Friday, September 20, 2019

WE ARE IN TROUBLE


When attorney Lynn  Stewart spoke at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church in 2004 before receiving a sentence which kept her in prison for ten years, her opening remarks were simple. Lynne was always a straight speaker and got right to the point that day. “I am in trouble,” she said as she warmed her audience with a disarming smile.



Today we are all in trouble. It is arguable whether democracy as a system can survive let alone outlive planet-destroying capitalism.  But to survive it requires a free press. Our press, our media have been compromised in innumerable ways, by TV on whom 60% of Americans rely to get their news, by social media, from which, as of 2018, 12% (and growing) Americans get their news, by the corporate-owed mainstream media, by the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision, which, citing “free speech,” allows unlimited corporate gift$ to candidates running for office. The 2016 attack on UK and U.S. elections by Mercer-owned Cambridge Analytica of which Steve Bannon was the VP, exposed the far more dangerous growth of big data and revealed how Facebook and Google are manipulating our culture. Its operatives were actually embedded in Trump’s 2016 campaign headquarters in Texas (watch Netflix “The Great Hack”). The Trump campaign was able to rely on 6 million targeted political ads vs. 66,000 TV ads by the Clinton campaign.








We are in trouble because journalism has become the world’s most dangerous profession. I cite the murders of Politikovskaya and Baburova, two female Russian journalists, the threat to Glenn Greenwald who has opposed the Bolsonaro fascist Amazon-burning government of Brazil. In terms of journalist safety, the U.S. ranks 48. I cite the exile of Edward Snowden, whose just-published book argues that he would return to the U.S. to face trial if he had a prayer of receiving a fair trial, Chelsea Manning who languishes in prison for refusing to incriminate Julian Assange before a grand jury, the imprisonment and transfer of 10-year-convicted hacker and Wikileaks-associated Jeremy Hammond recently removed to Virginia to testify before the grand Jury, and by the imprisonment of Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison for jumping bail, a sentence normally of a week or so, which he served for 52 weeks, and whom a judge has refused to release even though his sentence has been served, because a compliant UK government (and its loutish PM Johnson) want to keep him on tap for extradition to the United States to face life imprisonment. Even if Labour manages to win the next election, with a psychopath at the helm of the U.S., the timing remains unfortunate.



Assange, along with Snowden and Manning and many other whistleblowers, has gifted U.S. citizens with the information we need to know to sustain democracy. He has offended a number of folks in high places: by releasing information about the Democratic National exclusionary convention‘s maneuvers in 2016, he offended the most hated woman in America, Hillary Clinton. And by prefacing it shortly after the “I can grab any crotch I want” pussy tapes, he managed to completely overshadow his second release. By releasing the Panama Papers, he offended Lenín Moreno of Ecuador who, bowing to IMF bribery by the U.S./U.K. axis, ousted him from his safe haven, the London Ecuadorian Embassy where he had sought immunity from arrest by the UK for six years. And by releasing Manning’s “Collateral Murder,” he has offended the entire U.S. government and its war-making apparatus.



With such powerful enemies, Julian Assange urgently needs the help of his own Australian Government. Massive demonstrations need to be mounted at every single Australian embassy and consulate throughout the world. And he needs powerful grass roots support from all who care about democracy and want to see a media sufficiently robust to support it.






Assange rally and non-violent action is planned for Noon September 28, at the British Embassy located at One Sansome Street at Market Street in San Francisco. Be there.



Monday, Sept. 23, 7 to 10 AM, Union Square, San Francisco. Swarm for the climate with Extinction Rebellion. For info:




Wednesday, Sept. 25 7 AM to 5 PM, at Montgomery & Market, San Francicsco. Strike for Climate Justice, sponsored by Extinction Rebellion and 8 other groups.  Info:




Wednesday, Sept. 25, 7 AM to 5 PM. 300 Montgomery St. San Francisco Brazilian Consulate. Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/700887023724857/



Friday, Sept. 27, 9 AM to Noon. Chevron, 6001 Canyon Rd., San Ramon. Idle No More, Sunrise, Youth vs. Apocalypse. Info:








After ten years oif student activism, and a faculty vote, UC Berkeley divests from fossil fuel investments.



