Protests Force Former Congressman to Cancel Lecture at UNC

Protest Forces Tancredo Off Stage

Back in 2006, protestors at Michigan State University (MSU) confronted racist Congressman Tom Tancredo and disrupted his speech by chanting. In the aftermath, conservatives took to the airwaves claiming that Tancredo was the victim of violence.

Tancredo received a similar welcome earlier this week at the University of North Carolina (UNC):

Before the event, campus security removed two women who delayed Tancredo’s speech by stretching a 12-foot banner across the front of the classroom. It read, “No dialogue with hate.”

Police escorted the women into the hallway, amid more than 30 protesters who clashed with the officers trying to keep them out of the overcrowded classroom. After police released pepper spray and threatened the crowd with a Taser, the protesters gathered outside Bingham Hall.

The protesters relented, and Tancredo began to speak, describing failed state and federal legislation aimed at providing in-state tuition benefits for undocumented immigrants.

Two women stretched out another banner, first along one of the aisles and then right in front of Tancredo. Tancredo grabbed the middle of the banner and tried to pull it away from one of the girls. “You don’t want to hear what I have to say because you don’t agree with me,” he said.

The sound of breaking glass from behind a window shade interrupted the tug-of-war.

Tancredo was escorted from the room by campus police.

Event Follows Similar Script Tancredo’s Michigan State University Appearence

The event was surprisingly similar to Tancredo’s appearance at MSU in 2006. Like that event, the speech was organized by a student group that endorses racism and white supremacy under the guise of opposing “multiculturalism.” In this case, it was a group called “Youth for Western Civilization” a nationwide group that opposes undocumented immigration, multiculturalism, and affirmative action.

Of the group, its president said:

“This is an organization that seeks to promote Western civilization,” Matheson said at the event. “We believe that our civilization is under attack from liberal forces.”

Matheson said his organization supports people from every race participating in Western civilization, but that they must be properly assimilated to American culture first.

At Michigan State University, it was Young Americans for Freedom who organized Tancredo’s speech.

Tactically, the appearances were similar: the rightwing student group brought a controversial speaker to campus to provoke “violence” from leftist student groups, put members of their group in the crowd with video cameras to capture images of the “violence,” and then went on the news to denounce the left.

Those who have been following this blog for the past few years will remember that Young Americans for Freedom at MSU brought in a string of racist speakers–Chris Simcox, Nick Griffin, and Jared Taylor. The organization was later dubbed “a hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. However, every time we saw the same thing–invite a speaker with the hopes of provoking a confrontation and then use that in an attempt to gain more support for their cause.

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Video: “Collateral Damage? Civilians in Gaza Pay the Price”

On February 27, Je Stork of Human Rights Watch spoke at Michigan State University (MSU) in Lansing on the situation in Gaza. Stork–who’s work for Human Rights Watch focuses on violations of international law in the Israeli-Palestinian issue–spoke on how civilian casualties Gaza. Stork looks at both the actions of the Israelis and Palestinian groups and argues that civilians are frequently caught in the middle.

Here’s the video:

An interview with the speaker–conducted by Lansing’s Peace Education Center–explores the Israel/Palestine conflict in more detail.

For additional information, Human Rights Watch has a page that collects all of their coverage of the Israel’s attack on Gaza.

“Shock Doctrine” Author, Naomi Klein Speaks at MSU; Addresses Economic Crisis

Author Naomi Klein Spoke at MSU on Disaster Capitalism, Resistance, and the Current Economic Crisis

Canadian author, activist, and filmmaker Naomi Klein spoke at Michigan State University on Tuesday. Klein is on a tour promoting her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

Klein began her talk by saying that what inspired her to write The Shock Doctrine was what she discovered in her reporting from Iraq in 2003-2004. The author said that one of the most grotesque myths about the Bush administration is the idea that they had no plan for Iraq. Klein firmly believes they did and the plan was to remake Iraq’s economy.

