All the News You Didn’t Even Know Was Going Down

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As Trump addresses the halls of power in his ‘State of the Union’ speech, more dust-ups continue within the ruling class. Republicans are pushing the narrative that the FBI is ‘anti-Trump’ and ‘unfairly spied on the campaign,’ as the Mueller investigation plods along and begins to bring in various current and former Trump officials.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department debates whether to release the Nunes Memo, which supposedly shows that the FBI misled a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court in order to spy on a person close to the Trump campaign. It’s ironic to hear these death dealing bureaucrats talk about being so oppressed, with their rights violated, as the entire State ramps up surveillance, repression, and the militarization of the police. Meanwhile, Democrats doubled down on their support for the FBI, while continuing to rubber stamp much of Trump’s reactionary program while beating the dead horse of the Russia investigation as a way to divert anger at Trump as well as calls for impeachment. As Pelosi stated:

“Right now, Congressional committees continue to be deeply engaged in investigations into the President’s actions both before and after his inauguration. The special counsel’s investigation is moving forward as well, and those inquiries should be allowed to continue. Now is not the time to consider articles of impeachment.”

On Monday, after the political theater of the “government shutdown” over the weekend came to a very predictable close, the Democrats helped push through a (for the meantime) deal on DACA that leaves no protections for upwards of 800,000 “Dreamers” and continues to threaten them and their parents and families with mass deportation, but promises to revisit the issue in March before DACA expires. While the move should not be unexpected given the track record of the DNC, it will be a blow to whatever confidence is left in the Democrats to do anything to push back on the reactionary and authoritarian agenda of the proto-fascist billionaire and the volatile coalition of corporate CEOs, Nativists, and Christian Evangelicals.

Currently, roughly 90% of Americans favor a path towards citizenship for undocumented people living in the United States, as Trump’s approval rating continues to tank, and millennial opposition to Trump grows as does working-class anger and anti-capitalist sentiment. While the move by the Democrats for anarchists, autonomists, and revolutionary anti-capitalists is not unexpected to say the least, it is also the opening of a door to possibilities for greater organization, mobilization, and revolt against Trump, specifically against the potential repeal of DACA and continued large scale attacks on immigrants overall. In short, as Centrists and liberals lose ground and legitimacy, the case of direct action, self-organization, and mass action becomes stronger.

The proposed immigration plan put forward this week by the Republicans also signals what exactly lies ahead, as Centrist publications applaud the GOP for “finally” coming to the table with some sort of plan. In short, the plan by the Trump administration proposes that $25 billion would go to fund a massive border wall, put DACA recipients on a “path towards citizenship in 10-12 years” but not allow them to receive any sort of benefits (despite the fact they would be paying taxes), end the ability of people to petition to bring their families into the US, further militarize the border and ports, and moreover:

[R]esult in a massive hiring of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, who will be further armed and emboldened with pseudo-legal powers to conduct mass workplace raids, home invasions, and public arrests of immigrants.

The Trump plan proposes to hire “new DHS personnel, ICE attorneys, immigration judges, prosecutors and other law enforcement professionals” to speed up the deportation process. The plan will drastically slash due process protections for immigrants who are lucky enough to see the inside of a courtroom, or, in the government’s newspeak, it will “implement immigration court reforms to improve efficiency and prevent fraud and abuse.”

While both Republicans and Democrats applaud each other for coming to the table to talk about a plan, the reality is that immigrant policy has swung incredibly to the right and is being pushed largely by people within the Trump administration who have ties to both Nativist and Alt-Right groups. As the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote on the connections between Steve Miller and Richard Spencer:

In their time together at Duke, Miller helped Spencer organize an immigration debate on campus featuring white nationalist Peter Brimelow, founder of VDARE.com, a hub for white nationalists and antisemites who decry non-white immigration to the United States.

Spencer also praised VDARE and other anti-immigrant groups on the January 24 podcast for their dedication to attacking “chain migration.” Spencer noted that so-called chain migration, “has been talked about by the kosher immigration reform movement for many years to their credit. VDARE, but beyond VDARE, Numbers and you know Carrying Capacity, FAIR, all that kind of stuff. To their credit.” The “numbers” group Spencer is referring to is NumbersUSA, the mobilizing arm of the anti-immigrant movement and FAIR is the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an SPLC-designated anti-immigrant hate group.

