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Richard Mellor / Puerto Rico: when it rains, it pours
« Last post by Richard Mellor on Today at 06:01:04 AM »
Puerto Rico: when it rains, it pours

by Michael Roberts
 
When it rains, it pours.  Hurricane Maria hit the island of  Puerto Rico off the US mainland leaving the country devastated with no  power, no food and water.

Puerto Ricans are US citizens, as the island is officially a ?US  territory? ? in effect,  a colony like the French overseas territories.   But the US mainland authorities did little to help and when they did,  it was inadequate.  Power remains lost; homelessness continues and  President Trump visited the most well-off part of the island to hand out  paper towels ? to mop up no doubt!



But even before the hurricane, Puerto Rico?s 3.5m people were in a  parlous state.  It had become a graphic example of what capitalism and  colonial rule can do in exploiting the resources and people, through  distortions of the local economy and corruption of local and foreign  institutions. Puerto Rico was faced with bankruptcy even before the hurricane.  By  bankruptcy, I mean that the public sector debt of the island had reached  astronomical levels, making it impossible for the island government to  service the debt and thus facing default on its bonds owned by local and  foreign institutions (mainly hedge funds).


How did this come to pass?  Throughout the modern economic history of  Puerto Rico, one of the central drivers of its economic growth has been  the US tax code. For over 80 years,  the US federal government granted various tax incentives to US  corporations operating in Puerto Rico. Most recently, beginning in 1976,  section 936 of the tax code granted corporations a tax exemption from  income originating from ?US territories?.  US corporations benefited  greatly from locating subsidiaries in Puerto Rico ? a ?rich port?  indeed. Income generated by these subsidiaries could be paid to U.S.  parents as dividends, which were not subject to corporate income tax.

Puerto Rico thus became a large tax scam for multi-nationals.  The  main ?exporters? to Puerto Rico were pharma and chemical companies in  Ireland, Singapore and Switzerland.  Thus Puerto Rico imported  pharmaceutical ingredients from low-tax jurisdictions like Ireland and  then exported finished pharmaceuticals to high-tax jurisdictions in  Europe and the US.

As top economist Paul Krugman recently noted: ?Specifically,  PR runs, on paper, a huge trade surplus in pharmaceuticals ? $30  billion a year, almost half the island?s GNP. But the pharma surplus is  basically a phantom, driven by transfer pricing: pharma subsidiaries in  Ireland charge themselves low prices on inputs they buy from their  overseas subsidiaries, package them, then charge themselves high prices  on the medicine they sell to, yes, their overseas subsidiaries. The  result is that measured profits pop up in Puerto Rico ? profits that are  then paid out in investment income to non-PR residents. So this trade  surplus does nothing for PR jobs or income.?

This booming economy raised little tax revenue.  So Puerto Rican  governments borrowed to provide public services rather than tax  mulit-nationals.  Due to these extensive tax credits and exemptions,  Puerto Rico lost out on $250-$500 million a year in revenue. It did this  for four decades, encouraged by financial consultants.  Soon it entered  the realm of Ponzi-financing, namely, issuing debt to repay older debt,  as well as refinancing older debt possessing low interest rates with  debt possessing higher interest rates.

Then disaster happened.  In the US, section 936 became increasingly unpopular throughout the early 1990s, as many correctly saw it as a way for large corporations to avoid taxes. Ultimately, in 1996, President Clinton signed legislation that phased out section 936 over a ten year period, leaving it to be fully repealed at the beginning of 2006.

Without section 936, Puerto Rican subsidiaries of U.S. businesses  were subject to the same worldwide corporate income tax as other foreign  subsidiary.  They fled the island.  Between 1996 and 2006, the US  Congress eliminated the tax credits, contributing to the loss of 80,000  jobs on the island and causing its population to shrink and its economy  to contract in all but one year since the Great Recession.

At first, the Puerto Rican government tried to make up for the  shortfall by issuing bonds. The government was able to issue an  unusually large number of bonds, due to dubious underwriting from  financial institutions such as Spain?s Santander BankUBS, and Citigroup.   According to a report from Hedge Clippers, Santander issued almost $61  billion in bonds from the Puerto Rican government through subsidiaries  that serve as municipal debt underwriters, obtaining $1.1 billion in  fees in the process.  Santander officials were also officials of the  Puerto Rico?s Government Development Bank.

Thus Santander officials decided whether to issue debt for Puerto  Rico and then arranged that Santander should pocket the fees for  organising the bond issues!  They also decided that sales tax revenue  that should have gone to the government should be siphoned off to COFINA  (PR Sales Tax Financing Corporation) bonds, more debt to be issued  underwritten by Santander and other banks. They even assigned  government employees? pension contributions to pay for bond issues.

Not coincidentally, 2006 also marked the beginning of a deep  recession for Puerto Rico, which has lasted until today.  Between 2000  and 2015, Puerto Rico?s debt rose from  63.2% of GNP to 100.2% of GNP.  Eventually the debt burden became so  great that the island was unable to pay interest on the bonds it had  issued.


The tax regime remains paralysed.  The Department of Treasury of Puerto Rico is incapable of collecting 44% of the Puerto Rico Sales and Use Tax (or  about $900 million).  Public spending is also distorted.  A public  teacher?s base salary starts at $24,000 while a legislative advisor  starts at $74,000. The government has also been unable to set up a  system based on meritocracy, with many employees, particularly executives and administrators, earning large salaries while health workers struggle.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority  (PREPA) provides free electricity to local governments.   The utility had improperly given away $420 million of electricity and  that the island?s governments were $300 million delinquent in payments.   As a result, PREPA had no funds to invest in new technology and built  up a debt of $9 billion.  In 2012, the Puerto Rico Ports Authority was forced to sell the Luis  Muñoz Marín International Airport to private buyers after PREPA  threatened to cut off power over unpaid bills.  Last July, PREPA filed  for bankruptcy.

The island?s unemployment rate is now 14.8% with a poverty rate of  45%.  But the Puerto Rican authorities have been under pressure from the  US government to apply vicious austerity measures. More than 60% of  Puerto Rico?s population receives Medicare or Medicaid services  but the US has a cap on Medicaid funding for US territories. This has  led to a situation where Puerto Rico might typically receive  $373 million in federal funding a year, while, for instance, Mississippi receives $3.6 billion.

The austerity programmes imposed on the Puerto Rican governments have  meant taxes and fees went up on nearly everything and everyone.  Personal income taxes, corporate taxes, sales taxes, sin taxes, and  taxes on insurance premiums were hiked or newly imposed. The retirement  age for teachers was raised.

As the debt mounted, the US government removed the power of managing  and monitoring that debt out of the hands of the Puerto Ricans and put  into a new monitoring body, PROMESA (The Financial Oversight and  Management Board for Puerto Rico) ? a bit like how the EU governments  took control of Greek finances and provided with ?conditionalities?  through the EFSF and ESM.  There is only one Puerto Rican on the PROMESA  board.  PROMESA?a main aim to service the debt not restore the  economy.  Puerto Rico?s $123 billion liabilities from debt ($74 billion)  and unfunded pension obligations ($49 billion) are much larger than the  $18 billion Detroit bankruptcy,

What is to be done?  Since it was installed, PROMESA has begun  outlining and implementing deep government spending cuts.  There is talk  that the government should pay back its bonds before providing  essential services to its citizens. Though repayment is still on hold,  different classes of bondholders are now locked in a legal dispute about  which of them is entitled to the revenue from the island?s sales tax,  currently set at 11.5%.

