Log in

No account? Create an account

I have been watching and listening to Antar Davidson describing his experience at a detention center in Arizonia. He quit his position when he could get no one in the facility to act to make the conditions of children in this prison decent: Here is the video and the transcript follows:


AMY GOODMAN: As outrage is mounting over the Trump administration’s practice of separating immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border as part of the crackdown against immigrants and asylum seekers, the Associate Press reporting nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents since April 19th, The New York Times reporting some parents have been deported without their children and with no information about how the family will be reunited, we’re going to look now at Southwest Key, the nonprofit that operates 27 facilities in California, Arizona and Texas, including the Brownsville facility that holds 1,500 children, that Senator Merkley was previously denied entry to.

We’re going to Tucson, Arizona, to speak with a whistleblower, a youth care worker who quit the Tucson detention center for unaccompanied minors, run by the nonprofit Southwest Key Programs, which also runs the Brownsville facility and the proposed “baby jail” in Houston, 27 facilities in all. Antar Davidson quit after, he says, Southwest Key forced him to tell children who were separated from their mother and from their siblings not to hug.

Antar Davidson, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you talk about why you quit your job last week?

ANTAR DAVIDSON: Sure, definitely. Thank you, first and foremost, Amy, for having me on the show. I just want to clarify a little bit the timeline of events. That first night, when they told me not to hug, that prompted me to seek change internally. I reached out to a regional director, who assured me that she—the next morning, she assured me that things would change, things would be different.

Four more Brazilians came. I found it extremely difficult. I tried to help, through the organization. I tried to talk to people. And despite being a Brazilian citizen and having had professional translation work, they did not allow me to help. They really were blocking me at every turn.

I then—I then requested a leave, a time off, a week off, to process what I had gone through. And prior to that, the CEO, Dr. Juan Sánchez, made his rounds and began asking for money. And after they denied my leave request, it was then that I made the—I put in my resignation as a conscientious objector. So, just to add—

AMY GOODMAN: I don’t understand what you said, Antar.

ANTAR DAVIDSON: Just adding—yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: You said he was asking for money?

ANTAR DAVIDSON: Yes. So, he—basically, they called mandatory meetings at our facility, three different mandatory meetings. And he initially said that they’re going—they need 500 more people. They’re going to drop the ratio from one-to-five to one-to-three for the “tender age” kids, so that refers to the direct care ratios, so that they would have more staff to take care of those younger kids. Five hundred kids—500 new employees, he said we needed.

He told then a sob story about a minor who had come into a facility with very thick acne and how he felt so bad. Despite making a million dollars-plus, between him and his wife, in federal tax dollars, he said that he felt so bad that he couldn’t do anything for this child with acne, and then he proceeded to basically present this employee giving program, where employees and staff were urged to give $10 of every paycheck or a one-time contribution of $240. He then had a second speaker kind of reinforce the policy, while passing around papers for people to sign away their checks. And so, yeah, I just definitely want to clarify that despite, of course, the acute problems of the “zero tolerance” policy, but also we shouldn’t let this CEO off the hook, who’s been making a million dollars-plus for the past five years, off the detention of children, of vulnerable immigrant children.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Antar, can you talk about this moment—you talked about speaking Portuguese. You’re Brazilian. Talk about the moment where you were with these children, that so disturbed you. Describe the scene.

ANTAR DAVIDSON: Well, it was pretty much a day of being shown a very uncompassionate organization claiming to be a humanitarian nonprofit. The children were separated from their mother. And the next day, at 2:00 in the morning, they left—I believe it was a facility in Texas. They arrived at the Tucson facility at 9:30 in the morning, having not had slept the entire night. They were showered, fed. They went through the intake process. My shift started at 1:30. So, I eventually was able to start talking to them.

Initially, he understood, because no one spoke Portuguese, and there’s a phone translation service, but it does not work very well—the oldest brother, as soon as I started speaking Portuguese, burst out crying. And he explained to me that he thought that his mom had disappeared. In Brazil, when the government tells you that someone has disappeared, it has a very different connotation than it does here, that essentially means that they are dead. So I had to affirm to him first that his mom was not in fact dead, and then basically proceed to try to explain to him, with no clear answers, kind of where his mom was, what kind of facility. We add no idea. The case managers had no idea.

So, then, after that, I was told to supervise them in a classroom. It was a brother, who was 16, his sister, who was 10, and their younger brother, who was 8, along with a 5-year-old Guatemalan girl who came with them from Texas and had made friends with the sister. They had begun asking me—this was about 4:00 in the afternoon. They had begun asking me to sleep in a bed. They were very tired. They hadn’t slept the whole night. They had just been separated from their mom. And I requested—I requested from the management if I could get beds for them so that they could sleep. They told me, “Negative,” didn’t even really give me a reason. And essentially, I was forced to offer to sweep the floor to make a space for them to sleep on the floor, to which I felt extremely disgusted. And that was only the beginning. So, after having asked them to sleep on the floor and sweeping the floor, I went on to teach my capoeira class, which I have been—I had been doing at Southwest Key.

And then, later on, in the evening, it was not until 8:00 that the kids were assigned rooms. In Spanish and English, they were trying to explain to the kids that they would all then be separated, the brother, both—all three of the siblings in different rooms. So, they responded to this by basically clinging to each other and crying. So then I was called on the radio, and I was told over the radio, “Antar, come over here. You need to tell them that they cannot hug. They can’t hug.” So, I said, “I don’t know that I’m going to do that, but I’m on my way.” So I arrived to the scene, and the three siblings were clutching each other for dear life, tears streaming down their face. I approached the oldest brother, and I say to him in Portuguese, “Bro, you’ve got to be strong.” And he turns to me with tears streaming down his face, and he says, “How? How can I be strong? Look at my brother. Look at my sister. They’re trying to separate us again.” And I didn’t know—I just put my head down. I did not know what to respond to him.

AMY GOODMAN: Antar, how old are these children?

ANTAR DAVIDSON: And at that moment, a shift leader—yes?

AMY GOODMAN: How old are these children?

ANTAR DAVIDSON: These kids, the oldest brother was—the oldest brother was 16. The sister was 10. And the younger brother was 8.

So, at that moment, the shift leader ran up to me and very aggressively told me, ”¡Diles que no pueden abrazar!” “Tell them that they can’t hug!” Now, this is also in front of other children, other employees, who are watching this. And so she screams at me to tell them not to hug, that they’re not allowed to hug. That’s the rule at Southwest Key.

And meanwhile, I’m looking at these kids. It’s the two little—the two little siblings just, you know, thinking they’re going to be ripped now from their brother’s arms, and the brother crying because he can’t do anything, necessarily. And I told her, at that point, when she told me to do that—I told her, “I’m sorry, but as a human being, that’s not something that I can do. You’re welcome to do it yourself,” to which she replied, first, that she would report me to the supervisor, and then she went directly to them and said, ”no puedes abrazar,” “You’re not allowed to hug.” And he looks at me, with tears streaming down his face, in utter disbelief that that would happen.

It was at that moment that I realized that if I were to continue with Southwest Key, at least here in this facility, that I’d be told to do things that were against what I’m now seeing from the response of the world is against the code of all humans’ morality. I tried to make internal change. I contacted a regional director. I noticed that it wasn’t going anywhere, after three or four days. I requested my time off, stating that I needed to processes these very impactful and traumatizing events. I was denied, after two days. And at that point was when I handed in my resignation as a conscientious objector to the route and the direction the organization was taking.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to a statement, posted on YouTube, by the state senator you work for, Antar, Arizona state Representative Pamela Powers Hannley.

REP. PAMELA POWERS HANNLEY: I am the ranking member on the Health Committee. On this committee, we hear child safety bills all the time. I believe that legislators should be allowed into the facility in Tucson to see the children. At least 300 are being detained in Tucson.

AMY GOODMAN: Antar Davidson, you’re field director for Arizona state Representative Pamela Powers Hannley. She has not been allowed to tour the facility where you worked, even though she’s the ranking Democrat on the Arizona state Health Committee?

ANTAR DAVIDSON: Yep. And that precisely illustrates the main problem with these facilities. Despite being paid, very highly paid, by American tax dollars, they remain entirely clandestine. I also want to just take this opportunity to really give a very strong thank you to Senator Merkley. When I heard what happened to him, I felt extremely empowered, and that really led to me deciding to stand up. The main problem—again, the main problem with these detention centers is their lack of transparency, which allows them to basically turn it into a prison.

AMY GOODMAN: Antar Davidson, I want to get your reaction to Southwest Key spokesperson Cindy Casares, who responded to concerns about whether the nonprofit is prepared to house children who have been separated from their parents at the border and are coping with trauma. Quote, she said, “Our staff have great expertise in dealing with this population. We have very high professional development standards. We cannot operate if we do not have the legally mandated number of staff required. … For the last 20 years we hire[d] staff that have a child care or social work background to be prepared to support the developmental and emotional needs of all children who arrive to our facility,” she said. Antar Davidson, you worked at the facility. Is that your assessment?

