Sunday, July 15, 2018

We Cannot Allow This Nomination To Proceed


A lightning-quick campaigner, Napoleon claimed to set the record for speed crowning. Before some doddering old Pope pronounced the sacred words, “Receive the Imperial Crown,” our man crowned himself instead, and before crowning Josephine he took her crown for test drive too, to make sure it worked.” The question historians like to ask is: “Didn’t the Emperor look undignified with two crowns on his head?” They forget he didn’t mind them stacked.

Author of the P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act, John Ashcroft became the first American statesman to uphold the democratic version of imperial tradition by anointing himself with Mazola whenever he took office, but in his defense, he used the economy size, upholding family values that make American Democracy so great.

And now, in that same exalted tradition, we have Brett Kavanaugh. He veers away from the low brow economies of the family size, favoring instead the more expensive live interactive model. While giving lip service to such small gestures as gaveling down Roe vs. Wade, upholding the Janus vs. AFSCME ruling and Pennsylvania’s gerrymandering, shreading voting rights, abolishing any kind of healthcare, putting women in their place, enforcing anti-immigrant policies, sticking the Betsy DeVoz brand of Christianity in public schools, and re-establishing Jim Crow, the real reason for picking Kavanaugh is he can be counted on to crown our very own fearless leader with his get-out-of-jail-free card while taking great pains not to muss up his hairdo. And, for the next thirty years or so, crown all succeeding emperors separately but equally.

The man himself
Said Corey Booker on Rachel Maddow: “We cannot allow this nomination to proceed.” A big player in the Starr impeachment proceedings against poor, cigar-famished Bill Clinton, (from Time magazine:) “In a 2009 law-review article, Kavanaugh called for Congress to pass a law stating that sitting Presidents should not be subject to criminal investigations or civil suits while in office, adding that the Constitution prescribes the impeachment process as the remedy for ousting a wayward President….If the Justices are asked to decide whether Trump can be subpoenaed or charged with a crime in office, it’s clear where Kavanaugh is likely to stand.”

And from the Breakfast Report/Progressive Action quoting the Daily Beast: “When President Donald Trump nominates a justice to the Supreme Court on Monday night, he will be carrying out the agenda of a small, secretive network of extremely conservative Catholic activists already responsible for placing three justices (Alito, Roberts, and Gorsuch) on the high court. And yet few people know who they are—until now. At the center of the network is Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society, the association of legal professionals that has been the pipeline for nearly all of Trump’s judicial nominees. (Leo is on leave from the Federalist Society to personally assist Trump in picking a replacement for Justice Anthony Kennedy.) His formal title is executive vice president, but that role belies Leo’s influence. Directly or through surrogates, he has placed dozens of life-tenure judges on the federal bench; effectively controls the Judicial Crisis Network, which led the opposition to President Obama’s high court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland; he heavily influences the Becket Fund law firm that represented Hobby Lobby in its successful challenge of contraception; and now supervises admissions and hires at the George Mason Law School, newly renamed in memory of Justice Antony Scalia.”

Imperial court of idiots facing the wrong way
And Ron Paul issued his warning:
“Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court will likely determine the direction of the court for decades to come on a number of key issues, including:
***  Privacy  The recent Carpenter decision was a good first step to establish Fourth Amendment limitations to the government’s surveillance power in the modern age.  But there will certainly be more cases like it in the years to come;

***  Free Speech  After Citizens United, statists across the country have ramped up efforts to place new restrictions on speech.  It likely won’t be long before a new case on so-called campaign finance “reform” finds its way to the Supreme Court;

***  Property Rights  Justice Kennedy was absolutely terrible on the issue of eminent domain.  And with President Trump having first-hand experience using eminent domain to try and seize private property, he could try to appoint another Justice who will have an expansive view of eminent domain powers to the detriment of Americans’ property rights.

A Swamp Creature like Judge Kavanaugh isn’t going to come down on the right side of many of these issues.”

Hurry up, Robert Mueller, time’s almost up!

 

Take to the streets by joining demonstrations when and wherever they’re held. If you are physically unable, donate to MoveOn

Consider organizing and joining a general strike.

Lean hard on your Senators with letters, phone calls, town halls, and office visits.








 

Immigration


More than 10,000 people sign ACLU’s abolish ICE petition

New Jersey to set aside $2 million to help immigrant families.

Resistance

Hundreds of thousands in the largest demonstration since the Iraq war II,  in a “Carnival of Resistance” march against Blimp Baby in the UK.

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church votes to divest from companies involved in Israel’s violations of Palestinian hum rights.

Ireland passes bill boycotting Israeli occupied territory goods.

1,400 people march in Brussels to remind Trump he’s not welcome.

A small Baltimore group of Target workers demands accountability from local store managers.

In a court filing, the Southern Poverty Law Center argues that Duran was arrested and detained by the Department of Homeland “Security” in order to punish him as  a journalist in violation of the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The Center for Constitution Rights files a legal challenge arguing the court should end the perpetual  Detention of “Forever prisoners.”

Mitch McConnell is confronted by protestors  outside a Kentucky restaurant demanding “Where are the babies, Mitch.”

