Hawaii Rep. Tom Brower Takes A Sledgehammer (Literally) To Homelessness Problem | Huffington Post

Watch out, Hawaii. Waikiki has a new vigilante on the loose.

Armed with a sledgehammer and a self-righteous mission, State Rep. Tom Brower (D.) walks his district’s streets and parks looking for the nefarious shopping carts used by homeless people.

If the carts have a store’s insignia still on them, Brower gallantly returns them to the rightful owner. If, however, he can’t tell where the carts originated from, he pulls out his trusty sledgehammer.

"If I see shopping carts that I can’t identify," he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, "I will destroy them so they can’t be pushed on the streets.”

(Before you judge, note that he kindly takes out any belongings in the carts and leaves them on the ground where he found them.)

Brower, according to the Star-Advertiser, is “disgusted” by the city’s chronic homelessness problem and has decided to take a self-proclaimed “tough-guy” approach to solving it. In addition to his shopping cart rampage, he also rouses homeless people if he sees them sleeping at bus stops during the day.

"If someone is sleeping at night on the bus stop, I don’t do anything," he told the Star-Advertiser. "But if they are sleeping during the day, I’ll walk up and say, ‘Get your ass moving.’"

Some in Honolulu have welcomed Brower’s “grass-roots approach,” but others warn against it’s effectiveness and say it is both extreme and threatening.

"You have to remember that there are people who are traumatized out there,” Connie Mitchell, executive director for the Institute of Human Services, told Hawaii News Now. “To see someone with a sledgehammer sometimes can be re-traumatizing for a lot of people.”

While Brower admits that he’s not “100 percent comfortable” with his actions, he insists that what he’s doing is right.

He also seems unconcerned by the prospect of initiating or escalating an altercation with a homeless person.

"When you are walking down the sidewalk with a sledgehammer," he told the Star-Advertiser, "people get out of your way.”

We wonder why.

(Photo Credit: AmericaWakieWakie)

Editor’s Note: Please contact Brower and tell him how you feel: 808-586-8520 | Email: repbrower@capitol.hawaii.gov

Poverty too, like feminism, is often framed as an identity problem. As though the poor had not been created by injustice but are a lost tribe who just happen to exist, and can be rescued in the short term by a system of grievance redressal (administered by NGOs on an individual, person-to-person basis), and whose long-term resurrection will come from Good Governance — under the regime of Global Corporate Capitalism, it goes without saying.
—  Arundhati Roy, Capitalism: A Ghost Story

#FueElEstado: How the Mexican Government Is Guilty of State Crime in Ayotzinapa Case

By Ricardo Lezama

​The Mexican government is undertaking radical reforms favoring private investors at a blitzkrieg pace. Dismantling public institutions in this manner has a destabilizing effect on the Mexican public’s ability to sustain themselves, diminishes our quality of life and has led to our mass economic migration to Western countries. Like the ongoing privatization of PEMEX and recent attempt to narrow curriculum at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional, the attack on Ayoztinapa students intended to cripple their ability to fulfill fundamental educational and social needs in rural Mexico. Perhaps the thinking was that once the students were placed into a more precarious position, the Mexican State could advance a ‘solution’ in the form of technocratic educational reforms. Therefore, we believe that the attacks in Iguala, Guerrero, on September 26, 2014, were motivated by the federal government’s desire to advance radical economic and educational reforms without opposition.

​The Mexican government’s attack against Ayotzinapa students was an extremely flagrant human rights violation. In fact, the National Commission of Human Rights in Mexico has enough evidence to call it a ‘forced disappearance.’ The Ayotzinapa case ranks high in depravity even when comparing its details to other well documented state crimes. In recent memory, attacks against Mexican social activists, students and other civilians have risen in frequency and sophistication, involving coordination between multiple state actors. Along with these acts of state sponsored terrorism, there exist media narratives that serve to justify or absolve state complicity in these violent acts.

​Initially, the attack on the Ayotzinapa students was justified in the name of law and order by some local media outlets The attacks against the Ayotzinapa students were first presented as simply heavy handed acts by the police on unruly students. Fortunately, the students had documented the violence and had anticipated omissions and defamation (see timeline). This is partly why the students were able to strongly declare that they were targets and victims of state repression, a point now well understood globally.

