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[l] at 5/24/23 9:59am
Originally published at Ongoing History of Protest MusicNo-No Boy is a multimedia project formed by Julian Saporiti & Erin Aoyama while pursuing their doctorates at Brown University. The project employs music as an educational tool to teach historical lessons about the Asian American experience, something they both share in their heritage. Saporitis family were refugees during the Vietnam War while Aoyama had family incarcerated at United States internment camps during World War II.Their name comes from the No-No Boys, who were Japanese Americans who refused to pledge allegiance to the U.S. government and who were detained in concentration camps. They also refused to fight in the war. These experiences were the basis of John Okada’s classic 1957 novel No-No Boy. No-No Boy released their debut album 1942 in 2018, but it has since evolved primarily into a Saporiti project. Saporiti followed it up in 2021 with the album 1975, which featured considerable vocal, musical, and production contributions from Emilia Halvorsen. The album title referred to the year Saigon fell.Similar to 1942, Saporiti explored his own family heritage and connected that heritage to the. experiences of those in WWII Japanese internment camps. He linked this history to modern-day immigrant detention centers and refugee camps. One of the albums highlights is The Best Goddamn Band In Wyoming” which relates the story of a 1940s Asian American swing band that perseveres in the face of bigotry. No-No Boy’s latest single “La Banda Más Chingón en Wyoming” is a mariachi reworking of that tune. It features Mariachi Los Broncos, whose bandleader Jessie Vallejo was drawn to the parallels between the Japanese internment camps and the detention centers set up at the U.S.-Mexico border that are filled with Latin American migrants. The new arrangement adds an element of exuberance in the face of adversity. The harrowing reality is balanced with the optimism that the human spirit will conquer and still find reasons to sing. The post Protest Song Of The Week: La Banda Más Chingón en Wyoming By No-No Boy Featuring Mariachi Los Broncos appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, The Protest Music Project, Protest Song of the Week]

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[l] at 5/10/23 7:39am
Originally published at Ongoing History of Protest MusicArmed with his weapon of choice, a guitar with the words “This Machine Kills Fascists painted on it, Woody Guthrie was a pivotal contributor to the canon of protest tunes. He composed nearly 3,000 songs, many of which remained unpublished. This has allowed a new generation of artists toset these unused lyrics to music and create anthems that still resonate in modern society.One group that recently did this is the Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys. The first time they made use of unused Guthrie lyrics was Gonna Be a Blackout Tonight for their 2003 album Blackout. They followed that up with their most well-known song, Im Shipping Up to Boston, which appeared on their 2005 album The Warriors Code. After discussions with Woodys daughter Nora, the band recorded an entire album of Guthrie lyrics in 2022 called This Machine Still Kills Fascists. During the same session, they also recorded a second album of Guthrie-penned lyrics, Okemah Rising, which will be released on May 12, 2023.“Every night, when the audience is singing along with Woody’s words, his steadfast defense of the working class, and his fight against social injustice and the abuse of political power comes across loud and clear,” said vocalist Ken Casey, the bands founder. “So as long as Dropkick Murphys are involved, Woody’s message will always be heard.” The first video and single from the upcoming album is I Know How It Feels. And I know how it feels to work til you drop. And its 10,000 bills that you owe, the song declares. It continues, [I] know how it feels when you got calloused hands. And blisters on both of your feet. You cant pay the rent, so the men take your things. And throw you right out on the street. With the working class under growing pressure and ongoing labor strikes and protests around the world, the song is a message of solidarity for the downtrodden. The song weaves its way to a verse of empowerment: I know how it feels to join a union. Speak up like a man and fight. I know how it feels to march and sing. When you know that your fight is right. Watch/listen to Dropkick Murphys I Know How It Feels: The post Protest Song Of The Week: I Know How It Feels By Dropkick Murphys appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, The Protest Music Project, Protest Song of the Week, Woody Guthrie]

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[l] at 5/8/23 9:43am
Die Jim Crow Records, the first record company to work exclusively with musicians impacted by the United States prison system, has collaborated with another formerly incarcerated artist named EL BENTLY 448.Wrongfully convicted, EL BENTLY 448, who is also known as Leon Benson, spent 25 years in an Indiana prison. Ten of those years were spent in solitary confinement. He was released on March 8, 2023, after he was exonerated.Shadowproof is honored to debut “Innocent,” a hip-hop track from Leon’s forthcoming EP that will be available on June 26. (Another track, Mugabe, was shared on April 26.)Leon told Shadowproof, “I was innocent, but I wasn’t an innocent person.” He recorded the track to explore this idea of being innocent, but born guilty.“Youre innocent born guilty if you’re born a different gender than somebody, if you’re born to a particular racial group, if you’re born in a particular time, in a particular location, in a particular economic status, or under a particular religion or culture,” Leon described.Leon added, “If you look at it, nobody had a choice of coming to the world. So when you come into the world, we are already made guilty by the powers that be in our life.”The lyrics for the track are autobiographical in the first verse. The second verse questions thos who may believe that they are somehow more innocent than anyone who has been incarcerated.Leon wrote the track in 2012 while he was in solitary confinement. He hoped the track would help him bring awareness to his case so that he could be exonerated.As Leon recalled, he took that solitary cell that was meant for sensory deprivation, a “torture chamber,” and he transformed it into “a university, a place that I had to heal, learn, [and] grow.”“That’s where I got over a lot of anger because it was a place that I knew was meant for me to smother in, and even go crazy,” Leon shared.Fury Young founded Die Jim Crow in 2019. In 2014, Fury connected with Leon after an activist named Zulay Velasquez shared an announcement on the Facebook group for the Innocence Network that indicated Die Jim Crow was looking for artists. “Id never heard from someone in prison directly before (via cell phone) so we had a long uninterrupted conversation a couple hours later,” Fury shared. “We instantly hit it off, bonding about certain philosophy shit and world history. Then we continued to build!”  The Indiana Department of Corrections denied Die Jim Crow access to record music with Leon at least twice. So Leon found a way that he could record without them while he was in prison. For incarcerated musicians like Leon, making music is a form of “healing justice.” It is “music therapy.” Leon contended that allowing prisoners to “voice their particular experience” while locked up is a very powerful way of dealing with trauma. It can be a means of seeking rehabilitation before returning to society.  Leon grew up primarily in the area around Flint, Michigan. He was inspired by local music like the Dayton Family, Top Authority, and MC Breed. “They made the dream look really big. This is what made me try to put my voice on tracks” when he was about 13 years-old.“I used two radios,” Leon recalled. “One radio to record, one with the beat playing, and that’s how I used to make my first mixtapes.”The name EL BENTLY 448 is an amalgamation of El, bent, and -ly. Together, to Leon, they mean “becoming God in the nature of determination and talent.” What 448 refers to is numerology. Leon said it means “completion.” The number can represent the trust that one should have in their instincts and abilities to survive.“I’m a person who grew up in urban America. I used to be in the drug trade so it’s a lot of stuff that comes with LB 448,” Leon also sharedAccording to Die Jim Crow, Leon’s song reflects the record label’s goal of dismantling stereotypes around race and prison. His lyrics deal with the injustice of wrongful conviction as well as the “emotional trauma that comes along with it.”“But even more so EL BENTLY 448 himself is an incredibly unique person,” the label added. “He spearheaded the fight for his freedom relentlessly until his dream of being a free man was achieved. It is an honor for us to provide our platform to him.” Listen to EL BENTLY 448’s “Innocent” from Die Jim Crow Records:  The post Die Jim Crow Records Releases New Music From Hip-Hop Artist Wrongfully Convicted And Imprisoned For 25 Years appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, The Protest Music Project, Die Jim Crow, Hip Hop, Incarceration]

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[l] at 5/4/23 2:58pm
The following article was made possible by paid subscribers of Shadowproofs Dissenter Newsletter. Support independent journalism on whistleblowers and press freedom and become a subscriber with this limited offer for World Press Freedom Week.On World Press Freedom Day, the United States State Department abandoned its policy of not commenting on the case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and essentially backed the prosecution against him.Matthew Lee of the Associated Press asked State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel “whether or not the State Department regards Julian Assange as a journalist who would be covered by the ideas embodied in World Press Freedom Day.”“I’m not asking for the [U.S. Justice Department point of view. I’m asking for what the State Department thinks,” Lee said.It was not the first time Lee had posed this question. In 2021, on World Press Freedom Day, Lee asked if President Joe Biden’s administration was looking into the Assange case, “his detention, his extradition, the request for extradition here, the charges against him?”“I realize you can’t speak for DOJ, but from the State Department’s perspective, is the current position still – does that still hold? Do you believe that Mr. Assange is a journalist?” Lee added. “And given the importance you place on accurate and factual information being disseminated, do you believe that the information that was published based on the U.S. government documents that he obtained and put out was either unfactual or inaccurate?”Jalina Porter, who was a spokesperson for the State Department, avoided the question. “So to your specific on Julian Assange, we’ll have to get back to you on that.” But now, with Biden going around repeatedly declaring that “journalism is not a crime,” Patel read a prepared response.“The State Department thinks that Mr. Assange has been charged with serious criminal conduct in the United States, in connection with his alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in our nation’s history,” Patel declared. “His actions risked serious harm to U.S. national security to the benefit of our adversaries.Patel continued, “It put named human sources to grave and imminent risk and risk of serious physical harm and arbitrary detention. So it does not matter how we categorize any person, but we view this as something, he’s been charged with serious criminal conduct.” The response was lousy and stale. The State Department basically dusted off a few talking points from 2010, when WikiLeaks first published U.S. State Embassy cables that exposed the inner workings of U.S. diplomacy.To be clear, Assange’s “role” was that of a publisher who received documents from U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning. A 2011 review by the Associated Press of sources, which the State Department claimed were most at risk from the publication of cables, found no evidence that any person was harmed. The potential for harm was “strictly theoretical.”Lee appropriately pushed back on the idea that being charged with “serious criminal conduct” made Assange a person unworthy of support on World Press Freedom Day. “Yeah, but anyone can be charged with anything. Evan Gershkovich has been charged with a serious criminal offense in Russia, and you say that he is a journalist, and he is obviously,” Lee replied. “And I just want to know whether or not you, the State Department – regardless of any charges that he faces – believe that he is a journalist, or he is something else.”Patel contended the two cases are “completely different.” He said, “The United States doesn’t go around arbitrarily detaining people, and the judicial oversight and checks and balances that we have in our system versus the Russian system are a little bit different.”The U.S. government subjected nearly 800 people to rendition, indefinite detention, and torture and brought them to Guantanamo Bay military prison, which was established a legal blackhole for alleged terrorism suspects. It’s still open, continues to hold detainees not charged with any crimes, and in fact, the United Nations recently condemned the US for keeping Abu Zubaydah in arbitrary detention, which “may constitute crimes against humanity.Yes—the U.S. does arbitrarily detain people. Just not people the U.S. thinks should be free from arbitrary detention. Tip Jar “Okay. So, basically, the bottom line is that you don’t have an answer. You won’t say whether you think he is a journalist or not,” Lee stated. The State Department cannot say that US officials do not believe Assange is a journalist because they know that puts them at odds with civil society organizations that they frequently partner with on press freedom issues and campaigns to free detained journalists.Gershkovich’s case is not meaningfully different from the case against Assange. Russian intelligence accused Gershkovich of “collecting state secrets.” Like the U.S. government, the Russian government claims the authority to detain a journalist to make an example out of them and send a message that they will protect their military information from further disclosure. Few may know, the State Department intervened in the extradition process to help the Crown Prosecution Service win their appeal after a district judge ruled that extraditing Assange would be oppressive for health reasons. Diplomats offered empty assurances that Assange would not be mistreated in U.S. custody and leaned on the United Kingdom to approve Assanges extradition to preserve the close partnership between the U.S. and the U.K.Now, on the same day, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about Assange. “Advocates on Twitter today have been talking a great deal about how the United States has engaged in hypocrisy by talking about how Evan Gershkovich is held in Russia on espionage charges but the United States has Espionage Act charges pending against Julian Assange.”The reporter who asked this question also suggested the US had lost the “moral high ground.” Unlike the State Department, the White House did not feel compelled to take this question seriously. “Look, I’m not going to speak to Julian Assange and that case from here,” Jean-Pierre blurted.  CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK member Tighe Barry, and others in the peace group probably deserve credit for forcing the State Department to respond to a question about Assange with something more than “no comment.”Secretary of State Antony Blinken participated in a World Press Freedom Day event hosted by the Washington Post. As he sat down to talk with Post columnist David Ignatius, Benjamin stepped on to the stage. “Excuse us. We cant use this day without calling for the freedom of Julian Assange.”The Post muted the audio for the video broadcast as security swiftly dragged Benjamin offstage. Security was so rough that it made Blinken uncomfortable. He stood up from his seat and told them, “Take it easy. Take it easy. Take it easy, guys.” Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee tied his Assange question to the protest, noting the case had been “raised perhaps a bit abruptly at the very beginning of [Blinken’s] comments.”Perhaps, that is why the State Department had a canned response ready. Or maybe the State Department flack had an answer prepared because all the advocates chatting about US hypocrisy bother the department.There is more political support in the world for ending the case than ever before, with parliamentarians in the U.K., Australia, Mexico, Brazil, and a handful of U.S. representatives urging the Justice Department to drop the charges. U.S. officials are afraid to engage reporters and defend the case in public.Confrontation works. Letters to the Justice Department that demand an end to the case are welcome, but they do not have the capacity to provoke an immediate response as CODEPINKs protest apparently did. The post After Years Of Refusing To Comment, State Department Backs Assange Prosecution appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter]

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[l] at 5/3/23 7:38am
The following article was made possible by paid subscribers. Support independent journalism on whistleblowers and press freedom and become a subscriber with this special World Press Freedom Day offer.For the United States government, World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity to further project an image of the U.S. as a supposed champion of journalism and human rights. But that projection is muddied greatly by the prosecution against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.An event was hosted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the UN headquarters in New York. It marked the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day.Dr. Agnès Callamard, the secretary general for Amnesty International, called attention to the double standard of so-called democratic countries while discussing challenges to protecting press freedom.“It is not just what is happening in Iran or in Russia that should worry us, although it should worry us a lot. It is also what is happening here [in the U.S.],” Callamard said. “Who is imprisoning Julian Assange? Who is creating more laws to curtail the freedom to protest? All of those indicators and trends are occurring within the so-called democracies of the world.”Callamard added, “Sadly, the playbook of autocracy, of control over conscience, of control over speech, has been well-learned by our so-called democratic leaders.”President Joe Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have wielded the playbook of autocracy through deliberate acts of omission—by consistently dodging any attempts by reporters or civil society leaders to hold them accountable for pursuing the Assange case.At the White House Correspondents Dinner on April 29, Biden highlighted Russia’s detention of Evan Gershkovich and the abduction of Austin Tice in Syria over a decade ago.Then Biden proclaimed, “Tonight, our message is this: Journalism is not a crime.”However, that message seems fraudulent as the U.S. government remains committed to prosecuting Assange and keeps him in jail.Assange has been a target of surveillance and subject to some form of arbitrary detention for more than a decade. The journalism he oversaw as WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, which involved publishing classified documents from the U.S. government, effectively made him a target.Last year, Blinken uttered the following on World Press Freedom Day: When individual journalists are threatened, when they’re attacked, when they’re imprisoned, the chilling effects reach far beyond their targets. Some in the media start to self-censor. Others flee. Some stop reporting altogether. And when repressive governments come after journalists, human rights defenders, labor leaders, others in civil society are usually not far behind. A similar statement about the climate of fear fueled by prosecuting Assange has been made by Rebecca Vincent, the director of operations and international campaigns for Reporters Without Borders (RSF).“If the U.S. government is successful in securing Assange’s extradition and prosecuting him for his contributions to public interest reporting, the same precedent could be applied to any journalist anywhere,” Vincent contended. “The possible implications of this case simply cannot be understated; it is the very future of journalism and press freedom that is at stake.”This year, Blinken will participate in a “moderated conversation on the state of press freedom worldwide” with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. After Assange’s arrest on April 11, 2019, Ignatius argued the U.S. Justice Department had “drawn its indictment carefully enough that the issue [was] theft of secrets, rather than their publication.” The Washington Post Editorial Board has maintained that WikiLeaks “differs from journalism.” So Blinken will likely be permitted to advance a litany of double standards without being called on it.The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) marked World Press Freedom Day by promoting “Reporters Shield.” Under the new program, certain journalists and media organizations can apply to become members that are eligible to receive funds to help combat legal threats aimed at silencing them  (Note: USAID has in the past been used by the CIA as a front for operations.)According to USAID Director Samantha Power, who spoke at the UNESCO meeting, independent journalists around the world increasingly face lawfare from “corrupt leaders,” who are intent to drive them out of business.“Repressive or corrupt elites have tried to silence opposition by killing journalists. Now they are trying to kill journalism,” Power stated.Power was thinking of journalists countries like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, but the reality is that Assange and WikiLeaks might benefit from such a program.The CIA mounted a disruption campaign against WikiLeaks to make it difficult for the media organization to function. Officials reportedly discussed kidnapping or poisoning Assange while he was living under political asylum in the Ecuador embassy, and Mike Pompeo, when he was secretary of state, pressured Ecuador to toss Assange out of the embassy so the US could get their hands on him.Later in the meeting, Committee to Protect Journalists Jodie Ginsberg pointed out that if we really want to keep journalism safe then all governments must cease lawfare that involves targeting journalists with a “wide variety of spurious charges.”“One thing that the United States could concretely do is drop the charges against Julian Assange,” Ginsberg declared. She noted if Assange was brought to trial it would effectively criminalize journalists everywhere.”Hitting Assange with Espionage Act charges and jailing him for the past four years has forced WikiLeaks to focus on freeing their founder. The organization has little to no funds to support the publication of new leaks, not to mention their reputation has been tarnished by smear campaigns engaged in by current and former U.S. intelligence officials. And it has also become harder to maintain the invaluable archive of documents on the WikiLeaks website.U.S. officials could abandon this case on World Press Freedom Day, but they will not because officials have entrenched themselves in the spiteful position that Assange is not a journalist. They see no conflict between their calls to free imprisoned journalists and their own autocratic conduct. The post US Double Standards On World Press Freedom Day appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, Antony Blinken, Joe Biden, Julian Assange, Press Freedom, Samantha Power, World Press Freedom Day]

