Political Action

Crossing the U.S. Border? Here’s How to Securely Wipe Your Computer

Deep Links - Wed, 07/26/2017 - 16:25

Many people crossing the U.S. border are concerned about the amount of power that the government has asserted to search and examine travelers’ possessions, including searching through or copying contents of digital devices, like photos, emails, and browsing history. The frequency of these intrusive practices has been increasing over time.

Some travelers might choose to delete everything on a particular device or disk to ensure that border agents can’t access its contents, no matter what. Our 2017 guide for travelers addressed this option, but did not give detailed advice on how to do it, because we think most travelers won’t consider it their best option. Before embarking on wiping your computers, please read our guide to understand your legal rights at the U.S. border.

We don’t recommend disk wiping as a border crossing security measure for most travelers. It’s a less common data protection technique than the other ones highlighted in our guide, which include encryption and minimizing data that you carry. Wiping your computer will make it unusable to you. Also, it may draw the attention of border agents, since it is unusual for travelers to carry blank devices with them. This may be of particular concern to travelers who are not U.S. citizens, who may receive more scrutiny from border agents. Again, you should consider your risks and security needs carefully before deciding how best to secure your data for border crossings as everyone’s individual risk factors and data security needs are different.

Now that you’ve been sufficiently cautioned, let’s look closely at wiping your computers.

Why Wipe?

Why might you want to want to wipe a disk instead of just deleting individual files, messages, and so on? The main reason is what can happen if a device is seized. Forensic inspection of a seized device with special software tools can recover significant amounts of deleted information and references to individual files and software that have previously been removed. Wiping your disk entirely is a valuable means of protecting data against such a forensic examination, and also not having to make individual decisions about whether to erase particular things.

It’s also important if you want to make sure photos or videos are truly deleted from a camera or phone’s SD card, since these devices rarely delete media securely.

A laptop can wipe its own hard drive, or removable storage media like USB drives or SD cards, by overwriting the contents. One method of doing this is formatting the storage medium, but note that this term is applied to two very different processes. Only “low-level formatting” (also called “secure formatting” or “formatting with overwriting”) actually erases the hard drive by overwriting data. “Quick format” or “high-level format” does not do so, and is thus less secure. Formatting tools let you choose between a quick format and a secure overwriting format. For data destruction, always choose a secure overwriting format.

You should already have built-in tools that can perform a low-level format or wipe a hard drive, or you may download third-party tools to do this. Below are some steps you can take with major computer operating systems to wipe your devices or removable media. Keep in mind that after wiping a hard drive, you may need to reinstall the operating system before you can use the device again.

One consideration when wiping computer media is the limited ability to delete data on solid-state drives (SSDs) ubiquitous in modern computers, including flash-based removable media as well as internal SSD hard drives. Because of a technology called wear leveling, overwriting may not reliably delete these kinds of storage media in full. This technology tries to spread out where things are stored to prevent any one part of the storage medium from being used more than another part. Researchers have shown that overwriting a single file on an SSD often doesn’t destroy that file’s contents; even after the entire device has been overwritten, wear leveling may leave a small random portion of the data on these media in a recoverable form. There are software vendors that promise to securely delete SSDs, but it is still not clear to us whether this can be done reliably to make the information completely unrecoverable. Encrypting your SSD may be the best way to prevent access to the information on the drive, though of course you have to do that ahead of crossing the border.


The built-in Disk Management tool can format removable media (be sure to uncheck the “Perform a quick format” option). It will not format the built-in hard drive if the computer was started from it. Formatting the built-in hard drive requires starting the computer from a bootable CD or USB drive, such as DBAN, described briefly below.


The built-in Disk Utility tool can format external storage media (be sure to click “Security options” and select “Most secure”) and the built-in hard drive. Like its Windows equivalent, it will not format the built-in hard drive if the computer was started from it. To erase the built-in hard drive, access recovery utilities, which includes the Disk Utility, by pressing ⌘R while the system is starting up. Unlike opening Disk Utility on an already-running computer, this approach will permit erasing the built-in hard drive.


Most Linux distributions have a built-in disk utility that can format either removable media or the built-in hard drive. For GNOME environments, open GNOME disk utility (or “Disks”), select a particular partition, then click the gear icon and then “Format partition…” Remember to select “Overwrite existing data with zeroes.” Note that formatting a hard drive partition that’s used to boot your operating system will make your computer unbootable until an operating system is reinstalled.


To restore your ChromeOS machine to its factory state, you can make use of the “Powerwash” feature. Powerwash deletes all the locally stored user data on the device, but not things that have been backed up to Google’s cloud.

A More Complex Method

If you want to completely erase the contents of your built-in hard drive by overwriting, the most reliable option may be to download a bootable data erasure tool like DBAN. The DBAN image file needs to be downloaded and written onto a USB drive or CD-ROM; then the computer is booted from the medium containing DBAN, which gives an option to overwrite the hard drives.  DBAN works independently of the operating system installed on the device, but you should exercise caution as using DBAN correctly requires following directions precisely.

Take Action

Want to learn more about how to protect your digital data when you cross the U.S. border? See EFF’s full guide. You can also download and print our pocket guide for defending privacy at the U.S. border and our one-page overview of the law at the border.

It’s sad that travelers have to worry about elaborate defensive measures to prevent border agents from snooping through their devices for no particular reason at all. Concerned about border agents running roughshod over our rights? There’s a bill in Congress that aims to fix this. Tell your elected representatives to rein in CBP.


Speak up for border privacy

Categories: Political Action

Our Proposal to add CC Symbols to Unicode, Round 2

Creative Commons - Wed, 07/26/2017 - 13:07

Last October we submitted an initial proposal to get CC license symbols into Unicode. Since then we’ve gotten some feedback from them, incorporated that into our thinking, and submitted an updated application.

Here is the new proposal. (The old one for reference here.) The new proposal presents the CC license icons as graphic symbols. We’ve discussed a bit how trademark rights come into play and think we’ve come up with an inclusive approach that permits public access to the graphic symbols, without affecting the trademark rights in the specific icons. This is similar to how companies like IBM have managed their marks with Unicode.

We also asked the public some questions about how you currently mark works with CC licenses. We thought you’d be interested in the results so here are some very simple graphs that show those results (disclaimer: I am not a data analyst). Of the 709 responses, it seems that more than half (441) use the CC license icons or buttons to indicate the license on a work. Many more (681) said they would also like to be able to use the CC license icons in text (Unicode!) to indicate the CC license. Good news—we’re working on addressing your concerns. Fingers crossed that our new proposal will be accepted by Unicode. Thanks for all your support!


The post Our Proposal to add CC Symbols to Unicode, Round 2 appeared first on Creative Commons.

Categories: Political Action

The summer of fear for NYC subway riders

Socialist Worker - Wed, 07/26/2017 - 01:00

The lives of riders and transit workers are at risk in New York, while a political blame game plays out about who's responsible for fixing the mess, writes Natalia Tylim.

Thousands of New York City commuters stuck underground

AFTER MONTHS of increasing delays at all times of the day and night, a series of incidents have now raised an even more urgent question: about the daily safety for those who ride and work on New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

On July 17, the Monday morning commute ground to a halt for anyone in need of the A, B, C or D lines when a track fire trapped two trains full of people underground and disrupted service for tens of thousands trying to get to work.

Four days later, the derailment of a Q train at Brighton Beach--the fourth derailment on an MTA subway this year--shut down service for five hours, with passengers forced to evacuate. That same day, jam-packed rush hour trains from the Roosevelt Avenue transit hub in Queens were stalled for hours due to signal problems.

New Yorkers' growing frustration at constant service problems is now being combined with anxiety about impending doom.

A 2005 New York magazine article about the chronically underfunded MTA by Clive Thompson opened with this hypothetical scenario:

Picture this: Sometime in the near future, you get on a subway train heading into Brooklyn, and zoom into the tunnel. Unbeknownst to you, though, something bad is happening on the other side of the river. A track fire is smoldering. Throughout the subway, there is fine-grained metal dust that comes from the constant grinding of wheels on rails. It's combustible stuff, and tonight, as the train ahead of you leaves the station, the 600-volt current from the third rail arcs and ignites some of the dust, like a Fourth of July sparkler. The sparks torch a mess of paper wedged on the tracks, left behind because budget cuts have resulted in fewer cleanups.

Normally these fires are a mere nuisance--but this one really gets going, and soon the tunnel ahead of you fills with acrid smoke. The tunnel's nearest ventilation fan hasn't been fully repaired, so the smoke doesn't clear. The motorman tries to contact his command center, but his radio has hit one of the system's "dead spots," so he gets no signal. Chaos ensues: The car fills with smoke, nobody has any clue what's going on, and a bunch of passengers start kicking out windows in a bid to escape.

