All the News You Didn’t Even Know Was Going Down
Filed under: Featured, Roundup
Filed under: Featured, Roundup
This was a busy week.
Trump rolled out a new version of the Muslim Ban in a new executive order as attacks and deportation of immigrants ramped up – both of which led to various protests and demonstrations. Meanwhile, the State itself has entered into its latest shoving match, putting the FBI, Justice Department, and Trump regime at odds over claims that Obama tapped the Cheeto’s phone. Meanwhile, Ben Carson made himself look like Ben Carson, the Women’s Strike kicked off, threats of trade war with China loomed, WikiLeaks revealed yet another vast CIA spying ring, the Republicans rolled out a proposal for an even worse replacement for Obamacare, at home far-Right terror attacks continued, and the police in Sacramento, CA have pushed the DA to charge upwards of 106 people for taking part in anti-fascist clashes on June 26th against the neo-Nazi group, the Traditionalist Worker Party.
With all that in mind, let’s get to the news.
This week, the US installed a new missile system in South Korea as it pondered regime change in North Korea and prompted China to threaten an arms race, while at home Trump announced that Obama had bugged his phones, though citing no evidence whatsoever. This claim has set off a tug-of-war within the State itself, as the FBI put pressure on the Justice Department to deny these claims while the White House has remained tight-lipped.
Meanwhile, Republicans have rolled out their proposed plans for replacing Obamacare, which includes all of the worst aspects of ACA and added new horrific qualities while threatening Medicaid for the poor. As Kate Randall wrote:
The proposed Republican plan repeals the ACA’s mandate, which requires those without insurance to obtain coverage from a private insurer under threat of a tax penalty. It also repeals the requirement that large companies provide health care to their employees. It replaces the ACA’s subsidies to help low- and middle-income people pay the cost of premiums with fixed tax credits based on age.
The most important changes involve Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor as well as some elderly and disabled people, which is jointly administered by the federal government and the states. Beginning in 2020, the Republican plan would convert federal funding for Medicaid to a per capita allotment, as well as end the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid. This will undoubtedly lead to a reduction in benefits for those who qualify, as well as higher rates of uninsured poor people.
The American Health Care Act draft legislation capitalizes on the reactionary features of Obamacare–rising premiums and deductibles, lack of choice of insurers, narrowing networks of doctors and other providers, penalties for being uninsured–by offering up a plan that is even more heavily skewed in the interests of the health care industry and the wealthy.
While the Republican plan would eliminate the mandate and tax penalty, it would still penalize people who don’t have insurance. If consumers allowed their coverage to lapse for as long as two months–due to a job loss or other unforeseen interruption–insurers would be required to charge them a 30 percent penalty when they bought a health plan.
While many have panned ‘Trumpcare,’ and called it dead in the water, the reality is that the elites want to gut all lifelines and support programs from the poor and working-class while distributing wealth back up to the extremely wealthy.
Bill Moyers this week put Trump’s class war agenda front and center, and shook off claims of Trump or Bannon’s ‘populism’:
A glance at the membership of the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum shows they are flocking to his side, with masters of financial buccaneering like Stephen Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, along with Doug McMillon of retail giant Walmart. There is even an ex-governor of the Federal Reserve Board, Bush appointee Kevin Warsh. This is hardly a populist revolution of the kind preached by John Steinbeck’s Tom Joad.
Trump’s senior government appointments reinforce this impression: his Cabinet, filled with moguls from Big Oil, mega-banking, investment and retail, makes George W. Bush’s Cabinet look like a Bolshevik workers’ council. Even Steve Bannon, Trump’s “alt-right” Svengali, is an alumnus of Goldman Sachs, whose stock has surged 38 percent since the election. The fact that America’s premier corporate raider, Carl Icahn, will be special adviser on regulatory reform, and that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was a Goldman executive for 16 years, does not inspire confidence that economic management will be different from that which piloted us into the 2008 crash.
