Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #1013 Fascism and the Politics of Immigration

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This broad­cast was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Waf­fen SS: The GOP’s idea of ide­al immi­grants.

Intro­duc­tion: In The Hitler Lega­cyPeter Lev­en­da not­ed anti-immi­grant sen­ti­ment and xeno­pho­bia as part of “The Hitler Lega­cy.”

Fear of “the oth­er” has been a sta­ple of fas­cist thought and is dom­i­nat­ing much of the polit­i­cal dis­course on both sides of the Atlantic.

In FTR #838, Lev­en­da dis­coursed on how immi­gra­tion from Europe, both Catholic  and Jew­ish,  meld­ed with oth­er events in the post-World War I peri­od to mobi­lize fas­cist sen­ti­ment and activism.

React­ing to the advent of the Sovi­et Union, abortive Marx­ist rev­o­lu­tions in Ger­many and else­where in Europe, large scale immi­gra­tion of Catholics from Ire­land and Italy and Jews from East­ern Europe, pow­er­ful ele­ments of the U.S. pow­er elite embraced fas­cism and eugen­ics ide­ol­o­gy.

With the onset of the Great Depres­sion, the poten­tial threat of Com­mu­nism was mag­ni­fied in the eyes of many pow­er­ful Amer­i­can indus­tri­al­ists, financiers and cor­po­rate lawyers. Ger­many’s suc­cess in putting down the Marx­ist rev­o­lu­tions with­in its own bor­ders, as well as the busi­ness rela­tion­ships between cor­po­rate Ger­many and its car­tel part­ners in the U.S. busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty inclined many influ­en­tial Amer­i­can reac­tionar­ies to sup­port fas­cism.

By the same token, these same ele­ments came to despise Franklin Delano Roo­sevelt and his “Jew Deal,” as it was called by his ene­mies. Amer­i­can Jews were seen as hir­ing Jew­ish immi­grants and thus deny­ing “real Amer­i­cans” jobs and eco­nom­ic well-being.

Attack­ing Roo­sevelt as a Jew and a Com­mu­nist, Amer­i­can fas­cists embraced a cog­ni­tive and rhetor­i­cal posi­tion not unlike the view of Barack Oba­ma as a “Kenyan Mus­lim,” and, con­se­quent­ly, a “trai­tor.”

Some key points in Peter’s analy­sis are explored a sec­tion of the book titled the “Ori­gins of 21st Cen­tu­ry Con­flict.” High­lights of this part of the pro­gram include:

  • Ana­lyz­ing the abortive social­ist rev­o­lu­tions that took place in Ger­many at the end of the First World War, Peter notes the role of the Freiko­rps and relat­ed insti­tu­tions in sup­press­ing those revolts. In par­tic­u­lar, a num­ber of over­lap­ping Pan-Ger­man occult orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the Thule Gesellschaft, con­tributed to the sub­stance of Ger­man reac­tion in the post-World War I peri­od.
  • In the Unit­ed States, the Bol­she­vik Rev­o­lu­tion pro­duced a spate of anti-Com­mu­nist orga­ni­za­tions that saw Marx­is­m’s advo­ca­cy of a work­ers’ rev­o­lu­tion as a fun­da­men­tal threat to the exist­ing order.
  • Marx’s Jew­ish background–in tan­dem with large Jew­ish emi­gra­tion from East­ern Europe–fed a doc­tri­naire anti-Semi­tism which fused with anti-Com­mu­nism to become a key ele­ment of fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy in the U.S. and the rest of the world.
  • The pro­gram set forth how Bol­she­vism, immi­gra­tion and anti-Semi­tism fused to become a the­o­ry of “glob­al con­spir­a­cy.”
  • We high­light the role in the for­ma­tion of this ide­ol­o­gy of Dar­win’s the­o­ries and eugen­ics, both in the U.S. and in Ger­many. (In par­tic­u­lar, we dis­cuss the impact of Irish and Ital­ian Catholic immi­gra­tion as well as Jew­ish immi­gra­tion on the con­scious­ness of ele­ments of the Amer­i­can pow­er elite.) We also detail how Nation­al Social­ists came to view their role in shap­ing the evo­lu­tion of homo sapi­ens.
  • The Depres­sion and FDR’s New Deal and their effects on many of those same ele­ments of the Pow­er Elite.
  • Hate-mon­ger­ing that labeled FDR as a “Jew” and a “Communist”–similar to anti-Oba­ma rhetoric por­tray­ing him as a Mus­lim and a trai­tor.
  • Atavism–the long­ing for a “sim­pler time” and its man­i­fes­ta­tions both in the 1930’s and present­ly.

In FTR #864, record­ed in Sep­tem­ber of 2015, Peter updat­ed the con­text of our dis­cus­sion from March of that year in the con­text of Don­ald Trump’s lead in the GOP pri­ma­ry strug­gle and the reac­tion sweep­ing Europe.

Immi­gra­tion dom­i­nat­ed the news that fall and has con­tin­ued to do so. The flood of refugees from the wars in the Mid­dle East threat­ened to over­whelm Euro­pean infra­struc­ture and the phe­nom­e­non dom­i­nat­ed the polit­i­cal debate in the GOP pri­ma­ry elec­tion cam­paign. Don­ald Trump cap­i­tal­ized on anti-immi­grant xeno­pho­bia dur­ing the pri­ma­ry and then the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

Of course, he con­tin­ues to do so today.

In The Hitler Lega­cyPeter not­ed anti-immi­grant sen­ti­ment and xeno­pho­bia as part of “The Hitler Lega­cy.”

Fear of “the oth­er” has been a sta­ple of fas­cist thought and has dom­i­nat­ed much of the polit­i­cal dis­course on both sides of the Atlantic.

“. . . Xeno­pho­bia is at an all-time high in Europe and increas­ing­ly in Amer­i­ca. The Inter­net has pro­vid­ed new and improved means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. . . .

As the polit­i­cal life of every coun­try becomes more and more polar­ized between “right” and “left,” the men of ODESSA can only laugh at our dis­com­fort. . . .”

Next, we turn to a more recent devel­op­ment.

Mela­nia Trump gar­nered con­sid­er­able media atten­tion when she vis­it­ed a deten­tion cen­ter for immi­grants, includ­ing chil­dren, wear­ing a jack­et that said “I Real­ly Don’t Care. Do U?”

Taste­less on its sur­face, the state­ment assumes added sig­nif­i­cance when we fac­tor in the fact that  “I don’t care” (“Me Ne Frego” in Ital­ian) was an impor­tant fas­cist slo­gan.

Fur­ther­more, the Zara com­pa­ny that made Mela­ni­a’s jack­et has a his­to­ry of mar­ket­ing gar­ments with fascist/racist over­tones. It mar­ket­ed a shirt that mim­ic­ked a con­cen­tra­tion camp inmate’s garb and a swasti­ka-enlaid hand­bag. It also mar­ket­ed a Pepe The Frog skirt.

Recent com­ments by Trump dis­parag­ing Haiti as a “shit­hole” coun­try and pin­ing for immi­gra­tion from Nor­way instead war­rant a fresh look at the Cru­sade For Free­dom.

Dur­ing Trump’s brief tenure as Pres­i­dent, the media have con­sis­tent­ly lament­ed his actions as idio­syn­crasies. Trump’s poli­cies are not his alone, but fol­low in a lin­ear path, along which the GOP has trav­eled for decades.

In this post, we review the Cru­sade For Freedom–the covert oper­a­tion that brought Third Reich alum­ni into the coun­try and also sup­port­ed their guer­ril­la war­fare in East­ern Europe, con­duct­ed up until the ear­ly 1950’s. Con­ceived by Allen Dulles, over­seen by Richard Nixon, pub­licly rep­re­sent­ed by Ronald Rea­gan and real­ized in con­sid­er­able mea­sure by William Casey, the CFF ulti­mate­ly evolved into a Nazi wing of the GOP.

“. . . . Vice Pres­i­dent Nixon’s secret polit­i­cal war of Nazis against Jews in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics was nev­er inves­ti­gat­ed at the time. The for­eign lan­guage-speak­ing Croa­t­ians and oth­er Fas­cist émi­gré groups had a ready-made net­work for con­tact­ing and mobi­liz­ing the East­ern Euro­pean eth­nic bloc. There is a very high cor­re­la­tion between CIA domes­tic sub­si­dies to Fas­cist ‘free­dom fight­ers’ dur­ing the 1950’s and the lead­er­ship of the Repub­li­can Party’s eth­nic cam­paign groups. The motive for the under-the-table financ­ing was clear: Nixon used Nazis to off­set the Jew­ish vote for the Democ­rats. . . .

. . . . In 1952, Nixon had formed an Eth­nic Divi­sion with­in the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee. Dis­placed fas­cists, hop­ing to be returned to pow­er by an Eisen­how­er-Nixon ‘lib­er­a­tion’ pol­i­cy signed on with the com­mit­tee. In 1953, when Repub­li­cans were in office, the immi­gra­tion laws were changed to admit Nazis, even mem­bers of the SS. They flood­ed into the coun­try. Nixon him­self over­saw the new immi­gra­tion pro­gram. . . .”

1. In FTR #838, Peter Lev­en­da dis­coursed on how immi­gra­tion from Europe, both Catholic  and Jew­ish,  meld­ed with oth­er events in the post-World War I peri­od to mobi­lize fas­cist sen­ti­ment and activism.

React­ing to the advent of the Sovi­et Union, abortive Marx­ist rev­o­lu­tions in Ger­many and else­where in Europe, large scale immi­gra­tion of Catholics from Ire­land and Italy and Jews from East­ern Europe, pow­er­ful ele­ments of the U.S. pow­er elite embraced fas­cism and eugen­ics ide­ol­o­gy.

With the onset of the Great Depres­sion, the poten­tial threat of Com­mu­nism was mag­ni­fied in the eyes of many pow­er­ful Amer­i­can indus­tri­al­ists, financiers and cor­po­rate lawyers. Ger­many’s suc­cess in putting down the Marx­ist rev­o­lu­tions with­in its own bor­ders, as well as the busi­ness rela­tion­ships between cor­po­rate Ger­many and its car­tel part­ners in the U.S. busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty inclined many influ­en­tial Amer­i­can reac­tionar­ies to sup­port fas­cism.

By the same token, these same ele­ments came to despise Franklin Delano Roo­sevelt and his “Jew Deal,” as it was called by his ene­mies. Amer­i­can Jews were seen as hir­ing Jew­ish immi­grants and thus deny­ing “real Amer­i­cans” jobs and eco­nom­ic well-being.

Attack­ing Roo­sevelt as a Jew and a Com­mu­nist, Amer­i­can fas­cists embraced a cog­ni­tive and rhetor­i­cal posi­tion not unlike the view of Barack Oba­ma as a “Kenyan Mus­lim,” and, con­se­quent­ly, a “trai­tor.”

Some key points in Peter’s analy­sis are explored a sec­tion of the book titled the “Ori­gins of 21st Cen­tu­ry Con­flict.” High­lights of this part of the pro­gram include:

  • Ana­lyz­ing the abortive social­ist rev­o­lu­tions that took place in Ger­many at the end of the First World War, Peter notes the role of the Freiko­rps and relat­ed insti­tu­tions in sup­press­ing those revolts. In par­tic­u­lar, a num­ber of over­lap­ping Pan-Ger­man occult orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the Thule Gesellschaft, con­tributed to the sub­stance of Ger­man reac­tion in the post-World War I peri­od.
  • In the Unit­ed States, the Bol­she­vik Rev­o­lu­tion pro­duced a spate of anti-Com­mu­nist orga­ni­za­tions that saw Marx­is­m’s advo­ca­cy of a work­ers’ rev­o­lu­tion as a fun­da­men­tal threat to the exist­ing order.
  • Marx’s Jew­ish background–in tan­dem with large Jew­ish emi­gra­tion from East­ern Europe–fed a doc­tri­naire anti-Semi­tism which fused with anti-Com­mu­nism to become a key ele­ment of fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy in the U.S. and the rest of the world.
  • The pro­gram set forth how Bol­she­vism, immi­gra­tion and anti-Semi­tism fused to become a the­o­ry of “glob­al con­spir­a­cy.”
  • We high­light the role in the for­ma­tion of this ide­ol­o­gy of Dar­win’s the­o­ries and eugen­ics, both in the U.S. and in Ger­many. (In par­tic­u­lar, we dis­cuss the impact of Irish and Ital­ian Catholic immi­gra­tion as well as Jew­ish immi­gra­tion on the con­scious­ness of ele­ments of the Amer­i­can pow­er elite.) We also detail how Nation­al Social­ists came to view their role in shap­ing the evo­lu­tion of homo sapi­ens.
  • The Depres­sion and FDR’s New Deal and their effects on many of those same ele­ments of the Pow­er Elite.
  • Hate-mon­ger­ing that labeled FDR as a “Jew” and a “Communist”–similar to anti-Oba­ma rhetoric por­tray­ing him as a Mus­lim and a trai­tor.
  • Atavism–the long­ing for a “sim­pler time” and its man­i­fes­ta­tions both in the 1930’s and present­ly.

2. In FTR #864, record­ed in Sep­tem­ber of 2015, Peter updat­ed the con­text of our dis­cus­sion from March of that year in the con­text of Don­ald Trump’s lead in the GOP pri­ma­ry strug­gle and the reac­tion sweep­ing Europe.

Immi­gra­tion dom­i­nat­ed the news that fall and has con­tin­ued to do so. The flood of refugees from the wars in the Mid­dle East threat­ened to over­whelm Euro­pean infra­struc­ture and the phe­nom­e­non dom­i­nat­ed the polit­i­cal debate in the GOP pri­ma­ry elec­tion cam­paign. Don­ald Trump cap­i­tal­ized on anti-immi­grant xeno­pho­bia dur­ing the pri­ma­ry and then the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

Of course, he con­tin­ues to do so today.

In The Hitler Lega­cyPeter not­ed anti-immi­grant sen­ti­ment and xeno­pho­bia as part of “The Hitler Lega­cy.”

Fear of “the oth­er” has been a sta­ple of fas­cist thought and has dom­i­nat­ed much of the polit­i­cal dis­course on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Hitler Lega­cy by Peter Lev­en­da; IBIS Press [HC]; Copy­right 2014 by Peter Lev­en­da; ISBN 978–0‑89254–210‑9; p. 315.

. . . Xeno­pho­bia is at an all-time high in Europe and increas­ing­ly in Amer­i­ca. The Inter­net has pro­vid­ed new and improved means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. . . .

As the polit­i­cal life of every coun­try becomes more and more polar­ized between “right” and “left,” the men of ODESSA can only laugh at our dis­com­fort. . . .

3. Mela­nia Trump gar­nered con­sid­er­able media atten­tion when she vis­it­ed a deten­tion cen­ter for immi­grants, includ­ing chil­dren, wear­ing a jack­et that said “I Real­ly Don’t Care. Do U?”

Taste­less on its sur­face, the state­ment assumes added sig­nif­i­cance when we fac­tor in the fact that  “I don’t care” (“Me Ne Frego” in Ital­ian) was an impor­tant fas­cist slo­gan.

Fur­ther­more, the Zara com­pa­ny that made Mela­ni­a’s jack­et has a his­to­ry of mar­ket­ing gar­ments with fascist/racist over­tones. It mar­ket­ed a shirt that mim­ic­ked a con­cen­tra­tion camp inmate’s garb and a swasti­ka-enlaid hand­bag. It also mar­ket­ed a Pepe The Frog skirt.

“A Brief (Fas­cist) His­to­ry of ‘I Don’t Care’” by Gio­van­ni Tiso; Over­land; 06/22/2018

This arti­cle was sparked by the jack­et that Mela­nia Trump wore as she trav­elled to a deten­tion camp for migrant chil­dren, but my intent isn’t to argue that she or her staff chose that jack­et in order to send a cod­ed mes­sage to the president’s far-right fol­low­ers. It is, rather, to high­light some of the his­tor­i­cal echoes of that phrase – ‘I don’t care’.

The echoes of which some­one ought to have been aware, espe­cial­ly in an admin­is­tra­tion that includes – to put it mild­ly – sev­er­al far-right sym­pa­thiz­ers. And also to show that the atti­tude, the the­atri­cal ‘not car­ing’, was an explic­it char­ac­ter trait of Fas­cism. . . . 

. . . . Fas­cism lay its roots in the cam­paign for Italy’s late entry in the First World War, of which Mus­soli­ni was one of the lead­ers. It was at this time that the phrase ‘me ne frego’ – which at the time was still con­sid­ered quite vul­gar, along the lines of the Eng­lish ‘I don’t give a fu ck’ – was sung by mem­bers of the spe­cial force known as ardi­ti (lit­er­al­ly: ‘the dar­ing ones’) who vol­un­teered for the front, to sig­ni­fy that they didn’t care if they should lose their lives.

The ardi­ti were dis­band­ed after the war, but many of them vol­un­teered in 1919 for an expe­di­tion led by the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio to cap­ture the city of Fiume (Rije­ka, in present-day Croa­t­ia) and claim it for Italy dur­ing the vac­u­um cre­at­ed by the dis­so­lu­tion of the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­i­an empire. At the time of this occu­pa­tion, for­mer ardi­ti also formed the back­bone of the orig­i­nal Black Squads dur­ing the ter­ror cam­paigns that began in 1919 and cul­mi­nat­ed with the ‘March on Rome’ of 1922, which com­plet­ed Fascism’s swift rise to pow­er.

This lapel pin worn by an orig­i­nal mem­ber of the Black Shirts was recent­ly sold on a web­site devot­ed to mil­i­tary mem­o­ra­bil­ia. It is embla­zoned with the words ‘Me ne frego’ under­neath the orig­i­nal sym­bol of the ardi­ti and the acronym FERT (which stands for the mot­to of the Roy­al Fam­i­ly). The sell­er calls it ‘bel­lis­si­mo’.
[see image of “me ne frego” pin worn by the Black Shirts]

‘Me ne frego’ was the title of one of the most famous songs of the Fas­cist era.Its orig­i­nal ver­sion, dat­ing around 1920, hails D’Annunzio and Mus­soli­ni as the fathers of the fas­cist move­ment, recy­cling the old war song of the ardi­ti as the third stan­za.

Me ne frego I don’t care

me ne frego I don’t care

me ne frego è il nos­tro mot­to, I don’t care is our mot­to

me ne frego di morire I don’t care if I should die

per la san­ta lib­ertà! … For our sacred free­dom! …

Lat­er ver­sions removed men­tions of D’Annunzio, who fad­ed fair­ly quick­ly into the back­ground. In the mean­time, Mus­soli­ni made the slo­gan his own, and explic­it­ly ele­vat­ed it to the phi­los­o­phy of the regime.
[See image of Ben­i­to Mus­soli­ni “me ne frego” quote]

The mean­ing of ‘Me ne frego’

The proud Black-Shirt mot­to ‘I don’t care’ writ­ten on the ban­dages that cov­er a wound isn’t just an act of sto­ic phi­los­o­phy or the sum­ma­ry of a polit­i­cal doc­trine. It’s an edu­ca­tion to fight­ing, and the accep­tance of the risks it implies. It’s a new Ital­ian lifestyle. This is how the Fas­cist wel­comes and loves life, while reject­ing and regard­ing sui­cide as an act of cow­ardice; this is how the Fas­cist under­stands life as duty, exal­ta­tion, con­quest. A life that must be lived high­ly and ful­ly, both for one­self but espe­cial­ly for oth­ers, near and far, present and future.

The con­no­ta­tions of altru­ism at the end of the quote are in direct con­trast with the mean­ing tak­en on by the word mene­freghis­mo(lit­er­al­ly, ‘Idont­careism’), which ever since the regime has meant in com­mon par­lance a kind of detached self-reliance, or moral autoc­ra­cy. Just as Italy broke with its for­mer allies and chart­ed a stub­born path towards the ruin and dev­as­ta­tion of the Sec­ond World War, so too the Fas­cist cit­i­zen was encour­aged to reject the judge­ment of oth­ers and look straight aheadIt should be remem­bered in this regard that the regime treat­ed igno­rance and pro­cliv­i­ty to vio­lence as desir­able qual­i­ties to be reward­ed with posi­tions of influ­ence and pow­er. This required a swift redraw­ing of the old social norms, and of the lan­guage used to sig­ni­fy the moral worth of indi­vid­u­als. ‘Me ne frego’ was the per­fect slo­gan for the peo­ple in charge of over­see­ing such a pro­gram.

Four years ago, speak­ing at a First World War com­mem­o­ra­tion in the small town of Redipuglia, Pope Fran­cis linked ‘me ne frego’ not only with the car­nage of that con­flict, but also with the hor­rors of Fas­cism, recog­nis­ing its ide­o­log­i­cal and pro­pa­gan­da val­ue for Mussolini’s project. This is the form in which the slo­gan has sur­vived until the present day, as a lin­guis­tic sig­ni­fi­er not of gener­ic indif­fer­ence, but of ide­o­log­i­cal nos­tal­gia. And because the attempts in Italy and beyond to stem the spread of such sig­ni­fiers have been com­pre­hen­sive­ly aban­doned, we read­i­ly find those words appear­ing not just on seem­ing­ly ubiq­ui­tous Fas­cist-era mem­o­ra­bil­ia but also on posters,
[see image of poster]
t‑shirts,
[see image of t‑shirt]
or this line of stick­ers that can be pur­chased for $.193 from Red­bub­ble (mot­to ‘awe­some prod­ucts designed by inde­pen­dent artists’), where it was uploaded by user ‘fash­di­vi­sion’.
[see image of stick­ers]
The inter­na­tion­al neo­fas­cist move­ment is of course well aware of this lin­eage. By way of exam­ple, if you search for it online you’ll find a long-run­ning Eng­lish-lan­guage pod­cast called Me ne frego which recy­cles this imagery in sup­port of argu­ments against immi­gra­tion and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, or to opine on the sub­ject of ‘the Jew­ish ques­tion’.
 I don’t doubt that peo­ple close both to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and this world are sim­i­lar­ly cog­nisant of the uses to which those three words have been put. But even for those who aren’t, claims to indif­fer­ence have a his­to­ry which we mustn’t allow our­selves to for­get.

4.  The Zara com­pa­ny that made Mela­ni­a’s jack­et has a his­to­ry of mar­ket­ing gar­ments with fascist/racist over­tones. It mar­ket­ed a shirt that mim­ic­ked a con­cen­tra­tion camp inmate’s garb and a swasti­ka-enlaid hand­bag.

