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Meet the Muslim Mom Who Has Mobilized Asian American Parents in the War on Public Schools

Mother Jones Magazine -

On a chilly, overcast afternoon in early March, a dozen riled-up parents gathered outside a Fairfax County, Virginia, school board meeting, holding “Stop Asian Hate” and “UnFairfax” signs. They were protesting a controversial reworking of admissions policies that had dramatically changed the racial composition of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, one of the country’s top magnet schools. Heading the rally, clad in a snake print dress and black boots, was Asra Nomani, a 5-foot-tall, Indian-born Muslim mother of a 19-year-old TJ alum. Nomani is the co-founder of Coalition for TJ, a parent-led organization that sued the board over its admissions overhaul, which had reduced the freshman student body from 73 percent Asian in 2020 to 54 percent the following year.

“How many of you came here for the American Dream?” Nomani asked, leading fellow immigrants in “recall school board” chants. “Are they the darkness that has set upon Fairfax?” she continued, eliciting a chorus of approval. “We are the light, and our children are the light! We are unapologetic, are we not?” Then Nomani offered a vision for the future. “We’re going to move until this goes to the Supreme Court if it needs to go. We will win not just for our children, not just for the state of Virginia, but for America.”

A former Wall Street Journal reporter who calls herself a liberal feminist, Nomani has become the face of what she describes as “hopping mad” parents in Virginia, and a central figure in the education culture wars. Christopher Rufo, the Manhattan Institute fellow who helped launch the nationwide assault on critical race theory (CRT)—an academic framework whose political fight has become a conservative bogeyman—told me Nomani is a “hero for education.” “She demonstrated remarkably effective strategies and tactics in Fairfax County, which can now be deployed across the nation,” he wrote in an email. “Parents are revolting against critical race theory and Asra Nomani has demonstrated the courage and intelligence to win the fight.”

A skillful communicator with a penchant for media appearances rich in props, she’s been repeatedly welcomed on Fox News and other conservative outlets to decry CRT as divisive state-sponsored indoctrination. She sometimes does a show-and-tell of the latest books that have drawn conservative backlash—say, Ibram X. Kendi’s Antiracist Baby or Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer—while accusing Democrats, the mainstream media, and school administrators of gaslighting and silencing parents. Until March, she was a vice president at Parents Defending Education (PDE), a national organization whose stated goal is to build an “army of parents to begin reclaiming our K-12 schools from political activists and extremists.”

Despite being a lifelong Democrat, Nomani voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and has been credited with helping elect Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin; whose early outreach to Coalition for TJ parents set in motion what a campaign consultant called his “offense on education.” At his election night party, Nomani recorded a video of Youngkin spotting her sparkly “mama bear movement” T-shirt and saying he had been watching her on TV all evening. “You were great,” he said, followed by a hearty “Way to go, mama bears! You guys were awesome.”

How did Nomani manage to galvanize parents who, as one involved mother put it, hadn’t previously had a “bone of activism in their bodies”? Frustration over pandemic school closures certainly helped. But Nomani rebranded a cacophony of tangentially related grievances—sexual content in school libraries, CRT, the rollback of gifted and talented programs—into what she calls a new system of racism, which casts Asians as a “wrong kind of minority” and challenges deeply held values of merit and equality. Calling herself a liberal Muslim woman of color championing justice only increases her appeal to white Republicans who share some of her goals, and who want protection against being labeled racists. Together, they aim to build what one GOP strategist called the “biggest block of single-issue voters in the history of American politics”: parents. “We’re going to guide this country,” Nomani told Laura Ingraham in November, warning that Democrats would lose more races if they continue to treat parents “like dirt.”

“As a liberal, I am shocked that so-called progressives accept regressive notions like segregated affinity groups, targeted discrimination against Asian students, and a new hierarchy of human value that scores people by their privilege in an oppression matrix,” she wrote me. “I am always stunned when people refuse transcendent values of humanity to press sectarianism, bigotry, and separation.”

“I am always stunned when people refuse transcendent values of humanity to press sectarianism, bigotry, and separation.”

When faced with Thomas Jefferson’s new admissions policy, angry Fairfax parents did what many do: They took the school board to court, represented by Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian law firm with a track record of fighting affirmative action and challenging elite public high school admission policies that have resulted in fewer Asian American students. The school defended its new system, which replaced standardized tests with a more holistic assessment that would reflect the community’s demographics. But on February 25, a federal judge appointed by Ronald Reagan ruled that the new process discriminated against Asian Americans. Parents like Nomani celebrated since they considered the school’s equity effort to be a deliberate “racially-engineered” attack on their families and a war on merit. This was just another example of the erosion of parental rights and the greater threat of “wokism” and leftist ideologies permeating public education across the country in the wake of racial justice movements.