PROMESA wants the Puerto Rican government to maintain a balanced  budget for four consecutive years and carry out significant  privatisations of state assets. For Puerto Ricans, that could mean  austerity measures for the foreseeable future imposed by an unelected  body based outside Puerto Rico. As economist Joseph Stiglitz recently put it: ?The  PROMESA Board was supposed to chart a path to recovery; its plan makes a  recovery a virtual impossibility. If the Board?s plan is adopted,  Puerto Rico?s people will experience untold suffering. And to what end?  The crisis will not be resolved. On the contrary, the debt position will  become even more unsustainable.?

And yet the foreign bond holders do not think this is enough and condemn PROMESA for being too weak.  A group of 34 hedge funds that specialize in distressed debt ?sometimes referred to as vulture funds?hired economists with an IMF background. Their report called for increased tax collection and a reduction of public spending and wanted public private partnerships and the ?monetization? (privatisation) of government-owned buildings and ports.  Another group goes even further.

They called on the US Congress to ?consider a tax credit for U.S. multinationals? and the ?militarization of the island to provide short to medium [term] security.? They want PROMESA closed down and to be replaced by an ?administrator who has broad authority to execute contracts, coordinate with federal agencies and oversee reconstruction.?  The bondholders want more police and the US army to enforce austerity.  ?The U.S. military needs to supplement the 15,000 Puerto Rican police officers to maintain law and order?, while at the same introducing tax allowances at 100% of capital expenditures ?required to rebuild after Maria or build new factories within a 2-3 year window.?

Another idea is for all the outstanding debt to be incorporated into a  ?super bond? that would get interest directly from the tax revenues of  the Puerto Rican government  This plan would have a designated third  party administer an account holding some of the island?s tax collections  and those funds would be used to pay holders of the superbond. The  existing Puerto Rican bondholders would take a haircut on the value of  their current bond holdings.  This is almost an exact replica of the  private sector involvement (PSI) deal that was imposed on the Greek  government in 2012 that led to a bailout off private bondholders and the  shifting of the bulk of debt onto the government books.

Is there any way out for the Puerto Rican people or do they face  permanent austerity and misery?  One solution coming from the left is  for the US Federal Reserve Bank to buy up all the Puerto Rican bonds at  current market value and then not impose any interest payment burden on  the island.  This is both useless and utopian at the same time.  Even if  it were applied, the debt would remain on the books and its servicing  subject to the whim of the Federal Reserve Board (and who knows who the  Fed Chair would be next year?).  Moreover, if the Fed offers to pick up  the bill, the price of the bonds would rocket, enabling the ?vulture  funds? to make a killing at the US taxpayers expense.  And it still does  nothing to solve the economic problem for the island that created this  debt in the first place.  And, second, it is utopian because it ain?t  going to happen: the Fed will do nothing.

Clearly, the most effective immediate answer is to cancel the debt.   But that poses its own problems.  First, 40% of the debt is locally  held, often by local banks and pension funds that could be bankrupted ?  so they would have to be brought under the public umbrella.  Second,  cancellation would mean immediate confrontation with the US authorities  and the hedge funds ? which could lead to the closure of PROMESA and the  imposition of a US administrator to take over the government.  In other  words, cancellation would mean a major political struggle on the  island.

And what sort of Puerto Rican economy is needed anyway? The model of a  tax haven that encourages multi-nationals to engage in transfer pricing  scams has failed to deliver incomes and jobs for those Puerto Ricans  who have not left the island.

Puerto Rico was an important hub, in particular, for big  pharmaceutical firms like Pfizer, which have kept many of their  investments on the island even after ?936? was gradually ended.  But  Puerto Rico is no longer competitive in areas where 75-80% of expenses  come from payroll costs.  Puerto Rico needs to move up into higher-value  manufacturing and services.  It has a large number of educated  bilingual workers.  There is potential to turn the economy into a modern  hi-tech service sector.  But that would require government investment  and state-run firms democratically controlled by Puerto Ricans.  It?s  the Chinese model, if you like.

Puerto Rico is a small island that was exploited by the US and  foreign multi-nationals with citizens? tax bills siphoned off to pay  interest on ever increasing debt, while reducing social welfare ? all at  the encouragement of foreign investment banks making huge fees for  doing so.  Now Puerto Ricans are being asked to keep on paying for the  foreseeable future after a decade of recession and cuts in living  standards to meet obligations to vulture funds and US institutions.  And  the troops will be sent into ensure that!   When it rains, it pours.
Source: Puerto Rico: when it rains, it pours
2
AlterNet / Trump's Most Reckless Decision Yet
« Last post by AlterNet on Today at 06:01:02 AM »
Trump's Most Reckless Decision Yet


Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. Trump, on the other hand, is risking a war?and torching U.S. credibility.


Despite heavy competition, Trump?s latest Iran move ranks near the top of the list of the most reckless actions of this ever-so-reckless presidency. The president announced recently that he was refusing to certify Iran?s compliance with the landmark nuclear agreement it reached with the U.S. and several other world powers during the Obama administration.

This dangerous move won?t scuttle the deal entirely ? at least not yet ? but it undermines the strength of the international agreement and ultimately increases the threat of war. While Trump has said he?s not pulling out of the deal just now, he?s threatening to do so if Congress doesn?t pass new sanctions.

With virtually every Iran expert on the planet in agreement that Tehran is keeping its end of the nuclear deal, it?s clear that Trump?s motives are purely political. But if anything that makes his decision only more dangerous.

Outright Lies

The Iran nuclear deal ? officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA ? is widely recognized as one of President Obama?s most important diplomatic successes. And it?s working exactly as it was designed to do.

The UN nuclear inspection agency, the U.S. intelligence community, and every serious expert on Iran?s nuclear program from across the globe all agree that Iran is complying with the requirements of the deal. That means, among other things, that Iran?s supply of low enriched uranium is now about 1 percent of what it used to be, it has no highly enriched uranium, and its nuclear program is under tight international inspection.

Yet Trump scorned pleas from key U.S. allies, members of Congress from both parties, and his own top security advisers, all of whom urged him to maintain the deal.

In withdrawing from a deal that Iran was keeping in good faith, Trump abandoned any pretense of maintaining U.S. credibility as a reliable negotiating partner. Instead, he justified decertifying Iranian compliance with a combination of exaggerations, complaints about actions that have nothing to do with the actual terms of the deal, and outright lies.

In remarks announcing his action, Trump claimed that ?the Iranian regime has committed multiple violations of the agreement ? for example, they exceeded the 130 metric ton limit of heavy water.? As the Guardianpointed out, that statement was ?misleading at best. On two occasions, Iran?s stockpile of heavy water flowed over the ceiling imposed by the deal, but the situation was quickly rectified and Iran?s reserve is now below the limit. Nor is heavy water a direct proliferation threat.?

