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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
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. 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. 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. 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.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Daniel Ellsberg, Julian Assange, New York Times]

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[l] at 3/7/23 10:45am
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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[l] at 2/8/23 7:23am
Originally posted at Ongoing History of Protest Music Canadian hardcore punk band Fucked Up recently released their sixth full-length album One Day. As denoted by the albums title, each band member committed to a self-imposed time frame of 24 hours to write and record their contributions. Compared to their previous ambitious standards, the album is more straightforward but still carries considerable weight. It also features a few poignant social commentaries.Broken Little Boys explores the generational cycle of toxic masculinity. Another song, Found, which is Shadowproofs protest song of the week, chronicles how Indigenous people have been displaced andmurdered to build highways and “temples of police and landlords. All for the worship of money.The track was inspired by guitarist Mike Haliechuk’s experiences living on one of the oldest streets inNorth America and his observations of the tragic consequences of colonization and gentrification.“I used to live on Davenport Road, which is one of the oldest streets in North America and has been aFirst Nations trail for thousands of years, running along the north shore of Lake Iroquois, which recededafter the last ice age,” Haliechuk recalled. “Just to the east was Taddle Creek, which wasburied underground during the 19th century to build the streets I walk on. I thought about gentrificationa lot, watching little stores get swallowed up by big buildings until I realized I am one of those bigbuildings.” Haliechuk continued, “The name of the song comes from the Shadi Bartsch translation of The Aeneid,where she points out that the words ‘found’ and ‘stab’ open and close the book, which are twomeanings for the same Greek verb. That discovery is actually conquest, and that settlement is alwaysviolence. And that any story I try to tell myself about the place I found to live can only be a story tojustify the expansion of one people across the world of another.”The lyrics, “There I stood on the shore. Of a story we don’t tell anymore. All the names were erased.Buried under a land that my people stole,” connect to repeated talks of a reconciliation taking place within Canada. An essential part of the process is an acknowledgment that Canada is a country found on a genocide. It is time to discontinue the whitewashing of history. Listen to Fucked Ups Found off their album One Day. One Day by Fucked Up The post Protest Song Of The Week: Found By Fucked Up appeared first on Shadowproof.

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

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[l] at 2/6/23 12:16pm
Subscribe to the Unauthorized Disclosure podcast with this free trial offer.Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder and co-author of War In Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict, and Ann Wright, a CODEPINK member, retired Army colonel, and former State Department diplomat, join Unauthorized Disclosure hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola to discuss the high stakes of a protracted conflict in Ukraine.Initially, President Joe Biden said the United States would not ship tank to Ukraine. That line was crossed, and now Ukraine would like fighter jets. Both Medea and Ann address the issue of escalating with more and more weapons and military equipment and crossing red lines that are drawn by officials. Medea draws from her experience in antiwar organizing to share how difficult it has been to advocate for a diplomatic settlement and mobilize Americans to oppose fueling this war. Later in the conversation, Ann, who lives in Hawaii, responds to the prevalent idea that the conflict in Ukraine against Russia has been a test run for a war over Taiwan against China. Hawaii is a US military launchpad for Asia-Pacific exercises and actions intended to curtail Chinas influence in the region.The Chinese spy balloon incident shows just how rapidly a scenario could develop that resulted in a devastating conflict. The post Unauthorized Disclosure: High Stakes Of Perpetuating War In Ukraine appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: The Dissenter, Unauthorized Disclosure Podcast]

