While pipeline battles continue across the US, including against the reinvigorated Keystone XL, the Dakota Access Pipeline has already started to leak. Meanwhile, support and approval of Trump’s healthcare plan, the American Heath Care Act (AHCA), has been tanking. Business Insider reports that only 21% of Americans support it, and other polls report it ever lower. By and large, most Americans (including it seems most Trump supporters) are rejecting the plan as well as the proposed Trump tax cuts. Meanwhile, Jeff Sessions is mobilizing to bring back the worst aspects of the drug war, as more than 30 separate anti-protest bills have been introduced since November 8th.
Class anger brewing at town halls. Man throws money at Republican speaker after railing aginst tax cuts for wealthy. https://t.co/cry7wnBT3c
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) May 12, 2017
But mass anger is also growing, specifically against the AHCA, as people are taking to town halls to give elected officials hell, cursing them, leading chants, and in one incident, even stuffing money down one elected officials shirt while denouncing the rich.
Dave Brat, of the ‘Freedom Caucus,’ one of the biggest backers of the attacks on Medicare and Social Security, at a Town Hall on the AHCA
In this context, the Democratic Party has begun to seize space and push back against Trump and his proposed health care bill, even going as far as to organize town hall meetings in Republican districts and openly drop “F-bombs” during large meetings. This signals that a part of mainstream liberals are tapping into the same ‘anti-establishment’ venire that Trump did.
But while the Democrats are licking their lips at the possibilities of a sweep in the elections in 2018, we should do well to remind ourselves that Obamacare in itself was essentially the first step in a push towards what the AHCA now is attempting to continue: put more money into the hands of insurance companies and corporations, while providing the lowest level of care possible.
The legislation that passed the House includes a huge tax cut for the wealthy and for insurance companies and drug and medical device manufacturers, worth about $600 billion over the next ten years. Even more important, as far as the ruling elite is concerned, it cuts $880 billion from Medicaid spending and $300 billion from subsidies for the purchase of health insurance, while providing a myriad of ways for removing millions of people from the health insurance rolls.
One particularly obtuse Republican congressman, Raul Labrador of Idaho, rebuked critics at a town hall meeting who claimed that the Medicaid cuts would lead to premature deaths. “That line is so indefensible,” Labrador said. “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”
Actually, a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that 45,000 deaths every year were linked to lack of health coverage, and that uninsured working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of dying than their insured counterparts. More recent studies have found that life expectancy among white middle-aged workers is beginning to decrease under the combined impact of deindustrialization, social cuts and the collapse of infrastructure, particularly in rural areas.
Some reports predict that as many as 24,000 people could lose their health care (and potentially their lives) under the new bill, largely due to preexisting conditions causing some people to lose their insurance or more than likely, make it unaffordable to them. House speaker Paul Ryan stated that he expects the bill to pass quickly in the Republican Senate, where Republicans there have already started to draft their own version of the bill, in a process that he predicts will take up to two months.
Anarchists, anti-capitalists, and anti-authoritarians need to be clear that the anger we are seeing across the United States in the wake of the AHCA is extremely volatile and is only going to get more intense. People are seriously afraid that their lives and the lives of their loved ones are threatened, and rightfully so. We encourage people to go to these town halls, talk with people and begin to formulate how these deep tensions could develop into large struggles against the entire capitalist system, and not just one aspect of it.
As we have seen in past, with the outbreak of all the major struggles, social movements, and grassroots eruptions that have shaken this country in the last several years, things often take off and grow from where we least expect it, sometimes in reaction to even the most basic transgressions. Could the rowdy town halls develope into town hall occupations? Could the confrontations with elected politicians, in both major parties, turn into large scale confrontations with the political order? What would it mean for us to begin to build autonomy and control over our bodies, health, families, and reproduction? Let’s do more than have these conversations with each other, let’s start to plan, organize, experiment, and talk with people. This crisis presents us with an opportunity, let’s build from it.
