By George Lakey for Waging Nonviolence - Movement manuals can be useful. Marty Oppenheimer and I found that out in 1964 when civil rights leaders were too busy to write a manual but wanted one. We wrote “A Manual for Direct Action” just in time for Mississippi Freedom Summer. Bayard Rustin wrote the forward. Some organizers in the South told me jokingly that it was their “first aid handbook — what to do until Dr. King comes.” It was also picked up by the growing movement against the Vietnam War. For the past year I’ve been book touring to over 60 cities and towns across the United States and have been asked repeatedly for a direct action manual that addresses challenges we face now. The requests come from people concerned about a variety of issues. While each situation is in some ways unique, organizers in multiple movements face some similar problems in both organization and action. What follows is a different manual from the one we put out over 50 years ago. Then, movements operated in a robust empire that was used to winning its wars. The government was fairly stable and held great legitimacy in the eyes of the majority. Now, the U.S. empire is faltering and the legitimacy of governing structures is shredding. Economic inequality skyrockets and both major parties are caught in their own versions of society-wide polarization.
By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig - The ruling corporate elites no longer seek to build. They seek to destroy. They are agents of death. They crave the unimpeded power to cannibalize the country and pollute and degrade the ecosystem to feed an insatiable lust for wealth, power and hedonism. Wars and military “virtues” are celebrated. Intelligence, empathy and the common good are banished. Culture is degraded to patriotic kitsch. Education is designed only to instill technical proficiency to serve the poisonous engine of corporate capitalism. Historical amnesia shuts us off from the past, the present and the future. Those branded as unproductive or redundant are discarded and left to struggle in poverty or locked away in cages. State repression is indiscriminate and brutal. And, presiding over the tawdry Grand Guignol is a deranged ringmaster tweeting absurdities from the White House. The graveyard of world empires—Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mayan, Khmer, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian—followed the same trajectory of moral and physical collapse. Those who rule at the end of empire are psychopaths, imbeciles, narcissists and deviants, the equivalents of the depraved Roman emperors Caligula, Nero, Tiberius and Commodus.
By Medea Benjamin for Code Pink - Touching down in Washington DC Friday night after a peace delegation to South Korea organized by the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea (STIK), I saw the devastating news. No, it was not that Reince Priebus had been booted from the dysfunctional White House. It was that North Korea had conducted another intercontinental ballistic missile test, and that the United States and South Korea had responded by further ratcheting up this volatile conflict. The response was not just the usual tit-for-tat, which did happen. Just hours after the North Korean test, the US and South Korean militaries launched their own ballistic missiles as a show of force. Even more incendiary, however, is that South Korean President Moon Jae-in also responded by reversing his decision to halt deployment of the US weapon system known as THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense). President Moon gave his military the green light to add four more launchers to complete the system. South Korea’s new, liberal president came into office on May 10 on the wave of a remarkable “people power” uprising that had led to the impeachment and jailing of the corrupt President Park Geun-hye.
By Mattathias Schwartz for Pro Publica - Last week, Dan Coats, the former senator from Indiana and current head of the U.S. intelligence community, was interviewed by NBC’s Lester Holt in front of a live audience at the Aspen Security Forum, a gathering where diplomats, journalists and top U.S. officials mingle with business executives in between livestreamed panel discussions on world affairs. (The hourlong discussion was posted on YouTube.) ProPublica has obtained internal talking points, apparently written by one of Coats’ aides, anticipating questions that Holt was likely to ask. They offer a window into the euphemisms and evasions necessary to handle a pressing issue for Coats: how to lead the intelligence community at a time when the president has insulted it on Twitter and denigrated its work while questions about Russian influence consume ever more time and attention in Washington. Sixteen of the 26 questions addressed by the talking points concerned internal White House politics, the Russia investigation, or the president himself. One question put the challenges facing Coats this way: “How can you work as DNI for a president that undermines your work?”
