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May 21, 2019

Index launches new advisory service for arts organisations

UK-based freedom of expression organisation Index on Censorship has launched a new service to support arts organisations facing censorship. Building on a successful program of workshops for senior managers and boards in 2018, Index is setting up the Arts Censorship Support Service as part of its Artistic Freedom programme.

The Arts Censorship Support Service will provide assistance to colleagues in the cultural sector facing issues of censorship. The service is open to anyone in the cultural sector, employed or self-employed and the initial consultation will be free of charge.

The Arts Censorship Support Service is part of a broader programme of work offering resources to the arts sector in the UK.

Index on Censorship staff as well as a network of senior-level cultural sector and legal professionals with significant experience in managing complex ethical, reputational and legal issues, are available to offer advice on a wide range of issues, including:

  • Checking at the earliest stage of production of a new work whether there is the potential of a legal challenge
  • Advising on a communications strategy in support of provocative work
  • Advising how to manage hostile media attention
  • Providing moral support and guidance on how to deal with the emotional stress associated with controversy.

The Arts Censorship Support Service is part of a broader programme of work offering resources to the arts sector in the UK. Index also offers bespoke training and consultancy at all levels, from one-to-one consultancy to boards and staff training, from schools workshops to development of bespoke guidance on freedom of expression.

A resource centre on the Index website also provides information via case studies that examine examples of how arts organisations have handled highly sensitised, contentious and complex issues in today’s society. Collectively, the case studies aim to equip arts organisations and artists with insight into what worked and what didn’t, what was contested, and what lessons were learned.

Five booklets covering Art and the Law give clear information about criminal laws governing freedom of expression and the protections available to arts organisation in mounting challenging work.

For more information, please contact: Sean Gallagher, Index on Censorship,

Omar El-Khairy and Nadia Latif / Homegrown

Homegrown is a piece commissioned by the National Youth Theatre (NYT) investigating the motivation behind radicalisation of young Muslims in schools.

Out of Joint / Rita Sue and Bob Too by Andrea Dunbar

Andrea Dunbar’s play Rita Sue and Bob Too was commissioned by Max Stafford-Clarke, then artistic director of Royal Court, in 1982.

Music Theatre Wales / The Golden Dragon

Although MTW’s production of The Golden Dragon had received positive reviews in the press, some had expressed concerns that all five of the performers were white, despite the fact they were playing various Asian characters.

Eric Gill / The Body

The case study of the exhibition Eric Gill: The Body at Ditchling Museum of Arts & Crafts is different from the others in this section. In all the other cases, Index on Censorship got involved because artwork had been removed or cancelled, but in this case we were brought in at the early stage of the museum’s planning of an exhibition that was potentially divisive and controversial.

The post Index launches new advisory service for arts organisations appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Index on Censorship at May 21, 2019 07:46 AM


(en) [Finland] May Day in Helsinki: Against authority, fascism and capitalism! By ANA (pt) [machine translation]

On May 1, 2019, a memorable demonstration and demonstration of traditional leftist organizations and other parties in the country were held in Helsinki. Antifascists, anarchists and leftist activists organized a revolutionary anti-fascist and anti-fascist bloc and passed through the city. At 9 am a memorial rally was held near the memorial to the fallen soldiers of the Finnish Red Guard, workers who died in concentration camps organized by nationalists and white guards in 1918-19. Anarchists and anti-fascists raised black and red flags and placed flowers as a sign of respect for memory and solidarity with revolutionaries of past ages. ---- Between 11 and 12 hours, about 450-500 protesters with black and red flags, a "Everything Belongs to You" banner and other banners and posters were gathered near the "Hakaniemi" subway station. Among the protesters were ...

by A-infos ( at May 21, 2019 07:03 AM

(en) levante cnt-ait: District of Marina Alta, conflict Gasorba SL (ca) [machine translation]

GASORBA SL EXPLOITS, HUMILIATES, REPRESSES AND DISAPPOINTS ITS WORKERS AND WORKERS. ---- Last November 2018, the trade union section of the SLTCMA of CNT-AIT was set up in Gasorba SL, a fact that was communicated to the company, which, although implicitly acknowledging the section, did not do the same with its corresponding delegate, arguing that the The company has fewer than 25 workers in the workforce. ---- Gasorba SL, a merchant that has branches scattered throughout the Marina Alta region, practices the systematic breach of the collective agreement with a series of pick-ups, always signed by a "representative", handpicked by the company. Therefore, with the constitution of the union section of CNT-AIT the company was "forced" to prepare union elections, whose participation was null and which was presented a "wild card" by the UGT. Thereafter, the situation worsened: ...

by A-infos ( at May 21, 2019 07:02 AM


Police Ambushed in Goussainville

On May 14, a trap set by a band of about twenty people with masked faces, and wearing hoods. That’s what was waiting for the police on rue Malcom-X, in Goussainville, on the night of Monday to Tuesday, around 2 … Continue reading

by Attaque at May 21, 2019 06:59 AM


(en) Britain, Class War on Homophobia

Homophobia is rife in Broadstairs JD Sports! Earlier today Class War's London Mayoral Candidate Adam Clifford was in the scummy store with his boyfriend Marilyn. Marilyn gives our Adam an affectionate hug and kiss on the neck, and lo and behold Madam Homophobe the Manager comes thundering over and tells the lads to refrain from their minimalist shows of affection as it is inappropriate and making customers uncomfortable! Marilyn says "what, showing affecton to my boyfriend is inappropriate? I wasn't giving him a blow job!". Adam asks her if she'd be giving them a bollocking if they'd been a straight couple but she had a sudden loss of the power to speak. Goods were subsequently dropped at Madam's feet who thundered off again to her pre 1967 mindset. Fuck JD Sports. ...

by A-infos ( at May 21, 2019 06:55 AM

(en) Britain, AFED, organise magazine: Review: Anarchist Education and the Modern School

In the concluding chapter of Anarchist Education and the Modern School, Robert Haworth reminds the reader that Francisco Ferrer, his Modern School and his ideas about education are these days often mentioned in passing and are perhaps not given the due they deserve. There is a resurgence in radical education in some pockets and corners of Anarchism but most of the focus and headlines tend to be focused on black blocs, protests and the like. Not to say these tactics don't have their place; they certainly do. However, what one could argue is one of the defining aspects of anarchism seems to be severely falling behind. Education has long been a weapon of the state as well put by Tolstoy when he wrote "The strength of the government rests on the ignorance of the people, and it knows this, and therefore will always fight against education." With the political climate of 2019 ...

by A-infos ( at May 21, 2019 06:55 AM

(en) [France] Info-Debate in Montpellier: Towards the union of libertarians By ANA (fr, pt) [machine translation]

Faced with countless struggles and gigantic challenges, activists from Alternative Libertaire (AL) and the Coordination of Anarchist Groups (CGA) have decided to unite to give more visibility to the communist libertarian current. In June, the founding congress of a new communist libertarian organization will be held. An organization open to all those who want to build another society, who are tired of capitalism, social inequality, racism and sexism, and who think that we should break with the current political institutions. Come and talk to us! ---- > First meeting on Thursday, May 16, at 8 pm, at the Barricade. ---- > Second meeting on Saturday, May 18, at 7 pm at La Mauvaise Réputation, 20 Rue Terral ---- ---- ---- anarchist-ana news agency ...

by A-infos ( at May 21, 2019 06:50 AM

(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #294 - unionism, Live CGT Congress: Philippe Martinez does not want to offend anyone (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

First day of the 52 th Confederal Congress CGT. The Secretary General reaffirms a combative orientation without avoiding the difficulties accumulated over the past three years, but offers few solutions to go down the slope. A report on the spot, day by day, by the blog Libertarian libertarians of the CGT . ---- For this first day of the confederal congress, in addition to the election of the various commissions, which always gives rise to a few annoyances and tensions of no real importance, most of the day was summarized in the long introductory speech (1 hour 40 minutes) of Philippe Martinez. ---- Curious speech besides: no real report of activity, nor report of orientation, but where no difficulty is passed over silence. On several occasions, the Secretary General evokes them unabridged: structuring individual trade unionists, confederal communication, trade union training ... ...

by A-infos ( at May 21, 2019 06:49 AM

(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #294 - antifascism, Strategies: Overcoming the antifa (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

While far-right ideas tend to gain influence in society and are increasingly taken up by almost all the institutional parties, a critical analysis of the strategy of the " antifa groups " seems necessary today. . ---- With the digital recession and the loss of influence of the traditional organizations of the labor movement during the last decades, we can note for several years a strategic vagueness around the anti-fascist fight, exercised by fewer and fewer people and tending to reproduce actions and events. more out of habit than by imagining a relevant construction of antifascism among the masses. ---- If it is not a question here of going against what is happening with the specific antifas groups (concerts, militant bars, watch and information blogs), we can estimate that there exists a tendency to the inter-group: some groups prioritize the organization of cultural ...

by A-infos ( at May 21, 2019 06:46 AM

(en) Palestinian Anarchists in Conversation: Recalibrating Anarchism in a Colonized Country

"I'm honestly still trying to kick the nationalist habit," jokes activist Ahmad Nimer, as we talk outside a Ramallah cafe. Our topic of conversation seems an unlikely one: living as an anarchist in Palestine. "In a colonized country, it's quite difficult to convince people of non-authoritarian, non-state solutions. You encounter, pretty much, a strictly anticolonial - often narrowly nationalist - mentality," laments Nimer. Indeed, anarchists in Palestine currently have a visibility problem. Despite high-profile international and Israeli anarchist activity, there doesn't seem to be a matching awareness of anarchism among many Palestinians themselves. ---- "Contemporary discussion of anarchist themes shifts emphasis towards more of an approach to power: rejecting power over, in favor of power with. "When you talk about anarchism as a political concept, it is defined as ...

by A-infos ( at May 21, 2019 06:45 AM

Channel Zero

Episode 45: “Q&A, Aye?”

This post was originally published on this site

Hey, y’all!

Check out this bonus episode of Coffee with Comrades, previously recorded as a Q&A to thank our Patreon supporters.


  • Intro: “I Ain’t Got No Home in this World Anymore” by Woody Guthrie
  • Outro: “Fascists Don’t Cry” by CRASHprez


by Coffee with Comrades at May 21, 2019 04:00 AM


Athens, Greece: Attack Against Kaisariani Police Station

Athens, Greece: Attack Against Kaisariani Police Station
Orchestrating Melodies of Destruction May 14th was not an ordinary night for the cops at Kaisariani Police Station. Just before 4AM, while the city slept in darkness and the cops slept in their laziness, we woke them up with the deafening melody of the fire that perfectly accompanied their high-pitched screams. The spectacle was completed […]


by nayeclone at May 21, 2019 03:36 AM

May 20, 2019

A radical publisher has set up an ‘anarchist Big Issue’ scheme in London and it’s thriving

From The Canary

(article also available as 8 min. audio file at above link)

On 11 May, Dog Section Press (DSP) said it had distributed 800 copies of its newspaper DOPE to “homeless vendors around Whitechapel, London” over the past month. So The Canary spoke to DSP about its “experiment in radical publishing solidarity”.


DSP is a London-based publisher and distributor running on a not-for-profit basis. It deals in what the publisher describes as “seditious literature”, focusing on anarchist and radical left ideas. And it carries this ethos through to the texts it puts out, stating that:

We aim to keep our publications as affordable as possible, and we distribute books and pamphlets that are inexpensive; at the same time, we refuse to compromise on quality – because there’s nothing too good for the working class.

Furthermore, all of its books are not only free to read online but also available on a Creative Commons licence for republishing. DSP told The Canary that it did this because:

we don’t believe in intellectual property – though we’re able to do that because we’re much smaller than most of the big radical publishers, and mostly voluntarily run.

Subject matters

DSP’s publications cover a wide range of topics. They include:

The Canary asked the publisher what marked it out from other radical presses in the UK. But DSP quickly pointed out that it has “far more in common” with its peers than differences, and has “comradely relations” with many of them. NO! Against Adult Supremacy and the Great Anarchists series, for example, were co-published with Active Distribution.

Responding to a question about what guides publication choices, DSP said:

We don’t have very strict editorial guidelines and it’s a fairly loose commissioning process. It’s essentially whatever we feel is most interesting and important – and have the resources for – at any given time. We don’t ever put things out because we think they’re going to be marketable or sell well – obviously, we hope they will but that’s never our primary motivation.

Propaganda by the deed

Then there is DOPE, a “quarterly newspaper” that’s, so far, put out five issues. DSP said that it came from a desire to “do something that was more regular”, and:

an opportunity to feature a broad range of political writing. The first issue was put out as something of an experiment but we’re just about to put out Issue 6 – which features Benjamin Zephaniah and Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods – so it seems to be working. It’s completely independent, there’s no party or member organisation behind it, and we don’t get any funding, so it’s totally reliant on its readers and supporters. It’s still pretty precarious, but it’s definitely moving in the right direction.

Past contributors have included working-class academic Lisa McKenzie, youth rights advocate Kathleen Nicole O’Neal, rapper Potent Whisper, prison abolitionist Jasmine Ahmed and Marxist writer Richard Seymour. In keeping with its commitment to quality, each edition is also beautifully illustrated by artists and designers.

Like the rest of DSP’s catalogue, people can read DOPE online for free or buy a physical copy. But DSP has also established a unique distribution method for the newspaper. A percentage of the total copies printed are what DSP calls “solidarity issues”. These are made available for free to vendors, who can then sell them at the cover price of £3. DSP described this as “along the Big Issue model” but more directly inspired by Nervemeter magazine. And it started this because:

We try and be as deeds not words for an organisation whose primary purpose is the publishing of words. So while political education and spreading propaganda is important to us, we also wanted to do something based on tangible solidarity – we’ve tried to make DOPE a direct action, a sort of propaganda-by-the-deed.

“I live for this. I eat.”

There’s no ‘gatekeeping’ around who can and can’t sell the magazine, or how they are sold. DSP explicitly states that the magazine is available to homeless people as well as “anyone else who could use a little solidarity”. And DSP told The Canary that this could include “refugees, low-waged and unemployed people”. A person only needs to pick up a bundle from Freedom Press in Whitechapel. “We don’t place conditions on vendors,” DSP told The Canary, “because we believe in autonomy and think sellers are best placed to self-direct their survival”. It also responded to vendor requests to look more legitimate by printing up bags for the bundles. The bags have a logo on the front and rights for street vendors on the back.

Since Spring 2018, when its first issue was published, nearly 3000 copies of DOPE have been distributed to vendors. As a result, the newspaper is a big success – not just for the publisher itself, but for those selling it. DSP said, for example, that in one instance:

One of our vendors made £100 by selling a bag of 20 outside the Bank of England – which was pretty astute business sense of them – and I’d guess that people who work there aren’t regularly reading radical Left publications.

And one of its regular vendors said:

Furthermore, DSP also makes DOPE available for free to prisoners. And it told The Canary that the number of prison subscriptions is “steadily growing”.

Coming soon

At present DOPE is limited to London but DSP is now aiming to get it distributed further afield. In order to do so, though, it is looking for people in other cities who can organise such a scheme locally. More funding would also go a long way. At present, solidarity issues of DOPE are primarily funded by through DSP’s Patreon page but DSP also encourages people to contact it directly if they would like to support the project.

Beyond expanding the reach of DOPE, the publisher also has more books planned. Its Great Anarchists series will continue with editions on Oscar Wilde and Max Stirner. And DSP said more stand-alone titles are imminent too:

The next three publications we have planned include a pamphlet of subvertising from Protest Stencil, a collection of illustrated essays on anarchism edited by Kim Kelly, and another collection of illustrated essays entitled Post Police Theories (because the post-capitalist world is a post-police world).

DSP has also released its first video, Subvertisers for London.

Words and actions

DSP said that “anarchism is still much maligned in the public consciousness although that is starting to change”. And that’s true. While there’s been a recent surge in public discourse about socialism, its black sheep cousin anarchism has remained firmly at the fringes. But DOPE‘s distribution model is one example of how anarchist praxis has a meaningful impact on people’s lives.

Words mean little without action to back them up. And DSP is showing just how words can be turned into action.

Featured image via Dog Section Press

Get involved

by thecollective at May 20, 2019 10:59 PM

trespass network

South Africa: Break-in at the Abahlali baseMjondolo Office

This morning we arrived at our office, which is in the Diakonia Centre in
central Durban, to find that there had been a break in last night. The hard
drives of two computers, an external hard drive and the keys to our safe
were taken. The cash in the safe was not touched and other easily saleable
items, like our microwave, television, cameras and mobile sound system were
not taken.

It was clear that the thieves were looking for information, not money. One
of the hard drives that they took is old and would have very little resale
value. However, the two hard drives, and the external hard drive that were
taken, do contain lots of information about our movement, including the
audited database of our membership which is a spreadsheet with every
members’ name, age, phone number, ID or passport number and other details,
details of all our branches, our correspondence with other progressive
organisations in South Africa and elsewhere in the world, and so on.

It is clear that this break in was the work of intelligence. We can’t be
certain about the motivation for the break in but our immediate suspicion
is that it is linked to our opposition to the gangster mayor of Durban, and
all the gangster councillors that support her.

We are currently waiting for the police to finish at the crime scene. Once
they have left we will be able to see if anything else was taken, such as
files, documents etc.

We repeat our call for the immediate removal of Zandile Gumede from her
position as mayor, and for the strongest possible protection for the
witnesses who will testify against her.

We will not be intimidated. We have nothing to hide. The struggle continues.

by tegengif at May 20, 2019 09:19 PM


JaKra! is initiated by KSU Den Haag (The Hague Squatting Info Centre). In this book project we would like to look back on a number of developments and events in the past year, together with squatters and housing activists in different places. By sharing some of our successes and setbacks on an annual basis, we hope to contribute to creating more involvement and solidarity between activists from all over. In the book you’ll also find background articles and helpful info concerning squatting and housing struggles.


by tegengif at May 20, 2019 08:02 PM


“We Don’t Need You to Speak for Us. We Already Have a Voice”

Adrian Rivera-Reyes is a cancer biologist and democratic socialist running for Philadelphia’s city council. In an interview, he talks about growing up in Puerto Rico under US colonialism, organizing a union with his coworkers at the University of Pennsylvania, and bringing activist pressure to Philadelphia’s city hall.

alt Adrian Rivera-Reyes, a candidate for Philadelphia city council. Image via

Adrian Rivera-Reyes is running for Philadelphia city council at-large in the Democratic primary, which often functions as the de facto election in the strongly Democratic city. He is one of the more than twenty-eight candidates running for the at-large seats in the Democratic primary, five of whom with the most votes will run as Democratic nominees in the November election.

A native of Puerto Rico who came to Philadelphia to pursue a PhD in cancer biology, Rivera-Reyes is a Philadelphia Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member who is running on a left-wing platform targeting the crises of climate change, unaffordable housing, and inadequate funding for public education.

Rivera-Reyes sat down for an interview with Ronald Raju Joseph, a Philadelphia and BuxMont DSA organizer. The transcript has been edited and condensed.

Ronald Raju Joseph

Let’s begin with your story. Who are you?

Adrian Rivera-Reyes

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico in a working-class family. Like many working-class families, especially in Philadelphia and in the county, my story is the story of struggle. I grew up in a family where my parents had to take multiple jobs to make ends meet. Growing up, we struggled to afford a home. We, for a number of years, weren’t able to afford health insurance. My parents also struggled to send me and my brother to school.

So, it is pretty clear from my platform and story why I am a democratic socialist and why I know the importance of education, housing, and health care. That’s why I am fighting to make sure those three things are ensured as human rights and that we have local elected officials that are willing to fight for that. Then, as a scientist, a big part of my platform is a municipal Green New Deal for Philadelphia that combats climate change and transitions our economy to a green new economy.

Puerto Rico is a place where political power is really limited due to colonialism. There are all these injustices that are caused by the imperialism and colonialism imposed on the island for hundreds of years, first by Spain and now by the United States, that still plague the island and its economy. A lot of that was part of my upbringing, seeing these injustices and there being no real political process for us to get out of it. There is a lot of that in me, and that helps me bring the passion to fight injustice. And I get to Philly and it’s a “majority-minority” city and the largest poorest city in the country where racial inequality affects how government works, just like in Puerto Rico.

The tipping point for me when I decided to run was asking myself: “How come I grew up in Puerto Rico — in a place that is so limited in many ways and especially politically — and I still have enough resources and opportunities to get a good education here in Philadelphia while children like me growing in similar conditions in this city don’t have those opportunities? Why is our local government failing our children? Why is our local government failing our black and brown communities and our working-class communities?”

Ronald Raju Joseph

Could you describe your political work before your campaign for city council?

Adrian Rivera-Reyes

While I was doing my PhD in cancer biology at the University of Pennsylvania, I led the Penn Science Policy & Diplomacy Group and we focused on informing policy with science. We looked at science- and evidence-based processes to inform and create policy. Through that I started organizing in Philly with 314 Action, a national group based in Philly that endorses scientists running for office.

