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800px Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre 7505717124 DIAC images /WikiCommons

In the outrage over forced separation of migrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border manufactured by President Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy, it is easy to lose sight of experiences that could be equally traumatic, such as detaining families together.

While President Trump signed an executive order ending family separation, he simultaneously ordered the indefinite detention of whole families. Furthermore, the government has still failed to reunite many of the 2,300 children who were separated from their parents, including infants and toddlers, and detained in facilities exclusively for children. Immigration detention has become institutionalized by governments across the globe as a  tool for controlling "illegal immigration" at any cost. Therefore, it is important for us to understand the human costs of the US immigration detention system.

An extreme example is the death of a 34-year-old asylum seeker from Eritrea whose suicide is not simply a statistic to me. I knew him personally and remain in mourning for him and his family. He was denied asylum and hanged himself on June 8 while being deported to his homeland.

Krill 0711wrpKrill. (Photo: PAL LTER / Flickr)


The five companies responsible for 85 percent of krill fishing in Antarctica announced Monday that they would put a "voluntarily permanent stop" to fishing in vulnerable areas earmarked by conservationists for the world's largest ocean sanctuary, the Guardian reported.

Krill are an important food source for iconic Antarctic marine life like whales, seals and penguins. They also help fight climate change by eating carbon-heavy food near the ocean's surface and excreting it in deeper water, according to the Guardian.

"The momentum for protection of the Antarctic's waters and wildlife is snowballing," Frida Bengtsson of Greenpeace's Protect the Antarctic campaign told The Guardian. "This is a bold and progressive move from these krill fishing companies, and we hope to see the remainder of the krill industry follow suit."

Kid 0711wrp(Photo: Restless mind / Flickr)


As I listened to the news about the dramatic operations that recently rescued a young soccer team in Thailand, I was struck by the disturbing contrast in crisis management from two places on opposite sides of the world, acutely emblematic of two different countries and two completely different value systems.

On the one hand, the Thai government, their military, hundreds of volunteers and rescue experts from around the world successfully saved a soccer team of young boys who have been trapped in a flooded cave system since June 23. For the Thai people, no cost or sacrifice is too great to save the lives of these children. Elon Musk even had his engineers hastily build a mini-submarine in the event that the scuba diving escape strategy failed.

The cave rescue attempt in Thailand is indeed a celebration of the preciousness of human life. Seeing people value and protect each other's lives, especially those of children, above all other considerations, should bring to tears anyone who has a shred of empathy. 

At the same time, events on the other side of the world bring tears to one's eyes for exactly the opposite reason. We are witnessing the reeling of a nakedly cruel administration, busily -- and even gleefully -- engaged in destroying the lives of thousands of poor, innocent immigrant children, under the false pretense that they are "criminals." These are children from families who, in desperation, looked to the United States as the great moral beacon of hope to escape poverty and often death from violence in their own countries.


 EU Media Futures Forum pic 0 Sollok29/WikiCommons

Let's start with some basic questions: Is it fair to blame President Donald Trump's fiery anti-media rhetoric for the murder of five Capital Gazette journalists? When Trump attacks the press, is he also attacking democracy?

Trump's verbal abuse against the media in general, and journalists covering his campaign -- and now his presidency -- has been unrelenting. At a Trump rally days before the shooting at the Capital Gazette's newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, which killed five staff members -- editor and columnist Rob Hiaasen, 59; Wendi Winters, 65, a community correspondent who headed special publications; editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, 61; editor and sports writer John McNamara, 56; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant -- Trump called journalists the "enemy of the American people." 

He has consistently labeled the work of the mainstream media "fake news," and called journalists "absolute scum," "disgusting" and "very dishonest."

In the wake of the shooting, in a robotic read-from-the-script moment, Trump offered up his thoughts and prayers for the gunned-down victims and their families. Then, at an event marking six-months since the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Trump said: "This attack shocked the conscience of our nation and filled our hearts with grief. Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job."


SupremeCourtHDSupreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh thinks presidents should be immune from prosecutions and criminal investigations. (Mitchell Shapiro)

As The Washington Post pointed out in a June 29 article headlined, "Top Supreme Court prospect has argued presidents should not be distracted by investigations and lawsuits,"

U.S. Circuit Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy who is viewed as one of the leading contenders to replace him, has argued that presidents should not be distracted by civil lawsuits, criminal investigations or even questions from a prosecutor or defense attorney while in office.

Kavanaugh had direct personal experience that informed his 2009 article for the Minnesota Law Review: He helped investigate President Bill Clinton as part of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's team and then served for five years as a close aide to President George W. Bush.

Having observed the weighty issues that can consume a president, Kavanaugh wrote, the nation's chief executive should be exempt from "time-consuming and distracting" lawsuits and investigations, which "would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis."

That is, of course, an outlook that is directly at odds with a Supreme Court perspective that set the context for the Paula Jones civil case against Bill Clinton to move forward, with Clinton as a defendant while he was president. It should be noted that the Supreme Court has not actually ruled on whether a president could be compelled to testify before a grand jury. Not yet anyway, but that could become an eventuality, considering Trump's legal thicket. No one is more acutely aware of that possibility than Trump.