The board appealed the court’s ruling, obtaining a stay that allows the plan to remain in place through litigation. In April, Coalition for TJ filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court to block the policy. But on April 25, the court declined to intervene. The case could still make its way back to the justices, who, this fall, are set to hear two cases challenging race-conscious college admission policies where the plaintiffs also claim discrimination against Asian Americans, to weigh in on the merits.

“This case is important because it’s really challenging the ability of schools to consider the goals and the values of diversity and school integration at a very basic level,” says Sarah Hinger, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. “It could have far-reaching impact on the ways schools consider equity and it could extend even beyond race and schools.”

“They delayed justice for us,” Nomani told me, complaining of the board’s decision to fight on. “I see ourselves as the civil rights activists of the day. Our Coalition for TJ is the Brown v. Board of Education case for the 21st century.”

 

 

 

While Nomani brands herself a typical PTA mom turned accidental activist, she is hardly a novice crusader. She entered the spotlight by positioning herself as a Muslim critic of increasingly radicalized Islam—another time she felt she was waging battle with progressive censors. Born into a conservative Muslim family in 1965 in what was then Bombay, Nomani moved to the United States when she was 4. Within six years, her family had relocated to predominantly white Morgantown, West Virginia, where her father helped to found a mosque. For Nomani, her parents epitomized the American Dream: hardworking immigrants who had lived through British colonial rule and, based on merit alone, managed to thrive in a foreign land—her father as a nutrition scholar and her mother as the owner of a small clothing boutique.

In her 2005 autobiography, Standing Alone in Mecca, Nomani recounts a double life, struggling to abide by Islamic standards—not attending dances, dating, or wearing tank tops—while still assimilating into Morgantown’s dominant culture by reading Nancy Drew and Little Women, and running cross-country. As a West Virginia University student, she moved to New York to intern at Harper’s Magazine and, at 23, landed a job at the Wall Street Journal, where she would work for 15 years.

Nomani aspired to be a war correspondent but instead made a name for herself with trendy zeitgeist pieces—on in-flight sexual misconduct or how the thong became the under apparel of choice of many American women. An interviewer joked she’d become the paper’s sex reporter. In 2000, Nomani took leave to travel to India to work on a religious identity memoir that grew from a reporting assignment on the fad of Tantric sex. But the brutal 2002 murder of her colleague Daniel Pearl by Pakistani terrorists irrevocably changed her life. (In 2007, she started the Pearl Project at Georgetown University, a journalistic endeavor that began as an investigation into his murder and has since been repurposed to denounce anti-Semitism.) Four weeks after his disappearance, she learned she was pregnant by a partner who had left her. She retreated to Morgantown and, in 2003, made a pilgrimage to Mecca with her family. She left Saudi Arabia “vowing to throw whatever stones I could at the forces of darkness in the world,” she writes in the autobiography, specifically meaning Islamic fundamentalism.

The mosque that her father helped found became her first battleground. She challenged its rules about separate prayer and entrances for men and women, leading the New York Times to highlight her “Rosa Parks-style civil disobedience”—35 members signed a petition to ban her. Nomani then wrote an “Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Bedroom,” which included the “right to respectful and pleasurable sexual experience.” In 2005, she went on a nationwide “Muslim Women’s Freedom Tour” and organized a mixed-gender service led by a woman imam in New York City. Talk show host and comedian Bill Maher, who has expressed anti-Islam views, called her a hero.

But her confrontational tactics—from posting “99 precepts for opening hearts, minds and doors in the Muslim world” at the mosque’s entrance, to bringing in camera crews—did not sit well with some Muslim Americans, who considered her a publicity-seeking opportunist who enabled anti-Muslim bigotry by calling on women not to wear a hijab, serving as a witness in “witch hunt” congressional hearings, and supporting policies singling out Muslims. Nomani has dismissed such criticism as character assassination and an attempt to quash dissent.

She has also been called epithets like “‘native informant,’ perpetuating certain stereotypes and problematic ideas about her own community,” says Sabiha Mohyuddin, a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Sociology. Mohyuddin, who studies race and identity with a focus on South Asia, says Nomani’s views on Islam are harmful. “She’ll use the language of feminism or even her intersectionality to justify very right-wing reactionary policy.”

Christine Fair, a professor at Georgetown who was formally accused of harassment by Nomani after Fair called her out on Twitter for voting for Trump, has a harsh verdict: “She’s essentially an arsonist who claims to be a fireperson.”

“Her commentary is irrelevant to me,” Nomani responded.

