February 16, 2021

The Park Center for Independent Media circulates the Indy Brief. Subscribe for a weekly selection of news stories from journalists operating outside traditional corporate systems.


The Headlines

U.S. Politics

Senate Republicans Acquit Trump…and Indict the GOP (Mother Jones)

The Senate Acquitted Trump. His Legal Problems Are Just Starting. (Mother Jones)

What the Trump administration meant for freedom of information requests (Columbia Journalism Review)

‘Fire DeJoy Before He Burns Down USPS’: Postmaster General Pushes Plan for Slower Mail, Higher Prices (Common Dreams)

U.S. Foreign Policy

The Other Americans: Biden Ends Controversial Asylum Agreements (The Progressive)


“I Don’t Trust the People Above Me”: Riot Squad Cops Open Up About Disastrous Response to Capitol Insurrection (ProPublica)

The Capitol Siege Was White Supremacy in Action. Trial Evidence Confirms That. (Truthout)

Corporate Power

At Kroger and Amazon, Capital Is Going on the Offensive (Jacobin)


‘We Shall Not Surrender’: Myanmar Rises Up Against the Junta (The Nation)

Climate Crisis
Urging Biden to Stop Line 3, Indigenous-Led Resistance Camps Ramp Up Efforts to Slow Construction (Inside Climate News)

U.S. Politics

Senate Republicans Acquit Trump, But His Legal Problems Are Just Starting

The Senate acquitted Donald Trump on Saturday during the former president’s second impeachment trial. Republican senators voted to condone his incendiary speech urging a violent mob to march on the Capitol to “fight like hell” and “stop the steal.”

Still, an unprecedented bipartisan majority—48 Democrats, two Independents, and seven Republicans—voted to convict Trump, reports Mother Jones. The 43 Republican senators who voted to acquit the House-impeached former president went along with preposterous arguments, conspiracy theories, and lies that would grant any outgoing president impunity.

Trump has further legal worries in his future, now that he is a private citizen no longer protected by the presidency. Prosecutors in Washington D.C. are considering charging Trump with violating a DC law against encouraging violence. Local jurisdictions and at least one foreign country can investigate Trump and his family, and he can expect lawsuits that he used his presidency to dodge.


What the Trump Administration Meant for Freedom of Information Requests

The Freedom of Information Act, despite its notoriously slow process and other deep flaws, inhibits the abuse of power by allowing citizens to request information from the U.S. government. While the Obama administration set the bar low for transparency and disclosure, Donald Trump’s presidency predicably failed to clear even that.

Columbia Journalism Review documents the Trump administration’s failures in transparency, including prodigious lies, infrequent press briefings, non-disclosure agreements, withheld White House visitor logs, and more. FOIA rejections and redactions increased under Trump, and a culture of withholding records cemented both privately and publicly.

Since its passage in 1966, the FOIA has raised alarming revelations about nearly every American president. Joe Biden’s approach to upholding the act has yet to be signaled.


Postmaster General Pushes Plan for Slower Mail, Higher Prices

Despite the backlash and widespread delays that followed his operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service last year, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is reportedly planning to implement further policies that would slow certain mail delivery and hike postage rates.

Common Dreams covers new details of the proposal, which include a provision to combine all first-class mail into the same delivery track—this would slow delivery and raise costs for both consumer and commercial mailers.

U.S. Foreign Policy

Biden Ends Controversial Asylum Agreements

The Biden administration has suspended the controversial Asylum Cooperation Agreements signed between the Trump Administration and the governments of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The move is part of Biden’s rejections of Trump’s hardline anti-immigration policies, reports The Progressive.

The first Asylum Cooperation Agreement was signed with Guatemala in 2019, after Donald Trump threatened the administration of President Jimmy Morales with ending financial aid to Guatemala. The agreement required asylum seekers to apply in Guatemala, even though the country arguably lacks the means to be responsible for asylum seekers.


Capitol Police on Insurrection: “I Don’t Trust the People Above Me”

Over the past weeks, ProPublica interviewed 19 current and former U.S. Capitol Police officers about the assault on the Capitol. ProPublica also obtained confidential intelligence bulletins and previously unreported planning documents.

