organization:republican party

  • The New York Times and its Uyghur “activist” - World Socialist Web Site
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/05/09/uygh-m09.html

    9 May 2019 - The New York Times has furnished a case study of the way in which it functions as the conduit for the utterly hypocritical “human rights” campaigns fashioned by the CIA and the State Department to prosecute the predatory interests of US imperialism.

    While turning a blind eye to the gross abuses of democratic rights by allies such as Saudi Arabia, the US has brazenly used “human rights” for decades as the pretext for wars, diplomatic intrigues and regime-change. The media is completely integrated into these operations.

    Another “human rights” campaign is now underway. The New York Times is part of the mounting chorus of condemnation of China over its treatment of the Turkic-speaking, Muslim Uyghur minority in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang.

    In an article on May 4 entitled “In push for trade deal, Trump administration shelves sanctions over China’s crackdown on Uyghurs,” the New York Times joined in criticism of the White House, particularly by the Democrats, for failing to impose punitive measures on Beijing.

    The strident denunciations of China involve unsubstantiated allegations that it is detaining millions of Uyghurs without charge or trial in what Beijing terms vocational training camps.

    The New York Times reported, without qualification, the lurid claims of US officials, such as Assistant Secretary of Defence Randall Schriver, who last Friday condemned “the mass imprisonment of Chinese Muslims in concentration camps” and boosted the commonly cited figure of up to a million to “up to three million” in detention. No evidence has been presented for either claim.

    The repression of the Uyghurs is completely bound up with the far broader oppression of the working class by the Chinese capitalist elites and the Chinese Communist Party regime that defends their interests. The US campaign on the Uyghurs, however, has nothing to do with securing the democratic rights of workers, but is aimed at stirring up reactionary separatist sentiment.

    The US has longstanding ties to right-wing separatist organisations based on Chinese minorities—Tibetans as well as the Uyghurs—that it helped create, fund and in some cases arm. As the US, first under President Obama and now Trump, has escalated its diplomatic, economic and military confrontation with China, the “human rights” of Uyghurs has been increasingly brought to the fore.

    Washington’s aim, at the very least, is to foment separatist opposition in Xinjiang, which is a crucial source of Chinese energy and raw materials as well as being pivotal to its key Belt and Road Initiative to integrate China more closely with Eurasia. Such unrest would not only weaken China but could lead to a bloody war and the fracturing of the country. Uyghur separatists, who trained in the US network of Islamist terrorist groups in Syria, openly told Radio Free Asia last year of their intention to return to China to wage an armed insurgency.

    The New York Times is completely in tune with the aims behind these intrigues—a fact that is confirmed by its promotion of Uyghur “activist” Rushan Abbas.

    Last weekend’s article highlighted Abbas as the organiser of a tiny demonstration in Washington to “pressure Treasury Department officials to take action against Chinese officials involved in the Xinjiang abuses.” She told the newspaper that the Uyghur issue should be included as part of the current US-China trade talks, and declared: “They are facing indoctrination, brainwashing and the elimination of their values as Muslims.”

    An article “Uyghur Americans speak against China’s internment camps” on October 18 last year cited her remarks at the right-wing think tank, the Hudson Institute, where she “spoke out” about the detention of her aunt and sister. As reported in the article: “I hope the Chinese ambassador here reads this,” she said, wiping away tears. “I will not stop. I will be everywhere and speak on this at every event from now on.”

    Presented with a tearful woman speaking about her family members, very few readers would have the slightest inkling of Abbas’s background, about which the New York Times quite deliberately says nothing. Abbas is a highly connected political operator with long standing ties to the Pentagon, the State Department and US intelligence agencies at the highest level as well as top Republican Party politicians. She is a key figure in the Uyghur organisations that the US has supported and funded.

    Currently, Abbas is Director of Business Development in ISI Consultants, which offers to assist “US companies to grow their businesses in Middle East and African markets.” Her credentials, according to the company website, include “over 15 years of experience in global business development, strategic business analysis, business consultancy and government affairs throughout the Middle East, Africa, CIS regions, Europe, Asia, Australia, North America and Latin America.”

    The website also notes: “She also has extensive experience working with US government agencies, including Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Justice, and various US intelligence agencies.” As “an active campaigner for human rights,” she “works closely with members of the US Senate, Congressional Committees, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, the US Department of State and several other US government departments and agencies.”

    This brief summary makes clear that Abbas is well connected in the highest levels of the state apparatus and in political circles. It also underscores the very close ties between the Uyghur organisations, in which she and her family members are prominent, and the US intelligence and security agencies.

    A more extensive article and interview with Abbas appeared in the May 2019 edition of the magazine Bitter Winter, which is published by the Italian-based Center for Studies on New Religions. The magazine focuses on “religious liberty and human rights in China” and is part of a conservative, right-wing network in Europe and the United States. The journalist who interviewed Abbas, Marco Respinti, is a senior fellow at the Russell Kirk Centre for Cultural Renewal, and a board member of the Centre for European Renewal—both conservative think tanks.

    The article explains that Abbas was a student activist at Xinjiang University during the 1989 protests by students and workers against the oppressive Beijing regime, but left China prior to the brutal June 4 military crackdown that killed thousands in the capital and throughout the country. At the university, she collaborated with Dolkun Isa and “has worked closely with him ever since.”

    Dolkun Isa is currently president of the World Uyghur Congress, established in 2004 as an umbrella group for a plethora of Uyghur organisations. It receives funding from the National Endowment for Democracy—which is one of the fronts used by the CIA and the US State Department for fomenting opposition to Washington’s rivals, including so-called colour revolutions, around the world.

    Isa was the subject of an Interpol red notice after China accused him of having connections to the armed separatist group, the East Turkestan Liberation Organisation, a claim he denied. East Turkestan is the name given to Xinjiang by Uyghur separatists to denote its historic connections to Turkey. None of the Western countries in which he traveled moved to detain him and the red notice was subsequently removed, no doubt under pressure from Washington.

    Bitter Winter explained that after moving to the US, Abbas cofounded the first Uyghur organisation in the United States in 1993—the California-based Tengritagh Overseas Students and Scholars Association. She also played a key role in the formation of the Uyghur American Association in 1998, which receives funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Last year its Uyghur Human Rights Project was awarded two NED grants totaling $320,000. Her brother Rishat Abbas was the association’s first vice-chairman and is currently the honorary chairman of the Uyghur Academy based in Turkey.

    When the US Congress funded a Uyghur language service for the Washington-based Radio Free Asia, Abbas became its first reporter and news anchor, broadcasting daily to China. Radio Free Asia, like its counterpart Radio Free Europe, began its existence in the 1950s as a CIA conduit for anti-communist propaganda. It was later transferred to the US Information Agency, then the US State Department and before being incorporated as an “independent,” government-funded body. Its essential purpose as a vehicle for US disinformation and lies has not changed, however.

    In a particularly revealing passage, Bitter Winter explained: “From 2002–2003, Ms. Abbas supported Operation Enduring Freedom as a language specialist at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” In the course of the interview with the magazine, Abbas attempted to explain away her involvement with the notorious prison camp by saying that she was simply acting on behalf of 22 Uyghurs who were wrongfully detained and ultimately released—after being imprisoned for between four to 11 years!

    Given the denunciations of Chinese detention camps, one might expect that Abbas would have something critical to say about Guantanamo Bay, where inmates are held indefinitely without charge or trial and in many cases tortured. However, she makes no criticism of the prison or its procedures, nor for that matter of Operation Enduring Freedom—the illegal US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq that resulted in the deaths of a million civilians.

    It is clear why. Abbas is plugged into to the very top levels of the US state apparatus and political establishment in Washington. Her stints with Radio Free Asia and at Guantanamo Bay are undoubtedly not the only times that she has been directly on the payroll.

    As Bitter Winter continued: “She has frequently briefed members of the US Congress and officials at the State Department on the human rights situation of the Uyghur people, and their history and culture, and arranged testimonies before Congressional committees and Human Rights Commissions.

    “She provided her expertise to other federal and military agencies as well, and in 2007 she assisted during a meeting between then-President George W. Bush and Rebiya Kadeer, the world-famous moral leader of the Uyghurs, in Prague. Later that year she also briefed then First Lady Laura Bush in the White House on the Human Rights situation in Xinjiang.”

    It should be noted, Rebiya Kadeer is the “the world-famous moral leader of the Uyghurs,” only in the eyes of the CIA and the US State Department who have assiduously promoted her, and of the US-funded Uyghur organisations. She was one of the wealthiest businesswomen in China who attended the National People’s Congress before her husband left for the US and began broadcasting for Radio Free Asia and Voice of America. She subsequently fled China to the US and has served as president both of the World Uyghur Congress and the American Uyghur Association.

    The fact that Russan Abbas is repeatedly being featured in the New York Times is an indication that she is also being groomed to play a leading role in the mounting US propaganda offensive against China over the persecution of the Uyghurs. It is also a telling indictment of the New York Times which opens its pages to her without informing its readers of her background. Like Abbas, the paper of record is also plugged into the state apparatus and its intelligence agencies.

    #Chine #Xinjiang_Weiwuer_zizhiqu #USA #impérialisme #services_secretes

    新疆維吾爾自治區 / 新疆维吾尔自治区, Xīnjiāng Wéiwú’ěr zìzhìqū, englisch Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

  • First-ever private border wall built in #New_Mexico

    A private group announced Monday that it has constructed a half-mile wall along a section of the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico, in what it said was a first in the border debate.

    The 18-foot steel bollard wall is similar to the designs used by the Border Patrol, sealing off a part of the border that had been a striking gap in existing fencing, according to We Build the Wall, the group behind the new section.

    The section was also built faster and, organizers say, likely more cheaply than the government has been able to manage in recent years.

    Kris Kobach, a former secretary of state in Kansas and an informal immigration adviser to President Trump, says the New Mexico project has the president’s blessing, and says local Border Patrol agents are eager to have the assistance.

    “We’re closing a gap that’s been a big headache for them,” said Mr. Kobach, who is general counsel for We Build the Wall.


    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/may/27/first-ever-private-border-wall-built-new-mexico
    #privatisation #murs #barrières_frontalières #USA #Mexique #frontières #business #complexe_militaro-industriel
    ping @albertocampiphoto @daphne

    • The #GoFundMe Border Wall Is the Quintessential Trump-Era Grift

      In 2012, historian Rick Perlstein wrote a piece of essential reading for understanding modern conservatism, titled “The Long Con” and published by the Baffler. It ties the right’s penchant for absurd and obvious grifts to the conservative mind’s particular vulnerability to fear and lies:

      The strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers points up evidence of another successful long march, of tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place—and the formation of a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began.

      Lying, Perlstein said, is “what makes you sound the way a conservative is supposed to sound.” The lies—about abortion factories, ACORN, immigrants, etc.—fund the grifts, and the grifts prey on the psychology that makes the lies so successful.

      Perlstein’s piece is all I could think of when I saw last night’s CNN story about the border wall GoFundMe, which seemingly has actually produced Wall. According to CNN, the group We Build the Wall says it has produced a half-mile of border wall in New Mexico. CNN was invited to watch the construction, where Kris Kobach, who is general counsel for the group, spoke “over the clanking and beeping of construction equipment.”

      #Steve_Bannon, who is naturally involved with the group, told CNN that the wall connects existing fencing and had “tough terrain” that means it was left “off the government list.” The half-mile stretch of wall cost an “estimated $6 million to $8 million to build,” CNN reported.

      CNN also quoted #Jeff_Allen, who owns the property on which the fence was built, as saying: “I have fought illegals on this property for six years. I love my country and this is a step in protecting my country.” According to MSN, Allen partnered with United Constitutional Patriots to build the wall with We Build the Wall’s funding. UCP is the same militia that was seen on video detaining immigrants and misrepresenting themselves as Border Patrol; the Phoenix New Times reported on the “apparent ties” between the UCP and We Build the Wall earlier this month.

      This story is bursting at the seams with an all-star lineup of right-wing scammers. The GoFundMe itself, of course, has been rocked by scandal: After the effort raised $20 million, just $980 million short of the billion-dollar goal, GoFundMe said in January that the funds would be returned, since creator Brian Kolfage had originally pledged that “If for ANY reason we don’t reach our goal we will refund your donation.” But Kolfage quickly figured out how to keep the gravy train going, urging those who had donated to allow their donations to be redirected to a non-profit. Ultimately, $14 million of that $20 million figure was indeed rerouted by the idiots who donated it.

      That non-profit became #We_Build_The_Wall, and like all good conservative con jobs, it has the celebs of the fever swamp attached to it. Not only #Kris_Kobach, a tenacious liar who failed at proving voter fraud is a widespread problem—but also slightly washed-up figures like Bannon, Sheriff David Clarke, Curt Schilling, and Tom Tancredo. All the stars are here!

      How much sleazier could it get? Try this: the main contractor working at the site of New Wall, according to CNN, is Tommy Fisher. The Washington Post reported last week that Trump had “personally and repeatedly urged the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers” to give the contract for the border wall to the company owned by Fisher, a “GOP donor and frequent guest on Fox News,” despite the fact that the Corps of Engineers previously said Fisher’s proposals didn’t meet their requirements.

      Of course, like all good schemes, the need for more money never ceases: On the Facebook page for the group, the announcement that Wall had been completed was accompanied with a plea for fans to “DONATE NOW to fund more walls! We have many more projects lined up!”

      So, what we have is: A tax-exempt non-profit raised $20 million by claiming it would be able to make the federal government build Wall by just giving it the money for it and then, when that didn’t happen, getting most of its donors to reroute that money; then it built a half-mile of wall on private land for as much as $8 million, which went to a firm of a Fox News star whom President Trump adores.

      Perlstein wrote in the aforementioned piece that it’s hard to “specify a break point where the money game ends and the ideological one begins,” since “the con selling 23-cent miracle cures for heart disease inches inexorably into the one selling miniscule marginal tax rates as the miracle cure for the nation itself.” The con job was sold through fear: “Conjuring up the most garishly insatiable monsters precisely in order to banish them from underneath the bed, they aim to put the target to sleep.”

