Why I’m Betting on Millennials This November 6th

In my thirty-five years of teaching college students, I’ve not encountered a generation as dedicated to making the nation better as this one

The issues up for grabs aren’t ideological abstractions for them. They’re causes in which Millennials have direct personal stakes.(Photo: Light Brigading/flickr/cc)

The issues up for grabs aren’t ideological abstractions for them. They’re causes in which Millennials have direct personal stakes.(Photo: Light Brigading/flickr/cc)

 

Millennials (and their younger siblings, generation Z’s) are the largest, most diverse and progressive group of potential voters in American history, comprising fully 30 percent of the voting age population.

On November 6th, they’ll have the power to alter the course of American politics – flipping Congress, changing the leadership of states and cities, making lawmakers act and look more like the people who are literally the nation’s future.

But will they vote?

In the last midterm election, in 2014, only 16 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 29 bothered.

In midterms over the last two decades, turnout by young people has averaged about 38 points below the turnout rate of people 60 and older. Which has given older voters a huge say over where the nation is likely to be by the time those younger people reach middle age and the older voters have passed on.

I’m not criticizing younger non-voters. They have a lot on their minds – starting jobs, careers, families. Voting isn’t likely to be high on their list of priorities.

Also, unlike their grand parents – boomers who were involved in civil rights, voting rights, women’s rights, the anti-Vietnam War movement – most young people today don’t remember a time when political action changed America for the better.

They’re more likely to remember political failures and scandals – George W. Bush lying about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction; Bill Clinton lying about Monica; both parties bailing out Wall Street without so much as a single executive going to jail.

Most don’t even recall when American democracy worked well. They don’t recall the Cold War, when democracy as an ideal worth fighting for. The Berlin Wall came down before they were born.

Instead, during their lives they’ve watched big money take over Washington and state capitals. Which may explain why only about 30 percent of Americans born in the 1980s think it “essential” to live in a democracy.

Many young people have wondered if their votes count anyway, because so many of them live in congressional districts and states that are predictably red or blue.

Given all this, is there any reason to hope that this huge, diverse, progressive cohort of Americans will vote in the upcoming midterms?

My answer is, yes.

First, the issues up for grabs aren’t ideological abstractions for them. They’re causes in which Millennials have direct personal stakes.

Take, for example, gun violence – which some of these young people have experienced first-hand and have taken active roles trying to stop.

Or immigrant’s rights. Over 20 percent of Millennials are Latino, and a growing percent are from families that emigrated from Asia. Many have directly experienced the consequences of Trump’s policies.

A woman’s right to choose whether to have a baby, and gay’s or lesbian’s rights to choose marriage – issues Millennials are also deeply committed to – will be front and center if the Supreme Court puts them back into the hands of Congress and state legislatures.

Millennials are also concerned about student debt, access to college, and opportunities to get ahead unimpeded by racial bigotry or sexual harassment.

And they’re worried about the environment. They know climate change will hit them hardest since they’ll be on the planet longer than older voters.

They’ve also learned that their votes count. They saw Hillary lose by a relative handful of votes in places like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

They’ve been witnessing razor-thin special elections, such as Conor Lamb’s win by a few hundred votes in the heart of Pennsylvania Trump country, and Hiral Tipirneni’s single-digit loss in an Arizona district Trump won by 21 points in 2016.

They know the importance of taking back governorships in what are expected to be nail-bitingly close races – in states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Kansas. They’re aware of the slim but increasingly real possibility of taking back the Senate. (Who knew Ted Cruz would be so vulnerable? Who even knew the name Beto O’Rourke?)

As doubtful as they these young people are about politics, or the differences between the two parties, they also know that Trump and his Republican enablers want to take the nation backwards to an old, white, privileged, isolated America. Most of them don’t.

In my thirty-five years of teaching college students, I’ve not encountered a generation as dedicated to making the nation better as this one.

So my betting is on them, this November 6th.

Pussy Riot Activist May Have Been Poisoned, German Doctors Say

Pyotr Verzilov received medical treatment after arriving in Berlin on Saturday. German doctors said on Tuesday it was “highly plausible” that he had been poisoned.CreditCreditCinema for Peace Foundation, via Associated Press

BERLIN — German doctors treating a Pussy Riot activist who lost his sight, speech and mobility after spending time in a court in Moscow said on Tuesday that it was “highly plausible” that he had been poisoned, as their tests had found no evidence that he was suffering from a long-term illness.

The activist, Pyotr Verzilov, 30, was treated for several days in the toxicology wards of two hospitals in Moscow after falling ill. On Saturday, he was flown to Berlin and admitted to the Charité hospital. His doctors in the German capital told reporters at a news conference that he was in an intensive care unit but was not in life-threatening condition.

“We are working on the assumption of a poisoning that has lasted about a week,” Dr. Kai-Uwe Eckardt, director of the hospital’s medical center, said. “Test results indicate certain active ingredients, but the exact substance has not yet been determined.”

Allegations of the poisoning of a former Russian spy, Sergei V. Skripal, in Britain in March have injected fresh fears of Cold War-era tactics coming from the Kremlin as a way to silence critics. London accuses Moscow of using a highly sophisticated nerve agent in a botched attempt to assassinate Mr. Skripal, also poisoning his daughter and three others, including one who died.

