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.

A brief update on the movement to Stop Cop City

I’m working on a longer post about what’s been going on in Atlanta, what information we have on the police killing of Tortuguita, what’s going to be happening in the next month, but I wanted to spend today digging into the Ohio train derailment, because the more I learn, the worse it looks (Edit: Bomb train post will be up some time tomorrow). That said, I wanted to post something quick about it to give people who might want to do something as much advance notice as possible.

So, the bare bones – Climate Justice Alliance has announced that there’s a call for local protests from February 19th -26th in solidarity with the effort to defend the forest. Further, organizers are planning a mass convergence on Atlanta from March 4th-11th, for all who are able to go.

This action guide covers pretty much anything one might feel able to do in support of the cause, so check it out if that interests you. If nothing else, it’s worth looking at in thinking about how you might go about fighting for other causes as well.

Greenpeace occupies Shell oil rig

I’ve long been troubled by the unequal power dynamic that allows a wealthy person to poison thousands of poor people, without having to fear those poor people acting in self-defense to end that attack. Instead, the victims must play a game of papers and rhetoric with rules written by and for the wealthy. If they rise up, well, that’s violence you see, unlike the chromium in their water, or mercury in their air. If they rise up, they just have to be crushed for the public good!

It’s not an easy thing, figuring out how to get systemic change in a system designed to prevent just that. At what point does the law, in protecting the rich and powerful, lose its legitimacy? The answer to that is going to be different for everyone, and it’s worth remembering that, because we are all vulnerable to propaganda, there’s an ongoing effort to influence how we think about it.

The problem is, while we are trying to figure out what we can do to change course, the whole system continues barreling onwards, crushing countless lives, and carrying us towards climate catastrophe. Our future – the future of all humanity, is being burned before our eyes, and yet we must keep paying rent, and keep paying the arsonists for the privilege of getting to live in the present, and to read by the light of that fire.

I suppose in a lot of ways I’m one of the people who’s “still deciding”. I certainly haven’t done much beyond my effort to make this blog a viable source of income, which is why I’m glad for people like the Atlanta forest defenders, and Greenpeace. Say what you will about that organization, but it does me good to see them occupying another oil rig:

In an effort to call attention to the company’s planet-wrecking drilling projects, several Greenpeace International campaigners on Tuesday boarded and occupied a Shell-contracted platform in the Atlantic Ocean as it headed toward a major oil and gas field in the U.K. North Sea.

Greenpeace said in a press release that the platform is “a key piece of production equipment that will enable Shell to unlock eight new wells in the Penguins North Sea oil and gas field,” an extraction effort that the climate group has attempted to block in court.

Four Greenpeace activists—Carlos Marcelo Bariggi Amara from Argentina, Yakup Çetinkaya from Turkey Imogen Michel from the U.K., and Usnea Granger from the U.S.—managed to board the Shell vessel using ropes after reaching the platform in three boats deployed from Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise ship.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Yeb Saño, who tried and failed to board the platform, said in a statement that Shell “must stop drilling and start paying.”

“We’re taking action today because when Shell extracts fossil fuels, it causes a ripple of death, destruction, and displacement around the world, having the worst impact on people who are least to blame for the climate crisis,” said Saño, the former lead climate negotiator for the Philippines.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. The CEO of Shell is the guy who told John Stewart that maybe a goal of 1.5 degrees by 2100 means we pass that by 2050, and then spend the second half of the century cleaning up. I’ve written before about how this attitude is not only reckless, but also a horrifically callous dismissal of those people whose lives are already being destroyed or disrupted by the climate change that is lining that fucker’s pockets.

Excuse my Anglo-Saxon, it’s just infuriating to see a rich scumbag like that just sort of politely writing off countless lives. Personally, I think the temporary occupation of a drilling platform is the gentlest of responses. As far as I know, Greenpeace doesn’t even do any damage to the equipment when they do this stuff. They’re just making a statement, but even that is too much for the sensitive souls at Shell:

A Shell spokesperson claimed in a statement that the Greenpeace campaigners’ demonstration is “causing real safety concerns, with a number of people boarding a moving vessel in rough conditions.”

