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Jun 20, 2018, 08:39 PM
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 31 
 on: Jun 19, 2018, 06:06 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Why are Republicans grasping for excuses on family separation? Because their voters support it

Amanda Marcotte, Salon
19 Jun 2018 at 07:50 ET                   

The number of excuses and outright lies coming out of the mouths of Donald Trump’s administration and their supporters to justify tearing apart the families of people seeking political asylum has become dizzying. Children are being forcibly taken from parents who have a legal right to apply for asylum and put in detention centers that literally feature cages. There appears to be no plan for reuniting these children with their families. It’s undeniably a bad look, and Trump and his apologists are coughing up a confusing and often contradictory set of lies and distortions in an effort to put some vaguely acceptable spin on the story.

So far, Trump has tried to blame family separation on the Democrats, even though it’s his own policy. But then, he has also argued that the policy is justified to scare refugees away from applying for asylum, arguing that the “United States will not be a migrant camp,” which he claims is “what’s happening in Europe.” He has tweeted, “Crime in Germany is way up,” and blamed that alleged fact on immigrants and refugees. (Crime is actually down in Germany.) Attorney General Jeff Sessions tried a biblical argument, using a verse from scripture that slave-owners also liked to quote, in an apparent claim that separating families at the border is God’s will.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tried flat-out lying, saying, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” When confronted with a document from Sessions outlining the policy she said did not exist, as well as evidence of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly defending it, Nielsen switched gears, claiming she had been misunderstood. Her new line: “We will not apologize for the job we do.”

As often happens with these things, defenders of the policy started to cling to euphemisms and semantic arguments, with the Border Patrol saying it is “uncomfortable” with the word “cages.” Right-wing pundits tried to paint the forcible separations as something like summer camp, with Laura Ingraham claiming that the stolen children get “four meals a day” and Breitbart editor Joel Pollak saying it’s “better than what they had,” citing a racist belief that the children’s parents have denied them “knowledge of basic hygiene.” (No, seriously: He said the kids wouldn’t know what showers were if their Border Patrol captors hadn’t shown them.)

Now the conspiracy theories are coming out, inevitably. Ann Coulter appeared on Fox News to claim that photos and videos of traumatized children are fake, and that the kids are “child actors” being “given scripts to read by liberals.” This is of course the same conspiracy theory used to discredit the survivors of the Parkland shooting earlier this year.

These conflicting excuses and narratives are hard to keep up with, for sure.

Why so many often conflicting lies and rationalizations? The answer is simple: Right-wing pundits and politicians are experimenting, in real time, generating a flood of excuses for Republican voters to latch onto. They know that eventually one story will gain traction and become the official go-to excuse that conservatives can use to justify their support for this vile policy.

Right now, there’s a huge conflict going on in conservative circles. On one hand, it’s really hard to justify stealing people’s children from them for the non-crime of trying to escape violence and oppression in their home countries. On the other hand, Trump voters are eager to back this child-stealing policy. The majority of them had racist motivations for supporting Trump in the first place. One main reason he was able to beat 16 more “mainstream’ opponents in the 2016 Republican primaries was because GOP voters found his upfront racism refreshing, compared to the more veiled forms traditionally found in Republican politics. Trump’s popularity with Republican voters has only soared since he assumed office and has made it clear that kicking out as many people of color as he can is his administration’s main priority.

This is why all the Democrats in the Senate have signed onto a bill that would bar the family separation practice — and precisely no Republicans have. Republicans in Washington understand that their base is on board with Trump’s racism, and whatever their personal misgivings may be, they’re unwilling and perhaps even afraid to cross them.

Early polling data shows that while most Americans oppose taking children from parents as a way to scare them away from applying for asylum, Republican voters feel differently. Daily Beast polling finds that Republicans favor the policy by 46 percent to 32 percent. Quinnipiac University finds a spread of 55 to 35 percent among Republican voters, while CNN found that 58 percent of Republicans approve.

Those are just preliminary results, recorded as this story has soared to national attention. Trump could well entrench Republican support even further, and clearly intends to do so.

What Trump needs to get even stronger Republican support behind him is a story — a narrative that allows voters to support this inhumane policy while maintaining the claim that they aren’t bad people for doing so. The story doesn’t have to make much sense or have any basis in truth. It just needs to be something supporters can roll out to sound halfway rational if challenged by friends or relatives about their support for this policy.

That’s why we are seeing this flood of contradictory, nonsensical lies and excuses. Conservative leaders and right-wing media are tossing stuff out to see what sticks. They’re testing and refining talking points, waiting for something to coalesce that will allow conservative voters to argue that one can support this policy without being a hateful racist.

Basically, this is a giant Republican-voter focus group, being conducted in real time through the media. Trump and his mouthpieces are like advertising executives, field-testing what pitches work best on customers looking for ways to justify an expensive purchase. But instead of doing this in order to sell designer clothes, cutting-edge electronics or a new car, they’re doing it to sell a government policy that involves kidnapping children.

The same thing happened after the Parkland shooting, when conservatives flailed around for excuses they could hang on to for dismissing the powerful response of Parkland students and their allies. Eventually, their main talking point became simply accusing the survivors of being shills, effectively punishing them for being too good at explaining their point of view. It’s not an excuse likely to convince anyone else, but it gives conservatives a way to deflect attention from the real debate over gun control and tell themselves that they, not the kids, are the real heroes of the story.

Now the same thing is starting to happen with the family separation policy. Whatever excuse the right finally lands on doesn’t need to make sense or convince anyone outside their own movement. It just needs to be effective enough to derail internal debate among conservatives and foster the deeply rooted right-wing sense of victimhood. Unfortunately, it’s only a matter of time until they figure it out.

 32 
 on: Jun 19, 2018, 05:55 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Here is how Richard Painter plans take on political abuses in the Trump era

Tana Ganeva
Raw Story
18 Jun 2018 at 16:24 ET                   

On Monday, Minnesota Senate candidate Richard Painter, who’s running to fill Sen. Al Franken’s old seat, released an eye-grabbing campaign ad.

The video shows Painter standing in front of a raging dumpster fire. He proceeds to call out lawmakers who’ve failed to curtail President Donald Trump’s abuses of power.

“Some people see a dumpster fire and do nothing but watch the spectacle,” he declares. “Some are too scared to face the danger. Or they think it’ll benefit them if they just let it keep on burning.”

“There is an inferno raging in Washington. But here in the land of ten thousand lakes …. we know how to put out a fire,” Painter says, before the dumpster fire is doused by a flood of water.

Asked by Raw Story over the phone what he’s referring to specifically, Painter pointed out that Washington is corrupt—and that it might start with President Trump but goes far beyond him.

“The corruption in Washington… it’s way too much,” he tells Raw Story “You’ve got the campaign money, the conflicts of interest. The list of problems just goes on and on and no one’s doing anything about it.”

Painter thinks members of Congress can be working a lot harder to reign in the President.

“We need to hold this President accountable for his own conflicts of interest,” Painter says.

But reform shouldn’t end there. “We also need to reverse Citizens United. There’s a lot we can do.”

But many lawmakers are hampered by their own shady financial histories.

“I think members of congress have their own financial conflicts of interest. And there’s only so much they can do about the President while they’re beholden to campaign contributors. That’s a huge.”

Painter promises to push back against Donald Trump’s constitutional abuses on a wide swath of issues. “They’re serious. He’s abused the constitution on border issues, on Muslims, on freedom of the press … ”

Then there’s the current humanitarian disaster at the border, where the federal government has ripped thousands of kids from their families.

