Political Action

Undocumented residents not the problem

American Friends Service Committee - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 16:44
GazetteNet logo Photo: AFSC/ News Source: Daily Hampshire Gazette
Categories: Political Action

Almanaque Azul: a Panamanian travel guide licensed under CC

Creative Commons - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 14:06
Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA by Alamanque Azul

Almanaque Azul is a group of Panamanian environmentalists, artists, and explorers that began the process of creating a travel guide for the beaches of the Republic of Panama in 2005 through a blog that chronicled the amazing cultural and natural diversity of various small towns and deserted beaches.

Alamanque Azul, CC BY-NC

Over the years, dozens of volunteers reported from along the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean coasts of this thin Central American isthmus, otherwise known for the Canal that goes through it (though more recently for the “Panama Papers” leak of documents related to corporate tax-avoidance!)

The images and reports from volunteers were carefully edited into the Almanaque Azul website, which quickly became a popular point of reference for local travellers. The website was published under the Spanish port of the CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 licence. The scope of Almanaque Azul gradually became more activist, as large-scale tourism development and a booming real estate market for coastal land drove people off the land and caused environmental destruction throughout the country. We started promoting a more sustainable community and nature based tourism, which was being largely ignored by the market and regulatory agencies.

In 2009 the Almanaque Azul team began work on compiling the research done by the volunteers over the years into a book. We decided to go beyond the coasts and to cover the entire country, including rivers, mountains and inland towns. The result was the first edition of the Almanaque Azul Panama Travel Guide, a 432-page book published in Spanish in 2013 under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 unported license, with a print run of 2500 copies. We did our own, very limited distribution but even then we sold out in less than two years and the book became somewhat of a cult object.

By then we were already working on the second edition, which we just published last March. This time, we collected $20,000 from a crowdfunding campaign, which we used to print 6000 copies. The book grew to 560 pages and the license used was a 4.0 international license. More than 100 people contributed research, text, photographs, and illustrations for this edition. We have learned a lot about distribution, marketing and inventory control as well, so we expect to do much better on the economic side of publishing this edition.

We also published an e-book version of the first edition, which we sold on Amazon, under the same license and with no copy-protection.

We used almost entirely free software tools for both editions. The first one was laid out using Scribus, for the second edition we used LaTeX, which turned out to be the perfect choice for a book this large and complex. We had to invest some money in developing a LaTeX class with the book specs, which we plan to release but still haven’t decided whether to use a BY NC-SA, a BY-SA, or just an attribution license.

Using Creative Commons licenses is a natural choice for us, especially since it is a collaborative project where we want the information to spread as far and wide as possible, where everyone should be able to use, remix and republish the content. We felt it would be only fair to restrict commercial reuse, which also made it easier for some people to agree to contribute material.

We did publish some of the pictures from our volunteers and contributors on a different project, La Mochila, intended to support science education in Panama. Since we added all of those images to Wikimedia Commons, we used a CC Attribution-Share Alike License, which required us to do a bit of convincing of the institutions that contributed images, and the Creative Commons Panama Chapter team helped us.

You can check our original website (which is offline at the moment) on the Internet Archive. The book’s promotional website is here.

Casco Antiguo de Panamá desde el aire, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

The post Almanaque Azul: a Panamanian travel guide licensed under CC appeared first on Creative Commons.

Categories: Political Action

MoveOn.org Launches New TV, Digital Ads in GA-06 with Six-Figure Buy Focused on Health Care

Move On - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 12:46

*** “RESPONSIBLE”: https://youtu.be/nKpLk9RmSkU ***
*** “THE VOID”: https://youtu.be/OvCf_p7Cyws ***

The 30-second spots highlight Ossoff’s support for the Affordable Care Act, drawing strong contrast with the deeply unpopular Trump/GOP health care plan.

GEORGIA — MoveOn.org Political Action launched a series of TV and digital ads in Georgia today in support of progressive House candidate Jon Ossoff, who MoveOn members in the district overwhelmingly voted to endorse recently.

The ads, which begin airing today as part of a six-figure TV and digital buy, focus on Ossoff’s support for maintaining and improving the Affordable Care Act and opposition to Republican-led efforts to dismantle it and take coverage away from millions.

*** See “Responsible” ad here: https://youtu.be/nKpLk9RmSkU ***
*** See “The Void” ad here: https://youtu.be/OvCf_p7Cyws ***

The spot builds on a new poll of likely special election voters commissioned by MoveOn.org that shows health care as GA-06 voters’ top issue, with a majority of respondents in the Republican-leaning district opposing the GOP’s health care plans, even as Republicans in Washington continue to try and pass their dangerous plan.

In addition to the new TV spot, MoveOn.org is running digital ads targeting likely voters in the district. MoveOn is also mobilizing its 15,000 members in the district to volunteer and vote, and MoveOn members have contributed more than $260,000 to Ossoff’s campaign since the group’s endorsement.

“Ossoff is the sort of progressive champion—strong on both racial justice and economic justice—who can channel resistance movement energy into progressive volunteers and votes, and Republicans have done him a big favor with their efforts to repeal the ACA and kick tens of millions of people off of their health care,” said Anna Galland, interim executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action.

MoveOn members’ endorsement of Ossoff is part of a push to support candidates who are embracing the Affordable Care Act, showing Donald Trump and Republicans that their unpopular pushes to revoke health care from millions will cost them at the ballot box. In addition to Ossoff, MoveOn members in Montana recently endorsed congressional candidate Rob Quist, noting his support for the health-care bill, as well.

Categories: Political Action

Influencing centres of change: the policy and advocacy track at #CCSummit

Creative Commons - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 11:37
Photo by Saša Krajnc, CC BY 4.0.

In a couple of weeks in Toronto, we will welcome a global community of advocates working to improve education and access to information and culture through copyright reform and open policy. The summit’s Policy and Advocacy track will focus on increasing the effectiveness of our community in the current and future hotbeds of law and policy change. We hope you join us in sharing your experiences, learning about what others have been doing, and collaborating with us on education and advocacy activities.

Check out the full programme, and view some of the highlights from the Policy and Advocacy track below.

Fixing copyright for Education

This session on Friday afternoon, led by CC Portugal’s Teresa Nobre focuses on sharing research and campaign experience on influencing the current copyright reform underway in Europe. If you want a sneak peek of what they have been doing, take a look at the campaign.

Campaigning for Copyright Reform: New Perspectives and Lessons Learned

Here’s a session that will be led by Vladimir Garay from Derechos Digitales. It will build on the perspectives and lessons learned from advocating for copyright reform from Uruguay to Europe to elsewhere, and explore new ideas and approaches for law reform and open policy adoption worldwide.

Index, Map, Registry: How can we Track Open Policies Around the World?

