A Paean to Reality | Blue Life

“As a moral claim, ‘Blue Lives Matter’ is predicated on the existence of blue life. And yet blue life does not exist prior to the articulation of that moral claim. Blue life is merely constituted through the anticipation of violence and the projection of criminality. Blue life is not a personhood but rather a spectral legal identity that mimics vulnerability. Blue life is no more than a figuration … It is impossible to inhabit the ‘I’ of blue life. No one can be on the side of blue life. It is merely a conceit that simulates a threat in order to justify the expansion of state power.”

Blue Life | The New Inquiry

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On Ableism and Animals

[We need to crip animal ethics, incorporating a disability politics into the way we think about animals. It is essential that we examine the shared systems and ideologies that oppress both disabled humans and nonhuman animals, because ableism perpetuates animal oppression in more areas than the linguistic. To me, far from proving that animal justice is impossible and silly, the complexity of sentience and the vast array of mysterious life and nonlife on this planet show that we need a nuanced understanding of different abilities and the different responsibilities those abilities engender.

The problem is not reason itself but rather the ways in which reason has been held up as separate from and more valuable than emotion, feeling, and other ways of knowing and being. This definition of reason stems from a history of patriarchy, imperialism, racism, classism, ableism, and anthropocentrism, and too often carries these oppressions within it. These issues are particularly important to keep in mind when theorizing liberation for those who do or may lack “reason,” such as nonhuman animals and individuals with significant intellectual disabilities.

Intellectual inferiority has been so easily animalized because animals themselves have long been understood as intellectually inferior. The association of animals with cognitive deficiency must be challenged, not only because many species exhibit signs of human intelligence and because animal minds are complex in their own right (in ways that often cannot easily be compared and contrasted with human capacities), but because intellectual capacity should not determine a being’s worth and the protections they are granted.]

On Ableism and Animals | An excerpt from Beasts of Burden, which was published by The New Press in February 2017

North Dakota Latest Introduced Bills, and the Scalp Bounty

Sometimes a crucial distinction lies merely on the tactic, and not the sentiment.

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[A bill that state GOP Rep. Keith Kempenich introduced would exempt drivers from liability if they accidentally hit a pedestrian, according to the Bismarck Tribune. House Bill 1203 was written up in direct response to groups of protesters blocking roadways, Kempenich told the paper. He claims protesters were seen jumping out in front of vehicles.

“It’s shifting the burden of proof from the motor vehicle driver to the pedestrian,” Kempenich said. “They’re intentionally putting themselves in danger.

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Another measure would make it a crime for adults to wear masks nearly across the board, while another would allow the state to sue the federal government over millions in extra police costs, according to ABC News.”]  Read the full report | The Huffington Post

Now, let’s draw an analogy (with a practice poorly documented and sensationalized):

[Beginning in the 1830s, two Mexican states (Sonora and Chihuahua) authorized scalp bounties against Apache Indians, but these were as controversial in Mexico as they had been in the British colonies.

In New Mexico and Arizona, the state governments never approved scalp bounties, but some county officials revived and increased the old Apache scalp bounties that had been used by the former Mexican states. A report from the New York Times in 1885 (the most recent source I know of that documents scalp bounties) offers the following passage that shows the mentality of those who justified the practice:

From time immemorial all border countries have offered bounties for bear and wolf scalps and other animals that destroyed the pioneer’s stock or molested his family. Why, therefore, asks the Arizona settler, should not the authorities place a reward upon the head of the terrible Apache, who murders the white man’s family and steals his stock like the wolves?

Some colonial governments in the British North American colonies enacted  scalp bounties early in the 1700s, in the context of war between  Britain and France. They wanted to create an incentive for frontier  settlers to kill Indians who were allied with the French enemy. In  practice, though, colonial Indian killers were careless about the distinction  between “friendly” and “hostile” Indians. As the white population  expanded, so did demand for land, and this was the material motive  behind most killing of Indians, whether sanctioned by authority or not…. ]  Read the full article | Quora

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America’s Forgotten Mass Lynching: When 237 Blacks Were Murdered In Arkansas

[The death toll of 237 reported by the Equal Justice Initiative is a new figure, based on extensive research. In 1919, sources as varied as the NAACP and the Bureau of Investigation (forerunner of the FBI) estimated the number of killed African Americans at 25 to 80. Writer Robert Whitaker, who has identified 22 separate killing sites of African Americans during the massacre, put the death toll at more than 100. NAACP official Walter White, who risked his life in October 1919 to investigate the killings, stated that the “number of Negroes killed during the riot is unknown and probably never will be known.”

Say the number of African Americans killed in Phillips County in 1919 was 25. Or 80. Or 237. The very fact that, almost one hundred years after the massacre, we are still trying to pinpoint the death toll should lead us to a larger reckoning: coming to terms with one of the most violent years in the nation’s history, bloodshed that resulted from efforts to make America safe for democracy.]

