Editor’s Note: In light of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange’s recent arrest, Truthdig is re-posting a timely conversation between Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer and legendary whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, both of whom have been vocal defenders of Assange and his work. A letter that Ellsberg co-signed outlines the Pentagon Papers author’s position on the attacks on Assange:
As part of their attempt to blacken WikiLeaks and Assange, pundit commentary … has tried to portray Assange’s exposure of classified materials as very different from — and far less laudable than — what Daniel Ellsberg did in releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Ellsberg strongly rejects the mantra “Pentagon Papers good; WikiLeaks material bad.” He continues: “That’s just a cover for people who don’t want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth is that EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.”
If I hear the word "moderate" used one more time to describe Democrats who keep voting with Republicans, it is entirely possible I will eat my teeth. These people are conservatives -- period, end of file -- who hide behind the "moderate" label even as they undermine policies Democrats have hewed to for half a century. A prime example: their refusal to consider policies that confront climate change and the health care crisis. Read the Article →
A dystopian world looms: ankle monitors to track teens, radio frequencies to find elderly people, and GPS trackers sewn into shirts to surveil children with disabilities. As carceral technology extends itself further and further into family life and the mainstream, we must ask if such intrusive information gathering can solve the underlying issues it purports to address. Read the Article →
Attorney General William Barr will not recuse himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into allegations of collusion between President Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government, a Justice Department spokeswoman said Monday. Barr's predecessor, Jeff Sessions, was publicly ridiculed by Trump after he recused himself from the Russia inquiry. Read the Article →
In addition to using occupied land, the Israeli cannabis industry is providing legitimacy and profits for people responsible for past massacres in Gaza. One medical cannabis company, InterCure, has even hired former Prime Minister Ehud Barak -- accused on multiple occasions of war crimes against Palestinians -- as chairman, with a generous salary and stock options worth more than $12 million. Read the Article →
Walls have a long history of symbolic importance, signifying not only lines of demarcation but frequently the distinction between zones of alleged civilization vs. zones of alleged barbarism. Trump's wall, rife with racial imagery, is not about safety for the people of the United States, but an opposition to nonwhite immigration. Therefore, the debate over the wall must be a debate about race and the legacy and ramifications of U.S. foreign policy. Read the Article →
After sustained grassroots activism made net neutrality a key component of the Democratic Party's agenda in the new Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Democrats plan to introduce legislation on Wednesday to restore the open internet protections repealed by the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission last year. Read the Article →
The Trump administration is rapidly escalating a secretive air war in Somalia. For years, the U.S. has attempted to aid the Somali government by targeting members of al-Shabab, but the effort has increased dramatically under Trump, and it has come with little congressional oversight or mainstream media attention. Watch the Video and Read the Transcript →
Many of the top colleges and universities in the United States have multimillion-dollar relationships with countries all over the world. Some of the most lucrative partnerships are with autocratic regimes or countries with troubling human rights records. Read the Article →
The Haitian masses have mobilized a new wave of protest against the corrupt government of President Jovenel Moïse. Taking the long view of this crisis, the uprising is the latest example of revolt against the strategies pursued by "great empires" since Haiti's birth as an independent nation state more than two centuries ago. Read the Article →
An unlivable planet caused by environmental collapse coupled with the sixth mass extinction is the new reality confronting us. If a future is no longer guaranteed us, how do we muster the motivation to act? In the second installment of our series, "How Then Shall We Live?," we explore both the reasons why we must act and a framework for doing so. Read the Article →
On March 4, legal proceedings began against the Humboldt Three -- two Israelis and a Palestinian from Gaza -- who disrupted a talk by an Israeli official at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, in June 2017. The three, active in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, were charged with trespassing and assault. In this interview, they speak about their activism and the political climate in Germany. Read the Article →