“Zara Removes Striped Pyja­mas with Yel­low Star Fol­low­ing Online Out­rage” by Ele­na Cresci; The Guardian; 08/27/2014

High street retail­er Zara has pulled a striped shirt fea­tur­ing a yel­low star on the front on Wednes­day after social media users likened it to the uni­form worn by Jew­ish pris­on­ers in con­cen­tra­tion camps dur­ing the sec­ond world war.

The striped “sher­iff” T‑shirt, aimed at chil­dren aged three months to three years, drew crit­i­cism for a design which fea­tured white and blue stripes and a six-point­ed yel­low star on the front. The star itself had the word “sher­iff” writ­ten across it, which was not com­plete­ly clear in the zoomed-out images on the Span­ish chain’s web­site.

But from first glance, many peo­ple felt the shirt bore too close a resem­blance to the striped uni­form and yel­low star Jew­ish pris­on­ers were forced to wear dur­ing the Holo­caust.

The shirt was avail­able via Zara’s UK home­page as well as in a num­ber of its inter­na­tion­al out­lets, includ­ing Israel, France, Den­mark, Alba­nia and Swe­den. Israeli jour­nal­ist Dimi Rei­der was among the first to notice the resem­blance.

Writ­ing on 972mag.com, he said: “It’s a SHERIFF shirt for your three-year-old. Obvi­ous­ly. What else could it be?

“Why, what else does it remind you of?”

The retail­er has since apol­o­gised, in sev­er­al lan­guages on its Twit­ter feed, and con­firmed the shirt is no longer on sale.

A spokesper­son for Zara’s par­ent com­pa­ny Indi­tex said: “The item in ques­tion has now been removed from all Zara stores and Zara.com.

“The gar­ment was inspired by the clas­sic West­ern films, but we now recog­nise that the design could be seen as insen­si­tive and apol­o­gise sin­cere­ly for any offence caused to our cus­tomers.”

This is not the first time Zara has made an unfor­tu­nate design choice. In 2007, the retail­er with­drew a hand­bag from its sto­ries after one cus­tomer point­ed out the design fea­tured swastikas.

5.  Zara’s fas­cist fash­ion sense just keeps bub­bling up. It turns out Zara made a skirt in 2017 with what appear to be ‘Pepe the Frog’ faces

“Zara Los­es Its Skirt Over Pepe the Frog” by Vanes­sa Fried­man; The New York Times; 04/19/2017

Dig­i­tal activists have claimed anoth­er head. Or, rather, skirt.

On Tues­day, Zara, the Span­ish chain owned by Indi­tex that has more than 2,100 stores in 88 coun­tries around the world and was rat­ed No. 53 on the Forbes 2016 list of the world’s most valu­able brands, qui­et­ly with­drew a dis­tressed den­im miniskirt print­ed with a car­toon face from its web­sites and stores in the Unit­ed States and Britain after it became a sub­ject of social media con­tro­ver­sy for the graphic’s resem­blance to Pepe the Frog.

You know, the green amphib­ian that was orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed as a “peace­ful frog-dude,” accord­ing to Matt Furie, the man who cre­at­ed him, but that was co-opt­ed by anti-Jew­ish and big­ot­ed groups and des­ig­nat­ed an alt-right hate sym­bol by the Anti-Defama­tion League last Sep­tem­ber.

The skirt had been on sale as part of Zara’s lim­it­ed-edi­tion “oil on den­im” offer­ing of spring-fling artist part­ner­ships.

Twit­ter got on it pret­ty fast. “Zara is real­ly out there try­ing to sell a P*pe the frog skirt, appar­ent­ly unaware (?) of its cur­rent impli­ca­tions,” @meaganrosae wrote. Added @ccarella, “Hmm Pepe on a Zara skirt.”

There is a lot of “how did this hap­pen?” and “how delud­ed could they be?” going around the cyber­sphere, but the answer may come down to a blunt col­li­sion of glob­al­ism and cul­tur­al igno­rance.

A spokes­woman for Zara said: “The skirt is part of the lim­it­ed Oil-on-Den­im col­lec­tion, which was cre­at­ed through col­lab­o­ra­tions with artists and is only avail­able in select­ed mar­kets. The design­er of the skirt is Mario de San­ti­a­go, known online as Yimeis­great. There is absolute­ly no link to the sug­gest­ed theme.”

Mr. de San­ti­a­go is a Span­ish artist based in Lon­don whose biog­ra­phy on his offi­cial web page states, “I like to explore social inter­ac­tions and gath­er them into quirky and colour­ful sto­ry­telling com­po­si­tions.” Accord­ing to Zara, he said the frog face “came from a wall paint­ing I drew with friends four years ago.” It is not hard to imag­ine he was unaware a sim­i­lar frog face had been used for a some­what dif­fer­ent pur­pose in the Unit­ed States.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly for Zara, how­ev­er, the brand has a his­to­ry with pub­lic pres­sure over a prod­uct with poten­tial­ly offen­sive impli­ca­tions — espe­cial­ly anti-Semit­ic impli­ca­tions — which may have exac­er­bat­ed the reac­tion. In 2014, it apol­o­gized for offer­ing, and then with­drew, a set of children’s striped paja­mas with a yel­low star on the breast that was wide­ly seen as resem­bling a con­cen­tra­tion camp uni­form (the star was sup­posed to be a sheriff’s badge). In 2007, it with­drew a hand­bag print­ed with folk­loric designs, one of which hap­pened to look a lot like a swasti­ka.

All of this may add up to some­thing of a teach­able moment for the fast-fash­ion mod­el. Because the busi­ness is based on the con­stant turnover of new prod­ucts that are effec­tive­ly “test­ed” on the shop floor, so that com­pa­nies can respond quick­ly to what sells and drop less pop­u­lar items with­out much cost, it involves a high­er than usu­al amount of churn. This may mean designs are sub­ject to less strin­gent vet­ting than they might be in, say, a tra­di­tion­al fash­ion brand in which prod­ucts are cre­at­ed and assessed more than six months ahead of pro­duc­tion.

Add to that the recent com­mer­cial­iza­tion of the sum­mer fes­ti­val cir­cuit, in which cor­po­rate giants are lever­ag­ing the fash­ion appeal of sar­to­r­i­al rebel­lion (always a dan­ger­ous game, since it co-opts sym­bols with­out real­ly under­stand­ing their use), and the pit­falls were poten­tial­ly pret­ty big. Just think for a minute of the absur­di­ty implic­it in choos­ing a hate sym­bol to stick on a gar­ment seem­ing­ly meant for a sum­mer-of-love/­danc­ing-in-the-mud­dy-fields-type event. Oops.

Giv­en the increas­ing role of the inter­net in polic­ing brands and com­pa­nies, it was prob­a­bly only a mat­ter of time before a com­pa­ny attempt­ing to make hay while the music played made a mis­take instead.

Con­sid­er it a cau­tion­ary tale.

6. Although we have dis­cussed it fre­quent­ly over the decades, recent com­ments by Trump dis­parag­ing Haiti as a “shit­hole” coun­try and pin­ing for immi­gra­tion from Nor­way instead war­rant a fresh look at the Cru­sade For Free­dom.

Dur­ing Trump’s brief tenure as Pres­i­dent, the media have con­sis­tent­ly lament­ed his actions as idio­syn­crasies. Trump’s poli­cies are not his alone, but fol­low in a lin­ear path, along which the GOP has trav­eled for decades.

In this post, we review the Cru­sade For Freedom–the covert oper­a­tion that brought Third Reich alum­ni into the coun­try and also sup­port­ed their guer­ril­la war­fare in East­ern Europe, con­duct­ed up until the ear­ly 1950’s. Con­ceived by Allen Dulles, over­seen by Richard Nixon, pub­licly rep­re­sent­ed by Ronald Rea­gan and real­ized in con­sid­er­able mea­sure by William Casey, the CFF ulti­mate­ly evolved into a Nazi wing of the GOP.

“. . . . Vice Pres­i­dent Nixon’s secret polit­i­cal war of Nazis against Jews in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics was nev­er inves­ti­gat­ed at the time. The for­eign lan­guage-speak­ing Croa­t­ians and oth­er Fas­cist émi­gré groups had a ready-made net­work for con­tact­ing and mobi­liz­ing the East­ern Euro­pean eth­nic bloc. There is a very high cor­re­la­tion between CIA domes­tic sub­si­dies to Fas­cist ‘free­dom fight­ers’ dur­ing the 1950’s and the lead­er­ship of the Repub­li­can Party’s eth­nic cam­paign groups. The motive for the under-the-table financ­ing was clear: Nixon used Nazis to off­set the Jew­ish vote for the Democ­rats. . . .

The elder George Bush installed the GOP eth­nic out­reach orga­ni­za­tion as a per­ma­nent part of the GOP:

“. . . . . . . . . It was Bush who ful­filled Nixon’s promise to make the ‘eth­nic emi­gres’ a per­ma­nent part of Repub­li­can pol­i­tics. In 1972, Nixon’s State Depart­ment spokesman con­firmed to his Aus­tralian coun­ter­part that the eth­nic groups were very use­ful to get out the vote in sev­er­al key states. Bush’s tenure as head of the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee exact­ly coin­cid­ed with Las­z­lo Pasztor’s 1972 dri­ve to trans­form the Her­itage Groups Coun­cil into the party’s offi­cial eth­nic arm. The groups Pasz­tor chose as Bush’s cam­paign allies were the émi­gré Fas­cists whom Dulles had brought to the Unit­ed States. . . . ”

6a.    The Secret War Against the Jews by John Lof­tus and Mark Aarons; Copy­right 1994 by Mark Aarons; St. Martin’s Press; [HC] ISBN 0–312-11057‑X; pp. 122–123.

. . . . Frus­tra­tion over Truman’s 1948 elec­tion vic­to­ry over Dewey (which they blamed on the “Jew­ish vote”) impelled Dulles and his pro­tégé Richard Nixon to work toward the real­iza­tion of the fas­cist free­dom fight­er pres­ence in the Repub­li­can Party’s eth­nic out­reach orga­ni­za­tion. As a young con­gress­man, Nixon had been Allen Dulles’s con­fi­dant. They both blamed Gov­er­nor Dewey’s razor-thin loss to Tru­man in the 1948 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion on the Jew­ish vote. When he became Eisenhower’s vice pres­i­dent in 1952, Nixon was deter­mined to build his own eth­nic base. . . .

. . . . Vice Pres­i­dent Nixon’s secret polit­i­cal war of Nazis against Jews in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics was nev­er inves­ti­gat­ed at the time. The for­eign lan­guage-speak­ing Croa­t­ians and oth­er Fas­cist émi­gré groups had a ready-made net­work for con­tact­ing and mobi­liz­ing the East­ern Euro­pean eth­nic bloc. There is a very high cor­re­la­tion between CIA domes­tic sub­si­dies to Fas­cist ‘free­dom fight­ers’ dur­ing the 1950’s and the lead­er­ship of the Repub­li­can Party’s eth­nic cam­paign groups. The motive for the under-the-table financ­ing was clear: Nixon used Nazis to off­set the Jew­ish vote for the Democ­rats. . . .

. . . . In 1952, Nixon had formed an Eth­nic Divi­sion with­in the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee. Dis­placed fas­cists, hop­ing to be returned to pow­er by an Eisen­how­er-Nixon ‘lib­er­a­tion’ pol­i­cy signed on with the com­mit­tee. In 1953, when Repub­li­cans were in office, the immi­gra­tion laws were changed to admit Nazis, even mem­bers of the SS. They flood­ed into the coun­try. Nixon him­self over­saw the new immi­gra­tion pro­gram. AsVice Pres­i­dent, he even received East­ern Euro­pean Fas­cists in the White House. . . .

6b. More about the com­po­si­tion of the cast of the CFF: Note that the ascen­sion of the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion was essen­tial­ly the ascen­sion of the Naz­i­fied GOP, embod­ied in the CFF milieu. Rea­gan (spokesman for CFF) was Pres­i­dent; George H.W. Bush (for whom CIA head­quar­ters is named) was the Vice Pres­i­dent; William Casey (who han­dled the State Depart­ment machi­na­tions to bring these peo­ple into the Unit­ed States) was Rea­gan’s cam­paign man­ag­er and lat­er his CIA direc­tor.

The Secret War Against the Jews by John Lof­tus and Mark Aarons; Copy­right 1994 by Mark Aarons; St. Martin’s Press; [HC] ISBN 0–312-11057‑X; p. 605.

. . . . As a young movie actor in the ear­ly 1950s, Rea­gan was employed as the pub­lic spokesper­son for an OPC front named the ‘Cru­sade for Free­dom.’ Rea­gan may not have known it, but 99 per­cent for the Crusade’s funds came from clan­des­tine accounts, which were then laun­dered through the Cru­sade to var­i­ous orga­ni­za­tions such as Radio Lib­er­ty, which employed Dulles’s Fas­cists. Bill Casey, who lat­er became CIA direc­tor under Ronald Rea­gan, also worked in Ger­many after World War II on Dulles’ Nazi ‘free­dom fight­ers’ pro­gram. When he returned to New York, Casey head­ed up anoth­er OPC front, the Inter­na­tion­al Res­cue Com­mit­tee, which spon­sored the immi­gra­tion of these Fas­cists to the Unit­ed States. Casey’s com­mit­tee replaced the Inter­na­tion­al Red Cross as the spon­sor for Dulles’s recruits. Con­fi­den­tial inter­views, for­mer mem­bers, OPC; for­mer mem­bers, British for­eign and Com­mon­wealth Office. . . .

6c. While serv­ing as chair­man of the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee, the elder George Bush shep­herd­ed the Nazi émi­gré com­mu­ni­ty into posi­tion as a per­ma­nent branch of the Repub­li­can Par­ty.

The Secret War Against the Jews by John Lof­tus and Mark Aarons; Copy­right 1994 by Mark Aarons; St. Martin’s Press; [HC] ISBN 0–312-11057‑X; pp. 369–370.

 . . . . . It was Bush who ful­filled Nixon’s promise to make the ‘eth­nic emi­gres’ a per­ma­nent part of Repub­li­can pol­i­tics. In 1972, Nixon’s State Depart­ment spokesman con­firmed to his Aus­tralian coun­ter­part that the eth­nic groups were very use­ful to get out the vote in sev­er­al key states. Bush’s tenure as head of the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee exact­ly coin­cid­ed with Las­z­lo Pasztor’s 1972 dri­ve to trans­form the Her­itage Groups Coun­cil into the party’s offi­cial eth­nic arm. The groups Pasz­tor chose as Bush’s cam­paign allies were the émi­gré Fas­cists whom Dulles had brought to the Unit­ed States. . . . 

Discussion

17 comments for “FTR #1013 Fascism and the Politics of Immigration”

  1. Here’s an arti­cle that points towards anoth­er refugee cri­sis that Pres­i­dent Trump is appar­ent­ly very keen on exac­er­bat­ing: the Venezue­lan refugee cri­sis that’s going to explode of the US invades Venezuela. And as the arti­cle makes painful­ly clear, while Trump’s advi­sors and US allies in the are staunch­ly against the idea of a US inva­sion of Venezuela, Trump is still real­ly, real­ly inter­est­ed in invad­ing Venezuela and can’t con­tain that inter­est:

    The Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Trump pressed aides on Venezuela inva­sion, US offi­cial says

    By JOSHUA GOODMAN
    07/05/2018

    BOGOTA, Colom­bia (AP) — As a meet­ing last August in the Oval Office to dis­cuss sanc­tions on Venezuela was con­clud­ing, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unset­tling ques­tion: With a fast unrav­el­ing Venezuela threat­en­ing region­al secu­ri­ty, why can’t the U.S. just sim­ply invade the trou­bled coun­try?

    The sug­ges­tion stunned those present at the meet­ing, includ­ing U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son and nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er H.R. McMas­ter, both of whom have since left the admin­is­tra­tion. This account of the pre­vi­ous­ly undis­closed con­ver­sa­tion comes from a senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial famil­iar with what was said.

    In an exchange that last­ed around five min­utes, McMas­ter and oth­ers took turns explain­ing to Trump how mil­i­tary action could back­fire and risk los­ing hard-won sup­port among Latin Amer­i­can gov­ern­ments to pun­ish Pres­i­dent Nico­las Maduro for tak­ing Venezuela down the path of dic­ta­tor­ship, accord­ing to the offi­cial. The offi­cial spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because of the sen­si­tive nature of the dis­cus­sions.

    But Trump pushed back. Although he gave no indi­ca­tion he was about to order up mil­i­tary plans, he point­ed to what he con­sid­ered past cas­es of suc­cess­ful gun­boat diplo­ma­cy in the region, accord­ing to the offi­cial, like the inva­sions of Pana­ma and Grena­da in the 1980s.

    The idea, despite his aides’ best attempts to shoot it down, would nonethe­less per­sist in the president’s head.

    The next day, Aug. 11, Trump alarmed friends and foes alike with talk of a “mil­i­tary option” to remove Maduro from pow­er. The pub­lic remarks were ini­tial­ly dis­missed in U.S. pol­i­cy cir­cles as the sort of mar­tial blus­ter peo­ple have come to expect from the real­i­ty TV star turned com­man­der in chief.

    But short­ly after­ward, he raised the issue with Colom­bian Pres­i­dent Juan Manuel San­tos, accord­ing to the U.S. offi­cial. Two high-rank­ing Colom­bian offi­cials who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to avoid antag­o­niz­ing Trump con­firmed the report.

    Then in Sep­tem­ber, on the side­lines of the U.N. Gen­er­al Assem­bly, Trump dis­cussed it again, this time at greater length, in a pri­vate din­ner with lead­ers from four Latin Amer­i­can allies that includ­ed San­tos, the same three peo­ple said and Politi­co report­ed in Feb­ru­ary.

    The U.S. offi­cial said Trump was specif­i­cal­ly briefed not to raise the issue and told it wouldn’t play well, but the first thing the pres­i­dent said at the din­ner was, “My staff told me not to say this.” Trump then went around ask­ing each leader if they were sure they didn’t want a mil­i­tary solu­tion, accord­ing to the offi­cial, who added that each leader told Trump in clear terms they were sure.

    Even­tu­al­ly, McMas­ter would pull aside the pres­i­dent and walk him through the dan­gers of an inva­sion, the offi­cial said.

    Tak­en togeth­er, the behind-the-scenes talks, the extent and details of which have not been pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed, high­light how Venezuela’s polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic cri­sis has received top atten­tion under Trump in a way that was unimag­in­able in the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. But crit­ics say it also under­scores how his “Amer­i­ca First” for­eign pol­i­cy at times can seem out­right reck­less, pro­vid­ing ammu­ni­tion to America’s adver­saries.

    The White House declined to com­ment on the pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions. But a Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil spokesman reit­er­at­ed that the U.S. will con­sid­er all options at its dis­pos­al to help restore Venezuela’s democ­ra­cy and bring sta­bil­i­ty. Under Trump’s lead­er­ship, the U.S., Cana­da and Euro­pean Union have levied sanc­tions on dozens of top Venezue­lan offi­cials, includ­ing Maduro him­self, over alle­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion, drug traf­fick­ing and human rights abus­es. The U.S. has also dis­trib­uted more than $30 mil­lion to help Venezuela’s neigh­bors absorb an influx of more than 1 mil­lion migrants who have fled the coun­try.

    Trump’s bel­li­cose talk pro­vid­ed the unpop­u­lar leader with an imme­di­ate if short-lived boost as he was try­ing to escape blame for wide­spread food short­ages and hyper­in­fla­tion. With­in days of the president’s talk of a mil­i­tary option, Maduro filled the streets of Cara­cas with loy­al­ists to con­demn “Emper­or” Trump’s bel­liger­ence, ordered up nation­wide mil­i­tary exer­cis­es and threat­ened with arrest oppo­nents he said were plot­ting his over­throw with the U.S.

    ...

    Even some of the staunchest U.S. allies were begrudg­ing­ly forced to side with Maduro in con­demn­ing Trump’s saber rat­tling. San­tos, a big backer of U.S. attempts to iso­late Maduro, said an inva­sion would have zero sup­port in the region. The Mer­co­sur trade bloc, which includes Brazil and Argenti­na, issued a state­ment say­ing “the only accept­able means of pro­mot­ing democ­ra­cy are dia­logue and diplo­ma­cy” and repu­di­at­ing “any option that implies the use of force.”

    But among Venezuela’s belea­guered oppo­si­tion move­ment, hos­til­i­ty to the idea of a mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion has slow­ly eased.

    A few weeks after Trump’s pub­lic com­ments, Har­vard eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor Ricar­do Haus­mann, a for­mer Venezue­lan plan­ning min­is­ter, wrote a syn­di­cat­ed col­umn titled “D Day Venezuela,” in which he called for a “coali­tion of the will­ing” made up of region­al pow­ers and the U.S. to step in and sup­port mil­i­tar­i­ly a gov­ern­ment appoint­ed by the oppo­si­tion-led nation­al assem­bly.

    Mark Feier­stein, who over­saw Latin Amer­i­ca on the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, said that stri­dent U.S. action on Venezuela, how­ev­er com­mend­able, won’t loosen Maduro’s grip on pow­er if it’s not accom­pa­nied by pres­sure from the streets. How­ev­er, he thinks Venezue­lans have large­ly been demor­al­ized after a crack­down on protests last year trig­gered dozens of deaths, and the threat of more repres­sion has forced dozens of oppo­si­tion lead­ers into exile.

    “Peo­ple inside and out­side the admin­is­tra­tion know they can ignore plen­ty of what Trump says,” Feier­stein, who is now a senior advis­er at the Albright Stone­bridge Group, said of Trump’s talk of mil­i­tary inva­sion of Venezuela. “The con­cern is that it raised expec­ta­tions among Venezue­lans, many of whom are wait­ing for an exter­nal actor to save them.”

    ———-

    “Trump pressed aides on Venezuela inva­sion, US offi­cial says” by JOSHUA GOODMAN; The Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 07/05/2018

    “As a meet­ing last August in the Oval Office to dis­cuss sanc­tions on Venezuela was con­clud­ing, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unset­tling ques­tion: With a fast unrav­el­ing Venezuela threat­en­ing region­al secu­ri­ty, why can’t the U.S. just sim­ply invade the trou­bled coun­try?

    Why can’t the US just go ahead an invade Venezuela? That’s the ques­tion Pres­i­dent Trump appeared to be gen­uine­ly ask­ing back in August. And when those top aides, like then-nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er H.R. McMas­ter and then-Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, explained to Trump the mag­ni­tude of such an action and how eas­i­ly it could back­fire, Trump pushed back, cit­ing the US inva­sions of Pana­ma and Grena­da in the 80’s:

    ...
    The sug­ges­tion stunned those present at the meet­ing, includ­ing U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son and nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er H.R. McMas­ter, both of whom have since left the admin­is­tra­tion. This account of the pre­vi­ous­ly undis­closed con­ver­sa­tion comes from a senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial famil­iar with what was said.

