Articles ~ Actions ~ Events for Tuesday, 11/24 – Sunday, 11/29 (from Adrienne Fong)

This will be the last announcement for a bit – unless there is an emergency!

*** ASL interpretation – Let me know if your event needs this service .***

Please include Accessibility and ASL info in your events! And if your action is ‘child friendly’

  These are JUSTICE and INCLUSIVE issues!

Please post your actions on Indybay even if event is digital: https://www.indybay.org/calendar/?page_id=12

 See Indybay also for other listing of events.

Listing of other Bay Area Protests & Rallies

ARTICLES:

A. DA Boudin charges fired SFPD officer with manslaughter over fatal shooting – November 23, 2020

B. Silence About JULIAN ASSANGE Exposes Journalists HYPOCRISY.  – November 22, 2020

C. UN panel votes 163-5 in support of Palestinian statehood, end of occupation

https://www.timesofisrael.com/un-votes-163-5-in-support-of-palestinian-statehood-end-of-occupation/

D. 3 New Federal Execution Set in Lame Duck Presidency – November 20, 2020

https://deathpenaltyaction.medium.com/3-new-federal-executions-set-in-lame-duck-presidency-a386f18128a1

  See action # 2

E. Supes to push measure keeping homeless hotels open  – November 18, 2020 

F. DA Boudin ‘committed’ to refiling charges against Alameda deputies in Mission beating – November 18, 2020

G. San Francisco Public Defender Launches “CopWatch SF” Database to Ensure Public Access to Available Police – November 18, 2020

https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/S-F-Public-Defender-s-Office-launches-website-15736510.php#:~:text=Public%20Defender’s%20Office%20launches%20website%20for…&text=The%20San%20Francisco%20Public%20Defender’s,suits%20and%20certain%20officer%20complaints

ACTIONS

1. Tell the Biden-Harris administration to uproot Trump’s Social Security underminers!

  SIGN: Take Action! (actionnetwork.org)

2. President-Elect Biden: Call Out Trumps Lame Duck Executions!

  SIGN: President-Elect Biden: Call Out Trumps Lame Duck Executions! – Action Network

3. Tell CAF To Get Off Israel’s Apartheid Train!

  SIGN: Tell CAF to get off Israel’s apartheid train! | BDS Movement

4. Tell the State Department: Dismantle antisemitism and protect human rights

  SIGN: https://act.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/YPCfaejJ8EWJpWKZ4Jnesw2?sourceid=1001193&contactdata=0UQmKQ6625mJXBc8jCTxFviJvzrt%2fI56BJV1sNu1tjtgR0AfbmersWROLU8m2kIPM%2bPOh38llRf9j%2fS8amx7bxeJIV2p%2b2gRX09foTwZ%2bnQ1AEskMQxbqVs%2fYfo0cuuwpSmqLXpY660RGiYNV8QUizE0TDs29Y2RH%2bd1htlDwN40Wx%2fshKHNxV5yewzEd7lhWt2sb7U7AZhCpAsHo4JW0DS4j7C2tL%2biCbdudbwV3j7dMRfHzfA%2fU4AVXGlqHbP8LCkR1kyAaV4Eb%2fXO5TujiA%3d%3d&emci=65896831-7e2b-eb11-9fb4-00155d43b2cd&emdi=dbeddde8-802b-eb11-9fb4-00155d43b2cd&ceid=148619

5. Biden Can Stop the Attacks on Cuba’s Medical Internationalism

  SIGN: https://www.cubanobel.org/biden?utm_campaign=biden_letter_cuba&utm_medium=email&utm_source=codepink

6. The Government Wants to See Your Cryptocurrency Transactions

  SIGN: https://www.stopfinancialsurveillance.org/?link_id=0&can_id=4d8abb95a7895a1648b41bfa1ad2bb3b&source=email-dont-let-the-government-spy-on-your-financial-transactions&email_referrer=email_999818___subject_1368266&email_subject=government-surveillance-is-targeting-your-money

7. Urgent Demand 4 Mumia’s Release

Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM 8335

There is a serious outbreak of COVID 19 in Mahanoy Correctional Facility, where Mumia and 2,400 other men live.  As of now 20 guards have tested positive 4 COVID 19, and the prison is frantically testing those housed in the prison.  Obviously, this a a huge cause for concern.  Despite the prison being on lockdown, meaning no one leaves there cell except for showers and emergencies.  Food is brought to the cells. 

Needless, to say, Mumia quite worried as he should be.  He is 66, years old, has liver damage and prison personnel are the ones bringing in the virus. 

Please call Governor Tom Wolf to demand Mumia and other aging elders with underlying vulnerable health concerns be considered for compassionate release.  Clearly, there is no such thing as social distancing in prison.  The only way to stop this virus from spreading and killing those in its’ path is to send our elders home

who pose no threat to our community. 

Governor Tom Wolf -1(717) 787-2500  Fax 1 (717) 772-8284

Office of the Governor

508 Main Capitol Building

Harrisburg, PA  17120    

After calling the governor, send an online communication about our concerns.   https://www.governor.pa.gov/contact/#PhoneNumber

EVENTS

Tuesday, November 24 – Sunday, November 29

Tuesday, November 24

1. Tuesday, 1:00pm (PT); 4:00pm (ET), COVID-19 in the Amazon: Stories from the Frontlines of Indigenous & Traditional Communities

WEBINAR RSVP: https://amazonemergencyfund.org/

This event will include a 30 minute program followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. This on-the-ground reporting will highlight how our fundraising efforts have provided critical support to Indigenous peoples combating COVID-19, and how together we can (and must) continue this work.

Speakers include:
–Gregorio Mirabal, General Coordinator, COICA
–Atossa Soltani, Founder, Amazon Watch
–Leila Salazar-Lopez, Executive Director, Amazon Watch –Suzanne Pelletier, Executive Director, Rainforest Foundation US
–Tabea Casique, COICA.

Amazonian communities face multiple threats as the pandemic spreads across the forest, including increased violence, high levels of morbidity and mortality, a lack of access to healthcare and protective equipment, food scarcity, lack of income and environmental catastrophes including increased deforestation, oil spills, fires and floods.

For over 500 years, indigenous peoples of the Amazon and across the Americas have faced invasions and loss of their ancestral territories, ethnic and socioeconomic discrimination, and the constant threat of physical and cultural extermination resulting in displacement, disease and genocide.