Iraq War leads to “The Shock Doctrine”

Restructuring Iraq’s economy was the mandate that Paul Bremer received from the Bush administration, with a particular emphasis with how restructuring the economy would be beneficial to foreign banks and investors. Privatization was the mantra, according to Klein, and what better way to bring this change about than by the 2003 US invasion. Her reporting in Iraq led her to look at “the relationship between the various shock doctrine techniques, both legal and economic, which when resisted led to military shock.” The military shock most often meant the repression of popular dissent by a variety of civil society sectors throughout Iraq.

The problem, Klein said, was using a crisis to get around democracy. Klein then went to New Orleans to continue her research and discovered very similar patterns to policy decisions after Katrina.

“Developers had pre-disaster plans to redevelop New Orleans, so the flooding provided the mechanism to allow this to happen. They decided to not rebuild public schools, but gave parents vouchers to go to private education systems.”

Another recent example of disaster capitalism, according to Klein, was what happened after 9/11. It wasn’t just the Patriot Act and the War on Terror that the Bush administration promoted, but the restructuring of the economy.

“The War on Terror was in a sense a business plan. What happened under Bush wasn’t new, but a process that really began with Reagan as a counter-revolution to the New Deal policies. What Bush has done differently, was to privatize the military and border patrol.”

What about the Current Crisis?

Klein argued that the Obama campaign realized that blaming the crisis on these right-wing policies would give him the edge to win the election, even though Obama supported the Paulson-led bailout. Klein feels that Obama’s victory was a referendum against these economic policies and that there are openings in American society. She said that there is a consensus that there needs to be a shift in the economy. Klein believes that the Obama administration is not applying a shock therapy to the current crisis. However, “they are giving over massive amounts of public money, unlimited access to the public ATM. So, who needs privatization when you have this public trough?” Since the banks and other Wall Street sectors keep coming back to the public, US taxpayers are going to be stuck with a huge debt. Klein said that even though much of the mainstream media is putting the bailout price tag at roughly $3.5 trillion, it is more accurately around $10.5 trillion.

The Shock Doctrine author went on to say that it is interesting that the right is claiming that what the Obama administration is doing with the stimulus is socialism. Klein is amazed at how many people believe that Obama’s policies are socialist, when in fact they are really corporatist in nature. The stimulus is really “public money being transferred to the private sector.” Klein says that when we look at the bailout the numbers are amazing. Citigroup alone has received $45 billion. They are worth $20 billion on paper, according to Klein. “Taxpayers have already given the banks more than the market is able to. The government has voluntarily surrendered the power it could have with the bailout, by not enforcing any accountability.” She went on to say that we all hear about the corporate scandals – AIG’s spa vacation, etc., yet Congress continues to give them money. The banks have been nationalized in a sense, because of the bailout, but in effect, they still operate as private entities.

Klein advocated for the nationalization of US banks, because it would not only mean that the public would have their losses, but also their profits. It would allow the public to have a say in how the money is used and who would get it. Statistically, the bailout is equivalent to being able to pay off every mortgage in the country. “Can you imagine,” Klein said, “if people did not have mortgage payments how much more vibrant the real economy would be?”

What about the Stimulus?

For Klein, the stimulus is just the other side of the coin of the bailout. It is not the green dream that was promised. Money for mass transit was cut in half and funding to states was also cut. Another thing that Klein pointed out is that with the stimulus there will be no breakthrough on health care. The California Nurses Association study shows it makes no sense to provide subsidies to a health care system that doesn’t want to provide health benefits to people who are not insured. A single-payer system would not only provide health care to everyone, it would also create a tremendous amount of jobs.

We can Take our Cue from People Around the World

Klein then shifted the discussion to looking at how the rest of the world has been reacting to the global economic crisis.

In Iceland, one government has come down because of the crisis. Italy has been cutting back funding for schools and the students have rebelled and are using the slogan, “We won’t pay for your crisis!” Students have been on the frontlines of this crisis in most countries around the world, according to Klein. In France, it was announced that when teachers retired, the President would not replace them. How did the French people respond? There was a massive strike, with massive public support. In Greece, it has been farmers blocking the roads. Klein wrote about this global resistance in a recent Nation magazine article, one that includes great video links to public resistance globally.

