The 1% wants to ban sleeping in cars - it hurts their ‘quality of life’April 16, 2014
Across the United States, many local governments are responding to skyrocketing levels of inequality and the now decades-long crisis of homelessness among the very poor … by passing laws making it a crime to sleep in a parked car.
This happened most recently in Palo Alto, in California’s Silicon Valley, where new billionaires are seemingly minted every month – and where 92% of homeless people lack shelter of any kind. Dozens of cities have passed similar anti-homeless laws. The largest of them is Los Angeles, the longtime unofficial “homeless capital of America”, where lawyers are currently defending a similar vehicle-sleeping law before a skeptical federal appellate court. Laws against sleeping on sidewalks or in cars are called “quality of life” laws. But they certainly don’t protect the quality of life of the poor.
To be sure, people living in cars cannot be the best neighbors. Some people are able to acquire old and ugly – but still functioning – recreational vehicles with bathrooms; others do the best they can. These same cities have resisted efforts to provide more public toilet facilities, often on the grounds that this will make their city a “magnet” for homeless people from other cities. As a result, anti-homeless ordinances often spread to adjacent cities, leaving entire regions without public facilities of any kind.
Their hope, of course, is that homeless people will go elsewhere, despite the fact that the great majority of homeless people are trying to survive in the same communities in which they were last housed – and where they still maintain connections. Americans sleeping in their own cars literally have nowhere to go.
Indeed, nearly all homelessness in the US begins with a loss of income and an eviction for nonpayment of rent – a rent set entirely by market forces. The waiting lists are years long for the tiny fraction of housing with government subsidies. And rents have risen dramatically in the past two years, in part because long-time tenants must now compete with the millions of former homeowners who lost their homes in the Great Recession.
The paths from eviction to homelessness follow familiar patterns. For the completely destitute without family or friends able to help, that path leads more or less directly to the streets. For those slightly better off, unemployment and the exhaustion of meager savings – along with the good graces of family and friends – eventually leaves people with only two alternatives: a shelter cot or their old automobile.
However, in places like Los Angeles, the shelters are pretty much always full. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of unsheltered homeless people increased by 67%. In Palo Alto last year, there were 12 shelter beds for 157 homeless individuals. Homeless people in these cities do have choices: they can choose to sleep in a doorway, on a sidewalk, in a park, under a bridge or overpass, or – if they are relatively lucky – in a car. But these cities have ordinances that make all of those choices a criminal offense. The car is the best of bad options, now common enough that local bureaucrats have devised a new, if oxymoronic, term – the “vehicularly housed”.
People sleeping in cars try to find legal, nighttime parking places, where they will be less apparent and arouse the least hostility. But cities like Palo Alto and Los Angeles often forbid parking between 2am and 5am in commercial areas, where police write expensive tickets and arrest and impound the vehicles of repeat offenders. That leaves residential areas, where overnight street parking cannot, as a practical matter, be prohibited.
One finds the “vehicularly housed” in virtually every neighborhood, including my own. But the animus that drives anti-homeless laws seems to be greatest in the wealthiest cities, like Palo Alto, which has probably spawned more per-capita fortunes than any city on Earth, and in the more recently gentrified areas like Los Angeles’ Venice. These places are ruled by majorities of “liberals” who decry, with increasing fervor, the rapid rise in economic inequality. Nationally, 90% of Democrats (and 45% of Republicans) believe the government should act to reduce the rich-poor gap.
It is easy to be opposed to inequality in the abstract. So why are Los Angeles and Palo Alto spending virtually none of their budgets on efforts to provide housing for the very poor and homeless? When the most obvious evidence of inequality parks on their street, it appears, even liberals would rather just call the police. The word from the car: if you’re not going to do anything to help, please don’t make things worse.
Source

The 1% wants to ban sleeping in cars - it hurts their ‘quality of life’
April 16, 2014

Across the United States, many local governments are responding to skyrocketing levels of inequality and the now decades-long crisis of homelessness among the very poor … by passing laws making it a crime to sleep in a parked car.

This happened most recently in Palo Alto, in California’s Silicon Valley, where new billionaires are seemingly minted every month – and where 92% of homeless people lack shelter of any kind. Dozens of cities have passed similar anti-homeless laws. The largest of them is Los Angeles, the longtime unofficial “homeless capital of America”, where lawyers are currently defending a similar vehicle-sleeping law before a skeptical federal appellate court. Laws against sleeping on sidewalks or in cars are called “quality of life” laws. But they certainly don’t protect the quality of life of the poor.

To be sure, people living in cars cannot be the best neighbors. Some people are able to acquire old and ugly – but still functioning – recreational vehicles with bathrooms; others do the best they can. These same cities have resisted efforts to provide more public toilet facilities, often on the grounds that this will make their city a “magnet” for homeless people from other cities. As a result, anti-homeless ordinances often spread to adjacent cities, leaving entire regions without public facilities of any kind.

Their hope, of course, is that homeless people will go elsewhere, despite the fact that the great majority of homeless people are trying to survive in the same communities in which they were last housed – and where they still maintain connections. Americans sleeping in their own cars literally have nowhere to go.

Indeed, nearly all homelessness in the US begins with a loss of income and an eviction for nonpayment of rent – a rent set entirely by market forces. The waiting lists are years long for the tiny fraction of housing with government subsidies. And rents have risen dramatically in the past two years, in part because long-time tenants must now compete with the millions of former homeowners who lost their homes in the Great Recession.

The paths from eviction to homelessness follow familiar patterns. For the completely destitute without family or friends able to help, that path leads more or less directly to the streets. For those slightly better off, unemployment and the exhaustion of meager savings – along with the good graces of family and friends – eventually leaves people with only two alternatives: a shelter cot or their old automobile.

However, in places like Los Angeles, the shelters are pretty much always full. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of unsheltered homeless people increased by 67%. In Palo Alto last year, there were 12 shelter beds for 157 homeless individuals. Homeless people in these cities do have choices: they can choose to sleep in a doorway, on a sidewalk, in a park, under a bridge or overpass, or – if they are relatively lucky – in a car. But these cities have ordinances that make all of those choices a criminal offense. The car is the best of bad options, now common enough that local bureaucrats have devised a new, if oxymoronic, term – the “vehicularly housed”.

People sleeping in cars try to find legal, nighttime parking places, where they will be less apparent and arouse the least hostility. But cities like Palo Alto and Los Angeles often forbid parking between 2am and 5am in commercial areas, where police write expensive tickets and arrest and impound the vehicles of repeat offenders. That leaves residential areas, where overnight street parking cannot, as a practical matter, be prohibited.

One finds the “vehicularly housed” in virtually every neighborhood, including my own. But the animus that drives anti-homeless laws seems to be greatest in the wealthiest cities, like Palo Alto, which has probably spawned more per-capita fortunes than any city on Earth, and in the more recently gentrified areas like Los Angeles’ Venice. These places are ruled by majorities of “liberals” who decry, with increasing fervor, the rapid rise in economic inequality. Nationally, 90% of Democrats (and 45% of Republicans) believe the government should act to reduce the rich-poor gap.

It is easy to be opposed to inequality in the abstract. So why are Los Angeles and Palo Alto spending virtually none of their budgets on efforts to provide housing for the very poor and homeless? When the most obvious evidence of inequality parks on their street, it appears, even liberals would rather just call the police. The word from the car: if you’re not going to do anything to help, please don’t make things worse.

Source

Meet the Lakota Tribe woman teaching thousands how to resist the Keystone XL Pipeline
April 14, 2014

On March 29, a caravan of more than 100 cars plodded along the wide open roads of the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota, stopped at a forlorn former corn field and prepared for battle. 

Leaders from eight tribes in South Dakota and Minnesota pitched their flags. Participants erected nine tipis, a prayer lodge and a cook shack, surrounding their camp with a wall of 1,500-pound hay bales. Elders said they would camp out indefinitely. Speakers said they were willing to die for their cause.

This spirit camp at the Sicangu Lakota Rosebud reservation was the most visible recent action in Indian Country over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. But it was hardly the first … or the last.

On the neighboring Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Debra White Plume, an activist and community organizer involved in Oglala Lakota cultural preservation for more than 40 years, has been leading marches, civil disobedience training camps and educational forums on the Keystone XL since the pipeline was proposed in 2008.

White Plume, founder of the activists groups Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way), the International Justice Project and Moccasins on the Ground, has crisscrossed the country, marched on Washington and testified at the United Nations against the environmental devastation of tar sands oil mining and transport. Now, perhaps only weeks before President Obama is set to announce whether to allow a private oil company, TransCanada, to plow through the heartland to transport tar sand crude from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries for export, White Plume is busier than ever. 

White Plume is leading a galvanized, international coalition of grassroots environmental activists, the largest and most diverse in decades, in the last fight against the Keystone XL. The coalition is planning massive actions against the Keystone XL in Washington, D.C. and in local communities from April 22 (Earth Day) through April 27. In what is a first in decades, indigenous tribes from the heartland will be joined with farmers and ranchers along the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route in the actions. The “Cowboy and Indian Alliance” is inviting everyone in the country to their tipi camp on the National Mall in the hopes that a show of strength will steel President Obama’s resolve to be the “environmental President.” 

Since the State Department implicitly signed off on the Keystone XL pipeline in February by announcing that its environmental impact statement had found no “significant” impacts to worry about, White Plume and other environmental leaders concerned about the Keystone XL’s impact on climate change have also stepped up their plans for direct, non-violence civil disobedience. Those plans are under wraps, but blockades will surely be a major weapon in their arsenal.

White Plume talked about why the Keystone XL pipeline has become such a firestorm.   

* * *

Evelyn NievesWhy is it so important that the Keystone XL pipeline NOT become a reality?

Debra White Plume: The tar sands bitumen inside the KXL pipeline is hazardous, flammable, a carcinogen — and deadly. When it gets into our drinking water and surface water, it cannot be cleaned up. These pipelines further the development of the tar sands sacrifice area in Alberta.

ENWho is involved in the activism surrounding the opposition to the pipeline? Stories talk about this as a women’s movement, an elders movement and a youth movement. That means it’s pretty much everyone’s movement except for middle-aged men.

DWP: That might be true elsewhere, but all of our people are engaged to protect sacred water. I can’t speak for any middle-aged American men, but I know there are hundreds of American ranchers and farmers in South Dakota and Nebraska ready to defend their rights. Our Lakota warriors are opposing the KXL — this includes men and women.

ENWhat sorts of direct action are you willing to take and what kind of support are you receiving from Indian Country in general?