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[l] at 2/6/23 10:28am
This article was funded by the Marvel Cooke Fellowship. Read more about this reporting project and make a contribution to fund our fellowship budget. Joseph Wilson, who is incarcerated in a maximum security state prison, believes COVID-19 worsened the existing crisis of incarceration in the United States and amplified the urgency for mutual aid practices in prison.  Such survival work, thoroughly theorized by organizers like Dean Spade, encompasses projects that work to meet people’s basic needs and educate them about why we don’t have the things we need in the first place. “During the height of the covid pandemic, the residents of prison banded together to care for one another regardless of affiliation,” Wilson said. Men shared food. Some made masks. Everyone checked in on their neighbors. It was a beautiful glow around a dark cloud.” “Lots of men lost family members. They were not able to go to funerals. Some men died in prison and we, their friends and neighbors, were not able to say goodbye in a meaningful way. Grief was a bonding agent.”  Joseph lost family to covid, too. “I couldnt go to her funeral and I was distraught,” he said of his mother’s death in 2020. “Men, some of whom Id never had more than simple conversations with, signed sympathy cards, made meals, and checked in on my mental and emotional well-being. These are the most relevant examples of mutual aid for me. Formal and informal mutual aid work beckons us to consider the inequalities that shape our world, and often reveals that the very systems responsible for addressing our social problems are also responsible for producing crises.  We (James Jones and Caren Holmes) surveyed and interviewed incarcerated comrades across the country and in the United Kingdom in an effort to collectivize our knowledge of the robust mutual aid practices happening inside prisons.  The people we spoke with shared experiences, stories, and strategies, confirming that—despite the best efforts of the criminal punishment system—incarcerated people keep each other alive. Small acts of care, enormous acts of courage, and “mundane forms of collective rebellion”  preserve life and humanity inside prison walls.  We focus on four categories of mutual aid work: connections and relationships, advocacy, material resources, and care work. For each, we consider how conditions of falsely-produced scarcity and isolation work to destroy the bonds that facilitate our collective survival, and explore the creative and enduring mutual aid practices that persist in spite of them.  Prisons across the country are different beasts and can vary widely in everything from security classifications to facility-specific policies and customs. While we don’t claim to paint a comprehensive picture of mutual aid in all prisons, we hope to offer a few glimpses that arrived to us from different settings.  Still, there are patterns to the work. Inside prisons, letter writing, networking, storytelling, education, resource distribution, mentorship, collective mourning, nursing, nurturing, listening, and performing other rituals of mutual aid belong to the legacy of incarcerated caregivers.  People on the inside may not always name these practices as “mutual aid,” but its tenets are practiced on a daily basis and are critical to survival strategies. These practices are life-giving forces within death-making facilities. Those on the outside, who have never experienced incarceration, have an enormous amount to learn from those who have had to ensure each others survival under conditions of imprisonment.  Paul Cortez, who has spent 16 years in a maximum security facility, explains that, “as a prisoner, sometimes the need to just survive another day can become the sole focus of ones existence.” This piece is a love letter to practices of love and solidarity, which survive despite the dehumanizing conditions of the prison system.  Connections and Relationships Prisons seek to dismember the types of social connection that humans need to survive, subjecting people to state-sanctioned alienation through constant and multilayered forms of punishment.  Incarcerated people are disappeared from their communities, their communications are highly surveilled and restricted, and they are obstructed from building relationships with other criminalized people. Prison officials have nearly unlimited discretion to further restrict already-limited visitation and phone access.  “Isolated further and further into our own cliques, our own cells, our own selves,” Cortez explains, “we begin to lose one of the most fundamental aspects of our own humanity: connection.”  Conditions of extreme scarcity breed desperation and can lead people to burn each other. People are pushed to destroy trust between them. Compounding traumas around neglect and abandonment loom over relationships.  On Christmas Day, 2021, prisoners in one midwestern medium-security prison clamored for the few working telephones, desperate to be in contact with their families during the holidays. Pitted against each other in a situation of calculated scarcity, fights broke out and the whole facility was locked down. Broken phones were common in the facility and prison staff could have easily anticipated how a holiday would exacerbate demand. Yet official accounts of the event turned to accusations of gang violence and the age-old myth of inmate-facilitated drug smuggling when it came time to lay blame.  In this way, prison workers not only created this crisis by ignoring weeks of complaints and work orders anticipating holiday demand, but retroactively used the violence that ensued to formalize criminalizing narratives that would justify future punitive actions, like cell sweeps and searches. That is, the facility took actions that reproduced the cycle of communications scarcity and crisis that caused the lockdown in the first place. It is this cycle that mutual aid endeavors to break.  While prisons are designed to prevent social growth and interconnectivity, people inside strategize to resist social death, building and preserving relationships in and outside of prison. According to those we spoke with, sharing phone lines, creating phone trees, passing along messages, connecting people to each other and to local activist groups, creating newsletters, and developing letter-writing networks, are all ways that people coordinate to meet the social needs of those locked inside.  Sustaining social connection is itself survival work. People on the inside who have no outside support become vulnerable because prison guards know that no one will show up for them.  Over the last four years, we organized to meet this need in the facility where James is incarcerated. Together, and in collaboration with other incarcerated organizers, we connected hundreds of people inside his facility to writers on the outside. From the seed of these connections have sprouted friendships, book clubs, commissary fundraisers, clemency petitions, poetry, and curated art shows. Our friendship and collaboration on this piece are testaments to this network and the commitment of people inside to connect with each other.  Advocacy, Organizing, and Political Education   Incarcerated people are subjected to daily indignities, institutionalized violence, and systemic neglect. Disappeared into fortified compounds, they are refused medical treatment, held in small cells without air conditioning during heat waves or without heat during cold snaps, cavity searched by guards, arbitrarily refused visitation or phone access, and transferred far away from loved ones without warning. Bare necessities such as use of the phone, visitation, and time outside are recategorized as “privileges” and are always precarious, taken away at the discretion of guards without transparency or due process.  Friends and family on the outside call and email prison officials in an attempt to intervene in the sustained mistreatment of those inside. Often called the “run around,” those advocating from outside are herded through a maze of phone calls in order to reach someone who ultimately tells them, “there’s nothing we can do about it,” leaving those inside feeling defeated and utterly powerless.  Incarcerated people bear witness to the injustices endured by a cellmate or a fellow prisoner. They know that intervening is likely to result in collective punishment. With the threat of retaliation always looming, they move strategically to de-escalate and mitigate harm.  De-escalation skills therefore become life-saving, heading off a progression of violence and punishment from guards. Many people become accustomed to “tucking your tail,” swallowing indignities, even abuse, in order to prevent the escalation of violence or retaliation of guards.  Prisoners try to remind each other that enduring such indignities does not compromise their humanity. Rocko, who’s incarcerated at a medium security facility in rural Illinois says, “a lot of the time we laugh to keep from crying or say things to comfort one another in times of duress. Kind words are the glue that prevents us from falling to pieces. While folks inside may not have the power to change a situation, they listen and extend empathy to one another.”  But tucking tail is not always an option. Rocko recounts one incident, in which prison staff failed to orchestrate an inmate’s virtual visit to attend his grandmother’s funeral. As the scheduled time approached and his door remained locked, it became clear to this comrade that the prison had no intention of honoring his visit.  Knowing only a massive disruption would garner immediate attention, everyone in the unit began yelling and banging on their doors. The uproar seemed to overwhelm the arriving officer, who nervously explained he had no knowledge of this inmate’s visit, and that he couldn’t open his cell without prior confirmation. This incited another barrage of banging and yelling from irate inmates.  Shadowproof is funded entirely by readers like you. Can you donate today to keep us running? The corrections officer left and returned minutes later to finally escort him out of his cell. He was late, but he made it to witness the funeral.  Miran (Mikey) Thakrar, who is incarcerated at HMP Whitemoor in the United Kingdom, gives another example of using disruption to help an incarcerated friend. He says people have coordinated impromptu noise demonstrations to demand medical attention for a person in his cell block. But disruption comes with a cost. “[Prisoners] raise complaints, verbally or formally, and end up in segregation over it, transferred or moved wings,” Miran explains. “The prison prefers we stand alone, that way they can do what they want to, to make the prison run with the least amount of resistance!”  Prisons not only prevent collective organizing and solidarity, but intentionally strategize to create disunity, turning prisoners against each other. “Creating a sense of isolation, even within a single wing of the prison, destroys our sense of community and that leads to conflict between ourselves, which Im sure the guards love,” he said. Page Dukes, a formerly incarcerated researcher and organizer in Georgia agrees, “solidarity is condemned and criminalized—people inflict harm on one another in an environment of designed scarcity and desperation. Admin encourages distrust and fear, discourages community and hope.”  Despite this, she explains, “We bear witness, tell each others stories, share skills and resources, encourage one another to organize and resist, to hope and to create our own opportunities, to liberate ourselves and each other.”  Building on the legacies and demands of the Attica uprisings, incarcerated people have advocated tirelessly for programming and access to educational resources. Several men in a maximum security facility shared with us their experiences of studying, practicing, and facilitating restorative and transformative justice processes.  When the state would not provide, inside organizers and educators designed their own political education curriculum. Paul, who has been incarcerated for more than 16 years, explains, “there is no greater mutual aid than to educate the mind, and to help one break out of the prison of mental slavery.”  Joseph Wilson mobilizes a collective of family members connected to incarcerated people in his facility. He writes and regularly publishes a report on conditions inside the prison for families.  “At times,” he says, “I must quell rumors and suspicions on both sides of the wall. Continuing this work is important because many families are unaware of the law, how to use it, and their collective and individual political power.”  In recent months, as the corrections department worked to limit access to physical mail in his state, he and others inside coordinated outside advocacy on social media to counter threatened policy changes.  Ethel Edwards, a formerly incarcerated organizer with Survived and Punished, explains she consistently filed grievances to demand changes of collective conditions within the prisons where she was held. Having come home recently, she has a long list of women she continues to support and advocate for from the outside.  The things people do to advocate for each other “to thwart the system’s effects, we often don’t really acknowledge, sometimes because it’s illegal, sometimes because were embarrassed to admit we needed help, sometimes because we didnt get any help even when we asked for it,” Rocko observed.  Advocacy inside prison walls is not often recognized as such, but even the small things keep people alive and in relationship with each other. “Eating meals together, listening to music or watching sports/movies, exercising or playing games, looking at magazines or pictures, imagining what kind of car, truck, motorcycle or boat youd drive or where youd live if you could decide, reading books and discussing the storylines and characters, or studying religious or educational material: all these activities pass the time in a constructive way and keep our minds occupied and distracted from the oppression of the day-to-day indignities.”  “It’s a miserable existence but being active gives the mind and soul something to look forward to, and dulls the hunger pains and the yearning for human touch and engagement,” he said. “It  doesnt quite satiate the longing, but it quiets it a bit.” Material Resources Prisons meticulously calculate the minimum calories needed to sustain their incarcerated population. Prison meals are rationed, served at unreasonable hours, and often are entirely inedible. Folks inside supplement their portions with food from the commissary, which they are responsible for purchasing themselves. States have different baselines for the amount of money they commit to prisoners each month (in Illinois, for example, the monthly “state pay” is $10). It is with these funds—sometimes the cents-per-hour people are paid to work—that people must buy food, hygiene products, letter-writing materials, and clothes, and cover court fees and medical bills.  While some people have loved ones on the outside who can send them money, others do not. Even those with financial support can be barred from accessing their basic necessities when prison officials place them under punitive commissary restrictions.  Sharing or doing things for another person, labeled “trading” or “trafficking,” is against the rules in most facilities. Simple human kindness or gestures as small as giving someone a snack or a bar of soap can be forbidden.  “We cook each other meals. We make cards for each others family members,” Miran said. “We distribute the burdens to make conditions easier to bear.” He notes that Muslim communities who support each other are harshly targeted. Their collectivity is interpreted by Islamaphobic guards and state officials as evidence of “extremism,” “terrorist plotting” and a generalized security threat. He says prison staff “try to stop large gatherings, or to make it difficult for them to share meals together in certain areas.”  This racialized targeting of a community is similarly experienced by Black and brown people, whose efforts to share or exchange basic material resources are targeted as evidence of “gang affiliations.”  Ethel explains that when COVID-19 hit, people were limited in the ways that they could support and provide for each other. When the prison stopped providing two hot meals a day, people made meals for each other. “I always fed someone who didn’t have anything,” she said.   Everyone we spoke to for this piece could recall times when they, despite endemic scarcity, provided resources for someone who needed it, such as coffee, paper, headphones, or food.  Several recalled being moved by moments when they needed and received the generosity of others.  Scholar Orisanmi Burton tells this story of his incarcerated friend, Absolut, in an episode of the Millenials are Killing Capitalism podcast. “Absolut, and another person who was in solitary confinement, took turns abstaining from eating lunch so that the other person [could] have a double portion. So that, on that particular day, that person would feel satiated.” “Imagine the kinds of sacrifice that it takes, the kinds of selflessness, and acknowledging of another person’s feelings. The sort of small, mundane tasks of care and tenderness are in fact, forms of rebellion.”  Burton explains that these tremendously selfless acts, “make possible other forms of struggle that might be more easily recognizable, as political. And thats precisely why theyre forms of rebellion.”  The prisons have the power to restrict food intake by not allowing people to order from the commissary or accept commissary items from other inmates. The prison restricts not only that which feeds the body but also that which feeds the mind, controlling what can be read, which in turn controls what can be learned.  All books coming into the facility pass through a review board, who read book covers and synopses to determine if the books are “acceptable.” Most books with revolutionary or subversive messaging are denied and added to a list of restricted material. Yet, thanks to the stubbornness of supporters on the outside, beacons of hope—books by authors such as George Jackson, Mariame Kaba and Dean Spade, to name a few—make their way inside. Reading about abolition and revolutionary ideas gives people something to discuss and hold onto, something to rally around.  Care Work In reflecting upon the forms of mutual aid people described in interviews, the majority of experiences can be, and often are, categorized as care work. This includes organizing birthday celebrations, caring for the sick, helping to mourn and process grief, providing relationship advice, or comforting someone who has been denied parole.  Burton, who spent many years writing to and learning alongside incarcerated people, and in particular Black men, writes about how the violent and gendered segregation that takes place in prison severs cis and heterosexual men from types of gendered social reproductive labor that is most often performed by women, trans, and gender non-conforming people. While women on the outside often continue to provide enormous care and support for incarcerated loved ones, this gendered segregation forces some cishet men to take up these roles themselves. Care work thus becomes a necessity for collective survival in men’s prisons. Burton notes that, perhaps as a result of their relation to care work, many of the incarcerated men he communicates with have a “profound tenderness that is intact.” Despite the systems efforts to harden, that tenderness becomes “part of how [incarcerated people] are able to survive.”  In the absence of grieving rituals available to people on the outside, people in prison come together to grieve lost loved ones. “My cellmate lost his brother to gun violence,” Rocko recalls. “Together we honored him on what would have been his 24th birthday, cooking a meal together from commissary items we pay homage to our loved ones, wishing we could be with them and sending all the positive energy we have stored up inside us out to them.”  Ethel Edwards explains that humanity comes to the surface in crisis. In the women’s prison where she was incarcerated, people provided emotional support to survivors of sexual violence. Shared experiences, she explains, create conditions of compassion. When Ethel’s 21-year-old daughter was murdered during her time in prison, she found intimacy and support from other women whose children had also been murdered. She notes that “the women, around me, the mothers around me, checked on me all day long, anything I needed they slid it under my door.”  Shantee, an organizer incarcerated at a maximum security facility, notes that when inmates are summoned to the chaplains office, they anticipate that they will be notified of a loved one’s death. He and others inside have learned to anticipate their return with empathy, love, handmade sympathy cards, and cooked meals.  Embracing a man whose mother passed, Shantee recalls, “he knew he was not alone in his darkest moments. I asked him if he was hungry, and another brother blurted out, ‘Im already cooking something for him!’ If he needed to talk, eat, or a shoulder to cry on, we were there for him.”  Sometimes the care work does not involve crisis, but encompasses more mundane needs. Staten Taylor, a barber locked up in central Illinois, notes, “haircuts are huge for maintaining your mental stability, you feel a piece of normality and feel better when you are looking fresh.”  These forms of care remind those inside of our humanity, our dignity, our integrity.  ‘Towards Collective Survival Work’ The mutual aid that takes place inside prisons is deeply political and, more often than not, overlooked by outside organizers. When outside organizers look to build with people on the inside, they are often plugging into existing practices and networks of care work and mutual aid, not starting from scratch. These practices provide insight into the revolutionary potential of care work under deeply repressive conditions.  While they may not codify mutual aid as such, or name its counterinsurgent power, prison officials know that the collective survival tactics of prison populations undermine their authority and yet the prison system simultaneously relies on these practices to function. They know that resource sharing, adaptive communication networks, and care work chip away at the deprivation and dependency upon which their unearned and precarious power relies.  Disciplinary tactics reveal an explicit focus on undermining sociality. It is not just commissary or phone time that is revoked for minor infractions, it is time outside of one’s cell, access to news media, and in the cruelest instances, all forms of human contact.   The prison and its guards have the impunity to take away ‘privileges’ that people can’t afford to lose more explicitly, they have the power to restrict food intake, sensory input (through solitary confinement), and access to community. The scarcity of basic necessities is compounded by levels of control, isolation, and punishment.  Even still, people organize to survive and take care of each other. “Im trying to figure out how to change our thought process away from ‘survival of the fittest’ towards collective survival work, or social reproduction, as they call it,” Rocko said. On the inside, “we don’t all have the language or a manual for these practices and sometimes we hurt each other or let each other down.”  But mutual aid work holds a promise of generating new ways to relate to one another. As  Dean Spade says, “at its best, mutual aid actually produces new ways of living where people get to create systems of care and generosity that address harm and foster well-being.” The revolutionary nature of the mutual aid that takes place inside prison walls embodies this possibility.  The post Mutual Aid Inside: How Incarcerated Communities Survive Together appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Featured Reporting, Latest News, Marvel Cooke Fellowship, Prison Protest, Abolition, Incarceration, Mutual Aid]