Trump’s $6.2 trillion in planned tax cuts are the Bush policy on steroids, and are potentially three times the magnitude of the 10-year cost of Bush’s cuts. Because they are heavily targeted at the rich—47 percent of the cuts will go to the top 1 percent—they will exacerbate income inequality, which is already at its highest level since the 1920s. The tax-relief crumbs for low-income earners will be nullified or made worse by an assault on the minimum wage. Assistance to the poor and near-poor could be further eroded by a reduction in Medicaid benefits (already in the works, courtesy of Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican Congress). These actions will exacerbate the ongoing trend toward jobs without benefits.
Despite their windfall from Trump’s tax policies, the rich will only be able to consume so many filet mignons, Sub-Zero refrigerators and Patek-Philippe watches before reaching satiation. The rest of their tax cut dividend will go into lifting the equities market to stratospheric levels or building palatial monuments in Glen Cove, Palm Beach or Palo Alto. Since the tax cuts will be much greater than Bush’s own prodigious fiscal mismanagement, the potential equities and real estate bubble could be a thing to behold. This is anything but a populist economic policy.
Ironically, in the face of Trump’s latest temper tantrum about spying, it has been revealed that the CIA has created a vast web of apparatuses that allow them to better spy on people using cellular devices. According to The New York Times:
WikiLeaks on Tuesday released a significant cache of documents that it said came from a high-security network inside the Central Intelligence Agency. WikiLeaks called the documents Vault 7, and they lay out the capabilities of the agency’s global covert hacking program.
By the end of 2016, the C.I.A. program had 5,000 registered users, including government employees and contractors. And they had produced more than a thousand hacking systems. The agency’s arsenal, the documents indicate, included an array of malware ranging from viruses to clandestine “zero day” vulnerabilities in the software of major companies.
The files have circulated among former United States government hackers and contractors in “an unauthorized manner, one of whom provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive,” WikiLeaks said.
It goes on to write about the threats to a person’s smartphone:
The software targeted by the hacking program included the most popular smartphone operating systems: Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
The C.I.A. hacking initiative had a “mobile devices branch,” which developed an array of attacks on popular smartphones to infect and extract data, including a user’s location, audio and text messages, and to covertly activate a phone’s camera and microphone.
Apple’s iPhone software, according to the documents, was a particular target, including the development of several “zero day” exploits — a term for attacking coding flaws the company would not have known about.
Though Apple has only 15 percent of the global smartphone market, the intensive C.I.A. effort was probably explained by the “popularity of the iPhone among social, political, diplomatic and business elites.”
Even more chilling:
The C.I.A. focused on smartphone operating systems in large part to intercept messages before they could be encrypted, according to the WikiLeaks documents. So by targeting the phone’s underlying software, the C.I.A. was looking to bypass the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Weibo and other smartphone communications applications.
In addition to the CIA’s efforts, an FBI hacking division, the Remote Operations Unit, has also been working to discover exploits in iPhones, one of the WikiLeaks documents, the iOS hacking chart, indicates. Last February, while investigating the perpetrator of a mass shooting in San Bernardino, the FBI attempted argued in court that Apple was obligated to give the FBI access to its phones by producing a weakened version of the device’s operating system. If the WikiLeaks documents are authentic, it would appear FBI and other elements of the intelligence community are already deeply involved in discovering their own way into iPhones. The compromise of the documents also calls into question government assurances in the San Bernardino case that any exploit developed by Apple to allow the FBI access to the killer’s phone would never be exposed to criminals or nation states.
The CIA and FBI hacking revelations originate with a trove of more than 8,000 documents released by WikiLeaks, which said the files originated from a CIA network and date from 2013 to 2016. The CIA declined to comment on the documents, which also disclose techniques the CIA allegedly developed to turn so-called smart televisions into listening devices. Apple did not respond to a request for comment, and Google declined to comment, though indicated it was actively investigating the revelations.
However in another article they also pointed out in regards to the Signal app:
Contrary to the clear implication from these journalists and news sources, the documents WikiLeaks published do not appear to show any attack specific to Signal or WhatsApp, but rather a means of hijacking your entire phone, which would of course “bypass” encrypted chat apps because it thwarts virtually all other security systems on the device, granting total remote access to the CIA.