He also tossed out the line, without a shred of evidence, that ?many people believe Iran is dealing with North Korea.?

He lied about Iran getting ?paid up front? when the deal was signed, ?rather than at the end of the deal when they have shown they?ve played by the rules.? Trump implied this was a payout from the West to Iran, but didn?t mention this was Iran?s own money, long frozen by the United States and its allies. And in point of fact, those funds weren?t released until the UN nuclear inspectors had determined that Tehran was indeed complying with the rules.

Finally, Trump lied about conditions inside Iran, claiming that the deal resulted in sanctions being lifted ?just before what would have been the total collapse of the Iranian regime.? Despite U.S. threats and crippling sanctions (which had far more impact on Iran?s civilian population than on the government), the Iranian regime was and remains very far from ?total collapse.?

Trump also refused to acknowledge that Iran and the United States are actually fighting on the same side across the region. Washington and Tehran support the same governments in Afghanistan and Iraq. And both have deployed troops and planes to fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. (Of course, this isn?t particularly good news ? both the Afghan and Iraqi governments are deeply corrupt, and the U.S. and Iran have each been responsible for war crimes in Syria ? but it shows the hypocrisy in Trump?s deeply oppositional view of Iran.)

Furthermore, while they support different sides in the Syrian civil war, U.S. and Iranian military forces are often close together, and remain in constant communication to prevent any friendly fire attacks on each other. Indeed, while Trump announced new sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps for their alleged support for terrorism, he was careful not to add the IRGC to Washington?s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, because that would threaten U.S. soldiers fighting near IRGC troops in Syria.

Because Trump couldn?t point to any actual violations of the terms of JCPOA by Iran, he claimed instead that Tehran ?is not living up to the spirit of the deal.? He condemned Iran?s missile developments, bemoaning the deal?s ?failure? to deal with them. But of course, it wasn?t a deal about missile technology ? it was a deal about nuclear enrichment. That was the only way to get all sides on board, and scuttling it when Iran?s in compliance will inevitably make it more difficult to strike a deal on missiles or anything else in the future.

Rogue State Behavior

Trump?s new Iran position doesn?t end the multi-party Iran deal; it doesn?t even pull the United States out of the deal or end U.S. obligations under the deal ? yet.

Instead, it tosses the decision back to Congress. The JCPOA is a multi-lateral agreement, not a treaty, and so didn?t have to be ratified by the Senate. But to prevent political problems, Obama negotiated a separate deal with Congress, which requires the president to certify every 90 days that Iran is still in compliance with the deal.

If the president refuses to do so, as Trump just did, Congress then has 60 days to decide whether or not to re-impose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. That decision would indeed violate Washington?s obligations (which included ending nuclear sanctions), and Iran and the other signatories would rightly blame the U.S. for wrecking the deal.

Trump?s ?America First? actions have seriously damaged Washington?s already-dubious standing in the world. This latest move goes further, gravely weakening international cooperation, concern for civilian populations, efforts towards non-proliferation and disarmament, respect for international law, and the credibility of the United Nations, which endorsed the deal.

It?s dangerous because it tells Iran, Washington?s negotiating partners, and the world that the United States isn?t committed to the deal it signed, and is looking for a way out. It?s dangerous because it tells North Korea that they may as well not bother negotiating with Washington, because the United States can?t be counted on to abide by its agreements.

It?s dangerous because there?s already strong anti-Iran and anti-JCPOA sentiment in Congress, as well as strong outside pressure (from Israel?s supporters, among others) on legislators to follow Trump?s reckless decision with an equally reckless move of their own. If Congress imposes new nuclear sanctions on Iran, that would threaten the real collapse of the deal ? unless, as has happened before, the Iranian government shows more restraint and more political maturity than its U.S. counterpart.

Abandoning the nuclear deal shows utter disdain for our negotiating partners in China, France, Germany, Russia, and the UK, which together helped craft the deal, as well as for Iran itself. It also slaps the unanimous UN Security Council Resolution 2231 endorsing the deal, which reminded signatories that they were obligated under international law ?to accept and carry out the Security Council?s decisions,? including by carrying out the ?full implementation? of the JCPOA.

As Iran?s UN Ambassador Javad Zarif told CBS:

?You know, the United States is a permanent member of the Security Council. And if it?s not going to uphold a resolution, that not only it voted for but it sponsored, then the credibility of the institution that the United States considers to be very important would be at stake. Nobody else will trust any U.S. administration to engage in any long-term negotiation because the length of any commitment, the duration of any commitment from now on with any U.S. administration would be the remainder of the term of that president.?

Trump?s cascading recklessness in his Iran policy continues to put the United States, Iran, the Middle East, and indeed the world at great peril. His actions make the threat of war far more likely. And if Congress doesn?t fall into Trump?s trap, and instead rejects his demand to impose new nuclear sanctions, Trump will come face-to-face with his promise to cancel the agreement himself.

Such an act would indeed prove, to anyone not yet convinced, that the United States is a rogue state.

 

 

Related Stories


Source: Trump's Most Reckless Decision Yet
3
Israel Is Hiding the Fact that Its State of the Art F-35 Warplane Was Hit by Syrian S-200 Missile ? Reports

Featured image: Israeli Air Force F-35 warplanes (Source: South Front)


It looks that the Israeli ?demonstration of power? during the recent visit of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has turned into a total failure.


On October 16, Shoigu arrived Israel …


Source: Israel Is Hiding the Fact that Its State of the Art F-35 Warplane Was Hit by Syrian S-200 Missile ? Reports
4
The Communist Party of China (CPC) at Its 19th National Congress. President Xi?s Battle against Corruption

Foreign analysts and media look to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China for clues about China?s future. It is no secret that President Xi Jinping, during his almost five years as China?s senior-most leader, has


Source: The Communist Party of China (CPC) at Its 19th National Congress. President Xi?s Battle against Corruption
5
Centre for Research on Globalisation / China Gains Ground in Global Ranking of Research
« Last post by Centre for Research on Globalisation on Today at 06:00:59 AM »
China Gains Ground in Global Ranking of Research

Academic research papers from China garner the second most worldwide citations, after those from the United States but ahead of those from the United Kingdom, according to a new study.


The analysis was conducted by Amsterdam-based information and analytics company …


Source: China Gains Ground in Global Ranking of Research
6
Anarchist News dot Org / Hotwire #9: Puerto Rico, J20 Trials, & Raqqa
« Last post by AnarchistNews.org on Today at 06:00:59 AM »
Hotwire #9: Puerto Rico, J20 Trials, & Raqqa

From CrimethInc.


In this Hotwire we share the anti-fascist call from Florida to oppose Richard Spencer in Gainesville on October 19. We discuss the upcoming J20 trials in which nearly 200 protesters are charged with conspiracy for protesting the inauguration, as well as the outcome of the burning cop car case that just concluded in Paris. Considering the bullshit repression and liberal lawsuits in the wake of #Charlottesville, we make the case about why anti-fascism must mean anti-statism.