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[l] at 2/1/23 7:39am
A few days after a massive power outage in North Carolina in early December, Margaret Killjoy shared a thread on preparedness in response to the outages. Alongside the usual emergency supplies like extra water, batteries, medicine, heat sources, and food, Killjoy noted something not usually included in preparedness toolkits: “organize against the far right so that they are less capable of shooting up power stations.” Killjoy, an author and musician who lives in the mountains of West Virginia, hosts the anarchist prepping podcast Live Like The World Is Dying. Since its creation just before the pandemic began, it has grown into a valuable and widely-accessed resource for people wondering how to deal with any number of emergencies in their communities.  The recent sabotages of power stations across the United States, along with increasing rates of climate-related infrastructure devastation, have prompted people to wonder: what do we do if the lights go out in our community? Killjoy says the answer is simple. We need to embrace preparedness culture. Alleged Right-Wing Attacks On Infrastructure The reasons behind the North Carolina power outage are still officially unknown, but some locals believe that it was part of a far-right protest against a drag show in nearby Southern Pines. (LGBTQ+ people in the area reported feeling a heightened sense of fear after the blackouts.) The outages are part of an uptick in targeting of energy infrastructure across the United States, responsibility for some of which has been taken by neo-Nazi and far-right groups. Killjoy says that intentional attacks on utilities infrastructure from fascist groups can be understood as “an accelerationist technique” and part of a far-right strategy of pushing society to a breaking point to encourage social collapse. In the vacuum and chaos, she says, these groups believe they can seize power. This isn’t the first time the idea has emerged in the United States; it’s practically a national playbook. Charles Manson’s Helter Skelter theory promoted social breakdown leading to a race war. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, author and activist scott crow documented how gangs of white vigilantes were perpetrating racist violence amid the chaos. (Multiracial communities quickly organized to defend against the attacks, and the white supremacists went back underground.) Back in December 2020, a neo-Nazi-led plot to wreck the power grid was foiled in Colorado, and last year, Canadian and American white supremacists planned a mass murder that they hoped would start a race war. While Killjoy says it’s unlikely these tactics would succeed given how extreme they are and modern America’s tactical preference for systemic disenfranchisement over racist violence, the tenor and visibility of fascism in America via culture war attacks on marginalized communities suggests a need for heightened vigilance.  The Prepper in Pop Culture For decades, the pop culture archetype of the prepper has been colorfully right-wing and individualist: a paranoid, libertarian recluse stockpiling weapons, ammunition, and canned beans while waiting for some cataclysmic event. Killjoy says we’ve built up a “mythos of the loner who builds and hides in a bunker and eats camp food until their appendix bursts and they die.” In this scenario, virtually all other people are viewed as a threat because of either malicious intent or desperation for access to resources. This association has prevented people on the political left from engaging with preparedness culture, says Killjoy. “I think people are way too quick to give up cultural terrain to the right-wing,” she says. “People are way too quick to be like, ‘Oh, a right-wing person is interested in the following thing so I cannot be,’ instead of saying, ‘How is our take on this different?’” Killjoy says the popular portrayal of prepping has also led people to neglect the real and worsening conditions of emergency around us. “We tend as a society to look at preppers as people who are waiting for nuclear winter or zombies, but by and large preparedness is about responding to disaster, and disaster is happening, even just in the United States, always,” says Killjoy. “More people are starting to realize that they are less insulated from disaster than they grew up thinking that they are.” Individual and Community Preparedness Killjoy says that even more than a bug-out bag packed with survival supplies, the single most important thing someone could consider doing is knowing who their neighbors are. That could mean being friends with them, or just being cordial, but it could also mean marking which ones aren’t safe and who to avoid. “During times of disaster, each other are the main things that we have,” she says. “Knowing that ahead of time is at least as important as knowing where your secondary source of potable water is.” Similarly, Killjoy notes that halting the advance of the far-right is a communal task, not an individual one. That’s why community defense is as critical as personal defense. Personal defense, says Killjoy, includes those things that an individual does to keep themself safe. For Killjoy, who has been doxxed and threatened by the far-right, that includes a handgun and concealed carry permit.  Community defense is a larger and more difficult project, but also a potentially more effective one. Fascist movements often move to shut down cultural and social infrastructure, so when far-right mobs crash Pride rallies, Black churches, or abortion clinics, community organization is the only viable protection. Killjoy points to recent community defenses of drag shows, including large crowds of supporters flanked by allies open-carrying long rifles, as an example of community preparedness. Killjoy says that while the rifles demonstrate to armed far-right crowds that “we can’t be fucked with,” they’re just a small piece of community preparedness. There’s also keeping track of each other and what issues we’re dealing with—for example, threats from bigots or police harassment—alongside monitoring and exposing white supremacist groups organizing in your area. “Possibly nothing has been more effective at pulling the rug out from underneath far-right organizing in this country than exposing people for not just being a regular right-wing person, but a bonafide Nazi,” says Killjoy. “All of that falls under community defense.” Most right-wing prepping culture tends to depict the ideal survival situation as rural and isolated from other people, and while Killjoy lives rurally, she says urban and suburban spaces are at least as good for preparedness due to proximity to community and infrastructure. Prepping For The Worst Killjoy says that while society encourages a division between these things—the right insisting on the importance of the individual, the left on the importance of the community—they strengthen one another when both are tended to in prepping culture. When the pandemic hit, a friend of Killjoy’s had to caretake for an elderly person but couldn’t find any suitable masks. Killjoy had a supply of P100 masks for her earthquake preparedness kit, and shared them.  “Having resources available to you means you’re in a better place to help other people,” she says. “By being able to take care of ourselves, we’re able to require less from the mutual aid networks that we might build. By requiring less from those networks, we’re better able to help them.” It’s these qualities of prepping culture that Killjoy says move people toward engaging more deeply with their own lives and their communities. Acknowledging the stakes and what could happen will, ideally, push people to fight to avoid worst-case scenarios. “We can all wish things were like they used to be, but they’re not,” says Killjoy. “I think people are used to avoiding taking responsibility for what happens in the world, and assuming that experts will handle whatever the problem is. We’re all waiting for the government to save us, and I don’t believe that’s a rational way to survive any crisis. Any look at history shows that very clearly.” Attacks on power infrastructure and anti-LGBTQ+ hate both spiked in 2022, and while it’s possible those facts are coincidental, it might pay off in the long run to treat them as correlated. Killjoy says that after decades of comparable stability, people have grown accustomed to things working as they should. Prepping is a long term investment in making sure that when the lights go out, we’re ready to take care of ourselves and each other. The post Should The Left Embrace Preparedness Culture? appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Featured Reporting, Latest News, The Dissenter, community, Prepper Culture]

