Biden Is Tying Himself to Unions, and That’s a Good Thing

There’s a subset of left-wing people on Twitter, who seem to have fallen for the seductive trap of cynicism. Unless you’re an accelerationist, if you’re on the left and you want to see the world get better, an increase in union strength is a good thing, and actions by people in power that aid that empowerment are also good. I don’t think that Joe Biden is a reliable ally of unions, but it is, without question, a good thing that he showed up at the picket line. Even if you think it’s a cynical ploy, it should be celebrated, because the more Biden and the Democrats see their success as tied to unions, the more likely they are to support them, and maybe even get over the scare that Reagan gave them.

When I wrote about the Cemex decision this time last month, I closed by saying that it’s important to take advantage of the current pro-union climate while it exists. There is zero doubt in my mind that the federal government will turn hostile to unions once again, and the stronger they get now, the better they will be able to fight back against efforts to break them. If we want to the favorable conditions to last as long as possible – which I do – it would be good for Democrats to win in 2024.

It’s nice to be able to say that without much of a caveat. On some issues, it’s more about opposing the GOP agenda of destruction, but at the moment, the Democrats are actually enacting policy that benefits worker power. Standing still is better than going in the wrong direction, but right now, we’re actually making progress. Most of that is due to workers dedicating their limited free time, energy, and money to building a labor movement, but some of it is absolutely due to changes made by the Biden administration, and it’s pretty clear that if Trump gets back into power, he’ll be just as anti-worker as he has always been:

Trump’s appointees were far more pro-business than pro-worker. He named a string of corporate water carriers to the National Labor Relations Board who often seemed to see their role as undermining unions and making it harder for workers to unionize. Trump’s NLRB appointees said, for instance, that gig economy workers like Uber and Lyft drivers should be considered independent contractors, not employees, thus preventing them from unionizing under federal law.

Trump’s appointees to the supreme court have shown scant sympathy toward workers and outright hostility toward unions. Remember that Neil Gorsuch once ruled that a truck driver deserved to be fired for disobeying his boss’s order and leaving his broken-down vehicle in sub-zero weather – a move that probably saved the driver’s life. It was Gorsuch who delivered the deciding vote in the 5-4 Janus v AFSCME case – the most important anti-union decision in decades. In that ruling, the court’s rightwing majority said that teachers, firefighters and other government employees couldn’t be required to pay any dues or fees to the unions that bargained for them and won raises for them.

All this makes clear that Trump’s claim that he “always” has workers’ back is laughable. Labor leaders should issue a warning: workers of the world, unite against Trump’s con.

What else would you expect from a capitalist born into a real estate empire? More than that, the conservative agenda that’s currently making waves, Project 2025, would be an unmitigated disaster for working people, and probably the world:

In truth, the program laid out by Dans and his fellow Trumpers, called Project 2025, is far more ambitious than anything Ronald Reagan dreamed up. Dans, from his seat inside The Heritage Foundation, and scores of conservative groups aligned with his program are seeking to roll back nothing less than 100 years of what they see as liberal encroachment on Washington. They want to overturn what began as Woodrow Wilson’s creation of a federal administrative elite and later grew into a vast, unaccountable and mostly liberal bureaucracy (as conservatives view it) under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, numbering about two and a quarter million federal workers today. They aim to defund the Department of Justice, dismantle the FBI, break up the Department of Homeland Security and eliminate the Departments of Education and Commerce, to name just a few of their larger targets. They want to give the president complete power over quasi-independent agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission, which makes and enforces rules for television and internet companies that have been the bane of Trump’s political existence in the last few years.

And they want to ensure that what remains of this slashed-down bureaucracy is reliably MAGA conservative — not just for the next president but for a long time to come — and that the White House maintains total control of it. In an effort to implement this agenda — which relies on another Reagan-era idea, the controversial “unitary theory” of the Constitution under which Article II gives the president complete power over the federal bureaucracy — Dans has formed a committee to recruit what he calls “conservative warriors” through bar associations and state attorneys general offices and install them in general counsel offices throughout the federal bureaucracy.

They very much intend to end any semblance of democracy in the United States, and I can’t fault people for wanting to vote against that. Fortunately, Biden is also, currently, giving at least some real reason to vote for him. This is not an endorsement, and I don’t think the UAW should endorse him until well after they’ve won their current strike action. Biden’s still bad on a number of issues, from fossil fuel extraction, to water privatization, to debt, but I think it’s important to recognize that Biden has actually been attempting to live up to his boast of being the most pro-union president ever, and that’s turning out to be a good thing for everyone.

His appearance at the UAW picket line was an easy thing to do, but it’s something none of his predecessors have done, and it loaned the “bully pulpit” of the presidency to Shawn Fain and the workers. More than that, his NLRB is actually wielding power on behalf of workers, and his FTC is suing Amazon for building a monopoly. The Democrats will not give us revolutionary change, but it seems indisputable that they are currently making it far easier to do the work of getting it for ourselves.

If you think that I should be paid better, you can help with that at It’s currently my only source of income, and while I am forever grateful to my patrons, the “crowd” part of my crowdfunding is looking a bit thin. Even a small monthly contribution helps!

Arizona Trans Woman Arrested and Jailed for Self-Defense

Arizona is a “stand your ground” state. For those who don’t know, that means that if you feel threatened by someone, but you have the ability to safely retreat, you have no legal obligation to do so. You are allowed to stand your ground, and use violence. I mention that, because when it comes to self-defense law in the United States, if you claim self defense, in many circumstances, you won’t even be arrested for killing someone. Unfortunately, as with most laws in the United States, the degree to which that “protection” actually protects you will often depend on who you are, and what the cops think of you.

Case in point: A trans woman named Epona Rose was accosted by a group of men who sexually harassed her until realizing she was trans, at which point the harassment became threats and assault. Rose defended herself, and for that she was arrested and jailed with bond set at $500,750, with her arraignment on August 28th. For comparison, Donald Trump, who has a private plane and has “joked” about fleeing to Russia, had his bond set at less than half that. Further, for the crime of defending herself while trans, Rose has been charged with assault and attempted murder:

Flagstaff, AZ — On the morning of August 11th, Epona Rose was attacked in downtown Kinłani/Flagstaff, Arizona by a group of three men while two or more watched. The men were drunk and sexually harassing her. The attack escalated into threats of rape, and then to physical violence, when they realized that Epona is transgender.

Epona defended herself bravely against this attack and did not call the police, but she was the only one arrested. Epona faces felony charges including aggravated assault. She was initially held on the men’s side of the Coconino County Jail in segregation with one hour a day out of her cell. She struggled to gain access to her prescribed medications. Political pressure seems to have improved her conditions; however, Epona is still unable to receive equitable treatment and has filed complaints of sexual harassment. Epona’s arraignment is August 28th and her bond is set for over $500,000. A team of national organizers and local support have mobilized and are fiercely working to overturn such an excessive amount and the fear mongering charges.

An initial arraignment on August 17th was vacated with no reason given by the courts. A rally was held with more than 25 people calling for Epona’s immediate release. A vigil was held outside of Coconino County Jail the previous evening, more than 40 people attended, sharing their stories and chanting, “Who keeps up safe? We keep us safe!”