Alek Tarkowski of Creative Commons Poland leads this session, building on the “State of Open Policy” report, which provides an overview of open policies in the spheres of education, heritage, science, and data. This session showcases the outcomes and tries to figure out with your help how can the 2017 report be an even better resource.

We look forward to seeing everyone at the summit!

The post Influencing centres of change: the policy and advocacy track at #CCSummit appeared first on Creative Commons.

Categories: Political Action

Trump's (in)humanitarian intervention

Socialist Worker - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 01:00

Ashley Smith analyzes the situation in Syria and beyond after the U.S. missile strike.

DONALD TRUMP is cloaking his order for a U.S. missile strike against the Shayrat Syrian Arab Air Force base in Syria in the mantle of humanitarianism.

He claims the Tomahawk Cruise missile attack is to punish the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, which days before used the base to launch a sarin gas attack on the village of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, killing 80 civilians, almost half of them children.

Trump denounced the regime for choking out "the lives of innocent men, women and children...No child of God should ever suffer such horror."

No one should fall for this cynical charade.

Trump's missile attack had two main aims, neither of which have anything to do with the liberation of the Syrian people from Assad's dictatorship and the regime's counterrevolutionary war that has laid waste to the country.

Trump hopes to use this demonstration of American hard power to whip up domestic support for an administration dragged down by incompetence, internal divisions and growing unpopularity. He also hopes to send a message to America's rivals that his regime is prepared to turn to brute force in pursuit of imperial aims in the Middle East and throughout the world, no matter the consequences.

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IT'S HARD to take Trump's humanitarian pretensions seriously. His actual practice proves he views Syrians and their struggle for liberation with contempt.

Up until last week, Trump supported some kind of rapprochement with Assad and Russia--the dictator's most important international supporter--so the U.S. could pursue a single-minded focus on defeating the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS).

A few days prior to the air strike, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, stated that the U.S. would no longer seek the removal of Assad from power. The administration thus made explicit what had been implicit under Barack Obama--that the U.S. would tolerate Assad staying on in power as a de facto ally for the sake of the war on ISIS.

The U.S. thus proved itself no ally of the Syrian Revolution. It has turned a blind eye while Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah intervened in support of Assad's counterrevolutionary war to save his dictatorship.

The regime and its international supporters are responsible for the vast majority of the 400,000 deaths during the conflict. They have displaced 11 million people from their homes--5 million of those have left the country as refugees, mainly in the region, but also in Europe and throughout the world.

Far from caring about the "innocent men, women and children," Trump demonstrated his racist and Islmophobic hatred of these refugees from his first days in office when he tried to ban their entry into the country, insinuating that the refugees were infiltrated by ISIS supporters and were therefore a terrorist threat.

Trump's continuation of the so-called "war on terror" also exemplifies his lack of concern for civilian life. His bombing campaigns in Syria, Iraq and Yemen caused the deaths of well over 1,000 people in just March alone.

Trump's atrocities have been mounting by the day. U.S. warplanes blew up a mosque in the Syrian town of al-Jinnah on March 16, killing 60 people. At around the same time, an attack on the ISIS-occupied city of Mosul in Iraq killed over 200 civilians. The Washington Post called it one of the worst U.S.-led civilian bombings in 25 years.

This is the reality of "humanitarian" intervention by the U.S. war machine--and lies and war crimes are not limited to Trump. The U.S. empire has never intervened anywhere in the world for humanitarian purposes.

From Vietnam to Iraq, the U.S. has always used various lies to cover its real goals of pursuing economic and geopolitical interests--in opposition to imperial rivals, states the disobey Washington's edicts, and revolutionary risings that endanger its dominance.

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ALL OF this should show that Trump's attack has nothing to do with humanitarianism.

The U.S. has been perfectly willing to stand by as Assad uses conventional weapons to slaughter large numbers of people. But both the Obama and Trump administrations viewed the use of sarin gas, a weapon of mass destruction, as a "red line." With the gas attack on Bashar al-Assad, Assad was violating an agreement struck between the U.S. and Russia in 2013 after the regime's last major use of chemical weapons in Ghouta.

No one should be surprised by Assad's willingness to violate the agreement and use chemical weapons. Any regime that shoots down nonviolent protesters, jails and tortures activists, drops barrel bombs on civilians, blows up hospitals and schools, and imposes medieval-style sieges on towns and villages will be happy to use weapons of mass destruction if it can get away with it.

In this case, Assad mistakenly took the words of Tillerson and other administration officials about not seeking his ouster as a green light to use any means to go after the last holdouts of the jihadist-dominated opposition in Idlib.

Hassan Hassan, writing at the Guardian website, quoted Syrians speculating that the use of sarin gas was calculated to provoke a U.S. response that would force Russia to defend the regime more fervently--which is exactly what happened.

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LET'S BE clear: The U.S. is not committed to ridding the world of weapons of mass destruction. Let's remember that the U.S. has the world's largest arsenal of nuclear arms. And it only destroyed its chemical weapons stockpile in 2015--though it still maintains a facility for research and development of these weapons called the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense.

The U.S. has certainly been willing to use these weapons of mass destruction itself and to tolerate their use by its allies.

It remains the only nation on earth to have dropped atomic bombs in wartime when it incinerated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan at the end of the Second World War. It used the chemical defoliant Agent Orange to ravage Vietnam. During its occupation of Iraq, it dropped white phosphorous on Fallujah as part of its counterinsurgency against the Iraqi resistance.

Trump's real concern about Syria is to protect the U.S. and Israeli monopoly on the weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. It wants to prevent any other state from acquiring nuclear and chemical weapons, which could the balance of mass terror in the region which they currently preside over.

At the same time, Trump's first strike against Assad was limited. And at least for now, the U.S. is committed to first winning the ongoing war on ISIS. The missile strike was designed to send a message to both Assad and Russia without getting into a protracted conflict with either.

Trump even warned Russian forces in advance of the air strike, giving both them and the Syrian regime they no doubt informed time to evacuate personnel from the base. The U.S. only attacked the one base and didn't even blow up its runway. As a result, Assad has been able to replenish his base with other planes and use it to launch yet more bombing runs in Idlib.

What happens next is as hard to predict as Trump himself, who is prone to wild mood swings in tweets and policy. And Trump's foreign policy team, if you can call it that, is saying completely contradictory things.

Tillerson initially declared that the U.S. was changing its strategy toward Assad as one of "regime change," to be pursued after the defeat of ISIS. He has since retreated from that, stating that no one should "extrapolate that to a change in our policy or posture relative to our military activities in Syria today. There has been no change in that status."

But Trump's UN ambassador Nikki Haley, who is aligned with Republican hawks like Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, announced on Sunday that the U.S. was committed to regime change after the defeat of ISIS. "There's not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime," she said. "Regime change is something that we think is going to happen."