Hundreds of cancer cases against Monsanto set to go to trial.

Sacramento County supervisors end contract allowing ICE to rent local jail beds.

Prosecutors drop all remaining charges against inauguration protesters.

Over 60 Argentinian social movements protest U,.S. military base in city of Neuquen.

Activists help free Liu Xia


Environment

Navajo Nation’s first solar project now produces electricity for 13,000 homes.

Ecuador’s Constitutional Court rules against Chevron in favor of indigenous communities.

In a stunning victory for the Finger Lakes region, a controversial gas storage project is halted.

In China, an entire province the size of Texas is powered on 100% renewables.

New Zealand announces plans to transition to 100% renewables by 2035.

Iceland is running 100% renewable energy, mostly through geothermal plants.

Norway produces 98% of its power needs through renewable energy.

Holland’s entire train system runs on wind power.

Sweden expects to reach its renewable energy target for 2030 some time this year,

The lower house of the Irish legislature passes a divestment bill ensuring that Ireland will become the world’s first nation to fully divest public money from the fossil fuel industry.

Irish Government approves a  ban on the cultivation of GMOs.

Ghana is building roads out of plastic bags.

An Arizona ballot initiative requires 50% renewable energy by 2013.

A Japanese company creates a vertical axis wind turbine that could power the country for decades.

The Center for Biological Diversity and other organizations have won a $17 million settlement to reduce the environmental impact of two proposed freeway projects in Riverside County (but why are freeways being designed anyway?)

Real-time daily radiation monitoring to become part of Edpson’s program at San  Clemente reactor, San Onofre.

Over 65 cities, among them, Atlanta, Madison , Dan Diego, San Francisco, and Palo Alto, five counties and one state commit to 100% clean  energy. Five og them hav e already hit their targets.

American Airlines bans plastic straws.

Smithfield Foods enjoined to pay compensatory damages and $50 million  in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed in Bladen Country, N.C. over the environmental impacts of a hog farm.    
  
Politics

Democratic lawmakers and liberal  groups hold boisterous late-night rally on Supreme Court steps opposing Kavanaugh.

Alabama, George, and Louisiana are being sued over racial gerrymandering.

Legal scholars warn claims that ICE agents were ‘just following orders’ won’t exonerate the from liability for the suffering of immigrant children.

A DNC panel approves plan to gut the power of super delegates, The plan would end their ability to cast votes for the presidential candidate on the first ballot at the party’s convention.

The House Appropriations Committee passes a spending bill that includes public media funding.

Sanders urges Trump, instead of telling Europe to buy more guns like the U.S., joining  Europe in guaranteeing healthcare for all.

A bill signed into law July 9 enables federal employees to file appeals on Merit Systems Protection Board decisions to any federal appeals court of competent jurisdiction.

Planned Parenthood sues Trump over abstinence=only sex education.

Federal judge dismisses Trump administration lawsuit against California sanctuary laws.

House Democrats introduce five articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, including charges of obstruction of justice, undermining the judiciary, and undermining the freedom of the press.  (Lots of luck with that.,)

Agreements between SB 822 authors Senators Weiner and de León and Assembly Communications Chair Santiago restore net neutrality, despite fierce opposition from AT&T, Verizon, and the rest of Big Telecom.

Contra Costa County Sheriff Livingston announces that in the face of a seven-year campaign by activists, he is ending the ICE contract to house federal immigration detainees at the West County Detention Facility.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem, 12-year veteran of the D,A.’s Office has been suspended after targeting Maxine Waters, Michelle Obama, Mexican immigrants and a victim of a police shooting.

Judge grants standing to a lawsuit against the administration over the census citizenship.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy approves $5 million for reviving and strengthening journalism around the state.

Caribbean Natiions to consider reclassifying marijuana.

Education

In India, a teacher buys a bus, driving to keep rural children in school.

Peace

20-year conflict ends as Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders embrace peace.

In a day of action at Buechel Are Force Base organized by regional Protestant churches and Pax Christi, the treaty to ban nuclear weapons was signed by hundreds of demonstrators before being sent to Chancellor Merkel.

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Deal of the Art


So let’s say you have one hell of a building, 41 stories, occupies a whole city block in a major city where real estate is going through the roof.  But you had the very very bad taste of acquiring it for much too much down, and your rents are covering only 65% of the monthly mortgage payments.  In other words you are leveraged up the wazoo. What is to be done? Either you go bankrupt, or if you’re smart, you look around for more money, maybe even partners.  Where do you go?  Other underwriters, foreign sovereign banks, even Mid-East countries.  Not to worry: if they don’t pony up, you have friends in high places (for the moment) who can always call out a blockade on them, meanwhile you can look around for other underwriters. 