Host: Amazon Emergency Fund & Artists for Amazonia

Info: COVID-19 in the Amazon: Stories from the Fronlines of Indigenous & Traditional Communities : Indybay

2. Tuesday, 3:00pm – 5:00pm, SFPD’s Virtual Town Hall Meeting RE: Nov. 17th officer involved shooting

The town hall will be streamed live on SFGovTV’s YouTube page (http://youtube.com/sfgtv). 

 It will also be streamed on SFPD’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SFPD/). 

Following a presentation by SFPD command staff, a call-in number will be provided to viewers wishing to offer public comment.  

As part of the San Francisco Police Department’s commitment towards accountability and transparency with our community, a virtual town hall meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, from 3:00 PM until 5:00 PM to provide the community with an update on the investigation of the officer-involved shooting that occurred on the 800 block of Market Street on November 17, 2020.

Info: (1) San Francisco Police Department | Facebook

3. Tuesday, 3:00pm, Anti-Black Racism in the Arab Region

RSVP Below:
https://go.uic.edu/UnlearningAntiblackness

The recent uprisings against the violence of policing and the killings of our Black siblings in the US has sparked important conversations across the world about how anti-Blackness has manifested itself in many communities including communities of color and countries in the global south. These conversations include looking at identities and how they are formed, the ways in which popular culture perpetuates biases, and in some instances how anti-Black racism has structured our societies and relationships. They also include discussions on the long history of solidarity between Black liberation and Arab liberation movements. This panel hopes to shed light onto the history of anti-Black racism in the Arab region to help us understand these trajectories and how they have interacted with economic interests, colonization practices, sociological theorizing, and political power. It also sheds light on the current struggles against racism in the region and the ways people have been resisting and narrating their stories.

The current political moment demonstrates the rise of white nationalism as it draws on the structures of white supremacy. These structures do not only frame the world of the US, but also its imperial and colonial practices and strategies. Our communities need to come together not from a place of shared victimhood and fear, but from a place of full understanding of the ways we have contributed and may currently contribute to these systems and an investment in working through to create an alternative more just society.

Hosts: Arab American Cultural Center at UIC, AROC, Arab American Action Network

Info: (1) Anti-Black Racism in the Arab Region | Facebook

4. Tuesday, 5:00pm (PT), What Just Happened: Trump, America and the Danger of Fascism

Facebook.com/RefuseFascism

Twitter.com/RefuseFascism
Youtube.com/watch?v=IfSi3oU1kNs

Join Andy Zee, Coco Das, Indi Samarajiva and Jeff Sharlet this Tuesday night on facebook, twitter, and youtube

Trump lost but won’t concede. Don’t miss this essential forum asking these urgent questions:

What was this that we just experienced/are experiencing?
Was the reign of a corrupt regime led by a narcissistic con man; a fascist resolution to deep problems in the system; something else or both?

Host: Refuse Fascism

Info: What Just Happened: Trump, America and the Danger of Fascism | Facebook

5. Tuesday, 5:30pm – 7:30pm, Tenants Together Collective Support & Tenant Clinic/ Clínica de Apoyo Colectivo y Derechos de Inquilinas/os

Register Here: https://bit.ly/34oWUxV

Join if are a tenant and/or a tenant advocate with questions about your rights and to learn about what is happening regarding our #CancelRent campaign!

EVERY other TUESDAY from 5:30pm – 7:30pm

What to expect:
* Share updates on local, regional, state and national policies
* We will answer questions and concerns
* It will be space for sharing stories and popular education
* Collectively strategize to #CancelRent

Host: Tenants Together

Info: Tenants Together Collective Support & Tenant Clinic/ Clínica de Apoyo Colectivo y Derechos de Inquilinas/os | Facebook

Wednesday, November 25

6. Wednesday, 5:00pm (PT); 8:00pm (ET), “The War on Cuba” Film Screening & Discussion w/ Cuban Journalist Liz Oliva

Please RSVP for the event here to receive the Zoom link.

The Cuban journalist Liz Oliva will join the Solidarity Collective to discuss the Belly of the Beast documentary series that focuses on the impact of U.S. policies on the Cuban people. Oliva interviews doctors (including her mother), farmers, students, and talks with people as they wait in long lines, giving a unique insight into the lived experiences of Cubans.

EPISODE #1 Takes an inside look at the impact of increased sanctions on the Cuban people and on US elections during the pandemic.
EPISODE #2 Examines the US-imposed oil blockade against the island nation of Cuba.
EPISODE #3 Delves into the Cuban healthcare system and the international brigades, exposing the dangerous lies behind the Trump administration’s attack on Cuban doctors and their life-saving medical solidarity programs.

Email your questions to cuba@solidaritycollective.org

Host: Cuba Solidarity Colletive

Friday, November 27

No Presence at the SF Police Officers Association today.

Will resume Friday, December 4th from 1pm – 2pm

Sunday, November 29

7. Sunday, 9:00am – 11:00am (PT); 12Noon – 2:00pm (ET), Online Rally: International Solidarity with Palestinians

REGISTER HERE:   www.bit.ly/3fbOY6X  

11am (US Central Time) / 5pm (UK Time) / 7pm (Palestine Time) 

Sunday 29th November is the UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. At a time when physical gatherings are difficult, we are organising an online international rally to show our solidarity. This is being coordinated jointly by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the BDS National Committee.

Join us as we bring together a range of Palestinian voices, poets, musicians, and social justice campaigners to rally for Palestine.

FEATURING:
– Noura Erakat (human rights attorney)
– Maxine Peake (actress)
– Omar Barghouti (BDS Movement)
– Aja Monet (poet)
– Stefanie Fox (Jewish Voice for Peace Director)
– Kevin Courtney (Trades Union Congress)
– Ben Jamal (Palestine Solidarity Campaign Director)
– William Shoki (student activist South Africa)
– Rabbi Alissa Wise (JVP)
– And more to be announced!

Host: Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK, Boycott Divestment & Sanctions Movement

Info: Online Rally: International Solidarity with Palestinians | Facebook

8. Sunday, 10:00am – 1:00pm, (PT), From Colonization to Solidarity: Narratives of Defeat and Sumoud

Online register:

https://forms.gle/zQGaiWJ8bA1nAv4y8

November 29th, International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Why did the UN General Assembly partition Palestine in 1947 and what has changed 30 years later to make it possible for the same international body to declare November 29th as the international day of solidarity with the people of Palestine? From Gaza to Jerusalem, Naqab to Beirut, and Haifa to LA and San Francisco, Palestinian public intellectuals will draw lessons for today, critique colonial narratives of submission, subjugation and defeat, and narrate histories of resistance, resilience and steadfastness.