“The border is out of control. What’s the purpose of detaining people and separating them from their children?”

“It’s an act of cruelty using taxpayer money. Why should we be doing this?” he concludes. “It’s nuts.”

The longtime Republican is running as a Democrat, challenging Senator Tina Smith, who was appointed following Al Franken’s resignation amidst charges of sexual misconduct.

Watch the ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QFPdGiD8EE

 33 
 on: Jun 19, 2018, 05:34 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Trump administration scrambles as outrage grows over border separations

Homeland security secretary claims administration is simply enforcing the law as photos and audio of children fuel anger

David Smith in Washington
Guardian
Tue 19 Jun 2018 01.17 BST

The Trump administration struggled on Monday to defend its policy of separating parents from their sons and daughters at the southern US border amid growing national outrage and the release of a shocking recording of sobbing children.

As the White House scrambled to respond to the deepening political crisis, the homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, flew from New Orleans to Washington to face a barrage of questions from reporters, even as Democrats demanded her resignation and the outcry reached a critical mass.

Nielsen claimed that America was a country of “compassion” and “heart” but was unable to square the circle regarding whether the separations were a vindication of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy towards illegal immigration or an unintended consequence of a law made by the US Congress.

During the West Wing briefing, she did not hear – or ignored – a reporter at the back of the room who played secretly recorded audio, first obtained by ProPublica, in which several Central American children, separated from their parents last week, can be heard crying for their “Mami!” and “Papa!”

On the recording, one child says: “I don’t want them to stop my father, I don’t want them to deport him.” A border agent can be heard joking through the wails: “Well, we have an orchestra here, right? ... What we’re missing is a conductor.”

Nielsen – who Trump has reportedly criticised in private for failing to tackle border security – told reporters she had not heard the recording.

Trump has found himself at the centre of many moral storms since becoming president nearly 18 months ago but they have more often related to words than to actions. The border separations, however, appear to have crossed a new line as the audio recording emerges, as well as harrowing photos of children in tears or in fenced cages, provoking some to draw comparisons with concentration camps.

The process has triggered condemnation from four former first ladies: Rosalynn Carter, Laura Bush (who called it “cruel” and “immoral”), Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, who lost the 2016 election to Trump. Even the current first lady, Melania Trump, has released a statement saying she “hates to see” children separated from their families.

The separations followed the April announcement of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, under which everyone caught crossing the border illegally is to be prosecuted. Consequently, more adults are being jailed, pending trial, and their children are removed from them. Nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their families in the past six weeks.

On Monday, at a White House press briefing that started four hours later than planned, Nielsen argued that illegal immigration on the southern border had exceeded 50,000 people per month for the past three months. Since this time last year, she added, there had been a 325% increase in unaccompanied foreign children and a 435% increase in family units entering the country illegally.

She denied that any children had been mistreated and argued: “This administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border ... Parents who entered illegally are by definition criminals ... By entering our country illegally often in dangerous circumstances, illegal immigrants have put their children at risk.”

The homeland security department, she continued, was merely enforcing the law in a way that past administrations had failed to do. “Here is the bottom line: DHS is no longer ignoring the law. We are enforcing the laws as they exist on the books.”

Nielsen called on Congress to close loopholes in the law so families could stay together. “Congress and the courts created this problem and Congress alone can fix it. Until then, we will enforce every law we have on the books to defend the sovereignty and security of the United States.”

John Kelly, the White House chief of staff and Nielsen’s predecessor at homeland security, told National Public Radio in May that deterrence was “a big part” of the policy. Asked if the situation was therefore playing out as intended, Nielsen replied: “I find that offensive.”

Nielsen was followed at the podium by the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, who said the White House would reject a narrow fix by Congress to address the issue and that Trump’s priorities, such as funding a border wall and tightening immigration laws, must also be met. She said: “We want to fix the whole thing, we don’t want to tinker with just part of it.”

As the issue overwhelmed TV news networks and threatened to cause lasting damage to America’s reputation abroad, Trump himself weighed in at an event ostensibly promoting his National Space Council. He repeated his past attempt to deflect blame to the Democrats, whom he branded “obstructionists”, and urged them to find a legislative solution.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” the president said. “It won’t be. If you look at what’s happening in Europe, if you look at what’s happening in other places, we can’t allow that to happen to the United States – not on my watch.”

But Democrats rejected that assertion. Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, responded to Nielsen’s remarks by saying: “This utter lack of compassion and respect for basic human dignity is grotesque. And the blind contempt his staff has shown toward anyone pointing out the truth is a vile disgrace. This is not who we are. The American people are watching.”

The House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, and senators Kamala Harris of California and Tina Smith of Minnesota called on Nielsen to resign. Smith said: “She’s denied that this is happening at all, and then said that she ‘wouldn’t apologize’ for what’s happening to families. Kirstjen Nielsen has lost the credibility and the moral authority to lead this agency.”

Immigration is usually a rallying point for the Trump base but even some of his supporters have raised objections to the current action. The Rev Franklin Graham, a longtime Trump ally, said: “It’s disgraceful, and it’s terrible to see families ripped apart, and I don’t support that one bit.”

Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s former communications director, told CNN: “I hope he changes it today, frankly. This is very, very bad for the Republican party, and this is bad for the president. I want to see him win re-election.”

****************

NBC justice expert brutally fact-checks ‘false claims’ DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen made over border security

Dominique Jackson
Raw Story
18 Jun 2018 at 19:00 ET                  

During the White House press briefing, Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary for Homeland Security, made several false claims about border security, according to Julia Ainsley, National Security Justice reporter for NBC.

“So first,I thought it was pretty incredible they doubled down on talking points here. To see the implosion, instead of having sympathy for the situation, they are doubling down and seem to think if they can just explain to people what’s going on, we might have a more sympathetic view of their side,” Ainsley said during an interview with MSNBC’s Katy Tur.

As Nielsen was talking during the briefing, Ainsley wasted no time calling out her lies one by one.

“I started tweeting out some false claims as I heard them,” she said.

She said that Nielsen falsely claimed that parents can have contact with their children once separated.

    False claims by Nielsen: 1. parents allowed to call children 2. parents can claim custody of their kids when they are released (undocumented parents can be deported for coming forward) 3. illegal entry is a crime (previously could claim asylum when crossing between POEs)

    — Julia E. Ainsley (@JuliaEAinsley) June 18, 2018

The White House is also defending separating children from their parent’s by claiming they are simply enforcing the law.

“False claim 4. They are enforcing the laws Congress wrote. There is NO LAW that forces separation,” Ainsley tweeted. [sec]

    False claim 4. They are enforcing the laws Congress wrote. There is NO LAW that forces separation.

    — Julia E. Ainsley (@JuliaEAinsley) June 18, 2018

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH7uHxCkqNE

**************

MSNBC’s Mika shames Kirstjen Nielsen’s lies: ‘You’re on the record for history to remember — forever’

Travis Gettys
Raw Story
19 Jun 2018 at 07:06 ET                  

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski fact-checked Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s news conference defending the separation of immigrant families and detention of children without their parents.

Nielsen flew in from New Orleans to deliver the White House press briefing after Sarah Huckabee Sanders reportedly refused to do it, and the Cabinet secretary promised to “help explain some of what’s going on and give you some of the facts.”

That, said the “Morning Joe” host, was a lie.

“What you’re about to hear are not facts,” Brzezinski said. “It’s actually deceit, it feels a lot like trusted truth and evasion — and some lies.”

The secretary claimed the policy was intended to push back against MS-13 gang members, but Brzezinski said 2-year-old girls were not violent gangsters, and she disputed Nielsen’s insistence that the policy was a law.