Epona shared this statement from jail:

I was charged as a man, as I am a woman of trans experience. I was initially booked into jail on charges of aggravated assault, as well as attempted homicide, second degree, unjustly. I was defending myself, my womanhood, against three men. While I’ve been in this facility I’ve been mistreated. I have been treated as a man. I have been asked fourteen times about my genitalia by staff. I have been laughed at and ridiculed. I have been put into isolation. Make no mistakes, the United States is now living in the Weimar Republic era. I have been fighting the way I can from the inside with what little power I have from the inside.

Epona further stated, “I am not safe here, but I am holding on to hope, and I know that I will be free. I want to thank everybody who has shown support and is fighting for me on the outside. Thank you, loved ones, relatives, comrades. I look forward to seeing you. Thank you so much for the fight. Solidarity!”

The longer Epona is in jail, the much more at risk she is exposed to as a trans woman and abolitionist. We cannot let Epona be made an example out of by demanding the basic rights of genderqueer, third gender, Two Spirit, and/or trans people to exist!

Epona’s lawyer, Ryan Stevens of the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm in Flagstaff, explained, “Our priorities are clear: keep Epona safe; get her out; and present a complete defense to her charges in court. We are at the very beginning of what may be a long haul fighting for Epona and asserting her rights in court, including self-defense.”

Arraignment is scheduled for August 28th at 1pm; Epona’s supporters will be gathering at Coconino County Superior Court located at 200 N San Francisco st, Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Epona’s supporters are fundraising for her legal fees and associated costs; please specify that your donation is for Epona. You can also use the “rose” emoji.

Support Epona’s legal defense and bail fund:
Paypal: @brokebackwolfpack
Venmo: @brokebackwolfpack
Cashapp: $brokebackwolfpack

You can also contact the Coconino County Board of Supervisors and demand Epona is treated with dignity as a trans woman:

Phone: 928-679-7120

Toll Free: 877-679-7120 Emails:,,,,

Contact Flagstaff City Council:
All council members:
Phone: (928) 213-2065

There are a lot of problems with the US constitution, and with US law. One of the good things, even if it took almost a century and a civil war to get it, is the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [emphasis added]

My only real complaint about this is that it limits its protection to US citizens, rather than all people who find themselves under US jurisdiction. Other than that, this is good and important, and so naturally it’s often ignored by the US law enforcement system. There are many, many ways in which equal protection is denied to US citizens. I’m not talking hundreds of times per year, I’m talking thousands of times per day, across the country. The “trans panic” defense is one of the most heinous examples – a trans person (usually a woman) is assaulted or murdered, and the perpetrator claims that they “panicked” upon learning she was trans, and attacked her. This has existed for a long time, in a variety of forms. So far, the federal ban on this defense hasn’t gotten anywhere, but 17 states have passed their own bans, with New Hampshire being the latest, just 10 days ago (rare Sununu win). The NH ban only applies to homicides, though, so it won’t help people who were “just” assaulted. Arizona is not on that list, and the “panic” defense is still perfectly legal there.

Rose’s case feels as if the police took that “defense” as a matter of law, which made the violence of her attackers justified. That meant that, in the eyes of the police, Epona Rose had no right to self-defense in that situation. The police, and the judge who set a bail of – and I can’t stress this enough – over half a million dollars, have decided to punish her for defending herself, before the trial that is her right has even started. I also have to wonder what role her personal politics are playing in this – my impression is that people in the law enforcement system don’t like abolitionists, despite working so hard to make our case for us.

If you want to help in any way, all the information is in the block quote above. Hopefully Monday’s arraignment won’t be pushed back again, since that would mean still more time imprisoned and abused for defending herself. The extremely high trans murder rate (trans women of color in particular) is something that does get press, albeit far less than it should, but it’s also worth remembering that for every trans person murdered, there are others who are “merely” injured, and that almost never makes the news. This problem is not separate from the way the US “justice” system actively enables this violence, and even enacts this violence, as we are seeing in the case of Enola Rose.

Climate Disasters, Mutual Aid, and Fighting Fascism With Solidarity

Once upon a time, when I was but a lad, I had the fairly naïve notion that New England, being The North, naturally wouldn’t have anything like members of the KKK. In high school, I and some other members of my school’s naturalist program spent a week in the Smokey Mountains. It was a fun and interesting trip, but what’s relevant for today is that when we emerged from the woods, and descended upon a diner that served breakfast all day, we found ourselves witness to some sort of hot-rod competition. If memory serves, we were in or near Dollywood, and there was a long line of souped-up cars slowly parading down one side of the road, and then showing off their speed down the other. In amongst it all, there were a couple pickup trucks, packed with big white dudes, and covered with confederate flags. This would have been around 2001 or 2002, and in the moment I was immediately reminded of the part of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in which Indy and his father go to Berlin to retrieve the grail diary; “We’re pilgrims in an unholy land.” At the time, I was a pretty devout Quaker, and I’d grown up learning about my religion’s role in the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad. Seeing those flags felt very uncomfortable.

Many years later, driving to the CSA near my old school, I saw a confederate flag in someone’s window in New Hampshire, which was also a surprise. I know better, now. Last I checked, the Klan had chapters in most states in the US, including every state in New England. That may have changed, but if it has, it’s only because there are other organizations furthering the same hate more effectively. Today’s example of that, from Tess Owen of Vice, is a group calling themselves the People’s Initiative of New England, or PINE. They’ve taken a leaf from the anarchist playbook, but rather than helping out to build community resilience and improve peoples’ lives, they’re doing it to build support, or at least sympathy, for the genocidal project of New England as a white ethnostate. I wish I was joking.

PINE describes itself as a “grassroots effort founded to advocate for and advance the interests of New Englanders,” which sounds innocuous enough—and that’s by design. But PINE is a new front for the neo-Nazi street gang NSC-131, which formed in 2019 and has chapters across New England. While NSC-131 brazenly touts Nazi symbols and throws up Hitler salutes during public appearances, PINE is intended as a softer, more socially acceptable mask. The goal of this is for NSC-131 to broaden their appeal, especially to those who agree with their messaging but may not want to publicly affiliate with an explicitly neo-Nazi organization.

In a recently released manifesto, first reported by Rolling Stone, PINE calls for New England to secede from the U.S. and establish a white ethnostate. And they think they can do that by drumming up local support, through “activism and community outreach.”

Hence: their flood relief efforts.

Extremists around the world typically seek to exploit moments of instability or chaos for their own gain, and that’s particularly true in the aftermath of natural disasters. 

Weak or muddled government responses to hurricanes, flooding or wildfires have previously created windows of opportunity for extremists to position themselves as reliable, trusted sources of aid—and show government agencies to be useless in a moment of crisis.

And, by ingratiating themselves in impacted communities, extremists are able to reach into a larger pool of prospective recruits.

This is a trend that experts say they expect to see more of in the coming years. As the effects of climate change grow more severe, communities that have been destabilized by natural disasters may increasingly find themselves leaning on wolves in sheeps clothing— extremists dressed up as good samaritans.

This is worrisome on two fronts. The first is the obvious – fascist groups recruiting and building support is a bad thing. The second is something that a lot of people have been worried about for a long time – the rise of ecofascism. While fascism in the United States is currently associated with a hatred of environmentalism, there’s plenty of room for the fascist version of environmentalism, which blames pollution and “filth” on minorities, and frames nature as a birthright stolen from their white audience. The more the climate destabilizes, and the more capitalism pushes people towards poverty, the more people will resonate with the idea that things used to be better, and maybe we really do need a strong authority to make the drastic changes we need, to reclaim what we once had.