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[l] at 1/30/23 4:37pm
Incarcerated Georgians and their loved ones have struggled to stay in touch after the Georgia Department of Corrections began switching communications services from JPay to Securus, as the former merges its systems with the latter. This change was accompanied by the emergence of a more stringent and increasingly punitive prison communications policy.  While the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) policy was written in 2018, it is only now being enforced, according to incarcerated people and their loved ones. Under the policy, people who wish to communicate with someone inside must submit an application and submit to government screening. Additionally, a prisoner may only have 12 people on this approved communications list.  Prisoners and their advocates say this process is meant to gate-keep and surveil prisoners communications. It also limits the means through which prisoners and loved ones can expose abhorrent, brutal prison conditions. The timing of this transition is particularly distressing because of a wave of killings and unrest affecting incarcerated people. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating soaring violence  in GDC facilities and yet prison administrators have refused to provide federal investigators with basic data on the number of incarcerated people murdered within their facilities.  Many Georgia prisoners have been without electronic communication with their loved ones for over six months at the time of this reporting. In Georgia, most communication between prisoners and those on the outside occurs via correctional tablet devices and in-dorm kiosks. They could exchange emails, pictures, and  short videos over this system. This has been the case for over seven years. Pointing to a gross understaffing crisis and the prolificacy of drugs, many facilities have stopped physical mail delivery via the U.S. Postal Service. Any mail that does enter the facility is scanned and a copy is provided in print or on the electronic tablet devices. Most facilities lack the staff to adequately receive, process, and disburse mail to prisoners or make electronic copies accessible via the tablets and dorm kiosks. Prisoners have reported missing mail at some institutions for months at a time since COVID collided with the staffing crisis. This includes legal mail, the disruption of which presents its own grave concerns for prisoners’ defense and the ability to secure release. In mid-October, this reporter’s inbox was flooded with messages from Georgia prisoners and their friends and family complaining about email communications. Prisoners reported being told that it would no longer be permissible to have contact with anyone not on their approved contact list.  Emily Shelton of Ignite Justice, a prison reform nonprofit, says she reached out to both Securus and JPay after receiving numerous appeals from Georgia prisoners and their loved ones. I spoke with Securus and was told that GDC sent Securus/Jpay a message stating that no one is allowed to message an inmate unless they’re on the approved visitation list for them, says Shelton. Advocates Shadowproof spoke with say this could be a First Amendment mail/communication violation, arguably curtailing or, at the very least, failing to provide meaningful communication between prisoners and the general public. With the in-dorm kiosks out of service as well, prisoners have been unable to submit institutional grievances and health service request forms an additional First Amendment and Eighth Amendment violation, respectively.  This drastic change in policy blocks the way nearly 50,000 incarcerated people communicate with their family, including their children, other loved ones and advocates, hurting them and their communities,” said Gerry Webber, senior attorney at the Southern Center for Human Rights. “In effect, countless people who used to be able to communicate with folks on the inside now cannot, with no justification from GDC for this dramatic and inexplicably punitive revocation of vital connection with community supports. Shadowproof spoke with people incarcerated in no less than six facilities who say that, as far back as July, all digital or electronic communication with their friends and family via Jpay services was terminated.  The kiosks were shut off for the entire compound here when Securus reps came in to begin installing the new kiosks and their hardware,” said Zombr3x, a prisoner housed at a Middle Georgia mens prison. We are withholding his identity to protect him from possible retaliation by prison staff for speaking to the press.  “The kiosks are in now, turned on and running, and have been for the entire compound for weeks,” he said. “Yet we still dont have login credentials or anything, and were being told that anyone who wants to communicate with us must submit to the usual visitation background check procedure.  A.J., whose real name is also being withheld for his protection, is a prisoner at Smith State Prison. He says that family members and friends who are not entering the facility for physical visitation sessions shouldnt be subjected to this degree of government scrutiny.  It’s invasive,” he said. “The process to get someone approved for visits is outrageous. In addition to the criminal records check, our families and friends have to send in their ID, birth certificate, and social card.” “This is a hassle and GDC treats our families like they are under investigation for being related to an inmate. My family cannot pass drugs or anything else through a screen. Due to this process they are keeping us isolated from our families when these tablets and video visits are meant to keep us together.” In addition to this information, loved ones are asked to submit background checks and submission of all telephone numbers, emails and addresses. Others will be disqualified from communicating with incarcerated people because of felony convictions, as the GDC doesnt permit people with felony records to be on a prisoners visitation or financial list for a period of time post-conviction.  The lack of email also has a negative impact in terms of access to culture, the press, penpals, external services, advocacy projects, and civil rights organizations.  Susan Burns is the founder and chief administrator of THEY HAVE NO VOICE, a Facebook watchdog group for prisoner rights and conditions. Burns and her group vociferously advocate on behalf of the incarcerated, regularly flooding GDC officials with open letters, chain emails, petitions boasting hundreds of signatures, and phone call campaigns.  Burns told Shadowproof, I have been blocked at the behest of GDC officials via JPay and Securus. I cannot speak with or e-mail the very people for whom I advocate.” “They have intentionally maneuvered to stop me from being a voice for those who most need it,” Burns argued. “This is affecting the work of other non-profits also and obstructing our attempts at holding GDC accountable to the public. The lack of communications means prisoners arent able to maintain and nourish meaningful connections, which negatively impacts their lives post-incarceration. Numerous studies have found that contact and connection with those in the community is powerful in terms of successful reentry. Those prisoners who are pursuing postsecondary education (believed in some cases to to lower recidivism rates by 48 percent), are unable to easily and meaningfully communicate with their educational institutions and professors in a way that facilitates their success.  Amy Ard is the founder of Motherhood Beyond Bars, a nonprofit with the particular mission of working with incarcerated mothers in order to enable and empower them for successful reentry, as well as the responsibilities and joys of motherhood after incarceration. For months now,  Ards organization hasnt been able to speak with their clients, assist with reentry planning, or ensure that pregnant mothers are receiving proper care.  Ard says that cutting off communication with support on the outside does a real disservice not just to the women and the men who are in prison coming home. This negatively affects the communities on the other side of those prison walls that are going to be receiving them because theyre gonna start receiving people who have no preparation, who have no connection to outside organizations or agencies, and who havent built relationships with those they have on the outside. Despite these byzantine GDC policies, there are little benefits to anyone who is impacted. There isnt a legitimate justification for this pernicious act of government overreach by the state prison agency. Not only will prisoners and their loved ones suffer from such harmful policies that serve absolutely no sound penological interest, but so too will communities.  The post Delays And Obstacles Disrupt Communications For Georgia Prisoners appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Featured Reporting, Latest News, Prison Protest, JPay, Prison communication, Securus]