Asra Nomani at her home in Great Falls, Virginia, on Friday, May 6, 2022. Jared Soares

 

 

 


In June 2020, when her son was a junior at TJ, the principal sent an email about the school’s lack of diversity, urging parents to “think of privileges you hold that others may not.” Nomani describes that message and the subsequent admissions changes like a “knife in my heart.” She began networking with other parents and launched a Substack newsletter in which she publishes the results of public records requests for school contracts with speakers and equity-and-diversity consultancy firms—a multimillion-dollar “woke-industrial complex,” she claims. (On LinkedIn, Nomani brands herself as, among other things, a “private investigator” experienced in unraveling secrets.) Harry Jackson, a Coalition for TJ co-founder and parent advocate with PDE, says, “A lot of people ask her to run for office, but she likes what she’s doing.”

“These so-called moms are communication professionals, always very savvy politically,” says Maurice Cunningham, a retired University of Massachusetts, Boston, political science professor and the author of Dark Money and the Politics of School Privatization. Organizations like Parents Defending Education, he adds, may appear to be grassroots groups but can be fueled by big right-wing money. While PDE doesn’t disclose its funding sources, its president previously ran the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) and Speech First, both Koch-backed organizations.

“She has the guts to speak up,” says Alice Guo, a parent at the March Fairfax County protest. Our conversation was interrupted by a GOP campaign manager and a Republican candidate for Congress likely eager to tap into the hot-button political issue ahead of the midterms. “That woman, she’s unstoppable.”

“For the last two years you have been trying to make us invisible, but…you’re going to go down in history just like the school board in Brown v. Board.

At that night’s school board meeting, Nomani took the mic for a fiery speech that again likened her cause to the civil rights movement. “For the last two years you have been trying to make us invisible, but…you’re going to go down in history just like the school board in Brown v. Board,” she said. As shouts of “stunt” intensified, Nomani grew more agitated. Eventually, she became so heated she was escorted away from the microphone, as she accused security of trying to intimidate her, and school board members of being “the new face of racism.” The meeting was called into a brief recess, during which she continued to speak up. “You do not want our voices raised, do you?”

One sympathetic parent in attendance marveled to me that Nomani “has the power to suck all the oxygen out of the room.” Indeed, Nomani says she lost her job at PDE for her “inappropriate speech.” In an op-ed for the Federalist, where she is a senior contributor, Nomani said she was “unceremoniously” fired eight days after the school board meeting and “booted” from the company’s messaging groups within minutes. The organization did not respond to requests for comment. (She has since joined the IWF’s activism arm.)

The opinion piece published on May 18 also mentions this profile, which, Nomani wrote, she expected “to chronicle my journey from hero to zero—from politically correct activism as a Muslim feminist to a puppet master for ‘dark money,’ ‘right-wing’  parent advocates. Those are the kind of hits I got immersing in conservative politics over the past year, but it has never deterred me, because, as a fierce opponent of critical race theory, I am the same classic liberal I have been as a Muslim feminist.” 

But slights seem only to fuel her. She recently appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show in a T-shirt that her father had hand-painted with phrases used against her and other parents—“disinformers,” “QAnon moms,” and “white supremacists.” Nomani says she’s being vilified by the same “illiberal progressives” for having supported Trump in 2016 and for speaking out against the rules at her mosque. 

“We’re human beings,” she says. “They can call me a white supremacist, white adjacent, Uncle Tom, it doesn’t matter. We’re never going to give up.”

EU Plans a Green Energy Bonanza to End Its Reliance on Moscow

Mother Jones Magazine -

This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The EU plans a “massive” increase in solar and wind power, and a short-term boost for coal, to end its reliance on Russian oil and gas as fast as possible.

In a plan outlined on Wednesday, the European Commission said the EU needed to find an extra €210 billion ($222 billion) over the next five years to pay for phasing out Russian fossil fuels and speeding up the switch to green energy.

Senior officials conceded that in the short term, the race to get off Russian gas would mean burning more coal and using nuclear energy. The plan, drawn up in response to the Kremlin-ordered invasion of Ukraine and subsequent soul-searching about Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, proposes upgrades to the EU green deal, the bloc’s flagship policy to confront the climate crisis.

The Commission proposed that 45 percent of the EU’s energy mix should come from renewables by 2030, an advance on the current 40 percent target suggested less than a year ago. Officials also want to cut energy consumption by 13 percent by 2030 (compared with 2020), in comparison with the current proposal of a 9 percent saving.

The Commission proposed that 45 percent of the EU’s energy mix should come from renewables by 2030.