There's a growing sense that this nightmare scenario could happen any day. The dangerous combination of budget cuts, neglect of upkeep and any number of unfortunate but not uncommon events could create a disaster on the scale of London's Grenfell fire.

As in London, this situation reflects a tremendous disregard for the safety of transit workers and ordinary people who have no choice but to rely on the subways to make it from home to work and back.

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WHO WILL take responsibility for this gathering state of emergency? On the local level, city and state officials are eager to absolve themselves of the financial and moral burden. The debate taking place is about who is responsible for funding the MTA.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says the state of New York needs to step up and help fix the problem and that the state budget should allot more funds to the MTA since it is such an outsized proportion of the state's transit system.

Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his reliable collaborator Joe Lhota--whose second appointment as MTA Chair followed his failed Republican Party run for New York City mayor--are insistent that the NYC Transit Authority needs to take on more of the responsibility.

They say that the only reason the state got involved in the first place is because the city needed help during the fiscal crisis of the 1980s. At that time, the state was acting like a private contractor, helping for a particular amount of time to address a crisis, but now that the fiscal crisis is over, state officials believe that the city needs to take responsibility.

Lhota is working to draft a plan to modernize and fix the New York City subway system, but if his suggestion to ban food in subway stations in order to stop track fires is any indication of the direction he will take things in, there can be little hope that anything good will come from this plan.

For one thing, blaming commuters who eat food for causing track fires is a ridiculous assertion, considering that one of the first impacts of budget cuts to the transit system has been fewer trash cans in stations and less regular track cleaning.

The last thing that would make for a better subway experience is for cops to be deployed to ticket and harass anyone eating a sandwich or littering when there are no garbage cans to be found.

But this blaming of ordinary people fits in with the constant privileging of big spending projects--such as the extension of the Second Avenue subway line and the Hudson Yards luxury station on the west side of Manhattan--over the more basic maintenance and repairs that would make the everyday use of the subway safer and smoother.

Mayor De Blasio, too, thinks of the subway primarily as a way of expanding the boom in the housing market as his proposal for a BQX trolley along the waterfront from Brooklyn to Queens shows.

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BUT DON'T take my word for it--listen to the real experts, the men and women who make the subways and buses run, the members of Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 that represents MTA workers. This week, they put out a 10-point plan for fixing the subways.

"The lesson that needs to be learned is that you can do all the long-term investment you want in a capital plan, but you can't forget about day-to-day reliability of the system," explained TWU President John Samuelsen in stressing the need for more upkeep.

The TWU plan calls for more regular preventative inspections, more maintenance, back-up plans for when cars go out of commission, and more staff to carry out these tasks. Indeed, the same supposed lack of funds to maintain the trains is regularly used as a pretext to dangerously understaff the transit system and then scapegoat the union for the resulting problems.

In mid-July, for example, the union filed a grievance on behalf of a pregnant employee who couldn't even take a bathroom break due to understaffing.

The scapegoating of the union by city and state politicians is cynical and reactionary--but it is also what intrinsically binds the interests of transit workers with transit riders.

More than 100 activists attended a July 22 film screening sponsored by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) about the Los Angeles bus riders union. The screening was followed by a discussion about the power that could be unleashed if train riders and train workers linked forces around demands for improvements.

While the politicians that run New York try to pass the buck, life for working people in the city is becoming more unlivable and more precarious. Our lives are being put at risk by the interests of capital, and those that serve it.

At this moment, we're are a far cry from being able to generate enough pressure to compel the politicians to pursue a different course, but that storm is brewing. It is up to socialists and the rest of the left in New York City to put organizational muscle behind demands to improve the crumbling transit system.

This issue isn't going anywhere--and we may not be either if we can't force the state to fund our means of transport.

Categories: Political Action

What happened at Evergreen State?

Socialist Worker - Wed, 07/26/2017 - 01:00

Patrick Edward H. writes from Washington on the events at Evergreen State College that led to a right-wing media crusade and threats of violence from the alt-right.

Students rally against racism at Evergreen State College (The Cooper Point Journal)

EVERGREEN STATE College in Olympia, Washington, made national headlines at the end of the school year over student protests that provoked violent threats from the far right, leading to a three-day campus shutdown in June.

Much of the media depicted the controversy as a story of political correctness gone haywire, with student demonstrators attempting to stifle a professor's harmlessly stated opinions. But there's more to the story than what the press chose to focus on.

The facts need to be made clear, not only to set the record straight about what happened at Evergreen, but because the events of the spring raise questions that the left needs to discuss: about how we take on the growing threat of the far right and what methods can best challenge racism--for example, calling for firings and suspensions or confronting and politically defeating reactionary ideas.

Evergreen is a small alternative college known for its progressive faculty and its founding goals of changing the dynamic of higher education towards group learning, ecology and social justice. Not surprisingly, it has long been a target of the right wing and regularly faces threats of defunding and privatization from the Washington state legislature.

Tensions between students and the administration have been high for some time, with, just in the past, women on campus protesting how staff conduct rape investigations; Black students objecting to inadequate training and over-arming of the campus police; and LGBT students challenging the understaffing of the trans and queer center. A majority of students has been sympathetic to these grievances.

These tensions came to a head following the night of May 14, after two Black students were woken in their dorm by officers at 11 p.m. and taken to campus police headquarters, where they were questioned until 2 a.m.

The interrogation stemmed from an online Facebook debate about what many people perceived to be a racist comment--and, later, an in-person argument in the cafeteria, though many witnesses stated it "was very far from physical." Police singled out the Black students involved in the debate for hours of questioning, yet never formally detained the two or charged them with anything.

The following day, 100 protesters assembled near the campus administration building to stand up against this act of police harassment.

"Students involved cited the general distrust and dislike for police services, the administration and the general treatment of [people of color] on campus as reasons for gathering," read a report in the Cooper Point Journal, Evergreen's student-run newspaper.

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MEANWHILE, BRET Weinstein, a professor of biology at Evergreen, wrote an e-mail that would dominate media coverage of the Evergreen controversy afterward.

Weinstein's e-mail objected to a change in a campus tradition called the "Day of Absence," in which, in the past, staff and students of color left campus and congregated separately. This year, organizers of the Day of Absence instead called for whites to leave campus and discuss race issues separately.

Though participation in the Day of Presence has always been voluntary, involving several hundred students at most, Weinstein called this year's plan "a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself." Weinstein said he wanted to lead a "discussion of race through a scientific/evolutionary lens"--a proposal taken by many as intentionally provocative, given the shameful history of pseudo-scientific explanations to justify racism.

Weinstein is also known on campus for, late last year, publicly opposing a recommendation from the college's Equity and Inclusion Council, designed to encourage diversity, for a formal "equity justification/explanation" process for all new faculty hires.

Protests around the previous questions, and now incorporating outrage at Weinstein, continued to build through May 24, when students occupied an administration building and demanded to be heard.

During the occupation, Weinstein and some of his supporters attempted to block students from passing through the building. Students say this wasn't the first time Weinstein tried to confront students--throughout the previous week, he had approached protesters to engage in yelling matches, they say.

A coalition of students of color leading the occupation developed a wide-ranging list of demands that included disarming of Evergreen police and a ban on any expansion of their facilities or powers, along with numerous measures to add staff and services for LGBTQ undocumented and other groups of students.

The coalition also called for Weinstein to be suspended without pay, along with the suspension of an Evergreen police officer who had acted aggressively during the previous week's protests, and the firing of an administrator involved in student conduct.

The protests continued outside the administration building until May 26, when Evergreen President George Bridges held a six-hour discussion with students to air their grievances with the administration. By the end, he rejected the demands involving the disciplining of staff and disarming of police, but agreed to meet the other demands. After Bridges' concessions, protests continued, but were smaller.

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IN THE meantime, Weinstein made himself a prominent figure on Fox News and other right-wing media with his claims that he was the victim of persecution by student "mobs" intent on a "witch hunt." Always on the lookout for a right-wing cause to promote, Fox News compared Weinstein's treatment by students to the murderous Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Right-wingers began to focus on Evergreen, subjecting students to online harassment. On YouTube and Facebook, there were comments calling for "a new Kent State"--referring to the National Guard shooting of antiwar protesters in 1970--and other threats against the campus.

On June 1, following Weinstein's claims of persecution being publicized on Fox News and in the Wall Street Journal, the local county hotline received an anonymous call saying, "I'm on my way to Evergreen University (sic) now with a .44 Magnum. I'm going to execute as many people on the campus as I can get ahold of."