The Wikileaks dump also includes information about CIA malware that can hack, and remotely spy on and control, computers running Windows, macOS, and Linux. Which means that it’s also true that the CIA can bypass PGP email encryption on your computer. And the CIA can bypass your VPN. And the CIA can see everything you’re doing in Tor Browser. All of these things can be inferred by the documents, but that doesn’t mean using PGP, VPNs, or Tor Browser isn’t safe. Basically, if the CIA can hack a device and gain full control of it — whether it’s a smartphone, a laptop, or a TV with a microphone — they can spy on everything that happens on that device. Saying Signal is bypassed because the CIA has control of the entire device Signal is installed on is akin to saying the diary you keep in your bedside table is vulnerable because the CIA has the ability to break into your house. It’s true, technically, but not exactly a revelation, and odd to fixate on to the exclusion of other vulnerable items.
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) March 8, 2017
Lastly, Democracy Now and the Washington Post reported:
On Monday, the White House issued a statement on ExxonMobil that includes an entire paragraph lifted from an ExxonMobil press release issued less than an hour earlier. The paragraph, which celebrates ExxonMobil’s investments in new oil refineries and chemical manufacturing projects, was first noticed by a Washington Post reporter who posted the side-by-side comparison on Twitter. The ExxonMobil press release was issued at 3:10 p.m., and the White House statement was sent to reporters at 3:44 p.m. Besides small copy editing changes, the paragraphs differ by only one word: The ExxonMobil release calls its project the “Growing the Gulf expansion program,” while the White House statement calls it the “Growing the Gulf program.” The final sentence of the White House statement is also nearly identical to one in the ExxonMobil release, which claims the projects will create “many more jobs.” Longtime ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is now secretary of state.
Today, just a month after a federal judge in Austin blocked a new state health department rule that would require women bury aborted or miscarried fetal tissue, lawmakers in the Texas House State Affairs Committee held an hours-long hearing considering a bill that seeks to do exactly that.
The point of the measure is to honor the “dignity of the deceased” and nothing more, said the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Byron Cook. “Let me be clear: This bill has nothing to do with the abortion procedure whatsoever.”
Of course the bill does directly impact the provision of abortion and women seeking such care, as noted by Judge Sam Sparks in a strongly worded January 27 order blocking the Department of Health Services rule. While state lawyers have argued that U.S. Supreme Court precedent protects Texas’ ability to pass a measure that demonstrates its interest in “potential life,” Sparks wrote that desire couldn’t justify a rule that relates to the disposal of aborted or miscarried tissue, an activity that occurs “when there is no potential life to protect.”
Across the world, actions for International Women’s Day and the Global Women’s Strike took place and despite many of the events being controlled or managed by hacks associated with non-profits or the Democratic Party, autonomous, anarchist, and militant feminist actions still shown through:
— Blake Montgomery 💀 (@blakersdozen) March 9, 2017
— Blake Montgomery 💀 (@blakersdozen) March 9, 2017
— Shay Horse (@HuntedHorse) March 8, 2017
— Indybay (@Indybay) March 8, 2017
— Workers Solidarity (@WSMIreland) March 8, 2017
As always, send us your action reports!
This week Trump rolled out a new version of the Muslim Travel ban:
US President Donald Trump issued a revised executive order banning travel from six majority-Muslim countries and halting all refugee entry into the United States for the next 120 days. The order revokes and replaces Executive Order 13769, signed by Trump January 27, which was struck down as unconstitutional by several federal courts.
The revised order targets six of the countries named in the previous order—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—but exempts the seventh country, Iraq. This was after objections from the Pentagon, which feared widespread popular anger in the country where 6,000 US troops are deployed alongside tens of thousands of Iraqi army and militia forces in the ongoing conflict with Islamic State guerrillas.