At the tag end of the Michael Cohen hearing, when the windbags were all aired out and the reporters were framing the lede, the star witness leaned into his microphone and dropped a dollar's worth of doom. "Given my experience working for Mr. Trump," said Cohen, "I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power." That woke me right up. Read the Article →
The Brumadinho dam collapse earlier this year, which claimed the lives of hundreds, was, like the Samarco dam catastrophe of 2015, no accident but an example of what extreme capitalism and privatization has come to mean in Brazil. We can expect such crises to only get worse under the country's far right and anti-Indigenous president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has promised to further deregulate Brazil's extractive industries. Read the Article →
John Feffer's Splinterlands series is an alarming, fictional account of impending ecological collapse and political fragmentation. In this interview, Feffer discusses our current climate disaster, and how his newest installment Frostlands depicts a catastrophic future ruled by corporations after the global order has long disintegrated. Read the Interview →
Bolstered by recollections from his youth, Sen. Bernie Sanders kicked off the first rally of his 2020 presidential campaign on Saturday at Brooklyn College, where he described how his childhood in New York City shaped his politics. Sanders also spoke of his desire to "transform this country" with the help of his supporters, and called for Medicare for All, ending wars abroad and transitioning away from fossil fuels. Read the Article →
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform announced last week it would be probing Trump administration allies and their push to have the U.S. government share nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia. Whistleblowers to the House committee were concerned that the plans, and administration officials' links to them -- including former national security advisor Michael Flynn -- would violate U.S. law. Read the Article →
Mexican maquiladora workers in 70 factories have won big wage increases and bonuses in a strike wave that began in January. Strikes of thousands of workers in the city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, have primarily hit auto parts factories. Meanwhile, the López Obrador administration has promised to reform Mexican labor law to strengthen workers' rights to choose their union representatives and vote on contracts. Read the Article →
States have an opportunity to act to close the loopholes that hide and protect the wealth of the top 1%, remedy the impact of the new federal tax law that lowers taxes on the wealthy, and make critical investments in infrastructure, energy systems, and programs that create broader opportunity and shared prosperity. Here is a menu of some of the most promising options. Read the Article →
A new initiative by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aims to advance the Common Core by getting schools to adopt "high-quality" curricula. But getting schools to use ready-made lesson plans under the guise of "high-quality" curricula will reduce teacher autonomy. Research has shown increased autonomy can lead to a sense of empowerment and make teachers more satisfied with their jobs. Read the Article →
Activists in rural Louisiana are fighting a Taiwanese company's proposal to build a massive plastics plant in a region where Black communities have long struggled with environmental racism due to encroachment by the petrochemical industry. The latest struggle in an area known to activists and environmentalists as "Cancer Alley" could thrust a small community that traces its roots to freed slaves into the global debate over fossil fuels. Read the Article →
Criminalizing sex work is a dangerous practice that exposes poor, trans people of color to police brutality and deepens inequality. Yet it is sustained by views that equate sex work with trafficking and ignore sex workers' rights. This is why D.C.'s decriminalization bill could be a momentous victory for gender and racial justice as it would center the needs of people working in the industry. Read the Article →
The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) requires that all military personnel obey lawful orders. Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice says, “A general order or regulation is lawful unless it is contrary to the Constitution, the laws of the United States….” Both the Nuremberg Principles and the Army Field Manuals create a duty to disobey unlawful orders.
“Sending troops to the US border with Mexico is as immoral and illegal as sending them to invade and occupy foreign lands,” Gerry Condon, president of Veterans For Peace, told Truthout. “Donald Trump is carrying out a racist war against asylum seekers who are fleeing extreme violence, which in turn is caused by decades of US support for repressive regimes in Central America.”
Members of Veterans For Peace are fanning out along the US/Mexico border from California to Texas in order to reach out to the troops that Trump has ordered to the border.
Condon added, “Soldiers who follow their conscience and refuse to follow illegal orders will have our support. We can also put GIs in contact with legal resources to help them get honorably discharged from the military.”