“It is clear we need to put an end to this dependence and a lot faster before we had foreseen before this war,” said Frans Timmermans, the EU official in charge of the green deal. Contrasting the call to find €210 billion to spend on new energy infrastructure, including windfarms and solar panels, he said the EU was spending €100 billion a year on Russian fossil fuels. “Speeding up the transition means that money can stay in Europe, can help bring down the energy bills of European families and will not be used to finance this barbaric war in Ukraine.”

But phasing out Russian gas means coal-fired power plants “might also be used longer than initially expected,” states the EU strategy. The decision to quit Russian gas has also led to a scramble to increase Europe’s imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from countries such as the US and Qatar, as well as pipeline gas from Azerbaijan.

The commission said it would be necessary to spend up to €12 billion – about 6 percent of the extra money needed—to build LNG terminals and upgrade oil plants to allow EU member states to switch to non-Russian fossil fuels.

Timmermans said the EU could still meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050. “You might use coal a bit longer, that has a negative impact on your emissions,” adding: “If we can actually do what I say, reduce our energy consumption in combination with a speedier introduction of renewables, we will bring down our emissions even quicker than before.”

The Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout, a vice-chair of the European parliament’s environment committee, said the commission was leaving the door open for member states to continue funding fossil fuel infrastructure. “Investments that are urgently needed for energy efficiency and renewables can still flow into new pipelines and terminals, this might continue our fossil energy dependency,” he said.

Green campaigners voiced concern about plans to source LNG from states in the Middle East and Caucasus with poor human rights records, while criticizing the green light for new gas infrastructure.

“The more we spend importing gas, the more we continue to expose the most vulnerable in our society to unaffordable energy bills, fuel the climate crisis and fund other repressive fossil-fueled regimes around the world,” said Murray Worthy at Global Witness.

To help speed up renewable energy, the EU wants to make it easier for companies to build wind and solar farms. Officials said it could take up to nine years to get a permit for a windfarm and four for solar. “And this is time we do not have,” said one. Any change in planning laws would require action from national and local authorities.

An Infamous MAGA Lawyer Is Funding Whacky Legal Defenses for January 6 Suspects

Mother Jones Magazine -

Kelly Meggs, an Oath Keeper facing seditious conspiracy charges over the January 6 insurrection, is getting new lawyers. And his outgoing attorney says that a nonprofit set up by Sidney Powell—the infamous pro-Trump lawyer behind the failed “Kraken” election lawsuits—has offered to help pay for Meggs’ legal defense.

Jonathan Moseley has represented Meggs since October—work that’s included filing a motion that seemed to compare Covid vaccine policies to the Holocaust. Now Moseley is being forced to step aside due to his disbarment in Virginia last month for what the state bar said were improper billing practices. In interviews, he said that Powell’s group, Defending the Republic, had covered all his fees in the Meggs case, more than $70,000 through March. And he told me earlier this month that he expected that Meggs’ new counsel “would get funded in place of me for this work.”

“People will tell you that if you if don’t have bar complaints, you’re not doing your job.”

The attorneys taking over Meggs’ case—Juli Haller and Stanley Woodward—declined to answer questions about their relationship with Defending the Republic and wouldn’t say whether the group would continue picking up the tab for Meggs’ defense. But according to Moseley, Powell’s organization is already paying for Haller to represent Meggs’ wife, Connie. Haller, who worked closely with Powell in 2020 to promote election fraud claims in court, now functions “like a liaison” for Powell, according to Moseley. Moseley said that it was Haller who initially recruited him to represent Kelly Meggs and arranged for him to be compensated by Defending the Republic.

As Buzzfeed previously reported, Moseley has said that Defending the Republic is also paying the legal bills for other January 6 defendants: Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and Kenneth Harrelson, another Oath Keeper. Additionally, Moseley wrote in a court filing in December that Defending the Republic had agreed to pay “legal fees and expenses” for Zach Rehl, the head of the Philadelphia chapter of the Proud Boys, who faces conspiracy charges related to his role in the attack. All of these defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Moseley told me that Defending the Republic caps the fees it pays January 6 lawyers at “something like” $10,000 per month. He has separately represented Rhodes and Stop the Steal founder Ali Alexander in civil lawsuits stemming from January 6, but he said Defending the Republic did not fund that work.

Kellye SoRelle, an attorney for the Oath Keepers organization, also said that Defending the Republic was paying the legal bills for Rhodes and other Oath Keepers in their criminal cases. SoRelle said that when she was trying to find Rhodes a lawyer following his January 13, 2022, arrest in Texas, she received a call from Phillip Linder, a Dallas attorney, who was meeting with Rhodes. Linder said, “Sidney sent me up here, and she is gonna take care of the legal tab,” SoRelle recalled. Linder, Powell, and lawyers working for Powell’s organization did not respond to requests for comment.