Klein then mentioned the Republic Doors and Windows factory strike. She said that one of the reasons that they won is because they were not just picking a fight with the factory owner, but also with Bank of America. Their slogan was, “You got bailed out. We got sold out.” What was also amazing about what these workers did was that they were willing to break the law. Klein said, “We need more of Republic Doors and Windows. If there is going to be a progressive movement, we need a radical labor movement in this country.”

Another point that Klein stressed to the audience was the need to remember what it was that got the New Deal policies put in place. The author said that the popular notion was that FDR devised the New Deal policies because of his liberal orientation. However, Klein’s take on that part of US history is that the New Deal policies were advocated by FDR because he knew that if those reformist policies were not adopted there might have been a revolution. The US labor movement was so big and so well organized that it scared the political establishment into adopting the New Deal policies as a way of preventing serious social upheaval. Klein thinks we need to learn from this history and not wait for politicians to make changes. Instead, she emphasized that we have to build movements to demand changes.

Q & A

There were several questions from the audience, many of which were asking for clarification of comments made during the talk.

One of the more important questions asked was, “Why are we not resisting here?” Klein responded by saying:

“In Europe people don’t treat their politicians like rock stars. They don’t treat them with reverence. Because there is this reverence in the US, we wait for the great man to give us good news. What we do not hear about is the tremendous pressure from the grassroots, the kind that lead to the New Deal. Since we have this distorted understanding of history, we are just waiting for Obama to just deliver us from evil.”

Klein was also asked if she thought that Obama would be as bad as Bush, to which she responded:

“Of course I don’t think that he is as bad as Bush, but the question kind of misses the point. The danger is that we are so relieved from eight years of Bush that we will lie to ourselves about what is really happening. The worst of the economic policies, the one that are haunting us now, were passed under Clinton. Clinton pushed much of the deregulatory policies that Bush just drove home. There is a real price to this kind of intellectual dishonesty, because if we don’t own up to this history we will suffer for it. Look at what MoveOn did. They built their data-base as an anti-war group, but never challenged Obama on his military platform, particularly is financial support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his current push to intensify the war in Afghanistan and probably Pakistan. Those of us on the left need a movement based on principle and truth, not just strategy, if we are going to seriously make any changes.”

In Statement to Court, Marie Mason Claims Responsibility & Reasons for MSU Arson

Marie Mason Explains Participation in Earth Liberation Front (ELF) Actions

Last week, MediaMouse.org reported that eco-activist Marie Mason was sentenced to 21 years in prison for her role in an arson at Michigan State University (MSU) in 1999 and other acts attributed to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). That arson–undertaken to protest genetic engineering–was described simply as an act of terrorism by the media and the government, with little exploration given to why Mason undertook such a drastic action. Aside from a communique from 2000 that we reprinted shortly after Mason was arrested, there has been little said about why she participated in the action.

To that end, we are reprinting Marie Mason’s statement to the judge in her case. Regardless of what one thinks about the action itself, it is clear that it was rooted in a belief that something needed to be done to stop the destruction of the Earth.

Mason’s statement:

“Your Honor,

I understand the serious nature of the offenses to which I have plead guilty. I accept responsibility for my actions. At the time, I feared there were dire and immediate threats to both human and non-human lives and that the health and safety of human communities, as well as the ecological integrity of the Earth, were in jeopardy.

I care deeply about my fellow human being and the other living creatures with whom we share this planet. I felt responsible to take extreme action in the hope that it would save lives and halt deadly practices that directly threatened living beings and contributed to the degradation of the environment. I thought that what I was doing would shine a light on these dangerous policies so that an informed public dialogue would ensue and policies would be changed.

In all of my actions, I was present at the moment that property damage was done or a fire was set. I believed that this way I could ensure that no living creature would inadvertently wander into the site and be endangered. At the time, I felt that it was possible to anticipate and avoid any potential threat to life by taking precautions and by being vigilant at each event. This was not possible, despite my efforts.

In particular, the arson at MSU ended up greatly exceeding the scope of my intent, so much so that I almost became the first casualty in these types of offenses.

