Category Archives: Deportation

Human Rights Activist Deported from Colombia in Run-up to High Stakes Election

While enroute to observe the presidential elections in Colombia, Teri Mattson was denied entry by Colombian authorities and had her passport seized. After arriving at 6:55 am on May 22, she was forced to spend the day and the night at the Bogotá Airport before being deported the following morning and flown out of the country.

Although Mattson resides in Mexico and first flown there, her tribulations did not end there. She was then held in Mexico without passport or phone while immigration waited for the first available flight to the US, because she is a US citizen. Only when Mattson exited the plane in the US were her phone and passport returned to her.

Colombian authorities falsely claimed that Mattson “represents a risk to the security of the State.” When contacted, the US embassy refused to aid her on the bogus grounds that they do not get involved when someone is accused of being a security risk.

There are serious security risk issues involving the presidential elections in Colombia, but Ms. Mattson was not one of them. The front runner in the election campaign is Gustavo Petro, a former mayor of Bogotá. Petro was at one time a left guerilla, whose politics have now shifted more to the center.  His vice-presidential running mate is Afro-descendent environmentalist Francia Márquez.

Were the Petro/Márquez ticket to win on May 29, theirs would be the first administration on the left elected in Colombian history, which has gotten both the current right-wing Colombian government and Washington apprehensive. There are credible rumors that the election may be cancelled.

Both Petro and Márquez have already survived assassination attempts on the campaign trail. Breaking the constitutional requirement for neutrality by the armed forces, the commander of the Colombian army issued a direct attack against Petro. This prompted Medellín’s mayor to warn: “We are one step away from a coup.”

According to the Task Force on the Americas, Colombia has been turned into a regional US military and political proxy in their regime-change hybrid war against Venezuela. Petro has pledged to reopen relations with Venezuela and adhere to the terms of the peace agreement with the FARC if he becomes president and survives.

Given this background, Teri Mattson traveled to Colombia with a group of international trade unionists to observe the election. Colombia, incidentally, is the most dangerous place in the world to be a union activist.

Mattson was a fully accredited election observer invited to Colombia by the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights. CPDH is a leading human rights group in Colombia founded in 1979.

Mattson had previously visited Colombia in 2021 on a delegation to investigate state violence against social movements. She has been an official accredited election observer to Honduras, Venezuela, Ecuador, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

Mattson is the host of the weekly podcast WTF is Going on in Latin America & the Caribbean. She is a Latin America organizer with Code Pink and on the board of the Task Force on the Americas.

The Task Force on the Americas, Code Pink, and COHA are among the organizations denouncing the deportation. The CPDH holds the Colombian government responsible for the “persecution and violation of Teri Mattson’s rights, and for the violation of democratic rights and the lack of democratic guarantees in the current elections.”

The post Human Rights Activist Deported from Colombia in Run-up to High Stakes Election first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Human Rights Activist Deported from Colombia in Run-up to High Stakes Election

While enroute to observe the presidential elections in Colombia, Teri Mattson was denied entry by Colombian authorities and had her passport seized. After arriving at 6:55 am on May 22, she was forced to spend the day and the night at the Bogotá Airport before being deported the following morning and flown out of the country.

Although Mattson resides in Mexico and first flown there, her tribulations did not end there. She was then held in Mexico without passport or phone while immigration waited for the first available flight to the US, because she is a US citizen. Only when Mattson exited the plane in the US were her phone and passport returned to her.

Colombian authorities falsely claimed that Mattson “represents a risk to the security of the State.” When contacted, the US embassy refused to aid her on the bogus grounds that they do not get involved when someone is accused of being a security risk.

There are serious security risk issues involving the presidential elections in Colombia, but Ms. Mattson was not one of them. The front runner in the election campaign is Gustavo Petro, a former mayor of Bogotá. Petro was at one time a left guerilla, whose politics have now shifted more to the center.  His vice-presidential running mate is Afro-descendent environmentalist Francia Márquez.

Were the Petro/Márquez ticket to win on May 29, theirs would be the first administration on the left elected in Colombian history, which has gotten both the current right-wing Colombian government and Washington apprehensive. There are credible rumors that the election may be cancelled.

Both Petro and Márquez have already survived assassination attempts on the campaign trail. Breaking the constitutional requirement for neutrality by the armed forces, the commander of the Colombian army issued a direct attack against Petro. This prompted Medellín’s mayor to warn: “We are one step away from a coup.”

According to the Task Force on the Americas, Colombia has been turned into a regional US military and political proxy in their regime-change hybrid war against Venezuela. Petro has pledged to reopen relations with Venezuela and adhere to the terms of the peace agreement with the FARC if he becomes president and survives.

Given this background, Teri Mattson traveled to Colombia with a group of international trade unionists to observe the election. Colombia, incidentally, is the most dangerous place in the world to be a union activist.

Mattson was a fully accredited election observer invited to Colombia by the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights. CPDH is a leading human rights group in Colombia founded in 1979.

Mattson had previously visited Colombia in 2021 on a delegation to investigate state violence against social movements. She has been an official accredited election observer to Honduras, Venezuela, Ecuador, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

Mattson is the host of the weekly podcast WTF is Going on in Latin America & the Caribbean. She is a Latin America organizer with Code Pink and on the board of the Task Force on the Americas.

The Task Force on the Americas, Code Pink, and COHA are among the organizations denouncing the deportation. The CPDH holds the Colombian government responsible for the “persecution and violation of Teri Mattson’s rights, and for the violation of democratic rights and the lack of democratic guarantees in the current elections.”

The post Human Rights Activist Deported from Colombia in Run-up to High Stakes Election first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Requiem for a People-Centered World Dream

My dream is to invite a reader into a room and pour a nice cup of tea . . . and then nail the door shut.

— author Charles Bowden, 2010 NPR interview

There is so much daily that expresses so much about the slippery slopes we are in globally because of predatory-penury-parasitic-pugilistic capitalism.

In the USA, on this continent, north, and south of those colonial and Manifest Destiny “borders,” the amount of both absurdity and abomination is magnified in a world of protracted panic.

It’s there, truly, the panic. Young people are offing themselves with Narcan and with opiates. There are more dreams not only deferred, but dreams turned into nightmares by a thousand cuts.

We have a world where getting into uniform, with a rifle, with a joystick for murder incorporated, is the new abnormal. Hitch up in the killing machine US Army for $50K.

If this isn’t blasphemy, then, you know we have lathered ourselves on that slippery slope of the multi-pronged Faustian Bargain.

Then, more mercenaries recruited for big bonuses: Make that the disgusting US Army,

You know how messed up the USA is, from A to Z, and the news continues to illustrate the dying empire. Paying punks to enlist in the killing machine!

FORT CAMPBELL, KY — The U.S. Army is offering its largest bonus ever for new recruits with up to $50,000 available to qualified individuals who sign on for a six-year active-duty enlistment.

The total incentive package for a new recruit is based on a combination of incentives offered for the selected career field, individual qualifications, length of the enlistment contract, and the ship date for training.

In the past, enlistment incentives for full-time soldiers could not exceed $40,000.

The Army is competing for the same talent as the other services as well as the private sector and must have the ability to generate interest in the current employment environment, according to Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, who leads U.S. Army Recruiting Command in its mission to fill full-time and part-time vacancies in about 150 career fields in the regular Army and the Army Reserve.

“This is an opportunity to entice folks to consider the Army,” said Brig. Gen. John Cushing, who serves as the deputy commanding general for operations under Vereen at USAREC. “We’ve taken a look at the critical (military occupational specialties) we need to fill in order to maintain the training bases, and that is where we place a lot of our emphasis.”

Now run that up against The Man who coined the term Military Industrial Complex, and a new book written by, well, shall we call that person part of the elite, part of the chosen people from Ivy League and East Coast silver spoon roots. And, in the magazine that for many is a sell-out, for sure, Jacobin: Here, the article reviewing the man and the book.