So what if your underwriter happens to be the bank where’s your buddy was once employed. In fact, screw the bank (and screw your buddy, too, but that comes later.) And anyway, your dad, who’s BIG IN BUSINESS, knows you’re buds with the Justice’s son who’s loaned him a billion dollars, and who extended the terms of your own loan.  “Nice boy,” your DAD remarks to the Judge of the High Court, because see, we’re all friends here (for a time). And the Judge is gonna retire soon because your DAD made a deal with him which goes: “Trust Me.” (as “In God We Trust”) so it’s a good deal, because DAD wants to fire a Special Prosecutor who’s getting out of hand, but if he does that, it’s checkmate because DAD knows he’d become impeachable material, but if he gets his man on the bench in time, especially a BIG COAL MAN, he can even pardon himself, and it’s all Constitutional because the Court can be trusted to say it’s so (that’s where “Trust Me” comes in.)

Sound complicated? A lot less fun than a hot game of pool? Well, it’s the same principle really: you hit a ball so it will strike another ball and so on, except the stakes are higher. Because your son gets to keep the property and you get a whole new and improved top court in your pocket.

BAM goes the Gavel.  Women? Screw ‘em. That’s all they’re good for anyway. And that goes for gays and LGBTs, too.

BAM goes the Gavel. Immigrants? Who the hell cares? They tend to  vote Democratic and they’re brown anyway.

BAM goes the Gavel. Minimum wage. It sure’s gonna stay minimal. We’ll see to that!

BAM goes the Gavel: Death is a pre-existing condition! You’re eligible for healthcare only if you’re immortal.

BAM goes the Gavel: Gerrymandering? We sure like to boogey! Keeps the folks in line, too. That goes for felons and ex-felons, too.

BAM goes the Gavel: Human rights? These people are animals.


BAM goes the Gavel: Science? It’s for dummies.


BAM goes the Gavel: The Planet? You gotta be kidding! It’s just a rock.


BAM goes the gavel: Voting rights? They’re for Just-Us.


BAM goes the Gavel: Deregulation? Corporate welfare? Don’t be silly.
It’s the art of the deal.


Read Daily Kos: Voting Rights Roundup: Five reasons why Anthony Kennedy’s retirement is a catastrophe for democracy. 

Read Alternet: Here’s the Corrupt Financial Web that links the Trump and the Kennedy families.

Read what the media isn’t talking about.


 

Tell McConnell he has to follow his own rule, and wait until the midterm elections are over to push a Supreme Court nominee! 

Urge Congress to ratify no Supreme Court nominations until the Russia investigation is complete.

Oppose the nomination of the next Supreme Court judge while Trump is under investigation.




And for laughs, please read Went 2 the Bridge: Which Side Would Lady Liberty be in the #SecondCivilWar?


 

Judiciary

Women send coat hangers in bulk to demand Susan Collins, Maine Republican, defend abortion rights.

70% Democrats and 67% Republicans want Supreme Court to overturn “Citizens United.”


Immigration

Hundreds in San Diego protest operation “Streamline” and call for ICE to be abolished.

Occupations of ICE headquarters have been cropping up across the country in such cities as Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, Philadelphia and Louisville, KY.

U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg grants a preliminary injunction preventing the federal government from denying parole to any asylum seekers travelling to the U.S., ending their indefinite detention.

Some 14,000 immigrants become citizens July 5th.

Therese Patricia Okoumou scales the Statue of Liberty to protest detention of immigrant children at the U.S. border. Two additional protests shut down the monument July 4th.

  
In Mike Pence’s home state, a church detains “The Holy Family” in condemnation of family separation.

Dreamer Marco Villada wins fight against Trump administration allowing him to return back home to the U.S.

In Atlanta,  a boy of 6 raises $13,000 for separated migrant families—by selling lemonade.


Voting Rights

Nashville Federal Judge Aleta A, Trauger ruled that taking away drivers’ licenses for failure to pay court costs is unconstitutional.

Progressive leaders are applauding the wave of left-wing victories (like Ocasio-Cortez’) in a number of Democratic primaries, and warning centrist Democrats that who dismiss the nation-wide enthusiasm for candidates refusing corporate money and supporting bold proposals like Medicare for all, do so at the own peril.

The NAACP is suing Connecticut in federal court for “prison gerrymandering,” the widespread practice of counting inmates at their prison instead of their last address.

Federal district court panel strikes down a dozen of Virginia’s state house districts on the grounds that Republicans violated the Constitution by infringing the rights of black voters.

In heavily restrictive Delaware, the Democratic-controlled state house passes two bills that finally allow early voting and permit voters to register and cast ballots at the same time, including Election Day.

Massachusetts Democratic-controlled State House passes automatic voter registration.

For the second time, a federal court ordered the Trump administration to hand over documents from its bogus voter suppression commission to Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, who was one of the token Democrats on the commission suing over the GOP’s attempt to hide their activities.


Environment

On July 3, 12 activists launched an aerial blockade at the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge in  Vancouver to stop an oil tanker from leaving Kinder Morgans’ terminal.

Scott Pruitt resigns from the EPA.  Coal lobbyist Wheeler now becomes the acting head.

The Guardian reports on protests erupting around ‘tar sands’ Pipeline 3 on the U.S. Canada border.

Vertical Gardens are cleaning the air in Mexico City (and they look gorgeous, too.)

Protest at D.C.’s FERC headquarters disrupts the work day by erecting huge fracking well derricks outside their offices.

In Puerto Rico, a judge blocks FEMA from ending housing program for hurricane-displaced people.

