Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Putting the Fourteenth Amendment on ICE

 Slipping Into Slavery
by C.A. Matthews

We're skating on slippery ice in the USA. We're sliding down the icy slope of evil into a morass of immorality and cruelty at an unprecedented speed. Will we have the courage and compassion to pull ourselves out of the abyss? Or is it too late?

The slippery slide includes our Supreme Court, which this week wiped out the rights of workers to sue their employers, forcing arbitration upon workers that never goes their way. "Slave wages" are all the rage, as billionaires rail against Fight for $15 activists. "Right to hire" laws in reality mean the "right to fire" if your bosses decide they don't like it when you speak up against their sexual harassment or racism or ageism... No accountability means workers are slaves to the whims of capricious capitalists, as fewer and fewer workers belong to a union that would increase their power to collective bargain.
Back at the border, ICE has been exposed as a human trafficking agency extraordinaire, providing free labor and child sex slaves to consenting capitalists. (Read Coast Watcher's piece and check out the links below on this breaking story. This meme gives you the details on the worldwide horror of human trafficking, a.k.a. slavery.)
And, as many of you know, our for-profit prison system provides free/cheap labor for many multinational corporations. This explains why our militarized police continues to incarcerate people of color to satisfy their corporate bosses' desires for sweatshop profits--and perhaps to act out their own violent, racist agenda. We don't need to go to Africa to find new slaves, do we? We find them in our cities and towns driving cars down our streets or taking a college campus tour or picnicking in the park. The more you lock up--the bigger your profit margin!

To clarify the point I'm making, the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
This explains why Trump calls immigrants "animals," since he's making a case they aren't "any persons within [US] its jurisdiction" and so they are  not "entitled to equal protection of the laws."  In other words, human beings (because of their nationality) can be bought and sold like cattle and forced to work on chicken farms in Ohio with no one the wiser about whatever happened to them. "Due process of law" be damned!

After all, who cares if a cow or chicken is slaughtered for meat? Who cares if human beings are taken from the border or wrongly incarcerated and put into bondage, or working for capitalists who don't pay a living wage? Since these capitalists hold us "inferiors" in contempt and begrudge paying even a state minimum wage to American workers, why would they care about the legal rights of "free laborers" that are available via ICE and human trafficking?

And our government cooperates fully with capitalists, doesn't it? Our elected officials can't wait to give huge corporations like Amazon and Walmart tax breaks while their employees are forced to apply for Food Stamps. Our current system of government and these capitalist exploiters enjoy a very cozy relationship.

It's hard to put into words the disgust and fear one feels when reading these mainstream news articles about ICE and human trafficking. The sad thing is, many independent journalists have been following this story for years and were routinely ignored since the information they uncovered was inconvenient. Perhaps now is the time we all educate ourselves about the breadth and depth of the evil inherent in our establishment political parties and the mainstream media. 
This past week, both establishment parties voted to roll back banking regulations that would  protect us from another mortgage crisis. There's no such thing as a "lesser evil." Just evil.
For it makes no real difference who sits in the White House--Democrat or Republican--obviously. This trafficking of children didn't start yesterday. It's been going on for years, and the evil is ongoing. There's no incentive for it to stop as long as capitalists can make mega-profits off the slave labor/slave wages of the workers. There's no public outcry possible when billionaires have their cronies in the mainstream media cover things up for them. That is, until their pot of immorality boils over, and it gets too messy to mop and sweep it under the carpet. 

I  have some hope. Let's see how well the establishment parties "sweep it under the carpet" this time, shall we? I know--why don't we take their broom and mop away so they can't? (First off--let's end the Citizens United ruling once and for all.) Exposed for the hypocrites and villains they are, let's introduce these corrupt officials to the for-profit prison system and see how they like being incarcerated and forced to work for nothing, huh?