The local "alt-right" moved into action when the group Patriot Prayer announced what it called a "Free Speech Evergreen State College" rally for June 15.

The day before, several dozen people turned out in downtown Olympia to show community support for the college. The next day, about 120 counterprotesters gathered to oppose Patriot Prayer, which finally arrived an hour after its announced starting time.

The two groups were kept separate by a line of state troopers in riot gear. Patriot Prayer's chief organizer Joey Gibson and others were sprayed with Silly String, but that was the extent of the confrontation.

Ironically, President Bridges used the June 15 protest and counterprotest as an excuse to call for more police on campus. "Our hard-working law enforcement officers need the training, equipment, and staffing levels necessary to ensure their continued ability to protect all on our 1,000-acre campus," Bridges said in testimony to a state legislature committee. "I will be seeking help from the Legislature to meet the challenges of campus safety."

So a sequence of events that began in part with protests against the police presence on campus ended up being used as a justification for more police.

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OBVIOUSLY, FOX News and various right-wing organizations jumped at an opportunity to push their claim that right-wingers are being persecuted, especially on college campuses, just for expressing their opinions. They twisted the facts to suit their crusade against the left.

But students and activists could have responded to the right differently.

For example, when Weinstein started pushing his claims in the media, the reports on Fox and elsewhere included clips of students heatedly denouncing him. While highly edited and lacking context, some of the statements made by students in those clips were counterproductive to the goals of the protesters.

Likewise, the demand that Weinstein be suspended only lent credence to the idea that protesters were attempting to limit his "free speech"--for certain, it made it easier for Weinstein to play the victim. Plus, there is the long history of authorities using rules and laws intended to control the right against the left instead.

Activists could have focused on challenging Weinstein's statements and exposing them as leading to reactionary conclusions. As students have shown in recent protests, they have plenty of evidence to show the existence of racism on campus and the need to challenge it.

Even the idea for the Day of Presence, while well intentioned, tended to lead toward the conclusion that students want "free speech" to be restricted or segregated. By focusing on this largely symbolic day, Weinstein successfully diverted attention from the many legitimate student demands driving the protests.

To raise these points is not to condemn the demonstrators, but to ask how we can strengthen our movements and avoid playing into the hands of the right. We know from all that has taken place since Trump's election that the right wing and its media mouthpieces have found a new organizing strategy by claiming to be victims of left-wing oppressors who want to stop them from speaking out.

The controversy at Evergreen will die down over the summer, but since administrators are talking about adding more police and other student demands have gone unmet, the discontent is sure to surface again. In the meantime, the summer break provides an opportunity to reflect on what happened and strategize as to next steps.

Evergreen student Jacqueline Littleton--who received numerous racial slurs, and rape and death threats, and had her personal information posted online after defending the protests--reflected on the experiences of the spring in a New York Times op-ed article:

While recent events may have brought negative attention to my school, I am proud of students here who found a way to create change. In the movies, protests always look heroic, but they tend to be messy in real life. Weren't the protests of the 1960s unpopular and messy sometimes, too?...

Mr. Weinstein's story about Evergreen's regressive campus culture fit neatly into many misconceptions about the "new left," so it seemed to go unquestioned. However, for many students, staff and faculty at Evergreen, the harassment that came after the negative coverage of the protesters was a shocking and bitter twist. It is not lost on us that students of color are the ones who have been disproportionately targeted.

Littleton's comments show the commitment of those who demonstrated at Evergreen not to be intimidated by the right, but to continue the struggle.

Categories: Political Action

Someday this army is going to leave

Socialist Worker - Wed, 07/26/2017 - 01:00

The struggle by Korean farmers against a U.S. military "super base" is part of a larger fight against U.S. imperialism, writes Jessie Kindig, in an article published at Jacobin.

A mural on the community center in Daechuri (Jessie Kindig)

IF YOU drive about an hour south of Seoul, you will find yourself next to the largest U.S. military construction project in the world. As the capital's metropolitan region gives way to the Korean countryside, rice paddies, ginseng fields, rows of hot peppers, corn, and tobacco, and peach orchards replace roads and buildings. Soon, though, these orchards are overshadowed by the constant hum of planes landing and taking off from the most active airfield in Asia. Backyard vegetable gardens grow right up to the walls of the base.

Out of this militarized landscape, local activists and townspeople have carved a "war- and brutality-free zone," the fruit of a multi-year struggle to save the town of Daechuri from destruction by the expansion of the United States' Camp Humphreys. Their protest is one bead in the string of anti-U.S. base protests circling the Pacific Rim, from Okinawa and Hawaii to Guam and the Philippines.

Though the village of Daechuri was ultimately destroyed, the creative and militant protest it inaugurated still stands as a bulwark against continued militarization in the Pacific.

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"The Crown Jewel of Overseas Installations"

From the end of the Korean War in 1953 until very recently, Yongsan Garrison--located in the heart of Seoul--served as the United States Armed Forces' headquarters in Korea.

Now, however, U.S. forces are leaving Seoul for the city of Pyongtaek, less than an hour south of the capital, as part of a decade-long plan to reorient U.S. forces in Korea by consolidating nearly 40 existing bases into this new super-base. Notably, it will also relocate the U.S. military presence away from the North Korean border and toward China, just across the Yellow Sea--part of the larger "pivot to Asia" policy begun under the Obama administration.

Over the past decade, the United States and South Korean governments have partnered to triple the size of the base--the largest construction projectin the history of the U.S. Department of Defense. When it's fully staffed, Camp Humphreys will be the biggest and most populous overseas U.S. military base in the world. The new footprint encompasses 14.7 million square meters of mostly farming land and small villages around Pyongtaek. The expanded base--encircled by a 23-kilometer walled and barbed wire perimeter--will boast the second-largest dental facility in the U.S. Defense Department and a "supergym" that is among the biggest in the U.S. Army.

"Undoubtedly, this installation is the crown jewel of overseas installations in the Department of Defense," Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal gushed at the inaugural ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 11.

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"It Is Time for the U.S. to Leave Us Alone"

Wooden sculptures of traditional village guardians stand at the entrance to Daechuri Art and Peace Village, the new town constructed after the destruction of the original Daechuri.

Flowers bloom in a garden outside the main community center, which announces in Korean and English that the space is a "war and brutality free zone," and a mural of falling bombs turning into plants adorns a nearby wall. Inside the center, someone is sorting potatoes, someone is cooking, and in the library and art room a planning meeting is underway. Photographs, paintings, printings, and weaving projects cover the walls, most of which depict the village struggle against militarization.

Daechuri was a farming village of about eighty households. In 2001, Camp Humphreys announced its plans for expansion, and in collaboration with the South Korean government, offered villagers compensation in exchange for their land. The community refused. They launched a five-year struggle to save their village, drawing national support and becoming a central node in the network of anti-militarization and peace activism in Korea.

The history of Daechuri's battle epitomizes Korea's history as the battleground for competing empires. During the Japanese colonial occupation in the first half of the twentieth century, the land around Daechuri was claimed for an imperial military base. After the U.S. military took over a newly divided South Korea from the retreating Japanese at the end of World War II, the bases simply changed hands. After a three-year U.S. military occupation and the destructive Korean War--which ran from 1950 to 1953--presidents of the newly independent South Korea welcomed the U.S. military presence as both a Cold War deterrent and a source of much-needed resources.

For local people, however, this arrangement has come at a steep cost. As feminist activists and scholars have argued, systems of military sexual slavery under Japanese rule easily transformed into institutionalized military prostitution around U.S. bases, creating a violent and exploitative environment for women. In Daechuri, it meant the village faced continual razing, removal, and rebuilding.

Rice farmer Cho Sun Yeh was one of those who found herself facing, in 2001, the second threat of eviction. After her first home was bulldozed during the Korean War to make way for the new U.S. installation, she and her husband built a new home a quarter mile from the base.

Informed that this home would be destroyed too, she told journalists in 2001, "I gave my land up once already, and I am not about to do it again. It is time for the U.S. to leave us alone." She and her extended family of seventeen refused to leave their home. "My memories are here, my life is here. I should not have to give that up for anyone."

In Daechuri and the neighboring village of Dodori, expansion not only threatened homes and communities but also rice farmers' livelihoods. And it laid bare the anti-democratic collusion between Seoul and Washington, D.C., which had seemingly decided local residents' fates without their input. What began as a local struggle in the villages around Pyongtaek soon became a national struggleinvolving 120 labor, student, feminist, farmer, peace and unification, and religious organizations across Korea.