Applauded by Greenpeace, and in a watershed moment for climate liability, Rhode Island becomes the first state to file a lawsuit against 21 oil companies, seeking damages for climate change.

Peace

A current ICAN poll finds that Europeans reject U.S. nuclear weapons on their own soil. 

Palestine

Just as demolition bulldozers were about to roll into Khan al Ahmar, the High Court of Israel issued a last-minute injunction against demolition, requiring g the State of Israel to respond to the village’s own master plan of July 11th.

Privacy

EU votes down ‘disastrous’ copyright proposal, including a link tax, and aimed at transforming the internet into a virtual ‘censorship machine.’

Labor

Minimum wage workers receive a raise in two states, D.C., and 15 cities or counties.

Mexico

Progressive candidate Lopez Obrador wins presidential election in Mexico.

Mexico City elects its first female mayor.

Philanthropy

Nicki Minaj, one of the world’s famous rappers, just paid off 37 college students’ tuitions.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

ROSES


This week the newsletter appendix lists so many roses, it’s almost impossible to count them, mainly because the world seems to be turning. And also, because we’ve been benched a week with a bad case of flu-ish symptoms, the newsletter lists a full two-week accumulation of good news (see below).

But all the good news can be summed up in one statement: the people of the United States are in open rebellion. It’s a moment that has been much too long in coming,  and aside from being very beautiful, it’s fraught with danger that thinking people need to recognize as a very serious one.

Today’s headliner reads: “Owner of 12.5 square kilometers with uranium deposits…resisted the temptation to make a fortune. Instead, he saved the land….”

Here’s the story:

Jeffrey Lee is the sole member of the aboriginal Djok clan to have survived the white man’s depredations in Australia. “My responsibility is on that land and I don’t own the land. The land owns me,” he says. The land he’s talking about is the 12.5 kilometer square Koongarra Project Area which got excluded from a national  park when the park was established because Koongarra contains a major uranium deposit.

Australian aborigine rock painting
The excluded area, Kakadu, is located in a huge biodiverse part of Australia Northern Territory where rock sites date back more than 50,000 years. Because they realized that as sole surviving member of the clan, Lee held Koongarra’s fate in his hands, Areva, the French nuclear energy corporation, gobbled up licenses to the deposits of uranium, and pressured Lee for decades. Had he permitted Areva to extract the estimated 14,000 tons of uranium from the area, he might have become one of the world’s richest people. But he refused all offers because he claims that the rainbow serpent entered the ground there and that its being is so sacred, he can’t even go there or talk about them.

The story appeals to me all the more because while in recovery I re-read Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines, a travel-adventure which chronicles Chatwin’s trek in Australia to learn for himself what the songlines are all about. Also referred to as the  Footprints of the Ancestors, and The Way of the Law by the aboriginal people who first inhabited the land, they refer to their world view that the first ancestors were the ones to create the world rock by rock, stream by stream, that is, literally to sing the land into being so that even today, when they come upon a certain feature in the landscape, they spontaneously burst into song!  Here is Chatwin:

         
            It was one thing to persuade a surveyor that a heap of boulders were the eggs of the Rainbow Snake, or a lump of reddish sandstone was the liver of a speared kangaroo. It was something else to convince him that a featureless stretch of gravel was the musical equivalent of Beethoven’s Opus 111.

            By singing the world into existence…the Ancestors had been poets in the original sense of poesis, meaning ‘creation’. No Aboriginal could conceive that the created world was in any way imperfect. His religious life had a single aim: to keep the land the way it was and should be. The man who went ‘Walkabout’ was making a ritual journey. He trod on the footprints of his Ancestors. He sang the Ancestor’s stanzas without changing a word or note—and so re-created the Creation. [At this juncture his companion adds] 'sometimes I’ll be driving my “old men” through the desert, and we’ll come to  a ridge of sandhills, and suddenly they’ll start singing [and I say to them] “What are you mob singing?” and they’ll say, “Singing up the country, boss.   Makes the country come up quicker.”'

I see in this particular “rose” a huge win for the Standing Rock movement, the world-wide movement of indigenous people whose sense is that the land is sacred and who—if anyone can do it—will save the planet, and save us from ourselves.

Jeffrey Lee
Says Jeffrey Lee, “I am not interested in white people offering me this or that. It doesn’t mean a thing. I am not interested in money. I’ve got a job, I can buy tucker; I can go fishing and hunting. That’s all that matters to me….It’s my belief that if you disturb that land, bad things will happen.” And bad things did: Beginning in 2009, the existing Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu has had more than 150 leaks spills and license breeches.)

At last, at Lee’s urging, the World Heritage Committee declared Koongarra a protected site. Said Lee, “This is a great day for me, my country and my culture. My mind is at peace now that I know that there will be no mining at Koongarra and that Djok lands will be protected forever….Money comes and goes, but the land is always there. It always stays. If we look after it; it will look after us.”

That’s big IF.












 

Environment

Sami nation of indigenous people embraces Rights of Mother Earth

Ireland joins France, Germany and Bulgaria in banning fracking.