What’s more, the message isn’t coming from some screaming bigot, it’s coming from a guy who you met because he gave your family a case of water, or helped clear a fallen tree out of your driveway. Like I said, anarchists – who are often considered extremists – often take a similar approach, but with the goal of making a better world for everyone, not just the tiny fragment of humanity that Nazis consider to be people.

As the Vice article says, this tactic isn’t unique to PINE/NSC-131 (“NSC” stands for National Socialist Club, in case you were wondering), and it’s something we should expect to see more of. Leaving aside the climate crisis for a moment, conservatives have a long record of running against government corruption and incompetence, and then using their power to increase both, while continuing to run against corruption and incompetence. One desired effect of this, is that the government is increasingly unable to help in times of need, which encourages people to vote for those who run against government corruption and incompetence. It’s a win-win situation, as long as you’re either indifferent to human suffering, or you actively enjoy it. It also means that people are open to new ideas, like not having governments or corporations, or – in the case of the Nazis, like seceding to form your own government, where this time you’re sure to get rid of all that corruption and incompetence!

It’s a con, like most fascist promises, but I think it has the advantage of feeling more familiar and safe than what anarchists tend to want. It’s easier for most people to imagine forming a new nation – we’re already familiar with what that looks like. A society without hierarchies, while a good idea (in my opinion), is something very different from the world anyone knows, and much harder to imagine, from within society as it exists.

So what can we do about this? Well, I suppose you could work to make sure that everyone knows who their local fascists are, but if those fascists are actively helping people, and you’re not, then all you’re really doing is telling people that they shouldn’t like the guys helping them when they need it. You could try to win elections and improve government response, but the deck is very much stacked against you on that, as it’s far easier to break societal infrastructure than it is to build it, and the capitalists don’t really want a government that works for the people.

Of course I don’t have anything that’s guaranteed to work, but to me it seems that your best bet, for individual action, is to provide aid without the side-helping of fascism. There may be fascists in your area, or there may not be, but in either case, helping out is probably the most effective thing you can do. Offer people a better vision for the future, but do it while attending to their needs in the present. Our best defense against fascism, and our best defense against climate change, is to build collective power through solidarity (not charity). Look for local mutual aid networks, or look into starting one yourself. There are times for fighting fascists directly, but none of that will matter, if we’re not also strengthening and uplifting our communities at the same time.

Building Community Is Climate Action

I like, as a news source. They have an unabashedly progressive bias, and they do a decent job in finding a balance as they cover the climate crisis, as we’re about to see. Back in April, I wrote about an unexplained and unprecedented spike in ocean temperatures, that was happening ahead of the impending El Niño. Well, that scary situation has only gotten scarier in the months since, as Antarctic winter sea ice is at its lowest peak on record, and the water just keeps getting hotter:

Climate scientists on Friday said the rapidly rising temperature of the planet’s oceans is cause for major concern, particularly as policymakers in the top fossil fuel emissions-producing countries show no sign of ending planet-heating oil and gas extraction.

The European Union’s climate agency, Copernicus Climate Change Service, reported this week that the average daily global ocean surface temperature across the planet reached 20.96°C (69.7°F), breaking the record of 20.95°C that was previously set in 2016.

The record set in 2016 was reported during an El Niño event, a naturally occurring phenomenon which causes warm water to rise to the surface off the western coast of South America. The weather pattern was at its strongest when the high ocean temperature was recorded that year.

El Niño is forming this year as well, but has not yet reached its strongest point—suggesting new records for ocean heat will be set in the coming months and potentially wreak havoc in the world’s marine ecosystems.

Samantha Burgess, deputy director of Copernicus, told the BBC that March is typically when the oceans are at their hottest.

“The fact that we’ve seen the record now makes me nervous about how much warmer the ocean may get between now and next March,” she told the outlet.

The warming oceans are part of a feedback loop that’s developed as fossil fuel emissions have increasingly trapped heat in the atmosphere.

Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are warming the oceans, leaving them less able to absorb the emissions and contributing to intensifying weather patterns.

“Warmer sea surface temperatures lead to a warmer atmosphere and more evaporation, and both of these lead to more moisture in the atmosphere which can also lead to more intense rainfall events,” Burgess told “Today” on BBC Radio 4. “And warmer sea surface temperatures may also lead to more energy being available for hurricanes.”

The warming ocean could have cascading effects on the world’s ecosystems and economies, reducing fish stocks as marine species migrate to find cooler waters.

“We are seeing changes already in terms of species distributions, prevalence of harmful algae blooms popping up maybe where we would not necessarily expect them, and the species shifting from warmer southern locations up into the colder regions as well which is quite worrying,” Helen Findlay, a biological oceanographer at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the United Kingdom, told The Evening Standard.

“We are also seeing more species coming up from the south, things like European anchovy or recently examples of Mediterranean octopus coming up into our waters and that is having a knock-on impact for the fish that we catch, and consequences of economics,” she added.

Certain parts of the world’s oceans provoked particular alarm among scientists in recent days, with water off the coast of Florida hitting 38.44°C—over 101°F—last week.

It’s hard to know exactly what’s going to come from this, but it seems clear that this temperature spike is far from over. The only real questions are, how much damage it will do, and what will happen next? The planet isn’t going to stop warming until greenhouse gas levels go down, or it reaches a new stability, at a much higher temperature. Where does that leave us? Well, it leaves us with plenty to fear, and no clear idea what we can actually do about it. It’s all very discouraging, and a lot of publications don’t really talk much about what people can do besides voting, which doesn’t seem to help much. Fortunately, Common Dreams has us covered, with a Bill McKibben article saying some stuff I agree with, in response to the question of where to move, to be safe as the planet warms:

There is no safe place.

And yet I remain glad I live where I do, not because it’s protected from climate change, but because it’s at least a little bit more equipped to deal with it. And that, in turn, is because it has high levels of social trust. Only 38% of Americans say they mostly or completely trust their neighbors, but a 2018 Vermont survey found that 78% of residents think that “people in my neighborhood trust each other to be good neighbors”; 69% of Vermonters said that they knew most of their neighbors, compared with 26% of Americans in general. Those levels of social trust help explain, I think, why the state had the lowest level of fatalities from Covid-19, much lower than its neighboring states and much lower than other small rural states with similarly homogeneous populations. Everyone wore masks, everyone got vaccinated. In the same way, when this summer’s floods hit, people came together, reenacting the surge of mutual aid that came after Hurricane Irene similarly drenched the state in 2011.

This is not an argument to move to Vermont.


Instead it is an argument to get to work building that kind of social trust in as many places as possible, because we’re going to need it. We’ve come through 75 years where having neighbors was essentially optional: If you had a credit card, you could get everything you needed to survive dropped off at your front door. But the next 75 years aren’t going to be like that; we’re going to need to return to the basic human experience of relying on the people around you. We’re going to need to rediscover that we’re a social species, which for Americans will be hard—at least since Reagan we’ve been told to think of ourselves first and foremost (it was his pal Margaret Thatcher who insisted “there is no such thing as society, only individual men and women.”) And in the Musk/Trump age we’re constantly instructed to distrust everyone and everything, a corrosion that erodes the social fabric as surely as a rampaging river erodes a highway.