Oath Keepers are a loose network of militia-style groups that was launched in 2009 after the election of President Barack Obama. The organization recruits former military and law enforcement personnel, though it also accepts other members for so called “missions,” including protecting businesses against looters during civil unrest. On January 6, members of the group stormed the US Capitol. A few dozen now face criminal charges. Rhodes, Kelly Meggs, and Harrelson are among 12 group members who have been charged with seditious conspiracy for allegedly plotting to use violence to stop the transfer of power to Joe Biden. Prosecutors allege that Harrelson and the Meggs couple participated in a military-style “stack” formation that entered the Capitol that day. Connie Meggs is among group members separately charged with conspiracy. Rehl is one of five senior members of the Proud Boys, a neofacist group, charged in a separate conspiracy case.

There is no indication that Defending the Republic dictates the specifics of defenses employed by suspects and attorneys who receive support from the group. But the organization has recruited lawyers for January 6 defendants from a far-right network linked to Powell. The result has been that the group is effectively funding activist attorneys who use the defenses as a political crusade, sometimes advancing bizarre legal arguments that appear to have only a fleeting connection to the crimes their clients are charged with.

Powell’s group seeks “people who are fighters,” Moseley said.

Prosecutors have advanced January 6 cases by using plea deals to gain cooperation from a growing number of conspirators. Earlier this month, William Wilson, a North Carolina Oath Keeper, became the third person to plead guilty in the seditious conspiracy case. Wilson revealed to prosecutors a January 6 phone call in which he says Rhodes asked an unidentified person to put him on the phone with Donald Trump and to “tell President Trump to call upon groups like the Oath Keepers to forcibly oppose the transfer of power.” (Rhodes’ request was apparently unsuccessful.) Such plea bargains often benefit individual defendants, since they can get a reduced sentence by cooperating, at the expense of the larger group of suspects.

It’s not illegal for Powell’s organization to pay defendants’ legal bills. Moseley said he did not receive instructions from Defending the Republic on how to defend Meggs. But he said that the group’s financial support has the effect of making plea bargains less likely. In part, he said, that’s because defendants often plead guilty when they feel they are “out of options” and can’t afford to keep paying lawyers. But Moseley also said that Powell’s group seeks out aggressive attorneys who, in practice, may be less likely to negotiate deals with prosecutors. The group seeks “people who are fighters,” he said.

Some of the attorneys in Powell’s network have been involved in post-election legal battles since the very beginning. In 2020, Haller, who had worked in the Trump administration, helped Powell promote vote fraud claims in court. In filings connected to election lawsuits in Georgia and Texas, Haller indicated that she worked with Defending the Republic, listing addresses for the nonprofit as her mailing address. A federal judge in Michigan last year sanctioned Powell, Haller, and seven and other attorneys for acting “in bad faith and for an improper purpose” in a lawsuit they filed that sought to overturn Michigan’s presidential election results.

For her part, Powell became infamous for enthusiastically promoting outlandish claims about an international cabal—including George Soros, China, Germany, Venezuela, Cuba, antifa, Facebook, and cities with large numbers of Black voters—that supposedly conspired to hack US voting machines and rig the election. Powell reportedly fed ideas related to overturning the election directly to Trump. Many of the insurrectionists have said they believed claims that the election was stolen.

Powell has been subpoenaed by the congressional committee investigating January 6 and has been sued for $1.3 billion by Dominion Voting Systems over her false claims about the company. In the lawsuit, Dominion explicitly charges that the “violent mob” that stormed the Capitol was “[i]ncited by Powell’s [d]isinformation [c]ampaign.”

Prosecutors in Washington, DC, are also reportedly investigating fundraising and accounting practices used by Defending the Republic under Powell’s leadership.

Moseley, like some of his clients, was in the crowd that gathered outside the Capitol on January 6. He publicly posted video he took there “as a volunteer reporter and writer” for National File, a far-right website. Other footage from outside the Capitol, which was flagged by Capitol Terrorists Exposers—an anonymous group researching Oath Keepers’ actions on January 6—appears to show Moseley entering a restricted area close to the Capitol. There is no indication he went inside the building, and prosecutors have not charged anyone with entering a restricted area if they are not also facing other, more serious charges.

Moseley did not dispute entering a restricted area, but he said that because the Capitol Police had retreated by the time he arrived, and barricades had been dismantled, he and others around him “had no notice of what was restricted and what wasn’t” in the area around Congress.