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TRUMP CLEARLY succeeded with his cynical political calculations of the effect of an air strike. Like so many American presidents before him, he turned to military action to unite the ruling establishment behind him, win over the corporate media and improve his approval ratings.

His administration has been stumbling through one self-inflicted crisis after another, caught in a faction fight between the "alt-right" wing led by senior aide and former Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon and the more establishment wing represented by figures like Tillerson.

Divisions within the Republican Party and even the White House were the main reason Trump was unable to deliver on his signal promise to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. On top of that, Trump has been greeted by mass resistance from his very first day in office. The combination of all of this drove his approval rating down to 35 percent, one of the lowest of any president in history at this point in their first term.

The air strike is a naked attempt to set the administration on a different course.

Plus, Trump is also using the attack to try to bring an end to Russia-gate. While the resistance has opposed Trump across the board, Democrats, with a few exceptions, have concentrated on charges that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia's strongman President Vladimir Putin to win the presidential election.

The consequence of this narrow focus is that when Trump ordered a missile strike against Russia's ally Assad, risking an open break with Putin, the Democrats were neutralized.

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ALMOST OVERNIGHT, Democrats, along with dissident Republicans and the corporate media, abandoned their various complaints about Trump and instead sung his praises.

John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Trump's two principal critics from the Republican establishment, applauded his "leadership" in a moment of crisis.

Almost the entire Democratic Party lined up as well, proving once again that American imperialism is a bipartisan project. Just before the attack on the Syrian base, Hillary Clinton anticipated the missile strike, calling for the U.S. to "take out his airfields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, "Making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do." John Kerry, Obama's Secretary of State and a former Democratic presidential nominee, declared that he was "absolutely supportive" of Trump's strike and was "gratified to see that it happened quickly."

Even Trump's harshest liberal opponents joined the chorus. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a statement: "The Syrian regime must be held accountable for this horrific act." She later made clear that she wants Trump to present a plan to accomplish this goal, but that is in reality a call for war, not opposition to it.

The only criticism some Democrats could manage was procedural--they complained that Trump should have presented his plan to hit Syrian military targets for Congressional approval. Even socialist firebrand Bernie Sanders did not directly oppose the assault, while warning against the U.S. getting drawn into another war in the Middle East.

Trump also got the corporate media to stand and salute him.

On CNN, Fareed Zakaria declared, "I think Donald Trump became president of the United States" last night.

Fairness in Accuracy and Reporting surveyed five major U.S. newspapers--The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and New York Daily News--and found they "offered no opinion space to anyone opposed to Donald Trump's Thursday night air strikes. By contrast, the five papers ran a total of 18 op-eds, columns or 'news analysis' articles (dressed-up opinion pieces) that either praised the strikes or criticized them for not being harsh enough."

But the most obscene celebration of Trump's militarism has to go to MSNBC's Brian Williams. While videos of Cruise missiles being launched showed on the screen, he gushed about "these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean. I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: 'I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.' And they are beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments making what is for them a brief flight over to this airfield."

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WITH THE political and media establishment behind them, at least for the moment, Trump and his administration hope to use the missile strike to begin reassert U.S. imperial power. As one administration official stated, "This is bigger than Syria. It's representative of how he wants to be seen other world leaders. It is important that people understand that this is a different administration."

Trump has already put forward what one of his appointees called "a hard power budget," proposing a $54 billion increase in military spending to be paid for by massive cuts in other government program.

The attack in Syria shows his intention to deploy that hard power--and to declare that the U.S., not Russia, will be the central broker of the counterrevolutionary settlement to follow with the impending defeat of ISIS. No doubt Tillerson will communicate this message in no uncertain terms when he visits Russia this week.

The Trump administration is also putting China, America's main imperial rival, on notice. To underline the point, the attack took place during Trump's "golf course summit" with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.

The two countries are negotiating about conflicts over everything from trade to currency valuation to North Korea. Trump no doubt hoped to use the attack in Syria to pressure China to lean on North Korea and bring an end to its nuclear missile program.

The U.S. got almost uniform support for the missile strike from its NATO allies, whether led by conservatives like Germany's Angela Merkel or liberals like Canada's Justin Trudeau. So did all the regimes that the U.S. backs in the Middle East, from Saudi Arabia to Israel.

By contrast, the missile strike provoked condemnation from regional opponents of the U.S. and international rivals Russia, China and North Korea, showing how the air strike could easily intensify geopolitical conflicts and trigger more war in the Middle East and Asia.

In response, Russia shut down the so-called "de-confliction hot line" that the U.S. and Russia established to inform one another about air strikes and bombing runs in Syria. This could lead to unintended skirmishes between Russian and U.S. jets even if they are going after targets in the war on ISIS.

Putin also promised to help Syria construct an air defense network against future U.S attacks. This would bring both Russia and Assad into more direct conflict against U.S. air power.

What will Assad do, now perhaps emboldened by the staunch backing from Russia. The regime could intensify its scorched-earth campaign to vanquish all opposition and impose its rule across Syria. What would the U.S. do in response? Would it react to more massacres if carried out with conventional weapons, as they mainly have been for six years?

Beyond the Middle East, the missile strike is also likely to intensify the U.S. conflict with China and North Korea.

North Korea's dictatorship built its nuclear weaponry to deter the U.S. from conducting regime change like it did in Iraq. It has repeatedly demonstrated its capacity to retaliate against U.S. attacks by firing test missiles over South Korea and Japan.

The U.S. has been escalating its pressure on the regime. Just recently, the U.S. deployed the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea to neutralize North Korean missiles. And the Trump administration has threatened to act alone if China fails to get its ally to abandon its nuclear program. Last month, Tillerson threatened that all options are on the table, including military strikes.

The North Korean regime will no doubt view the U.S. missile strike in Syria a precedent for an attack against it. It is easy to imagine this situation spiraling into a conflict not only involving North and South Korea, but the U.S. and China as well as other regional powers like Japan.

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THE U.S. air strike in Syria thus threatens even greater and more destructive war in several theaters around the world. It is therefore essential that the mass opposition to Trump, which has so far mainly involved resistance against his domestic policies, adopt a clear antiwar position.

At the same time, we should oppose other imperial powers like Russia and all the regional powers from Iran to Saudi Arabia. All have played a counterrevolutionary role in the country, either supporting the regime's war on its people or backing reactionary Islamic fundamentalists who waged war on both the government and rival secular sections of the anti-Assad rebellion.

Opposing the interventions of the U.S. and other powers should not be confused with support for Assad's regime. We must stand in solidarity with the Syrian people's right to self-determination and their struggle for liberation and democracy.

Perhaps most importantly, we should demand that the U.S. open its borders, welcome the Syrian refugees who Trump tried to ban, and provide them the services they need to rebuild their lives.

To do these things, our side must overcome two significant obstacles.