But it’s not impossible to change that. President Joe Biden has been frustratingly dunderheaded about approving new pipelines and oil wells, and hydrocarbon production has been soaring on his watch. He has been much better about trying to restore some sense of national unity—he has been trying to scale down national division by rebuilding left-behind economies, and also by appealing to our better angels. And those angels exist: The most hopeful book for our time remains Rebecca Solnit’s Paradise Built in Hell, which recounts how communities, whenever natural disaster strikes, pull together, just like Vermont this summer. It happens in cities as easily as in rural areas—maybe more easily, since cities are places where the gregarious gather.

I would quibble a little with the casting of this as “easy”. If that sense of community doesn’t already exist, trying to start it means asking people to put in time and energy when they have little enough of both to spare. I also think it’s a bit much to stereotype city-dwellers as “the gregarious”. People live in cities for a lot of reasons, a big one being that it’s often the only place to find a job. Living in a city, even by choice, does not mean you’re an extrovert by any stretch. Furthermore, most people in the city rent their homes, which means that we’re likely to move pretty often, which means starting over again every couple years or so. People do pull together in a crisis, true, but cities can be difficult places to build anything lasting, or at least that’s how it tends to feel to me.

That said, he’s right on the main point. For an individual “action” that would actually help, we absolutely need social solidarity, and it’s good to see an article advocating that, right next to an article about how scientists are terrified about what’s happening to our climate. “Neighborliness” isn’t going to solve the global problem, but it’ll go a long way to helping us survive, which is a key part of solving most problems. It would be silly for me to say that people shouldn’t move to seek a better life, since I’ve done that myself. The catch is that when it comes to climate change, nowhere is safe, so it’s worth doing the work to build community, if you’re able, even if you’ll have to move on sooner than you’d like. We’re all in this together, and our best shot at getting out is also together.

Defeat By Small Victories

We all dwell on missed opportunities from time to time. Maybe there was a job you almost took, or a trip you almost went on. Maybe you regret going somewhere or doing something when you just wanted to have a little time to yourself. Maybe there was a company you should have invested in, or an investment you shouldn’t have made. For me, the one that nags me the most isn’t one from my own life, but the time that’s been wasted on climate change. What would the world be like if governments had acted when scientists and corporations all knew what was going on, back in the late 1970s, early 1980s? I think it’s entirely possible that we couldn’t have “solved” the problem, but there’s no question that we had a chance for a drastically different future. If we’d been making the kind of steady, deliberate change that was being called for, the planet would be a cooler and less chaotic place, today.

We had a chance, and it was squandered before I was born. Worse than that, the same choice has been made every damned day since then, and so now big changes are all that’s left. Either we change our entire society in a major way, or it will be “changed” for us by the rapidly warming climate. The oceans are doing scary shit right now, and it seems like the powers that be are moving ahead with their plans to use violent repression to deal with the crisis they’ve created.

But hey – fossil fuel lobbyists will have to identify themselves at the next conference that’s supposedly about responding to climate change:

The move by the UN to require anyone registering for the summit to declare their affiliation was heralded as a victory for transparency by campaigners who have been increasingly concerned at the growing presence of oil and gas lobbyists at climate talks.

Scott Kirby, a campaigner from Youngo, which represents youth campaigners at the UN climate talks, said: “When young people see the number of fossil fuel lobbyists present at UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conferences, it makes us question the ability this process has to solve the biggest challenge threatening our futures. This is why we welcome the step to increase transparency of observer interests in the talks.”

Many campaigners said the change to make potential conflicts of interest more apparent should be only a first step towards excluding fossil fuel companies from the talks, or from key parts of them.

Hwei Mian Lim, of the Women and Gender Constituency, said: “We can only meaningfully tackle the climate crisis when we kick big polluters out. Fortunately, we have the real solutions, including gender-just climate solutions, and have the power in collective feminist movements to prevent untold suffering, in particular among women and girls in the global south.

“This is strengthened with weeding out the undue influence of big polluters that seek to undermine climate action. Cop28 is our best chance to start implementing them and we must do so in the most gender responsive, and effective and impactful way.”

Hey, we did it guys! We won!

In all seriousness, this is a good thing. It’s good that they will have to identify themselves, and it’s even possible that most of them will do it. My problem, in case it wasn’t clear, is that this is the kind of change that should have been made, once again, before I was born. We’ve gotten to the point where global warming is already displacing millions of people every year, and it’s worth a headline that fossil fuel lobbyists have to identify themselves as such at a conference that should be about eliminating their entire industry? At this rate, we’ll be celebrating their ban from the conference some time after the flooded ruins of Miami are finally abandoned.

I want to be clear – I have no problem with the people who fought for this rule change, and it’s clear from the article that they also view this as a very small victory, compared to the scale of what needs doing. If nothing else, their efforts are needed to show why it’s so important for people to organize and take direct action, rather than relying on a political and economic system that might as well be designed to drive us to extinction.

And hey, at least the conference will be limiting the influence of oil interests, right? That’s progress!

The change came as nations wrapped up nearly two weeks of talks in Bonn, where officials tried to lay the groundwork for Cop28, which starts on 30 November.

The event will be held in the United Arab Emirates, a major oil and gas producer, and chaired by Sultan Al Jaber, who is head of the UAE national oil company, Adnoc. The company is planning a large expansion of its production capacity, and last year it sent scores of executives to the Cop27 climate summit in Egypt.

Al Jaber attended the Bonn talks for two days last week and spoke only briefly in public. He said: “The phase-down of fossil fuels is inevitable. The speed at which this happens depends on how quickly we can phase up zero-carbon alternatives, while ensuring energy security, accessibility and affordability.”

He failed to give an assurance that a phase-out of fossil fuels would be on the official agenda at Cop28, despite a concerted push by many developed and developing countries for its inclusion. The UAE Cop28 presidency has insisted it is up to all the countries represented at the talks to make decisions on the agenda.

Anyway, remember what I said about organizing? I feel like it would be good if we didn’t have to rely corrupt governments to solve our problems. Having an organized and empowered working class won’t fix everything, but it seems pretty clear that it can’t be worse than giving power to people based on how good they are at exploiting others.

I feel as though I’ve spent my entire life hearing about small victories in one area or another, and each one will help us a whole lot, at some point in the future. They never seem to deliver on that promise. Some of those victories did pay off, by reducing emissions, but they’re hard to notice because they weren’t enough to stop overall emissions from continuing to rise. The majority seem to just be empty promises, or doomed half-measures like trying to offset CO2 emissions with forests, which definitely never catch fire or anything.

It’s frustrating, and discouraging. It reminds me of the many years now that I’ve seen articles and research reports promising revolutionary new batteries, or new ways to harvest power, or new, safer nuclear designs. Just a few more adjustments, and then everything will be fine! It reminds me of the fallacious incrementalism promised by centrist politicians over the years.

We have an abundance of small victories, and they will never be enough if we don’t demand big ones, and fight for them whether or not the people in power want us to. It says everything bad about our political leaders that fossil fuel companies and their lobbyists aren’t treated as pariahs for their decades of destruction, corruption, and misinformation. Until we have the power to actually bring things to a halt, and force change, these small “victories” are likely to be the best we get, as the world continues to burn. I used to like reading about things like this but these days, it just feels like a reminder of how little progress we’ve made.

Thank you for reading! If you liked this post, please share it around. If you read this blog regularly, please consider joining my small but wonderful group of patrons. Because of my immigration status, I’m not allowed to get a normal job, so my writing is all I have for the foreseeable future, and I’d love for it to be a viable career long-term. As part of that goal, I’m currently working on a young adult fantasy series, so if supporting this blog isn’t enough inducement by itself, for just $5/month you can work with me to name a place or character in that series!