2000px DemocraticLogo.svg Steven Braeger/WikiCommons

You don't need 20/ 20 vision to see that the whole world is waiting for the Democratic Party to push back against the tyrannical tendencies of the Trump administration. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting. 

Those of you with weak stomachs need to avert your eyes and keep all children sequestered behind closed doors at least until after the Midterms are over. Because the current state of the American Opposition Party, well, it ain't pretty. 

These pitiable progressives have managed to combine ineffectiveness with indecision. Add a sprinkle of incipient infirmity and a soupcon of both inert and inept, and you end up with a recipe for impotency, irrelevancy and extinction. A message that their candidates are finding increasingly difficult to sell to concerned constituents. "Join the Democrats. Just like you, we're confused too." 

Watching them desperately bumble about these days is scarier than finding scorpions in your underwear. Like a letter from the IRS with a big red "Urgent!" stamped on the outside of the envelope. Or the sound of a gun being cocked in the dark. Nearby. 

 Moore 0709wrpMichael Moore. (Photo: Reza Vaziri / Flickr)


In 1998, on "The Roseanne Show," Donald Trump congratulated fellow guest Michael Moore on his film Roger and Me, Moore's takedown of General Motor's C.E.O. Roger Smith. Trump jokingly commented: "I hope he doesn't make one on me."

Some twenty years later, under circumstances that neither Nostradamus nor Johnny Carson's Carnac the Magnificent -- who could discern unknown answers to unseen questions – could have imagined, Moore is making a film about President Trump. The documentary, titled Fahrenheit 11/9 – a reference to the day in 2016 when Trump was elected -- is due to be released in some 1500 theaters on September 21, just in time for the midterm elections.

On a recent edition of "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," Moore announced the release date of Fahrenheit 11/9, and previewed some footage. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Veteran film exec Tom Ortenberg, who stepped down as CEO of Open Road Films last November, is in the process of launching a new company, Briarcliff Entertainment, and is partnering with Moore to release" the film.

HR 0709wrp"identity & human right 027." (Photo: kellyjensen99 / Flickr)


In January 1941, with the prospect looming of US involvement in another European war, President Franklin Roosevelt spoke of America's purpose in the world: to protect and promote "four freedoms." FDR drew a clear link between US security and the fulfillment of human rights at home. "Just as our national policy in internal affairs has been based upon a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all of our fellow men within our gates, so our national policy in foreign affairs has been based on a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all nations, large and small." In another speech he underscored the point: "unless there is [human] security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world."

Among the extraordinary backward steps Donald Trump is taking America, none is more shameful, than his disregard for—in fact, his calculated trampling on—human rights at home and abroad. To my mind, the two are interrelated:A government that does not respect the human rights of its own citizens will also show no respect for human rights in other countries—and will help other governments that seek to repress their citizens' rights.

Friday, 06 July 2018 07:27

The New York Times Strikes Out

NYT 0706wrpNYT headquarters. (Photo: Miquel C. / Flickr)


For more than a century, The New York Times has unabashedly bragged in a banner slogan that it publishes "All the News That's Fit to Print."

Really? Then why did this prestigious publication waste so much paper and ink on a June 25 front-page article about Bernie Sanders that was demonstrably untrue, not news and clearly unfit to print?

The piece claimed that the formidable presidential contender of 2016 has been a ballot box flop this year, failing to "expand his political base and propel his personal allies to victory in Democratic primaries." Moreover, it took a slap at Our Revolution, the aggressively progressive grassroots political movement that sprang out of Senator Sanders' presidential run. The Times scoffed that "fewer than 50 percent of the more than 80 candidates [OR] has endorsed have won elections this year."

News flash for clueless media cognoscenti: Winning anywhere near half of your campaigns is a stunning achievement for a political organization!


foxshineTrump incorporates Fox News and misogyny into the White House. (mroach)

Donald Trump is a grand conductor of manipulating media coverage on Twitter. His tweets send messages to his base, attack accusers, create contrived controversies, divert attention from personal scandals and missteps, and disseminate his "presidential" statements. On July 4, he even used Twitter to air video remarks on Independence Day that emphasized the victory of George Washington and his army over the British.

For communicating with his base, Trump also mainlines his messaging through Fox News. In fact, Trump almost exclusively does news interviews with Fox anchors. It also is the case that Fox television "personalities" give advice to Trump. Sean Hannity is the most noted "Trump whisperer." A New York Magazine article from May provides some background:

The call to the White House comes after ten o'clock most weeknights, when Hannity is over. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Sean Hannity broadcasts live at 9 p.m. on Fox News, usually from Studio J in midtown, where the network is headquartered, but sometimes from a remote studio on Long Island, where he was raised and now lives....

Their chats begin casually, with How are yous and What’s going ons. On some days, they speak multiple times, with one calling the other to inform him of the latest developments. White House staff are aware that the calls happen, thanks to the president entering a room and announcing, "I just hung up with Hannity," or referring to what Hannity said during their conversations, or even ringing Hannity up from his desk in their presence.

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