But the issue gained new urgency in 2018 with the Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which sharply increased the imbalance of power created by the Taylor Law by prohibiting public sector unions from collecting fees from employees who benefit from the union’s gains but do not join.
The New York State legislature did pass an important set of Taylor Law modifications in response, and Governor Cuomo signed them into law. Both should be applauded for doing so. Cuomo has introduced further protections this year. But the changes to date do not touch the fundamental issue of the prohibition on strikes. That change should happen now.
PSC delegates also felt that this was the moment to call for repeal of the no-strike provision because New York State now has a Democratic majority in both legislative houses and a Democratic governor, all of whom have announced their intention to support working people and their unions. Few actions would show that support more powerfully than amending the Taylor Law. New York State has taken a strong stand in recent years on expansion of civil rights; it’s time for an expansion of the rights of workers.
My understanding is the next step is to take this resolution to the NYSUT Representative Assembly. What are the resolution’s prospects there?
The PSC delegates to NYSUT, who include several NYSUT Board members, will present the resolution to our NYSUT colleagues in May, and we hope it will gain broad support. The issue is not new in NYSUT. Historically, many NYSUT members have supported amending the Taylor Law, and several NYSUT locals, when left with no alternative to reach a fair contract, have engaged in illegal strikes. Others have conducted strike authorization votes and have been able to reach agreement without striking.
NYSUT members are largely teachers. They are people who have dedicated their working lives to serving others. Many have been inspired by the teachers’ strikes of the past year because those strikes have invariably been about improving conditions for students — not just for teachers.
In West Virginia, Oklahoma, California, and elsewhere, the strikes have centered on funding schools as well as funding salaries. In presenting our resolution, PSC delegates will argue that we would collectively be better able to take a stand for what we all believe in — the right of every New York child and student to a great education — if the ban on strikes were lifted.
A lot of resolutions pass at union conventions and then nothing really happens to further their stated aims. Let’s say this resolution does pass the NYSUT RA — what will the PSC and NYSUT do to make sure the resolution has teeth?
NYSUT is a powerful force within New York organized labor. It has the capacity to lead a statewide campaign, especially in coalition with other unions and the New York State AFL-CIO. NYSNA, the statewide nurses’ union, also passed a resolution this year calling for an end to the prohibition on strikes. Other unions may do the same.
But it’s premature to map out a campaign before presenting the resolution at NYSUT. A campaign this important has to be built carefully, with the goal of gathering the greatest possible support.
Given that amending the Taylor Law would require legislation, is a candidate’s support for public sector right to strike going to be a requirement to receive the PSC’s endorsement going forward? You are a member of NYSUT’s executive board — do you think it should be a requirement to receive NYSUT’s endorsement going forward?
Legislation passes when you build support for it, legislator by legislator. It makes more sense to concentrate on that process with the legislature currently in place — which includes an organized cohort of new, progressive legislators — than on developing a litmus test for future candidates. Assuming the PSC’s proposed resolution on the Taylor Law becomes NYSUT policy, we will begin to work on it right away with the current legislature. This is the moment to get it passed.
Both NYSUT and PSC have democratic endorsement processes that involve hundreds of rank-and-file union members. There is no single litmus test. The PSC has been a powerful influence within NYSUT in favor of endorsing progressive candidates, and many of NYSUT’s positions on challenger candidates in the last election came as the result of PSC advocacy.
Obviously we will be looking hard at whether a candidate supports ending the Taylor Law’s ban on strikes. But we also look hard at a candidate’s commitment to fixing the dysfunctional funding model for CUNY.
Across the country, we’ve seen fed-up educators go on strike and effectively shut down their school systems (and sometimes their cities). So far the PSC has largely pursued a lobbying strategy targeting the CUNY board and elected officials. Is that kind of mass action or other on-the-job action in the PSC’s future?
I don’t think you have the whole picture on the PSC’s strategy. The challenge in our contract is securing the necessary public funding to lift all salaries, improve other conditions, and transform adjunct pay. That means that we are necessarily involved in advocacy and pressure on State and City governments, the sources of public funds for CUNY. There is no substitute for engaging directly with the sources of funding, although advocacy alone is never enough.
The PSC has developed a strategic approach within the realm of representative government, building coalitions, grassroots pressure, and social media advocacy. But that is far from the whole of our approach.
The collective power of our membership and those we mobilize to join us is the source of the union’s power. Everything the PSC has won has been because of that power. We knew we faced a tough challenge in this round of bargaining, so we started organizing long before the contract expired.
We built a campaign of escalating pressure. Over the course of the year, the PSC has organized demonstrations that wound through the streets of New York City, a protest and civil disobedience on Wall Street against President Trump’s tax bill, a demonstration outside the Wall Street office of the chair of CUNY’s trustees, and a march with a brass band through the financial district calling explicitly for a shift of resources to CUNY. Organized by the union, hundreds of union members have testified publicly at CUNY Board meetings and public legislative hearings; thousands have signed petitions to the college presidents. The union leadership was arrested blocking the doors to a Board hearing as the budget was passed within, and five hundred adjuncts are currently engaged in a collective project to log every low-paid or unpaid minute they spend working for CUNY.
As State and City budget negotiations got underway this winter, the union’s collective action has intensified. Several campus union chapters have organized “grade-ins” and “work-ins,” during which adjuncts, full-time professors, and academic staff have made their work visible by doing it together and in public — sometimes in front of the college president’s office. At other campuses, members are showing up at public events held by the college and handing out fliers exposing the low pay of adjuncts and the urgent need for a contract.
On March 14, the PSC held protest demonstrations at both City Hall and the governor’s office, where we arrived early in the morning with 150 alarm clocks and a band for a “wake-up call.” We have taken our fight into the media, with a series of opinion pieces, interviews, radio shows, and articles; and we have now launched an ad campaign. We will continue to organize and increase the level of pressure until we reach a contract settlement we can accept.
The PSC’s goal in this round of bargaining should not be underestimated; we are tackling the whole basis of CUNY’s austerity budget. Understandably, some union members observe the wave of teachers’ strikes and feel that the only solution is to join that wave. The power of the wave of teachers’ strikes is undeniable, and it has changed the labor terrain nationally.
To date, the PSC leadership has not called for or supported a strike authorization vote in the current round of bargaining. The question of a strike should never be off the table for a serious union, but it must include an analysis of what it would mean to win and whether a strike could be a road to victory. Our union leadership would not consider a strike without one-to-one conversations with every sector of the membership, without honest discussion with members about what a strike entails, without a plan for how to handle the severe legal and economic penalties a strike would trigger for the union and individual members, and without a sober assessment of what the union would stand to gain in a strike versus what we would risk losing.
