Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thoughts on the Swift meat packing raids

I've been too swamped with finals to really have the time needed to comment on the recent ICE raids at six Swift meat processing facilities, including the one in nearby Cactus, TX. Not that I haven't noticed, of course. Thankfully, there's already plenty of fine commentary available on our government's latest Gestapo tactics, so I won't have to add too many of my own. I did want to first note something a nearby Dumas resident Fate Bennett said about the raid:
The storey [sic] regarding the raid in Cactus, TX is not completely forth-coming regarding the events that took place in the small texas town this morning. The story does not mention the fact that immigration agents were going door to door in Cactus demanding birth certificates, drivers licenses, social security cards and other identification documentation from people outside the Swift meat packing plant who were peacefully going about their daily routine in their own homes. Texas citizens were also be stopped on the roads in Cactus, and were requested to produce the documents mentioned previously. Immigration services also requested identification documents for all members in the households, children and adults, they shook down. I think that the actions not covered in any news story I have read are quite extreme, and racially motivated. If any person there were hispanic or hispanic looking, then immigration agents and other officers working in the area zeroed in on them!

I mean really, since when do people carry their birth certificates around with them. And since when could a federal agent knock on your door and request these items from you. Last time I checked, people didn't have to provide anything identifying themselves to authorities without either a warrant or probable cause. I don't see any probable cause when going door to door, and no warrants were provided to any of the people I spoke to that were in Cactus this morning.

I feel that the entire events of a something like this should be covered in the news, and not just the main focus of the what it is that authorities are trying to do. I don't know how many people were detained from their homes, and I don't know if it is within the powers that be to go into residents homes, and interrogate them in this manner, but I don't agree with it. Mabye [sic] if the immigration services and the authorities would get their rear-ends down to the borders and start patrolling them properly, then we would not have to waste our tax payer dollars on raids like this.

The state and federal agencies act like this is something that has just come up. I lived in Dumas most of my life, and I'm now in my 30's, and I know that there have been illegal immigrants in this area in large numbers for as long as I can remember. I know that the focus of these operations was to prevent identity theft, but identify theft was just another means for this government to carry out the new witch hunt for illegal immigrants. I know that the area their will take an economical hit if large numbers of illegal immigrants are deported, and it just seems like a bad way to do things. Think of the people that will be seperated [sic] from their families as well. Just doesn't seem like the right thing to do!
My emphasis added. An anonymous reader of the same Amarillo newspaper added this remark:
Now how are the little children that went home today on the bus to not find there parents at home, or better yet how about the children that couldn't get home because there parents weren't there to do so.
The effect on the kids has got to be devastating, as a quote from this Desmoines-are article cited at Man Eegee suggests:
The baby left behind has her own problems.

She has been difficult to feed since her mother was arrested, Feagan said.

“The mother was breastfeeding the baby,” Feagan said. “The baby doesn’t want to eat. Another tried to breastfeed, but she knew it wasn’t her.”

Feagan said she and advocates for local Hispanic families have tried to pinpoint exactly how many children are in family-limbo to try to organize help.

A total of 408 students were absent in the Marshalltown community school district as of Wednesday morning, district officials reported.
Other bloggers of note who have the lowdown include Nezua, XicanoPwr, Latina Lista, Duke1676 of Migra Matters, and David Neiwert.

The decimation of the Writ of Habeas Corpus that the last Congressional session foisted upon us is already having its consequences, just in time for the Holidays. Can't help but wonder if to add to the already fascist behavior exhibited by the raids themselves if those Haliburton concentration camps are now being put in to use.

One a related note: on the right sidebar you'll now notice a list of all the Senators from this last Congressional session who voted to do away with Habeas Corpus. As my friend Manuel notes, they aren't all Republicans - and to drive that point home I've put the Dems who voted to kill Habeas Corpus in boldface type.

We're number one!

United States imprisons more people than China, Russia or any other nation, experts say:
A report released by the justice department on Nov. 30 reported 1 in every 32 American adults -- or a record 7 million people -- were incarcerated, on probation or on parole at the end of 2005, with 2.2 million of them in prison or jail. The International Center for Prison Studies at King's College, London reported that this number was the highest of any country, with China ranking second with 1.5 million prisoners, and Russia sitting in third with 870,000. The United States also has the highest incarceration rate at 737 per 100,000 people, compared to nearest country Russia's 611 per 100,000 and St. Kitts and Nevis' 547.

[snip]

"The United States has 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's incarcerated population. We rank first in the world in locking up our fellow citizens," said Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports alternatives in the war on drugs. "We now imprison more people for drug law violations than all of Western Europe, with a much larger population, incarcerates for all offenses."

