Truthout Stories Wed, 07 Oct 2015 17:04:46 -0400 en-gb Why Corporate Media Won't Cover Citizens United

9 July, 2014: Demonstrators display a lighted sign in opposition to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. (Photo: Light Brigading)Demonstrators display a lighted sign in July 2014, in opposition to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. (Photo: Light Brigading)

Americans have always been skeptical of corporate power. In fact, this country was founded by a revolt against the biggest corporation of its day - the British East India Company.

You know how conservatives are always going on about how the Boston Tea Party was an example of the United States' anti-government roots? Well, the Boston Tea Party was actually an anti-corporate protest, not some 18th century version of an Americans for Tax Reform rally.

When the good citizens of Boston threw chest upon chest of East India tea into the freezing winter water of Boston Harbor, they were protesting a law - the Tea Act of 1773 - that was their era's version of the bank bailout.

The Tea Act gave the British East India Company total control over the North American tea trade, exempted it from having to pay taxes on exported tea, and gave it a refund on any tea it was unable to sell.

It was the largest corporate tax cut in the history of the world, and set up the East India Company to pull a Walmart and put all the small, local tea shops across the US out of business. Not surprisingly, this really angered the colonists, and so they took action, setting off a chain of events that eventually resulted in our independence from Great Britain.

Skepticism of corporate power is what the American Revolution - or at least the event that sparked it - was all about, which makes the latest polling about money in politics anything but surprising.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

According to Bloomberg Politics, a full 78 percent of Americans think we should overturn the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision that opened up our election process to floods of corporate money. This isn't, by the way, a situation where a bunch of Democrats are tipping the scales.

Money in politics often gets painted in the media as "liberal" or "progressive" issue, but this new Bloomberg poll shows that Americans of all political persuasions overwhelmingly oppose Citizens United. Eighty-three percent of Democrats want to overturn it, as do 80 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of self-declared independents.

In other words, wanting to get money out of politics is about as mainstream as the Super Bowl, blue jeans and FM radio classic rock. Which, again, isn't all that surprising.

This country's changed a lot since 1776, but one thing that hasn't changed is the fact that the American people, regardless of their political party, really don't like it when corporate special interests take over their government or their election process.

But one thing that has changed since 1776 is the media, now concentrated in the hands of a few giant transnational corporations.

The ever-more-concentrated corporate media really don't want to discuss Citizens United or the public's overwhelming desire to overturn it. In fact, even though our TV networks have spent hours breaking down every single Donald Trump poll, they've so far completely ignored that amazing Bloomberg study on opposition to Citizens United. And I mean completely ignored.

As Media Matters pointed out the other day, "[T]he major networks' evening news programs ... aired no coverage of the Bloomberg poll between September 28 and October 2. The ABC, FOX and NBC October 4 Sunday shows also failed to report on the poll's results."

Maybe there's a good justifiable, journalistic reason for this. Maybe the fact that Americans hate Citizens United is so obvious that the mainstream media don't think it was worth reporting on.

But it's doubtful.

The big open secret about Citizens United is that the mainstream corporate media support it. More money in politics means more money spent on elections ads, which, of course, means more money for the corporations that run the major news networks.

That's why the media isn't covering Citizens United - because doing so would cut into their bottom line. It really is that simple.

But luckily, the American people are figuring out what's up. If the rise of Bernie Sanders is any indication, they're more than ready to take part in another political revolution against corporate power - just like the one that founded this country 239 years ago.

The mainstream media can continue to ignore what the people want, but at their own peril.

Opinion Wed, 07 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400
"NAFTA on Steroids": Consumer Groups Slam the TPP as 12 Nations Agree to Trade Accord

The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations reached an agreement Monday on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest regional trade accord in history. The agreement has been negotiated for eight years in secret and will encompass 40 percent of the global economy. The secret 30-chapter text has still not been made public, although sections of draft text have been leaked by WikiLeaks during the negotiations. Congress will have at least 90 days to review the TPP before President Obama can sign it. The Senate granted Obama approval to fast-track the measure and present the agreement to Congress for a yes-or-no vote with no amendments allowed. During Senate hearings in April, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders fought fast track, warning that the American people need time to understand the TPP. He issued a statement Monday saying, "I am disappointed but not surprised by the decision to move forward on the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will hurt consumers and cost American jobs. Wall Street and other big corporations have won again. It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multi-national corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense." Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, joins us to discuss TPP.


AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Rob Weissman into the conversation. Robert Weissman is president of Public Citizen. Can you put this in the larger context, Rob, of the TPP overall - who this benefits, who this hurts, who made the decisions around this, and then, who gets to decide whether the U.S. approves this?

ROBERT WEISSMAN: Well, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP, is a collection of provisions that amount to a wish list for giant multinational corporations. It's really as simple as that. And the most important industry in the whole deal was the pharmaceutical industry, which is why the USTR, the U.S. trade representative, insisted on putting in the provision that Zahara was talking about. It's why the agency was willing to hold up the entire deal to try to extract more concessions for Big Pharma.

You know, as your viewers and listeners know, this is a deal that was negotiated in secret over a period of five years - secret from the American public, secret from the public in the countries that were negotiating, but not secret from the giant corporations who it aims to benefit. The USTR has a system of advisory committees, so it shows text and runs ideas by corporate representatives from almost all affected industries. So, in general, it's reasonable to say that corporate America knew what was going on all along. And they absolutely knew, in the waning days of the negotiation, where USTR made clear they were in constant conversation with industry representatives about what they were discussing. They were not in constant conversation with people like Zahara or consumer groups or labor unions or environmental organizations. And as a result, we have a deal that comes out that prioritizes the needs and demands of multinational corporations, gives them special rights, gives them special powers, and entrenches a failed development model and a failed trade model, which we can reasonably call NAFTA on steroids.

So what we're going to see coming out of this deal, if it goes through - and it's not a done deal at all yet - but if the deal is finalized and enacted and implemented, we're going to see an expansion of the NAFTA model. That means, in the United States, more export of jobs; more downward pressure on wages, especially in the United States and throughout the 12-country region; degradation of the environment and difficulties in imposing new environmental standards; increasing pharmaceutical prices; and the creation and expansion of special powers for giant - giant foreign corporations to sue governments when they take actions that the companies say would interfere with their expected profits.

Now, for the last part of your question and why it's not a done deal, although allegedly the negotiations are over and there may still even be last-minute things they're working on, in the United States, the deal has to be approved by Congress. And we had a preview of what the vote was going to be like earlier this year when Congress gave the administration fast-track authority. That was the deal that set the terms on which a TPP or other trade deals would be voted on in Congress. And that was an incredibly close vote. So it foreshadows an incredibly close vote that's going to come on the TPP sometime next year, in an election year, which the Obama administration was desperately trying to avoid. Why try to avoid it? Because the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to NAFTA and NAFTA-style deals. So we're going to see whether members of Congress are willing to represent their people, to respond to the demands of their constituents, in an election year, or whether they choose to demand - to respond to the demands of their donors and the Chamber of Commerce and Big Pharma and the big business community.

AMY GOODMAN: Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders spoke out against the TPP during Senate hearings in April. This is what he said.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Not only is there massive opposition to this TPP agreement, but there is a lot of concern that the American people have not been involved in the process, that there's not a lot of transparency. So what we are trying to do here is to make sure that this debate takes place out in the public, that the American people have as much time as possible to understand the very significant implications of this trade agreement. And I and, I suspect, others will do our best to make that happen.

AMY GOODMAN: Also, Donald Trump tweeted, the Republican presidential candidate, "The incompetence of our current administration is beyond comprehension. TPP is a terrible [deal]." Rob, last year at your own gala, at the Public Citizen gala, Senator Elizabeth Warren addressed the crowd. She famously said, "From what I hear, Wall Street pharmaceuticals, telecom, big polluters and outsourcers are all salivating at the chance to rig the deal in the upcoming trade [talks]. So," she said, "the question is: Why are the trade [talks] secret? You'll love this answer. Boy, the things you learn on Capitol Hill. I actually have had supporters of the deal say to me, 'They have to be secret, because if the American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed.'" Rob Weissman?

ROBERT WEISSMAN: Yeah, well, as usual, Senator Warren hits it out of the park, and that's exactly right. And, you know, I've had members of - officials at the USTR say effectively the same thing: "We can't let people know what's in the deal because then people might object to the deal."

Well, now that the deal is almost concluded, we're going to eventually see the text, and we're going to have the fight. And it's going to be a really tough fight. I mean, you know, as you noted, Senator Sanders is strongly opposed to it. I think we may see Senator Clinton - Secretary Clinton come out against the deal, under pressure, in the next few weeks and months. Donald Trump is strongly against it. There is a strong - and this is not a - although it's partisan in some strange ways on Capitol Hill, it's not a partisan issue among the American public. Across the board, people oppose this stuff. So, if you're Republican, you're going to have to deal with a constituency that actually doesn't want you to carry water for the Chamber of Commerce and for Big Pharma on this issue. And there are going to - that's going to cause a lot of tension in the Republican Party, especially as you have things stoked up by Donald Trump and probably some other of the presidential candidates. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz both voted against fast track in the Senate vote. So we're going to have a very interesting political period.