Crisscrossing the country, Butler denounced US warmaking abroad and ruling-class violence at home as two sides of the same bloody coin, telling audiences from Racine to Roanoke that America was divided into “two classes”:

On one side, a class of citizens who were raised to believe that the whole of this country was created for their sole benefit, and on the other side, the other 99 percent of us, the soldier class, the class from which all of you soldiers came.

Butler published a short book, War Is a Racket, collecting the key themes of his orations in 1935. Later, in an essay in the socialist magazine Common Sense, Butler confessed to having been a “racketeer for capitalism,” elaborating that, as “a member of our country’s most agile military force,” he had served as “a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers.” In 1936, Marine Corps informants sent to spy on the ex-general observed him speaking on a panel alongside self-identified Communists and reported that “the General appeared to us to be either insane or an out and out traitor.”

[Major General John A. Lejeune, head of the Marine Corps, calls on General Smedley Butler in camp at Frederick, Maryland in 1922. (Bettmann / Getty Images)]

And, as an aside, but a big ASIDE, we are in a time of collective cholera of the conscious, in this remote work, remote being, remote news world. Just watching the fake left, Amy Goodman, daily (M-F) with an absolute stiff arm to authority, as the Democracy Now newsroom in New York is with Goodman, solo, while her correspondents, including Juan Gonzalez, are stuck in their homes with their laptops and tiny cameras and mic delivering their fear porn.

Young Lords logo.png

Imagine this happening today, 2022 — Verboten, again, in the Zoom Doom of Dead Consciousness. Mask up, sit on your toilet, tune into Zoom, if you are lucky:

[Students at the University of California at Berkeley filing in to listen to Smedley Butler’s Peace Day address in 1939. (Library of Congress)]

I analyzed Juan’s book, News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media, a while back. Remember, Juan was once in the radical group, the Young Lords.

Luís Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway, said “…in Murder City Charles Bowden plunges in head-first, without a parachute. There are moments when the book threatens to burst into flames and burn your hands.”

We are in a time of cholera of the consciousness, of infantalized masses following the dictates of a few chosen people, men and women of those classes, those groupings, the vetted and vaunted few, the ones who have been knighted by the lords of finance insurance real estate, and, more than FIRE, but the complex: Butler, War is a Racket.

Of course, it isn’t put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and “we must all put our shoulders to the wheel,” but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket — and are safely pocketed. Let’s just take a few examples:

Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people — didn’t one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war? Or saved the world for democracy? Or something? How did they do in the war? They were a patriotic corporation. Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year. It wasn’t much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it. Now let’s look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight million dollars a year profit we find! Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good. An increase in profits of more than 950 per cent.

Take one of our little steel companies that patriotically shunted aside the making of rails and girders and bridges to manufacture war materials. Well, their 1910-1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000. Then came the war. And, like loyal citizens, Bethlehem Steel promptly turned to munitions making. Did their profits jump — or did they let Uncle Sam in for a bargain? Well, their 1914-1918 average was $49,000,000 a year!

Or, let’s take United States Steel. The normal earnings during the five-year period prior to the war were $105,000,000 a year. Not bad. Then along came the war and up went the profits. The average yearly profit for the period 1914-1918 was $240,000,000. Not bad.

There you have some of the steel and powder earnings. Let’s look at something else. A little copper, perhaps. That always does well in war times.

Anaconda, for instance. Average yearly earnings during the pre-war years 1910-1914 of $10,000,000. During the war years 1914-1918 profits leaped to $34,000,000 per year.

Or Utah Copper. Average of $5,000,000 per year during the 1910-1914 period. Jumped to an average of $21,000,000 yearly profits for the war period.

Let’s group these five, with three smaller companies. The total yearly average profits of the pre-war period 1910-1914 were $137,480,000. Then along came the war. The average yearly profits for this group skyrocketed to $408,300,000.

A little increase in profits of approximately 200 per cent.

Read the short book, then scale it up to today! Trillions stolen from US taxpayers, and all the apps, all the services of the private money hecklers who have gotten sweetheart contracts with every branch of the government you and I supposedly fought for. All those trillions in bribes and bailouts. Imagine that, a Trump LLC and then a CitiBank Biden BBB. And before these two scoundrels? Do the history, look at the administrations, and figure it out. Here, just one short diatribe featuring one hell of a Satan, Kissinger. Beware of the verbiage I deploy to singe this fellow and those presidents who have utilized this war criminal. I have already gotten emails threatening me for the Blog Post. And notice all those cozy photos of Henry Kissinger with all the tribes of descrutive capitalism, a la war. War on us, war on societies, war on nations, war on children, war on ecology, war on thought, war on agency, war on the human body, war on thought.  “Tribalism Rules.”

So here we are, now, the kernel of this diatribe today — our faces. Oh, how we give up more and more each day, until the chip is in the back of the neck, and those bots are gathered in our organs with graphene building blocks to our souls.

Again, I harp on this one blasphemey, IRS demanding facial recognition — and that agency is for us, right? A truly representative form of democracy demands we the people have a huge say in what happens to us, and that’s not just idiotic voting, but again, “War is a Racket” is now “Banking-AI-Pharma-Med-Entertainment-Science-Education-Prisons-Law-Congress-Energy-Transportation-Chemicals-Engineering-Space-Data” ARE the Racket.” This is yet another single story that comes to us via the Net which is yet another chink in the armor of humanity plucked from our souls:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the US will require people to submit a facial scan through a third party provider to make payments or file taxes online. The system raises obvious privacy concerns.

Currently, users only require a username and password to log into their IRS accounts. But starting the summer of 2022, users will need to verify their identity through a third-party identity verification company called ID.me. The change was first noticed by Krebs on Security.

So you dig a bit, and find out who these millionaires and hedge funders and social impact investors are behind this “third party” (gouging, sick profiteers) outfit, ID Me!

Nader’s good, but he can only go so far. Yesterrday, 1/20, on Democracy Now, a rare media visit for Ralph Nader, who has been locked out of board rooms, out of newsrooms, locked out of so much for decades, when his memory, his insight, his analyses are vital to institutional memory and his own sort of harping against the profiteers.

He has to beat those dead horses, multiple times, year after year . . . dead horses tied to the fact there are no real journalists in the legacy media, and that there are no cops working the FTC or DoJ or EPA or FDA. He is spot on, but he never gets on NPR or PBS or Fox or CBS. Nader is spot on about Republicans being fascistic and messianic. They are, of course, worse:

And the reporters didn’t take him to task there. The reporters, either they’re not doing their homework or they’re full of taboos. I mean, they never raise the corporate supremacy over our country. There isn’t a single agency in the federal government that isn’t influenced maximally by corporate lobbies. And Congress is swarmed by corporate lobbies. You have 500 drug company lobbyists full-time assigned to Congress, and there are 535 members of Congress. And these corporations are strategically commercializing every aspect of our society, commercializing childhood, strategically planning the tax system, the food system, the health system, fighting global warming remedies, the fossil fuel industry, ExxonMobil. They’re planning our genetic inheritance. Commercializing childhood should be a left-right issue, conservative issue. The press never asks about it. The self-censorship of the press is overwhelming. That’s why we have to have a more independent media.

We have to have — I mean, look at the coverage of Ukraine. As Katrina pointed out, if our country was invaded in a span of 40 years from the north, with 50 million casualties, what do you think we would do? Do you think we would just station troops on the northern border? We would have taken over the northern country and annexed it. And that’s why dictator Putin can get away with what he’s doing now, in terms of public opinion of the impoverished Russian people, is because they remember. They have their casualties in their families from the western frontiers, started with Napoleon.

And here we are, expanding a military alliance for arms sales for the military-industrial complex, because, as was pointed out, a condition of joining NATO is to buy the F-16 and other weapons in Eastern European countries. NATO is a military alliance organized against the Soviet Union. And now they’re expanding it in Eastern Europe and putting troops there. It’s, here we go again, a completely preventable conflict. What Putin really wants is Ukraine never to join NATO, no strategic offensive weapons in the Ukraine. He’s asking for ending strategic weapons in Europe — that is not going to happen.