The order omits several of the most flagrantly illegal and unconstitutional provisions of the earlier order, including a specific preference for “minority religious groups,” which in the context of Muslim-majority countries meant overt discrimination against Muslims.
Unlike the first order, the travel ban is prospective only: it freezes new applications for visas for the next 90 days, but has no effect on current visas, or on US legal residents (green card holders) coming back from visits to one of the six targeted countries. There will be no mass cancellation of visas, as was the case under the initial draft of the order.
That said, the reactionary and anti-democratic character of the order remains, with the main immediate effect felt by refugees, who will make up the vast majority of those denied entry to the United States, rather than travelers.
President Trump’s intentions regarding the Muslim ban have been clear. In a statement “ON PREVENTING MUSLIM IMMIGRATION” posted to his campaign website — and still available on it as I write — then-candidate Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Again and again, he refused to disown this proposal, expressing his opinion that “Islam hates us” and that there are “problems with Muslims coming into the country.”
An Afghan couple and their three young children have been released after being detained at the Los Angeles airport Thursday and held in custody over the weekend despite having valid visas to enter the U.S. The family all arrived with Special Immigrant Visas, which they had received because the father had worked for the U.S. government in Afghanistan.
— Carl P. DeLuca, Esq (@DeLucaAttorney) March 9, 2017
Meanwhile, deportations continued to led to protests, including the case of Rómulo Avelica-González:
Rómulo Avelica-González is the 48-year-old father of four US citizen daughters. He was seized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on February 28 while dropping his daughter Fatima off at school. Fatima recorded the arrest on a mobile phone, and the video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
Rómulo is currently being held at a detention center in Adelanto, California. The facility is under quarantine for a measles outbreak, and his family has not been allowed to visit him.
In Santa Cruz, where there has been recent heavy handed ICE activity, it has just come out that an DHS/ICE agent has been embedded within the local police.
In Santa Ana, people have pushed back against ICE:
ICE confirmed they sent Santa Ana officials written notification on Feb. 23 advising them the agency intends to terminate its detention contract in 90 days. The Santa Ana ICE facility announcement comes just weeks after a series of immigration raids across the country left immigrant communities reeling with fear and anxiety. But now that ICE has announced they’re leaving the Santa Ana facility, the activists have been reinvigorated and have a new set of demands for the city officials that approved the ICE contract in the first place.
Trump officials are also now stating that ICE officials will implement radical changes for how the State will deal with families that are apprehended at the border. As MSNBC reported:
The plan is part of a new set of policies for those apprehended at the border that would make good on President Trump’s campaign promise to end the practice critics call “catch and release.”
“If implemented, this expansion in immigration detention would be the fastest and largest in our country’s history,” says Andrew Free, an immigration lawyer in Nashville who represents clients applying for asylum. “And my worry is it’ll be permanent. Once those beds are in place they’ll never go away.”
Reached by phone, Lafferty said he was not authorized to speak on the matter. The Department of Homeland Security has not responded to a request for comment.
The plans for the expansion reflect the Trump administration’s planned overhaul of U.S. policy for dealing women and children seeking asylum, thousands of whom continue to show up at the southern border fleeing violence, vengeance and sexual assault in Central America.
Under the plan under consideration, DHS would break from the current policy keeping families together. Instead, it would separate women and children after they’ve been detained – leaving mothers to choose between returning to their country of origin with their children, or being separated from their children while staying in detention to pursue their asylum claim.
In the background, news of mass roundups and incarceration has also meant potential mass profits for certain corporations:
President Donald Trump’s tough-on-immigration agenda has been a boon for the for-profit detention industry, which months ago was facing lost government contracts and waves of negative press. This administration’s insistence on a zero-tolerance illegal immigrant policy, which aspires to undo some, if not all, of President Obama’s Executive Orders, has helped prison stocks return to levels comparable with prices of mid-August, when the DOJ announced it would move to phase out its use of private prisons at the Bureau of Prisons.
Now he’s poised to help them grow.