We also borrow part of a great interview with Puerto Rican anarchist Frank Lopez on mutual relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Stay tuned until the end because we have some important calls to support political prisoners, calls to support forest defenders in Oregon, political prisoner birthdays, announcements for upcoming anarchist book fairs, and the repression roundup. {October 18, 2017}



Notes and Links



TRANSCRIPT:


Rebel Girl: October 18, 2017: Mutual Aid Disaster Relief in Puerto Rico, anarchists rally against rapist cops in New York City, Kurdish forces liberate Raqqa, anti-fascists call for opposition to white nationalists tomorrow in Florida, and ???? ??????? on this episode of?


The Hotwire.


A weekly anarchist news show brought to you by The Ex-Worker.


With me, the Rebel Girl.


Welcome back to the Hotwire. This week we compare the capitalist, statist, and anarchist solutions for the disaster in Puerto Rico. In the Repression Roundup, we argue against the extreme-centrist positions that bolster the state rather than popular struggles against fascism. Anti-fascists across Florida are calling for opposition TOMORROW, Thursday, October 19against white nationalist Richard Spencer at the University of Florida in Gainesville. We also discuss the liberation of Raqqa, upcoming anarchist book fairs, and the first J20 trial happening in November.


If we missed something important, or to include something in a future episode, shoot us an e-mail at podcast[AT]CrimethInc[DOT]com. A full transcript of this episode with shownotes and useful links can be found at our website, CrimethInc.com/podcast. You can subscribe to The Hotwire on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also listen to us through the new anarchist podcast network Channel Zero. Listeners in Tacoma, Washington can catch us every Wednesday at 9 AM on KUPS 90.1 FM. Believe it or not, every Hotwire is radio friendly, so just get in touch if you?d like to put The Hotwire on your local airwaves.


HEADLINES


Now? for the headlines.


A German military vehicle was burned near Munich on October 10. The communiqué for the action signs off with, ?Against every war, against every deportation!?


Squatters in Toulouse, France opened up an abandoned hotel to house 75 unaccompanied refugee minors.


Thousands marched in Chiapas, Mexico against extractive mining and repression. Chiapas is the home of the Zapatistas, a horizontal network of rural communities against neo-liberal development and for indigenous autonomy.


Anarchists in Ukraine smashed the windows of a fascist headquartersand left a big circle-a painted on the building?s facade. In their communiqué, the anti-fascists state, ?The anarchists will continue to ensure Nazis and their supporters do not live in peace.?


Anarchists also redecorated the façade of a fascist-owned storefront in Quebec, while the owner was off harassing migrants with the racist, anti-immigrant group La Meute. The store?s owner Robert Proule blamed the vandalism on high-profile anti-capitalist Jaggi Singh, but in an online communiqué, the anti-fascists made it clear that , ?we don?t know Jaggi Singh. We self-organize, autonomously and informally. Everybody hates racists and Robert Proule.?


Neo-Nazis trying to celebrate ?Leif Erikson Day? in Philadelphia were chased away from a statue to Icelandic explorers. They re-gathered in another park, but after another brief altercation when anti-fascists showed up again, the neo-Nazis just decided to go home.


On Monday, the No Nazis coalition at the University of Florida marched to the University President?s house in Gainesville. Anti-fascists are angry at the University for not only providing a platform for white nationalist Richard Spencer, but also for spending half a million dollars on security for his October 19 event. That?s tomorrow!!!


Anti-fascists in Florida are calling for anti-racists throughout the south to oppose the white power leader in Gainesville. On Monday, Florida?s governor declared a State of Emergency in order to bring in outside police to protect the fascist event. This is the quintessence of statist priorities: spend money that could otherwise benefit hurricane-battered communities on putting down any sort of popular mobilization against neo-Nazis. Disgusting.


Anti-fascist Drexel professor George Ciccariello-Maher was placed on administrative leave last week after the university caved to right-wing threats of violence against him. The threats were sparked by, well, let?s just say Ciccariello-Maher has a way with tweets. Basically he chalked up the Las Vegas mass shooting as a natural product of white masculinity and Trumpism. In a heartwarming gesture of solidarity, Ciccariello-Maher?s students have been posting photos of themselves with supportive signs. So much for all that disingenuous whining about academic freedom peddled by right-wingers who just want to be able to spout racism free of consequences. Woof.


Hundreds of students walked out in protest after police threw two teenage sisters to the ground at a restaurant near their New Jersey high school. The student protesters shouted ?We want justice!?


The Unist?ot?en Camp in so-called British Columbia have begun their October work season. In addition to finishing up a Healing Lodge, the indigenous water protectors are building houses along pipeline routes throughout their unceded, ancestral land. To get involved, visit their website at unistoten.camp. We have the link in our shownotes.


Thirteen unlucky animal agriculture websites in France got hacked on October 4, the day of a French animal industry conference. In their communiqué, the hackers declare, ?Most of the websites on this server are participants and exhibitors of this grotesque production of violent and obscene cruelties towards non-human animals all the while killing the land and exploiting those that work it. We had the capacity and the means to shut these websites down, so we did.? They go on to invite those who sympathize with the hack to, ?Join the anarchists, ALF, ELF, Anonymous or your local antispeciesist or antifa movements.?


Normalista student-teachers in Michoacan, Mexico were brutally repressedon Saturday while preparing to commemorate the fifth anniversary of police repression that took place at their school in 2012. One student was struck in the head by a police projectile. 74 students were detained in total. Just last month was the three-year anniversary of the 43 disappeared normalistas from Ayotzinapa.


Last week, prisoners at Pasquotank Prison in North Carolina set fire to their sewing factory and made a break for it. Two guards died and ten more were injured. The escape wasn?t successful, but this Rebel Girl is all about any action taken against the modern day slave plantations of prisons. And that modern day slavery stuff, it?s not just hyperbole. In case you missed it, listen to this clip from Friday of a Louisiana Sherriff.


Roughly 4,000 of the firefighters battling the blazes in northern California are inmates. They get paid one dollar an hour for their life-threatening work, but most counties won?t hire them as firefighters when they get out due to having a record.


The struggle to save the Bialowieza Forest in Poland continues. For the first time in the campaign?s history three blockades of heavy equipment took place simultaneously at different points of the forest. Unfortunately, one anarchist comrade was brutally assaulted by police. The Bialowieza Forest is one of the last and largest remaining primeval forests that once stretched across Europe.


Piotr Riabov, the most well-known anarchist historian in Russia, was jailed for six days for swearing at police in Belarus after they broke up a lecture of his on anarchist history. He is spending those six days on hunger strike. In solidarity with Piotr, we?d like to say ???? ???????! We can?t tell you what that means in English since our show gets played on FCC airwaves, but let?s just say it rhymes with ?ducks of the east.?


Anarchist bio-hacker Michael Laufer made headlines this week when he announced plans to subvert the pharmaceutical industry by building a DIY movement to teach patients how to make their own medications. Laufer, who wears an antifa pin on his three-piece suit, was quoted saying, ?To deny someone access to a lifesaving medication is murder. An act of theft [of intellectual property] to prevent an act of murder is morally acceptable.? In 1977 anarchists were making DIY punk. In 2017, now they?re making DIY prescription meds. What a world.