ANTAR DAVIDSON: At my—at our facility, not the case. I can personally—I was personally asked by a shift supervisor if I could work six days a week for the next foreseeable future. We were asked, every single day, “Can 10 people stay overtime? Can five people stay?” Most of the people at that—we had one week of training. Most of the employees there were formerly working in restaurants, formerly working in—you know, construction workers. And I think one of the main things, as much as this is about the children, this is a labor issue. Southwest Key, to great profit for their board and the CEO, has mostly opened their shelters in low-income Latino communities, where workers are basically more willing to take, you know, basically, $15 an hour, which is what we take, and no benefits, and just basically not speak out, not unionize. The main point is, this is a federal responsibility, and people who undertake federal responsibilities should receive federal-level support. So, I’m sure that perhaps in other facilities it’s different, but, unfortunately, in Tucson, that was not the case. And I believe, according to other articles and things that are coming out, that is not the case, what they’re saying.

AMY GOODMAN: Antar Davidson, since Attorney General Jeff Sessions made his announcement, it’s quite stunning what has taken place. President Trump says this isn’t his fault, it’s the Democrats’ fault. But the attorney general explicitly made this announcement of zero tolerance. I mean, the chief of staff, Kelly, who used to be head of Department of Homeland Security, he said this, as well as other top aides of Trump. But Trump is saying it is not his responsibility. There has been an increased flow of people, children, into these facilities. Was Southwest Key alerted to this, that this was going to happen?

ANTAR DAVIDSON: I can’t speak to that. I wasn’t necessarily in the upper management. What I can say is, I would be more than—I, personally, having had my experience, would be more than happy to speak to President Trump or Attorney General Jeff Sessions in regards to how these policies have had effect on the ground level. Again, I would like to point out that this is a—this is, basically, a bad program that was broken by a horrible idea, a horrible new plan. So there has been a very great effect by the “zero tolerance” policy; however, prior to this, we’re not talking about an organization that was good. We’re talking about an organization that, for the past five years, has made millions of dollars in basically the detention of youth.

AMY GOODMAN: And your response to the same—the nonprofit you work for, Southwest Key, opening what they’re calling a “baby jail” in Houston? The mayor was protesting. The former police chief was protesting yesterday in the pouring rain. The lease of a former homeless shelter in Houston by the nonprofit you work for, Southwest Key, to use this jail—


AMY GOODMAN: —separating children at a tender age of 10 or below, 10 or younger.

ANTAR DAVIDSON: Follow the money. Yeah, follow the money. There’s going to be—I promise you, there will be millions made, in various people’s hands. And I think that’s what’s perhaps most insidious about this. This is an organization that presents itself as doing a humanitarian deed and this and that. This is a federal-level responsibility that they’re taking on, at great cost. And you need to do it right. It’s not something that you should laud yourself, especially if you’re making a lot of money. Again, follow the money. There’s a lot of money being made off of this situation.

And it’s important that we hold all those people accountable and, basically, as a nation, show we’re—we need to integrate people. We need to provide quality mental health services, particularly because these children—these children are being reunified and placed into public schools. If we turn these facilities into prisons, if we don’t provide the proper education and preparation for them, upon reunification, we’re basically creating a prison-to-public-school pipeline. And that will be detrimental to everyone.

AMY GOODMAN: Antar Davidson, I thank you for being with us. Antar Davidson is a whistleblower who quit his job last week as a youth care worker at the Estrella del Norte—that’s North Star—facility for unaccompanied minors and separated children, this one in Tucson, Arizona, the facility run by the nonprofit Southwest Key Programs. That’s the company that also runs the 1,500-child facility in Texas. Davidson is also field director for Arizona state Representative Pamela Powers Hannley.


Antar Davidson is not the only person to have penetrated these prisons. Here is Zoe Carpenter from McAllen, Texas:


The dog kennel: That’s how the Border Patrol processing facility in McAllen is known, because of the chain-link fencing penning more than a thousand migrants inside. The 77,000-square-foot facility—often called “Ursula,” because of the street it’s on—lies just a few miles north of the US-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for unauthorized migrants. Ursula is one of the first places immigrants are taken to after being apprehended by Border Patrol—and now, the facility is the epicenter for the family separations that are occurring because of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy towards border crossers.

A large cage inside held dozens of young boys and teenagers without their families, some of whom looked as young as 5. A few slept on green mats with silver Mylar blankets pulled tightly around them. A few water bottles and bags of chips lay strewn around. Otherwise, the cages were bare, without toys or books. Separate areas held groups of girls; men and women alone; and mothers and fathers with their children. The overhead lights never go off. In one pen, a woman named Valesca sat on the ground, holding her 1-year-old son. She cried as she recounted leaving another child behind in Guatemala. She’d been inside the processing center for four days.

Under normal circumstances, adults confined in the facility are supposed to stay only 12 hours before being sent to court hearings or other detention centers. But across the border region, detention facilities, children’s shelters, and the legal system are overwhelmed. In May, the Trump administration issued a directive to prosecute all unauthorized border crossers in federal court, rather than to process them through immigration courts. The criminal charges mean extra paperwork, and a flood of cases into the legal system. The Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley office is now charging more than a 1,000 adults each week with illegal entry, a misdemeanor.

In one area of the Ursula facility, computers have been set up for “virtual processing,” so that Border Patrol agents in other cities can process the paperwork of detainees being held here. Ursula has only 10 agents permanently stationed there, plus hundreds of temporarily assigned agents, and they can’t handle the volume on their own. Detainees are brought in and out of the facility 24 hours a day. As of noon on Sunday, Ursula held 1,129 people, including 528 families and nearly 200 children who’d crossed the border without their parents. The facility has only four social workers onsite.

The shift to criminal prosecutions is also causing the systematic separation of parents and children. According to Border Patrol officials who gave reporters a brief tour of the Ursula facility on Sunday, children are automatically taken away from anyone being criminally prosecuted. The Rio Grande Valley sector does not separate parents from children younger than 4—though that policy doesn’t apply to anyone with a prior criminal conviction, including misdemeanor offenses, according to Border Patrol agent Carmen Qualia. More than 1,100 children in the Rio Grande Valley sector alone have been taken from their parents in the last six weeks, according to Border Patrol sector chief Manuel Padilla, and more than 2,000 nationwide since early April—an average of 45 children a day.

Parents and children are then cast into separate channels of the federal bureaucracy. Parents are sent into ICE custody and to federal court, where many are sentenced to “time served,” and put into deportation proceedings. Children go into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. That transfer is supposed to take place within 72 hours. According to John Lopez, the acting deputy Border Patrol agent at Ursula, it’s possible that a parent could go to court and come back to Ursula the same day, only to find that their child has already been moved to another facility.

t’s not clear what the government’s process is for reunifying these families. Officials at the Ursula processing center showed a handout that they are giving to parents that instructs them to call an ICE or ORR hotline. “We are told inside here, ‘Oh, it’s just a very short period—they go to a judge and then they’re reunified.’ That’s not what we’re hearing,” said Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, who toured the Ursula facility and others in the Rio Grande Valley region on Sunday with other Democratic members of Congress. Some parents have been deported while their children remain in US custody. “The reality is it’s very hard for the parents to know where there kids are and be able to connect with them,” Merkley said.

For the group of lawmakers, the most distressing visit occurred at the end of day, at the Port Isabel Detention Center, a remote facility surrounded by a swampland near the Gulf of Mexico. There, Merkley and several others met with 10 women, most from Honduras, who’d been separated from their children, one as young as 3. Only some of them know where their children were taken: to shelters elsewhere in Texas, but also as far as Miami and New York. One woman worried about her child’s health, because no one collected information about her child’s medical condition when they were separated. Another had been told that her child would be put up for adoption. “It was the most disturbing thing I heard all day,” said Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline. “They were sobbing, sobbing uncontrollably.” None of the women has been able to talk to a lawyer.

The legislators said they are particularly concerned about the treatment of asylum seekers. One woman at Port Isabel said she’d turned herself in at a legal port of entry, only to be criminally prosecuted for illegal entry. “It’s perfectly legal to, at a checkpoint, ask for asylum,” Merkley said. Earlier in the day, his group visited the border crossing in Hidalgo, where there have been reports of Border Patrol officers turning away people before they can get into the United States to ask for asylum. “What they’re doing is making it very difficult for those seeking asylum to cross at the legal border points,” Merkley said. “It’s part of a coordinated strategy to stop asylum seekers from ever being able to make their case.” Two weeks ago, he said, he saw dozens of families camped out on the bridge, waiting for a chance to ask for asylum.

In Brownsville, the congressional group toured a former Walmart that has been converted into a shelter, called Casa Padre, for teenage boys who crossed the border alone or who have been separated from their parents. Southwest Key, the company that runs Casa Padre and many other shelters for migrant children, has hired more than 800 workers just in the past week in order to keep up with rising numbers of kids being sent to shelters because of the “zero-tolerance” policy. The organization is still trying to hire 90 more mental-health-care providers for Casa Padre alone. The legislators asked for, but were not given, the locations of other Southwest Key shelters where younger children and girls are being held. “They are in some of these facilities, but they won’t tell us where they are,” said Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan.

