By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. As one of the world's richest nations, the US stands out for having the greatest wealth divide and high levels of poverty. Over the past 40 years, wages have stagnated and, as Lynn points out, "the richest one percent took more than half of all income growth since 1979." Currently, the top 0.1 percent have wealth equal to the bottom 90 percent. It isn't a matter of whether the US has enough money to support basic necessities like health, education and housing, but who has the wealth in the US and where our tax dollars are being spent.
By Samayia Taylor for Popular Resistance. In the US, college students are just arriving on their campuses- some for the first time- ready to start the new academic year. They have a wide range of interests and goals, from bringing about the latest medical breakthrough to wanting to change U.S. foreign policy. Some may even want to become President. One thing they all have in common though, is that they have just entered a time in their lives where they will explore, learn, and- most importantly- be able to express themselves. At the same time as millions of American college students begin to express their newfound views, people their age on the other side of the world are forced into silence. In Saudi Arabia, alternative political views are crushed by an oppressive regime that stamps out even the slightest form of dissent. These two seemingly opposite worlds, the United States and Saudi Arabia, have a disturbing new connection.
By Shaun Richman for In These Times - On Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Janus vs. AFSCME, the case that will likely turn the entire public sector labor movement into a “right-to-work” zone. Like a lazy Hollywood remake, the case has all the big money behind it that last year’s Friedrichs v. CTA did, with none of the creativity. In Friedrichs, the plaintiffs argued that interactions between public sector unions and government employers are inherently political. Therefore, the argument went, mandatory agency fees to reimburse the union for the expenses of representation and bargaining were forced political speech, violating employees’ purported First Amendment right to not pay dues. The case ended in a 4-4 deadlock in March 2016, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, who had appeared poised to vote against the unions’ interests. Much like Friedrichs, the Janus case has rocketed through the federal courts. The National Right to Work Foundation, which represents the plaintiffs, petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case in early June. All briefs will likely be submitted by mid-January 2018, meaning SCOTUS could hold hearings almost exactly a year to the date that the Court last heard the same arguments. The defendants may argue for procedural delays, which could potentially kick the decision into the following court term in 2018-2019.
By Robert M. Thorson for Hartford Courant - Hallelujah! The third branch of the federal government, the appointed judicial branch, is finally getting serious about climate science. No longer can the elected executive branch and the elected legislative branches cave in to popular pressure to avoid the inconvenient truth that climate change adaptations will be hugely expensive. My hope is that the lawsuits that will surely follow Hurricanes Maria, Jose, Irma and Harvey will help normalize the idea that "government can be legally accountable for failure to prevent foreseeable harms to its citizens." That quote comes from a hot-off-the-press column published in the Sept. 8 issue of Science, "Science in litigation, the third branch of U.S. climate policy." The quote describes a ruling by a Dutch court that forced the Dutch government to take steps to reduce greenhouse emissions to reduce imminent dangers to its citizens. Meanwhile, back in the United States, many agency heads in the present administration are either climate deniers or climate demurrers. By executive order, we are pulling out of the Paris climate accord and have tossed out "the mandate of the previous administration to "consider climate change in infrastructure planning." We've also withdrawn "guidance to federal agencies ... on how to incorporate climate considerations" into National Environmental Policy Act analysis.
By Jessica Glenzain for The Guardian - While Flint battles a water crisis, just two hours away the beverage giant pumps almost 100,000 times what an average Michigan resident uses into plastic bottles. Gina Luster bathed her child in lukewarm bottled water, emptied bottle by bottle into the tub, for months. It became a game for her seven-year-old daughter. Pop the top off a bottle, and pour it into the tub. It takes about 30 minutes for a child to fill a tub this way. Pop the top, pour it in; pop the top, pour it in. Maybe less if you can get gallon jugs. Luster lives in Flint, Michigan, and here, residents believe tap water is good for one thing: to flush the toilet. “I don’t even water my plants with it,” she said. Flint became synonymous with lead-poisoned water after government officials, looking to save money, switched the city’s water supply from Detroit city water to water from the corrosive Flint river. Once the city had switched, the number of children with elevated lead exposure doubled; residents reported unexplained rashes and losing hair. An unpublished study recently found fetal deaths in Flint increased by 58% during the crisis.