DWP: We will blockade TransCanada’s KXL to protect our lands and waters if we have to. Many tribal governments and Red Nations people have committed to blockade. Our Oglala Lakota Tribal Council is meeting soon to discuss declaring war on the KXL, as is the Rosebud Lakota Tribal Council.

EN:What kind of support are you receiving from outside of Indian Country?

DWP: We have support from all over the big land (so-called U.S.A.) and so-called Canada. We do not recognize these manmade borders. Our people were here from time immemorial, this is our ancestral land, people to the north and south are our relatives. We are connected through prophecy.

Full interview

Monica Jones, AZ transgender woman, convicted of the crime ‘Walking while trans’April 14, 2014
A Phoenix judge on Friday found a transgender woman guilty of a prostitution-related offense based on a city ordinance that the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona has deemed unconstitutional.
Monica Jones, 29, was arrested in May as a part of a Phoenix police prostitution-sting operation.
Jones, an activist for sex-worker rights, was charged with manifestation of prostitution, which police can enforce based on a number of qualifiers: repeated attempts to engage a passer-by in conversation, attempts to stop cars by waving at them, inquiries as to whether someone is a police officer or requesting that someone touch his or her genitals.
She pleaded not guilty and challenged the constitutionality of the law she allegedly violated. She subsequently asked that the case be dropped. Attorneys for Jones filed a memorandum in March stating that the ordinance targets transgender women by its interpretive nature and violates the First Amendment.
"Even assuming the government has a compelling interest in prohibiting prostitution, a measure that criminalizes a broad range of legal speech surely cannot be the ‘least restrictive’ means to furthering such an interest," the document states.
In an interview with The Arizona Republic on Thursday evening, Jones said she felt she was targeted because of her race and gender.
"You never see a heterosexual transgender man (accused of manifestation of prostitution)," she said. "It targets women, especially women in poverty, and women of minority."
Jones returned to court Friday with reinforcement.
Dan Pochoda, legal director of the ACLU of Arizona, argued on behalf of Jones. He said the ordinance is a “classic example of criminalizing protected speech” and said courts in other states have vacated similar statutes.
Assistant City Prosecutor Gary Shupe argued that the ordinance contains an element of intent and said that there appears to be a split between how courts have dealt with comparative laws.
Two witnesses were called to testify during the trial before Phoenix Municipal Judge Hercules Dellas: Jones for the defense and an undercover Phoenix police officer for the prosecution.
Their stories about what happened the night the officer picked up Jones in his truck diverged on a key factor: Although Jones agreed that she accepted a ride from the officer, she maintained that he was the one who approached her.
The courtroom gallery was spilling over with supporters for Jones and transgender and sex-worker rights, many of whom protested the charges outside the courthouse just before the trial. An audible moan rang throughout the courtroom when Dellas announced his guilty verdict.
The case underlines a rift among some activists who work with sex workers. Many advocates work within the bounds of existing anti-prostitution laws to offer other life alternatives. Others, like the Sex Workers Outreach Project, aim to decriminalize the profession altogether. Jones is an advocate for the Sex Workers Outreach Project of Phoenix.
Jones’ crusade shone a spotlight on Project Rose, a Phoenix initiative that aims to divert prostitutes away from jail and toward social-service providers.
Through an interagency collaboration, the project offers those picked up for prostitution-related offenses a chance to sidestep the charge upon the completion of a diversion program and provides health and housing services immediately after police contact. If the person does not complete the program, the arrest is filed.
Other prostitution-diversion programs require suspects to plead guilty, with a promise to dismiss the conviction once the program is completed.
Jones was arrested in one of the Phoenix police stings that involved Project Rose. She said she had been protesting the project just one day before her arrest.
Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, director of Arizona State University’s Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research, who evaluates Project Rose, said that of the 367 people who were offered diversion under the project, 366 chose it over jail.
She said there is a 28 percent success rate in the diversion program. But Roe-Sepowitz added that it’s important to note that it often takes multiple tries for sex workers get out of the profession. She said a first chance is offered through Project Rose and a second chance through traditional plea agreements.
Jones said that even with the diversion program, Project Rose is helping to criminalize sex workers. She said resources would be better spent talking to sex workers and offering services without criminalization.
Source

Monica Jones, AZ transgender woman, convicted of the crime ‘Walking while trans’
April 14, 2014

A Phoenix judge on Friday found a transgender woman guilty of a prostitution-related offense based on a city ordinance that the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona has deemed unconstitutional.

Monica Jones, 29, was arrested in May as a part of a Phoenix police prostitution-sting operation.

Jones, an activist for sex-worker rights, was charged with manifestation of prostitution, which police can enforce based on a number of qualifiers: repeated attempts to engage a passer-by in conversation, attempts to stop cars by waving at them, inquiries as to whether someone is a police officer or requesting that someone touch his or her genitals.

She pleaded not guilty and challenged the constitutionality of the law she allegedly violated. She subsequently asked that the case be dropped. Attorneys for Jones filed a memorandum in March stating that the ordinance targets transgender women by its interpretive nature and violates the First Amendment.

"Even assuming the government has a compelling interest in prohibiting prostitution, a measure that criminalizes a broad range of legal speech surely cannot be the ‘least restrictive’ means to furthering such an interest," the document states.

In an interview with The Arizona Republic on Thursday evening, Jones said she felt she was targeted because of her race and gender.

"You never see a heterosexual transgender man (accused of manifestation of prostitution)," she said. "It targets women, especially women in poverty, and women of minority."

Jones returned to court Friday with reinforcement.

Dan Pochoda, legal director of the ACLU of Arizona, argued on behalf of Jones. He said the ordinance is a “classic example of criminalizing protected speech” and said courts in other states have vacated similar statutes.

Assistant City Prosecutor Gary Shupe argued that the ordinance contains an element of intent and said that there appears to be a split between how courts have dealt with comparative laws.

Two witnesses were called to testify during the trial before Phoenix Municipal Judge Hercules Dellas: Jones for the defense and an undercover Phoenix police officer for the prosecution.

Their stories about what happened the night the officer picked up Jones in his truck diverged on a key factor: Although Jones agreed that she accepted a ride from the officer, she maintained that he was the one who approached her.

The courtroom gallery was spilling over with supporters for Jones and transgender and sex-worker rights, many of whom protested the charges outside the courthouse just before the trial. An audible moan rang throughout the courtroom when Dellas announced his guilty verdict.

The case underlines a rift among some activists who work with sex workers. Many advocates work within the bounds of existing anti-prostitution laws to offer other life alternatives. Others, like the Sex Workers Outreach Project, aim to decriminalize the profession altogether. Jones is an advocate for the Sex Workers Outreach Project of Phoenix.

Jones’ crusade shone a spotlight on Project Rose, a Phoenix initiative that aims to divert prostitutes away from jail and toward social-service providers.

Through an interagency collaboration, the project offers those picked up for prostitution-related offenses a chance to sidestep the charge upon the completion of a diversion program and provides health and housing services immediately after police contact. If the person does not complete the program, the arrest is filed.

Other prostitution-diversion programs require suspects to plead guilty, with a promise to dismiss the conviction once the program is completed.

Jones was arrested in one of the Phoenix police stings that involved Project Rose. She said she had been protesting the project just one day before her arrest.

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, director of Arizona State University’s Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research, who evaluates Project Rose, said that of the 367 people who were offered diversion under the project, 366 chose it over jail.

She said there is a 28 percent success rate in the diversion program. But Roe-Sepowitz added that it’s important to note that it often takes multiple tries for sex workers get out of the profession. She said a first chance is offered through Project Rose and a second chance through traditional plea agreements.

Jones said that even with the diversion program, Project Rose is helping to criminalize sex workers. She said resources would be better spent talking to sex workers and offering services without criminalization.

Source

Los Angeles students protesting neglect of poorer schools took to the streets, and brought their desks with them.
Some 375 empty desks blocked a downtown street, blocking traffic for several hours Tuesday outside the Los Angeles Unified School District offices.
Organizers say the number represents the count of students who drop out of district schools each week.
Protesters want a student voice on the school board, and more funding for English language learners, foster children and low income students.
District officials declined comment on the protest.
Source

Los Angeles students protesting neglect of poorer schools took to the streets, and brought their desks with them.

Some 375 empty desks blocked a downtown street, blocking traffic for several hours Tuesday outside the Los Angeles Unified School District offices.

Organizers say the number represents the count of students who drop out of district schools each week.

Protesters want a student voice on the school board, and more funding for English language learners, foster children and low income students.

District officials declined comment on the protest.