The doctors in Berlin said they had been unable to identify the specific toxin that appeared to be making Mr. Verzilov ill. But they said his symptoms indicated that the active agent appeared to belong to a class of substances that are widely used, including in drops to dilate pupils during eye examinations.

Doctors at the Charité have ordered a lab toxicology report, but said they had little hope of determining the exact substance because of the time elapsed since it was ingested. Also, Mr. Verzilov’s Russian doctors pumped his stomach and cleaned his blood by dialysis, making the original agent more difficult to trace, they said.

Last Tuesday, Mr. Verzilov, who is a dual Canadian and Russian citizen, spent roughly five hours in a Moscow court building. He had been awaiting the release of Veronika Nikulshina, who is also a member of Pussy Riot, according to a chronology presented by his family.

Immediately after returning home, he began to lose his vision and coordination, said Ms. Nikulshina, his partner, speaking in an interview from Berlin.

At the time, however, Mr. Verzilov chalked it up to extreme fatigue and lay down to rest, she said. When he awoke, they noticed that he had started to slur his speech and she saw his pupils were extremely dilated, leading her to call an ambulance.

Dr. Karl Max Einhäupl, the head of the Charité, said that the doctors who had cared for him in Moscow had “done a good job” and been “very cooperative” in sharing information with their colleagues in Berlin.

Mr. Verzilov’s mother, Elena Verzolova, and Ms. Nikulshina said they believed he might have been deliberately poisoned by the Russian security authorities. They decided to take him out of Russia, and accompanied him to Berlin.

“I think he will be more safe here,” Ms. Verzolova said, adding that she felt reassured to have a second opinion on his condition.

“It would be really dangerous for him to go back, because probably it was assassination attempt — if not it was intimidation — because probably he knew something that he wasn’t supposed to know,” said Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the original Pussy Riot activists, who used to be married to Mr. Verzilov and met the family in Berlin.

Pussy Riot, widely known as a punk band unsparing in its criticism of President Vladimir V. Putin and the Russian government, gained notoriety in 2012 when three of its members were sentenced to two years in prison on charges of hooliganism, leading to worldwide protests.

Mr. Verzilov and Ms. Nikulshina were two of the four activists who interrupted the soccer World Cup final on July 15 that was attended by Mr. Putin. They were sentenced to 15 days in jail each.

Two weeks ago, Ms. Nikulshina was once again arrested at a traffic stop and was detained by the police for two nights, she said. On the day he fell ill, Mr. Verzilov and other friends had spent the afternoon in and around the courthouse, waiting for her release.

Ms. Tolokonnikova said she believed that her former husband was targeted. “They definitely knew that he would be around,” she said.

Although both women underline that their theories are mere conjecture, they say they’ve grown weary of heavy-handed state tactics by the police.

“Cops casually come to our apartment, they knock at the door, they ask our neighbors about us; they are influencing our lives and not in a pleasant way,” Ms. Tolokonnikova said.

Mr. Verzilov’s medical team in Berlin said they expected him to make a full recovery, but they were unable to predict how long it would take. Although his friends and family fear for his safety in Russia, they do not expect him to stay in Berlin after he leaves the hospital.

“Something tells me once he will be able to buy a ticket back to Russia, he will do it,” Ms. Tolokonnikova said. “It’s a point of honor to stay in Russia and try to make things better.”

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: Pussy Riot Activist May Have Been Poisoned in Moscow, German Doctors Say. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Endorsements from Gayle McLaughlin, Former Two-Term (Corporate-Free) Mayor, City of Richmond

It is with great pleasure that I endorse the below corporate-free candidates for various offices throughout Northern California. Please check out their websites and volunteer and donate generously to their campaigns!

STATE ASSEMBLY

Jovanka Beckles AD 15 https://www.jovanka.org/
MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL
TEAM RICHMOND (these are the Richmond Progressive Alliance candidates for mayor and city council running as a slate):
Melvin Willis for Richmond Mayor
Eduardo Martinez & Ada Recinos for Richmond City Council
Oakland Mayor:  Cat Brooks   https://www.catbrooksforoakland.com/
San Leandro Mayor: Jeromey Shafer http://www.jeromeyshafer.com/
St. Helena Mayor: Geoff Ellsworth http://ellsworth4mayor.com/
Concord City Council: Kenji Yamada https://kenjiforconcord.wordpress.com/
Cupertino City Council: Tara Sreekrishnan https://www.tara4cupertino.com/
American Canyon City Council: Jason Kishineff https://www.kishineff.com/
Napa City Council: James Hinton http://votehinton.com/
Santa Cruz City Council: Drew Glover https://www.drewgloverforcitycouncil.com/
Santa Cruz City Council: Justin Cummings https://cummingsforcouncil.com/
Fort Bragg City Council: Mary Rose Kaczorowski https://mrk4citycouncil.wordpress.com/
SCHOOL BOARD
Vallejo Unified School District:  Ruscal Cayangyang
West Contra Costa Unified School District:  Carlos Taboadahttps://www.carlostaboadaforschoolboard2018.com/
COLLEGE TRUSTEE BOARD
Napa Valley College Trustee, Area 2: Amy Martenson
SERVICES DISTRICT BOARD
Humboldt County Services District Board:
Desiree Davenport https://desireeforhcsd.nationbuilder.com/

Thank you to each and every one of these candidates for stepping up to the plate and running as corporate-free candidates!!

