Tag Archives | truthout

A Year Later, Fewer Deportations in Cities That Adopted “Welcoming” Policies

Demonstrators protest the deportation of undocumented immigrants on July 24, 2013, in New York City. (Photo: John Moore / Getty Images)

Demonstrators protest the deportation of undocumented immigrants on July 24, 2013, in New York City. (Photo: John Moore / Getty Images)

A year after the Santa Fe City Council adopted in February 2017 a resolution strengthening its welcoming and non-discrimination policies toward immigrants, the federal government launched a series of audits demanding verification from local small businesses that their employees were eligible to work in the country. In response to this blitz, advocates and city officials held a press conference in early March calling out an attempt to disrupt business, wreak havoc, and create a culture of fear and panic.

“Today, children will wake up at home wondering if there will be a knock on their door; parents will go to work wondering if there will be a knock at the door of their place of employment; families will wonder if they’ll have one more meal together,” said then-Mayor Javier Gonzales, who, following President Trump’s election, became an outspoken proponent of cities enacting sanctuary and non-discrimination policies. “That is not what our country has ever been about, but it is what this administration is trying to do by dividing our communities. All of us in our community know that one of the best values Santa Fe incorporates every day is the value of welcoming people.”

And that value of welcoming is not just compassionate talk. There is proof that sanctuary policies are working, keeping residents safer than in places that collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement tactics.

According to a new study from Pew Research Center, nationwide deportations made by ICE in 2017 increased 30 percent from the previous year. But these increases are not distributed evenly. In regions where city and state governments worked hand in hand with ICE, deportations have increased …read more

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In a Major Win for Airline Labor, Nearly 5,000 JetBlue Flight Attendants Just Voted To Unionize

A JetBlue passenger jet (Embraer 190) taxis at LaGuardia Airport in New York, New York. (Photo: Robert Alexander / Getty Images)

A JetBlue passenger jet (Embraer 190) taxis at LaGuardia Airport in New York, New York. (Photo: Robert Alexander / Getty Images)

On April 18, nearly 5,000 JetBlue Airways flight attendants voted to form a union, notching a major victory for organized labor. The employees voted 2,661 to 1,387 to join the Transport Workers Union (TWU), a labor group that represents rail and airline workers, among others, and is affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

Sean Doyle, Assistant Director of Organizing for the TWU, tells In These Times that the vote to unionize JetBlue is “probably one of the largest and most successful union campaigns that’s happened in quite some time.” Doyle sees a connection between the successful effort to organize JetBlue employees and the recent wave of strikes and walkouts, particularly among teachers in states like Oklahoma and West Virginia.

“You can see by the workers, the teachers and what they’re doing that middle-class America has taken it on the chin long enough,” Doyle says. “Workers are uniting to protect their interests, not only in their jobs, but also their families and their welfare.” Although most workers at airlines such as Southwest are already unionized, Doyle believes JetBlue was hoping to block their employees’ desire to organize and join the TWU.

“We don’t do cold calls,” Doyle wryly points out, noting that it was JetBlue flight attendants who sought his group’s help, and not the other way around.

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in a statement that, while his company does “respect the outcome of the election,” they are also dismayed at the vote to unionize. The statement does not spell out JetBlue’s reasons for resisting the flight attendants’ efforts, although labor organizing is not a new issue for the airline. In 2014, the …read more

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Mexico in the Time of the Caravan

Puebla, Mexico, 8 April 2018: An annual Easter march to shine a light on the plight of Central Americans living in a region with the highest murder rate in the world drew the attention of international aid groups, the United Nations … and the President of the United States. While the U.N. admonished the government of Mexico to provide safe conduct to the approximately 1,200 persons who crossed the southern border of their country, Donald Trump reacted with incommensurate fear, threatening to deploy National Guard troops to his own border, 1,200 miles (2,000 km) away.

The march, or caravan, is also known as the Via Crucis del Migrante (Migrant Stations of the Cross). A more-or-less yearly event, the caravan has been organized by Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders), an NGO with a presence in Arizona, for over a decade. The original Via Crucis recalls the path Jesus Christ took to his execution according to the Christian religion: a fourteen-step journey that recounts the burdens, humiliations, consolations, torture and death he suffered, before being resurrected and ascending to heaven on what was to become Easter Sunday. In historically Catholic Central America, marking the Stations is a significant event.

Usually numbering less than a hundred, Via Crucis del Migrante 2018 grew unexpectedly, according to organizer Irineo Mújica, though not unpredictably in retrospect. This year’s caravan has a high number of Hondurans, reflecting that country’s extreme levels of violence and deepening political crisis following a contested presidential election in November that resulted in widespread protests and “excessive use of …read more

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If Cohen Flips on Trump, Let the Wild Rumpus Start

President Donald Trump's long-time personal attorney Michael Cohen arrives at a New York court on April 16, 2018 in New York City. Trump's lawyers on Sunday night asked a federal judge to temporarily block prosecutors from reviewing files seized by the FBI from Cohen's offices and hotel room last week. Trump's lawyers have argued that many of the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s long-time personal attorney Michael Cohen arrives at a New York court on April 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Speculation has begun to grow that Michael Cohen, Trump’s long-time personal attorney whose office and home were raided by the FBI, may agree to cooperate with Robert Mueller’s investigation. If so, he could go down in history with Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, the mobster whose testimony ultimately destroyed the Gotti crime family.