The PSC is in the fight of our lives. The only way we will win is by engaging everyone to work together. Austerity cannot be beaten without unity.
Though it is illegal for PSC members to strike, the PSC has conducted a strike authorization vote in the past. Under what conditions would you propose another strike authorization?
In 2016, we had been without a contract for six years. The PSC had not held a strike authorization vote in forty-three years. Almost every other contract involving New York City government had been settled once Mayor de Blasio came into office, but the contracts being settled with New York State were concessionary. The PSC leadership made a commitment not to accept a concessionary contract and not to accept a contract without retroactive pay increases for the many years our members had gone without a contract.
On the day fifty PSC members, including much of the elected leadership, staged a civil disobedience at CUNY’s headquarters, management finally put an offer on the table — but it was way below inflation and included no back-pay. After another mass civil disobedience in March, this time at the governor’s office, Governor Cuomo withdrew his plan to cut $485 million from the State’s allocation to CUNY. Community groups, student groups and union supporters joined our fight. But by May, we still did not have an agreement.
The union’s elected leadership bodies voted to conduct a strike authorization vote. A thousand PSC members stepped up to be trained in how to hold one-to-one conversations about the strike authorization vote, and 5,000 pledged publicly to vote yes. When the vote was taken, in late May, the result was decisive: a 92 percent yes vote, and an absolute majority. Just over a month later, we had a signed agreement, which was ratified by a 94-percent margin that August.
Whether the PSC will need to take that action again depends on the assessment made by the bargaining team and the union’s leadership bodies. If the union reaches a point in the current campaign where a strike authorization could be necessary, we will have an open discussion and a vote in our largest leadership body, the Delegate Assembly.
What can leaders and rank-and-file members of other public sector unions in New York do concretely to get the Taylor Law amended?
First, do old-fashioned labor organizing. Members should talk to other members, one-to-one, about why a change in the law is important. Members can look at the history of strikes, study that history together: how strikes have been critical to the survival of working people, how they have helped to secure better salaries, health care, safety, and rights for all working people. A campaign to build support for amending the Taylor Law could be an organizing opportunity, especially post-Janus, to strengthen our unions by rethinking the possibilities of militant collective action if we were free of the strike ban.
Second, union leaders in the public and private sector should talk honestly together about what amending the Taylor Law would mean — both to those immediately affected, in the public sector, and to those in the private sector and those without unions. The political and moral effect of a strike can extend far beyond the workers who participate directly. Some of these conversations are already beginning.
Third, we should talk with the public we serve about the importance of gaining the right to strike. The reason usually cited for the strike ban is that it would create havoc in public services and even endanger lives.
Look at the teachers’ strike in Los Angeles this year: yes, by striking they disrupted families and children, caused parents to make arrangements for childcare, inconvenienced thousands of people, and interrupted the school curriculum. But they made advances in the resources for public schools that had not been possible to achieve any other way. And think of the unforgettable education they offered. Children and students saw their teachers fighting for them. They saw that workers taking a stand and taking risks can bring about change. They saw that working-class people and people of color are not powerless. And they saw that a different politics is possible, one in which people work collectively for the collective good. Those are things worth seeing, and maybe worth striking for.
This is a tale about the negative environmental and health effects of coal and obtaining justice for America’s coal miners. It is also a tale of how large contributors to the campaigns of both Trump and McConnell can appear to have been given dispensation to duck out of their obligations.
Reporting on China’s harassment of journalists has never been easy. Lately it’s been getting much harder, which suggests that conditions for the press could be worsening.
At least 47 journalists were jailed in China at the time of CPJ’s 2018 prison census and I am investigating at least a dozen other cases, but the details are hard to verify.
The reason: authorities are deliberately preventing information from getting out–and they are getting really good at it.
Among the cases I’m investigating are the arrests in December of 45 contributors at Bitter Winter, a religious and human rights news website, who were detained and interrogated for exposing details about Xinjiang’s secret camps; reports from December 14 that police in Tianjin arrested a woman for exposing an outbreak of African swine fever on her WeChat account for the alleged crime of “spreading rumors”; the arrests from 2016 to 2018 by Xinjiang police of at least 30 Uighur editors working for local newspapers and television broadcasters; and the case of a woman who live-streamed police breaking into her apartment and taking her away in August, as an officer asked, “What did you say on the internet?”
Information was so scarce on the latter cases, that CPJ was unable to confirm who the journalists were and if they were still detained at the time of our prison census.By ensuring little to no information is available on these individuals, Chinese authorities are able to prevent widespread coverage and avoid being held to account for their actions.
In researching these cases and others I identified at least five methods China uses to try to prevent coverage of journalist arrests.
Sealing court records
Chinese laws require courts to make verdicts public on court websites as long as they don’t contain “state secrets.” However, I was unable to find records for any of the journalists on our prison census, or in the other cases under investigation, including for reporters convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”
Ding Lingjie, the editor of Minsheng Guancha (Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch), is one of several journalists imprisoned on that charge, whose records should have been made public.
As testament to the opacity of Chinese judicial system, only six judgments from 2018 are posted on the website of the Beijing Shijingshan People’s Court, which is handling Ding’s case. No data is available for last year, but the Beijing court system says the court has taken on over 5,600 cases since January 1, which gives an idea of the scale of the cases it handles. In December, it sentenced Ding in a closed hearing to one year and eight months in prison, according to news reports.
Authorities also physically block lawyers from reading their clients’ court papers. On February 13, Zhang Zanning, who represents Huang Qi, founder of the human rights news website 64 Tianwang, was not allowed to see his client and was denied access to court records because “the judge was on vacation.”
A day later, when Zhang returned to the detention center, authorities blocked him again without providing a reason and told him that his law firm was no longer handling the case, according to Radio Free Asia and Zhang’s statement on Minsheng Guancha.
In another example, the state-owned newspaper People’s Daily reported on September 10 that Shaanxi authorities had made 96 arrests in a month in connection to “fabricating news reports” and “news blackmailing.”
Despite combing through public court judgments on China Judgements Online, a public access service that allows users to review verdicts, orders, mediation documents, and notices, I was unable to find any records relating to the arrests.