This is what happens when someone seeks asylum legitimately.  Sessions has said that the US will no longer give asylum (this is legal) to women suffering domestic violence or people fleeing gangs trying to kill them.


For more on what the Democrats might do now as they condemn the Trump administration’s new policy of separating families at the border, we’re joined by Renée Feltz, Democracy Now! correspondent and producer, who has long reported on the criminalization of immigrants, family detention and the business of detention. She just came back from South Texas.

Renée, it’s great to be speaking to you again. So, President Trump, in tweet and in speaking to reporters, says, “It’s the Democrats’ fault. It’s the Democrats’ fault,” as everyone is shouting back, “But you’ve instituted this 'zero tolerance' policy.”

RENÉE FELTZ: That’s right. So, Trump is trying to say this isn’t their policy, the Democrats made us do it. One of his advisers, Stephen Miller, is actually saying, “It is our policy to do it.” His head of Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, is saying, “We’re not actually doing it.” And then, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is saying, “God wants us to do it.” So, you know, that’s where we are in terms of the responsibility here.

But as a reporter, I’ve been following the money, as Antar referred to earlier, with the business of detention, under the Obama administration, for some time here on Democracy Now! And many reporters, like myself, are calling—recalling this history of family detention under previous administrations, not so much to toot our own horn and say we were right, but more to say this is how Democrats have previously compromised on the issue of how we handle the surge of migrants coming to our country to seek asylum.

In 2014, President Obama, as we reported here on Democracy Now!, opened detention centers for families. And his approach was to keep the moms with the children when they came together, although there was some consideration at that time of separating the families. But they didn’t really go that route, although, in many cases, we would see the father maybe peeled off and separated, while the mother and the child would be held in these facilities.

So, there’s other examples of how Democrats have overseen the separation of families. For example, we saw, with people who were characterized as a criminal alien, people who had a green card or a legal ability to stay in the country but committed an offense, if they committed a crime, that was used to say, “Well, your citizenship potential is revoked, and now we can deport you from the country.” We’ve interviewed many people, including someone here, Jean Montrevil, who was deported from the United States to Haiti recently, under President—issues with President Obama, and separated from his young children. His daughter was also on our program. We’ve also seen Democrats never pass a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and so we saw separation under DACA, as well, from people from their parents.

What we will see is this issue of family separation coming up in the 2020 Democratic primaries. We already saw a lot of Democrats coming to shelters and things like that. So the question is: What will Democrats do now, especially with the so-called compromise legislation that President Trump is going to meet with Democrats—I’m sorry, with Republicans about this week?

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it’s very interesting, because last week Trump said he didn’t support the Republican legislation, and then the White House walked that back. I want to go to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who tweeted Sunday press and advocacy groups have misreported on the new “zero tolerance” policy, saying, quote, “As I have said many times before, if you are seeking asylum for your family, there is no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry.” That’s what she said. I want to turn to an asylum seeker named Michael, from Honduras, who spoke to Democracy Now! last weekend after he had been camped out on the bridge at the U.S. port of entry in McAllen, Texas, waiting to be allowed to request asylum. He had been waiting seven days at this point.

MICHAEL: [translated] In my country, they were trying to convince me to go to the businesses and ask for money. They were extorting the businesses. They went to my house and tried to force me to extort people. I had a visa, but it was expired, so I went to make a new one, and they told me that I should come back later. But if I had waited for it, I wouldn’t be telling this story, because they would have killed me. I came from my house last Monday, and my mom called me on Wednesday and told me that they tried to pick me up again and to take me. I left Honduras three weeks ago. I’ve been here on the bridge for seven days. If they give me asylum, I’ll work hard and keep going on. I’ll try to bring my family with me, because they are also in danger.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Michael, an asylum seeker from Honduras. This is very interesting. You have Kirstjen Nielsen saying, “All we’re asking is that they go to the ports of entry.” But at the ports of entry, you found—you were just there on the bridge, Renée—that they were being told, the people who were coming forward, that they could not go over the bridge, the port of entry that they’re told this is the only place they can legally come across.

RENÉE FELTZ: That’s right. And there seems to be a policy where the Customs and Border Patrol officers are stationed right in the middle of the bridge at these ports of entry, where U.S. meets Mexico, and they’re refusing to allow people to even walk down the U.S. part of the sidewalk to get to the building where there’s a port of entry where they can make their request.

We just heard from Michael, who is a young man who’s saying he’s fleeing, essentially, gang violence. And we’ve seen Attorney General Jeff Sessions say that that’s no longer going to be accepted as a reason to come here seeking asylum, as well as women who suffer domestic violence. Now, what are we going to say when we look at what happens after Democrats and Republicans are done being outraged about the separation of young children from their parents? What about slightly older children, such as Michael, who’s 17? What about children as young as 10 or 11? Many of them might go on to be characterized as potential recruits for MS-13, who we’ve seen President Trump speak out against widely.

Now, will the Democrats compromise and say we can agree to deport these type of kids or to put them into these juvenile detention centers, essentially, or will they claim that these young children should also be kept with their parents, in terms of keeping families together? And so, when we talk about following the money, some people are asking: If Democrats regain control of the House later this year, will they consider things like abolish ICE? If they’re so unhappy with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will they cut off the funds? And if not, why?

AMY GOODMAN: More than a thousand mental health professionals, now well over this number, and organizations have signed a letter condemning the new practice of separating nearly all children from their parents at the border. This is Dr. Selma Yznaga, a professor of counseling at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus, along the border in Brownsville.

SELMA YZNAGA: The fact that kids are being forcibly separated from their parents has so much to do with the trauma that they are experiencing and that will have a huge effect on their behavior in the immediate future, in the near future and in the long term. To think that our government is putting kids through this kind of traumatic—and it is traumatic—experience to send a message to people who are fleeing their countries, not out of their own choice, but for their own survival, is—amounts to torture.

AMY GOODMAN: “Amounts to torture.” Dr. Selma Yznaga is a professor of counseling at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus along the border in Brownsville. Renée, you just spoke to her.

RENÉE FELTZ: That’s right. She’s pointing out the trauma that children are facing. And we’ve heard that there is a failure to train the people in these shelters to help the kids deal with that trauma. We’re going to see these kids enter our public schools without any counseling—without enough counseling, people would say. So that’s a concern that people have.

We may also see, if any of this Republican compromise legislation goes forward, a change that Republicans say would stop the separation of families, but in fact could do something worse: It could lift the 20-day limit that’s currently in place for families to be detained, and make it so that they could be detained without any limit. So that’s a major concern people have about the compromise legislation going forward and the type of trauma that children could face, not only from spending days or weeks in detention, but potentially months and even as long as a year, as they wait to be reunited with their sponsors or loved ones and family members here in the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Renée, we want to thank you for your continued reporting and your reporting over the years. Tomorrow we’ll continue this conversation with Pramila Jayapal, who is the Washington congressmember—that’s from Washington state. She’ll be in our studio here in New York. She herself went to a prison in Washington to speak with mothers who had been separated from their children, sent up from the Mexico border. Democracy Now! correspondent Renée Feltz, and producer, long reported on criminalization of immigrants, family detention and the business of detention.

Miss Drake

This it is to be a citizen of the US today: This is such a violation of primary human rights as to be barbaric. Reporters are not allowed in to see what is happening in these detention centers.


"Their children were taken from them by Border Patrol agents who said they were going to give them a bath. As the hours passed, it dawned on the mothers the kids were not coming back."

This has been going on since April 2018: New York Times article.

It reminds me of concentration camps in Germany. The people were told they were going to have a shower, give bits of soap and then gassed to death. These people are told their children are to be given a bath, the children are removed and put in cages or small prison rooms. I suspect the parents know that the children are being removed from them and may do this under gunpoint.

It is legal in the US to come to this country and appeal for aslyum. Under the Trump administration when someone does this from Latin or South America and is genuinely fearful for their lives and those of family members, they are put on a list and told to go away. Those who then try to come across the border, if caught are put into shackles and rushed through a court as a group, forced to give brief replies and then disposed of somehow? The reason some of these people are caught, is aslyum rights are written into the US constitution. Surely this super-state who destroyed their country, will now take them in

In the 1990s Hillary Clinton pressed for a bill in congress to protect childrent's rights. She was ferociously attacked for intervening on the sacred parent-child relationship as well as the right of a parent to discipline and make decisions for their children. These are the smaller areas of that bill: the larger prohibit imprisonment of children for crime they didn't commit.