It's completely unclear what the timing is going to be. It will not go before the Congress before February, but it could be basically any time in 2016 that this happens. The administration, unfortunately, because of the passage of fast track, is going to have a great deal of control - great deal of control over the introduction of the bill and the timing of an eventual vote.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to comments made by Japan's economy minister, Akira Amari. He talked about some of the details of the TPP.

AKIRA AMARI: [translated] With regard to dairy products, we maintain tariff quotas and the state trading system. We install a new tariff quota framework based on the current tariff quota and the state trading system, but maintain the tax rates outside of the framework. ... We reached an agreement to complete elimination of tariffs on more than 80 percent of auto parts with the U.S., which have the export value of almost 2 trillion yen from Japan.

AMY GOODMAN: Rob Weissman, can you respond to Japan's economy minister?

ROBERT WEISSMAN: Well, there's a lot that's interesting in that, and this is, you know, some of the stuff that I think is probably less interesting for most people. But on the auto side, those tariff reductions are going to take place in 25 years' time - at which point who knows if there will even be automobiles as we're talking about? So, in terms of looking at exports of U.S. cars, well, it's enough to know that Ford Motor Company actually has come out opposed to the deal, not so much over this issue, but over other things that they say weren't achieved in the TPP negotiation.

On the dairy side, there was a really interesting comment yesterday by the New England - I'm sorry, by the New Zealand trade minister, who talked about the fact that dairy is not a globalized industry yet. So, New Zealand is the world's biggest exporter of dairy products, and his vision is for a globalized dairy industry, like - he said, like the auto industry. Well, you know, one really should ask what the value is and whether we really want a world of a globalized dairy industry, or whether there's a different vision of how we organize the economy and the production of food that relies actually on local sourcing of products, and whether we think that addressing climate change, among other pressing issues, demands that we look more towards localism. So, the idea of the TPP is really, at its core, moving completely away from that, globalizing everything under the control of giant multinational corporations, taking power away from, in this case, local farmers, but also local and small businesses, and really centralizing authority in the supernational giant corporations.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, can you comment on Zahara Heckscher's arrest, why she was arrested, and what you understand was in this TPP around cases like hers, around pharmaceutical drugs? The administration would say they actually weakened what the corporations wanted.

ROBERT WEISSMAN: Well, let me first say that I think what Zahara did was really heroic, to move beyond her own personal challenges in dealing with, as you hear, an incredibly difficult situation and say, "You know what? I can identify with women around the world and patients around the world, and even people who aren't yet patients, and advocate for their interests." I just think it's incredibly moving and touching. And she's a friend, and to say I'm proud of her, it sort of puts me in some role, but I'm just inspired by what she did.

On the underlying issue, what we're looking at is the degree to which the pharmaceutical industry can impose monopoly pricing on the entire world. And what we're calling the death sentence clause is particularly about a class of drugs called biologics. These are basically biotech drugs. It's the cutting edge of the pharmaceutical industry. It's most cancer drugs. It's a number of drugs to treat arthritis and a number of drugs to treat smaller disease classes. But it's the future of the industry. There's nothing really special about the drugs in terms of market pricing. They're made differently. They're made from living cells and proteins as opposed to what are called small molecule chemical drugs, that are traditional drugs. They're slightly more difficult to manufacture.

But at the end of the day, the issue that was at stake here is whether or not we're going to have monopoly pricing for eternity for these drugs, or when generic competition is it introduced into the market. And this issue about five, eight or 12 years, among other issues, was about the degree and timing of when generic competition is made available. And as Zahara was explaining, these drugs are priced at such astronomical levels, by and large, that while they're on patent, they are unaffordable in poor countries. They're quite unaffordable in richer countries, too, and we're seeing increasing levels of rationing in the rich countries. But in the poor countries, they're just out of reach. And the question of when they become available to people who need them is entirely a question of when there's generic competition permitted, because the price of the drugs has nothing to do with the cost of developing them, nothing to do with the cost of researching them, nothing to do with the cost of manufacturing them. The high prices are entirely due to the monopolies.

So, very unfortunately, USTR made its single most high priority in the TPP negotiations the advancement of the monopoly profit interests of Big Pharma. And that's what was going on here. Now, Big Pharma wanted 12 years in terms of this death sentence clause, and they didn't. They got something that's between five and eight years, and incredibly complicated, but will delay the introduction of generic competition for many, many years. And it's really - it's an absolute disgrace, but it's a sign of what the whole process is to know that the U.S. was willing to hold up the entire deal to win gains for Big Pharma. They didn't get all they wanted, because the countries in the negotiation pushed back. They were supported by local campaigns and global campaigners who explained what the consequences were. And thankfully, the key negotiators said, "You know what? We actually care little bit about public health. We care about patient rights. We're not only about the interests of Big Pharma." That was despite the demands from the U.S. Trade Representative's Office. And, you know -

AMY GOODMAN: This is President Obama's Trade Representative Office.

ROBERT WEISSMAN: - even though they stood up, the USTR got a lot for Big Pharma.

AMY GOODMAN: What does President Obama gain by this?

ROBERT WEISSMAN: You know, that is a complete mystery. This is supposedly going to be a big part of his legacy. Well, if you ask Bill Clinton about his legacy with NAFTA, it's something he's embarrassed about and doesn't want associated with him. And that's what it's going to be for President Obama if this deal goes through. I mean, I think President Obama has been - you know, he's unfortunately influenced by Mike Froman, who's the USTR and a personal friend, who's a believer in this stuff, but a pure corporate guy. And I think that in Washington, D.C., outside - unlike everywhere else in the country, in Washington, D.C., serious people know that you have to support free trade, and therefore the president has done that. Now, of course, the rest of the country understands it much more clearly through experience. And also, of course, these deals have nothing to do with free trade, exemplified by these Big Pharma protection provisions, which are all about monopolies and undermining and interfering with free trade and free competition.

AMY GOODMAN: So what happens in Congress now?

ROBERT WEISSMAN: Well, we're going to have some period of time. There's going to be 90 days, at least, from now, before the president can sign the deal, and after that, 30 days, at least, before the implementing legislation is presented to Congress to vote on. So we're looking at least four months before the thing finally is formally presented to Congress. And it may be much longer, but it's going to be at least four months.

In that period, and when the thing is on the floor of Congress, you're going to see a massive mobilization in the United States to demand members of Congress vote this horrible deal down. You've got almost the entirety of the labor movement, almost the entirety of the environmental movement, almost all consumer groups, massive numbers of faith-based groups, community groups, all united in opposition to this, and it is going to become a major issue in American politics. It's going to become a major issue in the presidential campaign. And, you know, we're going to work super hard on this, but we're very optimistic that this thing is going to be stopped and that people power will actually prevail over the interests of the multinational corporations.

AMY GOODMAN: Has Hillary Clinton signaled either way whether she agrees with her competition, right, whether she agrees with Bernie Sanders or agrees with the TPP?

ROBERT WEISSMAN: Well, her views, let's say, are evolving on this. And I expect them to evolve into opposition. She supported the deal, or the negotiations, when she was secretary of state. In her book, she raises concerns about one of the worst elements of these kinds of deals, which are the so-called investor-state ISDS rules, that give corporations special rights to sue countries for limiting their expected profits. So she's raised that issue specifically. As a presidential candidate, she said she has concerns, and she wants the deal to meet the highest standards. Once the text is finally published, she can no longer talk about what the deal might be, and she's going to have to talk about what the deal is. And I think she's going to be under a lot of pressure to do the right thing and come out in opposition.

AMY GOODMAN: So, finally, Zahara Heckscher, the - what you call the death sentence clause is still in the TPP.


AMY GOODMAN: Do you think that the TPP should be given a death sentence?

ZAHARA HECKSCHER: A hundred percent. I think cancer patients and our families need to stand up and tell the Congress to vote this thing down. We did - through activism and our brothers and sisters in other countries influencing their governments, we knocked some provisions down from 12 years to five-to-eight years. But if you have cancer, you can't wait five years, you can't wait eight years, let alone 12 years. So, unfortunately, the death sentence clause is still in there. Other negative provisions are still in there which will harm access to non-biologics. And, you know, our message is TPP kills. And we're going to be joining the other citizen groups working against this. And I'll put my body on the line again if I have to, because it's that important.

AMY GOODMAN: Zahara Heckscher, I want to thank you for being with us, a social justice advocate, arrested last week for disrupting the TPP negotiations. She is currently in treatment for breast cancer.


AMY GOODMAN: I also want to thank Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

When we come back, we remember the life and legacy of a remarkable woman. Grace Lee Boggs died at the age of 100 at her home in Detroit yesterday. Stay with us.

News Wed, 07 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Father of Slain Journalist Speaks Out to End US Gun Violence Epidemic

On August 26, in Roanoke, Virginia, two journalists were fatally shot on live television during a morning broadcast of the local news station WDBJ. Twenty-four-year-old broadcast journalist Alison Parker and 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward died after Vester Flanagan approached the set and began shooting. Flanagan was a former journalist at the station who had been fired two years ago. Flanagan later shot himself. It was the 246th mass shooting in the United States this year. Just over a month later, a gunman named Chris Harper-Mercer opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, killing nine people before taking his own life. Later that same day in northern Florida, a gunman killed two people and injured another before taking his own life. Then on Friday, one person died and four others were injured in a shooting in Baltimore - bringing the year's total of mass shootings to at least 296. We speak with Andy Parker, the father of Alison Parker. Since her death in August, Parker has called for the passage of stronger gun laws. He says he'll dedicate his life to this fight.


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: On August 26th in Roanoke, Virginia, two journalists were fatally shot on live television during a morning broadcast of the local news station WDBJ. Twenty-four-year-old broadcast journalist Alison Parker and 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward died after Vester Flanagan approached the set and began shooting. Flanagan was a former journalist at the station who had been fired two years earlier. Flanagan later shot himself. It was the 246th mass shooting in the United States this year. Just over a month later, a gunman named Chris Harper-Mercer opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. He shot nine people dead before taking his own life. That was the 294th mass shooting of 2015.

AMY GOODMAN: In a blog post written before the shooting, the Oregon gunman, Chris Harper-Mercer, wrote about Vester Flanagan, the Roanoke shooter. He wrote, quote, "I have noticed that so many people like [Flanagan] are alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems like the more people you kill, the more you're in the limelight," he wrote. Speaking after the shooting in Oregon, President Obama addressed the nation.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it. We've become numb to this. We talked about this after Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora, after Charleston. It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Two more mass shootings have been reported since the one on Thursday in Oregon. Later that same day in northern Florida, a gunman killed two people and injured another before taking his own life. Then on Friday, one person died and four others were injured in a shooting in Baltimore, bringing the year's total of mass shootings to at least 296.

AMY GOODMAN: Today we spend much of the hour looking at the country's gun violence epidemic. We begin with Andy Parker, the father of Alison Parker, the journalist shot dead in August while on the air in Roanoke, Virginia. Since her death, her dad, Andy Parker, has vowed to do whatever it takes to end gun violence. He's joining us from his home in Collinsville, Virginia.

Andy Parker, welcome to Democracy Now! Of course, our condolences on the death of your daughter. Can you talk about -

ANDY PARKER: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about Alison today?

ANDY PARKER: Oh, of course. I can talk about Alison any day. She was - what people saw on television was who she was. She was bubbly, she was bright, she would light up a room. She made everyone feel comfortable. And she was accomplished at just about - well, not just about, everything she did, everything she picked up, she was terrific at it. And she packed in probably more of a life in 24 years than most people do in a lifetime. She was - I call her a force of nature, and she really was. And she - I think she's become an iconic figure in this struggle that we are undertaking.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And that day that you heard the news of the shooting?

AMY GOODMAN: Where were you, Andy Parker?

ANDY PARKER: Well, we were - you know, Alison would normally go on way before we - her hits were on from 5:00 to 7:00 in the morning. And typically we would catch up with what she did online. So we really - we didn't see anything live that day. And we've not seen it. We won't see it. But we were alerted by her boyfriend, Chris, who called and said there had been shots fired at her location. And that's where we were. And I knew something was terribly wrong, because I spoke to Alison every single day, every day, and I knew that when she didn't call or - because the first thing she would have done is to call dad or mom and say, "Look, I'm OK, everything's OK," and when I didn't hear, I knew something was terribly wrong.

AMY GOODMAN: And Chris is the anchor on WDBJ?

ANDY PARKER: Right, right. And Chris was the love of her life, and she, the love of his. And, you know, he's been going through some tough times, as have we. But we learned, I guess about an hour later, that she had been - she and Adam had been killed.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And could you talk about why, so soon after her death, you have decided to be so outspoken on the issue of gun violence, the process that you went through to make that decision?

ANDY PARKER: Well, you know, I guess people grieve differently. And we felt like, obviously, this was a kick in the stomach. And listen, I cry every day. My wife cries every day. But rather than sit here and go into a shell, we felt like we have to do something and channel our grief into a way that perhaps we can make a change and make a difference, because this is what Alison would have wanted us to do. And we realized - I realized that day. The governor, Terry McAuliffe, called me probably four hours after this happened, and at that point I had made up my mind that I was going to do whatever it takes to try and stop this. And he said, "Andy," he said, "I got your back." He said, "You go for it. I'm right there with you."

AMY GOODMAN: That's Governor McAuliffe of Virginia. So, what are you doing? Can you talk about who you are taking on? What lobbies, what congressmembers? You're naming names.

ANDY PARKER: Absolutely. You know, the people that are - well, one, in particular, Bob Goodlatte, who is the - he is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, that's got over a hundred bills related to gun legislation that have been sitting on his desk. He's the gatekeeper and will not hold hearings on this. He, ironically, is the congressman where - that covers the area where Alison lived. And I've met with this guy. And, you know, his comment to me and Chris - Chris and I both met with him, and his comment to me was: "Well, we really need to enforce the laws that we have on the books," which - and I said, "Really, Congressman? So the laws on the books are working?" And he said, "Oh, well, you know, we have all these laws on the books, and we can't prosecute." And yet, the irony of it is - and he has an ATF, a former ATF agent on his staff. The irony is that he's cut back - he and his colleagues have helped cut back funding for the ATF. They have the same staff that they had 40 years ago. They have less enforcement officers than the D.C. police do. And he's telling me that we need to enforce these laws, and meanwhile he cuts funding for the ATF. It's hypocrisy. It's duplicity. And frankly, he has blood on his hands. He takes money from the NRA.

It's the same with Mike McCaul, who is supposed to be protecting us as the House chairman for homeland security. And I watched him last week right after the Oregon shootings. I was on CNN doing an interview, and I watched him after mine. And the news correspondent that was interviewing him was trying to pin him down on "What can you do? Do you want to close these loopholes? Is there something that you would do?" And he tap-danced around the issue. Their whole fallback is: "It's mental health. It's not a gun problem. It's a mental health problem." Well, sure, it's a mental health problem, but, you know, here's - we can do things in this country. We can close gun loopholes. We can do universal background checks. Is it going to be a cure-all? Of course not. But you have to start and do something. And I said in my next interview after that, listening to this guy, he made me want to throw up. I mean, here's a guy that Homeland Security, the FBI has a thousand people on its no-fly list, and McCaul and Goodlatte help the NRA block efforts to keep these people from getting firearms. Now, you know, go figure. They can't fly, but they can get a weapon. I mean, it's insane. It is hypocrisy. And like I said, these guys are gutless cowards that have blood on their hands.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Andy Parker, you mentioned the NRA several times. The ability of the NRA and the gunman manufacturers who back them to basically subvert the will of the majority of the American people who do support tougher gun controls, why do you think -

ANDY PARKER: Of course.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: - they've been able to be so successful?

ANDY PARKER: You know, they've done - you got to give the devil his due, and I say that literally and figuratively, but mostly literally. They have had a 30-year jump on folks like Everytown, which I have joined. It's a recently new organization that Mayor Bloomberg has started. But the NRA, through the gun lobby - and, you know, by the way, the NRA only has a few members. I don't even think they have 100,000 members in this country. But where they get the millions and millions of dollars that they funnel into these campaigns comes from the gun manufacturers. And every time one of the shootings happens, their gun sales go through the roof. So they love this stuff. And so they're going to continue to fund, through the NRA - NRA is really nothing more than a lobby. Wayne LaPierre makes a million bucks, and he is nothing more than a lobbyist that funds money to members of Congress. And they intimidate them, and they're just afraid to lose the money. But guys like Terry McAuliffe ran against the NRA in a red state, got an F rating from the NRA, and won as governor, so it can be done. But the people that are in the pockets of the NRA and the gun lobby, they do have blood on their hands, and they are cowards.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to get your reaction to another father, to the father of the Oregon gunman who killed the nine people last week at Umpqua Community College, who has also criticized U.S. gun policies, which he says allows his son to amass an arsenal of weapons. Ian Mercer, father of Chris Harper-Mercer, made the comments in an interview with CNN.

IAN MERCER: The question that I would like to ask is: How on Earth could he compile 13 guns? How can that happen? You know, they talk about gun laws, they talk about gun control. Every time something like this happens, they talk about it, and nothing is done. I'm not trying to say that that's to blame for what happened, but if Chris had not been able to get a hold of 13 guns, it wouldn't have happened.

AMY GOODMAN: That's Ian Mercer, the father of Chris Harper-Mercer. Andy Parker, if you could respond to that and also the fact that Chris Harper-Mercer had cited the man who killed your daughter, Alison, as an example that he was a nobody who then was on the lips of the world because of the people he killed?

ANDY PARKER: Well, Amy, you know, part of the problem is we have a lot of bad parenting out there. And unfortunately, you can't legislate bad parenting. You can't do anything about it. But you can do things like universal background checks and closing gun loopholes to at least help prevent these things, to mitigate some of this bad parenting. I want to know - you know, certainly, he gets it, but - and from what I understand, he and his son - he never saw his son much. They didn't - they lived apart.

But I want to know what his mother was doing, and as we read these revelations that she was - you know, she had an arsenal herself and was clearly involved in this young man's life. Frankly, she should be an accessory to murder. I mean, that - I listened - I read that account of her having all the weapons and bragging about it. She had to know something was up. I mean, listen, my son has Asperger's, and he's scared to death of - you know, most kids that have Asperger's are - you know, they're quiet, they're shy kids. They're usually bullied, which my son was, and they just shy away from these kind of things. But we also were involved in his life and made sure that he became a good citizen. Obviously, this woman, this mother, was worthless. And as I say, somebody should charge her as being an accessory to murder.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I was wondering also your reaction to the obvious frustration that President Obama has been showing in his recent statements about some of the recent mass shootings.

ANDY PARKER: Well, I'm glad that he's finally addressed it in the way he did. I think he must have been listening to some of the earlier interviews that I've done, because it sounds like he took it right from my playbook. And that is, we don't have the world's market cornered on mental illness, but somehow we have the world's market cornered on mental illness and people that are mentally ill and other criminals that can evade background checks and can have access to weapons. And this has just got to stop. And I think that as long as he keeps this up, I think that between the president using the bully pulpit to not let this go away, I think that the press, because Alison was one of you guys - I mean, she was a member of the fraternity, and the press has been so kind and so generous with their time with this effort. They understand that, look, it could have been one of you guys. It could have been this cameraman that's here with me today. It could be - it could have been one of you. And so, I think that - I think it's different this time. I really do. And I think we're going to - we're putting a dent in it. And I think these congressmen that we're calling out, that I'm calling out, it's having an effect.

AMY GOODMAN: Andy Parker, we're going to ask you to stay with us. We're going to go to a break, then come back to you in Collinsville, Virginia, where you live. We'll also be joined by a gun control expert, a senior vice president at the Center for American Progress. And I want to ask you about some of the comments of the presidential candidates and what they mean to you. We're talking to Andy Parker. He is the father of Alison Parker, who was killed on air in Roanoke, Virginia - she worked for WDBJ - along with her cameraman, Adam Ward, when they were broadcasting live, by a former anchor on that network, or a former reporter on WDBJ. This is Democracy Now! We'll be back in a minute.

News Wed, 07 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Does Free Speech Have a Palestine Exception? Dismissed Professor Steven Salaita Speaks Out

A new report by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal has documented hundreds of cases of Palestinian rights activists in the United States being harassed, disciplined, fired, sued, censored or threatened for their advocacy around Palestine. Eighty-five percent of these cases targeted students or scholars. We look at the case of Steven Salaita. Last year, his job offer for a tenured position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was withdrawn after he posted tweets harshly critical of the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. The school had come under pressure from donors, students, parents and alumni critical of Salaita's views, with some threatening to withdraw financial support. His case caused a firestorm, with thousands of academics signing petitions calling for Salaita's reinstatement, several lecturers canceling appearances and the American Association of University Professors calling the school's actions "inimical to academic freedom and due process." In August, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise resigned after she was implicated in a scandal that involved attempting to hide emails detailing Salaita's ouster. We speak with Steven Salaita and attorney Maria LaHood, who is representing Salaita in his ongoing lawsuit against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We end today's show with professor and author Steven Salaita. Last year, his job offer for a tenured position for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was withdrawn after he posted tweets harshly critical of the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. The school had come under pressure from donors, from students, parents and alumni critical of Salaita's views, with some threatening to withdraw financial support. The move was criticized both in and outside of the school, with administrators accused of political censorship.

AMY GOODMAN: Thousands of academics signed petitions calling for Professor Salaita's reinstatement, and several lecturers canceled appearances at the school in protest. The American Association of University Professors called the school's actions "inimical to academic freedom and due process." In August, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise resigned after she was implicated in a scandal that involved attempting to hide emails detailing Salaita's ouster. Also in August, a federal judge allowed for a lawsuit filed by Professor Salaita against the university to proceed.

We're joined now by Steven Salaita, the Edward Said chair of American studies at the American University of Beirut. His book, Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom, has just been published. Also with us, his attorney, Maria LaHood, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Professor Salaita, talk about these latest developments. What has taken place around your case?

STEVEN SALAITA: So, over the summer, there was an entire sort of Freedom of Information Act dump of emails that led to, I guess, an intensification of the scandalization of the situation. It led to the resignation of Chancellor Wise and then the - her second-in-command, the provost. And what we -

AMY GOODMAN: And explain what happened.

STEVEN SALAITA: The emails that were released sort of pointed to a wide range of interests sort of converging around the issue of my Twitter feed, which I find both amusing and mortifying simultaneously. And there was donor pressure, and there was a conscious effort to circumvent the open records laws, but also a conscious effort to undermine all of the normal processes of faculty governance.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: There were allegations that the chancellor and others at the school were using private email accounts to avoid having their conversations about you and the reaction to you accessible through public information requests?

AMY GOODMAN: Hmmm, this is sounding presidential.

STEVEN SALAITA: Yes, exactly. And then they actually said, in writing, you know, "I'm deleting the emails as I send them."

AMY GOODMAN: And so, the chancellor was forced to resign. And explain who else. The board also changed?

STEVEN SALAITA: No, nobody from the board has resigned. The former chairman of the Board of Trustees, Christopher Kennedy, he rotated off.

AMY GOODMAN: Christopher Kennedy, Robert Kennedy son?

STEVEN SALAITA: That's correct, yes. He was the chairman of the board that presided over, I guess, my termination last August, but he has rotated off. So, the chancellor is gone, and the provost is gone, but the board remains intact.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Maria LaHood, the status of the lawsuit and the grounds upon which you are pursuing legal action against the university?

MARIA LAHOOD: Professor Salaita's case against the university is for his breach of contract as well as violations of his First Amendment rights and his due process rights. And the university attempted to dismiss it, claiming there was no contract, claiming he had - you know, his tweets weren't protected. And the court rejected that, saying, "Of course there was a contract. If there wasn't, the academic hiring process as we know it would fail to - would cease to exist." And, of course, his tweets are protected by the First Amendment. They implicate every central concern. They, you know, are in the public interest. They were in a public forum. And, you know, the university acknowledges that it was the tweets, were the reason for his termination.

AMY GOODMAN: So, are you hoping to come back to the United States and teach at the University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign?

STEVEN SALAITA: Sure. That's the primary concern of the lawsuit.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what happened, for those who haven't followed your case -


AMY GOODMAN: - where you were working, and then the job offer, etc.

STEVEN SALAITA: OK, OK. I was at Virginia Tech as a tenured English professor. I was offered the job at the University of Illinois. I subsequently signed a contract at the University of Illinois, then countersigned, and everything was set up for me to move and begin my position. Within around a week of my physical move from Virginia to Illinois, I received a termination letter, out of nowhere, from the chancellor, which sort of threw my life into disarray. I all of a sudden didn't have an income and health insurance or a place to live. We had to cancel the contract on -

AMY GOODMAN: Your whole family was moving.

STEVEN SALAITA: Yeah, my whole family was moving. And so we ended up living with my parents. And then, you know, after around a year of sort of going to different places around the country and speaking about the situation, I was offered a one-year visiting professorship at the American University of Beirut. And that's where I am now.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you about the firestorm this has created in academic circles. The American Association of University Professors obviously has come out in support of you. But there was a particular professor at University of Illinois, Cary Nelson, who was a former leader of the AUP, who has - who basically has supported the university, even though he himself in the past had supported Ward Churchill after Ward Churchill was fired by the University of Colorado, has supported Norman Finkelstein when Norman has been gone after, in terms of tenure situations by other universities. Your response to Professor Nelson's stance?

STEVEN SALAITA: I think it's a fantastic example of what a blind ideological commitment to Israel will lead one into. And so, he made a choice between the preservation of academic freedom and the preservation of Israel's reputation, and he chose the latter. It's no more complicated than that.

AMY GOODMAN: Were you surprised by the level of the response in support of you being allowed to teach at the University of Illinois, both at the student level, university associations? Explain all the levels that came to your defense. And what most surprised you?

STEVEN SALAITA: What most surprised me was the revelations of how many people were working behind the scenes on the university's side to prevent this hire from happening, to prevent me from actually arriving on campus. That, to me, was most surprising. But I wasn't expecting this intensity of response. As I write in the book, you know, I expected kind of academic trade publications to be interested in it, you know, people in the fields of American Indian studies, people interested in Palestine. But it sort of took off. And I think it signals the fact that there has long been a profound frustration with the moves towards corporatization that are happening in universities, and a lot of people see this as a very explicit point around which they can rally.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Maria LaHood, the demand, ultimately, of this lawsuit and where it goes from here? And has there been a precedent for someone who has been hired, fired from a university, then going back to teach there?

MARIA LAHOOD: I mean, first of all, Professor Salaita's case is unprecedented. I mean, the fact that he was summarily dismissed because of his tweets is unprecedented. So we're dealing with a situation that hasn't happened before. But, you know, the lawsuit seeks his reinstatement. It seeks compensation for all of his losses, and punitive damages, because, you know, as we've seen with the emails coming out, the university knew exactly what it was doing. You know, Chancellor Wise, even before she sent Professor Salaita the termination letter, said, "Well, whoever sends it, I'm going to be deposed." She knew. She knew that, you know, they knew what they were doing. And I don't want to put all of the blame on her. It wasn't just her who was responsible. The board was also responsible.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, didn't the chancellor say she was carrying the water of, what, the board chair, of Mr. Kennedy?

MARIA LAHOOD: In emails, yeah, she did. She said that, you know, she supposed to put forth a united front, but that was - you know, she was doing what the board wanted. And, you know, the board has sort of skated free, and Kennedy himself got an award of courage by the Simon Wiesenthal Center for leading the charge in firing Professor Salaita. So, she's not the only one responsible at the university.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And do you think that the revelations of the emails and, of course, of the firing of the chancellor now, whether that's going to strengthen your case, if it ever comes to trial?

MARIA LAHOOD: Well, I think the fact that, you know, all of this - all of these emails have come out - and they should continue to come out. We haven't - you know, we're in the middle of discovery now, so we're expecting more documents, more records. You know, we'll have depositions. Who knows what more we'll find out? So I think, hopefully, the university is in a position where they don't want to just have resignations, but they also want to do justice and actually reinstate Professor Salaita.

AMY GOODMAN: A new report by the nonprofit Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights has documented hundreds of cases of Palestinian rights activists in the United States being harassed, disciplined, fired, sued, censored or threatened for their advocacy around Palestine. Eighty-five percent of these cases targeted students or scholars. Professor Salaita, can you talk about this and your own case?

STEVEN SALAITA: It's a stunning report, although its findings aren't necessarily surprising for those of us who have been involved in the issues of Palestine advocacy on campus. We know that there's long been forms of repression. In some cases, there's been criminalization. You know, people lose jobs. They don't get tenured. You know, Students for Justice in Palestine get their chapter shut down sometimes. So, you know, it's fantastic and groundbreaking to have a singular document that chronicles some of these incidents. And it finds nearly 300 incidents in less than two years, which is a pretty stunning number.

AMY GOODMAN: Did the chancellor resign, or was she fired, by the way?

MARIA LAHOOD: She resigned. But, you know, she resigned under a deal in which she was supposed to receive what was allegedly the remainder of her contract amount, but the board rejected that - $400,000. So, but she still gets to - you know, she'll on a paid sabbatical for a year, and she'll get to return to her $300,000 faculty position, unlike Professor Salaita.

AMY GOODMAN: And the timetable of this lawsuit? When would you expect to be back at the University of Illinois, or teaching there for the first time?

MARIA LAHOOD: We're still - you know, we're still engaged in discovery. We don't - you know, litigation is unfortunately slow.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank both of you for being with us. Professor Steven Salaita is now Edward Said chair of American studies at the American University of Beirut. Last year, his job offer from the University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign was withdrawn after he posted tweets critical of the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. His book, Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom. And thank you so much to Maria LaHood.

News Wed, 07 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Battle Over FCC's Net Neutrality Rules May Redefine Free Speech

The Federal Communications Commission's defense of its rules regulating broadband services in court has a free speech element that could have wide implications for how the Internet should function and consumers' access to online content.

The FCC not only faces a challenge to its authority to make the net neutrality rules. But both sides in the case are also citing First Amendment rights to free speech, potentially setting up a legal showdown on the issue.

David Post, a retired Temple University law professor and a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said the disagreement hinges on whether the net neutrality rules deprive Internet-service providers of First Amendment rights to "editorial discretion." But Post noted the impact would depend on whether the court chooses to address the issue directly.

The FCC put its Open Internet Order into effect in June, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected Internet service providers' request to stop them. The order prevents broadband providers from discriminating between content creators. The providers can't block lawful content, slow down delivery based on content or allow paid prioritization of content.

Broadband providers say the order violates their right to free speech. The FCC and its supporters also cited the First Amendment in their responding arguments, saying broadband providers are not engaging in free speech when they transmit information.

The appeals court is expected to hear oral arguments in the case beginning on Dec. 4.

At stake is whether service providers such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T are the gatekeepers of cyberspace controlling the flow of data or whether they have to allow equal access to all, a signature initiative for President Barack Obama. A court ruling for the broadband providers could essentially say that transmitting data is a form of free speech in which the FCC can't interfere.

"Broadband providers are First Amendment speakers because they 'engage in and transmit speech,'" according to the brief filed by communications architect Daniel Berninger and Alamo Broadband, a small, Texas-based Internet provider. Alamo is one of several companies leading the lawsuit against the FCC's net neutrality order.

"The Open Internet conduct rules strip providers of control over which speech they transmit and how they transmit it," Alamo added in its brief.

The FCC and its supporters argue ISPs "are not acting as speakers delivering their own messages, but instead serve as conduits for the speech of others."

But if the agency loses the case, it may have to scramble for a new approach to achieve its goal of ensuring ISPs don't interfere with what content reaches consumers and how quickly it reaches them. The decision could affect everything from the news articles people can read to the speed of streaming online videos.

But Post, referring to a ruling in a 1994 Turner Broadcasting case, said the FCC supporters may find it difficult to prevail in the view that broadband-service providers don't have free-speech rights.

"Turner applied a kind of 'intermediate scrutiny' to the speech-compulsion rules," he said. The court could find that while the service providers' editorial discretion gets First Amendment protection, the burdens imposed by the rules are outweighed by important interests at stake, he added.

Free Speech for Whom?

Alamo Broadband argued its rights would be trampled by the rules because they "compel the carriage of others' speech, including speech with which broadband providers disagree. The prioritization rule prohibits broadband providers from elevating their speech over others' and selling the ability to prioritize some speech over other speech."

Alamo further argues that the rules "deprive broadband providers of their editorial discretion by compelling them to transmit all lawful content, including Nazi hate speech, Islamic State videos, pornography, and political speech with which they disagree," according to the brief.

The FCC contends that ISPs are transmitting information, not creating it, and as a result the rules wouldn't impact their free speech.

"When a user directs her browser to the New York Times or Wall Street Journal editorial page, she has no reason to think that the views expressed there are those of her broadband provider," the FCC wrote in its brief.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, two civil-rights advocacy groups, submitted a joint brief taking the FCC's argument a step further, saying consumers' First Amendment interests are the ones at stake.

"Absent effective neutrality rules, ISPs can - and some undoubtedly will - act as gatekeepers to digital information, rather than neutral conduits for speech," the groups wrote. "Content providers will have their online speech throttled and censored. The Open Internet Order sets forth rules that are necessary to prevent such discrimination and protect this free marketplace."

Alamo Broadband and the United States Telecom Association are leading opposition to the rule, challenged in court soon after it was adopted earlier this year.

A Question of Authority

The case is the latest challenge to the net neutrality rules.

The Appeals Court set a roadmap for the agency in 2014 after ruling that parts of its 2010 order mandating net neutrality were invalid because the agency didn't have authority over Internet providers.

The FCC has since reclassified Internet services as telecommunications services and moved ahead with regulation under the 1934 Communications Act and the 1996 law that updated it.

That reclassification has been a major point of opposition from telecommunications companies and some ISPs.

The FCC defended the change, citing a 2005 Supreme Court ruling that said the term is best defined by the FCC itself.

The rules are "well within the statutory authority that Congress has vested in the Commission" and "reaffirm the Commission's longstanding policy of restraining gatekeeper power and the decade-old policy preserving the open Internet," it added.

Business groups including the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are lobbying to dismantle the net neutrality rules. The reclassification, they say, stands on shaky ground.

"Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 is a poor fit for regulating the most technologically advanced and dynamic information system in history: It is Depression-era legislation adopted to regulate the telephone monopoly, and was itself cribbed from a 19th Century railroad statute," the groups wrote.

They went on to use the FCC's words against it, noting a statement after the enactment of the 1996 Telecommunications Act in which the FCC said, "We recognize the unique qualities of the Internet, and do not presume that legacy regulatory frameworks are appropriately applied to it."

Congressional Divide

Lawmakers from both parties have said they support the need for ISPs to deliver Web pages at the same speed without demanding payments for faster delivery or attempting to slow down or block others.

But how the FCC is using its regulatory powers for crafting those net neutrality rules has been a point of partisan divisions in Congress.

Senate and House panels added riders to the fiscal 2016 Financial Services spending bills that would prevent the FCC from regulating Internet speeds. Republican lawmakers pushing the ban have said the FCC should not implement the net neutrality rules until the pending court case is resolved.

Democrats, meanwhile, defend the net neutrality rules. In a group brief, 30 democratic members of the House and Senate said the FCC "has done precisely what Congress intended the Commission to do" by reclassifying Internet service as a telecommunications service.

News Wed, 07 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400
US Attack on Doctors Without Borders Hospital Reveals Widespread Lack of Accountability

On Dec. 26, 2009, a U.S. Special Operations team flew from Kabul to Ghazi Khan village in the Narang district of Kunar province. They attacked three houses, where they killed two adults and eight children. Seven of the children were handcuffed before they were shot. The youngest was 11 or 12, three more were 12, and one was 15. Both the United Nations and the Afghan government conducted investigations and confirmed all the details of the attack.

U.S. officials conducted their own inquiry, but no report was published and no U.S. military or civilian officials were held accountable. Finally, more than five years later, a New York Times report on Joint Special Operations Command's (JSOC) Seal Team 6 named it as the U.S. force involved. But JSOC operations are officially secret and, to all practical purposes, immune from accountability. As a senior U.S. officer told the Times, "JSOC investigates JSOC, that's part of the problem."

Accountability for the U.S. attack on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz on Saturday, killing at least 22 people, is likely to be just as elusive. The bilateral security agreement that President Karzai refused to sign, but which President Ghani signed in September 2014, provides total immunity from Afghan law for U.S. forces and officials. So whoever should be held legally responsible for the massacre at the hospital will only be subject to accountability under U.S. military and civilian legal systems, which routinely fail to prosecute anyone for similar war crimes.

What makes this attack unique is not that U.S.-led forces attacked a hospital or killed civilians, but that, for the first time in many years, a Western NGO found itself operating behind enemy lines in territory controlled by Anti-Coalition Forces (ACF) or Taliban. Doctors Without Borders (or MSF for its French initials) thus found itself subject to U.S. rules of engagement under which Afghans have lived and died in their thousands for the past 14 years, effectively excluded from the protections formally guaranteed to civilians, the wounded and medical facilities by the Geneva Conventions.

While UN officials have condemned the attack on MSF in Kunduz, the UN itself has been complicit in the under-reporting of civilian casualties in ACF-held territory in Afghanistan. The UN has issued reports on civilian casualties based only on the small number of civilian deaths that it has fully investigated. When Western officials and media have cited these numbers as estimates of total civilian deaths in Afghanistan, the UN has failed to correct that misleading and dangerous impression.

For instance, when the UN documented 80 civilian killings in U.S. night raids in 2010, this was based on completed investigations of only 13 of the 73 incidents reported to the UN that year. Nader Nadery of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, who worked on the UN report, estimated that 420 civilians were killed in all 73 incidents.

But Nadery still failed to make it clear that these 73 incidents were only the ones reported to the UN, which had little or no access to ACF-held areas that were targeted by thousands of U.S. night raids and the bulk of 5,100 U.S. air strikes in 2010. U.S. officials and the Western media have used these absurdly low estimates of civilian casualties in Afghanistan to whitewash the deadly effects of 60,000 U.S. air strikes and thousands of special forces night raids over the past 14 years.

"War Is Not Pretty"

As a former U.S. Navy Seal told the New York Times, "War is not this pretty thing the United States has come to believe it to be." But it is not really "the United States" that has come to see war as a "pretty thing." Rather it is our leaders who have targeted the American public with propaganda or "Stratcom" – "strategic communications" - to disguise the horrific reality of war, while providing JSOC and other U.S. forces with secrecy and legal cover to systematically violate the Geneva Conventions.

As retired Admiral James Stavridis told the Times, "If you want these forces to do things that occasionally bend the rules of international law, you certainly don't want that out in public."

While U.S. forces feel free to disregard the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law, the People On War survey conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) found that ordinary people in war-torn countries like Afghanistan hold strongly to the international legal conventions that are supposed to protect them.

This ICRC report did find the United States exceptional, not in believing war to be "pretty," but in its failure to educate its people and its soldiers about the Geneva Conventions and the protections they guarantee to civilians in wartime.

While three-quarters of people in other developed countries knew that soldiers in war "must attack only other combatants and leave civilians alone," only 52 percent of Americans were aware of this basic principle of military law. Twice as many Americans as people in other countries subscribed to an erroneous and lower legal standard that military operations should only "avoid civilians as much as possible."

The ICRC concluded that, "Across a wide range of questions, in fact, American attitudes towards attacks on civilians were much more lax."

U.S. officials claim that their air strikes are carefully designed and vetted by military lawyers and planners to ensure minimum "collateral damage," but William Arkin discovered a dirty little secret about this process when he was invited to observe an attack on an alleged ACF leader in Afghanistan from the safety of the U.S. Combined Air and Space Operations Center in Qatar.

Arkin watched on a large TV screen as A-10 Warthog planes dropped two 500-pound bombs on a convoy of vehicles. U.S. officials explained that 1,000-pound bombs would have caused more casualties, while 150-pound Hellfire missiles might have missed their target, so the 500-pound bombs were carefully chosen to kill the target without causing unnecessary casualties.

But then one of the planes did something unexpected. It turned to make a second pass and blanketed the whole area with 30mm armor-piercing shells from its Gatling gun, which fires 65 shells per second. A "precision strike" had just turned into an indiscriminate massacre. A U.S. official quickly told Arkin that this was "not unauthorized."

The dirty little secret Arkin had discovered was that, once such an operation is under way, special forces ground controllers in the area take full control, and the plans drawn up by lawyers and controllers far from the action no longer apply. Similar rules may have applied to the U.S. air strikes on the MSF hospital in Kunduz, making it difficult for anyone in Washington or Kabul to stop them once they were under way.

Erroneous Raids

Senior U.S. military officers have told Dana Priest of the Washington Post that more than 50 percentof U.S. special forces night raids target the wrong person or house. But that didn't stop President Obama making them a central tactic in his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, boosting the number of night raids from 20 raids in May 2009 to 1,000 per month a year later.

There is no reason to believe that U.S. air strikes are more accurate or based on better intelligence than night raids by special operations forces. British military adviser Kamal Alam explained to the BBC last Friday that Russian air strikes in Syria are likely to be more accurate than U.S. ones because they have the critical advantage of being guided by Syrian military intelligence on the ground.

Alam noted that even the Iraqi government depends on Syrian military intelligence in its campaign against the Islamic State, and added that this is a source of embarrassment to U.S. officials, who have no such human intelligence capabilities in Syria or Iraq.

Maybe the attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz will force more Americans to confront the ugly reality of the devastating air war our country has waged across half a dozen countries for 14 years. [See's "America's Endless Air Wars."]

Whether any institution can succeed in holding U.S. officials legally accountable for the bombing of the MSF hospital or not, it may finally bring home the horrors and the indiscriminate nature of our country's endless air war to millions of Americans. U.S. propaganda will try to portray this as a tragic isolated incident. It is not. It is a war crime, and only the latest in a 14-year-long policy of systematic war crimes.

News Wed, 07 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400
A Look at Mexico's Armed Conflict Through the Lens of "Drug War Capitalism"

Mexican Army soldiers on a night patrol in Reynosa, Mexico in January 2009. (Adriana Zehbrauskas / The New York Times)Mexican Army soldiers on a night patrol in Reynosa, Mexico, in January 2009. (Photo: Adriana Zehbrauskas / The New York Times)

In a sweeping and thoroughly researched analysis, Canadian journalist Dawn Paley debunks the alleged war on drugs south of the US border. Paley exposes it is a pretext for extending US militarization to, and control of, nations to enhance transnational business opportunities and to prevent populist uprisings. It isn't a war to improve civil society and prevent drug trafficking; it is a violence-centered policy to broaden the reach of global capitalism. Get the book Drug War Capitalism now from Truthout.

Mexico ranks only behind Syria and Iraq in the sheer numbers of deaths due to armed conflict. That's according to a study released this year by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The bulk of those deaths in Mexico come in the context of the so-called drug war. The primary armed actors in Mexico's conflict are the military, police forces and organized criminals - but the lines between state forces and armed non-state actors are not always clear.

One book that tries to make sense of the apparently senseless violence is Drug War Capitalism, which uses an economic and geopolitical lens to examine the conflict, rather than relying on the stated goals of drug warrior policy makers. FSRN's Shannon Young spoke with the book's author, Dawn Paley.

SHANNON YOUNG: Start out by laying out the central thesis of your book.

DAWN PALEY: Sure. Drug War Capitalism is an investigation that looks at the drug war basically through Plan Colombia in Colombia, the Merida Initiative in Mexico and the Central America Regional Security Initiative in Honduras and Guatemala. And these are all big U.S.-backed, U.S.-funded, U.S.-promoted plans supposedly to reduce the amount of cocaine primarily arriving to the United States.

The fact is that these plans have not reduced significantly the amount of drugs making it into the United States and the thesis of the book is that their success is based on other metrics.

So, the militarization of these countries, beefing up the police forces significantly, deploying the army - which, I argue in the book - are all things that actually benefit capital and capital investment, especially in conflictive areas - I'm thinking of mining projects or big palm oil plantations, et cetera - that now, these corporations are benefiting from this huge increase in policing and militarization.

I argue in the book that that militarization often deepens the process of paramilitarization. In each country, what you've seen is that where this militarization is taking place and when the money is really flowing into those training programs and equipment for police and army, what you see is more violence coming from non-state actors. So in the case of Mexico, they're called drug cartels. In the case of Colombia, they're called paramilitary groups.

Here in Mexico, I do argue that they are a closer to a paramilitary group.

And then finally, there's this sort of hidden component to all of these different plans, from Plan Colombia to what's happening Central America, which is policy reform, legal reform basically continuing to deepen neoliberalism. And that in these different ways, through militarization, paramilitarization and policy changes, these so-called anti-drug programs have actually been very successful in terms of creating better business environments in all of the jurisdictions where they're active.

SY: So, back up a bit. You say that you argue that in Mexico, rather than simply drug cartels, they are actually paramilitaries. For people who might have a 'Wait, what?" second, can you explain a bit more about that?

DP:  Well, that's probably the most complicated argument in the book. In the case of Colombia it's a lot more clear, because there's been more time.You know like, Plan Colombia started in the year 2000. And so in Colombia you have cases, very clear cases, of big corporations and the Colombian army collaborating directly with these groups. And, in Colombia, the Colombian government resisted, but eventually they gave in and said 'Okay, yes, there are paramilitary groups.'

The key difference is the paramilitary group, as opposed to fighting the state, or fighting security forces, is usually working, at least in some ways, in tandem with them.

And here in Mexico I think, one of the paradigmatic cases is Ayotzinapa, where they said the Guerreros Unidos drug gang is supposedly the one ultimately responsible for disappearing the students. But, the students were arrested by municipal police and they were handed over by those police officers to the supposed group. And even in the government's own investigations, which have been totally faulty and lacking in so many ways, they have to admit that many of the members of the drug gang, or the drug cartel, are actually state forces or ex-state forces, et cetera.

So that collaboration between police or army and the drug cartels is what leads me to believe that they're something closer to a paramilitary group. I mean, also, in some instances, obviously drug cartels clash with different bodies of police. So they introduce the new Gendarmarie and that's clashing with an existing paramilitary group or drug cartel. But in other ways, they're working very closely, like in states like Tamaulipas  in San Fernando where they basically came out and said 'The municipal police are the drug cartel or what is very similar.'

So I think 'drug cartel' is actually misleading…there's a misleading conception that it's kind of an insurgency - a narco insurgency - when it's actually closer to a paramilitary group working in collaboration with state forces and often reinforcing state power.

SY: Bringing it back to Ayotzinapa, you've authored a new afterward to the book that's going to be coming out in the next printing. You're also translating it into Spanish. And in this afterward you argue that Ayotzinapa is a paradigm for the drug war and also marked a before and after. How so?

DP:  Well, the paradigm piece comes out of the idea that it's not an exceptional case. Ayotzinapa is a terrible tragedy. It's one of the worst tragedies, I think of the drug war that many of us that have been watching this really closely, have seen: forty-three students being disappeared and many others being wounded and killed. But it's far from being an exception.

And those of us who've been watching this have actually seen cases like Ayotzinapa happen in other places, like in Juarez, in Coahuila, and other states, where you know, mass disappearances have taken place, but there hasn't been 1) an immediate response and 2) a public - a really public, nationwide  and actually international rejection and response.

In that way, I think Ayotzinapa, instead of representing an exceptional case, is a representative case of so many of the different kinds of acts of violence that have taken place here in Mexico where the victims of the violence are not involved in drug trafficking. In fact they might be involved in other kinds of social networks or resistance to certain policies and so on, who are being targeted as the sort of receivers, as the victims of the violence. And where state forces are involved.

In terms of a before and after, it was just, I think, a watershed moment, a wake up moment for people. It came after an army massacre in Tlatlaya in the state of Mexico. And the slogan of 'It was a state' - 'Fue el estado' - became so ingrained and it's interesting because I think that's when you see the graffiti and you see signs that people are carrying at demonstrations. 'Fue el estado' is still one of the main pieces, saying it was the state. And that's a big shift in public perception of what's taking place here in Mexico, that is not the drug cartels. That it's not out of control organized crime groups. But rather that a lot of the violence that is taking place is related to the state.

The demonstrations have certainly died down, but I think for a lot of people - especially students and young people throughout the country - there's no going back after Ayotzinapa. These students are still disappeared, the state has really done nothing to meaningfully investigate. Of all the people who've been incarcerated, over a hundred people have been put in jail, there actually still hasn't been any trials, none of them have been sentenced.

So there's definitely a Mexico after, which is a Mexico where a lot of Mexicans, a significant number of Mexicans understand that what is taking place is not a war on drugs, it's a war on the people of Mexico.

News Wed, 07 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Brazil to Auction Fracking Licenses in the Amazon

Brazil is about to auction hundreds of fracking blocks across the country - extending deep into the Amazon forest including the territories of remote and vulnerable indigenous peoples. Registered bidders include BP, Shell and ExxonMobil.

The Brazilian government is to put 266 fracking blocks across 16 states up for auction today, October 7.

The areas chosen encompass Brazil's main groundwater aquifers, areas of high agricultural productivity, Amazon rainforest, and important conservation areas such as Abrolhos, Bahia, a marine nursery for humpback whales.

Companies from 17 countries - including BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, Rosneft, Petrobras, Statoil, Premier Oil, GDF Suez, Total, Anadarko, 37 in all - are registered to bid.

Some of these blocks even reach into indigenous territories within the states of Acre and Amazonas, at the Valley of Juruá, Serra do Divisor and Acre's Javari Valley in the extreme west of Brazil.

Bordering Bolivia and Peru, Acre is home to numerous indigenous peoples who migrated to the remote area after conflicts with drug traffickers, miners, loggers and oil exploration in their original territories in Brazil and neighbouring countries.

The Javari Valley encompasses the largest clusters of isolated indigenous peoples on record in the world, amounting to 77 groups. Known as the 'last frontier' for its lush and unspoiled nature, its indigenous tribes include the Nawa, Nukini, Puyanawa and Hunu Kui peoples.

Indigenous Peoples Must Be Protected From Oil Industry

The recently formed Coalizão Não Fracking Brasil (COESUS) is calling for the fracking industry to be kept firmly out of indigenous territories, whether or not formally recognised. "They maintain a relationship of harmony and respect for nature, and now fracking threatens their very existence and cultural heritage", said a spokesman.

"With fracking, the new threats faced by these communities will include the contamination of their surface and groundwater sources with toxic and carcinogenic substances, air pollution, fragmentation of forest ecosystems and impacts to terrestrial and aquatic fauna, soil infertility for agriculture and livestock, as well as direct harm to their health in the form of cancer, severe neurological and heart problems and birth malformations. Where there is fracking, earthquakes are also known to occur with increasing frequency and intensity."

COESUS members recently travelled for over ten hours on a boat in the Moa River that cuts through the Serra do Divisor National Park, held meetings in Nawa, Nukini and Puyanawa villages, and also visited the Huni Kui - Kaxinawa people.

According to COESUS, "For six days, the indigenous people were informed of fracking's real threat to their survival and their ancient culture. Now their leaders are organizing to launch a broad protest movement to the decision of the Brazilian government. They are eager to fight fracking."

However the Brazilian government is telling people that fracking is so safe that there is nobody opposing it across the world. International groups and fracktivists are preparing to show them that the global movement against fracking is alive and kicking in Brazil.

Rubber Boom Survivors - No More Exploitation!

The Nawa are one of the indigenous groups whose land has yet to be designated. Residing mostly on the right bank of the Moa river, their territory is currently in process of being identified and delimited - even though the people, comprising 306 individuals, filed their land claim in 2005.

The Puyanawa, another indigenous people of the Javari, have good reason to be suspicious of extractive industries after their terrible history of suffering in the 19th and early 20th century 'rubber boom', which saw their territories invaded by rubber barons serving the booming export industry.

Luiz Puyanawa said: "We know that these rivers that flow beneath us, those where we float in trees, if such a business happens, they will be contaminated. Let Nature be happy, so we can also be happy. If it is not a good thing, which will bring life and prosperity, if it will destroy, keep it away!"

Many Puyanawa were killed in clashes or from new diseases, then the survivors were enslaved and forced to work as rubber tappers. Dispossessed of their lands, they were also catechized and educated in schools that forbade the expression of any trace of their culture.

The Nukini, a Pano speaking people inhabiting the Juruá Valley, share the history of devastating expropriation and violence carried out by the rubber extraction enterprise. Their territory is currently part of the most important mosaic of protected areas in Brazil and the world, being adjacent to the Serra do Divisor National Park.

COESUS was founded in September 2013 by Brazil and partners including environmentalists, scientists, geologists, hydrologists, engineers, biologists and public officials. COESUS works with the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), local governments and communities informing the indigenous groups of the threat that fracking represents.

The National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI) and the Chico Mendes Institute for Conservation and Biodiversity (ICMBio) have also supported the efforts of COESUS.

News Wed, 07 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400
The "Radical" Pope Francis ]]> (Lauren Walker) Art Wed, 07 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400 Will California's Prison Policy Changes Spread to Other States?

Sholonda Jackson has been circling downtown San Francisco in search of a parking place for more than an hour, but her tone is still upbeat as she talks about the day's errand - filing out the paperwork to get the last of her three felony convictions reduced to a misdemeanor. Addicted to drugs since her mother first handed her a crack pipe when Jackson was a teenager, Jackson has been clean now for 11 years.

A devoted wife and mother who works for an organization that supports homeless veterans and volunteers in her spare time, Jackson has her bachelor's degree and plans to earn her master's. But today, her top priority is shedding the "felon" label, and everything it carries, once and for all.

Jackson's destination is the San Francisco Public Defender's Office, where she can get help with modifying her record under California's Proposition 47. Passed in November 2014, Prop. 47, as it's known, reclassifies certain low-level drug and property offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Its passage meant early release for thousands of prisoners and kept thousands more from going to prison in the first place. For those like Jackson, who have already done their time, it offers the elusive prospect of a fresh start.

Knocking Down Barriers

A felony drug conviction, no matter how old, carries with it a heavy load of post-prison punishments: Formal and informal barriers to everything from financial aid to public housing to getting a job. Advocates estimate that as many as 1 million Californians may be eligible to clear old felonies under the new law.

Jackson, who volunteers in her spare time to make sure those eligible know about Prop. 47, has already succeeded in downgrading old charges in Sacramento and Alameda County. San Francisco is her last step toward a new beginning, but not, it turns out, today. The clinic closes before Jackson can find a parking space. There is nothing to do but turn around and head back across the Bay Bridge to her job in downtown Oakland. But she will be back, Jackson promises with a full-throated laugh - on public transportation.

After a decade-plus of a crack cocaine addiction and a 13-stop tour of duty that included every California state prison for women, Jackson became clean in her early 30s. Until Prop. 47 came along, her criminal record blocked her at every turn as she struggled to secure steady employment, complete her education and build a stable home for herself and her family, she says. In California alone, those who carry a felony record face as many as 4,800 post-incarceration penalties and restrictions. Nearly three-quarters of these last a lifetime and more than half explicitly restrict employment.

Jackson was starting college when she confronted this reality. A placement counselor discouraged her from pursuing her goal of becoming a medical billing and coding specialist, telling her potential employers would likely toss her resume once they learned about her record. He suggested, instead, that she study massage therapy and go into business for herself. Jackson took the advice, made straight A's and discovered along the way that she was good at her newfound trade. When she learned it would cost $250 to apply for a license to practice, it seemed a small price to pay for the independence the counselor had promised.

Instead of a license, Jackson received a curt letter informing her that her felony conviction disqualified her from practicing the trade (the application fee was not refundable).

Prison Crowding and Prop. 47

Solving problems like Jackson's was not the main driver behind Prop. 47. When the initiative was placed on the ballot, prison overcrowding was so dire the California prison system had been placed under federal receivership and ordered to cut its population radically and quickly. The new law promised to address this crisis and balance the budget to boot. By passing a measure that wipes an array of former felonies off the books and making it retroactive, the state has done more than pull itself back from the fiscal brink. It has offered a case study in redemption for a nation in the midst of a re-examination of crime and justice issues.

California has long been a harbinger on the criminal justice front. As far back as 1976, California removed the word "rehabilitation" from its criminal code, on the grounds that "the purpose of imprisonment is punishment." In 1994, as this sentiment gained favor nationwide, California passed an influential "Three Strikes" law that imposed sentences of 25 years to life on those convicted of a third felony, no matter how minor. A decade later, 26 states and the federal government had followed suit.

Today, not just California but the nation as a whole appears to be in the midst of a major re-examination on matters of criminal justice. In a national survey conducted for the Pew Center on the States in 2012, more than 80 percent of those asked supported locking up fewer nonviolent offenders and reinvesting the savings in alternatives, another provision of Prop. 47. In a July speech to the NAACP, President Barack Obama called for prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes to be lowered or eliminated. Calling for greater investment in alternatives to prison, Obama applauded those states - including California - that had lowered incarceration rates in recent years and seen crime rates drop in the process.

"Mass incarceration makes our country worse off," the president said bluntly, "and we need to do something about it."

Replicating Prop. 47

Whether the national will exists to answer that challenge remains to be seen. But, there is no question that other states are watching the implementation of Prop. 47 closely - some with an eye on replication.

Lenore Anderson runs Californians for Safety and Justice (also known as Safe and Just) and its 501c(4) arm, Vote Safe, which served as command central for the Prop. 47 effort. Since the initiative passed last year, Anderson says, Safe and Just has fielded "a variety of inquiries" about replication.

In many states, change is already in the works. Texas - like California, a longtime frontrunner in the tough-on-crime charge - recently raised its monetary threshold for felony theft (as did Prop. 47, which makes theft under $950 a misdemeanor). Colorado modified monetary thresholds for financial crimes, such as check and credit card fraud, as well as computer crime and car theft. Utah passed a reform package in March that converts all first- and second-time drug possession offenses to misdemeanors. Other states, including New York and Missouri, are advancing reforms that reduce penalties for low-level crimes. Illinois and Michigan have shown interest as well.

The details may vary from state to state, but the big picture, says Anderson, is that efforts "to replicate the premise that you can build widespread support for sentencing reduction" are taking hold rapidly across the nation.

Those who led Prop. 47 to victory are leaving little to chance on that front. Anderson says that her organization recently received planning grants from the Ford Foundation and The Public Welfare Foundation to "incubate a multi-pronged strategy" that will offer strategic support to state-based organizations already working to reduce incarceration. The ACLU, a prominent supporter of Prop. 47, recently announced plans for an eight-year campaign aimed at reducing incarceration through the political process. That effort is underwritten by a $50 million grant from the Open Society Foundations, also a major backer of Prop. 47.

While the values that undergird Prop. 47 may be catching hold nationwide, some warn the process that brought change to California is not so easily replicated elsewhere. California has a particularly robust ballot initiative system that allows voters to impose their will directly, observes Barry Krisberg of the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at U.C. Berkeley. With a few exceptions, Krisberg adds, reformers hoping to bring the Prop. 47 ethos to other states will "have to go through the legislative process. There I become much more pessimistic, because the record of legislators on these kind of laws has not been very good…There's been a lot more rhetoric than action."

"Nobody Is Hopeless"

The California experience has made one thing clear: The kind of change that Prop. 47 represents does not simply happen on its own. In what Anderson describes as "an unprecedented level of direct, grassroots outreach," thousands of volunteers contacted more than 300,000 voters and held more than 200 voter-mobilization events in 15 key counties in advance of the 2014 election. This and other campaign efforts were fueled by millions of dollars in donations from a powerful coalition of funders that includes the Open Society Foundations, the Ford Foundation, The California Endowment, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Rosenberg Foundation and The California Wellness Foundation.

In the days and weeks that followed the election, the phones at Californians for Safety and Justice were flooded with calls from defense attorneys, advocates and others from around the state. Defendants who had been facing sentences of eight or nine years before the election were walking out of court with terms of six months or even probation. County jail populations were dropping rapidly, by 10 to 30 percent, according to some estimates.

Some of the calls, says Anderson - a seasoned organizer who does not generally veer toward the sentimental - brought her to tears, as she contemplated "not only how significant a change this really was," but also what that shift revealed about "just how wrong a path (the) justice system had been on for so long."

"These are pretty run-of-the mill, low-level crimes," Anderson notes of the offenses eligible for reclassification under Prop. 47. "We didn't do anything too crazy here, to be honest. But if (it) had this dramatic an impact, you have to ask yourself: 'How did it get so far out of whack?'"

Anderson's question begs another: If the criminal justice system has been so profoundly "out of whack" for decades, what will it take not only to rein it back in but to undo the damage to lives and communities incurred during the tough-on-crime decades?

Sholonda Jackson, who does outreach for Prop. 47 as a volunteer with Oakland Community Organizations, is contemplating related questions. A fervent supporter of Prop. 47, she is nevertheless troubled by its focus on a narrowly defined cluster of "non-serious, non-violent" offenses. If we truly believe that people can change, Jackson challenges, we need to offer the same shot at redemption to others who share her will to change, but whose crimes make them ineligible for relief under the law.

"Prop. 47 is a good start," says Jackson, "but we need to come up with something more inclusive for people who have changed their lives around, regardless of the crime. Nobody is hopeless."

Jackson's idealism is tempered by political savvy. The success of Prop. 47, she explains, depended on "the exclusion of many people who could benefit from it. You have people who have committed violent acts who have also changed their lives around but can't profit from a bill that excludes so many people."

Like Jackson, Lenore Anderson sees Prop. 47 as only the beginning of a much larger shift - one that will entail not only rolling back over-incarceration but also creating a new paradigm regarding public safety.

"The biggest opportunity we have is not just to end mass incarceration," Anderson says. "We need to replace it with community health. We need to replace it with lifting communities up. I think that we are in a moment where we can actually do that, and that becomes our platform for safety."

"We're not just going to reduce mass incarceration," Anderson adds with characteristic energy. "We're going to clean up the legacy too."

News Wed, 07 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400