By Russell Mokhiber for Corporate Crime Reporter - Donald Trump is not a fan of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the law that says it’s illegal for any person — corporate or human — to bribe overseas. And you could argue that the Trump Justice Department’s first two FCPA enforcement cases reflect Trump’s point of view.Trump has called the FCPA “a horrible law” and has said that the law “puts us at a huge disadvantage.” Both were declinations — despite the fact that the companies disclosed illegal overseas payments and agreed to disgorge illegally gained proceeds. Some are using the cases to ask the question — is Trump soft on corporate crime? As the lawyers say, let’s stipulate for the record that he is. But let’s also remember that going soft on corporate crime was perfected by the Democrats. The Obama Justice Department, for example, regularly used declinations — five in Obama’s last year in office — and non prosecution agreements — 22 over the eight years of his administration — to settle corporate FCPA matters. And since September 2015, when the Obama administration put out the Yates memo calling for more prosecutions of individual executives, there have been 20 FCPA corporate prosecution agreements — yet not one individual has been charged in connection with those cases.
By Staff of Common Dreams - I'm 'absolutely' introducing single-payer healthcare bill. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that he will “absolutely” introduce legislation on single-payer healthcare now that the Senate GOP’s bill to repeal ObamaCare has failed. "If people don't like the private insurance that they're getting, they should have a Medicare-type public option available in every state in this country," Sanders said. Asked if he would follow through on his pledge to submit single-payer legislation, Sanders said, “Of course we are, we’re tweaking the final points of the bill and we’re figuring out how we can mount a national campaign to bring people together” “We are the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all people,” Sanders said, “We should ... move in the direction of every other major country.” “I believe at the end of the day, the American people will conclude that Medicare for all — Medicare is working now for people 65 or older — let's expand it to everyone.”
By Joe Emersberger for Venezuela Analysis - The Trump administration has threatened Venezuela with economic sanctions if the government proceeds with a vote to elect a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the constitution – the Venezuelan constitution that is. Venezuela is not about to rewrite the U.S. Constitution or some other country’s constitution. That clarification is necessary because the Trump administration and other governments (Canada, Colombia etc..) seem to have collectively appointed themselves the Supreme Court of Venezuela. It should also be noted that Venezuelan opposition leaders have effectively been imposing economic sanctions on their own country for quite some time. Since winning control over the National Assembly in 2015, Henry Ramos Allup and Julio Borges (who have each been National Assembly President) have boasted of blocking Venezuela’s access to foreign loans. According to the opposition-aligned pollster, Datanalisis, 55% of Venezuelans disapprove of that opposition tactic and only 31.7% approve. As for the sanctions Trump has threatened, 65% are opposed and only 26% are in favour. Unsurprisingly, people living through a major economic crisis tend not to be in favor of deliberately making it worse.
By Joe Uchill for The Hill - LAS VEGAS — One of the nation’s largest cybersecurity conferences is inviting attendees to get hands-on experience hacking a slew of voting machines, demonstrating to researchers how easy the process can be. “It took me only a few minutes to see how to hack it,” said security consultant Thomas Richards, glancing at a Premier Election Solutions machine currently in use in Georgia. The DEF CON cybersecurity conference is held annually in Las Vegas. This year, for the first time, the conference is hosting a "Voting Machine Village," where attendees can try to hack a number of systems and help catch vulnerabilities. The conference acquired 30 machines for hackers to toy with. Every voting machine in the village was hacked. Though voting machines are technologically simple, they are difficult for researchers to obtain for independent research. The machine that Richards learned how to hack used beneath-the-surface software, known as firmware, designed in 2007. But a number of well-known vulnerabilities in that firmware have developed over the past decade. “I didn’t come in knowing what to expect, but I was surprised by what I found,” he said. He went on to list a number of actions he hoped states would take to help secure machines, including increasing testing opportunities for outside hackers and transparency in voting machine design.
By Andrew Emett for Nation of Change - Despite having the correct address printed on the arrest warrant, Mississippi police officers recently arrived at the wrong house and fatally shot the suspect’s neighbor through his front door. Although officers claim the man had been armed and refused commands to drop the gun, witnesses assert that he was unarmed and had been shot without warning. Shortly before 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, Southaven police arrived at 5878 Surrey Lane to serve an arrest warrant for a domestic abuse suspect named Samuel Pearlman. Earlier in the evening, Pearlman had been accused of choking his girlfriend at a Citgo gas station. Instead of approaching 5878 Surrey Lane, the officers mistakenly went across the street to serve the warrant at the wrong address: 5881 Surrey Lane. According to police reports, Ismael Lopez, 41, prepared to ambush the officers by cracking open his front door while aiming a gun at them. During a press conference on Monday, District Attorney John Champion declared that two officers arrived at the wrong address to serve the arrest warrant when Lopez’s dog, Coco, ran through the open front door in an aggressive manner. Reportedly noticing Lopez standing in the open doorway with a rifle aimed at them, the officers opened fire at his pit bull and immediately ordered Lopez to drop the weapon before they shot him to death.