Miss Drake
For today gentle reader I will have myself to post a brief essay in response to an immediate political situation since I have seen no one willing to answer this question, to which I add Leonard Cohen's Democracy is Coming to the USA below

There is apparently as seen in Trump a visceral harsh reaction people have against these black men kneeling -- a traditional reverent gesture.  They loathe this although all know it is in response to the reality that police murder black peope with impunity on the streets and they are subject to mass incarceration solitary confinement for years on the flimiest of charges. If they ever got out, they can never vote again. On PBS reports (!) it was reported a large percentage of the murders in the US are by police (some 11% of murders by strangers).

Reaction by enough people to make the FBI forbid it: deep resentment. You might think tthis such a innocent way to protest injustice. This also shows a lack of support for free speech.  People are labelled “Marxist” for sympathizing with the kneelers.

Let me explain.

Yes it's the humblest of gestures and that is what the average or majority of white Americans resent. They resent being shown they are fierce beasts who need to be placated.  I say we cannot fall back on non-violence as a vulnerable and now openly oppressed group (women, minorities, workers deprived all rights by the supreme court, hispanic people, Muslims, non-citizens and legal immigrants too) but myself detest conflict as a way of getting what you want, aggression (I have ever disliked abrasive men), violence. (Indeed I doubt that violence will give you precisely what you want as a revolutionary group; far from it when the violence is done: rather forcing negotiation somehow out a position of power you gain through persuasion). The US is a culture founded on dense aggression. Some white Republications hated Obama because he was not keeping up "pride." Trump's people have made vulnerable a non-permitted word.

As for free speech, my sense is this is more fiercely a conformist society literally than any I've been in: far more than Canada, the UK, what I saw in Italy when I was there by myself in the later 1960s for 5 weeks. France seemed very controlled (another 5 weeks there with the advantage of knowing the language) . The US is also a religious country, the most religious I've been in and that fosters group dictatorship in most religions. It's an offence to them to reveal our common humanity and accuse them of not having any heart because it's true.  How embarassing the British counterparts of the upper class were at Michael Curry's speech actually taking a requirement we all love one another seriously (he quoted Martin Luther King too). Some were visibly annoyed (under the big hats) or rolled their eyes. See Two Weddings (there were other weddings on May 19th.

Thus country had a socialist group and movement at the opening of the 20th century (ran serious candidates for powerful offices) but the rich were too rich and they destroyed what they could in the second half of the 19th century and then invented the FBI in the 1920s. So -- think about it -- Nazi and Birchite groups thrive and now proliferate with the Internet. Read Zinn's People's History of the US. It is fine for white young men to murder who they please -- "everyone knows "as Leonard Cohen says in the song what is in front of them. Is it that they will not see why the "war on terror" continues in the Middle East or the actualities of colonialism in Africa India Latin and South America.  The stalest of lies used about why the US invaded Iraq (to help them get liberty, because Hussein had weapons of mass destruction) and the reality what the Iraqis said we did (to smash their country to steal as much as we could from them) as what happened bears out. Arms manufacturers made a fortune, so did Cheney and US and French and British oil companies.  The war in Iraq was a win for Bush II; he did what he wanted to do and rewarded his class and cronies. I mention this because this is what Trump wants to do: he said as much in running for President, get in there and take their oil. And Guiliani repeated that one with relish and a smile on his face. He said something to the effect that that is what governance is for. And in Israel we have classic setter colonialism. Now those who want to kneel in protest are name-called Marxist. They are asking for a compassionate society.

The background to all this (also stifling protest) is how much harder to job it is and the process more brutal than the past 20 years -- far more demanded in interviews, far more hazing, more documents, and more people left out to starve or whatever. That's American too: we walk by the homeless.  The black men would have no jobs if they were not athletes so the reaction is, How Dare They? why are they not grateful? Don't they know they are black!  Race power is all in many places in the US today. Caste systems based on more than  many springing up all over US colleges.

I got all my jobs from my first in 1963 simply by a single interview; the last paid one I did this for was in 1989.  And the one I have at both OLLIs -- because this one is voluntary (unpaid). In the US if you work for no money finally (JIm correct here) the hegemonic point of is that are unworthy, There must be something wrong and as part of her dense irritation a woman who was the liasion representative for one of my OLLI classes this spring would not give me the the money in envelope (when I said to her question, I preferred money) and instead bought me a prestigious super-expensive flower. I get a version of a ceramic or sewn art -- who gives money to someone? it's degrading to her to participate in this "honorarium."

Bullying is fine. Of course it's okay to put a torturer who is on record as enjoying it at the head of the CIA. The supreme court decision was another body blow: individuals with grievances against companies, such as wage theft, can’t combine into class actions suits—outrageous—what individual can afford to sue for say, $3,000 in wage theft if it will cost $5,000 for a lawyer? And today Trump has followed it up by being to tear apart Federal job security: let no one say he is a moron when he knows what specific measures to take to render it so much easier to fire and give less recourse to protest.

But kneel? it gives the hypocritical game away.

It takes strength to survive in US society -- individual strength. Leonard Cohen's life is a testimony to how much strength he had I now know (I took a  good course in his life and music and songs this past spring at one of the OLLIs -- the man worked for 9 months for fre to do that) as he stubbornly told the truth.

Miss Drake still

Gaza: what is happening

Very few places online and news shows are telling what is happening in Gaza.  The only place where it's made clear is DemocracyNow.org


Here is the key dialogue between Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez and Muhammed Shehada:

Amy Goodman: If you could, Muhammad, talk about what is taking place right now? Your brother is on the front lines in Gaza of the protests?

MUHAMMAD SHEHADA: He actually was. He recently managed to get out of Gaza, after two years of waiting on Rafah border crossing, which was a miraculous divine intervention.

But speaking of the Gazan protest, virtually everybody I know in Gaza, almost all my friends, are going there to the front lines. And the problem that pushes them to the wall is that life at the refugee camps, they experience death thousands of times a day, while at the borders they either break free or they die for once. The point is that people are trying to undertake a mass jailbreak out of what David Cameron, the prime minister of—the former prime minister of Britain, called an “open-air prison,” what a Haaretz editorial calls a “Palestinian ghetto,” and what Israeli distinguished scholar Baruch Kimmerling calls “the largest concentration camp ever to exist.”

Then you have the call for return, which is the main theme of the protest. And that represents even deeper and deeper desperation amongst the masses. The call for return does not constitute, what Israel claims, an attempt to destroy the state of Israel, but it rather shows that Gazans have given up about the place where they are caged. They are trying to right the only wrong in their life, that causes all their misery—namely, being born on the wrong side of the fence. And that separation fence is what separates between life and death, future and going nowhere.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Muhammad, I wanted to ask you about this issue of the open-air prison. Most people around the world do not understand the—how contained the residents of Gaza are. Can you talk about how difficult it is even to get in or out of Gaza, for either Palestinians or even other international visitors?

MUHAMMAD SHEHADA: Well, for the Gaza Strip, what you have is, as Harvard scholar Sara Roy calls, 2 million people, most of whom who are children, are being slowly poisoned by the water they drink and the soil on which they plant. Moreover, those 2 million people are not allowed—virtually, not allowed to leave at all. Gaza is completely sealed from sea, air and land.

There are two border crossings that are almost virtually permanently closed. The Israeli border crossing, only about 500 people could manage to leave Gaza annually. If you put that into numbers, that’s absolutely nothing of the population. The Egyptian border crossing is far more disappointing and disheartening. It opens three days a month, at most. That’s the best of it. Last year, it opened about 14 days in the entire year. And when it opens, Palestinians experience endless waiting, suffocating heat, blackmail, and detention in rottening cells. What you have on the Rafah border crossing, from my own experience, is waiting for at least 18 months to come out of it. Then you are brought to this room of the Egyptian side of the border. You sleep there the whole night. Every 10 minutes, an Egyptian officer would come out and announce another name, and that name would be thrown back to Gaza without further explanation. And you absolutely don’t want to be the next one. So you would do anything at all not to be sent back into prison.

May 14, 2018 -

There is a film which tells the truth, Killing Gaza, but it has not come to any area I live near:


Chris Hedges from Truthdig:

Israel’s blockade of Gaza—where trapped Palestinians for the past seven weeks have held nonviolent protests along the border fence with Israel, resulting in scores of dead and some 6,000 wounded by Israeli troops—is one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. Yet the horror that is Gaza, where 2 million people live under an Israeli siege without adequate food, housing, work, water and electricity, where the Israeli military routinely uses indiscriminate and disproportionate violence to wound and murder, and where almost no one can escape, is rarely documented. Max Blumenthal and Dan Cohen’s powerful new film, “Killing Gaza,” offers an unflinching and moving portrait of a people largely abandoned by the outside world, struggling to endure.

Cohen and Blumenthal, who is the author of the book “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel,” one of the best accounts of modern Israel, began filming the documentary Aug. 15, 2014. Palestinian militias, armed with little more than light weapons, had just faced Israeli tanks, artillery, fighter jets, infantry units and missiles in a 51-day Israeli assault that left 2,314 Palestinians dead and 17,125 injured. Some 500,000 Palestinians were displaced and about 100,000 homes were destroyed or damaged. The 2014 assault, perhaps better described as a massacre, was one of eight massacres that Israel has carried out since 2004 against the 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, over half of whom are children. Israel, which refers to these periodic military assaults as “mowing the lawn,” seeks to make existence in Gaza so difficult that mere survival consumes most of the average Palestinian’s time, resources and energy.