Source

How Israel’s war industry profits from violent US immigration “reform”April 10, 2014
Immigrant rights advocates in the US organized a national day of action on 5 April, the day they expected President Barack Obama’s record-breaking rate of deportations to reach a total of 2 million during his administration.
But scant attention has been paid to the list of global benefactors awaiting the profits from legislation escalating border militarization.
Israel, America’s closest ally, tops the lineup of patrons eager for rewards while advocates demanding a meaningful overhaul of US immigration and border enforcement continue their defiant battle in the streets. In this setting, rights supporters must know which global partners stand beside the US in repressing undocumented im/migrant communities.
But how does the situation in Palestine — thousands of miles away — affect US immigration reform and vice versa? What does one have to do with the other?
Quite a lot, actually.
“Border security on steroids”
Take the recent news that Israeli arms manufacturing giant Elbit Systems won a USDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) contract to provide surveillance technology along the southern divide with Mexico, initially in Arizona.
Specifically, Elbit will provide its sensor-based Peregrine surveillance system for Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Integrated Fixed Tower project, which consists of ground radar and camera technology mounted on towers strewn throughout the borderlands. Congress approved the plan earlier this year.
A Bloomberg trade analyst estimated that Elbit’s $145 million award “may eventually reach $1 billion if legislation to rewrite US immigration laws passes Congress and helps fund the project’s expansion in the Southwest” (“Israel’s Elbit wins US border work after Boeing dumped,” 27 February 2014).
The little-discussed Corker-Hoeven amendment attached to the 2013 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) is the key legislation referenced by the Bloomberg analyst. The Senate passed the bill last June; the House of Representatives has stalled on voting on the package in any form.
Promoted as “border security on steroids” by the bill’s co-author, Republican Senator from Tennessee Bob Corker, the measure sets aside $46 billion for security “triggers” that must be in place in areas including Arizona before a pathway to citizenship can be opened for an estimated 11 million people living undocumented in the US today.
No wonder that DHS’s $145 million payment to Elbit could skyrocket by 700 percent. And that’s just one bid by one Israeli company. There could be many more to come.
Israel and the “homeland security” industry
Journalist Todd Miller, author of the book Border Patrol Nation (City Lights Books), interviewed numerous corporate leaders and scoured boundary-enforcement security fairs and expos across the Southwest.
Miller described to The Electronic Intifada his constant encounters with Israeli security peddlers in the borderlands.
During his research for the book, Miller wasn’t looking for Israel anywhere. Yet the state’s agents kept surfacing at every turn, he said.
Israeli companies, specialists and top military brass have become an increasingly visible presence at border and “homeland security” trade shows in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.
The US has spent $100 billion on immigration enforcement in the decade since then.
In that time, Israel became the world’s sixth-largest defense exporter and a leading supplier and consumer in the budding border-security industrial complex (“Israel ranks as the world’s sixth largest arms exporter in 2012,” Haaretz, 25 June 2013).
Companies large and small such as Elta Systems, Elbit Systems and NICE Systems have provided technologies including radar, virtual fencing and CCTV surveillance for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Phoenix, Arizona department, as Jimmy Johnson has reported (“A Palestine-Mexico Border,” North American Congress on Latin America, 29 June 2012).
The Golan Group (founded by former Israeli special forces officers) provided training sessions for the US Border Patrol, as Naomi Klein notes in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine.
Israel aids deadly “deterrence” strategy
Elta Systems got a boost in late 2012 when, Haaretz reported, the US Border Patrol hired the company to provide radar along the border “to protect the US-Mexico border against illegal migrant infiltration.” US Border Patrol’s deal offered the company “a potential market worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The US partnership with Israel is reciprocal: where the US has the finances, Israel has the expertise.
On the company’s end, according to Raanan Horowitz, CEO of Elbit Systems of America, the Peregrine system “will meet the demanding mission requirements of the Customs Border Protection (CPB) while enhancing its agents’ safety” (“Elbit Systems of America awarded contract for US Customs Border Protection integrated fixed towers project,” Elbit Systems, 8 March 2014).
But what does this situation look like in terms of human consequences? In CBP’s statedmission of “keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the US,” under the pretext of personal safety, Border Patrol agents have killed at least 19 persons in recent years, often under the alleged threat of rock-throwing (“Border Patrol’s use of deadly force criticized in new report,” Los Angeles Times, 27 February 2014).
In this deadly equation, the reform legislation’s amendment calls for a “military-style surge” of 700 more miles of “border fencing” and doubles the current number of Border Patrol agents to 40,000 (“Border security: Boost for Senate immigration bill,” Associated Press, 20 June 2013).
Two decades of border militarization
Increased deployment of military-style resources to strategic areas along the border has mushroomed since the early 1990s, as Joseph Nevins documents in his book Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the US-Mexico Boundary.
President Bill Clinton, expanding on past boundary security-enforcement trends under his predecessors Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, instituted a new “deterrence” strategy designed to “reroute” migrants away from urban areas and into “geographically harsher,” more “remote and hazardous border regions” where the treacherous terrain would potentially kill them (“656 Weeks on the Killing Fields of Arizona,” The Huffington Post, 12 November 2012).
In such a way, planners devised, the “mortal danger” of the “geography would be an ally to us.”
This aggressive shift came less than a decade after the last immigration overhaul. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act opened the door to citizenship for three million people of extra-legal status and increased border controls for those continuing to come, but without addressing the US-based economic and political policies driving migration.
Predictably, within a decade of the “deterrence” policy’s onset, “Arizona had become a killing field,” Tucson-based journalist Margaret Regan describes in her book The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands.
Israel continues to reap the benefits from US border militarization as the levels of death and suffering grow in line with an enriching investment climate.
Border death rate doubles
A June 2013 study by scholars and forensics specialists at the University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute and the local county medical examiner’s office found that the rate of migrant deaths had nearly doubled in the previous two years (“A continued humanitarian crisis at the border: undocumented border crosser deaths recorded by the Pima County office of the medical examiner, 1990-2012” [PDF]).
As more and more bodies are recovered, government and media continue to report all-time lows in apprehensions by the Border Patrol. Yet the simultaneous increase in border deaths remains enormously underreported.
But this is all good news to Senator Corker, who urged those concerned with border security not to worry because the bill is so tough that it’s “almost overkill.”
In fact, the package “is not only sufficient, it is well over sufficient,” Arizona Republican Senator John McCain concurred. “We’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” McCain boasted.
More drones
One provision in S. 744 would add 18 more unmanned aerial vehicles (also known asdrones or UAVs) to the already ballooning fleet operated by Customs and Border Protection.
Israeli-built “Hermes” drones were the first deployed along the southern border with Mexico as early as 2004. Currently, the fleet buzzing throughout the borderlands skies is wholly comprised of US-made Predator B drones, according to a CBP spokesperson.
Rivaling the US as the world’s leader in such technology, Israel can still view immigration reform as a hefty bounty for its “battle-proven” military technology that is “tried and tested on the West Bank and Gaza.”
As proposed in the legislation, the path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the US would take at least 13 years. Even then, the measures would benefit only those who are able to afford the mounting fees associated with the process, according to an analysis by Coalición de Derechos Humanos.
Though it won overwhelming approval in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the bill has stalled for nine months in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Many House members are hostile to any pathway to citizenship for undocumented people. Worse, House Republicans, like their Senate counterparts, have shown a penchant for fueling the fantasy of border security as a sound solution to US immigration issues.
A new military occupation
The US and Israel both continue to dispossess indigenous people of their lands, and even of their existence.
In the US, Native peoples are left out of the “immigration reform” discourse altogether. Even though some are US-born, they are “undocumented” in every sense of the term, since they were born at home and lack a birth certificate.
The ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham people span from modern-day Sonora, Mexico into southern Arizona — bisected by the Mexico-US border wall. Some were born on one side of the divide but grew up or spend most of their time on the other side and are therefore considered suspect by Border Patrol.
Miller writes in Border Patrol Nation: “While it may seem that the days of killing or corralling Native Americans and annexing their territories are an ancient and forgotten chapter in US history, the experience of the Tohono O’odham Nation show us that nothing can be further from the truth.” O’odham people regularly face abuse, harassment and even death at the hands of US Border Patrol.
Some of the country’s largest Border Patrol stations (and at least one US military outpost in a remote location, known as a “forward-operating base”) surround the Tohono O’odham Nation as the second-largest reservation in the US, and military-style checkpoints control all movement entering and leaving the nation. According to Miller, this presence of federal forces occupying permanent positions on Tohono O’odham lands is the largest in US history.
The extra layers of militarized infrastructure isolates the nation while still in Arizona, Miller observes, “as if the nation itself were a foreign country under a new, post-9/11 form of military occupation.”
Full article

How Israel’s war industry profits from violent US immigration “reform”
April 10, 2014

Immigrant rights advocates in the US organized a national day of action on 5 April, the day they expected President Barack Obama’s record-breaking rate of deportations to reach a total of 2 million during his administration.

But scant attention has been paid to the list of global benefactors awaiting the profits from legislation escalating border militarization.

Israel, America’s closest ally, tops the lineup of patrons eager for rewards while advocates demanding a meaningful overhaul of US immigration and border enforcement continue their defiant battle in the streets. In this setting, rights supporters must know which global partners stand beside the US in repressing undocumented im/migrant communities.

But how does the situation in Palestine — thousands of miles away — affect US immigration reform and vice versa? What does one have to do with the other?

Quite a lot, actually.

“Border security on steroids”

Take the recent news that Israeli arms manufacturing giant Elbit Systems won a USDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) contract to provide surveillance technology along the southern divide with Mexico, initially in Arizona.

Specifically, Elbit will provide its sensor-based Peregrine surveillance system for Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Integrated Fixed Tower project, which consists of ground radar and camera technology mounted on towers strewn throughout the borderlands. Congress approved the plan earlier this year.

A Bloomberg trade analyst estimated that Elbit’s $145 million award “may eventually reach $1 billion if legislation to rewrite US immigration laws passes Congress and helps fund the project’s expansion in the Southwest” (“Israel’s Elbit wins US border work after Boeing dumped,” 27 February 2014).

The little-discussed Corker-Hoeven amendment attached to the 2013 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) is the key legislation referenced by the Bloomberg analyst. The Senate passed the bill last June; the House of Representatives has stalled on voting on the package in any form.

Promoted as “border security on steroids” by the bill’s co-author, Republican Senator from Tennessee Bob Corker, the measure sets aside $46 billion for security “triggers” that must be in place in areas including Arizona before a pathway to citizenship can be opened for an estimated 11 million people living undocumented in the US today.

No wonder that DHS’s $145 million payment to Elbit could skyrocket by 700 percent. And that’s just one bid by one Israeli company. There could be many more to come.

Israel and the “homeland security” industry

Journalist Todd Miller, author of the book Border Patrol Nation (City Lights Books), interviewed numerous corporate leaders and scoured boundary-enforcement security fairs and expos across the Southwest.

Miller described to The Electronic Intifada his constant encounters with Israeli security peddlers in the borderlands.

During his research for the book, Miller wasn’t looking for Israel anywhere. Yet the state’s agents kept surfacing at every turn, he said.

Israeli companies, specialists and top military brass have become an increasingly visible presence at border and “homeland security” trade shows in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.

The US has spent $100 billion on immigration enforcement in the decade since then.

In that time, Israel became the world’s sixth-largest defense exporter and a leading supplier and consumer in the budding border-security industrial complex (“Israel ranks as the world’s sixth largest arms exporter in 2012,” Haaretz, 25 June 2013).

Companies large and small such as Elta Systems, Elbit Systems and NICE Systems have provided technologies including radar, virtual fencing and CCTV surveillance for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Phoenix, Arizona department, as Jimmy Johnson has reported (“A Palestine-Mexico Border,” North American Congress on Latin America, 29 June 2012).

The Golan Group (founded by former Israeli special forces officers) provided training sessions for the US Border Patrol, as Naomi Klein notes in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine.

Israel aids deadly “deterrence” strategy

Elta Systems got a boost in late 2012 when, Haaretz reported, the US Border Patrol hired the company to provide radar along the border “to protect the US-Mexico border against illegal migrant infiltration.” US Border Patrol’s deal offered the company “a potential market worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The US partnership with Israel is reciprocal: where the US has the finances, Israel has the expertise.

On the company’s end, according to Raanan Horowitz, CEO of Elbit Systems of America, the Peregrine system “will meet the demanding mission requirements of the Customs Border Protection (CPB) while enhancing its agents’ safety” (“Elbit Systems of America awarded contract for US Customs Border Protection integrated fixed towers project,” Elbit Systems, 8 March 2014).

But what does this situation look like in terms of human consequences? In CBP’s statedmission of “keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the US,” under the pretext of personal safety, Border Patrol agents have killed at least 19 persons in recent years, often under the alleged threat of rock-throwing (“Border Patrol’s use of deadly force criticized in new report,” Los Angeles Times, 27 February 2014).