But the spokesperson signaled that the company has no intention of altering its development plans in the North Sea, despite warnings from the scientific community that continued drilling will usher in catastrophic climate outcomes.

“Shell and the wider fossil fuel industry are bringing the climate crisis into our homes, our families, our landscapes, and oceans,” Saño said Tuesday. “So we will take them on at sea, at shareholder meetings, in the courtroom, online, and at their headquarters. We won’t stop until we get climate justice. We will make polluters pay.”

Greenpeace’s latest direct action came days before Shell’s earnings report, which will follow the banner profit announcements of competing oil and gas giants such as Chevon and ExxonMobil.

On Tuesday, Exxon said it raked in a record $56 billion in profits in 2022.

Yes I’m sure Shell really cares about safety.

The reality is that these corporations have no more right to plunder the world than did the colonial empires that built their foundations. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve never had legitimacy, and I don’t see how one can look at their history and conclude otherwise. I fully support this occupation, and I hope to see many more like it in the future.

Thank you for reading! If you found this post enjoyable or interesting, please share it around! Due to my immigration status, my writing is my only source of income right now, which is why I like to “pass around the hat” now and then for people’s spare change. Supporting me on Patreon can cost as little as three or four cents per day, and when enough people join in, even those $1/month pledges add up. There’s not currently much in the way of patron-only content, but my $5 patrons do have the option to name a character in the fantasy novel I’m currently working on, so if you like my fiction and want to immortalize yourself, or someone you know, then giving me money may just be your best option!

Solidarity with the Movement to Stop Cop City and Defend the Atlanta Forest

Defend The Atlanta Forest is circulating this statement of solidarity, and asking people to sign on. I’ve already done so, and I’d encourage you to read the statement, and do so yourself:

We call on all people of good conscience to stand in solidarity with the movement to stop Cop City and defend the Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta.

On January 18, in the course of their latest militarized raid on the forest, police in Atlanta shot and killed a person. This is only the most recent of a series of violent police retaliations against the movement. The official narrative is that Cop City is necessary to make Atlanta “safe,” but this brutal killing reveals what they mean when they use that word.

Forests are the lungs of planet Earth. The destruction of forests affects all of us. So do the gentrification and police violence that the bulldozing of Weelaunee Forest would facilitate. What is happening in Atlanta is not a local issue.

Politicians who support Cop City have attempted to discredit forest defenders as “outside agitators.” This smear has a disgraceful history in the South, where authorities have used it against abolitionists, labor organizers, and the Civil Rights Movement, among others. The goal of those who spread this narrative is to discourage solidarity and isolate communities from each other while offering a pretext to bring in state and federal forces, who are the actual “outside agitators.” The consequence of that strategy is on full display in the tragedy of January 18.

Replacing a forest with a police training center will only create a more violently policed society, in which taxpayer resources enrich police and weapons companies rather than addressing social needs. Mass incarceration and police militarization have failed to bring down crime or improve conditions for poor and working-class communities.

In Atlanta and across the US, investment in police budgets comes at the expense of access to food, education, childcare, and healthcare, of affordable and stable housing, of parks and public spaces, of transit and the free movement of people, of economic stability for the many. Concentrating resources in the hands of police serves to defend the extreme accumulation of wealth and power by corporations and the very rich.

What do cops do with their increased budgets and their carte blanche from politicians? They kill people, every single day. They incarcerate and traumatize schoolchildren, parents, loved ones who are simply struggling to survive. We must not settle for a society organized recklessly upon the values of violence, racism, greed, and careless indifference to life.

The struggle that is playing out in Atlanta is a contest for the future. As the catastrophic effects of climate change hammer our communities with hurricanes, heat waves, and forest fires, the stakes of this contest are clearer than ever. It will determine whether those who come after us inherit an inhabitable Earth or a police state nightmare. It is up to us to create a peaceful society that does not treat human life as expendable.