This is what we’ve waited for This is it, boys, this is war The president is on the line As ninety-nine red balloons go by …
— Nena, “99 Luftballons”
"That is the election in a nutshell, an amalgam of joy and sorrow. It is inspiring for what did happen and utterly galling for what might have been. Democrats handily won control of the House but lost ground in the Senate, a harrowing fact when one notes that Democratic Senate candidates collectively got 10 million more votes than their Republican opponents. Power in the Senate is further devolving to a hard-right Republican majority who only represent about 18 percent of the country. Nothing good comes from this."
While the rebirth of social democracy in the United States would be an important step in minimizing suffering and mobilizing the working class, it is crucial that the left also look beyond social democracy. Read the Article →
The docu-series "Surviving R. Kelly" has brought much needed attention to the oft-ignored experiences of Black women, who have long endured exploitation and abuse in the US. As more stories surface of Black survivors and casualties of violence, it's clear we have much work to do to create a culture that recognizes the value of the lives of Black women. Read the Article →
Undercover investigations at poultry slaughter facilities and documented evidence found by USDA inspectors reveals a systematic mistreatment of birds destined for slaughter. Yet, despite the fact that mistreatment of live birds negatively affects meat quality, the USDA has been reluctant to enforce its guidelines and offend the poultry industry, arguing instead that it's up to Congress to address the humane treatment of birds at slaughter. Read the Article →
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Progressives in recent weeks have applauded Democrats' refusal to bend to President Donald Trump's demands for a wall at the US-Mexico border. But on Friday, digital rights advocates launched a campaign to fight against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's suggestion that a so-called "technological wall" would be an appropriate alternative to Trump's planned wall. Read the Article →
Hoping to earn its share of the $3.5 trillion health care market, the medical industry is pouring more money than ever into advertising its products -- from high-priced prescriptions to do-it-yourself genetic tests. Advertising doesn't just persuade people to pick one brand over another, it makes people worry about diseases they don't have and ask for drugs or exams they don't need. Read the Article →
Mainstream media elites serve up a lot of palaver about free speech, but often use their megaphones to circumscribe conversation to make it appear that ideas that threaten their interests aren't serious ideas. Chip Gibbons, policy and legislative counsel at Defending Rights & Dissent, discusses recent pushes by the Trump administration to limit free expression and mainstream media's complicit role in it. Read the Interview and Listen to the Audio →
In the process of dreaming that constitutes our radicalisms, we often retreat into ahistorical and erasing revisionisms as opposed to situating our political visions within some concrete foundation. Within radical politics, Africa often exists far more comfortably as a site of the ultimate myth-making within political imaginaries than it does as a geographically bounded plexus of messy and sometimes contradictory material realities. Read the Article →
From the beginning, the Trump administration has waged a ruthless assault on women -- from our right to workplaces free of sexual harassment to the ability to make our own decisions about reproductive rights. As a result, it's been up to ordinary people to turn out in the streets to show that there is resistance to the hate Trump peddles. Read the Article →
When he was attorney general under Bush Sr., William Barr endorsed a report titled "The Case for More Incarceration," which criticized efforts to reduce prison populations and called for building more jails and prisons. Now that Trump has nominated Barr to replace Jeff Sessions, advocates worry that he will continue Sessions's assault on civil rights. Read the Article →
We are witnessing presidential malpractice on a towering scale. The first death by food poisoning due to uninspected meat, the first person murdered because she could not access a domestic violence shelter, the first reservation resident to die from lack of available medical care, will be the sole responsibility of master dealmaker Donald Trump. Read the Article →
Atlantic Coast Pipeline Faces Native American Resistance
Two Native American tribes in North Carolina are among the groups seeking to join a court challenge to federal regulators' decision to approve the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a $5 billion project proposed by utility giants Dominion and Duke Energy. The 600-mile pipeline would carry fracked gas from West Virginia through Virginia to eastern North Carolina, which is home to many Native Americans.