“It’s actually not the law,” Brzezinski said. “It’s Donald Trump’s policy, and it is happening, children are being separated from their families. Reporters … have been showing us the horrific facts. Families are being torn apart. Who in America could do this?”

Nielsen insisted Congress and the courts had created the problem, and she claimed only those two branches of government could fix it — but Brzezinski called her out.

“I’m sorry, Secretary Nielson, you’re incorrect,” she said. “This is not the case, but don’t listen to me — take it from Sen. Susan Collins.”

Nielsen also suggested that children were only being separated from suspected human traffickers, which contradicted her previous denials of the policy.

“All of you appear to be failing the country,” Brzezinski said. “You said there’s no policy to separate families? Jeff Sessions says there is. Why not take another crack at it again, the world is watching, you’re on the record — go.”

“The world is watching and you’re on the record, for history to remember, forever,” she added.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUv7ZJG6GuY

****************

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes gets angry and unloads on White House’s Stephen Miller

Tana Ganeva
Raw Story
18 Jun 2018 at 21:13 ET                  

On Monday, the normally stoic (for cable news) MSNBC host Chris Hayes went off on Stephen Miller, the Trump administration advisor widely credited with pushing the administration to assert a “zero-tolerance” policy against migrants crossing the border.

“White house adviser Stephen Miller explained the initiative to the New York Times,” Hayes said, before reading Miller’s description of the administration’s moral calculus.

“Quote, it was a simple decision … to have a zero tolerance policy. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.”

The policy has resulted in close to 2,000 children being separated from their parents and incarcerated in facilities like an old Walmart and — coming soon — tent cities (it’s not yet clear if they’ll have air-conditioning).

After speaking about the repercussions of the White House’s zero tolerance policy, Hayes had a suggestion for Stephen Miller.

“I have a solution for everyone. The President and Stephen Miller should go down to the border and take the role of physically separating, 2-and-3-year-olds, while the cameras roll” Hayes said.

Watch: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6m79gw

****************

Seth Meyers blasts White House aide Stephen Miller for being ‘evil’: He actually wants ‘credit for a policy so cruel’

Dominique Jackson
Raw Story
18 Jun 2018 at 22:37 ET                  

Late Night show host Seth Meyers said that President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance policy” immigration rule is “monstrous and inhumane.”

He slammed the White House for continuously claiming that they are simply enforcing the law. There is no law that requires children to be separated from their parents.

“This is not a law,” Meyers said. “It’s a policy announced by choice by the Trump administration.”

Last week, White House adviser Stephen Miller even took credit for the new policy. In an interview with the New York Times he said it was a “simple decision.”

“No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement,” Miller said, “It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.”

Meyers called him the definition of evil. “Wow, you know you’re evil when you actually want credit for a policy this cruel,” he said.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxrogLn39Do

**************

WATCH: Michael Hayden attacks Trump over immigrant children and compares it to Nazi concentration camps

Dominique Jackson
Raw Story
18 Jun 2018 at 19:39 ET                  

EX- National Security Agency Director, Gen. Michael Hayden compared President Donald Trump’s border security to Auschwitz.

During an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, he said he was disappointed and frustrated at the sight of seeing children ripped away from their parents at the border.

“It’s Disappointing, and I’m frustrated. This is a very complicated issue. One of the things that concerned me over the weekend was evidence that we have lost the ability to even make semi-difficult decisions,” Hayden, said. “We have lost the ability to govern ourselves. I get the border question is complicated. But it shouldn’t be beyond our capacity to resolve it in a way that’s broadly satisfactory for everyone concerned.”

He said that President Trump is using the children as leverage to build his border wall.

“It was very clear that these young people are being used as leverage to deter people from coming across the border, but also used as leverage politically. They seem insensitive, to what happens to these young folks,”  he said.

He said that America is headed in the wrong direction.

“I showed the picture in 1944, but my story is Berlin 1933. You had a new government in power with a cult of personality, a cult of nativism, a cult of untruth, a cult where it was acceptable to punish the marginalized segments of society. I’m not saying our needle is in the red. I’m not saying we’re becoming nazis. What I was trying to say was the needle is moving in the wrong direction. I’m saying the skies are darkening.”

Watch:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZz_2h4alpc

*************

Dem lawmaker: I met an 8-month old immigrant child who’s been separated from his parents for weeks

Brad Reed
Raw Story
18 Jun 2018 at 14:25 ET                  

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) on Monday delivered a heartbreaking report about what he’s seen so far in detention facilities where the Trump administration is keeping immigrant children who have been separated from their parents.

Reporting on child detention centers that he visited in Brownsville, Texas, Castro said that he has encountered shockingly young children who have been kept away from their parents for several weeks now.

“The youngest child (boy) I’ve seen here so far who was separated from his family is 8 months old and has been here over a month, according to administrators,” Castro wrote.

    The youngest child (boy) I’ve seen here so far who was separated from his family is 8 months old and has been here over a month, according to administrators. #FamiliesBelongTogether

    — Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) June 18, 2018


Castro also said that there were a total of four “very young children” being held in the facility’s so-called infant room.

    We visited the Infant Room where four very young children, including Roger the 8 month old, were being looked after by staff. We picked up and carried the children. #FamiliesBelongTogether

    — Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) June 18, 2018

The Trump administration has been taking heat from Democrats, Republicans, and childhood health experts for its policy of separating the children of undocumented immigrants from their parents.

Dr. Colleen Kraft, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN on Monday that the Trump administration’s policy amounts to “child abuse,” as she claimed treating children this way “disrupts their brain architecture and keeps them from developing language and social emotional bonds.”

*************

‘Nothing short of torture’: Amnesty International finds Trump camps are breaking international torture laws

David Edwards
Raw Story
18 Jun 2018 at 13:33 ET                  

Amnesty International on Monday said that President Donald Trump is breaking U.S. and international torture laws by using “coercive” tactics that “intentionally” cause mental suffering on immigrant children that have been separated from their families.

In a statement released Monday, the human right organization called the Trump administration’s “no tolerance” policy for undocumented immigrant families “sickening.”

“This is a spectacularly cruel policy, where frightened children are being ripped from their parent’s arms and taken to overflowing detention centers, which are effectively cages,” Amnesty International Americas Director Erika Guevara-Rosas said. “This is nothing short of torture. The severe mental suffering that officials have intentionally inflicted on these families for coercive purposes, means that these acts meet the definitions of torture under both U.S. and international law.”

“There is no question that President Trump administration’s policy of separating mothers and fathers from their children is designed to impose severe mental suffering on these families, in order to deter others from trying to seek safety in the USA,” Guevara-Rosas added. “This is a flagrant violation of the human rights of these parents and children and is also a violation of U.S. obligations under refugee law.”

Amnesty said that the organization had interviewed 17 families who have been separated from their children and found that “all but three of them had entered the USA legally to request asylum.”

“Make no mistake, these family separations are a crisis of the government’s own making,” Guevara-Rosas explained. “The U.S. government is playing a sick game with these families’ lives by playing politics with what is a serious and mounting refugee crisis.”

***************

Even churches in deep-red Texas are rebuking Trump for breaking up immigrant families

Texas Tribune
18 Jun 2018 at 12:35 ET                  

There’s a new road sign outside Arapaho United Methodist Church in Richardson.

“Please don’t use scripture to justify policies that harm families,” reads the sign.