“We are going to triple the number of ICE deportation officers,” Trump told a crowd in Phoenix, Ariz. at the end of August. “Within ICE, I am going to create a new special Deportation Task Force, focused on identifying and removing quickly the most dangerous criminal illegal immigrants in America who have evaded justice.”
ICE currently holds nearly two-thirds of its 34,000 person detainee population in facilities owned and/or managed by CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), GEO Group, and other private prison companies. The rest are held in a network of locations, over 600 in total, through similar, temporary agreements with local and state law enforcement, like AirBnB for prison cells, meaning there’s incentive smeared throughout the detention system. With an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., a full crackdown would mean a lot of funding for the agency. By the end of September, the union of ICE employees had endorsed Trump.
Tens of thousands of immigrants detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were forced to work for $1 day, or for nothing at all — a violation of federal anti-slavery laws — a lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit, filed in 2014 against one of the largest private prison companies in the country, reached class-action status this week after a federal judge’s ruling. That means the case could involve as many as 60,000 immigrants who have been detained.
It’s the first time a class-action lawsuit accusing a private U.S. prison company of forced labor has been allowed to move forward.
“That’s obviously a big deal; it’s recognizing the possibility that a government contractor could be engaging in forced labor,” said Nina DiSalvo, executive director of Towards Justice, a Colorado-based nonprofit group that represents low-wage workers, including undocumented immigrants. “Certification of the class is perhaps the only mechanism by which these vulnerable individuals who were dispersed across the country and across the world would ever be able to vindicate their rights.”
At the heart of the dispute is the Denver Contract Detention Facility, a 1,500-bed center in Aurora, Colo., owned and operated by GEO Group under a contract with ICE. The Florida-based corporation runs facilities to house immigrants who are awaiting their turn in court.
The lawsuit, filed against GEO Group on behalf of nine immigrants, initially sought more than $5 million in damages. Attorneys expect the damages to grow substantially given the case’s new class-action status.
In short, mass deportations means big bucks for private and State prisons, as does all prison labor. The fight against these executive orders thus is not just a fight against Trump, or his ‘bad’ policies, but against a system based around prison, capital, and exploitation which makes these things possible.
However, in the face of the new Muslim ban and increased ICE action, we still have yet to see mass direct action against specific parts of the State apparatus which would make it impossible for the police to carry out these orders. Most demonstrations remain purely symbolic; even going so far as to protest outside of the White House, as if Trump cares what anyone thinks. We have to move away from these tactics of passive symbolism.
General Motors announced that they would lay off 1,300 workers, all amidst rising rhetoric from the Trump administration against immigrants, refugees, and Muslims:
Just three days after phasing out the second shift at its Detroit assembly plant and eliminating 1,300 jobs, General Motors announced Monday it will lay off another 1,100 workers at its Lansing Delta Township plant when it ends third shift production on May 12.
The layoffs at the vast complex just outside of the Michigan state capital bring the total number of job cuts announced by GM since December to 4,600. On January 20, 850 workers lost their jobs at the neighboring Lansing Grand River plant, and another 1,100 were laid off at the Lordstown Assembly plant, near Youngstown, Ohio.
The ongoing job cuts expose the fraudulent character of President Donald Trump’s posturing about protecting American workers. Trump has said nothing about the GM job cuts while appointing GM’s CEO Mary Barra to his corporate advisory board.
GM made a record $12 billion in North American profits last year.
Struggles continue against gentrification continue across the US and Canada.
The New York Times reports that over the last six weeks the Trump administration has rolled back more than 90 regulations in order to benefit Wall Street banks, gun sellers, coal, oil and gas companies and other corporations. The Times calls the rollback “one of the most significant shifts in regulatory policy in recent decades.” In many cases, the regulatory rollbacks have come after the direct requests of lobbyists or trade industry groups. Trump’s administration is expected to continue eliminating more regulations in the coming days and weeks, including rolling back rules that limit car pollution.
The #NoDAPL struggle continues, however the camps at Standing Rock have ended:
The original pipeline protest camp on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation closed Wednesday, as the Bureau of Indian Affairs encouraged people to go home rather than be found trespassing.