On Feb. 23, the state-recognized Haliwa-Saponi and Lumbee tribes along with 17 public-interest groups led by climate watchdog NC WARN formally asked to join an appeal of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) approval of the pipeline issued last fall. The appeal was originally filed in January with the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, by the Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates on behalf of 11 conservation nonprofits.
The tribes' move came one day after the Lumbee Tribal Council held an emergency meeting where it unanimously passed a resolution calling on FERC to formally consult with it about the pipeline's impacts.
"North Carolina tribes have been left out of the Environmental Impact Study," said Jan Lowery, chair of the Lumbee Tribe's Health Committee. "The study did not include the concerns of tribes, and the goal is to get a structured consultation."
The Lumbees' resolution noted the tribe's concerns about how the pipeline could affect unmarked ancestral burial grounds, sacred places, and the environment. It also pointed out that the National Congress of American Indians -- the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaskan Native tribal governments -- passed a resolution calling on all regulatory agencies to engage in meaningful consultation with the Indian tribal nations that would be affected by the proposed pipeline's construction and operation.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would pass through the territories of four tribes in North Carolina. In addition to the Lumbee and Haliwa-Saponi, Coharie and Meherrin communities would also be affected. In a letter that appeared last year in Science magazine, NC State University professor Ryan Emanuel documented the flaws in FERC's environmental justice analysis that obscured the disproportionate impact the project would have on Native Americans:
The nearly 30,000 Native Americans who live within [1 mile] of the proposed pipeline make up 13.2% of the impacted population in North Carolina, where only 1.2% of the people is Native American. Yet, the [draft environmental impact statement] reported that fewer than half of the areas along the proposed route had minority populations higher than county-level baseline proportions. The discrepancy stems from the DEIS's failure to account for large differences in population size in the studied areas; large minority populations in some places were masked by much smaller nonminority populations elsewhere. The analysis also failed to account for large differences in baseline demographics among counties, where minority populations range from less than 1% to nearly 70%. These large differences prevented meaningful comparisons among areas in different counties. Together, these flaws rendered FERC's analysis incapable of detecting large Native American populations along the route, leading to false conclusions about the project's impacts.
"We Want to Be Heard"
Similar concerns that FERC's environmental assessment ignored Native Americans were raised in recent years over the Dakota Access Pipeline, a project of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners that carries crude shale oil from North Dakota to Illinois, and sparked mass protests near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. While the Obama administration halted construction in order to prepare a more comprehensive environmental assessment, the Trump administration reversed that decision. The pipeline began operating commercially last June.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline opponents are shifting their focus back to the federal government following North Carolina's January decision to grant a water quality permit to the project. That decision is mired in controversy because a $58 million mitigation fund financed by the pipeline's developers was announced the same day the permit was granted. Republicans state lawmakers and some pipeline opponents have accused Gov. Roy Cooper (D) -- who recently hired as his legislative director a former lobbyist for Dominion and the American Petroleum Institute -- of engaging in quid-pro-quo politics with the fund's creation.
Many of the groups seeking to join the lawsuit at the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals are part of an alliance that filed a rehearing request with FERC following the agency's October approval of the project. The request said FERC made a mockery of the legal process by allowing Dominion and Duke to supplement their application numerous times after the comment period ended, leaving the public with no avenue to respond to the companies' claims.
In addition, the groups' request charged FERC with cutting corners on assessing the need for the pipeline, its cumulative health impacts, and environmental justice implications. The pipeline will also have a disproportionate effect on African-American communities in eastern North Carolina, as was documented in a 2017 report by the NAACP and Clean Air Task Force.
Furthermore, the request pointed to FERC's failure to consider the pipeline's climate effects. Pipelines are a major source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas pollutant. The agency's neglect to consider the climate when evaluating pipeline proposals is in the spotlight following a federal court's ruling last year that has put construction of the Sabal Trail Pipeline in Florida -- another project involving Duke Energy -- in question.
But rather than grant or deny the request for a rehearing within the allotted 30 days, FERC issued what's known as a "tolling order," which allows it to delay the decision indefinitely while construction is allowed to proceed.