Censoring news coverage
Chinese authorities often issue instructions to media outlets forbidding coverage of a reporter’s arrest or trial. When the Mianyang Intermediate People’s Court held a trial for Huang, Chinese media received an order from the government to not “report, republish, or comment without prior arrangement” on Huang’s case, according to China Digital Times, a California-based media organization that reports on uncensored news in China.
In cases that don’t involve politics or human rights, authorities allow some reporting but often key details, such as the suspect’s name and alleged crime, are redacted.
Take the Shaanxi arrests last year of people whom authorities called “fake journalists.” Authorities said they detained 96 people, and shut down five social media accounts, 15 local broadcasters, and 45 apps on accusations of spreading illegal political information or rumors, according to news reports.
However, only a few vague reports appeared in media outlets or on the website of the Shaanxi Provincial Administration of Radio and TV. These scant news reports failed to provide names, which made the task of beginning to verify any of the 96 arrests near to impossible.
Blocking foreign IPs and VPNs
Last year, authorities officially banned the unauthorized use of virtual private networks (VPNs), a service many in China rely on to circumvent the infamous “Great Firewall.” In October, companies providing VPN services said they had detected a higher frequency of authorities attempting to block VPNs, leading to suspicions that the government had deployed on-the-ground censors to work against them.
When I called the Cyberspace Administration of China for comment, an official said that he had no information on the matter and refused to redirect my call.
In January, I experienced connectivity lags while browsing Chinese websites, including China’s largest online search engine Baidu, public security bureau websites, and the social platform Weibo, from Taiwan, where I’m based. Access was blocked entirely and restored only when I switched to other devices and used a different IP address.
The experience suggests that authorities not only attempt to control the use of internet within China’s borders, they also try to keep its so-called “internet sovereignty” intact by denying searches from outside the country.
Cutting police station phone lines
After China’s use of “re-education camps” to detain up to a million Uighur minorities came to international attention in 2017, it became more difficult to contact public security bureaus in Xinjiang for confirmation or comment on arrests. I found that police and officials no longer answered my calls and several listed numbers were no longer connected.
Xu Xiaoli, the wife of award-winning photojournalist Lu Guang who disappeared in the region in November, experienced the same issue. She said on Twitter that when she tried to contact police in Xinjiang for information about her husband, “none of the listed numbers worked.”
On the rare occasions that I do get through to an official, they refuse to answer my questions. In September, I attempted to contact the Urumqi Public Security Bureau to ask about detained scholar and blogger Ilham Tohti and his fellow students. Several calls went unanswered before a female official answered the phone.
As soon as I identified myself, she hung up. I made another call and the same official answered. This time she yelled at me, seemingly in panic, and told me to never call this number to ask questions again.
Intimidating lawyers, family and friends
As well as declining to comment on detentions, China has threatened family, friends, and lawyers. Authorities held Pu Wenqing, the mother of jailed journalist Huang, in an undisclosed location for nearly two months, with no contact with friends or activists, according to news reports.
Even after her release on January 21, police called her and ordered her not to post anything online, according to Radio Free Asia. The officer who made the calls told Radio Free Asia that he was under state security orders to monitor internet traffic about Huang’s case. Pu is still under surveillance today, a 64 Tianwang volunteer told me.
While Pu was under detention, Guangdong’s Department of Justice disbarred Huang’s lawyer Liu Zhengqing for “using language that endangers state security and slanders others,” according to reports.
Huang’s previous lawyer Sui Muqing was disbarred for “using uncivilized, offensive wording” and other poor behavior while representing a fellow lawyer, and for bringing a cell phone to take photos of a rights activist in a detention center whom he was representing, according to news reports and Sui’s Twitter account.Both Sui and Liu had been vocal about Huang’s case. They talked to the media and posted case updates regularly on social media platforms and human rights websites.
I found in late 2018 that lawyers with whom I had previously spoken were now declining to talk about the detained journalists they represent. At least two told CPJ they could not speak for fear of retaliation from the government.
Despite attempts by China to censor and silence the press, journalists continue to report on critical social issues–even if it means they risk arrest. And CPJ continues to investigate and publicize their cases.
*Prior to joining CPJ, Hsu interned at Human Rights Watch, Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, and the Atlantic Council. Hsu obtained her master’s degree in international affairs from American University. She speaks Mandarin and French and lives in Taipei.
Women and girls from Myanmar are increasingly being trafficked as “brides” to China. Aung Ja* was 18 when a woman from Myitkina, northern Myanmar, convinced her to take a ‘factory’ job in China. She was rescued in 2017 and is taking part in a UN Women-supported trafficking prevention programme. Photo: UN Women/Stuart Mannion
By Tharanga Yakupitiyage UNITED NATIONS, Mar 22 2019 (IPS)
Women and girls from Myanmar are increasingly being trafficked as “brides” to China, a human rights group found.
In a new report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented numerous cases of women and girls from Myanmar’s Kachin and northern Shan States who were trafficked and forced into sexual slavery in China, as well as the alarming lack of law enforcement on the issue.
“Myanmar and Chinese authorities are looking away while unscrupulous traffickers are selling Kachin women and girls into captivity and unspeakable abuse,” said Acting Women’s Rights Co-Director at HRW and author of the report Heather Barr.
“The dearth of livelihoods and basic rights protections have made these women easy prey for traffickers, who have little reason to fear law enforcement on either side of the border,” she added.
Over the past 40 years, conflict in Kachin and norther Shan states has caused long-term displacement and left many struggling to survive.
As humanitarian aid is largely blocked by Myanmar’s government, internally displaced people (IDPs) living in camps do not receive enough food and renewed fighting has pushed families to the brink of desperation.
Since many men are taking part in the conflict, women often become the sole breadwinners for their families and have no choice but to seek work across the border in China. But often they are enticed under false pretences, falling prey to traffickers.
“Those living in the camps are without money or anything. Not being able to make ends meet, it is women and girls who pay the price,” said a worker from Kachin Women’s Association (KWA) which assists trafficking victims.
Another Kachin activist echoed similar sentiments, stating: “Normally the target is the family who are facing financial crisis…but now the [brokers] are targeting the IDP camps. It’s a better place to gather people. They are in one space. Most of the brokers are involved as relatives or acquaintances.”
HRW found that out of 37 survivors interviewed, 15 were recruited by friends and 12 by an acquaintance. Another 6 were recruited and sold by their own relatives.
Many of the trafficking survivors interviewed were sold for between 3,000 and 13,000 dollars. Once delivered to their “buyers,” they were often locked in a room and raped frequently so as to make them pregnant.