Police State: Atlanta Cops Arrest Organizers for Legal Activity

Tomorrow is a day of action for those working to stop Cop City, in Atlanta, Georgia.

For any who need to catch-up, “Cop City” is a police training facility that the city government of Atlanta wants to build. The planned location is currently forested, but it used to be a prison plantation, and a dumping ground. The facility will include firing ranges, explosives training, a helicopter landing pad, and a mock city, all for cops to train in urban warfare and suppressing political demonstrations. The local community does not want this. Part of it is because they use the forest as a park, part is the importance of opposing deforestation, and part of it is not wanting a massive police training facility in their community. Even leaving aside the problems that police cause wherever they go, who wants the soundtrack of their home life to be gunfire and explosions?

Most of the city opposes this, as has been demonstrated every time there’s an opportunity for public comment. It seems like there will be an attempt to have city employees show up to speak in favor of the facility tomorrow, which seems fitting, since the only people who want this thing seem to be the mayors office, the cops, and the corporations helping to fund this. On that note – the supposed cost of this facility was originally slated at $90 million, with $30 million coming from Atlanta taxpayers, and $60 million from an assortment of corporations. It has now come out that the city will have to pay more than double what was originally announced, at $67 million, and I think it would be foolish to assume that that cost won’t keep rising. I guarantee there are better uses for that money.

But wait! It gets worse!

In addition to murdering a forest protector, the cops have arrested dozens of other activists on trumped up domestic terrorism charges. In response, the movement arranged a bail fund, so that people wouldn’t just be locked up prior to their trial. This is an entirely legal thing to do, despite the fact that cops and other conservatives don’t seem to like it. Apparently, however, the cops don’t care about whether it’s legal. They don’t like it when people stand up to them, and they want to keep the activists locked up, so they arrested the people organizing the bail fund, on charges of money laundering and charity fraud:

Under the direction of the Republican state attorney general, Christopher Carr, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Atlanta Police Department carried out the arrests of Marlon Scott Kautz, Savannah Patterson, and Adele Maclean of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund (ASF).

The group offers financial support to people who have been arrested for protesting, including the dozens of people who have been detained for resisting the development of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, also known by critics as Cop City—a $90 million police training facility that would take up 85 acres of publicly-owned forest.

The three board members were charged with money laundering and charity fraud, leading state Rep. Saira Draper (D-90) to question the state’s use of SWAT teams and helicopters to conduct the raid in a residential neighborhood.

“Peaceful protest is as American as apple pie,” said Draper. “Using heavy handed tactics to suppress peaceful protest is shameful.”

Writer and historian William Horne denounced the arrests as “the behavior of a fascist police state.”

Lauren Regan, executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, told The Intercept on Wednesday that the ASF is “the first bail fund to be attacked in this way.” The funds have been used for at least a century to pool together communities’ financial resources to help bail people, including civil rights protesters, out of jail.

“There is absolutely not a scintilla of fact or evidence that anything illegal has ever transpired with regard to Atlanta fundraising for bail support,” Regan said.

She added in a press statement that “bailing out protestors who exercise their constitutionally protected rights is simply not a crime.”

“In fact, it is a historically grounded tradition in the very same social and political movements that the city of Atlanta prides itself on,” she said. “Someone had to bail out civil rights activists in the 60’s—I think we can all agree that community support isn’t a crime.”

And yet, I can almost guarantee that the cops who decided to do this will not face any serious repercussions. Police abuse of power is one of the biggest reasons people oppose Cop City, and look how they respond. In 2020, when there were protests against police brutality, the cops amped up the brutality, even shooting out people’s eyes. Now, in response to a community wanting a say over how public resources are used, they’re flagrantly violating peoples’ rights.


If you’re in the Atlanta area, consider showing up to city hall tomorrow. If you’re further out, and you have the resources, you can help by supporting the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, by signing on to the statement of solidarity with the movement, and by doing what you can to raise public awareness of what’s going on in Atlanta. Even if people don’t care about that city or the people in it, they should understand that everything happening there will happen everywhere else in the US as well, if they’re allowed to get away with it. I keep saying that those in power will use violence to keep that power, and this is part of that process. They are setting up to make cops more dangerous to USians, and they are flagrantly abusing their power to make sure that this goes through, no matter what the people of Atlanta want.

This is part of the climate fight, and it’s a battle we can ill afford to lose. A facility like Cop City is designed to make cops better at crushing movements for change, and in case you hadn’t noticed, we urgently need movements for change. Look into the issue if you haven’t, and try to find at least some way to help out. If you can’t do anything tomorrow, but you want to do something, there’s a week of action from June 24th to July 1st, and I believe actions outside of Atlanta, like demonstrations, are welcome as part of that. If you have questions, ask in the comments, and I’ll do what I can to provide answers.


Record Ocean Heat Frightens Scientists, Threatens Grim New Era

For the last few decades, Earth’s oceans have been absorbing the vast majority of global warming – over 90%. This has resulted in declining oxygen levels, marine heatwaves, and a myriad of problems for marine life. Last March, I covered research from Monterey Bay Aquarium that confirmed that “extreme” heat is now the norm for a majority of the ocean’s surface. That would be alarming enough, even though the news is a year old, but now we’ve got more bad news to add to it:

Temperatures in the world’s oceans have broken fresh records, testing new highs for more than a month in an “unprecedented” run that has led to scientists stating the Earth has reached “uncharted territory” in the climate crisis.

The rapid acceleration of ocean temperatures in the last month is an anomaly that scientists have yet to explain. Data collated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), known as the Optimum Interpolation Sea Surface Temperature (OISST) series, gathered by satellites and buoys, has shown temperatures higher than in any previous year, in a series stretching back to 1981, continuously over the past 42 days.

The world is thought to be on the brink of an El Niño weather event this year – a cyclical weather system in the Pacific, that has a warming impact globally. But the El Niño system is yet to develop, so this oscillation cannot explain the recent rapid heating, at a time of year when ocean temperatures are normally declining from their annual March and April peaks.

Prof Mike Meredith of the British Antarctic Survey said: “This has got scientists scratching their heads. The fact that it is warming as much as it has been is a real surprise, and very concerning. It could be a short-lived extreme high, or it could be the start of something much more serious.”

The image shows the annual variation of ocean surface temperatures for every year from the present, dating back to 1981. April 2023 is far and away the hottest global sea surface temperature from that time period.

The image shows the annual variation of ocean surface temperatures for every year from the present, dating back to 1981. April 2023 is far and away the hottest global sea surface temperature from that time period.

That “something much more serious” is will happen, sooner or later. As the oceans warm, their capacity to keep absorbing the excess heat diminishes, which means that from our perspective, things are going to suddenly start warming a lot faster. Hotter oceans also have less capacity to absorb gases from the atmosphere, which increases the rate at which greenhouse gas concentrations increase. On top of all of that, there’s the fact that a hotter ocean creates stronger storms, which will set us even further back in this age of endless recovery. If the oceans are reaching some sort of thermal tipping point, that could also disrupt the big ocean currents that are so important to moving heat around the planet, and to bringing oxygen to the depths. A big change to those currents could have pretty immediate and dramatic effects on a global scale. It’s not just this year, either. Over the last 15 years, the oceans have apparently warmed as much as the previous 45 years; a finding that has been described as so disturbing that scientists don’t like to talk about it:

Scientists from institutions including Mercator Ocean International in France, Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the United States, and Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research collaborated to discover that as the planet has accumulated as much heat in the past 15 years as it did in the previous 45 years, the majority of the excess heat has been absorbed by the oceans.