At Clichy-Batignolles, Paris creates a ground-breaking eco village filled with low-carbon usage buildings to be completed by 2020.

Plans are announced for Texas to get its largest battery coupled with its largest solar power plant.

Bangalore’s Kempegowda International Airport announces it will be powered with 100% renewable energy by 2020.

Two companies, Sea World and Royal Caribbean, ban single use plastics.

General Motors moves its fleet toward 100% electrics, with 29 new electric models by 2023.

The Democratic National Committee passed a resolution banning contributions from PACs tied to the fossil fuel industry.

In a move away from industry-funded cultural events, New Orleans held its first  fossil-free Festival

Costco announces that it’s informing its suppliers to stop using bee-toxic pesticide on all fruits, vegetable and garden plants it carries.

Home Depot announces they will remove from their shelves paint strippers containing the deadly chemicals methylene chloride and n-methylpyrrolidone.

The City of Mumbai becomes the largest Indian city to ban single-use plastic straws, plastic bags, cups, or bottles.

Starting this July, all Seattle restaurants will ditch plastic straws.

Charlotte City Council passes clean energy solution unanimously.

Following her surprising win, Ocasio-Cortez becomes most ambitious climate Democrat.

Over 200 candidates in November’s general election pledge to reject oil, gas, and coal money.

Blacksburg. VA mother locks down to halt Mountain Valley pipeline.
Lawsuit claiming Monsanto hid cancer danger of weedkiller for decades receives a boost by Judge, allowing  evidence that Monsanto suppressed evidence of the risks of its weed killing products.

The country of Belize saves the world’s second largest reef.

Immigrants

After six days of protest, Portland ICE blockade is a city of more than 80 tents.

Amid growing outrage over immigration policy, more than a dozen ICE agents call to dissolve agency.

San Diego Judge Dana Sabraw orders the U.S. to reunite families and stop border separation.

Nelson Santos, dialysis-dependent father of three and scheduled for a kidney transplant, receives a 6-month stay of deportation.

Saying “I don’t want to participate in this process, I don’t want the city to participate in this process,” Houston Mayor refuses to allow his city to allow a warehouse used to house Katina victims to receive up to 240 children separated from their parents.

Airlines American, United, Southwest, and Pioneer announce they will not participate in the immigration policies separating migrant children from their parents.

Shocked and angry, Concord, CA residents reject plans for a detention camp.

Rebuffed by border agents, after an hour of waiting to cross from  Ciudad Juarez across the International Bridge, El Paso’s Ruben Garcia, director of Annunciation House, escorts asylum seekers into the U.S.

Ruben Garcia escouring a family of asylum seekers into U.S.

Dozens of parents with their babies occupy ICE field directors Office.

ICE temporarily shutters Portland OR facility because of Occupy protest.

More than 100 Microsoft workers pressure bosses to cancel ICE contract.

In Texas, the City of Austin City Council passes two resolutions curtailing he invasive power of  “law” enforcement over the lives of blacks and immigrant city residents.

As hundreds of children separated from the families arrived from Texas, massive demonstrations carrying sings saying “Los Queremos” kicked off both outside and inside New York’s La Guardia Airport.

Eight state governors, two of them Republican, recall national guard from the border.

AG Sessions’ church takes action against him.

Wikileaks publishes database of ICE employees.

Border officials suspend handing over migrant families to prosecutors.

Leaving the Trump wall unfunded, the House rejects immigration bill after GOP fails to reach an agreement.

E-verify is voted out in the House’s latest immigration bill.

Brazilian asylum seeker, Lidia Souza was reunited with her son Diogo following judge’s order.

Indigenous movement & pipelines

Following four years of organizing by activists, the City of Berkeley denied the SB fast track application that would have desecrated the Berkeley Shellmound.

Native American tribes stand to benefit from the Supreme Court’s decision to punt in favor of the lower court’s standing decision respecting native fishing rights.

Court orders Mountain Valley Pipeline to cease construction.


Racial Justice

MOVE’s Debbie Africa freed after 40 years of incarceration on the 40th anniversary of the brutal police attack and fire bombing of MOVE’s headquarters said, “Nobody from the MOVE movement has been released from prison and ever committed a crime…We are a peaceful people.

Supreme Court clears way for Sonoma County, CA deputy to be tried for shooting of boy with pellet gun.

San Francisco Supervisors block funding for the police department to purchase Tasers.

Pennsylvania cop charged with homicide for shooting unarmed teen in back.

Officer in Antwon Rose shooting charged with homicide.

Human rights & privacy
  
Over 200 organizations demand the freedom of Khalida Jarrar jailed by Israel without charge or trial.

Imprisoned Korean union leader, Lee Young-joo is released

Barrister retained by Burma Task Force files with the ICC on behalf of Rohingya victims of Burmese genocide.

Peace

On the eve of the Korea summit, U. S. Conference of Mayors urges Trump to work with North and south Korea for a formal resolution of the Korean War.

Pentagon of the multi-trillion disappearance suspends military drills with South Korea.

Malaysia withdraws troops from Sajdi-led military coalition.
  
Civil Rights

Supreme Court rules that a warrant is necessary for obtaining phone location data.