Ryan King, a policy analyst at The Sentencing Project, said that about 2 million of the 7 million in prison, on probation or on parole were drug offenders. He added that other countries tend to focus on treatment over incarceration, but the United States has a more punitive legal system than other countries.

"We send more people to prison, for more different offenses, for longer periods of time than anybody else," he said.

Impeachment or no impeachment?

There's a question that should have been fairly easy to answer. A nation has a president who has practically wiped his filthy ass with the Constitution he swore to defend, and can find plenty of grounds to tell the dude, "you're fired." With the Dems in power in the House and Senate for the first time in ages and wielding the power to set the agenda for the next couple years one would figure that impeachment would be part of the deal. In a functional republic perhaps. We're living in a republic in its twilight that is far from functional. Hence we have both legislators (e.g. incoming Speaker Pelosi) and pundits who would just as soon ignore calls for impeachment. Apparently, using Junior Caligula as a political albatross to hang across Republican necks next election season is of more importance. Of course any legislator from the session now ending or next year's session would be "irresponsible" to so much as suggest impeachment, and even more "irresponsible" actually tender the relevant legislation for consideration. From that vantage point, Cynthia McKinney's final act in the House this year was nothing more than a Bronx cheer aimed at her own party. From a different vantage point, McKinney was arguably the only legislator who had the gumption to consistently call for holding the White House gangsters responsible for their criminal activities but who also was arguably the only one to consistently questioned the wisdom of the weak-kneed approach to politics taken by her own party. Perhaps she was not entirely alone, but losing her voice in the legislature will no doubt be a blow to those who actually believed that the Dems would really take a stand against an Executive Branch gone wild. For those who knew better, and merely hoped that the Dems would put a couple bandaids on a patient bleeding profusely out of every orifice, perhaps there will be less room for disappointment.

Quotable

Our "neoconservatives" are neither new nor conservative, but old as Babylon and evil as Hell. – Edward Abbey
I would add that something similar could be said about our "neoliberals".

Are you glad to be in America?

You have to laugh at the media coverage of the murder of Sean Bell (and the injuring of Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield) by police. There are serious debates going on about whether fifty shots is excessive force or not. I don't recognise the concept of 'excessive force' when you've just shot an innocent man's brains out. Nevertheless, the whole matter now apparently hangs on whether the jury is willing to accept that the cops "reasonably" could have believed that the men they shot at were an immediate threat. Also, there is a miraculous theory known as "contagious shooting": this explains that fifty shots were fired because, well, one shot was fired and everyone else couldn't help but join in the fun. The police have a good sense of rhythm, you know. But then why stop at fifty? And now there's surprise - surprise, mark you - that the police's story seems to be different from that of the victims. Because the police claim, of course, that they only started blasting when the Sean Bell put his foot on the gas and tried to drive off, thus crashing into a police van. Benefield says the spur for accelerating away was the sudden appearance of an undercover cop shooting through the wind screen.
You read correctly: in our nation there are many here who would actually consider the question of whether fifty shots fired at an unarmed man is excessive to be up for debate. Of course this is the same nation where our elite pundits are willing to consider waterboarding to be something less than torture.

A Ductape Fatwa tribute (pt. 2)

Americans confused over what America is

There is a popular fallacy loose in the United States, that "America" means the guy at the convenience store counter, the family who lives next door, the people buying popcorn at the Magic Johnson Theatre, the girl who took your lunch order, your child's teacher.

America, some mistakenly believe, is apple pie and spring festivals and face painters and clowns and Hollywood spectaculars. It is not skateboard tournaments and liberty and justice for all.

Wrong.

America means mega-corporations who make large amounts of money from the blood and sweat and bones of those listed above, and millions of others all over the world, most of them living lives of worse misery than any of the above can even imagine.

America means death squads, brutal hordes of torturers and sexual predators, hopped up and let loose on half-starved populations with no defensive weapons to speak of, save what they can steal or cobble together as the tanks roll down their street.

America means marvelous new landmines who can blow children to bits from an exciting 300 meters.

America means microwave pain rays, to cook the flesh of any who would dare oppose BTK as foreign policy.

America means murdering journalists, and forcing anyone who mentions the fact to resign.

America means that if you are poor, you are fucked, and if you are not rich, you are about to be poor.

America means that your serious disease, your horrific injury, is a terrific business opportunity for rich men who want to be richer.

America means sending people to Syria to be tortured, and then criticizing human rights in Syria.