In March, researchers examining the ocean off the east coast of North America found that the water’s surface was 13.8°C, or 14.8°F, hotter than the average temperature between 1981 and 2011.

The study notes that a rapid drop in shipping-related pollution could be behind some of the most recent warming, since fuel regulations introduced in 2020 by the International Maritime Organization reduced the heat-reflecting aerosol particles in the atmosphere and caused the ocean to absorb more energy.

But that doesn’t account for the average global ocean surface temperature rising by 0.9°C from preindustrial levels, with 0.6°C taking place in the last four decades.

The study represents “one of those ‘sit up and read very carefully’ moments,” said former BBC science editor David Shukman.

Lead study author Karina Von Schuckmann of Mercator Ocean International told the BBC that “it’s not yet well established, why such a rapid change, and such a huge change is happening.”

“We have doubled the heat in the climate system the last 15 years, I don’t want to say this is climate change, or natural variability or a mixture of both, we don’t know yet,” she said. “But we do see this change.”

It’s true, we don’t know for sure what’s going on. Maybe Godzilla is to blame!

In all seriousness, I don’t blame Shuckmann for being careful in the claims she makes. If I’m annoyed, it’s because of the people who love to jump on qualifiers like that to say, “See? They don’t even know what’s happening!” The reality is that even if this turns out to be a blip, and we’re lucky enough to get cooler sea surface temperatures over the next few years, that won’t change the trajectory we’re on. The heat in the oceans won’t just go away, even if it’s not at the surface. What’s more, when you have an unusually hot year, that adds to the momentum of the whole crisis. Ice melts a bit faster, permafrost thaws and rots a bit more, we get a few more fires, and now there’s just that much more CO2 in the atmosphere, and that much less ice to reflect sunlight back into space, and ecosystems are just that much less resilient.

As long as greenhouse gas levels keep rising, this can only go one way.

A study published earlier this year also found that rising ocean temperatures combined with high levels of salinity lead to the “stratification” of the oceans, and in turn, a loss of oxygen in the water.

“Deoxygenation itself is a nightmare for not only marine life and ecosystems but also for humans and our terrestrial ecosystems,” researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in January. “Reducing oceanic diversity and displacing important species can wreak havoc on fishing-dependent communities and their economies, and this can have a ripple effect on the way most people are able to interact with their environment.”

The unusual warming trend over recent years has been detected as a strong El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is expected to form in the coming months—a naturally occurring phenomenon that warms oceans and will reverse the cooling impact of La Niña, which has been in effect for the past three years.

“If a new El Niño comes on top of it, we will probably have additional global warming of 0.2-0.25°C,” Dr. Josef Ludescher of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research told the BBC.

It looks like we should expect more extreme weather in the coming year or so, but if we have reached a point where the oceans are going to be less effective at absorbing heat and greenhouse gases, then things up on dry land are probably going to start progressing much more quickly. I often talk about how the action that has been taken so far to end fossil fuel use is criminally inadequate, but at this point that’s only half the picture. It’s been a decade or two since we passed the point at which dangerous warming could still be prevented. The inaction of our leadership, which seems to be a gerontocracy still stuck in the mid-20th century, has meant that it will keep warming for the rest of my life, and the rest of your life, dear reader, and the lives of your children, and of their children. Absent a series of technological and political miracles that seems very unlikely, this is our future now.

That means that simply ending fossil fuel use, while absolutely essential, is not enough. We must do better to prepare for a hotter planet. We must change how we produce food, to protect it from the conditions that we have created. We must reshape our infrastructure to deal with higher temperatures, stronger storms, and rising seas. We must take measures to to help those countries that have been deliberately kept poor for the benefit of rich nations withstand the hellish forces that have been unleashed upon this world.

Well, we must do all of that if we value human life. If we want to weather this storm, and keep making the world better.

It is past time that we considered that “we” don’t really want any of that, when it comes to the aristocracy of global capitalism. Despite Biden’s words, his actions show that he feels no urgency to deal with climate change. I’ll probably write more about this soon, but the people who run our world seem to be deliberately driving us to destruction, while setting themselves up to rule what remains. Maybe they think that reducing the population will reset the timer on how long they can cling to a system based on endless growth. Whether it’s delusion, malice, or both, they seem poised to use global warming to kill off most of humanity, while they live in luxury and insist that it’s all for the greater good.

I think the oceans could literally be boiling, and they’d still insist that they know best.

We are running out of time and options, both as a species, and as the working class that makes up most of that species. I don’t know how much longer we can afford to wait for those at the top to go against everything they believe, and act for the benefit of humanity. I think we’ve already wasted more time than we had on that false hope, and we’ve yet to fully grasp the price that we’re going to pay for that. We need revolutionary change, and we need it as soon as possible. It is my hope that a combination of worsening conditions, and a general strike, might get the powerful to change their tune. I don’t know how to get there from where we are. I’ll look into it, but I feel like we need more than my current attempt at an organizing guide. Mass unionization is probably the most direct route to the kind of organization we need. It’s a concept that’s familiar to people, and unions are more popular now than at any time I can remember. While I still like the notion of organizing centered around communities, the reality is that work is a bigger part of people’s lives than community right now, so it makes sense on multiple levels to start there.

In the meantime, one thing that individuals can do, outside of organizing and agitating, is prepare for hard times. If you can afford to, make a habit of keeping a store of non-perishable food, not just because climate change may disrupt supply chains and lead to shortages, but also because in the event of a general strike, you and those around you are likely to need the supplies. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but a strike is a siege, and so success will depend on how well supplied we are.

At the same time, if you can, feed people who are hungry. Help people who need help. Economic desperation is the main weapon wielded by the rich in the class war, and undermining that empowers people, and builds solidarity. Those of us who want humanity to have a future have to come together and fight for that future. What I laid out above is the only path I can see that might lead to revolutionary change without war. As mentioned above, this big jump in ocean temperatures may just be a blip. We might have a rough year, then go back to a “normal” that’s still unacceptable. But we might not. Things have gone so far that it’s a real possibility that we’ve passed a major tipping point sooner than expected. If we don’t organize, prepare, and change course very soon, things will get ugly.

Thank you for reading! If you liked this post, please share it around. If you read this blog regularly, please consider joining my small but wonderful group of patrons. Because of my immigration status, I’m not allowed to get a normal job, so my writing is all I have for the foreseeable future, and I’d love for it to be a viable career long-term. As part of that goal, I’m currently working on a young adult fantasy series, so if supporting this blog isn’t enough inducement by itself, for just $5/month you can work with me to name a place or character in that series!

Murdered for defending a forest: Official autopsy undermines cop justification

This past January, I wrote briefly about the police killing of a forest defender named Manuel “Tortuguita” Terán . When I posted that, we didn’t know much, including who the victim was, but I pointed out that the story given by the cops – that Tortuguita had fired on them first – was probably a lie. The primary reason for that assumption was the simple fact that cops lie all the time, about pretty much everything. The secondary reason is that while there probably are activists out there who would feel justified in attacking police, I cannot believe that they’d go about it by facing an advancing wall of armed cops head-on, without any cover. My assumption seems to be well-founded, and I think I should provide a content warning for descriptions of gunshot wounds going forward.

