1

Will the World Become a Police State?

By Dr. Joseph Mercola | mercola.com

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Some law enforcement officers are taking advantage of new regulations, imposing unreasonable force in their zeal to contain citizens
  • Liquor stores are deemed essential, but drive-in churches where people are parked in their cars with the windows up was against the rules in Mississippi and Kentucky
  • Human rights violations are happening worldwide, as tens of thousands are detained and arrested for ignoring confinement measures
  • China has started new tactics to monitor their citizens, in a data-gathering frenzy, experts fear may become permanent
  • The U.S. enacted laws after 9/11 that was later expanded; once systems are in place it’s nearly impossible to put them back in the box

COVID-19 has sparked fear and panic across the world. Every day, the news is reporting the number of individuals who have likely died from the infection. True to the need to report negative news, they are talking about the thousands who have died, but not the hundreds of thousands who have survived the infection.

The virus is virulent and indeed killing people. But there are far, far more who survive it with minor to moderate symptoms and don’t require hospitalization or supportive care. In an effort to “flatten the curve,” or reduce the number who get infected in a short period of time, many countries have created quarantine rules, shelter-in-place edicts, and social distancing recommendations.

State governors across the U.S. have declared a state of emergency, which gives them additional powers under state law. According to the National Governors Association, state governors usually1 “are responsible for implementing state laws and overseeing the operation of the state executive branch.”

The declaration of a state of emergency opens the door for a number of different actions and added authority unique to each state.2 According to public health experts from The Ohio State University:3

“Before getting federal assistance, the governor must declare a state of emergency and begin to follow the state’s emergency plan, a provision which emphasizes that the state is the primary authority in the disaster. That is important because emergency powers not only allow state governments to ‘provide for’ populations, but also ‘decide for’ individuals in ways that might limit their rights.

The idea is that sticking to normal legislative processes and legal standards takes time – and that during a crisis delays could cost lives. In an outbreak, such limits on individual rights involve travel restrictions, social distancing measures and isolation and quarantine.

In the case of COVID-19, the Department of Health and Human Services, using the federal Public Health Services Act, invoked federal powers to prevent ‘cascading public health, economic, national security and societal consequences.’ In addition to this, federal authority empowers the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine and quarantine anyone entering the U.S. or traveling across state lines.”

Police Following Rules With Unreasonable Force

Although changes may have helped reduce the initial spread of the virus, how some are implementing the rules look more like the dawn of martial law. This is ironic, considering we are a country that proudly proclaims itself to be the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

For example, Twitter user CJ Pearson4 posted a video on May 14, 2020, showing at least six police officers in New York City physically taking down one small mother. The video is disturbing and clearly shows her exiting the subway station with a mask around her neck and her young child in tow.

The officers surrounded her and forced her back up the stairs into the subway station. At one point they grabbed her and three forced her to the ground with her face against the floor. One officer held her young child within the feet of her mother being taken to the floor. Four officers surrounded the woman while attempting to put on a pair of handcuffs as she’s lying on the ground.

She squirmed and continued to yell at the officers to leave her alone and to get off her. As they escort her from the station, a bystander yelled to the officers to take her child with her. The video was retweeted 14,300 times. One person commented, “Wow. This is scary! Reminds me of the videos in Wuhan of cops dragging people out of their homes. I thought we were better than this.”

Another tweeted, “As an NYC Realtor, I can’t physically show a property because of #Coronavirus. But #NYPD puts her face down on dirty @MTA floor while others touch her child with dirty gloves? That’s OK?”

This isn’t the first video coming out of New York and not the only city reeling under the enforcement of regulations, rules, or statements that citizens must practice social distancing and wear a mask. A video circulated showing an off-duty officer in Alabama who was caught on camera body slamming a shopper to the floor at Walmart.5

The person walked into the store and refused to wear a mask. At the time, Walmart was simply encouraging their customers to wear them, but they weren’t required.6 She became irritated when an employee asked her to put on a face covering. When she refused to leave, an off-duty officer who was working for Walmart at the time tried to detain her.

As shown in the video, she pushed away as he tried to handcuff her. At this point, he grabbed her left leg out from under her and flipped her to the floor. Sergeant Rod Mauldin later said the officer felt he needed to gain control of the woman because of “other threat factors in the store.”

The threats were not detailed, and the video shows only a second woman standing aside and yelling at the officer. As the officer was escorting her out of the store, two of her friends began arguing with him. The video shows him pulling out a canister and appearing to mace them.7

These are two of the many incidents that have happened across the U.S. and around the world. While it may be necessary for the police to implement the rules and regulations, it’s not necessary to do it with unreasonable force.

Liquor Stores Are Essential as Drive-In Churches Bullied

Some states are taking extreme measures against specific groups. In Greenville, Mississippi, the city government categorized liquor stores as essential. This allows them to provide curbside service to their customers.8 But, churches were not allowed to hold services when those attending stayed in their cars with the windows up.

In other words, liquor was being handed through open car windows to drivers who were not wearing masks, but churchgoers were bullied by police officers for being parked in the church parking lot with their windows up. Pastor James Hamilton spoke with Fox News reporter Tucker Carlson about the situation he and his churchgoers found themselves in on the Thursday before Easter.9

The parishioners were lined up in the parking lot, in their cars with the windows up. The pastor had also asked the parishioners to park their cars away from each other, a practice not in place at grocery stores or hardware stores. He was preaching from outside the cars when 20 or more police cars arrived to surround the six cars in the parking lot.

Kelly Shackelford from the First Liberty Institute, a civil rights group that came to the aid of the church, commented on the new regulations in Greenville, saying they were targeting “churches in a way that it targets no other groups. Cars in the parking lot are fine. It’s only a crime if the cars in the parking lot are in the church parking lot.”

He went on to recount how one police officer approached the pastor and told him because of the new local orders in Greenville, his rights were “suspended.” However, Shackelford said that individuals’ constitutional rights have not been suspended by the new orders. Hamilton shared it was Mayor Errick Simmons who was behind the order.

The Justice Department backed the lawsuit filed by the church and the suit is pending. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear ordered police to take down the license plates of anyone parked in a church lot to enforce an additional 14-day quarantine.10 U.S District Judge Justin Walker wrote a 20-page opinion in which he commented the city must stop:

“… enforcing; attempting to enforce; threatening to enforce; or otherwise requiring compliance with any prohibition on drive-in church services at On Fire.

On Holy Thursday, an American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter. That sentence is one that this Court never expected to see outside the pages of a dystopian novel, or perhaps the pages of The Onion.”

Abuse of Power Strips Civil Rights

This video is disturbing but illustrates infractions happening around the world:

Human rights infractions are happening worldwide, and the United Nations’ human rights chief has issued a warning to governments that are abusing their power, saying,11 “the rule of law in the name of fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic risk [is] sparking a ‘human rights disaster.'”

Emergencies have been declared in 80 countries. The UN has highlighted 15 where infractions are troubling, but the director of field operations said several dozen more could have been added. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is asking countries to cease violating fundamental human rights. She warned:12

“Emergency powers should not be a weapon governments can wield to quash dissent, control the population, and even perpetuate their time in power. They should be used to cope effectively with the pandemic – nothing more, nothing less.”