​Another important point is the fact that despite being less than two miles away from the scene, the Mexican military never intervened in defense of the students. Contrary to English-speaking media accounts, narco-traffickers were not the main perpetrators of the attacks in Iguala, Guerrero that night. If mentioned at all, the presence of the Mexican military has only been glossed over by the U.S. English speaking media.

​Shortly after the second attack, at around 11:30 pm, the Mexican army is confirmed to be present around the perimeter of the bus terminal where the students were attacked. The soldiers intercepeted Omar Garcia and a wounded Edgar Andres Vargas as they tried to coordinate ambulances. Garcia asked the soldiers for help. Instead, the soldiers chose to beat the students while they were in an Iguala hospital. As they struck them with their rifles, the soldiers yelled “you asked for it … for doing what you do” (se lo buscaron por lo que hacen). The statement is quite revealing because it indicates the soldiers were aware of the attacks occurring in Iguala.

The soldiers interrogated and held the students against their will for several hours. During the interrogation, they obtained personal information from the students and told them “you will never be seen again” if they did not cooperate and provide true details. Today, the entire world knows that another group of unidentified assailants made good on their intent to disappear 43 students. In other words, those were not empty threats that the soldiers issued against the students. ​Furthermore, the Mexican military has a long history of repressing active sectors of the Mexican population. Since the 1960’s, the Mexican military has been implicated in the disappearance and murder of civil activists, students, and opposition politicians. In other words, those were not empty threats that the military made against the students.

​Mexican government forces used a methodology honed during the ‘counter-insurgency’ operations executed against Lucio Cabañas and Genaro Vázquez. These two activists were graduates of the Ayotzinapa Normal and established various civic organizations in Guerrero in addition to resorting to armed struggle after exhausting peaceful political activity. Those disappeared Ayotzinapa students reflected the marginalized society they sought to empower through education. They were primarily poor and agrarian. Instead of teaching agrarian techniques and social activism, the government wanted Normales like Ayotzinapa to teach English and technical skills oriented towards an urban service sector economy. In a post-NAFTA world, that technocratic requirement on Normalista education is a way to make Mexico a cheap supplier of outsourcing services.

​Much has been said about the lack of a federal and state police response during the attacks. In all likelihood, those judicial elements missing in action were coordinating the attack from afar. Recall that students were told by media outlets that they were forbidden from reporting on the events by state officials. Under that premise, we can see how the Mexican government had an incentive to slow down the investigation as much as possible. Nearly 4 hours after the first attack, reporters finally observed an 8-man military squad arrive to the first crime scene. No forensic team is in sight and it begins to rain heavily in Iguala. The evidence is now visibly washed away. These reporters feel the soldiers have a strange sense of hostility and disinterest in the crime. What is quite telling is that the time of the arrival of forensic experts, federal and state police is extremely delayed. They arrive at 4:00 am the next day, at almost exactly the same time in which Murillo Karam says the presumed assailants disposed of bodies believed to belong to the Ayotzinapa students.

​The hypocrisy of the Mexican government regarding the Ayotzinapa case is extremely transparent – their own statements give their cynicism away. Murillo Karam, Mexico’s Attorney General, declared that it was a good thing military personnel did not intervene in the shootings. Karam reasoned that if the Mexican soldiers intervened in the Iguala shootings, then they would have done so only in favor of the police. However, the fact of the matter is that the Mexican army did intervene in favor of the municipal police and we are left to wonder how and why.

Karam’s statement regarding their presence indicates that the Mexican government is pre-emptively justifying the fact that the Mexican military was present in Iguala during the shootings. Since that is the case, the Mexican People are left with one solution: a bottom-up series of protests and expressions of discontent that demands changes in government from the top down. The protests of November 20th were just the opening salvo to a popular firestorm of change.

See Ayotzinapa Timeline and Questions

Ricardo Lezama is a linguist from Santa Ana, California, and is the founder of LaCartita.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ricardoblezama.

anonymous asked:

You know what? fuck it. Just kill all humans and hope the next dominant species does a better job. I mean either you're benefiting from oppression and you deserve to die, or you're a victim of oppression and you're better off dead.

Ahh, the final form of the neoliberal appears: misanthropy. I mean, you’re free to do whatever you want with yourself, but I think me and mine will continue living.

Nice false equivalence though.

So 85 people have more wealth than half the world’s population, that’s about 3.6 billion people with less wealth than 85 people. And people are asking, "what if some sit around doing nothing and sponge off the government. while the rest of us work hard." So yall think these 85 people are working harder than 3.6 billion people? The 3.6 billion people who likely have generated all of these 85’s wealth. And this is your argument against communism? Your incredibly, willfully, poor understanding, of communism?

