June 19, 2020

The Park Center for Independent Media circulates the Indy Brief, a weekly selection of news stories from journalism outlets operating outside traditional corporate systems and news organizations.

The HeadlinesPCIM Original

Faisal Devji on Globalized Antiracist Protests (Park Center for Independent Media)

U.S. Politics

The White House Just Caved on Its Plan to Kick Out Thousands of International Students (Mother Jones)

Another Monument to White Supremacy That Should Come Down? The Electoral College (Mother Jones)

Racial Justice and Police Reform

Criminal Justice Reformers Have a Package of Bills They Want to See New York State Enact (The Indypendent)

Barr’s New Task Force Is a Blatant Attempt to Target Racial Justice Protesters (In These Times)

Police Have Killed More Than 5,000 People Since 2015 (Colorlines)


‘Dangerous’ and ‘Horrible’: Lawmakers Demand Answers After Trump Upends CDC’s Covid-19 Reporting System (Common Dreams)

U.S. Foreign Policy

Media Conceal—or Celebrate—Depriving Syrians of Food and Medicine (FAIR)

Climate Crisis

Biden’s $2 Trillion Climate Plan Promotes Union Jobs, Electric Cars and Carbon-Free Power (InsideClimate News)

Trump Proposes Speedier Environmental Reviews for Highways, Pipelines, Drilling and Mining (InsideClimate News)

PCIM Original

Faisal Devji on Globalized Antiracist Protests

Faisal Devji, a distinguished scholar and historian at Oxford University, joined PCIM director Raza Rumi to discuss how the global scope of the recent Black Lives Matter protests is raising possibilities for a new global politics.

Devji’s historical insights place these protests on a post-Cold War world stage, where conflicts between states, given the absence of a single set of world rivals, have given way to numerous internal conflicts fought through proxies in a “Global Civil War.”

Movements including the Arab Spring, preceding Black Lives Matter, have spread across a globalized world to resurrect issues once thought settled, such as racism or Arab nationalism. Now, the West is reckoning with decolonialization and “re-founding” by protesting institutional racism in established symbolism and police forces.

U.S. Politics

White House Dropped Plan to Kick Out international Students

The Trump administration rescinded its policy that would have forced international students attending U.S. institutions to leave the country if their schools didn’t open for in-person classes for fall 2020.

The Justice Department was supposed to appear in court Tuesday afternoon to defend the rule against the lawsuit that Harvard and MIT brought against it. Instead, as Mother Jones reports, the government rescinded the policy eight days after Immigration and Customs Enforcement unveiled it.

Over 200 universities supported the lawsuit, and international students are able to remain in the U.S. regardless of their universities’ reopening decisions.

The Electoral College Should Topple

Four months before the 2020 November presidential election, the U.S. is reckoning with racism and the entrenched legacy of slavery. With it, the U.S. must examine the Electoral College’s function to perpetuate white supremacy.

In the last five elections, the Electoral College has awarded presidency to two Republicans who lost the popular vote: George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016. This November, Democrats fear Trump could again win the presidency without the popular vote.

Discussing Harvard historian Alexander Keyssar’s book, “Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College?” Mother Jones unravels the system’s history, which advantaged slave states from its inception. Keyssar is hopeful that, like Confederate statues, the Electoral College may be toppled in the near future.

Racial Justice and Police Reform
Criminal Justice Reformers Have Bills for NY to Enact

More than 300 people marched to NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Midtown office on Tuesday advocating for a package of bills to disrupt the harsh systems governing incarceration. Their demands include legislation to reduce sentences for aging detainees, encourage rehabilitation alternatives, and restrict use of solitary confinement to 15 days.

As a Center for Community Alternatives organizer described, the demonstrators aimed to expose state violence persisting in communities of color. “State violence doesn’t stop when a person is convicted. In many cases, it is just the beginning of the brutality of the jails and the prisons in New York State.”

The march was part of the broader movement following George Floyd’s murder to pressure New York lawmakers ahead of Albany’s July 20 legislative session.