Tens of thousands of people have been detained and arrested, violating confinement measures to curtail the pandemic. The Philippines was at the top of the list with 120,000 people arrested in 30 days. In South Africa, reports of police using rubber bullets, tear gas and whips were received by the UN. Additional charges against the police included rape, murder, the use of firearms, and corruption.

Virus Fuels Potentially Permanent Surveillance Protocols

China, long known for its use of technology to invade the rights of its citizens, has dramatically increased its data collection after the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2. As they pursue gathering more data, in the name of curtailing the pandemic, the government has released a number of new tactics to monitor and track potential cases.

There is much concern that the pandemic has strengthened the country’s case for collecting data on its citizens — and that the data harvest will be permanent. In the past months, China began using futuristic technology, such as:13

  • Using drones to watch which people are using masks or going indoors
  • Measuring people’s temperatures using new facial recognition software
  • Using software to identify individuals based on body and face structure, even under masks
  • Using phone data to check who has been close to a person who tested positive for COVID-19
  • Using police helmets with cameras fitted with facial recognition and thermal software to identify and quarantine people with a fever

Citizens are also being required to download an app that uses information from their Alibaba account to estimate health and risk of contagion; the information is then shared with the police.

Experts fear the data collection will continue after the public health threat is gone. This type of surveillance already exists in the Northwestern region of China where the state feels they are under threat by religious extremism. Maya Wang is a senior researcher at China’s Human Rights Watch. She spoke to Business Insider, saying:14

“The use of these systems is taking place without privacy law or surveillance law that effectively protects people’s privacy rights, to allow them to challenge such designation or the imposition of quarantine.”

Darren Byler is a technology expert who specializes in China’s Xinjiang region. He commented on the use of technology to monitor people, warning:15

“Once you have the tools in place, you’d probably continue to use them, and you can expand them and use them for other purposes. From the US context, the PATRIOT Act, Homeland Security, and countering violent extremist programs that the US put in place initially after 9/11 were focused on Muslim Americans, but have now been radically expanded to look at asylum seekers of all types, like people coming across the southern border into the US.

Once these systems are in place, once things are built, once they’re designed — you can’t put them back in the box, and once political leaders see the utility of them and see that they can extend their power, extend their control, then of course they will continue to use them and use them in new ways.”




Learning from King’s Last Campaign

As we head deeper into a divisive election season—and as we remember Dr. King—it’s worth remembering that our real enemy is injustice, not each other.

By Jessicah Pierre | Common Dreams

As we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., it’s natural to remember his courageous advocacy for racial equity. But before he was assassinated, King had also begun to broaden his efforts to unify the around economic justice.

That’s worth remembering today.

In December 1967, King, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and other conveners laid out their vision for the first Poor People’s Campaign. Seeing how poverty cut across race and geography, these leaders built the campaign into a multiracial effort including African Americans, white Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans aimed at alleviating poverty for all.

Even at a time of stark partisan polarization, a majority of Americans support policies like raising the minimum wage—while opposing things like the Trump administration’s draconian cuts to federal nutrition assistance programs.

The goal was to lead a massive protest in Washington D.C. demanding that Congress prioritize a massive anti-poverty package that included, among other things, a commitment to full employment, a guaranteed annual income, and more low-income housing. And they wanted to pay for it by ending the Vietnam War.

“We believe the highest patriotism demands the ending of the war,” King said, “and the opening of a bloodless war to final victory over racism and poverty.” Assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968, while organizing Black sanitation workers, King never made it to the Poor People’s March, but thousands did protest in Washington to honor King’s memory and to pursue his vision.

That vision remains to be realized. Today, 140 million Americans—over 40 percent of us—remain poor or low-income. As in King’s day, Black and brown Americans are especially impacted, but so are millions of poor whites.

Our country may be polarized by party. But the truth is, we have more in common to fight for than what divides us.

A December survey by the Center for American Progress (CAP) found that 52 percent of American voters across party lines reported experiencing a serious economic problem in the past year. This tracks with other research, including the Federal Reserve Board’s finding that 40 percent of Americans don’t have the money to cover a $400 emergency.

The same CAP survey shows that strong majorities—including 9 in 10 Democrats, 7 in 10 independents, and 6 in 10 Republicans—support government action to “reduce poverty by ensuring that all families have access to basic living standards like health care, food, and housing if their wages are too low or they can’t make ends meet.”

Even at a time of stark partisan polarization, a majority of Americans support policies like raising the minimum wage—while opposing things like the Trump administration’s draconian cuts to federal nutrition assistance programs.

King and the Poor People’s Campaign promoted a vision of unity. But it wasn’t a unity that avoided conflict—it was one where poor and low-income overcame their divisions to fight for economic justice together.

To revive that vision, a new Poor People’s Campaign has emerged to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and militarism — and what they’re calling “the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.” Over the past two years, this campaign has organized communities from all over the country to build lasting power for poor and impacted people.

“Poor and low-wealth people are seeing the need to galvanize themselves around an agenda, not a party, not a person, but an agenda,” said Reverend William Barber, one of the new campaign’s leaders. “What happens if a movement is able to help people see how they’re being played against each other? You could reset the entire political calculus.”

As we head deeper into a divisive election season—and as we remember Dr. King—it’s worth remembering that our real enemy is injustice, not each other.

Jessicah Pierre is the inequality media specialist at the Institute for Policy Studies.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




How to Fight Racism Through Inner Work

By Jill Suttie | Greater Good Magazine

Mindfulness meditation may hold the key to grappling with interpersonal racism, says Rhonda Magee, because it helps people tolerate the discomfort that comes with deeper discussions about race. And it can help cultivate a sense of belonging and community for those who experience and fight racism in our everyday lives.

For more than 20 years, Magee has worked to address issues of race, racism, and identity-based conflict while teaching law at the University of San Francisco. Over the years teaching hundreds of students about the many ways that racism affects law and justice, she came to realize that we can’t just think our way out of racism or other biases—we need to go deeper than intellectual understanding if we are to truly address bias in ourselves and others.

Enter her new book, The Inner Work of Racial Justice, which combines stories and analysis to illuminate recent research on bias and mindfulness. In doing so, it provides an introduction to mindfulness meditation and compassion practice. I spoke with her about the book and her reasons for turning to mindfulness as a way of confronting racism.

Jill Suttie: What do you mean by “inner work” and why do you think people need to focus on it when combatting racism?

Professor Rhonda Magee

Professor Rhonda Magee

Rhonda Magee: Racism and other forms of bias are pervasive in our culture. So, most of us have inherited ways of thinking about ourselves and others that are fairly reductionist—notions of race, gender, and other things that give us a limited sense of who we are. We can all see the harm that this causes, the polarization and identity-based violence in our time.

I think we’re called to challenge not only these behaviors, but the reductionist thinking that contributes to them, but we can’t do it without creating some spaciousness in ourselves to understand how we hold these ideas in our own brain, body, and experience. Because cultural training and conditionings run so deep, we need to meet the challenges of un-training ourselves with a similar level of depth.

Inner work is about addressing this—really looking within to see how we’ve been trained and conditioned through lenses of race, gender, and the intersections of those two, day after day, living in cultures that constantly feed the sense that we are different from and even should be afraid of each other. By inner work, I mean practices of mindfulness-based awareness and compassion. These practices help us unpack a deeper sense of who we are in ways that redress what I see as poverty of imagination around what it means to be human, to be alive.

JS: Don’t you think someone suffering racism might be resistant to the idea of needing to work on their inner self rather than work on changing society?