The people who knew Tortuguita said that they were a pacifist, and as far as anyone knew, they were unarmed. Then came the body cam footage from cops who were nearby, saying that the gunfire they heard sounded suppressed (some of the cops’ weapons had silencers) and responding to someone on the radio implying that the cop who did get shot was the victim of “friendly fire”. Then came the autopsy commissioned by Tortuguita’s family, which indicated that they’d been hit by dozens of bullets – so many that their paths through their body frequently intersected.

And now, we have the official autopsy, revealing, in addition to the horrifying damage to their body, zero gunpowder residue on Tortuguita’s hands, meaning zero evidence that they had fired a gun.

DeKalb county’s autopsy, released to the media through open records requests on Wednesday, offers no support for the notion that Paez Terán fired a weapon, stating that “gunpowder residue is not seen on the hands” or clothes of Paez Terán. Residue on the hands might indicate that a person fired a gun, but neither this analysis nor a test known as the GSR kit is foolproof, according to experts.

Patrick Bailey, director of the DeKalb county medical examiner’s office, told the Guardian that the county forwarded evidence to the GBI for them to perform the GSR kit, or gunshot residue test.

Nonetheless, the autopsy report does little to clarify what actually happened that day, except for noting in 19 pages of clinical detail the 57 gunshot wounds that Paez Terán received, employing every letter of the alphabet more than once to label the injuries.

“I tried to read the whole thing – in the end it was a little too much,” said Daniel Paez, Manuel’s older brother, reached at his home in Texas. “The very fact that they’re talking about Manny, and how they died – I didn’t even want to share it with our mother, since the pain of losing Manny continues to haunt us; it doesn’t seem to get better.”

“It’s just brutal,” said Wingo Smith, one of the team of attorneys representing the Paez Terán family. “It’s just gruesome, the effect of the shots on their body, the actual devastation.” Smith and his colleagues received the autopsy results and met with staff at the DeKalb medical examiner’s office last week, and shared the report with the Paez Terán family.

I want to note, here, that we don’t seem to have any body cam footage from the officers that killed Tortuguita. It’s almost like there’s either something to hide so they won’t release it, or the cops went in with an intent to kill, and so turned of the cameras. I have no evidence for this, of course, other than the fact that they apparently lied about what happened, and the fact that, once again, body cam footage of the event is either being held back, or doesn’t exist. According to the Intercept article I linked earlier, the cops initially lied by saying there wasn’t any footage at all, then walked that back partially, saying there was footage of the aftermath (which they’re not releasing).

I’ve felt this way for a while, but I think there’s ample reason to view this killing as an extrajudicial execution for the crime of opposing them. They went in ready to kill, and that’s exactly what they did. That would explain the inconsistencies in the story, it would fit what everyone around Tortuguita had to say about who they were, and it would explain why there’s no footage of the shooting – because the cops didn’t want there to be.

This is exactly the shit that the movement to defend the Atlanta forest is trying to stop. A huge facility for cops to train in urban warfare is just another level of militarization, on top of the harm done to the community by destroying the forest. Tortuguita was killed for trying to stop that. Crimethinc goes into more detail in their post Atlanta Police and Georgia State Patrol are Guilty of Murder: The Evidence and the Motive:

Gunshot residue tests are held to be reliable indicators of whether a person has fired a gun, scientifically and legally speaking. Gunshot residue can wear off over a period of four to six hours, but as mentioned in the autopsy, Tortuguita’s hands were bagged shortly after the murder, in order that if there was any gunshot residue on their hands, it would be preserved. According to the “Investigator Narrative” included in the autopsy, the official who prepared that narrative reported to the scene of the murder within two and a half hours and “covered the hands with white handbags to preserve any trace evidence.”

We can be sure that Atlanta authorities missed no opportunity to secure and publicize any evidence that could corroborate their narrative that Tortuguita shot first. Instead, because the autopsy showed that Tortuguita did not fire a gun at all, the results of the Dekalb County autopsy were suppressed for months.

Is it possible that Tortuguita somehow fired a gun while wearing gloves, or fired a gun and then cleaned their hands? According to the Dekalb County autopsy, Tortuguita experienced at least 57 gunshot wounds; this video shows that all of the gunfire occurred in less than eleven seconds.1 That means that Tortuguita died within a few seconds of the first shot, whoever fired it. In the instants between the first couple shots and their death, there was no time for Tortuguita to remove and conceal gloves, nor to clean gunshot residue off their hands.

To all that evidence, we must add the findings of the second autopsy, the one that Tortuguita’s family commissioned, which found that Tortuguita was “likely sitting cross-legged with their hands up” when they were killed.

This is consistent with the gunshot wounds described in the autopsy conducted by the Dekalb County Medical Examiner:

• Right Forearm and Hand—fractures of the index finger and thumb metacarpal. […]

• Left Forearm and Hand—fracture of the middle finger proximal phalange.

The image is a diagram of the locations of gunshot wounds on Tortuguita’s body. A majority of them seem to be on their legs, with several on their hands and arms, two in their gut, two in the collarbone region, and one through the eye.

As can be seen in the diagram included in the Dekalb County autopsy, bullets struck Tortuguita in both their left hand and their right hand. If they had been holding a gun in either of those hands, the gun would have been struck by a bullet, leaving evidence that Tortuguita had been holding the gun when police opened fire. Atlanta authorities would have eagerly released that evidence in order to corroborate their narrative.

They have done no such thing. They did release a photograph of the gun that they allege was in Tortuguita’s possession—but in the photograph, the gun does not show any sign of having been struck by a bullet.

It follows that Tortuguita did not fire a gun on the morning of January 18, 2023.2

In that case, how did it occur that an officer was shot that day, and with a bullet allegedly matching a handgun registered to Tortuguita that was found on the scene?

According to an early Georgia Bureau of Investigation press release,

The handgun is described as a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm. Forensic ballistic analysis has confirmed that the projectile recovered from the trooper’s wound matches Teran’s handgun.

In fact, Georgia State Patrol—the officers who murdered Tortuguita—are all standard-issued firearms that use 9mm ammunition. According to the “Investigator Narrative” included in the Dekalb County autopsy, during the killing of Tortuguita,

“The uniformed officers reportedly discharged their service weapons, to include a .223 caliber rifle and 9mm handguns.”

So the fact that the gun apparently registered to Tortuguita used 9mm ammunition proves nothing, considering that Georgia State Patrol officers were shooting 9mm ammunition that day.

If exculpatory “forensic ballistic analysis” existed confirming that the bullet that struck the officer was fired from the specific handgun registered to Tortuguita, the authorities would surely have released that by now. The fact that they have not done so suggests that the GBI statement that “the projectile recovered from the trooper’s wound matches Teran’s handgun” means simply that it was 9mm ammunition, like all the bullets that the Georgia State Patrol officers were firing.

Tortuguita experienced at least 57 gunshot woulds within a period of eleven seconds. That offers a hint of how many bullets were in the air during the murder. We don’t know how many rounds Georgia State Patrol officers fired off, but it may have been considerably more than that.