Through that group and while organizing for the grad student union that we tried forming at Penn, I met Molly Sheehan. who was then running in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s 5th congressional district. She became a friend and a mentor, and I volunteered as a policy analyst on her campaign. On that campaign, I did a lot of research on immigration and health care policy, especially on H1B visa programs and single payer health care, especially showing how the latter would be more cost-effective than our current private health insurance system.

Ronald Raju Joseph

Could you describe your experience as a labor organizer with the Graduate Employees Together University of Pennsylvania (GET-UP), the grad student union at Penn?

Adrian Rivera-Reyes

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) was the major union helping us students to organize. I had my trainings and then had conversations with other students about GET-UP, workers’ rights, and their experiences, trying to persuade them to sign pledge cards. It was a lot of outreach work, especially reaching out to Spanish-speaking students among whom fears were especially real, due to possible repercussions from going against the University of Pennsylvania. So I did a lot of that outreach in Spanish and helped to expand GET-UP to student communities that might have been more hesitant.

Ronald Raju Joseph

Now you are running for city council at-large in Philadelphia. Why did you decide to run for local office? How do you see advancing democratic-socialist priorities at a municipal level if you are elected?

Adrian Rivera-Reyes

Philly has given me so much. This is where I came out of the closet. I see myself having a family here one day and I really want to contribute to Philadelphia. I also see a lot of people who, like myself, haven’t had our voices heard in our political process and with our elected officials.

And there is a lot we can do at the local level. People tend to focus a lot on the national level, but our city has a huge poverty problem and a really big racial divide. Twenty-six percent of the population in Philly lives below the poverty line and most of those families are black and brown families. In terms of policies, we shouldn’t have legislation like the ten-year tax abatement that gives exemptions to corporations on paying property taxes for ten years, while long-term homeowners face rising taxes, gentrification, and displacement. There is also the soda tax, a regressive tax that falls on working-class folks and not corporations, that especially hurts communities of color in food deserts that already lack access to healthy foods.

Ultimately many of these policies are crafted from people at the top without much care for people who are working class, who are the 99 percent. As democratic socialists, it is really important that we craft policies and have local elected officials put working people over profits. I am running because I want children growing up here in similar conditions I did to have a good education, a home to live, and access to health care.

Ronald Raju Joseph

Of course the political process isn’t just elections. There are also movements in streets and communities. If elected, would you commit to using your bully pulpit to amplify the voices of those movements?

Adrian Rivera-Reyes

Absolutely. We do a lot of that through DSA. I am a big labor person; unions are extremely important for building power for working-class politics. So, we really need to help unions expand into new sectors and incorporate more workers.

I am an activist; I am all for amplifying our voices. Elected officials are always saying that they want to be a voice for the voiceless. We don’t need you to speak for us. We already have a voice. We need you to pass the microphone. Let us speak for our communities.

If elected on May 21, I would be the first ever openly out councilmember in Philadelphia’s history; I would be the first democratic socialist, the millennial, the only one with a PhD on council, the only Latino city council-member at-large, and the only one with a health care background. These are all communities and groups that have been left out of the conversation and lacking a seat at the table for way too long. We need to acknowledge that and be open to having people speak for our own communities.

Ronald Raju Joseph

In the primary for city council at-large, five democrats will be elected to compete in the general election. Obviously the Democratic and Republican parties are not parties in the traditional sense due to the United States’ restrictive ballot access laws. Because of that, you find yourself running in a primary that also has someone like Councilmember Allan Domb, the neoliberal “condo king” who makes a lot of money off of the ten-year tax abatement and who also has been a champion for the developer lobby. How would you describe your relationship with the Democratic Party, especially in Philly?

Adrian Rivera-Reyes

My relationship with the party structure is limited. I am a new candidate, left of everyone, and a democratic socialist. But I will say that I have good relationships with most of the candidates running. I agree that there are people like Councilmember Allan Domb, who profit from the ten-year tax abatement and who is on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me, who we shouldn’t have on the council. But it’s a good relationship with most people, people I respect and who have done good policies.

But I will also bring the fight and the grit. Getting activism into city council and working with activist partners will be really important, especially in getting these conversations to flow to where they have to go and crafting policy in ways that benefit working people. So, I think by being on city council, I will be able to bring people to the left and enact policies that benefit working people.

Ronald Raju Joseph

As a Philly DSA member who is running for office, how do you think Philly DSA should relate to existing political groups and movements in the city?

Adrian Rivera-Reyes

Like everything, including my candidacy and DSA as an organization, our best work comes out when we build coalitions — and DSA is really good at that. So we need to make sure that we are building bridges and that putting important issues at the forefront, fighting for that and bringing in as many people as we can in the process. We are creating and sustaining a movement for everyone.

I think Philly DSA has this really big opportunity, especially if I get elected to council, to build power for the organization and help drive that activism into getting stuff done to address the issues that affect Philadelphians on a daily basis.

Ronald Raju Joseph

An issue that you have highlighted in your campaign is equitable funding for public education. Could you elaborate?

Adrian Rivera-Reyes

Let’s go back to the ten-year tax abatement, a policy that’s depriving our schools of $386 million every ten years. Our schools are in a very dire moment when the buildings themselves are falling apart. They are covered in asbestos, lead paint, and toxic mold. We see the impact on children, like the asthma rates which are higher than most places all over the county. It’s atrocious and inconceivable that we as a city has allowed this to happen. We really need to make that our priority.

For a while before I started the campaign, I was going to some meetings of the immigration group within the Caucus of Working Educators [a rank-and-file teachers caucus within the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers], and I heard firsthand the educational resources children needed, especially immigrant children. So it’s important work that these teachers — from the Caucus of Working Educators, Our City Our Schools Coalition, and other groups — are leading.

People constantly talk about schools, yet we don’t see that importance reflected from the policies that are actually made. Instead we have policies like the ten-year tax abatement which are depriving our school system. We need to eliminate that and put that money in our schools. And not only on the physical infrastructure side: we know that most of our public schools lack counselors, teachers, nurses, and teacher’s aides, all of whom are overworked and underpaid. To me, that’s an extreme moral failure and we need to do everything we can to ensure that our children are going to healthy schools.

Ronald Raju Joseph

And could you elaborate more on affordable housing, the other issue you have highlighted?

Adrian Rivera-Reyes

On housing, we have an extremely high eviction rate. And most evictions happen to single mothers of color. We really need legislation like rent control and just-cause eviction legislation. The city has done some good recently, with input from housing justice activist groups including in Philly DSA, like getting tenants lawyers if they are evicted from their homes. It gives tenants who don’t have the means to get legal defense to combat injustice from landlords, especially slumlords.

Going back to the ten-year tax abatement again, homeowners in the city are basically subsidizing corporate giveaways through the ten-year tax abatement, while taxes are increasing consistently for working people. What we have are policies that are gentrifying our neighborhoods.

Ronald Raju Joseph

In terms of issues and activism, Philly has been a hotbed for leftist criminal justice work as well. There is the Judge Accountability Table, which Philly DSA members have worked with to elect leftist candidates to judicial offices in order to reshape the criminal justice system in Philadelphia. What are your perspectives on that work?

Adrian Rivera-Reyes

I think that is extremely important. We have the privilege here in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania to elect our judges. We really need to be building a bench of judges who are accountable to people and be fair to everyone, especially communities of color which are consistently targeted by the criminal justice system here in Philly. I am extremely happy that it is happening, and we should build power in all three branches — in the mayor’s office, city council, and judge offices.

Ronald Raju Joseph

One of the constants in Philadelphia politics is the relationship between the Democratic city and the Republican state. What are your thoughts on the relationship between our city and the state and how that plays out in the state capital in Harrisburg?

Adrian Rivera-Reyes

I think Philadelphia has a huge untapped power because we are the biggest city in the state. And we can use that and leverage our position within the state to decide statewide elections, especially with the other progressive end which is Pittsburgh.

But there is a lot of work to do for us. I think it is important for us right now, right this moment, to build coalitions and bring people into the movement across the state. We build power when we connect the threads that unite us and build a movement on top of that. That’s the job of my lifetime.

Ronald Raju Joseph

In that context, do you see a lot of potential for more democratic-socialist, and broader progressive and leftist, organizing across the state?

Adrian Rivera-Reyes

Absolutely. Pittsburgh DSA has been doing great work. We also have BuxMont DSA, Delco DSA, and other DSA groups in the suburbs and other areas doing good organizing work. But we should also acknowledge that there are groups like Indivisible that have formed all over the state. These are groups that we need to engage that are already doing a lot of work and know their communities really well. So we should have those conversations about how we can move our communities and the state forward in the direction we desire.

Ronald Raju Joseph

Every political movement has its friends and enemies: Bernie and AOC vs the Democratic establishment, neighbors vs developers, and workers vs bosses. Who are your friends and who are your enemies in your vision for a Philadelphia that works for all?

Adrian Rivera-Reyes

My friends are Philadelphians. We are running a grassroots campaign that is accountable to the people. I am running to represent and be there for the 1.5 million people of Philadelphia, including the communities I am from. The big corporate interests — like developers and fossil fuel companies — who have a grip over our policies and others who stand against working-class Philadelphians are our enemy.

by Adrian Rivera-Reyes at May 20, 2019 06:59 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Does God Hate Women? A Bangladeshi Murder Case

Credit: Jason Beaubien/NPR

By Jan Lundius
STOCKHOLM / ROME, May 20 2019 (IPS)

On 6 April, nineteen-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi was by a fellow student brought to the roof of their school. She told Nusrat that a friend of hers was beaten up there. Unknown to Nusrat, Moni who was four months pregnant at the time, had earlier bought burqas and gloves for three of the men who were awaiting them on the roof. Another girl, Umma, was already there beckoning Nusrat to come up. However, when Nusrat entered the roof Umma threw her down and tied her legs. The burqa-dressed men surrounded the defenseless Nusrat, demanding her to withdraw accusations of sexual harassment against the schools´headmaster. When Nusrat refused to give in, one of the men held her head down, while another poured kerosene over her and set her on fire.

The killers wanted it to look like suicide, but were surprised during the murderous act and fled the scene. Nusrat was rushed to hospital with 80 percent of her body severely burned. In the ambulance, she recorded through her brother´s mobile phone what had happened. He had ever since his sister approached the police on 27 March to raise her complaint, been worried about her safety. When Nusrat returned to school to sit her final exams her brother accompanied her, but he was not allowed to enter and did not see his sister until she was brought out of school with lethal injuries. Nusrat died four days later and was followed to her grave by thousands of shocked citizens from her small hometown of Feni, 160 km south of Dakha. Even if it was committed in a madrassa, a Muslim school, it is doubtful whether the murder actually had anything to do with religion. It was more likely connected with power, manipulation, and corruption.

Siraj-ud-Daula, the headmaster accused of inciting the murder, had molested Nusrat at least three times before her family told her to file a sexual harassment case. It was far from the first time Siraj-ud-Daula was accused of sexual assault and unethical behaviour. Three years before Nusrat´s accusation Siraj-ud-Daula had after several allegations been expelled from Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist political party. However, he joined the Awami League instead, becoming a member of its local administration. It has been reported that the ruling party accepted Siraj-ud-Daula after it had received ”some financial benefits through him.” Police witnesses stated that over the last 18 years, at least 15 locally influential people had received money and gifts from the regularly incriminated Siraj-ud-Daula.[1]

Siraj-ud-Daula´s local influence may have been one reason for the police´s reluctance to act upon Nusrat´s complaint. The local police force ought to have provided her with a safe environment to recall her traumatic experiences. Instead, the officer in charge filmed her statement with his mobile phone and later leaked the video to local media. The police first stated that Nusrat´s complaint was ”no big deal” and delayed the arrest of Siraj-ud-Daula, who after being taken into custody even was able to mobilize a protest demanding his release. One of the accused murderers, Hafez Abdul Kader, was a teacher by the madrassa headed by Siraj-ud-Daula. This teacher had earlier been active in Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing organization of Jamaat-e-Islami.

The murder of Nusrat and its connection with corrupt political and religious leaders raises questions about rampant misogyny, patriarchalism, the connection between religion and politics and many other sensitive issues that for decades have plagued Bangladesh. Nevertheless, massive demonstrations following upon the murder indicate a strong tradition of diversity and inclusion, a will to progress and change. The story of Bangladesh is not the story of a secular country turning to Muslim radicalism, it is about a country that against all odds has survived almost unbelievable hardships and appears to be prepared to take a stand against religious bigotry, and hopefully rampant corruption as well.[2] Twenty-three persons have been arrested in connection with the heinous crime in Feni, several police officers have been transferred and suspended from service, while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has visited Nusrat´s family, promising that ”None of the culprits will be spared from legal action.”

Sheikh Hasina´s political career may serve as an illustration to Bangladesh´s difficult transformation since its dependence in 1971, which followed upon a nine-month war that have caused three million deaths, including the mass murder of civilians. The numbers of victims, through declassified documents from the Pakistan government provide clear evidence of a campaign of genocide ordered from the top down. The scars have not been properly healed and religious conflicts tend to rip them open.

Awami League, the party headed by Sheikh Hasina´s father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won the general elections of 1973. Two years later members of the armed forces murdered Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family, including his wife, two adult sons, their newly wed wives and their 8 year old small son. Being in Germany at the time saved the lives of Sheikh Hasina her sister Sheikh Rehana The murders were part of a coup mainly carried out by soldiers with a Pakistani training, who disliked Sheikh Mujibur Rahman´s move towards a secular form of government. Among other actions, he had been instrumental in banning Jamaat-e-Islami, a movement that had opposed the independence of Bangladesh.[3]

Sheikh Hasina, one of the world´s most powerful women, has been in and out of power, in and out of prison. She has survived assassination attempts. Several members of her party have been murdered and its meetings interrupted by lethal grenade attacks.

It is no coincidence that Feni´s madrassa was established by Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist political movement founded in British India to develop “an ideology based on a modern revolutionary conception of Islam,” intending to educate an elite able to amend ”erroneous ways of thinking” from the top down.[4] About 90 percent of Bangladesh´s population define themselves as Muslims and the nation´s various governments have been involved in a precarious balancing act involving an extreme fundamentalist minority and a huge population striving for general well-being.

Sheikh Hasina´s administrations have on several occasions tried to curb upheavals fuelled by Islamist opposition. For example, in 2010 the governing Awami League established a war crimes tribunal to address atrocities perpetrated during the War of Independence. Several Muslim leaders were convicted, causing a wave of Islamist terrorism, peaking between 2013 and 2016 when secularist activists, homosexuals, and religious minorities were viciously targeted. The Government’s eventual successful crackdown in June 2016 resulted in the arrest of 11,000 persons, within a little more than a week´s time.

However, horrific incidents like the one in Feni indicate a fault line in the Bangladeshi Constitution stating that in family matters religious law trumps civil law. Thus, when it comes to divorce, inheritance and child custody, the law overwhelmingly favours men. This basic differentiation filters through the entire society, making violence against women almost omnipresent, though hidden and largely unpunished. Nevertheless, progress is being made. Girls and boys have achieved parity in primary school admissions. After decades of investment in public health, great strides have been taken in reducing maternal mortality and increasing access to village-level health programs.

There is hope that a general misconception that religion is beyond respect for human rights will eventually disappear. Fundamentalism indicates an avoidance of personal responsibility by clinging to what is assumed to be the literal words of God. However, any text is subject to human interpretation. Accordingly, human fallibility tends to distort what is written, making it impossible to irrationally adhere to words of God. All that may be achieved is a limited human interpretation of God’s will. Religious experience is dynamic and effervescent and furthermore influenced by politics, power, and greed. It cannot be bottled up and fixed for all times. Any offender of human rights has thus to be judged in accordance with human law and not by what is perceived as divine law. Accordingly, those who instigated and committed Nusrat´s murder, as well as those minimizing and defending their crime, should not be allowed to place judgment in what they assume to be divine justice.

[1] Information in this article is based on reporting from BBC and Dhaka Tribune.
[2] Anam, Tahmima (2016) ”´Is Bangladesh Turning Fundamentalist? – and other questions I no longer wish to answer,” The Guardian 16 May.
[3] Jamaat-e-Islami was re-established after the coup.
[4] Adams, Charles J. (1983) “Maududi and the Islamic State,” in Esposito, John L. (ed.) Voices of Resurgent Islam. Oxford University Press.

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion from Lund University and has served as a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organisations.

The views expressed in the article are those of the author.

The post Does God Hate Women? A Bangladeshi Murder Case appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Jan Lundius at May 20, 2019 06:49 PM

Deep Green Resistance News Service

Geo-engineering: A wétiko experiment on the planet

By Elizabeth Robson / Art for Culture Change

In the preface to Columbus and Other Cannibals, Derrick Jensen asks: “why is the dominant culture so excruciatingly, relentlessly, insanely, genocidally, ecocidally, suicidally destructive?” [1]

The author of Columbus and Other Cannibals, Jack D. Forbes, goes on to answer Derrick’s question in the chapters of his remarkable book, pinning the main cause of our suicidal destruction on a virus of the mind, wétiko. Wétiko was first identified by Native Americans and other indigenous people, when they saw how white colonizers so disrespected the natural world, women, and all people who were not yet colonized, they needed a name for the sickness in the colonizers’ minds that allowed them to commit such acts of aggression, hate, and conquest.

Colonizers are still colonizing today, now more than ever. Colonizers take whatever they think they need from the natural world to feed the global machine of capitalism and consumerism, without a care for the living beings who need what is now destroyed, and so the living beings themselves are now destroyed, too. These colonizers know the destruction they are causing–the loss of life, the loss of biodiversity, the loss of habitat, the loss of a stable climate–and yet they continue taking and destroying anyway. This is pure arrogance.

We in the early 21st century are the most arrogant humans to ever have walked the face of the Earth. Mr. Forbes identified this arrogance as one of the major traits of wétikoism:

“There are many psychological traits that help form the wétiko personality. Greed, lust, inordinate ambition, materialism, the lack of a true ‘face,’ a schizoid (split) personality, and so on are all terms which can be used to describe most wétikos. But one of the major traits characterizing the truly evil and extreme form of wétikoism is arrogance.”

This is not new, and it’s not news. Mr. Forbes argues wétikoism first originated in Egypt, and over time infected all peoples who reigned via colonialism and imperialism, including of course the Romans, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Europeans, and the Anglo-Americans in the United States.

The wétiko virus is now more virulent than ever; we become more arrogant by the day, as we use science and technology to discover and invent whole new ways to pollute and destroy our one and only home. Mr. Forbes writes:

“Scientists in many fields recognize no societal obligations restraining their experimentation, least of all any restraints imposed by ‘the lower classes’ or less powerful nationalities. … Many modern scientists are the precise counterparts of Christopher Columbus, and not merely by way of analogy. They will pave the way for new imperialism and new systems of coercion and will themselves economically, participate in the fruits of the new ‘discoveries.’”

I cannot think of a more perfect example of wétikoism than the emerging research field of geo-engineering. Scientists working in this field are hoping to invent and understand ways to reduce the impacts of climate change via chemical and technological means. One of these research areas, solar radiation management, also known as albedo modification, is proceeding to the experimental phase at Harvard University, where scientist David Keith heads up an experiment named SCoPEx, a powered balloon that will release chemical particles into the stratosphere, and measure how those particles affect the reflection of sunlight away from the planet. Solar radiation management is widely regarded as the cheapest and easiest way to cool the planet in case we do so much damage to the climate, we find ourselves in need of such extreme and drastic measures. Inspired by volcanoes–which release reflective particles when they erupt–solar radiation management would, in theory, cool the planet with just a few applications a year, costing in the millions or low billions of dollars. Of course, we have no idea what this would do to the temperature or the weather on a planetary scale, but, scientists argue, it’s better to have a fallback idea that’s already been researched and tested, than not have one at all.

Do you or I or anyone but the scientists at Harvard have a say in whether the SCoPEx experiment goes forward? Does it matter?

Scientists tend to use the argument that it’s better to know, than not to know. Maybe. But research can lead us down a path that, in hindsight, we might wish we’d never taken. Some of the scientists who developed the hydrogen bomb, which has led us into a nuclear arms race that threatens all life on earth, regretted their participation in creating that weapon of mass destruction. Without the benefit of hindsight, how might we feel about inventing new ways to change the atmosphere of the Earth?

Of course, we already are changing the atmosphere of the Earth, so perhaps one might argue that more experiments are necessary to counteract the planetary-wide experiment we are currently running with CO2 in our atmosphere.

The thing is, these scientists at Harvard aren’t asking you, or me, or anyone else if they should go forward with their research and their experiments. They aren’t asking the millions of other species on this planet if they want more experiments on the only planet we know of that sustains life. In other words, as Jack Forbes put it, these scientists “recognize no societal obligations restraining their experimentation.”

What do the scientists get out of this research, other than satisfying their need to know? Are the scientists paving the way for “new imperialism and new systems of coercion” as Mr. Forbes writes? Are these scientists participating in the fruits of their discoveries? Are these scientists wétikos?