By Sammy DiDonato for Unicorn Riot - Dominion plans to build a large compressor station for the pipeline in Union Hill, a historic Black community founded by descendants of freed slaves in unincorporated Buckingham County near the Cumberland State Forest, west of Richmond. Local residents see the pipeline company’s disregard for their community as part of an established history of environmental racism in Virginia. “As African-Americans living in a county where racial inequality and retaliation have been facts of life for over 300 years, where many of their ancestors were enslaved, the community of Union Hill’s lack of access to political decision-making makes them vulnerable to Dominion Power’s corporate profit-making plans.” – Lakshmi Fjord, anthropologist and activist with Friends of Buckingham County. The kayak actions were carried out to call on the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to not defer to the Army Corps of Engineers decision when issuing permits to projects that threaten water quality. Organizing groups included Friends of Buckingham County, Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, Friends of Nelson County, and Yogaville Environmental Solutions. Friends of Buckingham County has been organizing around the Atlantic Coast Pipeline for three years.
By Spencer Buell for Boston Daily - Protesters, some standing with their fists in the air and waving signs that included the words “white supremacist,” swarmed to greet Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Thursday night at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. DeVos, despised by advocates for public schools and victims of on-campus sexual assault, was there to give a talk about her pro-“school choice” views on education. As she has done since her appointment to the position by the Trump administration, DeVos in her speech argued for the promotion of alternatives to public schools, advocating for policies that would give parents the option to send their kids to privately-run charter schools, diverting funding from public schools pay for it. “I came into office with a core belief: it is the inalienable right and responsibility of parents to choose the learning environment that best meets their child’s unique, individual needs,” she said, according to prepared remarks provided by the Department of the Education. “Now, I’ve been called the ‘school choice Secretary’ by some,” she continued, “I think it’s meant as an insult, but I wear it as a badge of honor!” During the speech, video taken at the event shows a pair of students standing up silently in their chairs and unfurling a pair of signs. One read “white supremacist” in all-caps. The other read “Our students are not 4 sale.” Dozens more students stood silently in the hall, also brandishing signs.
By Sarah Rankin for Associated Press - RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The developers of a disputed natural gas pipeline on the U.S. East Coast are considering a major expansion of the project into South Carolina, according to remarks made by an energy company executive and interviews with others in the industry. Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline said that raises questions about whether Dominion Energy, the project's lead developer, has withheld important information from the public and whether the pipeline is even needed as initially proposed. But business leaders say the pipeline would help lower energy costs and boost economic development in South Carolina. Dan Weekley, Dominion Energy's vice president and general manager of Southern pipeline operations, told attendees at a recent energy conference "everybody knows" the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — currently slated to pass through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina — is not going to stop there, despite what the current plans say. "We could bring in almost a billion cubic feet (28 million cubic meters) a day into South Carolina," Weekley said, according to an audio recording The Associated Press obtained from a conference attendee. The attendee requested anonymity out of concern for not wanting to harm business or personal relationships. The remarks appear to be the Richmond, Virginia-based company's most direct public signal to date that it intends to expand the pipeline, though industry analysts said the potential has been discussed for years.
By William Boardman for Reader Supported News - The flag is a symbol, and there is no agreement as to what it actually symbolizes. By design, the flag’s thirteen stripes stand for the original 13 states, none of which would ban slavery. The 14th state, Vermont, was the first state to ban slavery, doing it weakly in its 1777 state constitution (not that the principle was enforced: in 1802 the Town of Windsor sued a State Supreme Court justice to get him to take care of an elderly, infirm slave he had dumped on town welfare; the town lost the case). The original flag had 13 stars for those same original 13 states, and it took over 70 years before all 36 stars in the 1865 flag represented states without slavery (but not states without racist Jim Crow laws and the freedom to lynch without consequence). The colors of the stars and stripes had no meaning in 1777, when it was adopted, as distinct from the colors of the Great Seal that did have meaning. Then there’s the Star Spangled Banner, written by a slave owner in celebration of the defense of a slave state in a battle against the British. The British force included a contingent of former slaves who were promised freedom if they fought for the British. How many people at the beginning of a sports event understand “the land of the free and the home of the brave” in its deepest historical irony?