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[l] at 4/27/23 9:42am
The following article was made possible by paid subscribers. Support independent journalism on whistleblowers and press freedom and subscribe to Shadowproofs Dissenter Newsletter.Even as Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg closes in on the end of an incredible and impactful life, the Washington Post and the pundit class still cannot resist using Ellsberg as a prop to misleadingly assert that he is history’s best example of a Good Leaker.Devlin Barrett, a national security correspondent who covers the FBI and the United States Justice Department for the Post, spoke to Ellsberg and invited him to compare what he did to the leak of Pentagon documents, which were allegedly posted to a Discord chat group by Air National Guard reservist Jack Teixeira. The framing somberly noted how Ellsberg faces terminal pancreatic cancer, and to him, the war in Ukraine is eerily similar to the Vietnam War he helped end. “I’m reliving a part of history I had no desire to live again. And I hoped I wouldn’t. And by the way, that makes it easier to leave,” Ellsberg declared.But Barrett and the Post brought in Steven Aftergood, who is known in Washington, D.C., for his work with the Federation of American Scientists’ Government Secrecy Project, to comment on Ellsberg. Aftergood held up Ellsberg as the “archetypal” leaker of government secrets and pits him against many of the more recent whistleblowers, who Ellsberg himself has supported. “He actually read and understood all of the material he released. He knew what he was doing. And he acted with thoughtful discrimination by withholding four volumes of material on diplomatic negotiations that he considered particularly sensitive,” Aftergood argued.Aftergood added, “Government officials had told the public lies before, but rarely had they been exposed with such merciless clarity as they were in the Pentagon Papers.”Furthermore, Aftergood described Ellsberg as an “example” because he “took responsibility” and “did not try to evade the consequences of his decisions.” That supposedly “won the respect even of his adversaries and critics.”It is unclear who these “adversaries and critics” might be.Henry Kissinger was secretary of state under President Richard Nixon, and he dubbed Ellsberg the “most dangerous man in America.” Robert McNamara, the defense secretary who commissioned the classified Pentagon Papers study, wanted to hurt Ellsberg very badly. Later in their lives, they never showed Ellsberg respect for facing the consequences. So, Aftergood cannot be referring to them. Aftergood was obviously referring to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. A popular talking point promoted by President Barack Obama’s administration is that Snowden “fled into the arms of an adversary [Russia]” and that country engaged in a “concerted effort to undermine confidence in [US] democracy.” Ellsberg has wholeheartedly backed Snowden. “In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material—and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago.” What Aftergood, Barrett, and the Post did is similar to the tactic that prosecutors employed in the extradition proceedings against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange when Ellsberg took the stand to defend Assange. Lead prosecutor James Lewis of the Crown Prosecution Authority emphasized that Ellsberg had withheld four volumes of the Pentagon Papers and made the same point that Aftergood made. But Ellsberg informed Lewis that he was wrong about the reason why Ellsberg did not disclose the volumes.Ellsberg did not want to give the U.S. government an excuse during the war for breaking off negotiations to end to the conflict. It did not bother him at all if the names of U.S. intelligence sources were exposed.As Ellsberg described, the 4,000 pages of original government documents that he disclosed contained thousands of names of Americans, Vietnamese, and North Vietnamese. There was even a clandestine CIA officer, who was named.Nowhere in the Pentagon Papers was there an adequate justification for the killing that we were doing, Ellsberg recalled. I was afraid if I redacted or withheld anything at all it would be inferred I left out the good reasons why the U.S. was pursuing the Vietnam War.Ellsberg was concerned about revealing the name of a clandestine CIA officer, though he mentioned the individual was well-known in South Vietnam. But he left it in the documents so no one in the government could get away with lying about redactions in the papers. Just like U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who released entire databases on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks, Ellsberg believed the public needed to have access to the complete record. (Needless to say, Manning is not a good leaker to Aftergood.) In the extradition proceedings and in almost every instance where a whistleblower has courageously risked their livelihood, Ellsberg said the pundit class has used him as a “foil” against any “new revelations” of systematic government abuses of power. They have claimed certain leaks were different than his leaks to make it easier to discredit people who took great risks to reveal the truth. The inconvenient fact is that many of these Bad Leakers from the past 50 years are individuals who Ellsberg has championed. But soon the media establishment and wider pundit class will no longer have to worry about a longtime person of conscience getting in the way of their narrative.Ellsberg will no longer be around to correct them, and they will be able to focus on helping the FBI identify and hunt down leakers after they squeeze out all the scoops that they can from their disclosures. ***Back in early March, you may recall that I published a conversation with Daniel Ellsberg, who graciously agreed to help me promote my book Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case Against Julian Assange.We talked for over an hour and a half, and I edited the conversation to less than an hour so it could air on The Project Censored Show on KPFA radio in Berkeley, California.  But it is Daniel Ellsberg Week, a celebration of a peace activist and whistleblower. I shared some of the parts that were left out of my conversation, and I invite you to listen to Daniel share more of his insights on leaks, secrecy, the press, and lawless government. The post The Myth Of Daniel Ellsberg As The Good Leaker appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, Daniel Ellsberg, The Dissenter Newsletter]

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[l] at 4/26/23 7:56am
The following was originally published at Ongoing History of Protest Music.Mark Stewart made several contributions to the canon of protest music as part of the pioneering UK post-punk band The Pop Group, his solo work, and various other projects. He died on April 19, 2023, at the age of 62, and no cause of death was immediately shared.Several musicians including the trip-hop group Massive Attack, Steve Albini, and Nick Cave paid their respects and acknowledged Stewarts considerable influence. Cave described Stewart as a fearsome vocalist and unbelievably exciting frontman to whom I am deeply indebted.”Cave also specifically singled out the Pop Groups 1979 standout single We Are All Prostitutes, which he said “influenced me as much as anything I have ever heard and has, I would say, the greatest opening 20 seconds of any song ever recorded.The single appeared on reissues of their influential 1980 sophomore album For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder, and it also featured the B-side Amnesty International Report on British Army Torture of Irish Prisoners. We Are All Prostitutes declared that capitalism is the most barbaric of all religions and that we are all prostitutes, everyone has their price. The lyrics remain relevant decades later given politics, where wealthy lobby groups hold considerable influence over policy and greed fuels the climate crisis and other societal ills. Listen to We Are All Prostitutes by The Pop Group (1979): The post Protest Song Of The Week: We Are All Prostitutes By The Pop Group appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, post-punk, Protest Song of the Week]

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[l] at 4/21/23 2:15pm
The following article was made possible by paid subscribers. Support independent journalism on whistleblowers and press freedom and subscribe to Shadowproofs Dissenter Newsletter. A judge in North Carolina found two journalists with the Asheville Blade guilty of “trespassing” on Christmas in 2021 when they stayed in a public park to cover Asheville police as officers evicted a homeless encampment.Veronica Coit and Matilda Bliss were “sentenced to pay $25 fines and court costs.” Coit received an additional sentence of “one year of unsupervised probation with a 10-day suspended [prison] sentence,” according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.The Asheville Blade reporters immediately appealed the decision by Judge Calvin Hill, and a jury trial was tentatively scheduled for May 1. “In todays bench trial of Blade journalists Veronica Coit and Matilda Bliss, judge Calvin Hill declared them guilty of trespassing, ignored freedom of press, openly sided with [Asheville Police Department’s] claim [that it] can order reporters off public land,” the Asheville Blade stated.Hill, according to the media organization, apparently contended that no evidence had been presented to show that Coit and Bliss were journalists. The prosecutor did not even take this position. Subscribe To The Dissenter The Asheville Blade is a “leftist local news co-op” that focuses on “hard-hitting journalism, in-depth investigation and sharp views” from Asheville. They are reader-supported (primarily through Patreon) and have been around for more than a decade.Beginning on December 19, 2021, those in the Asheville community gathered at Aston Park for five evenings to urge the City of Asheville to leave people without any shelter alone in the park after it closed at 10 p.m. They took a stand on Christmas, and police responded by sweeping the encampment and arresting six people, including Coit and Bliss.All six arrestees were “released from custody on the condition that they do not return to Aston Park,” the Asheville Free Press reported.The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Reporters Without Borders, National Press Club, and Committee to Protect Journalists backed Coit and Bliss and urged the City of Asheville to abandon their prosecution.Body camera footage was released after the groups requested that the Buncombe Superior Court in Asheville make the video public. The footage showed that police had ordered the arrest of Coit and Bliss because they were “videotaping.”  Seth Stern, the advocacy director for Freedom of the Press Foundation, said the footage also showed that the Asheville Blade reporters had “recorded the sweep from a distance and did not obstruct police.” Subscribe To The Dissenter In the released footage, Asheville Police Department Lieutenant Mike McClanahan asks Bliss if they are leaving. “Clearly, I have marked identification as press,” Bliss responds. To which the police lieutenant replies, “Clearly, you are trespassing.”Coit is singled out by officers similarly. They tell police they are “covering a story” and identify themselves as press.“These two journalists were serving the public interest by documenting this event, and their presence is protected by the First Amendment,” stated Clayton Weimers, the executive director of the United States Bureau for Reporters Without Borders. “The charges against them for trespassing are a poor attempt by local officials to intimidate the press and public from being able to monitor law enforcement.”Weimers spoke to Asheville Citizen-Times and highlighted the fact that more and more local governments in the U.S. are passing ordinances to prohibit reporting from homeless encampments.“I think this is the first guilty verdict in one of these cases, and I hate to think about what kind of precedent we’re setting here.”The trial was the fourth trial since 2018 against journalists for offenses allegedly committed while gathering and reporting news, according to the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.“Bliss and Coit were never accused of harming or obstructing police or anyone and it’s ridiculous the case even got to this point,” Stern declared after the verdict. “Asheville’s crackdown on free speech doesn’t end with journalists—the same prosecutors are trying mutual aid workers for ‘felony littering.’ Seriously.”“Every reporter, everyone whos ever criticized any official or cop should find the push to punish our journalists chilling,” the Asheville Blade concluded. “We remain determined to keep fighting.” The post North Carolina Judge Convicts Journalists Of Trespassing While Covering Eviction Of Homeless Encampment appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, North Carolina, Press Freedom, The Dissenter Newsletter]

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[l] at 4/21/23 1:29pm
The following article was made possible by paid subscribers. Support independent journalism on whistleblowers and press freedom and become a subscriber to Shadowproofs Dissenter Newsletter.British police invoked a terrorism law in the United Kingdom to question and later arrest a French publisher over his alleged involvement in protests in France. Ernest Moret is the foreign rights manager for Editions La Fabrique. He arrived in London on April 17 to attend the London Book Fair. Police detained Moret and demanded that he “give up his phone and pass codes to the officers, with no justification or explanation offered,” according to a joint press statement from Editions La Fabrique and Verso Books. The following morning on April 18 the police arrested Moret and accused him of obstruction because he had refused to share his pass codes with police who detained him.Around 6:30 p.m. local time, Moret was released by police and not charged. But his lawyer Maître Marie Dosé told Libération that he was still facing an investigation. The police seized his computer and phone, and Dosé contended if the police are able to access the contents of his devices they will share the information with French authorities.An update posted by Editions La Fabriqueand Verso Books indicated that Moret was ordered by British counter-terrorism police to return to London in four weeks. The British counter-terrorism system is unique in Europe as far as emergency legislation is concerned: it is the only one that allows, without any investigative leads, suspicious behaviour, prosecution or even official police custody, to arrest, detain and interrogate individuals who automatically expose themselves to legal proceedings if they refuse to cooperate It also provides a very permissive legal framework for police officers to extract all data from any computer device or phone of an interrogated person. Despite his release, our colleague’s fundamental rights have been violated and his life subjected to a totally opaque state arbitrariness. National Union of Journalists (NUJ) senior books and magazines organizers Pamela Morton condemned the arrest. “It seems extraordinary that the British police have acted this way in using terrorism legislation to arrest the publisher who was on legitimate business here for the London Book Fair,” Morton declared. PEN International indicated that they were “deeply concerned by the detention of French Publisher La Fabrique’s foreign rights manager,” who had planned to take part in the London Book Fair. They called for his immediate release. As Editions La Fabrique and Verso Books shared, Moret had plans to meet with over 30 foreign publishers at the book fair. When he arrived at St. Pancras International railway station, officers stopped him for questioning under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000. It evidently means that French and British police are collaborating to track down individuals who have participated in protests against French President Emmanuel Macron’s “pension reform” in France. “We consider these actions to be outrageous and unjustifiable infringements of basic principles of the freedom of expression and an example of the abuse of anti-terrorism laws,” Editions La Fabrique and Verso Books further stated. “We consider that this assault on the freedom of expression of a publisher is yet another manifestation of the slide towards repressive and authoritarian measures taken by the current French government in the face of widespread popular discontent and protest.”Both publishers announced that there would be a protest at the French Institute in London in the evening on April 18, where Moret had been scheduled to attend a reception. They also indicated that there would be a “simultaneous protest at the British Embassy in Paris.” Stella Magliani-Belkacem, who is the editorial director for Editions La Fabrique, told the Guardian, “When we were on the platform, two people, a woman and a guy, told us they were counter-terrorist police. They showed a paper called section 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000 and said they had the right to ask him about demonstrations in France. I’m still shaking, we are in shock about what happened,” Magliani-Belkacem added.While abuses of authority under Schedule 7 of the UK’s terrorism law have primarily targeted Muslims, journalists have also had to worry about authorities using the law to violate their rights to freedom of the press. The NUJ previously noted that in October 2018 “the UK’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation called for greater clarity over the use of Schedule 7 stops, which allow police to question people and copy data from their mobile phones and computers at ports and airports without reason for suspicion.”In 2013, David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, was stopped under Schedule 7 for nine hours. Police detained Miranda in the hopes of seizing copies of documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that detailed United States and U.K. involvement in mass surveillance programs. Multiple newspapers in the U.K. asked the Metropolitan Police and the French embassy in London for comment, however, they did not immediately respond to their requests. The post UK Police Arrest French Publisher For Refusing To Share Pass Codes For Phone appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, Press Freedom, The Dissenter Newsletter, United Kingdom]