      The Trump era is the inartful, gaudy, brazen peak of this phenomenon. This time, instead of selling fake stem cell cures using the language of Invading Liberals, the grifters are just straight-up selling—for real American dollars—the promise of building a big wall to keep the monsters out.

      https://splinternews.com/the-gofundme-border-wall-is-the-quintessential-trump-er-1835062340

    • Company touted by Trump to build the wall has history of fines, violations

      President Donald Trump appears to have set his sights on a North Dakota construction firm with a checkered legal record to build portions of his signature border wall.
      The family-owned company, #Fisher_Sand_&_Gravel, claims it can build the wall cheaper and faster than competitors. It was among a handful of construction firms chosen to build prototypes of the President’s border wall in 2017 and is currently constructing portions of barrier on private land along the border in New Mexico using private donations.
      It also, however, has a history of red flags including more than $1 million in fines for environmental and tax violations. A decade ago, a former co-owner of the company pleaded guilty to tax fraud, and was sentenced to prison. The company also admitted to defrauding the federal government by impeding the IRS. The former executive, who’s a brother of the current company owner, is no longer associated with it.
      More than two years into his presidency, Trump is still fighting to build and pay for his border wall, a key campaign issue. After failing to get his requests for wall funding passed by a Republican-held Congress during his first two years in office, Trump has met resistance this year from a Democratic-controlled House. His attempt to circumvent Congress through a national emergency declaration has been challenged in the courts.
      On May 24, a federal district judge blocked the administration from using Defense Department funds to construct parts of the wall. The Trump administration has since appealed the block to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals and in the interim, asked the district court to allow building to continue pending appeal. The district court denied the administration’s request.
      Despite the uncertainty, construction firms have been competing to win multimillion-dollar contracts to build portions of wall, including Fisher Sand & Gravel.

      Asked by CNN to comment on the company’s history of environmental violations and legal issues, the company said in a statement: “The questions you are asking have nothing to do with the excellent product and work that Fisher is proposing with regard to protecting America’s southern border. The issues and situations in your email were resolved years ago. None of those matters are outstanding today.”
      Catching the President’s attention
      The company was founded in North Dakota in 1952 and operates in several states across the US. It’s enjoyed public support from North Dakota Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer, who as a congressman invited the company’s CEO, Tommy Fisher, to Trump’s State of the Union address in 2018. Cramer has received campaign contributions from Fisher and his wife. A photo of the event shared by Fisher in a company newsletter shows Tommy Fisher shaking Trump’s hand.
      The Washington Post first reported the President’s interest in Fisher. According to the Post, the President has “aggressively” pushed for the Army Corps of Engineers to award a wall contract to Fisher.
      The President “immediately brought up Fisher” during a May 23 meeting in the Oval Office to discuss details of the border wall with various government officials, including that he wants it to be painted black and include French-style doors, according to the Post and confirmed by CNN.
      “The Army Corps of Engineers says about 450 miles of wall will be completed by the end of next year, and the only thing President Trump is pushing, is for the wall to be finished quickly so the American people have the safety and security they deserve,” said Hogan Gidley, White House deputy press secretary.
      A US government official familiar with the meeting tells CNN that the President has repeatedly mentioned the company in discussions he’s had about the wall with the head of the Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite.
      Fisher has recently made efforts to raise its public profile, both by upping its lobbying efforts and through repeated appearances on conservative media by its CEO, Tommy Fisher.

      In the past two years, for example, the company’s congressional lobbying expenditures jumped significantly — from $5,000 in 2017 to $75,000 in 2018, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit that tracks lobbying expenditures.

      When asked about Fisher Sand & Gravel’s lobbying, Don Larson, one of Fisher’s registered lobbyists, said: “I am working to help decision makers in Washington become familiar with the company and its outstanding capabilities.”
      Media Blitz
      As part of a media blitz on outlets including Fox News, SiriusXM Patriot and Breitbart News, Tommy Fisher has discussed his support for the border wall and pitched his company as the one to build it. In a March 5 appearance on Fox & Friends, Fisher said that his company could build 234 miles of border wall for $4.3 billion, compared to the $5.7 billion that the Trump administration has requested from Congress.
      Fisher claimed that his firm can work five-to-10 times faster than competitors as a result of its construction process.
      The President has also touted Fisher on Fox News. In an April interview in which he was asked about Fisher by Sean Hannity, Trump said the company was “recommended strongly by a great new senator, as you know, Kevin Cramer. And they’re real. But they have been bidding and so far they haven’t been meeting the bids. I thought they would.”
      Despite the President’s interest, the company has thus far been unsuccessful in obtaining a contract to build the border wall, beyond that of a prototype.

      Earlier this year, Fisher put its name in the running for border wall contracts worth nearly $1 billion. When it lost the bid to Barnard Construction Co. and SLSCO Ltd., Fisher protested the awards over claims that the process was biased. In response, the Army Corps canceled the award. But after a review of the process, the Army Corps combined the projects and granted it to a subsidiary of Barnard Construction, according to an agency spokesperson.
      It’s unclear whether the project will proceed, given the recent decision by a federal judge to block the use of Defense Department funds to build parts of the border wall and the administration’s appeal.
      Fisher, which has a pending lawsuit in the US Court of Federal Claims over the solicitation process, is listed by the Defense Department as being among firms eligible to compete for future border contracts.

      It has moved forward with a private group, We Build the Wall, that is building sections of barrier on private land in New Mexico using private money raised as part of a GoFundMe campaign. Kris Kobach, the former Kansas Secretary of State who is now general counsel for the group, said a half-mile stretch is nearly complete, at an estimated cost of $6 million to $8 million.

      In a statement, a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said Fisher Industries has told them that the company has begun construction on private property along the border “in the approximate area of a USBP border barrier requirement that was not prioritized under current funding.”
      The spokesperson added: “It is not uncommon for vendors” to demonstrate their capabilities using “their own resources,” but the agency goes on to “encourage all interested vendors” to compete for border contracts “through established mechanisms to ensure any construction is carried out under relevant federal authorities and meets USBP operational requirements for border barrier.”
      In responses provided to CNN through Scott Sleight, an attorney working on behalf of the company, Fisher maintained that it’s “committed to working with all appropriate federal government officials and agencies to provide its expertise and experience to help secure America’s southern border.”
      The company says it has “developed a patent-pending bollard fence hanging system that [it] believes allows border fencing to be constructed faster than any contractor using common construction methods.” It also added: “Fisher has been concerned about the procurement procedures and evaluations done by the USACE to date, and hopes these issues can be remedied.”
      Relationship with Sen. Cramer
      A month after attending the 2018 State of the Union address with Cramer, Fisher and his wife, Candice each contributed the $5,400 maximum donation to Cramer’s campaign for the US Senate, Federal Election Commission records show.
      Fisher also donated to several Arizona Republicans in the 2018 election cycle, including giving the $5,400-maximum donation to Martha McSally’s campaign, records show.
      A recent video produced by Fisher Sand & Gravel demonstrating its ability to construct the wall includes a clip of Cramer at the controls of a track-hoe lifting sections of barrier wall into place, saying “this is just like XBOX, baby.” Cramer was joined at the demonstration by a handful of other Republican lawmakers from across the country.

      Cramer has been publicly critical of how the Army Corps has handled its border wall construction work, arguing that it has moved too slowly and expressing frustration over how it has dealt with Fisher. In an interview with a North Dakota TV station, Cramer said that he believes the corps “made a miscalculation in who they chose over Fisher” and that the company had been “skunked so to speak.” Cramer added that Fisher “remains a pre-qualified, high level, competitor.”

      In an interview with CNN, Cramer said that the company has come up in conversations he has had with administration officials, including the President and the head of the Army Corps, but while the senator said that he would “love if they got every inch of the project,” he added that he has “never advocated specifically for them.”
      "Every time someone comes to meet with me, whether it’s (Acting Defense Secretary) Shanahan, General Semonite, even with Donald Trump, they bring up Fisher Industries because they assume that’s my thing," Cramer said.
      “One of the things I’ve never done is said it should be Fisher,” Cramer said. “Now, I love Fisher. I’d love if they got every inch of the project. They’re my constituents, I don’t apologize for that. But my interest really is more in the bureaucratic process.”
      According to an administration official familiar with the situation, Cramer sent information about Fisher to the President’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner, who then passed it along to the Army Corps of Engineers for their consideration. The source tells CNN that Kushner was not familiar with the company prior to getting information about them from Cramer.
      Cramer said he does recall passing along information about the company to Kushner, but that he did not know what Kushner did with the information.
      On May 24, Cramer told a North Dakota radio station that the President has asked him to examine the process of how federal border wall projects are awarded.
      “We’re going to do an entire audit,” Cramer said. “I’ve asked for the entire bid process, and all of the bid numbers.” Cramer told CNN the President said he wanted the wall built for the “lowest, best price, and it’s also quality, and that’s what any builder should want.”
      Asked about aspects of the company’s checkered legal record, Cramer said “that level of scrutiny is important, but I would hope the same scrutiny would be put on the Corps of Engineers.”
      Environmental violations
      Though its corporate headquarters are in North Dakota, Fisher has a sizable footprint in Arizona, where it operates an asphalt company as well as a drilling and blasting company. It’s there that the company has compiled an extensive track record of environmental violations.
      From 2007 to 2017, Fisher Sand & Gravel compiled more than 1,300 air-quality violations in Maricopa County, culminating in the third highest settlement ever received by the Maricopa County Air Quality Department, according to Bob Huhn, a department spokesperson. That’s a record number of violations for any air-quality settlement in the county, Huhn said. The settlement totaled more than $1 million, though the department received slightly less than that following negotiations, Huhn said.
      Most of the violations came from an asphalt plant that the company was running in south Phoenix that has since closed. While the plant was still running, the City of Phoenix filed 469 criminal charges against the company from August to October of 2009, according to a city spokesperson.
      According to a 2010 article in the Arizona Republic, Fisher reached an agreement with Phoenix officials to close the plant in 2010. As part of the deal, fines were reduced from $1.1 million to an estimated $243,000 and all criminal charges were reduced to civil charges.
      Mary Rose Wilcox was a member of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors at the time the city and county were fighting Fisher over the asphalt plant, which was located in her district. “They tried to persuade us they were good guys since they were a family-owned company. But they were spreading noxious fumes into a residential area,” Wilcox said. “We tried to work with them, but their violations were just so blatant.”
      Michael Pops, a community activist who lived in the area around the plant, remembers fighting with Fisher for six years before the plant finally shut down. “The impact they had on this community was devastating,” Pops said, adding many low-income residents living near the asphalt plant were sickened from the fumes the plant emitted.
      The company has also racked up more than 120 violations with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality from 2004 until as recently as last summer, according to the department.
      In 2011, Fisher agreed to a Consent Judgement with ADEQ over numerous air quality violations the company had committed. As part of that settlement, Fisher agreed to pay $125,000 in civil penalties, and that it would remain in compliance with state air quality standards. Within two years Fisher was found to be in violation of that agreement and was forced to pay an additional $500,000 in fines, according to the state’s attorney general’s office.
      Legal trouble
      Internally, the company has also confronted issues.
      In 2011, Fisher Sand & Gravel agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a sexual discrimination and retaliation suit filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The lawsuit charged that the company violated federal anti-discrimination laws when it “subjected two women workers to egregious verbal sexual harassment by a supervisor and then fired one of them after she repeatedly asked the supervisor to stop harassing her and complained to a job superintendent.”
      The settlement required Fisher to provide anti-discrimination training to its employees in New Mexico and review its policies on sexual harassment.
      Micheal Fisher, a former co-owner of Fisher and Tommy’s brother, was sentenced to prison in 2009 for tax fraud, according to the Justice Department. Fisher pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding the [Internal Revenue Service], four counts of aiding in the filing of false federal tax returns for FSG and four counts of filing false individual tax returns,” according to a Justice Department release.
      The company also admitted responsibility for defrauding the US by impeding the IRS, according to the DOJ. Citing a long standing policy of not commenting on the contracting process, the Army Corps declined to comment on whether Fisher’s history factored into its decision not to award Fisher a contract.

      https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/31/politics/fisher-sand-and-gravel-legal-history-border-wall/index.html

    • Private US-Mexico border wall ordered open by gov’t, fights back and is now closed again

      The privately funded portion of the U.S.-Mexico border wall is now fully secure and closed again after one of its gates had been ordered to remain open until disputes about waterway access could be resolved.

      “Our border wall & gate are secure again and we still have not had a single breach. I want to thank the IBWC for acting swiftly and we look forward to working with you on our future projects,” triple amputee Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage posted to Twitter on Tuesday night.

      Kolfage created We Build The Wall Inc., a nonprofit that is now backed by former Trump Administration Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. The group crowd-funded more than $22 million in order to privately build a border wall and then sell it to the U.S. government for $1.

      A portion of that wall has been constructed in Texas for between $6 and $8 million. The 1-mile-long wall is located on private property near El Paso, Texas, and Sunland Park, New Mexico.

      However, the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) had ordered a 33-foot gate within the private border wall to remain open – not locked and closed – over a waterway access issue, according to BuzzFeed News. The IBCW addresses waterway issues between the U.S. and Mexico.

      “This is normally done well in advance of a construction project,” IBWC spokesperson Lori Kuczmanski said. “They think they can build now and ask questions later, and that’s not how it works.”

      BuzzFeed reported that the IBWC said the gate “had blocked officials from accessing a levee and dam, and cut off public access to a historic monument known as Monument One, the first in a series of obelisks that mark the U.S.–Mexico border from El Paso to Tijuana.”

      By Tuesday night, the IBWC said the gate would remain locked at night and issued a statement.

      “The U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) will lock the privately-owned gate on federal property at night effective immediately due to security concerns,” it said.