RM: Yes, and at the same time we need an ecological approach to justice that includes inner work, interpersonal work, and intercultural systemic work—meaning, working within ourselves and between ourselves, and then working to change the systems that we’re living in.

By no means do I mean to suggest that all of the work of racial justice has to be done “within.” But we do need to create a place, a narrative, a set of practices to support entering into that part of the work so that we’re not tempted to think racial justice is mostly about doing something “out there.” Deep training in mindfulness allows us to see that, for all of us, there’s an inner dimension to racial justice, even while we work to change cultural systems around us.

JS: There’s some research that suggests being more mindful might lead to less political action. Are you concerned about that?

RM: This depends on how we’re framing “mindfulness.” If you think of it as highly individual—something to be supported by an app for your personal well-being—then, yes, it probably could contribute to disengagement or pacification. But the traditional teachings of the Buddha, from which most of what we call mindfulness evolved, are about how we might better engage with others and the world.

The historical Buddha dealt with many of the challenging social realities of his time—for example, allowing women into the order of practice in ways that other religious or other wisdom traditions at the time didn’t. He specifically countered and addressed the caste system in his time; he worked with kings and others in power to influence the way they exercised power in the direction of minimizing harm.

Inspired by these teachings, I have always viewed mindfulness as being about inner and outer awareness and action. Mindfulness arises only in the community. As the Buddha famously said to his disciple, Ananda, community is not half the awakened life; it’s all of it. How we treat others is all about what mindfulness is all about.

JS: Your book’s target audience appears to be broad—to appeal to both people who inadvertently perpetuate racism and people who directly suffer the effects of racism. How can mindfulness help both?

RM: Research has helped us see that mindfulness can be of benefit in many, many ways. First, when I use the term mindfulness, I mean a rich tradition of practice, study, and communion—not just a solo practice for training your mind in ways that some refer to as “McMindfulness.” With deep practice, we can begin to understand how this inner work helps us with automatic ways of seeing and categorizing each other.

There’s actually research that shows mindfulness helps reduce implicit bias—not just around race or gender, but also around homelessness, age, etc. So, there’s some reason to believe that basic, simple awareness practices can help disrupt that automatic, biased way of thinking. This helps us more consciously choose how we engage with one another—whether we see ourselves as victims of racism or we’re people trying to minimize harm in the world by working with our privileged status in certain contexts.

The practices also help us, victims of stereotype or bias repair, our sense of woundedness and increase our sense of belonging and interconnectedness. The practices can teach us to manage our emotions if we’re getting triggered into feeling stress or vulnerability that naturally comes with a long history of lived experience dealing with bias.

They can also heal some of the trauma of living as a target of violence, micro-aggressions, or other forms of bias and help make us actually less likely to succumb to “stereotype threat”—the psychological stress caused by the perceived risk of confirming a negative stereotype about oneself in a given context when a related social identity characteristic is raised—which studies have shown can decrease the performance of, say, women taking a science exam in a classroom setting in which gender has been recently highlighted.

JS: In your book, you write about something you call “ColorInsight.” Can you explain how this fits into addressing racism?

RM: Many of us have been raised with the idea that it’s best not to talk about racial issues, and that to fight racism we must be “colorblind.” But bringing mindfulness and compassion practices to bear on experiences around race can help deepen our insight into how we see race, and how racism factors in all our lives. That’s ColorInsight.

Even those of us trained in mindfulness live in societies that look at race and perpetuate messages around race in particular ways. So, while we may believe that we’re less racist because of our training, we’re all part of a culture affected by these messages. If we are trained against understanding how we do see race, if we can’t understand that and we can’t talk about it, we will be less able to address it. Our children will continue to suffer from racism, and so will our communities. I often hear from the young people I teach that they don’t know how to turn toward discussions of race, or they feel a sense of threat from the “other” because of the messages they’ve heard.

Developing ColorInsight—the capacity to analyze race and racism in our own lives and in the social settings we are in, with compassion as we go—can help them enter into these discussions more deeply.

JS: When you use the term “deep mindfulness,” it seems daunting to me. What advice do you have for someone wanting to work on racial justice, but not necessarily wanting to create a deep mindfulness practice?

RM: My book wasn’t written only for people who are deep practitioners; it’s actually written for anyone with an interest in working to fight racism in our times. I open the book with a practice called “the pause”—a very gentle, very portable, easy way of helping create some deepening awareness about what we’re dealing with in any given situation.

For example, if we see a Facebook post or Twitter tweet or something in the news that makes us want to run away or to fight or to act out of anger, mindfulness can help us pause for a moment, notice how we’re reacting, and bring a kind or friendly energy to the situation. Being able to pause helps us to understand why we’re reacting and allow for broader moral and social imagination around how we respond.

Mindfulness can also help people understand more about the experiences of those on the other side of the racial veil. Sure, we can try to listen to people share their lived experiences; but I also want to disrupt the temptation for people to say that they have no idea what it’s like to put themselves in the shoes of another’s humanity—in other words, to imagine what it’s like to be the only one in a room surrounded by people who look different from me and to experience stereotyping. I hear that a lot from students: They hear bad stuff is happening, but they don’t know what it’s like to be a victim of racism, or what to do about it.

Mindfulness helps strengthen our capacity to empathize with others, to work with the emotions that get in the way of helping minimize harm, and to access what we can do.  We see that racism isn’t just other people’s problems. We all have a role to play and can help make a difference right where we are.

JS: Research suggests that having positive contact with people who are different from us decreases bias. Does your book support this idea somehow?

RM: Absolutely! Time and again research shows that we can minimize bias by bringing people together. But we haven’t taught or applied that research robustly; if anything, we’ve moved away from rather than toward efforts to desegregate and bring people together in the meaningful ways that may actually disrupt prejudice. Instead, we get caught up in stories of fear, forecasting the challenge of being together. If someone says, “We’re going to talk about race,” the temptation for many of us is to pull back, right?

As human beings, we feel challenged when we are invited into discussions about race without a lot of support. The book is meant to offer that support through mindfulness practices and compassion for ourselves and others. When we’re asked to talk about race, we can sit with the discomfort and gain a sense of confidence, increasing our capacity to go through the difficulty, which will lay a foundation for richer, more regular contact. In this and other ways, the practices can support us in becoming more able to navigate the differences, the conflicts that our different experiences in the world make.

We’ve seen examples of how contact between people from different backgrounds can be itself a vehicle for lessening bias—like in the International Space Station, where people from all over the world came together to make it happen, in musical bands, and the like. I wrote the book to help people recognize and grapple with bias and its impacts, to help us stop recreating spheres of separation and inequality. What gets in our way of acting on our better intentions? We need to get more honest about that and more practiced in supportive, nurturing ways of being with each other.

JS: What are your hopes for the book’s impact?

RM: It’s meant to be a book that can support a book club, a family, or a group of people at work to really turn towards these issues and address the poverty of both imagination and experience together that I’m speaking of here—deepening people’s sense of abundance about what it means to be alive and how to be alive together in these times. I hope the book can increase people’s capacity to disrupt structures of oppression that minimize access to ways of flourishing, making some of us, literally, more vulnerable to unhealthy outcomes in the world. Anyone of us can play a role in working with the delusions we have around race that get in the way of making love more available in the public sphere.