First, the Democratic Party can't be relied on to oppose war. The party's establishment has uniformly lined up behind Trump's attack on Syria, and it carried out the "war on terror" under the Obama administration. Both parties of capital, Republicans and the Democrats, however much they disagree on this or that tactical question, are united in the effort to assert U.S. imperial power in the world.

Second, the resistance must reject the arguments of those on the left who express support for Assad, Russia and Iran as some kind of anti-imperialist states. They are not. Russia is an imperialist power in its own right, however lesser compared to the U.S. So is China.

Any support for the Syrian state and its Russian sponsor would line up the resistance with their counterrevolutionary war on Syria. Such a position stance is neither antiwar nor anti-imperialist.

Instead, we must build international solidarity in support of struggles for national liberation, like that of Palestine, as well as political and social revolution like the Arab Spring. Such solidarity across borders is the only solution to the spiraling conflicts between imperial and regional powers in our world today.

Categories: Political Action

Complicit in the crimes against the Copts

Socialist Worker - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 01:00

Two explosions in Coptic Christian churches in the Egyptian cities of Tanta and Alexandria, claimed at least 44 lives and left dozens injured. The churches were packed with worshippers for Palm Sunday services.

The bombings were claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and are the latest in a long list of atrocities directed at the Coptic minority in Egypt. President Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi has promised to defend Copts against sectarian violence, but his regime--the former dictator Hosni Mubarak before him--tolerates the bloodshed and exploits the sectarian divide to maintain power. The Egyptian Revolution of 2011 brought a glimpse of the possibility of unity between Muslims and Copts in the struggle against the dictatorship, but that spirit of solidarity was undermined during the presidency of Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and then destroyed by Sisi and the coup-makers who toppled Morsi.

Here, the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt issue their statement on the horrific bombings and explain the background to the violence and the forces that benefit from it.

Worshippers fill the street outside a Coptic Christian church in Tanta after a deadly bomb attack

YET ANOTHER bloody holiday for the Copts of Egypt. Once again churches are bombed and dozens of churchgoers are killed on a religious holiday. Once again the corpses of Copts lie with the debris of their icons and what is left of their churches. Once again, al-Sisi's regime, its military rule and its police state fail to protect Coptic lives and churches.

Al-Sisi took power promising the Copts of Egypt that the days of fear, terror and sectarian violence were gone, and his regime would protect them from dark terrorism. Here we are in the fourth year since the coup, the third year of Sisi's presidency, and the last four months alone saw the bombing of the Peter and Paul church, the killings and displacements of Christians in Arish and the two latest massacres in Tanta and Alexandria.

When a terrorist was allowed to go inside the Peter and Paul church and blow it up, the Coptic youth raged at the flagrant security failings and demanded the sacking of the interior minister. But al-Sisi intervened to prevent any talk of failings and naturally did not sack his interior minister. And now terrorists were able to attack a church barely a week after a bomb was discovered outside that same church! Here the security failings and the lack of accountability have become complicity with the crime.

We must remember that the few weeks before the January 2011 revolution saw large demonstrations of Coptic youths against the burning and bombing of their churches and the complicity of the security services. One sign of the political bankruptcy of the Mubarak regime was the abhorrent sectarian "deal" that counted on the Coptic Church to support the regime and contain the anger of Copts while giving free reign to the sectarian agitation of al-Azhar and the Salafists. Mubarak's state was a particularly sectarian one, and al-Sisi's state is based on the same sectarian principle.

The January 2011 revolution shattered this sectarian "deal" and saw, for the very first time in modern Egyptian history, unity between the Christian and Muslim masses, not around hollow nationalist slogans like "Religion is for God and the Nation is for everyone," or police-sponsored superficial alliances between the Coptic and Muslim religious leaders, but around a common revolutionary struggle for democracy, freedom and social justice.

But this unique revolutionary moment did not last long. The Muslim Brotherhood betrayed the revolution by siding with the Military Council (SCAF), which exploited sectarianism and inflamed it with the Maspero massacre. The secular opposition has also allied itself with the military to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood, paving the way for al-Sisi's 2013 coup.

Al-Sisi restored the bases of the Egyptian sectarian state and re-established the very sectarian and securitarian deals that Mubarak's regime had set up; the Copts are once again paying the price with their blood. The security services' incompetence and complicity are only part of the picture, and we must of course join the Coptic youths when they demand that the interior minister be sacked and put on trial for criminal negligence.

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BUT THE security failings are part and parcel of the political bankruptcy of the al-Sisi regime. Not only did the military rule and its security forces fail to protect the Copts and their churches, but this regime's policies can only lead to more violence, bloodshed, terrorism and sectarianism. A regime that is based on tyranny, dictatorship and the suffocation of the political arena. A regime whose economic policies impoverish the majority for the sake of the same big businessmen who monopolized the country's wealth in the Mubarak years and shared it with the generals. A regime that is based on sectarianism and uses the religious institutions, from the Coptic Church to al-Azhar Mosque, to gather support for the dictatorship. A regime that hasn't made a single step to dismantle the systemic discrimination and persecution that the Coptic masses suffer, but on the contrary reinforces the discrimination and persecution, exploiting the sectarian card along with tyranny and repression in order to remain in power.

Once more, al-Sisi and the al-Azhar Imam will present their condolences to Pope Tawadros. And once more, they will talk of national unity and the evil plots against Egypt and other nonsense.

It is about time that we built an opposition that rejects all forms of sectarianism, be it coming from al-Sisi's regime or groupings of political Islam. An opposition that doesn't content itself with condemning terrorism and the terrorists and the failings and complicity of the security forces. An opposition that puts the struggle against sectarianism and the persecution of Copts at the center of its priorities.

Glory to the martyrs
We won't forget al-Qaddisayn
We won't forget Maspero
We won't forget Peter and Paul
We won't forget Arish
We won't forget the Palm Sunday massacres

First published at the Revolutionary Socialists website.

Categories: Political Action

The resistance will not be branded

Socialist Worker - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 01:00

On January 19, 2015, Seattle teacher and anti-racist activist Jesse Hagopian addressed a rally that preceded the city's Martin Luther King Day march. Afterward, as he walked past a line of police who were blocking a street, officer Sandra Delafuente doused him with pepper spray at point-blank range--and then continued to spray several other people.

Video of the unprovoked attack was shared widely--and last week, an image from it went viral as part of a meme responding to the appalling campaign by Pepsi that tries to profit off the Black Lives Matter movement. In an article published at his I Am an Educator blog, Hagopian explains the story behind the image.

ON APRIL 5, I woke up to find out I was a meme gone viral.

The hilarious meme by @ignant_ was in reference to the shameful ad that Pepsi produced--and quickly took down--depicting model Kendall Jenner diffusing tensions between protesters and cops by handing one officer a refreshing can of Pepsi. When the officer cracks open the can, the protesters are overjoyed and the officer gives an approving grin. Peace on earth prevails because of commercialism and sugar water.