David Keith, the main researcher on the SCoPEx experiment at Harvard founded a company in 2009 named Carbon Engineering, of which he is executive chairman. Carbon Engineering creates technology that captures CO2 from the air. The company announced partnerships with the fossil fuel companies Chevron and Occidental in January 2019.

Why are Chevron and Occidental partnering with Carbon Engineering? Because, as Occidental stated, “the deal would complement the company’s enhanced oil recovery business, where CO2 is pumped in fields to release more fuel.”[2]

In other words, the oil companies use the captured CO2 to get more oil out of the ground.

So think about it: David Keith is the founder of and receives direct monetary benefit from a company that sucks CO2 from the air. And he is the primary researcher behind the Harvard solar radiation management experiment that would reflect more sun in our atmosphere, cooling the planet and thus allowing us to burn more fossil fuels and continue creating CO2 emissions, that his company can then capture and sell to oil companies to “enhance” oil recovery.

Yes, these geo-engineers are wétikos.

One can easily imagine the day that humanity realizes it has so utterly failed to stop the relentless and insane extraction and burning of fossil fuels, that in order to survive, in order to keep this ecocidal, genocidal culture going so that the rich and powerful can maintain their positions of power for just a little while longer, someone somewhere decides to spray reflective chemicals into the stratosphere. Will you or I or anyone who is not rich and powerful have a say in that decision? It is highly unlikely.

Will any of the other millions of species on this one planet we all call home have a say in that decision? Of course not. Wétikos forgot how to listen to the Earth a long, long time ago.

And so what is geo-engineering if not a wétiko system of planetary imperialism and coercion?

[1] Columbus and Other Cannibals, by Jack D. Forbes, 1979, 1992, 2008

by Deep Green Resistance Great Basin at May 20, 2019 06:42 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Cyclones and Struggling Economy Could Impact Mozambique’s Elections

Cyclone Idai made landfall on Mar. 14 and 15, in Mozambique’s Sofala, Manica and Zambézia provinces. It was followed by Cyclone Kenneth on Apr. 25 which affected the northern province of Cabo Delgado. Recent data from the World Food Programme (WFP) indicates that more than 2.1 million of the country’s 31 million people were affected. This, coupled with the country’s economic downturn, could affect the elections planned for later this year. Credit: Andre Catuera/IPS

By Amos Zacarias
MAPUTO, May 20 2019 (IPS)

Mozambique, which was affected by an unprecedented two tropical cyclones over a matter of weeks, is still reeling from the impact a month after the latest disaster. But resultant devastation caused by the cyclones could impact the country’s elections as concerns are raised over whether the southern African nation can properly hold the ballot scheduled for later this year.

Currently, Mozambique does not have sufficient funds to go to the polls on Oct. 15, with the national electoral body only having 44 percent of the required 235 million dollars needed to hold the election.

Cyclone Idai made landfall on Mar. 14 and 15, in Mozambique’s Sofala, Manica and Zambézia provinces. It was followed by Cyclone Kenneth on Apr. 25 which affected the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

The cyclones have also made it difficult for the National Commission of Elections (CNE) to complete the process of voter registration. Apr. 15 to May 30 was set aside for this but in the regions affected by Cyclone Idai the census have not yet begun and in Cabo Delgado voter registration was interrupted.

The damage caused by the two cyclones is enormous. Recent data from the World Food Programme (WFP) indicates that more than 2.1 million of the country’s 31 million people were affected. Of these, at least 60,000 people in the country’s central and northern regions are still living in makeshift housing centres created by the government and aid partners. While 1,67 million people are still receiving food assistance, health care and water from the government and NGOs, according to WFP.

Official data points to the death of more than 1,000 people and schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and many public buildings were destroyed.

Many have lost everything, including their proof of identity, as researcher and social activist Jessemusse Cacinda explains to IPS: “Many people have lost their documents, and the possibility of being registered to vote is greatly reduced.”

Originally the CNE had aimed to register some 14 million voters this year, up 3 million from the country’s previous national elections. This year will be first time that Mozambicans will vote for provincial governors.

But CNE president Abdul Carimo has acknowledged that the electoral body is far from registering 14 million voters.

Though Mozambique’s Minister of Economy and Finance Adriano Maleiane said in an interview with STV (Mozambican private television channel) that the government and the CNE would find ways to make the elections possible.

“If the solution is reorientation of the expenses within the limit that has been fixed, we probably don’t have to go to make an international [appeal],” said Maleiane.

Economist Manuel Victorino recognises that the difficulties in spending money on the elections and on relief efforts. He tells IPS that the country’s public accounts should also not be ignored.

At the beginning of May, the World Bank announced 545 million dollars in support for those affected by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Of this, 350 million dollars is allocated to Mozambique.

According to World Bank President David Malpass the money will be used to re-establish water supply, for disease prevention and reconstruction, among other things. It is also intended to ensure food security, provide social protection and provide early warning systems in the communities affected by the cyclones.

Rebuilding will not be easy.

Cyclones Idai and Kenneth made landfall amid an economic downturn that has affected the country since 2015 when the government’s programme partners decided to withdraw their support for the state budget, due to the discovery of hidden debts.

The World Bank stated before the cyclones that, “Mozambique continues to be in default of its Eurobond and the two previously undisclosed loans.”

Mozambique has a “real gross domestic product (GDP) growth estimated at 3.3 percent in 2018, down from 3.7 percent in 2017 and 3.8 percent in 2016. This is well below the 7 percent GDP growth achieved on average between 2011 and 2015,” according to the World Bank.

In addition, the Mozambique Tributary Authority says that between 2016 and 2017, more than 2,900 companies closed their doors due to the economic crisis and unemployment has risen. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the rate of unemployment in Mozambique is around 21 percent. But since the cyclones a number of private business have also closed.

Despite the sharp rise in debt, the Mozambican economy was expected to rise around 4 percent this year, against 3,3 percent of 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund. The country expects to generate 95 billion dollars of natural gas revenue over the next quarter of a century.

Until then, however, ordinary people are struggling.

“The situation of the country is bad. The cost of living is too high, and the purchasing power of the citizens is dropping a lot. And it has become worse due the cyclones Idai and Kenneth,” António Sabonete, a trader who sells clothes in Tete, central Mozambique, tells IPS.

Sabonete has three children and says he decided to become trader because he lost his job in 2016.

Cacinda says that the economic situation could impact the ruling party’s reputation in the next general elections

The Mozambique Liberation Front, known by it’s Portuguese acronym, FRELIMO, has dominated the polls since the first multi-party elections in 1994.

“From this high cost of living and the purchasing capacity of people has lowered. It can weaken and penalise FRELIMO [in the elections],” says Cacinda, underlining that, “the opposition parties will use all these elements linked to the crisis to build their own speech to try to convince the voters. And it’s obviously going to reduce the number of votes for FRELIMO.”

Cacinda adds that the economic crisis should create opportunities for Mozambican opposition parties to have a stronger showing in the upcoming polls, “Because for this year’s elections we feel that there is some balance.”

But FRELIMO recently publicly condemned corruption and accusations of such from within the party, appealing to justice authorities to continue investigating these cases.

But in addition to clamping down on corruption, Cabinda says that it is time for Mozambican politicians to prioritise the impact of climate change on the country.

“Mozambique and many of the Africans countries are not prepared to deal with climate change.”

“Our politicians must have a clear view of the kind of country they intend to govern and they want to leave for the future generations. Because locals development plans should be made that include issues of climate change as a priority approach,” Cabinda tells IPS.

In the meantime, others worry how they will start again from scratch.

Beira, the capital city Sofala province, was razed by Cyclone Idai. But people have started to return to the devastated city and are picking up the pieces of their lives.

Gervasio John is one of them.

In a telephonic interview with IPS, John says that he and his family returned to his home in Manga Mascarenha, a neighbourhood in Beira.

John is rebuilding his house. He is one of many who are doing so at their own cost as the government does not have the resources to directly support the reconstruction of homes.

“It’s not easy, but I need to do something to restart life after Idai, despite the fact that there is no money,” John says.

**Writing with Nalisha Adams in Johannesburg

The post Cyclones and Struggling Economy Could Impact Mozambique’s Elections appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Amos Zacarias at May 20, 2019 05:51 PM


How Australia’s Labor Party Lost an Un-Losable Election

Pundits are blaming the Australian Labor Party's left-wing turn for its shocking defeat in Saturday's election. But the failure lies in the fact that this leftist program came too little, too late.

alt Leader of the opposition and leader of the Labor Party Bill Shorten, flanked by his wife Chloe Shorten concedes defeat following the results of the Federal Election at Hyatt Place Melbourne on May 18, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. Scott Barbour / Getty Images

It was a bright morning, the Sunday after Australia’s 2019 federal election. At Melbourne’s Trades Hall, the home of the unions and the Left, the late-autumn sun slowly reddened the face of a passed-out Labor campaigner. Champagne bottles were strewn around him; some empty and some containing dregs. Is there anything sadder than champagne meant for celebration, drunk in consolation?

The night before, the Australian Labor Party (ALP), led by Bill Shorten, lost an unlosable election. Virtually no one predicted that come Monday, Scott Morrison, leader of the Coalition (the long term alliance of the conservative Liberal and National Parties), would form the government.

It is a profound setback. Few on the Australian left were expecting four more years of cruel, vindictive mediocrity. Worse, the ALP went into this election with an agenda well to the left of their usual offering. The obvious — but incorrect — conclusion to many will be that this was the cause of their defeat.

In the coming weeks and months, forensic analyses of this monumental failure will proliferate. Without wishing to predict the balance of discussion, there is already a clear danger that ALP moderates, not to mention small-l liberals, will draw elitist or conservative conclusions.

Describing an interjection made at the ALP election night party, Guardian columnist Brigid Delaney wrote:

It’s not Morrison, it’s not the Liberals, it’s not the policies, it’s not Queensland, it’s not Dutton. It’s the country that’s rotten. The call from the floor chilled me to the core. This is it, I thought. This is the hardening of the arteries, the cleaving of the country in two, the thing that Australia has largely avoided so far.

To Delaney, this was Australia’s Trump or Brexit moment. This is not an apt comparison, except in one sense: Delaney’s piece, and the many others like it, may as well be carbon copies of opinion pieces published by Clinton supporters following her defeat. The whole gamut of small-l-liberal elitism, despair, incomprehension, and self-indulgence is on display.

Other sub-par hot-takes abound. Some have called for Australia to excise Queensland (the state that was decisive for Morrison’s victory). Others have blamed the Murdoch media for running a hysterical scare campaign against Labor (which they did). Others have blamed baby boomers (admittedly more satisfying). All of this is like blaming the sun for global warming. These are facts of nature; good political strategy should take them into account.

As with every conservative victory, much of this commentary feels scripted. Twitter leftists are accusing Coalition voters of ignorance, stupidity, and of voting out of greed and self-interest. But precisely why would someone vote against their self-interest?

We need to do better than this. If we are going to beat Morrison in three years’ time, we need hard-headed analysis that explains how Labor lost the unlosable election.

The Wrong Reasons

Tanya Plibersek, senior member of the ALP left and short-lived candidate for top job, suggested that Labor “bit off more than it could chew.” Anthony Albanese, also from the ALP left, has so far struck a similar tone. At a press conference confirming his leadership tilt, he said: “I have as much respect for the blue-collar worker as I do for the homeless person and the businessman. I fit in as well in the boardroom as I do in the workroom.” This narrative is sure to be echoed by the neo-liberal right of the ALP, whose favoured candidate is Chris Bowen. Shifting to the right after a defeat is something Labor is good at. Since at least 1966, it’s been their standard play.

This election was remarkable for the fact that for once, Labor tacked to the left, briefly raising hopes. To blame this for their loss would be a disaster. In fact, the opposite was true: their tilt to the left was far too little, far too late.

As Osmond Chiu has convincingly argued in Tribune, Bill Shorten was less Jeremy Corbyn and more Ed Miliband.

If Labor’s moderately progressive economic agenda failed to resonate, it’s not because Australians are comfortable. Although we did not experience the 2008 economic crisis in anything like the same intensity as other nations, there are important parallels with the United States and Europe. Workers in Australia have endured close to four decades of neo-liberalism. This is our paradox: economic prosperity amid declining living standards.

Across the country, in cities and in rural areas, you can find profound unemployment. In Townsville, in northern Queensland, the youth unemployment rate is over 17 percent. Although overall unemployment is closer to 8 percent, this figure regards anyone working for one hour per week as employed.

On the other side of the continent, in Broadmeadows, a multicultural and working class suburb of Melbourne, the unemployment has topped 25 percent in recent years. The Newstart payment (the unemployment benefit) has not increased since 1994, and sits well below the poverty line. Insecure and casual work is rife and disproportionately affects younger workers, as does wage theft.

The housing market is artificially inflated by speculative investment, largely driven by high-income earners who purchased their first home before prices skyrocketed in the late 1990s. The overall rate of homeownership has been in decline since the 1960s. Based on Australian Tax Office figures, only around 9 percent of Australians own one investment property while less than one hundred thousand own four or more properties. These ownership patterns are pricing new buyers out of the cities, creating sprawling, alienated, and under-serviced new suburbs. Again, this disproportionately affects younger generations, many of whom are priced out of the housing market all together.

Simultaneously, privatization of basic services like transport, toll roads, infrastructure and amenities has failed badly, inflating prices and degrading service. Although Australia’s health system is the envy of many Americans, huge gaps and out-of-pocket expenses give lie to the idea that we enjoy a free and universal health system. Dental work is not covered. Similar inequalities exist in education. In many cases, private and Catholic schools receive more government support than state schools.

You could easily add to this picture. On face value, Labor’s policy package, which offered moderate redress to some of these problems, should have won. However, there is no one-to-one connection between economics and politics. Depressed living standards do not automatically lead to left-wing conclusions. Take the examples of Townsville and Broadmeadows, mentioned above.

In Townsville, as in Queensland more generally, economic hardship fostered resentment and racism as well as support for the agricultural and coal mining industries (the Adani mine, in particular). By implication, this leads to hostility towards the Left and environmentalism. The result was a landslide swing against Labor and a strong result for the hard right. The viciously racist One Nation dramatically increased its vote, appealing to deeply alienated Labor voters and bolstering the Coalition’s considerable victory in the state. Although Labor’s loss was most devasting in QLD, the result was echoed in W.A., Tasmania, and parts of rural NSW.

It is important to be nuanced when reading these results. Clive Palmer, millionaire and leader of his personal United Australia Party, is the closest parallel in Australia to Trump. He did not perform well, including in his home state. Despite spending upwards of $60 million on advertising, the UAP failed to elect even one candidate, many of whom were bottom-of-the-barrel material. The extent to which Palmer’s largely negative campaign hurt Labor is also disputable.

Without wishing to play the “won’t someone think about the racists” card, there is an important insight in this: the constituency for right-wing politics in QLD are often alienated poorer voters. These people distrusted Palmer. In comparison, they favoured candidates who are like them: Pauline Hanson in Queensland, or Jacqui Lambie in Tasmania. This is part of the reason why this result is not Australia’s “Trump moment,” although it did catch the polls and experts off guard.

The greater point is that Labor bears much of the blame for having created this constituency, through decades of neglect and betrayal.

On the other hand, in Calwell (the electorate of which Broadmeadows is a part), the Coalition polled only 24.4 percent. Labor won comfortably. The fledgling Victorian Socialists polled fourth, beating a gaggle of hard-right parties combined. In some parts of Broadmeadows, the Victorian Socialists outpolled The Greens and the Coalition. Of course, the Victorian Socialists — who were founded only in 2018 — can’t take credit for Broadmeadows’ progressive character.

Rather, the point is that the broader left in Victoria has consistently fought racism, denying it a basis in this state. The union movement is also strongest in Melbourne: for example, the NUW has played an important role organizing warehousing workers and farm workers in Melbourne’s north, both undermining racism in this ethnically diverse industry and proving that solidarity can win.

This, combined with Melbourne’s naturally multicultural makeup and a Labor party that is among the more progressive in the country, led to a rout for the Liberal party in the 2018 state election. This has also so far denied the far right an electoral home in Australia’s south.

In short, the bitterness that first manifests in a hatred of politics and second latches on to racist populists has not put down the same roots everywhere.

The Real Reasons Labor Lost

On paper, Labor’s progressive economic agenda should have resonated. As Ben Hillier explains in Red Flag, there is a strong sentiment in favor of spending on social services, even if it means higher taxes. Labor’s proposals would have placed the burden squarely on the shoulders of the top 20 percent of the population. Equally, support for meaningful action on climate change is at its highest point in a decade.

So, why did Bill Shorten fail so badly? In the most general sense, it was a case of far too little, far too late.

A few weeks out from the election, you could spot stacks of mass-printed placards targeting the 1 percent (with text in a “handwritten” font) around Melbourne’s Trades Hall. They were used at a set-piece rally, called by the unions, that barely made the headlines. And that’s about it. There were no town-hall style election rallies. No angry speeches. After years and years of alienation from politics, most people just didn’t pay attention. Consequently, there was no influx of donations or volunteers. Shorten copied at most 10 percent of Bernie Sanders’s substance and zero percent of his style, about two weeks out from a general election.

This general failure can be broken down into four more specific ones.

Firstly, Bill Shorten’s “class warfare” was vague, obscure, and low-energy. One of his key tax policies targeted “franking credits.” I’m not going to try and explain them, I barely understand it myself. All you need to know is that unless you are a very wealthy investor or self-funded retiree, you most definitely do not receive franking credits. From the point of view of policy, it was a sensible tax proposal. But from the point of view of political communication, it was incomprehensible to those who were expected to support it and provocative to those it would tax.

Compare this with Bernie Sanders’s approach. He does not go after cashed-up tradies or baby-boomers. Instead, the targets of his rhetoric are crystal clear and politically indefensible: the billionaire class. When Sanders proposes to fund education, he does not propose defensive half-measures. He does not vaguely promise that his government will “address the issue.” Instead, he promises to take away tax breaks for billionaires.

Or, take Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Like Shorten, she has made the affordability of life-saving medical treatment a rallying cry. Unlike Shorten, she knows how to where to target the blame: medical companies who astronomically inflate the cost of medicine, placing profit above human life.

In short, Labor’s campaign didn’t target the top 1 percent. It targeted the top 20 percent and it did so in an unclear and hesitant manner. It did not offer voters a key, signature reform (like Sanders’s Medicare for all), but instead vague promises to maybe, if time allows, perhaps one day look into raising Newstart.

This leads to the second point. Labor’s environmental pitch was hypocritical. On the one hand, Shorten endorsed the essentially meaningless declaration of a “climate emergency.” On the other, he steadfastly refused to block the Adani coal mine while also promising to unlock gas reserves that would, according to experts, release even more emissions.

Shorten also failed to outline any measures linking action on climate change with improved living standards. That is, he did not attack climate scepticism at its root. This is why wherever mining and resources were a factor, Labor was punished badly.

Again, Ocasio-Cortez is a strong counter-example of how to get it right. Her Green New Deal, as I have argued, explodes the false dichotomy between living standards and the health of the planet. Instead, it promises an historic restructuring of the economy that will lift people out of poverty by massively investing in renewables and infrastructure. Instead of shutting down industry and agriculture, the GND promises to reform them from head to toe, making them sustainable. This is why it is popular among even a majority of registered Republicans.

What would an Australian Green New Deal look like? It might nationalize Clive Palmer’s failing business empire (already dependent on government handouts), as well as essential services, while heavily taxing billionaires and tax-evading corporations. By targeting the top 1 percent, a vast pool of funds could be gathered to fuel a “Green Industrial Revolution” (or some suitably named Australian equivalent.)

Manufacturing high speed trains, electric cars, and solar or wind power would revitalize regional industry. Nationalizing electricity production and de-linking it from profit would both cap prices and render the market case against renewables irrelevant. Super-profits from mining companies could be used to rebuild Aboriginal communities, close the gap in life expectancy, and to fund conservation. The list could easily continue.

Shorten’s agenda was not even remotely close.

The logical objection is that a more radical platform would have met with stiff resistance from the capitalist class. This is true. In 2010, Kevin Rudd (then ALP Prime Minister) introduced a mining super-profits tax. This tax proposed to redistribute mining profits to other sectors of capital, by funding a cut to the company tax rate. This generated a savage backlash from the big mining companies. Rudd’s days were, from that moment, numbered. Australia’s not-so-endangered billionaire miners were saved.

The ALP has neither forgotten this nor have they learned. To win a class war, you need an army. Lacking one, Shorten tried to duck and weave. Even had he been elected, he would have faced withering resistance from the rich once in power, like Rudd in 2010 or the Tsipras government in Greece, in 2015. Only mass power — social movements and trade unions — can give a genuinely reforming government the social and political power needed to resist capital.

It would have been necessary to build such a movement at least four years in advance. Shorten didn’t build one at all.

This leads to the third point: the ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) mobilization, branded “Change the Rules,” failed. Granted, “Change the Rules” did raise important demands, calling for an end to restrictions on unions and the right to strike and highlighting the erosion of collective bargaining, endemic casualization, and wage theft.