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[l] at 1/25/23 5:04pm
“Part of our job is just to rock you, and part of our job is to be like troubadours, carrying the news from one town to another, like town criers,” singer-songwriter David Crosby declared in an interview in 2006.Crosby took his responsibility as a prominent musician seriously, and when he made this comment, he was on the Freedom of Speech tour with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young, where they performed songs from Young’s “Living With War” protest album, called for the impeachment of President George W. Bush, and spoke out against the Iraq War.He co-authored a book, Stand and Be Counted: Making Music, Making History, that was released in 2000. It recounted antiwar demonstrations, civil rights marches, and music benefits from the perspective of artists.Nobody kids themselves into believing that they can solve the worlds problems,” Crosby wrote. “Were just trying to make a difference, to change things for the better wherever we can. And if it takes a long push, then were in it for the long haul.”“A lot of times this isnt about the genius of the moment. Its about persistence. Its about being in there and staying in there.”On January 18, 2023, Crosby died after battling what his family described as a “long illness.” Though he was in poor health, he still was working on another album and thinking about touring again.In 1971, when Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) organized the “Winter Soldier” investigation to call attention to war crimes by the United States military in Vietnam, Crosby (and Nash) performed two concerts to help raise funds in support of the event. The investigation emphasized the role of U.S. generals and commanders, who were responsible for the My Lai Massacre.Up to the final years of his life, Crosby visited the wall at the Vietnam War memorial to remind himself of the “awful price we pay when we let our politicians drag us into wars for profits going to the giant [corporations].”Profiteering in the Iraq War deeply upset Crosby. He cared about young people who joined the US military and risked their lives, and it disgusted him how Halliburton, Bechtel, and ExxonMobil, etc, were benefiting from the carnage. He was part of the Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) collective that performed in concerts after the Three Mile Island disaster to demand an end to nuclear energy.Crosby joined Nash in 2011 to support Occupy Wall Street in New York. They visited the site of the encampment and performed several songs for the people of Liberty Plaza that had gathered to stand up for the 99 percent.As Crosby described the influence of money over politics, “A senator has to spend more than half his time whoring himself out to get money. And of course, there are all those guys in the $2,000 suits just standing around dying to stuff it in his pockets, you know, from the corporations, because they want to buy a senator, they want to buy a congressman, they want that contract, and that takes our representative democracy out of your hands and my hand. It means it disenfranchises us, and I dont feel that thats the way its supposed to work.”Crosby never accepted the official US government narrative around the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He shouted at multiple concerts, “The Warren Report was a lie.”“It was, you know, a hit, and it certainly was no lone gunman. You know, if you watch the Zapruder film, [Kennedy] got hit from two directions. Theres no question about it. Also, Ive been there and stood in Dealey Plaza behind the fence, and I couldve hit him with a handgun. Its not very far,” Crosby contended.Until his death, Crosby maintained that Kennedy had pissed off those in the power structure, and that was why he was assassinated.Now here are six protest songs that David Crosby wrote or co-wrote. “Long Time Gone” (1969) The liner notes for the 1991 box set version of Crosby, Stills & Nash, the group’s debut album, features Crosby’s explanation for what inspired this song.”“It was written the night Bobby Kennedy was killed,” Crosby shared. “I believed in him because he said he wanted to make some positive changes in America, and he hadnt been bought and sold like Johnson and Nixon—cats who made their deals years ago with the special interests in this country in order to gain power.”Yet in later interviews, Crosby also said that Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination was just the “penultimate trigger.” He was also had the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr. in mind while writing the tune.The song is both about the importance of dissent, even when it feels like it will not make any difference. “Speak out, you got to speak out against the madness,” Crosby sings. “You got to speak your mind, if you dare.”“But don’t, no, dont now try to get yourself elected. If you do, you had better cut your hair, Crosby adds.The lyrics recognize that one could no longer be part of the counterculture and independent of the establishment if they were in political office. They would gradually become more implicated in the madness and forced to give up their identity. “It appears to be a long time before the dawn” represents the very impatience any person feels in the never-ending struggle for truth, peace, and justice.The song took on a kind of legendary status, when it was included in the introduction for Michael Wadleigh’s “Woodstock” documentary. But it was nearly scrapped after Crosby struggled with it for several weeks while the band was recording their debut album. According to CSNY: The Wild & Definitive Saga of Rock’s Greatest Supergroup by David Browne, Stephen Stills stayed up all night perfecting the instrumentation. Writer Ellen Sander, who was present, recalled that Stills gave Crosby a look that appeared to say: “I arranged your song better than you could have in a thousand years. And don’t forget it.” “Almost Cut My Hair” (1970) Even David Crosby recognized that the song was rather adolescent, but its defiance represented the rebellious spirit of the late 1960s.“We were the counterculture so the idea was, ‘Don’t give in, stay with it, don’t cop out from the attitude that we’re different and want it another way,’” Crosby recalled in Browne’s book. “Hair was only a symbol. It was a statement of independence. We’re not going to shave it and put on a button-down shirt and become like you.”“Almost cut my hair. It happened just the other day,” Crosby sings. He says he often feels like letting his “freak flag fly.” But now the pressure to conform has added to his paranoia, “like looking at my mirror and seeing a police car.That fear is the fear of being singled out because you are fighting for the world to be organized differently. It stems from a recognition that hose wearing a badge or acting under the banner of the law may try and stifle you to preserve a certain order.The song appeared on the first album that included Neil Young, Déjà Vu. It’s considered one of Crosby’s finest songs, and for what it’s worth, Crosby lived his entire life with long hair and let his freak flag fly. “What Are Their Names” (1971) From Crosby’s debut solo album, the song featured Jerry Garcia on guitar and Graham Nash on guitar and piano. The instrumental opening crescendos to the song’s powerful indictment of the men who really run the US government.“I wonder who they are,” Crosby sings. “The men who really run this land, and I wonder why they run it with such a thoughtless hand.”“What are their names and on what streets do they live? Id like to ride right over this afternoon and give them a piece of my mind about peace for mankind.”“Peace is not an awful lot to ask,” Crosby concludes.It was rarely performed live, according to Browne, but the song was part of the setlist for CSNYs Freedom of Speech tour in 2006.The version performed in the midst of the Iraq War was a shorter a cappella version similar to Stephen Stills’ “Find The Cost of Freedom,” which was also featured in shows.When Crosby appeared on “Democracy Now!” with Nash after visiting Occupy Wall Street, they recited the poem. “Nighttime For the Generals” (1988) The Iran-Contra scandal was fresh in the minds of the nation, and George H.W. Bush, a former CIA director, had become president after Ronald Reagan completed his second term in the White House. Nighttime For the Generals appeared on the CSNY album, American Dream. David Crosby’s song is another one of his songs about the faceless and unknown men who rule the country. This time he explicitly referred to those who plot covert and lawless operations in the shadows. “And its nighttime for the generals, and the boys at the CIA,” Crosby sings. “Power gone mad in the darkness. Thinking theyre God on a good day. They giveth, they taketh, but they like to take it away.”The boys at the CIA think they know what’s best for the population. At least that’s what they tell themselves. But they “shot blind Lady Liberty in the back of the head,” he adds, a nod to the disregard for how their actions endanger freedom.Unfortunately, the song has not aged well. An artist like Peter Gabriel may have been able to make it work, but it has too much of a tacky ‘80s sound that is particularly discordant to our ears because it differs from that transcendent folk-rock sound, which defined CSNY and helped make them a supergroup. “They Want It All” (2004) David Crosby performed this song with Graham Nash at Occupy Wall Street in 2011, and it’s a searing indictment of the one percent and crooked and greedy capitalist executives, who hold too much power and influence over government.“They want it all, they want it now. They want to get it and they dont care how,” Crosby sings.The faceless men, who are the subject of the song, want our life savings, our mother’s ring, and another mansion. Enough is never enough. A piece of the pie will not do. They want the whole pie. And “they always have a president or two” to help them “get away with what they do.” As the song progresses, Crosby paints a picture of corruption engaged in to avoid any accountability. Executives make wire transfers in Jamaica. They’ll “sacrifice” their lawyer just to be certain that they’re never prosecuted. “If you want us to believe in justice, justice better be real,” Crosby adds.The song was actually recorded for Crosby and Nashs 2004 album, which received lackluster reviews.Graham Nash said in one interview that the lyrics were inspired by the Enron scandal. “It’s about all corporate malfeasance, but inspired by the outrage that David felt about the way that Enron treated its employees and ruined countless thousands of lives, destroying their life savings and their IRAs and their 401s. But at the same time, making billions for themselves.”Performed at Zuccotti a decade after that major scandal, Occupy protesters must have thought the song was written specifically for the moment in which they mobilized against the class warfare fueled by corporations on Wall Street. “Capitol” (2017) David Crosby’s son James Raymond co-wrote this song with his father, which was released on Sky Trails. It sounds nothing like any classic Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song, but the music production is much better than the songs on American Dream. By the time Crosby recorded Sky Trails, it was apparent that the acrimony between Crosby and Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young would prevent any further reunion tours from happening. So he focused on projects like this one and Lighthouse (2016).“Capitol” is about the scene of the crime, the building where members of the US House of Representatives and Senate meet regularly, and what it is like to realize as one tours the premise that this is where all the most impactful decisions get made. Crosby sings, “This is where it happens. They run the whole damned thing from here. Money to burn, filling up their pockets, where no one can see and no one can hear.”Once again, it’s about a cabal that is shrouded in secrecy. They ignore the constitution. They hide from the public, where no one can hear what they do. All they care about is staying a part of the machine. And the votes are just pieces of paperAnd they sneer at the people who votedAnd they laugh as the votes were not countedAnd the will of the people was notedAnd completely ignored Over a lush composition, Crosby articulates what it’s like to observe daily that there is a big elite club in Congress, which has the ear of lobbyists from corporate and special interest groups, while the most important people of them all—the bottom 90 percent of citizens—are shut out of decisions. Remarkably, the song was released after President Donald Trump’s election. It distinguishes itself from the many, many songs recorded during that era by staying focused on the real center of power rather than the personality of Trump.As Crosby described, Capitol is an indictment of our Congress. Its me saying this is a scam. Theyre tricking you with all that white marble and all that pomp and circumstance that theyre showing you. Theyre really a grubby bunch of thieves, lowest kind of people. The post The Protest Songs Of David Crosby appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, The Protest Music Project, David Crosby, Protest Music Project, Tribute]