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[l] at 4/19/23 1:29pm
The following article was made possible by paid subscribers. Support independent journalism on whistleblowers and press freedom and subscribe to Shadowproofs Dissenter Newsletter.British police invoked a terrorism law in the United Kingdom to question and later arrest a French publisher over his alleged involvement in protests in France. Ernest Moret is the foreign rights manager for Editions La Fabrique. He arrived in London on April 17 to attend the London Book Fair. Police detained Moret and demanded that he “give up his phone and pass codes to the officers, with no justification or explanation offered,” according to a joint press statement from Editions La Fabrique and Verso Books. The following morning on April 18 the police arrested Moret and accused him of obstruction because he had refused to share his pass codes with police who detained him.Around 6:30 p.m. local time, Moret was released by police and not charged. But his lawyer Maître Marie Dosé told Libération that he was still facing an investigation. The police seized his computer and phone, and Dosé contended if the police are able to access the contents of his devices they will share the information with French authorities.An update posted by Editions La Fabriqueand Verso Books indicated that Moret was ordered by British counter-terrorism police to return to London in four weeks. The British counter-terrorism system is unique in Europe as far as emergency legislation is concerned: it is the only one that allows, without any investigative leads, suspicious behaviour, prosecution or even official police custody, to arrest, detain and interrogate individuals who automatically expose themselves to legal proceedings if they refuse to cooperate It also provides a very permissive legal framework for police officers to extract all data from any computer device or phone of an interrogated person. Despite his release, our colleague’s fundamental rights have been violated and his life subjected to a totally opaque state arbitrariness. National Union of Journalists (NUJ) senior books and magazines organizers Pamela Morton condemned the arrest. “It seems extraordinary that the British police have acted this way in using terrorism legislation to arrest the publisher who was on legitimate business here for the London Book Fair,” Morton declared. PEN International indicated that they were “deeply concerned by the detention of French Publisher La Fabrique’s foreign rights manager,” who had planned to take part in the London Book Fair. They called for his immediate release. As Editions La Fabrique and Verso Books shared, Moret had plans to meet with over 30 foreign publishers at the book fair. When he arrived at St. Pancras International railway station, officers stopped him for questioning under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000. It evidently means that French and British police are collaborating to track down individuals who have participated in protests against French President Emmanuel Macron’s “pension reform” in France. “We consider these actions to be outrageous and unjustifiable infringements of basic principles of the freedom of expression and an example of the abuse of anti-terrorism laws,” Editions La Fabrique and Verso Books further stated. “We consider that this assault on the freedom of expression of a publisher is yet another manifestation of the slide towards repressive and authoritarian measures taken by the current French government in the face of widespread popular discontent and protest.”Both publishers announced that there would be a protest at the French Institute in London in the evening on April 18, where Moret had been scheduled to attend a reception. They also indicated that there would be a “simultaneous protest at the British Embassy in Paris.” Stella Magliani-Belkacem, who is the editorial director for Editions La Fabrique, told the Guardian, “When we were on the platform, two people, a woman and a guy, told us they were counter-terrorist police. They showed a paper called section 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000 and said they had the right to ask him about demonstrations in France. I’m still shaking, we are in shock about what happened,” Magliani-Belkacem added.While abuses of authority under Schedule 7 of the UK’s terrorism law have primarily targeted Muslims, journalists have also had to worry about authorities using the law to violate their rights to freedom of the press. The NUJ previously noted that in October 2018 “the UK’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation called for greater clarity over the use of Schedule 7 stops, which allow police to question people and copy data from their mobile phones and computers at ports and airports without reason for suspicion.”In 2013, David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, was stopped under Schedule 7 for nine hours. Police detained Miranda in the hopes of seizing copies of documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that detailed United States and U.K. involvement in mass surveillance programs. Multiple newspapers in the U.K. asked the Metropolitan Police and the French embassy in London for comment, however, they did not immediately respond to their requests. The post UK Police Arrest French Publisher For Refusing To Share Pass Codes For Phone appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, Press Freedom, The Dissenter Newsletter, United Kingdom]

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[l] at 4/12/23 7:23am
Dawn Rayd is a UK anarchist black metal band that draws from the folk traditions of rebel music. On their latest album To Know The Light, the trio conveys a rousing anti-fascist message that balances the bleakness that black metal is known for with a sense of optimism. The band released a video for one of the albums tracks called Go As Free Companions. According to vocalist and violinist Simon Barr, the song is an exploration of anarcho-nihilism, and Go As Free Companions is our conclusion. We have chosen not to despair in the face of overwhelming odds, but to live while time allows it. If the future is canceled, if the present is all we have, then each minute must be revolutionary; every moment counts, so live these ideas in every moment.It is easy to know what we are against, but we must not forget what we are for, Barr added. Whilst there is joy, love, empathy, kindness, people in need of your help; we cannot give up. You may sometimes feel like it, but you are not alone and you are not powerless, there are huge numbers of us, lets find each other! Though acrid black clouds race across the horizon we must not forget: today, the sun still shines.The songs potent message is summed up in the lyrics: If you make food for those without,And if you pour sugar in to their machines,If you help those stolen by jailOr fight for your neighbours basic needs,You the still unafraid to lovedemand for the end of demands!The sun still shines,And it would be a wasteTo not only lose tomorrowBut also lose today.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eM9XjdDIV3s The post Protest Song Of The Week: Go As Free Companions By Dawn Rayd appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Protest Music Project]

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[l] at 3/29/23 3:17pm
Originally published at Ongoing History of Protest Music Founded in 1911, the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children was a juvenile correctional facility in the Mount Meigs community near Montgomery, Alabama. The juvenile facility was notorious for the abuse inflicted on Black youth. As late as the 1960s, prisoners were forced to pick cotton from early morning to late evening, with physical and sexual abuse commonplace. “This was functionally a slave plantation,” concluded journalist Josie Duffy Rice, who researched the school’s history for a podcast series.  Among those who endured those horrors was 73-year-old acclaimed visual artist and avant-garde musician Lonnie Holley, who was arrested when he was 11. “I was like the Jungle Book child,” Holley shared in 2018. “I was cast away from society.” Years later those memories continue to haunt Holley to the point of experiencing night terrors. Holley tries to exorcize those past demons on the unsettling Mount Meigs, a stand-out track off his recently released fourth album Oh Me Oh My. Hearing Holley say, “They beat the curiosity out of me. They beat it out of me. They whooped it. They knocked it! is jarring, but it properly confronts the dark past. Holleys music does not whitewash history. Listen to Lonnie Holleys Mount Meigs: The post Protest Song Of The Week: Mount Meigs By Lonnie Holley appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Protest Song of the Week]

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[l] at 3/22/23 12:50pm
Originally published at Disruption Lab Saturday, March 25 7pm CET (2pm ET) Featuring Stella Assange (Julian Assanges wife, Lawyer, UK) and Kevin Gosztola (Journalist, Dissenter Newsletter Editor, US). Introduced and moderated by Stefania Maurizi (Investigative journalist, IT). As an introduction to the film Ithaka, this panel describes the pervasive surveillance, monitoring and personal control that has oppressed Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for more than ten years, and discusses the conditions around Assange’s incarceration at the Belmarsh high-security prison in the United Kingdom, where he has been imprisoned for four years, and faces indefinite detention, while the United States seeks his extradition to face a 175-year prison sentence. He is accused of receiving and publishing documents from Chelsea Manning which documented war crimes, extrajudicial killings and civilian casualties during the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The panel starts with a talk by Stella Assange, a human rights lawyer born in South Africa and one of the protagonists of the film Ithaka. In March 2022, she married Julian Assange with whom she has two children, born in 2017 and 2019. She joined Assange’s legal team in 2011. During the latter stages of Assange’s political asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy, Julian Assange, Stella, their infant child and WikiLeaks lawyers were targeted by illegal surveillance. The embassy has been described as ‘the most surveilled embassy in the world’ and a ‘type of prison’. Since his arrest in April 2019, Julian Assange has been kept under administrative detention in the UK’s harshest, most surveilled prison, Belmarsh prison, also known as Britain’s Guantanamo Bay. All this while not having been convicted of any crime. In his talk, Kevin Gosztola, journalist and Dissenter Newsletter editor, accounts for the role of U.S. national security agencies in targeting Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. He describes what is known about the CIA and the FBIs roles in the prosecution. Through several examples, he shows the extensive lengths that those in the shadow government have gone to instil paranoia and fear among those in Assanges inner circle, who represent him publicly and legally, and those who campaign for his freedom. The panel is opened and moderated by investigative journalist Stefania Maurizi. In light of her work on the WikiLeaks secret files since 2009, she reconstructs how Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks journalists unleashed a revolution not only in journalism, but also in the peoples right to know. Based on her 8-year-long trench warfare to unearth the truth on the Julian Assange and WikiLeaks case through FOIA litigation in UK, US, Australia and Sweden, she provides and dissects forensic evidence of the persecution of Assange and the WikiLeaks journalists. The post [LIVE PANEL] Targeted by Surveillance: Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Networked Repression appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Announcements, Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, The Julian Assange Case, Julian Assange, WikiLeaks]

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[l] at 3/15/23 8:39am
Originally published at Ongoing History of Protest MusicBorn Evan Pang, Aysanabee is a Canadian Indigenous multi-instrumentalist, producer, and singer-songwriter. He is Oji-Cree and began creating music under his mother’s maiden name in order to reclaim his family name. Aysanabees mother gave him the last name Pang because she felt that a non-Indigenous name would make it easier to find employment. His 2022 debut album Watin was named after his grandfather. His grandfather was renamed from Watin to Walter by the McIntosh Residential School in northwestern Ontario that he was forced to attend. “Watin actually started out as a series of conversations between myself and my grandfather,” said Aysanabee. “We spent the first year of the pandemic talking about things we’ve never spoke about, his life on the trapline on Sandy Lake First Nation, falling in love, his life in residential school and then leaving everything behind..we never spoke of it until now. Even though we were over 1,000 kilometres apart, it was probably the closest we’ve ever been.” The album includes nine spoken word interludes featuring his grandfather, which add poignancy to the music. The opening interlude relates to Watins harrowing experiences in residential school: Ya I was eight years when I went to Residential School. Somebody from outside, the government person, said if you don’t send your kids out, you guys, we’re not going to help you. And so I went to school. We had no choice. It was 300 kids that went to school, and I used to cry. I was lonesome. I was wondering why I was sent here. And I didn’t know why. What did I do wrong? One of the albums highlights is the anthemic We Were Here. It opens with the potent lyrics, They say that we can reconcile this. Put it in the past. They say that we can reconcile this. What if I can’t? The song and album are all about reclamation in the face of fading memories, fleeting stories, and disappearing words. Even though there may be efforts to whitewash history, Aysanabee defiantly declares that it’s in my blood. The post Protest Song Of The Week: We Were Here By Aysanabee appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Protest Song of the Week]