The move by Trump to solidly attack even a huge section of his base also signals another move – the State really doesn’t give a shit anymore. We are in a period where the State has become extremely illegitimate and it’s response is essentially: fuck you, I’m playing golf.
But we should do well to keep in mind that while both Trumpism and neoliberalism have failed to both pacify the broader population and create a new social peace, this doesn’t mean that magically an autonomous and grassroots movement will manifest and create an alternative in it’s place simply out of wishing it into existence. If history shows anything, it’s that it is often more the case that one seller of snake-oil is quickly replaced by another. If we want a true alternative we’re going to have to work and fight for it. So let’s get to it.
In that spirit, let’s get to the news.
Trump That Regime
So what about the AHCA is so bad? How could it affect us, our families, our elders, and people in our community?
The American Health Care Act, a bill recently passed by the House of Representatives, has a lengthy list of “pre-existing conditions” that could be subject to excessive insurance premiums. This list includes terminal illnesses like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Republican members of the U.S. House approved the American Health Care Act after amending it to allow states to eliminate the pre-existing conditions protections of the Affordable Care Act. Apparently they took comfort that people with pre-existing conditions already have guaranteed access to health care in America. Congress created that right back when Ronald Reagan was president, but did so in the most expensive and least effective way possible. If the AHCA becomes law, we will exacerbate that mistake.
As the political fervor suggests, the pre-existing condition protections are a big deal. More than 50 million people under age 65 have pre-existing conditions.
The Washington Post broke it down again:
To be clear, what they’re pushing for — and what Republicans have wanted for a long time — isn’t just revoking the ACA’s Medicaid expansion but going farther, to transform the program into block grants given to states and give them “flexibility,” which means allowing them to cut benefits and kick people off the program. This is apparently what hard-right conservatives like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee (both of whom are on the working group devising the Senate’s plan) are pushing for.
But why are the Republicans pushing so hard for this? First and foremost, because it will make a lot of very rich people even richer, but also because this attack on health care is part of a much broader attack on what Steve Bannon calls, “The Administrative State,” or in other words, any sort of broad social safety net for the working-class and poor.
Millions of working people are to be deprived of health insurance and access to health care in order to finance a trillion-dollar payoff to the financial aristocracy.
The centerpiece of the legislation is the gutting of Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor, and its effective termination as an entitlement program. This will be the prelude to the destruction of Medicare and Social Security.
As spokesmen for the ruling class have repeatedly declared, a basic problem of the US social welfare system is that the population is living too long. Advances in medical treatment and technology mean that it is now possible to live much longer than the actuarial projections on which Social Security and Medicare were originally based. What would, in any decent and humane society, be considered a great advance, is regarded by the financial aristocracy as an outrageous diversion of money from its accumulation of mansions, yachts and private islands, as well as the expansion of its arsenals for war and internal repression.
As the AHCA demonstrates, this is to be remedied by dramatically increasing the death rate.
In other news this week, a journalist was arrested after giving the Health and Human Services Secretary one too many questions, the VA announced that it is considering closing upwards of 1,110 facilities and privatizing them, as well as Trump firing the FBI director, James Comey, who referred to Trump as “crazy.”
After the firing, Trump went on to tweet threats at James Comey for leaking accounts of a White House dinner. The firing of Comey brings again to ahead those within the intelligence community and the “Deep State” who largely backed Hillary Clinton and have pushed for war in Syria and a push back against Russia. While Trump’s attack on Syria was applauded largely by the centrist media, the DNC, and the military industrial complex, Trump still offered no strategy for regime change, as his extended family continues to use the White House as a springboard for greater power and selling their tacky ass products.
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
As the New York Times wrote:
After President Trump accused his predecessor in March of wiretapping him, James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, was flabbergasted. The president, Mr. Comey told associates, was “outside the realm of normal,” even “crazy.”