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[l] at 1/22/23 8:12am
Chris Hedges, longtime journalist and host of “The Chris Hedges Report,” had Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola on his show to discuss his book, Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case Against Julian Assange. The book can be pre-ordered from Seven Stories Press. It will be released on February 21.As Chris said in the introduction, I think your book and Nils Melzers book are books I would recommend for people who dont understand the case.Chris and Kevin go issue by issue, like the book, which is not a chronology but a meticulously organized guide to all aspects of the United States government’s charges and allegations. Prior to the interview, one of the endorsements that Kevin received for his book came from Chris. “Kevin Gosztola has doggedly done what most of the press has not, cover in exacting detail the long persecution of Julian Assange and the judicial farce that passes for Julians trial.”You may have seen—or heard—this interview already. In two days, it has over 20,000 views and has been shared widely on social media and republished to several independent media sites. Thanks again to Chris Hedges and the crew at The Real News for giving Kevin a platform to share his book with a wide audience. Listen to the interview or watch the interview on YouTube: The post Kevin Gosztola On The Chris Hedges Report appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, Guilty of Journalism]

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[l] at 1/20/23 9:04am
Shadowproofs Kevin Gosztola, along with Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, Steven Donziger, Stella Assange, Jeffrey Sterling, and several other distinguished panelists, will be speaking as part of the Belmarsh Tribunal. The event on the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will take place at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, at 2pm ET. It is sponsored by Progressive International, and the tribunal will be chaired by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and Srećko Horvat.The tribunal is modeled after the Russell-Sartre tribunals that were convened by activists during the Vietnam War to call attention to war crimes committed by the US government. (See this video for example.) The post TUNE IN: Belmarsh Tribunal DC Case Of Julian Assange appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, Belmarsh Tribunal, Julian Assange]

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[l] at 1/14/23 6:47am
This article was funded by paid subscribers of Shadowproofs Dissenter Newsletter. Become a monthly paid subscriber to help us continue our independent journalism.The Central Intelligence Agency and former CIA director Mike Pompeo notified a federal court in New York that they intend to push for the dismissal of a lawsuit that alleges that they were involved in spying against attorneys and journalists who visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Ecuador’s London embassy. Both the CIA and Pompeo maintain that the “allegations in the complaint do not establish a violation of the Fourth Amendment [right to privacy].” In August 2022, four Americans who visited Assange in the embassy sued the CIA and Pompeo in his individual capacity: Margaret Ratner Kunstler, a civil rights activist and human rights attorney; Deborah Hrbek, a media lawyer, represented Assange or WikiLeaks; journalist John Goetz, who worked for Der Spiegel when the German media organization first partnered with WikiLeaks; and journalist Charles Glass, who wrote articles on Assange for The Intercept. The filed complaint alleged that as visitors Glass, Goetz, Hrbek, and Kunstler were required to “surrender” their electronic devices to employees of a private company called UC Global that was contracted to provide security for the embassy. What they did not know was that UC Global “copied the information stored on the devices” and allegedly shared the information with the CIA, and Pompeo allegedly authorized and approved the action. Security contractors required the attorneys and journalists to leave their devices with them, which contained “confidential and privileged information about their sources or clients.”On January 13, 2023, a letter [PDF] was filed in the United States Court for the Southern District of New York that laid out the CIA and Pompeo’s basic arguments for seeking dismissal of the lawsuit. The CIA and Pompeo maintain that the alleged acts detailed in the lawsuit involve “intelligence gathering and implicate national security.” They further insist that the alleged acts also “took place outside the United States.” Both of these factors supposedly prevent anyone from suing them for alleged misconduct. Since the CIA and Pompeo were sued under what is known as the “Bivens doctrine,” the CIA claims that it cannot be sued because the doctrine is only to be applied to “federal employees in their individual capacities, and any such claims are otherwise barred by sovereign immunity.”The allegations of privacy violations were not only submitted against the CIA and Pompeo but also UC Global and its director, David Morales. In Spain, Morales faces criminal charges for his role in targeting Assange, however, the United States Justice Department has hindered the investigation by issuing unreasonable demands to the court.A hearing in the case was already scheduled for February 21, and the government proposes that they discuss the motion to dismiss during those proceedings. Richard Roth, the lead attorney representing Americans who claims their privacy rights were violated, was frustrated. [The government] was required to file a motion today and instead filed a letter, which is ineffective and weak.Previously, he stated, The United States Constitution shields American citizens from US government overreach even when the activities take place in a foreign embassy in a foreign country. Visitors who are lawyers, journalists and doctors frequently carry confidential information in their devices. “They had a reasonable expectation that the security guards at the Ecuadorian embassy in London would not be US government spies charged with delivering copies of their electronics to the CIA,” Roth added. In 1971, a Supreme Court case known as Bivens created a process for bringing cases against federal government officials for violating a person’s constitutional rights. However, courts have been extremely reluctant to allow plaintiffs to pursue damages when a case may set a precedent or lead to a court intruding upon national security and foreign policy matters. Pompeo was summoned by the Spanish court to provide testimony back in June. It is unknown if he has acknowledged or rebuffed the court’s request.Reporting from the Spanish newspaper El País previously corroborated many of the claims in the complaint. Their journalism was based upon primary source materials shared by whistleblowing UC Global employees. In September 2021, Yahoo! News published a bombshell report on “secret war plans” against Assange that involved proposals for kidnapping and assassinating Assange after Pompeo became obsessed with the WikiLeaks founder following the media organization’s publication of CIA hacking materials, which became known as the “Vault 7” materials. Pompeo labeled WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence agency,” and in April 2017, he made it the focus of his first speech as CIA director. “The one thing [current] whistleblowers don’t need is a publisher,” since the internet already enables enough sharing of information, he proclaimed. Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, a whistleblower and known supporter of Assange, reacted, What the CIA did to Julian Assange is in opposition to everything that we should stand for as Americans. On the other hand, and this is what’s wrong with our country, the Supreme Court has ruled that foreign nationals who are located abroad do not have Fourth Amendment protections. Because the attorneys and journalists who brought this case against the CIA were visiting a foreign national, Kiriakou suggested the CIA might claim—if they even confirmed the agencys involvement—that Americans privacy rights ended when they met with an intelligence target. The spying lawsuit is unrelated to the criminal charges and extradition case against Assange, which is in limbo as the High Court of Justice in the United Kingdom considers whether to grant Assange an appeal hearing. The post CIA Pushes For Dismissal Of Lawsuit Against Alleged Spying On Assange Visitors appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, CIA, Julian Assange, The Dissenter Newsletter, WikiLeaks]