Panelists:

Omar Barghouti: Co-founder of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights. https://bdsmovement.net/

Haidar Eid: Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University in Palestine.

Mahmoud El Ali: Coordinator of the Center for Refugee Rights- (Aidoun).
http://www.aidoun.org/en/about-us/

Sahar Francis: General Director of Ramallah-based Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. http://www.addameer.org/

Samia Khoury: Retired community volunteer who had served as National president of the YWCA, president of Rawdat El-Zuhur and is a founding member of Birzeit University Board of Trustees and Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre.

Myssana Morany: Coordinator of the Land and Planning Rights Unit at Adalah. https://www.adalah.org/

In Conversation With:

Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi: Founding Director/Senior scholar of Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies Program at SFSU.

Saliem Shehadeh: PhD candidate in Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles

Omar Zahzah: Education and Advocacy Coordinator for Eyewitness Palestine. https://eyewitnesspalestine.org/

Hosts: AMED Studies SFSU, Eyewitness Palestine

Info: (1) From Colonization to Solidarity: Narratives of Defeat and Sumoud | Facebook

THE GOVERNMENT WANTS TO SEE YOUR CRYPTOCURRENCY TRANSACTIONS

What Happened to Quawan Charles?

By Bridget Read

November 18, 2020 (thecut.com)

Photo: JusticeforQuawan/Twitter

Quawan “Bobby” Charles, a quiet 15-year-old who loved the outdoors and his dog, “My Baby,” went missing in rural Louisiana on October 30. His body was discovered days later in a sugarcane field, 20 miles from his home; the sheriff’s department told his family that the boy had drowned.

Charles’s family calls the claim “bogus,” and says that photos show Quawan’s face was horribly disfigured when he was found. They believe his death could have been racially motivated, and that law enforcement failed to act in the hours after they reported their son missing. Two weeks after Quawan went missing, the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office released a statement saying that they are investigating “suspicious circumstances,” and Quawan’s parents are still looking for answers. “We believe that if he had been of a different color that this will be taken a lot more seriously,” the family’s attorney, Ronald Haley, told ABC News. “We [would] not be talking today about 13 days have gone by, with no leads, 13 days have gone by with no answer, 13 days have gone by without [the] official cause of death … This family deserves that Bobby will be laid to rest.”

Quawan’s father says police have visited a friend of Quawan’s and his mother, both white, who were allegedly the last people to see him before he died. But the sheriff’s has not commented on whether they are communicating with the pair; no suspects have been named in the case, and it has not been designated a homicide.

Here’s everything we know about the death of Quawan “Bobby” Charles:

Quawan went missing on October 30.
Quawan’s parents reported his disappearance from his father’s home in Baldwin, Louisiana, where he had recently moved, on October 30. He had just started a new school. Quawan’s father, Kenneth Jacko, says that part of the reason why he was concerned about Quawan’s whereabouts was that he had left his beloved dog, who he had named “My Baby,” behind. Quawan’s family attorney says that the Baldwin Police Department took a report, but “gave no indication over the next few days that they were searching for the teen or actively investigating his disappearance,” per the Washington Post. “Instead, they suggested Quawan might have gone to a football game and asked if the boy had a troubled past, he said.”

His family says Quawan was with a friend, 17-year-old Gavin Irvin, and Irwin’s mother, Janet, in neighboring Iberia Parish before he died. Jacko told the Post that they learned through a third party that the Irvins picked Quawan up the day he went missing at around 3 p.m., while Jacko was at the store. The Post reports that “Quawan’s father said neither he nor Quawan’s mother knew the Irvins, who are white, and had not given them permission to take Quawan.”

On November 17, Baldwin police released surveillance footage they say depicts Quawan getting picked up by a car on October 30. In the video, a figure, said to be Quawan, sits by the side of the road outside a home before getting up to run toward a car that pulls into the driveway. Two individuals appear to leave the car; eventually, three people get back in and drive off. According to Assistant Chief Sam Wise, police believe that, before reentering the car, Quawan and the two individuals, presumed to be the Irvins, entered the backyard of his father’s home to play with Quawan’s dog. Gavin Irvin had given Quawan the dog, according to his father. “There was no signs of a kidnapping or abduction at that time,” Wise said of the video’s contents.

Quawan’s body was discovered on November 3.
Jacko says that the family, accompanied by police, visited the Irvins on November 3, after Quawan had been missing for four days. Gavin Irvin confirmed that he and Quawan had been together on October 30 but said that Quawan had left later in the day. “[Gavin] said Quawan got up and said he was leaving. [Gavin] asked about where Quawan was going, and after that, he disappeared,” Jacko told the Post.

Iberia Parish police found Quawan’s body in a sugarcane field later that day, in the small community of Loreauville not far from the Irvin’s home. The sheriff’s office told the family that water was found in Quawan’s lungs, and he had drowned, but the family says photos of Quawan’s body show that his face was incredibly mangled. Celina Charles, a cousin serving as a family spokeswoman, said that Quawan’s mother, Roxanne Nelson, ran from the viewing room when she saw his body. The Post reports that, in a photo of Quawan, “the teen appears so disfigured that his teeth are visible outside of his mouth.” Charles told ABC that Quawan “looks like he’d been tortured.” Nelson has since shared photos of his body online to call attention to Quawan’s death and to pressure law enforcement to act.

No one is officially being investigated yet, but the police are investigating his death “as a homicide.”
Law-enforcement officials have now said they are investigating Quawan’s death “as a homicide,” though they have not declared it a homicide officially: “Any case involving someone found deceased in this manner” is treated as a homicide investigation, Iberia Parish sheriff Tommy Romero said in a statement on Saturday.

The sheriff’s office has not named a suspect, but said officers had spoken to the people believed to have been with Quawan before he died. “We interviewed these same individuals and are currently tracking their whereabouts,” police said, though they declined to confirm they had spoken with the Irvins. Neighbors of the Irvins say they were evicted from their mobile home this week, for unknown reasons. Romero also said he had reviewed a video that showed that Quawan was alone in the area where his body was found for at least part of the time before he died.

Law enforcement has also released the preliminary autopsy report in which the coroner states that, in his estimation, Quawan drowned. The report said his death was a “likely drowning” and that there was muddy water found in his airways. The coroner also attributed the scratches and wounds on Quawan’s face to “aquatic animal activity” and said that the boy had not sustained the injuries before his death.