After fleeing conflict in Kachin State and living in an IDP camp, 16-year-old Seng Moon was told of a job as a cook by her sister-in-law in China’s Yunnan province.
In the car, Seng Moon’s sister-in-law gave her something she said prevented car sickness causing Seng Moon to fall asleep immediately. She told Human Rights Watch that she woke up with her hands tied behind her back and was left with a Chinese family.
“My sister-in-law left me at the home…the family took me to a room. In that room I was tied up again…they locked the door—for one or two months…each time when the Chinese man brought me meals, he raped me,” Seng Moon said.
After another couple of months, she was told that she was married to the Chinese man who continued to be abusive.
Once Seng Moon was pregnant and gave birth, the husband said,“No one plans to stop you. If you want to go back home, you can. But you can’t take my baby.”
After two years, she was able to escape with her son.
Other survivors however were forced to leave behind their children. Of the people interviewed, eight left behind children.
Some trafficked women and girls were also forced to be both “brides” and labourers.
Ja Seng Nu was held for almost a year on a watermelon farm near Shanghai, locked in a room, physically abused, and raped every night by the son of the family who owned the farm “because [they] wanted a child as soon as possible.”
At the same time, she had to get up very early, cook breakfast for the farm’s workers, and then work in the fields all day.
Those who were caught trying to escape usually faced even more abuse.
Mai Mai Tsawm, who was trafficked at 21, told HRW that she met a woman who tried to run and after being caught by her “husband,” he tied her neck and hands to the end of a motorbike and dragged her behind the bike.
Tsawm said she did not know whether the woman had survived or not.
If they are able to escape successfully, many trafficked women and girls have difficulty grappling with trauma and face stigma within their communities.
“Most victims face terrible situations. They come back, and they are totally different from us. They are just gazing, staring…People who just came back don’t even dare to go outside and show their faces…They feel guilty for being [trafficked],” a KWA worker said.
A Long Road to Justice and Recovery
Among the reasons for the rise in trafficking has been attributed to the “woman shortage” in China.
According to the Chinese government’s 2000 census, there were over 120 boys born for every 100 girls between 1996 and 2000. The World Health Organization has stated a normal ratio at birth is approximately 105 boys to 100 women.
The estimated 30 to 40 million “missing women” in the East Asian nation is partly due to its one-child policy which led to a preference for boys.
The gender imbalance is leaving many Chinese men without wives. In fact, by 2030, projections show that 25 percent of Chinese men in their late 30s will never have married.
Despite evidence for trafficking, HRW expressed concern over the lack of law enforcement and services to prevent trafficking and help those who have been trafficked.
The organization found that law enforcement officers in both China and Myanmar made little effort to recover trafficked women and girls, and those that sought help to find missing relatives were turned away and told that they would have to pay if they wanted they police to act.
HRW also reported that when trafficking survivors escaped and ran to the Chinese police, they were sometimes jailed for immigration violations rather than treated as crime victims.
“The Myanmar and Chinese governments, as well as the Kachin Independence Organization, should be doing much more to prevent trafficking, recover and assist victims, and prosecute traffickers,” Barr said.
“Donors and international organizations should support the local groups that are doing the hard work that governments won’t to rescue trafficked women and girls and help them recover,” she added.
HRW also urged for both China and Myanmar to develop formalized recruitment pathways for people from Myanmar to safely travel and legally obtain employment in China and establish measures to encourage reporting of suspected trafficking.
They also stressed the need to provide comprehensive services to survivors to combat stigma and provide access to livelihood support such as education and training and end the practice of jailing trafficking survivors.
After flip-flopping on health reform for years, Beto O'Rourke claims his public-option bill is a path to Medicare for All. It isn't — the bill's means-tested approach will pit working people against each another, keep private insurance companies afloat, and stop M4A's momentum.
What do the Democratic candidates for president believe about Medicare for All? With the exception of Bernie Sanders, it’s hard to say. Kamala Harris has backpedaled. Cory Booker contradicts himself. Elizabeth Warren has a wavering record and avoids the subject as much as possible. Meanwhile they all support competing legislation on the side.
After a career of noodling around on the issue, he seems to be zeroing in on his favored approach now that he’s running for president. O’Rourke is touting a proposal called Medicare for America, a public option bill modeled off of previous work by neoliberal think tank Center for American Progress.
O’Rourke claims that this bill presents a pathway to Medicare for All. In fact, it does not. O’Rourke’s Medicare for America proposal would throw a lifeline to private insurers, keeping them afloat (and raking in profits) while derailing the demand for Medicare for All that Sanders has helped make wildly popular.
Medicare for America Is Not Medicare for All
It’s instructive to directly compare Medicare for All with Medicare for America.
Medicare for All is a simple concept. It would establish a single, public health insurance program that guarantees free, comprehensive care to all US residents. Under Medicare for All administrative costs are drastically reduced, no doctor is out of network, and the vast majority of households will pay far less for better coverage.
Medicare for America, on the other hand, is a public option proposal that would enroll some Americans in a public plan while preserving private insurance for those who receive it from their employers. Rather than covering everyone equally under a single program, it will maintain varying qualities of coverage with price tags based on income.
While Sanders’s proposal eliminates financial barriers to care, Medicare for America leaves them more or less in place.
Medicare for America includes premiums of up to 10 percent of a person’s annual income and out-of-pocket maximums of $5,000. In a country where four in ten people don’t have the savings to cover a $400 emergency, these costs will either prove to be financially devastating or deter people from seeking needed care.
The proposal’s proponents argue that allowing Americans to opt into public insurance will gradually chip away at private insurers’ clienteles until the vast majority of Americans — or even all Americans — are covered under the same public plan. O’Rourke claims that the public option will become “the program of choice.” But by allowing private insurers to compete with the public plan, Medicare for America ensures that care will remain unequal and segregated.
This is why Medicare for America is not a pathway to single payer. Its multitiered and means-tested approach will inevitably pit working people against one another.
Imagine a situation in which only poor and working-class Americans utilize the public plan, while wealthier people can afford better plans. This is a breeding ground for resentment, which can be mobilized towards defunding the public option. Once that happens, patients enrolled in it will experience shrinking coverage and higher costs. This will naturally lead to the growth of private supplemental plans and leave Medicare vulnerable to further privatization with the encouragement of a still-powerful private insurance lobby. (We see this already with costly Medicare Advantage plans.) If the public plan is as good as O’Rourke suggests, why not enroll everyone in it now?