Moseley has long combined legal work and fringe political activism. In 2008 and 2011, he worked for Delaware Tea Party figure Christine O’Donnell, best known for capturing the GOP Senate nomination in 2010 and running an ad stating that she was not a witch. Moseley later unsuccessfully sued O’Donnell for unpaid wages. He has advanced various right-wing theories, including the false claim that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim. Moseley’s online biography recounts work for Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, both right-wing organizations founded by Larry Klayman, who the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as a “pathologically litigious attorney.”

The Virginia Bar suspended Moseley’s law license in 2009, after a court found that he’d made frivolous discovery requests and had later made false statements about the judge in the case, among other infractions. Moseley’s license was suspended by the Virginia Bar again in 2019 for failing to comply with a subpoena. In 2020, a state judge faulted Moseley for, among other things, appearing “before the state court while his license to practice law was suspended.” After Moseley failed to show up at an August 2021 hearing, another judge ordered him jailed for six days.

Harrelson’s lawyer told me that it’s “none of your fucking business” who pays for his defense.

Moseley’s disbarment in April of this year resulted from his alleged violation of billing rules. He deposited a client’s up-front payment for legal services in a personal account, he acknowledged in an interview this week. He also allegedly obstructed the bar’s investigation into the matter. Moseley told me that his bank had closed a trust account he had set up for client payments, forcing him to deposit his client’s payment into his personal account, a practice the Virginia bar prohibits. Moseley argued the bar failed to make allowances for situations like his, noting that he “had no other place to put” the funds. He also said he had “earned the fees.”

“The bar is being dishonest,” Moseley added. He said he is appealing the ruling.

Moseley minimized his past disciplinary issues, describing them as “administrative” actions related to his aggressive advocacy for clients.

“I do not think it is unusual to have run-ins unless you are completely not doing your job at all,” he said. “People will tell you that if you if don’t have bar complaints, you’re not doing your job.”

While defending Kelly Meggs, Moseley collaborated on multiple motions with Bradford Geyer, an attorney for Harrelson. Moseley said that Defending the Republic is also paying for Geyer to represent Harrelson. Geyer told me that it’s “none of your fucking business” who pays for Harrelson’s defense.

The filings the two attorneys have worked on together include assertions that Kelly Meggs and Harrelson—who were both denied bail and are jailed while awaiting trial—face efforts “to force them to receive” Covid vaccines. Both men have declined vaccination. Meggs cites an unspecified medical reason. Harrelson asserts a religious objection. In a November motion asking federal Judge Amit Mehta to allow them to exceed a page limit to advance their arguments, the attorneys offered an outline that listed prospective sections, including: “C19 Conspiracy Structure” and “SCOTUS Could Not Have Foreseen the Holocaust.”

Moseley and Geyer’s efforts drew a rebuke from Mehta, who told them in an order that “the court will not allow this case to become a forum for bombastic arguments” or “propagating fringe views about COVID-19.” Mehta also pointed out that “the D.C. Department of Corrections does not require any person held there to accept a COVID-19 vaccine.” A few weeks later, the two lawyers filed a motion that, with appendices, ran to more than 600 pages and that compared Covid vaccines to the Nazis’ forced medical experiments on Jews.

In a May 5 filing, Geyer asked prosecutors for evidence related to around 80 people he called “suspicious actors” that, he said, might have been “government agents” who entrapped or “frame[d] Oath Keepers on January 6.

Geyer told me that he believes all his filings are necessary to defend Harrelson, who he said “is totally innocent.”

An Inside View of Wartime Ukraine

Mother Jones Magazine -

I’m standing on a dusty path flanked by a medic, a volunteer fighter, and another journalist. It’s early May and we are traversing through a recently liberated town on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, attempting to document a glimpse of the front line. We are surrounded by the destruction left in the wake of Russian forces and by the Ukrainians affected by a terrible and unjust war. Vehicles are strewn about as hollow shells of what they used to be, homes that still stand are decimated, and massive holes from shelling line the streets leading towards the front line; everywhere you look, your eyes seem to land upon military equipment or a solider with a solemn, cold, and nervous look adorned upon their face.

We are stopped by a radiant older woman outside of her home. She proceeds to tell us stories about her family, how her daughter is a doctor, how her son was fighting in the war but was wounded, how she has many grandchildren, and how proud she is of them. We begin to walk away when she shouts for us; we turn around and she begins to make the sign of the cross and give us a blessing that we will be just as her own children, her sons and her daughters.

I’d been in the country some six weeks, after arriving in Kyiv on April 5—more than a month after the Russian invasion began on February 24, and shortly after they were subsequently repelled from the capital. I’d arrived via train, starting at a Polish station on the border with Ukraine, where I witnessed dreary-eyed families who had fled from their homes and whose children were using their luggage as makeshift beds. Once the train crossed over into Ukraine, it was boarded by military personnel, passports and IDs were scrutinized, and my bags were searched.