The film begins in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood, reduced to mounds of rubble by the Israelis. The wanton destruction of whole neighborhoods was, as documented by the film, accompanied by the shooting of unarmed civilians by Israeli snipers and other soldiers of that nation.

After a bombing raid -- dozens of children killed

The best of the usual publications is:

John Nichols in the Nation concentrates on congressmen not allowed into Gaza; beyond the killing, he does not explain why the people go to the borders:


The Guardian is typical in not saying that the Palestinians aren’t allowed out:


Judy Woodruff on PBS spends 50% of her three minutes on the embassy in Jerusalem, repeats the Trump administration claim the Palestinians are to blame and then supposedly tells the Palestinian side of the story -- omitting much of the above and imputing the demonstrations just about solely to the making Jerusalem the capitol.


Update: read this:


I wonder why the Nazis didn't call the setting up of concentration camps a propaganda stunt by the Jews, socialists, disabled, LBGT people then>

Thisis the Warsaw Ghetto all over again. Horrifying.

Now 5/17: a group of doctors deliberately targeted by Israeli snipers. Out of 19 medics all of whom were working ably for over a couple of weeks, of course careful to avoid all fire, within a few hours 18 badly wounded and one killed:


Miss Drake
This essay on the activities of the Koch brothers and other reactionary groups at George Mason University is rather closer to me than most political essays I link in. I taught at Mason from 1989 to 2012. I can from my own experience vouch for seeing what Erica Green and Stephanie Saul report in the New York Times based on research by Transparent Inc: Specific documents have been released with dollar amounts, statistics and individual departments named:

The documents reveal in surprising detail that for years, as George Mason grew from a little-known commuter school to a major public university and a center of libertarian scholarship, millions of dollars in donations from conservative-leaning donors like the Charles Koch Foundation had come with strings attached.

As early as 1990, entities controlled by the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch were given a seat on a committee to pick candidates for a professorship that they funded, the records show. Similar arrangements that continued through 2009 gave donors decision-making roles in selecting candidates for key economics appointments at the Mercatus Center, a Koch-funded think tank on campus that studies markets and regulation. The appointments, which also created faculty lines at George Mason, were steered to professors who, like the Kochs, embraced unconstrained free markets.

More recently, in 2016, executives of the Federalist Society, a conservative national organization of lawyers, served as agents for a $20 million gift from an anonymous donor, and were given the right to terminate installments of the gift at their discretion. Emails disclosed by the university show that Federalist Society officials were also involved in hiring discussions and had suggested a student for admission. In turn, a professor at the law school wrote the society asking for help securing recommendations for prestigious federal judicial clerkships for students active in the society ...
Professor Letiecq said the faculty did not know whether there were any colleagues who may have been affected by the Koch Foundation’s influence over hiring in past years. But those who have been handpicked know they come with strings attached, she said. “They know the benefits that come with the position,” she said. “And I guess they can live with that.”

In one 2003 agreement, the Mercatus Institute said it had received $900,000 from the Menlo F. Smith Trust to fund a professorship in the economics department, and would make the first payment “conditional” upon the appointment of Russell Roberts, an economist who advocates limited government. A person designated by Menlo Smith, a St. Louis businessman, was given a seat on the selection committee, according to the agreement.

Professor Roberts, who is currently affiliated with the Hoover Institution at Stanford, denied on Thursday that Mr. Smith had had any say in his hiring. He said he had been selected for the job by the economics department, which then sought funding from Mr. Smith.

The exact amount of Koch donations to campuses across the country, which

frequently are earmarked for programs fostering capitalism and free markets, is unknown. But it is estimated at nearly $150 million from 2005 to 2015, benefiting more than 300 schools.


Continue reading the main

I -- anyone not a "dull elf" was aware -- that Mason deliberately hired very reactionary stars in their economics and law departments, and knew that the English department (among other humanities and social science groups) were were under pressure (funding cuts).  Thinking about thse years, it is true the composition heads and their chosen full-time subordinates starting in the mid-1990s were business English types. The effect of post-colonialism and deconstructionist theory was to hire people on the basis of identity politics (a Palestinian for example). At no point do I remember any one openly economically leftist for real hired. When I spoke people would be surprised at my point of view, but I never got much chance to speak anywhere. In the later 1980s there had been  associations for adjuncts as well as full-time contingent people and these came to an end.

As a profoundly literary-humaniies person (all my scholarship in literary studies) of the left-liberal persuasion, I never had chance after 1997. Unless of course I could mend my ways .... In the last years I was being pressured not to assign any books, to teach the class to choose a topic for research by reading through published papers to discover what was this year's fashionable topic (never mind they at the level that they were having trouble discovering the thesis statement, never mind such implicit subtexts). I resisted and then at age 66 retired.

We just don't begin to know how deep and far and to the nth degree this transformation of the US since the 1970s has been going on; this is a continuation and extension of broad policies starting in the 1920s in creating agencies like the FBI and CIA to stop all socialist and African-American movements. 300 schools.

Miss Drake
So Trump struck Syria with bombs. What else can one expect from this beast? He makes all messes worse. I would not write of this except that it is so dangerous a situation (the Russians are on the Assad side) that it is important that as many people living in the US who vote understand something of the situation. Not that we can affect this right now as Congress has ceded the power of war to the president, and only if Congress will impeach this man, can war be stopped. So we back with the long-range solution of voting incessantly and working to urge others to vote democratic so as to remove this man. There are enough votes to impeach him among Democrats -- or at least start the process.

When I think of the word Syria, the word "murk" comes to mind; not just that the situation is complicated and often changing but that I don't know the details, the history. Someone who does is Patrick Cockburn; he has been a live-in courageous journalist in the middle east now for decades. All this to urge my readership to somehow get hold of a copy of London Review of Books, or go online and see if you can find another outlet for Cockburn to read Cockburn's clear analysis of what is happening in Syria and how ill-judged was even Tillotson's approach and the risks and counterproductivity of Trump's: Kurds are regularly called "terrorists" by the Turkish and Assad forces and also ISIS which is Sunni while Kurds are Shia.

It’s in the LRB for April 5,2018, Vol 40, No 7, pp 8-10


After explaining clearly the situation now, its history in the Kurds's fight for independence and alliance with the US against ISIS, and how they are hated by Turkish and  Syria leaders, he goes on to why Afrin was abandoned (in a very diffcult place to defend),  the catastrophes and deaths and horrific destruction that ensued there, he writes in three concluding paragraphs:

The YPG may not have fought to the end for Afrin, but they will certainly fight if Turkish forces move further east to attack Manbij or the Kurdish towns and cities close to the Turkish border. Erdoğan promises a broader offensive to stamp out ‘terrorists’ in the region, a term that now seems to refer to anybody with a Kurdish identity. This nationalist rhetoric may reflect his long-term ambitions, but it’s worth pointing out that Erdoğan is usually restrained by a strong pragmatic sense. He can scarcely attack Manbij or any other Kurdish-held territory so long as it is protected by the US. General Joseph Votel, head of US Central Command, said soon after the Turkish invasion began in January that withdrawing US forces from Manbij is ‘not something we are looking into’. There are frequent patrols of US armoured vehicles, with their Stars and Stripes banners, across the Manbij area. The US does not need the Kurds as much as it once did in the fight against IS, but it still needs an ally on the ground if it is to retain any influence in Syria, and again the Kurds are the only candidates for the role. Erdoğan will wait for his opportunity to attack, just as he did with Afrin, knowing that he hasn’t won a real victory until he destroys the Syrian Kurdish quasi-state of which Afrin was only a small part. The Kurds, too, regard Afrin as the first round in the struggle to preserve what they have gained over the last seven years. They are preparing for the day when they may have to fight the Turkish army without America’s help.

Near an abandoned railway station in a field near Qamishli, the effective capital of the Kurdish region, I met the commanders of a YPG brigade who had just returned from a 45-day stint fighting IS in Deir Ezzor. They were, they said, ‘retraining to fight the Turks’. Their mood was more sombre – and their military experience much greater – than that of the young YPG fighters I had met three years earlier during the battle for Mount Abdulaziz. Rojvan, one of the commanders, explained that in the fight against IS their men had always had US airpower on their side but, if they fought the Turks, it would be the other way round: the YPG would be the target of airstrikes. Their retraining, he said, involved learning how to survive under air attack and how ‘to fight like a guerrilla force’. The commanders gathered in the old railway station office were veterans of many battles with IS, but they were realistic about what the odds against them would be if they were fighting Turkish forces backed by planes, helicopters and artillery. ‘Whatever happens we will fight to the end,’ one said, even if they only had Kalashnikovs, light machine-guns and RPGs against Turkish tanks. Most of these fighters had been at war since 2011. IS was making a comeback in Deit Ezzor province, they said, and they had lost several men, including a popular man called Suleiman Khalaf, who had been building earth ramparts on the front line when his vehicle was hit by a heat-seeking missile. ‘IS never gives in,’ Baran Omari, the dead man’s unit commander, said when I met him at the cemetery where Khalaf is buried. ‘They never surrender.’