On eve of climate strike, 450+ activists urge United Nations to back global fracking ban.



To courtroom applause, Federal Court blocks “unconstitutional” South Dakota law that threatened pipeline protesters with up to 25 years in prison .



Student actions force Iowa school district and local community to pass climate resolutions in line with IPCC’s criteria.



Amazon workers bring climate strike to billionaire Jeff Bezos.



New York City public school announces excuse of all student taking part in climate strike today, only to rescind it at the last minute. Let’s hope the damage carried the day.


Newark water coalition takes struggle against lead pipes statewide.


In Brazil, judge rejects prosecutor’s office complaint against the imprisoned Lula.



U.S. Army forced to dream up new recruiting tactics after missing targets.



Appeals court directs FBI to destroy memo on anti-war website.



Australian TPG Telecom Ltd.  chief operating exec tells Federal Court it pulled its plans to roll out 5G network because of community health fears.



Over 1,000 students from 17 colleges pledge not to work at Palantir over ICE collaboration .



Citing a “complex and punitive regulatory system,” federal judge issues injunction stopping implementation of Tennessee law making voter registration drives unnecessarily burdensome.



California passes AB5 ensuring gig economy workers have legal status as full employees.



Activists successfully pressure New York Public Library to cancel Saudi dictatorship event.   



Protesters demand Microsoft stop profiting from concentration camps, migrant raids, an d deportations.



Austin groups 3-D print tiny homes to help end homelessness.



Families organize vigil outside Eli Lilly, demanding lower cost insulin.



Cuba, Uruguay, Nicaragua reject TIAR treaty against Venezuela.



Venezuela establishes Petro as payment system.



UAW Autoworkers strike after years of boosting General Motors to record level profits.



N.Y. County and Manhattan District Atty. Cyrus Vance’s office subpoenas eight years of #45’s tax returns.



Federal Appeals Court rules #45 can be sued for unconstitutional profiteering. Bedbugs, anyone?

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Six Days to the Great Climate March


This week, with a runner up of just six days to the Great Climate March of Sept. 20, I hope to stress that, while Capitalism, and the governing Capitalist notion of unlimited growth has gotten us where we find ourselves today, yet another thread of our emergency articulates itself in the mass migrations and wars we are seeing world-wide in both hemispheres where drought, and resulting food shortages, and starvation have forced people to violently oppose their governments—the self-immolation of Mohamed Boazizi which provoked the “Arab Spring,” the drought that provoked the war in Syria, 
Migration forced by drought
the hopelessness which prompts inflatable dingy after dingy to founder in the Mediterranean as migrants risk their lives fleeing drought-ridden Africa, and the pressures forcing migrations from Central America to risk the infamy of U.S. immigration policies of family separation and the removal of children, some of them infants, from their mother’s arms.

In the face of our new reality I want to interrogate the very concept of “borders” and the concept of “nations”: the world is no longer what it was; willingly or not, systems will have to change to reflect that fact. Borders, and the concept of borders can no longer apply in a world where in 2017  world estimates of migration reached 258 million. And, whereas U.S. immigration policy has always been deeply motivated by racism favoring immigrants from Northern Europe, with climate collapse such policies are obsolete.

 

Activism

This week I joined some 200 persons whose monthly vigil outside ICE headquarters was hosted by the Buddhist communities of The San Francisco Zen Center, and Green Gulch Center of Marin County. Its tone emphasized acknowledgement for the pain and dehumanization brought about by ICE policies both to all migrants, including children, and to ourselves. Its program states, “Our tradition teaches that no thing or person exists independently — that in every moment, all beings are supported by one another to live and thrive.”  As demonstrators were led in meditation, they chanted 





“May we be attentive and gentle towards our own discomfort and suffering, May we move towards the suffering of others with attentive compassion and confidence.”  Possibly it was that very same confidence that culminated in a walking meditation, a “circumambulation” that required participants to take over both intersections of Sansome Street at Washington  and Jackson Streets.