Read the following articles and contact your elected officials by phone, letter, email and in-person visits. Tell them you won't support them in the upcoming elections until they do something to end all of these inhuman, unjust, immoral, evil, racist, anti-worker activities now. Power to the people--human beings, not corporations!

Op-Ed: What kind of country would tear apart and lock up families fleeing violence in their homelands? Ours

US Placed Immigrant Children with Traffickers

Border Patrol Kicked, Punched Migrant Children, Threatened Some with Sexual Abuse, ACLU Alleges

Putting the 14th Amendment on ICE
by Coast Watcher

In late April 2018, a Senate homeland security subcommittee hearing took evidence from Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary with the Department of Health and Human Services. Wagner testified that the federal agency had effectively "lost" 1,475 children who had crossed the US-Mexico border on their own, which is to say they were unaccompanied by adults. Most of these children are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and were fleeing drug cartels, gang violence and domestic abuse.

The HHS had placed 7,635 of them with sponsors. From October to December 2017 conducted a random sampling of these children and discovered that while 6,075 still lived with their sponsors, 28 had run away, five had subsequently been deported, and 52 were living with someone else. Wagner admitted the rest were missing. The admission raises concerns these missing children could be in the hands of sex traffickers or used as unregistered laborers in the black economy.
Jim Jordan in Marion, Ohio

Consider this: If the follow-up calls were made from a random sampling, it means that the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may have taken into its custody more than 34,000 children since 2013, who have subsequently gone missing.

One example of how this can happen occurred in Ohio two years ago. The Senate subcommittee released a report detailing how HHS officials placed eight children with human traffickers who subsequently forced the minors to work on an egg farm in Marion, Ohio. Marion is the center of Ohio’s Fourth Congressional District, a hideously gerrymandered Republican fiefdom currently occupied by Tea Party leader Congressman Jim Jordan.

Department officials had failed to establish procedures to protect the children, nor did they follow up with the so-called sponsors. Following this incident, in 2016 the HHS and Department of Homeland Security signed an agreement to establish joint procedures for handling the affairs of unaccompanied minors. That agreement has not been implemented.

The procedures to be followed when unaccompanied children cross the border are these. They are usually apprehended by Border Patrol agents or turn themselves in to customs officers. Once they are processed they are given into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. The HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement has over a hundred shelters around the country where it houses children and provides care until such time as they can be turned over to a sponsor to await their immigration court hearings. These sponsors are usually family members already legally resident in the United States, and they are supposed to undergo rigorous background checks.

Thirty days after the placement, HHS officers follow up with calls to ensure that the minors continue to live with the sponsors, are enrolled in school and are aware of their immigration court dates. However, several immigration advocates who work with unaccompanied children said the department did little follow-up.

Allison E. Herre, a lawyer with Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio, said she had seen sponsors who forced the children to work instead of attending school and who failed to ensure that the children attended their court proceedings. The HHS claims it is not legally responsible for children after their release from the refugee office.

Let’s look at the relevant article of the Fourteenth Amendment:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
In other words the State must guarantee all persons equal protection of the laws, whether they are American citizens or immigrants – illegal or otherwise.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency seems to think otherwise.

They and the Department of Health and Human Services are responsible for what must be the largest violation of habeas corpus for legal minors in the history of the United States. We are seeing the slow revelation of systemic governmental violation of the law extending back years, beyond President Trump’s notorious "Zero Tolerance" policy, back through the Obama administration and beyond.

Public outcry over this horrible abuse of children is rising. Faced with this Trump recently attempted to shift the blame for the failures onto Obama’s Democratic government. To some extent he’s correct, but his own Zero Tolerance policy is not helping matters one bit. With his political base calling for a wall along the US-Mexico border and their blatant displays of racism, it’s unlikely that we’ll see any measures to recover these missing children any time soon – unless the vast majority of people stand up and demand positive action. 

Laws are only good if the will to enforce them is there. The Constitution of the United States is the statutory law of the land. Let’s all demand that Trump and his government actually observe the laws and take action to find these children.