On Tuesday in Brooklyn, New York dozens marched in response to two NYPD detectives who handcuffed and raped an 18 year-old woman in September. The rapist cops are now on ?modified duty,? still getting paid. Angry protesters marched behind a banner that read ?Anna Chambers, We Believe You? and chanted ?No more rape! No more police state!? They tried to enter a co-called ?public community meeting,? but were denied entry. So they had their own community meeting outside, where survivors of sexual assault spoke.


The Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council?s call for the march reads:


?We know police officers have the power to arrest people with minimal cause and throw them into jails where they are raped by correctional officers. We know that cops target and rape sex workers on the streets. We know that police departments ?lose? rape kits and claim their assaults are consensual. We know that cops do ?cavity searches? both publicly and privately on their chosen victims. We know that cops rape underage women. We know they commit racially motivated acts of rape and murder under the guise of law and order. We know they are well protected by their superiors, their unions, their lawyers, and the media outlets that blame victims while the vulnerable are silenced and beaten to submission.


Cops don?t stop rapists because cops are rapists. It is up to us to defend our communities.?


While Catalonia?s president remains unclear about declaring independence for the region, an independence referendum voted on by the Kurds in Northern Iraq seems to be leading towards civil war. The Iraqi military has begun to occupy towns like Kirkuk and Sinjar in retaliation for the vote. The Peshmerga withdrew without a fight, leaving PKK and other revolutionary forces there to defend several towns. Meanwhile, the once-capitol of the Islamic State, Raqqa, Syria has finally been taken back by the Syrian Democratic Forces, who are composed of Kurdish fighters influenced by the late anarchist Murray Bookchin. They even count an internationalist anarchist militia in their ranks, the International Revolutionary People?s Guerrilla Forces. Improbably, the SDF receives support from the Pentagon, but it should be no surprise that an anarchist-influenced movement would have the most dedicated fighters against the fascism and fundamentalism of the Islamic State. We have a link in our shownotes to fund the return of an internationalist anti-fascist from Rojava. Hopefully their return will lead to more information about the egalitarian social revolution taking place there. For more background, check out Ex-Worker episodes 36 and 39 on the revolution in Rojava.


PUERTO RICO


85% of Puerto Rico still remains without electricity a month after Hurricane Maria hit the island. Some anti-Trump liberals like Elon Musk?s proposal, for Tesla to rebuild the electrical grid off solar power. They see it as a way to popularize so-called sustainable solar energy over fossil fuels and coal. However, the thought of privatizing Puerto Rico?s energy grid and handing it over to one of the world?s leading capitalists gives us pause. With privatization, any service becomes even more about profit than about human needs?just look at the wave of neoliberal reforms in Latin America in the 80s and 90s, and the crises and class divisions those sparked. The same arguments that have been going on about net neutrality apply here?privately owned services lead to high class and low class options, further entrenching the class divisions that persist as the man-made disaster that underlies any natural one.


It?s not only capitalists who are trying to consolidate their power in Puerto Rico. Early Monday morning, law enforcement including SWAT team personnel raided the Mutual Aid Disaster Relief base of operations in Guaynabo. After forcing all volunteers out of the building at gunpoint, the cops proceeded to ask questions about whether the volunteers were antifa, if they had ever used the raised fist, or if they were planning on overthrowing the government. Come on.


In their report on It?s Going Down, Mutual Aid Disaster Relief write, ?We know that repression from the state intensifies when our organizing is perceived by those in power as effective. Rather than be intimidated into silence and passivity, this just furthers our resolve to continue organizing from below to support people?s survival and self-determination.? Mutual Aid Disaster Relief have been writing excellent reports from their work in Puerto Rico, detailing local groups worth supporting. We have links to some of their reports in our shownotes, at CrimethInc.com/podcast.


Frank Lopez, of the excellent anarchist video collective Submedia, is from Puerto Rico and recently caught up with It?s Going Down about his recent trip to the island.


Frank Lopez: Maybe I will just jump into what the folks from Mutual Aid Disaster Relief were doing. It was the equivalent to someone raising their hand and saying ?we need help,? and they would just go there. They would listen to them, to what they needed, and they would go and do it. We went to a really poor community, a resistance community as well. A community that fought off being expropriated to build a hotel. This really poor community in the town of Guaynabo had been there for three weeks and had not received any aid from anybody. When we arrived there the folks from Mutual Aid Disaster Relief who were working with this church were the first people to bring anything. If there?s anything needed in Puerto Rico, more than anything it?s that sort of decentralized mutual aid. Folks just basically looking to where needs are and just trying to fill those needs


I think what really blows people?s minds about Mutual Aid Disaster Relief is that they just do it, and I just think that anybody can do this. The idea that we have to go through official channels is bullshit. If you wait for bureaucracies like the Red Cross sometimes you?d be dead.


IGD: Do people feel like this is the breaking point with the state? That things will go in a more autonomous direction? Or, instead, do you think people are more and more looking to the state for help? I mean obviously, the mayor of San Juan is definitely taking a leadership role in this and a lot of people are looking to her.


Frank Lopez: The mayor of San Juan is a politician, so I wouldn?t trust her. I don?t trust the governor of Puerto Rico. I think that some people are going to make a break with the state, especially as they experience folks who just decided to help them without going through that hurdle of state bureaucracy to get them aid. But, the undoing of the colonial mentality of the island is a really long-term project. We have 500 years of being colonized so I think there?s a lot of work to be done in changing that mindset. I think particularly young people are the ones that I see as the most promising of the populations who are going to be able to recognize this.


I don?t want to sound like I?m being politically opportunistic, like within this disaster I?m using it to push other things, but I think in this particular moment it seems extremely necessary that people recognize their collective power, recognize that the government has failed them at the moment when they?re most needed, and start doing the shit to stop the dependency on the local and the federal government. I don?t think we really need a referendum to let Puerto Ricans understand that they?re independent already. The United States doesn?t do anything for us; they have never done anything for us. All they?ve ever done is take, take, take. It?s really, really clear right now. People should seize this opportunity to help each other out and start to build the shit that is going to make them independent for years to come.


Rebel Girl: In our shownotes, we have links to the full interview as well as fundraising sites from both Submedia and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief.


REPRESSION ROUNDUP


In this week?s repression roundup?


Last Hotwire, we reported on the 10-minute demonstration of white nationalists who returned to Charlottesville, Virginia. Cops, courts and Klan all go hand in hand, so in the week since, two black counterprotesters who were on the streets during the Unite the Right rally have been arrested.


DeAndre Harris, a 20-year-old local who was beat by a gang of white nationalists on August 12, is somehow now facing charges himself for injuries that one of his attackers sustained later that day.


Unfortunately, Harris? lawyer has been tweeting out images of other anti-fascists from August 12, holding them responsible for the injuries that Harris is being charged with. We want the charges against Harris dropped, and later on we have details about flooding the Commonwealth Attorney?s phone lines to that end, but if we turn over other anti-fascists whenever neo-Nazis or the state come hunting for us, it will dissuade people from taking the kind of action that was crucial to stopping the Unite the Right rally in the first place. We should get these charges dropped by popular pressure, not by sacrificing other comrades to the state or fascists.