California passes a sweeping on-line privacy law giving customers the right to know what information companies collect about them, and with whom they are sharing it.

Direct action

With their cries of  ‘If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace,” Democratic Socialist activists drive DHS/ICE secretary Nielsen out of Mexican Restaurant.

Protesters blast audio of crying migrant toddlers at home of separation chief Nielsen.

“Say it loud, sat it clear: immigrants are welcome here,” chanted over a dozen activists outside the luxury home of Stephan Miller in Washington, D.C.

Sara Huckabee Sanders gets booted out of a Red Hen restaurant  by owner Wilkiinson who says, “This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”
  
Healthcare & Labor

Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker signs $15 minimum wage.

The vote in Congress to slash Medicare fails.

CA ballot provisions C and G prevailed supporting universal childcare, and guaranteeing educators a living wage.

Compassion wins: Oklahoma legalizes medical marijuana.

Senate passes bipartisan farm bill strengthening SNAP food assistance.

Jimmy Carter helps hometown get a sorely needed healthcare clinic.

Citing ‘deprivation’ they would cause, federal judge blocks Kentucky’s Trump-backed medicaid work requirements.

Primaries

Democratic National Committee votes to roll back power of superdelegates.

Socialist candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wins a stunning upset against a solidly entrenched incumbent.

Max Rose wins his election in a landslide.

Demanding Medicare for all, climate action and living wages, Ben Jealous wins Democratic primary for Maryland Governor.

Dana Balter wins House primary in upstate New York.

Jared Polis winds primary for governor of Colorado on a platform including single-payer.

Over 200 candidates in November’s general election pledge to reject oil, gas, and coal money.

Three scientists win their primaries: Chris Hansen, CO, Faith Winter, CO, and Julie Palakovich Carr, MD.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Their Journey Is Our Journey


Stories from the Bus Station Ministry compiled by Jan Olsen

(This week we republish this relatively unfamiliar take on U.S. criminal efforts to discourage immigration with permission of La Voz de la Esperanza, San Antonio, Texas.)

If you walk by the Greyhound Bus Station in Downtown San Antonio on any day of the week, you will see an amazing sight…..seated in one area are mothers and children who are seeking asylum in the United states after their release from Family Detention Centers. All their possessions are in two grocery bags as they await their buses to take them to sponsors in cities all over the United States. Moving among these families are volunteers from the
Bus station volunteers
Interfaith Welcome Coalition. This is a group of very passionate and dedicated volunteers who make up the Back Pack Ministry.  You will find them at the downtown Greyhound bus station and the San Antonio airport seven days a week. They are there to welcome and offer support to the women and children after their release from the family detention centers at Dilly and Karnes. These families have endured unbelievable hardships to get to this point so expressions of “bienvenido”, smiles, backpacks, lunches and explanations of travel are moments of much needed kindness and compassion. In addition to the Bus Station ministry, IWC also has volunteers at the San Antonio International Airport where they offer the same support to families who are traveling by air.
The work of the bus station volunteers is greatly supported by the Greyhound Bus Station staff. Everyone from the General Manager, the ticket sellers, cafeteria workers and the custodial staff  are welcoming  and kind to our families. They go out of their to way to make sure our families receive the support that they need.

The Organization that supports this ministry is the Interfaith Welcome Coalition. The IWC, a San Antonio area based coalition of faith communities, organizations, and individuals, works collaboratively to welcome to our community refugees, asylum seekers and at risk immigrants, particularly women and children, and walk along side them in their journey.  

One of the projects of the IWC is the Back Pack Ministry which supports their goal of providing material support for asylum seeking mothers and children as they journey from the family detention centers to their final destinations within the United States.
These are the stories of some of our volunteers that convey the challenges, the joy and the deep satisfaction of this work.

Simple but profound a joyful walk Sandy Enders

 

I have been an Interfaith Welcome Coalition bus station volunteer for almost one year. My anger and grief over the election results of 2016 were the catalyst that indirectly led me to this touching, fulfilling, yet heartbreaking ministry. Until this time, I was content in my insulated, safe environment, naïve toward the entire immigration process, especially people seeking asylum. The hardships that these women and children endure have humbled me and opened my eyes to the injustices in our world and our country.
Their appreciation of this ministry is very touching.  Another volunteer and I frequently take the families waiting for an evening bus on a short stroll along the San Antonio Riverwalk. One mother sincerely stated that this walk was the best thing that she had experienced during her entire two month journey toward asylum.
“Whenever we do not understand what’s happening in life, just close our eyes, take a deep breath and say:  “God, I know you have a plan. Just help us through it”. 
I offer this prayer for the mothers and children and all the volunteers. 