Related articles:

The US lost track of 1500 immigrant children last year. Here's why people are outraged now

Bio: Coast Watcher watches the corrupt establishment and notes how cooperative the mainstream media is with those in power until We the People speak up and demand change.  Don't be silent! We can't afford to wait for change--we have to make it ourselves.

Workers can't even sue their employers for sexual harassment or for banning unions? This happens only in the USA it seems, a country where 408 people were killed by police last year. Lee Camp gives us the lowdown on these breaking stories in his unique comedic style.

From the Economic Policy Institute:

The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis―siding with businesses and the Trump administration over working people―deals a significant blow to workers’ fundamental right to join together to address workplace disputes.

In its decision, the Court majority has affirmed that employers may force working people to sign away their right to join together and act collectively to seek justice when disputes arise in the workplace.

Whether it’s fair pay, discrimination, or sexual harassment, workers rely on their ability to join together―whether informally or in formal litigation―to remedy violations of workplace protections. The National Labor Relations Act has long guaranteed working people the right to join together to improve their wages and working conditions. Congress must act to restore this fundamental right by banning forced arbitration agreements and class and collective action waivers.

Sign the petition demanding Congress act immediately to protect the rights of over 60 million U.S. workers who are being forced to sign away their rights to seek justice in the courts.

EPI research shows that between 1994 and today, the share of nonunion, private-sector employers who require their workers to sign forced arbitration agreements has increased from just 8 percent to 54 percent! That means that now, more than half of U.S. workers whose legal rights are violated by their employer are not able to pursue a claim in court. Further, research shows that 23.1 percent of private-sector nonunion employees, or 24.7 million American workers, no longer have the right to bring a class action claim if their employment rights have been violated. With yesterday’s ruling, that number will go even higher.  

This flies in the face of over 80 years of established law ensured by the National Labor Relations Act, which has guaranteed workers’ rights to stand together for “mutual aid and protection” when seeking to improve their wages and working conditions.

Demand immediate action by Congress to protect the rights of working people to seek justice in the court.

At a time of eroding protections for working people, EPI is fighting for the right to a safe workplace free of harassment or discrimination based on race, gender, or religion, and we’re working to strengthen laws protecting employment rights including minimum wage and the right to equal pay.

Thank you for all that you do on behalf of all working people.


Celine McNicholas
Director of Labor Law and Policy, Economic Policy Institute


It’s Time to End Predatory Prison Phone Rates

We are in the second of six weeks of action through the Poor People's Campaign – a nation-wide effort calling for voting rights protections, programs to address poverty, attention to ecological devastation and measures to curb militarism and the war economy. Each week we’re taking on different issues and this week's theme is " Linking Systemic Racism and Poverty: Voting Rights, Ending Mass Incarceration and Justice for Immigrants."

We already know that communities of color are disproportionately impacted by our system of mass incarceration. What is sometimes overlooked are the specific ways this keeps families trapped in poverty. The practice of private corporations charging families excessively high rates for the right to talk to their incarcerated loved ones is one such example.

Studies have shown that maintaining strong relationships between families and their incarcerated loved ones is critical to the process of reentry.

Thanks to sustained advocacy by many of you, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) attempted to make prison phone calls more affordable. They were subsequently sued by several of the largest prison telephone operators, including Securus and Global Tel*Link. These companies were successful in preventing most of the reforms that would have fixed this broken industry and made it easier for families to stay in touch.

That’s why Congress needs to step in. Just last month, Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois introduced the Inmate Calling Technical Corrections Act of 2018 (S.2520) which would address the need to eliminate predatory prison phone rates by restoring appropriate authority to the FCC, to regulate local rates and additional fees.

Act now. Tell Congress to stand with families and act to protect them from exploitative prison phone rates.
  Sign the petition today!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Start Sharpening Your Pitchforks

Start Sharpening Your Pitchforks
by Still Bernin'

It's been a rough week. People are dying by the dozens, and still, the status quo remains intact.  The billionaires are still safe in their mansions, making billions while their slaves (employees) sweat to death in un-airconditioned work places. 