For his part, Mr. Trump fumed when Mr. Comey publicly dismissed the sensational wiretapping claim. In the weeks that followed, he grew angrier and began talking about firing Mr. Comey. After stewing last weekend while watching Sunday talk shows at his New Jersey golf resort, Mr. Trump decided it was time. There was “something wrong with” Mr. Comey, he told aides.
But as mass instability and infighting within the ruling class grows, even street support for Trump has largely dissipated. Last week, Trump held a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at which members of the neo-Nazi group, Keystone State Skinheads were photographed wearing shirts promoting their group. Trump also moved to include in the rally part of his base that was still supporting him: the far-Right. Sitting behind him during his Harrisburg speech, was one leaders and several members of ‘Bikers for Trump,’ a far-Right pro-Trump group. But while Trump claimed that people were lined up around the block to see him speak, media photos however clearly show lots of empty seats in the grandstands. Other rallies in support of Trump also drew even less numbers. At a rally at the Minnesota state capitol in St. Paul, where anarchists organized 200 people to shut down a small group of Alt-Right ‘Stickmen,’ Trump supporters only mustered about 25 people.
Seen at the Trump rally in Harrisburg: pic.twitter.com/dBl3RHKJ73
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) April 29, 2017
— Chris Cox (@BikersForTrump) January 5, 2017
Needless to say, support for Trump is diving faster than the Titanic; some of the only people that still support him are the die-hard fans and supporters who will probably always support him, and even that base of support is being chipped away as Trump moves to attack Medicaid and Social Security, two programs he said in his campaign he would not touch.
Not to be outdone for sheer fuckery, Jeff Sessions is trying to bring back the glory days of the drug war – cause yeah, that worked.
In a memo to staff, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” — a move that marks a significant reversal of Obama-era policies on low-level drug crimes.
The two-page memo, which was publicly released Friday, lays out a policy of strict enforcement that rolls back the comparatively lenient stance established by Eric Holder, one of Sessions’ predecessors under President Barack Obama.
“This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency. This policy fully utilizes the tools Congress has given us,” Sessions told thousands of assistant U.S. attorneys in the memo. “By definition, the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.”
He elaborated on the memo in a brief speech to the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City, which honored him with an award Friday in Washington, D.C.
“Charging and sentencing recommendations are bedrock responsibilities of any prosecutor. And I trust our prosecutors in the field to make good judgments,” Sessions said. “They deserve to be unhandcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington.”
Once again, the Trump administration shows that if it can make jobs, it will at least make them in the repression industries. Prison guards, border patrol, and more cops. On that tip, be sure to check out Bobby London’s new piece in The New Inquiry here.
Get ready for a long hot summer.
The Borders Are for the Bosses
Largely swept under the rug by the mainstream and even Left media is continued assaults, sweeps, and raids against those perceived to be “illegal immigrants.”
As Nilles Niemuth wrote:
Agents with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), working with a host of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, concluded a six-week operation last weekend in which they arrested 1,378 people, of whom 993 were US citizens. Major raids were carried out in Houston, New York City, Atlanta and Newark, New Jersey.
Although agents with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations do not have the legal authority to arrest US citizens, the operation was overseen by the Homeland Security Investigations Unit, which claims much broader authority to enforce federal laws.
The arrests were part of ICE’s Operation Community Shield, raids coordinated with state and local law enforcement agencies initiated during the administration of Republican president George W. Bush in 2005 and continued under Democratic president Barack Obama. In 2016, Obama’s last year in office, ICE agents arrested more than 1,100 people, mostly US citizens, on suspicion of gang activity.
Many of those targeted in the raids have been identified as “gang members” or “gang affiliates” without any due process. ICE determines that someone they have arrested is a gang member or affiliate if they have a prior conviction for gang related activity, declare themselves to be a member of a gang, have tattoos which ICE declares to be gang related, or are fingered as a gang member by a “reliable source.”
