IRIS ♥︎ #VeteransForKaepernick.

 

johnmiddlemas

After his grandson tweeted this photo of his grandfather kneeling in solidarity with NFL protests against racist police violence, John Middlemas, a white, 97-year-old World War II veteran, became an instant social media star. He said he wanted to join athletes who knelt in protest during the national anthem. Middlemas also had this to say: Continue reading

Petition to Congress: Stop the militarization of local police.

Please sign and share this petition if you are willing and able (via CREDO* Action):

stoppolicemilitarizationDonald Trump recently rewarded the country’s biggest police union for their endorsement of his dangerous, racist candidacy. He is going to give state and local police military-grade weapons of war.1

In 2014, police in combat gear driving mine-resistant tanks violently confronted people protesting the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The national outrage and organizing, including from more than 100,000 CREDO members, helped force President Obama to dramatically scale back the 1033 program.

Recently, police in St. Louis in full riot gear were chanting “whose streets, our streets” as they violently confronted people protesting yet another not guilty verdict for another police killing of a Black man.3 But Trump, whose racist, xenophobic agenda depends on demonizing communities of color and unleashing law enforcement, wants to bring 1033 back in full force.

Fortunately, there is a bill that would stop Trump’s dangerous escalation and help keep weapons of war out of our communities, the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act. The more of us who speak out, the more pressure on Congress to act.

Tell Congress: Pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act and block Donald Trump’s attempt to militarize local police.

Police militarization contributes to the over-policing of communities of color and the erosion of trust between communities and police. When police departments are armed with military-grade weapons and trained to use military tactics, they are more likely to treat the people they are meant to serve as enemy combatants.4 In many communities, fully militarized SWAT teams routinely issue search warrants, terrorizing people in their homes and neighborhoods.5

Police militarization also undermines people’s right to peacefully and safely protest. The hyper-militarized and clearly disproportionate police response to largely peaceful protesters in Ferguson is far from the only example. In the summer of 2016, Baton Rouge, Louisiana police responded to peaceful protests of Alton Sterling’s murder as if they were going to war.6 Last fall in North Dakota, police in riot gear confronted peaceful Standing Rock protesters with armored vehicles, automatic rifles, sonic weapons, concussion grenades, pepper spray and beanbag bullets.7 Surveillance devices like the Stingray, which can secretly download cell data and disrupt cell service, are also part of the 1033 program.8

It is no surprise that Trump, who condoned white supremacist Nazi violence against peaceful protesters last month in Charlottesville, wants to further weaponize police, terrorize communities of color and stifle peaceful dissent to his hateful regime. That is why it is more important than ever to pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act now. The bill would shut down the direct pipeline between the Department of Defense and police, ban the transfer of a long list of military equipment, require extensive documentation and reporting, and prohibit the militarization of departments under investigation for civil rights violations.9

Donald Trump’s extreme agenda has already emboldened law enforcement agents across the country, at the local, state and federal level. Making sure that his administration cannot arm police with weapons of war is a powerful way to fight back.

Can you add your name today to tell Congress to pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act and block Donald Trump’s attempt to militarize local police?

Thank you for everything you do.

References:

  1. Tom Jackman, “Trump to restore program sending surplus military weapons, equipment to police,” The Washington Post, Aug. 27, 2017.

  2. Matt Apuzzo, “War Gear Flows to Police Departments,” The New York Times, June 8, 2014.

  3. Nicole D. Nelson, “When Will Black Lives Matter in St. Louis?” The New York Times, Sept. 20, 2017.

  4. ACLU Foundation, “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” June 2014.

  5. ibid.

  6. Tess Owen, “Baton Rouge cops dressed for war to confront protesters,” Vice News, July 11, 2016.

  7. Standing Rock Special: Dallas Goldtooth on Police Violence & Repression of Movement Against DAPL,” Democracy Now, Nov. 24, 2016.

  8. Jeremy Scahill and Margot Williams, “Stingrays: A Secret Catalogue of Government Gear for Spying on Your Cellphone,” The Intercept, Dec. 17, 2015.