I would say it’s almost guaranteed that there were more bullets than that. It’s been shown that cops tend to miss more often than they hit their targets, so there were probably at least 100 9mm bullets in the air during those 11 seconds. The article goes on to discuss the body cam footage I mentioned earlier, with an officer apparently believing the police shot one of their own. More than that, the police “evidence” doesn’t fit with the video footage we do have:

One more detail remains to be accounted for. According to the “Investigator Narrative” included in the Dekalb County autopsy, “Two empty 9mm shell casings were located under the decedent’s body” by the investigator who arrived on the scene after the shooting. Did Tortuguita fire those shells?

Video footage distinctly shows that the first three shots were fired in a steady, practiced rhythm, followed an instant later by a fourth shot, after which all the other shots began. It seems most likely that an edgy officer—not Tortuguita—fired those four shots, after which all the other officers began firing. If Tortuguita had fired those first shots, there would presumably have been three or four shell casings around Tortuguita’s body—and more to the point, there would have been gunshot residue on Tortuguita’s hands.

  Have I mentioned that cops lie, yet? I feel like I might have forgotten to mention that. Cops lie a lot, which makes it hard to believe anything they say, especially since they also have a habit of planting evidence. The Crimethinc article goes on to discuss motive, and some other factors – it’s worth a read.

Environmental activists are murdered with shocking regularity around the world, where activists – often Indigenous people – are pushing back against environmental destruction that is almost universally driven by greed. According to The Guardian, Tortuguita was the first such killing in the US. The biggest driving factor in Atlanta, while greed is certainly involved in the Cop City project, seems to be the degree to which USian cops hate being told “no”. They want their new playground, they want unchallenged authority, and they are clearly willing to kill to get their way.

I believe I’ve said before that I have a great deal of respect for the people on the front lines of this fight, and I hope it’s clear to all of you that using that “military” terminology is important. These activists are not trying to wage war, but a a war is being waged against them, and their lives are very much in danger.

If you want to help, Defend the Atlanta Forest has a few suggestions, most of which don’t involve putting your body on the line:

There are many ways to get involved. You can support online, help organize your community, show up for actions, or any other number of activities depending on your availability and comfort level. The movement appreciates the need for diverse tactics, meaning many forms of struggle that move towards a common goal. Here’s some more ideas:

  • You can sign up for sporadic text alerts here: 470.606.1212
  • You can Visit the forest at 3251 W Side Place, Atlanta GA 30316.
  • You can organize protests, send phone calls or emails, or help with direct actions of different kinds to encourage contractors of the various projects to stop the destruction. You can find some of the contractors here:
  • Call Brasfield & Gorrie (678.581.6400), the Atlanta Police Foundation (770.354.3392), and the City of Atlanta (404.330.6100) and ask them to cancel the project and to remain peaceful with tree-sitters and other on-the-ground protesters.
  •  You can form an Action Group in your community, neighborhood, town, city, college, or scene. Together, you can host information nights, movie screenings, potluck dinners, and protests at the offices of contractors, at the homes of the board members, on campus, or elsewhere. You can post and pass out fliers at public places and shows, knock on doors to talk to neighbors and sign them up for text alerts, fundraisers, or actions, or you can innovate new activities altogether.
  • You can conduct independent research about the destruction of the forest, construction projects, their funders, their contractors, or lesser-known details about the project using public records searches or other open source investigation techniques and send your findings to us at defendtheatlantaforest[at]protonmail[dot]com.
  • You can organize to join or create a camp in the South River/Weelaunee Forest. Respect people’s space and try to be friendly.
  • Finally, you and friends or your group could organize to caravan down to the forest from near or far during weeks of action.

Obviously, this fight is ongoing. The twitter account associated with this list has announced a week of action from June 24th to July 1st of this year (2023, for people reading this in the future). As they said, how you go about helping is up to you. Any help is better than none, and it takes a village to raze and empire. Tortuguita’s cause was just, and it’s one that we should carry on, be it in their name, or just because it is necessary. Climate change, bigotry, capitalism, authoritarianism – they’re all different fronts on the same war, and sitting out the fight simply isn’t an option.

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Check out this interview about the movement to #StopCopCity

I’m working on an actual post catching up on events in Atlanta, but for tonight, I encourage you to check out this interview. Matthew Johnson does a great job breaking down what’s going on with “Cop City”, the dubious history of Atlanta PD, the very dubious police account behind their killing of a peaceful activist, and how things got to this point in the first place. The whole situation is a nightmare, and really underscores just how little say people have in the government that supposedly serves them.

You’re not alone: Labor Action Tracker shows strikes across the United States

In recent years, there has been a rise in labor organizing and labor action in the United States. As I’ve said before, watching that happen has been extremely encouraging. While the aristocracy and the government (which mostly serves the aristocracy) have been working hard to crush labor power, the reality is that organizing and strikes work. Mass layoffs, and policy designed to make people poor and desperate absolutely cause real harm, and destroy lives, but they take such drastic steps because they are terrified that their workers will realize – and use – the power that comes from collective action.

The thing is, though, collective action only works if you’re not alone. With corporate media often being outright hostile to labor organizing, and two capitalist parties that regularly side with the bosses, it’s probably not hard for people to feel like the fight is simply too big to take on. It creates a sort of Prisoner’s Dilemma, in which workers have trouble knowing if it’s safer to stand together and fight, or keep their heads down and just try to survive as best they can. That’s why it’s important to normalize talking about this stuff, and why it brings me great pleasure to introduce you to the Cornell-ILR Labor Action Tracker.

Welcome to the Cornell-ILR Labor Action Tracker. The goal of our project is to provide a comprehensive database of strike and labor protest activity across the United States in order to better inform and support labor movement activists, policymakers, and scholars. We would like to especially thank and acknowledge the ILR School for generous funding to support our project. We also thank the staff at China Labour Bulletin for inspiring and encouraging us to develop the labor action tracker.

We began documenting strikes in late-2020 and labor protests in early-2021. Our database of strikes is most accurate as of 2021. We have a relatively high degree of confidence in our ability to comprehensively capture strike activity. Due to the high number of labor protests across the United States, we aim to provide a general understanding of labor protest activity rather than achieve a complete count. Please note that our map generates the total number of strike and/or labor protest locations, which is more than the total number of individual strikes and/or protests (e.g. a single strike at five locations will appear five times on our map). Information we gather is from public sources and manually inputted into our tracker. Please see our methodology document for a more detailed description of our definitions, protocols, and variables. Follow us on twitter @ILRLaborAction to keep up to date with our project!

The tracker covers strikes and lockouts throughout the United States and its territories, with an interactive map that lets you find each action, as well as details about what’s happening and why:

This image is a map of labor actions in the contiguous United States, and in Puerto Rico. There are color-coded dots showing the number of actions in each region. Blue for less than 10, yellow for 10-99, and red for more than 100. On the tracker’s website you can zoom in to see more details, or use their search and sorting function if you need to stick with a text-based format.

Zooming in brings you details about where the action is, when it is, what company it’s aimed at, how many workers are involved, and what they’re asking for. This tracker has been up for a couple years, so it’s taken me a while to hear about it, or at least to notice it enough to investigate. That said, better late than never, and if I’m just hearing about this now, there are probably others in the same boat.

I like to talk about how humans are at our strongest when we work together, and a key part of that is being able to communicate and coordinate with each other. If you’re looking to start organizing your workplace, then finding local actions and turning out to support them could be a great way to make connections and get advice or help. If you just want to be supportive in general, this could be a way to find groups near you that might need help paying bills or getting food while they face off with their bosses.

Usually when it comes to politics in the United States, red is a color to avoid, but in this case, I want to see big, red markers all over the map.