Federal authorities have stripped a former Kennesaw State University student of her temporary protection from deportation, setting the stage for her possible expulsion. Jessica Colotl’s arrest and near-deportation for a traffic violation in 2010 sparked a controversy about unauthorized immigrants attending public colleges in Georgia and beyond.
Demonstrations, protests, and actions continue against ICE and attacks on immigrants more broadly. This includes a fight to stop the deportation of 25 year US resident, Luis Barrios, protests of which have led to the arrests of upwards of 19 people. In West Valley City, people protested the detention of a mother of three. Protests at the Monterey County Jail against the possible deportation of one ‘Dreamer’ took place In Ithaca, New York, hundreds gathered to protest one ICE arrest. Also, in Rockford, people protested a proposal for an ICE facility in the local jail.
On May 11 at 8:18 a.m., a video was posted publicly on Facebook which shows a brief clip of plainclothes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents terrorizing a local family in St. Paul when, according to witness accounts, their unmarked car swerved in front of a vehicle with four Latino men and stopped and detained them. A man from El Salvador and a man from Honduras were detained. Family members arrived on scene but could not get answers from ICE agents about who they were or why the men were being detained – instead they were shouted at and one of the detained men’s wife had a gun pointed at her. Neither man had any criminal conviction.
In response, the MIRAC (Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee) No More Deportations Campaign together with several allied organizations called an emergency response protest, sending a text blast asking people to protest the same day at 4:00 pm at the Whipple Federal Building, where ICE operations are housed. On about an hour’s notice, more than 25 people came to the Federal Building to protest, joining together with family members of one of the men who had been detained, holding signs saying “no more deportations!”
A call-in campaign to ICE has been initiated, demanding the release of the two men detained in the incident on the east side of Saint Paul, as well as another local man who was also detained in a separate case. Details on the call-in campaign are here.
— Rosa Goldensohn (@RosaGoldensohn) May 6, 2017
Reports: 19 arrested in Hartford in protest of Luis Barrios deportation hearing https://t.co/WCePyeLKMd
— Western MA News (@WesternMAnews) May 2, 2017
Also, if you needed another reason to hate GEO Group, then how about this from Democracy Now:
Meanwhile, in Texas, a state representative has admitted that the anti-immigrant bill he introduced into the state Legislature was actually written by the for-profit prison company GEO Group. Republican state Representative John Raney said, “I’ve known the lady who’s their lobbyist for a long time. … That’s where the legislation came from.” The bill would allow Texas prisons that hold immigrant families to be classified as child care facilities, meaning ICE could imprison women and children for longer stretches of time. The legislation, if passed, would directly benefit one of GEO Group’s for-profit prisons: Karnes County Correctional Center in Texas.
ICE officials in LA claim nothing has changed about their tactics—or their focus—when it comes to arresting undocumented immigrants.
But, as the paper reports, what has changed—thanks to various non-profit and immigrants rights groups—is that more immigrants know their rights.
In fact, the Times story begins with an arrest that doesn’t happen:
The man’s wife came to the door after a few minutes with her own demands: Did the agents have a warrant?
Told that they didn’t, she refused to allow the agents in the house and said her husband would not speak with them.
Thwarted, at least for that day, the agents departed. As they walked to their SUVs, a neighbor stood in the street recording them on his phone.
In El Monte, California, Trump supporters also disrupted and tried to shut down a Know Your Rights training for immigrants regarding ICE raids.
Anarchists and anti-authoritarians need to be at these ICE protests, attempts to resist deportations, and the general organizing work that is going into fighting against the deportation machine. See how you can plug in where you live.
Kill the Black Snake
The Dakota Access pipeline has suffered its first leak, outraging indigenous groups who have long warned that the project poses a threat to the environment.
The $3.8bn oil pipeline, which sparked international protests last year and is not yet fully operational, spilled 84 gallons of crude oil at a South Dakota pump station, according to government regulators.