Meanwhile across the United States, conditions grow worse, from lack of access to drinkable water, police continuing to stack up corpses, growing poverty, gentrification, and homelessness, and the looming threat of ecological collapse laying just on the horizon. At the same time, the past week has seen heated resistance in many avenues of daily life. In that spirit, let’s get to the news.

Trump that Regime

An investigation into a squad of police in Baltimore has found large scale corruption, theft, and also the fact that officers carried fake guns on them in case they need to plant them on the bodies of people they shot. According to The Root, the investigation began when:

[A] 19-year-old woman from New Jersey overdosed in 2011 and authorities began tracing the origin of the drugs. It led them to a Baltimore drug crew and the discovery that a Baltimore police officer was involved. By the time they finished investigating, eight members of the elite Gun Trace Task Force had been charged with crimes ranging from racketeering to robbery.

And then there’s the revelation that the supervisor of the unit instructed officers to carry a toy gun just in case they found themselves “in a jam” and needed to plant one. When one of the officers, Marcus Tayor, was arrested, officials couldn’t figure out why he had a toy gun in his glove compartment.

While this might be shocking to some, by now we should realize that this is common practice among many police departments. In the important book, Lockdown America, the author discusses in great detail how police department thrive off of taking petty cash from individuals, largely people of color, all under the guise of confiscating “drug money.” This money is then pocketed by officers, or absorbed into the police department itself. Even the recent Netflix show Dope, shows many of these same themes playing out, as police state openly that they use routine harassment and traffic stops in working-class neighborhoods, largely black and brown, to ‘shake the tree loose.’ Such interactions led to not only the confiscation of money and drugs, but also result in mandatory court fees that act as a de-facto poll tax, as well as increase the chances of deadly or violent police interactions.

According to Killed by Police, 105 people have been killed by law enforcement at the time of this writing since the start of 2018, making for an average of 3.5 people per day.

Meanwhile, The Intercept has published a new article detailing documents associated with New York’s “pre-crime” program, that is itself an evolution from both Broken Windows as well as a massive “Domain Awareness” system that brings together surveillance cameras, listening devices, and license plate readers. As you can imagine, so-called “predictive policing” largely doubles down police engagement in poor communities of color.

Meanwhile, the State has, no pun intended, predictably used the Super Bowl in Minneapolis as a forum in which to try out its new toys. While use of new surveillance technologies and police equipment at large sporting events is not new, the level on display this year shows the degree in which the security State is ramping up its arsenal. For more coverage, check Unicorn Riot.

As the Russiagate shitshow continues in Washington DC, more has come out about politicians and officials attempting to stop investigation into the Flint water crisis:

High-placed Michigan state environmental and health officials obstructed the investigation into Flint’s water supply and the connection with the catastrophic outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, according to the environmental engineering expert tasked with the study.

Wayne State University professor Shawn McElmurry testified in a Flint district court last week that officials attempted to prevent him from gathering data on Legionella and other bacteria in the Flint River water supply in 2016. McElmurry was appointed by the state to lead a team of experts to determine if the Flint water switch in April 2014 had led to a regional Legionnaires’ outbreak in 2014-2015. The outbreak eventually led to at least 12 deaths and more than 80 confirmed illnesses.

Despite tough talk in Michigan about water in Flint, and the EPA calling for a re-newed “War on Lead,” the fact remains that years after the crisis was drug into the public, nothing has been done to fix the problem. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people in Texas seem to have been drinking water contaminated with radium reports the Texas Observer:

Water in the small Central Texas town of Brady has the highest radium levels in the state — almost double the legal limit set by the EPA, according to a new report. But Kim Lenoir, the city manager in charge of cleaning up Brady’s water supply, says she isn’t alarmed. In fact, Lenoir, who moved to town four years ago, says she still drinks the tap water. “You have to understand it’s natural,” Lenoir told the Observer. “I know that it is safe to drink, just like we tell our citizens.”

Brady relies on seven wells that draw water from the Hickory Aquifer, which consists of sandstones that are naturally radioactive. Research has shown that chronic exposure to the element can cause cancer, and the EPA says that no level of radium in drinking water is safe. However, the federal agency has set a legal limit of 5 picocuries per liter and, in cities like Brady that are in violation, works with them to clean up the water supply.