My own experience around doing this work fills me with hope. There is so much potential for human beings to grow, yet we’ve all been wounded and we all suffer from this. Some people even call racism a disease. We are all suffering as a society and as individuals because of our inability to come together: We don’t have health care that’s effective; we can’t get our head around gun control, criminal justice reform, climate change, or what we need to do about it, and this confusion is impacted by our inability to imagine worlds and systems that work better for all of us. It’s all interrelated.

We can do better. Our culture’s (frankly) infantile way of dealing with our history of racism and how that still shows up today has to change if we’re going to get through this period. The invitation to mindfully turn toward those things we’ve been trained to think we can’t handle, with confidence and compassion, is how we’ll get there.

About the Author
{author}



Leading Civil Rights Lawyer Shows 20 Ways Trump Is Copying Hitler’s Early Rhetoric and Policies

We’re used to thinking of Hitler’s Third Reich as the incomparably evil tyranny that it undoubtedly was. But Hitler didn’t take power by force. He used a set of rhetorical tropes codified in Trump’s bedside reading that persuaded enough Germans to welcome Hitler as a populist leader. (Photo: photolibrarian/Flickr/cc)

By

A new book by one of the nation’s foremost civil liberties lawyers powerfully describes how America’s constitutional checks and balances are being pushed to the brink by a president who is consciously following Adolf Hitler’s extremist propaganda and policy template from the early 1930s—when the Nazis took power in Germany.

In When at Times the Mob Is Swayed: A Citizen’s Guide to Defending Our Republic, Burt Neuborne mostly focuses on how America’s constitutional foundation in 2019—an unrepresentative Congress, the Electoral College, and a right-wing Supreme Court majority—is not positioned to withstand Trump’s extreme polarization and GOP power grabs. However, its second chapter, “Why the Sudden Concern About Fixing the Brakes?,” extensively details Trump’s mimicry of Hitler’s pre-war rhetoric and strategies.

Neuborne doesn’t make this comparison lightly. His 55-year career began by challenging the constitutionality of the Vietnam War in the 1960s. He became the ACLU’s national legal director in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan. He was founding legal director of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School in the 1990s. He has been part of more than 200 Supreme Court cases and Holocaust reparation litigation.

“Why does an ignorant, narcissistic buffoon like Trump trigger such anxiety? Why do so many Americans feel it existentially (not just politically) important to resist our forty-fifth president?” he writes. “Partly it’s just aesthetics. Trump is such a coarse and appalling man that it’s hard to stomach his presence in Abraham Lincoln’s house. But that’s not enough to explain the intensity of my dread. LBJ was coarse. Gerald Ford and George W. Bush were dumb as rocks. Richard Nixon was an anti-Semite. Bill Clinton’s mistreatment of women dishonored his office. Ronald Reagan was a dangerous ideologue. I opposed each of them when they appeared to exceed their constitutional powers. But I never felt a sense of existential dread. I never sensed that the very existence of a tolerant democracy was in play.”

A younger Trump, according to his first wife’s divorce filings, kept and studied a book translating and annotating Adolf Hitler’s pre-World War II speeches in a locked bedside cabinet, Neuborne noted. The English edition of My New Order, published in 1941, also had analyses of the speeches’ impact on his era’s press and politics. “Ugly and appalling as they are, those speeches are masterpieces of demagogic manipulation,” Neuborne says.

“Watching Trump work for his crowds, though, I see a dangerously manipulative narcissist unleashing the demagogic spells that he learned from studying Hitler’s speeches—spells that he cannot control and that is capable of eroding the fabric of American democracy,” Neuborne says. “You see, we’ve seen what these rhetorical techniques can do. Much of Trump’s rhetoric—as a candidate and in office—mirrors the strategies, even the language, used by Adolf Hitler in the early 1930s to erode German democracy.”

Many Americans may seize or condemn Neuborne’s analysis, which has more than 20 major points of comparison. The author repeatedly says his goal is not “equating” the men—as “it trivializes Hitler’s obscene crimes to compare them to Trump’s often pathetic foibles.”

Indeed, the book has a larger frame: whether federal checks and balances—Congress, the Supreme Court, the Electoral College—can contain the havoc that Trump thrives on and the Republican Party at large has embraced. But the Trump-Hitler compilation is a stunning warning, because, as many Holocaust survivors have said, few Germans or Europeans expected what unfolded in the years after Hitler amassed power.

Here’s how Neuborne introduces this section. Many recent presidents have been awful, “But then there was Donald Trump, the only president in recent American history to openly despise the twin ideals—individual dignity and fundamental equality—upon which the contemporary United States is built. When you confront the reality of a president like Trump, the state of both sets of brakes—internal [constitutional] and external [public resistance]—become hugely important because Donald Trump’s political train runs on the most potent and dangerous fuel of all: a steady diet of fear, greed, loathing, lies, and envy. It’s a toxic mixture that has destroyed democracies before and can do so again.

“Give Trump credit,” he continues. “He did his homework well and became the twenty-first-century master of divisive rhetoric. We’re used to thinking of Hitler’s Third Reich as the incomparably evil tyranny that it undoubtedly was. But Hitler didn’t take power by force. He used a set of rhetorical tropes codified in Trump’s bedside reading that persuaded enough Germans to welcome Hitler as a populist leader. The Nazis did not overthrow the Weimar Republic. It fell into their hands like the fruit of Hitler’s satanic ability to mesmerize enough Germans to trade their birthright for a pottage of scapegoating, short-term economic gain, xenophobia, and racism. It could happen here.”

20 Common Themes, Rhetorical Tactics, and Dangerous Policies

Here are 20 serious points of comparison between the early Hitler and Trump.

  1. Neither was elected by a majority. Trump lost the popular vote by 2.9 million votes, receiving votes by 25.3 percent of all eligible American voters. “That’s just a little less than the percentage of the German electorate that turned to the Nazi Party in 1932–33,” Neuborne writes. “Unlike the low turnouts in the United States, turnout in Weimar Germany averaged just over 80 percent of eligible voters.” He continues, “Once installed as a minority chancellor in January 1933, Hitler set about demonizing his political opponents, and no one—not the vaunted, intellectually brilliant German judiciary; not the respected, well-trained German police; not the revered, aristocratic German military; not the widely admired, efficient German government bureaucracy; not the wealthy, immensely powerful leaders of German industry; and not the powerful center-right political leaders of the Reichstag—mounted a serious effort to stop him.”
  2. Both found direct communication channels to their base. By 1936’s Olympics, Nazi narratives dominated German cultural and political life. “How on earth did Hitler pull it off? What satanic magic did Trump find in Hitler’s speeches?” Neuborne asks. He addresses Hitler’s extreme rhetoric soon enough, but notes that Hitler found a direct communication pathway—the Nazi Party gave out radios with only one channel, tuned to Hitler’s voice, bypassing Germany’s news media. Trump has an online equivalent.

“Donald Trump’s tweets, often delivered between midnight and dawn, are the twenty-first century’s technological embodiment of Hitler’s free plastic radios,” Neuborne says. “Trump’s Twitter account, like Hitler’s radios, enables a charismatic leader to establish and maintain a personal, unfiltered line of communication with an adoring political base of about 30–40 percent of the population, many (but not all) of whom are only too willing, even anxious, to swallow Trump’s witches’ brew of falsehoods, half-truths, personal invective, threats, xenophobia, national security scares, religious bigotry, white racism, exploitation of economic insecurity, and a never ending-search for scapegoats.”

