US authorities are using excessive force against protesters in North Dakota who are trying to halt a proposed oil pipeline project, according to a UN human rights expert on Nov. 15. According to Maina Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, about 400 people have been detained in "inhuman and degrading conditions." Protesters are have reportedly been confronted with rubber bullets, tear-gas, mace, compression grenades and bean-bag rounds. If detained, they are reportedly marked with a number and held in overcrowded cages lined with concrete flooring. Kiai labeled these responses by local security forces as "militarized." Kiai said, "This is a troubling response to people who are taking action to protect natural resources and ancestral territory in the face of profit-seeking activity. The excessive use of State security apparatus to suppress protest against corporate activities that are alleged to violate human rights is wrong and contrary to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights."
The appointment of Stephen Bannon, head of "alt-right" (read: white nationalist) website Breitbart News, as Trump's senior counselor removes any doubt about the new order that awaits the United States. All those who seek to reassure us that Trump will moderate once in office point to his appointment of GOP chairman Reince Priebus, longtime pillar of the party's establishment, as his chief of staff. They are reading it precisely backwards. This does not represent Trump tilting to the establishment. It represents the Republican establishment embracing open fascism. This is the same Bannon who in a 2014 e-mail to one of his editors, wrote of the Republican leadership: "Let the grassroots turn on the hate because that's the ONLY thing that will make them do their duty." Hate has now won, and the Republican leadership has utterly folded to it. Any other reading is merely an illustration of Oscar Wilde's maxim: "The basis of optimism is sheer terror."
Bill Weinberg continues his call for urgent pressure on the electors to refuse to seat Donald Trump as president—arguing that this contingency is exactly the reason the Electoral College exists. The framers put the Electoral College in the Constitution precisely to serve as a break on the assumption of power by a dangerous demagogue. If there has ever been a time for it to serve that function, it is now. The Electoral College needs to do what it was designed to do, just one time before we abolish it. The petition calling for the electors to respect the popular vote and seat Hillary Clinton has now won over 4 million signatures.
Bill Weinberg, interviewed by vlogger Dorothy Bishop at the mass demonstration in front of New York's Trump Tower Nov. 12, calls for urgent pressure on the Electoral College to refuse to seat Donald Trump. Despite its slim odds for success, the campaign will deny Trump's legitimacy as president from day one, he argues—much as the Republicans denied Obama's legitimacy, but on valid anti-fascist grounds rather than spurious racist grounds. This will better position us to build a pro-democratic civil resistance movement.
Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners—the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline—says he is "100%" confident that Donald Trump will help the project get finished. The pipeline, connecting North Dakota's Bakken fields to a hub in Illinois, is 84% complete. But some 1,000 feet are being held up by the Obama administration in the face of unprecedented Native American protests. CBS reported the following exchange with Warren:
It's a little ironic that the Electoral College—the very institution that got us into this mess—now holds the only hope of getting us out. It's admittedly a very faint glimmer of hope, but not an impossibility: Trump's electors could refuse to vote for him, and effectively nullify the election. The fact that Hillary won the popular vote gives the idea a moral and political credence. Yes, a general revolt of the Electoral College is utterly unprecedented in American history—but then, so is the election of a balls-out fascist as president. And there have been decisive outbursts before in American history of Mugwumpery—sensible Republicans so aghast at their party's own candidate that they defect to the Democrats. A New York Times primer on the Electoral College explores the question:
A federal judge on Oct. 25 ordered (PDF) Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio to be tried on a charge of criminal contempt. Judge Susan Bolton of the US District Court for the District of Arizona made the order after determining that Arpaio disobeyed a court order in a racial profiling case. This comes after Judge G Murray Snow requested that the US Attorney's Office file criminal contempt charges against Arpaio. The criminal contempt charges are a result of a 2007 lawsuit claiming that Arpaio discriminated against Latinos in his enforcement of his immigration patrols. Bolton found that Snow had prohibited Arpaio from enforcing his immigration patrols, in which persons were detained without state charges, but that Arpaio continued to detain such persons and deliver them to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement when there were no charges to bring. Bolton ordered Arpaio's trial for Dec. 6 in Phoenix. The charges against Arpaio could result in fines or prison time if he is convicted.
Amid a shameful paucity of media coverage, inmates at facilities in several states have organized work stoppages following a call for a nationwide prison strike to begin on Sept. 9—the anniversary of the 1971 Attica prison uprising. Organizers say inmates in at least 29 prisons in 12 states have launched strikes, with an unprecedented more than 24,000 prisoners participating. "This is a call to end slavery," reads the official call for the strike, issued by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. "They cannot run these facilities without us." While there have been prison strikes before—two earlier this year, in Texas and Alabama—this marks the first one to be nationally coordinated. Prisoners are using social media and smuggled cell phones to organize the national strike.