Daechuri served as the central hub of the struggle, with nightly people's assemblies and candlelit vigils. Representatives of national groups relocated to the town, squatting in buildings that had been abandoned and claimed for destruction. International antiwar activists, including Cindy Sheehan, visited Daechuri to express their solidarity.

Beginning in 2003, activists organized rallies, peace festivals, and marches in front of bases. They squatted in their half-abandoned village to prevent the land from being seized, defended their fields from riot police, and planned national marches. At the height of the struggle in 2006, a caravan of tractors toured South Korea to raise awareness of the Daechuri resistance.

Art and creative work became a central form of protest. Wooden bomb sculptures, studded with menacing picks and shovels, took the place of scarecrows in the fields. Murals, poems, and musical compositions covered all the walls of the village--testimonies of community life, resilience, anger, and hope. Villagers wove giant effigies of tanks and human figures out of branches and set them ablaze during protests.

Art made the struggle visible and colorful and accessible, giving each activist a way to describe why they fought so hard, what they fought for, and what was at stake as their village was slated for destruction.

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By May 2006, the South Korean and United States governments were losing patience.

In a Senate hearing, then–New York senator Hillary Clinton expressed exasperation at South Korea's "historical amnesia," arguing that Koreans were losing their "understanding of the importance of our position there and what we have done over so many decades to provide them the freedom that they have enjoyed." (Clinton's comment only proved that amnesia proliferated among American elites: democracy in South Korea was won in the 1980s through a mass popular struggle against US-supported dictatorships.)

Determined to push through the base and stop the growing international movement, the South Korean government brought its full force to Daechuri. On May 4, 11,500 police officers in riot gear and unarmed troops descended on the village at dawn, using clubs and water cannons to clear the area. Activists fought back with rocks and bamboo sticks, and several hundred barricaded themselves in the top floors of the village elementary school, which had been repurposed into movement headquarters, in a stand against final eviction.

Riot police eventually broke down the barricades and hauled protesters out by force, some bleeding and in stretchers. In one photograph of the final eviction, a woman hugs a window lattice, screaming as soldiers pry her from it; in another, a man lies prone as riot police swarm around him, blood pooling around his head.

In the wake of the violent expulsion, the state erected a twenty-seven-kilometer razor-wire fence around the village.

By 2007, with only a negotiated ending in sight and many exhausted, the government and military negotiated an agreement to cede the land but build a new village in its place. Where Daechuri once sat now stands a complex of low-slung base storage buildings, a latticework of electrical towers and power lines threading overhead.

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A Museum for the Future

Though activists failed to save their town, the Art and Peace Village in new Daechuri is evidence of what they did achieve.

About half of the residents of the old town occupy the new village. The houses are in Korean and Western styles with attractive yards and a central playground and park, but, as our guide tells us, "there is much trauma" among residents. To attend to the sense of loss, the new village creates spaces for peace education and creative work to ward off never-ending mourning.

The north end of the village holds a metal warehouse painted with a giant white owl, part carpentry school and part movement museum. In the middle of the space a giant sculpture rises, a bricolage of protest and memory, grieving and playful refusal. Layered atop a tractor, the sculpture holds the tools of protest: repurposed microphones and amplifiers, hand-painted windsocks, military "Keep Out" signs torn from the fence, loudspeakers, flags, peace signs woven from crop leaves.

The sculpture also holds the tools of memory: painted boxes full of old photographs of the residents and ancestors of Daechuri, playing and walking by the water in the early 1900s, in the 1970s, in the 1990s. Black-and-white studio portraits of a couple in traditional dress sit next to color snapshots of couples kissing.

And the sculpture holds the tools of return: the shovels and rice mill and handplows of the village, still caked with dirt.

At the village museum, struggle and militarization do not determine the narrative pacing. People's lives do. Magnifying glasses hang next to framed collages of photographs of Daechuri before the struggle, encouraging you to spend time with them, look for friends, attend to the specificities. These give way to photographs of villagers climbing aboard a bulldozer to prevent it from being used, leaning in silence against the shields of a line of riot police, holding candles at one of the many nightly assemblies, yelling.

The museum refuses to let the story end with the village's destruction, and in this way it is a museum of the future. Photographs of the museum's construction and portrait paintings of current residents take up the final wall. "I believe someday this army is going to leave" a poem on the wall offers. "And I will get there first, as I was the last to leave the village."

In the adjacent carpentry school, there is the sound of saws, and the sweet smell of sawdust is in the air. Things are being built anew, and the tools of return might yet again be used.

First published at Jacobin.

Categories: Political Action

Rio's Olympic body count

Socialist Worker - Wed, 07/26/2017 - 01:00

The relentless attack on living standards after the Games was predictable. Every prospective Olympic city should be warned, writes Nation columnist Dave Zirin.

I am absolutely convinced that history will talk of the Rio de Janeiro before the Games and the much better Rio de Janeiro after the Olympic Games.
-- International Olympic Committee (IOC) Chief Thomas Bach, 2016

Public-sector employees march against austerity in Rio de Janeiro (Fernando Frazão | flickr)

LAST YEAR I was in Rio de Janeiro, writing dispatches for the Nation about the ways that the Olympic Games were being constructed on the backs of the poor. I started with the above quote from Thomas Bach and wrote the following:

Mr. Bach is delusional. But he is correct about one thing: People will talk about Rio as a city "before" and "after" the Olympics. It just won't be the conversation of his fantasies conjured inside his Olympic-sized bubble. Now that the 2016 Summer Games have been completed...the real story begins: the story of how badly the Olympics will end up warping the city itself...The second half of Rio's Olympic story is predicated on a simple question: How are all the bills from 2016 going to be paid?

Predicting a post-Olympic calamity was not difficult. The future was already unfolding in the present. Only an IOC dignitary living in a tinted-window SUV could have missed what was happening to the city. It wasn't only people displaced from their homes while stadiums rose from their rubble, but also corruption, militarization of public spaces, and reports of growing debt.

The country's GDP had quintupled while Workers Party leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was president from 2003 to 2011. But this boom flatlined in 2013 and 2014, with just enough fumes in the engine to get through the nation's hosting of the 2014 World Cup. But then the economy sputtered to a halt in the lead-up to the Olympics. With its finances in tatters, the Olympics became like a vulture picking the meat off the bones of this remarkable city.

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YET WHILE crisis was inevitable, never in my wildest fears did I think it would get this bad. The relentless attacks on the living standards of the poor, led by unelected President Michael Temer, who has a popularity rating just north of zero, and the cutting of social programs to pay the Olympic bills have tortured Rio. The state is bankrupt, and the short-term jobs that were created for tourism and construction have vanished with the Games. Adding insult to the injury, it seems that every week there is a story about the obscene heist of public funds that took place. As Stephen Wade of Brazil's Associated Press desk just reported on July 23, "Another Rio Olympic 'White Elephant.' Juventude Arena in shuttered Deodoro Park. Cost about $35 [million]. This in a state that's bankrupt."

This structural violence is, unsurprisingly, now being played out on the ground. There has been a dramatic rise in street violence, with stray bullets hitting an average of three residents per day and the resulting deaths becoming a numbing, daily reality. (During 2009-13, stray-bullet killings in Rio had dropped to almost zero.) These stray bullets are hardly the province of the favela-patrolling street gangs alone but also come from the militarized police force that has killed 480 Rio citizens in the first five months of 2017. Ninety police officers have also been killed in that time span.

As Silva Ramos wrote at The Conversation, "Rio de Janeiro's crime rate is stunning. It is now impossible not to notice that the city's Police Pacification Units (UPP), once a much-vaunted anti-violence force, have all but collapsed." This "collapse" is due to mistrust of police in the favelas and the drying out of funds to do the kind of manpower-heavy "community policing" that had proven effective in the recent past. It's more cost-effective to pick up that state-of-the-art weaponry purchased for Olympic security, shoot, and ask questions later.

That this eruption of bloodshed has come in the aftermath of the Olympics is not happenstance. I spoke to Juliana Barbassa, author of the indispensable book Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro and the Olympic Dream. She said:

The Olympics, like the World Cup two years before it, fit neatly into an existing corruption scheme in Brazil by which politicians dished out lucrative public contracts to a handful of construction companies. These companies returned the favor in the form of licit or illicit bribes and campaign contributions. This drained away public funds, worsening Brazil's, and Rio's, economic crisis. There is no money for the most basic services: state workers are going without pay, hospitals, universities and schools are suffering. Police officers have to leave patrol cars in the garage for lack of gas money. The UPP program was the most visible security project in the years before the Games, and was widely used by authorities to signal that the city was safe and open for tourism and investment. Now residents have been abandoned to their fate as criminal factions regain control of territory. The saddest aspect of all this is that it was predictable, and predicted.