September 20 actions are planned throughout the United States.  Many more intersections need to be blocked. To become part of “one great wave throughout the world” (as St. John Perse wrote)  go to https://actionnetwork.org/event_campaigns/us-climate-strikes?source=moveon&referrer=group-moveon
enter your zip code to find a climate action near you.


California outlaws private prisons including ICE facilities.

Highlighting number of years left to save Earth, Greta Thunberg joins 11 minute die-in outside White House.

Challenging Biden in Iraq War vote, Sanders denounces Bloated Trump Pentagon budget during Democratic “debate.”

California Public Banking Alliance announces the Public Banking Act has passed the California State legislature.

The Post 9-terrorism “watch list” of more than one million judged unconstitutional.

With Bolton gone, peace with North Korea may be possible.

Amazon workers plan to climate strike, calling for Amazon to commit to zero emissions by 2030, cancel the company’s custom contracts that accelerate gas and oil extraction, and cease funding climate-denying politicians and lobbyists.

 

After shutting down Houston Ship Channel to protest oil exports as Democratic candidate arrived for “debate,” Greenpeace Houston activists have been released from custody. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

This Week on Planet Earth




The Amazon fires, still unquenched, are last week’s climate news.


This week Category 5 Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas, and left the Grand Bahama under 15 feet of water, with a death toll of 43 and rising.  Seventy thousand people were left homeless, and so total is the devastation that

on Aug. 26 in an emotional address in the House Assembly, Hubert Minnis, Bahamas’ Prime Minister wept as he described Dorian as a storm “we’ve never seen in the history of the Bahamas.” His tears join those of Seychelles President Danny Faure who spoke from more than 400 feet below the surface of the Indian Ocean in April, 2019 as the seas rose inexorably around his Islands, whose trajectory will eventually be to find themselves submerged as climate collapse extracts its toll.  And in July of this year on one of the hottest days on record, all the sea ice within 150 Miles of Alaska’s shore melted for the first time in recorded history.

This week in the United States, Trump’s EPA gutted restrictions on planet-warming methane emissions, its troubled president suggested using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes (especially those threatening Georgia), and. justifying his deportation policies, accused immigrants of stealing American  jobs, while stealing moneys from the Pentagon and FEMA budgets to build his racist wall. American presidents have a routine  history of stealing but regardless, the American public seems to cuts its presidents some slack. They are still pledging allegiance to Old Gory, and singing the Spangled Stars out of tune as I witnessed last week while lunching at an eatery otherwise open to the public.

Despite the national chaos, what passes for patriotism still thrives among the grey haired, white set, but among teenagers and youth, 
there’s an urgent awareness of how stressed is our planet, and how little time remains if we are to retain a habitable Earth. The Green Party denounced business deals and trade policies which multinational corporations such as Cargill and Burgher King profit from in their destruction of the Brazilian rainforest, a UN draft report was leaked warning that rising and warming oceans were ‘posed to unleash misery worldwide. And slowly, slowly, the idea that endless U.S. wars are in large part responsible for climate collapse (consuming 93% of all U.S. fossil fuel) the idea of PEACE AT LAST has gained some traction. And perhaps with the administration’s shaving of “The Mustache,” the prospects for peace may improve—unless #45 appoints Ghengis Khan to replace him.

How to kill Democracy in five little words:


“I have nothing to hide.” That kind of complacent insouciance among groupies of Facebook, Google, and other social media got a wake up call this month with the release by Netflix of “The Great Hack, ” and of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff, an amazingly well written door stopper of a book published this year, which outlines how worldwide, everyone’s privacy is being stolen without your consent—and without any royalties payable to you—by social media which sells all that surplus churning for a profit.  Silicon Valley scores billions while 
none of us gets zip. 

“The Great Hack” goes even further to show Google and Facebook embedded in Trump's Texas campaign headquarters, and how all that data mining gave us Donald Trump and Brexit. 