It’s almost as though the greater the devastation caused by neoliberalism, the greater the outbreak of NGOs. Nothing illustrates this more poignantly than the phenomenon of the U.S. preparing to invade a country and simultaneously readying NGOs to go in and clean up the devastation. In order make sure their funding is not jeopardized and that the governments of the countries they work in will allow them to function, NGOs have to present their work in a shallow framework, more or less shorn of a political or historical context. At any rate, an inconvenient historical or political context. Apolitical (and therefore, actually, extremely political) distress reports from poor countries and war zones eventually make the (dark) people of those (dark) countries seem like pathological victims. Another malnourished Indian, another starving Ethiopian, another Afghan refugee camp, another maimed Sudanese…in need of the white man’s help. They unwittingly reinforce racist stereotypes and reaffirm the achievements, the comforts and the compassion (the tough love) of Western civilization. They’re the secular missionaries of the modern world.

Eventually—on a smaller scale, but more insidiously—the capital available to NGOs plays the same role in alternative politics as the speculative capital that flows in and out of the economies of poor countries. It begins to dictate the agenda. It turns confrontation into negotiation. It depoliticizes resistance. It interferes with local peoples’ movements that have traditionally been self-reliant. NGOs have funds that can employ local people who might otherwise be activists in resistance movements, but now can feel they are doing some immediate, creative good (and earning a living while they’re at it). Real political resistance offers no such short cuts. The NGO-ization of politics threatens to turn resistance into a well-mannered, reasonable, salaried, 9-to-5 job.
—  Arundhati Roy, “Public power in the age of empire

Sam Durant
Mirror Travels in Neoliberalism

The work of Sam Durant investigates utopia and its failure in relation to protest and countercultures movements in American political history. In his sculptures, installations, and drawings, Sam Durant connects and overlaps several references to the popular, artistic and political history from the 60’s and 70’s.

Durant re-presents iconic symbols from popular music, art, white student protest, and Black Power, reflecting an intensely utopian yet nihilistic moment, when a counterculture both succeeded and failed at changing the world.

anonymous asked:

Hi how does atla espouse neoliberal values? Not a troll question I'm just curious thanks!


I don’t think it’s a troll question at all! 

So before I dive right into this question, I’ll start by borrowing a definition of neoliberalism from Lisa Duggan’s essay “The New Homonormativity: The Sexual Politics of Neoliberalism:”

“Neoliberalism, the brand name for the form of procorporate, "free market:’ anti-“big government" rhetoric shaping U.S. policy and dominating international financial institutions since the early 1980s, is associated primarily with economic and trade policy… The primary strategy of turn of the millennium neoliberalism is privatization, the term that describes the transfer of wealth and decision making from public, more-or-less accountable decision-making bodies to individual or corporate, unaccountable hands.”

So while the TV series of Avatar: The Last Airbender does not delve too much into neoliberalism, the comics and the ultimate existence of Republic City in The Legend of Korra, are most certainly inline with these values.  In fact, our beloved Asami discusses in “Reunion” that she (the owner of a private company) built much of the infrastructure of Republic City’s public parks and roads.  The idea that a democracy is the ultimate form of government and must replace all failed states, as Wu suggests as a solution for the Earth Kingdom, is exactly inline with much of the rhetoric of current neoliberalist ideology. 

In addition, the private sector of Republic City certainly seems rather unconstrained, as there are no mentions of limits, in fact there is only encouragement on the part of President Raiko for both Asami and Varrick to build weapons to protect the city.  This, coupled with the fact that the only villains given complete redemption arcs are capitalists, Hiroshi and Varrick.  Some might point out that Zaheer helps Korra, and while he is cooperative, he remains behind bars at the end of the season, suggesting that the only productive anarchy is one that is highly controlled (ironic). 

Another key component of neoliberalist values is the Avatar’s cooperation with the police force, which is directly in relation to capitalism, as police were initially created to combat crowds not crime (i.e. strikes, riots, etc) in order to keep industries going.  In his essay “Discipline and Punishment,” Foucault discusses how industry funds the state and the state in turn funds industries, creating the military-industrial complex seen in our own country and, by extension, the Avatar universe.  Factories require a cheap labor force, and organized labor like unions are in direct conflict with that.  There is a hint of the exploitation of youth with high amounts of chi (like Mako) that work in the factories with their lightning bending.   