    In an exchange that last­ed around five min­utes, McMas­ter and oth­ers took turns explain­ing to Trump how mil­i­tary action could back­fire and risk los­ing hard-won sup­port among Latin Amer­i­can gov­ern­ments to pun­ish Pres­i­dent Nico­las Maduro for tak­ing Venezuela down the path of dic­ta­tor­ship, accord­ing to the offi­cial. The offi­cial spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because of the sen­si­tive nature of the dis­cus­sions.

    But Trump pushed back. Although he gave no indi­ca­tion he was about to order up mil­i­tary plans, he point­ed to what he con­sid­ered past cas­es of suc­cess­ful gun­boat diplo­ma­cy in the region, accord­ing to the offi­cial, like the inva­sions of Pana­ma and Grena­da in the 1980s.
    ...

    And then the very next day, Trump made pub­lic remarks about the “mil­i­tary option” to remove Maduro:

    ...
    The idea, despite his aides’ best attempts to shoot it down, would nonethe­less per­sist in the president’s head.

    The next day, Aug. 11, Trump alarmed friends and foes alike with talk of a “mil­i­tary option” to remove Maduro from pow­er. The pub­lic remarks were ini­tial­ly dis­missed in U.S. pol­i­cy cir­cles as the sort of mar­tial blus­ter peo­ple have come to expect from the real­i­ty TV star turned com­man­der in chief.
    ...

    And then he raised prospect of a mil­i­tary inva­sion direct­ly with the pres­i­dent of Colom­bia, a coun­try that is already fac­ing large num­bers of Venezue­lan refugees, and brought the idea up again on the sides of the UN Gen­er­al Assem­bly:

    ...
    But short­ly after­ward, he raised the issue with Colom­bian Pres­i­dent Juan Manuel San­tos, accord­ing to the U.S. offi­cial. Two high-rank­ing Colom­bian offi­cials who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to avoid antag­o­niz­ing Trump con­firmed the report.

    Then in Sep­tem­ber, on the side­lines of the U.N. Gen­er­al Assem­bly, Trump dis­cussed it again, this time at greater length, in a pri­vate din­ner with lead­ers from four Latin Amer­i­can allies that includ­ed San­tos, the same three peo­ple said and Politi­co report­ed in Feb­ru­ary.

    The U.S. offi­cial said Trump was specif­i­cal­ly briefed not to raise the issue and told it wouldn’t play well, but the first thing the pres­i­dent said at the din­ner was, “My staff told me not to say this.” Trump then went around ask­ing each leader if they were sure they didn’t want a mil­i­tary solu­tion, accord­ing to the offi­cial, who added that each leader told Trump in clear terms they were sure.

    Even­tu­al­ly, McMas­ter would pull aside the pres­i­dent and walk him through the dan­gers of an inva­sion, the offi­cial said.
    ...

    And when the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is asked about these pre­vi­ous­ly unre­port­ed inci­dents, the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil give the omi­nous replay that the US con­sid­ers ‘all options at its dis­pos­al to help restore Venezuela’s democ­ra­cy and bring sta­bil­i­ty’:

    ...
    Tak­en togeth­er, the behind-the-scenes talks, the extent and details of which have not been pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed, high­light how Venezuela’s polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic cri­sis has received top atten­tion under Trump in a way that was unimag­in­able in the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. But crit­ics say it also under­scores how his “Amer­i­ca First” for­eign pol­i­cy at times can seem out­right reck­less, pro­vid­ing ammu­ni­tion to America’s adver­saries.

    The White House declined to com­ment on the pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions. But a Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil spokesman reit­er­at­ed that the U.S. will con­sid­er all options at its dis­pos­al to help restore Venezuela’s democ­ra­cy and bring sta­bil­i­ty. Under Trump’s lead­er­ship, the U.S., Cana­da and Euro­pean Union have levied sanc­tions on dozens of top Venezue­lan offi­cials, includ­ing Maduro him­self, over alle­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion, drug traf­fick­ing and human rights abus­es. The U.S. has also dis­trib­uted more than $30 mil­lion to help Venezuela’s neigh­bors absorb an influx of more than 1 mil­lion migrants who have fled the coun­try.
    ...

    And there are appar­ent­ly already con­se­quences to all of Trump’s pub­lic and pri­vate talk of a mil­i­tary inva­sion of Venezuela: the Venezue­lan oppo­si­tion appears to be warm­ing to the idea:

    ...
    But among Venezuela’s belea­guered oppo­si­tion move­ment, hos­til­i­ty to the idea of a mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion has slow­ly eased.

    A few weeks after Trump’s pub­lic com­ments, Har­vard eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor Ricar­do Haus­mann, a for­mer Venezue­lan plan­ning min­is­ter, wrote a syn­di­cat­ed col­umn titled “D Day Venezuela,” in which he called for a “coali­tion of the will­ing” made up of region­al pow­ers and the U.S. to step in and sup­port mil­i­tar­i­ly a gov­ern­ment appoint­ed by the oppo­si­tion-led nation­al assem­bly.

    Mark Feier­stein, who over­saw Latin Amer­i­ca on the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, said that stri­dent U.S. action on Venezuela, how­ev­er com­mend­able, won’t loosen Maduro’s grip on pow­er if it’s not accom­pa­nied by pres­sure from the streets. How­ev­er, he thinks Venezue­lans have large­ly been demor­al­ized after a crack­down on protests last year trig­gered dozens of deaths, and the threat of more repres­sion has forced dozens of oppo­si­tion lead­ers into exile.

    “Peo­ple inside and out­side the admin­is­tra­tion know they can ignore plen­ty of what Trump says,” Feier­stein, who is now a senior advis­er at the Albright Stone­bridge Group, said of Trump’s talk of mil­i­tary inva­sion of Venezuela. “The con­cern is that it raised expec­ta­tions among Venezue­lans, many of whom are wait­ing for an exter­nal actor to save them.”

    So we have the Venezue­lan oppo­si­tion increas­ing­ly hop­ing for a US inva­sion after Trump’s many dec­la­ra­tions, which pre­sum­ably means ele­ments of the Venezue­lan oppo­si­tion dias­po­ra are going to be increas­ing­ly lob­by­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion for exact­ly that. Will they get their wish? Well, con­sid­er­ing that peo­ple like HR McMas­ter and Rex Tiller­son have been replaced with peo­ple like John Bolton and Mike Pom­peo, it’s look­ing a lot more like they will get their wish. Espe­cial­ly with Bolton, who has made his hawk­ing views on Venezuela abun­dant­ly clear for years:

    McClatchy

    Trump pick Bolton to dri­ve hard­line agen­da against Venezuela

    By Fran­co Ordoñez And Ani­ta Kumar
    March 22, 2018 07:43 PM
    Updat­ed March 23, 2018 10:57 AM

    WASHINGTON John Bolton, a for­mer U.S. ambas­sador to the Unit­ed Nations, is expect­ed to put a sharp­er focus on Venezuela as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s new nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, apply­ing a hard line against Nicolás Maduro’s gov­ern­ment.

    “For Latin Amer­i­ca, he has always empha­sized how Cuba and Venezuela and Nicaragua have under­mined U.S. inter­ests through­out the region,” accord­ing to a senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial.

    But Bolton’s tough talk on North Korea and oth­er coun­tries will make Latin Amer­i­can lead­ers ner­vous, rais­ing old fears of U.S. inter­ven­tion in a region that prides itself on diplo­mat­ic solu­tions, accord­ing to a Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil offi­cial for Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma.

    “He’s a war mon­ger and Latin Amer­i­cans get ner­vous when Amer­i­can pres­i­dents tend to lean toward mil­i­tary ver­sus diplo­mat­ic solu­tions,” the offi­cial said. “It’s a mil­i­taris­tic style that won’t go down well in Latin Amer­i­ca.”

    Bolton believes that eco­nom­i­cal­ly dis­tressed Venezuela is vul­ner­a­ble and that oth­ers, includ­ing Iran, con­tin­ue to have great influ­ence on the gov­ern­ment there.

    Bolton raised con­cerns about Venezuela in 2013. Dur­ing a hear­ing on Syr­ia and Iran, Bolton said Ira­ni­ans were oper­at­ing in Cara­cas to avoid inter­na­tion­al watch­ers. “These are expert smug­glers with—the largest Iran­ian diplo­mat­ic facil­i­ty in the world is in Cara­cas, Venezuela,” Bolton said at the time. “Because of their close cul­tur­al ties? No, because they are laun­der­ing their mon­ey through the Venezue­lan banks.”

    Trump has already tak­en a hard line against the Venezue­lan gov­ern­ment, apply­ing more than 20 indi­vid­ual and eco­nom­ic sanc­tions includ­ing restrict­ing U.S. finan­cial trans­ac­tions involv­ing its new dig­i­tal cur­ren­cy.

    One big ques­tion is whether Bolton will take anoth­er look at U.S. Cuba pol­i­cy, accord­ing to the Oba­ma offi­cial. Bolton blast­ed Oba­ma for reopen­ing diplo­mat­ic rela­tions with the Cas­tro gov­ern­ment in 2014.

    Bolton has long been an advo­cate for even stronger restric­tions against Cuba. In 2002, as under­sec­re­tary of state, he accused Havana of try­ing to devel­op bio­log­i­cal weapons, and added Cuba to a list of “axis of evil” coun­tries.”

    ”The Unit­ed States believes that Cuba has at least a lim­it­ed offen­sive bio­log­i­cal war­fare research and devel­op­ment effort,” Bolton said in a speech to the con­ser­v­a­tive Her­itage Foun­da­tion.

    Bolton has already served under three pres­i­dents, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Rea­gan.

    “Bolton is a for­eign pol­i­cy pro­fes­sion­al, which is a good start, and more than you can say for the pres­i­den­t’s first two picks for sec­re­tary of state,” said Ben­jamin Gedan, who served as Venezuela direc­tor on the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil under Oba­ma.

    Trump announced late Thurs­day that he would replace his sec­ond nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, H.R. McMas­ter, with Bolton in mid-April. It’s the lat­est in a series of staff changes in recent weeks.

    Last week, Trump announced on Twit­ter that he would replace Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, the chief exec­u­tive of Exxon Mobil, with CIA Direc­tor Mike Pom­peo.

    Bolton and Trump met reg­u­lar­ly dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion and at the White House to dis­cuss for­eign pol­i­cy. He was spot­ted in the West Wing ear­li­er Thurs­day.

    “Though he and Pom­peo are con­sid­ered hard­lin­ers, most gov­ern­ments in Latin Amer­i­ca should not be spooked, assum­ing Bolton does not share the pres­i­den­t’s habit of bul­ly­ing U.S. allies,” Gedan said.

    ...

    ———-

    “Trump pick Bolton to dri­ve hard­line agen­da against Venezuela” by Fran­co Ordoñez And Ani­ta Kumar; McClatchy; 03/22/2018

    ““Though he and Pom­peo are con­sid­ered hard­lin­ers, most gov­ern­ments in Latin Amer­i­ca should not be spooked, assum­ing Bolton does not share the pres­i­den­t’s habit of bul­ly­ing U.S. allies,” Gedan said.”

    LOL, what an assur­ance: The US allies in Latin Amer­i­can should­n’t be too con­cerned about John Bolton replac­ing HR McMas­ter as the new nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, if you assume Bolton does­n’t share Trump’s habit of bul­ly­ing US allies.

    If, on the oth­er hand, you assume that Bolton will be per­fect­ly fine with Trump’s habit of bul­ly­ing US allies, there is plen­ty to wor­ry about, because both Bolton and Trump clear­ly have a predilec­tion for mil­i­tary solu­tions:

    ...
    John Bolton, a for­mer U.S. ambas­sador to the Unit­ed Nations, is expect­ed to put a sharp­er focus on Venezuela as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s new nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, apply­ing a hard line against Nicolás Maduro’s gov­ern­ment.

    “For Latin Amer­i­ca, he has always empha­sized how Cuba and Venezuela and Nicaragua have under­mined U.S. inter­ests through­out the region,” accord­ing to a senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial.

    But Bolton’s tough talk on North Korea and oth­er coun­tries will make Latin Amer­i­can lead­ers ner­vous, rais­ing old fears of U.S. inter­ven­tion in a region that prides itself on diplo­mat­ic solu­tions, accord­ing to a Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil offi­cial for Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma.

    “He’s a war mon­ger and Latin Amer­i­cans get ner­vous when Amer­i­can pres­i­dents tend to lean toward mil­i­tary ver­sus diplo­mat­ic solu­tions,” the offi­cial said. “It’s a mil­i­taris­tic style that won’t go down well in Latin Amer­i­ca.”
    ...

    But per­haps the most omi­nous aspect of Bolton becom­ing the new nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er is his sus­pi­cion that Venezuela is being used by Iran to laun­der mon­ey and avoid inter­na­tion­al sanc­tions. Because it’s already abun­dant­ly clear that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is inter­est­ed in whip­ping up a war with Iran, with Bolton call­ing press­ing a regime change push by the US. So if Bolton gets his wish, will a war with Venezuela soon fol­low? It’s one of those ques­tions we have to ask:

    ...
    Bolton believes that eco­nom­i­cal­ly dis­tressed Venezuela is vul­ner­a­ble and that oth­ers, includ­ing Iran, con­tin­ue to have great influ­ence on the gov­ern­ment there.

    Bolton raised con­cerns about Venezuela in 2013. Dur­ing a hear­ing on Syr­ia and Iran, Bolton said Ira­ni­ans were oper­at­ing in Cara­cas to avoid inter­na­tion­al watch­ers. “These are expert smug­glers with—the largest Iran­ian diplo­mat­ic facil­i­ty in the world is in Cara­cas, Venezuela,” Bolton said at the time. “Because of their close cul­tur­al ties? No, because they are laun­der­ing their mon­ey through the Venezue­lan banks.”

    Trump has already tak­en a hard line against the Venezue­lan gov­ern­ment, apply­ing more than 20 indi­vid­ual and eco­nom­ic sanc­tions includ­ing restrict­ing U.S. finan­cial trans­ac­tions involv­ing its new dig­i­tal cur­ren­cy.
    ...

    But with hun­dreds of thou­sands of Venezue­lans already eco­nom­ic refugees, and 5,000 more flee­ing to sur­round­ing coun­tries each day, one of the oth­er big ques­tions sur­round­ing a pos­si­ble mil­i­tary inva­sion of Venezuela is just what kind of refugee sit­u­a­tion is this going to cre­ate, for the US but more impor­tant­ly for Venezue­la’s neigh­bors?

    And what if there is no mil­i­tary inva­sion but still stronger sanc­tions on Venezuela that cre­ates even more eco­nom­ic refugees, what’s the US response to that going to be? Well, accord­ing to the fol­low­ing arti­cle, the top Pen­ta­gon com­man­der for Latin Amer­i­ca and the Caribbean cur­rent­ly envi­sions no role in pro­vid­ing direct human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance to coun­tries tak­ing in flee­ing Venezue­lans:

    Bloomberg

    U.S. Mil­i­tary Does­n’t See Role Stem­ming Venezue­lan Refugee Flow

    By Antho­ny Capac­cio
    June 7, 2018, 12:20 PM CDT

    The top Pen­ta­gon com­man­der for Latin Amer­i­ca and the Caribbean said he sees no role for the U.S. mil­i­tary in pro­vid­ing direct human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance to coun­tries being inun­dat­ed with Venezue­lans flee­ing a col­laps­ing econ­o­my under Pres­i­dent Nico­las Maduro.

    “There real­ly is not,” Admi­ral Kurt Tidd, the head of U.S. South­ern Com­mand, told Bloomberg News on Thurs­day after a break­fast meet­ing with reporters in Wash­ing­ton. “Our role is to lis­ten to” and “part­ner with” the neigh­bor­ing coun­tries “to under­stand what their chal­lenges are and how they are deal­ing” with the cri­sis.

    Dis­as­ter response exer­cis­es South­com reg­u­lar­ly con­ducts with region­al allies “all play a con­trib­u­to­ry role to help them build their capac­i­ty to deal with any kind of human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis” but ulti­mate­ly the Venezuela sit­u­a­tion “is going to require a diplo­mat­ic solu­tion” Tidd added.

    Until then, the flow of refugees will like­ly con­tin­ue, Tidd said. “Des­per­ate peo­ple will con­tin­ue to leave to try and make mon­ey in oth­er places that they can send back” home.

    Hyper­in­fla­tion

    Venezue­lans have fled their home­land to escape crush­ing hyper­in­fla­tion, a shrink­ing econ­o­my and a short­age of basic goods and food. Maduro, who suc­ceed­ed his polit­i­cal men­tor Hugo Chavez in 2013, has fre­quent­ly blamed the U.S. for spark­ing the eco­nom­ic cri­sis and rais­es the specter of a U.S.-backed coup in pub­lic pro­nounce­ments. Maduro won elec­tion to anoth­er six-year term last month in a vote that was wide­ly crit­i­cized and boy­cotted by the oppo­si­tion.

    The U.S. has seen “prob­a­bly at least a mil­lion Venezue­lans” cross­ing the bor­der to Colom­bia, Tidd said at the break­fast. “We’ve seen tens of thou­sands in Peru. We’ve seen tens of thou­sands down in Brazil and it’s hav­ing an enor­mous impact on those countries’s abil­i­ty to care for them.”

    ...

    ———-

    “U.S. Mil­i­tary Does­n’t See Role Stem­ming Venezue­lan Refugee Flow” by Antho­ny Capac­cio; Bloomberg; 06/07/2018

    “The top Pen­ta­gon com­man­der for Latin Amer­i­ca and the Caribbean said he sees no role for the U.S. mil­i­tary in pro­vid­ing direct human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance to coun­tries being inun­dat­ed with Venezue­lans flee­ing a col­laps­ing econ­o­my under Pres­i­dent Nico­las Maduro.”

    So, cur­rent­ly, the Pen­ta­gon does­n’t envi­sion any direct role for the US mil­i­tary in pro­vid­ing human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance for the all of the coun­tries cur­rent­ly receiv­ing thou­sands of Venezue­lan refugees a day. And as the Pen­ta­gon com­man­der put it, ulti­mate­ly the Venezuela sit­u­a­tion “is going to require a diplo­mat­ic solu­tion”:

    ...
    “There real­ly is not,” Admi­ral Kurt Tidd, the head of U.S. South­ern Com­mand, told Bloomberg News on Thurs­day after a break­fast meet­ing with reporters in Wash­ing­ton. “Our role is to lis­ten to” and “part­ner with” the neigh­bor­ing coun­tries “to under­stand what their chal­lenges are and how they are deal­ing” with the cri­sis.

    Dis­as­ter response exer­cis­es South­com reg­u­lar­ly con­ducts with region­al allies “all play a con­trib­u­to­ry role to help them build their capac­i­ty to deal with any kind of human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis” but ulti­mate­ly the Venezuela sit­u­a­tion “is going to require a diplo­mat­ic solu­tion” Tidd added.

    Until then, the flow of refugees will like­ly con­tin­ue, Tidd said. “Des­per­ate peo­ple will con­tin­ue to leave to try and make mon­ey in oth­er places that they can send back” home.
    ...

    So we have the top Pen­ta­gon com­man­der for Latin Amer­i­ca say­ing the US has no plans to direct­ly assist with a grow­ing South Amer­i­can refugee cri­sis while reit­er­at­ing that a diplo­mat­ic solu­tion is required for Venezuela. At the same that the White House, led by a pres­i­dent with an open desire for a war with Venezuela, ele­vates war hawks like John Bolton to posi­tions of high influ­ence.

    All in all, it there’s no short­age of rea­son why the Venezue­lan refugee sit­u­a­tion could get a lot worse. And while some of those refugees will pre­sum­ably flee to the US, the vast major­i­ty of them are prob­a­bly going to end up remain­ing in South Amer­i­ca and is inevitably going to impact South Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. What kind of polit­i­cal impact will that be? We’ll see, but it’s prob­a­bly not going to be a pos­i­tive impact...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 12, 2018, 2:46 pm
  2. It looks like the mas­sive wild­fires out­side Athens this week that killed at least 82 peo­ple was prob­a­bly arson. So what was the evi­dence that it was arson? Fif­teen fires had start­ed in three areas around Athens simul­ta­ne­ous­ly:

    Deutsche Welle

    Greece fires: Arson sus­pect­ed in dev­as­tat­ing blaze

    A Greek min­is­ter has said there were “seri­ous indi­ca­tions” that the fires had been start­ed delib­er­ate­ly. Experts have blamed hap­haz­ard and unli­censed build­ing for the high death toll, which climbed to 82.

    Date 26.07.2018

    Greek author­i­ties said on Thurs­day they sus­pect­ed arson was behind the dev­as­tat­ing for­est fires that killed at least 82 peo­ple near cap­i­tal Athens.

    “We have seri­ous indi­ca­tions and sig­nif­i­cant signs sug­gest­ing the crim­i­nal actions of arson,” Civ­il Pro­tec­tion Min­is­ter Nikos Toskas told a news con­fer­ence. He said police had tes­ti­monies to that effect, but did not elab­o­rate.

    Toskas said satel­lite image analy­sis of the dead­ly fires that broke out on Mon­day on the east and the west sides of Athens indi­cat­ed that both had been set in mul­ti­ple places with­in a short time frame.

    Fif­teen fires had start­ed simul­ta­ne­ous­ly in three areas around Athens, rais­ing sus­pi­cions among author­i­ties. US sur­veil­lance air­craft were being used to gath­er footage to try to deter­mine the caus­es of the fires.

    Wild­fires near pop­u­lat­ed areas in Greece are often blamed on arson­ists believed to be tar­get­ing for­est land for devel­op­ment, but arrests are rare.

    ‘Fire trap’

    Most casu­al­ties were found at the resort town of Mati, some 30 kilo­me­ters (18 miles) east of Athens.

    A group of experts from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Athens’ Fac­ul­ty of Geol­o­gy and Geo envi­ron­ment blamed the lay­out of the town for the high death toll.

    The group said the hap­haz­ard and unli­censed build­ing, with scant pro­vi­sion for fire safe­ty, had act­ed like a “fire trap” as they blocked access to the sea.

    “How is it pos­si­ble to have so many lives lost and not inves­ti­gate who is respon­si­ble for such town plan­ning chaos,” Infra­struc­ture Min­is­ter Chris­tos Spirtzis said.