In solidarity,
Gayle McLaughlin
Former Two-Term (Corporate-Free) Mayor, City of Richmond

2 more actions for Monday (from Adrienne Fong)

Sending this to a few of you – 2 more actions for Monday.

Monday, September 24

Monday, 8:30am – 11:30am, Rally for Silvia & Fam!

Superior Court of California (outside)
400 McAllister St.
SF

Silvia. is a young woman from Guatemala and a college student at San Francisco State University. For the past three years, she has lived an apartment in the Baysview-Hunters Point neighborhood with her three siblings and two young nephews, ages 6 months and 2 years. On this coming Tuesday, Sept. 25, this  family could be evicted and put out on the streets.

The owner of Silvia’s home is Trent Zhu, a corporate landlord with a shady, checkered past. Earlier this year, Mr. Zhu and his wife were fined $2 million by the city of San Francisco for renting out substandard housing to veterans.

A week ago, Silvia and her family found a notice of eviction tacked to their front door for nonpayment of rent. The family are actually subletters who have always paid their rent on time, and in full, to the master tenant.

It was discovered today that this master tenant is actually working as an employee of Mr. Zhu! He has taken almost $10,000 of the family’s hard-earned money: a security deposit and two months’ rent. Of course, because Silvia is a subletter, her rights as a tenant are severely limited.

“I’m fighting for my family, yes, but I’m also fighting for justice,” says Silvia. “We are human beings, and we have our rights. No one deserves to be treated this way, no matter their race. There are so many others who are being treated like this.”

On Monday morning, we will rally around Silvia and demand that the city investigate the shady practices of this corporate landlord. How many other vulnerable tenants has Mr. Zhu exploited in this way? After the rally, we will accompany Silvia to court as she continues to fight her eviction. 

Host: Faith in Action Bay Area

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1928602337446938/

Monday, 11:00am – 12Noon, Speak Out In Defense of Comfort Women Memorial in SF and Against Threats by Osaka Mayor 

Japanese Consulate
275 Battery St. (nr. California St.)
SF

Press Conference To Speak Out In Defense of Comfort Women Memorial In San Francisco and Against Threats To Terminate Sister To Sister Relationship Between Osaka and San Francisco

This is the one year anniversary of the commemoration of the historic Comfort Women Memorial in San Francisco which is located at 651 California St. San Francisco

A delegation from Osaka, Japan is in San Francisco for this one year anniversary of the Comfort Women Memorial. They will be speaking at a press conference at the Japanese Consulate to call on the Abe administration, the Mayor of Osaka and the denialists in Japan and Osaka to end their effort to stop memorials from being constructed around the world. They will also call for a halt to the Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura’s threat to terminate the sister to sister relationship with San Francisco which has been threatened in a letter to Mayor London Breed. According to this delegation the people of Osaka do not support this action and they want to let the people of San Francisco and the world know that this is not an action that represents the people of Osaka.

San Francisco has a long history in support of the civil and human rights of people in the US and around the world. We will call on the Japanese government and the Mayor of Osaka to end their effort to cover-up the history of the Japanese Imperial Army during the second world war of the ‘comfort women’ who were used as sexual slaves by the Japanese military. We also urge people throughout the world to also build memorials that commemorate these women who were enslaved and as a lesson of this history for the future.

Today when there is a growing danger of war in Asia and around the world, we oppose such militarization both in Japan, the United States and every country in the world.

The press conference will be in Japanese and English and a statement will be delivered to the Consulate officials.

Sponsored by the Comfort Women Justice Coalition
https://remembercomfortwomen.org

Info: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/09/22/18817723.php

Capitalism and Market Systems

Article Summary

The market is a system of distribution, and prices are set by supply and demand. Capitalism is a system of production, and prices are set by what the market will bear. However, the distribution of profits in a capitalist production system is not democratic and inevitably results in extreme wealth concentration . The significance of separate systems is one can be changed without affecting the other. The system of production could be changed from capitalist to socialist such as worker owned co-ops which are democratic.

Capitalism Is Not the “Market System”

posted by Richard Wolff | 8369pt
September 06, 2018

This article was originally published at Truthout.org

With the Democratic Socialists of America now counting 48,000 people within its membership and socialist candidates such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pushing for free universities and Medicare for All, Americans are once again discussing capitalism versus socialism. Fortunately, they are not doing so in the old Cold War manner of uncritically celebrating one while demonizing the other. Rather, it’s a debate over the choice Americans must make now between keeping capitalism or changing the system to some form of socialism. As debates often do, this debate awakens us to problems and differences in how we understand its basic terms. For clarity and to make progress in this important debate, we need to stop conflating “capitalism” with the market. This is done far too often and on all sides of the debate.

Markets are a means of distributing resources and products, goods and services. Quid pro quo exchange defines markets: one person offers to sell to another who offers to buy at a mutually agreed ratio that may or may not be mediated by money. To say that a market exists means that such an exchange system is what accomplishes distribution. To say that a market exists says nothing about how production is accomplished or how resources are converted into products. Capitalism, on the other hand, is a description of how the production of goods and services is organized, and how the participants relate to one another in the process of production. Thus conflating “capitalism” with “the market system” loses sight of the fact that markets can exist in relation to different systems of production.

We can get at this in other words. Markets were mechanisms of distribution in societies with very different production systems. For example, in economies based on the enslavement of people, resulting in a production system involving masters and slaves, “inputs” and “outputs” — including enslaved people — were often bought and sold in markets. We might then speak of slave markets: when a slave production system coexisted with a market distribution system.