But family attorney Haley says that there is no more than two feet of water in the area where Quawan was found. “If in fact he did die of drowning — and we’re saying that as an if — we’re calling into question how exactly that would have happened,” Haley told the New York Times. “Can somebody who’s 5-foot-6 typically drown in two feet of water? No, not unless there’s another cause associated with that.” The Charles family had ordered their own independent autopsy, and last week asked for help online in raising $15,000 to conduct the autopsy. They soon raised over $100,000.

The results of that independent autopsy were leaked on November 16, and allegedly confirm that Quawan’s injuries are “consistent with drowning.” Though the report declined to definitively state a cause of death, it found no premortem “trauma or natural disease,” per the New York Daily News. The family, however, remains “more interested in the manner of death,” Chase Trichell, one of their lawyers, said on Monday. “If the scientific explanation is drowning, okay. Now let’s narrow the focus to how Quawan came to drown in a sugarcane field. He was an able-bodied person before he ended up facedown in water that was ankle-deep.”

Quawan’s family says police did not act quickly enough after his disappearance. 
In the weeks since his body was found, Quawan’s family has demanded accountability from local law enforcement, who they say were delayed in their response to his disappearance. They criticized police for not alerting local news, and say that an Amber Alert was not sent out.

The family says the Baldwin police told them Quawan was entered into an Amber Alert database that must be activated by state police, who apparently determined that the circumstances didn’t meet the threshold to trigger one. “It begs the question, had the protocols been followed, would Quawan be alive today?” family attorney Trichell said. “Once this became public, almost every local news station said, ‘We had no idea a child was even missing,” Haley, the other attorney, told the Post, adding that authorities hadn’t tried pinging Quawan’s cellphone until three days after he disappeared. “That’s how they knew where to narrow the search for him.”

“I want the lady who came to get my son without my permission, his dad’s permission, to be held accountable,” Nelson said during a vigil for her son. “She took them to her house. He was alive and well when he was here, and now he is dead.”

The ACLU of Louisiana is joining the family in their calls for justice. “The disrespect and lack of transparency demonstrated by local officials in response to Bobby’s tragic and suspicious death is unacceptable,” Alanah Odoms Hebert of ACLU of Louisiana, said in a statement. “We join the family in demanding a full and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Bobby’s death.”

This post has been updated with new information.

With Pandemic as National Emergency, Biden Could Enact Medicare for All by Executive Action—But Will He?

November 17, 2020 by Common Dreams

“I do not expect Joe Biden to use this power on Inauguration Day to instantly turn the United States into a single-payer country. But there’s nothing in the law that would appear to prevent him from doing it.”

by Kenny Stancil, staff writer

 51 Comments

President-elect Joe Biden delivers a remarks on the economic recovery in Wilmington, Delaware on Monday, November 16, 2020. (Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President-elect Joe Biden delivers a remarks on the economic recovery in Wilmington, Delaware on Monday, November 16, 2020. (Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Journalist David Dayen presented a convincing case Tuesday that President-elect Joe Biden, once sworn into office come January, would have the legal authority to immediately provide complete Medicare coverage to everyone in the country via executive action due to the Covid-19 pandemic—though the very serious question remains: would he?

During the primary season in March, Biden said he would veto a Medicare for All bill should one ever reach his desk, but with the coronavirus infection rate surging—and some scenarios projecting an overall death toll as high as 360,000 by the time the inauguration takes place—is it possible that conditions on the ground could move him on the popular demand for a single-payer solution to the nation’s public health crisis?

“I do not expect Joe Biden to use this power on Inauguration Day to instantly turn the United States into a single-payer country,” Dayen wrote in The American Prospect. “But there’s nothing in the law that would appear to prevent him from doing it.”

According to Dayen, the government has “pick[ed] up the exorbitant healthcare costs for individuals… subject to a dangerous environmental hazard” before. Explaining the precedent, he wrote:

The people of Libby, Montana, population 2,628, share something in common with the rest of the developed world, but not their compatriots in the United States. They all have access to a single-payer, Medicare for All system.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, the residents of Libby, who were exposed to hazardous airborne asbestos from a vermiculite mine owned by the W.R. Grace Company, were made eligible for Medicare, for free, at the discretion of the Social Security Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It was codified in Section 1881A of the Social Security Act

While Section 1881A was used to protect the residents of Libby who were exposed, “through no fault of their own,” to deleterious conditions “that would trigger long-term medical complications,” Dayen noted that “the language of the statute refers to any individuals subject to an ‘environmental exposure'” and therefore conveys a principle that could be applied more broadly. 

What is the coronavirus pandemic, if not a public health catastrophe on a much grander scale than the one experienced in a small town in Montana?

“There’s an environmental health hazard spreading through the entire country right now,” Dayen wrote. “It’s infecting people unsuspectingly and killing hundreds of thousands. It’s bound to saddle those who survive with long-term and potentially debilitating health consequences.”

By invoking Section 1881A, Dayen continued, “the incoming Biden administration can give all 11 million people infected with Covid-19 [or] all Americans who have tested positive for coronavirus the option of free Medicare coverage, immediately.”

“The executive branch is also given the authority to establish ‘optional pilot programs’ to any area subject to a public health emergency declaration,” which, according to Dayen, means that “HHS could create a specific pilot program around Covid-19.”

The entire United States has been under a public health emergency since near the beginning of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. As Dayen explained, if Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator declared “a separate public health emergency under the Superfund law to comply with the statute,” then individuals who “have spent six months in the geographic area subject to the emergency”—the whole country—would be eligible for Medicare. 

Dayen added:

We know that there are going to be specific long-term costs from Covid-19. While we’re still learning about “long-haul” Covid-19 patients, it is possible that they could experience a lifetime of health problems from their infection, whether through severe lung damageheart failure, or gastrointestinal complications. The cost of managing these difficulties will be high, and probably out of reach for most people. It’s cost-effective to put them on Medicare and ensure that they don’t have to go bankrupt because they were unlucky enough to contract the virus. 

If you really wanted to push it, you could do what they did in Libby: give Medicare to everyone, whether they showed symptoms or not, based on the potential for an environmental exposure. As long as the runoff from the W.R. Grace mine was still in the air, residents of Libby needed the peace of mind that they would be covered from the health consequences. The entire U.S. public needs that same kind of reassurance in the face of coronavirus.