Even so, other than this one instance of danger to myself, I remained blinded to the risks that others were exposed to during that action. Much later, even years later, I became aware of how other people who came to the scene after I left were frightened and confused. I also found out that students and employees were greatly inconvenienced and lost personal property, that they felt that there might be a continued threat to them. As I understand it now, firefighters entered the building and were also in danger from the fire and the subsequent water damage to the building. I never anticipated or intended that anyone would have been endangered and am truly sorry that anyone’s life was put in danger.

For more than twenty years, I participated in every legal avenue open to me as a private citizen to educate and persuade government officials and corporate representatives to reconsider policies. I have also participated in civil disobedience in the style taught by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatman Gandhi, whose non-violent teachings I embraced. Given my commitment to non-violence, it was only under an extreme set of circumstances that I rationalized my actions and put people in danger. I believed that I was taking risks to prevent a greater harm to living beings. I never intended to cause danger of harm to any living thing, and by that standard I failed.

I want to explain that the more I learned of the consequences of deforestation and genetic engineering, the more desperate I felt. I am not opposed to conducting research in the interests of expanding knowledge and bringing improvements to health and well being when it is conducted in a responsible and humane way. But genetic engineering research is often conducted in open-air situations that release contaminated pollen into the environment with devastating effects, as in the case of the terminator seed plants. Communities should have the right to choose or refuse the risks that come with GMO’s. What I was more and more aware of in my research and in my dealings with indigenous activists’ work around the globe is that the use of GMO’s forced on communities by collusion between banks, companies and governments was causing starvation, debt and environmental damage through contact with these GMO’s. I felt so much grief for this needless suffering, these needless deaths.

The threat posed to all of us by global warming – for which all of the world’s forests act as a buffer against – is direct and dramatic. The increase in catastrophic storms that caused so much death and destruction in New Orleans and in many parts of Asia are attributable to the erratic warming of the planet. Forests sequester carbon and cool the planet. As we lose them, we lose the time we need to find new and more sustainable ways of fulfilling our energy needs before global climate crisis is unavoidable.

But despite my despair, I have never felt entitled to cause physical harm in order to protect life. I have always taken to heart the Buddhist spiritual principle to take no action that would bring physical harm to any living being. Although there were some risks associated with my actions that were unintentional and unanticipated, I had convinced myself they could be eliminated. In retrospect, I see that this was not possible, and I regret it. I acknowledge that greater harm could have happened and that it is very fortunate that no one was physically hurt, and that there was psychological damage done. I acknowledge those risks and knowing what I know now, I would not have taken the same actions.

My actions were individual acts of conscience and I take sole responsibility for them. The property damage was intended to be symbolic and theatrical in nature, not dangerous or threatening to any individual.

I hope to protect my community and the Earth, to respond in defense of the living systems of animals, land and water. I tried to preserve the natural world from destruction because it is all of our home, because its health is necessary for all of use to live well.

I have failed to bring about the changes that I sought and caused harm where I intended none. I am saddened and sorry for that. My hope is that the next generation that inherits this Earth and the responsibility for stewardship will succeed in finding better methods of bringing about the evolution of our society, a transformation that will benefit all those who share this beautiful Earth.

Though I have been wrong and misguided in my actions to defend my community and this Earth from harm, I hope to be able to dedicate what’s left of my life to service in better ways. I hope to volunteer at a burn center in my community, as some of my past actions risked injuries of that nature. I have some first aid training from my work experience, as well as training for home health care that might be helpful.

I also hope to be able to contribute to community garden programs, both working with at-risk youth and providing food to distribution programs. These gardens have also been pressed into service to provide herbs to free herbal palliative health care. I have had experience as a volunteer before with these kinds of groups and would be happy to contribute again.

I want to state that I am genuinely sorry to those who have felt personally frightened by my actions. I was unable to see this as a consequence of my actions before, probably as I was so overwhelmed with my own grief and fear that I couldn’t empathize with other’s perceptions. I meant to inspire thought and compassion, not fear.

I also acknowledge that my actions endangered lives and I am deeply regretful for that. It was never my intention to cause physical harm and certainly not serious injury. I was wrong to believe it could always be avoided. I am and will always be grateful that my actions did not result in death or injury. But I do understand now that the risk was there.

Lastly, I feel that I need to apologize for the expense and suffering that my actions have caused my family, especially my children. I love my family very much and this has been so hard on them. They have been loving and generous in their support for me.