The message, which was also posted to the church’s Facebook page, seems directed at one person in particular: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who this week used scripture — Romans 13 — to justify a new policy of “zero tolerance” at the country’s southern border, a strategy that has resulted in hundreds of children being separated from their parents. The text, Sessions said, says “to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.” But the word of God, many people of faith counter, instructs followers to “love thy neighbor.”

In Texas’ liberal urban centers and its quieter, more conservative corners, God has increasingly entered into an emotional debate over the Trump administration’s immigration policy, particularly as stories continue to emerge of separations that have taken a nursing child from her mother, kept a disabled teenager thousands of miles from his grandmother for almost a year and even led to a suicide.

Churches, especially in deep-red Texas, often sit out partisan squabbles. But the issue of family separations is not a political one, some faith leaders say — it’s a humanitarian and moral crisis.

“As Christians, we can’t turn a blind eye to what’s going on in the world,” said Chip Stewart, a Texas Christian University professor who attends the First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth. On Sunday morning, he said, the pastor rebuked Sessions — a fellow Methodist — by name, and also referred congregants to Leviticus 19:33, which instructs, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.”

Across the state, some faith leaders in the pulpit Sunday mentioned that verse and similar passages, implicitly and in some cases explicitly criticizing the government for a policy many consider un-Christian. Those messages to individual communities followed days of rebukes from national religious leaders, many of whom have criticized the government approach and called for compassion at the border.

“Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops spring meeting in Florida last week. “Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

At its annual meeting in Dallas last week, the Southern Baptist Convention passed an immigration resolution calling for  “the priority of family unity.”

“We encourage pastors to address immigration issues with their local churches and to exhort their congregations to serve their local immigrant communities,” the resolution said.

And a group of 2,500 women faith leaders, including dozens in Texas, wrote to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen with a clear message: “The soul of our nation is at stake.”

Those rebukes were echoed at First Baptist Church of Austin, where on Sunday it all seemed to come together: Father’s Day, a national debate over immigration policy, and the scripture that Reverend Griff Martin had long planned to discuss that day, which dealt with, as he put it, “the abuse of power and our response to rise up against power being used wrongly.”

On Sunday, Martin told scores of parishioners that when people of faith are blind to atrocities — or don’t speak up to correct them — the result is tragedy.

“It’s racism, it’s war, it’s sexism, it’s school shootings, it’s 2,000 children currently separated from their parents at the border,” Martin said, his voice rising. “It’s issues that we should unite on.”

***************

Ex-GOP chairman says Trump’s base wants to terrorize immigrants: ‘That’s the whole point — they want this’

Travis Gettys
Raw Story
19 Jun 2018 at 07:36 ET                   

The former Republican Party chairman said the Trump administration’s policy separating immigrant families was a cynical ploy to rally their base ahead of the midterm elections — and he’s worried it will work.

White House adviser Stephen Miller has admitted the policy was intended to turn voters against Democrats, and former GOP chairman Michael Steele told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the strategy would likely solidify President Donald Trump’s base.

“I think it’s more the red meat that they want,” Steele said.

Some administration officials have admitted the controversial policy was intended as a deterrent to would-be immigrants, and Steele said the GOP base wanted them to fear coming to the U.S.

“I was struck by the … interview with the mother who, when asked would you do this if you knew your child would be separated, in that clip was, ‘I wouldn’t have come,'” Steele said. “That’s the whole point. They want that clip. That’s the soundbite that defines this.”

Steele said so far the policy seems to be working as Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions intended.

“That defines who we are, so as far as the administration is concerned, this is working,” Steele said. “This is exactly right and so for the base, there’s no need to move off of this. But here’s the rub, there’s the rest of the country, and what I’m curious about is how the rest of the country outside of that 35 percent, 42 percent, whatever that number is.”

The Republican Party not that long ago defined itself as the party of family values, and Steele wondered how GOP voters would feel about this abrupt shift.

“Remember how we used to beat people up all the time on this issue about being pro-family and the fact that other policies of other administrations did not respect the family and the rights of the family to keep the family together?” he said. “Now we here in the business of tearing that piece of paper up and writing a new contract that says something very different about the kind of America we are.”

 34 
 on: Jun 19, 2018, 05:06 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Record 68.5 million people fleeing war or persecution worldwide

As data shows one in every 110 people is displaced, UN special envoy Angelina Jolie warns of ‘terrible human consequences’ of Syria’s aid shortfall

Peter Beaumont
Guardian
Tue 19 Jun 2018 06.00 BST

The number of people forced to flee their homes rose to a record high in 2017, with 16.2 million people newly displaced around the world. The figure includes people who have been displaced for the first time, and those who have been forced from their homes multiple times.

The figure of 68.5 million displaced people – 3 million higher than the total population of the UK – includes 25.4 million refugees, 40 million internally displaced and 3.1 million asylum seekers.

The increase came despite the return of more than 5 million displaced people to their countries of origins.

The annual figures, compiled by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, saw five countries accounting for two-thirds of all refugees (excluding those defined as long-term Palestinian refugees): Syria (6.3 million); Afghanistan (2.6 million); South Sudan (2.4 million); Myanmar (1.2 million) and Somalia (986,400).

The new figures emerged after the actor and director Angelina Jolie, a special envoy for the UN agency, warned of a funding shortfall for the agency’s work in Syria – the largest group of displaced.

Speaking during a visit to Domiz Camp in Iraq on Sunday, home to 33,000 refugees displaced by the Syrian war, Jolie told a press conference that the agency’s appeal for Syrian refugees was hugely underfunded even in comparison with last year.

“When UNHCR’s Syria response was only 50% funded last year, and this year it is only 17% funded, there are terrible human consequences. We should be under no illusions about this. When there is even not the bare minimum of aid, refugee families cannot receive adequate medical treatment,” Jolie said. “Women and girls are left vulnerable to sexual violence, many children cannot go to school, and we squander the opportunity of being able to invest in refugees so that they can acquire new skills and support their families.”

The new totals come at the end of a decade of sharply rising numbers of displaced, which have risen inexorably from more than 42 million in 2007 to the current total. This means one in every 110 people in the world is currently displaced, with most of the sharp increase occurring in the last five years.
A family displaced by fighting walk into Akobo town, one of the last rebel-held strongholds in South Sudan, after government troops attacked their village.

Although Syria once again dominated the figures, 2017 was also marked by a significant rise in displaced people from North and Central America, with increasing numbers of people journeying to seek asylum in Mexico and the US, even as Venezuelans continued to flow out to neighbouring countries.

Bucking the depressing global trends, however, crossings of the eastern Mediterranean decreased compared with 2016.

The totals also saw the sixth successive year of increases in the number of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, with a rise of just under 3 million last year to a total just short of 20 million, the highest known total to date.

“As in previous years, Syria continued to account for the largest forcibly displaced population globally,” states the report.

“As of the end of 2017, there were 12.6 million forcibly displaced Syrians, comprising around 6.3 million refugees, 146,700 asylum-seekers, and 6.2 million IDPs [displaced people].

“The situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC] and Myanmar deteriorated rapidly in the second half of 2017, affecting millions of people.

“The flight of refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh occurred at a particularly rapid rate. Over 2017, 655,500 arrived in Bangladesh, mainly concentrated in 100 days from the end of August, making the humanitarian response very challenging. In addition, there was a large proportion of infants, children and pregnant women among refugees and IDPs from the DRC and Myanmar, adding a further layer of complexity for interventions.”

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said: “We are at a watershed, where success in managing forced displacement globally requires a new and far more comprehensive approach so that countries and communities aren’t left dealing with this alone.