America means occupying Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and beyond, to one degree or another, funding Israeli occupation of Palestine, while decrying Syrian military presence in Lebanon.

And the list goes on.

To oppose any of this is to be anti-American. A terror apologist. With the terrorists. An obstructionist, a rejectionist, a conspiracy theorist, anti-business, socialist, a terrorist.

And to be anti-American is not pragmatic.
An antidote to the mindset of American Exceptionalism. Originally posted at his blog, Enemy of the State, on March 2, 2005.

Friday, December 15, 2006

By the numbers

When the Pentagon announces a detainee has been moved from Guantanamo, it gives his nationality but not his name, making it difficult to track the roughly 360 men released since the detention center opened in January 2002. The Pentagon says detainees have been sent to 26 countries.

But through interviews with justice and police officials, detainees and their families, and using reports from human rights groups and local media, The Associated Press was able to track 245 of those formerly held at Guantanamo. The investigation, which spanned 17 countries, found:

* Once the detainees arrived in other countries, 205 of the 245 were either freed without being charged or were cleared of charges related to their detention at Guantanamo. Forty either stand charged with crimes or continue to be detained.

* Only a tiny fraction of transferred detainees have been put on trial. The AP identified 14 trials, in which eight men were acquitted and six are awaiting verdicts. Two of the cases involving acquittals - one in Kuwait, one in Spain - initially resulted in convictions that were overturned on appeal.

* The Afghan government has freed every one of the more than 83 Afghans sent home. Lawmaker Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, the head of Afghanistan's reconciliation commission, said many were innocent and wound up at Guantanamo because of tribal or personal rivalries.

* At least 67 of 70 repatriated Pakistanis are free after spending a year in Adiala Jail. A senior Pakistani Interior Ministry official said investigators determined that most had been "sold" for bounties to U.S. forces by Afghan warlords who invented links between the men and al-Qaida. "We consider them innocent," said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

* All 29 detainees who were repatriated to Britain, Spain, Germany, Russia, Australia, Turkey, Denmark, Bahrain and the Maldives were freed, some within hours after being sent home for "continued detention."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Quotable: George Monbiot

If we were to judge the US by its penal policies, we would perceive a strange beast: a Christian society that believes in neither forgiveness nor redemption.

Monday, December 11, 2006

stuff to read

McKinney and Karpinsky: Silenced for Telling the Truth cuts to the chase. While we're at it, McKinney's still right: something is terribly wrong in America.

GNN has some news that might have gone under the radar: If You Knew. In reviewing the state of the Mumia Abu Jamal case 25 years on, the article has a quote that is sadly on-target:
Only in America could a trial judge say “I’ll help them fry the Nigger,” and be considered fair.
In the government idiocy department: meet the new bosses, not much better than the old ones. The incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee (the same guy that would like to put another 30,000 bullet-stoppers in Iraq) can't answer a simple question about Al Qaeda. Oh yeah, Rahm Emanuel apparently knew more about the Congressional Page scandal than he let on. Not cool. And one wonders why a fair subset of the US population doesn't trust either of the two parties that currently have a stranglehold on power.

Hey, did you know there were 2 million anti-government protesters in Beirut, Lebanon yesterday? If you didn't you weren't alone.

Monica Hill sez to beware the hype about sending UN troops to Darfur.

Rappers in Need

Some of y'all know I've been a fan of Boots Riley's group, The Coup, for some time. They recently were doing some touring to support their latest cd when their tour bus was demolished in an accident, destroying everything including the tools of their trade, as well as leaving the crew with injuries of various sorts. Boots explains the whole thing over at CounterPunch. If you've got a dime or two to spare, I'm sure these cats would appreciate it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Yet another reason I would never vote for Hillary in a million years

With a major story about racism and police brutality in NYC and more and more evidence that the Iraq war is FUBAR, on what matter do you suppose the Dems' 2008 nominee hopeful Hillary Clinton would focus her energies? Videogames. Yup. videogames. Of all the stupid....Let's put it this way: one of the reasons I never have and would never vote for Al Gore is because of his wife, Tipper, who made her claim to fame by spearheading efforts to censor rock lyrics. The thought of Tipper having a national platform to preach about Dead Kennedys or Tupac lyrics simply makes me ill. The thought of yet another one of these triangulating "New Democrats" having a bully pulpit for pandering to our nation's wannabe censors and busybodies is not going to sit well with me either. Well, I've never voted for a Clinton and barring some sort of major brain injury never will.

This nation faces issues that are so pressing as to make all the talk of rating cds or videogames entirely frivolous.