The last time the unions brought down a hated conservative government was in 2007, when the “Your Rights at Work” campaign saw hundreds of thousands rally in a series of one-day political strikes. These were directed against then Liberal PM John Howard and his hated Work Choices legislation.

At the time, there was an important left-criticism of the unions: a one-week general strike would have forced Howard to his knees. Instead, the anger was channelled into a parliamentary campaign. Even so, this led to a resounding electoral defeat in which Howard himself lost his seat. This showed that the unions, although weakened, still had some social and political weight.

Imagine you make a pot of pea and ham soup. It’s not amazing, but it does the job. That was “Your Rights at Work.” Now, imagine that six months later, you find a single serving, crusted over with ice, in the back of your freezer. You microwave it (but not all the way through — you are in a hurry) and eat it, feeling a bit ashamed. That is “Change the Rules.” Sadly, but predictably, it failed to win much resonance from voters. After all, in the thirteen years since Howard’s defeat, union power has eroded even further.

This leads to the fourth long-term factor behind Shorten’s loss: the years between 2007 and 2013, in which Australia was led by the ALP’s Kevin Rudd, then Julia Gillard and then (briefly) Kevin Rudd once more. When commentators look back on these years, they usually bemoan the “chaos” and the “revolving door” of party leadership. This is like a drowning man blaming the water. The simple reason the ALP was incapable of stable leadership under Rudd and Gillard was that they attacked their base and mirrored the Liberals, politically.

I’ve mentioned the failed mining tax. This wasn’t the worst of it: Rudd’s industrial legislation (“Fair Work Australia”) preserved much of Work Choices. He also legislated to raise the retirement age to sixty-seven by 2023. Julia Gillard — remembered as a feminist and Australia’s first female prime minister — cut the single parent benefit, a move overwhelmingly affecting single mothers.

The only real exception to these cuts was Rudd’s “Keynesianism for dummies.” His occasional stimulus packages delivered one-time direct payments to poorer Australians. Admittedly it’s nice to be given free money. But this hardly rebuilt the welfare state or reversed wage stagnation. My “Rudd Bonuses” were usually eaten by my credit card. I also remember when he funded private contractors to install energy-saving light bulbs in homes. I quite enjoyed having someone from the government change my light bulbs until I discovered the new ones issued soul-crushingly harsh white light. Worse still were Rudd’s botched initiatives, like installing highly flammable insulation in private homes, leading to deaths and a Royal Commission.

Rudd and Gillard were not much better on non-economic questions. They steadfastly refused to legislate for same sex marriage (which was only won under the Liberal PM, Malcolm Turnbull). Perhaps most viciously, they out-bid the Liberals’ cruelty towards refugees, excising the mainland from the migration zone and re-opening off-shore detention centers.

It’s not just that these moves were evil (they were) or that Bill Shorten’s shadow cabinet, without exception, went along with them (they did). Rather, these moves ruined what little base the ALP had left. This is what explains the “revolving door” of ALP leadership. Subsequent changes to the party’s rules, making it more difficult to topple a standing leader, have only reinforced the ALP’s status as one of the least democratic social-democratic parties in the world.

Even had Shorten wished to lead the kind of fight I outlined above, his ALP may have found itself too hollow.

Third Way Labor Loses Again

The upshot of all this is that the ALP has not left the Hawke, Keating, Rudd, and Gillard years behind. They are trapped in Third Way Labor.

An article describing Labor’s post-election party in Crikey recounts an anecdote that captures this well. In response to the defeat, one Labor strategist suggested that they ought to have ditched the franking credits policy and simply snuck it in later: “‘Why be honest?’” she said, laughing with a touch of anger. “That’s a lesson for the kids of Australia: never be honest, ha!’”

This is more than patronizing cynicism. It is a hangover from the bad old days of “triangulation,” in which center-left parties presented a small target and tried to woo the middle ground while reforming by stealth (which generally meant not at all). This was never a path to a better world, but it was electorally viable. Now, it is positively dangerous.

Notwithstanding shuffling to the left, the party and the campaign that Shorten led was Third Way Labor through and through. This is why they lost the unlosable election. Bob Hawke was the first great Third Way leader of the ALP. Under his leadership, Labor (and the union movement) built Australian neo-liberalism, as Liz Humphrys has argued, both here and in her recent (and effectively titled) book, How Labour Built Neoliberalism. Despite its superb timing, his death two days prior to the election, was in vain. Clearly, Australians did not remember him as fondly as did the commentariat or the political class. Tony Abbott was correct to describe him as having had a “Liberal head.”

Today, we are at the end of the neoliberal era that Hawke built. Any politician or party that does not realize this dooms themselves over the long term.

Neoliberalism was a hegemonic project. This is to say, it was not simply a set of policies or poor ideas. Rather, to build hegemony, it is necessary to construct class power through alliances. These are founded on a combination of force and consent. This, in turn, draws upon and articulates a political, social, and cultural vision: a hegemonic project produces its own ideology which, if unchallenged, can color the historical dynamic of an era.

In Australia, uniquely, neoliberal hegemony was first built by Labor. This is the reason why, retrospectively, Bob Hawke has been praised as a strong leader. Of course, personal charisma is a factor; Hawke did seem to genuinely enjoy beer. But personality is not enough to explain his strength and the legacy he left. Rather, Hawke — previously the leader of the ACTU — had the strong backing of the Australian capitalist class.

Hawke built a cross-class alliance. The superannuation system and mandatory industrial arbitration created mechanisms to reward loyal union bureaucrats. This built consent. By affirming restrictions on strikes and by de-registering militant unions (like the Builders’ Laborers Federation or the Pilot’s Federation), he threatened the unions who stepped out of line. This demonstrated force.

Every hegemonic project goes through what might be described as a “heroic” period, an intermediate period of plateau, and a period of decline and degeneration. Hawke led the “heroic” period of Australian neoliberalism (which, to be clear, is not to praise it.) Paul Keating and John Howard led the intermediate period, in which neoliberalism was consolidated and extended, but not dramatically altered. Rudd and Gillard, and after them, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, and Scott Morrison have presided over its period of decline. This explains the divisions in their parties, their inability to inspire, and their incapacity to initiate reforms, either good or bad.

Where does this leave us? Well, if Bob Hawke was the Robert Baratheon of the Australian left, Bill Shorten was its Stannis Baratheon: a weaker, less likeable, and less powerful candidate, whose claim to the throne was based on lineage and not on worth. It’ll take more than this to overthrow The Liberal Party.

What Next for the Australian Left?

The leadership contest in the ALP will play out over the next few weeks. It does not look promising. There is no Sanders or Corbyn in sight. Every candidate is another Ed Miliband or worse, Pete Buttigieg.

Anthony Albanese, the likely candidate and the most senior ALP left leader, has so far downplayed his left credentials, calling for a focus on growth (which no one has ever suggested before) while emphasizing his common touch: “What you see is what you get with me, for better or worse. I am a bit rough at the edges, but I think that Australians don’t want someone who just utters talking points. So from time to time, I will not be as articulate as someone who is simply reading from a script.”

How do you do, fellow kids. I don’t recall Jeremy Corbyn or Bernie Sanders ever feeling the need to explain that they are a bit rough around the edges.

The main alternative is Chris Bowen, from the right. It doesn’t look promising. Of course, I hope I’m wrong. I hope the ALP finds a leader who can lead a real political transformation. But as I’ve argued before with Ivan Mitchell, while this is a theoretical possibility, it is hard to see where it will come from.

While the Left can take heart at a strong Green vote in the senate, it’s increasingly clear that they are on a one-way bike path to becoming a party of Tree Tories. This election, they targeted blue-green seats while further marginalizing the party’s left.

It’s more likely that the unions will shoulder the work of rebuilding. “Change the Rules” needs to become “Break the Rules.” While it’s too simple to just say “more strikes, more often,” perhaps this defeat will finally convince union leaders that relying exclusively on the parliamentary ALP is a dead-end. Meanwhile, militant unions, like the NUW, and the more powerful left unions, like the CFMMEU, clearly possess the initiative and muscle (respectively) to turn things around. The questions is whether they will.

At the same time, there are reasons to feel positive. The generation of school kids who led the climate strikes earlier in the year will be university student radicals before the next election. All the indications point towards a growing politicization among young people who will bear the burden for climate destruction while enjoying none of those sweet, sweet franking credits. They understand, as Jeff Sparrow has argued in Overland, that environmental moderation today means nihilism tomorrow.

Equally, while there is clearly a growing constituency for the hard right, this fact will create crises in the Liberal Party. Tony Abbot was decisively thrown out by north shore Sydney Liberal Party members who like their lawns green, their boardrooms diverse, and their racism discreet. More generally, Morrison has no mandate for cuts or attacks.

In my view, the biggest danger for the activist and socialist left is that we capitulate to anti-political cynicism, retreating into private life, moralistic identity politics, or other strategies of despair. Even so, this danger isn’t what it once was. Australia may well be five or ten years behind the rest of the world politically. But we aren’t cut off. A victory for Sanders or Corbyn would resonate profoundly.

What’s more, on an international level, we are at the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. Those on the Left who grasp this will enjoy a profound intellectual advantage. Of course, it will be an uphill battle to bring genuine socialist politics back to the electoral mainstream. Yet Sanders, AOC, and Corbyn (and to a much lesser extent, the Victorian Socialists) show it can be done.

Until then, optimism of the will: socialism will win. Also, on the bright side, we now have an elected prime minister who shat himself at Engadine Maccas in 1997.

by Daniel Lopez at May 20, 2019 05:31 PM


Berlin, Germany: Security Car Torched for Hunger Striker D. Koufontinas

Berlin, Germany: Security Car Torched for Hunger Striker D. Koufontinas
“Here, in the fire of direct action, was born the consciousness that we can win against them. In the flow of events of that time came the idea that action creates awareness – a thought that later became my guide during armed actions.” – Dimitris Koufontinas Geographically speaking, you may be several hundred kilometers away, […]


by nayeclone at May 20, 2019 03:14 PM

Peak Oil Review 20 May 2019

Peak Oil Review logo

The struggle between fears that the US sanctions will lead to an oil shortage and the intensifying US-China trade war will lead to a depression continued last week.

by Tom Whipple at May 20, 2019 02:46 PM


Defend Your Clinics

It’s time for an abortion rights movement that’s not directed from the top-down by the Democratic Party and big nonprofits. Clinic defense is a crucial part of that mass, democratic, and militant movement.

alt Pro- and anti-abortion protesters gather in front of the US Supreme Court building during the Right To Life March, on January 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Here at the close of a very bad decade for abortion access, it’s hard to overstate how much worse it’s going to get, and how quickly. In Texas, a bill that would have made women subject to the death penalty for having an abortion got a committee hearing. In Georgia, which recently passed a six-week abortion ban, a white supremacist militia leader stood on the steps of the state capitol with an AR-15 and threatened violence against abortion providers. In Alabama, a bill which would make abortion punishable by up to ninety-nine years in prison has been signed into law.

With Gorsuch and Kavanaugh sitting comfortably on the Supreme Court, other states across the South and Midwest such as Mississippi, Louisiana, Ohio, and Kentucky — where accessing abortion is already onerous — are rushing to set gestational limits that are well before most people even realize that they’re gestating. These measures are moving at a rate which would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Within a year or two, the Supreme Court will likely decide that one of these unconstitutional laws is constitutional, and that will be the end of legal abortion in large swaths of the United States.

Politicians and the Movement

One longtime reproductive rights activist argued that getting to that point of crisis will, perversely, be a good thing. “I Am an Abortion Rights Activist. I Hope the Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade” reads the headline of a recent Politico article by Robin Marty, author of Handbook for a Post-Roe America.

In the article, Marty acknowledges that the people who are most likely to die or be imprisoned in a post-Roe world are poor and black — the ones who are already suffering most, in regions where abortion is already de facto illegal. Yet she argues that more of such suffering, plus the threat of white women suffering, is necessary to rally Democratic politicians and moderate Republican women in defense of abortion rights.

“If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the decision will finally force the ideological zeal typical of a political opposition — the force that has long powered the anti-abortion movement — onto the abortion rights movement,” she writes. “And liberal complacency on the issue of abortion could end for good.”

Marty was quickly criticized for playing politics with the lives of people of color, and she’s since apologized. My intent isn’t to pile on; we share a common cause, and the point that she says she was trying to make  —that preserving Roe alone would be inadequate — is inarguable. But in the spirit of offering hot takes, here’s one of my own: the abortion rights movement that the article refers to doesn’t exist.

If most supporters of the movement lack “ideological zeal,” it’s not because the situation just hasn’t gotten bad enough yet, as she suggests. By her own admission, it’s been very, very bad for a long time. And if “high-ranking, agenda-setting Democrats” have been happy to use abortion “as a bargaining chip,” it’s unclear why they will suddenly stop doing so, in Marty’s analysis, other than the goodness of their own hearts.

So why do we still not have a fighting mass movement for abortion rights? It’s because while the Right has been organizing themselves and fighting like hell in the streets for decades, the abortion rights establishment has been telling supporters to donate to Planned Parenthood, elect Democrats, and let the ACLU handle it in the courts. This has been profoundly demobilizing, and it bears no resemblance to the movement that won legal abortion in the first place.

The movement that won Roe looked nothing like the uneasy alliance of self-interested Democrats and large national nonprofits like Planned Parenthood and NARAL that has sucked up most of the abortion-rights energy and dollars for the past few decades. It was a mass revolt that managed to snatch Roe from the hands of a majority-conservative Supreme Court and a Nixon presidency. The deaths of women from back-alley abortions didn’t shock the ruling class out of their complacency; the mass revolt did.

Why would the ruling class today be any less happy to watch poor women of color face prison and death than they have already shown themselves to be? Their complacency or lack of complacency is immaterial. As with any movement that’s ever won anything, what matters is our ability to build enough power from below to extract what we need: free abortion on demand. But we’re not even close yet.

Case in point: On May 4, when right-wing hate group Focus on the Family broadcast a live 4D ultrasound of a third-trimester pregnancy in Times Square, Planned Parenthood bought a competing ad on a Times Square billboard that failed to mention abortion at all. The ad simply read “Planned Parenthood is health care.”

Who is this ad for? It’s not for anyone who would ever get an abortion, who surely need actual money to pay for their abortions more than they need an expensive neon-pink reminder that Planned Parenthood is a health care provider. It’s not for abortion rights opponents, who have never been fooled by Planned Parenthood’s defensive rhetoric that minimizes abortion. Who can it be for other than Planned Parenthood executives themselves, and the elected officials they’re beholden to, who have failed us?

None of this implicates the small, indispensable nonprofits who continue to make abortion access possible in the most oppressive conditions. But critical health care provision and mutual aid must come hand in hand with mass dissent against the conditions that have made their work necessary.

A good example of how the abortion rights establishment has stifled grassroots organizing and direct action, and of how we can build a more militant movement capable of winning, is clinic defense.

Tactics and Vision

I am a member of a group called NYC for Abortion Rights, which has put forward a vision of what a mass movement centered around clinic defense could look like. It views clinic defense is a powerful method for retaking physical — as well as ideological — ground, after decades of losses.

In this vision, clinic escorts and defenders have complementary roles. Both aim to mitigate the impact that anti-abortion clinic protesters have on patients. But while escorts focus on ushering patients into the clinic, defenders directly oppose the shame and stigma that “antis” impose, de-normalizing their presence and reclaiming the space in front of clinics.

Specific tactics for clinic defense will look different everywhere, depending on the space and the context. Clinic defenders can force antis farther away from the clinic entrance by taking up sidewalk space (without blocking the paths of patients), block the graphic propaganda of antis with feminist banners, distract antis from targeting their vitriol at patients, sing feminist songs to drown out the noise of antis, hold up signs to call out so-called “sidewalk counselors” as harassers, and confront antis in their own spaces, such as churches, where they gather before descending on clinics.

The goal is to take back the primary space that antis use for mobilization and violence, build a radical display of support for free abortion on demand that politicians couldn’t afford to ignore, and keep clinics safe — because we know that we can’t rely on cops or the courts to do so.

Grassroots clinic defenses kept clinics open in the early 1990s, when anti-abortion groups like Operation Rescue were shutting them down with invasions and blockades across the country. But the tactic is officially discouraged by Planned Parenthood, even during the “40 Days for Life,” a twice-yearly onslaught of anti-abortion protesters on clinics across the country.

When NYC for Abortion Rights joined a call for a national day of action to on April 6, seeking to defend clinics against the 40 Days for Life, the backlash from some corners of the reproductive rights community was swift. The backlash is familiar to us; our group began when Planned Parenthood condemned our efforts to counterprotest a day of clinic protests calling to defund Planned Parenthood after the election. After a lot of debate, we decided to hold a defense and a speak-out in front of a clinic in Manhattan anyway, and we’ve been organizing clinic defenses, as well as other direct actions and fundraisers for the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund, ever since.

By calling for clinic defense, we’re not interested in simply shoring up the system of abortion clinics as it exists today, with abortion legal but inaccessible and abortion care siloed into stigmatized and increasingly rare spaces. We want to build the power to make transforming that system possible.

We want abortion clinics to be well-funded, uncontested, ordinary mainstays of communities everywhere; we want abortion to be integrated into medicine and made available over the counter, on college campuses, at hospitals, via telemedicine, at full-spectrum reproductive health care clinics; we want Medicare for All with abortion baked in.

This is why we keep bringing up clinic defense as a tactic, aside from our sincere belief in its effectiveness and in fighting the Right wherever they mobilize. We want to force out into the open this question of why these goals are seen as pipe dreams, instead of demands.

Marty correctly diagnoses one half of the problem in her article: Democratic politicians have sold us out. But the second half of the problem is that the most visible, powerful, well-funded organizations professing to fight for abortion rights have banked their political strategy on Democrats instead of grassroots mobilization, tactics, and demands.

This is always the thrust of our advocacy of clinic defense, such as Lichi D’Amelio’s “Why We Counter-Protest” in Jacobin and Jen Roesch’s “The Lessons of Our Counter-Protests” in Socialist Worker. But it gets elided in the backlash, which usually goes like this: 1. Planned Parenthood disapproves, 2. we must put patients first — the implication being that clinic defense never does, and 3. advocates of clinic defense are separate from those who have experience accessing and working at clinics, who would never support the tactic.

Regarding the first two points: Since abortion care and political strategy have become intertwined in the single entity of Planned Parenthood, it’s become difficult or maybe impossible to assess them independently of one another. Clinic defense is not a call to discredit Planned Parenthood as a medical provider. It is a call to acknowledge the failures of the centrist strategy that has emphasized electing Democratic politicians over grassroots mobilization for decades.

It’s hard to see how this status quo has put patients first. Putting patients first would mean Planned Parenthood throwing its weight behind Medicare for All, not actively opposing it as they did in California. Putting patients first means building solidarity with global reproductive justice struggles, not NARAL leadership speaking at AIPAC. Putting patients first means clinic workers building power in their workplaces, not Planned Parenthood busting unions or dictating political strategy from the top down. Putting patients first means questioning why the imperative of confronting the Right in the streets has taken hold in the struggle against ICE and white supremacy, but not against the anti-abortion movement, which has been a vanguard of right-wing violence for much of my lifetime, and is inextricable from white supremacy and its rising birthrate panic.

It’s certainly a fallacy that more bodies in front of a clinic, as many argue, always means more stress for patients. Some clinics bring out more bodies in the form of clinic escorts all the time to form walls of defense against antis. This is a more rigorous form of “clinic escorting,” which isn’t far from what a good clinic defense should be — though clinic defenders have a more explicitly political role to play, to confront and oppose clinic harassment head-on.

More bodies might mean that antis aren’t emboldened to invade the clinic in a “Red Rose Rescue,” where they force their way into clinic waiting rooms to persuade patients to give birth — an Operation Rescue tactic from the worst years of anti-abortion violence that’s on the rise again.

Regarding the third point, it bears mentioning that proponents of clinic defense have skin in the game, too. Members of NYC for Abortion Rights and the other clinic defense groups are patients of Planned Parenthood, abortion-havers, health care providers, clinic workers, and abortion doulas, past and present. We should be able to participate in a conversation about the future of the movement to defend and expand our rights, and the range of tactics that are admissible in it, without being dismissed as ignorant (because we just don’t know what it’s like to access a clinic under attack by antis), self-interested (as if we do clinic defense purely to make us feel good), or both.

Opposition to clinic defense is grounded in a desire to avoid politicizing clinic spaces. But this is as much as fantasy as Planned Parenthood thinking that hiding abortion behind euphemisms like “health care” is a winning message. Is abortion health care? Of course. But while so many abortion rights supporters have been busy providing health care and defending it as such — as a personal choice that a pregnant person makes in consultation with their doctor — the other side has been doing fierce, unyielding politics for decades.

The presence of counter-protesters in front of clinics doesn’t make the space more political than it already is; the absence of them, at this point, is a void that antis are only too happy keep filling until every last clinic is closed. “Choice” is private and toothless, but the cause of our liberation is political, and it’s past time we fight back on those terms, with grassroots activists at the helm.