But the press asks war-inciting questions. NPR asked it. David Sanger asked it. They asked war-inciting questions. It’s like Vietnam all over again. It’s like Iraq all over again. They don’t ask peace-inciting questions about diplomacy. And this is a dangerous situation, and the press just isn’t doing its job. It isn’t just Biden.

He can’t communicate how the GOP is opposed to everything that’s defined as human. You don’t make moral appeals to the GOP, like Senator Warnock just did. You show that they are opposed to sending $250 and $300 monthly checks to 65 million children, which has stopped now, and the GOP will not expand it. I mean, that’s a good political item to communicate to the American people. Those 65 million children come from conservative and liberal families who are both deprived. He doesn’t know how to communicate. The GOP knows what it wants. It’s messianic. It’s fascistic. It’s driven. And the communication from the Democrats, from the DNC to the White House, is weak. It’s anemic. And the public senses that. (source)

See the source image

Finally, a story NOT covered in legacy media or left wing media. Ralph doesn’t get it yet. He still believes in his book title, how billionaires will save the world.

See the source image

 

He’s dead wrong about the above statement/title of one of his books. And, here it is, again, social impact investing, and the soul of humanity, especially youth, being sucked up by the ultra rich and investment teams for their data and their compliance — The Internet of Bodies and Human Capital Futures Bets In Brazil

In the coming years, global financiers, will attempt to meld dynamic pricing and mobile payments with biometric digital identity, Internet of Body sensors, and blockchain smart contracts and then weave it all into an expansive spatial web meant to control our social and economic relations in both the material world and, through digital assets, rights and privileges, in the Metaverse, as well. Click here to listen to an interview I did with Bonnie Faulkner of Guns and Butter that goes into more detail about how impact investing connects to digital twins, and mixed reality.

Surely it is twisted to view communities as resource deposits of untapped data, but that is the logic of end-stage capitalism. The infrastructure needed to scale human capital finance profit are ICT (Individual Communication Technology) devices including phones, tablets, and inexpensive computers like chrome books; wearable technologies and biosensors; and 5-6G used in combination with data-dashboards that verify impact data against predictions and success metrics laid out in the terms of the deals. These are all things one finds in recreation centers in the United States now, and given inroads made by the Aspen Institute, Stanford, Harvard and the like, they will very likely become standard issue in the favelas, too. Not because any of it is good for children, but because the children’s data has value, and their compliance has value.

The Metaverse will be populated by compliant avatars. Beyond social impact, the conditioning of the young to cyborg life is going full throttle. Meanwhile for portfolio managers, children’s futures are just tranches of investment – data commodities. It’s only business. — Alison McDowell, Wrench in the Gears (dot) com!

Most people I talk with do not have the bandwidth or wherewithal to understand this next stage, end stage, capitalism into our very souls, which is fascism, inverted totalitarianism, all bunched up in a world of chaos, all drawn and quartered on the backs of us, vis-a-vis all these scams of Build Back Better variety, or UN’s sustainability goals and Universal Basic Income propaganda, and the 4IR and WEF — the fourth industrial revolution is part and parcel of the Great Reset.

This sort of stuff Alison writes about does get under many of our skins, but for the most part, I know so many people who have given up, who think that we all are data mined anyways, that we have all our info in the banking-IRS-DMV-insurance-medical-education superhighway of giving up all agency, anyway, so what’s the big deal we are being tracked, and what’s the big deal that our kids are being watched and what’s wrong with our ovaries and prostates and such being monitored by the Internet of Bodies and Nano-Things when we just have to lean back and enjoy this new world?

And I have harped for 17 years here at Dissident Voice, and decades before, in newsrooms, in classrooms, in homeless shelters, in programs for the disenfranchised, on stage, at conferences for sustainability, on my radio show, elsewhere. I have harped and harped about the false flags, about the overlords drilling into our very being, about more and more of our agency stripped from us daily, not as part of a huge democratically controlled system of community building, power to the people organizing, or we are the 80 Percent movements, but to mine our souls so we are ghosts in their machines.

The agency we have given up was with that passport, all those sick people who pressed my ass at various border control passings. Strip searched and body cavity groped twice. Then, all the shot records needed to go here and go there. All the proof of life in school (Iowa IQ tests), the SAT, the LSAT, all the tests (run by the chose people, millionaires) and all the records of accomplishment, of criminal involvement, all the credit scores and all the car blunders, all of that kept for THEM, the Complext, the Insurance, Real Estate, Finance, FIRE, millionaires who get legislation in THEIR favor passed through the tricks of pimping and prostituting and arm twisting and outright bribery.

Imagine, protests and cops rounding us up, and then court cases, appearances, the hassles, the humiliations. Try it out for size.

How many arguments have I had with MD’s who know squat about nutrition and each time challenged me and my vegetarianism? Me, running 6 miles a day, biking 30 and scrambling underwater and up hills?

How man dirty arguments about “that” history, versus a new and improved revisionist history vital to a population from which to rise up and take on the paymasters, the body snatchers, the mind thieves?

Until we are here, 2022, in a chamber of stupidity, all the dumb and worthless stuff out there, all the racists and white-priviledged perspectives out there pounding it in the heads of unsuspecting youth, K12, TikTok, YouTube, all of the Net and WWW. All the Ivy League and Oxford-trained scum who determine not only our futures, but write our histories, and what they write is almost always semi-dead wrong. Because without the voices of the oppressed, those on the streets, in homeless camps, those suffering poverty and the inflammatory disease of capitalism; i.e., fines-tolls-fees-surcharges-service fees-handling charges-tickets-code violations-late fees-taxes-triple taxations-levies-processing fees-mortgages-ball on payments-PayDay loan rigged systems — without their voices at the forefront, and in the newsrooms, inside schools, and in the publishing houses and the actual process of writing their own stories, then we have the tin ear writers and prognosticators and anthropologists and psychologists, the elite, the highly connected, the bias of the white man and white woman writing about us.

They get it wrong 90 percent of the time!

Now, if this graphic doesn’t run chills up and down your spine, then, you are not following the overlords’ script. Catch up please!

UNSIF 17 UNSDGs

Dig down and listen, watch, read: And it’s not pretty, and it’s not slick, and it’s not all east coast, Ivy League, London Bridges Falling Down stuff.

Finally, I was reading about Charles Bowden last night. Found a piece in Literary Hub, and then went backwards to see one of his talks. Rough guy, but an amazing chronicler of people.”Eulogy for a Visionary: On the Grim Narrative Introspection of Charles Bowden — Leath Tonino Considers His Brief Correspondence with the Author of Murder City”

The piece was written and published December 2021, even though Chuck died in 2014.

Here, a gravel-voiced Chuck talking to the California Commonwealth Club. Mostly about the lies around the war on drugs.  I talked with Chuck years ago, in the 199os, in Juarez and El Paso. I was working on things for the two newspapers, and he was working the narcotraficante stories. That’s a whole other story, of my life maybe some autofiction is due, but for now, here, from the young writer who wanted to interview Chuck in Tucson, but never got the chance since Chuck died at 69 in his sleep. His piece is from the heart, and good.

My first thought: Murder City, solid title.

It was 2011 and I was scraping by in San Francisco, spending hours at the public library, tinkering with writing projects, browsing the stacks during breaks. The name on the book’s spine—Charles Bowden—was familiar yet unfamiliar; essayist Rebecca Solnit, a neighbor with whom I’d recently taken a long walk, had referenced Bowden, telling me that “he could make your skin crawl by describing a Q-tips factory.” Uncertain what that meant, but eager to learn, I slipped Murder City from the shelf, intending to start it when I got home, sip some vodka, have myself a relaxed Friday evening.

Little did I know that Bowden, a veteran investigative reporter from the South-west, author of twenty-five-plus books about polluted rivers, crooks in silk suits, flies swarming over pooled blood, collapsing communities, contract killers, rattlesnakes, and desire, had a slightly different plan. In a 2010 NPR interview, he summarized his approach to crafting stories on the page: “My dream is to invite a reader into a room and pour a nice cup of tea . . . and then nail the door shut.”