I hope that you will take all of this into consideration as you make your decision, your Honor.”

Eco-Activist Sentenced to 21 Years for MSU Arson

Marie Mason Receives Longest Green Scare Sentence for ELF Arson at MSU

Yesterday, environmental activist Marie Mason was sentence to twenty-one years and ten months in prison for her role in an Earth Liberation Front (ELF) arson at Michigan State University (MSU) in 1999. Mason was also ordered to pay $4.1 million in restitution. The arson was undertaken to protest the school’s involvement in genetically modified research that was in part funded by Monsanto.

Prosecutors in the case hope that Mason’s sentence will send a clear message:

“If in this country someone is strongly committed to a cause, you’ve got all kinds of legal ways to pursue that cause, but if you think because you feel strongly about something, you’re allowed to go commit crimes of violence, you’re wrong.”

Mason’s lawyer said that the sentence shocking:

“Frankly I’m shocked. The sentence I think is grossly out of proportion to any sentence that’s ever been imposed anywhere in the country.”

Longest Green Scare Sentence

Marie Mason’s sentence is the longest received by an environmental activist for arson. Stan Meyerhoff, who was convicted of ELF arsons causing over $30 million in damages, received thirteen years in prison. The MSU arson cost an estimated $1 million in damages.

The Earth Liberation Front Press Office–an aboveground organization that publicizes ELF actions–said:

“The sentence imposed on Marie Mason today by Judge Maloney was for nonviolent crimes against property. Currently, the average federal sentence for murder is 19 years, nearly three years less than given to Marie Mason today for nonviolent property crimes. Two things are clear from this decision. First, the U.S. government cares more about the property of corporations and institutions involved in environmental destruction than they value human life. Second, since the 22 year sentence given to Marie Mason is three years above the average federal sentence for murder, it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Will Potter–who writes about the “Green Scare” at the excellent blog GreenIsTheNewRed.com–pointed out that earlier this week, the FBI applauded sentences of 10 to 12 years for men who carried out racist attacks against African-Americans in response to Barack Obama’s elections.

By contrast, Mason received 21 years for a non-violent crime that did not physically harm anyone.

FBI Intimidates Supporters

Before her sentencing, federal prosecutors sought a twenty-year sentence. According to the press, part of the justification for seeking this sentence was the fact that Mason had become a “movement heroine”. Prosecutors said that Mason, “has become a figure of admiration to that community, a portion of whose membership continues to bully, threaten and destroy.” Specifically, they cited the Internet presence of Marie Mason’s support group as a reason for asking for such a lengthy sentence.

In advance the sentencing, the FBI sent out a press release to local media warning that police were on high alert for radical protestors. According to a story on Lansing’s WLNS:

“Lansing authorities are on high alert as radical environmental protestors are expected to show up for the sentencing of a woman who admitted to starting a fire at Michigan State University over 9 years ago. According to the Lansing Police Department, the FBI and US Marshals on hand to handle security at the Lansing federal courthouse.

They expect members of the eco-terrorist groups, the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front to gather and protest.”

Of course, the FBI knows that members of the ELF and ALF would not gather to protest as such activists operate in a clandestine manner. Instead, the release was meant as another way to discourage and criminalize supporters.

Other Sentences in the Case

Two others who were indicted and charged with aiding the MSU arson–Aren Burthwick and Stephanie Fultz–were also sentenced yesterday. They were both charged with assisting in a cover-up related to the case and failing to report the arson to authorities. Burthwick was sentenced to fourteen months in prison, one year supervised release, and a $2,000 fine. Fultz received two years of probation and one-hundred hours of community service.

Last year, Marie Mason’s former husband, Frank Ambrose, was sentenced to nine years for his role in the arson. Ambrose–who actually lit the fire in the MSU arson–received a lesser sentence because he was an essential government informant in this and other cases. In exchange for his cooperation, the government pursued a lesser sentence.

Black Panther Co-Founder Bobby Seale Speaks at MSU

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On Thursday, the Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale spoke at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Center. Seale–who founded the Black Panther Party in 1966 with Huey P. Newton–was brought to campus by the W.E.B. Du Bois Society and the Young Democratic Socialists.

