Command+F: 12/2

Only 30 more days until this merciless dumpster fire of a year is over…

What is Command+F???

Trump and Related

Ross and Mnuchin were profiteers in a crisis that bore nearly all its misery on the backs of working people who suffered from the misfortune of acquiring a bad loan at the wrong time. But there’s a supreme irony here: The foreclosure crisis that these two moguls (and Trump himself) used as a moneymaking scheme may have handed Trump the election…

In an unusual deal with the FDIC, Mnuchin led an investment team that bought the predatory lender IndyMac, saddled with tens of thousands of failing mortgages, for $1.65 billion. The FDIC had a standard deal for buyers of crisis-era banks; they would cover all losses above the first 20 percent on loan defaults. Mnuchin, who became CEO of the lender, treated this as a money-printing machine: his bank, renamed OneWest, could foreclose on homeowners, harvest fees for appraisals and inspections and late payments, and get protected by a federal backstop. The FDIC lost $13 billion on IndyMac; Mnuchin and company made $3 billion in profits, most of that coming directly from the FDIC in loss-sharing costs.

“I just wish that I had not voted,” said Colebrook, 59. “I have no faith in our government anymore at all. They all promise you the world at the end of a stick and take it away once they get in.”

It’s worth considering that many people who voted for Trump for economic reasons may become so disillusioned with the political system that they A) disengage, taking votes away from a future populist progressive candidate/movement like Bernie Sanders/Our Revolution, and B) turn to alternative means to affect the political system. That includes violence, terrorism and/or whatever we’re calling what the Bundys did.

In other words, the “I told you so”s won’t even register…

From the Internet Archives’ post:

On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change. It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change.


In which the Rockefellers’, who started the company that became Exxon Mobil and whose wealth was made in the oil industry, take on Exxon Mobil’s funding of climate denial, etc.

Why are the Treaties of Fort Laramie from 1851 and 1868, which gave the Sioux much larger territorial claims over the land in dispute with the pipeline’s construction, not being honored by the U.S. government?

Ablavsky: In the late 19th century, Congress diminished the boundaries of the Sioux Reservation established in the 1851 and 1868 treaties. Although this violation of the treaties occurred without tribal consent, unfortunately the Supreme Court’s 1903 decision in Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock allows Congress to abrogate Indian treaties unilaterally.


For the next few months, my insatiable curiosity dragged me to conduct intense research. I learned many things: our history, our stories, our theories, our movements, and our ideas. It was inspiring.

The process taught me that I cannot just learn from digesting the narratives that our fed to us. I learned that I had to push back and dig a little deeper. I felt the deep and unrelenting sense that I couldn’t just look the other way all the time…

For the queer and trans community, this year could mark a major turning point. I worry that our future is uncertain. Now, we face something that could be more vicious and terrifying than almost anything we’ve had to fight together as a community. There will be attempts to divide us — to turn us against each other. There may be efforts to roll back legal protections that have helped us survive. There may be forces in government aimed at subjecting us to discrimination or worse. It is scary to think about.

Petition to commute Chelsea Manning

Command+F: 11/29

The/another ultimate daily reading list

Trump and Related

It would replace the law with a plan that does more to benefit the young, healthy, and rich — and disadvantages the sick, old, and poor. Price’s plan provides significantly less help to those with preexisting conditions than other Republican proposals…

[The Chinese-based Huajian Group] has made about 100,000 pairs of Ivanka Trump-branded shoes over the years, according to spokesman Liu Shiyuan.

In August it filled an order for 20,000 — just weeks after Trump accepted the Republican nomination, with a speech vowing to bring jobs back to the US…

Huajian’s shoes are a fraction of the more than 1,200 shipments of Trump-branded products that have flowed into the US from China and Hong Kong over the last decade, according to an examination of US import data by anti-Trump political action committee Our Principles PAC.…

Now, for the price of one Chinese worker, Huajian can hire five Ethiopians, Zhang told AFP.


In the worst-affected area, 67% of a 700km swath in the north of the reef lost its shallow-water corals over the past eight to nine months… According to government agencies, 22% of the reef was killed in one hit, as unusually warm waters bleached and killed the coral.

