January 11, 2021

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The Headlines

Our Stories

Nominations Open for the 13th Annual Izzy Award (Park Center for Independent Media)

U.S. Politics

Members of Several Well-Known Hate Groups Identified at Capitol Riot (ProPublica)

How Would the Police Have Reacted if Black People Stormed the Capitol? (Mother Jones)

Domestic Terrorism: A More Urgent Threat, but Weaker Laws (ProPublica)

Before Mob Stormed the Capitol, Days of Security Planning Involved Cabinet Officials and President Trump (ProPublica)

Why the GOP Can’t Quit Trump (Mother Jones)

“Enabling President’s Unhinged, Unstable, and Deranged Acts”: GOP Blocks Measure Urging Pence to Invoke 25th Amendment (Common Dreams)

Leading Papers Talked Up Establishment’s Senate Candidates (FAIR)

Corporate Power

Is Big Tech Too Powerful? Chris Hedges & Ramesh Srinivasan Debate Twitter & Facebook Banning Trump (Democracy Now!)


Assange Extradition Denial Indicts US Prison System But Imperils Journalism (Truthout)

This Ruling Is a Victory for Julian Assange — But Still a Blow Against a Free Press (Jacobin)

Sticking Point in Afghan Peace Talks: Two Forever Prisoners at Guantánamo (The Intercept)

Climate Crisis

Trump Administration Offers Drilling Leases in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, but No Major Oil Firms Bid (Inside Climate News)

Our Stories
Nominations Open for the 13th Annual Izzy Award

Named after legendary journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone, the Izzy Award will be given by PCIM for work published by an independent journalist, outlet, or producer from 2020.

Nominations should be submitted by February 1, 2021, via a brief email that includes supporting web links and/or attached materials to Brandy Hawley at bhawley@ithaca.edu.

PCIM will announce the winner in early spring, with an award ceremony to follow in April 2021.

Find out more on our website

U.S. Politics
Hate Groups Identified at Capitol Riot

The exact makeup of the mob that forced its way into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, disrupting sessions of both houses of Congress and leaving a police officer and four others dead, remains unknown. But individuals from the crowd are being identified, such as those from the ultranationalist street gang known as the Proud Boys, and other groups with violent ideologies.

Members of the Oath Keepers, a militia group aiming to ignite a civil war on behalf of Donald Trump, were also present. ProPublica lists numerous white nationalist media personalities who attended Wednesday’s violent insurrection, where police seized pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails and arrested at least six people on illegal firearm charges.

There have so far been 80 arrests made. Compare this number, alongside Wednesday’s passive police response, to this summer’s racial justice protests. During a three-week period following George Floyd’s killing, 14,000 people were arrested nationwide and 400 in D.C. Compare Wednesday’s diminutive police presence for a white mob, despite ample warning, to this summer’s police response to a multiracial coalition for justice.

Mother Jones considers how different Wednesday would have looked if Black people had attempted to breach the Capitol.

Ineffectual Security Plan for Domestic Terrorism

In the days leading up to last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, the FBI received intelligence that extremists were planning violence for January 6. While FBI officials managed to discourage people in several places from their suspected plans, there wasn’t enough evidence to issue arrest warrants.

The vague plan and mob mentality that spurred the domestic plot proved difficult for the FBI to pin down, unlike with its success in quashing international terrorists. ProPublica notes one issue is that, while federal statutes define domestic terrorism, no specific law outlaws it.

A Pentagon memo released Friday revealed that Donald Trump met with top military officials and gave his approval to activate the D.C. National Guard three days before he encouraged the angry mob to descend on the U.S. Capitol. Questions remain from this report, including why the Capitol Police refused multiple offers of assistance from military officials.

Why the GOP Can’t Quit Trump

The terrorist assault on the U.S. Capitol incited by Donald Trump appears to have backfired on his attempt to overturn the election results—after all the administration’s baseless legal challenges, several Republican senators withdrew their support for objections after the storming of the Capitol, and Vice President Mike Pence declared Joe Biden the victor.

The events of January 6 also convinced several chronic Trump enablers to jump ship, including former Attorney General Bill Barr and Sen. Lindsey Graham.

But Trump’s control over the Republican party will likely remain after he leaves office, for one crucial reason: money. Trump has demonstrated that he can bring in massive funding to the RNC, while at the same time lining his and his family’s pockets from the grift. Mother Jones elaborates on Trump’s lasting financial influence.