Police also arrested Corey Long, who now faces charges of assault and battery for allegedly warding fascists away from counterprotesters by wielding an improvised blowtorch. You?ve probably seen the image, it looks like it was basically an aerosol can lit up with a lighter. Of course, this was less than 24 hours after hundreds of white supremacists marched with open-flame tiki torches and used them to beat anti-racists.


Some of the fascist Unite the Right attendees have also received warrants, which may seem like a positive development to some, but as anarchists we don?t trust the state to resolve our conflicts with fascists for us, let alone accept its legitimacy as the sole arbiter of justice. We?re supposed to trust that the same system that provided police escorts for fascists, that responded to Heather Heyer?s murder with riot police before ambulances, and that is now arresting black counterprotesters for legitimate self-defense is going to protect us from fascist violence? Yeah right.


Unfortunately, there are still those who are pushing an extreme-centrist agenda. Unicorn Riot reports that last week a criminal complaint was filed in Virginia court against the ?illegal paramilitary activity? during the Unite the Right rally. The suit names white nationalist groups like the Traditionalist Workers Party and League of the South, but also two of the armed leftist groups present: Redneck Revolt and the Socialist Rifle Club. Let?s not forget that the history of modern gun control in America began against the Black Panther Party in the sixties. Since then, gun control has given a platform to right-wing groups like the NRA while continuing to further criminalize communities of color. From history, we can already tell where a lawsuit like this will lead.


Remember that whole ?no moral equivalency? line that was so popular with liberals in the wake of Charlottesville? Well, this suit would codify precisely the ?both-sides? discourse that Trump used to excuse white nationalists and demonize anti-fascists. We?ve heard liberals say that they?re worried about the rise of unchecked political violence, but an anarchist understanding of power tells us is that politics is violence, the state being the monopoly of the legitimate use of it. With a million black men in prisons and the roots of the police being in southern slave patrols, it?s not like the state is neutral in wielding that force either?the neo-Nazis who sought out the magistrate that issued DeAndre Harris? warrant know that well.


That is what distinguishes anarchists from liberals?our search for a defeat of fascism that lifts up the communities it threatens, rather than re-asserting the state over all of us. You might wonder what this actually looks like. Thankfully, last week in Charlottesville local anti-fascists demonstrated one way of putting these principles into action. Three Unite the Right attendees faced court on Friday. Instead of trusting that the measly fines they received would sufficiently dissuade the fascists from coming back to Charlottesville, anti-fascists reportedly chased them out of the courthouse and all the way to their cars, until a group of police officers ordered the anti-fascists to disperse.


Cheers to the brave folks in Charlottesville. The Anarchist People of Color collective there is calling on folks to flood the Commonwealth Attorney?s phone lines with demands to drop the charges against DeAndre Harris, Corey Long and all others facing charges from taking anti-racist action. That number is 434?970?3176.


With anti-fascist self-defense under attack, it?s only a matter of time before they start criminalizing even administering first aid to other comrades. Oh wait, no it?s not. In just one month the first trial in the J20 case begins, and some of the defendants are on trial precisely for being street medics. During the presidential inauguration, police illegally kettled, mass arrested, and brutalized over 200 people who now face at least 8 felonies each. The government?s case consists of the fact that a handful of windows were broken. So how are they holding over 200 people responsible? By chalking up the J20 protests as a conspiracy. In characterizing the protests as a conspiracy, they get to identify activity like chanting slogans or dressing in black or even providing first aid as evidence of conspiring, arguing that therefore, all of the nearly 200 codefendants are equally responsible for the small amount of property destruction that occurred. If this precedent had existed during the Black Lives Matter or Occupy waves of action, there would be thousands of people awaiting felony trials as a result.


Just last week, J20 defendants went to court after the prosecutors moved to suppress videos and other evidence of police misconduct.


Supporters have announced a brand new call-in campaign to pressure the US Attorney?s office to drop the cases. Check out DropJ20.org for details.


Also, consider coming to DC at the end of November to pack the courthouse and show some love for the first batch of J20 trial defendants.


The trial for the burning cop car case in Paris came to a close last week, with eight comrades receiving sentences ranging from fines and probation to seven years imprisonment. At the height of last year?s Occupy-style Nuit Debout movement against the Loi Travail labor law, a spontaneous march took the streets of Paris and trashed a police car, eventually lighting it up with a flare. Nine people were charged in relation to the act, including Kara Wild, an anarchist from Chicago. Kara received a four-year sentence with two years suspended. Over the last year and a half, solidarity actions have taken place across Europe and North America, ranging from rallies to smashing windows at correctional facilities to torching French gendarme vehicles. You can lock up a few anarchists, but you can?t cage the spirit!


Our hearts go out to all the burning cop car defendants. For a full report on the case, check out ?The Poetry of Flames: French Tales of Arson,? which you can find on our website, CrimethInc.com.


Supporters of the anti-police brutality activist Reverend Joy Powell have organized a phone blast to support her this week. Powell was railroaded by the Rochester police for her community activism and is currently in a dilapidated facility full of health risks. We have more details on the phone blast, and an address where you can write the Reverend Powell herself, linked in our shownotes.


Political Prisoner Seth Hayes is on the verge of a diabetic coma and is in urgent need of medical attention. His supporters are asking people to call the supervisor at Sullivan Correctional to demand that he be taken to Albany Medical Center as soon as possible. You can call Superintendent Keyser at 845?434?2080. Just let them know you?re calling about Robert Seth Hayes, number 74-A?2280.


Unfortunately, that?s all the time we have for news. If you want us to include something in a future Hotwire, just send us an email at podcast[AT]CrimethInc[DOT]com.


POLITICAL PRISONER BIRTHDAYS


We?ll close out our episode with next week?s news, but first?


Black Panther political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim celebrates his birthday today, October 18. Jalil was captured in 1971 after a shootout with San Francisco police and then charged with attempting to assassinate police in retaliation for the murder of political prisoner George Jackson. He has maintained his political convictions through organizing in prison for over 30 years.


And that?s the only political prisoner birthday we have for you this week. So come on, just sit down and write a letter to Jalil. It only takes a few minutes for you, but getting your letter could be the highlight of his week, seriously! We have his address and a guide to writing prisoners in our shownotes. We also have a link to this month?s Political Prisoner Birthday Calendar from PrisonBooks.info, which you can use to organize monthly letter writing nights.


NEXT WEEK?S NEWS


And now, next week?s news, our list of events that you can plug into in real life.


Alerta! Tomorrow, October 19 is the protest against Richard Spencer at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Stay tuned to @IGD_news on twitter for details.


Some of the major neo-Nazi groups behind the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally are planning to descend on central Tennessee on October 28. Organizers are calling for anti-fascists to gather at 9am on the corner of North Cannon Blvd and Lane Parkway in Northwest Shelbyville on the 28. We have a link with more details in our shownotes at CrimethInc.com/podcast.