So, I end with a dead man, his words not dead, the voice alive on YouTube, and what an interesting conversation it would be with him now, as it would be with Andre Vltchek, with Kevin Zeese,  with David Graeber. So many others, long gone, or just gone. Even Gonzo Thompson.

I have been coming to this city [Ciudad Juárez] for thirteen years, and naturally, I have, like everyone here, an investment in the dead. And the living. Here is a story, and like all stories here, like Miss Sinaloa, it tantalizes and floats in the air, and then vanishes. — From Murder City

More from Bowden, at the Lannan Foundation.

Charles Bowden (1945-2014) was the author of scores of books including A Shadow in the City: Confessions of an Undercover Drug WarriorDown By the River: Drugs, Money, Murder and FamilyJuárez: The Laboratory of our Future; and Blood Orchid: An Unnatural History of America.  In Murder City: Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields, he presented a devastating chronicle of a city in collapse where not just the police and drug cartel members die as violence infects every level of society. Luís Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway, said “…in Murder City Bowden plunges in head-first, without a parachute. There are moments when the book threatens to burst into flames and burn your hands.” Bowden was a contributing editor for GQ and Mother Jones, and also wrote for Harper’sThe New York Times Book Review, and Aperture. Winner of a 1996 Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction, he lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Post Script — One story is worth a thousand points of stabbing (not lights). Two here to end this missive. If you haven’t figured out how ugly the overlords and then the Eichmann’s are, then, gain, read, live, walk the streets:

The queen and her minimum wage payout, oh those billionaires! The pay for the 20-hour-per-week job is £9.50, or the equivalent of $12.96 an hour. That reflects the U.K.’s new minimum wage, which will rise from £8.91 an hour now to £9.50 an hour in April.

Queen Elizabeth II tours Queen Mother Square on October 27, 2016, in Poundbury, England.

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“I apologize to the person who appeared before me and to our entire community for having failed to meet the high standards that we expect of our judicial officers, and that I expect of myself,” Alexis Krot said in a statement posted on the court’s website.

The statement was dated Tuesday, days after she ordered Burhan Chowdhury to pay $100 for failing to get rid of weeds and other vegetation at the rear of his property. The judge’s apology followed a TV report about the case and criticism about how she treated the man.

“Shameful! The neighbors should not have to look at that. You should be ashamed of yourself,” Krot said during the online hearing. “If I could give you jail time on this, I would.”

Chowdhury, a native of Bangladesh, explained that he was weak with cancer. A son, Shibbir Chowdhury, said he helps his father with the yard but was out of the country at the time last year.

The post Requiem for a People-Centered World Dream first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Dangerous Precedents and Hypothetical Threats: The Deportation of Novak Djokovic

Australia’s treatment of Novak Djokovic, the tennis world number one, has been revelatory.  Unintentionally, this has exposed the seedier, arbitrary and inconsistent nature of Australia’s border policies.  The approval by the Australian Federal Court of the Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to re-cancel the prominent Serb’s visa left the country a heaving precedent that will be invoked, in future, with relish.

Djokovic had originally entered the country under the assumption that he had been granted a legitimate vaccine exemption.  As the former Australian Tennis Open director Paul McNamee explained to the ABC, “every player and support member fills in a form, visa 408, and everyone does that, you are guided through it by Tennis Australia, every step of the way, and then you get approval, that is the process.”

On December 30, 2021, Djokovic received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia explaining that he had been granted a “Medical exemption from COVID vaccination” on the grounds that he had recently recovered from COVID-19. The exemption certificate had been furnished by an Independent Medical Review panel commissioned by Tennis Australia and approved by the Victorian state government’s independent Medical Exemptions Review Panel.

To cap things off, the Department of Home Affairs informed Djokovic that his Australia Travel Declaration has also been given the nod.  His “responses [i]ndicated that [he met] the requirements for a quarantine-free travel into Australia where permitted by the jurisdiction of your travel.”

The story turned out rather differently.  Such documentation proved insufficient for Djokovic on entering Australia on January 5.  A delegated officer of the Australian Border Force hastily cancelled his visa, giving Djokovic insufficient notice to prepare his explanation on the morning of January 6.  It was this procedural blunder that led to the Serb’s victory in the Federal Circuit Court, where Judge Anthony Kelly stated the following with some pungency: “Here, a professor and a physician have produced and provided to (Djokovic) a medical exemption.  Further to that, that medical exemption and the basis on which it was given was separately given by a further independent expert specialist panel established by the Victorian state government […] The point I am agitated about is, what more could this man have done?”

The Commonwealth, for its part, rejected claims that any deferral of vaccination should not have been read as an excuse not to get vaccinated.  The Tennis Australia exemption letter did not constitute sufficient information for the purpose of entering the country unvaccinated.

Exercising ministerial discretion

The Commonwealth’s defeat in the Federal Circuit Court did not end matters.  Hawke was left to exercise his vast executive discretion in a none-too Solomonic way.  The federal Labor opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, wondered whether the government was conducting a focus group in order to receive “the answer before it responds to the issue”.

As Hawke dithered, Djokovic was ritually torched in media and social media circles for incorrectly filling out the travel declaration.  Much of the kindling had been provided by the tennis player himself.  He had, it transpired, been in Spain; his agent had made a “human error” in stating that he had not travelled abroad in the 14 days prior to arriving in Australia on January 5.

He had also breached Serbian pandemic restrictions by avoiding isolating for 14 days after receiving a positive PCR result on December 16.  Instead, on December 17, he breezily attended a tennis event in Belgrade where he presided over the giving of awards to children and, on the following day, conducted an interview with French journalist Franck Ramella of L’Equipe.  “The instructions were clear,” Ramella subsequently wrote on realising that the tennis star had done the interview after testing positive for COVID-19.  There were to be “no questions about vaccination.”

This was all a bit much even for the otherwise supportive Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, who told the BBC that, “If you’re positive you have to be in isolation.”  She did, however, leave it to Djokovic to explain the matter. “I do not know when he actually got the results, when he saw the results, so there is some grey area… the only answer to this can be provided by Novak.”

This growing resume of seeming shiftiness did not augur well for Djokovic’s already anaemically thin chances.  The Minister had been furnished with fuel and duly ignited it.  The cancellation came, timed with brutal effect, on January 14.  It had been made “on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.”  The Australian Open, for which Djokovic had started training for on court, was to commence on January 17.

The threat inflation factor

Within hours, the legal team began proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia in a speedy effort to overturn Hawke’s cancellation.  The government submission was telling, consciously magnifying the Djokovic threat.  He had “indicated publicly that he was opposed to becoming vaccinated against COVID-19”.  He had “acted inconsistently with certain COVID-19 restrictions in the past.”

The second ground drew more attention to the first point, with the Minister insisting that Djokovic was stirring an anti-vaccination insurrection: “[T]here are some media reports that some groups opposed to vaccination have supported Mr Djokovic’s presence in Australia, by reference to his unvaccinated status.”  The ground was barely credible, given that his reservations about vaccination were already known before entering Australia.  As is often the case Down Under, the Australian public is treated as a potentially wayward child who might be tempted by anti-institutional contrarianism.

The third ground followed on from the first: that encouraging such resistance against COVID-19 vaccinations and restrictions “would present a problem for the health of individuals and the operation of Australia’s hospital system”.  What a revolutionary monster the Serbian player was being made out to be.

Djokovic’s submission

The defence outlined, plausibly, that Hawke had engaged in a crude bit of threat inflation.  It was one thing to deport an individual who, posing an individual health risk, had entered Australia lacking a medical exemption and inconsistently with the guidelines of ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation).  It was quite another to do so to a person “who poses negligible individual health risk, enter with an exemption, and consistently with ATAGI guidelines, etc.”

Such reasoning, it followed, was “perverse, illogical, or irrational” and distinctly “out of keeping with the proper exercise of a power the purpose of which is to reduce risk to health”.  This also ignored that the cancellation “creates a much larger health risk (or good order risk).”

The Minister had also not addressed “in express terms” what those dangerous consequences to health and good order Djokovic posed might be.  This was a “counterfactual” that the Minister did not consider.  The “anti-vaccination sentiment” approach was also at odds with the original delegate of the Minister for Home Affairs.