We Don’t Like Our Private Plans
Optimism around the bill’s potential aside, O’Rourke and others argue that Medicare for America is more likely to garner the “buy-in” necessary to pass in Congress. “It responds to the fact that so many Americans have said, ‘I like my employer-based insurance. I want to keep it. I like the network I’m in. I like the doctor that I see,’” O’Rourke told the Texas Tribune.
This conjured constituency of people happy with their private insurance plans is based on polls conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which show that support for Medicare for All falls when the loss of current insurance is included in the question. What O’Rourke fails to mention, however, is that support rises when voters are told it would “guarantee health insurance as a right for all Americans” or “eliminate all health insurance premiums and reduce out-of-pocket health care costs for most Americans.” Furthermore, Medicare for All allows patients to see any doctor they’d like, without any network limitations.
It’s understandable that people are protective of the insurance they currently have when the alternative is having no insurance at all — a very real and terrifying prospect for Americans. But Medicare for All takes care of that problem by guaranteeing high-quality coverage for life. Exploiting the fear of losing insurance with misinformation or sins of omission isn’t an honest way to campaign on watered-down, market-based alternatives, but it seems that is how O’Rourke will sell his.
Once we dispel this fear, what’s left to like about private insurance? The costs continue to skyrocket while wages are stagnant and millions of Americans are denied treatment that their doctors prescribe. This is because private insurance is driven by one thing: profit.
The only people who are truly happy with the status quo are the private-insurance executives rewarding themselves with millions of dollars in bonuses, the millionaires and billionaires who are spared the increased taxes needed to enact Medicare for All, and every employer who can wield access to care as a bargaining chip against their workers.
The rest of us don’t love our private plans. We’re desperate for health care security. Medicare for All will give it to us. Beto’s Medicare for America won’t.
If we ever needed proof of how the political system has become self-referential and unable to update itself, the latest student march in more than 1,000 towns is a very good example.
Of course, politicians referred to it in declarations and, in a totally demagogic gesture, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Community and an old political fox with a lot of mileage, even kissed the hand of Greta Thunber. She is the 16-year-old Swedish girl who, frustrated with the pace of government action to deal with climate change, launched a “school strike for climate” last year, setting off an international youth movement and widespread demonstrations in an unprecedented initiative on climate change. We are fortunate that the Asperger’s syndrome Greta suffers from brings little empathy and greater determination, so is totally improbable that she will be co-opted by flattery and recognition.
It was interesting to see the reaction of politicians. In the Italian Parliament, for example, insiders report that the reaction was one of “in any case they do not vote, they are too young”.
It should be recalled that in its 2017 budget, the Italian government earmarked 20 billion dollars to save four Italian banks and just two billion dollars for subsidies and support to young people. School principals from Germany to Italy declared that the duty of students is to study, not take part in demonstrations, and – as usual – a conspiracy theory circulated that because climate change is too complex an issue for young people to understand, Greta was clearly a puppet in the hands of adults.
Newspapers dwelt on the relations between her family and climate change campaigners to show that she had been used. Maybe so, but it is now too late to discredit her. She acted on her initiative, on goals that were hers, and the hundreds of thousands of students around the world were not copying her … she has awakened a chord that was already there.
The fact is that when masses of students from all over the world mobilise around a utopia (a concept which has totally disappeared in the political world), adults become uncomfortable. It measures the distance between what we are now and what we were when young; the world was more idealistic then than now, and we all had some hope and engagement.
That distance is quite large … many of us have betrayed those ideals or put them to sleep. The way out is scepticism and paternalism. We know the reality, we know what dreams are, and young people should listen to our experiences. In May 1968, Tristan Tzara, the father of Dadaism, shouted to the marching students from his balcony: ”Criez, criez, vous serez tous des notaires” (Yell, shout, you will all be notaries). And for those of us who have not betrayed ideals and commitments, there is the sad realisation that we are a failed generation, a generation that was unable to implement its vision of a better society.
The difference is that when we were young, the most existential threat was the atomic bomb, and we took part in many marches. Today, that threat is not only coming back to haunt us with abolition of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), but there is a new existential threat: climate change.
What is very impressive is that many students speak of how they are changing their lifestyle: from not using plastic bottles, to reducing meat consumption and using less water when they brush their teeth. This change of lifestyle goes far beyond climate change, it goes to the heart of our consumption society and its values, a society in which advertising budgets are greater than those for education,
And the fact that the heavy users of Internet, the first willing victims of commercialisation of the Net, start to doubt the use by Google, Twitter and other platforms of people as consumers and not as citizens is a significant fact. They are now ignoring advertising. Automakers are very sad that the car is no longer a status symbol among young people … Nike, jeans and smartphones are today’s status symbols and their impact on climate is much smaller.
Extremely interesting are the reflections of a high-level staff member of the World Economic Forum in Davos: We view with great sympathy the mobilisation of civil society .. thanks to them, several gaps in the field of medical assistance, museum and art care, and many social problems, are being taken care of … this has a dual positive effect: it reduces social tensions, and it keeps volunteers busy, and out of political engagement. In other words, civil society activists are seen as hamsters: running all the time, and going nowhere.
The time has perhaps come for our generation to make three considerations.
The first is that we would do well to remember that until the crisis of 2008, with the exception of Le Pen in France, populist, xenophobic and nationalist parties were marginal. Now they are everywhere, except for Portugal, and they are frequently in power, as in Italy, Austria, Poland and Hungary, or in the government coalitions of several countries, including the Nordic countries. Nobody at that time could have thought of rabid nationalists like Trump, Bolsonaro, Duque, Modi , Duterte, Abe or Xi, or how the multilateral system, based on the idea of peace and cooperation, would be disintegrating.
Now we know what capitalism and finance mean when they are unchecked. We now have a financial system that is 40 times more powerful that the world of industry and services, and without any control. Since 2008, banks have been fined over 800 billion dollars for illegal practices.
Nobody foresaw a world where 40 peoples would possess the same wealth as 2.3 billion people, a world where in just one minute the family owner of the Walmart supermarket chain makes the equivalent of the yearly salary of its employees. Over the last decade, fiscal paradises have hidden at least 30 trillion dollars from the fiscal system: six times the budget of the US government. Countries are now unable to act globally, while finance does so daily, unfettered.
The last decade has seen a steady deterioration of democracy, of social justice, of concern to secure a future for the young and halt the existential threat to the planet, to humans, animals and plants.