A Ukrainian couple walks by a damaged armored personnel carrier near the town of Elitne in Kharkiv Oblast.

Two motorcyclists smoke in the Barabashova Market in Kharkiv, which was destroyed by Russian forces early in the war.

After I crossed, I became a witness to the war crimes of Bucha, the bombings of civilian homes in Saltivka, and the heavy artillery in the Donbas region, as well as the makeshift living quarters of soldiers and the charred dwellings of residents on the front lines, all of them defending their homes.

One day, I was with two other journalists in Kharkiv and we came to an apartment complex where residents had been living in a dusty and moldy basement below the Soviet-era structure. I’ll never forget the woman that came over to me, gleaming about her children and how proud she was that they had worked so hard to make it to America. She showed me pictures of them and her grandchildren, their houses, and their degrees. There was something about her that tugged at my heartstrings. It hit me later that this woman reminded me of my own mother.

Living quarters of a front line position for Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv Oblast.

Later, in Severodonetsk, while working alongside Road to Relief, a non-governmental organization specializing in extractions from war-torn towns, we came across many elderly citizens and their families who were survivors of the Holodomor famine of 1932, the Nazi occupation, and the repression of their nation under the USSR. Mothers, children, grandmothers, and men alike are now forced to live in the depths of the ground, being stripped of the peace and identity that they had worked so hard to obtain and preserve.

Their stories, and the stories of many who have answered the call to defend Ukraine, have set the tone of the war and shown displays of unimaginable bravery; they have now become a part of the fabric of Ukrainian identity and woven into the very texture of their sovereign state.

Yet while Kharkiv in the northeast has been liberated, the war is far from over. Bombings and shelling are a daily occurrence in the east and sporadic in the west. Almost three months in, the scars of war are beginning to show as the largest war on European soil since World War II continues to unfold.

These scars will be deep. From children born in war, to civilians permanently maimed, to the erasure of cultural artifacts, to people who are forcibly deported, to the thousands of innocent lives lost due to the ideology of another nation—these are now the tones and textures of every Ukrainian who has been forced to suffer through loss and whose resilience and love for their home will help overcome the Russian forces.

Swampy, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, shows his back tattoo during a de-mining operation on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Russian ordnance is disposed of during de-mining operations on the outskirts of Kyiv. Since the Russian invasion began in February, massive amounts of ordnance have been left behind in public and rural areas.

Two Ukrainian soldiers smoke at a front line position in the Donbas region.

A dummy at a former Ukrainian checkpoint northwest of Kharkiv.

A man fills his car’s gas tank from a spare fuel can. As the war has progressed, fuel has become harder to obtain due to increased shortages and rationing.

A gymnasium at an athletic center in Kharkiv destroyed by Russian forces.

Volunteers from the non-governmental organization Ukrainian Guardian Angels perform maintenance on a vehicle in Kramatorsk.

A volunteer medic’s helmet with a picture of his girlfriend taped to the inside.

Volunteers evacuate a 95-year-old woman from a basement in Severodonetsk, located on the frontlines of the Donbas region near Luhansk.

A Ukrainian man with the territorial defense unit in Severodonetsk lights a cigarette off a burning piece of wood while cooking dinner.

The inside of a bloody and burned armored personnel carrier.

A father and his daughter speak to each other after being evacuated from their home in Severodonetsk.

A child is evacuated from his home in Severodonetsk.

A graveyard in Kramatorsk.

A Soviet-era vehicle driving in Kramatorsk.

 

Westphalian Logic and Geopolitical Prudence in the Nuclear Age

Counterpunch Articles -

What tends to be excluded from almost all presentations of the Ukrainian struggle is the U.S. Government policy agenda of inflicting a humiliating defeat on Russia which is at once related to the defense of Ukraine yet quite separate from it in significant respects. This agenda replicates Cold War confrontations, and in the global setting, seeks to remind China as well as Russia, that only the United States possesses the will, authority, and capabilities to act as the guardian of global security with respect to the maintenance or modification of international boundaries of sovereign states anywhere on the planet. More

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Beyond the Crystal Ball & Unmentionable Fascism: Dark Predictions, Human Agency, and a Beautiful Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights

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Real resisters and revolutionaries calculate and plan, but they aren’t about the crystal ball. They aren’t about the betting odds. They are about human agency and revolutionary praxis to change the odds for the better. The Ugly Foreseeable: Six Dark Predictions It shouldn’t be so easy to predict future terrible events. A couple months or More

The post Beyond the Crystal Ball & Unmentionable Fascism: Dark Predictions, Human Agency, and a Beautiful Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Third Party Blues

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If you cringe in horror at the prospect, two years hence, of a Trump versus Biden presidential race, you are not alone. But it looms as a real possibility: two very aged men who should have the decency to retire from public life, having contributed so much to making it an absolute mess. More

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Who Dropped the Rain Bomb on Durban Last Month? And Will They Pay Climate Reparations?