What gives, revolutionaries?

If you think of immigrants and refugees as "animals," you're probably not too bothered about young children being separated from their parents and stuck in government warehouses such as ICE is currently doing.  You probably don't equate forcefully splitting up immigrant families with how slavery destroyed families, either. You're just grateful your job has been saved from the "rapists" amassing at our borders.

Now, why would "rapists" consist of families with young children and husbands and wives and grandparents and otherwise normal people, you might wonder. And why would children be considered a threat to our national security or your job? It's best not to think too hard on these matters or else you could start to see these "animals" as humans. Take a hint from Nazi Germany--any people you don't want in your country you label  "animals," and then you call them "a threat to all we hold dear." This kind of labeling helped the gas chamber attendants sleep at night.

If you think of teenagers as nuisances, you probably bought more stock in Smith and Wesson this past week after another young male got a hold of a rifle and went on a rampage and shot dead ten of his classmates and teachers  and wounded many others at Santa Fe High School in Texas.  

Really, what's another school shooting among friends? Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wants to shut down public schools and fund private and parochial schools to take their place. Let's just get rid of the need for public schools altogether by ridding ourselves of poor students and save the rich tax payers' money. Win-win.

If your motto is "The only good Palestinian is a dead Palestinian," then this past week you hit the jackpot. Israeli Defense Forces shot more unarmed Palestinians in cold blood in one day than they have in a good long time. They even killed an 8 month old infant. 

You know, you can't be too cautious with drooling babies, right? The noxious fumes from their diapers might just explode. It's best to shoot them or lock them up. Just ask ICE.

If the death toll this past week doesn't wake you up and inspire you to march with your pitchforks in hand and demand change now, then what in the world will?

Will an added tariff on cheap, imported cell phone batteries get you off your butt and into the streets shouting? Will the threat of possible stronger gun control laws propel you to phone and complain to your elected officials and the NRA? Will the bugging of your electronic communications by the NSA put a bee in your bonnet? Will the closing of your place of employment (since the owners have decided they'll make more money sending your job overseas) inspire you to pick up a sign and march?
If you answered yes or maybe to any of the above questions, then you're as narcissistic as the orangutan-in-charge of the mad house (a.k.a. the White House) in D.C.  Why are you reading a progressive blog? To convince others you're actually cool or that you actually care? It ain't working! Go check out Fox News--it's more your speed. Political revolution is not a spectator sport for self-centered types.

It's time for all good revolutionaries to engage their empathy and consider the suffering of their fellow human beings worldwide. The poor and dispossessed, infants and students don't deserve to die because of the greed of the military-industrial complex. Children should never be taken away from their parents because of their race or country of origin. We are the only ones who can save them and ourselves from the exploitation of the oligarchs.
But first, we need to pick up our pitchforks (metaphorical and/or real) and take some action to shake up the establishment. Now is the summer of our discontent! Get out there and demand change for the better and for all. 

Power to the people--not the corporations, not the billionaires, not the paid-off politicians, and certainly not the military-industrial complex and its handmaiden, the NRA. Stand up We the People and claim your power!

BIO:  Still Bernin' doesn't want people  resigned to the mounting death tolls in our schools, in our cities, on our borders, and caused by the military-industrial complex worldwide. Let's get off our computing devices and take action against the status quo that's killing us and our planet.

The Importance of the Average Person
by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

One thought I'm struck with today is the importance of the average person. Not the rich. Not the powerful. Not the politicians. Not those who are directors and administrators and presidents. Not the famous. Not the top, out of sight.

It's us. The struggling masses. The people who walk the pavement. We don't have title or position. We don't merit a mention, not even a footnote, but I truly believe we all matter equally.

Yes, I think structure is important, but that doesn't mean some of us are lower. We are not less than anyone else ever. Ever.