President Donald Trump's long-time personal attorney Michael Cohen arrives at a New York court on April 16, 2018 in New York City. Trump's lawyers on Sunday night asked a federal judge to temporarily block prosecutors from reviewing files seized by the FBI from Cohen's offices and hotel room last week. Trump's lawyers have argued that many of the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)President Donald Trump’s long-time personal attorney Michael Cohen arrives at a New York court on April 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Schofield Kid: Yeah, well, I guess they had it coming.

William Munny: We all have it coming, Kid.

— “Unforgiven”

When your current lawyer has his home and office plundered of all paperwork by FBI agents bearing judge-certified warrants, and your old lawyer tells you your current lawyer is almost certainly going to give you up to the feds to save himself, you are having a bad day.

This is precisely the predicament Mr. Trump finds himself in, according to his old attorney, Jay Goldberg, who represented Trump’s interests for many years. In an interview with CBS News, Goldberg said he was all but certain Michael Cohen …read more

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Why Black Stories Matter: They Build Empathy and Heal Trauma

When she was growing up, Rachel Bailey was taught that only rich, self-indulgent White people suffered from mental health issues. Black people were supposed to be tougher. Although she remembers struggling with what was later diagnosed as bipolar disorder since she was 4 years old, it wasn’t until age 34 that she began to seek treatment, checking herself into a psychiatric ward after a severe mental breakdown.

“People of other races, especially White people, they get to be crazy and have their reasons and their subtle shades of insanity,” Bailey says. “It’s unfair that you get to be insane in colorful ways and I just get to be nuts and go to jail and rot there.”

Bailey was one of 11 Black performers who shared their stories in front of an audience of 600 people at TMI Project’s inaugural #BlackStoriesMatter show in 2017.

Among the performers was Tina-Lynn Dickerson, who spoke about becoming homeless after being evicted from her home in the now gentrified Harlem neighborhood she grew up in, and Micah Blumenthal, who spoke about how the lack of meaningful Black characters in film affected him as a child.

TMI Project is a nonprofit based in Kingston, New York, that works to uplift the voices of underrepresented populations in the community by helping them share their stories publicly. This is done through monologue-writing workshops that, if the writer chooses, culminate in a performance in front of an audience.

The goal is to raise awareness about different social issues, give people new perspectives, and inspire people to take action, says Eva Tenuto, co-founder and executive director of TMI …read more

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EPA Recommends Transitioning Away From Animal Testing

Good news from federal agencies can feel like a rarity these days, but this dispatch from the Environmental Protection Agency is an excellent reminder that staffers deep in the government are hard at work to build a better world. In draft guidance on skin allergy testing for pesticides and industrial chemicals, the EPA is encouraging researchers to move away from the use of animal models.

Such testing is legally required to determine the level of hazard that various industrial products pose. Scientists aim to determine if chemicals cause skin irritation and, if so, the severity of their effects. This allows agencies to determine whether a product is safe enough to be sold to consumers, or if it needs to come with special warning labels.

Historically, this process has involved exposing animals to the chemicals in question, relying primarily on guinea pigs and mice. As part of the research, the animals are killed and autopsied to examine the effects.

The Humane Society of the United States maintains that these methods really should be consigned to history — and not just because they are cruel. Alternatives to animal testing actually appear to be more effective, which is a good reason to abandon these outdated practices.

The EPA estimates that about 10,000 animals are used in testing these products annually, thanks to stringent requirements. In order to validate results, researchers have to repeat tests multiple times in a controlled setting. This process doesn’t just involve the use of many animals; it’s also time consuming, with some testing taking several years and multiple generations of animals to complete. That, in turn, can make research very costly, presenting problems for the bottom lines of companies that want to control costs.

This move has …read more

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CIA Operative Who Tortured, Destroyed CIA Torture Tapes, and Now Wants To Lead CIA Was “Cleared,” Says CIA

(Photo: Central Intelligence Agency)

Gina Haspel, who was in charge of a black site in Thailand where torture occurred and ordered the destruction of CIA tapes of the human rights violations, has been nominated to become director of the spy agency. (Photo: Central Intelligence Agency)

In what critics are calling a bald attempt to help Trump’s controversial pick to lead the CIA get through a very difficult confirmation process, the CIA on Friday released a previously classified memo in which Gina Haspel was “cleared” of any wrongdoing when she destroyed more than 90 videotapes of agency operatives torturing human beings.

According to the Associated Press, which first reported the story, the CIA on Friday “gave lawmakers a declassified memo Friday showing [Haspel] was cleared years ago of wrongdoing in the destruction of videotapes showing terror suspects being waterboarded after 9/11.”