    About 300 fire­men and vol­un­teers were still comb­ing the area on Thurs­day for dozens still miss­ing.

    ...

    ———-

    “Greece fires: Arson sus­pect­ed in dev­as­tat­ing blaze”; Deutsche Welle; 07/26/2018

    ““We have seri­ous indi­ca­tions and sig­nif­i­cant signs sug­gest­ing the crim­i­nal actions of arson,” Civ­il Pro­tec­tion Min­is­ter Nikos Toskas told a news con­fer­ence. He said police had tes­ti­monies to that effect, but did not elab­o­rate.”

    So, at at this point, the arson sus­pi­cions are just sus­pi­cions. But sus­pi­cions based on some pret­ty com­pelling evi­dence:

    ...
    Toskas said satel­lite image analy­sis of the dead­ly fires that broke out on Mon­day on the east and the west sides of Athens indi­cat­ed that both had been set in mul­ti­ple places with­in a short time frame.

    Fif­teen fires had start­ed simul­ta­ne­ous­ly in three areas around Athens, rais­ing sus­pi­cions among author­i­ties. US sur­veil­lance air­craft were being used to gath­er footage to try to deter­mine the caus­es of the fires.
    ...

    And while no sus­pects have been named at this point, it’s worth not­ing that sev­en mem­bers of the neo-Nazi group “Com­bat 18 Hel­las”- sus­pect­ed by some to be the Greek branch of Com­bat 18 although, as we’ll see below, that might not be the case — were charged with a series of crimes back in March, includ­ing arson, caus­ing explo­sions and pos­ses­sion of explo­sives:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    7 charged in Greece with belong­ing to vio­lent neo-Nazi group

    Mar. 07, 2018

    ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A Greek pros­e­cu­tor has charged sev­en men with alleged mem­ber­ship in a vio­lent neo-Nazi group linked to a series of arson attacks on far-left and migrant-relat­ed tar­gets.

    All sev­en Greeks were for­mal­ly accused Wednes­day of mem­ber­ship in a crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion, arson, caus­ing explo­sions and pos­ses­sion of explo­sives and weapons.

    The sus­pects were arrest­ed Tues­day by anti-ter­ror­ism police in a series of raids in Athens and two provin­cial towns.

    Offi­cers con­fis­cat­ed Molo­tov cock­tails, 50 kilo­grams of explo­sives, shot­guns, knives, cud­gels, drugs and far-right para­pher­na­lia.

    The sus­pects are thought to be mem­bers of the Greek branch of the neo-Nazi group Com­bat 18.

    Far-right and far-left vio­lence has increased in Greece dur­ing the country’s deep finan­cial cri­sis over the past eight years. A Nazi-inspired par­ty, Gold­en Dawn, is cur­rent­ly Greece’s fourth-largest in par­lia­ment.

    ———-

    “7 charged in Greece with belong­ing to vio­lent neo-Nazi group”; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 03/07/2018

    “All sev­en Greeks were for­mal­ly accused Wednes­day of mem­ber­ship in a crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion, arson, caus­ing explo­sions and pos­ses­sion of explo­sives and weapons.”

    So although there’s no indi­ca­tion that neo-Nazis were behind these arson attacks, it’s hard to ignore the fact that a the Greek neo-Nazi group was arrest­ed for arson just a few months ago.

    And then there’s the sec­ond Greek neo-Nazi group, call­ing itself Krypteia, that actu­al­ly claimed respon­si­bil­i­ty for an arson attack against an Afghan refugee cen­ter in March:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Greece: Extreme-right group claims arson on Afghan cen­ter

    •March 23, 2018

    ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A lit­tle-known extreme right-wing group has claimed respon­si­bil­i­ty for an arson attack on an Afghan com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter in cen­tral Athens that caused sig­nif­i­cant dam­age, but no injuries.

    A group call­ing itself Krypteia claimed respon­si­bil­i­ty in a call to a Greek news web­site on Fri­day.

    Author­i­ties say they think the assailants start­ed the fire by pour­ing flam­ma­ble liq­uid on the door of the Afghan com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter, which is locat­ed on the fifth floor of an Athens build­ing. Flames spread inside, dam­ag­ing desks, tables and com­put­ers on Thurs­day after­noon.

    The Unit­ed Nations refugee agency con­demned the attack, say­ing the cen­ter had been “full of peo­ple, includ­ing chil­dren, not long before” the arson.

    ...

    ———-

    “Greece: Extreme-right group claims arson on Afghan cen­ter”; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 03/23/2018

    “A group call­ing itself Krypteia claimed respon­si­bil­i­ty in a call to a Greek news web­site on Fri­day.”

    And note how the refugee cen­ter was appar­ent­ly “full of peo­ple, includ­ing chil­dren, not long before” the arson, indi­cat­ing a will­ing­ness to kill peo­ple and not just dam­age prop­er­ty:

    ...
    The Unit­ed Nations refugee agency con­demned the attack, say­ing the cen­ter had been “full of peo­ple, includ­ing chil­dren, not long before” the arson.
    ...

    The actu­all attack hap­pened around 1 PM on March 22, which is time when you would expect peo­ple to be there.

    So we have a recent his­to­ry of neo-Nazi arson in Greece. But it’s not just very recent attacks. Because, as the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, it was­n’t just Com­bat 18 Hel­las mem­bers who were arrest in March. There was anoth­er neo-Nazi group, “Unaligned Mae­an­drist Nation­al­ists” (AME), that also had peo­ple arrest­ed. C18 and AME have close ties they might be con­sid­ered a sin­gle enti­ty. And the crimes they were charged with include clos­er to 30 arson attacks since 2015:

    Medi­um

    Trac­ing Fas­cist Crime Online: How Greek Blog­gers Exposed Neo-Nazis
    It took Greek police a while to real­ize that crimes were being com­mit­ted IRL.

    Elvi­ra Krithari
    Mar 24, 2018

    The dawn of March 6th, anti-ter­ror­ist units of Greek Police began with arrests of peo­ple who alleged­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in crim­i­nal neo-Nazi organ­i­sa­tions. Until March 11th a total of 7 sus­pects were charged with par­tic­i­pat­ing in the so-called “Com­bat 18 Hel­las” (C18) and “Unaligned Mae­an­drist Nation­al­ists” (AME), both extrem­ist nation­al­ist organ­i­sa­tions, and with oth­er crimes. Four of the sus­pects remain in cus­tody.

    Their actions involve approx­i­mate­ly 30 arson attacks most­ly against anar­chist and left­ist squads and memo­r­i­al van­dal­ism, such as at the Athens Jew­ish ceme­tery in 2015. While before the arrests, C18 and AME hadn’t been famous in the news, their activ­i­ties were very well observed and doc­u­ment­ed by tire­less blog­gers and online watch­dogs.

    It’s not that the neo-Nazi organ­i­sa­tion want­ed to keep a low pro­file. On the con­trary, the orga­ni­za­tion pub­lished videos on Youtube of the attacks and open­ly claimed respon­si­bil­i­ty for them.

    Fill­ing the court file

    Com­bat 18 Hel­las (C18) and AME’s crim­i­nal tar­get­ing towards peo­ple and prop­er­ty was open­ly pub­lished on the inter­net. Yet, the Min­is­ter of Cit­i­zen Pro­tec­tion, Mr Niko­laos Toskas, stat­ed in a par­lia­ment meet­ing in 2015, regard­ing an MP’s ques­tion about the reluc­tance of author­i­ties to take legal action, that they can­not pro­ceed with arrests for anti-Semit­ic van­dal­ism inci­dents, because, not only Greek but also oth­er coun­tries’ leg­is­la­tion is insuf­fi­cient to deal with online delin­quen­cy.

    How­ev­er, the crimes were far from just being online occur­rences. The web­page xyzcontagion.wordpress.com as well as the Greek Helsin­ki Mon­i­tor (EPSE) greekhelsinki.wordpress.com, gath­ered enough leads to bring the crim­i­nal cas­es to court. After the blog­gers’ notable inves­ti­ga­tions, a court case was final­ly filed, which slow­ly led to the arrest of Neo-Nazi per­pe­tra­tors in March 2018.

    XYZ Con­ta­gion, a Greek inves­tiga­tive blog, mon­i­tors the local far right for years. As they told AthensLive “We had always have the Blood & Hon­ors move­ments in the micro­scope, we read their mag­a­zines, got informed about their con­certs, etc. When we first noticed that (C18/AME) passed from slo­gans and paint­ings to vio­lence against peo­ple and prop­er­ty, we start­ed mon­i­tor­ing them more intense­ly”.

    Nat­u­ral­ly, the two neo-Nazi organ­i­sa­tions, C18 and AME, which seemed to have strong affil­i­a­tions, if not being actu­al­ly one enti­ty, start­ed becom­ing mutu­al­ly inter­est­ed for XYZ Contagion’s pub­li­ca­tions.

    In the sum­mer of 2015, Com­bat 18 Hellas/AME upgrad­ed their actions intro­duc­ing Molo­tov cock­tails and oth­er explo­sive mate­ri­als. “Then, in the autumn of 2015, we said that some­thing had to be done, we gath­ered what­ev­er mate­r­i­al we had, sent peo­ple to pho­to­graph ceme­ter­ies and oth­er places that (the organ­i­sa­tion) had attacked to” says XYZ Con­ta­gion adding “we also received mate­r­i­al and pic­tures oth­er peo­ple had tak­en and we final­ly put them all in an arti­cle”. The SYRIZA MP, Chris­tos Kara­gian­ni­dis who brought the case of Combat’s 18 Hel­las activ­i­ties to the Greek Par­lia­ment relied on the work the blog­gers had car­ried out.

    At that time the Greek Obser­va­to­ry of the “Helsin­ki Fed­er­a­tion of Human Rights” (Greek Helsin­ki Monitor—EPSE) had con­duct­ed equiv­a­lent­ly thor­ough research on the activ­i­ty of C18/AME and as XYZ Con­ta­gion puts it, “Cred­its most­ly go to EPSE”, for push­ing the case to the Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tor and con­stant­ly writ­ing to the Gen­er­al Sec­re­tary for Human Rights.

    Panay­ote Dim­i­tras, spokesper­son of EPSE, described to AthensLive the delays in pro­ce­dure and major omis­sions regard­ing the charges: “There has been an unac­cept­able neg­li­gence since the fil­ing of the first and main com­plaint against AME/Combat 18 in Novem­ber 2015. Twice the Athens pros­e­cut­ing author­i­ties have filed the com­plaint, as well as a sub­se­quent Greek Helsin­ki Mon­i­tor (EPSE) com­plaint and a few oth­er com­plaints to the archive of unknown per­pe­tra­tors, refus­ing to seek judi­cial coop­er­a­tion of the US, where Google has its head­quar­ters, but also refus­ing to inves­ti­gate activ­i­ties of known indi­vid­u­als who had direct or indi­rect links with these groups”, Mr. Dim­i­tras reveals. “It is telling that both oper­a­tions lead­ing to the dis­man­tling of these groups were car­ried out by the counter-ter­ror­ism police, which, as they leaked to the media, at some point took over the inves­ti­ga­tion hav­ing eval­u­at­ed that it had not been thor­ough­ly car­ried out until then”.

    He con­tin­ues: “EPSE is still con­cerned that none of the 30 cas­es leaked to the media by police as being in the AME/Combat 18 file con­cerns attacks against minori­ties [Jews, Roma etc.]; this is why it filed with the pros­e­cu­tor a request to join the archived inves­ti­ga­tions with the new one and also pro­vid­ed a list of more than 40 cas­es includ­ed in the EPSE com­plaints. EPSE intends to play an active role as a civ­il claimant in the inves­ti­ga­tion”

    Bonus: The Gold­en Dawn para­me­ter as seen by the neo-Nazi’s con­stant observers

    It is not cer­tain –and rather unlike­ly- that Com­bat 18 Hel­las is the Greek del­e­ga­tion of the homony­mous organ­i­sa­tion that was first ini­ti­at­ed in UK, giv­en also that the Greek B&H skin­head scene in Greece is rel­a­tive­ly small, as the XYZ Con­ta­gion notes. Besides, Gold­en Dawn (GD), the major Greek neo-Nazi organ­i­sa­tion and legit­i­mate polit­i­cal par­ty, was the first to intro­duce C18 to the Greek nation­al­ist audi­ence, through the Gold­en Dawn’s youth mag­a­zine “Antep­ithe­si” (Coun­ter­at­tack), in Novem­ber-Decem­ber 2001.

    Kostas Skarmeas, attor­ney in the Gold­en Dawn tri­al in favor of the Afghan fish­er­men that were attacked by GD mem­bers, told AthensLive that while there is insuf­fi­cient evi­dence to prove a top to bot­tom and well estab­lished con­nec­tion between GD and C18/AME, one could say that they are com­mu­ni­cat­ing ves­sels, based on unde­ni­able facts.

    “Until 2013, [hate] attacks were con­duct­ed only by GD — there wasn’t any oth­er organ­i­sa­tion to claim the respon­si­bil­i­ty”, Mr Skarmeas told AthensLive. “In 2013, when the whole lead­er­ship of Gold­en Dawn was arrest­ed, we saw a clear decline of vio­lent inci­dents against immi­grants, anar­chists and antifas­cists. Since GD with­drew their street bat­tal­ions because of the tri­al, the gap seems to have been filled by C18/AME. As evi­denced by the court case pub­li­ca­tion, C18/AME seems to be in direct cor­re­spon­dence with Gold­en Dawn via a lia­son. For exam­ple, there are pub­lished evi­dence that Spy­ros Met­alli­nos, one of the detained sus­pects who par­tic­i­pates in C18/AME, is still an active GD mem­ber. There are pic­tures of him from 2017, giv­ing speech­es in the GD’s depart­ment in Piraeus, or he is pho­tographed with GD’s MPs” he con­cludes.

    Apart from the con­nec­tion among per­pe­tra­tors of these two groups and the sim­i­lar­i­ties between GD and C18/AME’s ways of action, C18 has admit­ted its admi­ra­tion for the infa­mous deputy head of GD in the 1990s, Perian­dros Androut­sopou­los, who after serv­ing sen­tence for crimes relat­ed to his GD role, has since stepped down. The pub­lic acknowl­edg­ment of a mem­ber that has bro­ken with Gold­en Dawn could have var­i­ous inter­pre­ta­tions. For attor­ney Kostas Skarmeas, this indi­cates the lev­el of close prox­im­i­ty among the organ­i­sa­tions, rather than dis­tance.

    As Mr Dim­i­tras con­cludes “both AME/C18 and Apel­la (anoth­er Nazi group that police dis­man­tled ear­li­er this year), have a key mem­ber each with known recent involve­ment in Gold­en Dawn, which has not denied the relat­ed infor­ma­tion for both cas­es”.

    The lat­est attacks

    On Thurs­day, March 22nd, anoth­er neo-Nazi organ­i­sa­tion, Krypteia, attacked the head­quar­ters of the Afghan Com­mu­ni­ty in Greece caus­ing severe dam­age to their offices. Luck­i­ly, no peo­ple were there at the time. On the same day, the bell at the Hel­lenic League for Human Rights rang and through the door­phone a voice warned the employ­ee who answered “We are from Krypteia and we are here to sing you the car­ols. (We will sing them to you) in the streets or when­ev­er we find you”.

    ...

    For more detailed infor­ma­tion on the case of C18/AME, we rec­om­mend fur­ther read­ing from XYZ Contagion’s web­site (for Greek speak­ers):

    1. https://xyzcontagion.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/dikografia-combat18-ame/2.https://xyzcontagion.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/combat-18-anentaxtoi-mpogiatzides/3.https://xyzcontagion.wordpress.com/tag/combat-18-hellas/

    ———-

    “Trac­ing Fas­cist Crime Online: How Greek Blog­gers Exposed Neo-Nazis” by Elvi­ra Krithari; Medi­um; 03/24/2018

    “The dawn of March 6th, anti-ter­ror­ist units of Greek Police began with arrests of peo­ple who alleged­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in crim­i­nal neo-Nazi organ­i­sa­tions. Until March 11th a total of 7 sus­pects were charged with par­tic­i­pat­ing in the so-called “Com­bat 18 Hel­las” (C18) and “Unaligned Mae­an­drist Nation­al­ists” (AME), both extrem­ist nation­al­ist organ­i­sa­tions, and with oth­er crimes. Four of the sus­pects remain in cus­tody.”

    So it was both Com­bat 18 mem­bers and mem­bers of the “Unaligned Mae­an­drist Nation­al­ists” (AME) who were arrest­ed on March 6th. The two groups are so close they might be con­sid­ered a sin­gle enti­ty. And it was in the sum­mer of 2015 that the two groups began their arson cam­paign using Molo­tov cock­tails and oth­er explo­sive mate­ri­als:

    ...
    Nat­u­ral­ly, the two neo-Nazi organ­i­sa­tions, C18 and AME, which seemed to have strong affil­i­a­tions, if not being actu­al­ly one enti­ty, start­ed becom­ing mutu­al­ly inter­est­ed for XYZ Contagion’s pub­li­ca­tions.

    In the sum­mer of 2015, Com­bat 18 Hellas/AME upgrad­ed their actions intro­duc­ing Molo­tov cock­tails and oth­er explo­sive mate­ri­als. “Then, in the autumn of 2015, we said that some­thing had to be done, we gath­ered what­ev­er mate­r­i­al we had, sent peo­ple to pho­to­graph ceme­ter­ies and oth­er places that (the organ­i­sa­tion) had attacked to” says XYZ Con­ta­gion adding “we also received mate­r­i­al and pic­tures oth­er peo­ple had tak­en and we final­ly put them all in an arti­cle”. The SYRIZA MP, Chris­tos Kara­gian­ni­dis who brought the case of Combat’s 18 Hel­las activ­i­ties to the Greek Par­lia­ment relied on the work the blog­gers had car­ried out.
    ...

    And since the begin­ning of this arson cam­paign there have been around 30 arson attacks, most­ly against anar­chist, left­ists, and Jew­ish memo­ri­als:

    ...
    Their actions involve approx­i­mate­ly 30 arson attacks most­ly against anar­chist and left­ist squads and memo­r­i­al van­dal­ism, such as at the Athens Jew­ish ceme­tery in 2015. While before the arrests, C18 and AME hadn’t been famous in the news, their activ­i­ties were very well observed and doc­u­ment­ed by tire­less blog­gers and online watch­dogs.

    It’s not that the neo-Nazi organ­i­sa­tion want­ed to keep a low pro­file. On the con­trary, the orga­ni­za­tion pub­lished videos on Youtube of the attacks and open­ly claimed respon­si­bil­i­ty for them.
    ...

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, despite the fact that these groups were open­ly claim­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty for the attacks, Greek author­i­ties did lit­tle. But thanks to some Greek blog­gers who track these kinds of groups (and thanks to the neo-Nazis open­ly claim­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty), they were able to put togeth­er enough evi­dence to force Greece’s author­i­ties to act:

    ...
    Fill­ing the court file

    Com­bat 18 Hel­las (C18) and AME’s crim­i­nal tar­get­ing towards peo­ple and prop­er­ty was open­ly pub­lished on the inter­net. Yet, the Min­is­ter of Cit­i­zen Pro­tec­tion, Mr Niko­laos Toskas, stat­ed in a par­lia­ment meet­ing in 2015, regard­ing an MP’s ques­tion about the reluc­tance of author­i­ties to take legal action, that they can­not pro­ceed with arrests for anti-Semit­ic van­dal­ism inci­dents, because, not only Greek but also oth­er coun­tries’ leg­is­la­tion is insuf­fi­cient to deal with online delin­quen­cy.

    How­ev­er, the crimes were far from just being online occur­rences. The web­page xyzcontagion.wordpress.com as well as the Greek Helsin­ki Mon­i­tor (EPSE) greekhelsinki.wordpress.com, gath­ered enough leads to bring the crim­i­nal cas­es to court. After the blog­gers’ notable inves­ti­ga­tions, a court case was final­ly filed, which slow­ly led to the arrest of Neo-Nazi per­pe­tra­tors in March 2018.

    XYZ Con­ta­gion, a Greek inves­tiga­tive blog, mon­i­tors the local far right for years. As they told AthensLive “We had always have the Blood & Hon­ors move­ments in the micro­scope, we read their mag­a­zines, got informed about their con­certs, etc. When we first noticed that (C18/AME) passed from slo­gans and paint­ings to vio­lence against peo­ple and prop­er­ty, we start­ed mon­i­tor­ing them more intense­ly”.
    ...

    And note how it does­n’t appear that Com­bat 18 Hel­las is actu­al­ly the Greek branch of Com­bat 18. There does, how­ev­er appears to be some sort of affil­i­a­tion between Com­bat 18/AME and Gold­en Dawn since Gold­en Dawn intro­duced Greek nation­al­ist audi­ences to Com­bat 18 Hel­las through its youth mag­a­zine back in Novem­ber-Decem­ber 2001:

    ...
    Bonus: The Gold­en Dawn para­me­ter as seen by the neo-Nazi’s con­stant observers

    It is not cer­tain –and rather unlike­ly- that Com­bat 18 Hel­las is the Greek del­e­ga­tion of the homony­mous organ­i­sa­tion that was first ini­ti­at­ed in UK, giv­en also that the Greek B&H skin­head scene in Greece is rel­a­tive­ly small, as the XYZ Con­ta­gion notes. Besides, Gold­en Dawn (GD), the major Greek neo-Nazi organ­i­sa­tion and legit­i­mate polit­i­cal par­ty, was the first to intro­duce C18 to the Greek nation­al­ist audi­ence, through the Gold­en Dawn’s youth mag­a­zine “Antep­ithe­si” (Coun­ter­at­tack), in Novem­ber-Decem­ber 2001.

    Kostas Skarmeas, attor­ney in the Gold­en Dawn tri­al in favor of the Afghan fish­er­men that were attacked by GD mem­bers, told AthensLive that while there is insuf­fi­cient evi­dence to prove a top to bot­tom and well estab­lished con­nec­tion between GD and C18/AME, one could say that they are com­mu­ni­cat­ing ves­sels, based on unde­ni­able facts.

    “Until 2013, [hate] attacks were con­duct­ed only by GD — there wasn’t any oth­er organ­i­sa­tion to claim the respon­si­bil­i­ty”, Mr Skarmeas told AthensLive. “In 2013, when the whole lead­er­ship of Gold­en Dawn was arrest­ed, we saw a clear decline of vio­lent inci­dents against immi­grants, anar­chists and antifas­cists. Since GD with­drew their street bat­tal­ions because of the tri­al, the gap seems to have been filled by C18/AME. As evi­denced by the court case pub­li­ca­tion, C18/AME seems to be in direct cor­re­spon­dence with Gold­en Dawn via a lia­son. For exam­ple, there are pub­lished evi­dence that Spy­ros Met­alli­nos, one of the detained sus­pects who par­tic­i­pates in C18/AME, is still an active GD mem­ber. There are pic­tures of him from 2017, giv­ing speech­es in the GD’s depart­ment in Piraeus, or he is pho­tographed with GD’s MPs” he con­cludes.