The fire has killed at least three people and injured at least 14 others, officials said Tuesday. The victims have not yet been identified.

The fire also forced employees at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies to evacuate, leaving behind more than 10,500 animals,

Through October, Tennessee is also having its third-warmest year on record. That’s ensured the entire state is mired in drought with the epicenter in the southeast part of the state that’s currently ablaze.

Whether climate change will make fires more common in the region is an ongoing area of research. It’s unclear if the Southeast will become wetter or drier due to climate change and that will have a big influence on future wildfire activity.

The region is likely to keep warming, though, and that means that any future dry spells will be more likely to lead to drought, creating more fuel for fires to burn.

On (the) Media

Newsroom employment at the nation’s 1,375 dailies could fall below 28,000, less than half of its high point in 1990. Further, current federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data projects continuing slides as long as the forecasting eye can see. Through 2024, newspaper reporter positions are projected to decline by 28% and editor jobs by 34%, from their 2014 level…

[N]umbers — ranging from 11% for Tronc to 15% for Gannett to 18% for The New York Times — signal the accelerating decline of the newspaper-based business…


Bernie Sanders’ first in-depth interview since the election:

Note: If you enjoy anything in this post, especially if its from an article, please click the link — even if you don’t (intend to) read the whole thing — to at least give the author/source the page view.

Jill Stein is a shit green party candidate

(And why we should chill out about the next election)

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Spare me your outrage. I voted for her in 2012, and I liked it.

I waited in line for an hour, I didn’t second-guess myself, and I never regretted it.

My politics haven’t changed much since then. If anything I’m much more concerned about the environment and climate change now than I was four years ago.

I’ve covered my fair share of climate protests, spent many weekends embedded with activists, kept up with the national and international climate movements, and I even made it all the way through “This Changes Everything.” And yet I have no love for Jill Stein.

There’s the obvious not-not-against-vaccinations thing, which is irksome for those of us who have been arguing that conservatives need to take science seriously when it comes to climate change*.

But more recently, and arguably more damning, there’s this: the revelation that she’s almost certainly invested in fossil fuels, among other disreputable industries.

The Daily Beast broke the news Wednesday night:

To learn more about the funds Stein has invested in, The Daily Beast did not have to engage in significant research by any definition. A simple Google search of the name of each of the funds she has invested in returned publicly available marketing documents produced by the investment managers that showed where these funds were investing their capital…

Stein has invested $995,011 to $2.2 million in funds such as the Vanguard 500 fund that maintain significant stakes in Exxon and other energy companies like Chevron, Duke Energy, Conoco Phillips, and Toho Gas, a Japanese company that engages in the sale of natural gas, tar, and coke, a fuel made from coal…

Stein has invested roughly $1.2 to $2.65 million in funds like the TIAA-CREF Equity Index that have big stakes in the financial services industry. Holdings in these funds include big banks like JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank as major parts of their investment portfolios…

she has between $50,001-$100,000 invested in a fund that has the Raytheon Corporation as its fourth largest holding, a $38 million investment. Raytheon, which is the fourth largest defense contractor in the world and derives 90 percent of its revenue from military contracts.

This is, at best, a failure on a symbolic level. She cannot possibly claim that she was both unaware of what her mutual funds might be invested in, and paying attention to the last few years of climate activism which saw some massive victories in the area of divestment…

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, worth $860 million; Stanford University’s endowment of $18.7 billion***; The Church of England’s £9 billion investment fund, and many, many more hard-fought victories, earned by people at the grassroots level.

The Guardian’s outgoing editor-in-chief even made a divestment campaign his last hurrah before retiring.

This is Jill Stein’s #Aleppomoment.

And what would she accomplish if elected, anyway? Sure a lot of** her platform is… pretty ideal, but we can’t ignore reality. Barack Obama faced obstructionism from a Republican-controlled Congress. How would Stein fare against a legislative body all but completely united against her less-than-corporate-friendly agenda?

Executive action? If it mattered, it would almost certainly be repealed by the next president.