If productive enterprises remain structured around the employer-employee relationship, they remain capitalist with or without a coexisting market system.

To take another example, feudal manors were production systems that juxtaposed lords and serfs. Since serfs were not slaves, no market in serfs existed. They were distributed via other, non-market systems. However, their non-human inputs and outputs could be distributed via markets, and in European feudalism often were distributed via market exchanges. Capitalist production systems – organized around the employer-employee (rather than the master-slave or lord-serf) relationship – could likewise coexist with market systems of distribution. Under capitalism, non-human inputs, labor power (the capacity to do labor), and outputs are all often distributed via market exchanges.

Thus it is confused to refer to capitalism as a “market system.” Market distribution systems vary in their specific qualities according to the different production systems and systems of exploitation with which they co-exist. Capitalist markets differ from slave markets, and both differ from feudal markets, but they are all markets. Moreover, markets usually coexist and interact with state apparatuses. Those interactions are marked with greater or lesser degrees of state interventions: from rigid regulation of exchanges all the way over to “free” trade or markets where regulation is minimized or absent. The state apparatus can also abolish the market system and replace it with an alternative system of distribution.

In that event, however, capitalism is not abolished because the market has been abolished. If productive enterprises remain structured around the employer-employee relationship, they remain capitalist with or without a coexisting market system. For the state to replace markets with some administrative (e.g., planned) system of distribution says nothing about the production system. The resources and products of a capitalist system of production can be distributed via more or less state-regulated markets or via non-market distribution systems. The same applies to the resources and products of slave and feudal production systems.

Why does it matter to differentiate markets and other distribution systems from production systems? The answer emerges from the recognition that most economic systems combine one or more production systems with one or more distribution systems. For a long time, the observers of such combinations – both celebrants and critics – have tended to conflate the two systems combined, as if they were one. Indeed, defining capitalism as “the market” or the “free market” system is precisely such a conflation.

Karl Marx went to considerable lengths to differentiate critiques of market exchange from his critique of capitalist production. He believed that major social problems of his time – inequality, cyclical instability, etc. – emerged from the capitalist production system as much or more than from the market system. He was a critic of both, but he kept the criticisms separate for basic reasons of analytical clarity and revolutionary strategy.

From capitalism’s beginnings, reformers have sought to soften its hard edges often by means of state interventions in markets. Minimum wages, maximum interest rates, progressive taxation, and so on are among their chosen mechanisms. More generally, reformers responded to capitalism’s profit-driven distribution of wealth by having the state redistribute that wealth according to non-capitalist (non-profit) criteria.

A more extreme criticism of markets displaced them in favor of other mechanisms of distributing resources and products such as centralized or decentralized state institutions charged with distribution, private institutions similarly charged, etc. However, if and when the production system continued to juxtapose employers and employees, all the different distribution systems discussed above – “free” market, regulated market, and non-market – coexist and interact with a capitalist production system.

To the extent that capitalism’s problems – inequality, instability (cycles/crises), etc. – stem in part from its production relationships, reforms focused exclusively on regulating or supplanting markets will not succeed in solving them. For example, Keynesian monetary policies (focused on raising or lowering the quantity of money in circulation and, correspondingly, interest rates) do not touch the employer-employee relationship, however much their variations redistribute wealth, regulate markets, or displace markets in favor of state-administered investment decisions. Likewise, Keynesian fiscal policies (raising or lowering taxes and government spending) do not address the employer-employee relationship.

Keynesian policies also never ended the cyclical instability of capitalism. The New Deal and European social democracy left capitalism in place in both state and private units (enterprises) of production notwithstanding their massive reform agendas and programs. They thereby left capitalist employers facing the incentives and receiving the resources (profits) to evade, weaken and eventually dissolve most of those programs.

It is far better not to distribute wealth unequally in the first place than to re-distribute it after to undo the inequality. For example, FDR proposed in 1944 that the government establish a maximum income alongside a minimum wage; that is one among the various ways inequality could be limited and thereby redistribution avoided. Efforts to redistribute encounter evasions, oppositions, and failures that compound the effects of unequal distribution itself. Social peace and cohesion are the victims of redistribution sooner or later. Reforming markets while leaving the relations/organization of capitalist production unchanged is like redistribution. Just as redistribution schemes fail to solve the problems rooted in distribution, market-focused reforms fail to solve the problems rooted in production.

Since 2008, capitalism has showed us all yet again its deep and unsolved problems of cyclical instability, deepening inequality and the injustices they both entail. Their persistence mirrors that of the capitalist organization of production. To successfully confront and solve the problems of economic cycles, income and wealth inequality, and so on, we need to go beyond the capitalist employer-employee system of production. The democratization of enterprises – transitioning from employer-employee hierarchies to worker cooperatives – is a key way available here and now to realize the change we need.

Worker coops democratically decide the distribution of income (wages, bonuses, benefits, profit shares, etc.) among their members. No small group of owners and the boards of directors they choose would, as in capitalist corporations, make such decisions. Thus, for example, it would be far less likely that a few individuals in a worker coop would earn millions while most others could not afford to send children to college. A democratic worker coop decision on the distribution of enterprise income would be far less unequal than what typifies capitalist enterprises. A socialism for the 21st century could and should include the transition from a capitalist to a worker-coop-based economic system as central to its commitments to less inequality and less social conflict over redistribution.