The big lie is that our words and actions don't matter unless someone important say they matter. We are brainwashed from day one not to seize our power, not to use what voice we can muster, not to believe in ourselves.

Look at what happened in Seattle. A small group of dedicated progressives joined together to challenge the richest man on the planet, and we won a victory. Now $40-50 million will go to fund affordable housing and help the homeless population. We the People did that. We can keep doing that.

I reject the narrative that says our elected leaders will save us. We will save ourselves.

BIO: Ruth is an activist in Seattle and social commentator on Facebook.

Calling all investigative reporters for help. According to the New York Times: “Dozens of Palestinians have died in protests as the U.S. prepares to open its Jerusalem Embassy.” We need to find out why these protestors mysteriously died since its clear the NY Times is clueless. -- Ajamu Baraka, international human rights activist and Green Party V.P. candidate


New York Times Glowingly Defends Israel's Crimes Against Humanity (video):

More video from the New York Times reporter who blames Palestinians for their own deaths: https://youtu.be/JjIT6GuLDU8
This fantastic short video busts open myths about socialism. Watch, learn and share with others. It's time to reach out to those brainwashed by the anti-socialist propaganda generated by the oligarchy.


Five Ways America is Already Socialist (video):
Good news, everyone!  
Kevin Zeese protests near Commissioner Ajit Pai’s home in May 2017. Photo by Anne Meador

Senate Votes to Restore Net Neutrality Rules

Washington, DC–The U.S. Senate voted 52-47 to reject an FCC rule change that would end Net Neutrality. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai led the charge last year to strip protections which require Internet Service Providers to treat all web traffic equally.

The 4-1 FCC vote last December effectively privatized the Internet by allowing Big Telecoms to charge some customers more for privileged access. Over the last several years, Internet watchdogs groups and large services such as Netflix, Amazon, Facebook and Google have enlisted the public to wage a ferocious war to preserve Net Neutrality.

The Senate exercised its power under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reinstate any regulation changed by a government agency. By passing the Senate resolution, Democrats will force the issue into the House of Representatives, where it has less favorable prospects. About 160 members of Congress, mostly Democrats, have pledged their support. The resolution requires 218 House votes to pass. The vote is scheduled for June 11.

Recently, in a bombshell revelation, documents show that giant telecom AT&T paid $600,000 to Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen for “access” to the administration on issues of interest to AT&T. Soon after, Commissioner Pai met with an AT&T executive lobbyist, leading to accusations of corruption.


Win Without War

A dozen Google employees are quitting to protest Google’s plans to help the Pentagon automate drone targeting. [1]
This is huge. The Pentagon’s drone warfare program is already notorious for killing civilians. The new Google-Pentagon plan, called Project Maven, would automate remote assassination even further by using artificial intelligence to identify human targets. What’s more, the Trump administration blatantly ignored their most recent deadline to report drone casualties. Our chances of learning the names of civilians killed by secret Google drones — or even the number — are nearly zero.
With Project Maven, Google can claim to keep their hands clean while they’re automating the business of death.
That’s why it’s such a big deal that these brave Google employees stepped up to tell another story. But they’re up against a tech giant and the powerful Pentagon. They need to know you have their back.
Add your name to stand with the Google employees who quit and demand Google pull out of Project Maven.

While only about a dozen Google employees quit, their brave actions could spark a sea change in the the tech sector’s dangerous history of partnerships with the Pentagon.
In addition to the handful of Google employees who quit, thousands more have signed a letter of protest to the company. But this is still an incredibly under-reported story. That’s where we come in.
The Google employees who quit are shining a spotlight on the under-the-table dangers of the Pentagon’s drone warfare. We can’t let this window to make change fall by the wayside. We’ve got to keep their momentum going.
Add your name to tell Google: Americans stand with the protestors, not the Pentagon. Don’t help automate death.
Thank you for working for peace,
Amy, Mariam, Sunjeev, and the team at Win Without War
[1] Gizmodo, Google Employees Resign in Protest Against Pentagon Contract
[2] Washington Post, “White House ignores executive order requiring count of civilian casualties in counterterrorism strikes”