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[l] at 3/9/23 1:02pm
This article was funded by the Marvel Cooke Fellowship. Read more about this reporting project and make a contribution to fund our fellowship budget. About one year after the COVID-19 pandemic hit Washington State prisons, sick prisoners at Stafford Creek Correctional Center found themselves huddled into the gym to isolate from the rest of the population.  The events that took place in that gym, organized by medical and corrections staff, provides a window into how medical care is approached in a carceral environment. “A couple of weeks ago, I had got diagnosed with COVID,” Robert Hampton recounted from a prison phone in June 2022. “Now when I first got diagnosed, I didnt believe I had COVID. I was telling everyone like, yo, I don’t got COVID, they’re tripping. But then they put us in the gym.” “We get to the gym and you got all these people up in there, and they’re coughing, just hacking up and everything. And the next day I found out I did have COVID, and I could barely walk and whatnot.” Hampton recovered in the gym, but soon more people arrived. He realized prison officials were mixing people from different housing units—raising the risk of transmitting infection between buildings in the midst of an outbreak of a highly contagious airborne virus.  “As I started getting well, they started bringing other people in,” Hampton explained. “They bring in a couple of brothers and I know that theyre from a different unit. Were all hanging out. Were making prayers and everything together.” “And then one night, they come in there about nine oclock and they turn the field lights off,” he said. This was a surprise because typically the lights were turned off around 11pm. “Im just thinking like damn what the hell they doing? Then [staff] go over to one of my bros—actually they went to two of them—but they went to one of my bros. He came and told me before he left.” “He came up and said, ‘Rob, man, theyre moving me over…. They said I got [tuberculosis].’” This was the start of a massive and deadly tuberculosis (TB) outbreak at Stafford Creek, which would continue for months and eventually see the WADOC fined $84,400 for “reportedly failing to follow safety rules meant to stop the spread of disease” at the prison. “Hes been in here with us for three days. Were not even wearing a mask in there, you know—we all got COVID so were not wearing a mask in there—but hes been there with us for three days. And then he comes and tells me on his way out the door that theyre moving them guys out and that he has TB.” Hampton told the others in the gym what had just happened, but by then it was too late. Over 300 people who had been quarantining in that space had been exposed to the disease. Many had already returned to their housing units. “They turned the gym into like a sick hall and a TB testing place,” he said, “but I dont know… I dont know what they do… I dont know what they do for it. But I know this. We didnt have it in our [housing] unit. (Well, so they said, right?) But then it started showing up in all these different places.” “This has been going on now with this TB for months,” Hampton said with frustration. “So its like, yo, how did we even get to a point where we got TB and we dont even have that under control here? How are we… how are we getting to this? You know what I mean? So they dont care. They dont care.” The administration’s response to the outbreak was not one of regret and remediation but one of obfuscation. “When they were on the news and the news media got wind of it, then they blame it all on COVID. ‘Oh, well, you know, its hard for us to tell…’ You know what I mean? Like were in a cold catch-22 up in here.” “We have this lady named Cheryl Strange that was on TV denying a lot of stuff the other day,” Hampton said, referring to the State Secretary of Corrections who had recently been appointed to the position by Democratic Governor Jay Inslee. Strange was promoted to the position after running the Department of Social and Health Services.  “That’s supposed to be the head of medical,” Hampton said. “That’s supposed to make these things better. And its like, how can you make things better if you cant even come in here and meet with us? You got authorization to slide up in here and talk to the people, not the staff, come talk to the people, but youre not doing that you know.” Hampton eventually recovered in the gym and returned to his housing unit, but he said they “changed the rules up.” “Now they be testing cats and, if a cat has COVID, theyre not even gonna tell you,” he said. “They’ll just retest you later, and then your results will come, and you’ll be like, ‘Oh the whole time I had COVID.’ So what happens to the guy that didnt have COVID, you got COVID, and then they dont tell you?” “Then they had these guys sign waivers that said that, if they get COVID, theyre gonna shelter in place, whatever whatever. But theyre not even telling you if you got COVID now. See what I’m saying? So I was like, man, this is all, its all bad.” Deliberate Indifference Hampton’s story demonstrates how prison health care is designed to avoid or withhold care for as long as possible, often to the point of causing serious harm.  Legally, prisoners are the only people in the United States who have a constitutional right to state-sponsored medical care. The Eighth Amendment is supposed to shield prisoners from cruel and unusual punishment, which includes protection against “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.” But as Hampton’s experience indicates, such rights mean little in a system that is designed to punish instead of care. Prisoners’ “right” to healthcare was established in a 1976 Supreme Court decision Estelle v. Gamble, which held that “deliberate indifference by prison personnel to a prisoners serious illness or injury constitutes cruel and unusual punishment contravening the Eighth Amendment.” At first glance, this ruling may seem to adequately protect a prisoner’s right to medical care. However, it only legislates over its absence. Prisoners point out a number of issues with this. First, there is an enormous burden of proof placed on incarcerated people to prove “deliberate indifference.” It is easier to prove that something happened—that injury or an act of harm has taken place—than it is to prove neglect. The second issue concerns the standard necessitated by “deliberate.” The protection presumes a degree of contact between prisoners and those for whom a standard of “deliberate indifference” would even apply. However, the prohibitive bureaucratic processes and perverse incentives inherent to the prison healthcare system ensure that there is as little contact as possible between prisoners and the healthcare system. Prisoners feel they are abandoned to either muddle through costly and complicated bureaucratic processes, or to cope with or address their medical issues collectively or on their own. The irony of having to meet the standard of “deliberate indifference” is that, to actually experience and understand the reality of prison health care is to know that there is nothing indifferent about it. Incarcerated people and their loved ones see correctional health as intentionally callous and cruel, a system designed to make people suffer through illness, infections, chronic pain, and mental health crises all while pleading for care with little hope of relief.  Seeking Medical Care  In an Inside Olympia interview shortly after the TB outbreak, Secretary of Corrections Cheryl Strange said healthcare reform is her administration’s top priority. She described the prison’s current healthcare model as “treatment on demand” and said that her team is working towards a “preventative care” model. Washington prisoners take issue with Strange’s characterization of the existing system for a number of reasons. They will tell you that, because the system is so quick to deny them care and will often charge them exorbitant costs regardless of treatment, there is nothing “on demand” about it. Even if state prisoners pay the $4 copay for medical visits and are permitted to see a doctor, more often than not they are denied any additional testing or a referral to a specialist. While $4 may not seem like a steep price to those on the outside, for prisoners who are indigent and supporting themselves on wages that range from $0.70 to $1.70 per hour, medical co-pays are often debilitating.  In other words, prisoners without significant outside financial support have to choose between purchasing basic food and hygiene items or seeing the doctor. For this reason, they often decide to cope with medical conditions that raise concern, such as high blood pressure, low blood sugar, nerve pain, bloody stools, and breaking or rotting teeth. If they see a doctor without adequate funds, they incur institutional debt. And whenever money is added to their commissary accounts, it is automatically garnished to pay off that debt. Prisoners also deny that a prison-run “preventative care” model will fix the major systemic issues with prison healthcare, such as the denial of access to second opinions, the authority that non-medical personnel have to make decisions about provision of care, and the debilitating cost of co-pays. As long as the DOC denies that these problems produce severe illness and mass death, no healthcare reform program will improve conditions for prisoners. Want to get involved in the fight for health care in Washington State prisons?Contact Lawrence Jenkins via Securus:LAWRENCE JENKINS ID#: 306665 Stafford Creek Corrections Center (WA) When people enter prison, they lose any prior healthcare coverage and are automatically enrolled in the state’s prison healthcare plan. In Washington, for example, prisoners are enrolled in the WA DOC Health Plan. The plan’s language makes evident that the system is designed to withhold rather than provide care while insulating the institution from lawsuits as much as possible. The first page of the plan states that the “WA DOC Health Plan is not a contract or a guarantee of services to incarcerated individuals.” In order to receive medical services, the prison must identify it as “medically necessary” for the patient or general health of the prison population. Each step in the process of obtaining medical care is increasingly prohibitive. Prisoners first file a medical “kite, on which they detail their medical, dental, or mental health needs. Of course, for many medical issues, it is extremely difficult for the patient to pinpoint exactly where the pain is or describe exactly what it feels like in as much detail as a doctor needs to proceed. Nonetheless, when prisoners are later called for “sick-call”, they are only evaluated for exactly what they describe on their kite. For medical issues, prisoners can expect to be called two-to-three days after submitting a kite. For optometry, dental, and mental health-related issues, it can take much longer. These long time horizons leave prisoners at risk not only for severe pain and discomfort, but also an increased likelihood that their conditions worsen and become harder to treat.  When prisoners are finally summoned to sick-call, medical personnel will categorize the issue with a “level” of one, two, or three. As WA prisoner Frank Brunner describes, the level essentially determines how long somebody will have to suffer, not the amount of attention or care they will receive. “Medical level one is emergent, necessary, life-sustaining care—a broken bone, or you’re bleeding or youre having a heart attack,” he said. “They have to give you immediate emergent care, regardless of cost. Level two care is like a person with cancer—stage three cancer or diabetes—they know that youre dying, but it hasnt reached the level of number one care for it to be considered emergent. Yeah, so it’s slowly killing you is the difference. And then level three care is the stuff you can’t get, like anything cosmetic, he said. You should see all the stuff that they just deny, you know acne, and stuff like that—cysts and tumors.” Many prisoners do not even bother seeking care when they think the doctor will deem the issue level three. They make the assessment that the $4 co-pay isn’t worth being told to take Ibuprofen and drink water before being sent back to one’s cell. Of course, any “minor” issue can become quite serious without adequate attention and care. One WA prisoner, Darrin Maiden, suffered ankle pain for over three years and racked up a bill of over $900 in an effort to get medical care. Each time he sought treatment for his pain, he paid $4 and was told to rest and take Ibuprofen. The medical staff never documented the progression of his pain, nor did they schedule follow up appointments.  “Eventually three years go by and it’s to the point where I cant even walk, I have to use a cane and Im missing meals, he said. So I decided to go up there and look at my medical records because I wanted to know what was my medical provider putting in my medical records to explain why they wasnt doing nothing to help me. That’s when I realized he wasn’t documenting everything that I was telling him. When I told him how much pain I was in or the level of swelling… he didn’t document any of that. That’s how they’re able to get away with not doing anything for you.” Maiden’s story demonstrates how difficult self-advocacy is, even if you can afford to rack up medical bills and bear the mental burden of seeking care. When he was able to get the X-ray needed to properly diagnose his condition, he found out that the cartilage in his ankle joint had completely deteriorated and his bones were scraping together with every step. At that point, the pain was excruciating. For conditions deemed “level two,” WA DOC has a Care Review Committee composed of DOC medical staff from across the state. It meets weekly and decides whether care is necessary and cost-effective. If they decide it is not, it becomes nearly impossible for prisoners to get care and for families to advocate for them. This leads to another issue toward which WA prisoners consistently point: the lack of alternatives if they are denied care or believe they are misdiagnosed. “There is no access to a second opinion whatsoever. If you have money to pay for it yourself, maybe you can get it, but it has to be approved by the DOC,” said Brunner. As one would expect, obtaining DOC approval is nearly impossible. However, practically speaking, there is no reason a prisoner should be denied access to a second opinion if outside family members and loved ones can organize and pay for it. Here we start to see the punitive nature of these denials.  Hampton has suffered from chronic migraines for 20 years in prison. While the medical staff prescribed him a migraine medication, he went to sick-call a number of times in an effort to understand the underlying issue. Each time his requests for a CT scan were deemed unnecessary.  If prisoners want to appeal a decision by the Care Review Committee, their only route is to file a grievance. Prior to President Bill Clinton’s enactment of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) in 1996, prisoners could directly file lawsuits in federal court. Under the PLRA, they are required to exhaust all other administrative remedies before filing a lawsuit. The grievance is the first step. Grievances go through an intra-administrative process in which prisoners file formal complaints. When a prisoner submits a grievance, the prison’s grievance coordinator—an administrator with no medical training or experience—will deem the issue grievable or non-grievable. Prisoners have the option of appealing the decision, but the cycle of appeal and denial can continue for months until the grievance is reviewed by WA DOC headquarters.  In the unlikely best case scenario, when a prisoner files a grievance for an issue that is deemed grievable, DOC policy permits 120 days for the department to remedy the issue. When it comes to medical issues, a four-month waiting period can become a death sentence.  Even worse is the apathy and negligence around emergent medical issues. For emergencies, prisoners are at the complete mercy of the prison guards, who lack medical training yet are given the responsibility of determining whether a medical issue is emergent or not. Hampton explained that prisoners are often forced to resort to extreme measures to get the help they need. In one instance, an elder prisoner was continuously denied a hospital visit and forced himself to pass out so he could get the prison staff’s attention. He was only taken to the hospital after passing out a second time. “When he got back from the hospital he was like, ‘Man, you’re not gonna believe this. I got stage 4 liver cancer.’ We were all just stunned.” Hampton said. “When they finally took him serious, he’s gone. He passed away.” In the absence of medical care, WA prisoners pointed out that they do whatever they can to care for each other. They check in on each other regularly, inquiring about physical and mental health. They cook together and pool resources to meet the dietary needs of people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes. They also act as physical therapy aides. In the event that someone’s medical issue is becoming life-threatening, they collectively organize campaigns with outside support to pressure the prison administration to attend to their needs. While prisoners risk getting an infraction for caring for one another, they see these measures as necessary to ensure their collective survival. Each Crisis Amplifies The Next As the COVID-19 pandemic raged in prisons, blatant disregard for pandemic safety protocols led to many deaths in WA facilities. Stafford Creek Correctional Center was recently fined $60,000 for skirting COVID-prevention measures. On top of this, the pandemic strained the already understaffed prison healthcare system and led to even further denial of care for non-COVID related medical issues. As Brunner explained, prisoners were locked down in their units and could not access medical care if they needed it. “Because they were short on medical staff, there was no sick call. There were no kites going out. We had no access to medical care,” Brunner said. “If you had an infection or something, by the time they picked up a kite, it’s already been days or weeks even and you still haven’t been seen. Routine care was totally set aside.” When prisoners and their families thought the medical situation in WA prisons could not get any worse, the tuberculosis outbreak at Stafford Creek in May instigated the largest outbreak of tuberculosis that the state has seen in two decades. From the perspectives of Stafford Creek prisoners, prison officials did nothing to curb the outbreak and acted with intentional disregard for their safety, even after dozens of prisoners were infected.  When you unearth the violence underneath any facet of the prison industrial complex, it’s extremely difficult to believe in any outcome short of abolition. But there are life-saving measures that prisoners need now.  WA prisoners compiled a few important measures they hope advocates will help fight for: Elimination of medical co-pays. Medical co-pays force prisoners into institutional debt, making it extremely difficult for all prisoners, but especially indigent ones, to access medical care. Healthcare services should be accessible to all prisoners without financial obligation. Establish first aid training classes for prisoners. WADOC should remove rules and regulations that prevent prisoners from helping other prisoners in the case of a medical emergency. Currently, if prisoners assist each other in a medical emergency, they risk catching a write-up because the prison doesn’t want to risk legal liability if something goes wrong. Establish health education courses for prisoners. When prisoners are sick, experiencing pain, or coping with chronic illness, they don’t have the ability to Google their symptoms and help themselves through common illnesses. In this information void, prisoners need access to education that teaches them about how to manage common illnesses and diseases commonly experienced by prisoners, such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure etc. Allow prisoners and their families to access medical information. While the barriers to getting a second opinion on medical diagnoses are significant, one important step would be to remove institutional barriers that prevent prisoners from accessing their medical records. Currently, it can take months to receive records once a request is made. This prevents prisoners from effectively advocating for themselves and families from advocating on behalf of their loved ones. Allow alternatives to prison medical coverage. Currently, WADOC does not allow prisoners’ loved ones to pay for procedures or necessary medication or medical equipment, such as an insulin pump. These senseless restrictions have led to preventable death in WADOC. Expand healthcare coverage through medicaid and medicare. Currently, prisoners are not covered by Medicare or Medicaid while incarcerated, even if they are eligible. While recent reforms have introduced Medicaid access for prisoners who are set to be released, these programs should be expanded to cover currently incarcerated people and therefore remove healthcare from state DOC budgets altogether. This would hopefully provide strong coverage as well as more stringent oversight provisions for care. It’s undeniable that prisons are death-making institutions, but the contradiction of the prison healthcare system specifically is that it is a system designed around withholding healthcare – it actually hastens death. Whether or not the law recognizes it, medical neglect in prison is cruel and unusual punishment. The greatest irony is that it is actually the state that inflicts this very punishment. Want to get involved in the fight for health care in Washington State prisons?Contact Lawrence Jenkins via Securus:LAWRENCE JENKINS ID#: 306665 Stafford Creek Corrections Center (WA) The post Healthcare As Punishment: Seeking Medical Care In Washington Prisons appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Featured Reporting, Latest News, Marvel Cooke Fellowship, Prison Protest, prison healthcare]

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[l] at 3/9/23 7:50am
This article was funded by paid subscribers of The Dissenter Newsletter, a project of Shadowproof. Become a monthly paid subscriber to help us publish more independent journalism on whistleblowing. To further their nationwide efforts to restrict access to transgender health care, Republicans in the state of Missouri have deployed a former case worker at Washington University’s Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, who they claim is a whistleblower. There is no shortage of activists, journalists, academics, and people of conscience who have some story to share about the impact of the “Collateral Murder” video.The U.S. military footage of an Apache helicopter crew shooting indiscriminately at a dozen Iraqi civilians — including Reuters journalists Namir Noor Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh, and two young children — is widely recognized for exposing the true nature of the United States war in Iraq and for making WikiLeaks and Julian Assange household names. Three years before WikiLeaks made it possible for the public to watch this video, Dean Yates, Reuters bureau chief in Iraq, learned of its existence. Yates testified about the impact of the video at the Belmarsh Tribunal in Sydney, Australia on March 4, 2023.Later in the Tribunal, another delegate, Australian lawyer Bernard Collaery, called Yates’ testimony “admissible evidence,” which could serve as witness testimony in defense of Assange. (In fact, a statement from Yates was submitted to a British court during Assanges extradition trial.)It has now been nearly 13 years since WikiLeaks published the video, and nearly 16 years since the attack took place. No one responsible for the attack or the invasion of Iraq has faced even a modicum of accountability. In contrast, Assange is languishing in Belmarsh Prison under torturous conditions. He sits in legal limbo while the United States continues to pursue his extradition under Espionage Act charges, in a case which poses an unprecedented threat to press freedom. While WikiLeaks’ publication of military documents from Iraq and Afghanistan are at the heart of the case, the “Collateral Murder” video is absent from the 18-count indictment that spans 37 pages. “The U.S. military usually didn’t investigate civilian casualties in Iraq. It did in this case because Namir and Saeed worked for a major international news organization,” Yates said as he started his speech. “I was shown—without advance warning—less than three minutes of footage from the gun-camera of Crazy Horse 1-8, up to where it opened fire for the first time. I was told the gunship then attacked a minivan because it was believed to be helping wounded insurgents and picking up weapons. U.S. forces had acted in accordance with the rules of engagement for Iraq, I was told.” Yates spent the next three years trying to convince the Pentagon to provide the full footage through the Freedom of Information Act, yet his effort was met with repeated refusals.Then, in 2010, WikiLeaks published the video. It immediately was clear that what the Pentagon had claimed was deceptive and dishonest. Screen shot from the Collateral Murder video “It was obvious why the U.S. government didn’t want to share the tape with Reuters,” Yates said. “It showed grainy figures on a Baghdad street. The hellish clack of Crazy Horse 1-8’s chain gun firing rounds the size of a small soft-drink bottle, the length of a man’s hand. Clouds of dust as those cannon shells crashed into men.” Yates further explained in his testimony that he highlighted sections of the indictment against Assange when the charges were announced. He concluded they were “an attempt to criminalize what journalists do,” and then Yates recalled something U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning explained at her court-martial. “After saving a copy of the tape, Ms. Manning told her court-martial that she searched for and found the ROEs, a 2007 flow chart outlining the chain of command for the use of force in Iraq and a laminated ‘ROE Card’ soldiers carried with them that summarized the rules,” Yates explained. “Then I got it. The U.S. government didn’t want the video in a courtroom. Too embarrassing.Potential war crimes. Cruel pilot banter. The U.S. military repeatedly lied about the events of July 12, 2007, in which my Iraq staff were killed.” Yates debunked, point-by-point, the lies in the original statement that the U.S. military put out justifying the attack, as well as the excuses U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made following WikiLeaks’ publication of the footage. Yates emphasized that U.S. troops were well aware of the rules of engagement that they were violating, and despite this clear breach of rules, a U.S. military investigation cleared the pilots.The Pentagon engaged in a cover-up to try to keep the footage from ever seeing the light of day. Zoomed in screen shot from the Collateral Murder video “All this shows why the U.S. government didn’t put the tape in Assange’s indictment – that snapshot of the war would have exposed the hypocrisy of its case against him,” Yates said. “The breach of the ROEs, the blatant way the military ignored the wrongdoing and the extent senior military and civilian officials lied about it. Collateral Murder is so powerful because it is pure truth-telling. No military officials could deflect, sanitize, or provide ‘context.’” Yates finished his testimony by comparing the video to the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo taken by photojournalist Eddie Adams at the start of the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War. The photo powerfully documented the casual execution of Nguyen Van Lem, and is credited for changing public perception of the war in Vietnam. The “Collateral Murder” video certainly impacted the public perception of the Iraq War. However, 20 years after the invasion of Iraq, many of the war’s architects have succeeded in memory-holing their crimes, lies, and abuses of power.Thanks to Assange and WikiLeaks, even if the criminals behind the war and occupation in Iraq never face any justice for their actions, this video will always be available to anyone who wants to know the truth about the conflict. The post US Still Trying To Bury Collateral Murder Video That WikiLeaks Released appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Belmarsh Tribunal, Iraq War, Julian Assange, The Dissenter Newsletter, WikiLeaks]