In this deadly equation, the reform legislation’s amendment calls for a “military-style surge” of 700 more miles of “border fencing” and doubles the current number of Border Patrol agents to 40,000 (“Border security: Boost for Senate immigration bill,” Associated Press, 20 June 2013).

Two decades of border militarization

Increased deployment of military-style resources to strategic areas along the border has mushroomed since the early 1990s, as Joseph Nevins documents in his book Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the US-Mexico Boundary.

President Bill Clinton, expanding on past boundary security-enforcement trends under his predecessors Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, instituted a new “deterrence” strategy designed to “reroute” migrants away from urban areas and into “geographically harsher,” more “remote and hazardous border regions” where the treacherous terrain would potentially kill them (“656 Weeks on the Killing Fields of Arizona,” The Huffington Post, 12 November 2012).

In such a way, planners devised, the “mortal danger” of the “geography would be an ally to us.”

This aggressive shift came less than a decade after the last immigration overhaul. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act opened the door to citizenship for three million people of extra-legal status and increased border controls for those continuing to come, but without addressing the US-based economic and political policies driving migration.

Predictably, within a decade of the “deterrence” policy’s onset, “Arizona had become a killing field,” Tucson-based journalist Margaret Regan describes in her book The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands.

Israel continues to reap the benefits from US border militarization as the levels of death and suffering grow in line with an enriching investment climate.

Border death rate doubles

A June 2013 study by scholars and forensics specialists at the University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute and the local county medical examiner’s office found that the rate of migrant deaths had nearly doubled in the previous two years (“A continued humanitarian crisis at the border: undocumented border crosser deaths recorded by the Pima County office of the medical examiner, 1990-2012” [PDF]).

As more and more bodies are recovered, government and media continue to report all-time lows in apprehensions by the Border Patrol. Yet the simultaneous increase in border deaths remains enormously underreported.

But this is all good news to Senator Corker, who urged those concerned with border security not to worry because the bill is so tough that it’s “almost overkill.”

In fact, the package “is not only sufficient, it is well over sufficient,” Arizona Republican Senator John McCain concurred. “We’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” McCain boasted.

More drones

One provision in S. 744 would add 18 more unmanned aerial vehicles (also known asdrones or UAVs) to the already ballooning fleet operated by Customs and Border Protection.

Israeli-built “Hermes” drones were the first deployed along the southern border with Mexico as early as 2004. Currently, the fleet buzzing throughout the borderlands skies is wholly comprised of US-made Predator B drones, according to a CBP spokesperson.

Rivaling the US as the world’s leader in such technology, Israel can still view immigration reform as a hefty bounty for its “battle-proven” military technology that is “tried and tested on the West Bank and Gaza.”

As proposed in the legislation, the path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the US would take at least 13 years. Even then, the measures would benefit only those who are able to afford the mounting fees associated with the process, according to an analysis by Coalición de Derechos Humanos.

Though it won overwhelming approval in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the bill has stalled for nine months in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Many House members are hostile to any pathway to citizenship for undocumented people. Worse, House Republicans, like their Senate counterparts, have shown a penchant for fueling the fantasy of border security as a sound solution to US immigration issues.

A new military occupation

The US and Israel both continue to dispossess indigenous people of their lands, and even of their existence.

In the US, Native peoples are left out of the “immigration reform” discourse altogether. Even though some are US-born, they are “undocumented” in every sense of the term, since they were born at home and lack a birth certificate.

The ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham people span from modern-day Sonora, Mexico into southern Arizona — bisected by the Mexico-US border wall. Some were born on one side of the divide but grew up or spend most of their time on the other side and are therefore considered suspect by Border Patrol.

Miller writes in Border Patrol Nation: “While it may seem that the days of killing or corralling Native Americans and annexing their territories are an ancient and forgotten chapter in US history, the experience of the Tohono O’odham Nation show us that nothing can be further from the truth.” O’odham people regularly face abuse, harassment and even death at the hands of US Border Patrol.

Some of the country’s largest Border Patrol stations (and at least one US military outpost in a remote location, known as a “forward-operating base”) surround the Tohono O’odham Nation as the second-largest reservation in the US, and military-style checkpoints control all movement entering and leaving the nation. According to Miller, this presence of federal forces occupying permanent positions on Tohono O’odham lands is the largest in US history.

The extra layers of militarized infrastructure isolates the nation while still in Arizona, Miller observes, “as if the nation itself were a foreign country under a new, post-9/11 form of military occupation.”

Full article

Ride for Freedom: An anti-deportation internationalist motorcade demonstration in NYC
April 8, 2014

A caravan of NYC activists –in solidarity with immigration resistance– rode in “Ride for Freedom: an Anti-deportation Internationalist motorcade”, to arrive to the Immigration and Costumes Enforcement Detention Facility at 182-22 150Avenue, Queens, NY for a noise demonstration on Sunday.

The demo was a success, there were no arrests and we made our voices heard loud and clear against the cruelty of the prison complex and against the massive deportations taking place recently. The demonstration was also in solidarity with the hunger strikes: “This month alone, 1,000 immigrant detainees in Washington state launched a hunger strike against inhuman conditions and deportation. Demonstrators outside chained themselves together and blocked deportation busses bound for the border.”

We were joined by class traitors such as: the riot police from the prison, the prison guards (who in their confusion and not knowing what to do started filming us, even though we were fully aware there is CCTV everywhere outside the prison in plane sight.) There was also a white van apparently used for prison transport, a few cop cars and a police van to carry arrestees.

This is the call for the noise demo:

“Immigrants across the country are standing up. This month alone, 1,000 immigrant detainees in Washington State launched a hunger strike against inhuman conditions and deportation. Demonstrators outside chained themselves together and blocked deportation busses bound for the border. In San Diego, 150 previously deported Mexican immigrants re-crossed the U.S-Mexico border to rejoin their families in an act of civil disobedience. And in Texas, immigrant detainees have declared a second hunger strike against detention and deportation.

In New York City, the American Dream remains a nightmare. After crossing militarized borders, immigrants arrive to find only brutal exploitation, racist cops, cruel bosses, and dilapidated housing. The state government refuses to provide financial aid for undocumented college students, robbing immigrant youth of a future.

Against these obscenities, the recent wave of immigrant resistance offers hope to everyone who is poor, exploited, policed or incarcerated. Stand with the rebels in Washington, California and Texas! Together we can demolish every jail and every border, and share the wealth and freedom that belongs to us all.”

Source

Pre-school-to-Prison Pipeline: Studies confirm the dehumanization of Black childrenApril 6, 2014
Although African-Americans constitute only 13 percent of all Americans, nearly half of all prison inmates in the U.S. are black. This startling statistic has led the United Nations Human Rights Committee to publicly criticize the U.S. for its treatment of African-Americans. A number of recent studies and reports paint a damning picture of how American society dehumanizes blacks starting from early childhood.
Racial justice activists and prison abolition groups have long argued that the “school-to-prison” pipeline funnels young black kids into the criminal justice system, with higher rates of school suspension and arrest compared with nonblack kids for the same infractions. More than 20 years ago, Smith College professor Ann Arnett Ferguson wrote a groundbreaking book based on her three-year study of how black boys in particular are perceived differently starting in school. In “Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity,” Ferguson laid out the ways in which educators and administrators funneled black male students into the juvenile justice system based on perceived differences between them and other students.
Today this trend continues with record numbers of suspensions as a result of “zero-tolerance” school policies and the increasing presence of campus police officers who arrest students for insubordination, fights and other types of behavior that might be considered normal “acting out” in school-aged children. In fact, black youth are far more likely to be suspended from school than any other race. They also face disproportionate expulsion and arrest rates, and once children enter the juvenile justice system they are far more likely to be incarcerated as adults.
Even the Justice Department under President Obama has understood what a serious problem this is, issuing a set of new guidelines earlier this year to curb discriminatory suspension in school
But it turns out that negative disciplinary actions affect African-American children starting as early as age 3. The U.S. Department of Education just released a comprehensive study of public schools, revealing in a report that black children face discrimination even in preschool. (That preschool-aged children are suspended at all is hugely disturbing.) Data from the 2011-2012 year show that although black children make up only 18 percent of preschoolers, 42 percent of them were suspended at least once and 48 percent were suspended multiple times.
Consistent with this educational data and taking into account broader demographic, family and economic data for children of various races, broken down by state, is a newer study released this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that found African-American children are on the lowest end of nearly every measured index including proficiency in math and reading, high school graduation, poverty and parental education. The report, titled Race for Results, plainly says, “The index scores for African-American children should be considered a national crisis.”
Two other studies published recently offer specific evidence of how black children are so disadvantaged at an early age. One research project, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, examined how college students and police officers estimated the ages of children who they were told had committed crimes. Both groups studied by UCLA professor Phillip Goff and collaborators were more likely to overestimate the ages of black children compared with nonblack ones, implying that black children were seen as “significantly less innocent” than others. The authors wrote:

We expected … that individuals would perceive Black boys as being more responsible for their actions and as being more appropriate targets for police violence. We find support for these hypotheses … and converging evidence that Black boys are seen as older and less innocent and that they prompt a less essential conception of childhood than do their White same-age peers.

Another study by researchers at UC Riverside found that teachers tended to be more likely to evaluate black children negatively than nonblack ones who were engaged in pretend play. Psychology professor Tuppett M. Yates, who led the study, observed 171 preschool-aged children interacting with stuffed toys and other props and evaluated them for how imaginative and creative they were. In an interview on Uprising, Yates told me that all the children, regardless of race, were “similarly imaginative and similarly expressive,” but when their teachers evaluated those same children at a later time, there was a discriminatory effect. Yates explained, “For white children, imaginative and expressive players were rated very positively [by teachers] but the reverse was true for black children. Imaginative and expressive black children were perceived as less ready for school, as less accepted by their peers, and as greater sources of conflict and tension.”
Full article

Pre-school-to-Prison Pipeline: Studies confirm the dehumanization of Black children
April 6, 2014

Although African-Americans constitute only 13 percent of all Americansnearly half of all prison inmates in the U.S. are black. This startling statistic has led the United Nations Human Rights Committee to publicly criticize the U.S. for its treatment of African-Americans. A number of recent studies and reports paint a damning picture of how American society dehumanizes blacks starting from early childhood.

Racial justice activists and prison abolition groups have long argued that the “school-to-prison” pipeline funnels young black kids into the criminal justice system, with higher rates of school suspension and arrest compared with nonblack kids for the same infractions. More than 20 years ago, Smith College professor Ann Arnett Ferguson wrote a groundbreaking book based on her three-year study of how black boys in particular are perceived differently starting in school. In “Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity,” Ferguson laid out the ways in which educators and administrators funneled black male students into the juvenile justice system based on perceived differences between them and other students.