These questions didn’t exactly cross my mind when I voted Green four years ago. I didn’t have to think about them. The point wasn’t to actually see her elected, it was to express my distaste for the system.

That kind of thinking doesn’t cut it anymore. The climate movement has to be pragmatic, and it has to be realistic. Tackling these issues is too big for one presidential victory. And it’s foolish to invest any time or resources into a sure-failed presidential campaign built around the idea of being able to smugly say you didn’t vote for the one that turned up the drone strikes.

Consider the argument that Dan Savage made about building a viable alternative party:

You don’t do that by trotting out the reanimated corpse of Ralph fucking Nader every four fucking years. Or his doppelgänger, whoever it is now, Jill Stein and some asshole-to-be-named four years from now. You start by running grassroots, local campaigns. And there’ve been — and I’m sure we’re going hear from lots of people out there listening — there have been a couple of Green Party candidates who’ve run in other races here and there across the country. But no sustained effort to build a Green Party nationally. Just this griping, bullshitty, grandstanding, fault-finding, purity-testing, holier than thou-ing, that we are all subjected to every four fucking years by the Green Party candidate…

If you’re interested in building a third party, a viable third party, you don’t start with president. You don’t start by running someone for fucking president.

(via The Stranger)

As we’re all very aware by now, U.S. elections are democracy theater, but that doesn’t mean they don’t matter. A Hillary Clinton administration will be shitty and problematic and disappointing, but it’s way more than just marginally better than the alternative.

The way that we have been framing this debate over these last months has been dishonest if it ignores that fact.

It’s also worth considering that we won’t be worse off, necessarily, with a Clinton presidency than we have been under Obama.

Democrats are expected to take a few seats in the House and regain control of the Senate. Then there’s the issue of Supreme Court justices (who just so happen to require approval by the Senate).

One, let alone four or five, Supreme Court justices isn’t just the difference in the future of something like the Clean Power Plan. It could make the difference in a precedent that affects the next wave of badly needed measures to cut back on fossil fuels and everything that comes after.

Most people aren’t concerned about climate change because it takes place over years and decades. Those working to lessen its severity have to think in such time scales as well.

Unless this country sees some relatively massive changes in the distribution of power, we need to remember the lessons we learned this election.

The real-life version of Fascism-wrapped-in-the-flag is going to say some crazy, fucked up shit next time too. And the Democrat is going to be at least almost as disappointing. Let’s not lose sleep (or friends, or pull our hair out) over it though.

Remember, the climate fight is the one the corporate media won’t cover 24/7 (if at all).

In a recent column for the Nation, Bill Mckibben wrote:

The honeymoon won’t last 10 minutes; on November 9 we’ll be organizing for science and human rights and against the timid incrementalism that marks her approach. It’s clear that we need to beat the creepy perv she’s running against. It’s also clear that we then need to press harder than ever for real progress on the biggest crisis the world has ever faced.

*As the link notes, she has said good things about vaccinating children, but the point is that she hasn’t refuted her followers that are anti-vaccers. Climate denialism doesn’t just work if it convinces people there is no problem; it also succeeds when it tricks people into thinking the science isn’t settled…

**She wants to put a moratorium on GMOs.. It’s not a perfect platform.

***from coal, at least…

A Look at Student Activism (Trend Piece)

I had to write a trend piece for my feature writing class…

Students from around the country gathered to march against the Keystone XL Pipeline in Washington D.C. on March 2, 2014 (Sean Davis)
Students from around the country gathered to march against the Keystone XL Pipeline in Washington D.C. on March 2, 2014 (Sean Davis)

“My Hope Lies with Young People” –Jane Goodall.

Despite being derided as “lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow,” by their parents and grandparents, millenials may actually be proving themselves a powerful force for social change. Since late 2011, youth activism has been on the upswing as students have faced uncertain job prospects, exploding inequality, and a changing climate.

The United States has virtually always seen some level of dissent and dissatisfaction manifesting itself in the streets. This tends to ebb and flow, however, depending on any number of things from unemployment rates and opportunity to foreign policy and immigration.