Seale’s life brought him from modest beginnings to Oakland, where he became involved in radical politics, community organizing, and eventually formed the Black Panther Party. From there, he became an internationally known activist, served time in prison, was followed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and even released a barbecue cook book as a fundraiser for social justice.

The Black Panthers Revisited: Inspiration

Seale began by telling the audience that the Black Panther Party’s main slogan was “All Power to the People.” It was a class slogan designed to at once challenge the wealthy interests who controlled the country and also to say plainly what they wanted–control over their own communities.

The Black Panthers formed in 1966 in the middle of a protest movement that preexisting struggles for civil rights and against the United States war in Vietnam. Seale shared stories about how both he and Huey P. Newton were involved in that movement, including a story of their being involved in a major antiwar demonstration that was brutally attacked by Oakland Police. Seale and Newton realized that the brutality directed at the demonstration was mandated by the same system that directed brutality daily on communities of color.

In college, Seale and Newton studied African-American history and got involved in the politics of the day. They drew inspiration from the movement, but also from looking back at the triumphant history of African Americans and Africans. Seale told of learning of the role that black soldiers played in the Revolutionary War and Civil War and becoming inspired.

The Formation of the Party

Seale told the audience how he organized an anti-draft program at his community college that was well-attended and would help convince Newton that the two men could start a successful organization. He explained that after a full afternoon of speakers, he recited an anti-draft poem written by an African American poet that captured Newton’s attention. Several days later, Newton pressured Seale to recite the poem on Telegraph Avenue near the University of California campus in Berkley. Following the poem, several undercover police officers tried to arrest Seale and Newton. While the event led to their arrest and trial, it also convinced Newton that they could build a radical organization.

Later that night, the two wrote the Black Panther Party’s ten point platform. They sought to “capture the imagination of the community” by engaging in solid community organizing. One of their first projects was developing citizen patrols to monitor police conduct. They were not the first group to do so in the Bay Area, but previous groups were typically arrested while observing police conduct. To stop this, the Panthers’ patrols were armed with tape recorders, law books, and guns–and were highly disciplined. The Panthers would gain further notoriety when they brought an armed delegation to the California legislature to protest laws aimed at stopping them from carrying guns.

Continued interest in the Black Panther Party

Seale also discussed the continued interest in the Black Panther Party. He pointed to the release of new books on the Panthers (Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas and The Black Panther Party: Service to the People Programs as examples), as well as interest by Hollywood. There is currently a six-hour special being produced about the group for HBO, as well as a Hollywood film that might star Will Smith as Bobby Seale. He said that this continued interest has driven him to write a book–“The 8th Defendant”–on his experiences being tried for his role in the 1968 protests in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention (DNC).

Radical to this Day

Many of the same conditions that prompted the formation of the Black Party Panther continue to exist to this day. Seale said that 90% of wealth in world controlled by less than 1% of the population. He believes that this needs to change and that a way to pursue that change is via greater community control from the local level on up to the top. He also said that the ecological crisis needs to be addressed.

He said that a movement similar to that launched by the Black Panther Party could still happen to this day if people employ effective and disciplined grassroots organizing. He argued that the success of the Party was dependent on his commitment to grassroots organizing and his willingness to share with others how to do that organizing.

Nuclear Research Facility to be Built at MSU

A new nuclear facility is going to built at MSU and the media is reporting the construction as an overwhelmingly positive development that will boost the economy. There is no discussion of the relationship to nuclear weapons research.

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With the recent talk about nuclear power as “green energy”–despite its well-documented risks–it’s no surprise that the announcement a new nuclear physics lab at Michigan State University (MSU) was met with laudatory coverage by the corporate press.

The media highlighted the fact that the construction of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) will bring $550 million in federal constructions. They reported that it will boost the economy by creating $1 billion in spending in Michigan, creating 400 new jobs over a decade, and generating $187 million in tax revenue.