Today this trend continues with record numbers of suspensions as a result of “zero-tolerance” school policies and the increasing presence of campus police officers who arrest students for insubordination, fights and other types of behavior that might be considered normal “acting out” in school-aged children. In fact, black youth are far more likely to be suspended from school than any other race. They also face disproportionate expulsion and arrest rates, and once children enter the juvenile justice system they are far more likely to be incarcerated as adults.

Even the Justice Department under President Obama has understood what a serious problem this is, issuing a set of new guidelines earlier this year to curb discriminatory suspension in school

But it turns out that negative disciplinary actions affect African-American children starting as early as age 3. The U.S. Department of Education just released a comprehensive study of public schools, revealing in a report that black children face discrimination even in preschool. (That preschool-aged children are suspended at all is hugely disturbing.) Data from the 2011-2012 year show that although black children make up only 18 percent of preschoolers, 42 percent of them were suspended at least once and 48 percent were suspended multiple times.

Consistent with this educational data and taking into account broader demographic, family and economic data for children of various races, broken down by state, is a newer study released this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that found African-American children are on the lowest end of nearly every measured index including proficiency in math and reading, high school graduation, poverty and parental education. The report, titled Race for Results, plainly says, “The index scores for African-American children should be considered a national crisis.”

Two other studies published recently offer specific evidence of how black children are so disadvantaged at an early age. One research project, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, examined how college students and police officers estimated the ages of children who they were told had committed crimes. Both groups studied by UCLA professor Phillip Goff and collaborators were more likely to overestimate the ages of black children compared with nonblack ones, implying that black children were seen as “significantly less innocent” than others. The authors wrote:

We expected … that individuals would perceive Black boys as being more responsible for their actions and as being more appropriate targets for police violence. We find support for these hypotheses … and converging evidence that Black boys are seen as older and less innocent and that they prompt a less essential conception of childhood than do their White same-age peers.

Another study by researchers at UC Riverside found that teachers tended to be more likely to evaluate black children negatively than nonblack ones who were engaged in pretend play. Psychology professor Tuppett M. Yates, who led the study, observed 171 preschool-aged children interacting with stuffed toys and other props and evaluated them for how imaginative and creative they were. In an interview on Uprising, Yates told me that all the children, regardless of race, were “similarly imaginative and similarly expressive,” but when their teachers evaluated those same children at a later time, there was a discriminatory effect. Yates explained, “For white children, imaginative and expressive players were rated very positively [by teachers] but the reverse was true for black children. Imaginative and expressive black children were perceived as less ready for school, as less accepted by their peers, and as greater sources of conflict and tension.”

Full article

Drone killings case thrown out by US; victims convicted ‘posthumously based solely on the government’s say-so’
April 6, 2014

A US federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the government by the families of three American citizens killed by drones in Yemen, saying senior officials cannot be held personally responsible for money damages for the act of conducting war.

The families of the three – including Anwar al-Awlaki, a New Mexico-born militant Muslim cleric who had joined al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate, as well as his teenage son – sued over their 2011 deaths in US drone strikes, arguing that the killings were illegal.

Judge Rosemary Collyer of the US district court in Washington threw out the case, which had named as defendants the former defence secretary and CIA chief Leon Panetta, the former senior military commander and CIA chief David Petraeus and two other top military commanders.

"The question presented is whether federal officials can be held personally liable for their roles in drone strikes abroad that target and kill U.S. citizens," Collyer said in her opinion. "The question raises fundamental issues regarding constitutional principles and it is not easy to answer."

But the judge said she would grant the government’s motion to dismiss the case.

Collyer said the officials named as defendants “must be trusted and expected to act in accordance with the US constitution when they intentionally target a US citizen abroad at the direction of the president and with the concurrence of Congress. They cannot be held personally responsible in monetary damages for conducting war.”

Awlaki’s US-born son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was 16 years old when he was killed. Also killed was Samir Khan, a naturalised US citizen who had moved to Yemen in 2009 and worked on Inspire, an English-language al-Qaida magazine.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Centre for Constitutional Rights, both based in New York, represented the families. They had argued that in killing American citizens the government violated fundamental rights under the US constitution to due process and to be free from unreasonable seizure.

"This is a deeply troubling decision that treats the government’s allegations as proof while refusing to allow those allegations to be tested in court," said ACLU lawyer Hina Shamsi. "The court’s view that it cannot provide a remedy for extrajudicial killings when the government claims to be at war, even far from any battlefield, is profoundly at odds with the Constitution."

Centre for Constitutional Rights lawyer Maria LaHood said the judge “effectively convicted” Anwar al-Awlaki “posthumously based solely on the government’s say-so”. LaHood said the judge also found that the constitutional rights of the son and of Khan “weren’t violated because the government didn’t target them”.

"It seems there’s no remedy if the government intended to kill you, and no remedy if it didn’t. This decision is a true travesty of justice for our constitutional democracy and for all victims of the US government’s unlawful killings," LaHood said.

Collyer ruled that the families did not have a claim under the Constitution’s fourth amendment guarantee against unreasonable seizures because the government did not seize or restrain the three who were killed. “Unmanned drones are functionally incapable of ‘seizing’ a person; they are designed to kill, not capture,” she wrote.

Collyer wrote that the families had presented a plausible claim that the government violated Awlaki’s due process rights. “Nonetheless the court finds no available remedy under US law for this claim,” the judge wrote.

"In this delicate area of war making national security and foreign relations the judiciary has an exceedingly limited role."

Allowing claims against individual federal officials in this case “would impermissibly draw the court into the heart of executive and military planning and deliberation”, she wrote. It would “require the court to examine national security policy and the military chain of command as well as operational combat decisions”.

Nasser al-Awlaki, father of Anwar al-Awlaki, said he was disappointed in the American justice system and “like any parent or grandparent would, I want answers from the government when it decides to take life, but all I have got so far is secrecy and a refusal even to explain”.

Drone attacks have killed several suspected figures in al-Qaida’s Yemen-based affiliate including Awlaki, who is accused of orchestrating plots to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009 and US cargo planes in 2010.

The United States has faced international criticism for its use of drones to attack militants in places such as Pakistan and Yemen. A UN human rights watchdog in March called on the Obama administration to limit its use of drones targeting suspected al-Qaida and Taliban militants.

Barack Obama’s administration increased the number of drone strikes after he took office in 2009 but attacks have dropped off in the past year. The US has come under pressure from critics to rein in the missile strikes and do more to protect civilians.

Source

The Conscience of Chelsea Manning
April 5, 2014

Four years have passed since WikiLeaks’ sensational release of the classified US military video titled Collateral Murder. On April 5 2010, the raw footage was published depicting airstrikes by a US Army helicopter gunship in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad. The soldiers attacked Iraqis, killing about a dozen men wandering down a street, including two Reuters staffers, Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh in the first of three reckless attacks involving civilians. The video opened with a quote from George Orwell: “Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind”. It gained global attention, with viewers reaching millions and shattered the euphemism of ‘collateral damage’, revealing the true state of modern warfare behind the warping shield of propaganda.

Much focus in the media at the time was given to analyzing whether some of the Iraqi people in the video were carrying rocket propelled grenades or AK-47s and arguments ensued about this scene and the rules of engagement. The unfolding of these scenes calls for re-cognition, for us to take a look at these wars from a fuller perspective than the narrow view offered by the establishment media lens.

Before anyone talks about the laws of armed conflict and whether the rules of engagement were broken or not, we need to ask why these armed crews were even there in the first place. We should be examining the legality of the Iraq War itself. Speaking in defense of the disclosure of classified US military documents on the Iraq War, Assange pointed out how, “Most wars that are started by democracies involve lying” and noted how “The start of the Iraq war involved very serious lies that were repeated and amplified by some parts of the press”. Iraq has never been shown to have threatened the United States and it is common knowledge that the premise of this war was based on blatant lies; Colin Powell’s fabrication at the UN Security Council about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction was a particular low point for the US in its base war propaganda. The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg designated the term ‘war of aggression’, as an attack on another nation or people without any justification of self-defense and is listed as a major international war crime.

In a report given at a New York Commission Hearing in May 11, 1991, attorney and President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights Michael Ratner seriously questioned the conduct of United States against Iraq:

“As people living in the United States we have an obligation not to close our eyes, cover our ears and remain silent. We must not and cannot be ‘good Germans.’ We must be, as Bertrand Russell said about the crimes committed by the U.S. in Vietnam, ‘Against the Crime of Silence.’ We must bear witness to the tens of thousands of deaths for whom our government and its leaders bear responsibility and ask the question – Has the United States committed war crimes with regard to its initiation and conduct of the war against Iraq?”

The questions raised by the graphic video-game turkey-shoot nature of this video needs to be placed within its larger context along with examining the justification or potential war crimes of each incident in the video.

The moving imagery in the video revealed a particular mindset displayed by these US military trained soldiers. It is the consciousness behind the gun-sight. The mind is generally blind to biases behind a perception that is trained to look at the world through the crosshairs of a gun-sight. From a broader historical perspective, one could say it is a colonial mind that controls an inception point, setting its own rules of engagement and defining the course of events and destiny of those caught in it.

“Lets shoot. Light ‘em all up. Come on, fire!…” In a series of air to ground attacks, a team of Army excitedly found a target. One man said, “Oh, yeah, look at those dead bastards” and the other man responded saying “Nice”. When they found one wounded individual trying to crawl away, another man said “All you gotta do is pick up a weapon” expressing his wish to shoot him. After finding that kids were in the minivan that they had engaged, who were simply on their way to school, one solider said “It’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle”. Seized in their eyes, everything that moves is fixated in this perspective. These civilians are no longer seen as victims and the permission to engage is manufactured through the aggressors attacking their targets who are just trying to defend themselves.

In the original 38 minute video recording the scenes in New Baghdad on July 12, 2007, the past century has lingered to haunt our post-modern global society. The dark shadow of colonization is carried over into the military-industrial age of the 20th century with its outward thrusting brutality. The cynical naming of the ‘Apache’ helicopter evokes a memory of the genocide of American natives long ago. Native American activist Winona LaDuke once spoke of how it is common military-speak when you leave a base in a foreign country to say that you are heading ‘out into Indian Country’. The brutal projection of US power into the oil-rich Middle East contains echos of these historical ‘Indian Wars’. The unfolding scenes appear as if the US is almost glorifying and continuing these crimes against humanity from the past.