The forest defenders are trying to create a better world for all of us. We owe it to the people of Atlanta and to future generations everywhere to support them.

Here are some ways to support the defense of the forest in Atlanta:

  • Donate to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund to support legal costs for arrested protestors and ongoing legal action.
  • Call on investors in the project to divest from Cop City (list of APF investors). Call on builders of the project to drop their construction contracts.
  • Organize political solidarity bail funds, forest defense funds, and forest defense committees where you live.
  • Organize or participate in local solidarity actions.
  • Endorse and circulate this statement of solidarity.

Head over to their page to sign on, and to see the long list of people and organizations who have already done so. You can also find more information about what’s going on there, as well as by following It’s Going Down. I’ve also written one or three posts relating to the subject, if that interests you.

And if you have a platform, as stated above, consider circulating the statement of solidarity.

Police kill Atlanta forest defender

I’ve been trying to follow events surrounding the effort to stop Cop City in Atlanta, GA. Today, police killed one forest defender during a raid:

Today the police shot and killed a protester in Weelaunee Forest.

Dozens of heavily armed DeKalb Police, Atlanta Police and Georgia State police shut down Weelaunee People’s Park and nearby streets before entering the tree line with guns drawn and heavy machinery poised to continue forest destruction.

Police have repeatedly raided this public park, flattened community gardens and art installations, attacked protestors with chemical weapons and rubber bullets, and threatened lethal force. During past raids, police have consistently escalated violent tactics on peaceful people who were sitting in trees or walking through the public park. Since June 6, 2022, activists and community members fighting to Defend the Atlanta Forest and Stop Cop City have been demanding that officers stop bringing weapons into the forest after APD pointed their weapons at peaceful protestors.

The police and local news are working together to control the flow of information, leaving us with vague news reports that suggest the officer fired at the civilian in self-defense. We know they will say and do anything to prevent an Atlanta officer from being viewed as another Derek Chauvin, including witholding, distorting, or deleting evidence. Supporters of the movement are calling on legal observers and journalists to document the violent police tactics being used against protestors.

Since the fatal shooting, this morning’s operation has continued with Brasfield and Gorrie’s heavy machinery entering the forest and cops shooting pepper balls at people who remain in the park–as if nothing has happened. The loss of our lives remains meaningless to the police. Police killed a forest defender for loving this earth, for taking a stand against the ongoing destruction of the planet and its people. Indiscriminate police murder, unfettered police violence is exactly why people have, for two years, called for the Cop City project to be cancelled immediately. As politicians invest in cops, militarization and police budgets are only increasing. Meanwhile, police murders peaked in 2022: U.S. cops killed 100 people every month.

It is unclear what exactly happened, beyond the fact that the confrontation was started by police attacking the forest defenders. Police claim that a protester shot one of their officers, but I think it’s important to remember that cops lie about pretty much everything, especially when it comes to making themselves look good. It’s not clear to me at what point self defense is broadly considered justified against police, nor is it always easy to decide how far to go in opposing a destructive government action, in a society supposedly run along democratic principles. I think it’s pretty clear, however, that police do not have popular support or consent for their brutality, or for this particular project.

We should not be increasing police militarization. We should not be clearing forests in general, let alone in communities already suffering from environmental racism and other systemic injustice. This is another example of police actively perpetrating injustice – using violence against people who stand in their way, even knowing that they don’t have popular consent. Hell, they never even tried to get popular consent.

From what I can tell, the cops are committed to destroying this park, and other parts of the forest, and building their training facility, no matter what the people who live there think about it. I’ve heard it said that for black communities, cops are often more of an occupying force than a public service, and moments like this make that particularly apparent.

If you want resources on how to show solidarity or help out with this effort, I’ll refer you back to my most recent post on the topic. I’ll try to post an update on this topic soon.