  1. Both blame others and divide into racial lines. As Neuborne notes, “Hitler used his single-frequency radios to wax hysterical to his adoring base about his pathological racial and religious fantasies glorifying Aryans and demonizing Jews, blaming Jews (among other racial and religious scapegoats) for German society’s ills.” That is comparable to “Trump’s tweets and public statements, whether dealing with black-led demonstrations against police violence, white-led racist mob violence, threats posed by undocumented aliens, immigration policy generally, protests by black and white professional athletes, college admission policies, hate speech, even response to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico,” he says. Again and again, Trump uses “racially tinged messages calculated to divide whites from people of color.”
  2. Both relentlessly demonize opponents. “Hitler’s radio harangues demonized his domestic political opponents, calling them parasites, criminals, cockroaches, and various categories of leftist scum,” Neuborne notes. “Trump’s tweets and speeches similarly demonize his political opponents. Trump talks about the country being ‘infested’ with dangerous aliens of color. He fantasizes about jailing Hillary Clinton, calls Mexicans rapists, refers to ‘shithole countries,’ degrades anyone who disagrees with him, and dreams of uprooting thousands of allegedly disloyal bureaucrats in the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the FBI, and the CIA, who he calls ‘the deep state’ and who, he claims, are sabotaging American greatness.”
  3. They unceasingly attack objective truth. “Both Trump and Hitler maintained a relentless assault on the very idea of objective truth,” he continues. “Each began the assault by seeking to delegitimize the mainstream press. Hitler quickly coined the epithet Lügenpresse (literally ‘lying press’) to denigrate the mainstream press. Trump uses a paraphrase of Hitler’s lying press epithet—‘fake news’—cribbed, no doubt, from one of Hitler’s speeches. For Trump, the mainstream press is a ‘lying press’ that publishes ‘fake news.’” Hitler attacked his opponents as spreading false information to undermine his positions, Neuborne says, just as Trump has attacked “elites” for disseminating false news, “especially his possible links to the Kremlin.”
  4. They relentlessly attack mainstream media. Trump’s assaults on the media echo Hitler’s, Neuborne says, noting that he “repeatedly attacks the ‘failing New York Times,’ leads crowds in chanting ‘CNN sucks,’ [and] is personally hostile to most reporters.” He cites the White House’s refusal to fly the flag at half-mast after the murder of five journalists in Annapolis on June 2018, Trump’s efforts to punish CNN by blocking a merger of its corporate parent, and trying to revoke federal Postal Service contracts held by Amazon, which was founded by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post.
  5. Their attacks on truth include science. Neuborne notes, “Both Trump and Hitler intensified their assault on objective truth by deriding scientific experts, especially academics who question Hitler’s views on race or Trump’s views on climate change, immigration, or economics. For both Trump and Hitler, the goal is (and was) to eviscerate the very idea of objective truth, turning everything into grist for a populist jury subject to manipulation by a master puppeteer. In both Trump’s and Hitler’s worlds, the public opinion ultimately defines what is true and what is false.”
  6. Their lies blur reality—and supporters spread them. “Trump’s pathological penchant for repeatedly lying about his behavior can only succeed in a world where his supporters feel free to embrace Trump’s ‘alternative facts’ and treat his hyperbolic exaggerations as the gospel truth,” Neuborne says. “Once Hitler had delegitimized the mainstream media by a series of systematic attacks on its integrity, he constructed a fawning alternative mass media designed to reinforce his direct radio messages and enhance his personal power. Trump is following the same path, simultaneously launching bitter attacks on the mainstream press while embracing the so-called alt-right media, co-opting both Sinclair Broadcasting and the Rupert Murdoch–owned Fox Broadcasting Company as, essentially, a Trump Broadcasting Network.”
  7. Both orchestrated mass rallies to show status. “Once Hitler had cemented his personal communications link with his base via free radios and a fawning media and had badly eroded the idea of objective truth, he reinforced his emotional bond with his base by holding a series of carefully orchestrated mass meetings dedicated to cementing his status as a charismatic leader, or Führer,” Neuborne writes. “The powerful personal bonds nurtured by Trump’s tweets and Fox’s fawning are also systematically reinforced by periodic, carefully orchestrated mass rallies (even going so far as to co-opt a Boy Scout Jamboree in 2017), reinforcing Trump’s insatiable narcissism and his status as a charismatic leader.”
  8. They embrace extreme nationalism. “Hitler’s strident appeals to the base invoked an extreme version of German nationalism, extolling a brilliant German past and promising to restore Germany to its rightful place as a preeminent nation,” Neuborne says. “Trump echoes Hitler’s jingoistic appeal to ultranationalist fervor, extolling American exceptionalism right down to the slogan ‘Make America Great Again,’ a paraphrase of Hitler’s promise to restore German greatness.”
  9. Both made closing borders a centerpiece. “Hitler all but closed Germany’s borders, freezing non-Aryan migration into the country and rendering it impossible for Germans to escape without official permission. Like Hitler, Trump has also made closed borders a centerpiece of his administration,” Neuborne continues. “Hitler barred Jews. Trump bars Muslims and seekers of sanctuary from Central America. When the lower courts blocked Trump’s Muslim travel ban, he unilaterally issued executive orders replacing it with a thinly disguised substitute that ultimately narrowly won Supreme Court approval under a theory of extreme deference to the president.”
  10. They embraced mass detention and deportations. “Hitler promised to make Germany free from Jews and Slavs. Trump promises to slow, stop, and even reverse the flow of non-white immigrants, substituting Muslims, Africans, Mexicans, and Central Americans of color for Jews and Slavs as scapegoats for the nation’s ills. Trump’s efforts to cast dragnets to arrest undocumented aliens where they work, live, and worship, followed by mass deportation… echo Hitler’s promise to defend Germany’s racial identity,” he writes, also noting that Trump has “stooped to tearing children from their parents [as Nazis in World War II would do] to punish desperate efforts by migrants to find a better life.”
  11. Both used borders to protect selected industries. “Like Hitler, Trump seeks to use national borders to protect his favored national interests, threatening to ignite protectionist trade wars with Europe, China, and Japan similar to the trade wars that, in earlier incarnations, helped to ignite World War I and World War II,” Neuborne writes. “Like Hitler, Trump aggressively uses our nation’s political and economic power to favor selected American corporate interests at the expense of foreign competitors and the environment, even at the price of international conflict, massive inefficiency, and irreversible pollution [climate change].”
  12. They cemented their rule by enriching elites. “Hitler’s version of fascism shifted immense power—both political and financial—to the leaders of German industry. In fact, Hitler governed Germany largely through corporate executives,” he continues. “Trump has also presided over a massive empowerment—and enrichment—of corporate America. Under Trump, large corporations exercise immense political power while receiving huge economic windfalls and freedom from regulations designed to protect consumers and the labor force.

“Hitler despised the German labor movement, eventually destroying it and imprisoning its leaders. Trump also detests strong unions, seeking to undermine any effort to interfere with the prerogatives of management.”