GOP Blocks Measure Urging Pence to Invoke 25th Amendment

In a brief session Monday morning, House majority leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) requested unanimous consent to pass a measure that would urge Vice President Mike Pence to “activate section 4 of the 25th Amendment to declare [Trump] incapable of executing the duties of his office.”

Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.)—one of over 100 House Republicans who voted to reject Arizona and Pennsylvania’s electoral votes—objected to the request. Without unanimous consent, House Democrats are expected to bring the 25th Amendment resolution to the floor for a full vote on Tuesday, followed by a vote on articles of impeachment as soon as Wednesday.

Leading Papers Talked Up Establishment’s Senate Candidates

Democrats celebrated two Georgia Senate race victories last week—that of Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff—which, with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaker vote, gives them a majority in the Senate.

FAIR notes that this one-vote margin renders the politics of each individual more consequential. Last year saw several close Democratic Senate primary races in which a progressive candidate seriously challenged a candidate further to the right, “offering a chance to bring to the Senate more supporters of people-friendly policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.”

Every time, the Democratic establishment backed the non-progressive, and the U.S.’s most influential newspapers followed suit. To demonstrate this, FAIR examined coverage from The New York Times and Washington Post on five competitive Senate Democratic Primaries.

Corporate Power
Trump’s Twitter & Facebook Bans—Is Big Tech Too Powerful?

Twitter, Facebook and other social media companies have removed Donald Trump from their platforms after years of the President spreading disinformation to millions of followers. Many applaud the bans, but it’s possible they could backfire.

Democracy Now! speaks to author Chris Hedges, who warns, “It’s always, in the end, the left that pays for this kind of censorship.”

UCLA professor Ramesh Srinivasan says Big Tech has allowed right-wing extremism to flourish for years without action on platforms that “thrive on the amplification of polarization.”

Assange Extradition Denial Indicts US Prison System But Imperils Journalism

The decision last Monday by Judge Vanessa Baraitser to prevent Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States to face trial on espionage-related criminal charges is a partial victory for Assange.

Baraitser wasn’t confident that U.S. prison authorities could prevent the award-winning journalist from taking his life, given the isolating conditions he’d face before trial. The judge made clear that he would have been extradited if not for this risk, Jacobin notes.

The charges against Assange mostly concern his role in revealing war crimes committed by the U.S., contained in classified materials that he published from 2009 to 2011, leaked to him by U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Truthout lists atrocities revealed by Assange, noting that Donald Trump “pardoned individuals who committed war crimes but indicted Assange who revealed them.”

Assange’s latest bail application has been denied, and the ruling remains a “crushing blow to all of those concerned with the idea of a free press.”

Sticking Point in Afghan Peace Talks: Forever Prisoners at Guantánamo

After 20 years of fighting, the U.S. war in Afghanistan may be close to an end. The Afghan Taliban is negotiating terms in Qatar-based talks about its future role in Afghan politics. One of the remaining issues in the peace talks is the matter of prisoners of war held by all sides.

The Intercept reports thousands of Taliban prisoners have been released by the U.S.-backed Afghan government in recent months. The U.S. also has a direct role: two of the U.S.’s Afghan prisoners, Muhammad Rahim and Asadullah Haroon, remain at the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The Taliban has reportedly asked the U.S. to release them as part of any final agreement. Neither has been charged with any crime.

Human rights activists mark the 19th anniversary of the opening of the U.S. military prison, where the U.S. government has indefinitely detained scores of men without trial or due process during the so-called War on Terror, reports Common Dreams.

Climate Crisis
Trump Administration Offers Drilling Leases in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge

Last Wednesday, the Trump administration quietly fulfilled its promise to sell oil leases in one of the nation’s last truly wild places: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

A total of $14.4 million in bids came in—less than 1% of the revenue promised by the Trump administration when it rolled back protections for the coastal plain in 2017. “In the face of a flat-lining oil market, pledges from major banks to stop financing Arctic drilling and an incoming Biden administration, not a single major oil company made a bid,” writes Inside Climate News.

With a changing presidential administration and Senate control shifting to Democrats, there are avenues to ensure the leases are never developed.

In Other News

1. House to hold impeachment vote on Wednesday as president ‘warned not to pardon himself’ (The Independent)

2. It Was Supposed to Be So Much Worse (The Atlantic)

3. FBI Warns Of ‘Armed Protests’ At All 50 State Capitols In Lead-Up To Inauguration Day (HuffPost)

4. Hancock: UK at ‘worst point’ as vaccine brings hope (BBC)

5. California coronavirus deaths hit 30,000 after 10,000 fatalities in a month (The Guardian

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The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.