Officials from U.S. Immigration & Customs Reinforcement 

A day in the bus station ministry Sister Denise La Rock 

 

Serving at the Greyhound Bus Station offers help and support to asylum seeking mothers and children, most of whom are fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. This direct service is very rewarding so it is difficult to know which of us receives more from the ministry, the families or the volunteers.
The Bus Station Ministry is part of the Interfaith Welcome Coalition. The IWC  gives me travel money to share with families who will be on a two or three day bus trip.
Recently, a few women were in touch with their families to request money through Western Union. All but one was able to receive the transaction. I took that one aside and gave her some money because she had none. I was concerned about her long trip with her children and having no money.  I offered her the money and she asked how she was going to be able to pay me back. I told her it was a gift from the churches. She began to cry and hugged me and cried in my arms.
Later that day, I received a call from American Airlines. One of the mothers seeking asylum and traveling by plane was at the airport and was too sick to travel and had to be taken to the emergency room. I met up with the mother and her child there. After being tested and treated for strep throat and tonsillitis, she was released from the hospital. I provided overnight shelter at my house to her and her son. My job at the hospital was at first to calm the mother and entertain her 2 year old. I enjoyed playing with him. As his energy became too much for his Mom’s ER room, we went for a walk after buying some Doritos. After he ate most of them, we walked outside for a while.  He was very inquisitive as we walked and tested out every bench. Several times as we were walking, he placed his hand in mine for me to hold it. In holding his hand, I felt that connection that unites all of us.
It is such a blessing to know that in our outreach, we can support others so they feel safe and cared about.
(Sister Denise La Rock of the Daughters of Charity is the Director of the Bus Station Ministry.)

Reflections from yesterday’s shift…Michele Rembault 

 

I started volunteering with the Interfaith Welcome Coalition’s Bus Station Ministry around December 2016. This was my response to the election results. I shared with my family some impressions from those early days.
I arrived at the bus station at 1pm, fresh from Travis Park United Methodist Church, which serves as our group’s supply unit.  My trunk is filled with backpacks and sack lunches and the rolling suitcase filled with clipboards, itinerary and map sheets, over the counter meds, toys and diapers.
I sit down in “my spot” to the side and away from the main hub. I settle in, organize my stuff, wonder who might show up today…….I look around and, holy cow, there is a mass of  women and children refugees sitting right there in plain sight, somehow I miss them walking in!  So I walk over, introduce myself and what I am doing and begin the now familiar process of “triaging”, figuring out which ones have busses leaving soon, then working through individual intakes and conversations. Just as I finished that group, I look up to see incoming new refugees. Just as I finished that group, my new friend, Robert, the station manager, gives me a heads up, there are about 30 who just landed. The work is non stop for hours.
Here are some of the memories I took home with me from the dozens I served yesterday….
So many adorable, curious, eager, beautiful children
The boy with the huge, gorgeous brown eyes
The ten year old girl with no front teeth and  a big grin
The teenagers, the babies
None seem to complain, just accept
The 30 year old Guatemalan women who was going to see her mother. Wonderful, I said, when is the last time you saw her? Twenty -seven years ago. She had to leave when I was three.
The young mother with the grinning ten year old tells me that she had to leave her home in Honduras. The man who had been trying to kill her had been let out of jail and she know her chance to survive was to leave. The stateside friend who offered to sponsor her told her she could bring only one child so she decided to bring the ten year old and leave behind her seven month old with her fifteen year old daughter. It was either that or certain death for her and probably all of her kids.
Around 5pm, most had already departed and only three families were left. I took them to eat at the bus station cafeteria….fried chicken and hot dogs. Just then a new family arrives and I am out of backpacks, medicines, and exhausted. I try to give then the best advice possible and then I leave. It’s like the kid who is trying to save starfish on the beach – you can only do so much and hope that you could at least make a tiny difference to that one.
Throughout the day, the constant CNN news flashes about making America Safe Again, securing our borders, ensuring terrorists are returned home. There are no terrorists here, only mothers and children seeking safety and survival.

This work breaks my heart, but also heals it Carly Leech

 

After I learned that most of the women leaving the immigration detention centers are dropped off at the bus station with next to nothing, having exhausted their travel funds, there was no turning back for me. I need to show up for them. It’s hard work, but the women bring me strength and keep me from drowning in my own personal struggles. One woman who I will never forget was dropped off late in the afternoon by ICE with her two children. I had already been there for hours helping other families, and I had run out of sandwiches. Luckily, I still had two backpacks with supplies and snacks. When she realized she had to take three buses and would not reach her destination for two full days, she panicked, tears rolling down her cheeks. Immigration officials had somehow given her the impression she would only take one bus and arrive the same day. She didn’t know what city we were in. She had no idea how far away California was from Texas. She had no money and had no way to get money to feed her children. Desperately, she showed me the commissary number on her immigration identification, wanting to be able to spend her remaining balance. I explained to her that it only worked in the detention center, which only increased her panic. Then suddenly, she rallied, calmed herself down, and told me, “Voy a aguantar con esta comida.” ...I will get by with this food. She was finally able to smile and she thanked me. She said she didn’t know what she would have done if I hadn’t been there. This work breaks my heart, but also heals it.