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[l] at 3/8/23 9:46am
Shadowproof and Project Censored present a conversation between Kevin Gosztola and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg to mark the release of Kevins book, Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case Against Julian Assange.The book is available today, March 7, from Censored Press and Seven Stories Press. It is a crucial and compelling guide to the United States governments case against the WikiLeaks founder and the implications for press freedom.Kevin Gosztola is a rare journalist who understands the abominable threat that the case against Assange poses to press freedom, says Daniel. I rely on his indispensable reporting not only to stay informed about Assange, but also to follow developments in the wider war on whistleblowers.Daniel has spent many decades sharing not only his experiences as a Nixon-era whistleblower but also showing support for fellow whistleblowers, who have faced similar attacks. He testified at the extradition trial against Assange in the United Kingdom in September 2020. He is also a board member for the Freedom of the Press Foundation.We thank Daniel for his generosity, and all the kindness he has shown to whistleblowers and independent journalists while standing up for peace and truth-telling.Below is the conversation between Kevin and Daniel on Guilty of Journalism. ***The following is a transcript of the conversation with minor edits for clarity.GOSZTOLA: We’re fast approaching the fourth anniversary of Julian Assange being thrown out of the Ecuador embassy and put into jail. Though we don’t have to get into all the details, especially given the life announcement you made recently, I just want to ask you about the passage of time as it applies to Julian Assange because it’s something that I think about as I follow this case.What I wrote about in my book, we’re talking about events that unfolded 13-14 years ago. The passage of time has usually factored into criminal cases. Sometimes it is weighed against hem when you’re considering bringing a case against a person. But Julian Assange has considered figures like Michael Ratner, who is no longer with us who was a really good human rights attorney who represented him, [as a mentor]. He’s lost Gavin MacFadyen, who was a figure in some way that he looked up to. So I’d like to get your view about what you consider most alarming about the fact that this keeps marching onward and doesn’t have a resolution yet.ELLSBERG: On the one hand, [the U.S. government] would be very happy to bring him to trial in Alexandria in particular, to extradite him and get him on trial, and with the expectation that in the post-9/11 world of law and attitude that he would be convicted. The Supreme Court has never yet ruled on the constitutionality of applying the Espionage Act to anyone other than a spy, who gives secret information to a foreign power generally with intent to harm the United States especially in wartime. That’s where it’s been used exclusively before my case in 1971.I was the first one tried as they said for a non-espionage case under the so-called Espionage Act. That’s not it’s official name, as you know. It’s 18 U.S.C. 793, especially paragraphs (d) and (e). As a non-lawyer—I’m not a lawyer I’m a defendant—that’s the one law I can trip off my tongue easily because I was the first non-spy, and they didn’t accuse me of being a spy. People misreported that often. But the [first] person who was not being charged with espionage to be charged under the act, and both paragraphs (d) and (e).[793(e)] is particularly for people who did not have authorized access to the material for which they were a source. I was an authorized person with the Pentagon Papers to have it, as was Chelsea Manning when she had access to the material that she gave over. That’s true in most of the cases that have been brought.It’s never been brought before against a journalist, as you know—and despite [former New York Times executive editor] Bill Keller’s despicable, I would say, allegation that he doesn’t recognize Julian Assange as a journalist. That’s partly due to the fact that most journalists do not really regard sources as part of the process.Journalism begins with the person I give it to, and the source is sort of, I’ve come to realize, is sort of like a policeman’s criminal informant, a snitch who disobeys the rules of his organization. If he’s in the mafia, he’s subject to death. Even if he’s not in the mafia, he’s a criminal. And he’s very, very useful to the policeman. [The police don’t] want to share him with any other police person because it’s useful information. He wants to build his career on that information, but he doesn’t really have much respect or concern.I will say that journalists do show a great deal of concern for concealing the identity of a source, and I’m sorry if I sound cynical here. I’m talking out of a good deal of experience of talking to whistleblowers other than myself. They don’t feel that journalists in the end have shown as much concern as they expected, often in the beginning.I actually don’t know a whistleblower who regrets what she or he has done. Even when they’ve almost all—you know them only when the law has entrapped them, not the anonymous ones. But I’ve talked to a lot of them. I’ve made it my effort to meet a lot of them because I identify with them, and I’ve been through the mill and I can give them some advice and reassurance and generally my admiration for what they’ve done. I’ve found that it’s very hard to find one who ends the process without great complaint against the journalist they’ve dealt with. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen that before as a generalization, or even as a selective case. Because they don’t fight them. They’re happy that the material got out, as certainly I am for example. But they all are, they’re happy the material got out in nearly all cases. There’s a few where they didn’t really intend it. And they generally start out with a really friendly relationship with the journalist, and in some cases, certainly mine and others, you feel you’re part of a movement, say against war or nuclear weapons or invention or [for] the Constitution.You sort of assume that the journalist is on your side as a liberal. That’s who you’re dealing with. Or a progressive, even if their editors are not that liberal or progressive. But you sort of start out with the assumption—and they encourage this assumption—that we’re together on this somehow. We’re getting this out. It seems a very natural presumption. If people are against the war, they welcome the opportunity to put out some truth that might shorten it.But it turns out, as these people nearly all find out, that the concern either for keeping their identity, or how they present the materials, does not really extend to the source very much. They don’t really regard them as being on the same team as the source may originally mistakenly imagine. The Times Treated Assange In A Manner That Was Familiar Coming back to Assange, I perceived immediately that he was treated in a way very familiar to me by the Times, even terribly [and] contemptuously. Bill Keller may be in some ways that I don’t know a very fine person and a good journalist. From what I do know of him and his treatment of Chelsea Manning and Assange and others, he’s a horse’s ass, one of the jerks of the world. [chuckles] Elon Musk is revealing himself in those terms.  When Bill Keller says I don’t recognize him as a journalist and then he prints a [New York Magazine] story introducing the world to Julian Assange, which describes him as this unkempt character looking like a bag lady—Look, we’re talking about a computer guy who lives at night on his computer, pretty much. Or around the clock. He was originally a hacker, as some of the others. This is his life. So he didn’t look like a Times reporter, which I guess has some of the standards of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI agents. And he smelled bad.Now, when was the last time you saw that described of anyone? Have you ever heard anyone described as smelling bad? This is a source. So Julian didn’t expect that kind of treatment. He was rather dismayed by it, and I had to say Julian. I could have told you what would come here.I haven’t ever publicized it at all. I can tell you why. But I was treated even worse than that by the New York Times Magazine section in a disastrous profile that was done of me, which was misleading in almost every paragraph. And I’ve never talked about that publicly.Why don’t any of the leakers or sources come out like me and criticize the dealing with the papers, or the papers as they see them? Because we want to get the word out. It’s got to be through a newspaper. No one wants to antagonize media. And like any profession, they don’t like criticism, even of their colleagues. Even if they don’t like those particular colleagues. It’s like lawyers and doctors. They don’t testify against each other, and they don’t like to hear it. You may want to get something else out, as certainly I did. I never wanted to antagonize the New York Times. As you know, I’m coming to a point here, where I don’t have to worry whether I antagonize the New York Times. So I will say, and I’m not going to go into details, my dealings with the New York Times were not less frustrating than those of Julian Assange and some of the others. I do think of that as a defect because of their craft. Because they could get an awful lot more information if they had more respect for sources, and if they probed for what’s there, which they generally don’t.Sometimes they do. Good investigative reporters, certainly, [like] Sy Hersh, who doesn’t try to maintain to government officials by dining with them, and playing tennis with them, and being part of their club, the officials club. They Dont Like Civil Disobedience Let me get away from the relations with the sources to a more general point. It’s the kind of thing you cover, Kevin. I’ve often been asked, how do you weigh the way the press is doing compared to 1971 when they printed the Pentagon Papers? And I got more coverage than I could have dreamed of, that is the papers did. Because of the effort by Nixon and Attorney General Mitchell, disastrous to them, of trying to enjoin the New York Times. And then, when I gave it to the Post, they enjoined the Post. So I gave it to one paper after another.A friend of mine, Gar Alperovitz, who didn’t want to be known as a source until recently, a wonderful historian and scholar—He was very involved in this process for other reasons. I was inclined to put it all out. We didn’t have the web then, but to get it out before the FBI could make me stop it. He said no. I’ll give him credit for this. He said do it one at a time. He had worked for Congress. He says stretch it out. That will give more attention to it.The effect was there were four injunctions, and then they stopped because they simply realized they could not stop this. It eventually got to 17 newspapers I recall. The prosecution had to say we can’t stop this with injunctions. I remember the prosecutor saying it’s like trying to herd bees. They’re just out there.That was a glorious moment for the press, which they take almost no credit for. It was a wave of civil disobedience, which is what they were doing. Not one of them wanted to acknowledge that because they don’t like civil disobedience. They don’t get treated well; in particular, the New York Times.For instance, Abe Rosenthal, the managing editor of the New York Times, did a wonderful job getting this through and getting the documents in despite the fact that he supported the [Vietnam War]. I don’t give him credit for that, but I give him a lot of credit as a newsman for getting this stuff out despite the fact that it contradicted policies that he had supported.[chuckles] Okay, I’ll tell you something I’ve never said publicly. A friend of mine on the Times informed me that Abe Rosenthal hated me. What? How could that be? First, I’m an antiwar activist, and he didn’t respect any of them. He was for the war. So as an establishment person, he didn’t like the Berrigans. He didn’t like David Harris, and he didn’t like me.But more important than that, he was furious at me—I was told very authoritatively—because by revealing my identity to Walter Cronkite and otherwise while the FBI was searching for me, I had taken the attention away from the New York Times. It had become a Daniel Ellsberg story, to a considerable extent, instead of we have a anonymous source; a reason why I think they love their sources to be anonymous. Obviously, it’s for the benefit of the source to a large extent, but it turns out also for the press. They don’t have to share attention for their revelations [with] the source.I said to the person I was talking to that I had always made it clear to Neil Sheehan on the Times that if I was indicted, which was almost certain but not quite certain. I was not aware of any indictments, but I assumed there had been and that I just didn’t happen to be aware of them. But I assumed if there’s been so few that even I don’t know about them from being in the government for a decade, seeing a lot of leaks. They must have known the source in a number of those cases. Others they didn’t. But often they must have known who the source was, and [the Justice Department] didn’t seem to indict them, as far as I could see.I didn’t know that that was for constitutional reason. They felt they didn’t have a British-type Official Secrets Act. And they don’t. The British who didn’t have a war of independence, a revolution. And they do have a monarch who cannot impeached. He’s above the law. So we made some advances in terms of freedom and democracy in our war of independence. And because we don’t have, as you point out in your book right at the beginning—We do not have a British-type Official Secrets Act, which criminalizes any and all release of protected information that they don’t want out. Just [basically], did you do it?Now, that’s the way they’re using the Espionage Act since my case, and above all, by Obama, then Trump, and now Biden. The Guardian As A Whole Doesnt Look Good GOSZTOLA: The media is something that I deal with in the book, and we wanted to make sure that we raised that Andrew Cockburn did this fantastic feature story for Harper’s Magazine called “Alternative Facts: How the media failed Julian Assange.” And he also incorporated some details from my book into the feature. He used it as a kind of guide to help him question and account for all the misrepresentations that the media, these news organizations particularly in the US but also at the Guardian, have engaged in collectively.A good example is David Leigh and even Nick Davies saying Julian Assange said that Afghan informants “deserve to die.” That was something that was quoted in a PBS FRONTLINE documentary. Der Spiegel journalists say he never expressed anything of that nature. It’s been used to defame Julian Assange.ELLSBERG: Let me say since you’ve just given that anecdote. I want to take advantage of this since this is one of my last late interviews in life. You may have noticed I’m using language that I really have never used before, and I’m criticizing the media in a way I was afraid to do like other sources. I don’t want to antagonize people that I might want to share stories eventually with, but that’s not going to go on.Okay, David Leigh and Nick Davies and the other people who said that, who with Luke Harding revealed the password that enabled these State Department cables to be released. They had done it in their book. But in their general attacks from the Guardian on this major source, I can identify David Leigh as another jerk, a real, real jerk.The Guardian as a whole doesn’t look good. Alan Rusbridger, the editor, pretty good at printing this stuff. But the people under him have an almost campaign against Julian. It’s bizarre. I don’t know, have to go into that. Very bad performance. I started to generalize, and I didn’t say it in my monologue here. People would ask me how the press is doing.I said there’s two ways to answer that. One is terribly but better than any other institution in our government structure. Look at the Supreme Court in recent years, Congress, the Democratic Party, the Republican Party. [chuckles] No use even talking about that now. So the press looks better than any of those. Another way of saying it is they’re better than any other institution but terribly. They’re doing terribly.What was it? Twenty years after the Pentagon Papers for the Gulf War, and then for the Iraq War. Each case they were as misled by the executive as willingly, as easily as Vietnam. There was no improvement there. Rightly so, the government has even found new ways to suppress truth in the press. But they go along with it pretty easily. How Do We Know Theyll Print It? GOSZTOLA: One of my favorite movies of all time, which is from the era of film-watching that you were doing. I remember in your Secrets book that you mention seeing “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Howard Zinn. But another Robert Redford film that is quintessential to a conversation —ELLSBERG: Day of the Condor!GOSZTOLA: “Three Days of the Condor,” yes. And I want to say that question at the end, where we see the New York Times and the CIA company man asks, how do you know they’ll print it? I think that’s something that should enter our conversation here.ELLSBERG: How did he say it?GOSZTOLA: How do you know they’ll print it? That’s what the CIA man says to Robert Redford at the end. Because Robert Redford’s character Joe Turner says that he’s just blown the whistle on the underground assassination network inside the CIA, and he’s gone inside the New York Times building and he’s given [them] the allegations. And as he’s walking away, the CIA man—this is the Cliff Robertson character—looks at Robert Redford’s character and says—This is kind of him saying that you didn’t necessarily beat us because how do you know that the news media is going to publish your claims about our underground assassination network. We’ve talked about how the media demeans sources. They don’t want to share ownership. But we have countless examples in the last 20 years of journalists flat out not publishing material that was brought to their attention. And I think that’s something that we have to contemplate too in this case with Julian Assange and the way that the government has been able to go to war with WikiLeaks.Because what WikiLeaks did was publish material that probably the New York Times and the Washington Post would not have published, and it put them in the position where they had to deal with the fact that material they wouldn’t publish was now being shared by all of us and they didn’t want to have to deal with it in their newspapers.ELLSBERG: Good question. It brings me back to someone I was discussing a little earlier.  I remember “Three Days of the Condor.” My memory of the ending is that he looks up at the triangular building, the New York Times building, with the crawl that goes underneath. Isn’t that right? But I didn’t remember the question that you just mentioned, which is, how do you know they’re going to publish it?Well, they had just shown definite courage [it was 1975], as did the Washington Post and 17 other newspapers, who each of them defied the attorney general. He didn’t use the word treason, but he implied it. This is against the national security right at this moment. And the president was saying it. They said we’ve looked at it, not very long in some cases. They went with the New York Times example, which is why the New York Times is such an important place to put this. And they decided the attorney general was wrong. They didn’t agree that it endangered national security.Of course, I’m the good whistleblower now because 50 years later no one has ever found any way in which it endangered national security. By the way, Irwin Griswold, who represented the government in the civil case to enjoin the New York Times and the others, had said at the time it endangers national security. Years later, at a conference and in an op-ed in the Washington Post said I never saw any reason to believe that this endangered national security. It contradicted what he said before the Supreme Court, but then again he’s a lawyer and not a defense lawyer. Let Me Tell You A Secret That Ive Never Told Can you be sure that they’ll print this stuff? Let me tell you a secret that I’ve never told. Why not? I’m not holding anything back now, and you’ll see why I was reluctant before.A year ago, just about exactly a year ago, I gave the New York Times and Charlie Savage a 350-page study by my old colleague Morton Halperin, who had done a top secret study for the Rand Corporation. Two-thirds of it had been declassified, but a third of it was still classified. And it had to do with the nuclear threats we had made and were ready to carry out to protect Taiwan from Chinese assault and even the offshore islands, a mile and a half from the mainland, which they regarded as part of the defense of Taiwan.The Economist had just had a piece on the cover showing Taiwan with cross-hairs on it. It said it’s the most dangerous place in the world. So I wanted to reveal to the American public—I think it the study was done in 1964, 1966, more than half a century ago. It’s time for people to know that we thought it then. Taiwan was worth blowing up the world, starting a nuclear event. Eisenhower expected, he said, in secret communications, the part that he had not declassified—He expected the Russians to respond with nuclear attacks. Which would mean, as I knew having worked on the war plans in 1961, in the Eisenhower period, even a non-nuclear attack on American forces, and we had American forces in Taiwan. Any attack would call for an all-out attack on Russia or the Soviet Union and China.What he was saying was if this blockade on the offshore islands and we can’t break it just by going through it if they’re shelling our ships, we’re going to do something that begins the process of destroying the northern hemisphere. They didn’t know about nuclear winter then, which would also take out the southern hemisphere. Okay, so I release that to the New York Times, and of course, revealed myself as the source. Charlie Savage did a good story on this.I said I would welcome, and I was younger then but not a lot younger, a year younger. I was 91. So I said I would be glad to prosecuted on this because I’m not going to bargain plea. The others have pled bargains in almost every case to get only 30 or 40 months in prisons or 55 or something like that. Rather than a life sentence, and I’d been charged with what amounted to a life sentence, 115 years. Julian is facing 175 years, but in both cases, that’s basically a life sentence.But I said a life sentence to me doesn’t mean what it used to mean 50 years ago. I wasn’t ready to face that then, but a life sentence isn’t going to weigh on me too heavily. I’m 91. No prosecution for this.Alright, so what I hadn’t told Charlie. I’ll now reveal it. I hope he doesn’t mind too much. I hadn’t told him because I thought it might deter him from this scoop—That I had given this study when it was all top secret to Tom Wicker of the New York Times, a friend of mine, wonderful journalist. I think he’s probably a Pulitzer Prize winner. I think he was head then of the Washington office. I’m not sure. But I gave it to him on my way to give to Japanese political parties.I put it out in Japan. I had a press conference. Never talked about this publicly. Every party was represented except the main party. The liberals control them. It’s essentially a one-party state but has a lot of other parties under it. So they were all there, and I put this on the table. I said you should know that Japan was very explicitly in this study a hostage, would be treated as a nuclear target if we started a nuclear war—for one thing because all of our warships had nuclear weapons in Japanese harbor, which the public didn’t know and their government denied.We had American bases there. Planes would be coming off from Japan. So I thought the Japanese public deserved to know that the president was secretly endangering them at this time.Then, on my way to Japan I thought, better if I make sure that the Americans have this before I give it to foreigners. So, on my way to Japan, I duck in to Washington, and I give this Tom Wicker. None of it ever appeared. So what Charlie Savage revealed last year had been in the hands of the New York Times—this would have been something like ’82. That’s 40 years ago.I thought if I mentioned that they had it and chose not to run it then that might discourage him. He might look a little deeper into whether he should run it now. I can understand that. So I didn’t mention it to him. I didn’t lie, but I didn’t reveal that particular part of the past.I also thought it’s going to be hard for them. Frankly, they can prosecute me. But I’ve got a pretty good case here because they know perfectly well that I gave this to these parties in Japan, and the Japanese have an ability—It was in a parliament building, the Diet Building. They use their regular Diet stenographers, or translators. They translate it into Japanese almost overnight. It’s like the congressional record. So it was available in Japan. This top secret study.An International Herald Tribune reporter was at this press conference, and I’ve forgotten his name. He writes a long story about what I said to the press, which had a lot to do with Taiwan, other things about our relations to Japan. I told them a lot of things. And he didn’t mention that I put an explicitly top secret study on the table in front of these people, who immediately copied it. It’s not in the story, and it’s a long story.There could only have been a phone call from somebody who said that’s top secret. Don’t run it. Must have checked it with somebody. It’s not mentioned. It was never mentioned in the press in the U.S. that I had done this. So I didn’t get prosecuted that time. This was after the Pentagon Papers. Criminalizing Journalists For Protecting Their Sources GOSZTOLA: One last question and then we will end this interview. I want to first bring up the fact that since you mentioned Edward Snowden we should raise the matter of how the third indictment against Julian Assange incorporated the support that WikiLeaks provided to Edward Snowden as a source—ELLSBERG: Oh, I’m not sure I knew that. Hmm.GOSZTOLA: Yes, it’s in there. In June 2020, they criminalized WikiLeaks for sending Sarah Harrison to Hong Kong to help Edward Snowden. And of course, we know the story. He gets stuck in the Moscow airport because his passport revoked. I wonder if you could draw a parallel to Pentagon Papers. You disclose them to journalists, and if any journalists had been accused of helping you evade the FBI, would they have been legally liable if we’re going to apply the way the Justice Department is pursuing Assange now?ELLSBERG: As I discussed with Charlie Savage at the time, just to make sure this is all clear, there is no question that he and the Times editors, who approve this, and the secretaries who dealt with it on the Times, were as indictable as I was under the plain language of the act, which needs to be amended in various ways. Which has been proposed by the way by Rashida Tlaib, a different version from Tulsi Gabbard’s earlier.Savage is as indictable. That’s the way it is, and the publisher, yes. [DOJ] have until now refrained naturally from taking on the New York Times, and for a lot of reasons. I’ll just mention one. Carl Bernstein wrote a long piece in Rolling Stone. Why in Rolling Stone? He couldn’t get it published anywhere else, and it was a long piece about CIA dealings with journalists in which he said 500 journalists had aided the CIA knowingly. I think 500 had security clearances or non-disclosure agreements, which would seem to compromise them as journalists significantly.[Note: According to Bernstein’s report, the CIA had dealt with 400 journalists. At least 200 had signed agreements or some form of a contract.] View Post Bernstein said their number one asset was the New York Times for getting out information. Conceal this, and we’ll give you that. I could give you many examples, but we’ve been going on for a long time. And that’s true for the Times of course.The CIA did not want to take on the Times, even though it does expose things infrequently that they don’t want out. But that just enhances the credibility of the Times from the government’s point of view, when the New York Times is doing their job. [chuckles] They’re doing it about one-tenth of the time to the extent that they should be doing it, and from the government’s point of view, we’ll accept and we won’t prosecute these people for embarrassing us occasionally.As long as they’ll align ourselves with us, as long as they won’t put out the surveillance story for a year with [Thomas] Tamm [on NSA warrantless wiretapping]. We need that. So they don’t prosecute them—yet. And yet it has been true for a half a century. Some day, and the ACLU predicted that it would be trump who would indict a journalist, which Obama who had indicted more sources than anyone else—you go into why.You tell a little bit more why [in your book]. It’s always puzzled me. How did he get in that position? Well, he hated leaks. Well, all presidents hate leaks. Why was it under him that there were so many prosecutions? I was learning from that at midnight last night from your book, reading it.Trump didn’t care about that, of course. He didn’t even like the New York Times. Didn’t he call it the failing New York Times? He hated the Washington Post even more. As you mention in the book, there was an earlier effort by Nixon to prosecute the New York Times. That grand jury was dismissed before bringing indictments apparently because those people had been overheard illegally without a warrant, as I had, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Richard Falk, my friends. They didn’t get indicted then because almost surely they asked, have I been overheard?Now it’s against Assange, and if Assange is convicted, if he is extradited and convicted, every journalist in the world has an x on their back, a laser target for if they print anything that is classified of the one hundred percent that is classified. Of which, five percent should be classified. Five percent is a lot, but 95 percent is even more. Say it’s a few years old.The Charlie Savage case is 50 years old. I was looking forward to arguing in court. This is before I knew that my life would be shorter than I had expected. But I was looking forward to going to court and saying, do you really think it’s going to endanger national security? To put out information that is 50 years old? Now granted, it is very current. There is a crisis going on about Taiwan. I’m not sure I could have prevailed.It does affect U.S. policy with respect to Taiwan, right now. That’s why I put it out. Still I would like to see them argue explicitly in court that they must protect a policy of readiness and threat to blow up the world to hold on to Taiwan, which I think would not look a lot better than Putin’s monstrous threats to blow up the world to protect Crimea, his hold in Crimea and the Donbas, which he has defined as Russia.Now why isn’t he being denounced? That’s an unconscionable threat, immoral and insane, which it is. Well, because NATO has been making that threat for 70 years and is still doing that. Not very actively because we now have a conventional non-nuclear superiority to the Russians. [cell phone ring interrupts] The Warsaw Pact has changed sides, and is now in NATO. We have a huge superiority. Though we don’t need nuclear threats, they can’t denounce Putin for making these insane threats to take an insane action to initiate a nuclear war because it’s their policy. Biden needs that threat for Taiwan, where we don’t have conventional superiority in that region.Now, do you have to threaten nuclear war to keep the Chinese from invading? No, I don’t think so. Even Putin—well, Putin may feel he has to threaten that to hold on to the Donbas against American intervention, if we intervene directly. If we do intervene directly, he will say to hold on to this part of Russia, whose existence is threatened—the Crimea, the Donbas, or Zaporizhzhia—we can do that against Ukrainians. Against American pilots directly, not so clearly. That’s where I fear he would carry out his threats to carry out a small nuclear war, which has of course every risk. You would hope not, but every risk of causing nuclear winter. We Have Only A Small Chance I’ll say right now. Anyone in the government, in the Russian government—A citizen can’t even object to this without getting imprisoned and in many cases tortured, like Navalny, in Russia. That’s not true here. So people who object to his policy can say you should not be threatening or preparing to blow the world up. That’s a shorthand for it doesn’t kill everybody, but 90-98 percent yes—from the smoke in the stratosphere that shuts out all the sunlight and destroys all the harvests. No nation in the world should accept without the utmost condemnation and resistance. If anyone, as I have said before in other occasions, any American I’ll speak to, but this is just as true in any other country—some of which the dangers of doing what I’m saying are much greater.Anybody who knows that the public and the world is being lied to by their officials or that preparations are being made that may well be carried out to cause nuclear winter or to initiate nuclear war. Of course, a Russian who knows that now or someone in the U.S. who knows that about Taiwan should consider at any cost personally to tell the truth that may avert a nuclear war, or any kind of war, actually.I can’t say they should individually do it, but if they think, they should consider doing it, what I wish I had done earlier in 1964 or ’61, when I had top secret information or access to it that could have averted the Vietnam War. Of course, I should have put that out earlier. So I say don’t do what I did. Don’t wait til the bombs are actually falling. And get it out. Get it to the New York Times, if they’ll print the documents. Get it to El Pais, Der Spiegel, even the Guardian. [chuckles] They behaved so badly with respect to Assange. Don’t expect respect or concern from the Guardian or these others, or the Times. That’s not an issue.It’s not a question of whether you should be called names, which have kept Democrats from opposing wars for generations here; not only Vietnam but all the others. That’s not a sufficient reason for not telling the truth. So people should have the moral courage that our soldiers routinely exhibit in combat with respect to their lives. But it’s very rare to find an official who will risk her or his career, or clearance or access. Or re-election or any of this. Unless there is more moral courage in the press, in Congress, and in the military than we’ve seen in the past, I don’t think we’ll survive the consequences of climate change or avoiding nuclear war. Everything depends on it.Even a small chance of affecting the ripping apart of the Constitution, as in Snowden’s case, or of ending a war and avoiding a war’s worth of lives at stake, of course it’s worth any personal cost to consider, and to do it. We have only a small chance, but everything is at stake. It’s worth pursuing it. You’re in a potentially noble confession, Kevin. And you didn’t mention in this excellent article in Harper’s by Andrew Cockburn, who is terrific on the question of the military industrial-complex and on how the media failed Julian Assange, terrific article—You naturally didn’t mention that you were the single investigative journalist who is singled out by name in your book and in your reporting for having covered this properly, courageously, and meticulously and so, I give you that tribute too just as Andrew does. And I think others will avail themselves of your information in your book.GOSZTOLA: Let’s end there, Dan. I really appreciate your time, and I thank you again for the endorsement that you gave to the book. I wish you the best. You seem like you’re at peace, and I’m very happy for you.ELLSBERG: Well, the world is not at peace. But we’re doing what we can.GOSZTOLA: John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father, calls it the difficulty of destiny. This is what is chronicled in the film that’s touring the country right now in the United States. That Julian Assange’s brother [Gabriel Shipton] produced. I’m just mentioning it and plugging it in addition to my book because there are screenings that people who watch this stream or broadcast will be able to go see in different locations.But the difficulty of destiny. Not the idea that an individual can be a hero and change the world but the idea that people who are trapped in these predicaments, in these circumstances, have to struggle and try to transform it. These Belmarsh tribunals that we participated in, rallies, the pressuring of Congress people. We’re all trapped in these predicaments, and it’s all up to us to try and transform it.Thank you very much, Dan.ELLSBERG: Thank you for the chance. The post A Conversation With Dan Ellsberg On Assange And The State Of Journalism appeared first on Shadowproof.