Across the state, 38 utilities serving almost 25,000 Texans have radium levels above the EPA’s limit, according to a new report by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. Most of the water systems serve small towns and subdivisions that may not have the resources to install expensive equipment to treat the radium.

Thousands living on Puerto Rico are still without power and water. Seizing on the crisis, elites have also pushed to privatize parts of the island’s infrastructure in a process often referred to as “disaster capitalism.” One woman writing from the island stated:

The prevailing conditions and the sense of government indifference to the recovery efforts has been fueling social anger. A popular local news radio station that I listen to regularly has started airing calls from residents who talk about what their situation has been like since Maria. All of the calls are stories of people asking how much longer they will have to live without electricity. One can hear anger and anguish in their voices, especially the ones for whom power is a necessity due to medical conditions.

The situation is difficult even for those who own emergency generators, as it is very expensive to keep them running. Gasoline and diesel prices are very high and continue to rise every day.

Communities are starting to call for protests against the slow recovery process of the electrical grid. On January 26, residents of the community “El Verde” in Caguas were protesting and demanding that electricity be restored immediately.

Schools across the island have started to hold limited classes only until midday due to lack of water and power. The crisis has been used as an excuse for the government to shut down many schools instead of fixing them and making education accessible for students.

FEMA has also stated that it will be ending aid as of the end of January:

[I]t will, in its own words, “officially shut off” the mission it says has provided more than 30 million gallons of potable water and nearly 60 million meals across the island in the four months since the hurricane. The agency will turn its remaining food and water supplies over to the Puerto Rican government to finish distributing.

The task ahead for people living in these disaster zones is the same everywhere – to take over and manage what is needed to sustain life, not wait for help to come for above, because it isn’t.

Lastly, as expected the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines have been approved to begin construction. Expect resistance to kick into overdrive.

Living and Fighting

Organizers with IWOC and Fight Toxic Prisons report that the #OperationPUSH strike is still on, incarcerated workers are still taking action, and Kevin “Rashid” Johnson is reported to now being doing much better. Check out these updates below.

For a great roundup of #OperationPUSH thus far, check ShadowProof here. Meanwhile, SPARC reports:

Communication reestablished with Operation Push organizer in panhandle prison: “90% of their dorm not working or shopping in commissary.” Can’t disclose the exact location as communication is still vulnerable. This person also confirmed the hubs of activity at the original 8 prisons slated to strike were broken up and dispersed around the state through transfers but from other letters we’ve received we know that people are still holding it down either individually or in groups. More details to come…

SPARC went on to write, “23 people locked up for “refusing to obey an order and participating in a disturbance” during Operation Push according to a letter received this week.” The letter wrote:

“It was count time and dude said fuck that, get the “white shirt” in here (Captn., Ltnt., Col., etc.) we are tired of this shit. And a lot of people felt the same and when they were told to lock down they didn’t comply. The RRT (Rapid Response Team) team dressed in riot gear came, but we all ended up in our cells and were picked out from the camera footage later. 23 of us were locked up. It’s so funny, the lady who wrote this D.R. wasn’t even in the fuckin quad, the camera will show that. She just lied to make it look/sound good. We were all written the same D.R. (disciplinary report) well some of us including myself received 2 D.R.’s (Refusing to obey order/ and part. in a disturbance). So here I sit…”

For people looking to support anti-deportation organizer Maru in Tacoma, WA, her group just issued a list of ways to support here:

1) Donate to Maru’s deportation defense fund. Donations will be used to support Maru in her fight against ICE, including organizing costs, legal costs, and emergency costs in case of Maru’s detention.
https://www.youcaring.com/marumoravillalpando-1071888

2) Sign this petition and share it:
https://action.mijente.net/…/ice-serves-deportation-notice-…

3) Donate to NWDC Resistance. We are not backing down in our fight against detention and deportation.
www.nwdcresistance.org/donate

4) Now more than ever, be present in NWDC Resistance’s actions. The next one coming up is our 3rd Annual People’s Tribunal on February 4th at noon at the Northwest Detention Center.
https://www.facebook.com/events/2006428029682183/

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, residents of an apartment complex began attacking police with rocks in the wake of a police chase:

Police say they were forced to fire pepper balls into a crowd outside a Tulsa apartment complex late Thursday after residents threw rocks at officers at the end of a police chase.

