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Summer interlude

Friends, here are my two beloved cats, Clary (the tortoise) and Snuffy (aka Ian, all golden) photo taken by Laura yesterday before she and Izzy and two friends went to the Kennedy Center to see HamiltonThose volumes to the sides are a stack of printed Persuasions; and of course a dictionary (no room without its dictionary); they sitting in my still new sun-room just within the range of a sun-puddle

The day before izzy had gone to her fourth exhibit about Hamilton in DC: it was at the central DC Post Office at Union Station (transportation hub); as it happened there was a free concert of music, colonial and modern there that day so she stayed and enjoyed. (POTUS wants to privatize aka destroy the Post Office; anything anyone takes any joy from he wants to kill as since he knows no good emotions himself he does all he can to prevent anyone one from having any content unless he can inflict pain too.) Anthony Trollope whom I have spent years reading, writing about, teaching, devoted 37 years of his life building a non-corrupt post office in the UK .... he did say he feared his angelic mission was insufficiently appreciated.

The first magnolia on one of my trees in my new little classical (all symmetry, clarity, order, harmony) has bloomed --

a brief life I see is all any of us know ... below my beloved husband, Jim, at Glastonbury Cathedral, August 2005, photo take by Laura:

I tried to take time off from politics but discover as Orwell and Eliot (George) and Sand (George) said, all art is political

Miss Sylvia Drake
In an interview segment following a series of film revealing Trump surrounded by his appointed teams and republicans who support him unqualifiedly or at rallies, or with foreign gov't officials, telling all sorts of lies, citing some of his tweets, Judy Woodruff hosted a talk between three people who talked of what this means: an assault on common reality prevents all effective action against tyranny. He is erasing common ground.

The segment can be watched here:


You can listen to it here:


As I listened and (on the PBS site)( watched I remembered President Obama's comment at a South African memorial service for Nelson Mandela where he said you cannot negotiate with a man who when presented with a lecture says it's an elephant.

 I plucked out the transcript where Peter Wehner discussed what is happening to truth and reality in the US today:

Judy asked Peter Wehner what is different from previous administation's games with truth, mislead people, tell lies at times
and Peter Whener who worked for three previous Republican administrations:

Well, what’s different is that we don’t have a run-of-the-mill liar in the White House. We have a pathological liar.

This is a man who lies on personal matters, political matters, domestic, international. He lies morning, noon, and night. And it just is never — never-ending. So that’s one thing. We have never had a president who is so pathologically — lies so pathologically, and lies needlessly often. That’s one.

The other thing is the number of people in this country who believe in the lies, who have accepted them. This has tremendous damaging effects on the political and civic culture of the country. A self-governing nation can’t run if you can’t have a common set of facts, if you can’t agree on common realities.

What you have got is a man in the White House who is engaged in not just an assault on truth, but an effort to annihilate truth.

It’s true. It’s not just the lies. It’s that he’s trying to destroy the categories of truth and falsity.

And that’s really why he goes after the media, right, because the media has always been the institution in American life that has kept presidents accountable when it comes to what’s true and what’s not. And he knew from the outside of his presidency that he had to delegitimize the media, so he could get away with this kind of thing.

And this has an enormous seepage effect in the life of a country.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Pete Wehner, as we look back over the last year-and-a-half of the president in office, are there moments, are there statements of — where something wasn’t borne out by evidence that you think in particular stand out?

  • Peter Wehner:

    Yes, there are several. I mean, there’s so many, it’s hard to — I would say the Charlottesville event was very important, when he said that there were good people on both sides.

    I think the attacks on the Mueller investigation are extremely important, because this is an investigation trying to discern truth, and he’s trying to destroy it. The one where he said that Hillary Clinton one because three million illegal votes were cast.

    I will tell you one that might strike people as trivial, but I think, in retrospect, was extremely important, that was the original lie at the dawn of the presidency of Donald Trump. And that was the crowd size, when he insisted and sent his press secretary out to insist it was larger than Barack Obama’s.

    In one sense, people will say this is a trivial matter. What is it? Who cares?

    The reason it mattered is that this was right out of the box, not just a lie, but it was an assault on empirical, demonstrable facts. There were pictures that showed the difference.

    And that was the tell, as they say, in poker. That said that this guy was something different. He was going to go after truth in a way. And it’s been a sustained, relentless assault on truth.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Pete Wehner, finally, what does this mean for our democracy? People talk about a democracy is built on a foundation of accepted truths, reality.

    What is this doing?

  • Peter Wehner:

    It is hurting democracy. It’s weakening the foundations.

    And that’s why people have to stand up and speak out. Democracy is about persuasion, right, not coercion. And you can’t persuade people if you can’t agree on facts, you can’t even agree on common problems.

    Beyond that, when you enter this realm, it deepens polarization, it deepens the sense of political tribalism. All of the anger, all of the divisions are made worse.

    But I would say a couple of things. Viruses create their own antibodies. And the public can do something about this. You can do it in your individual lives. People can do it in social media. They can make a commitment not to put party loyalties ahead of the truth when they’re in conflict.