      The statement continues:

      The USIBWC is continuing to work with We Build the Wall regarding its permit request. Until this decision, the private gate was in a locked open position. We Build the Wall, a private organization, built a gate on federal land in Sunland Park, N.M., near El Paso, Texas, without authority, and then locked the gate closed on June 6, 2019. The private gate blocks a levee road owned by the U.S. Government. After repeated requests to unlock and open the private gate, the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC), accompanied by two uniformed law enforcement officers from the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, removed the private lock, opened the gate, and locked the gate open pending further discussions with We Build the Wall. The gate was also opened so that USIBWC employees can conduct maintenance and operations at American Dam.

      The USIBWC did not authorize the construction of the private gate on federal property as announced on We Build the Wall’s Twitter page. The USIBWC is not charged with securing other fences or gates as reported by We Build the Wall. The international border fences are not on USIBWC property. The USIBWC did not open any other gates in the El Paso area as erroneously reported. Other gates and the border fence are controlled by other federal agencies.

      When the proper documentation is received for the permit, USIBWC will continue to process the permit application.

      Before the statement had been released, Kolfage posted to Twitter.
      https://a

      mericanmilitarynews.com/2019/06/private-us-mexico-border-wall-ordered-open-by-intl-group-later-closed-locked-after-security-concerns/

  • #CBP terminates controversial $297 million #Accenture contract amid continued staffing struggles

    #Customs_and_Border_Protection on Thursday ended its controversial $297 million hiring contract with Accenture, according to two senior DHS officials and an Accenture representative.
    As of December, when CBP terminated part of its contract, the company had only completed processing 58 applicants and only 22 had made it onto the payroll about a year after the company was hired.
    At the time, the 3,500 applicants that remained in the Accenture hiring pipeline were transferred to CBP’s own hiring center to complete the process.

    CBP cut ties with Accenture on processing applicants a few months ago, it retained some services, including marketing, advertising and applicant support.
    This week, the entire contract was terminated for “convenience,” government speak for agreeing to part ways without placing blame on Accenture.
    While government hiring is “slow and onerous, it’s also part of being in the government” and that’s “something we have to accept and deal with as we go forward,” said one of the officials.
    For its efforts, CBP paid Accenture around $19 million in start-up costs, and around $2 million for 58 people who got job offers, according to the officials.
    Over the last couple of months, CBP explored how to modify the contract, but ultimately decided to completely stop work and return any remaining funds to taxpayers.
    But it’s unclear how much money, if any, that will be.

    In addition, to the funds already paid to Accenture, CBP has around $39 million left to “settle and close the books” with the company, an amount which has yet to be determined.
    In November 2017, CBP awarded Accenture the contract to help meet the hiring demands of an executive order on border security that President Donald Trump signed during his first week in office. The administration directed CBP to hire an additional 7,500 agents and officers on top of its current hiring goals.
    “We were in a situation where we needed to try something new” and “break the cycle of going backwards,” said a DHS official about why the agency started the contract.

    Meanwhile, hiring remains difficult for the agency amid a surge of migrants at the southern border that is stretching CBP resources thin.
    It “continues to be a very challenging environment,” said one official about hiring efforts this year.

    In fact, one of the reasons that CBP didn’t need Accenture to process applicants, is because the agency didn’t receive as many applications as it initially planned for.
    The agency has been focused on beating attrition and has been able to recently “beat it by a modest amount,” said the official. “Ultimately we would like to beat it by a heck of a lot, but we’re not there yet.”

    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/04/05/politics/cbp-terminate-hiring-contract-accenture/index.html
    #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #USA #Ests-Unis #complexe_militaro-industriel #business

    • Border Profiteers

      On a recent sunny spring afternoon in Texas, a couple hundred Border Patrol agents, Homeland Security officials, and salespeople from a wide array of defense and security contractors gathered at the Bandera Gun Club about an hour northwest of San Antonio to eat barbecue and shoot each other’s guns. The techies wore flip-flops; the veterans wore combat boots. Everyone had a good time. They were letting loose, having spent the last forty-eight hours cooped up in suits and ties back at San Antonio’s Henry B. Gonzalez convention center, mingling and schmoozing, hawking their wares, and listening to immigration officials rail about how those serving in enforcement agencies are not, under any circumstances, Nazis.

      These profiteers and bureaucrats of the immigration-industrial complex were fresh from the 2019 #Border_Security_Expo —essentially a trade show for state violence, where law enforcement officers and weapons manufacturers gather, per the Expo’s marketing materials, to “identify and address new and emerging border challenges and opportunities through technology, partnership, and innovation.” The previous two days of panels, speeches, and presentations had been informative, a major in the Argentine Special Forces told me at the gun range, but boring. He was glad to be outside, where handguns popped and automatic rifles spat around us. I emptied a pistol into a target while a man in a Three Percenter militia baseball hat told me that I was a “natural-born killer.” A drone buzzed overhead until, in a demonstration of a company’s new anti-drone technology, a device that looked like a rocket launcher and fired a sort of exploding net took it down. “This is music to me,” the Argentine major said.

      Perhaps it’s not surprising the Border Security Expo attendees were so eager to blow off steam. This year’s event found many of them in a defensive posture, given the waves of bad press they’d endured since President Trump’s inauguration, and especially since the disastrous implementation of his family separation policy, officially announced by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April of 2018, before being rescinded by Trump two-and-a-half months later. Throughout the Expo, in public events and in background roundtable conversations with reporters, officials from the various component parts of the Department of Homeland Security rolled out a series of carefully rehearsed talking points: Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) need more money, personnel, and technology; taking migrants to hospitals distracts CBP officers from their real mission; and the 1997 Flores court settlement, which prohibits immigration enforcement agencies from detaining migrant families with children for more than twenty days, is undermining the very sovereignty of the United States. “We want a secure border, we want an immigration system that has integrity,” Ronald Vitiello, then–acting head of ICE, said in a keynote address to the hundreds of people gathered in San Antonio. “We have a generous immigration system in this country, but it has to have integrity in order for us to continue to be so generous.”

      More of a technocrat than his thuggish predecessor Thomas Homan, Vitiello also spoke at length about using the “dark web” to take down smugglers and the importance of having the most up-to-date data-management technology. But he spoke most adamantly about needing “a fix” for the Flores settlement. “If you prosecute crimes and you give people consequences, you get less of it,” he said. “With Flores, there’s no consequence, and everybody knows that,” a senior ICE official echoed to reporters during a background conversation immediately following Vitiello’s keynote remarks. “That’s why you’re seeing so many family units. We cannot apply a consequence to a family unit, because we have to release them.”

      Meanwhile, around 550 miles to the west, in El Paso, hundreds of migrants, including children and families, were being held by CBP under a bridge, reportedly forced to sleep on the ground, with inadequate medical attention. “They treated us like we are animals,” one Honduran man told Texas Monthly. “I felt what they were trying to do was to hurt us psychologically, so we would understand that this is a lesson we were being taught, that we shouldn’t have crossed.” Less than a week after the holding pen beneath the bridge closed, Vitiello’s nomination to run ICE would be pulled amid a spate of firings across DHS; President Trump wanted to go “in a tougher direction.”

      Family Values

      On the second day of the Border Security Expo, in a speech over catered lunch, Scott Luck, deputy chief of Customs and Border Protection and a career Border Patrol agent, lamented that the influx of children and families at the border meant that resources were being diverted from traditional enforcement practices. “Every day, about 150 agents spend their shifts at hospitals and medical facilities with illegal aliens receiving treatment,” he said. “The annual salary cost for agents on hospital watch is more than $11.5 million. Budget analysts estimate that 13 percent of our operational budget—the budget that we use to buy equipment, to buy vehicles for our men and women—is now used for transportation, medical expenses, diapers, food, and other necessities to care for illegal aliens in Border Patrol custody.”

      As far as Luck was concerned, every dollar spent on food and diapers is one not spent on drones and weapons, and every hour an agent spends guarding a migrant in a hospital is an hour they don’t spend on the border. “It’s not what they signed up for. The mission they signed up for is to protect the United States border, to protect the communities in which they live and serve,” he told reporters after his speech. “The influx, the volume, the clutter that this creates is frustrating.” Vitiello applied an Orwellian inversion: “We’re not helping them as fast as we want to,” he said of migrant families apprehended at the border.

      Even when discussing the intimate needs of detained migrant families, the language border officials used to describe their remit throughout the Expo was explicitly militaristic: achieving “operational control,” Luck said, requires “impedance and denial” and “situational awareness.” He referred to technology as a “vital force multiplier.” He at least stopped short of endorsing the president’s framing that what is happening on the border constitutes an invasion, instead describing it as a “deluge.”

      According to the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank, the U.S. immigrant population has continued to grow—although at a slower rate than it did before the 2007 recession, and undocumented people appear to make up a smaller proportion of the overall population. Regardless, in fiscal year 2018, both ICE and CBP stepped up their enforcement activities, arresting, apprehending, and deporting people at significantly higher rates than the previous year. More than three times as many family members were apprehended at the border last year than in 2017, the Pew Research Center reports, and in the first six months of FY 2019 alone there were 189,584 apprehensions of “family units”: more than half of all apprehensions at the border during that time, and more than the full-year total of apprehended families for any other year on record. While the overall numbers have not yet begun to approach those of the 1980s and 1990s, when apprehensions regularly exceeded one million per year, the demographics of who is arriving at the United States southern border are changing: fewer single men from Mexico and more children and families from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—in other words, an ever-wider range of desperate victims of drug gangs and American policies that have long supported corrupt regimes.

      This change has presented people like Luck with problems they insist are merely logistical: aging Border Patrol stations, he told us at the Expo, “are not luxurious in any way, and they were never intended to handle families and children.” The solution, according to Vitiello, is “continued capital investment” in those facilities, as well as the cars and trucks necessary to patrol the border region and transport those apprehended from CBP custody to ICE detention centers, the IT necessary to sift through vast amounts of data accumulated through untold surveillance methods, and all of “the systems by which we do our work.”

      Neither Vitiello nor Luck would consider whether those systems—wherein thousands of children, ostensibly under the federal government’s care, have been sexually abused and five, from December through May of this year, have died—ought to be questioned. Both laughed off calls from migrant justice organizers, activists, and politicians to abolish ICE. “The concept of the Department of Homeland Security—and ICE as an agency within it—was designed for us to learn the lessons from 9/11,” Vitiello said. “Those needs still exist in this society. We’re gonna do our part.” DHS officials have even considered holding migrant children at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to the New York Times, where a new $23 million “contingency mass migration complex” is being built. The complex, which is to be completed by the end of the year, will have a capacity of thirteen thousand.

      Violence is the Point

      The existence of ICE may be a consequence of 9/11, but the first sections of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border—originally to contain livestock—went up in 1909 through 1911. In 1945, in response to a shift in border crossings from Texas to California, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Immigration and Naturalization Service recycled fencing wire and posts from internment camps in Crystal City, Texas, where more than a hundred thousand Japanese Americans had been imprisoned during World War II. “Although the INS could not erect a continuous line of fence along the border, they hoped that strategic placement of the fence would ‘compel persons seeking to enter the United States illegally to attempt to go around the ends of the fence,’” historian Kelly Lytle Hernández, quoting from government documents, writes in Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol. “What lay at the end of the fences and canals were desert lands and mountains extremely dangerous to cross without guidance or sufficient water. The fences, therefore, discouraged illegal immigration by exposing undocumented border crossers to the dangers of daytime dehydration and nighttime hypothermia.”

      Apprehension and deportation tactics continued to escalate in the years following World War II—including Operation Wetback, the infamous (and heavily propagandized) mass-deportation campaign of 1954—but the modern, militarized border era was greatly boosted by Bill Clinton. It was during Clinton’s first administration that Border Patrol released its “Strategic Plan: 1994 and Beyond,” which introduced the idea of “prevention through deterrence,” a theory of border policing that built on the logic of the original wall and hinges upon increasing the “cost” of migration “to the point that many will consider it futile to continue to attempt illegal entry.” With the Strategic Plan, the agency was requesting more money, officers, and equipment in order to “enhance national security and safeguard our immigration heritage.”

      The plan also noted that “a strong interior enforcement posture works well for border control,” and in 1996, amid a flurry of legislation targeting people of color and the poor, Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which empowered the federal government to deport more people more quickly and made it nearly impossible for undocumented immigrants to obtain legal status. “Before 1996, internal enforcement activities had not played a very significant role in immigration enforcement,” the sociologists Douglas Massey and Karen A. Pren wrote in 2012. “Afterward these activities rose to levels not seen since the deportation campaigns of the Great Depression.” With the passage of the Patriot Act in 2001 and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2002, immigration was further securitized and criminalized, paving the way for an explosion in border policing technology that has further aligned the state with the defense and security industry. And at least one of Border Patrol’s “key assumptions,” explicitly stated in the 1994 strategy document, has borne out: “Violence will increase as effects of strategy are felt.”

      What this phrasing obscures, however, is that violence is the border strategy. In practice, what “prevention through deterrence” has meant is forcing migrants to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in the desert, putting already vulnerable people at even greater risk. Closing urban points of entry, for example, or making asylum-seekers wait indefinitely in Mexico while their claims are processed, pushes migrants into remote areas where there is a higher likelihood they will suffer injury and death, as in the case of seven-year-old Jakil Caal Maquin, who died of dehydration and shock after being taken into CBP custody in December. (A spokesperson for CBP, in an email response, deflected questions about whether the agency considers children dying in its custody a deterrent.) Maquin is one of many thousands who have died attempting to cross into the United States: the most conservative estimate comes from CBP itself, which has recovered the remains of 7,505 people from its southwest border sectors between 1998 and 2018. This figure accounts for neither those who die on the Mexican side of the border, nor those whose bodies remain lost to the desert.

      Draconian immigration policing causes migrants to resort to smugglers and traffickers, creating the conditions for their exploitation by cartels and other violent actors and increasing the likelihood that they will be kidnapped, coerced, or extorted. As a result, some migrants have sought the safety of collective action in the form of the “caravan” or “exodus,” which has then led the U.S. media and immigration enforcement agencies to justify further militarization of the border. Indeed, in his keynote address at the Expo, Luck described “the emerging prevalence of large groups of one hundred people or more” as “troubling and especially dangerous.” Later, a sales representative for the gun manufacturer Glock very confidently explained to me that this was because agents of al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, were embedded with the caravans.