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In a word, the ongoing union organizing drive that has swept the coffee giant Starbucks can be described as unprecedented. Never before has a mass unionization effort of this magnitude gripped a fast food company in the United States. The humble origins of the barista-led Starbucks Workers United can be found in the Rust Belt city of Buffalo. It is there where the nation-wide unionization effort was publicly launched in August 2021.  As Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) expands from shop to shop, workers face an onslaught of union busting tactics from the company. Union fever continues to rapidly spread across the country as Starbucks workers at over 400 locations have filed petitions for union elections, with more planning to do so.  Starbucks’ response to these efforts came as no surprise to veteran union organizers and former baristas involved with a lesser-known and very different unionization effort at the company that took place years ago by the Industrial Workers of the World. Workers have won union elections at 291 stores and at two of the company’s three roastaries at the time of this writing. Those numbers are only expected to grow. There are 7,335 workers represented by SBWU at union stores. Starbucks barista Colter Chatriand got involved early in the organizing at his shop in Philadelphia. It kicked off once Buffalo started to make the news,” he said. “And what that did for us was, when I would be talking to people or trying to start conversations with people, it was extremely easy to just be able to reference Buffalo.”  All eyes were on the three locations in Buffalo when the unthinkable happened: workers at two of the stores won their union elections, with tightly contested results at the third. Chatriand and other baristas were ecstatic.  Arjae Red was a barista and union organizer at SBWU’s flagship store in Buffalo. They were aware of the organizing going on before they were hired, and joined a union organizing committee shortly thereafter. It did not take too long for Red to see the writing on the wall for how the company treats its workers.  “They just basically lie. They’re like military recruiters. They say youre going to get all these benefits when you come out and then you dont have anything,” said Red.  Both Chatriand and Red have a similar background that propelled them to organize at Starbucks. In 2017, Chatriand was living in Butte, Montana, an old mining town with a deep history of labor militancy with the radical, anti-capitalist Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), popularly known as the Wobblies. Chatriand became enamored with the history of the union, and in particular with Wobbly organizer Frank Little.  “He was lynched by the bosses for his efforts to organize. He’s a local labor martyr in Butte,” Chatirand said. “It was the 100 year anniversary of his death when I moved up there. So thats that part of what piqued my interest. As he researched more about the history of the Wobblies, Chatriand learned that the union was still active in Butte. He joined the IWW and attended a workplace organizer training to learn how to form a union at his workplace. Chatriand moved to Philadelphia in 2019 and got a job working at Starbucks, but he had not yet fully put the knowledge he gained from the IWW union training to use. “I was kind of just keeping it in my back pocket,” he said. Arjae Red also joined the IWW around the same time that Chatriand did. They attended the same IWW training in Buffalo and made an attempt to organize at a factory where they worked. Their work intersected with a range of other left wing organizing around Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ justice, and socialist base-building. As a low-wage worker who saw the bigger picture of organizing, it made perfect sense for Red to get involved with the Starbucks campaign in its earlier, still underground, stages. Red noted that a number of organizers with SBWU, which is a part of an affiliate of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) known as Workers United, are also Wobblies. However, they were quick to point out that this cross-union activism represented only a small minority of SBWU activists.  “A lot of the people who are organizing at Starbucks right now are doing it for the first time,” said Red. “And a lot of them are not activists, theyre not people who were super political before. Many of them are people who are, for the first time, becoming politicized by the struggle.” THANK YOU FOR READINGShadowproof is paywall-free thanks to our supporters. If you appreciate our work, please donate or subscribe to keep us going. Donate When Wobblies Organized Starbucks  Both union activity and union busting are as old as the company itself. Although the Starbucks campaign is the most widespread unionization effort at the company in the U.S., it is not the first. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) represented about 120 workers at Starbucks before the union was decertified in 1992, the same year Schultz bought the company.  Major Starbucks unionization efforts—some more successful than others—have unfolded in Canada, Chile, and New Zealand.  It was not until 2004 that the first nation-wide, sustained IWW organizing campaign at Starbucks surfaced at a Starbucks storefront in New York City. Organizers named their newly formed union Starbucks Workers Union (SWU). When Wobblies filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), they received a rude awakening about the limitations of labor law in the U.S. The board determined that the bargaining unit would have to include every Starbucks location on the entire island of Manhattan.  At that time, powerful unions like SEIU and UFCW were not interested in organizing on such a scale in the fast food industry. It would be near impossible for a small, anti-capitalist union with a shoe-string budget to do it alone. Wobblies pulled their union election petition and adopted a strategy called solidarity unionism, which marked a return to their union’s roots. In practice, solidarity unionism took on many different approaches as the SWU spread across New York City and ultimately across the U.S. Rather than waiting to bargain for a union contract, and relying on union officers to represent workers off the shop floor in lengthy grievance procedures, Wobblies and their coworkers took direct action at work to address issues as they arose. “Solidarity unionism, to me, means staying up all hours of the night writing press releases, and having long meetings where you definitely bring snacks, and tease out strategy—strategy beyond, how do we get somebody to sign a card,” recounted Anja Witek, another former Starbucks Workers Union organizer who worked at a shop in Minneapolis.  In an echo of the sentiments outlined by long time labor and civil rights activist Staughton Lynd in his book, Labor Law for the Rank and Filer, Witek said that Wobblies did use labor law as a defensive tactic, but never as a guiding element of their strategy.  In 2009, Starbucks fired Witek’s coworker Azmera Mebrahtu, falsely accusing her of stealing $1,200 from the company. She said that the company’s firing of Mebrahtu, an Ethiopian immigrant, was racist, and she and other Wobblies picketed the store and organized other actions to pressure the company to rehire her.  “In the IWW, we say ‘direct action gets the goods,’” Witek said. “We filed an Unfair Labor Practice but it was the direct actions that got her job back. She didnt have to wait for the law.” The most successful IWW Starbucks campaigns centered around wages. Union activists won three wage increases, or a 25 percent total increase, for baristas across New York City. This bump in pay spread in varied forms to other cities and states.  In a separate three-year-long battle, organizers won company recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and time-and-a-half holiday pay for workers. “Were not going to win this,” Locke recalled thinking while organizing around the holiday. “I was just depressed and bogged down. But everybody else on the organizing committee said ‘we still want to’ and we went with what the committee wanted.”  The IWW announced a march and Locke, who worked at Starbucks for nearly a decade and was one of the core organizers for seven years in New York City, was in disbelief when fellow union organizer Anja Witek texted him on MLK Day about the major win.  “I immediately looked up the employee manual, because they did digital updates all the time, and it had Martin Luther King Day listed as one of the holidays,” Locke said. Tears over that bitter victory streamed down his face. “Since 2013, we have gotten $1.3 million of additional money into the pockets of baristas across the country on Martin Luther King Day for paid holiday pay, as well as a paid day off for managers, which was a side effect,” said Locke. With pay increases and company growth, that initial dollar amount has increased over the years. “I have never been more proud of anything in my whole life,” Locke said of the union victory. “It’s really profound the way that that specific campaign touched a lot of baristas, the way that it mattered to them when they learned about the labor fights that Dr. King supported and fought for, and the fact that he was in support of unions.” King was a vocal backer of unions. His final act before his assassination in Memphis was supporting a mass strike of union sanitation workers.  According to Locke, at the union’s peak there were only “300 baristas nationwide organizing.” In New York City, he said there were about 200 SWU members and an additional 900 workers who took collective action but never officially joined the union. Wobblies organized at Starbucks in over a dozen states. A small-yet-committed group of union members were able to achieve victories. However, many union leaders were targeted and fired in the course of the campaign. There was constant turnover of workers, and organizers endured an incredible amount of mental and physical pain from the daily grind of working at Starbucks. Union leaders were burnt out. In the end, the company’s brutal union busting pushed the IWW campaign into oblivion.  The Workers United Campaign The IWW and Workers United SEIU could not be more different unions. There is certainly some overlap between the two on the basics of organizing and talking to coworkers, but the differences in overall strategies and structures of both unions are night and day.  The IWW has always marched to the beat of a very different drum since its founding in 1905. While the dominant American Federation of Labor practiced a “pure and simple unionism” that focused exclusively on improvements to wages and working conditions under capitalism, but also actively excluded Black and Asian workers from union ranks, the IWW preached revolutionary socialist and anarchist ideas, militant industrial unionism, and practiced racial equality.  Because of their power to disrupt industry and their criticism of World War I, the IWW was brutally repressed by the U.S. government and nearly destroyed.  Today, the IWW in the U.S. and Canada has only about 9,000 members, but Wobblies contest that what the union lacks in numbers it makes up for in its unique approach to organizing: solidarity unionism that transcends industries and national borders, a refusal to get involved with electoral politics, and a grassroots directly-democratic structure. Wobblies still cling to their radical, anticapitalist ethos and were the first union to endorse Occupy Wall Street when it erupted in the streets of New York City in 2011. SEIU by contrast is the largest union in the U.S. and Canada, and boasts a membership of 2 million. While many unions in the U.S. have decreased in membership over the years from an anti-union onslaught, SEIU has been steadily growing and taking the lead in organizing nurses, service workers, janitors, and adjunct faculty. They were behind the Fight for 15 campaign to demand “15 dollars and a union” across the fast food industry, which resulted in widespread wage increases for fast food workers.  Their promise of a fast food workers union, at least at Starbucks, is finally coming to fruition. SEIU towers over the IWW in numbers and material gains, but it is a hierarchical, staff-driven organization that has deep ties to the Democratic Party.  There are plenty of reasons why the SBWU campaign under SEIU is taking off in ways that the IWW’s Starbucks Workers Union campaign never did. A significantly more favorable political atmosphere is one of them, which created fertile soil for SBWU to plant firm roots. Mass movements and protests like Occupy Wall Street, the Wisconsin Uprising, the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock, and Black Lives Matter, have all made a deep imprint on the landscape of organizing in the U.S. Rising income inequality, inflation, and the stresses specifically faced by service industry workers from the COVID-19 pandemic have also ripened conditions for organizing. There are legal forces behind SBWU’s boost, too. “I think the reason why this movement is so widespread is because the judge in Buffalo allowed [bargaining units and elections] to be on a store by store basis,” Chatriand said. “That was the ruling that took us by surprise.” “We were anticipating that the law was not going to be on our side, and that they would rule against us and in the favor of Starbucks,” he said. The favorable ruling has made the process of filing for union elections much easier.  Unlike other SEIU campaigns, SBWU only has a small handful of staffers who are assisting Starbucks baristas in their organizing. New baristas are constantly reaching out to Workers United expressing an interest in organizing but the organization lacks the staff necessary to provide deep support. By necessity, union leadership and staff have turned to empowering workers to learn the skills to become organizers, run their own campaigns, and bargain their own contracts.  The structure of SBWU, according to Arjae Red, is very democratic and run essentially by Starbucks baristas. “We dont have the union staff speak for us, we just do it ourselves. And then we refer to them if we need advice,” said Red of Workers United staff. Organic worker-to-worker networking has developed across “a web of stores that are connected to each other,” Red shared. This includes baristas in Buffalo, Memphis, Phoenix, and other cities. Baristas also set up city-wide committees and regional networking structures to share resources and offer support. Chatriand sees this campaign as “very worker driven.” He believes that the past organizing at Starbucks “was too top heavy with the UFCW, and it was too bottom heavy with the IWW. But I think now with Workers United its finding some sort of middle ground where its kind of the best of both worlds.”  Tactically, Starbucks Workers United activists are not solely organizing around union elections. “Theres a lot of random little strikes that are being called, one day strikes, one day boycotts, weekend boycotts,” Red said. “As people get fired from stores, the stores are walking out. And this is not really something that were coordinating on a country wide scale, but our union still fully supports these autonomous strike actions.”   Workers are getting more bold with their actions as well.. At the Starbucks roastery in New York City, they walked off the job on October 25, 2022 over the health and safety concerns surrounding a bedbug infestation. The historic strike lasted 46 days, and workers won on several of their demands as a result.  In mid-December, baristas staged a three-day strike against unfair labor practices that involved over 1,000 workers and over 100 stores. Much of the work to pull off these actions came from baristas on the shop floor.  The strikes are building a foundation of confidence for the workers. The roastery workers released a statement when they ended their strike, stating, “We are excited to return to work, but we recognize that our fight as a unionized store has just begun… Our next step is to bargain a contract!” All eyes are on Buffalo to see what the first union contract will look like.  “We want to get a strong first contract so we put out a bargaining survey around the whole country and got a poll of what everybody wants,” Red explained as a member of the barista-led bargaining committee. The belief is that the first union contract that comes out of Buffalo will set a precedent, good or bad, for stores across the country.  Starbucks Has Been Crushing Unions Since Day One  Starbucks Workers United has thus far weathered the storm of union busting, but given the severe anti-union history of Starbucks, there is no telling what lies in wait for the union.  “Starbucks has been crushing unions since day one,” said Arjae Red. Shortly after buying the six-store company in 1987, CEO Howard Schultz set his sights on the UFCW union membership at the company.  “He quickly stomped out the union,” Red explained. “Howard Schultz lied and told these unionized workers, if you decertify at your next vote, then youll maintain all your benefits, and we dont need a union once we do the merger. And unfortunately, I guess they fell for it because they decertified.”  Starbucks has fostered a public image as a progressive company that champions racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and a variety of progressive causes. That image stands in stark contrast to the reality experienced by workers.  In 2020, a movement of Starbucks baristas emerged in Solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Baristas wore BLM buttons and face masks in support of the movement, but managers and the company pushed back against them. In a company-wide memo sent to baristas, management explicitly forbade workers from wearing anything in support of Black Lives Matter. Their justification for this was that this public display of support for the movement might incite  “agitators” to violence.  Public pressure in support of the workers mounted and the company conceded. They allowed workers to wear BLM buttons and masks, and created a company sponsored BLM tee shirt—a move that Red and other baristas called “tokenistic.” “What theyre doing is just using the struggles of marginalized people just to advertise,” Red said. “It’s just a way to make money.”  “They present themselves like their cafes are a safe space for LGBTQ+ people, people of color and all kinds of different people who need a place to go. The workers do a good job of trying to make that a reality, but the company, really, its not compatible. Many of their values and principles that theyve claimed to have are totally contradictory to just the way that they run as a corporation.”  Red, who is queer and non-binary, said they were misgendered by managers “on a constant basis.” They want the company to “hold their managers to a higher standard” and “train them better.”  Liberte Locke faced an even deeper level of homophobia at the coffee chain. “Starbucks used my queerness heavily in the anti-organizing campaign,” said Locke, who identified as a queer woman when in the IWW, but has since transitioned. “It’s not untrue that Starbucks offers assistance with IVF, supports gay marriage, and has pretty extensive language that’s supportive of trans employees. But I feel like Starbucks knows too much, so they are able to use it against us,” he said. While Locke was organizing in New York, Starbucks replaced the store manager—a straight Puerto Rican woman—with a new manager, who, like Locke at that time, identified as a lesbian woman.“Starbucks took the basics of queerness and tried to make sure that I would identify with the person,” he said. “And then she did her job as an anti-union person of doing everything she could to appeal to that in me.” But the approach failed, and the manager was eventually fired. Several months later, Locke’s former manager asked to talk to him privately. “We met in the park for my lunch break. And she tells me, she says, ‘listen, everything you think is happening is happening. Everything youre worried about, theyre actually doing.’” Locke was a primary target for Starbucks’ effort to bust the IWW, and the company attempted on multiple occasions to write him up over minor issues and fire him. Daniel Gross was one of the original IWW organizers at Starbucks, and one of the Wobblies who asked Locke to join the union in 2007. When the IWW initially filed for a union election, Gross “had a meeting with all these Starbucks lawyers and district managers and his lawyer, and they had offered him a certain amount of money in the 10s of 1000s to just quit Starbucks and never come back,” recalled Locke. Gross refused the bribe and kept organizing.  At a union picket in 2004, Gross and another union activist were singled out by the police and arrested. Starbucks fired Gross in 2006 in what he and other union members say was an attempt to destroy the organizing effort. In the years-long court battles that waged over Gross’s termination, and the thousands of documents that surfaced in discovery, it was revealed that Starbucks went so far as to send managers to follow Gross and other union members back to his home to spy on them. Meanwhile, Starbucks reserved its harsher actions for Black union organizers, many of whom were fired.  One Black union leader targeted by the company still leaves Locke with a feeling of deep unease. She was on the organizing committee with Locke at the 17th and Broadway Starbucks store.  “She was galvanizing everybody,” he said. “She got people to join the union and to take action.” Locke declined to give her full name out of concern over retaliation from Starbucks.  Locke said that, in early 2009, an irate customer threw a cup of coffee at the union leader, who responded by deflecting it. The customer was not hurt, but filed a complaint with Starbucks which then used the incident as justification to fire her.  According to Liberte Locke, the union leader, who was a single mother of three facing foreclosure, begged management not to fire her. “And then Starbucks said, ‘we wont fire you, but only if you give us the names of everyone thats in the union in the city that youre aware of,’” Locke said. He claimed she was also asked to steal his notebook. “And she adamantly refused. And they fired her on the spot when she had no previous write-ups.”   The union was primed to take both legal and collective action, but the fired union leader never showed up. “We couldnt get a hold of her. We couldnt find her,” he said, and figured she was burnt out and afraid.  Liberte Locke did not hear from the fired union leader for two more years when he happened to run into her at another barista’s apartment. He was incredibly relieved to see her. What she told Locke made him speechless.  “She just told me: ‘I had to sign this stuff where I wasnt allowed to talk to you, where I wasn’t allowed to talk to the IWW anymore. And I wasn’t allowed to go to the organizing trainings, or talk to the media, or talk to anything or they wouldnt give me my house.’”  “Starbucks literally gave her a house in Queens,” Locke claimed. He repeated the words so as to let that reality sink in again years later. “They literally gave her a house.”  Ultimately, the company was successful in crushing the IWW Starbucks Workers Union through the use of threats, intimidation, targeted firings, spreading lies, bribing union activists, and spending millions of dollars in the process. The company has utilized some of these same tactics against the current SBWU campaign. Starbucks continues to target Black and other union activists of color, too.  On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a group of Starbucks baristas in Memphis went public with their union. In a public statement, workers noted that they were doing so “in the city where [King] was killed while fighting for the right of sanitation workers to organize.” The workers urged Starbucks to “embrace Dr. King’s vision” and asked the company to not employ union-busting tactics.  Starbucks responded by firing the entire organizing committee, which was made up almost entirely of Black and Latino workers.  Although it is illegal in the U.S. for employers to fire workers for union activity, employers will find other justifications for doing so. Starbucks, for example, claims Memphis workers were fired for violating various company policies, which the union argues were arbitrarily enforced to target activists. Starbucks Workers United launched a national campaign to demand the “Memphis 7” be rehired. The campaign was ultimately successful. Last August, a federal judge ordered Starbucks to reinstate the fired workers. “Starbucks obviously doesnt treat any of the organizers well, whether theyre Black or white, regardless of ethnicity,” said Red. “But they acted particularly viciously against Black organizers compared to the stores that have majority white organizing committees, for example, like in Buffalo.”  The NLRB issued a statement against Starbucks on April 22, stating Starbucks broke the law and fired the seven workers because they “joined or assisted the union and engaged in concerted activities, and to discourage employees from engaging in these activities.”  Another union leader, Leila Dalton, was fired from her store in Phoenix, AZ after a recording of her manager harassing her went viral. “Shes the only Black worker at her store. Shes 19 years old. And the company targeted her heavily, they were just non stop harassing her, trying to threaten and intimidate her. And they fired her,” said Arjae Red. Starbucks has used a variety of other tactics as well. Red said that, in the lead up to the union election at their Starbucks store in Buffalo, the company closed another local store that had a particularly anti-union reputation, sending much of its workforce over to Red’s store.  “Many of the votes that we had, in the end, were actually people that didnt even work at our store. It was really obvious that Starbucks was trying to just stack the vote with people they thought would vote no,” said Red. They alleged some pro-union workers never received election ballots. The vote was 15-9 in favor of forming a union, and an additional 7 ballots were challenged. Starbucks also conducted a series of captive-audience meetings across the country, often shutting down stores for hours without public explanation. During the sessions, managers lied to the workers about the unionization effort and attempted to derail organizing. Union activists and supporters across the country also had their hours and benefits cut.  In April, Howard Schultz told store managers across the U.S. that he would review a plan to expand benefits for employees but exclude employees from stores that have undergone union elections from those same benefits. The union filed charges against Starbucks with the NLRB, saying that Schultz’s comments were illegal and a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. Arjae Red was not immune from retaliation. Over 100 barista union activists were fired across the country. Many more found themselves in a situation similar to Red’s. “The company slashed my hours and I was forced to look for options elsewhere,” they said. “I actually liked working at Starbucks and would’ve preferred to stay.”  On March 1 the NLRB finally made a ruling on multiple unfair labor practices filed by the union in Buffalo. In a scathing condemnation of Starbucks’ union-busting tactics in Buffalo, NLRB Administrative Law Judge Michael A. Rosas ruled in favor of the SBWU in a 218 page decision. The company must rehire and compensate union activists who were retaliated against, according to Rosas, and reopen stores that were closed in an effort to stymie the union drive.   Its Bigger Than Just Your Contract If this history of organizing and union busting has anything to teach Starbucks Workers United, it is that the union will continue to face a torrent of attacks from the company. Baristas are bracing for this. The struggle ahead will be an arduous one, particularly so since the union’s goal is to bring every one of the 7,000 Starbucks locations across the United States into the union fold. And while the unionization effort has only spread to a few hundred locations so far, for now there appears to be no end in sight for the eagerness and tenacity of union baristas to keep building their union from coast to coast. Red said the next big fight for the union is over bargaining for a first union contract. Starbucks is dragging out the bargaining process, according to union activists. Workers are demanding an increase to wages and benefits, including a more robust health insurance plan and guaranteed hours. While the company does offer benefits to employees, including health insurance, and college tuition to Arizona State University online courses and programs, the company is notorious for cutting employees’ hours to disqualify them from receiving them. “The problem is that many of us, even people that have been at Starbucks for years and have been getting those benefits, theyre getting their hours slashed down to 5, 10, 15 hours a week,” which puts workers below the 20-hour-a-week minimum for eligibility.  Citing comments that Howard Schultz made during a Starbucks town hall meeting with employees in March 2022, Red noted that the CEO “has a class-wide perspective. Hes not just thinking about it in terms of his own company and his own money. Hes looking at the entire capitalist class under assault by the workers.” “I think if these corporations have a class-wide perspective, then the workers need to have a class-wide and international perspective, too,” said Arjae Red. “Thats something that Ive been trying to point out to people, that this is bigger than just getting your store a contract or even just unionizing Starbucks as a company. We have to be linking up with Amazon workers, and other workers. We’ve got to be linking up with other left forces. Its bigger than just your contract.” The post On The Long Road To Organizing A Starbucks Union appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Featured Reporting, Latest News, The Dissenter]