While nobody should bet on a lifetime opponent of Medicare for All suddenly reversing course and using the pandemic “as a pretext” to enact truly universal healthcare, Dayen explained, the reality is that “Biden has this option to protect people suffering from coronavirus, and even those afraid to get tested because they know they cannot afford treatment.” 

Moreover, Dayen argued that “the kind of creative policy thinking” represented by Section 1881A “reflects exactly how a Biden administration needs to be thinking.”

“The creative application of existing laws… is going to be required… to make progress for the American people,” Dayen noted, especially if Georgia’s runoff Senate elections result in the Republican Party maintaining control of the upper chamber of Congress.

Dayen’s argument echoes points made on Monday by left-wing author and organizer Astra Taylor in an op-ed in The Guardian

Challenging the notion that Biden won’t be able to accomplish anything due to GOP intransigence, Taylor wrote that “we must remind the incoming administration of the power it possesses, even if the circumstances are less than ideal.”

“There’s actually a lot that a president can do with a divided or weak Congress if they have a spine,” Taylor said.

If Biden “wants to respond to the tragedy of coronavirus by giving millions of people public health care, he could,” Dayen pointed out. “And he should be thinking about how to do a whole lot more… that would have tangible and enduring benefits for people,” such as using executive power to cancel all federal student loan debt.

As Taylor put it:

We simply cannot accept the idea that it will be impossible for Biden to govern. He has a progressive mandate and must use all the power at his disposal to materially improve people’s lives and boost public morale. We are in a public health and economic crisis; if he doesn’t act decisively, Democrats will face a bloodbath in 2022 or 2024. The fascist threat of Trumpism is not going away. If anything, we’ve learned that Trumpism is very popular. But [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell is not the president, and his influence must be diminished as much as possible, which will require Biden to do something not in his nature—fight Republicans.

“There is a belated and growing awareness that our political institutions are the actual problem,” Taylor continued. “At long last, liberals are talking about the foundational flaws and structural imbalances that shape our reality—the malapportionment of the Senate, the Supreme Court’s rightwing tilt, the absurdity of the Electoral College, the pathologies of winner-take-all elections, and so on.”

Taylor said that “we must further delegitimize these arcane and anachronistic institutions and recognize the ways they sabotage the progressive will of the majority of American people, turning our ostensible democracy into an oligarchy.”

“And,” she added, “we have to be aware one party is determined to exacerbate this descent into despotism. Republicans want to further enshrine minority rule, forcing Democrats to have to win an ever-larger share of votes in older to hold power. Republicans are increasingly at war with democracy itself.”

According to Dayen, “it does not violate any notion of our system of government for the chief executive to look for creative ways to use those… powerful authorities [placed] in the president’s lap [by] the legislative branch since 1789.”

Alternatively, Taylor argued that “it’s better to not be sanctimonious and romantic about ‘institutions’ and ‘norms.'”

“The norms are the problem,” Taylor wrote. “And if we’re going to ever have anything approaching justice, we will have to bust a lot of them.”Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

On the Current Status of Trump’s Coup Attempt—and Its Future

November 20, 2020 by Common Dreams

It may look like this is one frivolity and absurdity after another—and it is. But if this electoral clash reaches the Supreme Court, all bets are off.

by Marjorie Cohn

 15 Comments

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference about lawsuits related to the presidential election results at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday Nov. 19, 2020. (Photo: Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference about lawsuits related to the presidential election results at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday Nov. 19, 2020. (Photo: Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Joe Biden has won states worth 306 Electoral College votes, 36 more than the 270 needed to win, and received in excess of 5 million more popular votes than Donald Trump. Yet Trump insists the election was stolen from him and he is the victor.

Trump started attacking the election months before it happened. He leveled unsupported charges of massive voter fraud from mail-in ballots to create doubt about the integrity of the election. Knowing that Democrats would cast mail ballots in the midst of the pandemic, Trump told his supporters to vote in person on Election Day to prematurely inflate his vote totals. 

When he had an apparent lead on election night, Trump claimed victory and demanded that the vote-counting stop. Sure enough, as the tabulations continued, the mail ballots counted after Election Day put Biden over the top.

Trump Files Frivolous Lawsuits to Delay State Vote Count Certifications

Trump is setting the stage for an electoral coup. Republicans and the Trump campaign have filed frivolous lawsuits, alleging mostly technical violations of voting procedures, which would not change the outcome of the election even if they were meritorious. 

“The real goal of this litigation is to create the perception of widespread voter fraud to whip up distrust for the election results.”

The real goal of this litigation is to create the perception of widespread voter fraud to whip up distrust for the election results. This would “give state legislatures political cover to appoint their own electors,” Robert Reich wrote. 

Trump’s lawyers are seeking court orders to delay the certification of the votes in key states so GOP-controlled legislatures can appoint Trump electors notwithstanding Biden’s victories. Trump’s legal team has filed litigation in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona to prevent state officials from certifying the vote count.

On November 13, judges in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona dismissed Trump lawsuits State judges in Michigan have refused Trump’s requests to delay the certification of the vote count. Judge Timothy Kenny rejected the petition of two Republican poll watchers to delay ballot count certification in Detroit, calling misconduct allegations “not credible.” The plaintiffs’ request for an outside audit of the voting tallies would cause such a delay that electors might not be chosen by the mid-December vote in the Electoral College. Kenny, who characterized some accusations as “rife with speculation and guesswork,” said, “It would be an unprecedented exercise of judicial activism for this court to stop the certification process.

The same day, the law firm Porter Wright Morris & Arthur abruptly withdrew from the federal lawsuit they had filed in Pennsylvania on Trump’s behalf earlier in the week, out of concerns they were being used to undermine the integrity of the electoral process. Also last week, Snell & Wilmer withdrew from representation of Arizona’s Republican National Committee.

“These law firms have been under tremendous pressure as it became clear these claims were baseless, and that they were part of a broader campaign to delegitimize the election,” Wendy Weiser from the Brennan Center for Justice told ABC News

Both Democratic and Republican election officials in virtually every state reported to The New York Times that there was no evidence fraud or other irregularities affected the election results. 

Moreover, on November 12, a joint committee of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) confirmed the reliability of the election results, calling the November 3rd election “the most secure in American history ” The high-level committee concluded, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised.” 

On November 17, CISA Director Christopher Krebs denied that there was a manipulation of the election systems, tweeting, “59 election security experts all agree, ‘in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.’ ” Later that day Trump fired Krebs for making a “highly inaccurate” statement, but Trump provided no evidence of his allegation.