      Branding the Border

      Unsurprisingly, caravans came up frequently at the Border Security Expo. (An ICE spokesperson would later decline to explain what specific threat they pose to national security, instead citing general statistics about the terrorist watchlist, “special interest aliens,” and “suspicious travel patterns.”) During his own keynote speech, Vitiello described how ICE, and specifically its subcomponent Homeland Security Investigations, had deployed surveillance and intelligence-gathering techniques to monitor the progress of caravans toward the border. “When these caravans have come, we’ve had trained, vetted individuals on the ground in those countries reporting in real time what they were seeing: who the organizers were, how they were being funded,” he said, before going on an astonishing tangent:

      That’s the kind of capability that also does amazing things to protecting brands, property rights, economic security. Think about it. If you start a company, introduce a product that’s innovative, there are people in the world who can take that, deconstruct it, and create their own version of it and sell it as yours. All the sweat that went into whatever that product was, to build your brand, they’ll take it away and slap it on some substandard product. It’s not good for consumers, it’s not good for public safety, and it’s certainly an economic drain on the country. That’s part of the mission.

      That the then–acting director of ICE, the germ-cell of fascism in the bourgeois American state, would admit that an important part of his agency’s mission is the protection of private property is a testament to the Trump administration’s commitment to saying the quiet part out loud.

      In fact, brands and private industry had pride of place at the Border Security Expo. A memorial ceremony for men and women of Border Patrol who have been killed in the line of duty was sponsored by Sava Solutions, an IT firm that has been awarded at least $482 million in federal contracts since 2008. Sava, whose president spent twenty-four years with the DEA and whose director of business development spent twenty with the FBI, was just one of the scores of firms in attendance at the Expo, each hoping to persuade the bureaucrats in charge of acquiring new gear for border security agencies that their drones, their facial recognition technology, their “smart” fences were the best of the bunch. Corporate sponsors included familiar names like Verizon and Motorola, and other less well-known ones, like Elbit Systems of America, a subsidiary of Israel’s largest private defense contractor, as well as a handful of IT firms with aggressive slogans like “Ever Vigilant” (CACI), “Securing the Future” (ManTech), and “Securing Your Tomorrow” (Unisys).

      The presence of these firms—and indeed the very existence of the Expo—underscores an important truth that anyone attempting to understand immigration politics must reckon with: border security is big business. The “homeland security and emergency management market,” driven by “increasing terrorist threats and biohazard attacks and occurrence of unpredictable natural disasters,” is projected to grow to more than $742 billion by 2023 from $557 billion in 2018, one financial analysis has found. In the coming decades, as more people are displaced by climate catastrophe and economic crises—estimates vary between 150 million and 1 billion by 2050—the industry dedicated to policing the vulnerable stands to profit enormously. By 2013, the United States was already spending more on federal immigration enforcement than all other federal law enforcement agencies combined, including the FBI and DEA; ICE’s budget has doubled since its inception in 2003, while CBP’s has nearly tripled. Between 1993 and 2018, the number of Border Patrol agents grew from 4,139 to 19,555. And year after year, Democrats and Republicans alike have been happy to fuel an ever more high-tech deportation machine. “Congress has given us a lot of money in technology,” Luck told reporters after his keynote speech. “They’ve given us over what we’ve asked for in technology!”

      “As all of this rhetoric around security has increased, so has the impetus to give them more weapons and more tools and more gadgets,” Jacinta Gonzalez, a senior campaign organizer with Mijente, a national network of migrant justice activists, told me. “That’s also where the profiteering comes in.” She continued: “Industries understand what’s good for business and adapt themselves to what they see is happening. If they see an administration coming into power that is pro-militarization, anti-immigrant, pro-police, anti-communities of color, then that’s going to shape where they put their money.”

      By way of example, Gonzalez pointed to Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who spent $1.25 million supporting Trump’s 2016 election campaign and followed that up last year by donating $1 million to the Club for Growth—a far-right libertarian organization founded by Heritage Foundation fellow and one-time Federal Reserve Board prospect Stephen Moore—as well as about $350,000 to the Republican National Committee and other GOP groups. ICE has awarded Palantir, the $20 billion surveillance firm founded by Thiel, several contracts worth tens of millions of dollars to manage its data streams—a partnership the agency considers “mission critical,” according to documents reviewed by The Intercept. Palantir, in turn, runs on Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing service provided by the world’s most valuable public company, which is itself a key contractor in managing the Department of Homeland Security’s $6.8 billion IT portfolio.

      Meanwhile, former DHS secretary John Kelly, who was Trump’s chief of staff when the administration enacted its “zero-tolerance” border policy, has joined the board of Caliburn International—parent organization of the only for-profit company operating shelters for migrant children. “Border enforcement and immigration policy,” Caliburn reported in an SEC filing last year, “is driving significant growth.” As Harsha Walia writes in Undoing Border Imperialism, “the state and capitalism are again in mutual alliance.”

      Triumph of the Techno-Nativists

      At one point during the Expo, between speeches, I stopped by a booth for Network Integrity Systems, a security firm that had set up a demonstration of its Sentinel™ Perimeter Intrusion Detection System. A sales representative stuck out his hand and introduced himself, eager to explain how his employer’s fiber optic motion sensors could be used at the border, or—he paused to correct himself—“any kind of perimeter.” He invited me to step inside the space that his coworkers had built, starting to say “cage” but then correcting himself, again, to say “small enclosure.” (It was literally a cage.) If I could get out, climbing over the fencing, without triggering the alarm, I would win a $500 Amazon gift card. I did not succeed.

      Overwhelmingly, the vendors in attendance at the Expo were there to promote this kind of technology: not concrete and steel, but motion sensors, high-powered cameras, and drones. Customs and Border Patrol’s chief operating officer John Sanders—whose biography on the CBP website describes him as a “seasoned entrepreneur and innovator” who has “served on the Board of Directors for several leading providers of contraband detection, geospatial intelligence, and data analytics solutions”—concluded his address by bestowing on CBP the highest compliment he could muster: declaring the agency comparable “to any start-up.” Rhetoric like Sanders’s, ubiquitous at the Expo, renders the border both bureaucratic and boring: a problem to be solved with some algorithmic mixture of brutality and Big Data. The future of border security, as shaped by the material interests that benefit from border securitization, is not a wall of the sort imagined by President Trump, but a “smart” wall.

      High-ranking Democrats—leaders in the second party of capital—and Republicans from the border region have championed this compromise. During the 2018-2019 government shutdown, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson told reporters that Democrats would appropriate $5.7 billion for “border security,” so long as that did not include a wall of Trump’s description. “Walls are primitive. What we need to do is have border security,” House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said in January. He later expanded to CNN: “I’ve said that we ought to have a smart wall. I defined that as a wall using drones to make it too high to get over, using x-ray equipment to make it too wide to get around, and using scanners to go deep enough not to be able to tunnel under it. To me, that would be a smart thing to do.”

      Even the social democratic vision of Senator Bernie Sanders stops short at the border. “If you open the borders, my God, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re going to have people from all over the world,” he told Iowa voters in early April, “and I don’t think that’s something that we can do at this point.” Over a week later, during a Fox News town hall with Pennsylvania voters, he recommitted: “We need border security. Of course we do. Who argues with that? That goes without saying.”

      To the extent that Trump’s rhetoric, his administration’s immigration policies, and the enforcement agencies’ practices have made the “border crisis” more visible than ever before, they’ve done so on terms that most Democrats and liberals fundamentally agree with: immigration must be controlled and policed; the border must be enforced. One need look no further than the high priest of sensible centrism, Thomas Friedman, whose major complaint about Trump’s immigration politics is that he is “wasting” the crisis—an allusion to Rahm Emanuel’s now-clichéd remark that “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” (Frequently stripped of context, it is worth remembering that Emanuel made this comment in the throes of the 2008 financial meltdown, at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council, shortly following President Obama’s election.) “Regarding the border, the right place for Democrats to be is for a high wall with a big gate,” Friedman wrote in November of 2018. A few months later, a tour led by Border Patrol agents of the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego left Friedman “more certain than ever that we have a real immigration crisis and that the solution is a high wall with a big gate—but a smart gate.”

      As reasonable as this might sound to anxious New York Times readers looking for what passes as humanitarian thinking in James Bennet’s opinion pages, the horror of Friedman’s logic eventually reveals itself when he considers who might pass through the big, smart gate in the high, high wall: “those who deserve asylum” and “a steady flow of legal, high-energy, and high-I.Q. immigrants.” Friedman’s tortured hypothetical shows us who he considers to be acceptable subjects of deportation and deprivation: the poor, the lazy, and the stupid. This is corporate-sponsored, state-sanctioned eugenics: the nativism of technocrats.

      The vision of a hermetically sealed border being sold, in different ways, by Trump and his allies, by Democrats, and by the Border Security Expo is in reality a selectively permeable one that strictly regulates the movement of migrant labor while allowing for the unimpeded flow of capital. Immigrants in the United States, regardless of their legal status, are caught between two factions of the capitalist class, each of which seek their immiseration: the citrus farmers, construction firms, and meat packing plants that benefit from an underclass of unorganized and impoverished workers, and the defense and security firms that keep them in a state of constant criminality and deportability.

      You could even argue that nobody in a position of power really wants a literal wall. Even before taking office, Trump himself knew he could only go so far. “We’re going to do a wall,” he said on the campaign trail in 2015. However: “We’re going to have a big, fat beautiful door on the wall.” In January 2019, speaking to the American Farm Bureau Association, Trump acknowledged the necessity of a mechanism allowing seasonal farmworkers from Mexico to cross the border, actually promising to loosen regulations on employers who rely on temporary migrant labor. “It’s going to be easier for them to get in than what they have to go through now,” he said, “I know a lot about the farming world.”

      At bottom, there is little material difference between this and what Friedman imagines to be the smarter, more humane approach. While establishment liberals would no doubt prefer that immigration enforcement be undertaken quietly, quickly, and efficiently, they have no categorical objection to the idea that noncitizens should enjoy fewer rights than citizens or be subject to different standards of due process (standards that are already applied in deeply inequitable fashion).

      As the smorgasbord of technologies and services so garishly on display at the Border Security Expo attests, maintaining the contradiction between citizens and noncitizens (or between the imperial core and the colonized periphery) requires an ever-expanding security apparatus, which itself becomes a source of ever-expanding profit. The border, shaped by centuries of bourgeois interests and the genocidal machinations of the settler-colonial nation-state, constantly generates fresh crises on which the immigration-industrial complex feeds. In other words, there is not a crisis at the border; the border is the crisis.

      CBP has recently allowed Anduril, a start-up founded by one of Peter Thiel’s mentees, Palmer Luckey, to begin testing its artificial intelligence-powered surveillance towers and drones in Texas and California. Sam Ecker, an Anduril engineer, expounded on the benefits of such technology at the Expo. “A tower doesn’t get tired. It doesn’t care about being in the middle of the desert or a river around the clock,” he told me. “We just let the computers do what they do best.”

      https://thebaffler.com/outbursts/border-profiteers-oconnor

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rappelle que le « Muslim ban » est toujours en vigueur :
    https://twitter.com/aoc/status/1106584578687406081

    Daily reminder that we have a *Muslim Ban* in this country made out of the President’s hostility to Muslim people w/ little-to-no supporting evidence, and a Republican Party that tolerates it.

    There is so much work to do. Repealing the Ban is square 1.

    The Fight Against Trump’s Muslim Ban Isn’t Over - Brennan Center for Justice
    https://www.brennancenter.org/blog/the-fight-against-trumps-muslim-ban-isnt-over

    Today, other immoral policies dominate the news. The Muslim ban has been in effect for over a year, upheld by the Supreme Court despite overwhelming evidence that it was motivated by religious animus not national security. The ban, once so unthinkable, almost seems normalized.

  • As Ilhan Omar endures anti-Muslim racism, most lawmakers in Congress remain silent – ThinkProgress
    https://thinkprogress.org/as-ilhan-omar-endures-anti-muslim-racism-most-lawmakers-in-congress-r

    at the time of publication, neither Democratic leaders in the House and Senate — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — had publicly condemned the actions of the West Virginia GOP.

    #lâches #carriéristes #corrompus #médiocres #etats-unis

  • ‘Ravenous hysteria’: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says attacks from Republican extremists have reached a ‘ludicrous level’ in New Yorker interview – Alternet.org
    https://www.alternet.org/2019/03/ravenous-hysteria-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-says-attacks-from-republican-ex

    If a smartphone video of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez jaywalking in Midtown Manhattan were to surface, someone on the far right would inevitably be tweeting about how “scandalous” it was. Hysterical, incredibly silly attacks on the 29-year-old Democratic congresswoman have become a regular occurrence among Republicans, and the New Yorker’s David Remnick explores the ridiculous nature of the attacks in a new interview with her.

    Remnick notes that Republicans have been resorting to “phony memes” about everything from “her clothes, her makeup, her intellect, her boyfriend, her apartment building” to “her dance routine from her days at Boston University.”

    And Ocasio-Cortez asserts that the “ravenous hysteria” she is experiencing from the far right is “really getting to a level that is kind of out of control.”

    The article’s headline, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Coming for Your Hamburgers!,” is clearly mocking the over-the-top criticism of her coming from Republicans—which Ocasio-Cortez finds both frustrating and amusing. Discussing Republicans’ reactions to her Green New Deal proposals on climate change, Ocasio-Cortez tells Remnick, “Apparently, I am a cow dictator. What’s humorous to me is that we’re finally proposing a clear, ambitious, but necessary and grounded policy on the scale of the problem. And so, it’s hard for the Republicans to refute the actual policy on its substance. They resort to mythologizing it on a ludicrous level. Ted Cruz says we want to ‘kill all the cows.’ How far have we slid in our discourse? But that’s what half our political representation is up to.”