Hundreds of thousands of people have liked and shared the hilarious meme that mocks the ignorance of the Pepsi ad. The meme was made from an image taken of me at the 2015 Martin Luther King Day rally in Seattle.

But here's what folks who shared the meme might not know about that photo: The image is a still taken from a video that shows me on the phone, walking on the sidewalk, when Seattle police officer Sandra Delafuente, totally unprovoked, opens up a can of pepper spray in my face. If only Kendall had been there with a cold can of Pepsi!

Kendall Jenner's Pepsi ad

Many people asked if the photo was real or photo shopped. It's real. Too real. I wasn't on the phone with Kendall, but I was on the phone with my mom giving her directions to come pick me up because it was my 2-year-old son's birthday party later that day. That's when a searing pain shot through my ear, nostrils and eyes, and spread across my face.

My mom soon arrived and took me back to the house. I tried to be calm when I entered so as not to scare my children, but the sight of me with a rag over my swollen eyes upset the party. I spent much of the occasion at the bathtub, with my sister pouring milk on my eyes, ears, nose and face to quell the burning.

In the aftermath, I filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department--which is under a federal consent decree by the Department of Justice because of its demonstrated excessive use of force--and I helped organize rallies and press conferences with other victims of police brutality. This pressure helped Seattle's Office of Professional Accountability rule in my favor and recommend a one-day suspension without pay for officer Delafuente. Not much of a reprimand, but at least it was an acknowledgment of wrongdoing. However, Seattle's chief of police, Kathleen O'Toole, directly intervened to erase that punishment. Maybe I should have tried handing her a can of Pepsi before I asked for justice?

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Jesse Hagopian after being pepper sprayed (Jesse Hagopian)

AFTER MORE than a year of stressful litigation, I reached a $100,000 settlement. This was in no way justice. Justice would have been making the officer who assaulted me account for her crime. But I was determined to make sure some good came out of the pain and I decided to use settlement money to start the Black Education Matters Student Activist Award to honor Seattle youth who pursue social justice and organize against institutional racism. Nominations for this year's award are currently open.

I gave the first three awards out last year to some incredible young activists:

-- Ifrah Abshif, whose work founding the Transportation Justice Movement for Orca Cards secured travel funding for all low-income Seattle Public School students who live more than a mile from their schools;

-- Ahlaam Ibraahim founded the "Global Islamophobia Awareness Day" event at Seattle's Pike Place Market;

-- Marci Owens has been a health care and Black Lives Matter activist and is a transgender student who has become a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community.

We need to support young change-makers like these because commercialism won't save us. Corporations like Pepsi will always be in the business of trying to brand rebellion and profit from protest. But while they shamefully try to get their conglomerates "in the black" off of the image of the Black Lives Matter movement, we will be building that movement and fighting for a world where the wealth is used for the common good.

But for now, I'm just glad that one of the most painful moments of my life has been turned into stinging satire that makes me laugh out loud.

First published at I Am an Educator.

Categories: Political Action

Hey Rauner, do your job!

Socialist Worker - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 01:00

AFSCME Local 1989 member Criage Lynnette Althage reports from Chicago on a picket to demand that Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner negotiate with state workers.

Workers protest Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner outside the Hilton Hotel in Chicago (Citizen Action Illinois)

SOME 1,500 union members and supporters turned out in downtown Chicaog to picket a campaign fundraiser for Illinois' budget-cutting Gov Bruce Rauner on March 31. The cold and rainy day didn't stop protesters from gathering in front of the Hilton Hotel under the slogan "Rauner Do Your Job!" and chanting "Don't dictate. Negotiate."

For more than two years, Republican millionaire-turned-governor has refused to pass a state budget, which has left public services without funding and in danger. Five unions representing workers in state government are currently waiting for Rauner to settle contracts with them. The notoriously anti-union governor has refused to even negotiate with AFSCME over the last year.

The mood was upbeat with a sense of solidarity, as workers from many local unions and organization came together to walk the picket.

Unions and community organizations affected by lack of funding as a result of Rauner stalling on signing a budget were all there, including, to name a few, the Chicago Federation of Labor, Service Employees International Union, Amalgamated Transit Union, Laborers, Arise Chicago, Citizen Action Chicago, the Illinois Nurses Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Graduate Employees Organization, Illinois Education Association and AFSCME.

Rauner's wealthy donors attending the event that night had to walk through the expansive picket that ran from Balbo Drive, past the grand Hilton Hotel's entrance on Michigan Avenue, down to 8th Street. With 1,500 people chanting, you could hear it all the way from State Street. After the picket, we converged on 8th street for a rally, with speakers including AFSCME Council 31's Roberta Lynch.

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AFSCME MEMBERS are demanding that Rauner and his team sit down and resume negotiating the state workers contract. They want the governor to stop pushing his plan for a 100 percent employee costs for health care, which would to a cut in take-home pay of some $10,000.

In late February, state workers voted by an overwhelming 81 percent to give their union bargaining committee authority to call a strike, showing they're serious about this fight. Since then, Rauner has done his best to try to intimidate state workers, announcing a job portal for recruiting strikebreakers.

Union members also want Rauner to pass a fair budget that is brought to him by the legislature so that state universities and services can be fully funded, restored and made whole. My own AFSCME Local 1989 at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) made our own signs and were there with other locals, to demand that Rauner pass a budget.

State workers have faced cuts, furloughs and layoffs during a time when the governor and his contemporaries have raked in millions of dollars a day.

Workers at NEIU have just come off of a five-day furlough. Three of our paychecks will be reduced to paltry sums, which puts members trying to pay mortgage, medical, and utility at risk of not being able to cover their bills. The first paycheck will only be missing one day, but the following two paychecks will be missing two days of work each.

In addition to the February strike vote, the March 31 action showed that state workers aren't letting this go without a fight. We make the state run, not this union-busting governor.

Categories: Political Action

Mayo 1° en lucha solidaria

Socialist Worker - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 01:00

Nicole Colson reseña porque este Día de los Trabajadores será una oportunidad para defender a los inmigrantes y para profundizar las conexiones entre los movimientos.

UNA COSA, por seguro, puede ser dicho sobre Donald Trump: él está haciendo Estados Unidos protestar otra vez

Una, y otra vez.

Las Marchas de las Mujeres que tomaron las calles el día después de su inauguración fueron las manifestaciones de mayor magnitud en la historia estadounidense. Miles de personas participaron en una nueva forma de protesta, la ocupación de los aeropuertos, en respuesta a la prohibición de entrada a personas musulmanas. Y en abril vienen dos grandes movilizaciones por la justicia ambiental.