    Apart from the con­nec­tion among per­pe­tra­tors of these two groups and the sim­i­lar­i­ties between GD and C18/AME’s ways of action, C18 has admit­ted its admi­ra­tion for the infa­mous deputy head of GD in the 1990s, Perian­dros Androut­sopou­los, who after serv­ing sen­tence for crimes relat­ed to his GD role, has since stepped down. The pub­lic acknowl­edg­ment of a mem­ber that has bro­ken with Gold­en Dawn could have var­i­ous inter­pre­ta­tions. For attor­ney Kostas Skarmeas, this indi­cates the lev­el of close prox­im­i­ty among the organ­i­sa­tions, rather than dis­tance.

    As Mr Dim­i­tras con­cludes “both AME/C18 and Apel­la (anoth­er Nazi group that police dis­man­tled ear­li­er this year), have a key mem­ber each with known recent involve­ment in Gold­en Dawn, which has not denied the relat­ed infor­ma­tion for both cas­es”.
    ...

    Final­ly, as the arti­cle notes, on the same day of the Afghan refugee cen­ter attack on March 22, there was also a death threat phoned into the Hel­lenic League for Human Rights by the same Krypteia neo-Nazi group:

    ...
    The lat­est attacks

    On Thurs­day, March 22nd, anoth­er neo-Nazi organ­i­sa­tion, Krypteia, attacked the head­quar­ters of the Afghan Com­mu­ni­ty in Greece caus­ing severe dam­age to their offices. Luck­i­ly, no peo­ple were there at the time. On the same day, the bell at the Hel­lenic League for Human Rights rang and through the door­phone a voice warned the employ­ee who answered “We are from Krypteia and we are here to sing you the car­ols. (We will sing them to you) in the streets or when­ev­er we find you”.
    ...

    And then there’s the attack against a refugee camp on the island of Les­bos back in April. While there aren’t reports of actu­al arson, the far right attack­ers did yell “burn them alive” while throw­ing bot­tles and shoot­ing flares:

    The Tele­graph

    Migrants on Greek island of Les­bos attacked by far-Right extrem­ists shout­ing ‘burn them alive’

    Nick Squires Our For­eign Staff
    23 April 2018 • 12:24pm

    Far-Right extrem­ists yelling “Burn them alive” launched a vio­lent attack overnight on migrants stag­ing a sit-in protest on the Greek island of Les­bos, injur­ing around a dozen peo­ple.

    The vio­lence erupt­ed late on Sun­day after mem­bers of the rad­i­cal Patri­ot­ic Move­ment gath­ered on the cen­tral square of the island’s main city Myti­lene, where around 200 Afghan asy­lum-seek­ers held a sit-in protest against their mis­er­able liv­ing con­di­tions.

    Despite a police pres­ence, the sit­u­a­tion soon esca­lat­ed as the extrem­ists start­ed throw­ing bot­tles and light­ing flares, shout­ing slo­gans like “Burn them alive” and “Throw them in the sea”.

    Ten­sions spi­raled fur­ther when Left-wing activists arrived in sup­port of the migrants and start­ed fight­ing with the far-Right sup­port­ers.

    The clash­es raged all night until secu­ri­ty forces used tear gas to dis­perse the crowd and evac­u­ate the square, forc­ing the Afghans to return to the island’s over­crowd­ed migrant camps.

    A dozen migrants were hurt and had to be tak­en to hos­pi­tal, police said.

    Over 6,500 migrants are cur­rent­ly strand­ed on Les­bos, far exceed­ing the 3,000 spots avail­able in the camps.

    More than one mil­lion peo­ple, main­ly flee­ing war in Syr­ia, crossed to Greece from Turkey in 2015 after the onset of the bloc’s worst migra­tion cri­sis since World War II.

    The influx has been sharply cut since the Euro­pean Union signed a con­tro­ver­sial deal with Turkey in 2016 to send back migrants.

    How­ev­er, more than 13,000 migrants are still lan­guish­ing in camps on five Greek islands until their asy­lum claims can be processed.

    This has fueled despair and sparked protests and out­breaks of vio­lence.

    Greece, a coun­try of 11 mil­lion peo­ple, record­ed 58,661 appli­ca­tions last year, mak­ing it the mem­ber state with the high­est num­ber of asy­lum seek­ers per capi­ta, accord­ing to offi­cial data.

    The protest by asy­lum-seek­ers began after a a high court ruled last week that migrants arriv­ing on Greek islands from Turkey could trav­el to the Greek main­land while their asy­lum appli­ca­tions were being processed.

    The rul­ing does not have retroac­tive effect, mean­ing that migrants already there will not be allowed to leave.

    ...
    ———-

    “Migrants on Greek island of Les­bos attacked by far-Right extrem­ists shout­ing ‘burn them alive’ ” by Nick Squires; The Tele­graph; 04/23/2018

    “Despite a police pres­ence, the sit­u­a­tion soon esca­lat­ed as the extrem­ists start­ed throw­ing bot­tles and light­ing flares, shout­ing slo­gans like “Burn them alive” and “Throw them in the sea”.”

    Bot­tles and flares...hmm. It would be inter­est­ing to learn if those bot­tles con­tained flam­ma­ble flu­ids or not. Either way, the crowd cer­tain­ly demon­strat­ed a desire to see these peo­ple burnt alive. And it’s hard to treat it as hyper­bole giv­en all the rest of the neo-Nazi arson attacks.

    So, as we can see, Greece’s neo-Nazi move­ment has been on an arson-spree in recent years. A spree that was real­ly only cracked down on start­ing in March of this year after blog­gers put togeth­er over­whelm­ing evi­dence.

    Might the arson­ists that start­ed the lat­est round of dead­ly fires be neo-Nazis too? Again, at this point we have no idea, but would do have a very good idea about whether or not they should be the prime sus­pects.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 27, 2018, 1:45 pm
  3. Here’s a pair of sto­ries about of the grow­ing fac­tors that could end up shap­ing the pol­i­tics of immi­gra­tion (and the oppor­tu­ni­ties for exploita­tion for the far right every­where) that has the poten­tial to explode in com­ing decade:

    With wild­fires spik­ing this year as a reminder of how things to come as cli­mate change gets worse, it’s worth not­ing a rather depress­ing study from last year pub­lished in Nature Clime Cli­mate that makes it clear that you won’t be safe from the extreme heat and dry­ing con­di­tions from cli­mate change even if you stay for away from com­bustible forests: if cli­mate change con­tin­ues unabat­ed, 75 per­cent of humans face the threat of dying from lethal heat by 2100. And even if there are reduc­tions in green­house gas emis­sions, half of the glob­al pop­u­la­tion will still like­ly face at least 20 days of lethal heat:

    Nation­al Geo­graph­ic

    By 2100, Dead­ly Heat May Threat­en Major­i­ty of Humankind
    Up to 75 per­cent of peo­ple could face dead­ly heat­waves by 2100 unless car­bon emis­sions plum­met, a new study warns.

    By Stephen Leahy
    PUBLISHED June 19, 2017

    A new study has found that 30 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion is cur­rent­ly exposed to poten­tial­ly dead­ly heat for 20 days per year or more—and like a grow­ing for­est fire, cli­mate change is spread­ing this extreme heat.

    With­out major reduc­tions in emis­sions of green­house gas­es such as CO 2, up to three in four peo­ple will face the threat of dying from heat by 2100. How­ev­er, even with reduc­tions, one in two peo­ple at the end of the cen­tu­ry will like­ly face at least 20 days when extreme heat can kill, accord­ing to the analy­sis, pub­lished on Mon­day in Nature Cli­mate Change.

    “Lethal heat­waves are very com­mon. I don’t know why we as a soci­ety are not more con­cerned about the dan­gers,” says Cami­lo Mora of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawaii at Manoa, the study’s lead author. “The 2003 Euro­pean heat­wave killed approx­i­mate­ly 70,000 peo­ple—that’s more than 20 times the num­ber of peo­ple who died in the Sep­tem­ber 11 attacks.”

    Dan­ger­ous heat­waves are far more com­mon than any­one real­ized, killing peo­ple in more than 60 dif­fer­ent parts of the world every year. Notable dead­ly heat­waves include the 2010 Moscow event that killed at least 10,000 peo­ple and the 1995 Chica­go heat­wave, where 700 peo­ple died of heat-relat­ed caus­es.

    Heat­waves have also claimed vic­tims more recent­ly. In the last two weeks, dozens have died in India and Pakistan’s cur­rent heat­wave, with tem­per­a­tures spik­ing to a record 128 degrees Fahren­heit (53.5 degrees Cel­sius). And there have been heat-relat­ed deaths already in the U.S. this sum­mer.

    Count­ing Vic­tims

    Mora and an inter­na­tion­al group of researchers and stu­dents exam­ined more than 30,000 rel­e­vant pub­li­ca­tions to find data on 1,949 case stud­ies of cities or regions where human deaths were asso­ci­at­ed with high tem­per­a­tures. Lethal heat­waves have been doc­u­ment­ed in New York City, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Los Ange­les, Chica­go, Toron­to, Lon­don, Bei­jing, Tokyo, Syd­ney, and São Paulo.

    Those fac­ing the great­est risk live in the wet trop­ics, where only slight increas­es in aver­age tem­per­a­tures or humid­i­ty can result in deaths. How­ev­er, heat can be dead­ly even at mod­er­ate tem­per­a­tures of less than 86 degrees Fahren­heit (30 degrees Cel­sius) if it’s com­bined with very high humid­i­ty, Mora ays.

    Heat kills ten times more peo­ple in the U.S. than tor­na­dos or oth­er extreme weath­er events, says Richard Keller, a Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son pro­fes­sor of med­ical his­to­ry. (Read experts’ safe­ty tips on sur­viv­ing heat waves.)

    Extreme heat sneaks up on us because we expect it to be hot in the sum­mer, says Keller, who has writ­ten a book on the 2003 Euro­pean heat wave.

    The human body’s inter­nal tem­per­a­ture likes to be between 98.6 to 100.4 degrees Fahren­heit (37 to 38 degrees Cel­sius); any warmer, and it’s a fever. As tem­per­a­tures rise, the body reacts by sweat­ing to try and cool down.

    If our inter­nal tem­per­a­ture gets close to 104 degrees Fahren­heit (40 degrees Cel­sius), all-impor­tant cel­lu­lar machin­ery start to break down. Body tem­per­a­tures above 104 degrees are extreme­ly dan­ger­ous and require imme­di­ate med­ical atten­tion.

    If the heat index—a met­ric that com­bines tem­per­a­ture and humidity—reaches 104 degrees Fahren­heit (40 degrees Cel­sius), our bod­ies begin to slow­ly heat up to the ambi­ent tem­per­a­ture unless we take action to cool down. (Learn 100 prac­ti­cal ways to reverse cli­mate change.)

    The young and elder­ly, who dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly lack resources and are more social­ly iso­lat­ed, are left the most vul­ner­a­ble. The over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of 15,000 heat-relat­ed deaths in France dur­ing the 2003 Euro­pean heat­wave were 75 or old­er, many of whom were liv­ing on their own, said Keller.

    “Increas­ing inequal­i­ty leads to increased deaths from heat extremes,” says Keller.

    Heat­ing the Glob­al South

    Heat didn’t used to be a huge prob­lem in India, Pak­istan, and oth­er parts of the glob­al south, but heat extremes are now more com­mon and more intense with cli­mate change, says Keller. (Read “Indi­a’s Heat Wave: How Extreme Heat Rav­ages the Body”)

    Thou­sands of peo­ple have died in India from the heat­waves in recent years. Anoth­er new study pub­lished in Sci­ence Advances found that the num­ber of heat­waves in India killing more than 100 peo­ple increased 2.5 times between 1960 and 2009—an uptick like­ly due to cli­mate change, says study co-author and Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine pro­fes­sor Steven Davis.

    Yet India’s mean tem­per­a­ture has only increased 0.9 degrees Fahren­heit (0.5 degrees Cel­sius) in the past 50 years, a mild increase in com­par­i­son to oth­er parts of the world.

    Sur­face tem­per­a­ture mea­sure­ments show that the Earth has warmed 1.8 degrees Fahren­heit (1 degree Cel­sius) since prein­dus­tri­al times, but this addi­tion­al heat is not even­ly dis­trib­uted. The Arc­tic is 4.5 degrees Fahren­heit (2.5 degrees Cel­sius) hot­ter on aver­age, and in Novem­ber 2016, tem­per­a­tures were an extra­or­di­nary 36 degrees Fahren­heit (20 degrees Cel­sius) high­er than nor­mal over most of the Arc­tic Ocean, an area larg­er than the con­ti­nen­tal U.S. (Read “Cli­mate Change Push­ing Trop­i­cal Dis­eases Toward Arc­tic”)

    Small increas­es in mean tem­per­a­tures can have a major impact in trop­i­cal coun­tries, espe­cial­ly amongst the poor who are extreme­ly vul­ner­a­ble, Davis notes.

    “In Chica­go peo­ple can escape the heat, but that’s not the case for many poor peo­ple in India,” he says.

    Tem­per­a­ture mea­sure­ments reveal that sum­mers in 92 per­cent of U.S. cities have become hot­ter since 1970. Cities in Texas and the Inter­moun­tain West are the most affect­ed, accord­ing to data com­piled by Cli­mate­Cen­tral. It shows sum­mers in Mil­wau­kee are now 2.4 degrees Fahren­heit (1.34 degrees Cel­sius) hot­ter on aver­age, 3.3 degrees Fahren­heit (1.6 degrees Cel­sius) hot­ter in Dal­las, and 3.8 degrees Fahren­heit (2.1 degrees Cel­sius) in Salt Lake City.

    “This is what cli­mate change means on the ground,” says Davis. Nor is it sur­pris­ing there are 60 killer heat­waves a year, he added. Hot­ter tem­per­a­tures are dri­ving peo­ple to leave their homes and migrate. (Meet Amer­i­ca’s first offi­cial cli­mate refugees.)

    “Our atti­tude towards the envi­ron­ment has been so reck­less that we are run­ning out of good choic­es for the future,” says Mora of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawaii.

    ...

    ———–

    “By 2100, Dead­ly Heat May Threat­en Major­i­ty of Humankind” by Stephen Leahy; Nation­al Geo­graph­ic; 06/19/2018

    “With­out major reduc­tions in emis­sions of green­house gas­es such as CO 2, up to three in four peo­ple will face the threat of dying from heat by 2100. How­ev­er, even with reduc­tions, one in two peo­ple at the end of the cen­tu­ry will like­ly face at least 20 days when extreme heat can kill, accord­ing to the analy­sis, pub­lished on Mon­day in Nature Cli­mate Change.

    The bad news: 3/4 of peo­ple risk dying of heat by the end of the cen­tu­ry if noth­ing is done about cli­mate change.

    The good news: only about half of all peo­ple will face 20 or more days of lethal heat if some­thing is done about cli­mate change.

    That’s how bad the sit­u­a­tion is: the ‘good news’ is still bad news, just not as bad as the ‘bad news’.

    And if killer heat waves sound like alarmism, the authors of the study note that killer heat waves are already com­mon. Human­i­ty just does­n’t seem to rec­og­nize this:

    ...
    “Lethal heat­waves are very com­mon. I don’t know why we as a soci­ety are not more con­cerned about the dan­gers,” says Cami­lo Mora of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawaii at Manoa, the study’s lead author. “The 2003 Euro­pean heat­wave killed approx­i­mate­ly 70,000 peo­ple—that’s more than 20 times the num­ber of peo­ple who died in the Sep­tem­ber 11 attacks.”

    Dan­ger­ous heat­waves are far more com­mon than any­one real­ized, killing peo­ple in more than 60 dif­fer­ent parts of the world every year. Notable dead­ly heat­waves include the 2010 Moscow event that killed at least 10,000 peo­ple and the 1995 Chica­go heat­wave, where 700 peo­ple died of heat-relat­ed caus­es.
    ...

    So killer extreme heat­waves are already com­mon. They’re just going to get more com­mon. And more extreme.

    And here’s part of what’s going to guar­an­tee that these killer heat­waves because dri­ving forces for human migra­tion: the trop­ics are the most sen­si­tive to tem­per­a­ture changes. A rel­a­tive­ly small increase in tem­per­a­tures is going to make a much larg­er dif­fer­ence in the num­ber and inten­si­ty of lethal heat­waves:

    ...
    Heat­waves have also claimed vic­tims more recent­ly. In the last two weeks, dozens have died in India and Pakistan’s cur­rent heat­wave, with tem­per­a­tures spik­ing to a record 128 degrees Fahren­heit (53.5 degrees Cel­sius). And there have been heat-relat­ed deaths already in the U.S. this sum­mer.

    Count­ing Vic­tims

    Mora and an inter­na­tion­al group of researchers and stu­dents exam­ined more than 30,000 rel­e­vant pub­li­ca­tions to find data on 1,949 case stud­ies of cities or regions where human deaths were asso­ci­at­ed with high tem­per­a­tures. Lethal heat­waves have been doc­u­ment­ed in New York City, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Los Ange­les, Chica­go, Toron­to, Lon­don, Bei­jing, Tokyo, Syd­ney, and São Paulo.

    Those fac­ing the great­est risk live in the wet trop­ics, where only slight increas­es in aver­age tem­per­a­tures or humid­i­ty can result in deaths. How­ev­er, heat can be dead­ly even at mod­er­ate tem­per­a­tures of less than 86 degrees Fahren­heit (30 degrees Cel­sius) if it’s com­bined with very high humid­i­ty, Mora ays.

    Heat kills ten times more peo­ple in the U.S. than tor­na­dos or oth­er extreme weath­er events, says Richard Keller, a Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son pro­fes­sor of med­ical his­to­ry. (Read experts’ safe­ty tips on sur­viv­ing heat waves.)
    ...

    Also fuel­ing those future migra­tions out of the trop­ics (and into places like the US), is the per­va­sive inequal­i­ty that guar­an­tees that large num­bers of peo­ple who will be fac­ing these heat­waves won’t have access to things like air con­di­tion:

    ...
    “Increas­ing inequal­i­ty leads to increased deaths from heat extremes,” says Keller.

    Heat­ing the Glob­al South

    Heat didn’t used to be a huge prob­lem in India, Pak­istan, and oth­er parts of the glob­al south, but heat extremes are now more com­mon and more intense with cli­mate change, says Keller. (Read “Indi­a’s Heat Wave: How Extreme Heat Rav­ages the Body”)

    Thou­sands of peo­ple have died in India from the heat­waves in recent years. Anoth­er new study pub­lished in Sci­ence Advances found that the num­ber of heat­waves in India killing more than 100 peo­ple increased 2.5 times between 1960 and 2009—an uptick like­ly due to cli­mate change, says study co-author and Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine pro­fes­sor Steven Davis.

    Yet India’s mean tem­per­a­ture has only increased 0.9 degrees Fahren­heit (0.5 degrees Cel­sius) in the past 50 years, a mild increase in com­par­i­son to oth­er parts of the world.

    Sur­face tem­per­a­ture mea­sure­ments show that the Earth has warmed 1.8 degrees Fahren­heit (1 degree Cel­sius) since prein­dus­tri­al times, but this addi­tion­al heat is not even­ly dis­trib­uted. The Arc­tic is 4.5 degrees Fahren­heit (2.5 degrees Cel­sius) hot­ter on aver­age, and in Novem­ber 2016, tem­per­a­tures were an extra­or­di­nary 36 degrees Fahren­heit (20 degrees Cel­sius) high­er than nor­mal over most of the Arc­tic Ocean, an area larg­er than the con­ti­nen­tal U.S. (Read “Cli­mate Change Push­ing Trop­i­cal Dis­eases Toward Arc­tic”)

    Small increas­es in mean tem­per­a­tures can have a major impact in trop­i­cal coun­tries, espe­cial­ly amongst the poor who are extreme­ly vul­ner­a­ble, Davis notes.

    “In Chica­go peo­ple can escape the heat, but that’s not the case for many poor peo­ple in India,” he says.

    Tem­per­a­ture mea­sure­ments reveal that sum­mers in 92 per­cent of U.S. cities have become hot­ter since 1970. Cities in Texas and the Inter­moun­tain West are the most affect­ed, accord­ing to data com­piled by Cli­mate­Cen­tral. It shows sum­mers in Mil­wau­kee are now 2.4 degrees Fahren­heit (1.34 degrees Cel­sius) hot­ter on aver­age, 3.3 degrees Fahren­heit (1.6 degrees Cel­sius) hot­ter in Dal­las, and 3.8 degrees Fahren­heit (2.1 degrees Cel­sius) in Salt Lake City.

    “This is what cli­mate change means on the ground,” says Davis. Nor is it sur­pris­ing there are 60 killer heat­waves a year, he added. Hot­ter tem­per­a­tures are dri­ving peo­ple to leave their homes and migrate. (Meet Amer­i­ca’s first offi­cial cli­mate refugees.)

    “Our atti­tude towards the envi­ron­ment has been so reck­less that we are run­ning out of good choic­es for the future,” says Mora of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawaii.
    ...

    “In Chica­go peo­ple can escape the heat, but that’s not the case for many poor peo­ple in India”

    Yep, the poor of India, or Cen­tral Amer­i­ca, aren’t going to have the same resources some­one in Chica­go has to find shel­ter. Their only option is going to be to relo­cate to a cool­er lat­i­tude.

    And for those who don’t per­ish at some point from the dead­ly, their still going to be suf­fer­ing from tem­per­a­tures that lit­er­al­ly breaks down their cel­lu­lar machin­ery:

    ...
    Extreme heat sneaks up on us because we expect it to be hot in the sum­mer, says Keller, who has writ­ten a book on the 2003 Euro­pean heat wave.

    The human body’s inter­nal tem­per­a­ture likes to be between 98.6 to 100.4 degrees Fahren­heit (37 to 38 degrees Cel­sius); any warmer, and it’s a fever. As tem­per­a­tures rise, the body reacts by sweat­ing to try and cool down.

    If our inter­nal tem­per­a­ture gets close to 104 degrees Fahren­heit (40 degrees Cel­sius), all-impor­tant cel­lu­lar machin­ery start to break down. Body tem­per­a­tures above 104 degrees are extreme­ly dan­ger­ous and require imme­di­ate med­ical atten­tion.