“But there is reason for some hope. Fourteen countries are already pioneering a new blueprint for responding to refugee situations and in a matter of months a new Global Compact on Refugees will be ready for adoption by the United Nations General Assembly.

“Today, on the eve of World Refugee Day, my message to member states is: please support this. No one becomes a refugee by choice; but the rest of us can have a choice about how we help.”

Matthew Saltmarsh, a spokesperson for UNHCR, underlined the worrying trends.

“What we are seeing in this data is overall displacement at an unprecedented high six years in a row,” he said. “In terms of refugee numbers it is the largest increase in a single year.”

 35 
 on: Jun 19, 2018, 05:04 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Nato chief warns over future of transatlantic relationship

Exclusive: Jens Stoltenberg says US and Europe must work to avoid breakdown in western unity

• Europe and North America need to stay united – now more than ever

Daniel Boffey in Brussels
Guardian
Tue 19 Jun 2018 11.56 BST

The head of Nato has warned that the deep divisions between the US under Donald Trump and its European allies are not going away and there is no certainty that the transatlantic relationship and its military alliance will survive.

Against a backdrop of Trump’s open baiting of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, over immigration and her domestic difficulties, Jens Stoltenberg has called for all Nato members to work to avoid a disastrous breakdown in western unity.

Writing in the Guardian, Nato’s secretary general admits that “political storm clouds” are putting a strain on the ties that bind the Nato allies. But, in an appeal to leaders before the military alliance’s summit in July, the former prime minister of Norway says that “where differences persist, we must limit any negative impact on our security cooperation”.

Stoltenberg – who is meeting Theresa May in Downing Street on Thursday as he prepares for the summit in Brussels – writes: “Since the alliance was created almost 70 years ago, the people of Europe and North America have enjoyed an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity. But, at the political level, the ties which bind us are under strain.

“There are real differences between the United States and other allies over issues such as trade, climate change and the Iran nuclear agreement.

“These disagreements are real and they won’t disappear overnight. In fact, nowhere is it written in stone that the transatlantic bond will always thrive. That doesn’t, however, mean that its breakdown is inevitable. We can maintain it, and all the mutual benefits we derive from it.”

Stoltenberg’s intervention comes at a point of extreme tension among the leadership of the western powers.

In seeking to defend his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the country’s border, Trump launched an extraordinary attack on Merkel and the EU on Tuesday, likening Europe to a “migrant camp” while claiming that “the people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition”.

Merkel is embroiled in a tense standoff with her interior minister over immigration. She faces a two-week deadline to find a European solution or risk the collapse of her governing coalition.

Trump has already caused a fracture in relations with traditional US allies by reneging on his country’s commitments in both the Paris climate change agreement and the nuclear deal with Iran.

He is also threatening a transatlantic trade war with the EU, and has criticised Germany and others for not spending enough on defence and freeloading off the US.

Of the 29 Nato members, only eight, including the US and the UK, spend more than 2% of their GDP on defence, a threshold that the alliance agreed should be met by all the countries by 2024. Germany spent €37bn (£32.5bn), or 1.2% of GDP, on defence last year.

Asked for his position last month on those countries underspending, Trump warned: “They’ll be dealt with.”

Greater “burden sharing” is set to be a theme of the Nato summit in Brussels, along with Stoltenberg’s desire to improve the readiness of Nato forces to deploy in quick order, and to build on the alliance’s counter-terrorism efforts, including through the training of the Iraqi military and an extension of financing for Afghan forces until 2024.

However, as with the last summit, it is likely that it will be Trump’s determination to highlight the heavy burden on the US taxpayer that will dominate.

Stoltenberg praises the US under Trump for its renewed commitment to Nato, an organisation that the US president once described as obsolete. But he points out that cuts in defence spending among the Nato allies have been reversed across the board. An extra $18bn (£13.6bn) has been spent by non-US Nato allies on military equipment alone since 2014.

Stoltenberg writes: “The United States and Canada are stepping up their commitment to Europe’s security. In fact, since coming to office, the Trump administration has increased funding for the US presence in Europe by 40%. The last US battle tank left Europe in 2013 but now they’re back in the form of a whole new US armoured brigade.

“This isn’t a one-way street. European allies, with the UK in the vanguard, are stepping up too – spending billions more on defence and taking responsibility for Euro-Atlantic security alongside their North American allies.”

Stoltenberg, who will meet the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, on Wednesday before meeting the prime minister and giving a speech at Lancaster House on Thursday, says the US and its allies need to raise their heads from the current divisions and recognise the need for unity at a dangerous point in world history.

He writes: “It is – and has always been – in our fundamental interest to stand together on defence. And that is as true now as ever. Because we face the most unpredictable security environment in a generation: international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cyber-attacks – and, of course, a Russia which has used force against its neighbours, which tries to meddle in our domestic affairs, and which seems to have no qualms about using military-grade nerve agents on our streets.

“Our achievements side-by-side are unprecedented. So as long as we stand together, even if the road does indeed get rough, it will always lead in the right direction: peace and security for our nations and our nearly 1 billion citizens.”

 36 
 on: Jun 19, 2018, 05:01 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

'They’re trying to break me': Polish judges face state-led intimidation

Judges say ruling party is tightening its grip through threats and hate campaigns

Christian Davies in Warsaw
Guardian
Tue 19 Jun 2018 05.00 BST

Three high-profile Polish judges have complained of a “state-led campaign of intimidation and harassment” against them, as Poland’s ruling party tightens its grip on the judiciary.

Since taking power in 2015 the Law and Justice party (PiS) has assumed direct oversight of state prosecutors and the judicial body that appoints, promotes and disciplines judges, as well as the power to dismiss and appoint court presidents, who wield considerable power and influence in the Polish justice system.

A disputed law on the supreme court, forcing the retirement of 40% of its judges, is due to take effect on 3 July.

Judges involved in politically sensitive cases or who have expressed opposition to threats to judicial independence have told the Guardian they are frequently threatened with disciplinary proceedings and even criminal charges, and in many cases are subjected to allegations of corruption and hate campaigns orchestrated by leading PiS politicians.

“I became an enemy of the state,” said Waldemar Żurek, a district court judge in the southern city of Kraków, who served as spokesman for the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), the body that appoints and disciplines Polish judges, until it was taken over by government appointees this year.

As the public face of the KRS’s attempts to argue for judicial independence, Żurek received hundreds of abusive and threatening messages to his work phone after false allegations about his personal life were published in pro-government media outlets. Members of his family were also targeted.

When state prosecutors opened an investigation into why one of the rear tyres on his car had burst in suspicious circumstances at the height of the controversy, they showed no interest in gathering evidence, Żurek said, instead using the investigation to demand he hand over as much personal information as possible, including telephone records going back several years.

“All they were interested in was obtaining information they could use against me – they want me to know that they are watching everything I do,” said Żurek, who believes he is under surveillance by state security services.

It is an experience shared by Wojciech Łączewski, a district court judge in Warsaw. In 2015 he convicted Mariusz Kamiński, a senior PiS politician, of abuse of public office when serving as the head of Poland’s central anti-corruption bureau. He sentenced Kamiński to three years in prison for illegal activities including falsifying documents, illegal surveillance and misleading courts so as to obtain warrants under false pretences.

But after the PiS candidate Andrzej Duda won a presidential election later that year he pardoned Kamiński, who was subsequently appointed as the minister responsible for the Polish security services. The pardon was later ruled unlawful by the supreme court, but Kamiński remains in post.