  1. Both rejected international norms. “Hitler’s foreign policy rejected international cooperation in favor of military and economic coercion, culminating in the annexation of the Sudetenland, the phony Hitler-Stalin nonaggression pact, the invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the horrors of global war,” Neuborne notes. “Like Hitler, Trump is deeply hostile to multinational cooperation, withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the nuclear agreement with Iran, threatening to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, abandoning our Kurdish allies in Syria, and even going so far as to question the value of NATO, our post-World War II military alliance with European democracies against Soviet expansionism.”
  2. They attack domestic democratic processes. “Hitler attacked the legitimacy of democracy itself, purging the voting rolls, challenging the integrity of the electoral process, and questioning the ability of democratic government to solve Germany’s problems,” Neuborne notes. “Trump has also attacked the democratic process, declining to agree to be bound by the outcome of the 2016 elections when he thought he might lose, supporting the massive purge of the voting rolls allegedly designed to avoid (nonexistent) fraud, championing measures that make it harder to vote, tolerating—if not fomenting—massive Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, encouraging mob violence at rallies, darkly hinting at violence if Democrats hold power, and constantly casting doubt on the legitimacy of elections unless he wins.”
  3. Both attack the judiciary and rule of law. “Hitler politicized and eventually destroyed the vaunted German justice system. Trump also seeks to turn the American justice system into his personal playground,” Neuborne writes. “Like Hitler, Trump threatens the judicially enforced rule of law, bitterly attacking American judges who rule against him, slyly praising Andrew Jackson for defying the Supreme Court, and abusing the pardon power by pardoning an Arizona sheriff found guilty of criminal contempt of court for disobeying federal court orders to cease violating the Constitution.”
  4. Both glorify the military and demand loyalty oaths. “Like Hitler, Trump glorifies the military, staffing his administration with layers of retired generals (who eventually were fired or resigned), relaxing control over the use of lethal force by the military and the police, and demanding a massive increase in military spending,” Neuborne writes. Just as Hitler “imposed an oath of personal loyalty on all German judges” and demanded courts defer to him, “Trump’s already gotten enough deference from five Republican [Supreme Court] justices to uphold a largely Muslim travel ban that is the epitome of racial and religious bigotry.”

Trump has also demanded loyalty oaths. “He fired James Comey, a Republican appointed in 2013 as FBI director by President Obama, for refusing to swear an oath of personal loyalty to the president; excoriated and then sacked Jeff Sessions, his handpicked attorney general, for failing to suppress the criminal investigation into… Trump’s possible collusion with Russia in influencing the 2016 elections; repeatedly threatened to dismiss Robert Mueller, the special counsel carrying out the investigation; and called again and again for the jailing of Hillary Clinton, his 2016 opponent, leading crowds in chants of ‘lock her up.’” A new chant, “send her back,” has since emerged at Trump rallies directed at non-white Democratic congresswomen.

  1. They proclaim unchecked power. “Like Hitler, Trump has intensified a disturbing trend that predated his administration of governing unilaterally, largely through executive orders or proclamations,” Neuborne says, citing the Muslim travel ban, trade tariffs, unraveling of health and environmental safety nets, ban on transgender military service, and efforts to end President Obama’s protection for Dreamers. “Like Hitler, Trump claims the power to overrule Congress and govern all by himself. In 1933, Hitler used the pretext of the Reichstag fire to declare a national emergency and seize the power to govern unilaterally. The German judiciary did nothing to stop him. German democracy never recovered.”

“When Congress refused to give Trump funds for his border wall even after he threw a tantrum and shut down the government, Trump, like Hitler, declared a phony national emergency and claimed the power to ignore Congress,” Neuborne continues. “Don’t count on the Supreme Court to stop him. Five justices gave the game away on the President’s unilateral travel ban. They just might do the same thing on the border wall.” It did in late July, ruling that Trump could divert congressionally appropriated funds from the Pentagon budget—undermining constitutional separation of powers.

  1. Both relegate women to subordinate roles. “Finally,” writes Neuborne, “Hitler propounded a misogynistic, stereotypical view of women, valuing them exclusively as wives and mothers while excluding them from full participation in German political and economic life. Trump may be the most openly misogynist figure ever to hold high public office in the United States, crassly treating women as sexual objects, using nondisclosure agreements and violating campaign finance laws to shield his sexual misbehavior from public knowledge, attacking women who come forward to accuse men of abusive behavior, undermining reproductive freedom, and opposing efforts by women to achieve economic equality.”

Whither Constitutional Checks and Balances?

Most of Neuborne’s book is not centered on Trump’s fealty to Hitler’s methods and early policies. He notes, as many commentators have, that Trump is following the well-known contours of authoritarian populists and dictators: “there’s always a charismatic leader, a disaffected mass, an adroit use of communications media, economic insecurity, racial or religious fault lines, xenophobia, a turn to violence, and a search for scapegoats.”

The bigger problem and the subject of most of the book is that the federal architecture intended to be a check and balance against tyrants is not poised to act. Congressional representation is fundamentally anti-democratic. In the Senate, politicians representing 18 percent of the national population—epicenters of Trump’s base—can cast 51 percent of the chamber’s votes. A Republican majority from rural states, representing barely 40 percent of the population, controls the chamber. It repeatedly thwarts legislation reflecting multicultural America’s values—and creates a brick wall for impeachment.

The House of Representatives is not much better. Until 2018, this decade’s GOP-majority House, a product of 2011’s extreme Republican gerrymanders, was also unrepresentative of the nation’s demographics. That bias still exists in the Electoral College, as the size of a state’s congressional delegation equals its allocation of votes. That formula is fair as far as House members go, but allocating votes based on two senators per state hurts urban America. Consider that California’s population is 65 times larger than Wyoming’s.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s majority remains in the hands of justices appointed by Republican presidents—and favors that party’s agenda. Most Americans are unaware that the court’s partisan majority has only changed twice since the Civil War—in 1937, when a Democratic-appointed majority took over, and in 1972 when a Republican-appointed majority took over. Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s blocking of President Obama’s final nominee thwarted a twice-a-century change. Today’s hijacked Supreme Court majority has only just begun deferring to Trump’s agenda.

Neuborne wants to be optimistic that a wave of state-based resistance, call it progressive federalism, could blunt Trump’s power grabs and help the country return to a system embracing, rather than demonizing, individual dignity and fundamental equality. But he predicts that many Americans who supported Trump in 2016 (largely, he suggests, because their plights have been overlooked for many years by federal power centers and by America’s capitalist hubs) won’t desert Trump—not while he’s in power.

“When tyrants like Hitler are ultimately overthrown, their mass support vanishes retroactively—everyone turns out to have been in the resistance—but the mass support was undeniably there,” he writes. “There will, of course, be American quislings who will enthusiastically support an American tyrant. There always are—everywhere.”

Ultimately, Neuborne doesn’t expect there will be a “constitutional mechanic in the sky ready to swoop down and save American democracy from Donald Trump at the head of a populist mob.” Whatever Trump thinks he is or isn’t doing, his rhetorical and strategic role model—the early Hitler—is what makes Trump and today’s GOP so dangerous.

“Even if all that Trump is doing is marching to that populist drum, he is unleashing forces that imperil the fragile fabric of multicultural democracy,” Neuborne writes. “But I think there’s more. The parallels—especially the links between Lügenpresse and ‘fake news,’ and promises to restore German greatness and ‘Make America Great Again’—are just too close to be coincidental. I’m pretty sure that Trump’s bedside study of Hitler’s speeches—especially the use of personal invective, white racism, and xenophobia—has shaped the way Trump seeks to gain political power in our time. I don’t for a moment believe that Trump admires what Hitler eventually did with his power [genocide], but he damn well admires—and is successfully copying—the way that Hitler got it.”