No More Waiting

It’s apparent that clinic defense has either been ill-defined up until now, or defined in bad faith. I don’t know any proponent of clinic defense who would recommend showing up unprepared, crowding the entrance of the clinic, and screaming at will. NYCFAR does not do this, and nor does any group in our coalition.

Any group considering clinic defense should begin by researching that clinic and its relationship to antis, escorts, and cops. The very first question we ask when planning a clinic defense is, how can we coordinate with the clinic, and does that clinic already have a robust escorting program? Such a program may function very much like a clinic defense would, and in that case it’s absolutely better to support them through the channel they’ve already set up.

Considerations like this have shaped where we choose to hold actions here in New York, for example. We also ask, what sort of antis tend to show up, how many, and when? Who in the group has experience with marshaling direct actions? With speaking to the police? How can we mitigate the noise and confusion that antis bring to clinics rather than compound it? How can we position ourselves to keep antis as far from the clinic entrance as possible?

What works in one context will never work in all contexts. But our strategy in New York is a useful example of what a good clinic defense can look like. We have the perverse good luck of having our antis congregate in the same place and at the same time every month — early in the morning on first Saturdays at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in Little Italy — and so we meet them there with a picket line, signs, and chants.

When they exit the church and begin their procession to Planned Parenthood, we position ourselves in front of them and do what we can to slow them down and disrupt them on their way. At a recent action, we delayed their arrival by close to an hour, giving patients that much more time to freely get in the door. Once we arrive at the clinic, we claim the sidewalk across the street from the entrance, forcing the antis to a sidewalk farther away, and we sing instead of chant.

After six or seven times of holding this action, it’s still a little different every time. We’ve been able to delay them for longer and longer, even when greatly outnumbered. One of our members has rewritten the union song “Solidarity Forever” with excellent feminist lyrics, which we sing when we’re near the clinic. We’ve briefly shut down Houston Street; neighbors and patients have begun to join us.

It’s true that NYCFAR is organizing in a context that has a high level of abortion access, relative to other regions of the country. But this just speaks to how low the bar has fallen. In New York City, enjoying a relatively high level of access still means putting up with fifty to a hundred or more antis on a regular basis, led by anti-abortion activists who have made it a habit of invading clinics up and down the East Coast, as recently as December of 2018 in New Jersey — but not in Manhattan, where they’ve come to expect our counter-protest at their church on a regular basis.

Of course, many clinics are under siege and at risk of eviction, and can’t devote scarce resources to coordinating clinic defense. But can a wider movement try?  Do we have the numbers? Do we need to wait until the end of Roe? Is there room in our movement for the sort of bold interventions that can reshape the discourse and build power, as the airport protests in response to the Muslim ban did?

A call for clinic defense is a call to expand the horizon of what a radical reproductive rights movement can look like. Rallies, marches, strikes, civil disobedience, confrontation, refusal, defiance, walk-outs, speak-outs, sit-ins, die-ins, blockades, carefully planned and competently executed clinic defenses: we’re ready, we’re hungry for it, we can’t wait any longer.

by Christine Pardue at May 20, 2019 02:28 PM

Minsk: an IT-specialist kidnapped by the cops at night for writing “ACAB” in Facebook

Here we quote the Facebook post of IT-specialis Hleb Rubanau from Minsk, who have participated in internet-flashmob “IAmExtremist” and was punished by 30-hours detention and fine.

“As you may know I live in non-democratic country. At the end of 2018 regime started new crackdown on freedom of speech. They started accusing people of “extremist posts in social networks”, which is punishable by heavy fines or (in theory) short-time arrest up to 15 days.

My friends Mikola Dziadok and Aliaxandr Dzianisau were punished with fines (typical case could be “antifashist picture with crossed swastika considered as nazi propaganda”, or critical antifaschist publication punished as extremism because it included the illustrative photo of people wearing prohibited symbols of ultra-right group, or something like that).

In response, Mikola Dziadok started a campaign of civil disobedience, called “#IAmExtremist” (#Яэкстремист), asking people to post “extremist” materials to protest against the “anti-extremist” law (which is just a tool of censorship). Regime predictably reacted with more trials and fines. I was on the radars too.

This Tuesday (May, 7th), at 4.30 am police called to my landphone and asked to go out and check the “car possibly damaged by vandal”. I’d not care about car, but they told I have to confirm there’s no damage and no accusations against some (virtual) person detained and suspected in vandalism.

As I arrived on scene, they detained me and put in jail for 30 hours, “as a measure to ensure my participation in trial for extremism”, which was scheduled for 11.00am wednesday.

I am not eligible for the “arrest as a punishment”, as I look after mother with disabilities. Nevertheless, I can be (formally) “detained until trial” (up to 72 hours), which they exactly did, despite the fact that I did not refuse to appear in court and explicitly requested them for written subpoena, which makes detention unnecessary unless I am obviously hiding. I also informed them about my mother condition and the existence of 4-years-old kid, as they are obliged (in theory) to take into account the social situation, when making the choice between detention and subpoena.

During detention, my rights to make written appeals were several times rejected or obstructed.

During transfer from police station to the jail police tried to make a video record of my face, with the intent of submitting the data into automated system of faces identification. I successfully refused the controversial procedure as something I am not legally obliged to do (it took only 15-20 minutes of hot dispute 🙂 ).

When I was transferred to jail from the police station around 1pm, me and two other detainees were told that we’ll only receive food next day, because of late transfer. For the same reason our families are not allowed to deliver food for us until next day. This effectively meant me and other guys will have no food for more than 24 hours (since tuesday night until wednesday morning). I informed them that this situation formally looks like cruel treatment and may be qualified as torture, prohibited by international conventions. In protest I declared a one-day hungerstrike until supposed trial. In the evening they tried to provide us some food “semi-oficially”, but I politely refused.

Later in the evening I discovered several insects on my matress and informed the jail personnel of the situation, demanding some mitigation actions. No action was taken, so around midnight I informed the personnel that I refuse to sleep on potentially infected matress and therefore have no place to sleep and will be staying/sitting all night. This verbal information was accepted without reaction, written appeal was only accepted in the morning despite multiple requests. I also declared this is a potentially “cruel/torture” situation.

At around 11am wednesday I was delivered to court… and set free. No trial happened, I was given an official subpoena to appear for trial on Thursday May 16. This paper was exactly the document I proposed the police officer to give me at 4.45 am Tuesday instead of 30-hours detention.

So I consider this story as an unjustified repressive action with the intent of spreading fear among “usual people” who are openly criticizing the regime and/or are sympathizing the public civil rights activists. However, I do not suffer and am considering the current situation as a tactic victory — I was able to use all available non-violent resistance methods with maximum possible effect. My plan is to dismiss the case completely on May 16th trial (despite courts are pro-regime, sometimes they dismiss obviously staged and/or too badly faked cases).

My physical condition is fine, and I must admit that no physical violence happened. Some media distributed quite scaring photo of me which looks like I was severely beaten. It’s not the case, I was just looking naturally badly due to 30 hours without eat and sleeping, plus had a bruise on my nose which was existing prior to the arrest. So, if you see this photo, I’d be thankful for not sharing it without context (or, better, not sharing at all).

I will continue to struggle for my civil rights with all possible non-violent methods, and will inform you of the news.

Thanks a lot for your support!”

At May, 13, Hleb Rubanau was fined on around 370 euro for his comment on Mikola’s Dziadok Facebook page. He have posted a link in his comment, and the preview of his link contained “ACAB” abbreviation. This abbreviation is officially banned in Belarus as an “extremist materials”.
With no doubt, this all case was created and inspired by GUBOPiK (Belarusian anti-extremist police) to show that even “common people” (Hleb Rubanau is not an activist), who support the #IAmExtremist flashmob, will be found and punished.

Update by Hleb Rubanau:


by Прамень at May 20, 2019 02:09 PM


16-Year-Olds Want a Vote. Fifty Years Ago, So Did 18-Year-Olds.

16-Year-Olds Want a Vote. Fifty Years Ago, So Did 18-Year-Olds.
By Maggie Astor
May 19 2019

JAMESBURG, N.J. — Stuart Goldstein still has the red-and-white bumper stickers and other artifacts from 1969, when he helped persuade New Jersey lawmakers that 18-year-olds should be able to vote.

He was 18 himself then, working with two other college students, David DuPell and Ken Norbe, to build a political network that grew to 10,000 volunteers. They took students to Trenton in busloads and even sneaked into a Richard Nixon rally seeking his support. Theirs was an early salvo in a movement that would end in 1971 with the ratification of the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18 from 21.

Fifty years later, there is a nascent movement to change the voting age again — this time to 16 — but there are some big differences between the efforts.

Then, liberal and conservative activists united behind a powerful argument that went back to World War II, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt lowered the draft age to 18: Young people were being conscripted to fight America’s wars but couldn’t vote in its elections.

Today, there is no similarly popular argument. Indeed, a recent poll found that 75 percent of registered voters opposed letting 17-year-olds vote, and 84 percent opposed it for 16-year-olds. In March, when Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts proposed a 16-year-old voting age amendment to House Democrats’ sweeping voting rights bill, it failed 126 to 305, with almost half of her fellow Democrats voting against it and only one Republican in support.

Opponents in both parties have expressed doubts that 16-year-olds are mature enough to vote. But local, youth-led campaigns to lower the voting age have persisted since at least 2013, when Takoma Park, Md., gave 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote in municipal elections.

The New York Times recently spoke with activists from the movement 50 years ago, and people on different sides of the issue today, about the cause and the challenges of lowering the voting age.

1969: ‘Old enough to fight’

By the time New Jersey took it up in 1969, the voting age had been on the national radar for decades because of the draft. Through World War II, Korea and the early years of Vietnam, every president suggested it should change. But it didn’t — until the 1960s knocked American politics off its axis.

The activism of the era made it easy to mobilize liberals and students, many of whom were already involved in the antiwar and civil rights movements. “People were pretty revved up during that time to get involved in something,” said Mr. DuPell, who started the New Jersey campaign and recruited Mr. Goldstein and Mr. Norbe to join him. But campus unrest and violent protests helped fuel pushback that they were too immature to vote.

“It was kind of an uphill battle for us trying to convince people young people were responsible, because it was an era when, from a national political point of view, the national leaders were pitting young against old,” Mr. Goldstein, now 68, said. “Our thing was, ‘We’re going to try and work within the system.’ There was all this tumult going on across the country. We didn’t think that would help us convince people that they should lower the voting age.”

In April 1969, the Republican-led New Jersey Legislature approved a state constitutional amendment to lower the voting age to 18. And when summer came, Mr. DuPell, Mr. Goldstein and Mr. Norbe went home to build their organization — they called it the Voting Age Coalition Inc. of New Jersey — and round up support for the voter referendum needed to ratify the amendment.

They appointed county leaders, who appointed municipal leaders. They sold membership cards for a dollar and told the buyers to recruit 10 volunteers apiece. When President Nixon came to campaign for William Cahill, who was eventually elected governor, Mr. Goldstein and Mr. DuPell forged press credentials and sneaked into the rally with a sign seeking Nixon’s endorsement. Mr. Goldstein recalled that Secret Service agents carried him out, but their sign ended up in a front-page photo the next day.

Similar efforts were bubbling up in other states. Sometime in the spring, a group of students in Ohio contacted the New Jerseyans and asked if they, too, could use the “Voting Age Coalition” name. By January 1970, students in 13 states were organizing to lower the voting age.

Voters in New Jersey rejected their amendment, and the Voting Age Coalition started trying to lower the age to 19 instead. But it soon became clear that the momentum in Washington, driven by the combined force of the states, was building faster.


by wa8dzp at May 20, 2019 01:56 PM

Fighting Ebola When Mourners Fight the Responders

Fighting Ebola When Mourners Fight the Responders
An Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo — the second-largest in history — is escalating in part because locals don’t trust health workers and government officials.
By Joseph Goldstein
May 19 2019

BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo — When Ebola came to this city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Janvier Muhindo Mandefu quit farming and got work burying the highly contagious bodies of Ebola victims.

But Mr. Muhindo is less afraid of Ebola than of the mourners he encounters at funerals. He and his burial team have been attacked by relatives of the dead, one swinging a hoe. Mourners have shouted at team members, accusing them of stealing the organs of corpses, and have threatened to throw them into the open graves. Last month a mourner brandished a hand grenade, he said, sending everyone scattering and leaving a 3-year-old Ebola victim unburied.

“Someone like me can be buried alive,” Mr. Muhindo said as his colleagues hosed down their trucks at the Red Cross compound after another day of burials.

This Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo, the second-largest ever recorded, is now spiraling out of control. Despite some early success — helped by a new and effective vaccine — the disease has come roaring back in the past two months.

Efforts to combat the epidemic have been hobbled by attacks on treatment centers and health workers; deep suspicion of the national government, which is managing the eradication efforts; and growing mistrust of the international medical experts who have struggled to steer patients into the treatment centers, according to interviews with dozens of family members, politicians, doctors and health workers in recent weeks.

When a doctor was killed, and treatment centers attacked by gunmen or set on fire, front-line health workers suspended their work, giving the virus time to spread. Some medical and aid groups have decided to pull some of their personnel from the very areas where Ebola has hit hardest.

So far nearly 1,150 people have died in the outbreak, according to the World Health Organization. But that is a significant undercount, aid groups said in interviews. Health workers have been turned away regularly from homes where someone has died, leaving them unable to test for Ebola.

Earlier in the outbreak, the police would remove these bodies from homes, at gunpoint if necessary, said Philemon Kalondero, 39, who is often the first member of his Ebola response team to arrive at a grief-stricken home.

“The new protocol is that we just abandon the body,” he said. “They will learn their lesson when they get sick.”

Initial Optimism

When the outbreak was discovered last summer, health workers had reason to worry. This part of eastern Congo has long been beset by dozens of armed groups fighting over land, natural resources, ethnicity and religion — including one outfit with ties to the Islamic State.

Yet optimism ran strong among the arriving wave of international health experts and humanitarian workers, many of whom had experience treating Ebola, an often fatal disease caused by a virus that is transmitted by body fluids. 

They came with lessons learned from the outbreak that tore across West Africa starting in 2013, killing more than 11,000 people. And they were buoyed by a recent success: the speedy containment of an outbreak in western Congo. 

They also brought medical advances: a strikingly effective vaccine, experimental treatments, and a transparent container known as the “cube” that Ebola patients live inside, reducing the transmission risk to doctors and visitors. 

Some of the responders hoped that big outbreaks were already a thing of the past.


by wa8dzp at May 20, 2019 01:55 PM

Incantations, Tales, Spells and Remedies for Database Anxieties

@bellatrix wrote:

Everything dreams. The play of form, of being, is the dreaming of substance. Rocks have their dreams, and the earth changes…
Ursula Leguin

In December 2018 I have taken part in the ALCHORISMA workshop, a week-long work session organized by Constant and mediated by RYBN and FoAM >

" Alchorisma alludes to the relationships between algorithms, charisma, rhythm, alchemy and karma. Alchorisma is a Constant worksession which looks at integrating cosmogenetic views with the charisma surrounding technology. We look at ways to infect existing algorithmic models with positions that acknowledge the importance of co-existence with non-human entities. The Alchorisma worksession takes place from 2nd - 8 December 2018 at Z33, House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt, Belgium. " !


In this timespan we got together with a very diverse group of around 20 artists, and engaged in collective research, creation and discussion. I was very pleased with the structure of the meeting, in which the worksession itself was the centerpiece for research development, and a finished product was not the final goal, but rather interesting axis of research.

In the workshop we worked with the sensibilization to three manifestations of non-human agency: trees, rocks and spirits.

One of the first contacts we had was the immersion in the Bokrjik Domain, a reserve, a collection in the outskirts of Hasselt. We were introduced to the domain by Hans, the Green Collection Manager.


You see, the BK domain is very interesting because it is a nature park and has a differential, that the species have been catalogued and compiled in a database. Hans job is to take care of the park, collection and the database. It is a lot of work!


On the follorwing days, those who were interested in re-visiting the domain made a smaller excursion to meet Hans and the collection, and try to understand what were the needs and informations conveyed by the human and non-human entities…

After a visit and some exchange with Hans, the group (comprised of me, Anne-Laure Buisson, Axel Meunier, Sumugan and Vesna Manojlovic) came back and brainstormed about our experience. This was distilled across several days, in which An Mertens came up jokingly with the term “Database Anxieties”, and we begun seeing this as a condition in this era of information flooding and transformations and the lack of manpower to compile and mine this data.

We condensed our thoughts in the form of a compilation of texts that we named “Incantations, Tales, Spells and Remedies for Database Anxieties”.

For those who wish to have a look:
incantations-database-anxiety.pdf (65.0 KB)

Posts: 1

Participants: 1

Read full topic

by @bellatrix isabella at May 20, 2019 01:51 PM

Proposed definition of Islamophobia could deter people from criticising the religion of Islam

Index is concerned that the definition of Islamophobia as currently proposed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims could effectively deter people from criticising the religion of Islam.

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship, said: “The ability to criticise belief is fundamental to freedom of expression and freedom of belief. Although we recognise that the APPG, which proposed the definition, deemed that it did not prohibit criticism of religion, in practice the term ‘expressions of Mulsimness’ is broad enough to potentially include criticism of religious practices and belief. As we have seen with other broad and imprecise definitions on prohibited speech, vague terminology can have a chilling effect on discourse.”

European Commission must mitigate concerns on automated upload filters

We consider that, in order to mitigate these concerns, it is of utmost importance that the European Commission and Member States engage in a constructive transposition and implementation to ensure that the fears around automated upload filters are not realized.

Solidarity with Academics for Peace imprisoned in Turkey

We declare our solidarity with Academics for Peace, and with all progressives under threat in Turkey.

World Press Freedom Day should bring freedom for Musa Kart and his Cumhuriyet colleagues

Index on Censorship joins Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) to report that the internationally acclaimed cartoonist Musa Kart is again a prisoner this World Press Freedom Day.

Online harms and media freedom: UK response to Council of Europe lacks concrete details

“The UK’s response to our Council of Europe alert lacks concrete details about how government proposals dealing with online harms will not damage media freedom and the public’s right to information,” said Joy Hyvarinen, head of advocacy, Index on Censorship.

The post Proposed definition of Islamophobia could deter people from criticising the religion of Islam appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Index on Censorship at May 20, 2019 01:15 PM

InterPressService (global south)

Putting Water at the Heart of Sustainable Fashion

By Lisa Greenlee
LONDON, May 20 2019 (IPS)

The Copenhagen Fashion Summit celebrated its tenth anniversary last week. The summit, which is often referred to as the Davos of fashion, is a key date in the fashion diary for those businesses with a pioneering vision to highlight issues and create solutions for a more sustainable industry.

And solutions are very much needed. The global garment sector accounts for two percent of the world’s GDP and has the capacity to make a huge impact both positive and negative upon environmental, economic and social issues.

Figures suggest that the fashion industry contributes more to climate change than sea and air travel due to the current throwaway clothes culture and labour rights are in many places in need of a dramatic overhaul.

In Bangladesh, for example, where the garment industry dominates the economy, many workers both live and work in inadequate conditions without any clean water to drink, a decent toilet, or somewhere to wash their hands.

WaterAid welcomes the commitment of the businesses attending the summit to ensure the positive impact of the industry which has vast potential to be a powerful force for change.

Changes which may well appear to be happening slowly but are being noticed. Much has changed across the world over the last ten years in terms of trends in the fashion industry – and not just fashion style.

There is much talk of an awakening within both business and consumers for more ethical and environmentally friendly products.

Eva Kruse, founder and CEO of Global Fashion Agenda, the organisation behind Copenhagen Fashion Summit, acknowledged that there were few industry leaders who recognised the importance of changing the way the industry produces, markets and consumes fashion at the time of the first summit; now, a decade later, more companies are beginning to integrate sustainable practices.

A Bangladesh garment factory.

Business leaders and key fashion brands such as H&M and Nike took steps towards better working conditions at the World Economic Forum at Davos in January, when they signed up to the CEO Agenda 2019 which upholds human rights in the workplace.

However, the agenda omitted access to water, toilets and hygiene for workers from one of its core pillars, which is a crucial oversight. The role that these three facilities play in ensuring ‘respectful and secure working environments’ is a fundamental human right – without them, any positive changes will be seriously diluted.

WaterAid attended the summit to support the trend for more sustainable fashion and promote the business value that can result from investing in and improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene for workers throughout the supply chain.

Our partners HSBC and WWF joined us as part of our combined action to support garment factories, tanneries and mills in China, India, Vietnam and Bangladesh to shift towards more sustainable production.

But still we don’t have enough action and especially not enough integration between environmental and social issues in the fashion sector – ‘the only constant is change’ let’s get ahead of the curve and consider these issues in an integrated way.

At our stand, people were very receptive to hearing about how social and environmental issues are interlinked and why a holistic approach is the best approach.