There have been only two new changes. One is the arrival of women on the political scene, with millions mobilising against injustice and patriarchism. Has that enormous mobilisation brought about any change in legislations and budgets? Hardly. On the contrary, the prestige of dinosaurs like Putin, Trump, Kaciesnky, Orban, Salvini, Le Pen and company has been reinforced; they are the defenders of the values of the Western civilization, against dissolution of the family and the advancement of woman (associated in the same breath with lesbians, gays and transgenders in a revealing logic). The second is the arrival of young people who are mobilising … so far, the extreme right has made no comment. Yet, touching on climate change, alternative energies and lifestyle is bound to create opposition soon or later. A strange destiny that of the extreme right; it is now against peace, development and social justice as central values. In a short space of time it will be against woman, and now it will be against young people.
The second consideration. In fact, the main value of this campaign by young people is that it has put the political system in front of its responsibilities. “We have no time”, and it is true. We are all mesmerised by the Treaty of Paris on climate change, with the participation of all countries of the world. However, it is important to see how the Treaty was conceived. To make a tent large enough to accommodate everybody, the rules are: every country will decide what targets it will adopt; and every country is responsible for checking implementation of its engagement. What would happen if we did that with taxes? Citizens would decide how many taxes they would pay, and all would be responsible for seeing that they complied.
Well, on the basis of the engagements taken until today, global temperature will increase by 3.5 degrees Centigrade compared with 1840. Scientists have always insisted that a reasonable limit is 1.5 degrees Centigrade, after which they speak of irreversible changes. Paris adopted the goal of 2 degrees Centigrade to make things easier.
Then Trump left the Treaty, explaining that climate change is a Chinese hoax to block American development. He has cancelled all legislation on climate control created before him, to the point that he is now opening all national parks to fossil fuel extraction. Of course, this pleases people like the Koch brothers who own almost all the coal mines; the petrochemical companies; the workers displaced by the fight against climate change, like miners. And it pleases the large numbers of Americans who see China as the main threat, and believe that America is a victim of international exploitation, especially by its allies (Canada, Europe, Japan), Trump’s withdrawal has given a perfect alibi to countries like Poland (coal) and Saudi Arabia (oil) and others for ducking the issue.
So governments now say that in 2020, when the first conference on implementation will be held, they will assess the situation. But the students are here to remind us that, according the vast majority of scientists, unless we change the present trend, by 2030 we will be over the famous threshold, of 1.5 degrees centigrade, and they are calling for an unprecedented effort. But climate change is now is considered a left-wing issue, and times are not really the best. In other words, there are many chances that we will reach 2020 and we will still be debating. The very important Laudatio Si encyclical from Pope Francis, who links climate to social justice, migration, technological progress, and so in a holistic approach, has been largely ignored.
Young people are asking us to act now. As Greta said at Davos: when we arrive in society, the damage will already have been done. This is an intergenerational call, and it is very important and powerful. “Parents, if you say you love us, why you do not take care of our future?“ Should young people take a lesson from the violence of the Yellow Jackets in France to be heard, instead of peaceful marches?
Now to the third consideration. The climate movement comes after several others grassroots movements. The most traumatic was the protest against the World Trade Organisation in Chicago in 1999, when thousands protested against unchecked capitalism imposed by the Washington Consensus (a holistic neoliberal view of international and national relations, based on extreme reduction of the role of the state and unfettered capitalism). This Consensus, subscribed to by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the US Treasury, changed the trend from cooperation to competition and success. Social costs were unproductive, only trade and finance were the tools for the world. Margaret Thatcher famously said: there is no society, only individuals.
Then, in 2001, in Porto Alegre, the World Social Forum was created, a meeting place for sharing practices and views as an alternative to Davos, and started a process of conferences with several hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. This process continues today, albeit with a major loss of steam. Ten years later, in 2011, the Movement of the Indignados started in Madrid, asking for change to the democratic and financial system, and spread to 68 towns of Spain, lasting until 2015. Anti-system parties came out in 2013, and stood at the European elections of 2014. Podemos gathered 1,253,837 votes and won four seats. The others did not make it: Partido X received 105.561 votes, the Movement of Citizens Democratic Renewal 105,688 and Recortes Zero 30,827. Had they stood together, they would have won seven seats. But a proverb says that the left unites only in front of a firing squad.
But many other citizens’ movement took to the streets. In 2011, there was Occupy Wall Street against greed, corruption, social inequality and the power of finance and corporations over political institutions, joined by several hundreds of thousands of people. Some see the Arab Spring, and the massive protests of Algiers as part of the same revolt. But it is instructive to see how the political system read those events. They were classified as anarchist movements. Horizontalism (they elected no leader), autonomy from existing institutions and defiance, demonising the rich and introducing class warfare, were considered proper of anarchists who rejected the political system. So the content of demonstration was obscured by how they structured themselves.
It is a fact that by acting without the rules of organisation that political parties apply has been a huge handicap. Podemos, the only survivor of the Indignados wave, like the 5 Star Movement in Italy, structured itself as a political party. Like it or not, laws are made in parliament, and external protests, large as they might be (just think of the women’s movement), can be perfectly ignored, no risk except for recurring elections. But the political system today is not a free one. It is conditioned by finance, corporations, trade, armaments and technological developments (many more people will be made jobless by artificial intelligence than by migrants). The political system is hardly the representation of citizens in the old sense. There are 32,000 lobbyists in the US Congress, and 16,000 in the European Parliament: not really a symptom of unfettered democracy. The Koch brothers, who donate hundreds of millions of dollars to the Republican Party at each election, have a vote like the unemployed black guy from the suburbs. Do they compete at an equal level?
Now, the student movement is asking those in power to introduce urgent changes on their behalf. Until now the system has been able to ignore requests from peoples’ movements, and let them fritter away, “Students do not vote” was the main comment from the system after the last large demonstration.
Yet, the students are denouncing an existential threat, which will reach the brothers Koch, as well the black unemployed (but remember, the weakest will be affected much more). If the system does not listen to the voices of young people, the gap between political institutions and citizens will increase. And history tells us that voices from the street can be ignored once, twice, many times, but not for ever.
Young people are those who see clearly that climate change jeopardises their future, already affected by precarious jobs, unemployment and a difficult future in which pensions will be minimal. They see growing injustice and lack of participation. They represent a revolt based on idealism and hard facts. They are also a minority because of our changing demography. If the political system ignores this latest mass movement, it will take an unprecedented risk. What happens will be something that will shape history, If the young people are be ignored, democracy will be in great peril … killing idealism is a very great responsibility.