Even Trump advisor Karl Rove wrote in a November 11th Wall Street Journal op-ed that Trump’s challenges “are unlikely to move a single state from Mr. Biden’s column, and certainly they’re not enough to change the final outcome.”

Attorney General William Barr is aiding and abetting Trump’s attempted coup. Just weeks before the election, the Justice Department changed its longstanding ban on voter fraud investigations before an election. Although he told department officials after the election that he didn’t see massive voter fraud, Barr saluted and marched to Trump’s orders. On November 9th, Barr empowered federal prosecutors to investigate “substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities.” Sixteen federal prosecutors in charge of monitoring the election wrote to Barr that there is no evidence of substantial voting irregularities. 

Richard Pilger, the Justice Department official in charge of voter fraud investigations left his job in protest against Barr’s order. But just the fact that the Department of Justice is authorizing investigations is designed to cast a cloud over the election. Indeed, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 70% of Republicans now think the election was not fair or free, compared with 35% of Republicans before the election. The purpose of Trump’s strategy of falsely alleging fraud from mail ballots combined with Barr’s baseless edict establishes fake doubt about the reliability of the vote tallies.

Trump Cannot Legally Steal Biden’s Electoral Votes

The Constitution gives state legislatures the power to decide how electors are selected. Article II says, “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors.” U.S. Code, Title 3, Section 1 requires that electors be chosen on Election Day. However, when a state “has failed to make a choice on [that] day,” then “the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct,” under Section 2.

But the states did not fail to choose the electors on Election Day. As a result of the voting process, which ended on November 3, Biden garnered more than 270 electoral votes. Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security affirmed that the election was the most secure in U.S. history. Even if charges of fraud were supported, that would not amount to a failure of state voters to choose electors on Election Day. Thus, state legislatures have no authority to select Trump’s electors in the states Biden won. 

Trump supporters are targeting Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona—all of which Biden won—by raising allegations of fraud in hopes of persuading their state legislatures to override the will of the voters and appoint pro-Trump electors. All four states require that electors be awarded to the winner of the state’s popular vote on Election Day. 

In October, the Republican majority leaders from Pennsylvania’s Senate and House co-authored an op-ed saying that the GOP-controlled legislature would not select electors to overrule the popular vote. They wrote, “The Pennsylvania General Assembly does not have and will not have a hand in choosing the state’s presidential electors or in deciding the outcome of the presidential election.” But on November 10, members of the Pennsylvania legislature announced their intention to investigate voter fraud allegations. 

The Republican leader of Wisconsin’s assembly has long maintained that the legislature would not override the will of the voters and he reiterated that view on November 13. But the Wisconsin legislature is also investigating the election.

Republican leaders in Michigan’s legislature say legislative intervention would violate state law although the GOP-controlled legislature has mounted an investigation of the election. Michigan’s majority leader said, “It is not the expectation that our analysis would result in any change in the outcome.”

On November 17, in a dramatic and overtly political move, the two Republican officials on the four-member board of canvassers in Michigan’s largest county blocked certification of Wayne County’s vote count. But hours later, after powerful public comment and fierce outcry on traditional and social media, board chair Monica Palmer and William Hartmann reversed their “no” votes and the board unanimously certified the tally.

Trump called Palmer after the board meeting and also spoke with Hartmann. The next day, the two GOP board members tried to rescind their “yes” votes, claiming they were pressured into certifying the election with the promise of an audit of voting tallies in Detroit, which is 80% black. Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s Secretary of State, said the resolution requesting an audit was not binding. The small number of votes that could be affected by the audit is not enough to change the election results.

Benson’s spokeswoman stated, “There is no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote.”

On November 19, Trump invited the Republican leaders in the Michigan legislature to visit the White House on November 20. The Michigan Board of State Canvassers will review and certify the county certifications on November 23.

Arizona’s Republican House speaker affirmed that the legislature is “mandated by statute to choose according to the vote of the people,” but left open the possibility of changing electors if there is “some type of fraud—which I haven’t heard of anything.” At this point, he added, “I don’t see us in any serious way addressing a change in electors.”

Although Republican leaders in those four states deny they intend to replace Biden electors with Trump electors, allegations of fraud—however spurious—could reverse those intentions. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hinting that Trump could win in the Electoral College.

States must count electoral votes and settle election disputes by December 8, the “safe harbor” deadline. On December 14, members of the Electoral College in each state will meet to elect the president. 

If legislatures in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin attempt to appoint Trump electors against the will of their voters, the Democratic governors in those states would refuse to sign the certification of electors and submit Biden slates. Arizona has a Republican governor, who may well sign a slate of Trump electors notwithstanding Biden’s victory in that state, according to Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig.

On January 6, Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the opening of the certified results before a joint session of the new Congress. If there are competing slates of electors in Arizona, Pence might decide to recognize the slate signed by the governor, Lessig says. If both a senator and a member of the House of Representatives sign an objection, the Senate and House would vote on whether to uphold the objection. In all likelihood, the House would vote to sustain the objection. If the Senate votes to overrule the objection, the slate signed by the governor would be counted. Even without Biden electors from Arizona, however, Biden should still have more than 270 electoral votes. But if the state legislatures in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and/or Wisconsin submit competing slates of electors, that dispute would also end up in Congress.

If neither Biden nor Trump secure 270 electoral votes, the 12th Amendment provides that the House would decide who becomes president. Each state gets one vote and since there are more red states than blue ones, Trump would win.

In the event that an electoral clash reaches the Supreme Court, all bets are off. In a recent concurrence, Brett Kavanaugh adopted the position that state legislatures are unconstrained in their selection of electors regardless of the popular vote. Kavanaugh based his theory on Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s concurrence in Bush v. Gorethe case that selected George W. Bush as president in 2000. But that theory has not attained majority support on the high court. 

“In the event that an electoral clash reaches the Supreme Court, all bets are off.”

Indeed, in Chiafalo v. Washington earlier this year, a unanimous Supreme Court cited the “tradition more than two centuries old” that “electors are not free agents; they are to vote for the candidate whom the State’s voters have chosen.” Chiafalo affirmed the power of states to punish “faithless electors,” who don’t vote in accordance with the popular vote.

But in light of the willingness of Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch to stay the counting of votes mailed by November 3 but arriving by November 6, in spite of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s allowance of the three-day extension, those three might vote for Trump in a case of dueling electors. And Amy Coney Barrett could provide the fifth vote to hand the presidency to Trump.