Of course, there was little discussion of what would actually be done at the lab. Similarly, there was no real discussion of the history of nuclear research in the United States, which has often been closely aligned with the development of nuclear weapons. Indeed, nuclear research receives substantial government funding and research often has both civilian and military applications, as is the case with the FRIB facility:

“…a U.S.-based FRIB facility, capable of producing high-specific-activity samples of exotic isotopes, could contribute to research in the national interest. The applications of rare-isotope technology could influence many areas, including medical research, national security, energy production, materials science, and industrial processes. It would provide an important contribution to the education and training of future U.S. scientists in the physics of nuclei. The aspects of nuclear physics addressed by the FRIB community directly impact the basic-science knowledge base relevant for nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons.”

The government described the main goals of the facility:

“The main focus of FRIB is to produce such rare isotopes, study their properties, and use them in applications to address national needs.

FRIB will provide researchers with the technical capabilities to study the properties of rare isotopes, and to put this knowledge to use in various applications, including in materials science, nuclear medicine, and the fundamental understanding of nuclear material important to nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship.”

Articles on the MSU facility talked briefly about medical applications as well as the development of mechanisms to test nuclear weapons without detonation. Such tests may be important as Obama mulls the possibility of developing a new generation of nuclear weapons.

YAF Blog Reportedly Shutting Down

A blog operated by the Michigan State University chapter of Young Americans for Freedom is reportedly shutting down in the next few days, according to a post made over the weekend. The blog has acted as a conduit for the hate group’s views.

The blog of Michigan State University’s (MSU) chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF)–a group known for bringing racist speakers to MSU–is shutting down according to a recent post.

The blog post says that the blog will be taken offline in the next few days:

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The sites that readers are referred to are indicative of why YAF has been dubbed a “hate group.” This includes the Council of Conservative Citizens, a racist group that is active in Michigan, the British National Party (BNP), a British fascist group, the American Renaissance (a racist publication), and the John Birch Society, a longstanding far right group in the US. He also suggests people visit lesser known rightwing publications such as Chronicles Magazine, Taki’s Magazine, and Tradition, Family, and Property. Bristow also links to Pat Buchanan, a prominent rightwing politician who has turned towards white nationalism in recent years, as well as a blogger who goes by Paul J. Borowicz and claims to be from Michigan. Borowicz has described a Michigan Ku Klux Klan member’s protesting Obama’s election as “courageous.”

The YAF blog also recently began using a symbol–an odal rune–in its masthead that is often used by the racist right:

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The Anti-Defamation League’s database of racist symbols includes a symbol very similar to the YAF blog header:

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“Nazi Germany glorified an idealized “Aryan/Norse” heritage, consequently extremists have appropriated many symbols from pre-Christian Europe for their own uses. They give such symbols a racist significance, even though the symbols did not originally have such meaning and are often used by nonracists today, especially practitioners of modern pagan religions”

In response to an article about this by YAF Watch, YAF member Kyle Bristow claimed that the ribbon was in reality a “Support the Troops” ribbon. YAF Watch has noted that “Support the Troops” ribbons are typical rounded on the top. Moreover, the Youth branch of the British National Party used the symbol for a while. Bristow is presumably sympathetic to the BNP’s views, as he links to them and brought BNP leader Nick Griffin to MSU to speak.

Pleas in MSU Arson Case

Three defendants who were involved in an arson at Michigan State University (MSU) protesting genetic engineering have accepted plea agreements after one of those involved in the action became a government informant.

Three individuals–Marie Mason, Stephanie Lynne Futz, and Aren Burthwick–accepted plea agreements on charges stemming from a 1999 arson at Michigan State University (MSU) conducted as a protest against genetic engineering.

Marie Mason plead guilty to setting the 1999 fire. She was essentially forced to plea after being betrayed by her former husband–Frank Ambrose–who acted as an informant in the case and provided a wealth of information to prosecutors. Mason’s agreement does not require her to testify against anyone else and she gives no names beyond that of Frank Ambrose, who already admitted to several arsons claimed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) after becoming a government informant. While Mason admitted involvement in a series of arsons across the Midwest, she will be sentenced only for her role in the MSU arson. She is expected to receive a sentence between 15 and 20 years in prisons.

Mason’s co-defendants–Futz and Burthwick–agree to plead guilty to failing to report the MSU arson to law enforcement.