The fall of Afrin to the Turks and the likely fall of Eastern Ghouta to Syrian government forces mark a new phase in the war in Syria. The country is now divided into three zones, each under a different authority and supported by a different foreign sponsor. Isolated and vulnerable enclaves hostile to the predominant local power, like Afrin and Eastern Ghouta, are being eliminated. The zones vary greatly in size and population: Assad controls territory where about 12 million Syrians live; the Kurdish-held region has a population of a little more than two million; and the smallest zone, lying north and west of Aleppo, is a Sunni Arab bloc, also with a population of about two million, under the direct or indirect rule of Turkey. These three are the survivors of seven years of war. Other groups – notably IS, which once ruled a third of Syria – have been all but eliminated. But the frontiers between these zones are still fluid and all sides believe they have something to fight for. Assad wants to retake the whole of Syria. Turkey wants to destroy the de facto Kurdish state; the Kurds want to maintain it. Before peace returns to Syria these issues will have to be decided on the battlefield or through diplomatic agreement. There will have to be a new balance of powers not just between local actors but between their foreign sponsors: the US, which has provided air support for the Kurds since 2014; Russia, which has done the same for Assad since 2015; and Turkey, which now has a powerful military force in northern Syria. ‘It is not a question of who is good or bad, but who can survive,’ Aldar Khalil told me. He believes that the war will go on for at least another four years until a stable balance of forces is established.

To read more of what is online today (not as up-to-date as the above, not as clear because pestered by commercials and ads):

The mistake of reversing the US position in January:


Counterpunch what had happened by mid-March:

Here’s an archive of his recent journalism


Miss Drake

My last blog with general content from articles or youTubes was Feb. 7th. I've not written here in a long time because recent political developments in areas where power is exercised have been so discouraging and dismaying. But I feel impelled tonight. I have much to share about the evil that is being done across the US: what is happening is small amounts of improvement and progress towards a fairer prison system, justice system, for the environment, for women's rights were being put in place (the latter at leat theoretically) and everything is now overtly being made worse.  All agencies set up to try to get justice for the average person thwarted.

Paul McCarthy at last week's mass demonstration March for Our Lives, reminding us John Lennon lost his life in 1970: a single bullet to the head was all it took.

As you read, remember last week's massive numbers of people come out to demonstrate against the slaughter of themselves.

What has been happening and not happening in the corridors of power?

An ignorant, bigoted sociopathic continual law-breaker is in charge whom it is clear those with power to remove him will not. Trump does not bother to hide his debased and mean point of view; his brains see everything from the most base, lewd and lawless standpoint so that nothing fazes, nothing humiliates him since he does not recognize that anyone has any integrity, or moral principles. This on the Stormy Daniels TV segment on 60 minutes.  It is newly realized the body of white people in the US calling themselves evangelical Christians do not require in the least that the man in charge behave morally in the sexual or financial areas. Comically (?), the New Yorker offers the hope that one thing that might result is the end of non-disclosure agreements

A remarkable number of people have been summarily fired, others resigned or resigned in protest from important jobs/tasks/offices in the US. I saw a list of several hundred if you include lesser known officials across the govt. Here are the most famous from the New York Times. Since leaving office, some have written eloquently of how they were threatened (Trump made vindictive attempts to deprive people of pensions after decades of work) and what they saw happening all around them during the time they tried to stay on. If replaced (I've read lists of agencies intended to serve the public either forbidden to by law or de-funded, with department after department left with no one in charge), by whom?

Tonight large groups in Sacramento, California are continuing to demonstrate to try to get the local police to arrest a policeman (or men) who murdered a unarmed black man in his own backyard. To this hour, despite other demonstrations and hypocritical words coming out of elected officials, those who murdered that man have not even been arrested. In another similar case, the jurisdictions has said openly they will not indict the murderer. A familiar image: the black family or group standing before microphones,disbelieving, enraged, crying.

Privatizing the VA will immediately corrode whatever health care veterans have and make the jobs of those providing health deeply insecure and so make them work in a bad atmosphere. Every time a vote is held the majority of voters vote against charter schools and privatization; nonetheless, these private are spreading after studies have shown no gain from paying money and indeed losses include demoralization of teachers (who are not required to have the same certificates showing years of training).  Teachers are going on strike in states where there is possible, and sometimes winning.


No one stopped Roosevelt from interning thousands of Japanese US Citizens

I have five essays to share tonight, the first crucially important: read Jed S. Rakoff who demonstrates that the long history of the court system in the United States shows judges have preferred to not exercise the responsibility to control the legislature and executive which the constitution meant them to have, especially in the areas of military action and what can be placed under the label "national security." The essay appears in the NYRB, 65:6 for April 5, 2018, and is called "Don't count on the Courts." The courts are not going to save us from a slide into a dictatorship now being reinforced by every technique in the power of Repubilcans, now an utterly corrupt group (impeaching judges, disenfranchising voters, intimidation at the polls, egregious gerrymandering). I know it's behind a pay wall; pay the small fee or contact me below (make a comment) and I'll send you a copy.

This is the most ironic: David Cole tells you how Jeff Sessions has been doing his level best (and alas effectively) to resume mass incarceration, put in places the harshest sentences possible for non-violent crimes, deprive people of rights when they are being arrested, allow police impunity in whatever they want to do to citizens, all of which has been shown (as if proof were needed) to be counterproductive, expensive. He has stopped defending civil rights, abandoned enabling access to the ballot, is now the opponent of LGBT rights and a champion of religious discrimation. And Trump loathes Sessions publicly insulting and denigrating him at every turn. Why? because Sessions recused himself when it came to the investigation of the Russians's influene and possible collusion with Trump to win the 2016 election. All Trump cares about is himself finally. Read this in the NYRB, 65:7, April 9, 2018: Trump's Inquisitor (not appreciated). This too is behind a paywall and this too I will share with anyone who wants to read the text.

These are publicly online:

In the same issue, Adam Hochschild,"Bang for the Buck," describes the origins, present pervasive and (if nothing is done) continuing spread of iindividual weapons of mass destruction (not just guns, the AK 15s meant for battle); also the political aims of those who have created this situation and those who continue to profit (quite literally) from the proliferation of white male militias. In case you were curious.

Jacqueline Rose's "I am the knife," this time it's the LRB, 40:4, 22 February: Rose demonstrates the #MeToo campaign has not made any advances in areas of daily life for women, in their experience of growing up, schools, marketplaces, their bodies. She explains why. What are the underlying roots of misogyny and reviews some remarkable books, especially Laura Kipnis’s Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia comes to campuses, and Roxanne Grey’s Hunger: a Memoir of my Body, how women's bodies are policed. What to do? If you can, refuse to be coopted?

And don't neglect:  Mary Beard on Women and Power and Kate Mann on Down Girl.  Open to all from the TLS for March 27, 2018.
Manne provides an analysis of the logic of misogyny; why these particular branches proliferate over and over from the same root; Beard argues women have got to stop imitating male models and take power as females. Instead of trying to be males, projects another image of power; take power and be taken seriously on their own behalf as their concerns are central to the society.

Robert Reich on YouTube closes out with the underlying economics:

Closing images:

The US embassy in Cuba is now closed; all the people, a couple hundred thousand a year who used to come there don't any more. No more VISAs to travel back and forth to families; many lost the$160 they paid months in advance to book an appointment. Now JetBlue flights are empty.  When Occupy Wall Street settlements were destroyed  -- in Obama's era, emptied out too.

I admit last night I had a bad dream my house was broken into.  I live in a one floor house on a cement slab. Some of my neighbors in their desire to have more police (!) have been inundating the neighborhood list with stories of local vandalism. I imagined someone with a gun casually killing my cats or me or my daughter or maiming us. Today someone invented a scheme to contact the programmers of Waze on Apple phones and ask them to make a new algorithm which misleads people so no one will come into the neighborhood. The person was not ironic. The atmosphere gets to me as prelude to what's to come.

Oh yes I'll vote, and write blogs and voice an opinion. If there is a demonstration when I'm here in my area, I'll go to it.

One has to try to recall Shelley's Mask of Anarchy as quoted by Orwell: We are many, they are few.  As It happened I was in Italy last week when the demonstration among a people (Italian) as yet held together by a genuine adherence to a sense of common good, which in this country is being attacked as concept and reality.

As I lay asleep in Italy
There came a voice from over the Sea,
And with great power it forth led me
To walk in the visions of Poesy.