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

About the Author

Steven Rosenfeld

Steven Rosenfeld is a senior writing fellow and the editor and chief correspondent of  Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is a national political reporter focusing on democracy issues. He has reported for nationwide public radio networks, websites, and newspapers and produced talk radio and music podcasts. He has written five books, including profiles of campaigns, voter suppression, voting rights guides, and a WWII survival story currently being made into a film. His latest book is Democracy Betrayed: How Superdelegates, Redistricting, Party Insiders, and the Electoral College Rigged the 2016 Election (Hot Books, March 2018).

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




#WhiteSupremacyKills: 100+ Civil Rights Groups Rally to Reject GOP’s Excuses for Massacres and Demand Concrete Action

Three days after 22 people were killed in a mass shooting that targeted Latinos in El Paso Texas, progressive social justice groups gathered in Washington, D.C. to declare that “white supremacy kills” and demand concrete action from lawmakers to combat white nationalist terrorism. (Photo: @civilrightsorg/Twitter)

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

More than 100 civil rights groups rallied outside the White House Tuesday to unequivocally state that white supremacy, easy access to guns, and indifference from policymakers about both were to blame for the massacres in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio over the weekend.

Gun control and racial justice advocates assembled in the nation’s capital for the #WhiteSupremacyKills demonstration, chanting, “Vote them out!” and “Hey hey! Ho-ho! White supremacy’s got to go!”

The protest came as President Donald Trump downplayed his role in the rise of white nationalism and other Republicans pointed fingers at video games, LGBTQ people, and the mental healthcare system as the root causes of the shootings.

The El Paso shooting was the largest hate-based, gun-related massacre of Latino people in modern U.S. history, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said in a statement.

Three days after 22 people were shot in the largely Latino city by a gunman who had denounced the so-called “invasion” of Latin American immigrants, demonstrators carried signs that said in both Spanish and English, “Be on the right side of history. Unite against white supremacy.”

“The tragedies of this past weekend represent a confluence of two dangerous forces: the rise of white supremacist terror and our federal government’s inaction on commonsense gun safety,” said the groups, including Voto Latino, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and MoveOn.org, in a joint statement.

“When the president and his enablers routinely denigrate and dehumanize certain communities, he gives permission to white supremacists to commit horrific violence—violence that is at a level unprecedented in more than 20 years,” the statement continued. “None of this is acceptable. None of this is normal.”

The rally came a day after Trump claimed he aims to “condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy” while failing to acknowledge his own encouragement of the ideologies. In a manifesto, the man accused of killing 22 people in El Paso echoed language Trump has used in his attacks on immigration, saying the shooting was “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The president repeatedly called the arrival of Latin American immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border an “invasion” last year.

“The impact of Trump’s racist rhetoric and policies cannot be ignored when white supremacists—many of whom name him in their attacks and cite him in their hate manifestos—murder innocent people of color,” the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said.

In addition to calling on lawmakers and Trump to “unequivocally denounce this violence” and “prevent the rise of white supremacy,” organizers denounced Congress for failing to pass gun control legislation like the universal background checks bill which the Democratic-led U.S. House passed in February—and which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to allow the Senate to vote on.

“We’re the only industrialized country in the world where you can go in and you can buy an assault-style weapon and you can buy a magazine that carries 100 or more rounds, and you can get that for about $200,” said Kris Brown, president of the gun control group Brady. “That’s what happened in Dayton, that’s what we saw happen in El Paso, and why is that? Because they’re designed to kill as many people as humanly possible as quickly as possible.”

“We are arming hate,” Brown added.

“Our organizations are united in saying that members of Congress can no longer look away as communities of color and religious minorities are murdered with impunity,” read the groups’ joint statement. “It is not enough for Republican leadership in Congress to offer thoughts and prayers, nor should they repeatedly blame gun violence on mental illness—an unfounded and harmful trope. We must all unite and demand accountability.”

On social media, supporters of the protest tweeted using the hashtag #WhiteSupremacyKills to call on lawmakers to introduce concrete federal reforms to stem the rise of the white nationalist movement which has become increasingly visible under Trump—at 2017’s deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia; in the mass shootings in El Paso and Pittsburgh; and at Trump’s rallies, where the president has recently encouraged racist chants and comments from his supporters.

Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




Is a Mandatory DNA Database for All Americans Coming Soon?

dna strands

Source:  CS Globe

Although many thought the U.S. would see it first, mandatory DNA testing—for every citizen, foreign resident, and visitor—is now the law in Kuwait.

Violations of this truly dystopic law carry the penalty of a year in prison or a fine of $33,000—but falsifying a DNA sample carries a seven year prison term.

If you think this won’t come to the U.S., you should carefully consider how frighteningly close we already are—and the rather daunting future implications. The Kuwaiti government made the groundbreaking—albeit terrifying—decision to require mass DNA collection following the June 26 bombing of a Shia mosque in Kuwait City that killed 25 and injured over 200. That attack was part one of three the same day—all claimed by ISIL (ISIS, IS)—that included a mass shooting at a tourist resort in Tunisia, which left 28 dead and 36 injured, and an explosion at a gas factory near Lyon, France.

Passed in early July at a cost of $400 million, the procedures for DNA testing and collection are not yet known, but the project is expected to be complete no later than September 2016.

“We are in a state of war. Yes, we have busted this terror cell but there are other cells we are going to strike,” said Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Khaled al-Sabah in a speech before parliament prior to implementation of the law.

All 1.3 million citizens and 2.9 million foreign residents as well as visitors will be required to give a DNA sample for the database under the premise of facilitating expediency in criminal investigations. There will be exceptions for those with, as the government termed it, “the proper excuse”—though there was no indication what would constitute such an excuse.

“We are prepared to do anything to boost security measures in the country,” vowedMP Jamal al-Omar—sounding reminiscent of President Bush’s push to pass the Patriot Act following 9/11.

Though Kuwait’s new law is raising eyebrows with privacy advocates concerned about such governmental overreach, it should be noted that the U.S. hasn’t been as restrained with DNA collection as it once was. In fact, if you think widespread DNA collection couldn’t happen here, you are already wrong—state and federal courts recently cracked the lid a little wider on the Pandora’s Box of DNA profiling.

In 2013 in Maryland v. King, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of warrantless, suspicionless DNA collection for all arrestees under Maryland law—whether or not they are ever convicted of a crime. King had his DNA collected and profiled following an arrest for assault.

After the lab forwarded his genetic profile to the FBI to upload into its DNA database, called CODIS—standard procedure after a lab extracts the profile—it was compared to genetic evidence collected in all unsolved crimes. As King’s assault charge made its way through the courts, CODIS identified a match in an unsolved rape. He was subsequently charged, convicted, and sentenced to life—all stemming from an otherwise simple arrest.

Considering there are 28 states—up from 15 in 2009—as well as the federal government, that collect DNA with every arrest, the King decision is the ‘slippery slope toward ever-expanding warrantless DNA testing’ that judges throughout the country have predicted is already upon us,” as the Electronic Frontier Foundation described in their brief for the King case.

It didn’t take long for repercussions of the King case—the EFF’s “slippery slope”—to manifest nationally in the worst possible way.