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[l] at 1/11/23 10:28am
Black Belt Eagle Scout is the alias of Katherine Paul, an indigenous multi-instrumentalist andsinger-songwriter. Her third studio album, The Land, the Water, the Sky, will be released onFebruary 10. In a press statement, she declared “I created The Land, the Water, the Sky to record and reflect upon my journey back to my homelands and the challenges and the happiness it brought.” Three singles from the album were released. Dont Give Up, according to Paul, is a song about mentalhealth awareness and the importance that her connection to the land plays within her own mentalhealth journey. Spending time with the land and on the water strengthened her connection to her ancestors and her culture. The lyrics I don’t give up” mean staying alive. I wrote this song for me but also for my community and anyone who deals with challenging mental health issues to remind us just how much of a role our connection to the environment plays within our healing process, she added. The second single, My Blood Runs Through This Land, also connects to Pauls ancestors. When I run my hands through the rocks at Snee Oosh Beach and dip my fingers into our waterways, I am reminded of where I come from, Paul shared. Paying attention to all of the sounds and the feelings I get when I am immersed in trails of cedar trees and canoeing out on the water deeply grounds me and strengthens my bond to my lineage of the Swinomish tribe. As Paul described, I wanted the delicateness of these moments to meet the intense reality of the history of my people. I like to imagine my blood—all of my ancestors—running through our homelands freely and powerfully. The third single is Nobody, a poignant tune about the importance of representation.“When I was growing up, I didn’t have very many Native role models to look to on TV or the radio,” Paul recalled. “It was within my own community that I found inspiring role models through our elders and our community leaders.With Native representation in music and television slowly growing, I often ask myself where I stand within representation in music and how I want to be seen. This song is about the relationship I have with my own representation in music.” The video for this single was directed by indigenous filmmaker Evan Benally Atwood. The visuals beautifully depict a day in the life of an Indigenous family, displaying the moments of kinship that they share with the land and each other. The post Protest Song(s) Of The Week: Black Belt Eagle Scout appeared first on Shadowproof.

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

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[l] at 12/22/22 4:56pm
*The following is a collection of some of the best albums of protest music released in 2022. They were selected by Kevin Gosztola and C.J. Baker, who publishes writing regularly at Ongoing History Of Protest Songs. They are in alphabetical order by artist. **Full playlist with each album on Spotify Ashenspire Hostile Architecture Hailing from Glasgow in Scotland, the lads of Ashenspire make progressive metal for the working class that is grandiose and theatrical. The lyrics are largely delivered as spoken word over instruments that amplify the dark storytelling and agitation of the narrator. The story told, as the band puts it, is about “hostile architecture” under late capitalism, which refers to the “design elements in social spaces that deter the public from using the object for means unintended by the designer, e.g. anti-homeless spikes.” Each song draws inspiration from the post-industrial landscape of cities, “hauntological in nature,” that are so often unfit for housing due to cost-cutting. For example, the “Law of Asbestos” refers to the cancer-causing mineral that was incorporated into electrical insulation for many buildings, especially before the 1980s. Asbestos continues to kill hundreds of thousands of people each year. A metal-sounding saxophone accentuates Ashenspire’s rage: “A corner cut, a penny saved, Grenfell burns again and again and again!”—a reference to the Grenfell Tower fire that resulted in 72 deaths. “Tragic Heroin” has a kind of anthemic quality to it. At the end, Ashenspire proclaims: “Fueled with your labour. Built with your bones. There are no great men. Only the great many.” Then there’s the sprawling “Cable Street Again.” A tapestry of darkness percolates, sounding almost jazz-like in sections. Ashenspire warns the dispossessed and disposable human beings faced with hostile architecture that is part of the threat of fascism. “You cannot fix that which is working as intended.” In a final call to action, Ashenspire belts out, “Get down off the fence before the barbed wire goes up.”(Kevin Gosztola) Jake Blount The New Faith Sometimes it is necessary to look to the past to learn about the future. That is the case with Jake Blount, a singer, multi-instrumentalist, and scholar whose stunning concept album weaves a compelling Afrofuturist narrative. The album’s premise is similar to Octavia Butler’s influential 1993 science fiction novel Parable of the Sower, an apocalyptic tale of Black American refugees struggling to survive ecological collapse.Blount reworks ten traditional Black spirituals, along with two original spoken word compositions, and imagines what Black religious music would sound like in a future ravaged by climate disruption. Three of the tracks feature rousing verses from rapper Demeanor. “Take Me To the Water,” a traditional hymn and first track on the album, morphs into an ominous prayer for those seeking to “be washed for the sins of humanity.” It is a call “to reject the greed of our forefathers,” who “melted the ice at the ends of the earth, drowned the coast, emptied the seas and forests of life, filled the very ocean with fire.” Not only does Blount prove he is a skillful musician, but in developing these themes throughout his album, he proves that he is also an archivist, historian, and prophet capable of sounding an alarm for humanity. (CJ Baker) Bob Vylan Bob Vylan Presents The Price Of Life  UK grime-punk and hip hop duo Bob Vylan storm their way through a crash course on underclass survival in a capitalist world, where one’s life could be snuffed out at any moment without any remorse. “The BBC are talking about the GDP. That means fuck all to me,” Bob Vylan raps. “I gotta eat.” How the underclass lacks access and cannot afford healthy food is the subject of “Health is Wealth.” Bob Vylan states, “The killing of kids with £2 chicken and chips is a tactic of war waged on the poor.” But the damage done by junk food can also be self-inflicted, as the duo acknowledges, and the track develops into sound advice for eating right to survive.Take note of the album cover. Its a dark and brilliant nod to the way society dupes people into believing they may escape poverty if they could just win the lottery. Several of the songs incorporate thick guitar riffs to make the rhymes more potent. That’s especially true on “Phone Tap (Alexa),” a fierce assessment of the role that lower class people play in enabling a police state.Bob Vylan raps, “If somebodys getting bodied, watch the ratings hit the roof. I was there, I was there, gather round and gather proof.” Then the cops come to the door, and the doorbell rings. “Our babies” are taken. “Alexa, take me to prison,” the duo roars at the end of their gutting indictment. (Kevin Gosztola) Fantastic Negrito White Jesus Black Problems  Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz, who performs under the pseudonym Fantastic Negrito, recently discovered that his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents were a white Scottish servant named Elizabeth Gallimore and a black slave whose name has been erased in the annals of history. This lineage inspires Fantastic Negrito’s compelling concept album, which he released as a multimedia project with a companion film. The album reclaims the story of the courageous forgotten, as emphasized on the “Man with No Name.” It contains a galvanizing message of hope and perseverance, particularly as he sings, “I keep moving on.”
“There’s a feeling out there right now that we can’t get anything done because we’re so polarized, so entrenched in our ideologies and unmoved by facts or logic, but I wanted to share this story because I think it smashes that narrative to pieces,” Fantastic Negrito shared. “I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors, both Black and white, who showed me that anything is possible.”