The people of Brazil have a massive fight on their hands to realign the priorities of their country. But their experience also needs to stand as a warning to every prospective Olympic city: Be afraid. Rio makes the lesson brutally clear: The Olympics are the cutting edge of a unequal and unaccountable global economy, in which the rich and powerful travel the world throwing lavish parties only to pack up and flee when times get tough, forcing everyone else to foot their bill and bear the brunt of the violent state militarism they've left behind.

I also think about Los Angeles and its mayor, Eric Garcetti, grasping for the 2024 or 2028 Summer Olympics. I think about Garcetti's refusal to declare LA a sanctuary city, almost certainly in order to preserve its Olympic bid, since ICE and Homeland Security would need to be patrolling the streets of any Olympic host city in the United States. It's a recipe for violence that Garcetti and his cronies are blithely ignoring. That cannot stand. Let them know Rio's truth: No matter the country, the Olympic legacy that always leaves the most lasting mark is the body count.

First published at TheNation.com.

Categories: Political Action

Stop legislation to criminalize boycotts

American Friends Service Committee - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 15:50

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act bills would make supporting boycott actions in response to the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) call a felony punishable by up to a $1 million fine and 20 years in prison. These bills are clearly designed to suppress protected political speech and should be opposed.

Categories: Political Action

MoveOn Responds to Senate Vote to Proceed on Health Care Bill

Move On - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 15:13

MoveOn: Republicans Are Defying Constituents by Moving One Step Closer to Trumpcare; Fight is Far From Over

Moments ago, the Senate voted to proceed to consider legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act and take away health care from tens of millions of Americans. With the passage of this procedural vote, the repeal legislation will now move onto debate and amendments.

In reaction to this news, Anna Galland, Executive Director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, released the following statement:

“Today, Republicans in the Senate have chosen to defy their constituents and the overwhelming majority of Americans and moved us one step closer towards taking a wrecking ball to health care in this country. Republican bills reportedly under consideration are wildly unpopular, cruel, and incoherent, and would cause as many as 32 million Americans to lose their health insurance, make health care unaffordable to all but the wealthiest in this country, and dismantle protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“Since January, MoveOn members have been fighting the Trump administration’s repeal efforts and working to protect health care in this country—and we will continue to go all in to make sure this latest assault on health care coverage fails.

“To the Republican senators who cast their vote to move Trumpcare closer to reality, it’s not too late to vote against final passage, and resist the attempt to strip away health care for tens of millions of Americans.”

Categories: Political Action

We want your story ideas about collaboration in the commons

Creative Commons - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 12:16
Collaboration by Quinn Dombrowski, CC BY-SA 2.0

We need your help!

Over the next year, we will be investigating and reporting on 2-3 of the most compelling stories about collaboration in the commons. We want to tell the story of when and why a creator first decides to use CC, the kinds of connections they make online, how they invite and encourage collaboration, and what makes them feel like they are valued for their work and part of a community. We’re looking for stories that are similar to the 2016 State of the Commons, but deeper, getting at the heart of what really drives collaboration online.  

This is part of our prosocial work, which you can read about in this post:

“We are broadening our focus to look more holistically at sharing and collaboration online. We will investigate the values and behaviors associated with successful collaboration, in the hopes that we might apply them to content platforms where CC licensing is taking place, thereby enhancing the experience of sharing with CC.”

Fill out this short form (it takes 3 min to complete). We are asking for story leads — not fully fleshed out stories — so don’t worry about having enough material for a case study. We plan to contact, interview, and follow these creators or projects over the next year. So if you can think of 1-2 compelling leads, please share!

We are prioritizing the following fields:

  • 3D printing
  • Arts & Culture
  • Media & Journalism

The form will be open for submissions through 15 August, 2017. Looking forward to your ideas. Contact us with any questions!

The post We want your story ideas about collaboration in the commons appeared first on Creative Commons.

Categories: Political Action

Ralph Greene

American Friends Service Committee - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 10:40
Maine Public Radio Photo: AFSC/ News Source: Maine Public Radio
Categories: Political Action

Who's guilty of murder in San Antonio?

Socialist Worker - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 01:00

The political leaders and law enforcement officials giving pious lectures about trafficking are responsible for policies that lead to misery and suffering, writes Danny Katch.

The aftermath of a murder scene in San Antonio, Texas

A GRISLY murder took place last weekend in Texas.

Thirty-nine people were found packed inside the boiling-hot container of a tractor-trailer. Eight of them were already dead--the rest were taken to hospitals, where two more died, and others are still fighting for their lives.

San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told reporters that even for those who survive, "a lot of them are going to have some irreversible brain damage."

Police arrested the driver of the truck, and Richard Durbin, U.S. Attorney for Texas's Western District, issued a statement that authorities would be casting a wider net to go after the "ruthless human smugglers indifferent to the well-being of their fragile cargo. The South Texas heat is punishing this time of year."

"These people were helpless in the hands of their transporters," said Durbin. "Imagine their suffering, trapped in a stifling trailer in 100-plus degree heat. The driver is in custody and will be charged. We will work with the Homeland Security Investigations and the local responders to identify those who were responsible for this tragedy."

The perpetrators of this atrocity do need to be brought to justice. Bradley's truck was a modern-day slave ship, sitting in a Walmart parking lot, with human beings gruesomely packed in the hold amidst the vomit and piss and dead bodies.

But if we want to pursue all of the guilty parties, we need to take a much wider view than Homeland Security Investigations will ever be willing to take.

Firstly, what happened in San Antonio was not an isolated incident. Human trafficking inside trucks is on the rise in Texas.

"Two weeks ago," the Washington Post reports, "Houston police discovered 12 immigrants, including a girl, who had been locked for hours inside a sweltering box truck in a parking lot, banging for someone to rescue them. Three people were arrested. A Harris County prosecutor said the migrants were at imminent risk of death."

"Earlier this month," adds Reuters, "72 people from Latin America were found in a trailer in Laredo. In June, 44 people were found in the back of a vehicle in the same Texas city, which lies directly across the Rio Grande from Mexico."

Of course, the vast majority of people who die trying to enter the U.S. perish on foot in the desert. "From October 2000 through September 2016," reports the New York Times, "the Border Patrol documented 6,023 deaths in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas."

That death toll is more than twice as high as the September 11 terrorist attacks, and 50 times higher than the number of murders committed by immigrants who were once in federal custody--which Donald Trump has created an entire new propaganda agency to publicize.

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TO UNDERSTAND how those 39 people ended up in the back of Bradley's truck, the first question to answer is why they didn't "play by the rules" and try to enter the U.S. legally.

What's rarely mentioned by political leaders who talk about how immigrants should wait their turn "at the back of the line" is that for many people in countries like Mexico, that line is over 20 years long.

Mexican children and siblings of U.S. citizens trying to get a family-sponsored visa have been waiting since the mid-1990s. During that time, they've seen their country overwhelmed, and in many places destroyed, by the consequences of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the war on drugs--both inflicted on Mexico by the very country that refuses to legally accept them.

It's a combination guaranteed to lead people to take their chances on emigrating without a visa.

And ever since the U.S. government started to more aggressively police the border during the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton, migrants have been increasingly pushed away from entering the U.S. through cities like San Diego and El Paso and forced to attempt dangerous crossings through inhospitable deserts. As Reece Jones wrote last year for the Guardian:

According to the first National Border Patrol Strategy document, released in 1994, that was the goal: "The prediction is that with traditional entry and smuggling routes disrupted, illegal traffic will be deterred, or forced over more hostile terrain, less suited for crossing and more suited for enforcement." Put another way, the official border patrol strategy was to create conditions that would cause more migrants to die in hostile terrain, in order to deter other migrants from making the trip.

It seems that smugglers aren't the only ones who are "ruthless" and "indifferent," to use the words of U.S. Attorney Durbin.

Nor are the human trafficking networks the only organizations trying to profit off of migrants' helpless desperation.

Private prison corporations like GEO Group and CoreCivic Inc. (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) have built billion-dollar empires as beneficiaries of the government's mass immigrant incarceration policy that is nonsensical on its own terms: Based on the myth that immigrants drain resources from the economy, immigration authorizes snatch people away from productive jobs and throw them into detention centers, where they become wards of the state.

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LAST WEEKEND'S deaths were a horrific reminder of another Texas crime in 2003, when 19 migrants baked to death inside the truck of Tyrone Williams--who cruelly resisted the cries coming from the back of his truck to turn on the refrigeration.