    If the heat index—a met­ric that com­bines tem­per­a­ture and humidity—reaches 104 degrees Fahren­heit (40 degrees Cel­sius), our bod­ies begin to slow­ly heat up to the ambi­ent tem­per­a­ture unless we take action to cool down. (Learn 100 prac­ti­cal ways to reverse cli­mate change.)

    The young and elder­ly, who dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly lack resources and are more social­ly iso­lat­ed, are left the most vul­ner­a­ble. The over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of 15,000 heat-relat­ed deaths in France dur­ing the 2003 Euro­pean heat­wave were 75 or old­er, many of whom were liv­ing on their own, said Keller.
    ...

    So let’s hope that study was wild­ly off the mark, because if not if if these researchers are cor­rect, the wild fires of today are just a sym­bol­ic pre­lude to what’s to come.

    As with all sto­ries of cat­a­stroph­ic cli­mate change, the ques­tion of whether or not human­i­ty will do any­thing mean­ing­ful about it or just wait for the worst to today and hope to ‘tough it out’ remains unanswered...largely because we aren’t actu­al­ly doing much of any­thing about it. There’s always the hope that maybe we’ll smarten up as things get worse. And who knows, maybe future gen­er­a­tions will indeed smarten up (it’s a low bar at this point, so it’s pos­si­ble). But that’s assum­ing all those future heat­waves don’t lit­er­al­ly dumb us down:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Heat makes you dumb, in four charts

    by Christo­pher Ingra­ham
    July 17, 2018

    Man, it’s a hot one.

    And that could mean bad news for your per­for­mance at work or school, accord­ing to at least four recent­ly pub­lished stud­ies.

    The reports, which exam­ine the effects of air tem­per­a­ture on cog­ni­tive per­for­mance in the Unit­ed States and Chi­na, rely on dif­fer­ent data sets and meth­ods to arrive at the same con­clu­sion: The hot­ter it gets, the more our brains seem to slow down.

    The good news? These effects can be mit­i­gat­ed by air con­di­tion­ing. But access to air con­di­tion­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Amer­i­can pub­lic schools, is depen­dent in large part on eco­nom­ic fac­tors, mean­ing rich kids tend to have the lux­u­ry of tak­ing stan­dard­ized tests in air-con­di­tioned schools while many poor kids do not. And thanks to cli­mate change, ris­ing tem­per­a­tures in com­ing years are like­ly to place even more stress­es on kids’ — and adults’ — cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties.

    In four charts, here’s what the stud­ies show.

    Study No. 1: Tem­per­a­ture and High-Stakes Cog­ni­tive Per­for­mance: Evi­dence from the Nation­al Col­lege Entrance Exam­i­na­tion in Chi­na (July 2018)

    [see chart show­ing low­er Chi­nese col­lege entrance exam scores asso­ci­at­ed with high dai­ly out­door tem­per­a­ture dur­ing the exam]

    The first batch of results comes from a work­ing paper pub­lished this month by the Nation­al Bureau of Eco­nom­ic Research. A team of Amer­i­can and Chi­nese researchers looked at the effect of aver­age dai­ly tem­per­a­ture (that is, high tem­per­a­ture plus low tem­per­a­ture, divid­ed by two) on Chi­nese stu­dents’ scores on the Nation­al Col­lege Entrance Exam­i­na­tion, a high-stakes stan­dard­ized test that is “almost the sole deter­mi­nant for col­lege admis­sion in Chi­na,” per the researchers.

    Pair­ing mil­lions of test results with local mete­o­ro­log­i­cal data for the days stu­dents took the exam, researchers found that, over­all, every tem­per­a­ture increase of 3.29 degrees Cel­sius (or about 5.9 degrees Fahren­heit) reduced stu­dents’ scores on the exam by 1.12 per­cent, damp­en­ing their odds of get­ting into the most selec­tive col­leges by 1.97 per­cent.

    Chi­nese author­i­ties are, in fact, well aware that ambi­ent tem­per­a­ture can affect stu­dents’ test scores: Cit­ing Chi­nese media reports, the study authors note that the use of air con­di­tion­ing on test­ing days in some regions is pro­hib­it­ed “in order to ensure fair com­pe­ti­tion with regions in which AC is not avail­able.”

    As it turns out, that’s a com­mon thread run­ning through all these stud­ies: Air con­di­tion­ing can elim­i­nate the effects of heat on test­ing per­for­mance entire­ly. But access to class­room AC isn’t even­ly dis­trib­uted through­out Amer­i­can soci­ety.

    Study No. 2: Heat and Learn­ing (May 2018)

    [see chart show­ing low­er PSAT US exam scores asso­ci­at­ed with num­ber of hot days pri­or to exam]

    Ear­li­er this year, a dif­fer­ent team of researchers ran a sim­i­lar inquiry on the effect of heat expo­sure on Amer­i­can stu­dents’ PSAT scores. Rather than the aver­age tem­per­a­ture on test day, these researchers were inter­est­ed in how the cumu­la­tive num­ber of hot days before the test might affect stu­dents scores.

    “Hot­ter school days in the year pri­or to the test reduce learn­ing, with extreme heat being par­tic­u­lar­ly dam­ag­ing and larg­er effects for low income and minor­i­ty stu­dents,” they found. “With­out air con­di­tion­ing, each 1°F increase in school year tem­per­a­ture reduces the amount learned that year by one per­cent.”

    That’s a stag­ger­ing find­ing: All oth­er things being equal, in the absence of air con­di­tion­ing, a 10-degree increase in school-year tem­per­a­ture can reduce the amount of mate­r­i­al learned by stu­dents by about 10 per­cent.

    The cor­re­la­tion is so strong it even shows up plain­ly on a map: In the fig­ures below from the paper, the coun­ty-lev­el dis­tri­b­u­tion of 90-degree days bears a strik­ing resem­blance to the dis­tri­b­u­tion of PSAT scores.

    [see chart show­ing coun­ty-lev­el asso­ci­a­tion of more days about 90 degrees F with low­er PSAT scores in US]

    Gen­er­al­iz­ing out­ward from these data, the authors think that if heat can low­er test scores, it can reduce over­all work­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, as well. “Heat expo­sure can reduce the rate of learn­ing and skill for­ma­tion, thus poten­tial­ly reduc­ing the rate of eco­nom­ic growth,” they con­clude.

    Study No. 3: Reduced cog­ni­tive func­tion dur­ing a heat wave among res­i­dents of non-air-con­di­tioned build­ings: An obser­va­tion­al study of young adults in the sum­mer of 2016 (July 2018)

    [see chart show­ing cog­ni­tive test scores asso­ci­at­ed with high­er indoor tem­per­a­ture]

    Mov­ing slight­ly out of the stan­dard­ized test­ing realm, this month a team of Har­vard researchers pub­lished the results of a study that mon­i­tored the cog­ni­tive per­for­mance of a group of young adults dur­ing a heat wave in Boston in sum­mer 2016.

    Sim­i­lar to the stud­ies pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned, the researchers found that as the mer­cury rose, the sub­jects’ per­for­mance fell on a bat­tery of self-admin­is­tered tests involv­ing atten­tion, cog­ni­tive speed and basic math­e­mat­i­cal skills. The plot above, for instance, shows per­for­mance on what’s known as a Stroop test, which asks sub­jects to parse the dif­fer­ence between incon­gru­ent­ly labeled color/word pairs. The warmer it got indoors, the hard­er that task became.

    Divid­ing the sub­jects by whether they had air con­di­tion­ing in their build­ing of res­i­dence, the researchers found that a lack of AC was asso­ci­at­ed with a per­for­mance decline between 4.1 and 13.4 per­cent, depend­ing on the test. Because the sub­jects were all healthy, young, col­lege-age indi­vid­u­als, the authors not­ed that there’s a real pos­si­bil­i­ty that deficits could be even greater among less healthy or less edu­cat­ed groups.

    Study No. 4: Hot Tem­per­a­ture and High Stakes Exams: Evi­dence from New York City Pub­lic Schools (March 2018)

    [see chart show­ing low­er stan­dard­ized test score on New York State Regents Exam asso­ci­at­ed with high­er out­door tem­per­a­ture on day of exam]

    Back to the class­room: A March work­ing paper by Jisung Park of Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at Los Ange­les exam­ined the effects of out­door air tem­per­a­ture on 1 mil­lion New York City pub­lic high school stu­dents’ per­for­mance on the New York State Regents exam­i­na­tions, a stan­dard­ized test required to grad­u­ate from high school.

    Again, the effects are large: Park found that “tak­ing an exam on a 90°F day reduces per­for­mance by 14 per­cent of a stan­dard devi­a­tion rel­a­tive to a more opti­mal 72°F day.” To put that in con­text, that’s more than half the size of the with­in-school black-white achieve­ment gap on the tests, which works out to about 25 per­cent of a stan­dard devi­a­tion.

    In Park’s sam­ple, near­ly 1 in 5 stu­dents expe­ri­enced tem­per­a­tures of 90 degrees or greater on exam day.

    Because the exams are a pre­req­ui­site for grad­u­a­tion, heat expo­sure dur­ing the exams also has a direct effect on stu­dents’ odds of grad­u­at­ing. “For the medi­an stu­dent, tak­ing an exam on a 90°F day leads to a 10.9% low­er like­li­hood of pass­ing a par­tic­u­lar sub­ject (e.g. Alge­bra), which in turn affects prob­a­bil­i­ty of grad­u­a­tion,” Park writes.

    ...

    ———-

    “Heat makes you dumb, in four charts” by Christo­pher Ingra­ham; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 07/17/2018

    “The reports, which exam­ine the effects of air tem­per­a­ture on cog­ni­tive per­for­mance in the Unit­ed States and Chi­na, rely on dif­fer­ent data sets and meth­ods to arrive at the same con­clu­sion: The hot­ter it gets, the more our brains seem to slow down.

    That was the strong con­clu­sion from these four stud­ies: the hot­ter it gets, the dumb­er you get.

    And while air con­di­tion can reverse this cog­ni­tive decline, it’s also a lux­u­ry many of the poor­est peo­ple in the US don’t have access to, let alone the rest of the world:

    ...
    The good news? These effects can be mit­i­gat­ed by air con­di­tion­ing. But access to air con­di­tion­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Amer­i­can pub­lic schools, is depen­dent in large part on eco­nom­ic fac­tors, mean­ing rich kids tend to have the lux­u­ry of tak­ing stan­dard­ized tests in air-con­di­tioned schools while many poor kids do not. And thanks to cli­mate change, ris­ing tem­per­a­tures in com­ing years are like­ly to place even more stress­es on kids’ — and adults’ — cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties.
    ...

    And that the cher­ry on top of this sh#t sun­dae human­i­ty is cre­at­ing for itself: the worse things get thanks to human stu­pid­i­ty the dumb­er human­i­ty is all going to get...unless you can find refuge in air con­di­tioned build­ings. There’s some­thing karmic about, except for the fact that the peo­ple who did the least to cause cli­mate change (poor peo­ple liv­ing in devel­op­ing coun­tries near the equa­tor) are the same peo­ple least like­ly to have access to air con­di­tion and the most like­ly to expe­ri­ence dead­ly heat­waves. So it’s more anti-karmic and just awful.

    And in oth­er news...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 2, 2018, 1:59 pm
  4. It’s that time again. Time to give an update on the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion fig­ures get­ting caught palling around with white suprema­cists. And this time we got a twofer:
    First, one of Pres­i­dent Trump’s speech­writ­ers and pol­i­cy aides, Dar­ren Beat­tie, was just dis­cov­ered to have been a speak­er at the 216 H.L. Menck­en Club Con­fer­ence. The Menck­en Club was start­ed in 2008 and is report­ed­ly reg­u­lar­ly attend­ed by the lead­ing white nationalist/‘Alt Right’ fig­ures like Richard Spencer, John Der­byshire, Jared Tay­lor, and Peter Brimelow.

    Beat­tie claims his speech was­n’t objec­tion­able, telling CNN, “in 2016 I attend­ed the Menck­en con­fer­ence in ques­tion and deliv­ered a stand-alone, aca­d­e­m­ic talk titled ‘The Intel­li­gentsia and the Right.’ I said noth­ing objec­tion­able and stand by my remarks com­plete­ly.” So, the way Beat­tie puts it, it would appar­ent­ly be fine an not at all objec­tion­able to give a speech at a hate ral­ly as long as your par­tic­u­lar speech was­n’t par­tic­u­lar­ly objec­tion­able.

    It’s worth not­ing that Beat­tie ‘pro­vid­ed CNN a text of his speech, and he starts off thank­ing the Menck­en Club for invit­ing him and call­ing it “a great hon­or”. And when you start off your speech to a white nation­al­ist audi­ence by talk­ing about what an hon­or it is to be invit­ed there, that along makes it a pret­ty objec­tion­able speech regard­less of the rest of the con­tent. Espe­cial­ly if you become a White House speech writer and pol­i­cy aide a few months lat­er:

    CNN

    Speech­writer who attend­ed con­fer­ence with white nation­al­ists in 2016 leaves White House
    CNN Dig­i­tal Expan­sion 2016 Andrew Kaczyn­s­ki

    By Andrew Kaczyn­s­ki

    Updat­ed 11:05 AM ET, Wed August 22, 2018

    (CNN)A speech­writer for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump who attend­ed a con­fer­ence fre­quent­ed by white nation­al­ists has left the White House.

    CNN’s KFile reached out to the White House last week about Dar­ren Beat­tie, a pol­i­cy aide and speech­writer, who was list­ed as speak­ing at the 2016 H.L. Menck­en Club Con­fer­ence.

    The Menck­en Club, which is named for the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry jour­nal­ist and satirist whose posthu­mous­ly pub­lished diaries revealed racist views, is a small annu­al con­fer­ence start­ed in 2008 and reg­u­lar­ly attend­ed by well-known white nation­al­ists such as Richard Spencer. The sched­ule for the 2016 con­fer­ence list­ed pan­els and speech­es by white nation­al­ist Peter Brimelow and two writ­ers, John Der­byshire and Robert Weiss­berg, who were both fired in 2012 from the con­ser­v­a­tive mag­a­zine Nation­al Review for espous­ing racist views.

    Oth­er speak­ers from the 2016 con­fer­ence are reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tors to the white nation­al­ist web­site VDare. Jared Tay­lor, anoth­er lead­ing white nation­al­ist, can be heard at the con­fer­ence in 2016 on Der­byshire’s radio show along with Brimelow.

    The White House, which asked CNN to hold off on the sto­ry for sev­er­al days last week declined to say when Beat­tie left the White House. Beat­tie’s email address at the White House, which worked until late Fri­day evening, was no longer active by Sat­ur­day.

    ...

    Beat­tie con­firmed to CNN he spoke to the 2016 con­fer­ence, say­ing his speech was not objec­tion­able. Two days after pub­li­ca­tion of this sto­ry, Beat­tie pro­vid­ed CNN with what he said was the full text of his speech at the con­fer­ence.

    “In 2016 I attend­ed the Menck­en con­fer­ence in ques­tion and deliv­ered a stand-alone, aca­d­e­m­ic talk titled ‘The Intel­li­gentsia and the Right.’ I said noth­ing objec­tion­able and stand by my remarks com­plete­ly,” he told CNN’s KFile in an email on Sat­ur­day. “It was the hon­or of my life to serve in the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion. I love Pres­i­dent Trump, who is a fear­less Amer­i­can hero, and con­tin­ue to sup­port him one hun­dred per­cent. I have no fur­ther com­ment.”

    Beat­tie gained promi­nence in 2016 when as a vis­it­ing instruc­tor in Duke Uni­ver­si­ty’s polit­i­cal sci­ence depart­ment he signed on to a let­ter of aca­d­e­m­ic schol­ars sup­port­ing Trump. He cor­rect­ly pre­dict­ed Trump would win the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

    As a pro­fes­sor, Beat­tie wrote an edi­to­r­i­al for Duke’s stu­dent news­pa­per in sup­port of the trav­el ban and has said he sup­port­ed Trump’s can­di­da­cy from the begin­ning, cit­ing his posi­tion on immi­gra­tion.

    ———–

    “Speech­writer who attend­ed con­fer­ence with white nation­al­ists in 2016 leaves White House” by Andrew Kaczyn­s­ki; CNN; 08/22/2018

    “CNN’s KFile reached out to the White House last week about Dar­ren Beat­tie, a pol­i­cy aide and speech­writer, who was list­ed as speak­ing at the 2016 H.L. Menck­en Club Con­fer­ence.”

    He was­n’t just an attendee, he was a speak­er. A speak­er at a Club that’s basi­cal­ly a “Who’s Who” of white suprema­cists:

    ...
    The Menck­en Club, which is named for the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry jour­nal­ist and satirist whose posthu­mous­ly pub­lished diaries revealed racist views, is a small annu­al con­fer­ence start­ed in 2008 and reg­u­lar­ly attend­ed by well-known white nation­al­ists such as Richard Spencer. The sched­ule for the 2016 con­fer­ence list­ed pan­els and speech­es by white nation­al­ist Peter Brimelow and two writ­ers, John Der­byshire and Robert Weiss­berg, who were both fired in 2012 from the con­ser­v­a­tive mag­a­zine Nation­al Review for espous­ing racist views.

    Oth­er speak­ers from the 2016 con­fer­ence are reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tors to the white nation­al­ist web­site VDare. Jared Tay­lor, anoth­er lead­ing white nation­al­ist, can be heard at the con­fer­ence in 2016 on Der­byshire’s radio show along with Brimelow.
    ...

    Beat­tie pro­vid­ed a tran­script of his speech to CNN appar­ent­ly to prove how non objec­tion­able the speech actu­al­ly was:

    ...
    Beat­tie con­firmed to CNN he spoke to the 2016 con­fer­ence, say­ing his speech was not objec­tion­able. Two days after pub­li­ca­tion of this sto­ry, Beat­tie pro­vid­ed CNN with what he said was the full text of his speech at the con­fer­ence.
    ...

    And yes, the very begin­ning of the speech starts off with Beat­tie call­ing it a “great hon­or” to be invit­ed to speak there. Ouch.

    Ok, so that was the first sto­ry we got yes­ter­day about a White House staffer palling around with white suprema­cists. Now let’s move on to White House eco­nom­ic advi­sor Lar­ry Kud­low. As we also learned yes­ter­day, Kud­low got caught invit­ed Peter Brimelow to Kud­low’s birth­day par­ty. Note that Brimelow was list above as one of the atten­dees of the H.L. Menck­en Club event.

    When con­front­ed about invit­ing Brimelow, Kud­low explained that he’s known Brimelow for decades from back when Brimelow was a respect­ed finan­cial com­men­ta­tor (Brimelow only became an open lead­ing white nation­al­ist over the last cou­ple of decades). The Kud­low played com­plete­ly dumb and act­ed like he had no idea Brimelow was a white nation­al­ist, adding that Brimelow has been “com­ing to my din­ner par­ties for years” but that “none of this oth­er stuff has ever come up.”

    Even Brimelow could­n’t main­tain the absurd pre­tense that Kud­low had no idea what he was all about. When asked about it, Brimelow said, “I’ve known Lar­ry for near­ly 40 years. I regard him as a per­son­al friend. They knew my first wife, who died, and were most kind to Lydia when I remar­ried. We agreed to dis­agree on immi­gra­tion long ago.”

    Oth­er atten­dees of Kud­low’s birth­day bash include Roger Stone and some mem­bers of the media, CNBC’s Michelle Caru­so-Cabr­era and Fox News anchor Bri­an Kilmeade.

    So it sounds like Kud­low and Brimelow have prob­a­bly been hang­ing out for years. Appar­ent­ly in larg­er social set­ting that involve lots of oth­er acquain­tances. And that’s rather notable because it’s one thing for some­one to attend a gath­er­ing of white suprema­cists. At least you can osten­si­bly keep it a secret when you head to the white suprema­cist gath­er­ing. But it’s anoth­er thing to invite the white suprema­cists to your own birth­day par­ty and them min­gle with all your oth­er friends. Espe­cial­ly when some of them are in the media:

    Wash­ing­ton Post

    Trump advis­er Lar­ry Kud­low host­ed pub­lish­er of white nation­al­ists at his home

    By Robert Cos­ta, Reporter
    August 21, 2018 at 6:39 PM

    The pub­lish­er of a web­site that serves as a plat­form for white nation­al­ism was a guest last week­end at the home of Pres­i­dent Trump’s top eco­nom­ic advis­er, Lar­ry Kud­low.

    Peter Brimelow attend­ed the gath­er­ing, a birth­day bash for Kud­low, one day after a White House speech­writer was dis­missed in the wake of rev­e­la­tions that he had spo­ken along­side Brimelow on a 2016 pan­el.

    Brimelow, 70, was once a well-con­nect­ed fig­ure in main­stream con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles, writ­ing for Dow Jones and Nation­al Review. But over the past two decades, he has become a zeal­ous pro­mot­er of white-iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics on Vdare.com, the anti-immi­gra­tion web­site that he found­ed in 1999.

    While Brimelow has long per­son­al­ly reject­ed the label of “white nation­al­ist,” he acknowl­edged to the Har­vard Crim­son in 2016 that his web­site does “cer­tain­ly pub­lish a few writ­ers I would regard as ‘white nation­al­ist’ in that they stand up for whites just as Zion­ists, black nation­al­ists do for Jews, blacks, etc.”

    Kud­low said Tues­day that Brimelow was a guest at his birth­day par­ty at his Con­necti­cut home and is some­one he has known “for­ev­er,” going back to their work in finan­cial jour­nal­ism. Kud­low expressed regret when he was described details of Brimelow’s pro­mo­tion of white nation­al­ists on Vdare.com.

    “If I had known this, we would nev­er have invit­ed him,” Kud­low said. “I’m dis­ap­point­ed and sad­dened to hear about it.”

    Kud­low said that Brimelow’s views on immi­gra­tion and race are “a side of Peter that I don’t know, and I total­ly, utter­ly dis­agree with that point of view and have my whole life. I’m a civ­il rights Repub­li­can.”

    Kud­low said that Brimelow, who also lives in Con­necti­cut, has been “com­ing to my din­ner par­ties for years” but that “none of this oth­er stuff has ever come up.”

    A White House spokesman declined to com­ment and point­ed to Kudlow’s inter­view with The Wash­ing­ton Post.

    Brimelow declined to be inter­viewed by phone. In a state­ment, he said: “I’ve known Lar­ry for near­ly 40 years. I regard him as a per­son­al friend. They knew my first wife, who died, and were most kind to Lydia when I remar­ried. We agreed to dis­agree on immi­gra­tion long ago.”