In attempting to hole Hawke’s argument, emphasis was placed on the Minister’s one-sided approach in considering the consequences of Djokovic’s presence, rather than absence. It might very well be that the visa cancellation, the Serb’s detention and deportation, rather than the player’s presence in Australia, could cause unrest.  “Mr Djokovic’s point is that that material [suggesting that anti-vaccination groups were upset at the cancellation and his detention] is not referred to or considered in the Minister’s reasons.”

Valiantly, the defence also argued that Hawke’s discretion to cancel the visa could not be undertaken “on an evidence-free figment of his imagination.”  The point on whether there was evidence supporting the contention that Djokovic’s presence “may foster sentiment against vaccination” was not addressed.  The media reports cited by the Minister to supposedly show anti-vaccination support by groups in Australia failed to even mention Djokovic.

The mess became even more elaborate with the defence salvo that the Minister did not himself know what Djokovic’s actual views on vaccination were.  This was despite claiming that his anti-vaccination stance was a “well-known” one.  “This,” the submission bluntly states, “is illogical.”  Djokovic’s statement for the record should, the argument went, lead one to an inference that his public views had been “taken out of context” and that he did “not accept the depiction by the ‘international media’ of his views on vaccination”.

All it would have taken was a request by Hawke that Djokovic furnish him with material on the issue.  As the player had previously pointed out in other media reports, he was “no expert” on vaccinations and was keeping an “open mind” on the issue; he simply wanted to have “an option to choose” what was “best” for his body.

Dark consequences, sinister precedents

On Sunday, January 16, the decision of the full court of the Federal Court was handed down.  (Full reasons are yet to be published.)  In finding for the Commonwealth, Chief Justice James Allsop affirmed the traditional reservation shown by Australian judges to challenging exercises of executive power. The grounds made by Djokovic “focus on whether the decision was, for different reasons, irrational or legally unreasonable.  It is not part or function of the court to decide upon the merit or wisdom of the decision.”

The Djokovic precedent presents the authorities with a large tarring brush, one to be used against other notable figures of certain opinions seen to pose a risk to Australia’s public interest.  Hypotheticals will suffice, given that the Minister need only be satisfied that the person might be a risk to health, safety and good order.

Such latitude also grants authorities a heavy hand to target future dissent and protest. The Australian government will be able “to justify,” barrister and president of Liberty Victoria Mike Stanton warns, “the suppression of legitimate political expression because others might engage in unrest.”

With a stunning lack of imagination, the Djokovic precedent promises that the executive will not be accountable for the disorder and disruption arising from deporting individuals who might command a following.  Oppression promises to be twinned with unpardonable stupidity.

The post Dangerous Precedents and Hypothetical Threats: The Deportation of Novak Djokovic first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Trump Thinks He’s Still President: What Is the Evidence?

Donald Trump thinks he’s still president according to no more reliable a source than Rachel Maddow on her February 5th show. This was confirmed in May by Vanity Fair.  Right-wing conspiracy theorists echo this analysis as recently as this month. Left-liberals are smugly confident that Kamala Harris’s running mate is in the White House, snoozing in the presidential bedroom. Inquiring minds ask what is the evidence nearly a year into the alleged Biden presidency that there has been a change of guard in Washington?

+The Obama-Biden union card check proposal was not on Mr. Trump’s political horizon, nor is it on that of the current occupant in the White House.

+The current occupant is ramping up Trump’s unhinged Sino-phobic hallucinations, sanctioning 34 Chinese entities for development of “brain-control weaponry.” Not that the Chinese have been angels. In an egregious suppression of freedom of information, the inscrutable Orientals have made it more difficult for US spies to operate in their country.

+The current occupant nominally withdrew US troops from Afghanistan as negotiated by Mr. Trump, presumably reducing overall military costs. Yet, he continues the Trump-trajectory of lavishing billions of dollars more on the military than even the Pentagon requests.

+Given his priority to feed the war machine, the new occupant is having a hard time finding sufficient funds for Biden-promised student debt forgiveness. Ditto for making two years of community college tuition-free.

+ President Trump slashed the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%; candidate Biden vowed to raise it to 28%; the current occupant proposed a further cut to 15%.

Biden, while campaigning in 2019, pledged to wealthy donors that “nothing would fundamentally change” if he’s elected. And nothing has changed despite recent drama in the Senate over Build Back Better. Trump’s $4.5 trillion corporate-investor tax cut still appears secure.

+Raising the federal minimum wage to $15-an-hour from $7.25, where it has languished since 2009, was a big selling point for the Biden campaign. Now it is on hold, while billionaire fortunes balloon, leaving the working class broke but woke under the current administration.

+The Obama-Biden nuclear deal with Iran was gutted by Trump. The current occupant, contrary to Biden’s campaign utterances, has not returned to the conditions of the JCPOA. Rather, he has continued Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy against Iran.

+Candidate Biden, calling for a foreign policy based on diplomacy, criticized Trump’s dangerous and erratic war mongering. Yet only a month after his inauguration, the new president capriciously bombed “Iranian-backed militias” in Syria who were fighting ISIS terrorists and posed no threat to the US.

The new president went on to authorize further “air strikes” on “targets” around the world such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Now, the undiscriminating reader might think these are acts of war. But war, according to the “rules-based order” of the new occupant, is best understood as a conflict where US lives are lost rather than those of seemingly more expendable swarthy-skinned foreigners.

+The Obama-Biden normalization of relations with Cuba and easing of restrictions were reversed by Trump. Presidential candidate Biden had signaled a return, but the current occupant has instead intensified the US hybrid war against Cuba.

+Candidate Biden pledged to review Trump’s policy of US sanctions against a third of humanity. The presumptive intention of the review was to ameliorate the human suffering caused by these unilateral coercive measures. Sanctions are a form of collective punishment considered illegal under international law. Following the review, the current occupant has instead tightened the screws, more effectively weaponizing the COVID crisis against countries such as Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela, while adding Ethiopia and Cambodia to the growing list of those sanctioned.

+Among Trump’s most ridiculous foreign policy stunts (and it’s a competitive field) was the recognition of Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela in 2019. The then 35-year-old US security asset had never run for a nationwide office and was unknown to over 80% of the Venezuelans. Contrary to campaign trail inuendoes that Biden would dialogue with the democratically elected president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, the new guy in the White House has continued the embarrassing Guaidó charade.

+The current White House occupant has also continued and expanded on some of the worse anti-immigrant policies of the xenophobe who preceded him. Asylum seekers from Haiti and Central America – fleeing conditions in large part created by US interventions in their countries – have been sent packing. Within a month of assuming the presidency, migrant detention facilities for children were employed, contradicting statements made by candidate Biden who had deplored locking kids in cages.

+President Trump was a shameless global warming denier. Candidate Biden was a refreshing true believer, boldly calling for a ban on new oil and natural gas leasing on public land and water. But whoever is now in the Oval Office opened more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for fossil fuel drilling.

Perhaps the strongest evidence that Trump is practically still in office is the political practice of his left-liberal detractors who solemnly promised to “first dump Trump, then battle Biden.” However, these left-liberals are still obsessing about dumping Trump. Instead of battling Biden, they are fanning the dying embers of the fear of another January 6 insurrection, giving the Democrats a pass.

Of course, the Democrats occupy the executive branch along with holding majorities and both houses of Congress. Yet, despite campaign pledges and spin, the continuity from one administration to the next is overarching as the preceding quick review documented.

The partisan infighting theatrics of the “dysfunctional Congress” is in part a distraction from an underlying bedrock bipartisan consensus. Congress is dysfunctional by design on matters of social welfare for working Americans. It is ruthlessly functional for matters of concern for the ruling elites, such as the military spending, bank bailouts, corporate welfare, and an expansive surveillance state.

The Democrats offer an empty “we are not Trump” alternative. The bankrupt left-liberals no longer stand for substantial improvements to the living conditions of working people, a “peace dividend,” or respite from war without end. Instead, they use the scare tactic that they are the bulwark against a right popular insurgency; an insurgency fueled in the first place by the failure of the two-party system to speak to the material needs of its constituents.