“I feel that the youth are disenfranchised and do not appreciate nor agree with what the older generations have been doing in our name,” said University of Mary Washington first year and progressive activist Noah Goodwin.

Although youth engagement and advocacy have also contributed to the rise of the Tea Party and especially the success of libertarian political figures like Ron Paul, liberal/progressive causes have been the main beneficiaries. The same has largely been true throughout recent history.

“Students have a key role in being catalysts for change because of the privilege given to them. With flexible schedules, extra time, and the given community of campus and education, students are in the perfect environment to throw themselves into movements” – Rabib Hasan

“[During the civil rights movement,] students were able to provide a left flank and do things that if their parents had done they would have been fired from their jobs [or] ostracized further from white power structure,” explained Sierra Club organizer Kendyl Crawford.

“Student organizing is a great opportunity for ‘radical’ demands and to have a voice present bringing more ideas into the conversation that push what the general population is comfortable with,” she said.

Social media’s role in modern organizing, communication, and raising awareness cannot be overstated. The so-called “Arab Spring” and Occupy (Wall St.) movement of 2011 were perhaps the first major illustrations of this.

“Our evidence suggests that social media carried a cascade of messages about freedom and democracy across North Africa and the Middle East, and helped raise expectations for the success of political uprising,” Washington University Associate Professor Phillip Howard told UW Today in September 2011.

If you ask any current student activist, there’s a good chance they have, what’s known as, an “Occupy story,” in which they visited or participated in their local chapter’s happenings.

“We are coming into an age, where knowledge is so easily accessible and because of that we also are able to share that energy towards making the world suck a bit less,” said organizer and Old Dominion University first year Michelle Johnstone.

There’s also the convenience that many non-working students experience.

“Students have a key role in being catalysts for change because of the privilege given to them. With flexible schedules, extra time, and the given community of campus and education, students are in the perfect environment to throw themselves into movements,” explained UMW third year Rabib Hasan

Students marched in their own block in the People's Climate March. Sept. 21, 2014. (Sean Davis)
Students marched in their own block in the People’s Climate March. Sept. 21, 2014. (Sean Davis)

Hasan is part of the school’s Divest UMW movement, which seeks to put pressure on the Board of Visitors to pull the schools endowment out of fossil fuel companies’ stocks.

The national divestment movement, which is still only a couple years old, has chalked up some notable victories including the divestments of Stanford, the New School, and even the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Just last week, The Guardian Newspaper and the U.N. through their support behind the movement.

The UMW campaign recently held an action coinciding with Global Divestment Day, which saw one of the biggest turnouts in the country.

“I got involved in student activism because I’ve always believed that grassroots organizing is the true practice of democracy. All politics should originate from the bottom, and the top should be channeling those interest,” he said. “Student activism is definitely at the roots of our society.”

Hasan is also the newly elected vice chair of the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, a group that has grown substantially and gained legitimacy in the state despite being less than two years old.

Last year, members participated in the student-organized XL Dissent protest and were some of the 398 arrested in front of the White House. In September 2014, hundreds of them joined the hundreds of thousands that marched in the People’s Climate March in New York City. They’ve already held two statewide conferences with registration in the hundreds.

Members of the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition were arrested in front of the White House. March 2, 2014. (Sean Davis)
Members of the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition were arrested in front of the White House. March 2, 2014. (Sean Davis)

“Students are the future leaders of the world,” said Mace & Crown photographer and Ad Manager Jason Kazi, who has covered a number of local protest actions.

Even President Obama has expressed faith in his children’s generation, recently telling Vice’s Shane Smith “you talk to Malia and Sasha… 16 and 13, and the sophistication and awareness that they have about environmental issues compared to my generation or yours – they’re way ahead of the game.”

The climate movement, especially, carries with it a worrying sense of urgency.

“2015 is most likely the last chance we have and take action in order to ensure a stable climate,” Hasan said.

ODU, along with many other universities around the country, saw a sizable protest movement arise after the police killing of Ferguson, Missouri teen Michael brown.

One action in particular saw about 80 students form a human piece sign and then “die in” on the school’s mall – a particularly noteworthy accomplishment for a school with such low student engagement in general.