  9. H.R.1556 – Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act

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*CREDO is a lefty activist mobile telecom company: every month it allocates a portion of its revenue to various activist non-profits, as voted and allocated by its customers. CREDO is, for example, Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donor. Please consider switching to CREDO as your mobile carrier, and stop supporting anti-democratic corporations that fund conservatives like AT&T. Yes it is true that CREDO runs on Verizon’s network and it’s also true that Verizon is a ginormous shitweasel, so some of CREDO’s revenue is indeed funding conservative shitweaselry. But compared to the telecom behemoths CREDO is a tiny company, and yet it still manages to donate $150-200k per month to well-vetted, worthwhile organizations.

Well played.

As I’ve mentioned, I loathe U.S. men’s sportsball with the burning intensity of ten thousand suns. #yesallmenssportsball. The reasons are legion, but a big one is the cloying stench of jingoist militarism that pervades the realm. And of course that is no accident: a 2015 Senate report released to little fanfare detailed U.S. military contracts worth millions of taxpayer dollars with pro sports teams for “paid-for patriotism,” from solemn “salutes to service” to flag-waving pageantry to ceremonies honoring hometown war heroes on the field. Worse still, the NFL alone receives about $1 billion a year in public subsidies to build and operate stadiums and other handouts, thereby enriching obscenely wealthy team owners at taxpayers expense.

Unlike other temporary expenditures on infrastructure or even businesses in which state and local governments might invest to ultimately benefit the public and/or their treasury’s bottom line,

[p]ublic handouts for modern professional football never end and are never repaid. In return, the NFL creates nothing of social value—while setting bad examples, despite its protests to the contrary, regarding concussions, painkiller misuse, weight gain, and cheating, among other issues.

Other issues indeed. Like, oh, say, sexual assault and domestic violence, for which career-ending consequences are virtually unheard of. But a player sitting out the national anthem to protest racism and police murdering people of color? GAME OVER.

Now I don’t know about you, but I always have to wonder: what does our Sexual-Assaulter-In-Chief think about all of this? Fortunately for inquiring minds like mine, he has not shut up about it since his Nazi-fest on Friday night.

Trump told the Republican rally that such actions “disrespect our heritage.”

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired,'” Trump said… He went on to encourage spectators to boycott games where national anthem protests take place.

He’s been completely obsessed with these anti-racist NFL protests for three days now, tweeting yesterday:

“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,” Trump wrote. “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

And this morning:

Can I tell you how much I looooove all of this? Because the backlash is just a beautiful fucking thing to behold. Ever since Commander Cheetohead started his fascist little crusade on Friday, NFL players, coaches and even team owners – who collectively contributed $7 million to Trump’s campaign and some of whom are his personal friends – have responded overwhelmingly, negatively and vociferously. Yesterday, the protests spread from the NFL to major league baseball when some d00d who plays for the Oakland As knelt during the national anthem. And this just came over my news feed, just as the Sunday games begin to get underway:

Dozens of players kneel, coaches link arms in solidarity as Trump asks NFL teams to ‘fire or suspend’ protesting players

SOMERSET, N.J. — As President Trump called for NFL owners to suspend or fire players who protested the national anthem, players and coaches answered defiantly Sunday morning, with most members of the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars either standing with their arms locked in solidarity or taking a knee on the field.

Ravens Coach John Harbaugh joined his players, locking arms, and Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, a Pakistani American billionaire and businessman, joined his players before the game’s kickoff at 9:30 a.m. in London’s Wembley Stadium. Ravens Hall of Famer Ray Lewis also took a knee during the anthem.

Most members of both teams, the Ravens’ coach and the Jaguars’ OWNER. On an international stage, no less.

LOLOL!

laughcryemoji

Keep it up, Mr. President! Heckuva job! Now if we could just get you to piss yourself silly over all the sportsball players kneeling to protest domestic abuse and sexual violence against women, that would be super.

Oh wait. There aren’t any.

[edited because rage typos.]

I approve this message.

Today is primary day in NYC, and in a happy turn of fate, my polling place happens to be the amazing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center on 13th Street. As soon as I exited after voting, I spotted one of those big package drop boxes plastered with a graffiti tag and a big blue sticker with white block lettering:

Continue reading

Petition to Las Vegas PD: Release the video.

[CONTENT NOTE: white supremacy, racist police violence.]

Full disclosure: I have no idea who Michael Bennett is. I loathe men’s sportsball with the burning intensity of ten thousand suns. This campaign is the only reason I know that Bennett is a black man—but of course that is the only thing that matters to far too many police officers in this country. Please consider signing this petition, and signal boosting. Thank you.

via Color of Change:

bennetCampaign created by
Patrisse Cullors-Brignac, Black Lives Matter Global Network

Release the names of the officers and footage from the police assault on NFL player Michael Bennett on Saturday, August 26, 2017.