We all have a role to play in making access to these essentials normal for everyone, everywhere by 2030, and businesses are crucial in bringing about the step change needed to meet this global challenge.

Our aim is to ensure all business, no matter what sector they are in, are aware of the value that can result for enhance productivity and business continuity from investing in water, sanitation and hygiene for both their workers and surrounding communities.

Steps recommended by WaterAid’s new guide – ‘Strengthening the business case for water, sanitation and hygiene: How to measure value for your business’ – are being piloted by Diageo, Gap Inc. Unilever and HSBC to assess the financial return on investment.

In June 2018, as part of the ‘Sustainable Supply Chains Programme’, WaterAid and HSBC launched a new three-year project to deliver essential water and sanitation services in 24 apparel factories and the communities where the workers live in Bangladesh and India, from small artisanal workers to large-scale textile and leather factories.

In addition to improving living and working conditions for employees, the funding from HSBC will enable WaterAid to provide vital evidence about how the reliable provision of clean water, decent sanitation and hygiene is essential for the long-term sustainability of business and prove the financial return on investment.

The outcomes of this work will to encourage other companies to invest in these basics and take action in their supply chains.

In just over ten years’ time the world’s governments and international community will be held accountable for the meeting, or not, of the Sustainable Development goal of access to and management of clean water and sanitation for all.

WaterAid’s aim is to continue to raise awareness and support of fashion industry initiatives such as the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, HSBC and all businesses to recognise the human right of access to clean water and the broader business benefits – financial and reputational – that come from providing decent facilities for their employees.

Key Stats:

There are 4 million garment factory workers in Bangladesh, and 12 million in India.
• Women make up 80% of the workforce.
• WaterAid’s HSBC-funded ‘Sustainable Supply Chains Programme’ will improve the lives of approximately 11,000 people working in the garment industry in Bangladesh and India


The post Putting Water at the Heart of Sustainable Fashion appeared first on Inter Press Service.


Lisa Greenlee is Director of Strategic Partnerships, WaterAid

The post Putting Water at the Heart of Sustainable Fashion appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Lisa Greenlee at May 20, 2019 01:03 PM

Long Life to Their Majesties, the Bees!

Amazingly organised social communities, bees ensure food chain. ‘Bee’ grateful to them… at least in their Wold Day!

Credit: UNDP-Guatemala/Carolina Trutmann

By Baher Kamal
MADRID, May 20 2019 (IPS)

Amazingly organised social communities, bees ensure food chain. ‘Bee’ grateful to them… at least on their World Day!

While the (surprisingly) still called homo sapiens continues to destroy Mother Nature, bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, carry on performing their vital role as one of the most marvellous, unpaid, life guarantors.

See what the world community of scientists and specialised organisations tell about them.

Pollinators allow plants, including food crops, to reproduce. In fact, 75 percent of the world’s food crops owe their existence to pollinators. But they not only do contribute directly to food security: they are key to conserving biodiversity–a cornerstone of life.

And they also serve as sentinels for emergent environmental risks, signalling the health of local ecosystems.

In the specific case of bees, the product that most people first associate with them is honey. However, bees generate much more than that: they contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity as well as the pollination of crops, these being perhaps their most valuable services.

Pollinators allow plants, including food crops, to reproduce. In fact, 75 percent of the world’s food crops owe their existence to pollinators

In short, honey is just one of several different products that can be harvested—in fact there are many others such as beeswax, pollen and propolis, royal jelly and venom, and the use of bees in apitherapy, which is medicine using bee products. Good to remember that pollinated crops include those that provide fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and oils.

In charge of all the vital missions, there are more than 20,000 species of wild bees alone, plus many species of butterflies, flies, moths, wasps, beetles, birds, bats and other animals that contribute to pollination.


The dangers

Quite dramatically, in spite of their vital function, scientists and world bodies continue to ring strong alarm bells about the growing threats to bees.

In fact, they are increasingly under threat from human activities–pesticides, land-use change (and abuse), and mono-cropping practices that reduce available nutrients and pose dangers to them, the whole thing motivated by the dominating voracious production-consumption-based economic model.

Pollinators are also threatened by the decline of practices based on indigenous and local knowledge. These practices include traditional farming systems.

The risk is big: close to 35 percent of invertebrate pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, and about 17 percent of vertebrate pollinators, such as bats, face extinction globally.


The ‘B’ Day

In a symbolic recognition of their indispensable role as life transmission chain, specialised organisations commemorate on 20 May each year the World Bee Day.

As a way to get you a bit more familiarised with these wonderful creatures, here go some key facts and figures about bees:

  • 20,000 – Number of species of wild bees, only 7 of them are honeybees There are also some species of butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles, birds, bats and other vertebrates that contribute to pollination.
  • 75% – Percentage of the world’s food crops that depend at least in part on pollination.
  • 235 billion dollars–577 billion dollars – Annual value of global crops directly affected by pollinators.
  • 300% — Increase in volume of agricultural production dependent on animal pollination in the past 50 years.
  • Almost 90% — Percentage of wild flowering plants that depend to some extent on animal pollination.
  • 1.6 million tons – Annual honey production from the western honeybee.
  • 16.5% — Percentage of vertebrate pollinators threatened with extinction globally.
  • +40% – Percentage of invertebrate pollinator species –particularly bees and butterflies– facing extinction.
  • In addition to food crops, pollinators contribute to crops that provide bio-fuels (e.g. canola and palm oils), fibers (e.g cotton), medicines, forage for livestock, and construction materials. Some species also provide materials such as beeswax for candles and musical instruments, and arts and crafts.
  • Every third bite of food you eat depends on pollinators.


Amazingly organised social communities, bees ensure food chain. ‘Bee’ grateful to them… at least in their Wold Day!

Credit: FAO/James Cane


A wonderful social community!

The related article: To Bee or Not to Bee… Again!, compiles 13 big amazing facts the United Nations provides about how perfectly organised our bees are. Here is a short reminder.

Honeybees are social insects that live in colonies, each consisting of:

  • The queen, whose main activity is egg-laying, up to 2,000/day,
  • 20,000–80,000 workers, all of which are females and
  • 300–1,000 males (drones), whose sole responsibility is fertilisation.
  • The queen will normally live for between 1 and 4 years, while a worker bee will live for 6–8 weeks in the summer and 4–6 months in the winter.
  • Without a queen, the colony will eventually die.
  • The workers perform a multitude of tasks, including tending to the queen, feeding larvae, feeding drones, nectar ripening, producing heat, collecting water, beehive-cleaning, guard duty, and field collection of pollen and nectar. A single honeybee may collect 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
  • The “drones” would die of starvation if the workers stopped feeding them.
  • Bees have personalities! Despite the phrase “busy as a bee”, even within a colony there will be workers and shirkers!
  • Honeybees’ wings beat 11,400 times per minute, this making their distinctive buzz.
  • Bees can recognise human faces.
  • Bees are nature’s most economical builders – honeycombs are among the most efficient structures in nature; their walls meet at a precise 120-degree angle, making a perfect hexagon.
  • Bees fly outside the hive normally when temperatures rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).
  • Honeybees do not hibernate, but cluster for warmth. They remain active all winter.


Bee grateful!

Now that you know them a bit better, please take due note of the fact you can do something to protect the bees and, by the way, a key ring in the life transmission chain

There would be many ways how to show gratitude to bees. Why not just click here and take a quick look at the six big ways how to do so that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization provides.

Please love bees, don’t panic if they fly close to you, they would not harm you unless you attack them.

And always remember that they are working to ensure your food, your health and, by the way, alleviate the huge suffering that homo sapiens is causing to Mother Nature!


Baher Kamal is Director and Editor of Human Wrongs Watch, where this article was originally published.

The post Long Life to Their Majesties, the Bees! appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Baher Kamal at May 20, 2019 12:37 PM

My Dinner is Stuck in Traffic (Episode 11 of Crazy Town)


In this episode, Rob, Asher, and Jason talk about why fossil fuels are so embedded in our food system and how changes in the way we grow food might change where all of us live. This episode is designed especially for people who like to eat food and hope to continue doing so.

by Asher Miller at May 20, 2019 12:07 PM


Britain Must Take Back Richard Branson’s Awful Trains

In 2017, pundits were shocked by Jeremy Corbyn's call to renationalize rail — and the broad public support that greeted it. You only need to board one of Richard Branson’s rolling torture chambers to see why.

alt Richard Branson launches at Liverpool Lime Street Station on March 13, 2012 in Liverpool, England. Tony Woolliscroft / Getty

There is sweat across my brow. I feel feverish, nauseous, and dizzy. I’m trapped in a confined space with dim lighting, making it difficult to survey my surroundings. The person seated in front of me is making a pathetic sound — “Urgh … ehh … urghh … argh…” — as though he’s dying. Another sneezes ostentatiously every few minutes, avoiding my murderous gaze. The air is dense with the acrid smell of human piss and shit, worsened by the pungent heat. The space in which I am trapped is packed with every possible assault on the senses, designed to irritate people so intensely, one further annoyance might instigate a full-scale riot.

It’s not a torture chamber, though it might as well be. It’s a Virgin Train — one of the privatized trains owned by billionaire Richard Branson, a man so full of hubris he once started a line of colas with his cartoon image emblazoned on the side; who became known in the 1990s for failed adventure expeditions, including an ill-fated balloon ride. His WiFi service is appalling, one of the worst-rated in the country, but it’s trains where Virgin’s shabbiness comes to the fore.

Virgin Trains were stripped of a franchise recently and blocked from bidding for further contracts. Branson attracted nationwide opprobrium last year for suing the NHS, in a move that seemed designed to cement his place as a pantomime villain of capitalism to rival the top-hatted character that graces Monopoly boards. Each time I board a Virgin Train, I’m enraged to the point that I mull becoming a single-issue voter, the issue being: “Will you put Richard Branson in prison?”

Trains in the United Kingdom are patchy and piecemeal: often the same routes have several different operators on the same tracks. Travelling from London to Birmingham recently, I was on a Chiltern Rail train rather than a Virgin train, and the journey took an hour longer as a result. Paying a little more, I could have reached my destination sooner, but would have been psychologically assaulted by Branson’s talking toilets. Train costs are exorbitant, despite so many people using them, and not finding a seat is common — as Jeremy Corbyn pointed out while campaigning in 2016.

I’ve been on a Northern Train on a journey to Scarborough in the north of England and was rained on inside the carriage (there was a hole in the roof) and yet was less annoyed than I am on every Virgin Train journey. The company likes to show off its supposed youth and edginess: the toilets autoplay an audio admonishment not to flush goldfish or your ex’s sweater down the toilet, but the faux-chumminess only makes you wish to flush Richard Branson’s head down there. Then, once you exit, you’re reminded that thanks to an incredible feat of engineering idiocy, the air that is pumped through the boiling hot carriages comes from the sewage tanks.

Richard Branson and Virgin think they’re hot shit, but their carriages smell like them.

It’s nearly impossible to catch a Virgin Train and not want to nationalize the entire rail system. Voters agree: when Corbyn said nationalization was one of the top priorities for a Labour government, Westminster journalists scoffed and went on a multipronged attack. Nationalization was a seventies throwback: far too of-the-past. Voters would never be interested in such a proposal; after all, the private sector had won that argument and there was no going back!

Then it was dismissed as a middle-class proposal: only those in big cities would care, more people drove cars than used trains, nationalizing rail was just a way of making life cheaper for people with a lot of spare cash, who wanted UK minibreaks. Then there was the argument that nationalized rail was awful, accompanied by calls to remember British Rail’s apparently terrible canteens and seats and how much better it is now you can spend hundreds of pounds to sit on the floor for four hours next to a toilet that speaks to you.

Corbyn’s attack on train privatization in 2016 saw dozens of commentators waste hours trying to disprove his statement that the train he was on was full, rather than accepting the fact his argument was solid and popular with voters, with a full 64 percent supporting renationalization. The electorate didn’t care if a pundit had scoured CCTV footage leaked by Virgin staff to the media. Many questioned why the media were happy to back up Virgin’s spin machine, since their experience chimed with that of the Labour leader and they were also sick of paying hundreds for a substandard service with no alternative.

As so often happened in the 2017 election, Corbyn proposed a policy; pundits scoffed and mocked; and opinion polls said the public fully backed the policy. For decades, a sizable coterie of journalists and politicians in London have elected to act as the defenders of the Overton window in UK politics, claiming that Left and Right stretch from soft Blairism to high Thatcherism, and nothing further on either side. That has led to political parties ignoring all but a small number of swing voters, a peculiar and unrepresentative group in itself, and in doing so ignore their much larger base by proposing policies only appealing to that group.

But it has also led to a huge disconnect between Westminster and what the country as a whole thinks. During campaigns, politicians invariably evoke “conversations on the doorstep,” wherein voters helpfully confirm whatever political point the MP wishes to make against his or her party leader. Much less emphasis is given to the proposal of new and radical ideas, and testing what the public think of them. Austerity was sprung upon the public, and the public largely feel negatively about it now. Corbyn proposing rail nationalization was bold, as was the proposal to extend compulsory purchase powers for homes left empty. The public backed them both, and both were policies that hadn’t been previously put forward.

If you catch a train in the UK, you’ll understand why nationalization is so popular. Warnings that it might not be much better don’t put off the public, because the public aren’t stupid. The NHS isn’t perfect, but we know we own it: we feel an investment in it, and we know what the alternative is. The state can improve it, because they own it. Currently, we don’t own our trains. We pay through the nose for horrendous journeys and know that the stack of cash handed over for that ticket is being pocketed by a billionaire. That’s far harder to swallow than sitting on a train and thinking it could be improved, but knowing the ticket price is going back into the service.

Nationalization makes sense, and the public know this because they can see the evidence all around them. In this, the public are ahead of most politicians; they are far more radical than the media dare to believe. Once rail is nationalized, all utilities and services have the opportunity to be brought in-house. The media will continue to be alarmist, but the public know it makes sense, and are happy to see fewer billionaires torturing people in sweatboxes that smell like dead bodies and echo with riddles about toilets.

As so often happens with capitalism’s most egregious failures, the public were told privatization would mean cheaper services, with companies competing for customers, and much greater value for money. It hasn’t. It’s been a colossal failure, creating monopolies in many cases, and hammering individuals’ purses for profits — and the time has come to renationalize the whole sorry mess.

by Dawn Foster at May 20, 2019 11:34 AM

Socialism: The Movie

Socialism is often portrayed as a foreign ideology that Americans have never embraced. But the forthcoming documentary Socialism: An American Story shows how deeply rooted the socialist tradition is in the US.

alt Still from Socialism: An American Story

In the space of about three years, socialism has gone from a total nonstarter to a persistent object of curiosity for millions of ordinary people, and the name of a real movement for tens of thousands of dedicated new organizers. With Jacobin‘s support, he upcoming film Socialism: An American Story documents the new wave of socialism in the US and traces its lineage through American history.

Jacobin’s Meagan Day spoke to director and producer Yael Bridge and producer Morgan Spector about the transformation they’ve witnessed since they started making the film several years ago, and the new possibilities that exist for socialist advance today. If you’d like to help this film become a reality — and introduce potentially millions of people to a current perspective on socialist politics — you can donate to the Kickstarter page.

Meagan Day

You started thinking about this film a few years ago, when Bernie Sanders had just shocked the nation by giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money, when the Democratic Socialists of America was on the cusp of its massive membership explosion, and before the teachers’ strike wave even began.

In the process of making this film, you two have had a front-row seat to the US socialist surge. What do you make of the last three years of socialist and class-struggle politics? Is socialism really on the rise?

Yael Bridge

We’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to be shooting and editing during probably the most exciting time for the American left since Debs. It’s weird to be living through the Trump presidency — which even for those of us who think the Bush years were objectively much worse, is a horrible, humiliating time to be an American — and yet be filled with optimism, because if you’re looking at the Left, you’re watching the rebirth of genuinely radical American politics.

So yeah, the short answer is, absolutely socialism is on the rise, not just because the distinction between the Obama era — when socialism was still an effectively toxic political slur — and today, when we have actual self-described socialists and DSA members in elected office, is so sharp, but also because at least according to polls, the policies that currently comprise the demands of American socialists range from extremely popular to pretty popular among Americans in general.

Morgan Spector

I think the longer answer depends on what you mean by socialism, because obviously the current demands are social-democratic rather than socialist. And Bernie has been so successful in articulating a new vision for the country that the same positions occupied by people calling themselves socialists can also be taken by someone like Elizabeth Warren, who is avowedly a capitalist.

So, in that way it’s a confusing time. But one thing Eric Foner said when we interviewed him, and that other people have agreed with, is that right now, Americans have the freedom to define socialism for themselves in a way that they couldn’t since before the Cold War, and that freedom makes this a heady and crucial moment.

Meagan Day

There are major signs throughout society that socialism’s Cold War-era stigma is waning, particularly among millennials, who according to some recent polls report overall that they prefer socialism to capitalism.

To offer a backdrop to your film, you spoke to lots of ordinary people on the street about socialism. What qualities do the people you spoke with associate with the word, and to what extent do you think people are open to the concept?

Morgan Spector

It’s funny, we’ve done two rounds of vox pop / “man on the street” stuff about a year apart, once in New York and once in Miami. And there is some predictably reactionary hostility, but mostly people just really don’t know very much.

But yeah, they’re open-minded. They want to know more. And again, I think that’s fine. It means socialists today have an opportunity to define a socialism that’s not only deeply American, and rooted in our culture and political traditions, but historically and even regionally specific.

Meagan Day

One of the major characters of your film is Oklahoma teacher Stephanie Price. Can you tell us about Stephanie’s journey from pissed-off public school teacher to a member of a socialist organization?

Yael Bridge

Stephanie was a wonderful discovery for us as filmmakers — she’s just a really bright, charming, courageous person. She is a person who can see that certain aspects of her life are fucked up but not really someone who has an analysis of where those pressures come from. And ultimately through participating in the strike, even though the Oklahoma strike ended in a way that was somewhat frustrating for the rank and file, she develops an entirely different sense of what she deserves, and what she can achieve.

We filmed a panel at the Socialism conference in 2018, where many of the leaders of the strike wave spoke, and the common thread was the power of that experience of solidarity. We can talk about it and write about it all we want, but I think until you actually go out and strike and find out the power that you collectively have as workers, it’s hard to really grasp.

You could see that all of these people, mostly women, had kind of found their voices as people through participating in a strike. Most of them had just been rank-and-file teachers beforehand, and here they were just a few months later addressing a room of thousands with absolute poise and confidence. That’s hard to do, and it was extremely moving to witness. That experience of solidarity is what Stephanie’s journey in the film is all about.

Meagan Day

You also follow democratic-socialist politician Lee Carter as he navigates red-baiting and political isolation in the Virginia General Assembly. What’s the arc of Lee’s story in the film, and what does it tell us about how far socialist electoral politics has come and how far it has yet to go?

Yael Bridge

We’ve been following Lee since the early days of his first legislative session. Lee was one of the first DSA-endorsed candidates to win, even before the most recent wave that swept Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib into office. He also serves at the state rather than the national level, so he has less opportunity to score symbolic political points. He has to deliver for his district or they won’t reelect him.

He also was elected as a Democrat, despite having a somewhat tense relationship with the party during his campaign. So, we were curious how that relationship would evolve during his time in office. What we saw was that he proposed a whole range of bills designed to protect workers and expand workers’ rights, including a bill to overturn “right to work” in Virginia, but he’s been stymied not only by Republicans but by fellow Democrats.

His bills are often killed in committee. But he’s optimistic, and I think that’s because he feels like his fellow legislators are more open to his ideas than they were when he arrived. He’s about to run for reelection, so it’ll be interesting to see whether his district rewards him for fighting for them, even if not always successfully.

Meagan Day

The title of your film, “Socialism: An American Story,” is meant to impress upon viewers that working-class and socialist politics are deeply embedded in our nation’s history. To what extent has that history been swept under the rug, and what do we stand to gain from revisiting it?

Morgan Spector

Yeah, it’s really stunning how much this history has been distorted, erased, or forgotten. One of the main ideas we try to get across is that socialism has been a vibrant part of American political life for much longer than we ordinarily imagine.

The thing that’s easy to forget now that the US is this imperial superpower is how radical this country was early on when it came to thinking about democracy. People like Abraham Lincoln were willing to engage with radical thinkers. Marx wrote a column for the New York Tribune and corresponded with Lincoln. The labor movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that won so many rights for American workers was very much led by socialists. The Civil Rights Movement had plenty of socialist influence.

Most of the twentieth century was defined by America’s war against what it called socialism, which should mean that we all understand what socialism is, but in reality means that we’re only familiar with the definition of socialism that emerged from a decades-long struggle against another superpower for global dominance, which is to say socialism as totalitarianism.

The American people understood socialism entirely differently before the Cold War, and we see that happening again.

Meagan Day

As we dive into the 2020 presidential campaign, what do you make of Bernie Sanders’s role in the revitalization of American socialism? To what extent did he change the game, and what promise does his next presidential campaign hold for popularizing this movement and bringing it mainstream?