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[l] at 3/1/23 6:38am
Originally published at Ongoing History of Protest Music Back in 1992, Ice-Ts heavy metal project Body Count released their self-titled debut album, whichincluded one of the most controversial protest songs of all-time, Cop Killer. The lyrics express thefrustration that many in the Black community were feeling. The original album version references then-Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates, and Rodney King, who was brutalized by the LAPD on March 3, 1991. Ice-T defended the song as it faced a boycott. Im singing in the first person as a character who is fed up with police brutality. I aint never killed no cop. I felt like it a lot of times. But I never did it. If you believe that Im a cop killer, you believe David Bowie is an astronaut.Due to the uproar, the album was pulled and reissued without Cop Killer. The studio version of thesong still hasnt been re-released and isnt available on streaming services, but there is now a cover version by R&B singer Macy Gray that features her backing group California Jet Club. The reworked track appears on her recently released album The Reset.Gray said, “The album was written right in the thick of the pandemic. It was just a really goodtime to make an album because everybody was emotive and expressing themselves. Everybody was just like releasing and letting go. Most musicians are musicians because they aren’t great communicators, so it all came out in the album.“ “There is a song called PTSD, which is a song about how my country gave me PTSD, cause after all that I was traumatized,” added Gray. Part of that PTSD stemmed from the ongoing issues with police brutality, a theme that is heavily dealtwith on the timely album, which was composed in the aftermath of the murders of George Floydand Breonna Taylor in 2020. The modern-day lynching of Tyre Nichols renews the relevance. Along with her music, Gray was motivated to co-found My Good, an organization created to supportfamilies who have lost loved ones to police violence.I dont think people are aware that three people die via the police on average every day. So the 99.9%of those you dont hear about, and most 99.9% of those dont get any kind of settlement, dont see apenny, Gray declared. You know, you have moms 10 years later still going to court fighting for justice.Even though the lyrics of Cop Killer will still make a segment of people uncomfortable, the angertowards corrupt cops is at an all-time level. More and more people are raising their voices to declare,Fuck police brutality! The post Protest Song Of The Week: Cop Killer By Macy Gray and The California Jet Club appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: The Dissenter, Protest Song of the Week]