Mud Wizard Monday: Serving corporate interests leaves German police stuck in the muck

So you probably haven’t heard about this, but it turns out that the climate is warming because of human activity. There are a number of factors, but the biggest one is carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, oil, and gas. Given that this temperature increase is already causing problems worldwide, and it’s expected to cause exponentially more problems as the warming continues, humanity needs to stop burning coal, oil, and gas, and use other sources of energy like solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal, and so on. I felt the need to spell that out, because judging by the behavior of most of the world’s governments, it’s not clear that the people in charge are aware.

The U.S. is where I tend to focus, of course, but China is increasing its use of coal, and Germany, despite committing to end coal use within the next eight years, is now fighting to demolish a village to expand a coal mine:

Activists have for the past two years attempted to protect the village from being bulldozed to make way for the opencast lignite mine, in a standoff that highlights the tensions around Germany’s climate policy.

Environmentalists say bulldozing Luetzerath would result in huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, but the government and RWE say coal is needed to ensure Germany’s energy security.

It always comes down to some form of “security”, doesn’t it? I understand the concerns folks in Europe have about nuclear power, especially if we’re focused on older reactor models, but I don’t know that coal is any better. Certainly, the potential risks from disaster and war are less, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good option, especially given that fully “exploiting” the expansion would take until 2045, 15 years after Germany will supposedly have phased out coal power. I should be clear – it has apparently been a couple years since the town has had residents who are not there specifically to obstruct coal mine expansion. That said, while evicting people from their homes for this would certainly add incentive to stop it, the fact remains that we cannot afford to keep extracting and burning coal like this, given that climate change is already killing and displacing people.

It’s good that wealthy nations are making any progress at all, I suppose, but it’s nowhere near enough.

And so people are using the one thing that people reliably have – they’re putting their bodies between the ruling class and the object of their destructive greed. It seems unlikely, to me, that these protesters will get their way, but as with so many other things, I hope to be wrong about that. It’s encouraging to see thousands of people showing up to stand against the German police for all our sakes.

“I’m really afraid today,” Petra Mueller, a 53-year-old local who had been at the site for several days, said from a top-floor window of one of the few remaining houses. Mueller said she still held out hope of preserving what is left of Luetzerath “until nothing is left standing; hope dies last”.

Environmentalists say bulldozing the village to expand the nearby Garzweiler coal mine would result in huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. The government and utility company RWE argue that coal is needed to ensure Germany’s energy security.

However, a study by the German Institute for Economic Research calls into question the government’s stance. Its authors found other existing coal fields could be used instead, though the cost to RWE would be greater.

Another alternative would be for Germany to increase the production of renewable power, cut demand through energy efficiency measures, or import more coal or gas from abroad, the study found.

This is the point that climate activists have been making for decades. It has long been obvious that when it comes to “energy security”, and issues of war and politics in general, climate change is a “threat multiplier”. It creates resource scarcity, causes mass movement of people, and damages or disrupts infrastructure, all of which can lead to political instability. The advantage of carbon-neutral power has always been that its use doesn’t contribute to the climate problem. The advantage of things like solar and wind power is that they’re generally more resilient to climate chaos than power generation that depends on burning fuel to boil water to run a steam turbine. Dependence on oil and gas has long driven war all around the globe, and it’s a bit much for the German government to plead “security” now after decades of delayed action. To be sure, they’ve done more than the U.S., but that’s a low bar to step over, and not a standard I’m willing to accept.

If there was a genuine concern about security, rather than profits, they would have put far more work into renewable energy and next-gen nuclear power, rather than spending all these resources trying to expand a coal mine that, supposedly, won’t even be halfway to fully exploited when Germany supposedly will stop using coal. Or, just a thought, they’re not serious about meeting the 2030 mark.

Maybe they are, but I think it’s entirely reasonable for the protesters to doubt them.