Yael Bridge

Bernie’s contribution in reviving this word and this movement is impossible to overstate, that should be obvious to everyone. It’s not supposed to be how this works, right? Socialism isn’t supposed to happen from the top down, and as you’ve written, ideally we’d arrive at this moment with a much stronger workers’ movement already in place.

But it’s astonishing that even with unions on their heels, there’s this avenue of possibility in the electoral realm and that’s entirely down to Bernie. With helpful assists from Republicans who have been calling everything socialism for years anyway, and Trump, whose victory seemed to prove both that the liberal center no longer had the electoral credibility that had kept the Left quiescent in election years, and that nothing is impossible anymore in American politics.

Morgan Spector

As far as this time around, it’s really about continuing to define what socialism or democratic socialism means in America in 2020. If we could all be talking about the same thing, instead of endlessly rehearsing these bad faith arguments about the Soviet Union or Venezuela, that would be a huge step forward.

Another thing that I hope will become clearer is that only socialists are thinking big enough right now to actually address the problems we’re facing, whether we’re talking about economic and social inequality or global warming. These are problems that imply a radical break with the status quo, and that means socialists are uniquely situated for this moment.

by Morgan Spector at May 20, 2019 11:09 AM

InterPressService (global south)

UN’s Mandate to Protect Human Rights Takes Another Hit

By Thalif Deen

The UN’s longstanding mandate to promote and protect human rights worldwide –- undermined recently by right-wing nationalist governments and authoritarian regimes – has taken another hit.

The Geneva-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says six of the UN’s 10 treaty bodies are being forced to cancel their sessions this year due to financial reasons.

The situation has been described as “an unprecedented consequence of some UN member States delaying payments due to the Organisation.”

Anna-Karin Holmlund, Senior UN Advocate at Amnesty International (AI), told IPS: “Amnesty is deeply concerned by member states’ delay in paying their assessed contributions, which will have a direct effect on the ability of the UN to carry out its vital human rights work.”

Without these funds, the UN’s human rights mechanisms and International tribunals could be severely affected, she warned.

By 10 May, only 44 UN member states – out of 193 — had paid all their assessments due, with the United States owing the largest amount.

“Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a worrying trend of reduction in the UN budget allocated to its human rights mechanisms. To put this in perspective, the budget of the OHCHR is only 3.7 % of the total UN regular budget,” she pointed out.

In addition to the possible cancellation of sessions of the treaty bodies, mechanisms created by the Human Rights Council such as Fact-Finding Missions and Commissions of Inquiry may be hampered in carrying out their mandate of investigating serious human rights violations.

The OHCHR said last week the cancellations meant that reviews already scheduled with member states, as well as consideration of complaints by individual victims of serious human rights violations — including torture, extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances -– will not take place as scheduled.

“The cancellation of sessions will also have numerous other negative consequences, and will seriously undermine the system of protections which States themselves have put in place over decades,” said a statement released by the OHCHR.

The chairpersons of the 10 Committees are deeply concerned about the practical consequences of cancelling these sessions and have sent a letter to the UN Secretary General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, requesting they, together with Member States, explore ways of addressing this situation, “as a matter of urgency.”

Alexandra Patsalides, a Legal Equality programme officer at Equality Now, told IPS that it is deeply concerned that UN Treaty body review sessions have been postponed for financial reasons, including the Committee to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), with its focus on ending all forms of discrimination again women and girls.

She said the crisis comes particularly at a time when women’s rights are continuously being undermined and eroded around the world– and civil society organisations are operating in a space that is increasingly under attack and shrinking.

The UN should strongly call on state parties to prioritise their international human rights obligations, she added.

“The UN treaty bodies are vital to holding states accountable to their commitments on women and girl’s rights — and now is the time to increase the international response, not cut back,” said Patsalides.

These review sessions offer civil society organisations a vital opportunity to hold their governments to account for their international human rights commitments and raise awareness of human rights violations in their countries.

But with the backsliding on women’s rights across the globe, it is now more urgent than ever that the various mechanisms stand up to defend hard won gains, she noted.

“The UN treaty bodies are often the only mechanism for women and girls to hold their countries to account for violations of their rights. We cannot allow these voices to be silenced and call on the UN to prioritize the protection of women and girls’ rights and ensure these treaty bodies have appropriate and sustainable funding.”

The 10 UN human rights treaty bodies are: the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee against Torture, the Committee on Migrant Workers, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities And the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture.

Meanwhile the budget cuts come at a time when the UN is battling a series of setbacks in the field of human rights.

The UN Human Rights Office in Burundi was closed down last February at the insistence of the government, with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressing “deep regrets” over the closure, after a 23-year presence in the country.

A UN Commission of Inquiry has called on Eritrea to investigate allegations of extrajudicial killings by its security forces, including torture and enslaving hundreds of thousands, going back to 2016.

And under the Trump administration, the US has ceased to cooperate with some of the UN Rapporteurs, and specifically an investigation on the plight of migrants on the Mexican border where some of them have been sexually assaulted—abuses which have remained unreported and unprosecuted.

The government of Myanmar has barred a UN expert from visiting the country to probe the status of Rohingya refugees.

On the setbacks in Colombia, Robert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said May 10: “We are alarmed by the strikingly high number of human rights defenders being killed, harassed and threatened in Colombia, and by the fact that this terrible trend seems to be worsening”

“We call on the authorities to make a significant effort to confront the pattern of harassment and attacks aimed at civil society representatives and to take all necessary measures to tackle the endemic impunity around such cases.”

In just the first four months of this year, he pointed out, a total of 51 alleged killings of human rights defenders and activists have been reported by civil society actors and State institutions, as well as the national human rights institution.

The UN Human Rights Office in Colombia is closely following up on these allegations. This staggering number continues a negative trend that intensified during 2018, when our staff documented the killings of 115 human rights defenders.

According to a press release from the OHCHR, the 10 United Nations human rights treaties are legally binding treaties, adopted by the UN General Assembly and ratified by States.

Each Treaty establishes a treaty body (or Committee) comprising elected independent experts who seek to ensure that States parties fulfil their legal obligations under the Conventions.

This system of independent scrutiny of the conduct of States by independent experts is a key element of the United Nations human rights system, supported by secretariats in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The writer can be contacted at

The post UN’s Mandate to Protect Human Rights Takes Another Hit appeared first on Inter Press Service.

by Thalif Deen at May 20, 2019 10:49 AM


Elizabeth Warren Should Have Gone on Fox News

Fox News’s politics won't be defeated by a few principled liberal politicians engaging in a media blackout.

alt Democratic presidential candiate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to a crowd during a campaign stop at Fat Hill Brewing on May 4, 2019 in Mason City, Iowa. Stephen Maturen / Getty

A couple of weeks ago, I argued that Elizabeth Warren may have smart policies, but Bernie Sanders has mass politics. Yesterday, Warren demonstrated the difference in action: she announced that unlike Sanders she will be declining an invitation to appear on a televised Fox News town hall.

When Sanders participated in the network’s town hall event, I explained why that was a good idea. Fox News is the most-watched cable news network in the country, and a large percentage of its viewers have low incomes. Sanders’s campaign is centered around demands for ambitious redistributive reforms that will directly and materially improve life for all working-class people — some of whom, unfortunately, watch Fox News and currently vote for Republicans.

Sanders sees those viewers as part of the project of remaking society. Speaking directly to them about how the Right is pulling the wool over their eyes is therefore an important political task.

Sanders is familiar with basic socialist ideas: that the interests of workers are fundamentally opposed to the interest of capitalists, that workers have common cause across their differences, and that workers uniting en masse in pursuit of their common cause is the best way to exercise power, force concessions from elites, and make society more equal.

Following from these principles, Sanders sees it as his responsibility to speak to working-class people regardless of where they currently fall on the ideological spectrum. He went on Fox News not only because he wants to get these people to consider voting for him in the 2020 election, but also because he has a long-term vision for reshaping the political landscape. He wants to drain the Right’s reservoir of (mostly white) working-class support — which the Right doesn’t deserve, since it works tirelessly against the interests of working people, giving tax breaks to billionaires, destroying unions, and whittling down the welfare state.

Of course, Sanders thinks Fox News is an odious and corrosive enterprise — he openly says so, and he expressed disdain for Fox so many times during his town hall that the hosts verbally took offense. But as he put it, “To me it is important to distinguish Fox News from the many millions of people who watch Fox News. And I think it is important to talk to those people and say, ‘You know what, I know that many of you voted for Donald Trump, but he lied to you.’”

The rationale Warren has given for abstaining from a Fox News town hall follows a different logic than Sanders’s rationale for participating. It goes like this: Fox is a toxic force in our culture because it pits us against one another for profit (no argument here) and contributing to Fox’s profits by appearing on the network means contributing to Fox’s ability to continue sowing division. Therefore, Warren will take a principled stand against Fox’s politics by boycotting the network.

It’s possible that this is simply a tidy post-hoc justification, and Warren actually doesn’t want to go on Fox for immediate strategic reasons, perhaps worrying that she would be hit with difficult or unfair questions and would underperform. It’s also possible she sincerely believes that personally boycotting Fox News is a better strategy for beating the Right than appearing on it to argue her case to its viewers.

If we take her at her word, Warren’s rationale makes her appear as someone who views politics not primarily as a mass phenomenon, but as a series of top-level negotiations — between, for example, good policymakers and bad ones, or between good high-profile national politicians and bad multibillion-dollar news networks.

In Warren’s scenario, Fox News’s politics will be defeated by a few principled liberal politicians engaging in a media blackout. In Sanders’s, Fox News’s politics will be defeated when the Left convinces a significant portion of the Right’s working-class base that they’ve been duped, and that the pro-worker left best represents their political interests.

One of these is a mass-political scenario in which millions of ordinary people play the leading role. The other is a tug-of-war among powerful elites, a scenario from which the ordinary millions are conspicuously absent, or at least of negligible importance.

Even if Warren doesn’t really believe her own stated rationale, her abstention still demonstrates a myopia about mass politics that will not serve her well in either her campaign or her hypothetical presidency. Many of Warren’s best policy ideas involve taking on the power of the capitalist class directly. That can’t be accomplished by well-meaning progressive politicians alone; they need millions of people in motion to make it happen. This is the meaning of Bernie’s slogan “Not Me, Us.”

For those of us who prefer Sanders to Warren, this is the real sticking point: we think the power to change society rests with the working class itself, not with politicians who have its interests at heart. The major contest in society is between a handful of economic elites and everyone else who sells their labor for a wage in order to survive. Morally upstanding politicians are not the hero of the story. Working people are.

Politicians who understand this have a specific role to play: they have to use their campaigns and their offices as bully pulpits for a mass political perspective that unites working people against capitalists. And to do that, they must take every available opportunity to speak to every section of the working class about what they stand to gain from a Left agenda — and in many circumstances, what they have to lose by continuing to support the Right.

By refusing to go on Fox News, Warren has demonstrated that she doesn’t take this task as seriously as she ought to. As Sanders has plainly stated, the power of the capitalist class is so formidable that it will take a huge movement of millions of united workers to actually overcome it in reality. Warren’s policy ideas are frequently excellent, but without a fundamental orientation toward the very people who stand to benefit from them, they stand little chance of materializing.

Millions of people need to be persuaded that they deserve something better, that change is possible, and that they are the engine of that change. Demonstrated policy expertise won’t cut it, nor will principled stands against bad actors. What’s most important is speaking directly to working people on the biggest possible platform. Warren and Sanders may largely share a policy agenda, but in the end, only mass politics can get the goods.

by Meagan Day at May 20, 2019 10:30 AM

The Faux Revolution of Mindfulness


When we recognize that disaffection, anxiety and stress are not just our own fault but are connected to structural causes, mindfulness becomes fuel for igniting resistance.

by Ronald Purser at May 20, 2019 10:16 AM

On Endangered Species Day — and Every Day — Here’s How to Save the Animals


If you’re already toting a canvas bag or your home is running on renewables, you need to do more. And if you’re brand new to the world of conservation, welcome to the fight.

by Maggie Dewane at May 20, 2019 09:45 AM


How Warren’s Climate Defense Bill Undermines Itself

Elizabeth Warren has a new bill that pledges to “green” the military. But it would neither attack climate emissions nor scale back the US's enormous footprint around the world.

alt US Army tanks are loaded onto trains in Bremerhaven, Germany on January 8, 2017. Alexander Koerner / Getty

Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has rolled out a new proposal — the Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act (DCRRA) — with the declaration that “our military can help lead the fight against climate change.” The proposal is actually a series of distinct initiatives that, in tandem, would create what she calls a “green military”: one that runs on clean energy, that monitors and reports on its environmental impacts, and one that remains “effective.”

So far, the response to Warren’s proposal has largely revolved around two debates. The first simply asks whether the bill would make meaningful progress in the fight against climate change. The second asks whether it is in some sense complicit in US militarism. Both of these debates, however, have remained gridlocked in an exchange of abstractions and truisms: “militarism is incompatible with ecosocialism,” “yes but we must be pragmatic,” etc.

Fortunately, both of these debates can be quickly resolved if we look at the specifics of the legislation. The language of the bill guarantees that it cannot succeed even on its own narrow terms — precisely because it includes loopholes that seek to preserve the US military’s dominant position in the world.

The Market Waiver

The bill’s problems stem from two key passages.

First, consider section six: “Climate Conscious Contracting of Department of Defense,” where Warren lays out her plan to bring the military-industrial complex to heel. “[I]f we’re serious about climate change,” she writes, “then industry also needs to have skin in the game.” In a Medium post last week, Warren explained how the scheme would work: contractors that haven’t achieved carbon neutrality would be charged a small fee, which would in turn be invested into a Energy and Climate Resiliency Fund. But buried in the bill, there’s a passage she doesn’t mention:

WAIVER: the Secretary of Defense may waive the requirements of this section . . . [if] he determines that market conditions for a product or service make it difficult for the Department to acquire that product or service and the waiver will accelerate the Department’s acquisition of the product or service.

In other words: if someone in the government decides that “market conditions” (say, prices) are making it “too difficult” to buy that electric Humvee, he can just throw Warren’s entire scheme out the window. This is the military-industrial-complex loophole par excellence — it gives contractors direct cover to argue that Warren’s eco-fee would make production too expensive.

And that’s not the only way the private sector could wriggle out of the DCRRA’s eco-fee. Even if the waiver were removed entirely, capitalists have a standard strategy for dealing with this sort of fee: they simply raise their prices enough to offset it. Warren’s proposal is therefore unlikely to create the kind of market pressure on military contractors that could force them to change their energy consumption with the urgency that climate change demands.

It is true that this system still provides money for Warren’s Energy and Climate Resiliency Fund (at least when contractors don’t get the government to waive the bill’s eco-fees). Yet it’s a byzantine funding scheme. Those eco-fees were paid for by inflated contracting prices charged to the DoD, which in turn got its funding from budget requests for the goods and services the contractors provide.

One alternative would be to just put the ECRF into annual budget requests as a stand-alone item, which would make it clear that the fight against climate change is a funding priority. But the Warren bill doesn’t do this. Instead, funding for the ECRF would only appear in the budget in the form of funding for tanks and missiles that are suddenly, say, 1 percent more expensive.

The War Waiver

It is not difficult to see why the legislation has a waiver that lets the government opt out of Warren’s contracting plan: it is there to protect military “readiness” against the possible costs of the fight against climate change. In her Medium post, Warren repeatedly invokes this imperative of readiness. We are told that climate change “is undermining our military readiness,” that “our military’s top priority is readiness,” and that we need to “improve readiness.”

But readiness for what? In a DoD report Warren links to in her post, the Pentagon is characteristically blunt:

Our 2018 National Defense Strategy prioritizes long-term strategic competition with great power competitors by focusing the Department’s efforts and resources to . . . build a more lethal force . . . To achieve these goals, DoD must be able to adapt current and future operations to . . . weather and natural events.

Time and time again, the DCRRA invokes these priorities. “Resiliency,” it explains, means that the US military must be able to respond to climate change “while continuing normal operations.” In section three, the bill pointedly excludes from its “Net Zero Energy” plan all military bases, infrastructure, and vehicles that “support combat operations.” And in section eight, it calls for an annual report with “an assessment of how adapting climate change impacts” the “readiness of the military” to “counter threats posed by Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and violent extremist organizations.”

While it is not clear what “threats” the bill is referring to, one comment in Warren’s Medium post is suggestive. In passing, she warns of “competition” in the melting Arctic over “access to . . . natural resources” and links to a Washington Post article that discusses the Pentagon’s plans for “countering Russia and China,” since “both nations have shown interest in Arctic resources as the ice melts, including fossil fuels.”

All of this provides crucial context for the DCRRA’s second key passage — another waiver:

WAIVER: the Secretary of Defense may waive the requirements of this section . . . [if] he determines that meeting these requirements would adversely affect the national security interests of the United States . . .

Another waiver with similar language also appears in the bill’s section calling for “net zero energy,” and their meaning is clear: the “national security interests of the United States” evidently include things like “competition with great power competitors,” namely Russia and China, among others.

These two waivers — the market waiver, and the war waiver — seriously compromise the bill’s ability to wage a serious and urgent fight against climate change. Warren insists that “we don’t have to choose between a green military and an effective one,” but the bill’s waivers suggest that we do have to choose between a war against climate change and wars against other nations. And when that choice comes, the DCRRA ensures that our government will always choose the latter.

by Carl Beijer at May 20, 2019 09:16 AM

British nationals to be banned from parts of Syria under new law (Guardian, 20 May 2019)

British nationals are to be banned from entering or remaining in parts of conflict-stricken Syria in the first use of a controversial new power. The home secretary, Sajid Javid, will reveal on Monday how he expects the law, which makes it a criminal offence to enter or remain in a “designated area” overseas, to be used. Read the full article.

The post British nationals to be banned from parts of Syria under new law (Guardian, 20 May 2019) appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Index on Censorship at May 20, 2019 09:14 AM

Climate Politics/Capitol Light

US Capitol

Although basically a “clipping service,” I’ve taken Climate Politics/Capitol Light a step further by introducing a sentence or two into each of the write-ups about why I think the actions reported on are important and where they might fit in the political scheme of things. 

by Joel Stronberg at May 20, 2019 09:02 AM

Netherlands: JaKra! squatting yearbook 2018 released

JaKra! is initiated by KSU Den Haag (The Hague Squatting Info Centre). In this book project we would like to look back on a number of developments and events in the past year, together with squatters and housing activists in different places.
It turns out that squatting is still necessary and useful — as some of the stories in the first JaKra! issue (squatting yearbook 2018) demonstrate. Housing is a necessity. There needs to be space for autonomy. Protests against speculation, social degradation, and miserable urban regeneration are necessary. We must fight for an inclusive city with sufficient affordable housing and non-commercial places to go out and meet people.
By sharing some of our successes and setbacks on an annual basis, we hope to contribute to creating more intercity involvement and solidarity between squatters and housing activists in the Netherlands and beyond and to inspire more people to become active themselves, helping to build an effective movement for the housing struggle.
In the Netherlands JaKra! #1 will soon be available for 5 euros in the subversive bookshops Rosa (Groningen), the Opstand (Den Haag) and the Fort van Sjakoo (Amsterdam) and soon also available to download. The book is bilingual, Dutch-English.
Maybe you want to contribute to JaKra! #2 (yearbook squatting 2019) in text, illustrations and (photo) reports? Contact the editors.

jakra [at] riseup [dot] net

KSU Den Haag
ksu-denhaag [at] riseup [dot] net

Some squats in the Netherlands:
Groups (social center, collective, squat) in the Netherlands:
Events in the Netherlands:

by fawda at May 20, 2019 09:00 AM

Growing our Way out of Crisis: How to Dig for Victory

In the UK, the phenomenon of growing vegetables on an allotment –  a piece of community land shared between a number of individuals – is part of the national landscape, bringing pleasure and fresh homegrown vegetables to households without large gardens.

by Rapid Transition Alliance Staff at May 20, 2019 08:33 AM

Bringing the Supply Chain to Life with California Cloth Foundry

California Cloth Foundry

Gracefully bringing together all the elements of locally grown, milled, and made organic fabric, Lydia Wendt’s work takes shape with California Cloth Foundry: textiles and apparel in collaboration with nature.

by Kalie llana Cassel-Feiss at May 20, 2019 08:12 AM

European Commission must mitigate concerns on automated upload filters

Dear President Juncker,
Dear First Vice-President Timmermans,
Dear Vice-President Ansip,
Dear Commissioner Gabriel,
Dear Director General Roberto Viola,

The undersigned stakeholders represent fundamental rights organizations, the knowledge community (in particular libraries), free and open source software developers, and communities from across the European Union. The new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market has been adopted and, as soon as it is published in the Official Journal, Member States will have two years to implement the new rules. Article 17, on ‘certain uses of protected content by online services’, foresees that the European Commission will issue guidance on the application of this Article.