    Remnick asserts that the GOP’s demonization of Ocasio-Cortez is meant to discredit Democrats in general as President Donald Trump fights to win a second term in 2020. Trump, Remnick writes, “made clear in his State of the Union Address” that he “will try to hang ‘socialism’ around the neck of the Democratic Party” and “describe the Democratic candidate as the second coming of (North Korean dictator) Kim Jong Un…. That will surely be the move, and Ocasio-Cortez, who is six years short of eligibility for the presidency, will surely be a focal point of Trump’s tantrums.”

    Remnick concludes the piece by noting that Ocasio-Cortez cannot be the only one to address issues like climate change, universal health care and raising the United States’ national minimum wage.

    #Alexandria_Ocasio_Cortez #Campagne_hystérique

  • Anti-BDS bill passed Senate, but trouble awaits in House
    Some Democrats are convinced the decision to tie the controversial bill together with motions on aid to Israel and Jordan and sanctions on Syria was designed to spark intra-Democratic fighting
    Amir Tibon Washington
    Feb 10, 2019 11:52 PM
    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-anti-bds-bill-passed-senate-but-trouble-awaits-in-house-1.6920012

    WASHINGTON – The Senate passed a bill last week that encourages state governments across the U.S. not to sign contracts with supporters of boycotts against Israel and its settlements in the occupied West Bank. The bill has since been introduced in the House of Representatives, but Congressional sources from both parties told Haaretz in recent days they doubt it will pass the House any time soon.

    The bill in question is called the Combating BDS Act. It passed the Senate as part of a “package” of Middle East-related bills after being introduced by Republican Senator Marco Rubio. The other bills in the package deal with non-controversial, consensus issues such as military aid to Israel and Jordan, and sanctions on the Assad regime in Syria.

    Rubio and Senate Republicans added the anti-BDS bill into the package, setting the stage for an intense fight about it on Capitol Hill. The reason is that civil rights organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union are concerned that the Combating BDS Act is unconstitutional and harms American citizens’ freedom of speech.

    The bill encourages the implementation of local legislation passed in recent years by half of the states in the U.S., putting limits on state governments’ abilities to sign contracts with supporters of boycotts against Israel or the settlements. Two such laws have been frozen by federal courts in Arizona and Kansas, following lawsuits by state contractors who said the laws harmed their freedom of speech. Similar lawsuits have recently been filed in Texas and Arkansas.

    When the package bill came up for a vote last week, 23 senators voted against it, including one Republican, Rand Paul of Kentucky. Many of those who voted against it clarified that if every aspect of the bill had been voted on separately, they probably would have supported the bills on assistance to Israel and Jordan and on sanctioning Assad, and would have only objected to the BDS bill, mainly because of concerns surrounding freedom of speech.

    Such a vote could take place in the Senate, where Republicans hold the majority, but not in the House, according to the Congressional sources who spoke with Haaretz. Democrats are convinced that the entire purpose of the Republican decision to add the anti-BDS bill into the broader Middle East package was to orchestrate an intra-Democratic fight over the issue, and force many Democrats to choose between their position on the free speech criticism of the bill, and their general opposition to BDS.

    The Democratic leadership in the House, which has a majority ever since the midterm elections, will most likely break up the package into a number of separate bills. That will allow the House to approve the non-controversial bills on security aid to Israel and sanctions on Syria, without immediately setting the stage for a new round of internal party tensions on the “constitutional right to boycott” question.

    While the other bills are probably going to see quick and easy approval, the anti-BDS bill could be up for a lengthy period of debate in the relevant House committees. There could also be an amendment process. In the Senate, for example, one Democratic senator, Gary Peters of Michigan, offered an amendment that would make it absolutely clear that the bill only refers to large companies, not to small businesses or sole proprietors. Another amendment offered to distinguish in the bill’s language between Israel proper and the settlements in the occupied West Bank.

    Lara Friedman of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, one of the most vocal opponents of the legislation, told Haaretz last week that Democrats in the House “can see what happened in the Senate and take a good guess that it will be even more controversial” in their chamber. “The only ones who benefit from seeing Democrats fight amongst themselves on this issue are the GOP and folks in the U.S. and Israel who want to see Israel turned into a weapon for partisan gain,” she added.

    AIPAC, the powerful lobby that supports the Israeli government, is urging Congress to pass the legislation. The organization wrote in its monthly publication, the Near East Report, that “Congress should take up and pass the Combating BDS Act as quickly as possible. This important bipartisan bill seeks both to protect states against claims they are preempting federal authority, and to demonstrate Congress’ strong support for state measures consistent with Congress’ historic commitment to oppose boycotts of Israel.”

    #BDS

    • En complément : attaquer Omar, Tlaib et Ocasio-Cortez, par imputation d’antisémitisme, pour explicitement diviser les Démocrates : McCarthy pressures Democrats to rebuke two Muslim lawmakers over alleged anti-Semitism
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/mccarthy-gop-challenge-house-democrats-to-denounce-alleged-anti-semitism/2019/02/08/aef28514-2bae-11e9-b2fc-721718903bfc_story.html

      Republicans are focusing their ire at the two Muslim women in Congress, accusing them of anti-Semitism and pressuring Democratic leaders to rebuke the lawmakers as attitudes in the party toward Israel shift from unquestioned support.

      The pressure on Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) is part of a larger GOP effort to drive a partisan wedge into the traditionally nonpartisan relationship between the United States and Israel. Republicans are casting themselves as the more resolute defender of Israel, heightening the party’s appeal to traditionally Democratic Jewish voters.

      […]

      Ralph Reed, the head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and an ally of the Trump White House, said Republicans are working to “change the center of gravity in the American electorate on the issue of Israel.”

      “The leftward drift of the grass roots of the Democrat Party, away from wholehearted and robust support of Israel, means you have people in that party who see Israel through the prism of apartheid and occupation,” he said. “That’s an opportunity for Republicans to say, ‘That’s not how we see Israel.’ ”

      Some Republicans have pointed to a recent phone call between Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the high-profile young leader of her party’s hard-left wing, to British lawmaker Jeremy Corbyn, the head of the Labour Party who has come under intense criticism for tolerating anti-Semitism in his ranks.

      (Accessoirement donc : internationalisation de la manipulation anti-Corbyn…)

  • 116th Congress: #TweetYourThobe, Rashida Tlaib wears Palestinian thobe at swearing in - INSIDER
    https://www.thisisinsider.com/116th-congress-tweetyourthobe-rashida-tlaib-wears-palestinian-thobe-a

    Democratic members of the House of Representatives takes their oath on the opening day of the 116th Congress as the Democrats take the majority from the GOP, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. On the top row are, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., left, and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., middle row, Rep. Joe Morelle, D-N.Y., left, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and on the bottom row, Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., the first Native American woman elected to Congress. They are joined by children and family members, a tradition on the first day of the new session. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Women are tweeting images of their thobes — traditional Palestinian dresses adorned with elaborate embroidery — inspired by freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib.
    Rep. Tlaib, who was elected in November to represent the 13th District in Michigan, was sworn into the 116th Congress on Thursday.
    The congresswoman is one of the first two Muslim-American women elected to Congress, and during her swearing-in Rep. Tlaib wore a thobe.
    The #TweetYourThobe movement was started by Palestinian-American novelist Susan Muaddi Darraj, The New York Times reported, as a way to show support for Tlaib.

    #palestine

  • Thousands of Wisconsinites turn out to protest outgoing Republicans’ plan to seize power after electoral defeat / Boing Boing
    https://boingboing.net/2018/12/04/indomitable-midwesterners.html

    8 years after Scott Walker and his Koch-backed GOP used voter suppression and gerrymandering to steal control over Wisconsin, Wisconsites finally pried his crooked ass out of the governor’s chair, but Walker and Co want to blow up the state on their way out.

    The lame-duck session of the Wisconsin legislature is about to pass a suite of undemocratic and illegal reforms to the state’s legislative and regulatory system that will allow them to steal a state supreme court seat (their nominee is a homophobic bigot who says that affirmative action is indistinguishable from slavery), gut the power of the attorney-general to reverse the state’s subversion of Obamacare and poisoning of Medicare, and even force the capital to allow firearms.

    Last night, thousands of Wisconsinites protested outside the capital — after the GOP sponsors of the bill failed to turn up and testify in favor of it — in subzero weather.

    Michigan is in the same boat, and there, too, anger is roiling in the streets and around the capital.

    #USA #politique #élections #charcutage_électoral

  • #Obama tells #bankers to thank him, boasts of boosting oil production, at elite gala with GOP official - YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjVFfX4BtvI

    Barack Obama told bankers they should thank him for helping them make so much money, and boasted of making the US the world’s largest oil producer. The former Democratic president was speaking with former top Bush/Reagan official James Baker, at a lavish gala surrounded by rich elites in tuxes eating hors d’oeuvres

  • Who writes history? The fight to commemorate a massacre by the Texas #rangers

    In 1918, a state-sanctioned vigilante force killed 15 unarmed Mexicans in #Porvenir. When their descendants applied for a historical marker a century later, they learned that not everyone wants to remember one of Texas’ darkest days.

    The name of the town was Porvenir, or “future.” In the early morning hours of January 28, 1918, 15 unarmed Mexicans and Mexican Americans were awakened by a state-sanctioned vigilante force of Texas Rangers, U.S. Army cavalry and local ranchers. The men and boys ranged in age from 16 to 72. They were taken from their homes, led to a bluff over the Rio Grande and shot from 3 feet away by a firing squad. The remaining residents of the isolated farm and ranch community fled across the river to Mexico, where they buried the dead in a mass grave. Days later, the cavalry returned to burn the abandoned village to the ground.

    These, historians broadly agree, are the facts of what happened at Porvenir. But 100 years later, the meaning of those facts remains fiercely contested. In 2015, as the centennial of the massacre approached, a group of historians and Porvenir descendants applied for and was granted a Texas Historical Commission (THC) marker. After a three-year review process, the THC approved the final text in July. A rush order was sent to the foundry so that the marker would be ready in time for a Labor Day weekend dedication ceremony planned by descendants. Then, on August 3, Presidio County Historical Commission Chair Mona Blocker Garcia sent an email to the THC that upended everything. Though THC records show that the Presidio commission had been consulted throughout the marker approval process, Garcia claimed to be “shocked” that the text was approved. She further asserted, without basis, that “the militant Hispanics have turned this marker request into a political rally and want reparations from the federal government for a 100-year-old-plus tragic event.”

    Four days later, Presidio County Attorney Rod Ponton sent a follow-up letter. Without identifying specific errors in the marker text, he demanded that the dedication ceremony be canceled and the marker’s production halted until new language could be agreed upon. Ponton speculated, falsely, that the event was planned as a “major political rally” for Beto O’Rourke with the participation of La Raza Unida founding member José Ángel Gutiérrez, neither of whom was involved. Nonetheless, THC History Programs Director Charles Sadnick sent an email to agency staff the same day: “After getting some more context about where the marker sponsor may be coming from, we’re halting production on the marker.”

    The American Historical Association quickly condemned the THC’s decision, as did the office of state Senator José Rodríguez, a Democrat whose district includes both Presidio County and El Paso, where the ceremony was to be held. Historians across the country also spoke out against the decision. Sarah Zenaida Gould, director of the Museo del Westside in San Antonio and cofounder of Latinos in Heritage Conservation, responded in an email to the agency that encapsulates the views of many of the historians I interviewed: “Halting the marker process to address this statement as though it were a valid concern instead of a dog whistle is insulting to all people of color who have personally or through family history experienced state violence.”

    How did a last-gasp effort, characterized by factual errors and inflammatory language, manage to convince the state agency for historic preservation to reverse course on a marker three years in the making and sponsored by a young Latina historian with an Ivy League pedigree and Texas-Mexico border roots? An Observer investigation, involving dozens of interviews and hundreds of emails obtained through an open records request, reveals a county still struggling to move on from a racist and violent past, far-right amateur historians sowing disinformation and a state agency that acted against its own best judgment.

    The Porvenir massacre controversy is about more than just the fate of a single marker destined for a lonely part of West Texas. It’s about who gets to tell history, and the continuing relevance of the border’s contested, violent and racist past to events today.

    Several rooms in Benita Albarado’s home in Uvalde are almost overwhelmed by filing cabinets and stacks of clipboards, the ever-growing archive of her research into what happened at Porvenir. For most of her life, Benita, 74, knew nothing about the massacre. What she did know was that her father, Juan Flores, had terrible nightmares, and that in 1950 he checked himself in to a state mental hospital for symptoms that today would be recognized as PTSD. When she asked her mother what was wrong with him, she always received the same vague response: “You don’t understand what he’s been through.”

    In 1998, Benita and her husband, Buddy, began tracing their family trees. Benita was perplexed that she couldn’t find any documentation about her grandfather, Longino Flores. Then she came across the archival papers of Harry Warren, a schoolteacher, lawyer and son-in-law of Tiburcio Jáquez, one of the men who was murdered. Warren had made a list of the victims, and Longino’s name was among them. Warren also described how one of his students from Porvenir had come to his house the next morning to tell him what happened, and then traveled with him to the massacre site to identify the bodies, many of which were so mutilated as to be virtually unrecognizable. Benita immediately saw the possible connection. Her father, 12 at the time, matched Warren’s description of the student.

    Benita and Buddy drove from Uvalde to Odessa, where her father lived, with her photocopied papers. “Is that you?” she asked. He said yes. Then, for the first time in 80 years, he began to tell the story of how he was kidnapped with the men, but then sent home because of his age; he was told that the others were only going to be questioned. To Benita and Buddy’s amazement, he remembered the names of 12 of the men who had been murdered. They were the same as those in Harry Warren’s papers. He also remembered the names of the ranchers who had shown up at his door. Some of those, including the ancestors of prominent families still in Presidio County, had never been found in any document.

    Talking about the massacre proved healing for Flores. His nightmares stopped. In 2000, at age 96, he decided that he wanted to return to Porvenir. Buddy drove them down an old mine road in a four-wheel-drive truck. Flores pointed out where his old neighbors used to live, even though the buildings were gone. He guided Buddy to the bluff where the men were killed — a different location than the one commonly believed by local ranchers to be the massacre site. His memory proved to be uncanny: At the bluff, the family discovered a pre-1918 military bullet casing, still lying on the Chihuahuan desert ground.