"FERC has this habit of just delaying stuff," said John Runkle, an attorney for NC WARN who filed the rehearing request as well as the motion to intervene in the federal lawsuit. "We want to make sure we will be heard."
This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.
Sue is editorial director at the Institute for Southern Studies, which she joined in November 2005 as director of the Institute's Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch, a project to document and investigate the post-Katrina recovery. A former staff writer for the Raleigh News & Observer and Independent Weekly (Durham, North Carolina), Sue directs and regularly contributes to the Institute's online magazine, Facing South, with a focus on energy and environmental issues. Sue is the author or coauthor of five Institute reports, including "Faith in the Gulf" (August/September 2008), "Hurricane Katrina and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement" (January 2008) and "Blueprint for Gulf Renewal" (August/September 2007). Sue holds a master's degree in journalism from New York University.
Dahr Jamail, Truthout: As anthropogenic climate disruption and human development progress, rivers are drying up and water scarcity has become the new norm. In this interview, author, poet, sculptor and installation artist Basia Irland, whose work and activism eloquently weave together the critical threads of conservation and education, speaks of her reverence for water and its role on Earth.
Dahr Jamail, Truthout: Arctic sea ice levels are at record lows for this time of year, northern Greenland saw temperatures 63 degrees Fahrenheit above average for February, and the Antarctic food chain is vanishing. While these off-the-chart climate disruptions have scientists aghast, Trump, who never lets facts stand in his way, is seeking massive cuts to the US's climate research infrastructure in his budget proposal.
Benjamin Balthaser, Truthout: Arming teachers will do very little to stop the epidemic of school shootings in the US, but will do a great deal to change the teacher-student relationship and end the progressive role of education and educators. The right does not imagine teachers wielding weapons so much as weapons remaking teachers into violent representatives of the state with the legal right to take someone's life.
Richard Wolff, Truthout: The Trump/GOP budget marks another step in shifting the costs of capitalism's insatiable drive for profit onto the working poor, following four decades of growing inequality with measures that will exacerbate that inequality. But where is the large-scale attack against this unjust budget? Why aren't the Democrats, the self-proclaimed friends of working people, stepping up?
Amy Goodman and Juan González, Democracy Now!: For decades, West Virginia has been at the forefront of labor activism in the United States. As the state's teachers continue their historic strike, which has shut down every single West Virginia school, we look at the history of labor activism in the Mountain State.
Staff, AlterNet: Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation appears to be zeroing in on President Donald Trump. New details have leaked about a subpoena requesting wide-ranging information about the president and his associates going back to 2015.
Rebecca Vallas, TalkPoverty.org: In February, leaked documents revealed that the Trump administration is preparing new rules that would effectively end the United States' family-based immigration system. If implemented, the regulation would prevent low-income and working-class immigrants from entering the country by denying legal status to those considered "likely" to become a so-called "public charge."
Coco Smyth, Socialist Worker: The Food and Drug Administration's dangerously unscientific decision to classify the herb Kratom as an opioid will do nothing whatsoever to stop the US's opioid crisis. The danger today is not Kratom, but a social system that criminalizes the only means millions of people have to cope.
Arnold R. Issacs, TomDispatch: The Trump administration has been promoting a dangerous cocktail of xenophobia and Islamophobia by making misleading comments about terrorism for the past year. In truth, homegrown fanatics have killed many more Americans on US soil than foreign-born terrorists have.
Sue Sturgis, Facing South: Two Native American tribes in North Carolina are among the groups seeking to join a court challenge to federal regulators' decision to approve the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a $5 billion project proposed by utility giants Dominion and Duke Energy.
Chris Gottlieb, Amsterdam News: The platinum anniversary of the most important shift in American child welfare policy in a generation just passed without notice or public discussion. The Adoption and Safe Families Act, touted during the Clinton administration as a victory for children, has instead put the US first in the world in the legal destruction of families.