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Read the full story here | THE DAILY BEAST

Fish to Die For | Piracy and the Unraveling of Industry in Venezuela

A photo essay by Rodrigo Abd

The warm Caribbean sea is increasingly becoming a grim free-for-all | The Bismark Tribune

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11/13/16 | Relatives of nine men from a fishing family, who were shot in the head while on their knees, mourn them at the cemetery of Cariaco, Sucre state, Venezuela. Five law enforcement officers were charged with storming the village and killing these men, who were widely thought to be members of a gang | Photo by Rodrigo Abd, AP

 

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11/2/16 | A member of the Marval fishing family, who goes by the nickname El Chukiti, holds a homemade gun as he guards against a possible pirate attack as fishermen unload their catch in Punta de Araya, Sucre state, Venezuela. The family’s self-defense group calls themselves Los Cainos | Photo by Rodrigo Abd, AP

 

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11/3/16 | Emergency room doctor Norka Patino treats a man who was shot in Cumana, Sucre state, Venezuela. Patino, who has been working at the hospital for over 20 years, said she has to use the same needle on various patients, and that many die unnecessarily of heart attacks, diarrhea, asthma and bacteria contracted at the hospital. The band on her arm is the Venezuelan flag accented with a black band to protest the hospital’s lack of basic supplies | Photo by Rodrigo Abd, AP

 

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11/8/16 | Jorge Marval naps in his boat under a plastic sheet after fishing all night, as the sun rises above Punta de Araya. The fishing trade has collapsed along with virtually every industry across Venezuela | Photo by Rodrigo Abd, AP

 

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11/7/16 | Suspects of violent crimes ask police for food, as one holds out money, from inside a cell at the municipal police station in Cumana, Sucre state, Venezuela. While police provide some food, prisoners gets most of it along with drinks from their families | Photo by Rodrigo Abd, AP

 

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11/7/16 | Police are reluctant to make mass arrests of pirates robbing and killing fishermen at sea because jails are already packed full, with prisoners sleeping in shifts at night | Photo by Rdrigo Abd, AP

 

The Mexican Town of Cheran | How a Bunch of Indigenous Folk Toppled the Cartels, Replaced the Local Government and Took Full Control of their Community

A comparison is in order, between the supposed semi-autonomy of the native nations in USA, and that of the people in Cheran.

[Many of the self-defense movements that have sprung up over the past year or so in other parts of Michoacán have taken their inspiration from Cherán. There are several meaningful differences, however, in how Cherán combated La Familia versus what’s happening elsewhere in Mexico. These differences are what has made the comunitarios, as Cherán’s security force is known, successful and respected.

The Purépecha community rose up to protect its land and its people. It’s not always clear if some of the other militias have the same purity of purpose. Also, because Cherán citizenry is made up of indigenous people, they have rights that allow them a level of autonomy from the Mexican government that other groups barricading the entries to their towns don’t enjoy.

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Three years ago the people of the town of Cherán were terrorized by members of La Familia cartel, who brazenly plundered their sacred forest in broad daylight, likely selling the wood to transnational corporations. The plight facing the community of 16,000 people, situated in the western portion of the Mexican state of Michoacán, was just part of a trend taking place throughout the region.

Other cartels, such as the Knights Templar, were extorting money from other industries, forcing farmers growing avocados, limes, and other produce to pay ad hoc taxes on their crops. Those who didn’t pay and their families were subject to kidnapping, murder, and other violent tactics. To make matters worse, in many towns in Michoacán, local governments and police forces were either aiding and abetting the criminal elements or were powerless to stop them. The antagonism from the cartels has led to several towns forming so-called self-defense forces, picking up arms to barricade and police their communities, protect their valuable crops, and hunt their intimidators, as well as Knights Templar’s informants.

Cherán was the first town to do so back in 2011. A community of indigenous people belonging to the Purépecha culture, its traditions included debating issues of great importance to the townspeople via discussions over some 200 bonfires throughout the town, where community members would huddle. After watching 70 percent of their forest, or Pakua Karakua, being dismantled tree trunk by tree trunk, the talk around the bonfires finally turned to action. The community had had enough.]

Read the full story here | AL JAZEERA AMERICA

Also, read: The Mexican Town That Kicked Out the Cartels—and Told the Police and Political Parties to Get Lost Too | REASON MAGAZINE

The Darkness at the Heart of Malheur | The Oregon Standoff and the Bundy Acquittal

Full story here | HIGH COUNTRY NEWS

[What more can be said? I was one of the hundreds of journalists who went to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during the Ammon Bundy occupation, and I saw the same things that all the rest of them did. If there was any difference between me and the other journalists, maybe it was that I went there looking for kindred spirits.

I went to the Malheur looking for kindred spirits. I found the mad, the fervent, the passionately misguided. I found the unknowing pawns of an existential chess game, in which we are, all of us, now caught. Driving home across the snow-packed Malheur Basin, through mile after mile of sage, with towering basalt cliffs in the near distance, herds of mule deer appearing as gray specks in the tongues of slide rock and wind-exposed yellow grass, I did not wonder what Edward Abbey would have said about all of this, or Kropotkin or the lugubrious monarchist Hobbes. I thought instead of the old C.S. Lewis books of my childhood, and of Lewis’ writings on the nature of evil, where evil is never a lie, because lying implies creation, and evil, by its nature, has no creative power. Instead, the nature of evil is to take a truth and twist it, sometimes as much as 180 degrees. Love of country becomes hatred of those we believe don’t share our devotion, or don’t share it the same way. The natural right of armed self-defense becomes the means to take over a wildlife refuge, to exert tyranny on those who work there, or those who love the place for the nature it preserves in a world replete with man’s endeavors. The Constitution, one of the most liberal and empowering documents ever composed, becomes, with just a slight annotation or interpretation, the tool of our own enslavement.

This story was funded with reader donations to the High Country News Research Fund.

Hal Herring is a contributing editor at Field and Stream and wrote his first story forHCN in 1998. He covers environment, guns, conservation and public lands issues for a variety of publications. halherring.com