It’s not until capitalism creates a wage-gap (as is inevitable) that there we start to see gangs, NOT the other way around.   In fact in comparison with the other ideologies in this series, Capitalism stands out for its complex and thorough treatment, as opposed to the reductionist approach to Communism, Theocracy, Anarchy, and Totalitarianism, one of my biggest critiques of the series as whole.  Instead of just one character bearing the burden, we are given three fleshed-out capitalists - Hiroshi, Varrick, and Asami. 

The one marked difference from the military-industrial complex of our world and the Avatar world is simply that it is not centered around patriarchal values - in fact, the key positions of the industry and of the police are women, and women who are willing to leave their jobs behind to follow the Avatar.  And perhaps it is also important to note that the only time that Korra challenges these instutions are when they are being lead by men (Tarrlok and Hiroshi).


How does this complicate the sexual politics of the Avatar universe?  Is this just not a use of marginalized groups in these fields to assimilate us to neoliberal values? Can a series, purportedly built on Daoist philosophies, really marriage values in complete contradiction to Buddhism? And even more troubling, yet, is Asami’s union with the Avatar ultimately an attempt at redemption for capitalism, coded in these neoliberal signifiers and hidden under the guise “progress,” which is the basis of Duggan’s essay?  

I can’t answer these questions, as I can’t speak for Bryke.  I can say that a child watching the series will most likely interpret the finale more as Korra finding happiness rather than Korra choosing capitalism.   My only hope is in analyzing the last lines of the series, we can unravel Bryke’s true intentions. 

It would make sense that following the destruction of Republic City (including Future Industries) and Asami’s forgiveness of Hiroshi, that she may finally be able to let her business go.  As LoK Gifs and Musings has pointed out in a number of analyses, Asami time and time again is willing to sacrifice her business to help the Avatar.  Dispensing her wealth for the sake of others is at the core of her character, and honestly with the destruction of Republic City at the end of the series, it’s also understood that Future Industries was obliterated as well, and unlike the the last three conversations about new democracy (Wu), future war (Mako), and rebuilding Republic City (Tenzin), we get this little gem of hope in the sea of neoliberalism, in the form of Asami’s last line:  

“I’ve always wanted to see what the spirit world’s like.” 

And so, in the last few lines of the series, Bryke makes their closing argument.  The ending is NOT about Korra choosing Asami’s world of capitalism, but rather Asami choosing to embark on her own spiritual journey.   There is a hope that two girls walking off into a spirit portal hand-in-hand, amongst the ruins of a fallen Republic, will return with new perspective, and as we’ve seen through their amazing collaborative abilities, perhaps can bring about a truly “new age.”  

And so how does one answer to the prospect of taking the most important person in your life on an adventure that might change their entire world view? 

"Sounds perfect.”  

Neoliberalism is a big word. One could even call it jargon-y. However, an understanding of neoliberalism is critical to comprehending today’s global economy. Thus, this attempt to explain what neoliberalism is. Neoliberalism has three manifestations: (1) an ideology that the state’s primary role is to protect property rights, free markets, and free trade; (2) a mode of governance based on a logic of competitiveness, individuality, and entrepreneurship; and (3) a policy package designed to slim down social welfare and integrate countries into the global economy (Steger 2009; Steger and Roy 2010; Harvey 2005).

With the largest logistics and retail network in the country, the Crown corporation could be leveraged to meet social needs

Rising food prices in the North have lately garnered attention, as pictures of basic goods with outrageous price tags make the rounds on social media.

Conservative MP Leona Aglukkaq angered many when she was seen reading a newspaper in Parliament while the opposition questioned her about residents in her own riding picking through the garbage dump to find food. Meanwhile, Stephen Harper’s Nutrition North program is a failure by every measure. Retailers are subsidized by the federal government, but they must arrange their own shipping. There is nothing to require business owners to keep the prices of staple foods low, and nothing to prevent them from simply pocketing the subsidy and raising prices.

Not long ago another program subsidized the shipping of nutritious food to the North through Canada Post. Through Food Mail, retailers in isolated northern communities sent food through Canada Post at a cost of 80 cents per kilogram. Today retailers pay in the neighbourhood of $13 per kilogram to ship the same products.