The post Trump Thinks He’s Still President: What Is the Evidence? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Trumpism with a Biden Face: US Haitian Policy

With that orange haired brute of a president supposedly ushered out of the White House with moralising delight, the Biden administration was all keen to turn over a new leaf.  There would be more diplomacy, and still more diplomacy.  There would be a more humanitarian approach to refugees and asylum seekers – forget, he claimed, the Border Wall.  Kindness would come over border officials and guards of the imperium.

Instead, we have had secret diplomacy culminating in the trilateral security pact of AUKUS, one reached unbeknownst to allies in Europe, Asia and the Indo-Pacific.  And we have had a particularly ugly spectacle concerning Haitian refugees, with many being bundled into planes to be sent back to their country, having been taken from the burgeoning border camp around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.

Having been blooded in the mass evacuation exercise from Afghanistan, the Biden administration was now doing the reverse in an exercise of expulsion, promising the deportation of 14,000 Haitians over a period of three weeks.  The jarring contrast was not lost on Nicole Melaku, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans.  “When you contrast the welcome mat that was rolled out for many Afghan refugees who are deserving – of course – of our support and resettlement, with the deplorable treatment of Black migrants on our home soil, it is just an unfathomable contrast.”

At the Rio Grande River, US border agents, crowned by cowboy hats and sporting a thuggish élan, left a remarkable impression of ugliness by their free use of reins in pushing migrants back across the river.  Many members of their quarry had made the journey to obtain food.  “I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki expressed with the sort of wonder that is becoming her hallmark style.  “But I don’t have additional details and certainly I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.”

Political atmosphere and atmospherics is everything, and while Psaki might be puzzled, her colleagues in the Biden administration are happy to maintain a firm line against mischievous incursions.  The US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has been firm.  “If you come to the United States illegally,” he declared on September 20, “you will be returned.  Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life.”

Such conduct did not sit well with the May announcement by Secretary Mayorkas that Haiti had been designated for Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for 18 months.  “Haiti is currently experiencing serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayorkas stated at the time.

Despite that official characterisation, the administration has taken comfort in using Title 42 of the United States code Section 265, a public health statute freely employed by the Trump administration, to prohibit “the introduction of persons or property, in whole or in part, from Mexico and Canada” into the US for fears of pandemic spread.  The liberal use of the statue has received judicial excoriation, with US District Judge Emmet Sullivan claiming it “collectively deprived” asylum seekers and refugees facing “real threats of violence and persecution” of “certain statutory procedures”.

Public health officials have also been disconcerted.  As Dr Ronald Waldman of the human rights group Doctors of the World remarks, “The prohibition for crossing the border has been applied selectively to asylum seekers”.  It certainly has not been applied to students and those doing business.

In a sober assessment of Biden’s report card so far, Natasha Lennard of The Intercept points out that the Trump administration’s use of the law saw half a million people removed. During the short tenure of the Biden administration, the current number stands at 700,000.  Over the course of January, 62,530 migrants were expelled according to the figures of Customs and Border Protection. For the month of April, it was 110,846.

In a resounding judgment of Biden’s policy towards Haitians and Haiti in general, Washington’s envoy to the country, Daniel Foote, has resigned.  His September 22 letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was an effort of extrication from “the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life.”

Foote also took a stab at a long standing practice of US foreign policy: that habitual meddling in the affairs of a country that had “consistently produced catastrophic results”.  The de facto, unelected prime minister Ariel Henry had received yet “another public statement of support as interim leader of Haiti” from the US embassy, among others. They had continued touting “his ‘political agreement’ over another broader, earlier accord shepherded by civil society.”  The now resigned envoy, sniping at this policy of backing “winners”, stated the essential heresy of the imperium: What Haitians needed was “the opportunity to chart their own course, without international puppeteering and favoured candidates, but with genuine support for the cause.”

In response to the resignation, US State Department spokesman Ned Price was a picture of regret and hollow advice. “It is unfortunate that, instead of participating in a solutions-oriented policy process, Special Envoy Foote has both resigned and mischaracterised the circumstances.”

Psaki was icily dismissive.  “Special Envoy Foote had ample opportunity to raise concerns about immigration during his tenure.  He never once did so.” Such bitchiness is a nice summation of the Biden administration so far: policies that continue to furnish us the acceptable face of Trumpism.

The post Trumpism with a Biden Face: US Haitian Policy first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Begging Outrage: British Journalists for Assange

Even that title strikes an odd note.  It should not.  The Fourth Estate, historically reputed as the chamber of journalists and publishers keeping an eye on elected officials, received a blast of oxygen with the arrival of WikiLeaks.  This was daring, rich stuff: scientific journalism in the trenches, news gathering par excellence.  But what Julian Assange and WikiLeaks did was something unpardonable to many who pursue the journalist’s craft: sidestepping the newspaper censors, permitting unadulterated access to original sources.

People could finally scrutinise raw documents – cables, memoranda, briefing notes, diplomatic traffic – without the secondary and tertiary forms of self-censorship that characterise the newspaper imperium.  Editorially imposed measures could be outflanked; the biases and prejudices of newspaper moguls could be ignored.

This has meant that media outlets in the drought affected mainstream can only ever make quiet acknowledgments about the seriousness of the US case against Assange. It is why certain outlets fail, and have failed to cover the extradition proceedings against the publisher with any degree of serious alarm or considered fear.  When they do, irrelevant and inconsequential details feature like tabloid tat: the irate Assange, shouting from his caged stand; the kooky Assange, somewhat unhinged.

A central contention of the prosecution case against Assange is that he is no publisher or journalist being gradually asphyxiated by the apparatus of power for exposing it, but a cold, calculating purloiner of state secrets indifferent to the welfare of informants.  Thieves cannot avail themselves of press freedoms nor summon the solid protections of the US First Amendment, even if they did expose torture, war crimes and illegal renditions.  It is a narrative that has been fed shamelessly by certain members of the media fraternity, rendering them indifferent and, at times, even hostile to the efforts of WikiLeaks.  David Leigh and Luke Harding of The Guardian added kindling to this idea by publishing the full passphrase to the file of un-redacted US State Department cables in their 2011 book. It was foolish and clumsy, and did not shine a good light on the parties involved.

A train was set in motion: the German weekly Der Freitag ran a piece in August that same year pointing an indirect finger to the password revealed by Leigh and Harding; Assange, alarmed, had contacted the editor Jakob Augstein beforehand, telling him he “feared for the safety of informants”.  WikiLeaks then reached out to the US State Department warning that publication of the un-redacted trove was imminent.  This would have given time to US officials to take necessary measures to protect any protected sources.  Cryptome scrambled to publish the documents on September 1, 2011; WikiLeaks followed the next day.  The myth of Assange the indiscreet, incautious figure hostile to concealed identities was born.

It has been left to other courageous reporters to right the record at the trial.  As investigative journalist Stefania Maurizi recalled in her statement read at the extradition proceedings, “I went through the cables as systematically as possible.  I was given an encrypted USB stick, and once I returned to Italy I was given the password that would then allow opening the file.  Everything was done with utmost responsibility and attention.” She also noted how the password published by Leigh and Harding “was not the same password I myself was given at the time.”

Mature, snappy views have also featured from conservative British voices concerned by this grotesque overreach of US power.  In Britain, and elsewhere, these media commenters have been few in number in registering appropriate alarm at the implications of the US Department of Justice’s indictment against Assange.  Peter Oborne, writing last month, issued the call to fellow journalists to take up the case for WikiLeaks.  He starts with a scenario: imagine a political dissident held at London’s Belmarsh Prison charged with espionage offences by the People’s Republic of China.  The real offence?  Exposing atrocities by Chinese troops.  “To put it another way, that his real offence was committing the crime of journalism.”

Add to this the findings of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture that the dissident in question showed “all the symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture”, with Beijing pressuring UK authorities to extradite him to a place he could face 175 years in prison.  “The outrage from the British press would be deafening.”  Protests and vigils outside Belmarsh would be unhalting; debates would take place on “prime time news programmes, alongside a rush of questions in parliament.”