I give full support to these protesters, and I’ve been delighted to see some of the footage that has come from this effort to oust them. See, while I’ll spare you any (further) porcine comparisons, it has been a treat to watch the armed and uniformed enforcers of fossil fuel interests rolling around in the muck while being mocked by a prancing mud wizard:

The image shows The Mud Wizard, dressed in a monastic habit, casting down the police who thought they would withstand the power of muck.

At risk of sounding too serious, I think there is validity to things that make cops look ridiculous, especially while they’re trying to use force to further business interests. I also want to underscore that while this video is very funny, the activists have also been setting themselves up in treehouses and wooden tripods, along with welded i-beam barricades and other bits of construction designed to make it as costly and difficult as possible for the corporations and cops to get what they want. The Garzweiler mine has equipment on hand that can make quick work of all of that stuff, but unless they want to commit mass murder, they can’t use any of it before removing the protesters.

And to remove protesters, they’re relying on the police.

I think that the act of using force to enable more coal mining, in the early stages of a global climate crisis (remember, it will get much, much worse without a change of course), is both evil, and inherently absurd. I’m sure the cops think they’re doing the right thing by just following orders, but I feel like we’ve had a lesson or two in why that’s not a great way to tell right from wrong. With a little luck, hopefully the powers that be will decide to accept a different world, rather than trying to escalate the violence to get their way, but in the meantime, we have mud wizards and Yakety Sax (It seems I can no longer embed Tweets properly, but I posted it below in case it starts working again. Thanks, Musk).

Thank you for reading! If you found this post enjoyable or interesting, please share it around! Due to my immigration status, my writing is my only source of income right now, which is why I like to “pass around the hat” now and then for people’s spare change. Supporting me on Patreon can cost as little as three or four cents per day, and when enough people join in, even those $1/month pledges add up. There’s not currently much in the way of patron-only content, but my $5 patrons do have the option to name a character in the fantasy novel I’m currently working on, so if you like my fiction and want to immortalize yourself, or someone you know, then giving me money may just be your best option!

If you want something to do this weekend, Atlanta forest defenders are asking for solidarity

I meant to write about this a couple days ago, but I just completely forgot about it until I sat down to go through my open tabs today. Still, better late than never, I guess? Last month I wrote about Atlanta forest defenders being arrested and charged with “domestic terrorism”, for the heinous act of sitting in trees that the cops wanted to cut down. The people working to stop the destruction of the Atlanta Forest for a massive, militarized police training facility are calling for demonstrations of solidarity around the country:

It’s Going Down has the following list of events being planned for this weekend, as of a day or two ago:

Roundup Of Solidarity Events

January 14th, Savannah, GA

Solidarity rally to defend the Atlanta Forest & Stop Cop City! Saturday, Jan 14 – 2pm – Wright Square. Atlanta is known to many as the “City in the Forest” for its extensive tree cover, which protects the city’s residents from flooding and extreme heat. Despite calls from residents to defund, demilitarize, and even abolish the police following the 2020 police killing of Rayshard Brooks, the Atlanta Police Foundation, Deklab County officials, and Blackhall (Shadowbox) Studios are attempting to bulldoze the city’s largest urban forest to build a militarized police training facility and Hollywood soundstage in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Brasfield & Gorrie LLC, the progect’s general contractor, has a construction site near Wright Square right here in Savannah. Amidst growing concerns of police violence and climate catastrophe, thousands of Atlanta residents have organized to protect the forest and stall construction of the facility for over a year! An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. Let’s show our solidarity with ATL forest defenders and demand that Brasfield and Gorrie drop the contract! Savannah DSA

January 14th, Brooklyn, NYC

January 15th, New Haven, CT

January 15th, Atlanta, GA

January 16th, Decatur, GA

January 28th, NYC

As you’ll note, some of these things are not happening this weekend. While having a lot of actions happening on the same day is a tactic to get more attention on the issue, demonstrations and other events happening spontaneously over time and across the country can also serve that purpose. This is a long-term fight, not just because the backers of Cop City are still intending to build it, but also because even if we do win this fight, there will be new ones for as long as we’re dealing with a system like the one we’re fighting to change. If we ever want to have real democracy and freedom, it will require this kind of sustained effort both to create, and to maintain the world we want.