I met Murder on the way--
He had a mask like Castlereagh--
Very smooth he looked, yet grim;
Seven blood-hounds followed him:

All were fat; and well they might
Be in admirable plight,    
For one by one, and two by two,
He tossed them human hearts to chew

Which from his wide cloak he drew.
Next came Fraud, and he had on,
Like Eldon, an ermined gown;
His big tears, for he wept well,
Turned to mill-stones as they fell.

And the little children, who
Round his feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem,   
Had their brains knocked out by them.

Clothed with the Bible, as with light,
And the shadows of the night,
Like Sidmouth, next, Hypocrisy
On a crocodile rode by.

And many more Destructions played
In this ghastly masquerade,
All disguised, even to the eyes,
Like Bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies.

Last came Anarchy: he rode   
On a white horse, splashed with blood;
He was pale even to the lips,
Like Death in the Apocalypse.

And he wore a kingly crown;
And in his grasp a sceptre shone;
On his brow this mark I saw--

 What art thou Freedom? O! could slaves

Answer from their living graves   
This demand -- tyrants would flee
Like a dream's dim imagery ...

`Thou art not, as impostors say,
A shadow soon to pass away,
A superstition, and a name
Echoing from the cave of Fame.

`For the labourer thou art bread,
And a comely table spread
From his daily labour come
In a neat and happy home.   220

`Thou art clothes, and fire, and food
For the trampled multitude--
No -- in countries that are free
Such starvation cannot be
As in England now we see.

`To the rich thou art a check,
When his foot is on the neck
Of his victim, thou dost make
That he treads upon a snake.

`Thou art Justice -- ne'er for gold  
May thy righteous laws be sold
As laws are in England -- thou
Shield'st alike the high and low.

`Thou art Wisdom -- Freemen never
Dream that God will damn for ever
All who think those things untrue
Of which Priests make such ado.

`Thou art Peace -- never by thee
Would blood and treasure wasted be
As tyrants wasted them, when all  240
Leagued to quench thy flame in Gaul.

`What if English toil and blood
Was poured forth, even as a flood?
It availed, Oh, Liberty,
To dim, but not extinguish thee.

`Thou art Love -- the rich have kissed
Thy feet, and like him following Christ,
Give their substance to the free
And through the rough world follow thee,

`Or turn their wealth to arms, and make  
War for thy belovèd sake
On wealth, and war, and fraud--whence they
 Drew the power which is their prey.

`Science, Poetry, and Thought
Are thy lamps; they make the lot
Of the dwellers in a cot
So serene, they curse it not.

`Spirit, Patience, Gentleness,
All that can adorn and bless
Art thou -- let deeds, not words, express 
Thine exceeding loveliness.

`Let a great Assembly be
Of the fearless and the free
On some spot of English ground
Where the plains stretch wide around.

`Let the blue sky overhead,
The green earth on which ye tread,
All that must eternal be
Witness the solemnity.

`From the corners uttermost   270
Of the bonds of English coast;
From every hut, village, and town
Where those who live and suffer moan
For others' misery or their own. 

`From the workhouse and the prison
Where pale as corpses newly risen,
Women, children, young and old
Groan for pain, and weep for cold--

`From the haunts of daily life
Where is waged the daily strife   
With common wants and common cares
Which sows the human heart with tares--

`Lastly from the palaces
Where the murmur of distress
Echoes, like the distant sound
Of a wind alive around

`Those prison halls of wealth and fashion,
Where some few feel such compassion
For those who groan, and toil, and wail
As must make their brethren pale--  

`Ye who suffer woes untold,
Or to feel, or to behold
Your lost country bought and sold
With a price of blood and gold--

`Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words that ye
Are, as God has made ye, free--

`Be your strong and simple words
Keen to wound as sharpened swords,  
And wide as targes let them be,
With their shade to cover ye.

`Let the tyrants pour around
With a quick and startling sound,
Like the loosening of a sea,
Troops of armed emblazonry.

`Let the charged artillery drive
Till the dead air seems alive
With the clash of clanging wheels,
And the tramp of horses' heels.  

`Let the fixèd bayonet
Gleam with sharp desire to wet
Its bright point in English blood
Looking keen as one for food.

`Let the horsemen's scimitars
Wheel and flash, like sphereless stars
Thirsting to eclipse their burning
In a sea of death and mourning.

`Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,   
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war,

`And let Panic, who outspeeds
The career of armèd steeds
Pass, a disregarded shade
Through your phalanx undismayed.

`Let the laws of your own land,
Good or ill, between ye stand
Hand to hand, and foot to foot,
Arbiters of the dispute,   

`The old laws of England -- they
Whose reverend heads with age are gray,
Children of a wiser day;
And whose solemn voice must be
Thine own echo -- Liberty!

`On those who first should violate
Such sacred heralds in their state
Rest the blood that must ensue,
And it will not rest on you.

`And if then the tyrants dare   
Let them ride among you there,
Slash, and stab, and maim, and hew,--
What they like, that let them do.

`With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise,
Look upon them as they slay
Till their rage has died away.

`Then they will return with shame
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak  
In hot blushes on their cheek.

 `Every woman in the land
Will point at them as they stand--
They will hardly dare to greet
Their acquaintance in the street.

`And the bold, true warriors
Who have hugged Danger in wars
Will turn to those who would be free,
Ashamed of such base company.

`And that slaughter to the Nation  
Shall steam up like inspiration,
Eloquent, oracular;
A volcano heard afar.

`And these words shall then become
Like Oppression's thundered doom
Ringing through each heart and brain,
Heard again -- again -- again--

`Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number--
Shake your chains to earth like dew  
Which in sleep had fallen on you--
Ye are many -- they are few.'

Van Gogh, Spring

Hold on, hold out, resist in whatever small way is available to you.

Miss Drake

The lead singer is Sarah Vos; it's on the album, My Mother the Moor." I heard it on DemocracyNow.org:

Listen up:

What Vos said about her song, "American Poor:"

After the 2016 presidential election, I started writing what would become several of the songs on the new record. I was inspired by my own feelings as well as the collective sense of shock and fear that seemed to be shared by so many people in the country and the world.

I’ve been interested in the disparity between the poor and wealthy for a long time.

What does it mean to be poor? I’ve been hearing that word [poor] my whole life–whether in church, on television, in history classes. American Poor is a concept… you can’t afford to go to the doctor, pay-off school loans, or keep your house warm, and yet all day long you’re being bombarded with reasons to buy things.

And then there’s the kind of poor that has little to do with money–poor in spirit or knowledge. Ignorance is one of the deepest kinds of poverty.

The act of service is one of the most beautiful human experiences, and yet service is one of the lowliest endeavors in our culture. It’s strange to me and it seems backwards.

We might ask why those in power don't in the least care if our parks, our schools, our colleges, all that we turn to for simply daily joys, our transportation facilities are stripped and shut down.  Why our TV and film fare is mostly fascistic action idiocy with one side blasting the other to death inbetween bouts of sadistic sex:


Trump proposes to cancel what's left of the welfare system since the Clintons destroyed it and Bush cancelled all help but food stamps ($162 a month) and then hand out a box of pre-chosen stuff for starving and near and homeless people across the US.  The majority of people who use food stamps to obtain food are white.

Miss Drake

The answer is the police. Not mythical gangs, rampaging immigrants, black people. No the police, and this is due to the ubiquity of guns in our society and police training and methods.

I was driving in my PriusC yesterday and didn't see a stop sign and went through at a corner. As a result I had an encounter with a police officer, around age 35.  The encounter was tellng and a little scary.

I realized what seemed to be a car was following me: the man put his lights on, and I realized it was a cop car, but I was not sure he was followng me and didn't stop immediately -- I did slow down and then turned into where there was a space for me to stop the car. A parking lot. Then I stopped and was getting out of my car to talk and he got hysterical, screaming at me to get back in my car. Suddenly he was giving these frantic orders with menace in his voice: i.e., if you don't park precisely there, it will go badly with you. Rough talk about how dare I not stop immediately.

WEll, I did get back in the car. He is screaming at me why did I get out of the car? I look at him, startled, and said "because I wanted to know what this was about."  I wanted to know if you were stopping me and why. I did ask and he shouted something about going through a stop sign. Now by the car he demands my license and papers (had I not had these I would have been in trouble), takes them away to his car. Then the usual time goes by -- I've gotten tickets before -- and he comes back, but this time, if not courteous (he was not quite courteous at any time), at least not behaving like someone on an edge,half hysterical. He says to me, "Why didn't you stop?" and I said I hadn't been sure he was following me and then "I didn't want to block traffic." He repeats like some robot: "It's the law you must stop immediately.'   (That is, I am not allowed to think for myself? what a stupid law.) I said, no I didn't realize that and I repeated, we were in traffic and it would delay the other people. It's the law he repeats intensely. (How dare I think for myself? not instantly obey him?)