 And if you think it can’t happen again,  you’re whistling Dixie. Saturday’s Wall Street Journal carries this front page header: “State to launch probes of Google, Facebook.”  But don’t hold your breath: the many “probes” of social media are not motivated by any great love of Democracy, not while Capitalism is King. They concern themselves only with on line activity stifling competition.



Strike for the Climate. Learn how to plug in at:
Do the EPA’s work for it without a salary: tell ‘em how methane cooks the climate at:

And while you’re at it: tell ‘em  to uphold strong regulations on toxic coal ash, too at:

Denounce #45 illegal move to build the wall at:

Sign: Defend immigrant children’s human rights at:

 

While climate refugees fleeing Bahamas are thrown off boat headed for U.S., Chef Andrés and team rush there to assist Hurricane Dorian recovery.

After thwarting #45 on Syria, North Korea, and Iran, Bolton bites the dust.

Puerto Rican fight lives on in people’s assemblies locally in diaspora.

 a volunteer fire department serving a hamlet of 30,000 residents just outside of Queens, New York, became the first legislative body in the country to officially support a new investigation into the events of 9/11.

After summer lull, French yellow  vest protesters hit street in Act 43 with protests throughout France from Paris to Rouen to Montpellier.

Major U.S. Insurer Chubb no longer to underwrite and invest in coal.

Bank of England governor criticizes the petrodollar as “destabilizing,” suggesting that central banks might need to create their own reserve currency.

Hamas hails EU court decision to remove it from world terrorist blacklist.

Portland, OR free legal program helps hundreds of vulnerable people facing deportation.

Federal judge blocks draconian Missouri abortion ban.

#ReclaimTheCourt advocates to mobilize on Kavanaugh anniversary.

U.S. teens join Thunberg in UN climate protest.

Water protectors shut down Mountain Valley Pipeline work.

Standing Rock women build sovereign economies.

Voting rights advocates celebrate huge win for Democracy as N.C. State Court strikes down GOP-gerrymandered district map.

Shell to pay for contaminating California groundwater.

Extinction Rebellion shuts down Manchester.

Industrial Workers of the World Freelance Journalists rush to go public, with huge numbers overwhelming their website.

Washington Supreme Court establishes important precedent for climate necessity defense in case of valve-turner Ken Ward.

All six activists arrested last spring protesting the use of killer drones at Creech AFB have their charges dismissed.

Newark, N.J. anti-ICE demo turns into party as cops release all non-violent protesters arrested.

Republican  Senators up for re-election not amused as #45 siphons funds meant for their home states for building his wall.

AFSC with coalition of local and national organizations succeeds in shutting down Homestead indefinite holding center for migrant youth in Florida.   

Government of King County, Washington bans deportation flights from passing through international airport.

Artists call for Kemper Museum to drop trustee tied to $130 million lawsuit over ICE detainees

More than 120 groups call on Congress to back constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United.

117 rights groups offer roadmap to transform U.S. criminal-legal system.

Man convicted of stealing $50 from bakery set free after 35 years (you heard that right) in prison.

In legal victory over U.S. Muslim registry, federal judge rules U.S. Terror watch list unconstitutional in victory over civil liberties train wreck.

Because “a world without insects is not worth living in” Germany bans Glyphosate.

U.S. beekeepers file suit against EPA charging illegal approval of insecticide linked to mass die-off.

Opposition to facial recognition reaches boiling point as groups representing over 15 million people flood state, and fed lawmakers with messaging.

Cherokee Nation send first delegate to Congress.

San Francisco declares NRA domestic terror organization.

In support of Julian Assange Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters stages rally outside UK home office with “Wish You Were Here.”

Addressing U.S. housing crisis, People’s Action publishes 20-page report outlining bold plan to address U.S. housing crisis.

Apartment complex built exclusively for homeless opens in San  Jose.

New York Gov. Cuomo signs housing legislation guaranteeing strongest tenants protection in history.