On that note, I also think you should check out this interview that the Youtuber F.D. Signifier did with commentator and activist Kamau Franklin about the issue:

As Franklin describes, “Cop City” is intended to have, among other facilities, 11 firing ranges, and a mock city for police to train in crowd control. As he says, this seems far more about general control of the populace and of any movements for change, than it is about any concern for public safety. It sure seems as though the police and ruling class looked at the BLM movement, and decided that they had to be able to just outright crush anything like that. It wouldn’t shock me to learn, down the road, that some of this is about the increasing popularity of left-wing thought and political tactics in the U.S.. Bolstering this interpretation is the fact that U.S. police often train with the enforcers of Israeli apartheid, working to develop tactics for controlling the population through force. With worsening inequality, rising fascism, and a warming climate, this should worry you, as should the ever-increasing U.S. military budget.

The movement towards authoritarianism is not unique to the Republican Party. The Democrats have been on board every step of the way, from pouring cash into the Pentagon, to developing the humanitarian nightmare that is the U.S. carceral system. It is Democratic mayor Eric Adams that wants to declare houseless people insane and lock them up. I don’t think the Dems are full-on fascist like the current GOP, but they do very clearly value capitalism more than democracy or freedom. They have been on board through the bloody history of U.S. interference with left-wing governments and movements around the globe. They have been on board with supporting the genocide being waged in Yemen, and the ethnic cleansing in Palestine. This is why we need organizing that’s separate from political parties and the electoral system. This is why we need direct action like the work of land and water defenders – because both parties in power serve the ruling class, and actively work to suppress working class power. It’s evident in Democratic policy over the years, in the people from whom they seek advice, and in the many corporations supporting the development of this facility, to the tune of $60 million of the $90 million budget.

And white supremacy is absolutely a part of that, both within the United States, and in its actions around the world.

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but the communities in which this monstrosity is being built are majority black, and have not been consulted on this project that will destroy a forest for the sake of building what amounts to a military training facility for the same cops who have been brutalizing and murdering black people in Atlanta and around the country. Kamau Franklin and F.D. Signifier have a much better discussion of the racial issues here than I’m able to summarize, so I recommend you watch the video. It provides a good overview of the problem from a systemic perspective. If you want to help out, Franklin pointed people to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, Community Movement Builders, and Stop Cop City, and even if you can’t do anything this weekend (sorry again for dropping the ball on this!), it still helps to get “stop cop city” in front of people, be it signs, bumper stickers, or you could even organize your own demonstrations just to get attention.

Video: Positive Leftist News from December (and late November), 2022

Obviously I’m a bit behind in posting this, but better late than never. The December edition of Positive Leftist News covers “massive” turnout for late November’s National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, MA to honor the Native people whose genocide was whitewashed by the Thanksgiving myth. On the other side of the continent, a similar demonstration drew 400 people to call for the protection of California’s shell mounds, burial sites from a number of Indigenous nations that are threatened by capitalist developers.

In labor news, PLN highlights the international organization and solidarity shown by the “Make Amazon Pay” demonstrations that took place on November 25th in over 30 countries across five continents. I very much hope to see this kind of international action more in the future. A few days  before, a new cross-sector service union was formed in the United States, called the Union of Southern Service Workers (USSW), and they are demanding, of course, better pay and working conditions. There had been a niggling worry in my mind about how well people would be able to organize in the atomized modern workplace, but it seems like the answer to that is “pretty well”. This union represents people in retail, gas station, fast food, and care work across the Southern U.S., and frankly I find it uplifting to see all of these people finding solidarity in their fight for their rights.