“We, as young, educated people, have a duty to stand up for ourselves and other people, and raise up other people who do not have the same opportunities we do,” -Noah Goodwin

At UVA, students quickly organized a rally to denounce police brutality less than 24 hours after a Black student was assaulted by police on St. Patrick’s Day.

A defining characteristic of today’s student and youth movements is that they are more diverse, coherent and focused than ever before. Students rarely only focus on one issue, and stress finding common cause at the intersections of different issues.

Reverend Lennox Yearwood, speaking at the first VSEC conference explained that culture plays, and has played, a critical role in uniting different groups of young people.

“When Joan Baez [played] with Harry Belafonte, or when Abbie Hoffman [linked up] with the Black panthers in Chicago – when the cultures linked, then those silos began to be broken down,” he said.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood speaks at the student-organized Virginia Power Shift conference. Feb. 14, 2015 (Sean Davis)
Rev. Lennox Yearwood speaks at the student-organized Virginia Power Shift conference. Feb. 14, 2015 (Sean Davis)

The young left has found a nuanced understanding of inequality and privilege based not just on income, but gender and sexual identity, race, and a myriad of other things.

“If one has privilege, it’s important to know how that differentiates people from one another, and how people with less privilege are still disenfranchised,” Goodwin said.

“We, as young, educated people, have a duty to stand up for ourselves and other people, and raise up other people who do not have the same opportunities we do,” he added.

Ultimately, long term social change isn’t just rooted in students and young people, but the expectation that as they age and become adults, their work will continue.

“I believe that my activism will continue into adulthood because I’ve already established the connections in the activist scene. Once you become embedded in the community you continue to grow as an organizer as you share your experiences with other organizers,” Hasan said.

“I guess we’re all still growing in a sense. But Yes, I hope that I can be an advocate for my community for as long as I’m still standing,” Johnstone said.

Disclaimer- this was for a class , so the same rules didn’t apply, but just to disclose it, I was on the VSEC executive board.

In Response to “Weigh the Costs with the Benefits”

Lynchburg’s newspaper, the News & Advance came out in support of a $2 billion natural gas pipeline that will run from West Virginia, through Virginia and eventually to North Carolina.


This is why we shouldn’t support it:

In Response to “Weigh the Costs With the Benefits”

Sean Davis

Seeing my hometown newspaper come out in favor of Dominion’s proposed pipeline to bring natural gas through Nelson County to Hampton Roads and beyond was heartbreaking.

Especially just months after seeing a derailed crude oil train send flames 80 feet into the air along the James River¬.


That that event didn’t kill a single person, I believe, is a complete miracle and other communities have not been so fortunate.

As someone that’s been following the environmental movement and covering actions against the expansion of fossil fuels, I really thought that the train derailment would be a wake up call for many in the area.

It presented such an extreme image. People would have to ask questions– why was crude oil from North Dakota being shipped through Lynchburg of all places? Why weren’t the safety regulations in place to prevent this? Had this happened anywhere else?

It’s seemed that wasn’t the case, unfortunately. As soon as the fires burned out and the images were uploaded to social media, we just accepted that it was a freak accident- both random and unpreventable.

Almost a month to the day before the derailment, Sierra Club Virginia released a statement citing recent oil train incidents in the US and Canada. Sierra Club Virginia director, Glen Besa, said in a statement, “These trains are travelling through Lynchburg along the James River through Richmond and on to the York County facility on the York River. We’re concerned that a train derailment could result in an explosion and the loss of life or an oil spill that could jeopardize our drinking water supplies and the environment.”

Turns out they were dead right. Maybe we shouldn’t dismiss their concerns about this pipeline so quickly.

“We share some of their concerns for environmental impact of the construction phase,” the News & Advance Editorial Board claims, as if the only environmental risks are from the construction. “We must look at the bigger picture… the $17 trillion, energy-driven U.S. economy,” it continues.

First of all, the “bigger picture” is the planet and the future of its inhabitants.