Oborne acknowledges the UK-US alliance.  But that should not matter one jot “as far as the British media is concerned.”  The Old Bailey trial marked “a profound moment for British journalists.”  Were Britain to capitulate to the Trump administration on this score, “the right to publish leaked material in the public interest would suffer a devastating blow.”  He noted the concerns of 169 lawyers and academics expressed in a letter to the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Home Secretary Priti Patel demanding government intervention.  “We call on you to act in accordance with national and international law, human rights and the rule of law by bringing an end to the ongoing extradition proceedings and granting Mr Assange his long overdue freedom.”

The dangers to the Fourth Estate to Oborne are incalculable.  On UK soil, an effort is being made by the US “to prosecute a non-US citizen, not living in the US, not publishing in the US, under US laws that deny the right to a public interest defence.”  Yet a myopic British press remains more interested in Assange’s character, one attacked for breaching the Bail Act in avoiding extradition to Sweden to face sexual misconduct suspicions, and the distracting point as to whether he really is a journalist.

Peter Hitchens, brother of the late Christopher and long departed from the barricades of Trotskyite fervour, is also very much on Oborne’s page.  Admirably, he starts his reflection on Assange by putting to rest notions of compromising fandom.  Assange “is not my world, and his people are not my people.”  But he was “wholly, furiously against the attempt by the United States government to extradite Assange from this country”.

Hitchens can seem a touch reactionary at times, his views heavily wrapped in the Union Jack.  A sounding board at The Daily Mail would suggest such tendencies.  But on Assange, he is sharp.   He rightly picks up on the barring of extraditions for political grounds under Article 4(1) of the UK-US Extradition Treaty.  He also notes the servility shown by UK officials to US power, given that the treaty permits Washington to “demand extradition of UK citizens and others for offences committed against US law.  This is so even though the supposed offence may have been committed in the UK by a person living in the UK.”

In Hitchen’s mind, it was inconceivable to envisage a situation where the US would reciprocate: submitting its citizens to the UK for leaking British secret documents.  But allowing Assange to face trial in the US would mean that “any British journalist who comes into possession of classified material from the US, though he has committed no crime according to our own law, faces the same danger.”  The process undermined national sovereignty and threatened press freedom.  No English court, he argued, “should accept this demand.”  Were the courts to fail, “any self-respecting Home Secretary should overrule them.”

Fittingly, and accurately, Hitchens describes the effort mounted against Assange as “a lawless kidnap” against an individual who exposed “inconvenient” truths of US power.  It would be heartening to see more journalists, notably British ones, turning their mind to this awful reality, instead of falling for yellow press, click-bait distractions.

The post Begging Outrage: British Journalists for Assange first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Anti-Chinese Racism Sets Stage for New McCarthyism.

More than a dozen young visiting scholars from China had their visas abruptly terminated in a letter from administration of the University of North Texas (UNT), Denton, on August 26, in a letter dated …August 26!  The letter informed the students that they could return to campus from their lodgings to pick up belongings, but all other access was closed to them. The students and fellows were given no explanation.  They were left with no legal basis to be in the U.S. and began scrambling for the very few and very expensive flights back to China.

At first the UNT administration simply stated that all those funded by the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) were terminated.   According to Wikipedia, the CSC is the main Chinese agency for funding Chinese students abroad (currently 65,000 with 26,000 of them in the US) and an equal number of foreign students in China, some from the US. (Americans interested in CSC scholarships to study in China can easily find information here. There is nothing secret or nefarious about CSC; the US has agencies that offer similar aid to scholars.)

The University at last offered an explanation of sorts in a statement by its spokesperson, the Vice President for Brand Strategy and Communication (VP for BS and C) as reported on September 10 by the North Texas Daily: “UNT took this action based upon specific and credible information following detailed briefings from federal and local law enforcement.”  The VP for BS and C was “unable” to provide more details. Local police later denied any role in such briefings.  It was the feds who provoked the discharges.

If these young students were doing something illegal or in violation of University rules, then they should be told what it is and presented with evidence so they could answer such charges.  That is what we in the U.S. claim to believe in.  If their crime is simply soaking up ideas, that is what education is all about and most assuredly that is what science is all about.  If certain areas of research are classified, then scholars working in those areas should be screened and get classifications.  And if the US does not want CSC-sponsored students here, then reasons should be given and no more visas allowed. None of that has been done. The students were found guilty of something, they know not what, and dismissed!

Although UNT may not be well known nationally, it is rated as an “R1” or top tier research university, one of about 130 institutions falling into that top category and receiving federal research funding.  It is troubling that such action by an institution in this category and the beneficiary of federal largesse has not drawn more condemnation for its action.  And it is even more troubling that this occurs in an atmosphere of anti-Chinese hostility in the wake of Covid-19, marked by physical attacks on Chinese Americans.

Have we forgotten the racism directed against Chinese and codified into federal law the Chinese Exclusion act of 1882, the only U.S. law ever enacted to prevent all members of a specific ethnic or national group from immigrating to the U.S.?  Other such legislation followed, such as the Immigration Act of 1924 which effectively barred all immigration from Asia, including, of course, Chinese.  The rationale given by the politicians for all such heinous legislation was that Chinese were stealing “our jobs”.  Sound familiar? Notoriously the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 gave rise to the “Driving Out” period where Chinese were physically attacked to the point of brutal massacres designed to drive Chinese out of unwelcoming communities, the most infamous being the Rock Springs and Hells Canyon Massacres.

The anti-Chinese and anti-Asian sentiment has continued down the years in one form or another, but it has had a resurgence recently with the meme that China’s prosperity has been at the expense of Americans. This narrative does not remind us that U.S. corporations and investors offshore jobs for greater “returns,” but claims that Chinese are pilfering our technology.

Some time back The Committee of 100, a prestigious organization of leading Chinese Americans, commissioned a study on Chinese and other Asians charged under the Economic Espionage Act (EEA)., covering a period from 1996 to 2015  Some of its conclusions are as follows:

1.)  Up to 2008, Chinese were 17% of the total defendants charged under the EEA; from 2009-2015 under Obama this percentage tripled to 52%.

2.)  21% of Chinese were never convicted of espionage, twice the rate for non-Asians.

3.)   In roughly half the cases involving Chinese the alleged beneficiary of the espionage was an American entity; roughly one-third had an alleged Chinese beneficiary.

In sum a much higher rate of indictment for Chinese but a lower rate of convictions.  So the additional “attention” given Chinese was not warranted.  It seems that something changed after 2009.  What was it?  This time was the period when Obama’s Asian Pivot was put into play.  The Pivot targeted China both militarily by moving 60% of US Naval forces to the Western Pacific and economically with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) designed to isolate China from its neighbors.  Is the increased harassment of Chinese under the EEA another aspect of the strategy expressed openly in the Pivot?

This legal attack on Chinese has continued under the present administration, but the NTU case adds a new wrinkle.  Here there was no legal action, but an action apparently taken by the University.  However, hidden pressure to oust the students came from a federal agency or agencies.  This should be no surprise since it fits in with FBI Director Christopher Wray’s “Whole of Society” approach to confronting China unveiled last February and reiterated in July when he said, “We’re also working more closely than ever with partner agencies here in the U.S. and our partners abroad. We can’t do it on our own; we need a whole-of-society response. That’s why we in the intelligence and law enforcement communities are working harder than ever to give companies, universities, and the American people themselves the information they need to make their own informed decisions and protect their most valuable assets.” (Emphasis, jw) It looks like the FBI and or its “partner agencies” gave UNT officials “the information they needed” to throw out the Chinese students without any reason given or charge made.

Consider the position of those UNT officials when they found themselves visited by federal “authorities” and “asked’ to cooperate.  When the FBI “asks” for cooperation, it is making an offer that is perilous to refuse.  It would take considerable courage to say “no”. But that is precisely what the UNT administrators should have done if they were to live up to the presumed values and ideals of our society and universities.  The question also arises as to how many other universities have been approached to take similar steps.  It seems unlikely that UNT is alone.  But it is very likely that other Universities, wealthier and with a bevy of VP’s for BS and C, might have handled the whole matter in a discrete way and in a way that makes it appear that such suspensions are not a wholesale matter.  Perhaps other more “polished” university authorities would not own up to the dirty deeds but keep them as secret as possible.