The undersigned organisations have, on numerous occasions throughout the legislative debate on the copyright reform, expressed their very explicit concerns (1) about the fundamental and human rights questions that will appear in the implementation of the obligations laid down on online content-sharing service providers by Article 17. These concerns have also been shared by a wide variety of other stakeholders, the broad academic community of intellectual property scholars, as well as Members of the European Parliament and individual Member States. (2)

We consider that, in order to mitigate these concerns, it is of utmost importance that the European Commission and Member States engage in a constructive transposition and implementation to ensure that the fears around automated upload filters are not realized.

We believe that the stakeholder dialogues and consultation process foreseen in Article 17(10) to provide input on the drafting of guidance around the implementation of this Article should be as inclusive as possible. The undersigned organisations represent consumers and work to enshrine fundamental rights into EU law and national-level legislation.

These organisations are stakeholders in this process, and we call upon the European Commission to ensure the participation of human rights and digital rights organisations, as well as the knowledge community (in particular libraries), free and open source software developers, and communities in all of its efforts around the transposition and implementation of Article 17. This would include the planned Working Group, as well as other stakeholder dialogues, or any other initiatives at consultation level and beyond.

Such broad and inclusive participation is crucial for ensuring that the national implementations of Article 17 and the day-to-day cooperation between online content-sharing service providers and rightholders respects the Charter of Fundamental Rights by safeguarding citizens’ and creators’ freedom of expression and information, whilst also protecting their privacy. These should be the guiding principles for a harmonized implementation of Article 17 throughout the Digital Single Market.

Yours sincerely

Balázs Dénes
Executive Director
Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties)

• Association for Progressive Communications
• ApTi Romania
• Article 19
• Associação D3 – Defesa dos Direitos Digitais
• Associação Nacional para o Software Livre – Portugal
• Bits of Freedom
• BlueLink Foundation
• Center for Media & Democracy
• Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation
• Civil Liberties Union for Europe
• Coalizione Italiana Libertà e Diritti civili
• COMMUNIA association for the Public Domain
• Creative Commons
• Digital courage
• Digitalegeshellschaft
• Electronic Frontier Finland
• Electronic Frontiers Foundation
• Elektronisk Forpost Norge
• European Digital Rights (EDRi)
• Fitug e.v.
• Hermes Center
• Hivos
• Homo Digitalis
• Human Rights Monitoring Institute
• Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
• Index on Censorship
• International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
• Irish Council for Civil Liberties
• IT-Pol Denmark
• La Quadrature du Net
• Metamorphosis Foundation
• Nederlands Juristen Comité voor de Mensenrechten (NJCM)
• Open Rights Group
• Peace Institute
• Privacy First
• Rights International Spain
• Vrijschrift
• Wikimedia Deutschland e. V.
• Wikimedia Foundation
• Xnet

1 Human rights and digital rights organisations:
2 Academics from the leading European research centres:
Max Plank Institute:
UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression:

Online harms and media freedom: UK response to Council of Europe lacks concrete details

“The UK’s response to our Council of Europe alert lacks concrete details about how government proposals dealing with online harms will not damage media freedom and the public’s right to information,” said Joy Hyvarinen, head of advocacy, Index on Censorship.

Stifling free speech online in the war on fake news

Politicians around the world are trying to stamp out fake news online but at what cost to freedom of expression?

No sex please, we’re British: Why is no one talking about the UK’s impending “porn ban”?

The Digital Economy Act 2017 has the potential to pose a severe threat to the anonymity of people in the UK.

Online harms proposals pose serious risks to freedom of expression

While we recognise the government’s desire to tackle unlawful content online, the proposals mooted in the white paper – including a new duty of care on social media platforms, a regulatory body, and even the fining and banning of social media platforms as a sanction – pose serious risks to freedom of expression online.

The post European Commission must mitigate concerns on automated upload filters appeared first on Index on Censorship.

by Index on Censorship at May 20, 2019 08:01 AM

Madrid: Statement of the anarchist compañeras arrested on May 13

In the early morning of May 13, an anti-riot unit was breaking into our homes and the anarchist space La Emboscada (The Ambush) – three weeks after its inauguration – together with the 21st group of the Provincial Information Brigade of Madrid, dedicated exclusively to spy and hunt anarchists. We were informed that they were bringing a search and arrest warrant for two of us on terrorism charges. During the search, which lasted approximately 6 hours, comrades from all over Madrid came to show their support.
Meanwhile, the police seemed especially interested in taking clothes with them: coloured and black coats, concrete coloured scarves, scarves, flower scarves, specific footwear; they were also interested in agendas, calendars, some notebooks, some annotations, notes between the pages of books, computers, hard disks, memory cards, usb, mobile phones, photographic and video cameras, CDs and DVDs, construction tools and, especially, hammers; as well as stickers, patches and T-shirts of the brand M.A.L.P.; posters and propaganda in relation to the G20 counter-summit in 2017.
During the investigation, which has been ongoing since March 2017, emails, mobile phones, tablets, whatsapp, icloud, dropbox and communications in general have been tapped. For now we have no more information, as the investigation continues under secret summary. We were held for 32 hours and, although there were times when the situation was confusing and unfavourable, any sadness or fear became insignificant when we came out and saw the support and solidarity we received from our compatriots and friends.

Because although the State comes for us, the ideas and practices they pursue are unstoppable and multiply in each gesture of solidarity. And although we do not know what we are accused of, we are very clear about what we are and why we are being persecuted: and we do not regret nor will we ever regret being anarchists.

Repression has always been on the lookout for those who fight but throughout our lives it has given us strength and encouragement to know that there were anarchists all over the world and people who shared our affinity and, to live this in the first person and meet so many people, it has been very nice and meaningful for us.

No anarchist will be alone as long as there are compas who continue to fight.

A hug to Embers, who was arrested on May 1st in Paris and is still in prison along with many others. And to all the other anarchist prisoners and prisoners in struggle, which we do not forget.

Some squats in Madrid:
Groups (social centres, collectives, squats) in Madrid:
Events in Madrid:

Some squats in the Iberian Peninsula:
Spanish state:
Basque Country:

Events in the Iberian Peninsula:
Spanish state:

Original statement published in Spanish by Contramadriz

by fawda at May 20, 2019 07:35 AM


(en) Spain, cgt-cyl Valladolid: CONCENTRATION AT SMRC BEFORE REPRESSION TO THE TRADE UNION SECTION OF CGT (ca) [machine translation]

This Thursday May 16, CGT has convened a rally, which took place between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., at the gates of the company SMRC (Medina de Rioseco), coinciding with the entry and exit of shifts in protest to the repression that this company applies to the union section of CGT, as detailed in the following statement: ---- From CGT we have constituted the trade union section in SMRC, tired of being signed retrograde agreements and of supporting unions that have chosen to bow to the demands of the company against the rights and interests of workers. These unions do not even deign to publish press releases on the boards, or convene assemblies to decide against any signature that affects us all, as happened during the negotiation of the agreement. Well, newly constituted this union section have dismissed two colleagues in a totally ...

by A-infos ( at May 20, 2019 06:18 AM

(en) Britain, AFED, organise magazine - Review: The Good Immigrant

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

by A-infos ( at May 20, 2019 06:14 AM

(en) al bruxelles: Once a month Alternative Libertaire Bruxelles invite you to it's Café Libertaire. (fr)

The Café Libertaire is a time to meet our group and to spend a convivial moment with other militants. You can also get updates on struggles' actuality and ongoing campaigns and/or to become involved in our activities. It is also the occasion to get stickers, flyers, posters, ... Or you can simply get a drink after classes or work in a militant, feminist and libertarian place. ? Practical information: ? When? Friday May 31, 2019 from 6pm to 10pm ? Where? Local Sacco & Vanzetti - 54 Chaussée de Forest, 1060 Saint Gilles ...

by A-infos ( at May 20, 2019 06:14 AM

(en) Greece, dwarf horse [APO]: Patras: Solidarity course to fighter D. Koufontina (Hunger Strike from 2/5) [machine translation]

SOLIDARITY STONDEMETRIS KOUFONTINA SERIOUS PAIN OF 2/5 ---- Immediate leave and removal of the prosecutor's veto ---- TO REMOVE THE EXCLUSION STATUS FOR CITIZEN CITIZENS ---- "Our consciousness is fueled by the memory of the struggles, to say it once again, to understand it, we remember to remember to defend it at all costs" ---- "And where did they stand? In my old statements about the need to resist state terrorism and rights that were in fact racing conquests. But these words are not just mine. There are many who are saying and doing so in solidarity. So let's just tell them once again to figure it out. As long as there is state terrorism, there will be people who will relive the red thread of the struggles that permeates a story of centuries of resistance " ...

by A-infos ( at May 20, 2019 06:11 AM

(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #294 - Herbert Claros (Brazilian trade unionist): " It's time for resistance " (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Herbert Claros, 37, is a metallurgist and secretary for international relations at the CSP-Conlutas [2]. We met him at the beginning of the year on the occasion of his visit to Europe during a round of meetings to take stock of the situation since the arrival in power of the neo-fascist Jair Bolsonaro in October 2018, to talk about the responsibilities from the Workers Party (PT), in power from 2003 to 2016, in this disaster as well, as the prospects of response of the social movement, trade union and feminist. ---- Libertarian alternative : What is the context of the election of Jair Bolsonaro at the head of Brazil ? ---- Herbert Claros : The elections showed the great dissatisfaction of the working class and the majority of the population with the political class and their parties. But the lack of prospects in the face of the economic crisis and the ...

by A-infos ( at May 20, 2019 06:10 AM

(en) Germany, deliver union fau: Meetings

The Deliverunion working group meets every 4th Tuesday of the month, 19.30 @ the FAU office, Grüntaler Str. 24 (U/S Gesundbrunnen). The meetings are open for any rider working in Berlin and you don't have to be a member. If you want to become a member you can print this and bring to the meeting, or you could just sign up online. Contact: ...

by A-infos ( at May 20, 2019 06:06 AM

(en) Brazil's right-wing rising - Part 3: The oil plants sell out by Bruno Lima Rocha

Part 3 of an audio series debating the reasons for the right-wing rising in Brazil, contextualising and analysing the rise of Bolsonaro and the right-wing in Brazil. Part 1 | Part 2 Part 3 of an audio series debating the reasons for the right-wing rising in Brazil, contextualising and analysing the rise of Bolsonaro and the right-wing in Brazil. Related Link: ...

by A-infos ( at May 20, 2019 06:06 AM


The international and, in particular, the national context points us to the deepening of social inequalities and repression of the people and social movements from north to south of the country. The neoliberal reforms have the short-term consequence of the impoverishment of the working class and the loss of rights with the ongoing Labor and Social Security Reforms. In this sense, it is only through the autonomous organization of the workers that we can resist, bar the reforms and conquer rights, besides being the only way out for socialism. ---- The social, union and student movements in general do not fulfill their function in the struggle with workers and students, only presenting itself as bridge to parties that dispute positions in the Bourgeois State via elections. As a consequence, there is a demobilization of the struggles and constant repression and ...

by A-infos ( at May 20, 2019 06:03 AM

(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #294 - South American social movements: oppressed minorities at the center of debates (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

March 2 and 3 are held in Viamão, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, the XIII th edition of the Latin American meeting of popular and autonomous organizations (Elaopa), who claim independence and class solidarity, grassroots democracy and direct action. We publish a summary of the statement from these meetings. ---- "500 years ago, it was the European invasion and the process of African deportation, today it is the states and extractivist societies that threaten our people and our planet. ---- The institutionalized violence of the patriarchal, colonialist, racist and capitalist system is incarnated through the feminicide of black and indigenous women, the extermination of traditional peoples, the massive imprisonment of blacks, the prison industry, the intensification of agribusiness, the mining industry, monoculture and all forms of nature predation that ...

by A-infos ( at May 20, 2019 06:02 AM


Security Car Torched for Hunger Striker Dimitris Koufontinas in Berlin

On the night of May 17, a Kötter Security car was set on fire in solidarity with hunger striker Dimitris Koufontinas and all the indomitable fighters, whether they are on the street or in jail. Below is the statement: “Here, in the fire of direct action, was born the consciousness that we can win against them. In the flow of events of that time came the idea that action creates awareness – a thought that later became my guide during armed actions.

May 20, 2019 12:00 AM

Hunger Strike Begins at High Security Prison in Santiago, Chile


May 20, 2019 12:00 AM

Anarchist Prisoner Michael Kimble on Oppressive Conditions at Holman Prison in Alabama

For the last couple of years, the Department of Justice has been conducting an investigation into the Alabama Department of Corrections. The investigation has come to a close and a report of the Justice Dept.’s findings has been published. The Justice Dept. report found that prisoners are routinely subjected to horrifying violence and sexual abuse within a “broken system” where prisoners are murdered “on a regular basis.” Alabama locks up more folks per capita than almost any other state and federal agents found illegal drugs and weapons were rampant, overcrowded cellblocks and gross indifference on the part of prison officials.

May 20, 2019 12:00 AM

9 Turkish Soldiers Killed in Amadiya

The action against Turkish units in Amadiya countryside on May 16 left 9 soldiers dead. Two vehicles of the Turkish army were targeted in the region of Suwara Tuka near the Sersinge town of Amadiya, South Kurdistan at around 11:30 on May 16. According to Roj News Agency, citing local sources, 9 Turkish soldiers were killed as a result of the action, while 21 people were wounded. Reports say that a lieutenant wounded in the action died at a hospital in Turkey.

May 20, 2019 12:00 AM

May 19, 2019


Tesla: Insane or Clever

Tesla: Insane or Clever
Elon Musk makes it easy to dismiss his grandiose — unhinged, even — descriptions of his product plans. But if we look past the hyperbole, we see a serious threat for legacy automakers who don’t know and love software.
By Jean-Louis Gassée
May 19 2019

“I feel very confident predicting 1 million autonomous robo-taxis for Tesla next year,”

When Elon Musk utters these words at Tesla’s Autonomy Day late April, a song plays inside my head: They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!. I imagine two burly men in white coats coming on stage, wrapping Elon in a tight jacket, and whisking him to a padded cell. (I last heard the song in the late sixties while I was still in France. The refrain obviously made a lasting impression.)

One view is that Musk is deranged. Seriously. Not a little bit like someone with a passion for labels that adorn Camembert boxes (a tyriosémiophile). No, more like someone who keeps announcing the closure of Tesla retail stores, only to partially countermand his order within days; like someone who gets in serious trouble with the SEC for falsely claiming “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420/share, and then getting sued and fined to the tune of $40M; or like someone who claims the mythical $35K Model 3 has finally become available, removes it from the Tesla site a little later, waits a few beats and then claims it actually is available but you have to order by phone or in person, followed by a price increase a couple of weeks later.

Over the years, these zigzags, the lofty promises and changing stories have become a Musk trademark. In the past, I’ve wondered when and how Tesla’s autocratic founder would “exaggerate too much” and cause shareowners to give the CEO, who owns about 20% of the company, more time with his family and SpaceX.

For a brief moment, I wonder if the surreal “1 million robo-taxis by 2020” is going to be the turning point. But, no. Instead of calling for a psychiatric intervention, most observers just shrug off Musk’s grandiose talk as clever publicity. We’ve seen his lofty pronouncements before, perhaps not this grand, he’s outdoing himself this time, but we’ve been immunized.

AI expert Kai-Fu Lee of Apple, Silicon Graphics, Microsoft, and Google fame used the best antidote for such folly, Twitter humor:

“If there are a million Tesla robo-taxis functioning on the road in 2020, I will eat them.”
In Musk’s “different” mind, an overnight Over The Air software update transforms a million Tesla cars out in the field into Full Self Drive (FSD) vehicles by the end of next year. But wait, there’s more: FSD will upend the math of automotive depreciation, usually the largest financial drain when owning a car. Electrek, a site dedicated to electric vehicles, reproduces a Musk tweet in which he claims a million mile life for a Tesla:

On that basis, Musk explains how Tesla owners will make money [as always, edits and emphasis mine]:

“The average Tesla car is currently parked for 22 hours per day. Starting next year, owners will be able to flip a switch inside the Tesla app, and send out their car to pick up and drop off passengers autonomously, earning an estimated 65 cents per mile in fares. […] owners might be able to earn $30,000 in gross revenue from their cars per year, or more than $300,000 in revenue over the 11-year lifespan of their car. With a basic version of the Model 3 costing $38,000 after incentives, self-driving Tesla robotaxis could become a profitable side business for owners…”

“The fundamental message that consumers should be taking today is that it is financially insane to buy anything other than a Tesla, […] it will be like owning a horse in three years. I mean, fine if you want to own a horse. But you should go into it with that expectation.”
This, Musk says, will transform Tesla into a $500 billion company participating in a $3 trillion autonomous-mobility-as-a-service market. Right around the corner.

Regrettably, Musk’s self-indulgence — his PR as performance art — has cauterized our nerve endings, leading to a jaded look at the more substantial technical parts of the Autonomy Day presentation (full video here, slides here, a helpful CleanTechnica technical commentary here). Indeed, some of the tasty technical morsels must be consumed with caution, especially when it comes to the processing power of Tesla’s autonomous driving computer, or the claim that the company’s use of video cameras is vastly superior to the lidars (3D laser scanners) used by everyone else, Waymo (part of the Alphabet/Google empire) in particular.

But, if we make a patient effort to see through the PR excesses, we see an interesting image come into focus, a picture of Tesla winning the war with its software weapons and its vertical integration.


by wa8dzp at May 19, 2019 11:53 PM

In some countries, many use the internet without realizing it

In some countries, many use the internet without realizing it
May 2 2019

What is the internet? And who is an internet user? The questions may seem straightforward, but more than a decade of research in the United States and abroad suggests that some people who use the internet may not be aware that they’re doing so. Results from recent Pew Research Center surveys in the U.S. and 11 emerging economies show that confusion about what the internet is stems from two different – but related – sources.

First, many people who use smartphones are unaware that the apps and browsers on their devices involve using the internet. In the Center’s survey of emerging economies, as many as 38% of those who say they do not use the internet also indicate that they have a phone that connects to the internet. Due to differences in internet use across these countries, this group represents as much as 14% of the total adult population in South Africa, or as little as 3% in Venezuela.

These mismatches are often highest in developing countries and can even extend to people who use their smartphones to do things that necessitate using the internet for tasks such as looking for or applying for jobs.

Across 11 developing countries surveyed in fall 2018, one of the defining factors in people’s awareness they are using the internet is whether they have access to a home or office computer. Majorities of “unconscious internet users” (that is, those who say they do not use the internet, but do use social media, a smartphone or a feature phone) lack access to a home computer or tablet, meaning they likely visit the internet primarily through a mobile phone. In three countries, those with lower levels of education are also somewhat more likely to be unconscious internet users, though in most countries there is no relationship with educational attainment. But, while older people are somewhat less likely to use the internet, smartphones or social media than younger people, they are not more likely to be unconscious users.

This phenomenon extends to advanced economies as well: Previous surveys by the Center have found that a small share of people in nearly every country surveyed underreport internet use. Estimates that account for social media use and smartphone ownership tend to be somewhat larger than those that only include people’s self-reported internet use. For example, 90% of South Koreans say they use the internet, when asked, but 97% of South Koreans report using the internet, owning a smartphone or using social media – a gap of 7 percentage points.

Other developed countries also show gaps between these narrow and broad measures of internet use, including Spain (7 percentage points), Italy (5 points) and France (4). And in our most recent technology-focused survey of U.S. adults, conducted in January and February, one-quarter of those who say they do not use the internet do indicate they own a smartphone – although since relatively few Americans do not go online, that group works out to just 2% of the total adult population.

Second, apart from a lack of awareness that smartphones and feature phones connect to the internet, many people who use social media and messaging apps appear unaware that the platforms themselves are part of the broader internet. This is a relatively well-known phenomenon in the case of Facebook: Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, was once quoted as saying, “People actually confuse Facebook and the internet in some places.” And in countries like the Philippines, Facebook offers a free version that allows users to visit the site without incurring mobile data charges.

Some of this may seem to be a niche issue, mostly of interest to survey researchers. But measurement matters for our understanding of political phenomena and how people access information. As many policies and programs are structured around reaching the population that is not online – “internet for all” – it’s important to have a clear and accurate reading of who is and is not online. Our research also suggests that the dominance of certain providers – especially Facebook and WhatsApp – is important to this understanding given that considerable shares in some countries appear to be using them without even realizing that they’re going online.

Focus groups conducted in the Philippines in March 2018 highlighted the extent to which people used Facebook as a portal to the internet at large, relying on it as a website for online dating, finding jobs and acquiring news, along with general uses like messaging, sharing pictures with family and video calls. As two participants highlighted in one exchange, “It seems like almost all people in the world have Facebook … it seems impossible if you don’t have [a Facebook account].” Indeed, the Philippines stands out for having the largest share of people among these 11 countries who say they use Facebook but also report not being online (12%). Similarly, as much as 10% of the population in South Africa reports using WhatsApp but not using the internet.


by wa8dzp at May 19, 2019 11:18 PM