Williams' companion Fatima Holloway testified in court that at one point, they heard passengers screaming, "El niño, el niño!" "Williams asked Holloway what the words meant," reported the Los Angeles Times. "She said she thought it had something to do with the weather. They would later learn that a 5-year-old boy was dying in the trailer."

One of the immigration agents assigned to that case was Tomas Homan, the current acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Homan issued the following statement on Sunday:

By any standard, the horrific crime uncovered last night ranks as a stark reminder of why human smuggling networks must be pursued, caught and punished. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations works year-round to identify, dismantle, and disrupt the transnational criminal networks that smuggle people into and throughout the United States. These networks have repeatedly shown a reckless disregard for those they smuggle, as last night's case demonstrates. I personally worked on a tragic tractor trailer case in Victoria, Texas in 2003 in which 19 people were killed as a result of the smugglers' total indifference to the safety of those smuggled and to the law.

The men and women of ICE are proud to stand alongside our law enforcement partners, including locally and at the U.S. Department of Justice, to combat these smuggling networks and protect the public and those who would fall victim to their dangerous practices that focus solely on their illicit profits. So long as I lead ICE, there will be an unwavering commitment to use law enforcement assets to put an end to these practices.


Maybe Homan was genuinely affected by the horrors he saw inside Tyrone Williams truck in 2003, but this is the same person who just last month declared that he wanted all undocumented immigrants to be "looking over their shoulder" in fear that one of his agents might be coming to snatch them.

Everything that ICE does drives migrants further underground and into the trucks of smugglers like Bradley and Williams. Even as Homan was speaking out on supposed behalf of the victims, a San Antonio police spokesperson said that the survivors were expected to be released from the hospital into ICE custody for deportation procedures.

To borrow a slogan from the movement against police killings, the whole damn system is guilty as hell.

Categories: Political Action

Can we count on the courts to stop DAPL?

Socialist Worker - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 01:00

Brian Ward reports on a legal victory against the Dakota Access Pipeline--and asks what it will take to halt the flow of oil and safeguard Indigenous rights once and for all.

Marching in solidarity with Standing Rock in Washington, D.C. (Leonard Klein | SW)

A LEGAL ruling against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) last month is a victory for environmental activists and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe--and a blow to the Trump administration's plans to let the oil flow. But it will take a much bigger struggle beyond the courts to finally stop Trump and the oil industry from pushing ahead with their pipeline.

One of Trump's first acts as president was issuing a memorandum to force through construction of DAPL over protests by members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who fear that the pipeline, which is routed under the Missouri River, would pollute drinking water and destroy sacred lands.

Trump's action wasn't a surprise. After all, Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the operators of DAPL, gave $100,000 to the Trump campaign--and Trump had investments in DAPL until early December.

Trump's order came after months of sustained resistance at Standing Rock. Thousands of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people came to the protest camps established near the DAPL construction site and stood up against pipeline. In December, with the Obama administration still in command, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reversed course and halted the pipeline.

But the new Trump administration has put the fossil fuel industry back in undisputed control of U.S. energy policy. The camps were dismantled, and Energy Transfer Partners was able to construct enough of the pipeline that oil began flowing.

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ON JUNE 14, however, a federal judge ruled that the Trump administration failed to follow proper environmental procedures when it rammed through approval of DAPL.

Judge James Boasberg ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "largely complied with the National Environmental Policy Act," but added that the Corps "did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline's effects are likely to be highly controversial."

In siding with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Boasberg said that the environmental impact study--required under the National Environmental Policy Act for federal permits--was insufficient, as it only looked at the impact of pipeline pollution inside of a half-mile buffer area.

Boasberg didn't overturn the permit granted to Energy Transfer Partners, however--which is somewhat unusual when a decision like this is made. As NPR pointed out, the judge's own order notes "that the standard remedy in this situation would be to vacate the pipeline's permits and easement, thereby halting pipeline operations until the Army Corps is in compliance with environmental procedures."

However, Boasberg wrote, "[s]uch a move, of course, would carry serious consequences that a court should not lightly impose." Instead, he ordered further briefs and hearings on the subject. In other words, the judge didn't halt pipeline operations, but he opened the door to that possibility down the road.

In mid-July, the Army Corps filed documents asking the judge to let oil continue to flow while further environmental studies are carried out through December. Corps officails suggested that since the oil now flowing through DAPL would have to be transported by other methods that also carry environmental risks, the pipeline should remain operational.

Energy Transfer Partners claims that a shutdown would cost the company $90 million each month. They clearly want the courts to view their bottom line as more important than the potential environmental impact of the pipeline.

The pipeline extends more than 1,000 miles from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois.

The Oceti Sakowin camp was located at Lake Oahe on the Missouri River. Adopting the slogan "Mni Wiconi," ("Water is life" in the Lakota language), water protectors pointed out that an oil spill would not only affect the drinking water of the Standing Rock reservation, but all communities downstream.

The fight for Standing Rock became a symbol not only for environmental justice, but also for Indigenous sovereignty.

The water protectors feared spills and leaks of the pipeline--and were right to do so. Since June 1, the oil transported through DAPL has accounted for nearly half of the daily oil production in North Dakota, the nation's second-leading producer behind Texas.

And spills have already begun to occur. On April 4, the first spill from the pipeline was recorded--followed by another spill on May 10 in South Dakota.

As the water protectors pointed out, it was never a question of if the pipeline would leak or spill--it was a matter of when and how much.

That the oil shouldn't be extracted or transported in the first place is, of course, not even up for consideration by the courts. So while Boasberg's ruling opens the door to the possibility of halting the pipeline, it will take a sustained fight to achieve this.

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FOR MONTHS, Standing Rock became an inspiring site of resistance and drew thousands of activists at the height of one of the most unpopular presidential election in modern history.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump touched on the issue during the campaign--though Trump signaled from the start that as president he would be willing to do the bidding of the fossil fuel industry.

One of the most inspiring moments of solidarity at Standing Rock came when veterans of the U.S. military travelled to defend the camp from attacks by law enforcement and the threat of eviction.

In a scene that brought many to tears, soldiers opened up to tribal elders, apologizing for the historic actions of the U.S. government against the Indigenous.

After Trump took office, the Army Corps reversed its position and ordered the camp disbanded. But the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has continued to challenging Energy Transfer Partners and its government cronies in court--including contending that the federal permits issued to Energy Transfer Partners were granted without proper consultation and an environmental impact study.

Commenting on Boasberg's decision in June, Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement:

This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing. The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests. We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately.

Boasberg's ruling not only acknowledges the importance of the potential environmental impact of the pipeline, but also the tribe's treaty rights under the law. As Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman, who has been representing the tribe in court, said in a statement:

This decision marks an important turning point. Until now, the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have been disregarded by the builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Trump administration--prompting a well-deserved global outcry. The federal courts have stepped in where our political systems have failed to protect the rights of Native communities.

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THE QUESTION now for activists is how we can continue the fight against DAPL and other fossil fuel projects.

There are competing ideas about what strategies to pursue. Archambault's approach favors fighting the pipeline in court. Last year, Archambault argued in favor of dismantling the Oceti Sakowin camp after Obama asked for an environmental impact statement.

Many of the water protectors disagreed with that approach. They argued that the camps should remain--and that activists needed a plan beyond the courts for how to oppose pipeline construction.

Victories like the ruling from Judge Boasberg are important for both the tribe and the larger environmental justice movement, and can embolden opponents of the pipeline. It's powerful when the courts acknowledge that the Trump administration is violating treaty rights.

However, to stop DAPL and get the government to halt the flow of oil will require protest on the ground--in the form of grassroots organizing to physical blockades.

This debate has to be had among activists. Many will say that "the courts are our best bet because Trump won't do anything," but we have to remind ourselves that it was the mass movements of the 1970s that forced then-President Richard Nixon to establish the Environmental Protection Agency. It was also the Nixon administration that reversed the detrimental policy of termination towards Indigenous people.

Nixon was no friend of either the environment or Indigenous people. It was the pressure of mass movements demanding more protection of the environment and self-determination for Indigenous people that forced his administration to make various concessions.

While the Trump administration is particularly ruthless, our ability to halt the flow of oil through DAPL will ultimately come down to how we organize to hold the government accountable. As the late historian Howard Zinn said, "The really critical thing isn't who is sitting in the White House, but who is sitting in--in the streets, in the cafeterias, in the halls of government, in the factories. Who is protesting, who is occupying offices and demonstrating--those are the things that determine what happens."