    Tues­day evening, Brimelow tweet­ed: “Appar­ent­ly we’re not sup­posed to have per­son­al friends any­more. Who knew.”

    When asked how he would dis­cuss this mat­ter with Trump, Kud­low said, “Just the way I explained it now, hid­ing noth­ing.”

    The White House’s brush­es with Brimelow come as Repub­li­cans are fac­ing chal­lenges on race fol­low­ing Trump’s use of racial­ly charged insults in recent weeks, such as call­ing his for­mer top African Amer­i­can advis­er a “dog,” which sev­er­al GOP sen­a­tors have crit­i­cized as inap­pro­pri­ate and offen­sive lan­guage.

    ...

    Kud­low has known Brimelow for decades, dur­ing which their careers in con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­tary and net­works over­lapped.

    “Most­ly, he was a writer I knew for Forbes and oth­er finan­cial pub­li­ca­tions,” Kud­low said.

    Kudlow’s pub­lic posi­tions are far dif­fer­ent than Brimelow’s. A for­mer Demo­c­rat, Kud­low has been a vocal advo­cate for a path to legal­iza­tion for undoc­u­ment­ed work­ers and was an ally of the late New York con­gress­man Jack Kemp, who called on Repub­li­cans to do more out­reach to minor­i­ty vot­ers.

    “The polit­i­cal tide among con­ser­v­a­tives and Repub­li­cans may be turn­ing in favor of immi­gra­tion reform. As a long­time sup­port­er of reform who believes that immi­gra­tion is a pro-growth issue, I am delight­ed to see these devel­op­ments,” Kud­low wrote in a 2014 col­umn for CNBC.com. He added that the GOP “must return to its big tent roots. It must fol­low the lead of Ronald Rea­gan and Jack Kemp. It must reach out to Lati­nos, African-Amer­i­cans, young peo­ple and women. A con­ser­v­a­tive Catholic like myself can work inside the same tent as my Log Cab­in Repub­li­can friends.”

    Brimelow’s web­site is named in hon­or of Vir­ginia Dare, the first Eng­lish child born in what is now the Unit­ed States. Dare has become a sym­bol for white nation­al­ists who are alarmed by immi­gra­tion.

    The British-born Brimelow has writ­ten that Dare, who was white, is a reminder of the “very spe­cif­ic cul­tur­al ori­gins of Amer­i­ca at a time when mass non­tra­di­tion­al immi­gra­tion is threat­en­ing to swamp it.”

    Vdare.com fre­quent­ly pub­lish­es sto­ries that are pop­u­lar with the alt-right. The alt-right, short for alter­na­tive right, is a small, far-right move­ment that sup­ports white iden­ti­ty or a whites-only state. Adher­ents of the alt-right have been known to espouse racist, anti-Semit­ic and sex­ist points of view.

    Many alt-right fol­low­ers are young white men who have found com­mon cause online and who pro­mote tra­di­tion­al gen­der roles. Coined by activist Richard Spencer in an effort to avoid being labeled racist or white suprema­cist, the phrase was intend­ed as an umbrel­la term that would cov­er dis­parate points of view, but the focus on a whites-only state appears to be a core prin­ci­ple.

    Sev­er­al long­time asso­ciates of the pres­i­dent also attend­ed the pri­vate par­ty at Kudlow’s home in rur­al Red­ding, Conn., accord­ing to Politi­co, includ­ing polit­i­cal strate­gist Roger Stone and busi­ness­man Christo­pher Rud­dy, both of whom have also known Kud­low for years. Politi­co report­ed that mem­bers of the media such as CNBC’s Michelle Caru­so-Cabr­era and Fox News anchor Bri­an Kilmeade, who is one of the president’s favorite per­son­al­i­ties, attend­ed as well.

    As Kudlow’s par­ty con­vened, for­mer speech­writer Dar­ren Beat­tie was still fum­ing over his exit from the West Wing, accord­ing to a per­son close to him.

    ...
    ———-

    “Trump advis­er Lar­ry Kud­low host­ed pub­lish­er of white nation­al­ists at his home” by Robert Cos­ta; Wash­ing­ton Post; 08/21/2018

    “Peter Brimelow attend­ed the gath­er­ing, a birth­day bash for Kud­low, one day after a White House speech­writer was dis­missed in the wake of rev­e­la­tions that he had spo­ken along­side Brimelow on a 2016 pan­el.”

    You know you’re going to have a mem­o­rable birth­day par­ty when you invite a lead­ing white suprema­cist. It might not be mem­o­rable in a pos­i­tive way, but it’s going to be mem­o­rable. And yet Kud­low claimed to have no knowl­edge at all that Brimelow had these views, despite Brimelow being some­one Kud­low has known “for­ev­er”:

    ...
    Brimelow, 70, was once a well-con­nect­ed fig­ure in main­stream con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles, writ­ing for Dow Jones and Nation­al Review. But over the past two decades, he has become a zeal­ous pro­mot­er of white-iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics on Vdare.com, the anti-immi­gra­tion web­site that he found­ed in 1999.

    While Brimelow has long per­son­al­ly reject­ed the label of “white nation­al­ist,” he acknowl­edged to the Har­vard Crim­son in 2016 that his web­site does “cer­tain­ly pub­lish a few writ­ers I would regard as ‘white nation­al­ist’ in that they stand up for whites just as Zion­ists, black nation­al­ists do for Jews, blacks, etc.”

    Kud­low said Tues­day that Brimelow was a guest at his birth­day par­ty at his Con­necti­cut home and is some­one he has known “for­ev­er,” going back to their work in finan­cial jour­nal­ism. Kud­low expressed regret when he was described details of Brimelow’s pro­mo­tion of white nation­al­ists on Vdare.com.

    “If I had known this, we would nev­er have invit­ed him,” Kud­low said. “I’m dis­ap­point­ed and sad­dened to hear about it.”

    Kud­low said that Brimelow’s views on immi­gra­tion and race are “a side of Peter that I don’t know, and I total­ly, utter­ly dis­agree with that point of view and have my whole life. I’m a civ­il rights Repub­li­can.”

    Kud­low said that Brimelow, who also lives in Con­necti­cut, has been “com­ing to my din­ner par­ties for years” but that “none of this oth­er stuff has ever come up.”
    ...

    Appar­ent­ly pol­i­tics nev­er came dur­ing the din­ner par­ties they’ve had for year.

    Brimelow, to his cred­it, does­n’t engage in the same act, and sim­ply says that he and Kud­low “agreed to dis­agree” on top­ics like immi­gra­tion long ago:

    ...
    Brimelow declined to be inter­viewed by phone. In a state­ment, he said: “I’ve known Lar­ry for near­ly 40 years. I regard him as a per­son­al friend. They knew my first wife, who died, and were most kind to Lydia when I remar­ried. We agreed to dis­agree on immi­gra­tion long ago.”
    ...

    And that “agree to dis­agree” chum­mi­ness with lead­ing white suprema­cists rais­es the ques­tion of just how fre­quent­ly are ‘main­stream’ con­ser­v­a­tives secret­ly hang­ing out with folks like Brimelow. Is ‘din­ner with the Alt Right’ a reg­u­lar thing in Kud­low’s social cir­cles? And how large is that social cir­cle? For instance, we’re now learn­ing that Bob Ste­fanows­ki, this year’s GOP nom­i­nee for gov­er­nor of Con­necti­cut, was also at this din­ner par­ty with Brimelow. Again, that’s the Con­necti­cut nom­i­nee for gov­er­nor this year in atten­dance.

    So who else was there and com­mon is it in main­stream con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cle to just casu­al­ly invite lead­ing white suprema­cists to your din­ner par­ties? We’ll pre­sum­ably nev­er know. But we now have a bet­ter idea of where ‘the line’ is for Trump White House employ­ees open­ly cavort­ing with white suprema­cists: you can invite them to your birth­day par­ty, but if you give a speech at white nation­al­ist con­fer­ences that cross­es ‘the line’. Some­times. There are excep­tions.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 22, 2018, 3:21 pm
  5. some­one noticed a rather strange 14 word head­line on this link

    We Must Secure The Bor­der And Build The Wall To Make Amer­i­ca Safe Again

    https://www.dhs.gov/news/2018/02/15/we-must-secure-border-and-build-wall-make-america-safe-again

    and...

    On aver­age, out of 88 claims that pass the cred­i­ble fear screen­ing, few­er than 13 will ulti­mate­ly result in a grant of asy­lum.

    Posted by Mark | August 31, 2018, 1:58 am
  6. @Mark: You have to won­der if Ian Smith, the for­mer DHS employ­ee in the fol­low­ing arti­cle, had any­thing to do with that creepy ’14 words’ DHS slo­gan. It would cer­tain­ly be con­sis­tent with the pro­file that emerges of the guy:

    The Atlantic

    Emails Link For­mer Home­land Secu­ri­ty Offi­cial to White Nation­al­ists

    The emails show Ian M. Smith, who has resigned his posi­tion, to be con­nect­ed to an incog­ni­to social scene that includ­ed white-nation­al­ist activists.

    Rosie Gray
    Aug 28, 2018

    In the past two years, lead­ers of an embold­ened white nation­al­ism have burst into the fore­front of nation­al pol­i­tics and coa­lesced around a so-called alt-right sub­cul­ture as they have endeav­ored to make their ide­ol­o­gy part of the main­stream. Recent devel­op­ments have shed light on pre­vi­ous­ly unknown con­nec­tions between white-nation­al­ist activists and the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. Now, the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty has denounced “all forms of vio­lent extrem­ism” fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of a pol­i­cy ana­lyst who had con­nec­tions with white nation­al­ists, accord­ing to leaked emails obtained by The Atlantic.

    The emails show that the offi­cial, Ian M. Smith, had in the past been in con­tact with a group that includ­ed known white nation­al­ists as they planned var­i­ous events. On one of the email threads, the address of the alt-right white nation­al­ist leader Richard Spencer is includ­ed, as well as Smith’s. Anoth­er group of recip­i­ents includes Smith as well as Jared Tay­lor, the founder of the white nation­al­ist pub­li­ca­tion Amer­i­can Renais­sance, who calls him­self a “white advo­cate.”

    The mes­sages, giv­en to The Atlantic by a source to whom they were for­ward­ed, paint a pic­ture of the social scene in which white nation­al­ists gath­ered for an “Alt-Right Toast­mas­ters” night in 2016, and orga­nized din­ner par­ties and vis­its from out-of-town friends. And they pro­vide a glimpse into how a group that includ­ed hard-core white nation­al­ists was able to oper­ate rel­a­tive­ly incog­ni­to in the wider world, par­tic­u­lar­ly in con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles. The rev­e­la­tion of these mes­sages comes amid increas­ing scruti­ny of white nation­al­ists’ ties to the admin­is­tra­tion; a White House speech­writer, Dar­ren Beat­tie, left the admin­is­tra­tion after CNN report­ed ear­li­er this month that he had attend­ed a con­fer­ence with white nation­al­ists in 2016. The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed last week that Peter Brimelow, the pub­lish­er of the white nation­al­ist web­site VDare, had attend­ed a par­ty at the top White House eco­nom­ic advis­er Lar­ry Kudlow’s house. Kud­low told the Post he was unaware of Brimelow’s views and would not have invit­ed him had he known about them.

    After being reached for com­ment about The Atlantic’s report­ing, Smith said in an email: “I no longer work at DHS as of last week and didn’t attend any of the events you’ve men­tioned.” Nei­ther he nor DHS dis­put­ed that it is him on the emails in ques­tion.

    White nation­al­ists have an affin­i­ty for the pres­i­dent, who they believe shares some of their pol­i­cy pri­or­i­ties. After the coun­ter­pro­test­er Heather Hey­er was killed at a white-nation­al­ist ral­ly in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, in 2017, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump remarked that there were “very fine peo­ple on both sides” who attend­ed the ral­ly. After hear­ing the president’s state­ment, Spencer told The Atlantic he was “real­ly proud of him.”

    Accord­ing to sources with knowl­edge of Smith’s role at DHS, he was a pol­i­cy ana­lyst work­ing on immi­gra­tion. He used to work for the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI), an anti-immi­gra­tion legal orga­ni­za­tion asso­ci­at­ed with the right-wing Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR). From 2014 to 2017 he wrote a num­ber of columns on immi­gra­tion for Nation­al Review. (The NationalReview.com edi­tor Charles Cooke didn’t imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for com­ment).

    Smith’s pub­lic writ­ings show­cased a right-wing per­spec­tive on immi­gra­tion, such as oppos­ing the Immi­gra­tion and Nation­al­i­ty Act of 1965, which end­ed race-based restric­tions on immi­gra­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly from coun­tries in Asia and Africa, and which Smith argued was respon­si­ble for the “bare­ly gov­ern­able sys­tem we have today,” oppos­ing sanc­tu­ary cities, and applaud­ing the con­tro­ver­sial S.B. 1070 anti–illegal immi­gra­tion law in Ari­zona.

    In an inter­view with the web­site FOIA Advi­sor in 2016, Smith said he “was born just out­side Seat­tle, grew up in Van­cou­ver, British Colum­bia, and lived in Bei­jing, Hong Kong, and Syd­ney, Aus­tralia for many years.” In that inter­view, he described his role at the IRLI thus­ly: “I work at a non­prof­it law firm that rep­re­sents peo­ple harmed by the government’s fail­ure to reg­u­late immi­gra­tion.”

    Dale Wilcox, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the IRLI, said in a state­ment: “Ian Smith was an inves­tiga­tive asso­ciate at IRLI, as an inde­pen­dent con­trac­tor for two years and an employ­ee for less than a year between Jan­u­ary 2015 and Octo­ber 2017. How our employ­ees fill their time out­side of the office, or the pri­vate rela­tion­ships they pur­sue, are not issues of IRLI’s con­cern. It is not any organization’s respon­si­bil­i­ty to track their employ­ees after hours activ­i­ties or peer into their employee’s pri­vate lives. For the record, IRLI and FAIR have no asso­ci­a­tion with the indi­vid­u­als men­tioned and we repu­di­ate their views. Fur­ther­more, if it would come to our atten­tion that any employ­ees are asso­ci­at­ed with indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions that hold nox­ious views on mat­ters of race and eth­nic­i­ty, that may be grounds for ter­mi­na­tion. Final­ly, it must be not­ed that sim­ply appear­ing on someone’s email list should nev­er be inter­pret­ed as a blan­ket endorse­ment of that individual’s point of view.”

    After describ­ing the emails involv­ing Smith in detail to DHS spokes­peo­ple on Mon­day, The Atlantic learned on Tues­day that Smith had resigned from his posi­tion.

    A DHS spokesper­son, Tyler Q. Houl­ton, said: “The Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty is com­mit­ted to com­bat­ing all forms of vio­lent extrem­ism, espe­cial­ly move­ments that espouse racial suprema­cy or big­otry. This type of rad­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy runs counter to the Department’s mis­sion of keep­ing Amer­i­ca safe.”

    Sev­er­al emails obtained by The Atlantic show Smith includ­ed on threads with peo­ple asso­ci­at­ed with white nation­al­ism, such as Mar­cus Epstein, a for­mer Tom Tan­cre­do aide who entered an Alford plea in 2009 for assault­ing a black woman in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., in 2007, and Devin Sauci­er, an edi­tor (under a pseu­do­nym) at Amer­i­can Renais­sance. Epstein declined to com­ment; Sauci­er did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    On June 3, 2016, Epstein emailed a group includ­ing Smith, Sauci­er, Tay­lor, and oth­ers to invite them to an “Alt-Right Toast­mas­ters” event. “We are hav­ing our much delayed fol­low up meet­ing on Mon­day June 6 at 7:00 PM. A cou­ple of out of town guests will be there. Please RSVP and if you want to invite any­one else, please check with me,” Epstein wrote. “I’m going to give a short pre­sen­ta­tion on ‘The Pros and Cons of Anonymi­ty’ at 8:00 fol­lowed by dis­cus­sion.” In a pre­vi­ous email on the sub­ject, Epstein had said he was tim­ing the event for a vis­it from Wayne Lut­ton, the edi­tor of the white-nation­al­ist pub­li­ca­tion The Social Con­tract. Accord­ing to a source who was there, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, Smith attend­ed this event.

    On Decem­ber 17, 2015, Sauci­er and Epstein emailed a YouTube link, which is now defunct, to a group of address­es includ­ing Smith’s and Spencer’s. Reached by phone, Spencer said, “To my knowl­edge, I’ve nev­er met Ian Smith. I get roped in to all sorts of email con­ver­sa­tions, I receive too many emails every day for me to respond to.”

    Though the emails don’t show Smith and Spencer inter­act­ing, some of the mes­sages indi­cate a famil­iar­i­ty on Smith’s part with Spencer’s projects. In anoth­er email, sent on March 7, 2015, Smith refers to an event held by “NPI,” the acronym for the Nation­al Pol­i­cy Insti­tute, Spencer’s white-nation­al­ist non­prof­it, say­ing he had missed it because he was out of town. And in anoth­er, on May 9, 2016, Smith rec­om­mend­ed some­one for a job at a promi­nent, Trump-sup­port­ing media out­let, say­ing that the per­son was “cur­rent­ly work­ing in devel­op­ment at LI” (the con­ser­v­a­tive train­ing group the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute) and “writes for Radix, Amren, VDare and Chron­i­cles under a pseu­do­nym.” The word Amren refers to Amer­i­can Renais­sance; Radix is Spencer’s pub­li­ca­tion. “Chron­i­cles” appears to refer to Chron­i­cles Mag­a­zine, anoth­er pub­li­ca­tion asso­ci­at­ed with this move­ment, which has pub­lished Lut­ton and Sam Fran­cis, the late edi­tor of the Coun­cil of Con­ser­v­a­tive Cit­i­zens’ newslet­ter. Smith also wrote that the per­son he had rec­om­mend­ed “helps Richard and JT with their web­sites,” appear­ing to refer to Spencer and Jared Tay­lor.

    In one email exchange at the end of Octo­ber 2015, Ben Zapp, a real-estate agent who has in the past been pho­tographed with mem­bers of this scene, invit­ed a group includ­ing Smith; Sauci­er; Epstein; Tim Dion­isopou­los, a Media Research Cen­ter staffer; and Kevin DeAn­na, the for­mer Youth for West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion pres­i­dent, to his apart­ment for din­ner, stat­ing that he wasn’t going to that weekend’s NPI con­fer­ence. (The 2016 con­fer­ence of NPI is where Spencer was caught on video lead­ing a “Hail Trump” chant while audi­ence mem­bers gave Nazi salutes.) Zapp, Dion­isopou­los, and DeAn­na did not respond to requests for com­ment.

    Epstein replied to the thread say­ing he wasn’t going to NPI either but was plan­ning to social­ize with peo­ple who were, and that “I can’t speak for every­one, but this is prob­a­bly not the best time.” Zapp respond­ed, “It’s a din­ner, not a party—thus the hav­ing to get out by 9:30 or 10 at the lat­est. I would imag­ine this would start on the ear­ly side, like 7:00 or even ear­li­er. So it’s settled—we know my home shall remain juden­frei.” Juden­frei is a Ger­man word mean­ing “free of Jews,” which the Nazis used to describe areas from which Jews had been expelled or killed.

    Smith respond­ed to the group: “They don’t call it Fre­itag for noth­ing,” using the Ger­man word for “Fri­day,” and added, “I was plan­ning to hit the bar dur­ing the din­ner hours and talk to peo­ple like Matt Par­rot [sic], etc. I should have time to pop by though.” Matt Par­rott is the for­mer spokesman for the neo-Nazi Tra­di­tion­al­ist Work­er Par­ty, which flamed out ear­li­er this year after its leader, Matthew Heim­bach, had an affair with Parrott’s wife, lead­ing to the two falling out.

    And in an email from 2014, Smith jok­ing­ly calls “spoon­ing dibs” on Jack Dono­van dur­ing a vis­it from Dono­van, a “mas­culin­ist” writer who has ties to mem­bers of the alt-right and is heav­i­ly involved in Wolves of Vin­land, a neo-pagan group entwined with the white-nation­al­ist move­ment. Sauci­er had emailed sev­er­al peo­ple to dis­cuss sleep­ing arrange­ments for Dono­van, telling them that, “There was some mis­un­der­stand­ing about how Jack Dono­van would arrive down in Lynch­burg for fes­tiv­i­ties this week­end”; the Wolves of Vin­land are based out­side of Lynch­burg, Vir­ginia.

    ...

    ———-

    “Emails Link For­mer Home­land Secu­ri­ty Offi­cial to White Nation­al­ists” by Rosie Gray; The Atlantic; 08/28/2018

    “The mes­sages, giv­en to The Atlantic by a source to whom they were for­ward­ed, paint a pic­ture of the social scene in which white nation­al­ists gath­ered for an “Alt-Right Toast­mas­ters” night in 2016, and orga­nized din­ner par­ties and vis­its from out-of-town friends. And they pro­vide a glimpse into how a group that includ­ed hard-core white nation­al­ists was able to oper­ate rel­a­tive­ly incog­ni­to in the wider world, par­tic­u­lar­ly in con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles. The rev­e­la­tion of these mes­sages comes amid increas­ing scruti­ny of white nation­al­ists’ ties to the admin­is­tra­tion; a White House speech­writer, Dar­ren Beat­tie, left the admin­is­tra­tion after CNN report­ed ear­li­er this month that he had attend­ed a con­fer­ence with white nation­al­ists in 2016. The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed last week that Peter Brimelow, the pub­lish­er of the white nation­al­ist web­site VDare, had attend­ed a par­ty at the top White House eco­nom­ic advis­er Lar­ry Kudlow’s house. Kud­low told the Post he was unaware of Brimelow’s views and would not have invit­ed him had he known about them.”

    Rel­a­tive­ly incog­ni­to white suprema­cists infil­trat­ing con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles. It’s like the meta-sto­ry of this era. Although a more com­plete meta-sto­ry would be rel­a­tive­ly incog­ni­to white suprema­cists infil­trat­ing con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles, get­ting caught, maybe get­ting fired, and then every­body plays dumb, acts like it’s a sur­prise, and prompt­ly for­gets it.