There?s a call to disrupt the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia this weekend. They?re calling for a march to gather at Thomas Paine Plaza on Saturday, October 21 at 10 AM under the slogan, ?For a world without police.? You can find out more details at noiacp.blackblogs.org, and you can donate to their action bail fund through a link posted in our shownotes.


Two Catholic Workers who sabotaged Dakota Access Pipeline infrastructure are touring around the pacific northwest this week, speaking on climate change, direct action, and the indigenous-led No DAPL struggle. They?re in Phoenix, Oregon on October 18 Portland, Oregon on the 20 Seattle, Washington on the 25 and Olympia, Washington at a date and location to be determined. We have the event details linked in our shownotes.


The London Anarchist Book Fair takes place on Saturday, October 28 at Park View School.


The Los Angeles Anarchist Book Fair also takes place the weekend of October 28 and 29 at Leimert Park Plaza. You can find out more, in both English and Spanish, on their website: la.anarchistbookfair.com.


Forest defenders in Oregon are in need of support to stop the logging of approximately 2,500 acres of the Willamette National Forest. Endangered salmon and trout, cougars, and even the spotted owl call the forest home. In May, Cascadia Forest Defenders attached two platforms to Douglas fir trees, 110 feet up in the air! And they?ve been there since, utilizing a diversity of legal and direct action tactics in the course of their campaign. The forest defenders are seeking more people who are willing to stay out in the forest as the weather turns and as tactics escalate. They?re also in need of gear like tarps and sleeping bags, or just plain old cash. We have a link in our shownotes for the Cascadia Forest Defenders website, where you can contact them or make a donation in support.


In Santiago, Chile on November 4 is the 7th tattoo and body art convention to benefit political prisoners. Damn, that just sounds so cool?see some punk and hip-hop acts, get some ink, peruse some insurrectionary anarchist distros and just feel part of a badass rebel culture, all to benefit political prisoners. Go Santiago!


The 2018 Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar is now available! Your group can buy 10 or more at the rate of $10 each and sell them for 15, keeping the difference for your organization. Single issues are available from LeftWingBooks.net and AK Press.


This year?s theme is ?Awakening Resistance,? and features art and writings by Jesus Barraza, Andrea Ritchie, Herman Bell, Marius Mason, CrimethInc, and more. People can sponsor copies for prisoners for only $8, postage included! Just be sure to specify their full legal name and prisoner number. Any questions can be sent to info@certaindays.org.


Finally, for October 30 to November 5, the Earth First! newswire republished an international call for a week of action against speciesism and in memory of animal liberation political prisoner Barry Horne. It encourages folks to carry out all kinds of actions, from street propaganda to workshops and debates in your social centers, to organizing actions against animal exploiting businesses.


That?s it for your weekly Hotwire. Thanks to the IGDcast for letting us borrow some of their interview, and as always thanks to Underground Reverie for the music. Don?t forget to check out all the links, mailing addresses, and useful notes we have posted alongside this episode at CrimethInc.com. If you want to replay part or all of this show, go for it. Every Hotwire episode is radio-friendly, in case you want to put it on the airwaves. Just gives us a heads up at podcast[AT]CrimethInc[DOT]com. You can also send us news or announcements to include in future episodes.


Stay informed. Stay rebel. Plug into The Hotwire.



category: 

Source: Hotwire #9: Puerto Rico, J20 Trials, & Raqqa
7
Anarchist News dot Org / B(A)D NEWS ? Angry voices from around the world ? Episode 5 (10/2017)
« Last post by AnarchistNews.org on Today at 06:00:59 AM »
B(A)D NEWS ? Angry voices from around the world ? Episode 5 (10/2017)

via Anarchist Radio Berlin


The Anarchist Radio Network just released the episode number 5 (10/2017) of its international news show ?B(A)D NEWS ? Angry voices from around the world?!


This is episode number 5 (10/2017) of ?B(A)D NEWS ? Angry voices from around the world?, a monthly news program from the international network of anarchist and antiauthoritarian radios, consisting of short news segments from different parts of the world. Length: 1:15


Listen to the episode here


You can download the audio at: archive.org (mp3 | ogg).


Content:

* 98fm: Laws, actions and repression in Greece

* A-Radio Berlin: The Anarchist Days in Dresden, Germany

* Radio Fragmata: Struggles in Greece

* 105fm: Immigration struggles, gender violence and other topics from Lesvos, Greece

* The Final Straw: Interview on the case of Hermann Bell in the USA

* Bilda Kedjor: Antifa action in Gothenburg, Sweden

* Radio Kurruf: Mapuche hungerstrike and repression in Chile

* Dissident Island: DSEI arms fair in London and October Revolution 1917

* Frequenz A: Update about repression and solidarity related to the protests against G20 in Hamburg


category: 

Source: B(A)D NEWS ? Angry voices from around the world ? Episode 5 (10/2017)
8
Anarchist News dot Org / Anarchy Radio 10-17-2017
« Last post by AnarchistNews.org on Today at 06:00:59 AM »
Anarchy Radio 10-17-2017

LISTEN HERE: http://archive.org/details/AnarchyRadio10172017


   Cliff co-hosts. Fires uncover pollution in every case. Language 1.8 million years ago?? CNN: millennials unbelievably unskilled. Severe anxiety #1 problem for adolescents. Global obesity,

starving penguins. Who volunteers any more? No way to spot mass killers-to-be. Quantum

computing: a new gold rush. Action news.


category: 

Source: Anarchy Radio 10-17-2017
9
?Oh Jeremy Corbyn!?- Report from 2017 Labour Party Conference


The dangers from the right wing and the state will increase as the re-energized  Labor Party moves from opposition to leading force.  The British capitalist state will undermine a Labor government at all times if one is elected. Socialists in the LP must be prepared to take on the right. Admin.
 
Carel Buxton, Forest Gate Ward and West Ham CLP

This  year?s Labour Party conference was very different from that of 2016.  Both years I have attended as a visitor and avidly listened to the  debates both in the conference hall and at the  fringe events, participated in discussions and heated arguments with  delegates and fellow visitors and attended the Momentum organised The  World Transformed (TWT) ?alternative? conference/festival. This year was  different because, for the first time in a very  long time, the power of the membership exerted itself and it was a  heady feeling after so many years of dominance from the right wing.

1,200  delegates attended, a huge increase on the previous year and said to be  the biggest conference in living memory. Most delegates, about two  thirds, were Corbynistas. At the 2016 conference  the bureaucrats were able to out manoeuvre the left on the conference  floor through a better understanding and application, including  misapplication, of the party rules.  This often spilled over into shouting matches and acrimony from  the conference floor. This year the shouting matches continued but the  left was far more successful because we had learned the ropes and had  had training in procedures from Momentum. Still  it is clear that we have a long way to go yet to fully restore  democracy to our party.