Trump May Be Preparing for Armed Support of His Coup

Trump is apparently taking steps to quash popular opposition to his attempted electoral theft. On November 9, he fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Last summer, Esper refused to support Trump’s proposed deployment of active-duty troops against anti-racist protesters in the wake of the public lynching of George Floyd. Esper opposed the invocation of the Insurrection Act to call out active-duty military on U.S. soil. Mindful that massive protests would erupt if he succeeds in launching an electoral coup, Trump wants his loyalists in place to attack anti-coup demonstrators. Service members, however, have a duty to disobey unlawful orders and may refuse to follow Trump’s illegal directives to repress protesters.

On November 14, thousands of Trump loyalists, including the Proud Boys and other right-wing groups, assembled in Washington D.C. and claimed that Biden was stealing the election. Trump drove by on his way to play golf and gave the demonstrators a thumbs-up. Later that day, in a violently inciteful tweet, Trump urged police not to “hold back” and to crack down on “antifa scum.”

During the campaign, while he leveled false accusations of massive voter fraud, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. His refusal to concede and his strategy to illegally overturn the election results by stealing Biden’s electoral votes confirm his intention not to go peacefully.

“Since 1800, when the incumbent John Adams was defeated, every president who lost a reelection bid has left office,” Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky told this author. “Not every transition was graceful, but every one occurred.  We have seen so many instances around the world where that didn’t happen. I am hopeful that our institutions will work again and keep Trump from impermissibly remaining in office.”

The results of the election must be honored and the presidency awarded to Joe Biden. Hopefully, that will be accomplished with all deliberate speed and the absence of bloodshed. Donald Trump must leave the White House on January 20. As Elena Kagan wrote in the last line of the Chiafalo opinion, “Here, We the People rule.”

A version of this article first appeared on Jurist.

Marjorie Cohn

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary-general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her latest book is, “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues (2017). Previous books include: “Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law” (2007) and co-author of “Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent (2009 with Kathleen Gilberd); and an anthology, “The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse” (2012).

Whose Vote Counts (full film) | FRONTLINE

FRONTLINE PBS | Official As America chooses its next president in the midst of a historic pandemic, FRONTLINE investigates whose vote counts — and whose might not. Subscribe on YouTube: http://bit.ly/1BycsJW In this documentary with Columbia Journalism Investigations and USA Today, New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb reports on allegations of voter disenfranchisement, how unfounded claims of extensive voter fraud entered the political mainstream, rhetoric and realities around mail-in ballots, and how the pandemic could impact turnout. With director June Cross, the Fred W. Friendly Professor of Media and Society at Columbia, and producer Thomas Jennings, Cobb scrutinizes one of the first elections held during the pandemic — Wisconsin’s April 2020 primary, which saw long lines, claims of disenfranchisement, an unprecedented number of absentee ballots and dueling legal battles between Republicans and Democrats. The film places the election within the context of America’s history around voting rights and suppression, and discovers lessons for the country as a whole as the November presidential contest approaches. #Election2020#WhoseVoteCounts#Documentary Watch “Whose Vote Counts” starting Tues., Oct. 20: https://to.pbs.org/3jecZef Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/frontlinepbs Twitter: https://twitter.com/frontlinepbs Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frontline FRONTLINE is streaming more than 300 documentaries online, for free, here: http://to.pbs.org/hxRvQP Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Abrams Foundation, the Park Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation. Additional support for “Whose Vote Counts” is provided by the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation.

Michigan leader: Trump didn’t ask for election interference

AOL Associated Press

DAVID EGGERT November 22, 2020, 10:16 AM  (aol.com/news)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — President Donald Trump did not ask Michigan Republican lawmakers to “break the law” or “interfere” with the election during a meeting at the White House, a legislative leader said Sunday, a day before canvassers plan to meet about whether to certify Joe Biden’s 154,000-vote victory in the battleground state.

Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield was among seven Republican legislators who met with Trump for about an hour on Friday, amid his longshot efforts to block Biden’s win.

“There was this outrage that the president was going to ask us to break the law, he was going to ask us to interfere, and that just simply didn’t happen,” he told Fox News of the highly unusual meeting. He did not elaborate on what was discussed, except to say the delegation asked for additional federal aid to help Michigan’s coronavirus response.

Michigan’s elections agency has recommended that the Nov. 3 results — including Biden’s 2.8-percentage point victory — be certified by the Board of State Canvassers, which has two Democrats and two Republicans. The Republican National Committee and the state Republican Party want the board to adjourn for 14 days to investigate alleged irregularities in Wayne County, the state’s largest and home to Detroit.

If the board does not confirm the results and the Michigan Supreme Court does not subsequently order it to do so, Chatfield said “now we have a constitutional crisis.” He and other Republicans, however, have indicated that they would not undermine the voters’ will.

“Michigan election law clearly requires that the state’s electors must be those nominated by the party that received the most votes — not the Legislature,” says a stock email House Republicans are sending in response to people who contact their offices.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed that there were no serious irregularities.

The issues Trump’s campaign and its allies have pointed to are typical in every election.

Republican U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan’s current longest-serving member of Congress, told CNN on Sunday that “the voters spoke” and the state had no razor-thin presidential race.

“No one has come up with any evidence of fraud or abuse” he said. He called the request to delay the certification “out of bounds.”

“I AM GRETA” ISN’T ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE. IT’S ABOUT THE ELUSIVENESS OF SANITY IN AN INSANE WORLD

NOVEMBER 20, 2020 (counterpunch.org)

BY JONATHAN COOK

Photograph Source: Nick from Bristol – CC BY 2.0

Erich Fromm, the renowned German-Jewish social psychologist who was forced to flee his homeland in the early 1930s as the Nazis came to power, offered a disturbing insight later in life on the relationship between society and the individual.

In the mid-1950s, his book The Sane Society suggested that insanity referred not simply to the failure by specific individuals to adapt to the society they lived in. Rather, society itself could become so pathological, so detached from a normative way of life, that it induced a deep-seated alienation and a form of collective insanity among its members. In modern western societies, where automation and mass consumption betray basic human needs, insanity might not be an aberration but the norm.

Fromm wrote:

“The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane.”

Challenging definition

This is still a very challenging idea to anyone raised on the view that sanity is defined by consensus, that it embraces whatever the mainstream prefers, and that insanity applies only to those living outside those norms. It is a definition that diagnoses the vast majority of us today as insane.