In South Korea, truckers defied their government’s order to end their strike. In Zimbabwe food industry workers are fighting for better treatment as well. Specifically, it’s brewery and sugar workers. It seems that among other things, they’re dealing with wage theft like workers in the U.S. Small-scale farmers in the socialist republic of Tanzania have been working together for decades to fight back against the economic forces that have been pushing them down, and the plans they put together this year focus on acroecology, food sovereignty, fighting against evictions by developers – sometimes whole villages have been evicted – and economic justice. Apparently they’ve been working to build up something that sounds like credit unions. It’s encouraging to see that work continue, and I fully support their work for not just Pan-African solidarity, but a recognition of the need for global solidarity.

In Montreal, London, and Dublin, demonstrators marched for tenants rights and housing for all. I’m ashamed to admit that I did hear about the Dublin demonstration, but couldn’t muster the energy to go. I intend to be more active in that regard in 2023.

Greece saw great turnout for their annual demonstrations to honor the 1973 Athens Polytechnic uprising against a U.S.-backed military junta.

Columbia announced the release of prisoners from its 2021 national strike, and Columbia’s new president declared them to be “guardians of peace”.

Elon Musk’s incompetent flailing at Twitter led to a bunch of big corporations, including Lockheed Martin and Eli Lilly, collectively losing billions on the stock market. I doubt it did them any real harm, because consequences are only for the peasantry, but it was fun to watch them freak out a little because an impersonator pretended they could be anything other than evil.

A Dutch court ordered compensation for victims of an illegal Dutch military airstrike in Afghanistan. Don’t hold your breath for the U.S. to follow that example.

Barbados seems to be having a winning streak. They ditched the British Monarchy, demanded reparations from British aristocrats involved in colonialism, and now their courts have struck down two laws that discriminated against LGBTQ+ people.

France seems to be on track to make abortion a constitutional right.

The governor of Oregon, US, commuted the sentences of all 17 death row inmates in that state, calling the death penalty immoral.

The students of the University of Stirling, in Scotland, have voted to make the university’s menu 100% plant-based, as part of their commitment to reduce carbon emissions, calling out all the universities that produce research pointing to emissions from animal agriculture, while doing little to nothing in response to that research.

  And last but very much not least, a new museum and clinic is to be opened in Montgomery, Alabama, to honor the “Mothers of Gynecology – enslaved women whose torture at the hands of white doctors built the foundations of modern gynecology. I’m not a fan of the way the article describes this as “sacrifice”, which seems to minimize the horror of what happened, but I think that this museum, clinic, and training facility seem like a good way to honor their memories, provide for people in need of care, and help work to prevent such atrocities from being committed in the future. Amidst everything that’s been happening in the U.S., I find it uplifting to see this kind of work continuing.

The video and linked articles have quite a few more details, but I figured I’d try to give a summary for those who won’t be watching the video for whatever reason.

As ever, all we have is us, and it’s when we work together for the good of all, that we are at our strongest.

A video and some thoughts on the recent power grid attacks

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about an attack on the power grid of Moore County, NC, apparently planned and carried out to shut down a drag show happening at a theater in the town of Southern Pines. Attacking the power grid is not a new tactic, either for right-wing extremists in the United States, or for paramilitary and revolutionary groups around the world. In the time since that post, there have been several more attacks around the country, not all associated with particular events the way the Moore County attack was, and it seems like that pattern is going to continue. This video from Beau of the Fifth Column goes into the thinking (and lack thereof) behind these attacks, why they won’t work for their probable intended purpose, and why they’re a problem anyway. It also goes into some tips for preparing for this to happen to your part of the grid.

Basically, there are three goals that attacks like this have historically had three goals, which don’t apply to the current situation. I’ll try to summarize below for those who can’t watch the video.