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[l] at 2/28/23 10:19am
As Georgia prison officials move towards fully digitizing communications with Securus and curtailing access to contraband cellphones, incarcerated people and their loved ones are speaking out. According to advocates, at the heart of the issue is how contraband phones are both a vital transparency tool and are increasingly used by Georgia prison officials as a scapegoat for agency brutality and incompetence. When Tim Ward was commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) last year, he told the state senate that the department believes cellphones are used to commit crimes and plan hits on civilians within the prison walls. The crackdown on such devices is allegedly a response to threats to safety and security within the prison system. However, incarcerated people and their advocates say the GDC is is attending to fears of media exposure and enjoys financial incentives to remove the devices. BT, a Georgia prisoner, is the spokesperson for the incarcerated group called Georgia Prisoners Speak. Shadowproof is withholding BT’s name to protect him from retaliation from prison officials. The self-described “auto-advocacy” group aims to expose the prison system and hold prisoncrats accountable through its YouTube platform, website gallery, and blog posts. This isn’t about cellphones,” argues BT. “It’s about money and exposing the prison system. There are serious problems in the GDC, starting with all the deaths: suicide, murder, lack of medical care.” People are starving and the lack of vital nutrition has become a serious concern, especially as most of the ‘food’ is inedible. There are no programs for rehabilitation and job skills, despite what they claim in their fiscal reports, and so for many prisoners there is nothing to do.”  “GDC doesnt want taxpayers or lawmakers to know just how terribly they are failing in their mandate, BT said. There have even been reports of prisoners forced to live in shower stalls or outside. Georgia prison conditions are so abysmal that it has prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to announce the launch of a second investigation into GDCs deadly prison conditions.  In recent years, cellphones have become a major talking point for prisoncrats who are questioned about conditions. In order to legitimize state assertions that contraband phones are mainly used for nefarious ends, the GDC has invested in security technology such as Mobile Access Management systems that allow them to control devices on their property, and sensors to detect drones and the presence of electronic devices. The agency has also made use of full body scanners, electronic detection-trained dogs, and prolific searches. In a letter dated January 26, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and 21 other state attorneys general called on Congressional leaders to pass legislation that would allow states to use cellphone-jamming technology in correctional facilities. Currently, federal law prohibits the use of such technology. Securus—a telecommunications company that provides phone and video services to prison systems across the country—has a contract with the Georgia Department of Corrections, and the company stands to benefit if the use of contraband cellphones is reduced. This is because when prisoners use Securus’ tablets and pay phones, the company charges them and their families high rates.  Zombr3x, 28, is incarcerated within a Middle Georgia mens prison. Shadowproof is withholding his identity to protect him from retaliation.  The  reason they want to take away phones is because the more we are able to establish lines of communication outside of ‘official’ channels, the less money companies such as Securus and JPay make off of us, Zombr3x explained. Less money for the prison industrial complex means less money for kickbacks to wardens and commissioners. The GDC entered into a revenue-sharing agreement with Securus and also reportedly receives over $8 million dollars per year in kickbacks from the company for prisoner phone calls. Additionally, there may be unrecorded kickbacks given to select GDC employees.  The crackdown is also about ensuring access to surveillance, narrative control, and, of course, punishment. Contraband phones and jailbroken tablets have been the amongst the most prominent means that prisoners, their loved ones, and prison reform activists have to compel transparency and demand accountability. Prisoners’ use of cellphonesto document and share evidence of abusive guards, inadequate medical care, and unsanitary living conditions has put pressure on the GDC to improve conditions. It is likely that the crackdown on these devices s is an attempt to prevent prisoners from continuing to expose these issues. Campaigns for free prison phone calls have become more common, and pretty much everyone except for prison officials and prison profiteers agrees this is a good and fair demand. But those campaigns alone arguably do not obviate the other roles contraband phones play in terms of avoiding surveillance and reporting conditions of confinement.  Several Facebook groups, such as They Have No Voice and The Human and Civil Rights Coalition of Georgia, actively communicate with prisoners via social media in order to get the hard details on whats happening inside.  GDC wants the absolute isolation and deprivation of the incarcerated,” said Susan Burns of They Have No Voice. “GDC is trying to prevent exposure as a failed agency providing cover to a remarkably inept and corrupt staff. GDC cannot afford to be transparent with stakeholders when violence, cruelty, callous treatment of the sick, injured, and elderly, starvation rations, and disrespect are not considered abhorrent behavior by its workforce. The Southern Center for Human Rights and Ignite Justice, nonprofit organizations both, have also corresponded with prisoners through their phones and tablets in order to collect evidence that has resulted in rare steps towards accountability.  The COVID-19 pandemic led to the suspension of in-person visits in most prisons and jails. Since then, most prison systems have reopened limited visitation, but a handful still have not returned to their pre-pandemic arrangements, according to the latest available data by the Marshall Project.   Adding communications obstacles to this situation further isolates incarcerated individuals and weakens their connection to their friends and family, and other support systems. This is a recipe for disaster as around 600,000 people leave prisons in the US and a larger number cycle in and out of jails. Approximately 2.7 million children in the US have a parent who is incarcerated. By removing cellphones, the process of rehabilitation and reentry can be hindered, increasing the risk of recidivism. Maintaining these bonds is critical to the health and safety of  communities. Prisoners access to phones and other unrestricted internet devices needs to be encouraged and protected, possibly even legislated in favor of, because of the roles they play. Ultimately, this is about the GDCs financial interests and the agencys efforts to conceal the inhumane realities of the prison system. Prisoners, their loved ones, and the communities to which prisoners must return suffer most from these pernicious prison cellphone policies. The post Georgia Prisoners May Lose Critical Lifelines As Prison Officials Overhaul Communications And Target Contraband Phones appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Featured Reporting, Latest News, Prison Protest, Cell Phones, Contraband, Georgia, Incarceration]

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[l] at 2/15/23 8:29am
This article was funded by paid subscribers of The Dissenter Newsletter, a project of Shadowproof. Become a monthly paid subscriber to help us publish more independent journalism on whistleblowing. To further their nationwide efforts to restrict access to transgender health care, Republicans in the state of Missouri have deployed a former case worker at Washington University’s Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, who they claim is a whistleblower. On February 9, Jamie Reed went public with allegations against the pediatric center in a post that appeared on The Free Press, a website founded by commentator Bari Weiss. That same day Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced that Reed had submitted a “sworn affidavit” and his office, along with the Missouri Department of Social Services, had opened an investigation into the pediatric center. “We have received disturbing allegations that individuals at the Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital have been harming hundreds of children each year, including by using experimental drugs on them,” Bailey asserted. “We take this evidence seriously and are thoroughly investigating to make sure children are not harmed by individuals who may be more concerned with a radical social agenda than the health of children.”Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley was ready with a letter that he sent to Washington University and the St. Louis Childrens Hospital, where he announced that his office would investigate the pediatric centers treatment practices in order to present American taxpayers and parents with all the facts relevant to policymaking and medical treatment decisions.If even a fraction of the whistleblower’s new allegations is corroborated, the Center should be immediately shut down, Hawley declared. Bailey followed his announcement with a letter to the president of St. Louis Children’s Hospital on February 10 that urged the institution to ban the prescription of “puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones to any new patients.” (The hospital also launched their own inquiry.) Yet as Bailey acknowledged, Reed’s affidavit was submitted two weeks before Reed went public with her allegations at The Free Press. That gave Reed and Republicans time to figure out how best to weaponize the allegations against transgender care in general. Reed is represented by Vernadette Broyles, a notorious anti-trans attorney with the Child and Parental Rights Campaign, and Ernie Trakas, a Republican St. Louis County council member who also serves as a senior litigation counsel for CPRC. Going After Medicaid Coverage For Transgender Care Bailey, Broyles, Hawley, Trakas, and Weiss are involved in a calculated effort to exploit the goodwill that is typically generated from whistleblowing in order to help conservative religious extremists notch another victory in their culture war against transgender people. Most significantly, the whistleblower complaint incorporates some of the language found in successful lawsuits under the False Claims Act that are aimed at holding health care companies for Medicaid fraud. Reed asserted that from 2020 to 2022 “medical transition” procedures were “paid for mostly by private insurance,” but it was also her understanding the pediatric center had “billed the cost for these procedures to state and federal publicly funded insurance programs.” “I have personally witnessed staff say they were uncomfortable with how the Center has told them they have to code bills sent to publicly funded insurance programs,” Reed added. “I have witnessed staff directly ask the providers for clarification on billing questions and have providers dismiss the concerns and work to have the patients have this care covered as the priority.” An ultimate goal may be to ensure that the state’s Medicaid program, which voters expanded through a vote in 2020, no longer covers gender-affirming care for transgender youth by manufacturing this scandal. Fighting The Tools Of Indoctrination Erin Reed, a trans queer journalist (no relation to the whistleblower), went point by point in their newsletter Erin In the Morning to debunk the claims made by Jamie Reed. I recommend that you read that to understand the disinformation and pseudo-science that underpins the worst allegations. Instead of dealing with the specific allegations, Ill focus on the political players involved. The Child and Parental Rights Campaign was founded in 2019. Over the past two years, it has received over $370,000 in grants, contributions, and other payments, but CPRC does not disclose the sources of these funds. Only $2,500 from the Matthew 2540 Foundation, which is an organization that says they are committed to Christian values to create “strong families,” has been made public. Broyles contends that she is fighting a “transgender threat” to kids and American culture that is sow[ing] the conditions for totalitarianism. This supposedly involves “tools of indoctrination” intended to “compel kids to normalize a radical new belief system by their actions.” That radical belief system, to Broyles, is made up of medically-backed treatments like puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, which Bailey and other Missouri officials may try to permanently ban. Puberty blockers, as described by the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, help transgender teens block hormones and “delay changes that can affect gender expression.” They are temporary and can give transgender teens time to consider whether they would like hormone therapy. For transgender older teenagers and young adults, the St. Louis Children’s Hospital says hormone therapy can be important for “mental health, confidence, body image, and overall quality of life.” Both treatments are supported by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Endocrine Society. According to the American Medical Association, one study conducted in 2022 followed “more than 100 transgender and nonbinary youth 13–20 years old.” Results indicated that “youth who received gender-affirming medications—including puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormones—had a 60% lower odds of moderate or severe depression and 73% lower odds of suicidality over those first 12 months, compared with youth who did not get such medications.” In a case in Arizona, the Child and Parental Rights Campaign supported a lawsuit to ensure Arizona’s Medicaid program did not pay for a transgender teen’s transition surgery. Broyles erroneously claimed that rigorous clinical studies have not been performed to know whether the procedure is “safe and effective.” CPRC was behind a lawsuit in Florida that alleged that a school district had “illegally counseled their daughter about her gender confusion issues without their consent.” A federal judge declined to rule on the case in January, and CPRC appealed the decision. Forbid Your Child To Go To The Public School Counselor Broyles is an open supporter of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” law. She cheers the law for its ability to prohibit school counselors from having conversations with students about their gender without informing parents.She is against public school counselors helping teenagers with gender identity issues that may affect their mental health, even if parents know about the discussions.“If you have a child in school, monitor closely or frankly forbid your child to go to the public school counselor,” Broyles said at the Eagle Forum in 2020. (The Eagle Forum was founded by Phyllis Schafly, who was a conservative activist known for her campaigns against reproductive healthcare  and equal rights for women.) Ernie Trakas of CPRC opposed President Joe Biden’s executive order intended to promote rights for transgender children. He also objected to making certain governmental bathrooms gender-neutral, contending this was “all part of a conspiracy against religious freedom in America.”During a Senate hearing on rights to reproductive health care, Senator Josh Hawley tried to police how UC Berkeley School of Law professor Khiara Bridges discussed the issue. You’ve referred to ‘people with a capacity for pregnancy,” Hawley mentioned. “Would that be women?” Bridges explained to Hawley how trans men could become pregnant and that was why she was not simply saying women, but Hawley refused to take what she said seriously. Hawley also has co-sponsored national legislation to prevent transgender women from competing in womens sports. Journalism That Fiercely Depends On The Right-Wing Political Machine Bari Weiss may contend that the Free Press is built around “honesty, doggedness, and fierce independence,” but the fact is Reed’s self-proclaimed whistleblowing did not spread independently from a right-wing political machine that has committed itself to making it harder for transgender youth to exist. The Concerned Women of America Legislative Committee put out a press release the day that the Free Press published Reeds op-ed. A part of the New Christian Right, the organization was founded by Beverly LaHaye, whose husband Timothy LaHaye authored the rapture fiction series Left Behind. It previously received millions of dollars from the Koch network, known for advancing the conservative agenda in legislatures throughout the United States.These same health-destroying practices are happening in children’s hospitals across the country and are the reason so many state legislatures are working to block the use of mutilating drugs and surgeries ‘permanently harming’ vulnerable youth, proclaimed Penny Nance, the CEO of CWA.  Reed’s first-hand account is every reason to shut down the transactivism infecting our country peddled by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Big Pharma, corporate America, and the Biden Administration.Breakpoint, a publication of the Colson Center, which was founded by President Richard Nixons hatchet man, Chuck Colson, shared the allegations with their followers. Colson was an evangelical Christian involved in the Watergate scandal. He also pled guilty to obstruction of justice after he attempted to defame Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.Weiss herself is well-known for her anti-trans views and previously peddled disinformation about transgender medical treatments. For example, Weiss published a similar post from Abigail Shrier in 2021 that purportedly featured two trans doctors who blew the whistle on sloppy transgender medical care, including the use of puberty blockers. For those who do not know, Shrier authored a book about the transgender craze. Medical researcher Dr. Jack Turban concluded, The books central (and false) premise is that there are massive numbers of transgender youth who are not truly transgender, but rather just confused, and that they are all being rushed into gender-affirming medical interventions and surgeries that they will later regret.As a physician and a researcher who has dedicated my career to taking care of and understanding transgender youth, I recognized the book as bizarre and full of misinformation. I assumed it wouldnt gain much traction. I was wrong, Turban added. More Than Two Dozen States Move To Ban Transgender Medical Care The Associated Press reported in January that more than two dozen states have considered bans against gender-affirming care. The Republican governor in Utah signed a ban into law. Similar laws were passed in Alabama and Arkansas but have been put on hold by the courts.In 2021, the NPR documented a historic wave of anti-trans bills aimed at transgender youth. Texas Governor Greg Abbott directed the states child welfare agency to investigate parents and health care providers who give gender-affirming care to trans youth, characterizing those actions as child abuse, NPR recalled.Nebraska, South Dakota, and Oklahoma Republicans have advanced bans against puberty blockers and hormone therapy, despite the fact that such treatments are supported by major medical associations. The Oklahoma Senate Committee passed a bill on February 8 that would ban transgender medical care for anyone under the age of 18. The bill would make it a felony for a doctor to provide medical care. A doctor would face up to 10 years in prison and a potential $100,000 fine if charged under the law.“I think Oklahoma is currently positioning itself to be the most dangerous state for trans people in the country,” declared Nicole McAfee, who is the director of the LGBTQ rights organization Freedom Oklahoma. Missouri Governor Michael Parson, who appointed Bailey to serve as the state’s attorney general, was sorely disappointed last year when the state legislature failed to pass a ban on transgender students participating in sports teams that match their gender identity. Republicans in the state’s legislature proposed “more than a dozen separate pieces of legislation specifically addressing transgender youth in Missouri ahead of the 2023 session.” The so-called whistleblower allegations from Reed put pressure on opponents of these proposals and may create the political climate needed to pass numerous anti-trans measures. The post Missouri Republicans Weaponize Whistleblowing To Shut Down Pediatric Care For Transgender Youth appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, Missouri, republicans, The Dissenter Newsletter, Transgender Rights]

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