    Benita and Buddy began advocating for a historical marker in 2000, soon after their trip to Porvenir. “A lot of people say that this was a lie,” Buddy told me. “But if you’ve got a historical marker, the state has to acknowledge what happened.” Their efforts were met by resistance from powerful ranching families, who held sway over the local historical commission. The Albarados had already given up when they met Monica Muñoz Martinez, a Yale graduate student from Uvalde, who interviewed them for her dissertation. In 2013, Martinez, by then an assistant professor at Brown University, co-founded Refusing to Forget, a group of historians aiming to create broader public awareness of border violence, including Porvenir and other extrajudicial killings of Mexicans by Texas Rangers during the same period. The most horrific of these was La Matanza, in which dozens of Mexicans and Mexican Americans were murdered in the Rio Grande Valley in 1915.

    In 2006, the THC created the Undertold Markers program, which seemed tailor-made for Porvenir. According to its website, the program is designed to “address historical gaps, promote diversity of topics, and proactively document significant underrepresented subjects or untold stories.” Unlike the agency’s other marker programs, anyone can apply for an undertold marker, not just county historical commissions. Martinez’s application for a Porvenir massacre marker was accepted in 2015.

    Though the approval process for the Porvenir marker took longer than usual, by the summer of 2018 everything appeared to be falling into place. On June 1, Presidio County Historical Commission chair Garcia approved the final text. (Garcia told me that she thought she was approving a different text. Her confusion is difficult to understand, since the text was attached to the digital form she submitted approving it.) Martinez began coordinating with the THC and Arlinda Valencia, a descendant of one of the victims, to organize a dedication ceremony in El Paso.
    “They weren’t just simple farmers. I seriously doubt that they were just killed for no reason.”

    In mid-June, Valencia invited other descendants to the event and posted it on Facebook. She began planning a program to include a priest’s benediction, a mariachi performance and brief remarks by Martinez, Senator Rodríguez and a representative from the THC. The event’s climax would be the unveiling of the plaque with the names of the 15 victims.

    Then the backlash began.

    “Why do you call it a massacre?” is the first thing Jim White III said over the phone when I told him I was researching the Porvenir massacre. White is the trustee of the Brite Ranch, the site of a cross-border raid by Mexicans on Christmas Day 1917, about a month before the Porvenir massacre. When I explained that the state-sanctioned extrajudicial execution of 15 men and boys met all the criteria I could think of for a massacre, he shot back, “It sounds like you already have your opinion.”

    For generations, ranching families like the Brites have dominated the social, economic and political life of Presidio County. In a visit to the Marfa & Presidio County Museum, I was told that there were almost no Hispanic surnames in any of the exhibits, though 84 percent of the county is Hispanic. The Brite family name, however, was everywhere.

    White and others in Presidio County subscribe to an alternative history of the Porvenir massacre, centering on the notion that the Porvenir residents were involved in the bloody Christmas Day raid.

    “They weren’t just simple farmers,” White told me, referring to the victims. “I seriously doubt that they were just killed for no reason.” Once he’d heard about the historical marker, he said, he’d talked to everyone he knew about it, including former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Mona Blocker Garcia.

    I visited Garcia at her Marfa home, an 1886 adobe that’s the same age as the venerable Marfa County Courthouse down the street. Garcia, 82, is Anglo, and married to a former oil executive whose ancestry, she explained, is Spanish and French Basque. A Houston native, she retired in the 1990s to Marfa, where she befriended the Brite family and became involved in local history. She told me that she had shared a draft text of the marker with the Brites, and they had agreed that it was factually inaccurate.

    Garcia cited a story a Brite descendant had told her about a young goat herder from Porvenir who purportedly witnessed the Christmas Day raid, told authorities about the perpetrators from his community and then disappeared without a trace into a witness protection program in Oklahoma. When I asked if there was any evidence that the boy actually existed, she acknowledged the story was “folklore.” Still, she said, “the story has lasted 100 years. Why would anybody make something like that up?”

    The actual history is quite clear. In the days after the massacre, the Texas Rangers commander, Captain J.M. Fox, initially reported that Porvenir residents had fired on the Rangers. Later, he claimed that residents had participated in the Christmas Day raid. Subsequent investigations by the Mexican consulate, the U.S. Army and state Representative J.T. Canales concluded that the murdered men were unarmed and innocent, targeted solely because of their ethnicity by a vigilante force organized at the Brite Ranch. As a result, in June 1918, five Rangers were dismissed, Fox was forced to resign and Company B of the Texas Rangers was disbanded.

    But justice remained elusive. In the coming years, Fox re-enlisted as captain of Company A, while three of the dismissed lawmen found new employment. One re-enlisted as a Ranger, a second became a U.S. customs inspector and the third was hired by the Brite Ranch. No one was ever prosecuted. As time passed, the historical records of the massacre, including Harry Warren’s papers, affidavits from widows and other relatives and witness testimony from the various investigations, were largely forgotten. In their place came texts like Walter Prescott Webb’s The Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier Defense, which played an outsize role in the creation of the heroic myth of the Texas Rangers. Relying entirely on interviews with the murderers themselves, Webb accepted at face value Fox’s discredited version of events. For more than 50 years, Webb’s account was considered the definitive one of the massacre — though, unsurprisingly, he didn’t use that word.

    An Observer review of hundreds of emails shows that the state commission was aware of potential controversy over the marker from the very beginning. In an email from 2015, Executive Director Mark Wolfe gave John Nau, the chair of the THC’s executive committee, a heads-up that while the marker was supported by historical scholarship, “the [Presidio County Historical Commission] opposes the marker.” The emails also demonstrate that the agency viewed the claims of historical inaccuracies in the marker text made by Mona Blocker Garcia and the county commission as minor issues of wording.

    On August 6, the day before the decision to halt the marker, Charles Sadnick, the history programs director, wrote Wolfe to say that the “bigger problem” was the ceremony, where he worried there might be disagreements among Presidio County residents, and which he described as “involving some politics which we don’t want a part of.”

    What were the politics that the commission was worried about, and where were these concerns coming from? Garcia’s last-minute letter may have been a factor, but it wasn’t the only one. For the entire summer, Glenn Justice, a right-wing amateur historian who lives in a rural gated community an hour outside San Angelo, had been the driving force behind a whisper campaign to discredit Martinez and scuttle the dedication ceremony.

    “There are radicals in the ‘brown power’ movement that only want the story told of Rangers and [the] Army and gringos killing innocent Mexicans,” Justice told me when we met in his garage, which doubles as the office for Rimrock Press, a publishing company whose catalog consists entirely of Justice’s own work. He was referring to Refusing to Forget and in particular Martinez, the marker’s sponsor.

    Justice has been researching the Porvenir massacre for more than 30 years, starting when he first visited the Big Bend as a graduate student. He claims to be, and probably is, the first person since schoolteacher Harry Warren to call Porvenir a “massacre” in print, in a master’s thesis published by the University of Texas at El Paso in 1991. Unlike White and Garcia, Justice doesn’t question the innocence of the Porvenir victims. But he believes that additional “context” is necessary to understand the reasons for the massacre, which he views as an aberration, rather than a representatively violent part of a long history of racism. “There have never been any problems between the races to speak of [in Presidio County],” he told me.

    In 2015, Justice teamed up with former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Sul Ross State University archaeologist David Keller on a privately funded excavation at the massacre site. He is working on a new book about the bullets and bullet casings they found — which he believes implicate the U.S. Army cavalry in the shooting — and also partnered with Patterson to produce a documentary. But they’d run out of money, and the film was taken over by noted Austin filmmaker Andrew Shapter, who pitched the project to PBS and Netflix. In the transition, Justice was demoted to the role of one of 12 consulting historians. Meanwhile, Martinez was given a prominent role on camera.

    Justice was disgruntled when he learned that the dedication ceremony would take place in El Paso. He complained to organizer Arlinda Valencia and local historical commission members before contacting Ponton, the county attorney, and Amanda Shields, a descendant of massacre victim Manuel Moralez.

    “I didn’t want to take my father to a mob scene,” Shields told me over the phone, by way of explaining her opposition to the dedication ceremony. She believed the rumor that O’Rourke and Gutiérrez would be involved.

    In August, Shields called Valencia to demand details about the program for the ceremony. At the time, she expressed particular concern about a potential Q&A event with Martinez that would focus on parallels between border politics and violence in 1918 and today.

    “This is not a political issue,” Shields told me. “It’s a historical issue. With everything that was going on, we didn’t want the ugliness of politics involved in it.” By “everything,” she explained, she was referring primarily to the issue of family separation. Benita and Buddy Albarado told me that Shields’ views represent a small minority of descendants.

    Martinez said that the idea of ignoring the connections between past and present went against her reasons for fighting to get a marker in the first place. “I’m a historian,” she said. “It’s hard to commemorate such a period of violence, in the midst of another ongoing humanitarian crisis, when this period of violence shaped the institutions of policing that we have today. And that cannot be relegated to the past.”

    After communicating with Justice and Shields, Ponton phoned THC Commissioner Gilbert “Pete” Peterson, who is a bank investment officer in Alpine. That call set in motion the sequence of events that would ultimately derail the marker. Peterson immediately emailed Wolfe, the state commission’s executive director, to say that the marker was becoming “a major political issue.” Initially, though, Wolfe defended the agency’s handling of the marker. “Frankly,” Wolfe wrote in his reply, “this might just be one where the [Presidio County Historical Commission] isn’t going to be happy, and that’s why these stories have been untold for so long.” Peterson wrote back to say that he had been in touch with members of the THC executive committee, which consists of 15 members appointed by either former Governor Rick Perry or Governor Greg Abbott, and that an email about the controversy had been forwarded to THC chair John Nau. Two days later, Peterson added, “This whole thing is a burning football that will be thrown to the media.”

    At a meeting of the Presidio County Historical Commission on August 17, Peterson suggested that the executive board played a major role in the decision to pause production of the marker. “I stopped the marker after talking to Rod [Ponton],” Peterson said. “I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking with the chairman and vice-chairman [of the THC]. What we have said, fairly emphatically, is that there will not be a dedication in El Paso.” Through a spokesperson, Wolfe said that the executive committee is routinely consulted and the decision was ultimately his.

    The spokesperson said, “The big reason that the marker was delayed was to be certain about its accuracy. We want these markers to stand for generations and to be as accurate as possible.”

    With no marker to unveil, Valencia still organized a small commemoration. Many descendants, including Benita and Buddy Albarado, chose not to attend. Still, the event was described by Jeff Davis, a THC representative in attendance, as “a near perfect event” whose tone was “somber and respectful but hopeful.”

    Most of THC’s executive committee members are not historians. The chair, John Nau, is CEO of the nation’s largest Anheuser-Busch distributor and a major Republican party donor. His involvement in the Porvenir controversy was not limited to temporarily halting the marker. In August, he also instructed THC staff to ask the Presidio historical commission to submit applications for markers commemorating raids by Mexicans on white ranches during the Mexican Revolution, which Nau described as “a significant but largely forgotten incident in the state’s history.”

    Garcia confirmed that she had been approached by THC staff. She added that the THC had suggested two specific topics: the Christmas Day raid and a subsequent raid at the Neville Ranch.

    The idea of additional plaques to provide so-called context that could be interpreted as justifying the massacre — or at the very least setting up a false moral equivalence — appears to have mollified critics like White, Garcia and Justice. The work on a revised Porvenir massacre text proceeded quickly, with few points of contention, once it began in mid-September. The marker was sent to the foundry on September 18.
    “It’s hard to commemorate such a period of violence, in the midst of another ongoing humanitarian crisis, when this period of violence shaped the institutions of policing that we have today.”

    In the end, the Porvenir descendants will get their marker — but it may come at a cost. Martinez called the idea of multiple markers “deeply unsettling” and not appropriate for the Undertold Marker program. “Events like the Brite Ranch raid and the Neville raid have been documented by historians for over a century,” she said. “These are not undertold histories. My concern with having a series of markers is that, again, it casts suspicion on the victims of these historical events. It creates the logic that these raids caused this massacre, that it was retribution for these men and boys participating.”

    In early November, the THC unexpectedly announced a dedication ceremony for Friday, November 30. The date was one of just a few on which Martinez, who was still planning on organizing several public history events in conjunction with the unveiling, had told the agency months prior that she had a schedule conflict. In an email to Martinez, Sadnick said that it was the only date Nau could attend this year, and that it was impossible for agency officials to make “secure travel plans” once the legislative session began in January.

    A handful of descendants, including Shields and the Albarados, still plan to attend. “This is about families having closure,” Shields told me. “Now, this can finally be put to rest.”

    The Albarados are livid that the THC chose a date that, in their view, prioritized the convenience of state and county officials over the attendance of descendants — including their own daughters, who feared they wouldn’t be able to get off work. They also hope to organize a second, unofficial gathering at the marker site next year, with the participation of more descendants and the Refusing to Forget historians. “We want people to know the truth of what really happened [at Porvenir],” Buddy told me, “and to know who it was that got this historical marker put there.”

    Others, like Arlinda Valencia, planned to stay home. “Over 100 years ago, our ancestors were massacred, and the reason they were massacred was because of lies that people were stating as facts,” she told me in El Paso. “They called them ‘bandits,’ when all they were doing was working and trying to make a living. And now, it’s happening again.”