Written by then-acting deputy director of the CIA Mike Morrell, the eight-page memo, as the Washington Post reports, “does not weigh in on questions about Haspel’s involvement in the use of brutal interrogation methods at a black-site facility she supervised in Thailand. The memo does suggest, however, that there was general CIA support for the destruction of the tapes at the time Haspel drafted the 2005 memo, as officials were still heavily influenced by the experience of fallout from the 2004 scandal involving the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.”

Sen. Diane Feinstein, Democrat of California and member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, responded by saying that the CIA’s memo should be seen for what it is: an attempt by the agency to release information that makes Haspel look good while continuing to block the release of information that might serve to incriminate her or hurt her chances for confirmation.

“It’s …read more

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Who Will Be the Next GOP Speaker?

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan finally admitted that the rumors were true, announcing his intention to step down at the end of the term and retire — rather than run for reelection in the 2018 midterms. Ryan’s decision means that even if the GOP does manage to hold onto a majority after the November election — an outcome even more in doubt now than it was just weeks ago — the party will be seeking a new speaker of the House when it reconvenes in 2019.

Or, if some GOP House members have their way, maybe even sooner.

With the party still reeling from Ryan’s official announcement that he will be leaving DC, all ambitious House leaders are vying to take over the speakership — becoming the third, or possibly even second, most powerful Republican in office. And it’s a role that many are willing to do anything to win.

The leading contenders are Congressman Kevin Murphy of California and Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana, both staunch conservative leaders. Murphy has served as House majority leader since Eric Cantor lost his seat in a surprise upset in 2014, and already campaigned for the speakership when Ryan’s predecessor, Ohio Republican John Boehner, was ousted. Scalise is just one step lower than McCarthy in the House GOP hierarchy, and he gained a great deal of admiration and esteem after being critically shot by gunman during a Congressional baseball game.

And they both have considerable baggage. The Denver Post reports:

In 2014, Scalise was discovered to have addressed a white-supremacist group in 2002 founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Scalise apologized and said he’d been unaware of the group’s racial views. McCarthy suggested in 2015 that a House committee probing the deadly …read more

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Dilma Rousseff: Lula's Imprisonment Is Part of a Coup Corroding Brazil's Democratic Institutions

Protests are continuing in Brazil over the imprisonment of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Two weeks ago, Lula began serving a 12-year prison sentence for a highly controversial corruption conviction. Lula had been the front-runner in this year’s presidential election. His supporters say his jailing is a continuation of a coup that began in 2016, when his close ally, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached as president. Both Lula and Rousseff are members of the left-leaning Workers’ Party, which has been credited with lifting tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty since Lula was first elected in 2003. Last month, Lula spoke on Democracy Now! in one of his final TV interviews before being jailed. Earlier this week, Lula was dealt another setback when Brazil’s Fourth Federal Regional Court denied Lula’s latest appeal. Meanwhile, hundreds of Lula supporters have set up an encampment outside the prison where Lula is being held in the the southern city of Curitiba. We speak to former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Her impeachment in 2016 ended nearly 14 years of rule by the Workers’ Party. Rousseff is a former political prisoner who took part in the underground resistance to the US-backed Brazilian dictatorship in the 1960s. She was jailed from 1970 to 1972, during which time she was repeatedly tortured. She was elected president in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: Protests are continuing in Brazil over the imprisonment of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Two weeks ago, Lula began serving a 12-year prison sentence for a highly controversial corruption conviction. Lula is the front-runner in this year’s presidential election. His supporters say his jailing is a continuation of a coup that began in 2016 when his close ally, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached as president. Both Lula and Rousseff are …read more

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Native Language Schools Are Taking Back Education

The United States Mint and leaders of the Wampanoag Tribe introduced the 2011 Native American $1 coin during a ceremony at Plimoth Plantation on March 25, 2011. (Photo: Jonathan Wiggs / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The United States Mint and leaders of the Wampanoag Tribe introduced the 2011 Native American $1 coin during a ceremony at Plimoth Plantation on March 25, 2011. (Photo: Jonathan Wiggs / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

For more than 150 years, the Wôpanâak language was silent. With no fluent speakers alive, the language of the Mashpee Wampanoag people existed only in historical documents. It was by all measures extinct. But a recently established language school on the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation in Massachusetts is working to bring back the language.

The threat of extinction that faces the Wôpanâak language is not uncommon for indigenous languages in the United States. Calculated federal policy, not happenstance, led to the destruction of Native American languages such as Wôpanâak.

But today, Native language schools are working to change that by revitalizing languages that have been threatened with extinction.

In the 19th century, federal policy shifted from a policy of extermination and displacement to assimilation. The passage of the Civilization Fund Act in 1819 allocated federal funds directly to education for the purpose of assimilation, and that led to the formation of many government-run boarding schools. Boarding schools were not meant to educate, but to assimilate.

Tribal communities continue to be haunted by this history. As of April, UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Endangered Languages listed 191 Native American languages as “in danger” in the United States. Of these, some languages are vulnerable — meaning that children speak the language, but only in certain contexts — to critically endangered — meaning the youngest generation of speakers are elderly.

Today, the education system in the United States fails Native American students. Native students have the lowest high school graduation rate of any racial group nationally, …read more

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