Let us take it a step further. What if you were approached by one of these federal agents and “requested” to keep an eye on a Chinese colleague, friend, neighbor or co-worker.  Would you have the courage to refuse?  And as the confrontation with China heats up, a peace movement is arising to counter it.  In fact, anti-interventionists are popping up across the spectrum on left and right to oppose policies that take us on the road to war with China. Will the peace advocates be targeted in the same way, on the sly as well as within a “legal” framework by the FBI and other federal agencies?  And will the precedent established in cases like the UNT case make such federal actions more acceptable?  Will those working for peace be labeled as puppets of Xi?

“First they came for the Chinese,” it might be said.  And in the future, under the “Whole of Society” approach, they may come for anyone who chooses to work for peace with China rather than take a path to war.  Anti-Chinese racism, repugnant in and of itself, is also one part of setting the stage for a new and more dangerous McCarthyism.  It is time to stop the madness before it devours us all.

• This essay was first published on Antiwar.com

The post Anti-Chinese Racism Sets Stage for New McCarthyism. first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Anti-Chinese Racism Sets Stage for New McCarthyism.

More than a dozen young visiting scholars from China had their visas abruptly terminated in a letter from administration of the University of North Texas (UNT), Denton, on August 26, in a letter dated …August 26!  The letter informed the students that they could return to campus from their lodgings to pick up belongings, but all other access was closed to them. The students and fellows were given no explanation.  They were left with no legal basis to be in the U.S. and began scrambling for the very few and very expensive flights back to China.

At first the UNT administration simply stated that all those funded by the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) were terminated.   According to Wikipedia, the CSC is the main Chinese agency for funding Chinese students abroad (currently 65,000 with 26,000 of them in the US) and an equal number of foreign students in China, some from the US. (Americans interested in CSC scholarships to study in China can easily find information here. There is nothing secret or nefarious about CSC; the US has agencies that offer similar aid to scholars.)

The University at last offered an explanation of sorts in a statement by its spokesperson, the Vice President for Brand Strategy and Communication (VP for BS and C) as reported on September 10 by the North Texas Daily: “UNT took this action based upon specific and credible information following detailed briefings from federal and local law enforcement.”  The VP for BS and C was “unable” to provide more details. Local police later denied any role in such briefings.  It was the feds who provoked the discharges.

If these young students were doing something illegal or in violation of University rules, then they should be told what it is and presented with evidence so they could answer such charges.  That is what we in the U.S. claim to believe in.  If their crime is simply soaking up ideas, that is what education is all about and most assuredly that is what science is all about.  If certain areas of research are classified, then scholars working in those areas should be screened and get classifications.  And if the US does not want CSC-sponsored students here, then reasons should be given and no more visas allowed. None of that has been done. The students were found guilty of something, they know not what, and dismissed!

Although UNT may not be well known nationally, it is rated as an “R1” or top tier research university, one of about 130 institutions falling into that top category and receiving federal research funding.  It is troubling that such action by an institution in this category and the beneficiary of federal largesse has not drawn more condemnation for its action.  And it is even more troubling that this occurs in an atmosphere of anti-Chinese hostility in the wake of Covid-19, marked by physical attacks on Chinese Americans.

Have we forgotten the racism directed against Chinese and codified into federal law the Chinese Exclusion act of 1882, the only U.S. law ever enacted to prevent all members of a specific ethnic or national group from immigrating to the U.S.?  Other such legislation followed, such as the Immigration Act of 1924 which effectively barred all immigration from Asia, including, of course, Chinese.  The rationale given by the politicians for all such heinous legislation was that Chinese were stealing “our jobs”.  Sound familiar? Notoriously the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 gave rise to the “Driving Out” period where Chinese were physically attacked to the point of brutal massacres designed to drive Chinese out of unwelcoming communities, the most infamous being the Rock Springs and Hells Canyon Massacres.

The anti-Chinese and anti-Asian sentiment has continued down the years in one form or another, but it has had a resurgence recently with the meme that China’s prosperity has been at the expense of Americans. This narrative does not remind us that U.S. corporations and investors offshore jobs for greater “returns,” but claims that Chinese are pilfering our technology.

Some time back The Committee of 100, a prestigious organization of leading Chinese Americans, commissioned a study on Chinese and other Asians charged under the Economic Espionage Act (EEA)., covering a period from 1996 to 2015  Some of its conclusions are as follows:

1.)  Up to 2008, Chinese were 17% of the total defendants charged under the EEA; from 2009-2015 under Obama this percentage tripled to 52%.

2.)  21% of Chinese were never convicted of espionage, twice the rate for non-Asians.

3.)   In roughly half the cases involving Chinese the alleged beneficiary of the espionage was an American entity; roughly one-third had an alleged Chinese beneficiary.

In sum a much higher rate of indictment for Chinese but a lower rate of convictions.  So the additional “attention” given Chinese was not warranted.  It seems that something changed after 2009.  What was it?  This time was the period when Obama’s Asian Pivot was put into play.  The Pivot targeted China both militarily by moving 60% of US Naval forces to the Western Pacific and economically with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) designed to isolate China from its neighbors.  Is the increased harassment of Chinese under the EEA another aspect of the strategy expressed openly in the Pivot?

This legal attack on Chinese has continued under the present administration, but the NTU case adds a new wrinkle.  Here there was no legal action, but an action apparently taken by the University.  However, hidden pressure to oust the students came from a federal agency or agencies.  This should be no surprise since it fits in with FBI Director Christopher Wray’s “Whole of Society” approach to confronting China unveiled last February and reiterated in July when he said, “We’re also working more closely than ever with partner agencies here in the U.S. and our partners abroad. We can’t do it on our own; we need a whole-of-society response. That’s why we in the intelligence and law enforcement communities are working harder than ever to give companies, universities, and the American people themselves the information they need to make their own informed decisions and protect their most valuable assets.” (Emphasis, jw) It looks like the FBI and or its “partner agencies” gave UNT officials “the information they needed” to throw out the Chinese students without any reason given or charge made.

Consider the position of those UNT officials when they found themselves visited by federal “authorities” and “asked’ to cooperate.  When the FBI “asks” for cooperation, it is making an offer that is perilous to refuse.  It would take considerable courage to say “no”. But that is precisely what the UNT administrators should have done if they were to live up to the presumed values and ideals of our society and universities.  The question also arises as to how many other universities have been approached to take similar steps.  It seems unlikely that UNT is alone.  But it is very likely that other Universities, wealthier and with a bevy of VP’s for BS and C, might have handled the whole matter in a discrete way and in a way that makes it appear that such suspensions are not a wholesale matter.  Perhaps other more “polished” university authorities would not own up to the dirty deeds but keep them as secret as possible.

Let us take it a step further. What if you were approached by one of these federal agents and “requested” to keep an eye on a Chinese colleague, friend, neighbor or co-worker.  Would you have the courage to refuse?  And as the confrontation with China heats up, a peace movement is arising to counter it.  In fact, anti-interventionists are popping up across the spectrum on left and right to oppose policies that take us on the road to war with China. Will the peace advocates be targeted in the same way, on the sly as well as within a “legal” framework by the FBI and other federal agencies?  And will the precedent established in cases like the UNT case make such federal actions more acceptable?  Will those working for peace be labeled as puppets of Xi?

“First they came for the Chinese,” it might be said.  And in the future, under the “Whole of Society” approach, they may come for anyone who chooses to work for peace with China rather than take a path to war.  Anti-Chinese racism, repugnant in and of itself, is also one part of setting the stage for a new and more dangerous McCarthyism.  It is time to stop the madness before it devours us all.

• This essay was first published on Antiwar.com

The post Anti-Chinese Racism Sets Stage for New McCarthyism. first appeared on Dissident Voice.