Colonial mentality and injustice never atoned for, is now expanding into a global web of military forces that more and more serve hidden corporate goals and agendas. French poet and author, Aimé Césaire (1972/2000) in Discourse on Colonialism wrote how colonization brutalizes and decivilizes the colonizer himself:

“… colonization … dehumanizes even the most civilized man; that colonial activity, colonial enterprise, colonial conquest, which is based on contempt for the native and justified by that contempt, inevitably tends to change him who undertakes it; that the colonizer, who in order to ease his conscience gets into the habit of seeing the other man as an animal, accustoms himself to treating him like an animal, and tends objectively to transform himself into an animal”. (p. 41)

The real scenes of modern war on the ground stand like a mirror. Reflected in the graphic WikiLeaks video, we begin to see something about each one of us that has long escaped consciousness. In the raw image of this cruel scene, we can see a part of our culture’s collective shadow, as the barbarian degraded in the effort of ‘civilizing’ those ‘others’. Descending into torture, drone attacks on wedding parties and other acts of collateral murder, this barbarism is clothed in the rhetoric of civility and self-defense, yet reveals the unredeemed colonizer within.

What is it that is shattering the armament around the hearts of so many? The conscience of Chelsea Manning, the source behind the leak of Collateral Murder was the spark for this awakening. Her act of conscience shattered the abstraction and opened the gate that guarded this inception point where the public could now see uncensored images of modern war and decide for themselves how to see it. In the unfolding images, we were able to see what Chelsea Manning saw.

At the pretrial hearing in Manning’s prosecution for leaking the largest trove of secret documents in US history, she read aloud a personal statement to the court in Fort Meade, Maryland, describing how she came to download hundreds of thousands of classified documents and videos from military database and submit them to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. She spoke about facts regarding the 12 July 2007 aerial weapons team – that video depicting the incident in New Baghdad.

Manning began by saying how at first she didn’t think the video was very special, as she saw countless similar combat scenes. Yet, she came to be troubled by “the recording of audio comments by the aerial weapons team crew and the second engagement in the video of an unarmed bongo truck”. Then she spoke of the attitudes of the soldiers in the helicopter. “The most alarming aspect of the video to me, however, was the seemly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have”. She continued:

“They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote ‘dead bastards’ unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.”

Manning spoke about the specific moment where the father driving his kids to school in a van stopped and attempted to assist the wounded:

“While saddened by the aerial weapons team crew’s lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see that the bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew – as soon as the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.”

She further pointed to the attitude of the aerial weapons team when they learned about the injured children in the van. She noted how their actions showed no remorse or sympathy for those they killed or injured and they even exhibited pleasure when a vehicle drove over one of the bodies.

Manning had come to see this everyday reality in Iraq from the perspective of those who have been conjured into the designation of ‘enemy’. In that moment, she began to see these unfolding human events more from the point of view of those she was trained to see as others and methodically demonized by a corporate war of terror.

In elucidating the etymology of the word conscience, Jungian psychoanalyst Edward Edinger (1984) related it to the concept of consciousness:

“Conscious derives from con or cum, meaning ‘with’ or ‘together,’ and scire, ‘to know’ or ‘to see’. It has the same derivation as conscience. Thus the root meaning of both consciousness and conscience is ‘knowing with’ or ‘seeing with’ an ‘other’. In contrast, the word science, which also derives from scire, means simply knowing, i.e., knowing without ‘withness.’ (p. 36) … The experience of knowing with can be understood to mean the ability to participate in a knowing process simultaneously as subject and object, as knower and known. This is only possible within a relationship to an object that can also be a subject”. (p. 53)

Conscience first engages the empathic imagination, breaking down walls of separation. One can begin to feel another person’s pain as if it is ones own. In that moment when Manning saw other human beings who she had been trained to see as an ‘enemy combatant’ in the gunsight, she freed them from perception enslaved by the subject position of US supremacy that had made them into a lifeless object. Here the other perspective that was denied was brought back to consciousness. She saw another human being whose life was as precious as hers; not an enemy, but a victim of an oppressive vision of the corporatized military industrial complex.

In the famous chat log with hacker Adrian Lamo that led to her arrest, Manning spoke of how she wants “people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public…”. The truth she referred was what she saw in the unfolded images in the video, articulated in her words in a chat “We’re human… and we’re killing ourselves…”.

At the providence inquiry, she elaborated her wish:

“I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare”.

Full article

Watch the Collateral Murder video here.

US marshals shoot unarmed man in Albuquerque, seize cell phone cameras from witnesses April 2, 2014
As Albuquerque residents take to the streets to protest against the ongoing slayings of citizens by their local police department, federal agents got into the act by opening fire on an unarmed man Tuesday morning, then seizing cameras from witnesses.
But more citizens with cameras arrived on the scene as a group of U.S. Marshals stood around the victim, Gilberto Angelo Serrano, proving unafraid to voice their displeasure at the trigger-happy culture that apparently has seeped into all levels of law enforcement in Albuquerque.
Realizing they were outnumbered by cameras, the U.S. Marshals could only ask people to stand back, not bothering to try and stop them from recording as they tried to wrap a bandage around the head of the man they had just shot, who was laying on the sidewalk bleeding.
But a witness named Gabriel Valdez said the Marshals confiscated his cell phone camera as well as his mother’s camera as “evidence,” when he did not even start recording until after the shooting.
The incident took place around 10 a.m. when a group of Marshals were trying to apprehend a fugitive who was driving his truck.
According to KRQE:

“Get out of the car! Get out of the vehicle! And then boom! She shot like right away. She just shot right away,” Gabriel Valdez said.
That’s how one witness describes the gunfire that rang out in the South Valley Tuesday morning.
“He never pulled out a gun, nothing,” one witness told KRQE News 13. “His hands were on the steering wheel.”
“This is enough! This is ridiculous!” another witness said.
KRQE News 13 talked to one witness who says he had his cell phone taken away from him.
“I have evidence on there they said because I have video on there, not video of the actual shooting, but of everything else,” Valdez said.

In an interview with a New Mexico live streamer, Valdez said that the Marshals first asked to see what he had recorded, so he handed them the phone.
Then once they had the phone in their hands, they refused to return it to him, not even to allow him to write down telephone numbers he had on the phone. That segment of the interview begins at 5:16 in this video.
Full article

US marshals shoot unarmed man in Albuquerque, seize cell phone cameras from witnesses 
April 2, 2014

As Albuquerque residents take to the streets to protest against the ongoing slayings of citizens by their local police department, federal agents got into the act by opening fire on an unarmed man Tuesday morning, then seizing cameras from witnesses.

But more citizens with cameras arrived on the scene as a group of U.S. Marshals stood around the victim, Gilberto Angelo Serrano, proving unafraid to voice their displeasure at the trigger-happy culture that apparently has seeped into all levels of law enforcement in Albuquerque.

Realizing they were outnumbered by cameras, the U.S. Marshals could only ask people to stand back, not bothering to try and stop them from recording as they tried to wrap a bandage around the head of the man they had just shot, who was laying on the sidewalk bleeding.

But a witness named Gabriel Valdez said the Marshals confiscated his cell phone camera as well as his mother’s camera as “evidence,” when he did not even start recording until after the shooting.

The incident took place around 10 a.m. when a group of Marshals were trying to apprehend a fugitive who was driving his truck.

According to KRQE:

“Get out of the car! Get out of the vehicle! And then boom! She shot like right away. She just shot right away,” Gabriel Valdez said.

That’s how one witness describes the gunfire that rang out in the South Valley Tuesday morning.

“He never pulled out a gun, nothing,” one witness told KRQE News 13. “His hands were on the steering wheel.”

“This is enough! This is ridiculous!” another witness said.

KRQE News 13 talked to one witness who says he had his cell phone taken away from him.

“I have evidence on there they said because I have video on there, not video of the actual shooting, but of everything else,” Valdez said.

In an interview with a New Mexico live streamer, Valdez said that the Marshals first asked to see what he had recorded, so he handed them the phone.

Then once they had the phone in their hands, they refused to return it to him, not even to allow him to write down telephone numbers he had on the phone. That segment of the interview begins at 5:16 in this video.

Full article

Torture, racism, drones & unlawful killings: UN Human Rights Committee releases report on US government
March 28, 2014

The United Nations Human Rights Committee completed its review of the United States’ compliance with a major human rights treaty. It takes issue with the government’s interpretation that the treaty only applies to persons when they are inside the country and also expresses concern with drones, racism, gun violence, excessive use of force by police, Guantanamo, NSA surveillance, mandatory detention of immigrants and impunity for those who commit torture and unlawful killings.

It is the Obama administration’sposition that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the US is a signatory, does not impose any “human rights obligations on American military and intelligence forces when they operate abroad.”The treaty covers “individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction” so the committee refused to accept this position.

It expressed concern about the “limited number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of members of the Armed Forces and other agents of the US government, including private contractors, for unlawful killings in its international operations and the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in US custody, including outside its territory, as part of the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” program.”

“The Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meager number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives,” the Committee added.

Torture victims, in general, are unable to claim compensation from the US government and its officials “due to the application of broad doctrines of legal privilege and immunity.” The US lacks legislation prohibiting all forms of torture.

The review drew attention to “targeted killings” in “extraterritorial counterterrorism operations” with drones and criticized the “lack of transparency regarding the criteria for drone strikes.” It questioned the government’s “very broad approach to the definition and the geographical scope of an armed conflict, including the end of hostilities, the unclear interpretation of what constitutes an ‘imminent threat’ and who is a combatant or civilian taking a direct part in hostilities.”

On the continued detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the review lamented the fact that President Barack Obama’s administration has no timeline for the closure of the prison.

NSA surveillance was highlighted the body of secret law that has developed, which makes it possible for the government to systematically violate privacy rights. It expressed concern that non-US citizens receive “limited protection against excessive surveillance.”

This review acknowledged the “practice of racial profiling and surveillance by law enforcement officials targeting certain ethnic minorities and the surveillance of Muslims undertaken” by the FBI and New York Police Department in the “absence of any suspicion of any wrongdoing.”

When it comes to indigenous people, “insufficient measures,” the committee said, are being taken to protect  sacred areas from “desecration, contamination and destruction as a result of urbanization, extractive industries, industrial development, tourism and toxic contamination.”

The committee noted the significant racial disparities in the imposition of the death penalty. African-Americans are disproportionately affected and this is “exacerbated” by a rule that discrimination can only be proven on a case-by-case basis. Plus, a high number of individuals are wrongly sentenced to death and untested lethal drugs are being used to execute people.

It also called attention to the “high number of fatal shootings by certain police forces” like the Chicago Police Department and continued reports of excessive use force by law enforcement including “deadly use of tasers, which has a disparate impact on African-Americans.”