    They can vote against…

    I think you are starting to get a reaction. I’m sure you’re getting a reaction against it, because people understand both the disorienting effect of this — that’s one thing

    But there’s something else going on as well, which is everybody knows in your individual life you can’t live if you don’t have a common understanding of truth. And that’s true in a national life as well.

    I think Donald Trump, the effect of all of this is exhausting on the public. I think they’re embarrassed, as was said earlier. And I think they’re ashamed of what’s happening. And I think there will be in 2020 and maybe in 2018 a reaction against.

    This is not as if America has a terminal disease and nothing can be done. Individual lives matter. If one person does something, it may not, but if a lot of people act together, you can change the political and civic culture. That’s happened before, and it can happen again.

    I was prompted to try to share and (I hope) help distribute this news program when I read Trump's statement at a rally directed at the representatives of the news media there to report on the event:

    "What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what is happening." Disbelieve all tapes and visual photos and films where you see Trump behaving like a crook, liar, trying to repress all news about his criminal behavior to all sorts of people, his treasonable behavior over his income since he's been president, things he's done that under the constitution break the law and undermine the US republic, while attacking groups of people he deems his enemies, or simply don't vote for him, who his economic and social policies are intended to hurt or destroy.

    Posted by Miss Drake

Semi-permanent Detention Camps


We can no longer know how long we may be able to be in communication with one another. This morning the US supreme court has upheld Trump's Muslim ban; this together with the sustained approval rating among those who voted him in after he snatched children from their kin and put them in prisons with no intention of ever returning them, will make the man very bold indeed. There is now an issue of safety for each of us, all of us. One has to recall that there are increasing numbers of countries shutting their doors to all emigrants.

Reich reveals the names of the corporations making large profits setting up private prisons around the US. Note beyond upholding the Muslim ban on the grounds the US president has the right to protect the safety of people living inside this country (something not at all at risk from these immigrants, we are at risk far more from the spread of guns and massacres by young white men), the supreme court has upheld voter purging, racial gerrymandering, religious intolerance (though on narrow grounds) and controlling what medical care women may access publicly. What next?

This video is called Trump's Cruelty Industry, Now This:

The most important of all this important information is large groups of people in the US are now making a huge profit on these private  prisons, whose privacy makes what goes on them accountable to no one but themselves

Usually I prefer to share an essay or review you might not have seen or heard. I notice that Robert Reich's important video on the setting up of detention camps is not being repeatedly shown on face-book in the way most of Reich's videos are. I should say I believe that the repeated attacks on face-book as peculiarly pernicious or a surveillance tool over those using it are an attempt of those who want to keep people isolated from reaching this vast platform. Face-book has available to it no more than the local police in my area do; the political slant any particular individual gets mirrors his or her outlook and does not sway anyone in a direction they don't want to go. But face-book is careful not to repeat anything truly subversive more than once and it vanishes except if the person puts it on their timeline. They also have some monitoring mechanism where they prevent pornography, sexual activities they think most people would be offended by if presented in public, and videos showing police violence towards citizens.

Miss Drake

Have we crosssed another Rubicon?


The first occurred when the tape where Trump boasted of sexual predation didn't matter. There have been others since. But now I read in the NYTimes (would they lie? who took the poll &c) that 90% of Republicans are now behind Trump, more than ever since the outcry against his imprisoning immigrants of whatever stripe and snatching their children from them. There has been reporting on what these camp prisons are: death camps, no medical help,
deeply abusive. No desire at all to return these children to their kin. People applying legally for asylum in shackeles. The democrats have engineered the recent elections so centrists (who will do nothing to upset the corporate running of gov'ts or stop these outside-the-US direct slaughers) won. Maybe Trump does not need to be openly a dictator? I read today about the first years of Mussolini in power: they resembles Trump & his regime with a colluded election. Is there any reason or event that you can cite that suggests otherwise?

Is there anything he could do of which these people would not approve and move still closer to him? open fire on immigrants? he doesn't need to. Extermination camps? he's got mass incarceration and an utterly politicized deeply unjust criminal injustice system. That he and his regime are intent on purging voters, stopping people from voting is the one hope left. You cannot vote for a truly progressive candidate but you can vote for someone who would stop Trump from enacting his agenda using laws.

I see maybe I and others who think and feel like me may have been missing something, have to turn our kaleidoscope around differently. We have been seeing these mass slaughters by white men armed with frantically effective automatic guns as aberations. Maybe they are precisely what is wanted by those who put Trump in office -- the young white people in that privileged high school were ridiculed, jeered at for protesting their murder. Called communists. The pro-gun people truly don't mind the slaughters. They don't even regard it as a price. The young man who murdered 9 black people in a church was not declared insane. He said he told them he regretted it was necessary to kill them before he slaughtered them; these loyal Trump people agree it's regretful to cage children, but one must do what one must ....

The US as a gov't has a long history of doing separating non-white children from their families: a form of state terror and erasure: yes this has been and is us. In effect this morning the NYTimes shrugged.


They're coming to get the children now ...

Miss Drake

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

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