Barr’s Task Force Targets Racial Justice Protesters

On June 26, Attorney General William Barr announced a new task force addressing “violent anti-government extremists.” The taskforce follows a series of moves from Barr and Donald Trump to turn antifascist sentiment, “Antifa,” into an “all-purpose boogeyman.”

This taskforce also continues the FBI’s history of spying on major social movements, including anti-Vietnam war and civil right movements, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter.

As In These Times writes, this is “a dangerous act aimed at policing the politics of racial justice protesters.”

This preventive policing measure seeks to eliminate violence before it occurs, which requires law enforcement to gather intelligence on innocent people so it can come to “dubious” conclusions concerning criminal behavior.

Police Have Killed More Than 5,000 People Since 2015

Colorlines covers data compiled by the Washington Post on fatal police shootings. After the 2014 Ferguson police killing of Michael Brown, the paper’s investigations found that the FBI’s data undercounted fatal police shootings by over half the accurate numbers.

Using police reports and social media posts since January 2015, the paper has documented 5,468 deadly police encounters, with a steady rate of about 1,000 killings per year. These numbers have remained static despite multiple widespread demonstrations over the past years addressing police brutality.

Police shoot Black people, who make up about 13% of the U.S. population, at twice the rate of white people. The Post’s data represents only shootings; it doesn’t include deaths in police custody, off-duty killings, or the chokeholds used to murder Black men including Eric Garner and George Floyd.

Trump Upends CDC’s COVID-19 Reporting System

The Trump administration issued an abrupt decision, effective on Wednesday, to cut the Center for Disease Control and Prevention out of the coronavirus data collection process. This upends a decade-old reporting system for hospitals in the middle of this pandemic, reports Common Dreams.

Under the so far unjustified White House directive, hospitals are to bypass the CDC to send information directly to a Health and Human Services Department database run by TeleTracking Technologies, a private firm that was quietly awarded a $10.2 million federal contract in April.

Health experts warn that this possible loss of transparent virus data will further impede state efforts to combat the pandemic, while also leaving crucial information vulnerable to political spin.

U.S. Foreign Policy
Media Conceal—or Celebrate—Depriving Syrians of Food and Medicine

At the end of June, the latest round of U.S. sanctions, known as the Caesar Act, took effect against Syria, a country whose population is already in dire conditions after nine years of war and sanctions.

FAIR criticizes U.S. media coverage, which has largely endorsed, downplayed, or ignored the suffering imposed by these sanctions and the compounded effect of those from years prior.

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post describe the economic devastation levied against the Syrian people—severe inflation and unaffordable imported staples—as if it were a righteous blow to a troublesome government or family, without contextualizing the history of sanctions or addressing the mounting shortages of medical needs.

Alan MacLeod with the tweet of the week:
Climate Crisis
Trump Slashes Environmental Review Process as Biden Expands Climate Plan

On Wednesday, Donald Trump put forward a new rule aimed at reigning in the statute requiring federal agencies to assess the environmental consequences of their actions, reports InsideClimate News.

The move would shorten review times under the National Environmental Policy Act, establishing a two-year limit for full environmental reviews and a one-year deadline for less detailed assessments of projects ranging from pipelines and freeways to drilling on federal lands. The new NEPA rule could also limit the reviews from fully considering the effects of climate change.

Meanwhile, Democratic Candidate Joe Biden announced on Tuesday a $2 trillion clean economy jobs program, expanding his climate change plan to emphasize job creation and environmental justice.

In Other News

1. Trump news – live: President replaces campaign manager four months before election as Republicans cut convention capacity amid coronavirus surge (The Independent)

2. Trumpism Is the New McCarthyism (The Atlantic)

3. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Explicitly Bans Localities From Ordering People To Wear Masks (HuffPost)

4. Twitter hack: What went wrong and why it matters (BBC)

5. Russian state-sponsored hackers target Covid-19 vaccine researchers (The Guardian)