Publisher of OtherNews, Italian-Argentine Roberto Savio is an economist, journalist, communication expert, political commentator, activist for social and climate justice and advocate of global governance. Adviser to INPS-IDN and to the Global Cooperation Council. He is co-founder of Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and its President Emeritus.
The Green New Deal has recently been promoted by a group of Democrats including the inspirational Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I first came across it in a report in 2008 by the Green New Deal group, most of whom are pictured above a decade later (HTAndrew Simms). The view that we face a potentially existential climate change crisis, which politicians seem currently reluctant to sufficiently tackle, and which therefore requires a government led programme on the scale in each country of Roosevelt’s New Deal, is something I share.
Why a New Deal? What is wrong with treating climate change as we would any other kind of pollution, with a mixture of regulations, taxes and subsidies? I think the answer is put rather well at the end of an article in the Economist (HT Laurie Macfarlane) which seemingly complains about the Green New Deal’s departure from what it calls ‘economic orthodoxy’. They write
“In fact, the criticism of the economic approach to climate change implicit in the Green New Deal is not that it is flawed or politically unrealistic, but that it is a category error, like trying to defeat Hitler with a fascism tax.”
I would put it in the following way. Tackling climate change is resisted by powerful political forces that have in the past prevented the appropriate taxes, subsidies and regulations being applied. Which is a major reason why the world has failed to do enough to mitigate climate change despite decades of warnings from scientists. You need something like a Green New Deal to push aside those vested interests, and get the right taxes, subsidies and regulations into place. Just as proponents of a Green New Deal are savvy about the need to overcome the resistance of, for example, the oil and gas industry, they also realise that the Green New Deal needs to be politically popular. So the New Deal package has to include current benefits for the many, perhaps at the expense of the few.
What the most effective measures are to mitigate climate change, and perhaps otherglobal environmental disasters, is a fascinating topic. We can learn a lot from the successes so far. Solar energy is now at least as cheap as coal, oil and gas, but this was not always so. It required substantial subsidies or state help for initial development, despite protests that solar energy would always be too expensive. Once a technology is widely used it tends to get cheaper to produce because innovations continue when a mass market emerges, and that is what happened with solar energy. It is impossible to pick winners in advance, so we need to try a number of things some of which will fail. Partly because of those failures a great deal of the required research and development must come from the public sector. No stone must be left unturned when the future of humanity is at stake.
Which all sounds rather expensive, and in particular will require large amounts of public money. An interesting and important issue is how this should be paid for. In the scheme proposed by among others Thomas Piketty, higher taxes on multinationals, millionaires and carbon emissions generate funds to tackle poverty, migration, and climate change. Others have suggested that this spending is better funded by borrowing or creating money. To examine who is right, I want to talk about some of the work of John Broome, an Oxford philosopher and economist.
John Broome was a key advisor to the Stern review on climate change. He argued, and Stern agreed, that we should not discount the welfare of future generations as much as market interest rates appear to do. The reason is ethical: the current generation had no justification for valuing the welfare of the unborn less than their own welfare. This helped Stern to recommend much more current action on climate change than other US based analysis. As Broome emphasised, the key argument here was ethical not economic.
In terms of the funding debate, ethical arguments are also critical. The polluter pays principle suggests that the current generation should pay to mitigate the impact of the pollution they cause. So we should all be paying more for energy, for example, so that the carbon used to produce that energy is priced to reflect its impact on climate change. The idea that the polluter should pay makes economic and ethical sense. It embodies an idea of fairness that most people would accept.
Unfortunately this does not work well enough in practice because those with an interest in selling more carbon and their political allies make people doubt that climate change is real. In addition the connections between the prices people pay and the emissions that cause climate change are often not transparent. So how do you deal with societies that for these reasons fail to pay enough to mitigate climate change?
The argument that Broome put forward (following work by Duncan Foley) is that measures to tackle climate change can be funded by issuing debt. This breaks the polluter pays principle, but it can still lead everyone to be better off (what economists call a Pareto improvement). If government debt rather than taxes are increased to pay for, for example, investment in greener infrastructure the current generation gets away with not having to pay. If future generations have to pay back the debt used to pay for these measures, that cost falls on them, but it is more than matched by the benefits to them because of the climate change avoided as a result. In other words if you cannot make the polluter pay, it is still better to take action to stop climate change even if future generations have to pay the cost of that action.
The following is the first in a two-part post about Amazon’s dependence on an obscure process known as commingling, which has become essential to underpinning its instant fulfilment services, especially its Prime offering.
If you work in finance, the concept of commingling and its cost benefits will be instantly recognisable. But so will its risks.
And it’s these sorts of risks that are now creeping into the entire Amazon systemdue to the online retailer’s open-ended fulfilment structure, which allows any third party to supply inventory into commingled stock.
Not only is commingling becoming a means by which a huge number of sub-par or counterfeited goods are entering the Amazon network, it’s arguably the reason why Amazon is being forced to take increasingly extreme steps to take control of its suppliers. As it does so, it turns itself back into a conventional vertically-integrated retailer like Tesco or Walmart, losing much of the scaling, and cost advantages, associated with its “Fulfilled by Amazon” model (FBA). This also forces an ever greater “unapproved” seller network to deal in the increasingly cut-throat dynamics of its wider marketplace offering.
The consequences of all this, as we will explain, are glaring.
Unless you make your money from selling stuff on Amazon, chances are you won’t have heard of an FNSKU. The acronym stands for Fulfilment Network Stock Keeping Unit and represents a location identifier for products sitting in Amazon warehouses. This, to all intents and purposes, equates to an Amazon barcode.
If you’re a seller on Amazon’s marketplace who has chosen to be fulfilled by Amazon’s warehouse system (a scenario which sees Amazon dispatching the seller’s products on their behalf from its warehouses) you will always need an FNSKU.
Apart from the times you don’t.
At such times all you need is a manufacturer code. And it’s these instances, sellers tell FT Alphaville, that are introducing a counterfeiting vulnerability into the Amazon system.
Not using an FNSKU is appealing for sellers. It means products sourced from manufacturers do not have to be relabelled, ensuring they can be sent into Amazon’s network directly, saving time and money. Sellers who have chosen to be fulfilled by Amazon otherwise add an additional logistical layer into their operations if they have to relabel the goods independently.
Using manufacture bar codes also means products are more likely to qualify for Amazon Prime classification, pushing them higher up the search rankings.