  1. To provoke a security clampdown. This is designed to anger the general public against the government forces clamping down. It has been successful, in some places, in getting more of the local populace to take up arms against an occupier. The U.S., however, is not being occupied by any outside force. The U.S. is also extremely good at controlling its populace, and because security clampdowns would be done by many different agencies (local police, state police, national guard, state and local governments, federal government), there’s no single target against whom to unify the people. The U.S. also pioneered understanding of this particular tactic, and so has literal instructions about avoiding the kind of clampdown in question.
  2. To blame the people in power for the grid failures, to turn the general public against them. The problem with this is that it requires the propaganda/political wing of the movement to repeatedly blame the people in power for what’s happening, but given that the “mainstream” right and the “extreme” right in the U.S. are so intertwined that moderation algorithms may not be able to tell the difference, so very few people will buy that the Democrats are to blame for these attacks. It’s more likely that the GOP will be seen as being on board with the attacks. Beau mentions that as with the first goal, this goal usually applies to occupied countries.
  3. To do a “reset” – knock everything out, and use the chaos to take control of the country by force. This would require them to have popular support, which they don’t. Absent that, they’d need the numbers, resources, and organization to occupy and control the entirety of the “lower 48”. Beau said he’s not sure that the U.S. army, which is the one force on the planet that might be able to pull that off, would be able to. The U.S. is simply too big. Maybe they’re hoping that the military would do it for them, but in my own opinion, there’s no way that happens without the GOP already having total control of the federal government, or something very close to it.

The bad news is that these attacks still cut off power to thousands of people. Beau compares this to January 6th – virtually zero chance of success, but still very destructive. Lost power can mean lost heat, spoiled food and medicine, shutdown of medical devices, shutdown of municipal water systems, and much more, depending on where it happens and how long the damage takes to repair. That means that to whatever degree you are able, you should probably prepare for power outages if you live in the U.S..

You know how I’ve written about the synergy between the threats we face, and the actions we need to take to prepare or remove those threats? You know how my direct action post couples the dangers of a warming planet and rising fascism? In both cases, I think it’s reasonable to expect more power outages, which means doing what you can to prepare for that. At the more expensive end, that means getting a generator (which should always be used outdoors, even if it means you have to crack a window for the cable. Please don’t gas yourself), or having a solar or wind setup with a battery, as well as something for purifying water. Again, at the high end that might be a powered purifier, and at the low end, we have stuff like iodine tablets or the filters lots of people use for camping. At the low end for power, there are cheap cell phone backup batteries, less cheap solar chargers, or you can look into the devices sold to jump-start cars, and get one that has a normal outlet as well as the car cables. Beau also mentions car inverters, that let you use your car as a generator. I’m not providing any links because I don’t want to recommend any particular products, but if you’re reading this, I’m assuming you have the capacity to search the internet to see what’s out there.

Obviously, different people will have different needs, and in the U.S. it’s pretty common for those who need powered medical devices or refrigerated medicine, to also be short on resources to buy things like big backup batteries or generators. If you have the means to “overprepare”, you might want to consider doing so, expressly for the purpose of offering help to those around you who don’t have the means. If they’re open to it and you can, help others prepare. Also, in general, be on the lookout for random opportunities to help – it may well come down to luck and landscape. I have relatives who’ve been the only means of communication for their neighborhood, because their home just happened to be a bit more elevated, so the storm surge didn’t reach them.

It absolutely sucks that this is where we’re at, but in addition to extreme weather, we also need to prepare for the violent outbursts of a group of obnoxious people eager to fight to the death against largely imaginary enemies, in the name of the pettiest, most boring, and least stable fantasy of a utopia that bigoted cowards have ever devised. The danger is real, even if the effort is doomed to failure, and the overall threat of fascism is, in my opinion, still extremely high. The one silver lining, tissue-thin though it is, is that our course of action should be the same regardless. Build collective power. Organize, train, and prepare for disasters, both natural and man-made. It’s a very, very old formula, but it’s one that seems to be affective across the ages.

If you like the content of this blog, please share it around. If you like the blog and you have the means, please consider joining my lovely patrons in paying for the work that goes into it. Due to my immigration status, I’m currently prohibited from conventional wage labor, so for the next couple years at least this is going to be my only source of income. You can sign up for as little as $1 per month (though more is obviously welcome), to help us make ends meet – every little bit counts!