Then he gives something away: he says, "until I read I couldn't know anything about you."  Wait a minute I thought: read? he didn't know anything about me?  The same thing happened when I totaled my car in December 2013, and less so when I got a ticket for a wrong turn last summer in DC. The second time in DC the cop was at first completely disrespectful and acting like some angered tyrant, and he looks into his computers, sees collected information about me, which clears him from fear of me. Then he comes back and is not decent, but not dangerous. What could they read there? I'm old, have no criminal records. But what else? from where? And when they have a black person, do they read something? What? what effect does it have?  When I totaled my car, I just sat on the ground and cried and ignored the cop, and Laura and Izzy were there, and after a while, the cop took my license and went away and came back, and then he said I was just like his grandmother. I'll bet I'm not.

When the cop in 2013 had said I reminded him of his grandmother, that shows he was identifying by race. It was not just that document in the computer, but my age, race, gender: I'm now 71 and look it, white and female. My guess is he was half-hysterical becuase I was not quite cooperating like some automaton and yet because of my age, gender, race, he could see I am harmless. Was looking at him as if he were a mad man. Which he is partly.

As a side issue here, I do think it is a violation of our privacy that police officers can look up huge amounts of information about us within seconds.

To return to yesterday's incident: after saying that he couldn't know who I am, he added suddenly, "think of it from my point of view. When  you step out of the car, I cannot know what you have in mind." I looked at him and maybe shook my head -- because he is behaving abnormally.  He is trained to suspect me first and attack. That is he automatically assumes I'm hostile or malevolent or malicious -- or I have a loaded gun. I didn't say that to him but it's obvious that is how he was regarding me: a potential even probable enemy.

I didn't say anything though, and he calmed down further, became yet a little more reasonable and explained where the stop sign was. He gave me a paper for ticket and explained he had ticked off that I need not go to court as long as I paid the fine.  My sense was he expected me to thank him then. Well, I didn't. Nor did I say I had been in the wrong, which I had been. He didn't deserve I should say that and wouldn't have taken it as other than me kowtowing to him. It cost me $94.

I was listening to Boswell's Life of Johnson read aloud by Bernard Mayes, was tired from trying to do this paper. It was a small corner with no traffic until the next block. I later saw him having stopped another car. He was out looking for people. In effect on the prowl.  I wouldn't want to be a black person around those blocks during any time he's about.

He is dangerous because 1) he has been trained to regard car drivers and pedestrians as potential enemies, ready to attack him. He has been told he can be belligerent and bully people. He does not regard me as innocent, as someone he is there to serve. He does not regard me as his equal with equal rights.  2) there is no gun control in our society, and worse some states allow concealed weapons. A central reason for this wrong-headed training is the ubiquity of guns. Guns kill. He is afraid I have a gun -- and am willing to shoot him!

What needs to be done is 1) gun control, all gun owners must have licenses which really inspect them; no concealed weapons and no military style repeating guns. 2) complete change in the way police are trained and taught to regard people they meet and are supposed to serve.

What needs to be stopped?  They should not break into people's houses without a court search warrant. Too many times I've read of police breaking into someone's house and shooting a disabled person who is there, killing the person sometimes. Last year a police man either killed or permanently crippled a disabled person basically for walking in the streets while autistic.

A friend said to me when I told of this incident yesterday that in Germany in the 1930s the propaganda said good Germans were at risk from Jews; no, everyone was at risk from brown shirts.

Miss Drake

My usual round up of important articles in the past week or so:

To begin with, I regret to say a black man who remains nameless in most mainstream places -- whom the police refuse to tell the name of -- has been murdered in the streets of South Carolina. Shot dead. They got him in the knee first.  Since this is so common now, what purports this sentence? He was a central leader Black Lives Matter who tried to stay out of the radar to lay low. Hah!


Read on a bit, and you begin to get a name: it seems he is best known for when he grabbed a confederate flag in a crowd while Bree Newsome was skimmying up a flagpole in South Carolina to take one down. B'Haha is his last name. This public act (caught on a camera) is what he was best known for.

Dead in their thirties, shot, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Mahammed X, now even nameless. The way to stop a movement is murder anyone who might be effectively leading it.

An officer, named, Michael Slager, is to be arraigned.

If you look here you find out, it's important because it's being reported in many minor papers:


Keep going and after a while you get his name:

Muhiyyidin Moye aka Muhiyyidin D'baha was killed at around 1 a.m. on February 6 after being shot while riding his bicycle, his niece, Camille Weaver, and then his photo; and I found a couple of decent ones on AP press

You see you don't have to worry about women, they never get into important power. The real reason Barack Obama won and then Donald Trump was they were running against a woman. We can shimmy up trees and take down flags, go bike-riding.  What does it matter what we do? Emma Goldman thought even the vote didn't matter.

I agree we are no longer safe in US streets, but not from immigrants or African-Americans or hispanic or Muslim people: we are not safe from and because of police behavior and policies.


Oh and how far have black people gotten in good jobs, good education, opportunities for fulfilling since the death Martin Luther King. Why, the numbers have hardly budged at all: " Black Americans Mostly Left Behind since Martin Luther King's Death" by Sharon Ausin, in The Conversation for February 7, 2018.


Typical black neighborhood street circa 1968

The air (radio, TV, Internet I don't visit) is filled with a perspective which is pernicious: the whole basic standpoint has become anti-immigrants, and the democrats speaking speak feebly and talk of disagreeing here "a bit" and there." If they are permitted to go, you find they disagree everywhere and strongly, but that is now how these voices of reason -- they have children who emigrated, workers should be given legal work permits, people are vetted and so on. But a turn has made to put anything but a white supremacist state on the weak defensive.

It's not individual choices either; it's the result of decades of explicit US policy. Read this review in the NYRB of an important book: The Color of Law by Jason DeParle of Richard Rothenstein's book, The Color of Law: when gov't drew the color lines:

Here the DeParle's opening:

In 2007 a sharply divided Supreme Court struck down plans to integrate the Seattle and Louisville public schools. Both districts faced the geographic dilemma that confounds most American cities: their neighborhoods were highly segregated by race and therefore so were many of their schools. To compensate, each district occasionally considered a student’s race in making school assignments. Seattle, for instance, used race as a tie-breaking factor in filling some oversubscribed high schools. Across the country, hundreds of districts had similar plans.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the court’s liberal wing in the case, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, argued that the modest use of race served essential educational and democratic goals and kept faith with the Court’s “finest hour,” its rejection of segregation a half-century earlier in Brown v.Board of Education. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., representing a conservative plurality, called any weighing of race unconstitutional. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” he wrote. Crucial to his reasoning was the assertion that segregation in Seattle and Louisville was de facto, not de jure—a product of private choices, not state action. Since the state didn’t cause segregation, the state didn’t have to fix it—and couldn’t fix it by sorting students by race.
Richard Rothstein, an education analyst at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, thinks John Roberts is a bad historian. The Color of Law, his powerful history of governmental efforts to impose housing segregation, was written in part as a retort. “Residential segregation was created by state action,” he writes, not merely by amorphous “societal” influences. While private discrimination also deserves some share of the blame, Rothstein shows that “racially explicit policies of federal, state, and local governments…segregated every metropolitan area in the United States.” Government agencies used public housing to clear mixed neighborhoods and create segregated ones. Governments built highways as buffers to keep the races apart. They used federal mortgage insurance to usher in an era of suburbanization on the condition that developers keep blacks out. From New Dealers to county sheriffs, government agencies at every level helped impose segregation—not de facto but de jure.
Rothstein calls his story a “forgotten history,” not a hidden one. Indeed, part of the book’s shock is just how explicit the government’s racial engineering often was ... (you have to pay to read the rest)

Dream again:

Better Homes, Better Gardens 1995 by Kerry James Marshall, exhibited in Seattle Art Show, 2018

Do you want to know who makes up M-13, how did it form, how come you've never heard of it before. The last first: anyone who thinks Trump an utter moron, think again: he or his people found this group as they made a perfect scapegoat for this SOTU and he wove into that speech 13 mentions, 15 minutes on them alone. They grew out of the death squads killing people and destroying the country of El Salvador (from which many immigrants fled at the time and try to today) by the US of A:



By the way on hospitals:  medical treatment in the US:  As I wrote, they got Muhiyyidin D'baha in the knee -- a delicate place -- and when he got to the hospital, while there died,

Me I hate hospitals. Never go there -- was dragged in my life there and in the US volunarily went the three times I let myself get pregnant. Well I was young. In the UK in 1967 when I was having a nervous breakdown all the UK young adults around me were astonished when I said it was perfectly okay in the US to sit and cry for hours, say in school infirmary, as long as you were out of sight. Why? it cost money to go hospital. Once I tried to kill myself (age 15), neither parent called a psychiatrist.  Are you kidding?

Every time I've gone I'm hit with bills even though I'm a Kaiser Patient.  After Jim died I was pursued by a debt collector for a company where I should not have had to pay that bill. Jim told me they would bill us and that was why he tried not to do the procedure or get a real paper from Kaiser that we were not responsible. Before he died, he told me to pay it. He didn't know I'd have to pay it twice before they left me alone.

Miss Drake

Latest Month

June 2018



RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow