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Meet the College Student Who Pulled Down a Confederate Statue in Durham and Defied White Supremacy

A crowd of activists toppled a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, on Monday, just two days after the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. As the crowd shouted “We are the revolution,” a college student named Takiyah Thompson climbed up a ladder, looped a rope around the top of the Confederate Soldiers Monument in front of the old Durham County Courthouse and then pulled the statue to the ground. She was arrested the following day on two charges of felony inciting a riot and three misdemeanor charges, including defacing a statue. Thompson was released last night on a $10,000 unsecured bond. We speak with Thompson about her actions before her scheduled court hearing this morning.

Please check back later for full transcript.

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The Role of Nurses Is Critical in the Fight for Health Care

The republicans may have lost the battle to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but their war on our access to medical care will certainly continue. Donald Trump and Paul Ryan are determined to dismantle the social safety net, and health care funding is their central focus.

Trump openly states that he wants the ACA to collapse, and there are some key aspects of “Obamacare” that need to be defended, such as the expansion of coverage via Medicaid and children up to age 26 and the ban on denying insurance based on pre-existing medical conditions.

But the reality is that the ACA is a completely inadequate solution to our broken health care system. It mandates severe cuts to Medicare and funding to hospitals for the uninsured, and it shovels money to insurance companies while still leaving 28 million people without health insurance. Now many insurance companies have pulled out of the ACA, making even a “high cost/bad coverage” insurance plan more difficult to get.

In response to the bleak debate between the Democrats’ shoddy ACA and the Republicans’ proposals for even worse, there has been growing support for a government-run “Medicare for all” system that makes health care a basic right and not a matter of profit.

This is an important development that has received a lot of media attention. But what’s received less attention is the growing organization and militancy of the heath care workers — particuarly nurses — whose unions have the power to both win better care for their patients on a local level and be the driving force for a national health care reform movement.

Health care workers are the ones who titrate medication drips, clean bowel movements and comfort families, and who shoulder the emotional, physical and psychological work that makes hospitals run, yet they are …read more

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Department of Justice's Demand for Information on Dissenters Goes to Court

(Photo: OlafSpeier / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

(Photo: OlafSpeier / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

The Justice Department will attempt on Friday to defend a warrant requiring an internet host to turn over 1.3 million IP addresses of visitors to a website critical of the Trump administration.

Dreamhost, the subject of the DOJ order, called it a “clear abuse of government authority.” The company has been fighting the warrant for months leading up to Friday’s court date on the matter.

Federal prosecutors are seeking the IP addresses of anyone who visited disruptj20.org, a website hosted by Dreamhost, as well as the website’s database records, and the personal information of administrators and thousands of individuals who interacted with the site.

Disrupt J20 organized one of the many Inauguration Day protests against the incoming Trump administration. Law enforcement officials believe the group was involved in one particular action that allegedly led to the injury of six police officers and $100,000 in property damage in downtown Washington, DC.

After initially receiving the DOJ’s data request, Dreamhost requested the department narrow the scope of its warrant. US officials, instead, filed a motion in DC Superior Court forcing Dreamhost to comply with the warrant. Last week, the company responded by filing it’s own legal arguments against the sweeping DOJ order.

In a blog post on its website, Dreamhost argued that the information the government is seeking “could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment.”

“That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind,” the company added.

The digital rights group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been providing “professional support” to the web host in its legal battle against the DOJ.

“No plausible explanation exists for a search warrant …read more

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A Call for Self-Defense in the Face of White Supremacy

 Battle lines form between white nationalists and neo-Nazis and anti-fascist and anti-racist counter-protesters at the entrance to Emancipation Park during the 'Unite the Right' rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.  (Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Self-defense against the forces of white supremacy has always been necessary, but liberalism has incorrectly maligned most acts of self-defense as violence. Being more moral than the far right is no defense against bullets. In these terrifyingly violent times, it’s worth challenging liberal views on self-defense as part of a broader rejection of this capitalist white supremacist empire.

Battle lines form between white nationalists and neo-Nazis and anti-fascist and anti-racist counter-protesters at the entrance to Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

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“Of the many inhuman outrages of this present year, the only case where the proposed lynching did not occur, was where the men armed themselves in Jacksonville, Fla., and Paducah, Ky., and prevented it. The only times an Afro-American who was assaulted got away has been when he had a gun and used it in self-defense.” — Ida B. Wells

“The stranglehold of oppression cannot be loosened by a plea to the oppressor’s conscience.” — Robert F. Williams

In order to self-defend, groups targeted for violence by white supremacists have to first acknowledge in ourselves that we are worthy of defending. Those of us who experience the daily damages of white supremacy and desire its end deserve a world without it.

Our beings and our bodies are not empty things intended to labor in service to a nation that refuses to protect us. A rejection of liberal mythology — the untruth that those who have fallen victim to the atrocities of this nation’s past and present were simply necessary fodder — is an act of preservation and protection for …read more

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Neo-Nazi Emboldenment and the Rise of Illiberal Democracy

Police with binoculars and a rifle position themselves on a roof across the street from the Charlottesville City Hall before Jason Kessler, an organizer of 'Unite the Right' rally, tried to speak outside the Charlottesville City Hall on August 13, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The police often stood by as white supremacists escalated violence against anti-racist counter-protesters. (Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Police with binoculars and a rifle position themselves on a roof across the street from the Charlottesville City Hall before Jason Kessler, a white nationalist organizer, tried to speak outside the Charlottesville City Hall on August 13, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia. The police often stood by as white supremacists escalated violence against anti-racist counter-protesters. (Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images)

If the neo-Nazis feel especially emboldened to come out of the shadows now, it’s because elements of their neo-fascist ideology have found a comfortable place at the highest levels of the current administration, including with Trump himself. Such normalization of hate and bigotry is usually the first step to authoritarianism.

Police with binoculars and a rifle position themselves on a roof across the street from the Charlottesville City Hall before Jason Kessler, an organizer of 'Unite the Right' rally, tried to speak outside the Charlottesville City Hall on August 13, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The police often stood by as white supremacists escalated violence against anti-racist counter-protesters. (Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images)Police with binoculars and a rifle position themselves on a roof across the street from the Charlottesville City Hall before Jason Kessler, a white nationalist organizer, tried to speak outside the Charlottesville City Hall on August 13, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia. The police often stood by as white supremacists escalated violence against anti-racist counter-protesters. (Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images)

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The recent “Unite the Right” march by a couple of hundred white supremacists, …read more

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Antifa: A Look at the Antifascist Movement Confronting White Supremacists in the Streets

President Trump is facing widespread criticism for his latest comments on the deadly white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia. Speaking at Trump Tower on Tuesday, Trump said the violence was in part caused by what he called the “alt-left.” President Trump’s comment were widely decried. Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney wrote on Twitter, “No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.” We look at one of the groups who confronted the white supremacists in the streets: the antifascists known as antifa. We speak to Mark Bray, author of the new book, Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.

Please check back later for full transcript.

…read more

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When All the World's a War — And All the Men and Women Merely Soldiers

When we declare war on phenomena like crime, drugs, or terror, instantly militarizing such problems, we severely limit our means for understanding and dealing with them.

When we declare war on phenomena like crime, drugs, or terror, instantly militarizing such problems, we severely limit our means for understanding and dealing with them. (Photo: Pixabay)

Since September 11, 2001, the United States has been fighting a “war on terror.” Real soldiers have been deployed to distant lands; real cluster bombs and white phosphorus have been used; real cruise missiles have been launched; the first MOAB, the largest non-nuclear bomb in the US arsenal, has been dropped; and real cities have been reduced to rubble. In revenge for the deaths of 2,977 civilians that day, real people — in the millions — have died and millions more have become refugees. But is the war on terror actually a war at all — or is it only a metaphor?

In a real war, nations or organized non-state actors square off against each other. A metaphorical war is like a real war — after all, that’s what a metaphor is, a way of saying that one thing is like something else — but the enemy isn’t a country or even a single group of Islamic jihadists. It’s some other kind of threat: a disease, a social problem, or in the case of the war on terror, an emotion.

In truth, it may not matter if the war on terror is a real one, since metaphorical wars have a striking way of killing real people in real numbers, too. Take the US war on drugs, for example. In Mexico, that war, fueled by US weapons, using US drones, and conducted with the assistance of the Pentagon and the CIA, has already led to the deaths of many thousands of people. A …read more

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White Supremacy in the Age of Trump

Since before the election, poor white voters largely have been blamed for the rise of Donald Trump. Although their complicity in his election is clear and well established, they’re continually targeted as if their actions are the primary reason Trump won. But in fact, higher-earning, college-educated whites supported him at even greater rates.

It’s quite easy to brand the working class as the most rabidly xenophobic and racist group of whites. Whether they’re brandishing Confederate flags or vociferously vowing to “Make America Great Again,” their beliefs about white supremacy are completely exposed for the world to witness. It’s much harder to see how those atop the economic pyramid not only greatly benefit from white supremacy but actually use racism to their advantage — generally from behind the scenes.

In short, when we hold the working class responsible for white supremacy, other whites are absolved of racial wrongdoing. By allowing the spread of civic ignorance, by propagating historical lies and political untruths, and by engendering an insidious form of racism, upper class whites are undoubtedly just as culpable — if not more so — than working class whites in the quest to maintain white supremacy.

To see more stories like this, visit Moyers & Company at Truthout.

Certainly, there is no apology for the racism of working-class whites, nor any excuse; but we should seek to understand the ways in which white supremacy and power are completely intertwined. Throughout American history, the economic elite have used vile forms of racism to perpetuate the current hierarchy — politically, socially and economically. White supremacy is most commonly conceptualized as a way for lower-class whites to feel socially superior to people from other ethnic backgrounds. More important, though, white supremacy is a tried-and-tested means for upper class whites to grow their wealth and …read more

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Debt That Lasts Forever: The Finance Industry Gambles With Human Lives

If you're perceived as a risk, the market sets you up to fail.

What are the stakes in allowing an economic system that banks on money which doesn’t exist and exploits debt? And what can we do about the relations of power within that economy? Ivan Ascher, author of Portfolio Society, and Pam Brown, co-founder of Strike Debt, talk to Laura Flanders.

If you’re perceived as a risk, the market sets you up to fail. (Image: Nikada / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

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Production or prediction? Healthy risk taking or dangerous betting? What are the implications of a society based along the lines of Wall Street?

When Karl Marx looked out at what produced profit in his day, he saw grinding factories producing things. Today, what dominates is Wall Street — finance — and not just investing and trading, but betting, on crops and countries and commodities, and also, in a sense, on each other.

We call all that ranking of risks and comparing of credit “playing the market,” but it’s not really playing when you’re gambling with people’s core needs, like housing and pensions and education. Many have known this for generations, and others discovered in 2008 when the market crashed, taking their savings and their mortgages with it.

Author Ivan Ascher has written about all this in his new book, Portfolio Society: On the Capitalist Mode of Prediction. I sat down for a talk with him and Strike Debt activist (and WBAI Morning Show host) Pam Brown.

“Finance is a risk that not everybody bears in the same way. Certain people are taking risks and other people are at risk,” says …read more

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