 

About Richard D. Wolff

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008.

Economic Update

Professor Wolff’s weekly show, Economic Update with Richard D. Wolff, is syndicated on over 70 radio stations nationwide and available for broadcast on Free Speech TV.

Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs leaders vow to oppose new state charitable feeding law

Freedom Sleepers enjoyed a hot meal from Food Not Bombs volunteers during past weekly protests at Santa Cruz City Hall. Groups such as Food Not Bombs will need to register to share free meals in the future, under a new state law. (Dan Coyro -- Santa Cruz Sentinel file)
Freedom Sleepers enjoyed a hot meal from Food Not Bombs volunteers during past weekly protests at Santa Cruz City Hall. Groups such as Food Not Bombs will need to register to share free meals in the future, under a new state law. (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel file) 
Food Not Bombs volunteer Shannon Golry serves up hot food outside of the post office in Downtown Santa Cruz during the organization’s 35th anniversary celebration in 2015. (Kevin Johnson -- Santa Cruz Sentinel file)
Food Not Bombs volunteer Shannon Golry serves up hot food outside of the post office in Downtown Santa Cruz during the organization’s 35th anniversary celebration in 2015. (Kevin Johnson — Santa Cruz Sentinel file) 

SANTA CRUZ >> Unpermitted charity food efforts statewide will soon be required to register with and be overseen by local law enforcement agencies, per a bill signed into law this week.

Affected groups such as vegan meal-serving Food Not Bombs and its approximately 50 chapters across California, including a branch in Santa Cruz, have taken issue with Assemblywoman Monique Limón’s Assembly Bill 2178, legislation that supporters say is designed to increase health safety protections and provide a clearer regulatory process.

In Santa Cruz and beyond, groups such as Food Not Bombs have faced public criticism for their efforts. In March 2017, the U.S. Postal Service erected a chain link fence around its downtown Santa Cruz post office to limit the property’s use by homeless people. Food Not Bombs has been serving its twice-weekly meals adjacent to the post office since 2011. Community member Janet Fardette, leader of the former river levee cleanup group the Leveelies, gathered signatures in an online petition aimed at shuttering the outdoor food distribution. Police Chief Andy Mills dubbed the post office “a homeless camp and ground zero for the Hepatitis A outbreak” in an October Sentinel op-ed.

Organizers responded in October, refuting accusations that they were unsafely handling food or drawing rats to downtown.

Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs leader Keith McHenry, who also was an cofounder of the now-global Food Not Bombs movement, has pledged to continue its effort and not seek the required permit, once the law goes into effect Jan. 1. The organization’s policy not to seek or accept permits dates back to 1992, because “sharing free food is always an unregulated gift of compassion.” A gathering for the disparate Food Not Bombs groups is scheduled for Nov. 10-12 in Oakland, when the new law will be among items discussed.

“I would doubt that after our next meeting we’re going to reverse the policy, unless some crazy fluke happened,” McHenry said of the policy not to seek permits. “Now, all these chapters across the state are going to have these fights.”

SETTING RULES

The so-called limited service charitable feeding operation bill expands the existing California Retail Food Code food facilities laws — traditionally applying only to commercial ventures — to include charitable food-serving groups. The charitable groups will need to limit meals served to those prepared in a commercial kitchen or to food considered non-hazardous and pre-packaged or raw foods, under the law.

Currently, charitable feeding operations are restricted to serving food three days in 90 days, or they are required to register as a food facility and comply with all regulations. The new bill takes away the three days per three months limit. Groups would be limited to serving food prepared in a commercial kitchen or whole, uncut produce and prepackaged, nonhazardous foods in its original packaging.

McHenry said Santa Cruz is one of the few charitable food serving groups in the state already using a commercial kitchen.

“I’m assuming that everybody’s got good will, that they don’t want to homeless people to get ill,” McHenry said. “We don’t have the money to be buying this pre-packaged food every week. Homeless people don’t want just a bunch of raw vegetables. It doesn’t help them — they don’t have a kitchen.”

Santa Cruz County Health Officer and Environmental Health Director Dr. Arnold Leff has told the Sentinel in the past that he would like to see Food Not Bombs acquire food safety operational permits, but that he could not enforce the request due to freedom of speech protections. Leff was not available Friday to comment on the latest developments. Santa Cruz County officials backed the bill, citing an opportunity to ensure groups such as food kitchens and pantries protect public health, enhance safety and safeguard the environment.

RIPPLE EFFECT

McHenry said he believes the law’s origins come from citizen complaints against outdoor charitable feeding programs by people upset by gatherings of homeless people, rather than due to larger health-related concerns. McHenry said Food Not Bombs would not face the same scrutiny, were it to move its meals indoors. The activist group’s efforts to deliver political messages to the public such as the plight of the homeless, would be weakened, however, he said. McHenry said he also worried that groups that obtain access to commercial kitchens will later be forced out as public pressure mounts against commercial kitchen owners, as he said happened in Santa Monica this summer.

Local law enforcement agencies also will be able to set cost-recovery fees for enforcement of the new provisions.