Ahora, con el régimen de Trump arremetiendo con redadas y deportaciones a través del país, activistas y organizaciones por los derechos de los inmigrantes están uniéndose a sindicatos y otras fuerzas para convertir este Primero de Mayo, el Día Internacional de los Trabajadores, en una demostración de solidaridad y lucha contra la agenda de Trump.

La urgencia de trazar una línea en el piso quedó clara después que la Casa Blanca incrementara la velocidad de su aparato de deportaciones. A través de los EEUU, la Oficina de Inmmigración y Aduanas (ICE, por sus siglas en inglés), o 'la migra' como popularmente se le conoce, ha estado arrestando inmigrantes bajo el menor pretexto, sin atención a cuánto tiempo llevan viviendo en el país, a las familias que dependen de ellos, o a los lazos que tienen con sus comunidades.

A finales de marzo, agentes de ICE, con armas en mano, allanaron una casa en Chicago y dispararon a un hombre que alegaron apuntó un arma contra ellos. Todos en la casa tenían documentos, y miembros de la familia dicen que el padre herido no cargaba arma alguna, y que ni siquiera es dueño de una.

ICE está específicamente atacando activistas por los derechos de los inmigrantes y a las ciudades santuario con el propósito de infundir terror en comunidades enteras y mandar una advertencia a quienes quisieran oponer esta ofensiva: 'manténganse en las sombras, o les toca a ustedes'.

Pero mientras estos arrestos y redadas alimentan el miedo entre los inmigrantes, también encienden la rabia y una determinación para luchar, alentando los llamados a marchar y protestar el Primero de Mayo.

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GRUPOS POR los derechos de inmigrantes, liderados por el Movimiento Cosecha, están tomando la delantera en organizar "Un Día sin Inmigrantes". Su manifiesto afirma: "No iremos a trabajar, no iremos a la escuela, y no compraremos nada. Vamos aclarar que este país no funciona sin inmigrantes. Este es sólo el comienzo de nuestra lucha por protección permanente, dignidad y respeto".

El llamado a "Un Día sin Inmigrantes" se remonta a las mega-marchas inmigrantes del 2006, organizadas bajo el mismo eslogan. Entonces, como ahora, con los republicanos en control de ambas cámaras del Congreso y la Casa Blanca, quienes nos oponemos a la xenofobia y el miedo nos movilizamos para confrontar la ola represiva batiendo nuestras comunidades.

Más de un millón de personas salieron a marchar en Chicago, Nueva York, Los Ángeles y muchas otras ciudades, en uno de los paros laborales más extensos de la historia estadounidense. El auge opositor derrotó una legislación federal anti-inmigrante que hubiera criminalizado a toda persona indocumentada, así como a todo que los asistiera de cualquier manera.

Quienes hoy organizan para el Primero de Mayo ven el día como una oportunidad para tejer juntas varias luchas y construir solidaridad entre movimientos, como ocurrió con las Marchas de las Mujeres.

Como lo fue en el 2006, la elección del Primero de Mayo (conmemorado a través del mundo como un feriado obrero, excepto en EEUU, de donde se originó) es un reconocimiento al poder social de la clase obrera, y de los trabajadores inmigrantes en particular. Y es alentador ver a los sindicatos preparándose para tomar acciones en ese día.

El mes pasado en Los Ángeles, miembros de Trabajadores Unidos del Oeste--Sindicato Internacional de Trabajadores de Servicios (SEIU-USWW, por sus siglas en inglés) votaron con unanimidad para salir a la huelga el Primero de Mayo. La revista de asuntos laborales, Labor Notes, reportó que más de 600 conserjes confluyeron en el auditorio del sindicato para el voto, una presencia muchísimo mayor que en una asamblea de miembros típica, gritando: "¡Huelga, Huelga!"

"El presidente está atacando a nuestra comunidad", dijo Tomás Mejía, delegado de planta, a Labor Notes "Los inmigrantes hemos ayudado a formar esté país, hemos contribuido a su belleza, pero el presidente nos está atacando como criminales".

Ricardo Flores, trabajador en una fábrica de alimentos y miembro de Brandworkers, parte de la Alianza de Trabajadores de Cadenas de Alimentos--una red de más de 300.000 trabajadores agrícolas, mesoneros, cocineros, y manufactureros de alimentos, que también apoya la huelga del Primero de Mayo--relató a Sarah Lazare, de Alternet, que:

Mis compañeros de trabajo y yo tuvimos que tomar una decisión: o esperar a que Trump irrumpa en nuestras vidas y familias, o unirnos y luchar. Decidimos luchar hasta el fin porque es mejor tomar un chance por la justicia que sufrir una miseria garantizada.

David Huerta, presidente de SEIU USWW comentó a BuzzFeed News: "Entendemos que hay riesgos involucrados en irse en huelga, pero estamos dispuestos a tomarlos para avanzar en este momento, cuando los más marginados están en la mira de esta administración".

Miembros de la Asociación de Educadores de Seattle (SEA, por sus siglas en ingles) están entre quienes están considerando la huelga el Primero de Mayo. El 13 de marzo, su Asamblea de Representantes votó por tomar un voto en cada locación sobre si salir a la calle el Día de los Trabajadores.

Si los más de 5.000 miembros de SEA se lanzan en huelga, los inmigrantes de la ciudad y del país recibirían un importante mensaje sobre el número de personas que los apoyan, así como la administración Trump recibirá una desafiante demostración contra sus ataques a los derechos laborales, en general, y a la educación pública, en particular.

En Los Ángeles, los Maestros Unidos de Los Ángeles (UTLA, por sus siglas en inglé) han hecho un llamado al Superintendente a cerrar las escuelas públicas el Primero de Mayo en reconocimiento a que "los estudiantes en ese día van a estar mejor con sus familias, con sus comunidades, y ojalá participando,", como explicó el presidente de UTLA en una rueda de prensa de la Coalición del Primero de Mayo de Los Ángeles.

En marzo, la Cámara de Delegados del Sindicato de Maestros de Chicago (CTU, por sus siglas en inglés) aprobó un período de un mes para discutir sobre como participar para demostrar solidaridad con las víctimas de las redadas de Trump y para llamar atención a la crisis afectando a la educación pública.

La huelga durante el Primero de Mayo también estuvo bajo consideración, a pesar de que CTU no puede legalmente aprobar tal huelga bajo la ley del estado. Sin embargo, la presidente Karen Lewis le dijo a periodistas, con cortes presupuestarios y reducciones de días de clase llegándole a muchas escuelas, las acciones pueden ser inevitables.

"Si la Junta sigue con la amenaza de cancelar tres semanas escolares (representando una reducción salarial a los maestros también), veríamos sus acciones como una violación masiva a nuestro contrato," dijo Lewis, "que podría provocar una huelga".