    #mémoire #histoire #Texas #USA #massacre #assassinat #méxicains #violence #migrations #commémoration #historicisation #frontières #violence_aux_frontières #violent_borders #Mexique

  • Nancy Pelosi and Israel: Just how hawkish is the likely next speaker of the house? - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    Plus pro-israélien, on ne peut pas imaginer ! la probable future présidente de la chambre des représentants

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/nancy-pelosi-and-israel-why-the-house-s-pro-israel-stance-is-unlikely-to-ch

    Pelosi has also held staunchly pro-Israel views that have at times even out flanked the GOP from the right.
    In 2005, while addressing AIPAC, Pelosi had waxed poetic about her personal experiences in Israel and how they shaped her views: “This spring, I was in Israel as part of a congressional trip that also took us to Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. One of the most powerful experiences was taking a helicopter toward Gaza, over the path of the security fence. We set down in a field that belonged to a local kibbutz. It was a cool but sunny day, and the field was starting to bloom with mustard. Mustard is a crop that grows in California, and it felt at that moment as if I were home.”
    Pelosi, who was the 52nd Speaker of the House, previously served from 2007 to 2011 in the position which coincided with the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza war known as Operation Cast Lead. In 2009, Pelosi sponsored a resolution that passed the House by a 390-5 majority blaming the Palestinian side for the violence and reaffirming U.S. support for Israel and a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    The resolution quoted then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said in 2008, “We strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the cease-fire and for the renewal of violence there.”
    Stephen Zunes, author and professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, pointed out at the time that the language in the House decision was even to the right of the Bush administration, which supported the UN Security Council resolution condemning “all acts of violence and terror directed against civilians” - the congressional resolution only condemns the violence and terror of Hamas.
    Pelosi’s resolution also called for “the immediate release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been illegally held in Gaza since June 2006.”
    The Shalit kidnapping was a personal issue for Pelosi, who in 2008, while meeting with then Israeli Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik, held up dog tags of three Israeli soldiers kidnapped in 2006. Two of them belonged to Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whose bodies were repatriated to Israel earlier that year. The third belonged to Gilad Shalit, who at the time was still believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza. Shalit was famously freed in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange deal.
    Pelosi said she kept them as a “symbol of the sacrifices made, sacrifices far too great by the people of the state of Israel.”
    However, she hasn’t always been been on the right side of the pro-Israel divide. In 2014 Pelosi was criticized for suggesting Hamas is a humanitarian organization. On CNN she said, “And we have to confer with the Qataris, who have told me over and over again that Hamas is a humanitarian organization.” The host of the segment Candy Crowley then interrupted her to ask, “The U.S. thinks they’re a terrorist organization though, correct? Do you?” Pelosi responded with, “Mmm hmm.”
    After receiving a lashing from the likes of Megyn Kelly on Fox News and The Republican Jewish Coalition Matthew Brook, Pelosi’s office released a statement, “As Leader Pelosi reiterated in her CNN interview, Hamas is a terrorist organization.”
    Pelosi was also a vocal critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress denouncing then-President Obama’s nuclear deal, which she supported.
    After the speech she released a very harshly worded condemnation saying, “That is why, as one who values the U.S. – Israel relationship, and loves Israel, I was near tears throughout the prime minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.”
    Pelosi, who was endorsed this week by J Street in her bid for speaker, addressed the 2017 AIPAC Policy Conference by reading a J Street-backed letter, which was signed by 191 members of Congress, mostly Democrats, urging U.S. President Donald Trump to support a two-state solution.
    “As strong supporters of Israel, we write to urge you to reaffirm the United States’ long-standing, bipartisan commitment to supporting a just and lasting two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Pelosi said.
    “It is our belief that a one-state outcome risks destroying Israel’s Jewish and democratic character, denies the Palestinians fulfillment of their legitimate aspirations, and would leave both Israelis and Palestinians embroiled in an endless and intractable conflict for generations to come,” she continued.
    Pelosi, at 78, represents the Democratic establishment’s traditional position on Israel, coupling unwavering support for Israeli defense and the two-state solution for peace between Israel and Palestinians, a bipartisan position that courts both AIPAC and J Street and doesn’t diverge too far from that of centrist Republicans. Unlike some new members of her caucus who criticize Israel for “occupying” the West Bank or for human rights abuses, Pelosi reservers her criticism only for Israeli leaders or policies she disagrees with, most prominently Netanyahu.

  • Donald Trump’s endless lying is meant to undermine free thought and democracy — and lead us into fascism | Alternet
    https://www.alternet.org/donald-trumps-endless-lying-meant-undermine-free-thought-and-democracy-and

    In an age when speed overcomes thought, a culture of immediacy blots out any vestige of historical memory and markets replace social categories, language loses its critical moorings and becomes what Chris Hedges has called “a gift to demagogues and the corporations that saturate the landscape with manipulated images and the idiom of mass culture.”

    No longer a vehicle for critique, doubt or possibility, language in the age of Donald Trump upholds the cultural and political workstations of ignorance and paves the way for a formative culture ripe with the death-saturated practices and protocols of fascist politics. As a species of neoliberal fascism eradicates social bonds and democratic communal relations, vulgarity parades as political wisdom and moral cowardice becomes a mark of pride. In a neoliberal age that has a high threshold of disappearance, the sins of a Vichy-inspired history have returned and are deeply rooted in a Republican Party that is as criminogenic as it is morally irresponsible and politically corrupt.

    Trump thrives on promoting social divisions and often references violence as a means of addressing them.

    The language of compassion, community and vulnerability is erased from government media sites, as is any reference to climate change. References to compassion, the grammar of ethics, justice and democracy wither as the institutions that enable and promote them are defunded, corporatized or privatized. The language of egoism, self-interest, hyper-masculinity and a vapid individualism erase any reference to social bonds, public commitments, the public good and the commons. Even worse, under the blitz of a rhetoric of bigotry, hatred and dehumanization, the ability to translate private issues into lager systemic and public concerns is diminished. The language of fascism is now reinforced by a culture of immediacy, stupidity, ignorance and civic illiteracy, and as such promotes a culture in which the only obligation of citizenship is consumption and the only emotion worth investing in is unbridled anger largely directed at Blacks, undocumented immigrants, Muslims, and the oppositional media.

    The endless lying is about more than diversion or a perpetual motion machine of absurdist theater. It is also about creating a mediascape where morality disappears and a criminogenic culture of thuggery, corruption, white supremacy and violence flourishes — and democracy dies. History seems to be repeating itself in a script in which language collapses into an ecosystem of falsehoods, militarism and racism.

    Jason Stanley, in his book, “How Fascism Works,” argues that the 10 pillars of a fascist politics are alive and well in the United States. The pillars he points to are the mythic past, propaganda, anti-intellectualism, unreality, hierarchy, victimhood, law and order, sexual anxiety and appeals to the heartland.

    In an age when civic literacy and holding the powerful accountable for their action are dismissed as “fake news,” ignorance becomes a breeding ground not just for hate but also for a culture that represses historical memory, shreds any understanding of the importance of shared values, refuses to make tolerance a non-negotiable element of civic dialogue and allows the powerful to poison everyday discourse.

    The threads of a general political and ideological crisis run deep in American history. With each tweet and policy decision, Trump pushes the United States closer to a full-fledged fascist state. His words sting, but his policies can kill people. Trump’s endless racist taunts, dehumanizing expressions of misogyny, relentless attacks on all provisions of the social state and ongoing contempt for the rule of law serve to normalize a creeping fascist politics. Moreover, his criminogenic disdain for any viable sense of civic and moral responsibility gives new meaning to an ethos of a selfishness and a culture of cruelty, if not terror, that has run amok in the United States.

    Under Trump, violence defines the political sphere, if not politics itself, and has become a mythic force in which all meaning, desire, relations and actions are framed with a friend/enemy divide. This is the worldview of the demagogue, and points alarmingly to a resurgence of a fascist ideology updated for the 21st century. Trump’s rhetoric of hate resembles the Nazi obsession with the discourse of elimination, ritualistic acts aimed at purging critical thought and undermining informed judgment. This is the discourse of barbarians, and a petri dish for nourishing the virus of a fascist politics.

    Of course, Trump is not simply some eccentric clown who happened to be elected by a body of angry and desperate sleepwalking voters. He is symptomatic of a savage form of neoliberalism that over the past 40 years has promoted a war against the welfare state, the most vulnerable and those deemed excess while punishing everyone else with austerity policies that also made the financial elite richer and major corporations more powerful.

    The debris of violent shootings, racism, religious intolerance, the fog of celebrity culture and the destruction of civic culture has cast an apocalyptic shadow over the future of both democracy and the United States. Trump represents a ghost of the past, and we should be terrified of the way it emboldens and resonates with what is happening both in the United States and in other countries such as Brazil, Poland, Turkey and Hungary.

    Une charge précise et bienvenue par un auteur que je ne connaissais pas

    Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books are America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) and Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014). His web site is https://www.henryagiroux.com .

  • To Help Democrats With ’Stiffening Their Spines’ New Indivisible Guide Details How Trump Resistance Can Switch From Defense to Offense
    https://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/to-help-democrats-with-stiffening-their-spines-new-indivisible-guide

    After more than year of playing defense against President Donald Trump and the GOP’s attacks on healthcare, workers, immigrants, refugees, the LGBTQ community, and the common good, the...

  • Rick Scott sues ’#unethical_liberals,’ claims they’re trying to ’steal election
    https://nypost.com/2018/11/08/rick-scott-sues-unethical-liberals-claims-theyre-trying-to-steal-election

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday night accused “unethical liberals” of trying to steal a Senate race from him – and announced his campaign is suing election officials in two Sunshine State counties.

    I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida,” Scott said at a press conference Thursday night, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
    […]
    President Trump offered support for Scott on Twitter Thursday night.

    Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott!” Trump tweeted.
    […]
    Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, who is narrowly trailing his GOP rival in the polls after the election, also questioned the basis of Scott’s lawsuits on Thursday night.

    Mr. @FLGovScott — counting votes isn’t partisan — it’s democracy,” Gillum tweeted.

  • Trump posts ad comparing migrants to convicted murderer (http://rat...
    https://diasp.eu/p/7958982

    Trump posts ad comparing migrants to convicted murderer

    Source: Aol News

    “President Donald Trump tweeted a pro-GOP ad early Wednesday afternoon that’s being compared to George H.W. Bush’s racist ‘Willie Horton’ ad from the 1988 election. ‘It is outrageous what the Democrats are doing to our Country. Vote Republican now!’ Trump tweeted alongside the video. Beginning with the legend ‘illegal immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, killed our people!’ the ad compares the caravan of Central American asylum seekers traveling to the U.S. that have made headlines in recent days to Bracamontes, an undocumented immigrant and drug dealer who was convicted of murder in February after being deported twice over the past 21 years.” (11/01/18) (...)

  • T.C.-60 : Carnage, carnage
    http://www.dedefensa.org/article/tc-60-carnage-carnage

    T.C.-60 : Carnage, carnage

    13 octobre 2018 – Ne dirait-on pas que les cieux se sont mis en fureur avec le monstrueux cyclone Michael pour mieux précipiter les entreprises humaines dans un ouragan catastrophique ? Une fois de plus et même plus que jamais, les États-Unis d’Amérique sont l’œil et la matrice, et le show également de ce facteur paroxystique de plus, sorte de “paroxysme des paroxysmes”, ou perfect storm des perfect storms.

    Ce fut donc une semaine de carnage ; à Wall Street, avec un Trump vociférant contre la politique de la Fed ; plus que jamais avec le parti démocrate dénoncé par le GOP comme le parti de l’insurrection, ce parti rendu fou par Trump, proclamant que l’on ne peut envisager un retour à la vie politique normale que lorsqu’ils seront à nouveau au pouvoir, – pourquoi pas (...)

  • Might a Beleaguered #Trump Go to War…Against #Iran? – LobeLog
    https://lobelog.com/might-a-beleaguered-trump-go-to-waragainst-iran

    Let’s assume for a minute—and it’s a perfectly reasonable assumption under the circumstances—that President Trump’s political problems and popularity only get worse over the next months, both before and after the elections. What with anonymous “senior officials,” new revelations from “crazytown” provoked by Bob Woodward’s latest book, new indictments and/or plea bargains flowing out of the Mueller investigation, let alone little to no likelihood of a real breakthrough on North Korea or anywhere else., it’s difficult to see how Trump’s and the GOP’s current downward trajectory will be easily reversed.

    So, faced with these prospects, what might a politically beleaguered president do to rally the public behind him or stave off the worst? Of course, it’s a cliché that leaders in trouble, both authoritarian and democratically elected, are often tempted to invent or exploit or manipulate a foreign crisis—including even war—against a convenient “enemy” in order to at least distract attention, if not reverse their fortunes. History is replete with examples.

    #Etats-Unis

  • Scholar Warns We Could Be Headed for a ’Violent Conflict’ Between Republicans and Democrats | Alternet
    https://www.alternet.org/scholar-warns-we-could-be-headed-violent-conflict-between-republicans-and-

    How did America become so divided? Why has political polarization become so extreme? In what ways have political parties become like sports teams where winning is all that matters and the common good is unimportant? Can American democracy to survive Donald Trump amid the rise of a conservative movement that views Democrats and liberals as an “un-American” enemy?

    In an effort to answer these questions I recently spoke with Lilliana Mason. She is a assistant professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the author of the new book “Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity.”

    He really pointed to a group of people who were feeling vulnerable and condescended to and made fun of and said, “You guys are losers, right? We’re all losers, we are losing all the time.” Then he said, “But I’m going to make you winners, I’m going to make us win again.” So it was this almost perfect message delivered to a group of people who were ready to hear a message like that, and were committed to defeating the Democrats because the other party is so socially “other” from them. Ultimately, Donald Trump tapped into a dynamic that has been developing over the last few decades in America.

    But there are now such strong partisans that will do almost anything just for their political team to win. As I said earlier, this is partly because when our party “wins,” our racial group and our religious group and our other cultural and social identities “win” too. The victory of our political party is taking up more and more of what I describe as “self-esteem real estate.” Every part of us is involved now in the outcome of the election. So when our party loses, it hurts a lot more than it did before, because we used to have other meaningful identities.

    In the United States, historically, there were conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans. You don’t have them anymore. This means the loss feels much worse and the victory feels much better. So we end up approaching our elections in a way that’s very much like a sports game where we don’t actually care what the team does after they win. That’s the whole thing that you wanted and you’re happy and excited and you cheer. But you don’t follow the team around and ask them what they’re going to do next in order to make your life better. Having Trump be like a performer enhances that sports-like competition, and it really reduces the attention that people pay to what government is actually doing.