The information together “makes clear how failures of leadership, communication and tactics put the lives of hundreds of officers at risk and allowed rioters to come dangerously close to realizing their threats against members of Congress.”

Officers also raised concerns about disparities in preparation for Black Lives Matter demonstrations verses the pro-Trump protests on Jan. 6. The Capitol Police say they spent weeks of 12- or 16-hour days preparing to fight off a riot after George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police, even though intelligence suggested little danger.

“We normally have pretty good information regarding where these people are and how far they are from the Capitol,” said one officer who retired after Jan. 6. “We heard nothing that day.”


The Capitol Siege Was White Supremacy in Action.

The white mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last month, comprised of “alt-right” groups such as the Proud Boys, carried Confederate flags, nooses, and antisemitic symbols. They came to overturn legitimate votes from an election decided in many states by majority-Black voters.

Two east Texans described the mob violence as an attempt at a “second revolution,” while GOP Sen. Roy Blunt has sought to describe it as a right-wing equivalent to the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality. “Both of these formulations are hard to stomach.”

For Truthout, George Yancy interrogates this “emergence of unabashed white supremacy,” asking what Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. might think about the resulting questions regarding the meaning of revolution.  

Corporate Power

At Kroger and Amazon, Capital Is Going on the Offensive

Last week, supermarket giant Kroger announced that it would close two of its stores in Long Beach, California, after the city council passed an ordinance mandating that grocery stores pay their workers an extra $4 an hour for the next 120 days or until the city terminates the measure.

Kroger ended its $2-an-hour hazard-pay policy in May of 2020, instead awarding an occasional bonus in the following months. Amazon and Walmart use similar strategies, and there have been no moves to reimplement the raises.

Amazon recently announced plans to close DCH1, a Chicago warehouse well known nationwide for its workers’ walkouts, petitions, and other collective actions.

The Long Beach measure is the latest example of “capital on the march,” showing how big winners of the pandemic can buck any constraints to profits, regardless of human cost, writes Jacobin.

‘We Shall Not Surrender’: Myanmar Rises Up Against the Junta

After five years of democratic government, the people of Myanmar are not ready return to military dictatorship, writes The Nation.

“Despite a curfew and martial law, hundreds of thousands of protesters are filling streets across the Southeast Asian country. From the largest city, Yangon, to the delta, mountains, and coasts, people from all backgrounds are shouting ‘Let the military fall!’”

By February 6, shock and fear turned to marches met with internet blackouts and violent armed police. Police have shot and killed one protester.

Interviews with protesters show a rare unity among people resisting a return to dictatorship, repression, and poverty.

Climate Crisis
Indigenous-Led Resistance Camps Ramp Up Efforts to Slow Construction of Line 3

The Biden administration put a stop to the Keystone XL pipeline, but another trans-U.S.-Canada oil pipeline, Line 3, poses a risk to huge stretches of natural land. Enbridge Energy is hoping to finish building the 1,031-mile-long line from Alberta’s tar sands to the Midwest before the end of the year.

Indigenous and environmental activists are scrambling to delay construction as they await rulings on several legal challenges to the project and call on President Biden to intervene, reports Inside Climate News.

Opponents to Line 3 have been marching, chaining themselves to construction equipment, and in one case, an individual spent over a week in a tree to delay work in the area. Resistance camps and protests have appeared near several cities and small towns along the pipeline’s proposed route in northern Minnesota.


In Other News

1. Ex-president and Giuliani sued over Capitol riot as Biden supports 9/11-style probe (The Independent)

2. What the Fear of China Is Doing to American Science (The Atlantic)

3. The FBI Wants You To Make These Photos Of Capitol Insurrectionists Go Viral (HuffPost)

4. Myanmar coup: Aung San Suu Kyi faces new charge amid protests (BBC)

5. Princess Latifa: secret videos raise fears for ruler’s daughter forcibly returned to Dubai (The Guardian

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The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.