An Act of Compassion Treedy Chapa

 

I was raised to believe in compassion for those in need. I learned of the Bus Station Ministry almost a year ago. This was a venue to practice compassion and share my time.
I joined the group of volunteers that help the asylum seekers that cross the Texas border and stop at the  San Antonio Greyhound Bus Station. We assist the Mothers and their children reach their next destination in the US safely. The majority of the women are young, vulnerable and very frightened. Sadly,  there are many people out there ready to take advantage of them during their journey. Many of them have been traveling for months with little or no food or means of transportation. Once being released from the detention center, having been sponsored by a family member or friend, they begin their journey to the unknown. These ladies have left everything that was familiar to them; family, friends, language, customs, culture and community in hopes for a better life for themselves and their children The majority of them are under 5 years of age.
I have witnessed the strength and resilience of the young women, their character and humility. One example is when one of the mothers asked me how to buy a soft drink in the restaurant and when I showed her how she immediately asked if she could buy me one as well, she who has so little and I who have so much.  Many women have shown some of their vulnerability and fears yet they fight for a better life for their children and themselves. These women are amazing and a testimony of the value of human life and the pursuit of safety and well-being . Please don’t forget the value of human life and the worth of our youth.

Everything Heals Jan Olsen

 

One of the memories that will always be with me is of a mother who came up to me and asked,
“Do you have any medicine to erase from my memory all the horrible things I have seen?”  - Jan Olsen
I have been a volunteer with the Bus Station Ministry for about a year and a half.  I tell my family and friends that the time spent at the bus station is the most peaceful and joyful of my day since it is the chance to “live compassion” in these most troubling times.
One of my jobs at the bus station is to give out medicines. One of the memories that will always be with me is of a mother who came up to me and asked, “Do you have any medicine to erase from my memory all the horrible things I have seen?” I told her   this is the only medicine I can offer and I just stood and held her while she cried. She then smiled at me and said thank you.
My heart and my spirit are healed every day at the bus station by witnessing the courage, resilience and joy and that I see in these women and children in spite of all they have endured to get to this point.  My hope is that what we have to offer them in this brief encounter will heal a little part of them. 

"It's like a jail for children." NY Times

 This week In Immigrant Detention

  • Senator Merkeley reported that in one ten-day period in May, ICE took away 658 children from their families. He expressed outrage that children were being kept in cages. "In McAllen, TX, I witnessed...a large warehouse facility with cells constructed of fence posts and chain link fencing—like dog kennels or large cages."

    As the hours passed, it dawned on the mothers the kids were not coming back. They were told their children were being taken for a bath.  Heard that one before.

    One man was reported to have died in immigrant detention for refusal of proper medication. 

    The administration wants Congress to overturn legal limits on incarcerating children in family detention jails to free its hands to separate children from their families.

    Kids were reported left stranded with baby sitters after 114 Ohio workers were seized in an ICE raid

    Trump looks to erect tent cities to house unaccompanied children. 

     



    It you employ or know vulnerable people (Latinx or Muslims)
    please either go to or suggest they go to www.RedCardOrders.com to get the red card in Spanish & English, advising them of their rights.








    Asylum-seeker and teen son reunite after separation since last August.

    Judge temporarily blocks pizza delivery man’s deportation.

    San Francisco high schoolers skip senior trip, visit Afghan boy in ICE detention center instead.

    Already 35 of the 54 people who were shipped out of Tennessee after a work place raid, and held in immigration detention have been released on bond and are back home with their families.

    In Durham County’s  Democratic primary, Clarence Birkhead defeated incumbent Sheriff Make Andrews who upheld honoring 287(g) ICE detainers.

    Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash) led a sit-in demanding an end to Trumps family separation policy.

    Federal judge stops Indiana from implementing controversial voter purge law.

    Judge calls for evidence for Pruitt’s climate denial.

    Poised to cancel the program, Zinke reversed himself from shutting kids out of national parks.

    ABC news reported anti-nuke protesters are hopeful following the historic summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un.

    CLG news reported Kim commits to “complete denuclearization of Korean Peninsula.”

    Bilal Abdul Kareem, a U.S. journalist, has won the right to challenge his inclusion on the Tuesday “Kill List,” the list of people the U.S. targets for assassination by drone. 

    IKEA bans all single-use plastics.

    French farmers block refineries to protest palm oil import.

    Canada will soon provide low-income families with $10 per-month internet.

    Canada commits $400 million in new funds for girls’ education.

    The UK is set to protest a marine area 8 times the size of London.

    Biggest UK asset manager seeks removal of eight company chairs over climate change.

    Mayor Randall Woodfin pledges to transition Birmingham to 100% sustainable energy.

    21 Native American tribes win big as the Supreme Court protects their salmon rights.

    The UN schedules an emergency meeting on protecting Palestinians.

    Israeli Court orders Israelis to leave Palestinian lands.

    Jordan abandons nuclear station deal with Russia.

    Berkeley City Council aims for fossil fuel-free Berkeley by 2030.

    Samsung commits to 100% renewable energy after global protests.

    San Diego Gas and Electric approves projects doubling grid-scale energy storage to enable adoption of more renewables.

    Maine voters uphold new instant-runoff voting system in a victory for election reform.

    In May, Democrat LaToya Cantrell was sworn in as mayor of New Orleans, the first black woman to be elected in the city’s 300-year history.

    Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams became the first black woman to be nominated for governor by any major political party.

    In South Fulton, Georgia, every one of the criminal justice department heads is a black woman.