By Scott Ritter for Truth Dig - The current American political canonical theology holds as an incontrovertible truth that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. According to this dogma, which has been actively promulgated by former and current government officials and echoed by an unquestioning mainstream media, Russian intelligence services, directed by President Vladimir Putin, conducted cyber-operations against targets associated with the U.S. election for the purpose of denigrating the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, to help her opponent, Donald Trump. Adherence to this conclusion is mandatory, lest one be accused of challenging the gospel according to the U.S. intelligence community. “Russia did it,” Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat who serves on the House Judiciary and the Foreign Affairs committees, has declared. “There’s no rational person who looked at evidence and concluded otherwise.” While Rep. Lieu himself is not on the House Intelligence Committee and, as such, has not seen the evidence he cites, his fellow representative, Adam Schiff, the Democratic co-chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has. When President Trump dared question the findings of the U.S. intelligence community on Russia, Schiff lashed out.
By the Sugar Shack Alliance. Massachusetts - It was a beautiful day for picnics in Otis State Forest on Saturday, as the non-violent direct action group Sugar Shack Alliance hosted a large public rally at Lower Spectacle Pond in Sandisfield, Massachusetts. As the rally was happening, an entirely different kind of picnic, a well-coordinated act of civil disobedience was unfolding along the construction easement of the $93 million Kinder Morgan Connecticut Expansion pipeline project, culminating in 22 arrests. Despite the temporary police closure of Cold Spring Road, about 80 people gathered at 10:00 a.m. at the glistening Lower Spectacle Pond to reaffirm the need for solidarity against fossil fuel infrastructure across the country. Speakers included Susan Baxter, an affected Sandisfield land-owner; Anthony Melting Tallow and Karyn Redwolf; Martha Klein from the CT Sierra Club; and Ian Jackson of the Green Party.
By Carla Herreria for Huffington Post. Law enforcement officials from around the world released a statement in apparent response to President Donald Trump’s speech Friday to cops in New York in which he appeared to encourage police brutality. His comments elicited cheers from the audience of law enforcement, which included local lawmakers, officers from the Suffolk County Police Department, the Nassau County Police Department acting police commissioner Patrick Ryder, Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco and deputies and jail guards from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office, according to Newsday reporter Nicole Fuller. After his speech, the International Association of Chiefs of Police published a blog post that detailed its use-of-force policies and training, highlighting the need for officers to “ensure that any use of force is carefully applied and objectively reasonable.” The association explained that officers are trained to treat all individuals “with dignity and respect.” “This is the bedrock principle behind the concepts of procedural justice and police legitimacy,” the IACP wrote.
By Staff for Economic Policy Institute. July 31st is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, the day that marks how long into 2017 an African American woman would have to work in order to be paid the same wages as her white male counterpart was paid last year. Black women are uniquely positioned to be subjected to both a racial pay gap and a gender pay gap. In fact, on average, black women workers are paid only 67 cents on the dollar relative to white non-Hispanic men, even after controlling for education, years of experience, and location. Pay inequity directly touches the lives of black women in at least three distinct ways. Since few black women are among the top 5 percent of earners in this country, they have experienced the relatively slow wage growth that characterizes growing class inequality along with the vast majority of other Americans. But in addition to this class inequality, they also experience lower pay due to gender and race bias.
By Joseph E. Stiglitz for Project Syndicate. A politically astute president who understood deeply the economics and politics of corporate tax reform could conceivably muscle Congress toward a reform package that made sense. Trump is not that leader. If corporate tax reform happens at all, it will be a hodge-podge brokered behind closed doors. More likely is a token across-the-board tax cut: the losers will be future generations, out-lobbied by today’s avaricious moguls, the greediest of whom include those who owe their fortunes to scummy activities, like gambling. The sordidness of all of this will be sugarcoated with the hoary claim that lower tax rates will spur growth. There is simply no theoretical or empirical basis for this, especially in countries like the US, where most investment (at the margin) is financed by debt and interest is tax deductible. The marginal return and marginal cost are reduced proportionately, leaving investment largely unchanged. In fact, a closer look, taking into account accelerated depreciation and the effects on risk sharing, shows that lowering the tax rate likely reduces investment.