Ironically, the most disturbing indication that mandatory national DNA collection is imminent also came from the same state that ostensibly opened the door for it. In State v. Raynor, the Maryland Supreme Court amplified the King ruling exponentially by allowing for warrantless DNA collection when someone hasn’t even been arrested for a crime.

After voluntarily going to the police station to answer questions about a rape case and refusing to submit to DNA testing on request, Glenn Raynor’s DNA was taken without his consent from a tissue he left behind on a chair. The fact that a court found this DNA extraction without consent perfectly constitutional, is at least a cause for alarm.

Kuwait’s mandatory DNA collection is the veritable forgone conclusion in the U.S.,  given the trend in court decisions and the vastly expanding scope of collection already in place.

See also: Scientists Discover 145 Alien Genes In DNA, We Are Not 100% Human

In just six years, the FBI’s DNA database has more than doubled in size—from 6.7 million profiles in 2009 to nearly 13.8 million as of May 2015—due, in part, to warrantless, suspicionless testing for arrestees. Over 2 million profiles—and rapidly counting—have been added to that database stemming purely from arrests.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE.




Popular Resistance: The People Are Ready for Action

PopularResistance.org

There is no doubt that the people are rising. Today there are at least three major events taking place – the Ferguson October massive march to end police brutality and racism in St. Louis, the European-wide day of actions against the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Agreement (TAFTA) and the Global Frackdown. People are also protesting the World Bank meeting in Washington, DC and the Maine Walk for Peace is beginning.

DemilitarizePolice

This week we remembered Popular Resistance’s roots in the occupation of Freedom Plaza which began as October 2011. At that time we wondered if people were ready to take stronger actions to challenge the corrupt political and economic systems that rule and the answer in the form of hundreds of occupations and the ongoing protests that followed was a clear ‘Yes!”

That momentum continues to build through meetings, networking, actions and the creation of new systems. The culture of the movement now is ‘convergence’ and the question is: “How do we work together more effectively to change the system?” Even traditional non-governmental organizations are starting to question whether they are challenging the system or perpetuating it. This is good news. The tide is shifting.

Thousands march for justice in St. Louis

Grassroots groups in Ferguson, MO called for people to join them for a weekend of nonviolent action and thousands responded. The weekend began with a march from Clayton to the police station last night and today thousands marched in downtown St. Louis. The marches are well-organized and peaceful. The future may not be so peaceful as police are coordinating with the FBI to prepare for possible riots if the grand jury does not indict Officer Darren Wilson.

Getting justice for Mike Brown and the hundreds of others who are killed by police each year is an uphill battle. Davey D wrote about his concerns around another murder by police of an 18 year old black teen in St. Louis this past week, Vonderrick Myers. While doubts were raised about the actions of an unidentified off-duty police officer, police immediately pointed to Myers’ arrest record. But in an area that overwhelmingly arrests black males, it’s hard to escape having a record.

The roots of racism and police violence are long and deep in the United States. These issues have been bubbling at the surface for a while. Mike Brown’s murder and the clear injustices in Ferguson brought them to a boil. Now the question is how to use this energy and attention to solve these crises rather than adding to them. Here is one vision that has been put forth which suggests expanding the work beyond civil rights to a human rights framework.

The Ohio Student’s Association organized and carried out a powerful campaign this week seeking justice for John Crawford, 21 years old, who was murdered by an officer in a Walmart while carrying a toy gun. The students started by occupying the police station for 3 days asking for a meeting with the chief and when the chief did not accept their basic demands, they shut down the office by sitting-in outside of it.

We need more campaigns like this. And we need more actions like this lawyer took who saw a black man being stopped by police for no reason other than walking in a wealthy neighborhood. She confronted the police and told them to get out of the neighborhood. We need to understand our legal rights and help each other. Check out the Civil Liberties Defense Center for helpful resources. And remember that this is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Free Marissa campaign is calling on Florida to drop the charges against Marissa Alexander.

Stopping Neoliberalism

The economic system that we are working to change is a form of capitalism called neo-liberalism. It’s a system that puts profit ahead of human rights and protection of the planet. It turns everything into a commodity. It privatizes our Commons and services through ‘public-private partnerships’ which are less partnership and more plundering.

The World Bank is a prime culprit in the global neo-liberal agenda and it’s time to call them out for it. Here is a new report that dispels the myths around the World Bank’s new approach to agriculture which is displacing millions of Indigenous People from their land. Another report shows that the World Bank is failing to address energy poverty. The World Bank annual meeting is in Washington, DC this weekend. Lively protests were held there yesterday featuring Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir and today. It was organized by the Our Land Our Business campaign and was part of an international day of action.

Other tools for the neoliberal agenda are global trade agreements such as the TPP and TAFTA.  They give legal rights for corporations to sue governments if laws interfere with profits. Lambert Strether wrote about some of the worst ways this power has been abused. And this article describes a similar case in New Brunswick that threatens to open the area to fracking.

Today there were actions throughout Europe to protest the Atlantic agreement, TAFTA. And we are preparing for a week of actions to stop the TPP and TAFTA in November. Last year there were 35 actions in the US on the national day of action to stop the TPP. We can double that this year and send a strong message to Congress. Click here to learn more about what you can do.

Fossil Fuel Industry Forges Ahead

We must continue to escalate actions to stop the fossil fuel industry. This week, a gas pipeline that is heavily opposed by the public was approved in Vermont. A massive sit-in is being organized in Montpelier for October 27 to protest it. Join them if you can! Click here for more information.

PeterShumlin

The Federal Energy Regulation Commission recently approved the storage of methane gas in a cavern at Lake Seneca in New York and the construction of a gas export terminal in Maryland. Both of these are heavily opposed and the environmental impacts were inadequately studied. And it was revealed this week that the Cuomo administration pressured the USGS to alter a key study on the impacts of fracking.

That’s why the week of actions in Washington, DC from November 1 to 8, called Beyond Extreme Energy, couldn’t come at a better time. The FERC will be one of many targets. You can learn more and sign up here. We urge you to join the new Popular Resistance Climate Justice affinity group. We are organizing an action in DC on November 3 as part of Beyond Extreme Energy which you can join and if you can’t, we’ll keep you informed of activities around climate justice. Click here to sign up.

Stopping the War Machine

This week marked the beginning of the 14th year in Afghanistan. We marked that anniversary with a ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in New York City. For those of you who have followed the annual ceremony there, you will be pleased to know that the curfew was lifted and there were no arrests. This victory was bittersweet as we mourned the expansion of war and the continuing epidemic of suicides by veterans.

Once more, the Masters of War have succeeded in convincing the public to accept more wars. Jason Hirthler explains why the US is entering another quagmire. Unfortunately, endless war is the doctrine of the United States and it is embraced by both dominant political parties. Scott Tucker warns that peace activists must take on the Democratic Party if there is to be an end to war. As we did last fall, David Swanson calls for the anti-war movement to move past partisanship and work together to stop war.

ColumbusNotHero
And we urge you to take time this weekend to learn more about America’s first war, also called the American Holocaust.  Elysse Bruce of Idle No More explains why Columbus should not be celebrated and in fact, Seattle just voted to celebrate Indigenous Peoples this Monday.

There is a lot happening and a lot to do. To learn more about the constructive actions that people are taking to create a better world, we urge you to visit the Create page on Popular Resistance. And if you are engaged in constructive work in your community, please share that with us by emailinginfo@popularresistance.org.