The final campers left the Sacred Stone camp after days of hurried cleanup that followed a warning from the BIA that the campers were trespassing on land majority-owned in trust for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
Federal law enforcement officers put up a hard checkpoint at 11 a.m. at which time no one was allowed back into the camp, according to BIA spokeswoman Nedra Darling. After that, they did a walk-through and told the last 20 people they had to go, which most did. She said there were “no incidents at all.”
Two people who did not want to leave were arrested without resistance for misdemeanor criminal trespass, and turned over to the Sioux County Sheriff, Darling said. A third, Native American person was also arrested by BIA officers on unknown charges.
Indigenous rights activists erected a tipi camp beside the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital Tuesday as part of a day protest against the Dakota Access pipeline, as well as over other indigenous issues.
“This fight isn’t over,” Mike Gamms, who came in from Los Angeles, told ABC News. “A lot of people thought the fight was over back in December or they think the fight is over now and it’s a lost battle but there’s still a lot of fight left and a lot more that can be done.”
Organized by the Native Nations Rise Planning Committee, the camp will host cultural workshops, speaker panels and water blessings over the next few days, according to its website, which notes that no overnight camping will be allowed.
On Friday, the events will culminate in a march from the Army Corps of Engineers headquarters to Lafayette Square, just outside of the White House. Organizers expect thousands to take part.
In New York and across the country, actions, marches, and attacks on corporations connected to DAPL continued:
— Jack Smith IV (@JackSmithIV) March 4, 2017
— Randy Haddock 🇵🇷 (@RandyHaddock) March 4, 2017
The #March4Trump actions, organized by a variety of far-Right groups, managed to bring together the growing ‘Deplorable’ pro-Trump subculture with some parts of the Alt-Right along with a small amount of the hardcore Republican base. Still, in a country where close to 18% of the actual population voted for the guy, the numbers at #March4Trump were…SAD!!
The marches and rallies, which by and large were very small, and only numbered in the several hundreds at their highest, and in many cases were dwarfed in comparison to the counter-demonstrations, showed both the lack of widespread support for Trump, but also a dedication to defending his regime from the committed far-Right hardcore. This reality was seen most clearly in Berkeley, where many participants were excited about the clashes with antifascists, and are currently planning to rally again in the city on April 15th, and are also currently raising money to fund the event.
At most of the reported March 4 Trump events, members of the Alt-Right were in attendance, as were Neo-Nazis, KKK members, and others. And, despite weeks of IGD being flooded with messages like this one below from a grade A ass-clown who send us this idiotic email from his work with all his info…:
We were neither turned into lampshades, dropped from helicopters, or rounded up by members of militias, the Alt-Right, or Deplorables. Overall, it seems that if there is one thing that has united those who make up these subcultures, as well as the various libertarian/ancap, Pepe frog fucks, RXs, MRAs, Alt-Right shitlords, etc, it’s a united desire to attack and fight anarchists, the Left, and antifa.
But while the #March4Trump actions were happening, at the same time, another wave of far-Right violence was being carried out across the US. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a shooting took place at a LGBTQ center, as various anti-Semitic acts have proliferated across the social terrain, as have several high-profile racist murders.
What the pro-Trump actions do do, is give more credibility to the State to attack social movements and struggles, overall. For instance, CHP officers in Sacramento are now urging the DA to pass down charges for upwards of 106 people for their role in shutting down a neo-Nazi rally in June of 2016.
Clearly, the State is pushing to crack down on antifascists and anarchists, and it is more than happy to have auxiliary forces attack them as well, along with the media slandering them in the press. Expect more on this subject from IGD soon, but as for now stay strong.
Looks like the Bay Area Anarchist bookfair is pushed back, but the ROAR Conference is just around the corner.
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Our shirts are getting low, and we are planning to make new ones soon. So if you haven’t gotten one yet, time to order!
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It’s Going Down is a digital community center from anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements. Our mission is to provide a resilient platform to publicize and promote revolutionary theory and action.