Since then, Łączewski has seen off one disciplinary charge and is now facing criminal charges relating to Kamiński’s trial, including an allegation – which he strongly denies – that he revealed the identities of undercover agents during the proceedings. Łączewski said his house was broken into and sources within the Polish justice system had confirmed to him that he had been placed under surveillance by the security services that Kamiński now oversees.

“They’re trying to break me and they are winning. I’m tired, I want to live in peace. They have the power of the whole state behind them and I’m alone,” said Łączewski, 41, whose wife, a lawyer who worked in Poland’s constitutional court, was sent to work in a basement archive and then dismissed after the government engineered a takeover of the court at the end of 2016. “Even if I win my proceedings, they still win, because they will claim it as proof that judges are colluding to protect each other.”

Judges contacted by the Guardian said they faced an impossible dilemma: stay silent and lose their independence, or speak out and be accused of “politicisation”, face disciplinary charges and lose their credibility in the eyes of the public.

“We are all hoping to avoid being put in a situation where we have to make a decision on a political case,” said one lower court judge in south-east Poland, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Prosecutors are preparing charges against Igor Tuleya, a Warsaw district court judge who last year ruled that Law and Justice MPs had deliberately obstructed opposition MPs from participating in a vote on the state budget during a parliamentary crisis in December 2016. He found that more than 200 PiS MPs and staff had given false testimony about the existence of a pre-conceived plan to do so.

“They use the same methods for all of us, it’s always the same scenario,” said Tuleya, who has become a hate figure in the pro-government press. He recently received an anonymous email warning him that rumours were being circulated in legal circles that he was a drug addict.

In May it was announced that Żurek and Tuleya would be summoned before a new “ethics panel” of government-appointed judges and MPs. The panel includes Krystyna Pawłowicz, a PiS MP who has already publicly stated that Tuleya should not be a judge, declaring during a session of parliament’s justice committee last year that certain judges should be sent to North Korean-style concentration camps for “re-education”.

“We can definitely say there’s a growing atmosphere of oppression around certain judges and courts,” said Małgorzata Szuleka, of the Warsaw-based Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, noting that state prosecutors who had expressed concerns about political interference had also had disciplinary proceedings initiated against them.

Another judge who has publicly criticised the government’s changes said the pressure being exerted on dissenting judges had become so great that even his home town’s priest had urged his mother, a devout Catholic, to convince her son to stop expressing his opposition to the changes. He claimed to have been approached by an intermediary representing the justice ministry offering him a court presidency in exchange for his acquiescence.

The pressure is likely only to increase with the establishment of a new supreme court “disciplinary chamber” presided over by ruling party appointees. Poland faces censure from the European Union for the passage of the legislation retiring 40% of the supreme court, which the PiS leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, claimed had been infiltrated by “leftism and subordination to foreign forces”.

“We are returning to something like the Communist times, where the ambitious compromise their principles and true independence depends on the character and integrity of individual judges,” said Łączewski. “They can drive me out of the profession, they can even drive me out of the country, but they can never kill the independent judge that lives within me.”

 37 
 on: Jun 19, 2018, 04:59 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Families divided at the border: 'The most horrific immigration policy I've ever seen'

As immigration advocates struggle to help more than 1,600 children taken from their parents, Trump refuses to back down

Amanda Holpuch in New York
Tue 19 Jun 2018 11.00 BST
Guardian

One month before Donald Trump’s administration enacted a policy that allowed the government to take thousands of migrant children from their parents, the president twice told crowds at his rallies that immigrant gang members were not people.

“These are animals,” he said in May. Over the weekend, video and photos emerged of the cage-like detention centers where children, separated from their parents, are housed.

His comment was directed at violent MS-13 gang members, and he deplored the idea that he had been talking about all immigrants. Today, however, as criticism mounts about a draconian set of immigration polices, advocates and attorneys are left wondering just how far Trump and his team are willing to go to stop immigrants from entering the country.

The most extreme example yet is the practice of family separation, which has seen more than 1,600 children taken from parents. Advocates say the practice had quietly been taking place for months before the government adopted it as policy in April.

“It goes totally against what this country was founded on,” Janet Gwilym, an attorney who has been representing children in Washington state, said. “We have a moral responsibility to take them in. It’s international law to take in refugees; that’s who these people are – and instead we are just adding to the trauma that they are going through.”

Gwilym, managing attorney for the Seattle branch of Kids in Need of Defense (Kind), an advocacy group for unaccompanied immigrant children, said children aged 12 to 17 had been comforting toddlers who, like them, had just been taken from their parents.

She said children had said they were told by immigration officials that they would see their parents again in a few minutes but hadn’t seen them for months.

In the face of widespread, bipartisan condemnation, and warnings from medical bodies about the long-term consequences these separations have on children, Trump and his cabinet have stood firm. “The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility. It won’t be,” Trump said during remarks at the White House on Monday.

This strident defense comes with November’s midterm elections looming, and two years into Trump’s failed attempt to fulfill a key campaign promise: expanding the border wall between Mexico and the United States.

1:04..Separated migrant families held in cages at Texas border – video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/w3xmqxoHu9k?embed_config=%7B%22adsConfig%22%3A%7B%22nonPersonalizedAd%22%3Afalse%7D%7D&enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com&widgetid=1

Congress has not given Trump funds for any new stretches of wall, but in the interim, his administration has created an invisible wall of policies that advocates and attorneys say are meant to stem all types of immigration. The separation of children from their parents is just the most dramatic of many measures the Trump administration has taken to tackle illegal immigration across the United States.

Those affected include refugees, undocumented adults and children, who have also been targeted with a slate of actions such as the cancellation of a refugee program for children traveling from the dangerous Central American northern triangle countries.

There are now daily stories of undocumented people, resident in the United States for decades and with children born in the country, being targeted at their places of work and being forcibly returned home.

When it comes to the undocumented population living in the US, in the administration’s eyes, there appears no longer to be any distinction between violent criminals and people who have been living quietly without legal status for decades.

From October 2016 to September 2017, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) said, it had apprehended nearly 38,000 individuals who had no criminal convictions – a 146% increase from the previous year.

And in a similar style to the family separation policy, the administration abruptly canceled a program that provided temporary deportation relief for undocumented immigrants who had been raised in the US (known as Dreamers): Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca).

After the revoking of Daca and termination of a special deportation relief measure called Temporary Protected Status for six countries, 1,038,600 people are no longer protected from deportation, according to government figures.

The policy crackdown has advanced on many fronts, but the most extraordinary turn was in April, when the Trump administration made family separation possible, by saying there would be “zero tolerance” for people who cross the border illegally.

At the border, those parents are deemed criminals and separated from their children, who cannot be held in adult detention facilities.

The administration’s position, which includes blaming Democratic opponents, and defending family separation on biblical grounds, ignores warnings from the country’s top child welfare and health organizations, including the American Association of Pediatrics.

Parents were also suffering from the separation, said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

Gelernt filed a class-action lawsuit in March against the Trump administration’s family separation practice after meeting with a Congolese woman who hadn’t seen her seven-year-old daughter for four months. She and her child were reunited after Gelernt filed a lawsuit on their behalf.

“This is as shocking an immigration policy as we’ve seen from this Trump administration, but frankly, I’ve been doing this work for approaching three decades, and this is the most horrific immigration policy I have ever seen,” Gelernt said.

Gelernt said the detained parents he had been speaking with were afraid to ask immigration agents too much about their children for fear their children would face retaliation.

Gelernt said one family told him that since they were reunited, their four-year-old has repeatedly asked if the government is going to take him away again.

The ACLU’s lawsuit seeks to reunite families who have already been separated and stop families from being separated in the future.