Some  examples of where the left triumphed over the right: Firstly, the left  won the ballot by 71% for the two seats on the National Constitutional  Committee, Labour?s key disciplinary committee,  electing Emina Ibrahim from Haringey and Anna Dyer, a Glasgow activist.  These two Momentum supporter, Emina Ibrahim Vice-Chair of Momentum,  decisively beat Rose Burley from Labour First and Kevin Hepwork from  Progress. This victory for Corby supporters over  the right comes hard on the heels of the victory of Seema Chandwani and  Billy Hayes in the election for the Conference Arrangements Committee  (CAC). They will have a central role in framing the conference agenda  for 2018. The right wing is certainly deflated  but far from beaten. Indeed, I am reliably informed that at a Progress  fringe meeting their leader ,Richard Angell , lamented the rise of the  so called hard left; words echoed by their speakers Stella Creasy and  Yvette Cooper.

Secondly,  a rule change from the 2016 conference gave delegates the power to  ?reference back? and this was used by Corbyn supporting delegates to  extend democracy in the party. Prior to 2016  delegates could only accept or reject policy from the National Policy  Forum. Now delegates can say to the leadership we are only giving you a  C+ so go away and come back with better next time. In a debate on  Welfare Policy a soft left delegate from ?Open Labour  ?called for a reference back because LP policy did not include the  intention of scrapping all welfare cuts. Momentum immediately supported  this unplanned intervention and sent mobile messages around to all  Momentum supporting delegates using its M-APP  mobile App calling for them to support this. Crucially Unison  also supported the reference back and it was won. The way the conference  works is for 50% of the votes go the CLP delegates and a further 50% to  affiliated organisations such as the trade  unions. Because this intervention was unplanned by the left it  illustrates the fight for democracy in the party is not yet concerted or  organised enough. There is a huge appetite for socialist ideas in the  party. We have a huge membership of about 650,000  members but we have not yet driven the right out.

Whilst  the left is dismantling the bureaucratic blockages on democracy we are  not a coherent enough force; this is illustrated by the compromise over  the so-called McDonnell Amendment. The  amendment was a move to reduce the number of Labour MPs needed to  nominate candidates in a LP leadership contest and ensure a left winger  can get onto the ballot. Originally McDonnell called for 5% of MPs but a  deal was struck behind the scenes with the NEC  and the threshold was lowered from 15% to 10%. This was greeted with  dismay from many of the delegates who felt they could have won the 5%  putting the new leadership at odds with the grassroots. This is an  interesting turn and shows the membership?s appetite  for radical change. A further illustration of the leadership?s top down  approach to democratisation has been in the new review of party  structures under Katy Clark, Corbyn?s political secretary. Many  activists fear this will not go nearly far enough and call  for the membership to be able reselect their MPs and recall their MPs,  holding them to account. The leadership has refused this and the battle  is on.

One  of the most heartening aspects to conference itself was the lack of  deference shown to those who had been openly disloyal or, at best,  lukewarm about Corbyn?s decisive leadership victory  in 2016. Both Tom Watson and Saddique Khan were received politely  although one delegate followed Watson?s speech with a question to the  chair about why he was allocated 5 minutes but actually allowed to speak  for over 20 minutes. Khan?s speech was mediocre  at best. Contrast this to the standing ovations given to Corbyn,  McDonnell, Dennis Skinner, Diane Abbott and to Len McCluskey just for  walking on to the stage! It was empowering to hear chants of ?Oh Jeremy  Corbyn? around the conference hall at almost every  opportunity but it?s not enough to just elect the leader. We must  campaign in our communities and work hard building Momentum and the  Labour Party so we can ensure there is a radical socialist programme for  our party. The Manifesto is the best for half a century  but it needs to go much further. In fairness, it was written in a  matter of a few weeks and, at TWT, I heard both McDonnell and Corbyn  explain that they know they have to flesh it out and asked for CLPs and  individual members to contribute to this.

While  the LP conference played out, another whole new consciousness was being  born in The World Transformed. This was the second year running that  Momentum organised this splendid festival  to galvanise the left. Held over four days in nine different venues  across Brighton, TWT was brilliantly organised and drew huge crowds to  over 100 meetings around topics ranging from Art and Politics to How to  Run a Successful Momentum Group. It was quite  usual for hundreds to queue for a couple of hours to hear the  well-known speakers. I queued alongside about 800 comrades to hear  Jeremy Corby one evening. In the queue with me were all generations and  ethnicities and there was an infectious enthusiasm for  socialism. It felt like another world was possible and on the verge of  being born.

At  TWT there was real emphasis was on technology, how to use it to  organise and mobilise members. The M-APP was used as an organising tool  with frequent updates on events. Speakers such as  Owen Jones, George Monbiot and Paul Mason were listened to with  enthusiasm but were, at times, out of step with their audience who were  often more radical than the speakers. The best contributions were from  the floor with workers such as the McDonald strikers  and Picturehouse workers giving examples of their struggles. The most  exciting meeting of TWT I attended was entitled The Left in Power with  speakers, Costas Lapavistas former Syriza MP, Guillame Long, Former  Equadorian Foreign Minister and Catarina Principe  from Portugal?s Bloco de Esquerda Committee. This meeting focused on  what happens once we gain power and drew on experiences of how the  ruling class will attempt to sabotage the economy through capital flight  for example. This was followed up on the last evening  with a Labour Co-ordinating Committee rally with passionate speeches  from McDonnell, Matt Wrack FBU, Dave Ward CWU and Ronnie Draper leader  of the Baker?s Union. McDonnell explained what steps the ruling class  will take to undermine a Corbyn led Labour government  and how the leadership have plans to deal with this attack. He was not  specific and probably that was wise. The union leaders talked about  concerted unified action to bring May?s government down; a general  strike in all but name. The audience of about 200  were electrified by the analysis of capitalism and the socialist  solutions the speakers put forward.

Momentum  have played a central role up to this point in democratisation of the  Labour Party. Events such as TWT show they have huge pulling power.  Crucially they have shown the way in terms  of organisation for the conference and not just with the application of  technology but with the training sessions offered to delegates prior to  conference and early morning briefing sessions on conference procedures  and how to vote. Many delegates were new  and Momentum gave them guidance and support to work through the  procedural minefield laid out by the bureaucrats. 2017 conference was  uplifting and exciting. Now we need to be organised for round two of the  battle with the right and reclaim the Labour Party  to its grassroots.

Source: ?Oh Jeremy Corbyn!?- Report from 2017 Labour Party Conference
10
AlterNet / Trump Channels His Inner Gangster in Latest Threat to John McCain
« Last post by AlterNet on Yesterday at 06:00:11 PM »
Trump Channels His Inner Gangster in Latest Threat to John McCain


"People have to be careful because at some point I fight back."


President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired back at Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who on Monday delivered a speech slamming Trump?s brand of ?half-baked nationalism.?

Appearing on talk radio station WMAL in Washington DC, Trump was asked about the criticism McCain leveled at him this week, in which he lashed out at ?half baked, spurious nationalism? that?s being ?cooked up by people who had rather find scapegoats than solve problems.?

?People have to be careful because at some point I fight back,? Trump told WMAL radio host Chris Plante. ?You know, I?m being very nice. I?m being very, very nice. But at some point I fight back and it won?t be pretty.?

Trump has regularly attacked McCain after the senator was a key vote against the Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this past summer. In addition to McCain, Trump has also regularly picked fights with Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

 

 

 

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Source: Trump Channels His Inner Gangster in Latest Threat to John McCain
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