Also, as highlighted in the report’s findings, high numbers of “gun-related deaths and injuries” and the “disparate impact of gun violence on minorities, women and children” persist. There is a steady trend of “criminalization” of homeless people, who engage in “everyday activities, such as eating, sleeping or sitting in particular areas, etc.” Students in schools are being increasingly criminalized by administrators seeking to “tackle disciplinary issues” in schools.

In the criminal justice system, juveniles can be sentenced to life without parole for homicides and adults can be sentenced to life without parole for “non-homicide related sentences.” A number of states” exclude 16 and 17 year olds from juvenile court jurisdictions and thus juveniles continue to be tried in adult courts and to be incarcerated in adult institutions.”

Solitary confinement continues to be practiced in US prisons. “Juveniles and persons with mental disabilities under certain circumstances” may be subject to “prolonged solitary confinement” (which often amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment or torture).

Immigrants, the review found, are subject to “mandatory detention” in violation of the treaty. The “mandatory nature of deportation” is extremely troubling. It also is problematic that undocumented immigrants and children are excluded from the Affordable Care Act.

There also is “widespread use of non-consensual psychiatric medication, electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services.”

The Committee would like to see the US government “disclose the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal basis for specific attacks, the process of target identification and the circumstances in which drones are used,” which has been a top priority of human rights organizations in the country. The Obama administration has vigorously resisted this call.

Like numerous human rights groups, it urged the US to transfer detainees “designated for transfer” to countries, including Yemen. Provide detainees with a fair trial or immediate release and “end the system of administrative detention without charge or trial.” It suggested the US “ensure that any criminal cases against detainees held in Guantánamo and military facilities in Afghanistan are dealt with within the criminal justice system rather than military commissions.”

Furthermore, it recommended a federal moratorium on the death penalty, reforming surveillance so it does not violate privacy, impose strict limits on solitary confinement, enact legislation to prohibit torture. And, to address impunity, the recommendation that “command responsibility” be incorporated into criminal law was made, along with a call to “declassify and make public the report of the Senate Special Committee on Intelligence into the CIA secret detention program.

Source

~American excellence~

President Obama denounces Russia, defends war in Iraq as legalMarch 28, 2014
President Barack Obama gave a speech Wednesday in Brussels where he denounced Russia and defended the  2003 Iraq War as legal and done while working within the international system.  The speech comes after the Crimea was annexed by Russia under a controversial referendum and American neoconservatives have criticized the Obama Administration as naive and ineffective.
The remarks on Iraq came as Obama responded to complaints by the Russian government and others that America’s position on respecting sovereignty was hypocritical given the 2003 Iraq War.


Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. Now, it is true that the Iraq war was a subject of vigorous debate, not just around the world but in the United States, as well. I participated in that debate, and I opposed our military intervention there.
But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about its own future.


Worked within the international system? So if Russia had gone to the UN to get a resolution, failed, then annexed Crimea it would have been OK?
President Obama then oddly tried to conflate the Arab Spring protests in Tunisia with the far right revolt in Ukraine. Obama also falsely claimed that the US had no role in promoting the protests despite clear evidence to the contrary.


It’s not America that filled the Maidan with protesters. It was Ukrainians. No foreign forces compelled the citizens of Tunis and Tripoli to rise up. They did so on their own. From the Burmese parliamentarian pursuing reform to the young leaders fighting corruption and intolerance in Africa, we see something irreducible that all of us share as human being: a truth that will persevere in the face of violence and repression and will ultimately overcome.


America actually gave $5 billion to help foment “protesters” and was caught advising the current “interim” leader in Kiev, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. So while US officials may not have bussed people to the Maidan, America helped fund the operation and continues to advise and support those who came to power from it.
While the American people are uninterested in pursuing further action in Ukraine, President Obama seems determined to remain confrontational. But to what end?
Source

President Obama denounces Russia, defends war in Iraq as legal
March 28, 2014

President Barack Obama gave a speech Wednesday in Brussels where he denounced Russia and defended the  2003 Iraq War as legal and done while working within the international system.  The speech comes after the Crimea was annexed by Russia under a controversial referendum and American neoconservatives have criticized the Obama Administration as naive and ineffective.

The remarks on Iraq came as Obama responded to complaints by the Russian government and others that America’s position on respecting sovereignty was hypocritical given the 2003 Iraq War.

Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. Now, it is true that the Iraq war was a subject of vigorous debate, not just around the world but in the United States, as well. I participated in that debate, and I opposed our military intervention there.

But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about its own future.

Worked within the international system? So if Russia had gone to the UN to get a resolution, failed, then annexed Crimea it would have been OK?

President Obama then oddly tried to conflate the Arab Spring protests in Tunisia with the far right revolt in Ukraine. Obama also falsely claimed that the US had no role in promoting the protests despite clear evidence to the contrary.

It’s not America that filled the Maidan with protesters. It was Ukrainians. No foreign forces compelled the citizens of Tunis and Tripoli to rise up. They did so on their own. From the Burmese parliamentarian pursuing reform to the young leaders fighting corruption and intolerance in Africa, we see something irreducible that all of us share as human being: a truth that will persevere in the face of violence and repression and will ultimately overcome.

America actually gave $5 billion to help foment “protesters” and was caught advising the current “interim” leader in Kiev, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. So while US officials may not have bussed people to the Maidan, America helped fund the operation and continues to advise and support those who came to power from it.

While the American people are uninterested in pursuing further action in Ukraine, President Obama seems determined to remain confrontational. But to what end?

Source

Dear Filipino organizers erased by the Cesar Chavez movement,
Coming to America in the 1920s was no vacation. Filipinos were “American nationals,” the result of recent colonization, and ironically exempted from the exclusionary Immigration Act of 1924 that precluded the influx of immigrants from “Asiatic Barred Zones.” Saved from the tyranny of Spain, young Filipinos like you were swallowed by an America famished for cheap labor. From Alaska and Hawaii to the West Coast, Filipino men became the bent backbones and the calloused hands of the sunburnt fields, paid a few dollars for long hours of work. And America was not in the heart, not yours, as it was the high tide of anti-miscegenation laws that made it criminal for Filipinos to marry white women. By 1965 when the United Farm Workers was founded, many of you had been in the fields for decades, organizing strikes and making your voices heard in the muted plains.
We immigrants mark our historical presence in America by the names of heroes who gave us a voice, an anodyne to invisibility in a country where documented history keeps some and discards others. It took me a long time to fully grasp Filipino-American history. Like you, I’m an immigrant who began my American voyage in silence. My political education had many twists and turns. In my 20s, I spent my Sundays teaching English to Chinese sweatshop workers in Brooklyn, my first exposure to the complex nexus of immigrant workers’ rights and organizing. I would learn that self-empowerment was moot unless spoken in the language of the oppressor. The workers’ inability to communicate exacerbated their plight. Word by word, my adult students learned the language of the negotiating table, slowly gaining power to address their oppressive working conditions. Workers’ Rights as a Second Language: strategically similar to the organizing methodologies employed by farmworkers like you in the ’40s and ’50s.
I didn’t know about you when I started organizing in the ’90s. I had role models, but no Filipino-Americans. In the community organizing world, no one ever mentioned Filipinos next to the apotheosized Cesar Chavez. No Larry Itliong. No Philip Vera Cruz. None of these Filipino men and their Agricultural Worker Organizing Committee that spearheaded the very strike that catapulted Cesar Chavez into American memory and left you in the shadows.
In the words of Philip Vera Cruz:

On September 8, 1965, at the Filipino Hall at 1457 Glenwood St. in Delano, the Filipino members of AWOC held a mass meeting to discuss and decide whether to strike or to accept the reduced wages proposed by the growers. The decision was “to strike” and it became one of the most significant and famous decisions ever made in the entire history of the farmworker struggles in California. It was like an incendiary bomb, exploding out the strike message to the workers in the vineyards, telling them to have sit-ins in the labor camps, and set up picket lines at every grower’s ranch… It was this strike that eventually made the UFW, the farmworkers movement, and Cesar Chavez famous worldwide.



Cesar Chavez has become a holiday, a stamp, a foundation, a national monument and a street and school in Delano. It is not surprising as the Latino community becomes a demographic force in the U.S. that 48 years later, a movie is being shown nationwide about the farmworkers movement, with Cesar Chavez at the romantic helm. Unfortunately, in the Hollywood version of historical dismissal, Filipino farmworkers are once again denied the proper recognition they deserve. In a recent appearance at UCLA, the director Diego Luna told a Chicano studies audience, “We have to send a message to the industry that our stories have to be represented. And with the depth and the complexity they deserve.”
Indeed, in the age of American ethnic diversity, it is all about representation, all about visibility — a spiritual mission to bring you, our fathers, back in the light. History might have worked in favor of Chavez in the past decades, but many Filipino Americans will do what it takes to put your names in the pages of American movements. A new documentary titled, Delano Manongs, interrogates the erasure of Filipinos from the farmworkers movement and presents the story from the point of view of the leader of the movement himself, Larry Itliong. In 2013, the New Haven Unified School District of Union City, CA renamed Alvarado Middle School Itliong-Vera Cruz Middle School. Even a new generation of Filipino Americans on the East coast, the Pilipino American Unity for Progress (Unipro), has made your invisibility part of their discourse.
Sí, se puede: the motto of the farmworkers movement, in Spanish — a language many of you didn’t speak, as if to say the movement was not spoken by your blood. But Cesar Chavez also said that “once social change begins, it cannot be reversed … you cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.” Kaya Natin, we must say, We Can Do This. Kaya Natin: bring back your honor, bring back your light.
Kaya Natin,
Bino A. Realuyo
Source

Dear Filipino organizers erased by the Cesar Chavez movement,

Coming to America in the 1920s was no vacation. Filipinos were “American nationals,” the result of recent colonization, and ironically exempted from the exclusionary Immigration Act of 1924 that precluded the influx of immigrants from “Asiatic Barred Zones.” Saved from the tyranny of Spain, young Filipinos like you were swallowed by an America famished for cheap labor. From Alaska and Hawaii to the West Coast, Filipino men became the bent backbones and the calloused hands of the sunburnt fields, paid a few dollars for long hours of work. And America was not in the heart, not yours, as it was the high tide of anti-miscegenation laws that made it criminal for Filipinos to marry white women. By 1965 when the United Farm Workers was founded, many of you had been in the fields for decades, organizing strikes and making your voices heard in the muted plains.