These debates about how we can continue to fight for justice for Standing Rock need to continue--and we need to build a fighting left that can ensure that protection of the environment and Indigenous sovereignty are seen as more important than profit.

Categories: Political Action

Don't let fear be the lesson

Socialist Worker - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 01:00

In 2015, Steven Salaita was wrongly terminated by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) because of his tweets condemning Israel's barbaric bombing of Gaza, which the university claimed were "uncivil."

The Palestine solidarity movement rallied to Salaita's defense, and UIUC was eventually forced to settle financially with him. Salaita then took a position with the American University of Beirut (AUB) as the Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies and has been living in Lebanon with his family since. But last year, AUB President Fadlo Khuri called off a search for a director of the Center for American Studies and Research when a search committee unanimously recommended Salaita. Critics claimed that AUB was again making Salaita a target, while AUB said the search had been marred by "conflicts of interest and misconduct."

Salaita has announced that he and his family are returning to the U.S. Unable to find a job in academia, he plans on writing and speaking. In this statement first published on social media, Salaita describes what's next for him--and why he does not regret his decision to speak out against Israel and in defense of Palestinian rights.

Protesters defend Steven Salaita at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

A FEW thoughts on leaving academe: Next week, I will depart Beirut and return to the D.C. area. I'm grateful to the students and friends who made our time in Lebanon so rewarding. We'll remember this period with great fondness. My son grew from a toddler into a little boy in Beirut. His first memories are registered at AUB [American University of Beirut].

Despite applying to positions on four continents, I was unable to find an academic job, so I no longer count myself among the professoriate. A number of colleagues have attempted to recruit me, but their efforts always get shut down by management. In turn, I often feel like I'm reliving the UIUC fiasco, which isn't conducive to the kind of mood I prefer to inhabit. I'm easygoing, but I refuse to tolerate the indignities of a blacklist.

My immediate plan is to write and give talks. I'm still young and energetic. I don't intend to slosh around in self-pity. Whatever I end up doing, I will maintain the spirit of noncompliance that defined my time in academe. If you take any lesson from my ouster, please don't let it be fear or caution. Docility is a gift to those who profit from injustice. Academe can no longer afford this luxury.

People still ask if I would go back in time and change anything. I would not. If my behavior were dishonorable, then I might have something to regret. I condemned a brutal ethnocratic state. On this count, I will die unapologetic. And insofar as we are forced to contemplate life in binaries, I prefer unemployment to subservience. My heart is with those who struggle for dignity amid terrible oppression. I spare no loyalty to a bourgeois industry that rewards self-importance and conformity.

Despite every node of my disposition screaming at me not to say what I'm about to say, I again surrender to my lesser judgment: I leave academe feeling that, no matter my copious shortcomings, I managed to remain a decent human being. Zionists have worked overtime to incriminate me, but they've never found anything incriminating--not from a lack of diligence, but because there's nothing to find but plainspoken disdain for settler colonization. I haven't always been a good professor--I'm disorganized and forgetful and reclusive and unresponsive and an easy grader--but I've never compromised my ethics or sold out colleagues and students in order to ingratiate myself to power.

Thank you for entertaining my self-indulgence. If my words sound incompatible with the demands of nuance and discretion that predominate in academic culture, then it's because I'm no longer of the culture and thus unconstrained by its emphasis on disinterest and diplomacy. I can speak according to the whims of my conscience. This is what happens when you manage to survive a punishment. You become free.

Categories: Political Action

When capitalism is finally history

Socialist Worker - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 01:00

Luke Pickrell talks to Andrea Steves and Timothy Furstnau, the artists who founded and curated the Museum of Capitalism in Oakland, which opened in June.

Oliver Ressler, Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies, 2003-08. On display at the Museum of Capitalism (Brea McAnally)

"EMANCIPATORY POLITICS must always destroy the appearance of a 'natural order,' must reveal what is presented as necessary and inevitable to be mere contingency, just as it must make what was previously deemed to be impossible seem attainable."

These words of the late author Mark Fisher, printed on parchment paper in purple ink and an eye-catching font, were handed out to visitors at the opening of the Museum of Capitalism (MoC) in Oakland, California.

The museum's, whose stated mission is to "educate this generation and future generations about the ideology, history, and legacy of capitalism," opened in June with a series of multimedia exhibits created by artists, scholars and others, with more to come.

It has already hosted numerous events, including a presentation by the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) and a lecture on "How to do nothing" by local artist Jenny Odell. Upcoming events include discussions with Occupy Museums and the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project. Thousands of people, including students from high school and college classes, have passed through the museum since it opened in late June.

Review: Exhibition

The Museum of Capitalism, June 18-August 20. (Open Wednesday–Sunday 12–6 p.m.; Fridays to 8 p.m.) 55 Harrison Street along the Jack London Waterfront in Oakland.

To find out more about the museum's plans and goals--at a time when the threat that capitalism poses to human existence has never been greater, and an increasing number of people are seeking an alternative to the status quo--I stole a moment of time from Andrea Steves and Timothy Furstnau, the artists who opened the museum in June.

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HOW WOULD you describe the content of the museum to those who haven't seen it? What are you trying to convey about capitalism and what are some of the ways you do it?

Timothy: The museum contains a wide variety of artifacts, artworks and exhibits created by a wide variety of artists.

The exhibits aren't organized into a rigid structure, but rather into an open layout that encourages the experience of thematic resonances between them. These different elements of the museum are intended to give impressions of how issues of class, race, gender, and ecology are linked to capitalism, sometimes in subtle ways, and how struggles around these issues might be seen as common struggles against capitalism.

The exhibition also includes a special exhibition called American Domain, curated by Erin Elder, exploring land ownership in the United States; a library where visitors can study capitalism to learn more about some of the issues raised in the exhibits and the local groups working on them; and a gift shop where visitors can buy mementos of the museum in a familiar retail environment.

The text labels in the museum, and the framing of the project in general, use a "future anterior" tone that looks back on capitalism as if it is a thing of the past, giving visitors a chance to do what we like to call "pre-enactment"--exploring their cognitive and emotional attitudes towards capitalism and encouraging radical imagination in a way that does not deny current realities, but de-familiarizes them.

We hope this sheds light on the realities of capitalism and makes people feel more empowered to change them.

WHAT ARE your backgrounds as they relate to art?

Timothy: I don't think there was ever a time I decided I wanted to be an artist. This doesn't fit neatly into other career trajectories or categories.

I came to art through anthropology and linguistics. Art is where all of my projects were supported. There wasn't a careerist mentality. Art is the space we can operate in. Whatever it gets called doesn't matter.

Andrea: We don't make art as an end point, but in order to work through or make sense of something. We've always thought of our projects as having an ability to bring about change, whether that's a mental shift or a change in perspective.

A lot of our projects stem from ideas of justice and our desire to bring justice to the world. To paraphrase one of the artists on display in the museum: Art makes space for belief, and belief makes space for change.

Timothy: I was working the front desk of the museum and watching a group of people leave--I'm always curious about people's response to the show.

There was a group of people who were leaving, and they were in a daze, as people tend to be when leaving the museum because it can be overwhelming. Just as they were getting out the door, this one guy said to the other five: "It really is easy to take all that stuff for granted." That was such a nice thing to hear, because that's one of the feelings we are trying to provoke.

Andrea: It's about seeing the world as it is, and also as it could be. That's the idea of the project. It offers this moment of rupture in the way you see something--and in which you can imagine something different.

ARE THERE any artists that influenced your work or your life?

Andrea: I was trained as a sound artist and musician. One of the points of influence for me comes from working with sound, during which you spend a lot of time listening to things around you.

From my experience as a performer, I'm aware of the ways in which a visitor to an installation--an audience member--experiences a thing. I'm always thinking about the bodily experience and how something will unfold for someone. I'm always concerned with what someone will be confronted with upon entering a space, what will draw their attention, what will cause them to move.

I was influenced by the composer Pauline Oliveros, and in particular, the field she defined called deep listening, which thinks about listening and attentiveness to the things around you, and places an emphasis more on listening than producing.

I've always been interested in flipping the traditional audience-performer relationship, where the audience becomes part of the performance and part of the completion of the work. The piece isn't a piece until the audience participates.

Many of the artists in the show are also teachers and inspirations for us, and they tackled different topics in different ways.

HOW DID you come up with the idea for the museum?

Timothy: In a talk including Slavoj Žižek and John Holloway, Alex Callinicos said that, like the Apartheid Museum in South Africa, there might one day be a museum of capitalism. This was the inspiration.