El 5 de abril, la Cámara de Delegados de CTU aprobó una resolución invitando a sus miembros a participar en las acciones del Primero de Mayo, incluyendo hacer efectivo un día personal, que bajo contrato los maestros de Chicago gozan. De esta manera CTU reivindica su compromiso solidario con las comunidades inmigrantes y con hacer la lucha por la justicia social un elemento clave de su organización.

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MÁS ALLÁ del movimiento laboral, activistas universitarios están comenzando a organizarse alrededor del potencial llevar sus luchas al Primero de Mayo y vincularse a la lucha mayor por los derechos de los inmigrantes.

Los derechos de los estudiantes indocumentados son obviamente una preocupación primaria, con esfuerzos organizativos locales enfocados en construir redes de respuesta rápida y empujar a cada administración universitaria a declarar su entidad un "campus santuario" y rehusarse a colaborar con ICE.

También existe el potencial acciones coordinadas con el Movimiento por las Vidas Negras, con una serie de eventos de educación política y movilizaciones extendiéndose desde el 4 de abril, 50° aniversario del discurso "Más Allá de Vietnam" de Martin Luther King, al Primero de Mayo, enlazando asuntos de justicia económica y racial.

Según el portal Mic.com, en marzo, "Más de 50 organizaciones representando a afroamericanos, hispanos, indígenas, LGBTW, refugiados, inmigrantes, trabajadores y los pobres colaborarán desde el 4 de abril hasta el Primero de Mayo, Día Internacional de los Trabajadores, cuando lanzarán protestas masivas a través del país".

"Aunque los resultados electorales mostraron una cosa, la realidad es que la mayoría de nosotros estamos bajo ataque, y este es un momento para nosotros dar un paso hacia la unidad," dijo a Mic.com, Navina Khanna, directora de la Alianza del Trabajo de Salud, Ambiente, Agricultura y Alimentación. "Esto es para aprender realmente a ver nuestros asuntos como uno, y nuestras luchas como una".

Maurice Mitchell, un organizador con el Movimiento por las Vidas Negras, explicó a Alternet: " Es nuestra evaluación que ahora, más que nunca, es crítico que nuestros movimientos por distintas comunidades encuentren maneras de colaborar. Pensamos que el Primero de Mayo presenta una oportunidad particular para que gente de distintos sectores y comunidades encuentren una causa común".

Lo que está en juego en oponernos a la agenda racista y anti-laboral de Trump nunca ha sido más importante. El Primero de Mayo se está vislumbrando como un día importante en esa lucha, pero le toca a los activistas comenzar a construirlo desde ya--en nuestros sitios de trabajo, educación y comunidades--para hacerlo exitoso y mandar recordar claramente el lema del movimiento obrero: Una ataque contra uno, es un ataque contra todos.

Como explicó Maria Helena Hernández, una inmigrante indocumentada, miembro de la Coalición por Derechos Humanos de los Inmigrantes de Los Ángeles, en una rueda de prensa: "Tenemos que luchar, y si no nos quieren en este país, pues nos tendremos que ir peleando, no en nuestras rodillas".

Traducido por Alejandro Q.

Categories: Political Action

Ninth Circuit Sends a Message to Platforms: Use a Moderator, Go to Trial

Deep Links - Sat, 04/08/2017 - 14:12

After almost two decades of litigation, you’d think the contours of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbors would be settled. But the cases just keep coming, and while the overall trend is pretty favorable, the latest ruling takes an unfortunate turn (PDF).

The case involves LiveJournal, a social media platform that allows users to create “communities” based on a common theme or subject. The communities are partly managed by moderators, who review posts (including photos) that users submit to make sure they follow the rules for posting and commenting created by the community. A community focused on celebrity news, called “Oh No They Didn’t” (ONTD), became particularly popular, garnering millions of views every month.

Enter Mavrix Photography, a photo agency that specialized in celebrities. Mavrix discovered that several of its celebrity photos had been posted on ONTD between 2010 and 2014. Rather than sending a DMCA takedown notice, Mavrix went straight to court to sue for copyright infringement. LiveJournal took the posts down immediately, and invoked the DMCA safe harbors, asserting that it was simply “hosting content at the direction of a user.” The district court agreed.

The Ninth Circuit took another view, based in large part on LiveJournal’s reliance on moderators to review and delete content. Those moderators, the court said, (1) might be LiveJournal’s agents; and, as such, (2) might have played such an active role in shaping the content of the ONTD community that content hosted on LiveJournal was not “at the direction of the user” (as required by the DMCA) but rather “at the direction of LiveJournal;” and (3) might have acquired actual or “red flag” knowledge of infringement that could be attributed to LiveJournal. So the court sent the case back to district court to let a jury figure it out—a very expensive proposition.

The court’s approach was surprising as a matter of law and policy. There is no dispute that LiveJournal users initially submitted the allegedly infringing content. As the district court held (PDF), “[U]sers of the LiveJournal service, not LiveJournal, select the content to be posted, put that content together into a post, and upload the post to LiveJournal’s service. LiveJournal does not solicit any specific infringing material from its users or edit the content of its users’ posts.”

The fact that moderators reviewed those submissions shouldn’t change the analysis. The DMCA does not forbid service providers from using moderators. Indeed, as we explained in the amicus brief (PDF) we filed with CCIA and several library associations, many online services have employees (or volunteers) who review content posted on their services, to determine (for example) whether the content violates community guidelines or terms of service. Others lack the technical or human resources to do so. Access to DMCA protections does not and should not turn on this choice.

The irony here is that copyright owners are constantly pressuring service providers to monitor and moderate the content on their services more actively. This decision just gave them a powerful incentive to refuse.

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Categories: Political Action

U.S. missiles won't liberate the Syrian people

Socialist Worker - Sat, 04/08/2017 - 01:00

Anyone who cares about justice and peace needs to mobilize against the U.S. government's new escalation of the bloodshed and repression in the Middle East.

THE TRUMP administration's April 7 missile strike targeting the Shayrat Syrian Arab Air Force base in Syria is a frightening escalation of a six-year-old conflict that has already had catastrophic consequences for the Syrian people.

Trump said the decision to launch 59 Tomahawk Cruise missiles was in retaliation for the April 4 Sarin gas attack in Idlib province, carried out by the Bashar al-Assad regime, that killed scores of civilians and left hundreds sickened. "I will tell you that attack on children had a big impact on me," Trump said. "My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much."

But this claimed concern about civilian casualties is nothing but rank hypocrisy coming from Trump.

After all, one of his first acts as president specifically targeted Syrian refugees for an indefinite travel ban, barring them from entering the U.S. as they sought refuge from the Assad regime's murderous brutality. Did he not know that there were "children" among the refugees?

Moreover, the Trump administration is responsible for a sharp increase in civilian deaths and injuries in Syria and Iraq as a result of a recent escalation in U.S. bombing in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

One bombing carried out under Commander-in-Chief Trump hit a school sheltering dozens of families on the outskirts of Raqqa on March 21, where ISIS has its stronghold. Many of those families had fled other areas of the country seeking safety, only to find death under U.S. bombs.