Sellers tell FT Alphaville that, as it stands, the Amazon system seems to structurally incentivise the use of manufacturer codes over FNSKUs as a result. Indeed, Amazon itself promotes the fact that the process speeds up delivery in its own literature:
If multiple sellers have inventory with the same manufacturer barcode, Amazon may fulfil orders using products with that barcode when those products are closest to the customer. This happens regardless of which seller actually receives a customer’s order. We use this process to facilitate faster delivery. But there is an important downside. Not using FNSKUs turns sellers’ products into cold, hard commodities which are treated as fungible with equivalent products sent into the system. This happens because of a process called commingling.
How does commingling work and why is it important to the Amazon Prime model?
If you have ever wondered how it is possible for Amazon Prime to guarantee 24, or 48, hour delivery for a hugely diverse range of products, the answer is commingling.
In its simplest and idealised form, commingling allows sellers to share inventory to the mutual benefit of all, especially with respect to speed of dispatch.
The larger the geographic area, the more effective commingling becomes. In the US, for example, a seller who supplies an Amazon warehouse in Florida can — thanks to commingling — fulfil a customer living in Minnesota as easily as customers in their home state.
To explain, consider that the time it might ordinarily take to deliver to a Minnesotan from Florida is bound by the physical limitations of travel. In other words, there’s no way a parcel can arrive more quickly than via a plane. That’s its effective speed of light limit.
However, if the buyer’s parcel can be dispatched from an equivalent commingled stock just around the corner, this theoretical speed of light limit can be broken.
A New Age of Warfare: How Internet Mercenaries Do Battle for Authoritarian Governments Sophisticated surveillance, once the domain of world powers, is increasingly available on the private market. Smaller countries are seizing on the tools — sometimes for darker purposes. By Mark Mazzetti, Adam Goldman, Ronen Bergman and Nicole Perlroth Mar 21 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/21/us/politics/government-hackers-nso-darkmatter.html
The man in charge of Saudi Arabia’s ruthless campaign to stifle dissent went searching for ways to spy on people he saw as threats to the kingdom. He knew where to go: a secretive Israeli company offering technology developed by former intelligence operatives.
It was late 2017 and Saud al-Qahtani — then a top adviser to Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince — was tracking Saudi dissidents around the world, part of his extensive surveillance efforts that ultimately led to the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In messages exchanged with employees from the company, NSO Group, Mr. al-Qahtani spoke of grand plans to use its surveillance tools throughout the Middle East and Europe, like Turkey and Qatar or France and Britain.
The Saudi government’s reliance on a firm from Israel, an adversary for decades, offers a glimpse of a new age of digital warfare governed by few rules and of a growing economy, now valued at $12 billion, of spies for hire.
Today even the smallest countries can buy digital espionage services, enabling them to conduct sophisticated operations like electronic eavesdropping or influence campaigns that were once the preserve of major powers like the United States and Russia. Corporations that want to scrutinize competitors’ secrets, or a wealthy individual with a beef against a rival, can also command intelligence operations for a price, akin to purchasing off-the-shelf elements of the National Security Agency or the Mossad.
NSO and a competitor, the Emirati firm DarkMatter, exemplify the proliferation of privatized spying. A monthslong examination by The New York Times, based on interviews with current and former hackers for governments and private companies and others as well as a review of documents, uncovered secret skirmishes in this burgeoning world of digital combat.
The firms have enabled governments not only to hack criminal elements like terrorist groups and drug cartels but also in some cases to act on darker impulses, targeting activists and journalists. Hackers trained by United States spy agencies caught American businesspeople and human rights workers in their net. Cybermercenaries working for DarkMatter turned a prosaic household item, a baby monitor, into a spy device.
The F.B.I. is investigating current and former American employees of DarkMatter for possible cybercrimes, according to four people familiar with the investigation. The inquiry intensified after a former N.S.A. hacker working for the company grew concerned about its activities and contacted the F.B.I., Reuters reported.
NSO and DarkMatter also compete fiercely with each other, paying handsomely to lure top hacking talent from Israel, the United States and other countries, and sometimes pilfering recruits from each other, The Times found.
The Middle East is the epicenter of this new era of privatized spying. Besides DarkMatter and NSO, there is Black Cube, a private company run by former Mossad and Israeli military intelligence operatives that gained notoriety after Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced Hollywood mogul, hired it to dig up dirt on his accusers. Psy-Group, an Israeli company specializing in social media manipulation, worked for Russian oligarchs and in 2016 pitched the Trump campaign on a plan to build an online army of bots and avatars to swing Republican delegate votes.
Last year, a wealthy American businessman, Elliott Broidy, sued the government of Qatar and a New York firm run by a former C.I.A. officer, Global Risk Advisors, for what he said was a sophisticated breach of his company that led to thousands of his emails spilling into public. Mr. Broidy said that the operation was motivated by hard-nosed geopolitics: At the beginning of the Trump administration, he had pushed the White House to adopt anti-Qatar policies at the same time his firm was poised to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts from the United Arab Emirates, the archrival to Qatar.
A judge dismissed Mr. Broidy’s lawsuit, but suspicions have grown that Qatar had a hand in other operations, including the hacking and leaking of the emails of Yousef al-Otaiba, the influential Emirati ambassador in Washington.
The rapid expansion of this global high-tech battleground, where armies of cybermercenaries clash, has prompted warnings of a dangerous and chaotic future.
“Even the smallest country, on a very low budget, can have an offensive capability,” or initiate online attacks against adversaries, said Robert Johnston, founder of the cybersecurity firm Adlumin and a key investigator on Russia’s 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee. “Qatar and U.A.E. are going after each other, and that war is getting very, very bloody.
“The barriers to entry in this space are getting lower and lower.”
Invitation to the traditional debate on the occasion of the next issue of anarchist revue
Existence. ---- Tuesday 26 March 2019 ---- From 19.00 Salé ---- Information Center
(Orebitská 14, Prague 3 - Žižkov) ---- On the occasion of the publication of another issue
of anarchist revue Existence, the AF Publishing House invites you to a discussion in the
Salé Information Center. ---- In the context of the main theme of the "Zapatist uprising",
we would like to commemorate the 25 years since its launch and acknowledge its
continuation to this day, despite the various forms of repression it must face. We will
talk about why it is important to critically support this insurrection, even if it takes
place on the other side of the world.
We invited members of the Black Seeds team, distributing zapatista coffee to us (this will