Putting something in a museum historicizes that thing and gives it some force. It seems controversial in this country to historicize capitalism, because it's said to be ahistorical – something all-encompassing, like the air we breath.

The political question is interesting because it shouldn't be controversial to say that something historically specific won't last forever. That seems like a pretty sober claim to make, and yet it gets people all up in arms.

"Political" as a word gets thrown at things to attack them. We're told it's not good to be political, and that we should be quiet and accept the status quo. As an artist, you don't want to be put in the category of "political" because it's used to silence and dismiss the work you do.

WHAT ROLE can art play in politics and changing the world?

Andrea: I'm reminded of a quote in an Ian Alan Paul essay, in which he talks about how engaging in the struggle for justice is to knowingly fight for that which we, in some way, cannot know in advance.

When it comes to changing the world, art helps you imagine possible futures or scenarios that aren't necessarily known. What we are trying to do with the museum is wrestle with this idea that it's easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism.

Some think it's incomplete if you don't say what comes next. But art can help you fight against something that might otherwise be hard to define. This relates to the initial question of why art.

We started this project not from a point of fully understanding what it means to say that capitalism has ended, or even what capitalism is. But we are embarking on a project to fight against something we know is unjust, even if we can't quite define it, and the project becomes a way of working through what we can't define right away.

Timothy: Art can bring awareness to an issue and serve as propaganda. It can also be embedded in social movements, like signs and banners, or through tactical media campaigns.

Right now, when the political discourse is so polarized, we are interested in art's ability to de-familiarize--which is a fancy word for making the familiar seem strange again. Art can cause a moment of rupture. It can shake up the framework and be disorienting so that the familiar can be reworked.

When you walk in the museum, there's hopefully something a little disorienting that you have to grapple with. Capitalism isn't over, but it's in a museum.

We're in a period in which you can give people lots of facts, but nothing gets through. We want to shake up the framework, and maybe in that process, things can come in and be assimilated. It can be hard to separate from an emotional attachment to capitalism, and maybe art can help us do that.

CAN YOU talk about the media attention for the museum?

Andrea: People want to talk about capitalism but aren't given permission. It's sort of a dirty word. As we've gone through the project, there have been people who have reacted strongly to the "c" word, or done verbal gymnastics to avoid saying it. But when you put it in the museum title, you can't avoid it.

Maybe I'm being cynical, but the media don't necessarily have an interest in the politics of the museum. They just know that saying the "c" word is provocative and can draw clicks.

WHAT WOULD qualify as a success for the museum?

Andrea: The emphasis isn't so much on achievement, but more so about working through something. It's about using the space to take in every interaction as its own possibility.

We've brought in groups, artists and many different perspectives, and this puts an emphasis on dialogue and collective thinking about a subject we aren't all experts on. Maybe this can be a space in which failure is acceptable, and in which we can experiment and sometimes fail. Some of these artists are doing things they've never done before.

Timothy: This is an experiment. It's not a finished product to bring to market. As was the case with Thomas Edison, each "failure" was just a step on the road to the light bulb. The museum isn't about reaching a certain quota of likes or clicks. We're looking to gain as wide an audience as possible from outlets you might not expect.

Andrea: Some people say the museum is too radical, and some say it's not radical enough. While this creates pressure, it means we are at least engaging people on both sides.

WHAT ARE your plans going forward?

Timothy: The MoC is a long-term project, but we don't know what the future holds because a lot depends on funding. We've been pretty nimble so far. There's been a lot of interest from people in other cities, and this is a theme that can adapt to different sites. It's fun to think about a MoC in Detroit or the Dust Bowl. The project is more of a framework that can support a bunch of different things.

Categories: Political Action

EFF Asks Court to Strike Down Unconstitutional Restraint on Our Speech

Deep Links - Mon, 07/24/2017 - 19:26

EFF has asked a federal court to rule in its favor in a lawsuit we filed against an Australian company that sought to use foreign law to censor us from expressing our opinion about its patent. While the company, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty Ltd (GEMSA,) knows its way around U.S. courts—having filed dozens of lawsuits against big tech companies claiming patent infringement—it has failed to respond to ours. Today we asked for a default judgment, which if granted means we win the case.

It all started when GEMSA’s patent litigation was featured in our June 2016 blog series “Stupid Patent of the Month.” The company wrote to EFF accusing us of “false and malicious slander.” It subsequently filed a lawsuit and obtained an injunction from a South Australia court ordering EFF to take down the blog post and blocking us from ever talking about any of its intellectual property.

We have not removed the post. The South Australian injunction can’t be enforced in the U.S. under a 2010 federal law that took aim against “libel tourism,” a practice by which plaintiffs—often billionaires, celebrities, or oligarchs—sued U.S. writers and academics in countries like England where it was easier to win a defamation case.

The Securing the Protection of Our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act (SPEECH Act) says foreign orders aren’t enforceable in the United States unless they are consistent with the free speech protections provided by the U.S. and state constitutions, as well as state law. Our lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, maintains that GEMSA’s injunction, which seeks to silence expression of an opinion, would never survive scrutiny under the First Amendment in the United States and should therefore be declared unenforceable. We stood ready to defend our right to express constitutionally protected speech.

GEMSA, which has three pending patent lawsuits in in the Northern District of California, had until May 23 to respond to our case. That day came and went without a word. We can’t speculate as to why GEMSA hasn’t responded. To get a default judgment, we need to show that not only has GEMSA failed to answer our claims but also, regarding our claim that the South Australia injunction is unenforceable in the U.S., the law is on our side.

We believe that we should prevail. The law does not allow companies or individuals to make an end run around the First Amendment by finding a judge in another country to sign an injunction that censors speech in the U.S. The law the Australian court applied to grant the injunction didn’t provide as much protection for EFF’s speech as American law, which means it’s unenforceable under the SPEECH Act. Additionally, the injunction is unconstitutional under American law as it prohibits all future speech by EFF about any of GEMSA’s patents. Such prohibitions are also known as prior restraints, and are allowed only in the rarest of circumstances, none of which apply here.

Our laws also don’t allow plaintiffs to be left under a cloud of uncertainty as to their ability to speak publicly about something as important as patent litigation and reform. The Australian injunction states that failure to comply could result in the seizure of EFF’s assets and prison time for its officers. GEMSA attorneys have threatened to take the Australian injunction to American search engine companies to deindex the blog post, making the post harder to find online.

The court should set the record straight and grant our request for a default judgment. Our laws call for no less.

Categories: Political Action

MoveOn members make 10k calls to Senate today; hold 100+ door-to-door canvasses nationwide

Move On - Mon, 07/24/2017 - 17:01

** Since this morning, MoveOn members have made more than 10,000 calls to Senate offices, urging every senator to oppose the dangerous GOP-led effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act . **


As part of MoveOn.org’s #ResistanceSummer organizing program, MoveOn members across the nation went door-to-door to speak with their neighbors about pressing issues facing our country, including health care.

In total, MoveOn members have already held more than 100 canvassing events nationwide as part of Resistance Summer’s Neighborhood Listening Project, with more than 200 more scheduled in coming days. On Sunday evening, nearly 12,000 participants joined MoveOn and allies for a regular nationwide Ready To Resist strategy call, planning for the fight to save health care this week.

Here are some MoveOn members talking to neighbors face-to-face on a scorching Las Vegas, NV weekend:

Meanwhile, it was nearly 100 degrees in Cheverly, MD—but that didn’t stop MoveOn member Beth and her friends from knocking on doors and having face-to-face conversations with their neighbors. “It may have been almost 100 [degrees],” said Beth M., “but we had a great group out knocking on doors for an hour!”

And below are MoveOn members taking an afternoon out with friends and family to canvass in Minot, ND.

“We had 2 teams, and knocked on 43 doors in downtown Minot, North Dakota, by the university campus,” said MoveOn member Matthew C. of Minot. “I feel like we almost overperformed because we were competing against a farmer’s market and the state fair in town. … It was a really good listening event all in all, and my volunteers actually want to schedule another one in about a week to canvass more. We were all a bit nervous about it at first, but after the first few people we spoke with, it became much easier!”

“Totally gratifying experience! I failed to photograph my wonderful group today – some ‘returnees’ from our picnic and some ‘new ones’—but we had lots of significant conversations with total strangers,” said MoveOn member Kimberly R. from Harrisburg, PA. “It’s true: Change begins with listening.”

** Check out more photos from Resistance Summer here:

Resistance Summer is a 12-week volunteer program for emerging community leaders and activists who want to gain organizing skills and be part of an ongoing national network of organizers standing up to Trump’s agenda.

Categories: Political Action