As the case works through the court, the impacts of family separation have been compounded by the lack of infrastructure built to support the policy. The administration has left behind a system so chaotic that children’s’ advocates are making desperate gambits to locate parents.

“What we’re finding is that there is no mechanism, no policy, for communicating or even finding the parents once the child has been separated,” said Megan McKenna, Kind’s senior director of communications and community engagement.

McKenna said when parents and children were separated, they each got individual case numbers that their mother, father, daughter or son did not have access to.

On the chance that these numbers would be sequential, Kind advocates started putting educated guesses into the case tracking system in the hopes it would lead them to parents they were seeking.

“You just play around: maybe the child’s number ends in five, so the adult’s number could end in six,” McKenna said. “So you put that in the system and see if you get a hit. Or it could be the other way around.”

That tactic has worked in some instances, but not often enough to be a solution.

She said other problems included that children might not know why their family was fleeing in the first place, which could affect the outcome of their immigration case.

Another challenge is that advocates don’t know what separated parents want for their children. For instance, if a parent is deported, they might want their child returned with them. Or there may be so much danger in their home country, they would prefer the child stay with immigration authorities in the US. And even if the parent’s preferences were known, there is no clear procedure for reuniting parents, especially if a parent has already been deported.

McKenna said Kind was advocating on behalf of a two-year-old who was separated from her father in March. The father was deported within a month, but as of 12 June, the girl was still in the custody of the US government.

“The consequences in terms of human suffering can’t be underestimated,” McKenna said. “Toddlers are being taken from their parents.”

 38 
 on: Jun 19, 2018, 04:53 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Eurydice Dixon: how one woman’s death put focus on ‘male rage’ in Australia

The alleged rape and murder of a comedian has sparked anger about attitudes to women

Gay Alcorn
Guardian
Tue 19 Jun 2018 11.27 BST

When Eurydice Dixon finished her comedy gig at a Melbourne bar last Tuesday she was reportedly in high spirits, sharing a drink with her boyfriend before heading home.

She bought some food and walked through an area she knew well: Princes Park in an affluent northern suburb of the city. Just before midnight, she sent her boyfriend a message: “I’m almost home safe.”

A passerby found Dixon’s body in the middle of a football pitch just before 3am on Wednesday, a few hundred metres from her home. A 19-year-old man has been charged with her rape and murder. Police say the two did not know each other.

What happened to Dixon, a smart, aspiring comedian with a dark sense of humour, was horrific, in part because walking through a park is so ordinary.

But her death has become something else: a flashpoint for an intense, often angry conversation about violence against women in Australia, and how it is men – not women – who need to change.

A decade ago, stranger deaths were framed as nightmare tales of evil monsters. Now, everyone from the country’s conservative prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to the 10,000 people who stood silently at a candlelit vigil for Dixon on Monday night, talk of culture and the structural causes of violence.

In an address to parliament this week, Turnbull said : “What we must do as we grieve is ensure that we change the hearts of men to respect women.” He said Australia needed to start “with the youngest men, the little boys, our sons and grandsons”.

The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, concurred: “It’s about deciding as a nation that violence against women is ultimately preventable.”

Australia’s homicide rate – which includes manslaughter and murder-suicide – is the lowest in quarter of a century, according to research released last year. The vast majority of killers are partners and acquaintances.

Two-thirds of victims are men, but women are particularly vulnerable to being killed by a partner.

More than 80% of perpetrators of murders and other violent crimes are men. Dixon’s death has intensified a cultural debate about how boys are raised and contemptuous attitudes towards girls and women.

It comes amid the rise of the #MeToo movement, which has drawn attention to the pervasiveness of harassment. It has come during a national agonising about domestic violence, a crime once ignored but now framed as a symptom of gender inequality.

The flashpoint was caused by comments by a senior police officer. Supt David Clayton said on the day Dixon’s body was found – and before an arrest was made – that people needed to “take responsibility for your safety”.

“So just make sure you have situational awareness, that you’re aware of your surroundings,” he said. “If you’ve got a mobile phone, carry it; if you’ve got any concerns, call the police.”

It was sensible advice. Yet it was advice many women were sick of hearing. They are acutely aware of “situational awareness”: carrying keys in their hands in car parks, calling friends when walking alone at night, taking off headphones in case they are being followed. They are furious about the tiny conviction rate in rape cases, and the assumptions that for women to remain safe they must watch what they wear, what they say and what they do.

“It isn’t up to women to modify our behaviour in order to prevent violence from being enacted against us,” writes the prominent feminist Clementine Ford. “It’s up to society to work together to dismantle misogyny and the particular kind of male rage that informs these acts of aggression.”

Rape and murder might be the extreme end, Ford writes, “but the spectrum they sit on stretches right back to ‘harmless’ casual sexism, the rape ‘jokes’ and threats that proliferate online and the attitude expressed towards women on a daily basis by groups of men who’ve been socialised to view themselves as superior. These toxic behaviours don’t manifest one day out of nowhere. They are cultivated.”

Therefore, while only a small number of men would do something as heinous as killing a woman, all men have a duty to challenge attitudes towards women, to condemn sexist jokes, and to push for gender equality in the workplace.

Ford’s views were given credence when, on the morning of the vigil, police discovered what were called “lewd” remarks written in white paint near the circle of flowers people had laid as a memorial to Dixon.

Vigil organisers reported that their Facebook page had been trolled, with rape “jokes” posted and tirades against women’s clothing.

Nobody would defend that, but some commentators have questioned the “predictable surge of outrage” against the police warnings.

“‘Men’ didn’t kill Eurydice Dixon,” writes the deputy editor of Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Claire Harvey. “One man did. The courts will decide who he was. It’s totally unfair to blame all men – who, by the way, are also victims of terrifying random crime, and who also feel fear when they walk through the dark – for this.”

Harvey argued that, like it or not, there were “monsters out there in the dark and no amount of righteous fury is going to make them go away”.

It is hard to know why one killing among hundreds becomes a cultural lightning rod, as well as a human tragedy. The murders of middle-aged and/or non-Caucasian women from rural areas rarely receive such national attention.

Dixon was young, white and female. Her background was far from advantaged: her mother, a heroin addict, reportedly died when Dixon was seven.

Dixon was a feminist who made dark jokes about gender struggles. In her final gig, posted on Facebook, she said she worried a lot, sometimes about waking up in a slave society.

“I’m trying to be more optimistic, so I’m like ‘a slave society … that means no one has any rights. We’ll finally have gender equality. Equally shit – still equal.”

It drew laughs from the audience just a few hours before her death.

 39 
 on: Jun 19, 2018, 04:49 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

'This is huge': black liberationist speaks out after her 40 years in prison

Exclusive: Debbie Sims Africa, the first freed member of a radical Philadelphia group many say were unjustly imprisoned, talks about reuniting with her son and defends the Move members still locked up: ‘We are peaceful people’

Ed Pilkington in New York
Guardian
19 Jun 2018 12.52 BST

The first member of a group of black radicals known as the Move Nine who have been incarcerated, they insist unjustly, for almost 40 years for killing a Philadelphia police officer has been released from prison.

Debbie Sims Africa, 61, walked free from Cambridge Springs prison in Pennsylvania on Saturday, having been granted parole. She was 22 when with her co-defendants she was arrested and sentenced to 30 to 100 years for the shooting death of officer James Ramp during a police siege of the group’s communal home on 8 August 1978.

She emerged from the correctional institution to be reunited with her son, Michael Davis Africa Jr, to whom she gave birth in a prison cell in September 1978, a month after her arrest.