There is no debate that climate change is happening; only a failure of the media to accurately portray facts and science to the American people, and the incredible success of fossil fuel lobbyists and propagandists to paint a scientific consensus as a massive hoax perpetrated by hundreds of thousands of scientists from around the world in order to… get increased funding(?).

The real debate is how we are going to deal with rising seas, catastrophic flooding and increased drought while cutting emissions, not whether or not we can pretend we don’t have to.

Second, the article fails to acknowledge the “bigger picture” that is the pivotal fight in this country, and beyond, over energy policy. There really isn’t middle ground. As much as “all-of-the-above” sounds nice, it’s not progressive enough.

We have a choice– either full ahead over the cliff of environmental negligence and intergenerational tyranny, or a full stop, and a change of course to a more just, sustainable future.

That fight encompasses people from across the continent- from indigenous communities in Canada, to ranchers in Texas; from the low-income urban communities that tend to get hit most directly by environmental pollution to community-owned wind farm co-ops in the Midwest; from West Virginia residents fighting mountaintop-removal coal mining to Washington residents fighting against proposed coal export terminals.

And it includes the fight in Nelson County.

Much of that fight to date has been over the controversial natural gas extraction process known as “fracking.” At best, it’s extremely water and energy intensive and it’s effects simply haven’t been studied enough, and the adequate regulations haven’t been put into place(or have been removed such as the “Halliburton Loophole” which exempts fracking companies from provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act).

At worst, it destroys the health of people nearby wells and pipelines, contaminates drinking water and aquifers, turns idyllic wilderness to moonscape and causes earthquakes.

We know now too, that natural gas is not the clean “bridge fuel” the industry touted it as.

The New York Times reported earlier this year that “the drilling and production of natural gas can lead to leaks of methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.” Accounting for that, “total greenhouse gas emissions… are nearly identical to coal,” according to the Sierra Club.

The natural gas plant in New Brunswick, which would be connected to the pipeline, “would emit as much carbon pollution annually as half a million cars,” according to a report by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (Full disclosure, the author is a CCAN fellow). The report also notes that in the company’s most recent 15-year plan, proportionally, there will be no increase in clean energy.

Some, I’m sure, will argue that moving towards clean energy is not feasible, or that the economy wouldn’t be able to support it. Indeed the original article asks, “Would opponents of the pipeline want those homes and businesses in Virginia using electricity from coal-burning power plants… [or the] plant in New Brunswick to be burning coal or carbon-emitting biomass fuel instead?” as if there just isn’t any other option.

Instead of investing $2 billion into this pipeline, Dominion should instead spend that money on renewable energy sources including developing its offshore wind program. Last year the company won the lease to over 112,000 acres off the Virginia coast, but has only slated to build two 6-megawatt turbines.

The entire area has the potential to create 2,000 megawatts and power over 700,000 homes!

The cost of solar energy has plummeted recently- by as much as 60% in two years– making it a viable option as well. Our neighbor to the south, North Carolina, is now behind just California in solar growth, while we rank 26th, with no utility-scale solar production.

A move to clean energy would create tens of thousands of jobs as well, and we’re already seeing that across the country where there are now more jobs in clean energy than in coal. Studies show that just developing offshore wind would create 10,000 jobs while the pipeline will create a negligible amount of permanent jobs.

The idea that we can face the defining issue of this generation head on is not just a pipedream. Our shift away from fossil fuels is inevitable, and the sooner we embrace it, the better- for jobs, for those already experiencing the effects of climate change, for the planet as a whole, and for our posterity.

The same people that will make unspeakable amounts of money from this pipeline and the extraction of natural gas, are the same people that knew DOT-111 tanker cars were unsafe for Bakken crude oil transportation, and still decided to use them to ship unfathomable amounts of oil through large population centers every day.

They are the same people that are destroying West Virginia by literally leveling mountains and valleys, leaving the communities there perpetually impoverished and dependent on an industry that has actively exploited their cheap labor for decades.

They are the same people that convinced us to go along with their oil and gas “boom” without the proper regulations in place, without even the infrastructure to handle it, in the name of energy independence only to ship these same extracted fuels to the coast for export to other countries.