Trump's hypocrisy is particularly galling against the backdrop of the overall carnage in Syria. In six years, roughly half of Syria's population, some 11 million people, have been forced to flee their homes to escape the violence--6 million are internally displaced, and 5 million are refugees. The death count in Syria since the war began is almost half a million people. Of those killed, 24,000 have been children.

But since the U.S. began bombing Syria in 2014 as an extension of the war on ISIS first launched in northern Iraq, the April 7 missile strike was the first to specifically target the military assets of the Assad regime, which is responsible for more than 90 percent of the dead and wounded.

Does Trump care only about Syrian children if they are killed by chemical weapons, rather than conventional ones? His justifications for the recent U.S. missile strikes are patently false.

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THE U.S. missile strike on April 7 was not about saving Syrian lives. It was about many things, but not that.

For one, like many presidents before him, Trump saw an opportunity to use military intervention to restore flagging approval ratings.

Just a week ago, administration officials were peddling a completely different line: that accommodation with Assad was inevitable. "[I]t's about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out," said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said: "With respect to Assad, there is a political reality that we have to accept."

So what happened? It's been speculated that Assad took these statements as a green light to use the regime's full arsenal against opponents, including chemical weapons. In 2013, after the regime's barbaric gas attack on East Ghouta, Assad promised to give up chemical weapons in exchange for the Obama administration calling off a threatened military strike.

Whatever the regime's motives, the Trump administration performed an about-face--and the volume of applause from the mainstream media, Democratic leaders and foreign policy experts alike showed that it paid off.

The celebration of war today among people claiming to be Trump's critics yesterday is stomach-turning. On MSNBC, supposedly the home of the president's liberal opponents, anchor Brian Williams referred to images of the Cruise missiles arcing across the night sky as "beautiful" three times in 30 seconds.

Hillary Clinton herself called for bombing Syrian airfields before Trump ordered the strike, and Bernie Sanders endorsed the goal of holding Assad responsible for his use of chemical weapons, though he called on Trump to come to Congress for a vote to approve future military action in Syria.

Trump was praised for his "judicious" use of force--which killed nine civilians, including four children.

And there's the Russia question: Because Russia is Assad's chief backer, the missile strike also allowed Trump to silence Democratic critics who have raked him over the coals for being too cozy with Vladimir Putin. True, the U.S. tipped off Russian forces about the coming missile strike, but the Russian government has been sharply critical.

But there are more global motives for carrying out this attack. The missile strike, targeted on a single airfield, did little to damage the Assad regime's military capacity. But this is consistent with the U.S. foreign policy goal, carried over from the Obama administration, of allowing the Assad regime to remain strong enough to head off revolutionary change.

Nevertheless, Trump succeeded in sending a message that he could back up his nationalist rhetoric and saber rattling with military force--and have the support of a united political establishment, Republican and Democrat alike, behind him. That message wasn't meant for Assad and even Russia so much as other rivals--especially North Korea and China.

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SO TRUMP had much to gain from this missile strike. But what comes next and how bad could it become?

Trump may think that a limited strike can back his adversaries down, but low-risk, one-time deployments of air power have generally had little lasting military impact.

What happens the next time the Assad regime carries out a slaughter, maybe not with banned chemical weapons, but with barrel bombs--the government's weapon of choice? Will the Trump administration look the other way, carry out another limited "demonstration" bombardment--or commit more forces to the intervention?

This is why the logic of escalation is built into even "demonstration" attacks.

The reality is that the U.S. war machine is primarily responsible for the crisis in the Middle East--from George H.W. Bush's 1991 war on Iraq, through Bill Clinton's murderous regime of sanctions and air strikes, to George W. Bush's disastrous invasion and occupation, and a civil war that spread sectarian bloodshed.

The growing violence inflicted by the U.S. government has given rise to more violence--setting the stage for the rise of ISIS and tolerating the counterrevolutionary savagery of the Assad dictatorship, among other Middle Eastern regimes.

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IT IS important for everyone who cares about social justice to build opposition to the U.S. war machine in this brutal new phase.

Trump's agenda has already provoked an unprecedented level of resistance, and this means there is fertile ground for building an antiwar opposition. But there are also challenges that must be met squarely, and not put off.

First of all, it is essential to reject Trump's justification of a "humanitarian intervention." Few readers of this publication would give Trump the benefit of the doubt on this, but stated humanitarian motives have long served as a cover for the U.S. government's pursuit of its strategic interests.

Second, we need to champion the call for Syrian refugees to be given safe passage, homes and support wherever they choose to go, including the U.S. It is a sickening indictment of the U.S. government, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, that it has only allowed a fraction of the refugees from Syria to come to the U.S.

Third, the Democratic Party has done little to nothing to build a real resistance since Trump became president, and will be even more harmful in this latest phase. Democratic leaders not only support Trump's missile strike, but the call for congressional approval of further attacks is a plea to be involved as a junior partner in turning up the war machine.

Fourth, a principled antiwar and anti-imperialist response to the U.S. attack on Syria must include opposition to the Assad regime that has terrorized the population of Syria, and to all the other regional and imperial powers, whether they have intervened on the side of the Syrian government, like Russia and Iran, or against it, like Saudi Arabia.

Some of the actions and protests against Trump's military strike have been organized by those on the left who defend the Assad regime as anti-imperialist and who have supported the Russian and Iranian military intervention against the Syrian people. But you can't be pro-dictator and antiwar. These forces are opposing the imperialism of their own country, but defending a different empire.

These organizations don't have a monopoly on the antiwar struggle, even if they call some of the demonstrations. Socialists need to make clear their opposition to Trump's escalation of the U.S. war machine, but we will send our message loud and clear that we reject Assad's tyranny and support the struggle against the regime.

With all these challenges before us, it will be important to demonstrate, but also to educate. The future of any antiwar struggle depends on opponents of imperialism learning the ugly history of U.S. intervention, and analyzing the other imperial and regional forces participating in the violence and repression against the Syrian people.

Donald Trump thinks he has scored a victory by launching a missile strike on Syria. He needs to be proven wrong.

We need to expose the hypocrisy of a "war on terror" that inflicts state-sponsored terrorism on people throughout the Middle East, including Syria. And we must build support for Syrian refugees who have fled violence and repression--in defiance of governments like the U.S. that would reject their desire to find safety and freedom.

Categories: Political Action

UN Takes First Major Step Towards a Nuclear Ban Treaty

American Friends Service Committee - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 15:53
News Source: In Depth News
Categories: Political Action

A parish opens its doors to asylees

American Friends Service Committee - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 15:50
NJ.com logo Photo: AFSC/ News Source: NorthJersey.com
Categories: Political Action