By David Swanson for World Beyond Wars - Believe it or not, November 11th was not made a holiday in order to celebrate war, support troops, cheer the 17th year of occupying Afghanistan, thank anybody for a supposed “service,” or make America great again. This day was made a holiday in order to celebrate an armistice that ended what was up until that point, in 1918, one of the worst things our species had thus far done to itself, namely World War I. World War I, then known simply as the world war or the great war, had been marketed as a war to end war. Celebrating its end was also understood as celebrating the end of all wars. A ten-year campaign was launched in 1918 that in 1928 created the Kellogg-Briand Pact, legally banning all wars. That treaty is still on the books, which is why war making is a criminal act and how Nazis came to be prosecuted for it. “[O]n November 11, 1918, there ended the most unnecessary, the most financially exhausting, and the most terribly fatal of all the wars that the world has ever known. Twenty millions of men and women, in that war, were killed outright, or died later from wounds. The Spanish influenza, admittedly caused by the War and nothing else, killed, in various lands, one hundred million persons more.” — Thomas Hall Shastid, 1927. According to U.S. Socialist Victor Berger, all the United States had gained from participation in World War I was the flu and prohibition.
By Staff of Generation Opportunity - A year ago, Weldon Angelos was released from prison after serving nearly 13 years of a 55-year sentence. Today, he’s leading the movement for criminal justice reform in the United States. Weldon’s story about facing over-criminalization and injustice is well-known. He was arrested for selling marijuana while in possession of a firearm and received an extraordinarily long punishment for a first-time, non-violent offender. Since his release, Weldon has worked tirelessly to reconnect with his family – his sister, his nephew, and his fiancée and two sons – while fighting to fix our broken criminal justice system. “I’m incredibly grateful to be out, but I’m going to continue to push for reforming mandatory minimum sentencing because it destroys so many families,” Weldon declared in an interview last year. “I witnessed that first-hand in prison. There are other people like me, even more deserving than me, that should be out.” Generation Opportunity caught up with Weldon during a recent trip to Washington, D.C., where he shared his story with lawmakers and urged them to make criminal justice reform a top priority. Weldon took a few minutes to talk to Gen Opp about adjusting to life after prison and what he considers the most important elements of criminal justice reform.
By Dina Gilio-Whitaker for Indian Country Today - In the category of “famous Native American women,” everyone has heard of Pocahontas and Sacajawea. Both—but especially Pocahontas—have been turned into some of the worst of today’s stereotypes about Native American women. And in American history they have both been held up as examples of Native American women who facilitated colonization through the help they provided to white settlers. Scholars have gone a long way, however, to portray their histories as far more complex than that. There are, of course, many more Native American women who have made great contributions to indigenous history but who have been eclipsed in mainstream histories. Here we highlight three of those Native American women, all from very different regions and with very different histories. Cherokee historians have long celebrated Nancy Ward, known also by her Cherokee name, Nanye-hi. She is known by her designation as Ghigau (which means “most beloved woman” but also “war woman”), a title bestowed upon women of exceptional achievement or merit. Historical narratives tell of her earning the title at the age of 17 after fighting in the battle of Taliwa, taking up the gun of her husband Kingfisher after he was killed in battle. As Ghigau, she sat in council meetings among both the war and peace chiefs.
By Cindy Milstein. Michigan - On Tuesday, September 26, hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and community members interrupted a “debate” on whether to consider changing the name of a University of Michigan building. This “conversation” isn’t new; it’s been considered for some fifteen years as, meanwhile #CCLittle, a eugenicist, racist, and ableist, has continued to be honored on a campus building, and black and Latinx students have continued to experience small numbers in the student body and myriad white supremacist indignities and injuries. The simple yet powerful demands on Tuesday, as part of AGITATE: a week of action against anti-blackness and other forms of racism (#BBUM, #ReclaimingOurTimeUMich), was that C. C. Little’s name not only be replaced, and immediately, but also that the building be renamed after a black woman, especially a black female scientist alumni.
By Lois Ross for Rabble. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you called the bully's bluff? As Liberal members of Parliament return to their seats in the House of Commons, they need to consider the sometimes-veiled opportunities that political bullying provides. Are you listening, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland? More than 20 years ago, I was someone who campaigned and organized against the passage of both the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). I was devastated, like many others, when both passed, first the FTA and then later NAFTA, enabled by the Liberals, and supported over the years by various shades of Conservatives.