“This is huge for us personally,” Sims Africa told the Guardian, speaking from her son’s home in a small town on the outskirts of Philadelphia where she will now live.

Davis Africa, 39, who was separated from his mother at less than a week old and has never spent time with her outside prison, said they were coming to terms with being reunited after almost four decades.

“Today I had breakfast with my mother for the first time,” he said. “There’s so much we haven’t done together.”

The release of Debbie Sims Africa is a major breakthrough regarding the ongoing incarceration of large numbers of individuals involved in the black liberation movement of the late 1960s and 1970s who are now growing old behind bars. At least 25 men and women belonging to Move or the former Black Panther party remain locked up, in some cases almost half a century after their arrests.

Sims Africa’s release also addresses one of the most hotly contested criminal justice cases in Philadelphia history. The nine were prosecuted together following a police siege of their headquarters in Powelton Village at the orders of Philadelphia’s notoriously hardline mayor and former police commissioner, Frank Rizzo.

Move, which exists today, regarded itself as a revolutionary movement committed to a healthy life free from oppression or pollution. In the 1970s it was something of a cross between black liberationists and early environmental activists. Its members all take “Africa” as their last name, to signal that they see each other as family.

Hundreds of police officers, organized in Swat teams and armed with machine guns, water cannons, teargas and bulldozers, were involved in the siege, which came at the end of a long standoff with the group relating to complaints about conditions in its premises. Two water cannon and smoke bombs were unleashed. The Move residents took refuge in a basement.

    I had to feel my way up the stairs to get out of the basement with my baby in my arms

Sims Africa was eight months pregnant and was carrying her two-year-old daughter, Michelle. “We were being battered with high-powered water and smoke was everywhere,” she said. “I couldn’t see my hands in front of my face and I was choking. I had to feel my way up the stairs to get out of the basement with my baby in my arms.”

Shooting broke out and Ramp was killed by a single bullet. Prosecutors alleged that Move members fired the fatal shot and charged Sims Africa and the other eight with collective responsibility for his death.

Eyewitnesses, however, gave accounts suggesting that the shot may have come from the opposite direction to the basement, raising the possibility that Ramp was accidentally felled, by police fire. After the raid was over, weapons were found within the property. None were in operative condition.

In 1985, Philadelphia authorities carried out an even more controversial and deadly action against the remaining members of Move. A police helicopter dropped an incendiary bomb on to the roof of its then HQ in west Philadelphia, killing six adults including the group’s leader, John Africa, and five of their children.

At Sims Africa’s trial, no evidence was presented that she or the three other women charged alongside her had brandished or handled firearms during the siege. Nor was there any attempt on the part of the prosecution to prove that they had had any role in firing the shot that killed Ramp.

Sims Africa has had an unblemished disciplinary record in prison for the past 25 years. The last claim of misconduct against her dates to 1992.

Her attorneys presented the parole board with a 13-page dossier outlining her work as a mentor to other prisoners and as a dog handler who trains puppies that assist people with physical and cognitive disabilities. The dossier includes testimony from the correctional expert Martin Horn, who reviewed her record and concluded it was “remarkable”.

Horn said Sims Africa had “chosen to be a rule-abiding individual with the ability to be a productive, law-abiding citizen if she is released. I see a record of growing maturity, improved judgment and the assumption of personal responsibility. I do not believe that Debbie Sims is today a threat to the community.”

Sims Africa’s lawyer, Brad Thomson, commended the parole board for “recognizing that she is of exceptional character and well-deserving of parole. This is a storied victory for Debbie and her family, and the Move organization, and we are hoping it will be the first step in getting all the Move Nine out of prison.”

The release of Sims Africa comes less than two months before the 40th anniversary of the siege. Commemorative events are being held in Philadelphia, organised by Move, on 5 and 11 August.

The release of Sims Africa is bittersweet, however. Two of the nine have died in prison – another female inmate, Merle Austin Africa, in March 1998, and Phil Africa in January 2015.

    Having to leave them was hard. I was torn up inside because I want to come home but I want them to come with me

Also bittersweet is the fact that Sims Africa went up for parole at exactly the same time, and on exactly the same terms, as the other two remaining Move Nine women – Janine Phillips Africa and Janet Hollaway Africa. They were both denied parole and will have to wait until May 2019 to try again.

Thomson said the disparity in the parole board’s decision was “very surprising”, given that the Philadelphia district attorney’s office that carried out the original trial prosecution had written letters supporting parole for all three. The parole board gave what the lawyer said were “boilerplate justifications” for the denial of Phillips Africa and Hollaway Africa, saying they displayed “lack of remorse”.

Debbie Sims Africa’s husband also remains behind bars. Mike Davis Africa Sr is next up before the parole board, in September. The other Move Nine prisoners are Chuck Sims Africa, Delbert Orr Africa and Eddie Goodman Africa.

Debbie Sims Africa told the Guardian the remaining prisoners were constantly in her mind and that she planned to devote much of her time campaigning for their release.

“Having to leave them was hard,” she said. “I was torn up inside because of course I want to come home but I want them to come with me. I was in shock when it didn’t happen that way.”

Asked if the two Move women with whom she had shared a cell in Cambridge Springs would be a threat to society if released, she said: “Absolutely not. They would not be a danger as I’m not.

“Nobody from the Move movement has been released from prison and ever committed a crime, going back to 1988. We are peaceful people.”

 40 
 on: Jun 19, 2018, 04:40 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

First Glyphosate Trial, of Thousands, Begins as Plaintiff Fights for His Life

Ecowatch
6/19/2018

Monsanto may have dropped its name, but it can't drop the thousands of cases being brought against it by cancer sufferers claiming its weed-killer Roundup gave them non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the first of which goes to trial Monday, CNN reported.

The first plaintiff to get his day in court is Dewayne Johnson, a 46-year-old Bay-area father of two, but for Johnson that is a dubious honor. Johnson is being granted an expedited trial because his doctors say he is nearing death, and California law facilitates speedier trials in such cases.

Johnson worked doing pest management for a county school system and used Roundup 20 to 30 times per year in the line of duty. Now, he has days when lesions cover 80 percent of his body and he is too ill to speak.

"Mr. Johnson is angry and is the most safety-oriented person I know," his attorney Timothy Litzenburg told CNN. "Right now, he is the bravest dude in America. Whatever happens with the trial and his health, his sons get to know that."

Litzenburg also represents "more than 2,000 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma sufferers who used Roundup extensively," he told CNN.

The trial will hinge on whether Roundup's key ingredient glyphosate causes cancer and whether Monsanto failed to adequately warn customers.

Monsanto, for its part, has long insisted on glyphosate's safety.

"More than 800 scientific studies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Institutes of Health and regulators around the world have concluded that glyphosate is safe for use and does not cause cancer," Scott Partridge, Monsanto's vice president of strategy, said in a statement reported by CNN.

But the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) ruled in 2015 that glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic to humans" based on studies of exposure in the agricultural sector published in the U.S., Canada and Sweden since 2001 and on laboratory experiments conducted on animals.

In March, a San Francisco judge unsealed documents casting doubt on the legitimacy of the studies finding glyphosate safe. The documents revealed Monsanto employees had ghostwritten glyphosate research for academics to sign and that a senior EPA official had killed a glyphosate review after speaking with Monsanto.

Johnson's trial will begin nearly a week after another California judge ruled that the state could not require cancer-risk labels on products containing glyphosate, saying evidence was inconclusive, AgriPulse reported. The new labels were scheduled to be required in July, but the judge's ruling has delayed their roll-out, though it is not the final ruling in the case.

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