Although state officials said the 6 April leak was contained and quickly cleaned, critics of the project said the spill, which occurred as the pipeline is in the final stages of preparing to transport oil, raises fresh concerns about the potential hazards to waterways and Native American sites.
Meanwhile, protests have continued to heat up again against the Keystone XL:
— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 8, 2017
There is currently a call to put pressure on Square Space is drop various Alt-Right and white nationalist groups which use the platform.
Eugene Antifa have also released information about two Alt-Right trolls who have been attempting to doxx antifascists in the wake of the Berkeley actions. More info here:
— Eugene Antifa (@eugeneantifa) May 2, 2017
Turns out two more Alt-Right trolls, the same ones who set up the fake ‘Boston Antifa’ page, also live in Eugene, in the working-class Whiteaker neighborhood:
— Eugene Antifa (@eugeneantifa) April 30, 2017
Atlanta Antifascists have released a new article on another Alt-Right piece of shit living in Georgia, read more here:
— Atlanta Antifascists (@afainatl) May 12, 2017
Also, if you want a good laugh, check out this awesome article about Kyle Chapman, the “Based Stickman” and his love for Scotchgard:
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) May 8, 2017
Kevin “Rashid” Johnson has lots of updates on his blog here.
Anarchist prisoner Jeremy Hammond has released a new set of updated pictures. HE IS LOOKIN SWOLE AS FUK!:
It’s been almost a year since we’ve had new pictures of Jeremy, but, as they say, good things come to those who wait!
As always, photos of Jeremy are a rare treat. As you can see, Jeremy is looking strong and healthy, posing with comrades from Manchester FCI. I’ve spoken with numerous people who have served time with Jeremy, both in New York and in Manchester, and they assure me that Jeremy is well-liked by his fellow inmates. Jeremy himself tells me that he is doing well, that there is no “news” to speak of, really, and that he appreciates the letters, books, and articles that people send him.
Former Black Panther and political prisoner of 47 years, Sekou Kambui, passed on. As Unicorn Riot wrote:
It has been two years since Sekou Kambui was released from the Alabama prison system after spending 47 years of his life incarcerated. He and fellow Human Rights activist Audri Scott Williams spoke in Denver on Thursday, July 14th, 2016 at an event hosted by Denver Anarchist Black Cross about his life after prison and their current collective work.
During his teenage years in the 1960s, Sekou participated in the Civil Rights movement through mobilizing fellow youth in Alabama and providing security for meetings of the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC), Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
When Sekou was 19 years old, he became affiliated with the Black Panthers Party for Self-Defense, as well as, the Republic of New Afrika. In the 1970s, Sekou spent most of his time community organizing in Birmingham, Alabama with the Alabama Black Liberation Front, the Inmates for Action, and the Afro-Amerikan People’s Party.
Because of his activism in the Civil Rights movement, he was watched closely by the FBI’s counterintelligence program entitled COINTELPRO, and was subsequently profiled and pulled over on January 2, 1975 for allegedly running a yield sign and/or speeding. During the traffic stop the officer found a pistol in Sekou’s vehicle, and after strong suspicion by the officer that it was the weapon listed as stolen during a Tuscaloosa, Alabama murder, Sekou was taken into custody and charged for the murders of the two white men; a fireman and KKK official Olmstead Copeland and multi-millionaire oilman John Harbin.
Throughout both trials, major witnesses admitted that they had been coerced into testifying falsely against Sekou and were repeatedly visited by certain members of the Tuscaloosa County and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and were deliberately coached on what to say during their testimonies.
Sekou was never placed at or near the crime scene, the real murder weapon was never found, nor was there ever any direct evidence to connect him to the murders.
While in prison Sekou remained politically active by becoming a jailhouse lawyer and prisoners’ Civil and Human Rights activist. Many prisoners owe their freedom to Sekou’s legal efforts on their behalf. He has won numerous civil actions regarding medical malpractice, abusive treatment, abusive segregation, and abusive prison conditions.
It’s Going Down!
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