Why is this important?

Continue reading

Multicellularity, male privilege and also I need $10 million.

I watched a video of my colleagues at FreethoughtBlogs, Matt Herron of Fierce Roller and PZ Myers of Tentacly Overlord infamy, discussing some very cool science-y stuff about the evolution of multicellularity. One of the most interesting takeaways for me is that it had long been thought that evolving multicellularity would be an exceedingly rare and difficult jump to make. But it has been discovered, only in the last five to ten years, that this is actually relatively easy and common:

Matt (@3:51): I think there’s been sort of a natural assumption that it has to be difficult. And maybe it is difficult to evolve a complex multicellular organism, with lots and lots of cell types and tissues and maybe even organs, because that hasn’t happened very many times. But Rick Grossberg has a paper where he argues basically what we’ve found, which is that at least the initial steps towards a multicellular lifestyle really aren’t that difficult. It’s happened lots of times that we know of, at least a couple of dozen times, and probably more because in a lot of cases these things don’t leave any fossil record. It is surprising, compared to what people thought five or ten years ago, that multicellularity evolves so easily, but now we’ve seen it in several of these experiments. And in a lot of cases it happens within just a few hundred generations.

OMG cool, right?

Then they touch on the intersection of philosophy and biology, and specifically the question of what exactly constitutes an individual organism, as opposed to, say, a colony of creatures that appear to function as one. I don’t know about you, but this kind of stuff really gets my beanie spinning. I am reminded of my unfortunate encounter with a species known as Physalia physalis, a.k.a. the “floating terror,” a.k.a. the Atlantic Portuguese man o’ war, which I would henceforth (and forevermore) refer to as a “sea squirrel.” Despite its similarity in appearance to the common jellyfish—an individual multicellular organism that will also sting the everloving shit out of you if given a chance—it turns out that the Sea Squirrel™ is actually something very different:

[T]he Portuguese man o’ war is not a jellyfish but a siphonophore, which, unlike jellyfish, is not actually a single multicellular organism, but a colonial organism made up of specialized individual animals called zooids or polyps. These polyps are attached to one another and physiologically integrated to the extent that they are unable to survive independently, and therefore have to work together and function like a so-called individual animal.

Mind: blown.

These weird little fuckers are carnivorous, wielding their wickedly venomous tentacles to paralyze prey (e.g. small fish), and to inflict upon barefoot beachwalkers excruciating pain even after they are long dead (the sea squirrels, not the beachwalkers).

Detached tentacles and dead specimens (including those that wash up on shore) can sting just as painfully as the live organism in the water and may remain potent for hours or even days after the death of the organism or the detachment of the tentacle.

And I would be remiss if I did not mention an interesting cephalopod angle here. Blanket octopuses are immune to sea squirrel venom, which is an amazing enough trick to evolve. But these cephalopods go waaaaaay beyond that: they rip the venomous tentacles right off of those critters (hopefully while mocking them mercilessly), and then they carry the tentacles around with them to wield as weapons for defensive (and possibly offensive) purposes. Now that is some serious next level shit, blanket octopuses! I mean, can you just picture that? Because I sure can!

 

octopusseasquirrelweaponsOctopus Wielding Sea Squirrel™ Tentacles Against Douchefish.
©Iris Vander Pluym
8′ x 11′
(oil on canvas)
$10,000,000.00

But! I digress. As beanie-spinning as all of this clearly is (as evidenced by the foregoing blather), it has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of this post. Continue reading

We suck. Help save the oceans.

seaturtle

(image via Avaaz)

It’s no secret that I have no love for homo sapiens (or for Sciuridae for that matter, but they are not the goddamn problem FOR ONCE). I do, however, harbor deep affection and compassion for our cousins that dwell in the Earth’s seas.

papagayocr

This is a picture of all my aquatic friends in Costa Rica.
I don’t have an underwater camera. But since I snorkeled extensively in these waters, I can assure you they are fucking amazing.

Unfortunately, when it comes to marine habitats all over this planet, humans suck giant walrus balls. Hard. In fact, it invites karmic justice of the highest order that President Cheetohead and his merry band of motherfrackers are busy ensuring Earth’s glaciers and polar ice caps completely melt, covering the entire surface of the globe in water. (BONUS: this would also solve the fucking squirrel problem once and for all. Lard knows future aquatic space alien visitors shouldn’t have to deal with that shit.)

