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.

In any case, New Imperialism is upon us. It’s a remodeled, streamlined version of what we once knew. For the first time in history, a single empire with an arsenal of weapons that could obliterate the world in an afternoon has complete, unipolar, economic and military hegemony. It uses different weapon to break open different markers.


Poor countries that are geopolitically of strategics value to the empire, or have a ‘market’ of any size, or infrastructure that can be privatized, or, god forbid, natural resources of value — oil, gold, diamonds, cobalt, coal — must do as they’re told or become military targets. Those with the greatest reserves of natural wealth are most at risk. Unless they surrender their resources willingly to the corporate machine, civil unrest will be fomented, or war will be waged. In this new age of empire, when nothing is as it appears to be, executives of concerned companies are allowed to influence foreign policy decisions.

This brutal blueprint has been used over and over again, across Latin American, Africa, Central and Southeast Asia. It has cost millions of lives. It goes without saying that every war empire wages becomes a just war. This, in large part, is due to the role of the corporate media. It’s important to understand that the corporate media doesn’t just support the neo-liberal project. it IS the neo-liberal project. This is not a moral position it has chosen to take, it’s structural. It’s intrinsic to the economics of how the mass media works.

—  Arundhati Roy, An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire 
[M]odern democracies have been around for long enough for neo-liberal capitalists to learn how to subvert them. They have mastered the techniques of infiltrating the instruments of democracy — the ‘independent’ judiciary, the ‘free’ press, the parliament — and molding them to their purpose. The project of corporate globalization has cracked the code. Free elections, a free press, and an independent judiciary mean little when the free market has reduced them to commodities on sale to the highest bidder.
—  Arundhati Roy, An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire
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

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?

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).


Ucsd students demonstrate against a conference celebrating 20 years of nafta called “Mexico moving forward: 20 years of nafta and beyond”. This conference features capitalists, politicians, and academics who have made millions off of the exploitation of the poor as a result of free trade agreements and land privatization. Speakers included Janet napolitano, Luis tellez, and Jesus vizcarra.

The students marched in solidarity with the zapatistas, showing the 20 years of indigenous struggle, before occupying the institute of the Americas building and the center for Iberian and Latin American studies, a school at Ucsd that receives funding from the CIA and has produced studies used to legitimize neoliberal policies.

¡Ya basta!
¡Todo el poder al pueblo!

Update: as details of the event unfold I’ll upload them, this event just happened this morning so a lot of the details aren’t out. Here’s the press release the coalition of student groups that organized the event posted: http://conjuncturemagazine.org/2014/03/06/students-protest-nafta-celebration-at-ucsd

edit: CILAS and institute of the America’s were not in fact occupied, but were “ghost” occupied. 

In April, the World Health Organization issued its first-ever report tracking antimicrobial resistance worldwide, finding “alarming levels” of bacterial resistance. “This serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country,” the UN health body warned.

The reason for this is straightforward, as the companies themselves themselves admit: It simply makes no sense to pharmaceutical companies to invest an estimated $870 million (or $1.8 billion accounting for the cost of capital) per drug approved by regulators on a product that people only use a handful of times in their life when suffering from an infection, compared to investing the same amount on the development of highly profitable drugs for chronic diseases such as diabetes or cancer that patients have to take every day, often for the rest of their lives…

We see an identical situation with vaccine development. People purchase asthma drugs or insulin, for example, for decades, while vaccinations usually require only one or two doses once in a lifetime. For decades now, so many pharmaceutical companies have abandoned not just vaccine research and development but production as well, that by 2003, the US began to experience shortages of most childhood vaccines. The situation is so dire that the CDC maintains a public website tracking current vaccine shortages and delays.