While the law provides civil liability immunity to nonprofit charitable organizations or food banks for unintentionally causing injury or death due to the food, it also creates an avenue for law enforcement to take action against groups not complying with state laws. Santa Cruz Police Department representatives were not available for comment Friday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica A. YorkJessica A. York covers Santa Cruz government, water issues and homeless for the Sentinel. She has been a working journalist, on both coasts, since 2004. Reach the author at jyork@santacruzsentinel.com or follow Jessica A. on Twitter: @reporterjess.

Ajit Pai seems really upset about the California net neutrality bill that passed with bipartisan support

Posted 13:57 EDT on September 15, 2018 (fightforthefuture.org)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 14, 2018
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.org

Yesterday, FCC chairman Ajit Pai spoke at an event where he ranted about SB 822, the California bill that rebukes his repeal of net neutrality, which passed the state legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support.

It’s more than a bit ironic that Pai chose Maine to make his remarks as both its Senators, a Republican and an Independent, voted in May to overturn his resoundingly unpopular repeal of the FCC’s open Internet protections.

“No matter how hard he tries, Ajit Pai is just never going to convince a meaningful number of Internet users that letting Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T to censor the web and charge new fees is a good idea,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, “When Pai calls the California net neutrality bill the “most egregious” response to his repeal of net neutrality, the public knows to interpret that as “most badass.” Governor Jerry Brown shouldn’t let big telecoms or con artist bureaucrats like Ajit Pai push him around. He needs to sign SB 822 and set an example for the rest of the country.”

The fight over SB 822 has implications for the entire nation. Giant Internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast poured enormous amounts of money into lobbying efforts to stop the legislation. They’ve even been caught funding astroturffront groups, who  targeted seniors with misleading robocalls, and ran outrageous Twitter ads generating tweets targeting California assembly members that look like they’re from real constituents. One of these groups, CALinnovates, even lies about its membership, claiming Uber is a partner when the company denies it. On Thursday, an investigative report revealed that AT&T’s top lobbyist in Sacramento is not properly registered as a lobbyist, raising ethics questions.

ISP lobbyists managed to gut SB 822 once in committee. But the bill was restored and eventually passed after massive public outcry and the threat of crowdfunded billboards targeting legislators that tried to water it down.

Fight for the Future is a maintaining a click-to-call tool and public scoreboard of how California legislators voted at battleforthenet.com/california, and will continue advocacy to ensure that Governor Jerry Brown signs SB 822 into law.

Updates ~ Cancellation of event for today ~ New Announcements for Sat, Mon. & Tue. (from Adrienne Fong)

Next announcements will NOT be going out till next Tuesda– unless there is an emergency protest! 

UPDATES: 

A. ICE arrested undocumented immigrants who came forward to take in undocumented children – September 20, 2018

https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/20/politics/ice-arrested-immigrants-sponsor-children/index.html

B. Midterms 2018: Nuns to protest Donald Trump’s tax cuts outside Mar-a-Lago resort ahead of crucial vote

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/nuns-on-the-bus-donald-trump-protest-mar-a-lago-tax-cuts-midterm-elections-2018-a8500276.html

C. Lying With a Straight Face – By Kevin Cooper, Death Row – San Quentin

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/lying-with-a-straight-face/   

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Below event is POSTPONED – even though it is still listed on Indybay!

Saturday, September 22, 3:00pm – 5:00pm, Free Workshop: Divest from War and Fossil Fuels CANCELLED!

Berkeley Library – South Branch
1901 Russell St. (@ MlK Jr. Way)
Berkeley

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/free-workshop-on-divesting-from-weapons-fossil-fuels-tickets-49846056898

Free Workshop to help you align your money with your values, break up with your Wall Street bank (Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank, Chase, etc.), and divest from investments in fossil fuels and weapons. Join the growing movement for a “Peace Economy” and withdraw financial support from the War Economy.
Optional: Bring your laptop or other wi-fi-enabled device for a hands-on experience.

Presenters include Cynthia Papermaster of CODEPINK, Sandy Emerson of Fossil Free California, Dave Peattie and Steve Murphy of Indivisible Berkeley Economic Justice Team.
Handouts, refreshments, hands-on workshop.

Info; https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/09/19/18817650.php

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NEW ANNOUNCEMENTS

Saturday, Sept. 22, Monday, Sept. 23, & Tuesday, Sept. 25

Saturday, September 22

1. Saturday, 5:45pm – 9:45pm, Fahrenheit 11/9 viewing with Refuse Fascism Bay Area

Meet at:

Metreon
135 4th St., Suite 3000
SF

Join Refuse Fascism on Saturday! Stick around afterward, we’ll go out for food/chat.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/418216655372466/

Monday, September 24 

2. Monday, 6:00pm – 7:30pm, SF Labor Council Meeting On Single Payer Healthcare

1621 Market St. (@ Franklin St.)
SF

Speakers on Monday are:

Mark Dudzic , National Coordinator of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer

Maureen “Mo” Dugan , RN, UCSF and CNA Board of Directors

Ian Lewis , Research Director for Unite-HERE, Local 2

Dr. Jeff Gee , MD. Clinical Professor at UCSF and Small Group Practice at St Luke’s

Info: Don Bechler, Chair Single Payer Now

415-695-7891

Sponsors: Jobs with Justice, SF Labor Council

Tuesday, September 25 

3. Tuesday, 9:00am – 11:00am, Tell Salesforce to Cancel the Contract with Customs & Border Patrol

Moscone Center
747 Howard St.
SF

Salesforce still has a contract with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol!