    In American society and politics at large, where we have much powerful identities, people are willing to give up a lot in order to get a win. The stronger the identity, the more they’re willing to give up. So when we see people who are essentially willing to give away democracy for their partisan win, there is perhaps no better example of the power of identity. This is extremely dangerous for democracy because it creates this rift between partisans where no one wants to cooperate or compromise, ever. We’re not only seeing democratic norms erode but we’re also losing the ability to functionally govern. The greater good is no longer of interest to many Americans. The only thing that we care about is whether or not we get the victory and after that nothing really matters.

    But if you look at partisan feelings towards the groups that make up the other side — for example, this would be whites, Christians, evangelicals, police and men for Republicans. For Democrats this would include gays and lesbians, blacks, Hispanics and activists, among a long list of people.

    What we found is that Democrats don’t dislike the groups that make up the Republican Party as much as Republicans dislike the groups that make up the Democratic Party. This helps to explain why there is so much anger from Republicans, because every group associated with the Democratic Party is a groups they do not like. Because of the nature of the respective parties, Democrats practice tolerance a lot more than Republicans are forced to practice it.

    #Politique_USA #Politique_identitaire

  • Le GOP devient trumpiste
    http://www.dedefensa.org/article/le-gop-devient-trumpiste

    Le GOP devient trumpiste

    Il y a eu quatre primaires pour la désignation des candidats républicains (GOP) pour les élections mid-term, dans les États du Minnesota, du Wisconsin, du Vermont et du Connecticut. Pour la première fois une grande tendance est apparue : pour être désignés par les électeurs du parti, il faut être “trumpiste”, c’est-à-dire radicalisé dans le sens du président (populiste, isolationniste, conservateur-sociétal, etc.). ZeroHedge.comécrit ce 15 août 2018 : « Même le Washington Post admet que “Trump a triomphé lors des primaires” ».

    C’était une des grandes inconnues de ces deux dernières années : l’évolution de l’attitude générale du GOP, qui s’était opposé au candidat Trump, vis-à-vis du président Trump. Il semble qu’on puisse avancer que le GOP a évolué vers le soutien du président en place. (...)

  • États-Unis : la République est en danger, le point de non-retour est déjà là | Slate.fr
    http://www.slate.fr/story/164000/une-autre-amerique-vient-de-naitre-chagrin-amour-transformation-pays-republiqu

    Le fait qu’on vous mente, tout le temps, ce n’est pas ça, le prix à payer pour être gouverné. Que nous y soyons acclimatés –que nous n’en attendions pas moins, en fait– montre à quel point nous nous sommes engagés dans une très, très mauvaise voie. Notre pays n’était déjà pas sain pour tout un tas de raisons. Mais au moins, le mensonge restait du domaine du répréhensible. À présent, il est célébré.

    #démocratie #RIP

  • Des employés de Disneyland réclament des salaires leur permettant de « vivre » Belga - 15 Juin 2018 - RTBF
    https://www.rtbf.be/info/societe/detail_des-employes-de-disneyland-reclament-des-salaires-leur-permettant-de-viv

    Manifestation, pétition : les employés du parc d’attraction Disneyland en Californie font monter la pression sur le géant du divertissement pour réclamer des salaires leur « permettant de vivre », Disney dénonçant de son côté une « mise en scène politique ».


    Une lettre signée par plus de 120.000 personnes d’après le site de pétitions Actionnetwork.org https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/tell-disney-ceo-pay-your-workers-a-living-wage?nowrapper=true&referre a été remise à la direction du groupe vendredi. La veille, des centaines d’employés de « l’endroit le plus heureux du monde » _surnom du célèbre parc ont manifesté dans le site d’Anaheim, au sud de Los Angeles, a affirmé le syndicat SEIU qui a diffusé des vidéos de ce rassemblement sur les réseaux sociaux.

    « Les bénéfices de Disney n’apparaissent pas par magie : ils sont gagnés par les employés qui travaillent dur pour s’assurer que les visiteurs bénéficient d’une agréable expérience » et « devraient être partagés », dénonce la lettre, qui souligne que la multinationale va bénéficier « de retombées de 1,5 milliard de dollars des baisses d’impôts » _ de l’administration Trump. Les derniers résultats trimestriels du groupe affichaient un bond des bénéfices de 23% sur un an, notamment grâce à la bonne santé des parcs d’attraction.

    Une étude de l’université californienne Occidental, publiée en début d’année, affirmait qu’un dixième des employés de Disneyland a été sans domicile fixe et que la majorité d’entre eux ne pouvait se payer trois repas quotidiens. Disney qualifie cette enquête d’"inexacte" et biaisée, ajoutant que la crise du logement et des SDF en Californie dépasse largement le cadre du parc d’attraction.

    Verser au moins 15 dollars de l’heure
    Les syndicats représentant les employés de Disneyland ont aussi déposé une pétition auprès des autorités du comté d’Orange, où se trouve Anaheim, pour demander un référendum visant à forcer les principaux employeurs de la ville -Disneyland est le premier avec 30.000 travailleurs- à verser au moins 15 dollars de l’heure à leurs salariés à partir de 2019, 18 dollars d’ici 2022.

    Disney affirme qu’une telle mesure « aurait des conséquences graves et non souhaitées » sur l’emploi, qu’il paie déjà ses salariés au-dessus du salaire minimal et a proposé aux syndicats une augmentation de ses taux horaires planchers de 36% en trois ans pour 9500 employés.

    Cela les ferait passer de 11 dollars actuellement à 15 dollars de l’heure d’ici 2020, « deux ans avant le relèvement obligatoire en Californie » du salaire minimum à 15 dollars. Ce serait l’une des augmentations « les plus fortes dans l’histoire du groupe », insiste Disney, qui se targue d’avoir créé 10.000 nouveaux emplois en une décennie.

     #disney #disneyland #pauvreté #économie #travail #états-unis #stopDisneyPoverty

    • 120,697 Signatures Collected : Tell Disney CEO : Pay your workers a living wage Actionnetwork.org - 15 Juin 2018
      https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/tell-disney-ceo-pay-your-workers-a-living-wage?nowrapper=true&referre

      To: Disney CEO, Robert Iger 
From:
      [Your Name]

      Workers are the backbone of Disney’s theme parks, and they deserve to be paid fairly so they can afford a good quality of life. Disney’s profits do not magically appear — they’re gained by the employees who work hard to ensure that visitors have a joyful experience. And these profits should be shared with the people who make them happen.

      And now Disney is getting a $1.5 billion a year windfall from the Trump-GOP tax cuts. This is your opportunity to lead by example and do the just and moral thing for the workers who make Disney a special place to visit. Workers should not be forced to sleep in their cars because Disney pays them so little. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They deserve a living wage.

      Every year, Walt Disney Co. profits tens of billions of dollars, including earnings directly from their Disney theme parks. The corporation even receives subsidies from the city of Anaheim at Disneyland in California. But their workers still aren’t being paid a living wage.

      Disneyland employees report that they struggle to make ends meet and pay for basic necessities as a result of pay cuts and low wages; two-thirds don’t have enough food to eat and 1 in 10 have recently been homeless. Meanwhile, Disney’s CEO, Robert Iger, reportedly made over $36 million in 2017 alone, and over the next four years will make the same as 6,178 of his employees. Where is the justice?

      Plus, thanks to the Trump-GOP tax cuts, Disney is raking in another $1.5 billion in profits this year but is sharing just one-tenth of that amount with its workers in one-time bonuses.

      A coalition of workers and unions in Southern California have come together to propose a ballot measure that will raise wages for workers of hospitality businesses like Disney to $18 an hour by 2022. But profit-hungry local entities like the California Restaurant Association and the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce don’t want this to pass. They’re more concerned with generating revenue and future profits than they are with their workers’ quality of life and eradicating income inequality.

      Workers at the “happiest place on earth” deserve to earn livable wages that reflect how hard they work. And Disney’s profits and anticipated $1.5 Billion in tax cuts annually are more than sufficient to provide much-needed wage hike to its employees. Sign now to demand that Disney CEO Robert Iger end the culture of greed and guarantee Disney workers a living wage.

  • Israel and the U.S. are triggering a risky, unnecessary war of choice in the Middle East

    Triggering a Risky, Unnecessary War of Choice in the Middle East
    But neither Israel’s prime minister, nor other regional U.S. allies, have any assurances America will stick around to manage the dangerous fallout from the Iran deal’s implosion

    Daniel Levy May 10, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-and-the-u-s-are-triggering-a-risky-unnecessary-war-in-the-m

    We will probably never know the extent of responsibility Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bears for the U.S. withdrawal, under President Trump, from the Iran nuclear deal.
    U.S.- Iranian relations have certainly long been poisonous, independent of Israel. Congressional enthusiasm for the deal was always low and, within the GOP, support for it near non-existent.
    Still, Netanyahu and the campaign he spearheaded certainly helped to create part of the backdrop to Trump‘s announcement; indeed, in his announcement, Trump gave Israel direct credit for supposedlysupplying “definitive proof” that Iran’s nuclear intentions were never peaceful. Not for the first time, a U.S. presidential text read like it was written in Jerusalem. 

    Israel will now have to live with the consequences of that success. Following Trump’s announcement, the nuclear deal is now on a clear path to unravelling completely, with only a small chance of reversing that trajectory.
    Iran has been honoring the stipulations of the JCPOA, something that Netanyahu and the deal’s many critics said would never happen, and they have produced no evidence to the contrary.
    The concerns which the U.S. and Israel had raised regarding the limitations of the deal, and with which Europeans, at least, were sympathetic – the sunset clause arrangements regarding Iranian nuclear energy, ballistic missile development, and especially the challenges posed by Iran regionally – all will now have to be addressed in an atmosphere of growing crisis.
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    That atmosphere will only be heightened now the nuclear issue is presumably back on the table, while tensions are escalating on Israel’s northern border, and the value of American international commitments have been significantly devalued. 
    Without batting an eye-lid, President Trump has effectively just called his European allies (as well as the Chinese and Russians) a bunch of morons for negotiating what he described as a “horrible,” "one-sided," “decayed,” "rotting" and “defective” deal.
    Despite his recent protestations that a shortcoming of the nuclear deal was its failure to address Iran’s regional ambitions, Netanyahu was among those who pushed hardest to keep the nuclear and regional files separate in any P5+1 dealings with Iran. He has now helped bring those two together.
    After Trump’s withdrawal decision there might be an attempt to create a semblance of continuity – Europeans and Iranians might explore avenues for retaining the deal which was, after all, blessed by the UN, and they could attempt to address the additional concerns raised by the U.S. But the odds are heavily stacked against that succeeding, if it is even attempted. 

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech on Iran’s nuclear program, in Tel Aviv, April 30, 2018.JACK GUEZ/AFP
    Europe cannot salvage the deal without the U.S. Thus far, Iran has implemented its side of the bargain without the reciprocal economic easing really materializing – that is primarily because European banks and companies feared being frozen out by U.S. financial institutions. Now what was speculation and risk management from European business has become fact, even fewer in the European private sector will risk extensive business dealings with Iran.

    A strong economic stand by Europe against U.S. direct and secondary sanctions, possibly even at the WTO, might make a difference. There are few signs that Europe is preparing such a response. 
    On the Iranian side the smart money will be on this strengthening those who cautioned against any expectations from the West in general, and the U.S. in particular, to honor agreements. 
    To try and claim, as the White House has done recently, that this exit could be a prelude to a better deal is to stretch incredulity to breaking point.
    The logic of Trump’s announcement is that he and his team expect one of three scenarios to play out - regime change in Iran, capitulation by Iran or confrontation with Iran.
    The music suggests that that the U.S. is betting on scenarios one or two. Neither option has much going for it other than wishful thinking. American-driven attempts at regime change have a very poor record indeed in the Middle East, and anyone who thinks that Iran will agree to terms dictated by Washington, Riyadh and Jerusalem has not been paying attention.
    All of which points in the direction of an increasing likelihood of the gloves coming off and of direct confrontation between some combination of the key protagonists (the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia on one side, Iran, Hezbollah and allied militias, including in Iraq, on the other.)

  • Cuomo Promises a Dunkirk-Style Citizens’ Fleet to Block Drilling - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-04/cuomo-promises-a-dunkirk-style-citizens-fleet-to-block-drilling

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to enlist a “citizens fleet” of leisure boats and fishing vessels to block any attempt to construct oil-drilling facilities off the state’s shores, as part of a broad attack on President Donald Trump’s environmental and energy policies.

    I’m going to commission a citizen fleet to stop it just as Winston Churchill did at Dunkirk,” Cuomo said, invoking the former British prime minister’s call for a seaborne operation of fishing boats and leisure vessels to rescue evacuating soldiers from the French shore line. He called Trump’s decision to permit offshore drilling “an unacceptable risk.

    The only way you stop a bully is by standing up and putting your finger in his or her chest,” Cuomo, 60, said during a campaign-style speech in Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park.

    The governor, who’s seeking a third term and faces a Democratic primary challenge from self-described progressive and actress Cynthia Nixon, has also been mentioned as a potential 2020 White House candidate. He used the speech to deliver a broader attack against Trump and the Republican Party’s economic, environmental and social policies.

    They’ve attacked a woman’s right to choose; they’ve attacked immigration policy; they’re against diversity; they’re against the LGBT community; they’re against individual rights,” Cuomo said. “They’re against everything we hold dear.

    Cuomo touted a state-subsidized solar-panel manufacturing plant in Buffalo, which he said would be the largest in the U.S., as an example of economic-development measures to support renewable energy. He mocked Trump’s promises to return to the country’s dependence on coal and fossil fuels.

    We’re going to go back to fossil fuels, we’re going back to coal, we’re going to set up big manufacturing plants again,” Cuomo said. “You don’t politically assuage people’s anxiety by saying ‘don’t worry, I’m bringing back the old days, when you worked in the steel plant and you worked in the aluminum plant.’ The old days are gone; that’s why they’re the old days.

    The Trump administration policy, which would open 90 percent of U.S. offshore oil reserves to private development, has attracted bipartisan opposition from most of the governors of the 22 coastal states it would affect.