But at least occasionally, we humans attempt to mitigate some of the worst aspects of our lamentable existence. If only momentarily, we will put our violent domination proclivities on hold and shift to a collaborative worldview, as if our very lives depended on it. They actually do, of course. And this is one of those moments.

Continue reading

Conversion therapy: kill it with fire.

equality-180

Feel like exercising your constitutional right (while it lasts…) to click links? GOOD!

Click on over to Freethought Resistance, then click the link to CREDO* Action’s petition to Congress to ban conversion therapy. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA33), sponsor of the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, says of the legislation:

It says it is fraud if you treat someone for a condition that doesn’t exist and there’s no medical condition known as being gay. LGBTQ people were born perfect; there is nothing to treat them for. And by calling this what it should be, which is fraud, it would effectively shut down most of the organizations.

As a California state senator in 2012, Rep. Lieu was also instrumental in enacting a similar law, the first of its kind in the nation. Just last month, the California law withstood a final appeal to the US Supreme Court based on a “religious freedom” argument. In the wake of the high court’s rejection, there is some momentum on which to capitalize here: the national legislation has been referred to committee in both the House and Senate.

Come on, you godless heathens! You know you enjoy trampling the “religious freedom” of bigoted fraudulent assholes at least as much as I do. Get your click on.

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*CREDO Mobile is a lefty activist mobile company: every month it allocates a portion of its revenue to various activist non-profits, as voted and allocated by its customers. (CREDO is, for example, Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donor.) Consider switching to CREDO as your mobile carrier, and stop funding anti-democratic donors like AT&T that fund conservatives. They offer a lot of the same deals on phones, contract buyouts, incentives, fees, etc.

PETITION: Urge DHS not to appoint David Clarke.

[CONTENT NOTE: state violence, brutality and death]

Apropos my post earlier today about state violence-supporting, authoritarian fascist douchebro David Clarke, here comes a timely petition (via Presente.org):

Dear Iris:

On Wednesday, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke told right wing radio he will resign to take a job in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under Donald Trump.1

Will you sign the petition and tell DHS Secretary John Kelly to not hire Sheriff Clarke?

Clarke’s resignation is great news for Milwaukee County, but if he really is being appointed to DHS, that’s terrible news for the country. That’s why we’re joining forces with our partners at Voces de la Frontera to stop Sheriff Clark and hold the DHS accountable.

Amazingly, DHS has not confirmed that they actually offered Clarke the job he claims. There’s still time to sign the petition urging DHS Secretary John Kelly to not appoint Sheriff Clarke to any position.

Click here to sign! Don’t forget to share it on social media!

Clarke is incompetent and corrupt. He has abused his power by attacking political opponents. He has enriched himself by acting as a media mouthpiece for white supremacists. He is unfit for any office and should face criminal charges for the deaths and human rights abuses at the Milwaukee County Jail.2

If Clarke is appointed to this position, his job would be to bully other local law enforcement nationwide into enrolling in the 287g program to deputize officers as Immigration agents, as he has tried to do in Milwaukee.3 That is unacceptable!

Click here to sign!

Thank you for all you do and ¡adelante!

– Matt, Favianna, Erick, Reetu, Oscar, Erica and the Presente.org team.

P.S. Can you donate $5 to support our work? We rely on contributions from people like you to see campaigns like this through.

Sources:
1.“Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke says he’s taking job in Department of Homeland Security.”Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. May 17, 2017.
2.“4 People, Including A Baby, Have Died In A Jail Run By Potential Trump Nominee Sheriff David Clarke.”Huffington Post. November 29, 2016.
3.Bice: Letter details Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s plan for immigration enforcement.”Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. March 16, 2017.

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Freeze peaches at Berkeley and beyond.

[CONTENT NOTE: violent bigotry. lots of it.]

I am ashamed to report to readers that The Washington Post lured me into a time-wasting, life-sucking vortex with a clickbait headline:

I invited Ann Coulter to speak at UC Berkeley. Here’s why.
My group doesn’t agree with her, but we believe in free speech.

Ugh why. Because I AM WEAK, people, that’s why. Coulter’s appearance at Berkeley is not even happening, and yet still I could not just let this shit stand.  Continue reading