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The third-largest city in South Africa, Durban, has had a hellish month. The climate catastrophe witnessed in the city and surrounding areas left terrible wounds that residents here have not yet recovered from. The 350 mm (14 inches) of rain that pounded many areas of the province in a 24-hour period on April 11-12 more More

The post Who Dropped the Rain Bomb on Durban Last Month? And Will They Pay Climate Reparations? appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Post Left Whitewashing of Tucker Carlson’s Racism Uses MSNBC Playbook

Counterpunch Articles -

Allies of Tucker Carlson are working hard to distract the public from the Fox News host’s culpability in spreading racist conspiracy theories, adopting the same tactics they sneer at from liberals. In the wake of the Buffalo massacre, where white supremacist Payton Gendron murdered 10 people in a racist attack, Carlson has come under fire More

The post Post Left Whitewashing of Tucker Carlson’s Racism Uses MSNBC Playbook appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

The Biomass Peril

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Woody biomass, or burning trees to produce renewable energy, is spreading beyond the shores of Europe, where it’s wildly popular and outpacing solar and wind. It’s headed for Japan and South Korea, where subsidies for woody biomass displace funding for solar and wind. Umm, what’s wrong with this picture? In order to know specifically what’s More

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Is This the End of the French Project in Africa’s Sahel?

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On May 15, 2022, the military junta in Mali announced that it would no longer be part of the G5 Sahel platform. The G5 Sahel was created in Nouakchott, Mauritania, in 2014, and brought together the governments of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger to collaborate over the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel More

The post Is This the End of the French Project in Africa’s Sahel? appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Israel’s Killing Of Reporter Shireen Abu Akleh Reminds Me Of Mazen

Counterpunch Articles -

In Jehane Noujaim’s documentary “Control Room,” a daring indictment of embedded media at Central Command (CENTCOM) during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, military spokesperson Marine Corps Lieutenant Josh Rushing has an epiphany. His moral compass is shaken when he recalls his own reaction to Al Jazeera’s broadcast of “American soldiers strewn about a cold More

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Why Are Colombian Election Candidates Auditioning in Washington?

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Staging a vice-presidential candidates debate in the runup to Colombia’s May 29th national elections was entirely appropriate. Nevertheless, the location of the event in Washington and its promotion by US-state functionaries requires some explanation. Because of its venue and sponsors, the affair had elements of an audition or a vetting process overseen by the US More

The post Why Are Colombian Election Candidates Auditioning in Washington? appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Tales from the Cryptic ‘60s: an Unauthorized Interview with Judy Gumbo

Counterpunch Articles -

Judy Gumbo arrived at Berkeley, California from Canada in the mid-60s and engaged herself in the political antics of the Youth International Party, aka, the Yippies, through Stew Albert, her boyfriend and a Yippee leader. Judy was a kind of proto-feminist (in principle) and du jour lesbian; a serious anti-war activist who went to North More

The post Tales from the Cryptic ‘60s: an Unauthorized Interview with Judy Gumbo appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Why Are Colombian Election Candidates Auditioning in Washington?

Counterpunch Articles -

Staging a vice-presidential candidates debate in the runup to Colombia’s May 29th national elections was entirely appropriate. Nevertheless, the location of the event in Washington and its promotion by US-state functionaries requires some explanation. Because of its venue and sponsors, the affair had elements of an audition or a vetting process overseen by the US More

The post Why Are Colombian Election Candidates Auditioning in Washington? appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

A Civilization of Fragile Images

Counterpunch Articles -

Olympeion: temple of the Olympian Zeus near the Acropolis of Athens. Ut took several centuries for the construction of the temple. The Roman Emperor Hadrian finished it in 131-132. Photo: Evaggelos Vallianatos. Unless one visits Hellas / Greece and sees the ruins of ancient temples, theaters, and stadia, it is difficult to understand the magnificence More

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In a parallel universe, the pandemic would have been different

Counterpunch Articles -

The dark spectre of the Covid pandemic has been with us for over two years now and the virus itself is always likely to be with us. Our systems and institutions are in turmoil, our economy, our schools, our hospitals, are still reeling from what has happened, still struggling to cope as the virus continues More

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