Dreamforce is less than two weeks away. Dreamforce is Salesforce’s flagship conference. Thousands of people from around the world will be in attendance. This is the perfect time to take action and ask Salesforce to drop their contract with CBP.

On September 25th, we’re taking our demands offline and into the face of CEOs Marc Benioff & Keith Block.

Stay tuned here for more info.

Host: Fight For The Future

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/972664512921785/ 

4. Tuesday, 6:00pm, Pack the SFPD Mission District Meeting – to fight back against policing of sex workers and our houseless neighbors in the Mission. 

Mission Police Station
630 Valencia St. (nr. 17th St.)
SF

Meeting is open to the public.

SFPD is having it’s monthly meeting. Last month at this meeting they announced their new plan for a “Sex Workers Abatement Unit.” In light of this and the beating of an unarmed Black youth last night (Sept. 19), it’d be really awesome if a bunch of us could show up in solidarity with our neighbors who are most affected by broken-windows policing.

Info is from person involved with Rad Mission Neighbors to fight back against policing of sex workers and our houseless neighbors in the Mission

“The Constitution and Homelessness” by Steve Martinot

First they came for the homeless

September 20, 2018

Introduction

When the police violate the US Constitution, are they criminal? In what court can their conduct be judged illegal? For recourse against crimes against the people for violation of the Constitution, to whom can we turn?

We finally found out that it was illegal all along for the Berkeley PD to raid and disperse homeless encampments. It is a violation of the Constitution. So said the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Sept. 4, 2018. But it has been going on for years. All those former raids were illegal, and those former arrests and confiscations of property were also illegal. Now, the Court has made it official. Can this be turned into anything but a civil suit. Can past victimization be turned into anything but money?

We suspect that Berkeley city government doesn’t care. On Sept. 5, 2018, the very next day after the Ninth Circuit Court decision, the Berkeley PD raided another homeless encampment. It was the one in front of old city hall, on a street named after Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who transformed an entire social ethic through civil disobedience. Berkeley City Council had passed an ordinance a couple of years back that said it was illegal to sleep on public property. That ordinance does not supersede the Constitution. The reverse is the case – has always been the case, but is now officially the case. The Ninth Circuit Court said that a city could not prevent homeless people from sleeping on public land if the city could not provide shelter for them. To do so is a violation of the 8th Amendment.

But what does the 8th Amendment have to do with homelessness?

The 8th Amendment

The 8th Amendment says that “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.” That’s all it says. It doesn’t say “congress shall …” or “shall not…” It doesn’t point to courts or police departments. It doesn’t speak about “infringements” as do other statements of rights. It addresses government in general and says that in the US these things are outside the purview of government. Period. It is not about “rights.” It is about “justice.”

The case that came before the court was originally called Bell vs. City of Boise – a later Martin vs. City of Boise, which is the case the Court decided. Some long-term homeless people sued the city of Boise back in 2015for violating the 8th Amendment. The federal government (under Obama) wrote an “amicus” brief agreeing with the plaintiffs (the homeless who sued the city).

Here in a nutshell is their argument. The fundamental principle involved in punishing a person for wrong-doing is necessarily to grant the person existence and choice in order to hold them responsible for their choice. To cancel recognition of their existence also cancels recognition of their choises. There can be nothing for which to hold them responsible. Therefore, what pertains to a person’s existence, or to their social status with respect to which they have no choice, cannot be prohibited, because it cannot be punished. If a person lives with or in some “condition” that is unchosen, then that condition belongs to that person’s status rather than to their “conduct.” To hold a person responsible for their conduct, their status has to be first granted as such. A prohibition against that status cannot be legislated. Breathing, for instance, is part of being a live human being, and therefore cannot be prohibited or punished. One has no choice but to breath. Sleeping similarly is an essential part of being alive. Sleeping cannot be prohibited or punished. And if a city cannot provide shelter in which a homeless person can sleep, then that person cannot be prohibited from sleeping on public land. That also holds for sitting and lying down. In short, there are things government is constitutionally barred from outlawing.

In short, if a government wishes to prohibit certain conduct, that conduct must be choose-able by a person first. Since sleeping is not choose-able (a person cannot exist without sleep), sleeping belongs to “status” rather than “conduct,” and thus cannot be prohibited.

Aspects of a person’s life that are conditioned by the economy are also included in their “status.” Poverty, for instance, can not be punished. Those who end up impoverished because the society in which we live prevents itself from curtailing landlords’ ability to push rent beyond what some people can pay, those people cannot be punished for living on the street. Homelessness is a condition established by economic and political structures. People suffer from it. They do not choose it. The city cannot prohibit people from living on the street (public property) unless it can provide suitable space and shelter, viz. a place to live. That includes a place to sleep, to sit, to lie down and rest or eat and engage in social affairs such as holding a job and visiting with friends. If one has no other place to sleep or sit than public land because the economy has rendered one homeless, and the city fails to provide what is lacking, then one’s sleeping and sitting in public space cannot be prohibited or punished.

When the police raided the encampment at old city hall on Sept. 5, at 5 am, they had no shelter to send those people to. There are over 900 homeless people in Berkeley, and only around 130 places in shelters offered, and only at night. During the day, those shelters are closed and thus not available to legitimize a police raid.