From the ugliness of injustice to the beauty of what can be gained in the struggle, Fantastic Negrito grapples with it all in his music. 

 (C.J. Baker) Ezra Furman All Of Us Flames Ezra Furman breathes new life into a stale and largely heteronormative art form by incorporating themes of queerness into her timeless-sounding rock music. 
The album is the third in a trilogy of albums that includes 2018’s “Transangelic Exodus” and 2019’s “Twelve Nudes.” On “Book Of Our Love,” Furman expresses a desire to forever remember those who historically tend to have their identities erased. On “Lilac and Black,” Furman dreams of “my queer girl gang,” whose enemies will eventually “bow down before our wrath.”
 “It’s a queer album for the stage of life when you start to understand that you are not a lone wolf, but depend on finding your family, your people, how you work as part of a larger whole,” Furman declared. “I wanted to make songs for use by threatened communities, and particularly the ones I belong to: trans people and Jews.” Furman succeeds in crafting a vision of a world, where everyone may feel that they belong. 

(C.J. Baker) Hurray For The Riff Raff Life On Earth Puerto Rican singer-songwriter and self-described “nature punk” Alynda Segarra’s album is a worthy follow-up to their exceptional 2017 album, “The Navigator.” It explores themes of immigration, the environment, and other social ills. One of the album’s many highlights is “Precious Cargo,” where Segarra sings, “We made it to the border. I jumped and I was detained. Split me from my family. Now the light begins to fade. They took me to the cold room, where I sat down on the floor. Just a foil for a blanket. For 17 days or more.”“I don’t know why he would lie on me. The man from the I-C-E. And I don’t know why he hate on me. The man from the I-C-E,” Segarra adds, as she grapples with cruelty of immigration agents.The album’s title track gorgeously acknowledges the peril from man-made climate change and other societal ills. Yet despite the despair, throughout each song Segarra approaches the subject matter with an embrace of beauty and hopeful yearning. Segarra shows that she has the gift of being able to express the humanity of the downtrodden. Thankfully, they shared this precious gift with the world.(C.J. Baker)  Leyla McCalla Breaking The Thermometer “In 1980, Radio Haiti was shut down and all of its journalists were either executed, jailed or exiled alongside many of Haiti’s most prominent artists, intellectuals and academics,” recalled Haitian American multi-instrumentalist Leyla McCalla. McCalla’s “Breaking The Thermometer” project combines audio from the Radio Haiti archives to create Afro-Caribbean music that honors those who rebelled against the United States-backed dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier, as well as Jean-Claude’s father, François Duvalier. The songs are in English and Kreyòl, a native language in Haiti.Over banjo and soft percussion, “Fort Dimanche” features a Kreyol radio clip that leads into McCalla singing about the prison, where François Duvalier had entire families executed. A Haitian man describes when their family was killed at the prison and how it inspired him to become a journalist. (Note: At one point, the fort was a military facility for US Marines in the 1920s.) The song, “Ekzile,” is a somber melody mixing several string instruments over soft percussion. It features a Haitian woman who recounts fleeing brutal repression and ending up in New York. McCalla movingly grapples with what it is like for someone to have to leave their home because they are no longer safe.“Le Bal est Fini” (“The Party is Over”) stands out among all the tracks. It is an invigorating tribute to the journalists who defied dictatorship. All the percussive elements of the project shine, culminating in a solo that ends with dogs barking. Jean Dominique, Radio Haiti’s owner, was murdered, and McCalla developed a close relationship with Michèle Montas, Dominique’s widow. The project honors their resistance. “A big part of their connection and their love for each other was their love for journalism and their vision for what this could do to transform their country,” McCalla told the Guardian. “It’s a really hard thing to have faith in, but that faith held them together.” (Kevin Gosztola) Samora Pinderhughes GRIEF Our annual list, given Shadowproof’s journalism on prison abolition, would not be complete without this collaborative album from singer, songwriter, pianist, and scholar Samora Pinderhughes. For “GRIEF,” a part of the Healing Project, Pinderhughes interviewed around 100 people of color who shared their experiences with incarceration or “structural violence.” The online archive of interviews features includes insights on abolishing prison, but the album is more introspective than essayistic and draws from the well of emotions that come from prison life and life in a world of prisons. Through the harmony of “Holding Cell,” Pinderhughes sings, “Holding cell, I can’t get well while you hold me.” The slave labor, or slaving for the tiniest of wages, comes through on, “Hope,” as Pinderhughes, Nio Norwood, and Jehbreal Jackson sing, “While we try to build a room for our freedom (for our freedom). We build what they destroy.”“Masculinity” is a profound inward examination from the perspective of a man grappling with their incarceration or carceral past. “If I feel these things, is it gonna hurt me?” Pinderhughes wonders. The lyrics eventually give way to an ethereal alto sax outro from Immanuel Wilkins. Pinderhughes told the New York Times that he intended to explore how the machinery of incarceration operates and ask, what is the system doing to people? What can be done to fight back? And then, from a more personal perspective, “How am I a part of that? How am I implicated, and how am I doing something against it? What does that make me feel like?”You feel every word of the experiences that flow through the music, as well as the spirituality of interrogating a harmful system that has impacted so many lives. (Kevin Gosztola) Soul Glo Diaspora Problems Since their formation in 2014, Soul Glo has built a reputation for their ferocious musical attack and radical political lyrics. The hardcore punk band is made up of Black musicians who share their experiences as artists in a genre dominated by white groups. On the album, the band dispels the myth that lasting change can come from continuing to prop up the two-party system. For example, lead singer Pierce Jordan derisively snarls on “John J,” “It’s been ‘fuck right wing’ off the rip. But still liberals are more dangerous.” Elsewhere, with the incisive “Fucked Up If True,” Soul Glo address the fallacy that voting is enough to enact meaningful change.“So we just gon always vote in false elections and accept each result and it’s effects as though people were powerless. Do you feel supportive care? How do you wake up everyday? What enforced your belief that you can vote their power away?” The album is filled with killer anthems of righteous indignation that continue punk’s tradition of confronting racial and social injustice, and it is the band’s first release on renowned punk label Epitaph.(C.J. Baker) Tanya Tagaq Tongues Canadian Inuk singer Tanya Tagaq aims “to repair the damage” from trauma inflicted by centuries of colonial repression. Over 10 tracks produced by Afrofuturist and poet Saul Williams, the album spits in the face of her oppressors then shifts away from their savagery to what gives Tagaq empowerment, joy, and strength.“Teeth Agape” bares a maternal instinct to protect her child from further trauma from colonizers while “Earth Monster” celebrates the creation of life. “Today is for her, and today is for me. For choosing to make her, to keep her, and to love her.”“They took our tongues,” declares Tagaq on the album’s title track. She vows, “You can’t have my tongue,” and later adds, “I don’t want your shame.” Her vocals grow more guttural as she confronts the loss of language that came as a result of white colonial settlers, who committed cultural genocide.The Canadian government took Indigenous children away from our families for many generations in the residential school system, Tagaq told NPR. All of us know who didnt come home.Tagaq’s vocal artistry is a dagger aimed at the hearts of those complicit and responsible for all the pain and terror. But the power in her voice also carries a sense of pride. She does not want anyones sympathy or guilt in order to live life on her own terms—free of the legacy and influence of colonizers. (Kevin Gosztola) HONORABLE MENTIONS: Jimmy Cliff Refugee | Dropkick Murphys – This Machine Still Kill Fascists | Moor Mother Jazz Codes | Mali Obomsawin – Sweet Tooth | Special Interest Endure | SAULT 11/Earth/Today & Tomorrow/Untitled (God)/Air  The post Ten Of The Best Protest Albums of 2022 appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, The Protest Music Project, Best Of, Protest Albums, Protest Music Project, Year in Review]

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