We immigrants mark our historical presence in America by the names of heroes who gave us a voice, an anodyne to invisibility in a country where documented history keeps some and discards others. It took me a long time to fully grasp Filipino-American history. Like you, I’m an immigrant who began my American voyage in silence. My political education had many twists and turns. In my 20s, I spent my Sundays teaching English to Chinese sweatshop workers in Brooklyn, my first exposure to the complex nexus of immigrant workers’ rights and organizing. I would learn that self-empowerment was moot unless spoken in the language of the oppressor. The workers’ inability to communicate exacerbated their plight. Word by word, my adult students learned the language of the negotiating table, slowly gaining power to address their oppressive working conditions. Workers’ Rights as a Second Language: strategically similar to the organizing methodologies employed by farmworkers like you in the ’40s and ’50s.

I didn’t know about you when I started organizing in the ’90s. I had role models, but no Filipino-Americans. In the community organizing world, no one ever mentioned Filipinos next to the apotheosized Cesar Chavez. No Larry Itliong. No Philip Vera Cruz. None of these Filipino men and their Agricultural Worker Organizing Committee that spearheaded the very strike that catapulted Cesar Chavez into American memory and left you in the shadows.

In the words of Philip Vera Cruz:

On September 8, 1965, at the Filipino Hall at 1457 Glenwood St. in Delano, the Filipino members of AWOC held a mass meeting to discuss and decide whether to strike or to accept the reduced wages proposed by the growers. The decision was “to strike” and it became one of the most significant and famous decisions ever made in the entire history of the farmworker struggles in California. It was like an incendiary bomb, exploding out the strike message to the workers in the vineyards, telling them to have sit-ins in the labor camps, and set up picket lines at every grower’s ranch… It was this strike that eventually made the UFW, the farmworkers movement, and Cesar Chavez famous worldwide.

Cesar Chavez has become a holiday, a stamp, a foundation, a national monument and a street and school in Delano. It is not surprising as the Latino community becomes a demographic force in the U.S. that 48 years later, a movie is being shown nationwide about the farmworkers movement, with Cesar Chavez at the romantic helm. Unfortunately, in the Hollywood version of historical dismissal, Filipino farmworkers are once again denied the proper recognition they deserve. In a recent appearance at UCLA, the director Diego Luna told a Chicano studies audience, “We have to send a message to the industry that our stories have to be represented. And with the depth and the complexity they deserve.”

Indeed, in the age of American ethnic diversity, it is all about representation, all about visibility — a spiritual mission to bring you, our fathers, back in the light. History might have worked in favor of Chavez in the past decades, but many Filipino Americans will do what it takes to put your names in the pages of American movements. A new documentary titled, Delano Manongs, interrogates the erasure of Filipinos from the farmworkers movement and presents the story from the point of view of the leader of the movement himself, Larry Itliong. In 2013, the New Haven Unified School District of Union City, CA renamed Alvarado Middle School Itliong-Vera Cruz Middle School. Even a new generation of Filipino Americans on the East coast, the Pilipino American Unity for Progress (Unipro), has made your invisibility part of their discourse.

Sí, se puede: the motto of the farmworkers movement, in Spanish — a language many of you didn’t speak, as if to say the movement was not spoken by your blood. But Cesar Chavez also said that “once social change begins, it cannot be reversed … you cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.” Kaya Natin, we must say, We Can Do This. Kaya Natin: bring back your honor, bring back your light.

Kaya Natin,

Bino A. Realuyo

Source

BP spills tar sands in Lake Michigan, threatening drinking water supply for 7 million peopleMarch 28, 2014
A BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana leaked up to 1,638 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan Monday afternoon, an incident that occurred less than two weeks after the U.S. lifted BP’s ban on seeking new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico.
BP says the spill, which has since been stopped and contained, was caused by a “disruption in the refining process” at its Whiting refinery in northwest Indiana. Dan Goldblatt, spokesman at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, told ThinkProgress that his office was notified at about 4:30 CDT Monday of an oil sheen, which EPA officials said on a press call Thursday totaled about 5,000 square yards, on Lake Michigan. Mike Beslow, On-Scene Coordinator for the EPA, said that when he visited the site around 9 p.m. Monday, the sheen was no longer visible.
Lake Michigan acts as the drinking water source for 7 million people in the Chicago area alone, but EPA officials said on the call that the drinking water wouldn’t be affected by the spill. The EPA, BP and the Coast Guard are leading the cleanup effort, which involves placing booms on the water, scooping up oil, which has been turned hard and waxy by cold weather, with their hands, and cleaning up a nearby beach that was contaminated. BP told Reuters that they have had “no reports of any wildlife impacted,” and EPA officials confirmed this on the call.
The presence of a sheen on a body of water is typically viewed as a violation of the Clean Water Act, and EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman said during the call that officials would look into whether action should be taken against BP.
“I can assure you that EPA’s lawyers will be looking at this matter and determining whether or not enforcement action will be appropriate,” she said.
The Whiting refinery, which was recently upgraded to process oil from the Canadian tar sands, has drawn the ire of environmentalists in the past, due to its pollution of Lake Michigan. Last September, Indiana regulators ruled that BP must cut the amount of mercury pollution it releases annually into Lake Michigan from the refinery from 23.1 parts per trillion of to 8.75 parts per trillion. The new rule marks a “modest but significant” change, according to the NRDC, but is still above the federal mercury limit of 1.3 parts per trillion.
The Whiting refinery was also at the center of a November lawsuit by Chicago residents, who sued BP, Koch Industries, and other companies over the storage of vast piles of petroleum coke, a byproduct left over from the refining of tar sands oil. The Whiting refinery currently produces about 600,000 tons per year of petcoke, but the recent $3.8 billion expansion has the potential to up its petcoke production to 2.2 million tons per year.

Spokespersons at BP did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress’ request for comment. The spill comes on the heels of a barge collision that spilled up to 170,000 gallons of oil into into Galveston Bay Saturday, and just over a week after a spill of 20,000 gallons of oil was reported in an Ohio nature reserve.
Source

BP spills tar sands in Lake Michigan, threatening drinking water supply for 7 million people
March 28, 2014

A BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana leaked up to 1,638 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan Monday afternoon, an incident that occurred less than two weeks after the U.S. lifted BP’s ban on seeking new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP says the spill, which has since been stopped and contained, was caused by a “disruption in the refining process” at its Whiting refinery in northwest Indiana. Dan Goldblatt, spokesman at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, told ThinkProgress that his office was notified at about 4:30 CDT Monday of an oil sheen, which EPA officials said on a press call Thursday totaled about 5,000 square yards, on Lake Michigan. Mike Beslow, On-Scene Coordinator for the EPA, said that when he visited the site around 9 p.m. Monday, the sheen was no longer visible.

Lake Michigan acts as the drinking water source for 7 million people in the Chicago area alone, but EPA officials said on the call that the drinking water wouldn’t be affected by the spill. The EPA, BP and the Coast Guard are leading the cleanup effort, which involves placing booms on the water, scooping up oil, which has been turned hard and waxy by cold weather, with their hands, and cleaning up a nearby beach that was contaminated. BP told Reuters that they have had “no reports of any wildlife impacted,” and EPA officials confirmed this on the call.

The presence of a sheen on a body of water is typically viewed as a violation of the Clean Water Act, and EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman said during the call that officials would look into whether action should be taken against BP.

“I can assure you that EPA’s lawyers will be looking at this matter and determining whether or not enforcement action will be appropriate,” she said.

The Whiting refinery, which was recently upgraded to process oil from the Canadian tar sands, has drawn the ire of environmentalists in the past, due to its pollution of Lake Michigan. Last September, Indiana regulators ruled that BP must cut the amount of mercury pollution it releases annually into Lake Michigan from the refinery from 23.1 parts per trillion of to 8.75 parts per trillion. The new rule marks a “modest but significant” change, according to the NRDC, but is still above the federal mercury limit of 1.3 parts per trillion.

The Whiting refinery was also at the center of a November lawsuit by Chicago residents, who sued BP, Koch Industries, and other companies over the storage of vast piles of petroleum coke, a byproduct left over from the refining of tar sands oil. The Whiting refinery currently produces about 600,000 tons per year of petcoke, but the recent $3.8 billion expansion has the potential to up its petcoke production to 2.2 million tons per year.

Spokespersons at BP did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress’ request for comment. The spill comes on the heels of a barge collision that spilled up to 170,000 gallons of oil into into Galveston Bay Saturday, and just over a week after a spill of 20,000 gallons of oil was reported in an Ohio nature reserve.

Source

redupnyc

redupnyc:

Throughout his mayoral campaign, Bill de Blasio promised New York City residents that part of his office’s platform on public health would be ending the incredibly destructive practice of using condoms as evidence. The position showed up on the campaign’s response to PROP’s Voters’ Education Guide; in media inquiries into de Blasio’s positions as Public Advocate; even on de Blasio’s campaign website, billdeblasio.com. Unfortunately the Mayor has not acted on his promise to New Yorkers.

Not only has there been no response from the Mayor’s Office about our request for an immediate executive order ending the use of condoms as evidence, recent arrest records show that as of January 12th the NYPD are still seizing condoms as evidence. While the NYPD still maintains that this practice is either not used or rarely used, on the arrest forms in Kings County there is a section specifically to indicate the number of condoms seized during the arrest. 

We ask that all New York City residents tell Mayor de Blasio to keep his promise and protect our city’s public health by issuing an executive order banning the practice of using condoms as evidence of prostitution-related offenses by the police or prosecutors. Here is a script you can use:

"Hi my name is ______________ and I live in (Bronx/Brooklyn/Manhattan/Queens/Staten Island). I am (calling/writing) to ask that Mayor Bill de Blasio immediately issue an executive order ending the use of condoms as evidence of prostitution-related offenses. The Mayor listed ending the use of condoms as evidence on his campaign website last year as part of his platform on public health, but your office has failed to act on this critical issue. Using condoms as evidence is detrimental to the health of all New York City residents, and especially those vulnerable to HIV transmission. It also has resulted in the sort of police racial profiling of Black and Latina queer youth and trans women, that the Mayor campaigned against last year. I am asking the Mayor to please stick to his promises to promote public health and end racist policing in New York City by issuing an executive order to end the practice of condoms as evidence. Thank you."

You can email the Mayor’s office at emmawolfe@gmail.com or can participate on our call-in tomorrow Thursday 27th 12pm-3pm by calling this number (212) 788-3000.


This is extremely important. I work with sex workers in NYC & arrests have increased significantly this year because of this practice of using condoms as evidence. Arrests of homeless people on the street/trains, jaywalking, panhandling, etc. have also gone up under Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s “broken windows” policing. 

De Blasio & Bratton have been nearly the same as Bloomberg & Kelly so far.

Down with the police state, racial profiling & criminalization of sex work now!