Yesterday was the kind of day that makes my heart soar. Greenpeace USA and Mosquito Fleet activists blocked an oil barge from entering into Kinder Morgan's Seattle facility to oppose the oil company’s Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker superhighway. Here are some of the highlights:
  • Greenpeace USA and Mosquito Fleet activists stopped an oil barge from entering into Kinder Morgan’s Harbor Island facility in Seattle.
  • Two activists physically locked down at the Kinder Morgan facility with a banner reading "Protect Water. Stop Pipelines."
  • Local kayaktivists next to the facility deployed a 32 feet by 74 feet water banner that read “NOT THEN” with a Shell Oil logo, and “NOT NOW” with the Trans Mountain logo. 
Of course, the activists  in Seattle aren’t doing this alone. They’re part of a much bigger movement to stop pipelines, and they need your help. Please add your name to our petition and tell the Dirty Dozen banks not to finance pipeline projects.
To respond to the growing climate crisis — with its super-storms, floods, wildfires, and other extreme weather events — we need to be rapidly moving away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy. Massive new oil pipelines do the exact opposite.
Some banks are already backing away from tar sands, pipelines, and Energy Transfer Partners but these Dirty Dozen banks still don’t seem to understand that financing pipeline projects is risky business. If people around the world urge their banks to not fund pipelines, we can tip the balance on these toxic projects and stop these new pipelines for good.
We have to show them the power of just how many people are opposed to the construction of pipelines. Only then will they change the way they do business. Please, do your part right now and sign the Dirty Dozen petition.
For a green and peaceful future,
Dario Parra
Social Media Specialist, Greenpeace USA
P.S. Several banks, including the seventh-largest in the world, HSBC, have already announced that they will no longer finance tar sands pipeline projects. We won’t rest until they all stop funding these dangerous projects that threaten the climate, water, and Indigenous rights. That’s why it’s so important that you sign the petition now. There is strength in numbers!


USDA’s Proposed GMO Labels: Don’t Let it BE!
The long-awaited draft rules for the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods are here.
Unfortunately, they fall far short of the clear, direct labeling consumers want and will continue to keep the public in the dark unless you take action today!
You can comment on what form the labels should take (a QR code, a phone number, text on the label, or a symbol) and what that label should look like.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing a misleading rebranding of genetically engineered food by calling them BE or bioengineered and the use of symbols such as bright sunshiny smiley faces, in an attempt to convince people that genetically engineered foods are something they should want to buy.
They are also proposing to exempt “highly refined” GE products such as sugars and oils. This would mean that about 70 percent of GE products would not be labeled!
No matter what you think of genetic engineering’s use in agriculture, the USDA is supposed to be value neutral. In fact, the marketing for USDA organic cannot be overly positive for fear that may give consumers the impression it is better than conventional. The USDA should not promote genetically engineered foods.

Go to regulations.gov today and type in "National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard". Confirm the docket # AMS-TM-17-0050 and click on the blue Comment Now box. 
Tell the USDA to use words or symbols that are clear and simple that cover all GE products:
  • The symbols proposed by the USDA are not value neutral and are disparaging to non-GE products.
  • The term “bioengineered” is confusing and a departure from the term genetically engineered or genetically modified organism (GMO) understood by the public.
  • The USDA should recommend the text used to state “Produced with genetic engineering” or “Partially produced with genetic engineering” or use a neutral symbol such as the one here.
  • The USDA should label all “highly refined” GE products like cooking oil, high fructose corn syrup, and the like.
  • Say NO to confusing QR codes and text messages that would make shopping trips longer, be costlier, and discriminate against those with less resources.
We only have until July 3 to get comments in. Don’t wait, please comment today!