This after officers stopped a 2003 Silver Chevy pickup for not having a tag light and other traffic violations. They say the driver circled complex several times before police used stop sticks, deflating several of the truck’s tires.

Police had to break out the windows of the pickup to get the driver out, and while they were doing that, apartment residents began yelling at them and throwing rocks.

They say at one point, police had to use pepper balls to keep the crowd back.

Across the US and globally, homelessness is growing. Just like everything, tough talk from politicians has led to nothing, as gentrification, lack of access to basic services, and the rising cost of living has only increased the amount of people living on the streets. In Oakland, a far-Right pro-Trump troll also showed up to harass those that protested a recent homeless camp eviction.

This week, protests took place in Baltimore against the eviction of a homeless encampment, while in the Mission District of San Francisco, protests continue against gentrification as did they in East Austin. Meanwhile, anti-techie and anti-gentrification vandalism waves continued in Seattle as well as in San Francisco, where the continued attacks on tech shuttles have caused buses to re-route.

Near San Diego, students held a walkout, march and protest after a police officer was seen slamming a student down on the ground. In Massachusetts, students walked out of class in opposition to racist and homophobic snap-chat videos. Meanwhile, in Eugene, students walked out of class to protest their school’s response to sexual assault.

In Pittsburgh, teachers are set to strike for the first time in 40 years, while in Indiana, protests against logging have been ongoing. Protests took place outside of Schumer’s house in response to DACA, while in San Francisco, anti-ICE demonstrations continued. In Ohio, 6 teens have been given additional charges for attempted to escape from a Juvie detention hall during a riot.

There has been a flood of antifascist activity, research and mobilization in the past few weeks. In Pittsburgh, local antifascists have published research about Alt-Right trolls on campus you can read here. Rose City Antifa also has some new research posted here. In Eugene, people have produced a new info-booklet you can read here. Meanwhile in Atlanta, people have launched a call-in campaign against a member of Identity Evropa who has threatened to lynch another law-student:

Also, Richard Spencer and his band of trust-fund fascists have announced that on March 4th in Detroit, they will hold a private conference, followed the next day by a talk at a University in Lansing, Michigan. Also this Friday in Colorado, there are reports that TWP will show up to counter-protest anti-Turning Point USA demonstrators.

Redneck Revolt in San Bernadino Valley is organizing several harm reduction projects:

SBV RR rolled out the Inland Empire Harm Reduction project yesterday. We distributed hundreds of cleans and provided folks with Narcan. Some solid connections were made. A big thanks to L.A. Community Health Project and other folks for the guidance and support. Clean needles save lives! Harm reduction for the people!

Finally, Water Protectors with L’eau Est Le Vie Camp in Louisiana report:

Bayou Bridge started construction of the pipeline during the historical high water season in the Atchafalaya Basin, increasing their damage to the wetlands and taking the risk that their open trench could deliver huge amounts of silt and sand into the interior wetlands silting-up our swamps.

They encourage people to get involved in front line resistance:

Host or attend trainings and become a part of our #BayouBridgePipelineWater Protector monitoring force.

You will learn important information around specific restrictions or regulations to which #EnergyTransferPartners are required to conform. We will also discuss the proper agencies to report spills, hazards, unsafe conditions, affects to wildlife, ect.

For landowners and others, there will be info provided regarding how to get your water and soil tested in order to get a baseline prior to this sloppy company running through your home, school, fishing spot, or playground.

These trainings will happen in communities along the pipeline route from February 17-24 at times decided by the hosts. The sign-up form suggests some locations, but hosts can also choose their own location. We can also add more dates as needed.

Hosts are not responsible for facilitation or materials – we’ll provide both. We are currently developing the training in coordination with folks who have been involved in other pipeline monitoring efforts.

Thank you for your continued support. NoBBP.org

Sign up here! https://actionnetwork.org/…/host-a-pipeline-monitor-trainin…

Social Media Roundup

https://antifainternational.tumblr.com/post/170262551534/philly-reportback-philly-antifa-using-some

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