When Fromm wrote his book, Europe was emerging from the ruins of the Second World War. It was a time of reconstruction, not only physically and financially, but legally and emotionally. International institutions like the United Nations had recently been formed to uphold international law, curb national greed and aggression, and embody a new commitment to universal human rights.

It was a time of hope and expectation. Greater industrialisation spurred by the war effort and intensified extraction of fossil fuels meant economies were beginning to boom, a vision of the welfare state was being born, and a technocratic class promoting a more generous social democracy were replacing the old patrician class.

It was at this historic juncture that Fromm chose to write a book telling the western world that most of us were insane.

Degrees of insanity

If that was clear to Fromm in 1955, it ought to be much clearer to us today, as buffoon autocrats stride the world stage like characters from a Marx Brothers movie; as international law is being intentionally unravelled to restore the right of western nations to invade and plunder; and as the physical world demonstrates through extreme weather events that the long-ignored science of climate change – and much other human-inspired destruction of the natural world – can no longer be denied.

And yet our commitment to our insanity seems as strong as ever – possibly stronger. Sounding like the captain of the Titanic, the unreconstructed British liberal writer Sunny Hundal memorably gave voice to this madness a few years back when he wrote in defence of the catastrophic status quo:

If you want to replace the current system of capitalism with something else, who is going to make your jeans, iPhones and run Twitter?

As the clock ticks away, the urgent goal for each of us is to gain a deep, permanent insight into our own insanity. It doesn’t matter that our neighbours, family and friends think as we do. The ideological system we were born into, that fed us our values and beliefs as surely as our mothers fed us milk, is insane. And because we cannot step outside of that ideological bubble – because our lives depend on submitting to this infrastructure of insanity – our madness persists, even as we think of ourselves as sane.

Our world is not one of the sane versus the insane, but of the less insane versus the more insane.

Intimate portrait

Which is why I recommend the new documentary I Am Greta, a very intimate portrait of the Swedish child environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

Before everyone gets started, let me point out that I Am Greta is not about the climate emergency. That is simply the background noise as the film charts the personal journey begun by this 15-year-old girl with Asperger’s syndrome in staging a weekly lone protest outside the Swedish parliament. Withdrawn and depressed by the implications of the compulsive research she has done on the environment, she rapidly finds herself thrust into the centre of global attention by her simple, heart-felt statements of the obvious.

The schoolgirl shunned as insane by classmates suddenly finds the world drawn to the very qualities that previously singled her out as weird: her stillness, her focus, her refusal to equivocate or to be impressed.

Footage of her father desperately trying to get her to take a break and eat something, if only a banana, as she joins yet another climate march, or of her curling up in a ball on her bed, needing to be silent, after an argument with her father over the time she has spent crafting another speech to world leaders may quieten those certain she is simply a dupe of the fossil fuel industries – or, more likely, it will not.

But the fruitless debates about whether Thunberg is being used are irrelevant to this film. That is not where its point or its power lies.

Through Thunberg’s eyes

For 90 minutes we live in Thunberg’s shoes, we see the world through her strange eyes. For 90 minutes we are allowed to live inside the head of someone so sane that we can briefly grasp – if we are open to her world – quite how insane each of us truly is. We see ourselves from the outside, through the vision of someone whose Asperger’s has allowed her to “see through the static”, as she too generously terms our delusions. She is the small, still centre of simple awareness buffeted in a sea of insanity.

Watching Thunberg wander alone – unimpressed, often appalled – through the castles and palaces of world leaders, through the economic forums of the global technocratic elite, through the streets where she is acclaimed, the varied nature of our collective insanity comes ever more sharply into focus.

Four forms of insanity the adult world adopts in response to Thunberg, the child soothsayer, are on show. In its varied guises, this insanity derives from unexamined fear.

The first – and most predictable – is exemplified by the right, who angrily revile her for putting in jeopardy the ideological system of capitalism they revere as their new religion in a godless world. She is an apostate, provoking their curses and insults.

The second group are liberal world leaders and the technocratic class who run our global institutions. Their job, for which they are so richly rewarded, is to pay lip service, entirely in bad faith, to the causes Thunberg espouses for real. They are supposed to be managing the planet for future generations, and therefore have the biggest investment in recruiting her to their side, not least to dissipate the energy she mobilises that they worry could rapidly turn against them.

One of the film’s early scenes is Thunberg’s meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron, shortly after she has started making headlines.

Beforehand, Macron’s adviser tries to pump Thunberg for information on other world leaders she has met. His unease at her reply that this her first such invitation is tangible. As Thunberg herself seems only too aware when they finally meet, Macron is there simply for the photoshoot. Trying to make inane small talk with someone incapable of such irrelevancies, Macron can’t help but raise an eyebrow in discomfort, and possibly mild reproof, as Thunberg concedes that the media reports of her travelling everywhere by train are right.

Cynically insane

The third group are the adults who line the streets for a selfie with Thunberg, or shout out their adulation, loading it on to her shoulders like a heavy burden – and one she signally refuses to accept. Every time someone at a march tells her she is special, brave or a hero, she immediately tells them they too are brave. It is not her responsibility to fix the climate for the rest of us, and to think otherwise is a form of infantilism.

The fourth group are entirely absent from the film, but not from the responses to it and to her. These are the “cynically insane”, those who want to load on to Thunberg a burden of a different kind. Aware of the way we have been manipulated by our politicians and media, and the corporations that now own both, they are committed to a different kind of religion – one that can see no good anywhere. Everything is polluted and dirty. Because they have lost their own innocence, all innocence must be murdered.

This is a form of insanity no different from the other groups. It denies that anything can be good. It refuses to listen to anything and anyone. It denies that sanity is possible at all. It is its own form of autism – locked away in a personal world from which there can be no escape – that, paradoxically, Thunberg herself has managed to overcome through her deep connection to the natural world.

As long as we can medicalise Thunberg as someone suffering from Asperger’s, we do not need to think about whether we are really the insane ones.

Bursting bubbles

Long ago economists made us aware of financial bubbles, the expression of insanity from investors as they pursue profit without regard to real world forces. Such investors are finally forced to confront reality – and the pain it brings – when the bubble bursts. As it always does.

We are in an ideological bubble – and one that will burst as surely as the financial kind. Thunberg is that still, small voice of sanity outside the bubble. We can listen to her, without fear, without reproach, without adulation, without cynicism. Or we can carry on with our insane games until the bubble explodes.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jonathan-cook.net/

Don’t Tell Donald He’s NOT RE-ELECTED TODAY! – Randy Rainbow Parody

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