Though not perfect, the Food Mail program was a useful way of leveraging existing federal infrastructure to alleviate high food prices. An expanded program could not only keep the price of freight low for retailers, but also allow residents to order bulk food directly with subsidized shipping. This would dramatically reduce the cost of nutritious food in isolated communities.

This very idea, of collectively providing the service that each individual requires, is what the Conservatives find so objectionable.

Food Mail was a commonsense solution to a problem that the Conservative government has only exacerbated. But there is another aspect to this story, one with much deeper ideological roots, about the role of the federal government, its institutions and Crown corporations in connecting the country.

Canada Post has long been a critical part of the country’s infrastructure, connecting people from coast to coast to coast. But the neoliberal model imposed by Stephen Harper clashes with this idea on a fundamental level. The Conservatives would rather give subsidies to business than support public services. There is no fiscal argument to support the destruction of the Food Mail program, and the impact of its loss on northern communities has been devastating.

Food Mail is one example of how Canada Post’s federal infrastructure can be leveraged to deliver services and meet social needs. Canada Post could take advantage of its vast retail network — the largest in the country — to deliver banking and financial services to communities like post offices do in many countries. It could rely on this same infrastructure to become a wireless carrier, as La Poste has done in France. There are no shortages of programs and services that could be offered using the existing infrastructure of this critical Crown corporation.

But this is a view that conflicts with ideological beliefs deeply held by Stephen Harper and his government. They are stripping Canada Post of its services. They are creating a crisis in the organization. And they are quietly preparing an agenda of privatization for the Crown corporation. […]

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Dubai erupted onto the world stage as a media and tourism spectacle. A small emirate that had transformed from an ancient mercantile port into a “global city” in a matter of decade, it was breaking world records and luring tourists and investors with man-made islands in the shape of palm trees and over-the-top luxury hotels and shopping malls. At the beginning of the millennium, Dubai seemed to many to exemplify what Jean and John Camaroff have described as “millennial capital” — a neoliberal fantasy-world of consumerism and real-estate speculation built on the backs of transnational, transient, majority proletariat population.

[…]

The human elements of the city seem to exist at extremes, with wealthy — and exploitative — Gulf Arabs and international business tycoons on one end, and the downtrodden construction and maids, mostly from South Asia, on the other. In fact, the majority of the attention to South Asians and other migrant groups in the Gulf, both popular and academic, echoes the Comaroff’s arguments about capitalism and class at the turn of the millennium by focusing either on the lack of human rights afforded to migrant workers, or on the absent of forms of civil society in the authoritarian Gulf sates that disfranchises both foreigners and citizens alike, albeit in different was. The millennial story about Dubai emphasizes a new form — or “second coming” — of rampant neoliberal capitalism, with both its spectacles and abuses. 

—  Neha Vora, Impossible Citizens: Dubai’s Indian Diaspora

Credit makes you free! Neoliberalism, politics of debt and the subjugation of the working poor.

Under the rubric of ‘financial inclusion’, lending to the poor – in both the global North and global South – has become a highly lucrative and rapidly expanding industry since the 1990s. A key inquiry of Susanne Soederberg’s penetrating and original book Debtfare States and the Poverty Industry: Money, Discipline and the Surplus Population is what is ‘the financial’ in which the poor are so kindly asked to join. 

Refuting the mainstream position that financial inclusion is a natural, inevitable and mutually beneficial arrangement, Soederberg convincingly argues that the structural violence inherent to neoliberalism and credit-led accumulation have created and normalized a reality in which the working poor can no longer afford to live without expensive credit. Credit is an instrument of capital accumulation, class regulation, and symbolic subjugation. The book transcends economic treatments of credit and debt by revealing how the poverty industry is extricably linked to the social power of money, the paradoxes in credit-led accumulation, and ‘debtfarism’. The latter refers to rhetorical and regulatory forms of governance that mediate and facilitate the expansion of the poverty industry and the reliance of the poor on credit to augment/replace their wages.
Through a historically grounded analysis, the author examines various dimensions of the poverty industry as well as the machinery that combines the poverty industry and the state, ranging from the credit card, payday loan, and student loan industries in the United States to micro-lending and low-income housing finance industries in Mexico. Providing a much-needed theorization of the politics of debt, Debtfare States and the Poverty Industry is a timely and stimulative contribution to the scientific and civic reevaluation of the role of finance in the workings of neoliberalism as a distinctive form of rule.