Interestingly, the court, in its decision, applied this principle to alcoholics. If a person gets seriously ill without alcohol, then their comportment (conduct) in a public place when inebriated cannot be criminalized. That’s why there are rehab centers.

This would also apply to those who walk around with serious cases of PTSD, and who go through emotional crises in public for arcane reasons. Those reasons could be anything, like having thrown a grenade into a Vietnames hut full of women and children and trying to live with that (which is what pushed Ron Kovic over the edge and made him a resistor), or like having dropped incendiary bombs on a wedding in Afghanistan and having looked back at what one had done, or like being forced to live on the street for years exposed to the elements. The police have ways of torturing PTSD people. They give them commands which the person in crisis simply refuses to recognize, and then throw him to the ground in order to wrap him in a body bag for disobedience. There is a video of the Berkeley PD performing this “procedure” in the streets of this fair city. The cops want tasers so they can tase a disobedient person until he is crawling abjectly on the ground begging for forgiveness. Kayla Moore died under the weight of the police as they tormented her for disobedience when she was going through an emotional crisis in her own home.

To torture a person for going through an emotional crisis, which pertains to their status as living a traumatized life, would be to punish them for what that trauma had done to them. It would thus be a violation of the Constitution under Amendment 8.

When the police raid an encampment without being able to provide shelter for the people in it, they are committing a crime. They call it “legitimate” because there is an ordinance that says sleeping on public proerty is illegal. That ordinance is no longer valid. But the principle it expresses is that property has priority over people. The city says that people complain that the homeless reduce real estate values, that they steal and make life uncomfortable, that panhandling is bad for business. The dehumanization of this “property-priority” doesn’t become clear until one is fired from a job or evicted from an apartment or imprisoned for having smoked a joint or for being the wrong color. It is the illogic of that “property-priority” that is the real reason there are homeless people. “Housing is a Human Right” has no standing next to a landlord’s right to raise the rent. And at present, as long as Costa-Hawkins remains unrepealed, no city has the ability to defend renters against those landlords.

We have to be able to talk about what it means that the police violate the Constitution. They are not committing a crime against property. They are not committing feloneous assault when they torture people with tasers or pepper spray. But they are violating a lot more than the 8th Amendment. They are committing a crime against “law” itself.

Throwing the book at the police

But let us be more specific. When the Berkeley PD broke up the homeless encampment in front of Old City Hall on Sept. 5, 2018, they violated several terms of the Constitution – Amendments 1, 4, 5, and 8.

Amendment 1 guarantees people (not only citizens) the right to petition government for redress of grievances. The two associations of homeless people in Berkeley called “First They Came for the Homeless” and “Consider the Homeless” have set up encampments in central public places in order to say to the government, what are you going to do about the injustice to which our existence testifies? The city’s police raids are the city’s answer. It is to commit a crime against the people by suppressing that statement.

Amendment 4 says that a person (not only a citizen) is inviolable in his/her residence. Yet the police come and throw people out of their tents, and conficate those tents. For a homeless person, their place of “residence” is that tent, or their sleeping bag, or their cardboard pallet or yoga mat, etc. The city shrugs and criminally confiscates their entire place of residence.

Amendment 5 guarantees due process, which means that those who will be deprived of anything, life, liberty, or property, must have a hearing in which the depriving power must prove that the deprivation is just, and legal, and moral, and in which the one to be deprived has equal standing to argue against that. Due process must come first, before deprivation, not afterwards. Afterwards, it is not due process any more but “appeal.” That’s different. When the cops swoop down on a homeless encampment, they do it without there having been any hearings or democratic process. Due process is the essential social equalizer of individuals and institutions. Ignoring due process, more than anything, signifies that the police are the primary anti-democratic force in this society.

And finally, there is Amendment 8, which we have reviewed, and which outlaws the ability of the police to punish people by removing and destroying their ability to sleep and reside and exist in the togetherness provided by the community of their encampment. It is their existence which is threatened by such raids insofar as confiscation of their property leaves them vulnerable to the elements and the possibility of sickness or death. Since they can’t depend on the city for anything but violence, their reliance on each other is all they have for survival.

The priority of property rights

But aren’t property rights also guaranteed by the Constitution? Yes, they are, very ironically so. The “real” law of the land is that property rights have priority over human rights – even when the defenders of property rights have to violate the Constitution, and have to commit crimes against the people.

But where does the Constitution guarantee property rights? In only one place. In Article 1, section 10, clause 1, where it states, “No state … shall pass any … law impairing the obligation of contracts.” That’s it!

This clause, providing for the inviolability of contracts, was expanded and extended under Chief Justice Marshall at the beginning of the 19th century into the foundation of all property rights and the sanctities of property.

Consider the contrast! All property rights find their guarantee in that one single phrase. The entire rest of the Constitution is about the rights of people, the relations between people and government, and the standards upon which civic responsibility, justice, security, and participation are based. In actual practice, throughout US history, that one small phrase has dominated all other aspects of social life in the US.

On the name of that phrase, cities find it feasible to commit endless unconstitutional acts in the interest of property. They will violate due process, the sanctity of the home, free speech, and even human status in the interests of property. Yet we have no real or juridical language in which to speak about this travesty.

Endnote: For those who have an interest in the legal arguments referred to here, the DoJ’s amicus brief for Bell vs. Boise is here. https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/643766/download. And the Circuit Court’s decision can be found here. http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/…/opini…/2018/09/04/15-35845.pdf