    In the case of Ian Smith, it was already pret­ty obvi­ous that the guy had strong Alt Right lean­ings based on the fact that he worked for the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute, the legal arm of the far right/pro-eugen­ics Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR). And Smith wrote almost exclu­sive­ly about immi­gra­tion (and his oppo­si­tion to it) for the Nation­al Review. The writ­ing was on the wall with this guy. So of course he was hired by Trump’s DHS to work on immi­gra­tion issues:

    ...
    Accord­ing to sources with knowl­edge of Smith’s role at DHS, he was a pol­i­cy ana­lyst work­ing on immi­gra­tion. He used to work for the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI), an anti-immi­gra­tion legal orga­ni­za­tion asso­ci­at­ed with the right-wing Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR). From 2014 to 2017 he wrote a num­ber of columns on immi­gra­tion for Nation­al Review. (The NationalReview.com edi­tor Charles Cooke didn’t imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for com­ment).

    Smith’s pub­lic writ­ings show­cased a right-wing per­spec­tive on immi­gra­tion, such as oppos­ing the Immi­gra­tion and Nation­al­i­ty Act of 1965, which end­ed race-based restric­tions on immi­gra­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly from coun­tries in Asia and Africa, and which Smith argued was respon­si­ble for the “bare­ly gov­ern­able sys­tem we have today,” oppos­ing sanc­tu­ary cities, and applaud­ing the con­tro­ver­sial S.B. 1070 anti–illegal immi­gra­tion law in Ari­zona.
    ...

    And while Smith turn­ing out to be a Nazi fel­low trav­el­er should come as no sur­prise to any­one famil­iar with his back­ground and the groups he worked for, it is rather illus­tra­tive for how “a group that includ­ed hard-core white nation­al­ists was able to oper­ate rel­a­tive­ly incog­ni­to in the wider world, par­tic­u­lar­ly in con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles.” It’s as sim­ple as Alt Right fig­ures like Richard Spencer qui­et­ly net­work­ing with peo­ple like Smith who are basi­cal­ly on the same page, polit­i­cal­ly, with Spencer but who haven’t yet been out­ed as Nazis. In oth­er words, peo­ple like Spencer are able to oper­a­tive in con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles rel­a­tive­ly eas­i­ly because the inter­net has made qui­et­ly asso­ci­at­ing with peo­ple eas­i­er than ever and those con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles are filled with cryp­to-Nazis who large­ly agree with peo­ple like Spencer. And that qui­et asso­ci­a­tion can hap­pen unim­ped­ed as long as peo­ple like Smith aren’t caught in these email threads or attend­ing Alt Right events (or invit­ing Alt Right fig­ures to their birth­day par­ties). And based on these emails, it sounds like Smith was indeed able to attend a num­ber of Alt Right events with­out get­ting caught for years...until these emails came out:

    ...
    Sev­er­al emails obtained by The Atlantic show Smith includ­ed on threads with peo­ple asso­ci­at­ed with white nation­al­ism, such as Mar­cus Epstein, a for­mer Tom Tan­cre­do aide who entered an Alford plea in 2009 for assault­ing a black woman in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., in 2007, and Devin Sauci­er, an edi­tor (under a pseu­do­nym) at Amer­i­can Renais­sance. Epstein declined to com­ment; Sauci­er did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    On June 3, 2016, Epstein emailed a group includ­ing Smith, Sauci­er, Tay­lor, and oth­ers to invite them to an “Alt-Right Toast­mas­ters” event. “We are hav­ing our much delayed fol­low up meet­ing on Mon­day June 6 at 7:00 PM. A cou­ple of out of town guests will be there. Please RSVP and if you want to invite any­one else, please check with me,” Epstein wrote. “I’m going to give a short pre­sen­ta­tion on ‘The Pros and Cons of Anonymi­ty’ at 8:00 fol­lowed by dis­cus­sion.” In a pre­vi­ous email on the sub­ject, Epstein had said he was tim­ing the event for a vis­it from Wayne Lut­ton, the edi­tor of the white-nation­al­ist pub­li­ca­tion The Social Con­tract. Accord­ing to a source who was there, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, Smith attend­ed this event.

    On Decem­ber 17, 2015, Sauci­er and Epstein emailed a YouTube link, which is now defunct, to a group of address­es includ­ing Smith’s and Spencer’s. Reached by phone, Spencer said, “To my knowl­edge, I’ve nev­er met Ian Smith. I get roped in to all sorts of email con­ver­sa­tions, I receive too many emails every day for me to respond to.”

    Though the emails don’t show Smith and Spencer inter­act­ing, some of the mes­sages indi­cate a famil­iar­i­ty on Smith’s part with Spencer’s projects. In anoth­er email, sent on March 7, 2015, Smith refers to an event held by “NPI,” the acronym for the Nation­al Pol­i­cy Insti­tute, Spencer’s white-nation­al­ist non­prof­it, say­ing he had missed it because he was out of town. And in anoth­er, on May 9, 2016, Smith rec­om­mend­ed some­one for a job at a promi­nent, Trump-sup­port­ing media out­let, say­ing that the per­son was “cur­rent­ly work­ing in devel­op­ment at LI” (the con­ser­v­a­tive train­ing group the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute) and “writes for Radix, Amren, VDare and Chron­i­cles under a pseu­do­nym.” The word Amren refers to Amer­i­can Renais­sance; Radix is Spencer’s pub­li­ca­tion. “Chron­i­cles” appears to refer to Chron­i­cles Mag­a­zine, anoth­er pub­li­ca­tion asso­ci­at­ed with this move­ment, which has pub­lished Lut­ton and Sam Fran­cis, the late edi­tor of the Coun­cil of Con­ser­v­a­tive Cit­i­zens’ newslet­ter. Smith also wrote that the per­son he had rec­om­mend­ed “helps Richard and JT with their web­sites,” appear­ing to refer to Spencer and Jared Tay­lor.
    ...

    And just in case it was­n’t total­ly obvi­ous that Smith is indeed a Nazi at heart, there’s the email from Octo­ber of 2015 where Smith describes his plans to “hit the bar dur­ing the din­ner hours and talk to peo­ple like Matt Par­rot” from the aggres­sive­ly neo-Nazi Tra­di­tion­al­ist Work­er Par­ty. And this was his mes­sage in response to an email about keep­ing a home “juden­frei”:

    ...
    In one email exchange at the end of Octo­ber 2015, Ben Zapp, a real-estate agent who has in the past been pho­tographed with mem­bers of this scene, invit­ed a group includ­ing Smith; Sauci­er; Epstein; Tim Dion­isopou­los, a Media Research Cen­ter staffer; and Kevin DeAn­na, the for­mer Youth for West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion pres­i­dent, to his apart­ment for din­ner, stat­ing that he wasn’t going to that weekend’s NPI con­fer­ence. (The 2016 con­fer­ence of NPI is where Spencer was caught on video lead­ing a “Hail Trump” chant while audi­ence mem­bers gave Nazi salutes.) Zapp, Dion­isopou­los, and DeAn­na did not respond to requests for com­ment.

    Epstein replied to the thread say­ing he wasn’t going to NPI either but was plan­ning to social­ize with peo­ple who were, and that “I can’t speak for every­one, but this is prob­a­bly not the best time.” Zapp respond­ed, “It’s a din­ner, not a party—thus the hav­ing to get out by 9:30 or 10 at the lat­est. I would imag­ine this would start on the ear­ly side, like 7:00 or even ear­li­er. So it’s settled—we know my home shall remain juden­frei.” Juden­frei is a Ger­man word mean­ing “free of Jews,” which the Nazis used to describe areas from which Jews had been expelled or killed.

    Smith respond­ed to the group: “They don’t call it Fre­itag for noth­ing,” using the Ger­man word for “Fri­day,” and added, “I was plan­ning to hit the bar dur­ing the din­ner hours and talk to peo­ple like Matt Par­rot [sic], etc. I should have time to pop by though.” Matt Par­rott is the for­mer spokesman for the neo-Nazi Tra­di­tion­al­ist Work­er Par­ty, which flamed out ear­li­er this year after its leader, Matthew Heim­bach, had an affair with Parrott’s wife, lead­ing to the two falling out.
    ...

    So if we had to come up with a sus­pect list of DHS employ­ees who would have had a keen inter­est in ensur­ing DHS flash­es neo-Nazi call signs with creepy ’14 word’ anti-immi­grant slo­gans, it seems like Ian Smith would be near that top of the sus­pect list. But this is the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s DHS we’re talk­ing about, so, of course, Smith has com­pe­ti­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 5, 2018, 3:38 pm
  7. Now that ‘the car­a­van’ — the group of Cen­tral Amer­i­cans slow­ly trav­el­ing from Hon­duras to the US — is being turned into some sort of right-wing fan­ta­sy car­a­van, with claims by Trump that it con­tains ISIS ter­ror­ists and is financed by the Democ­rats, and even Trump offi­cials them­selves are call­ing it a “polit­i­cal gift” for Repub­li­cans in the final stretch of the mid-terms, the ques­tion of who actu­al­ly orga­nized this car­a­van in the first place is sud­den­ly an impor­tant polit­i­cal ques­tion. After all, the tim­ing of this car­a­van lit­er­al­ly could­n’t be worse. And as Josh Mar­shall notes, not only is the tim­ing almost per­fect for boost­ing GOP chances in the mid-terms, the tim­ing is also per­fect to ensure the cru­elest treat­ment of the actu­al car­a­van mem­bers them­selves once they reach the US bor­der because being has harsh as pos­si­ble, and demo­niz­ing them as much as pos­si­ble, is now a polit­i­cal imper­a­tive. So who­ev­er arranged for this car­a­van either had no idea what kind of polit­i­cal trap they were set­ting for them­selves or knew exact­ly what kind of polit­i­cal trap they were set­ting and went ahead with it any­way:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Edi­tor’s Blog

    So What’s With The Tim­ing of the Car­a­van?

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Octo­ber 22, 2018 8:37 pm

    So what’s with the tim­ing of this car­a­van mak­ing its way up through Mex­i­co? A lot of read­ers have been ask­ing me this and I’ve been won­der­ing myself.

    There’s no mys­tery about the exis­tence of the car­a­van itself. Immi­gra­tion from Cen­tral Amer­i­ca through Mex­i­co into the Unit­ed States has been a grow­ing phe­nom­e­non in recent years. Migrants are flee­ing not only eco­nom­ic pri­va­tion but a hor­rif­ic lev­el of state break­down and endem­ic vio­lence. In many cas­es, peo­ple, often chil­dren, are lit­er­al­ly flee­ing for their lives. There have been car­a­vans before. Some have gar­nered sig­nif­i­cant news atten­tion in the US. Despite Pres­i­dent Trump’s claims about their being hordes of crim­i­nals and “mid­dle east­ern­ers” the main point of the car­a­vans is to have some safe­ty in num­bers. Migrants are preyed upon rather than preda­tors.

    But still … we’re two weeks out from the Novem­ber elec­tion and this group, num­ber­ing in the thou­sands, has just crossed into Mex­i­co. It does seem almost timed to arrive right on elec­tion day and pro­vide made to order images for Trump to rail against in the final days. So what’s the sto­ry?

    I took some time today to talk to a num­ber of peo­ple who are either involved in immi­gra­tion pol­i­tics in the US or have area knowl­edge that gives them insight into migra­tion pat­tern from Mex­i­co and Cen­tral Amer­i­ca. I got a pret­ty con­sis­tent response: a lot of sus­pi­cion as to why this is hap­pen­ing right now but also no evi­dence to sug­gest any­thing unto­ward behind it or any effort to coin­cide with the elec­tion.

    Indeed, one source I spoke to, who has knowl­edge of migra­tion pat­terns out of Cen­tral Amer­i­ca in recent years, told me it’s not implau­si­ble that the orga­niz­ers just aren’t or weren’t tuned into the fact that this is prob­a­bly the worst pos­si­ble time to do this. And by worst pos­si­ble time, I mean not for its impact on the US elec­tion but for the incen­tives Pres­i­dent Trump and the US gov­ern­ment have to impose the max­i­mum degree of bru­tal­i­ty on the migrants – whether that’s by pres­sur­ing Mex­i­can author­i­ties to do their dirty work for them or cre­at­ing cru­el­ty and immis­er­a­tion spec­ta­cles at the US bor­der.

    ...

    ———–

    “So What’s With The Tim­ing of the Car­a­van?” by Josh Mar­shall; Talk­ing Points Memo; 10/22/2018

    “Indeed, one source I spoke to, who has knowl­edge of migra­tion pat­terns out of Cen­tral Amer­i­ca in recent years, told me it’s not implau­si­ble that the orga­niz­ers just aren’t or weren’t tuned into the fact that this is prob­a­bly the worst pos­si­ble time to do this. And by worst pos­si­ble time, I mean not for its impact on the US elec­tion but for the incen­tives Pres­i­dent Trump and the US gov­ern­ment have to impose the max­i­mum degree of bru­tal­i­ty on the migrants – whether that’s by pres­sur­ing Mex­i­can author­i­ties to do their dirty work for them or cre­at­ing cru­el­ty and immis­er­a­tion spec­ta­cles at the US bor­der.

    Yep, it real­ly was like the worst time for a high-pro­file car­a­van to do this. A dan­ger­ous jour­ney seem­ing­ly timed to ensure an unhap­py end­ing for all the par­tic­i­pants. It’s quite a mys­tery as to why they decid­ed now is the time to do this. A mys­tery com­pound­ed by the fact that no one seems to know who actu­al­ly start­ed this, which itself seems rather amaz­ing. So it’s worth not­ing that this is by no means the only car­a­van of this nature in recent years. And the group that’s been orga­niz­ing many of the pre­vi­ous car­a­vans, Pueblo Sin Fron­teras, is not the group that arranged this car­a­van. First, here’s an arti­cle from April of this year cov­er­ing an ear­li­er car­a­van orga­nized by Pueblo Sin Fron­teras. Trump also latched on this ear­li­er car­a­van and was tweet­ing about it at the time. And accord­ing to this arti­cle, all of that neg­a­tive atten­tion from Trump had them con­vinced they were going to have to change tac­tics. Note that they did­n’t claim they were going to stop help­ing migrants and asy­lum seek­ers reach the US. But they were rethink­ing the whole car­a­van plan that made these peo­ple such an easy polit­i­cal tar­get of politi­cians like Trump:

    NBC News

    Who’s Pueblo Sin Fron­teras, the group behind the migrant car­a­van that drew Trump’s ire?
    For over 15 years, the orga­ni­za­tion has led migrants from Cen­tral Amer­i­ca to seek asy­lum else­where.

    by Nicole Aceve­do / April 4, 2018 / 12:19 PM CDT / Updat­ed April 4, 2018 / 1:23 PM CDT

    As he stood among the moth­ers, chil­dren and LGBT youths who had been walk­ing through Mex­i­co on their way to the U.S. bor­der, Rodri­go Abe­ja found it hard to believe that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had deemed these peo­ple dan­ger­ous.

    Abe­ja is one of the lead orga­niz­ers of Pueblo Sin Fron­teras, which for over 15 years has led migrants to the U.S. via car­a­vans to help them to seek asy­lum in oth­er coun­tries.

    “These peo­ple are frus­trat­ed and des­per­ate,” Abe­ja said in Span­ish in an inter­view with NBC News from Mex­i­co.

    The group’s vol­un­teers help the migrants stay togeth­er to pro­tect them­selves from dan­ger along the way, includ­ing from crim­i­nals and nat­ur­al ele­ments, but also to move past law enforce­ment offi­cials.

    The orga­ni­za­tion had been rel­a­tive­ly unknown to most Amer­i­cans until the pres­i­dent began tweet­ing about the peo­ple Abe­ja and vol­un­teers began accom­pa­ny­ing to the bor­der dur­ing Holy Week, the final week of Lent as com­mem­o­rat­ed by Chris­tians. The pres­i­den­t’s tweets came after a sto­ry by Buz­zfeed head­lined “A Huge Car­a­van of Cen­tral Amer­i­cans Is Head­ed to the U.S., and No One in Mex­i­co Dares to Stop Them.”

    The car­a­vans are referred to in Span­ish as Via Cru­cis Migrantes, or Migrants’ Way of the Cross. They are fash­ioned after the Sta­tions of the Cross pro­ces­sions cel­e­brat­ed by Latin Amer­i­can and Lati­no Catholics to mark and “re-enact” the final days of Jesus from pros­e­cu­tion to his bur­ial in a tomb.

    In such pro­ces­sions, some­one plays Christ car­ry­ing a wood­en cross and peo­ple from the con­gre­ga­tion or com­mu­ni­ty fol­low him. Sim­i­lar­ly, the vol­un­teers from Pueb­los Sin Fron­teras and oth­er groups accom­pa­ny migrants in a car­a­van that trav­els in bus­es, on trains and on foot.

    Pueblo Sin Fron­teras also runs a shel­ter for migrants.

    Abe­ja said this year’s car­a­van is dif­fer­ent from pre­vi­ous years and there is cause for con­cern, but not of the sort Trump raised in his tweets.

    Abe­ja, who has been help­ing out with the car­a­vans since 2013, said about 1,175 peo­ple were tak­ing part in the car­a­van this year, with some flee­ing gang vio­lence in El Sal­vador and many more from Hon­duras than in pre­vi­ous years.

    “About 80 per­cent of them are from Hon­duras,” he said. “We have around 300 minors rang­ing from 1‑month-old to 11-years-old. As of the rest of the peo­ple, we have about 20 youths who iden­ti­fy as LGBT and about 400 women.”

    Abe­jas said the Hon­durans in the car­a­van are flee­ing the con­tin­u­ing polit­i­cal cri­sis and vio­lence there that esca­lat­ed in Novem­ber with the elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Juan Orlan­do Hernán­dez. His elec­tion was seen as rigged and was fol­lowed by vio­lent protests that were shut down with a mil­i­tary-enforced cur­few.

    At least 30 peo­ple were killed dur­ing Hon­duras’ elec­tion after­math.

    The Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States called for an elec­tion do-over after find­ing irreg­u­lar­i­ties and defi­cien­cies in the Hon­duran elec­toral process. But the the Unit­ed States rec­og­nized the elec­tion’s out­come with­out insist­ing on anoth­er elec­tion or a review of the results.

    The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion faced a surge in arrivals from Cen­tral Amer­i­ca, most­ly women and chil­dren, at the U.S.-Mexico bor­der in 2014. The num­bers forced the admin­is­tra­tion to set up emer­gency shel­ters and a fam­i­ly deten­tion cen­ter in Texas. The admin­is­tra­tion also was crit­i­cized for some of the steps it took to stem the surge.

    Trump shut down the Cen­tral Amer­i­can Minors Pro­gram, which was set up by the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion to pro­vide a way for Cen­tral Amer­i­can chil­dren, and lat­er young adults reject­ed for refugee sta­tus, to get a tem­po­rary stay in the U.S. if they had par­ents already here.

    The con­di­tions that prompt­ed the 2014 spike still exist in Cen­tral Amer­i­ca today, said Daniel­la Bur­gi-Palomi­no, senior asso­ciate with the Latin Amer­i­can Work­ing Group, which issued a report on con­di­tions Tues­day.

    “Peo­ple are not leav­ing for eco­nom­ic rea­sons or to take advan­tage of a sys­tem in the U.S.,” Bur­gi-Palomi­no said. “They have real valid claims of fear of return­ing to the coun­try. They don’t have access to jus­tice. The refugee cri­sis from the North­ern Tri­an­gle has not end­ed.”

    When they get to Mex­i­co, the Hon­duran migrants vis­it dif­fer­ent embassies and con­sulates, includ­ing those belong­ing to the U.S., to try to be offi­cial­ly rec­og­nized as asy­lum seek­ers.

    ...

    After Trump’s tweets threw unprece­dent­ed atten­tion to the car­a­vans, Abe­ja and the team of Pueblo Sin Fron­teras had to rethink how to help these migrants.

    Pueblo Sin Fron­teras was arrang­ing a day to get legal experts to review the cas­es of all the peo­ple in the car­a­van, and deter­mine who has asy­lum cas­es high­ly like­ly to win, Abe­ja said. Those that do will car­ry on with the car­a­van.

    The rest have to stay in Mex­i­co, fac­ing the same asy­lum process that already reject­ed most of them.

    ———-

    “Who’s Pueblo Sin Fron­teras, the group behind the migrant car­a­van that drew Trump’s ire?” by Nicole Aceve­do; NBC News; 04/04/2018

    “Abe­ja is one of the lead orga­niz­ers of Pueblo Sin Fron­teras, which for over 15 years has led migrants to the U.S. via car­a­vans to help them to seek asy­lum in oth­er coun­tries.”

    So we do know of at least one group that has been orga­niz­ing these kinds of car­a­vans (car­a­vans not just to the US) for the past 15 years: Pueblo Sin Fron­teras.

    Like the cur­rent car­a­van, the car­a­van from ear­li­er this year large­ly con­sist­ed of peo­ple from Hon­duras, a coun­try expe­ri­ence a wave of vio­lence due, in part, to a dirty elec­tion last year backed by the US:

    ...
    Abe­jas said the Hon­durans in the car­a­van are flee­ing the con­tin­u­ing polit­i­cal cri­sis and vio­lence there that esca­lat­ed in Novem­ber with the elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Juan Orlan­do Hernán­dez. His elec­tion was seen as rigged and was fol­lowed by vio­lent protests that were shut down with a mil­i­tary-enforced cur­few.

    At least 30 peo­ple were killed dur­ing Hon­duras’ elec­tion after­math.

    The Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States called for an elec­tion do-over after find­ing irreg­u­lar­i­ties and defi­cien­cies in the Hon­duran elec­toral process. But the the Unit­ed States rec­og­nized the elec­tion’s out­come with­out insist­ing on anoth­er elec­tion or a review of the results.
    ...

    And fol­low­ing Trump’s tweets about the car­a­van, the Pueblo Sin Fron­teras orga­niz­ers appeared to change the strat­e­gy and tried to iden­ti­fy those car­a­van mem­bers most like­ly to qual­i­fy for asy­lum in the US, with the rest stay­ing in Mex­i­co where they would like­ly be refused asy­lum:

    ...
    After Trump’s tweets threw unprece­dent­ed atten­tion to the car­a­vans, Abe­ja and the team of Pueblo Sin Fron­teras had to rethink how to help these migrants.

    Pueblo Sin Fron­teras was arrang­ing a day to get legal experts to review the cas­es of all the peo­ple in the car­a­van, and deter­mine who has asy­lum cas­es high­ly like­ly to win, Abe­ja said. Those that do will car­ry on with the car­a­van.

    The rest have to stay in Mex­i­co, fac­ing the same asy­lum process that already reject­ed most of them.
    ...

    And accord­ing to the fol­low­ing arti­cle from just a few days ago, Pueblo Sin Fron­teras is not part of the cur­rent car­a­van:

    The New York Times

    Did Democ­rats, or George Soros, Fund Migrant Car­a­van? Despite Repub­li­can Claims, No

    Pres­i­dent Trump, echo­ing the asser­tions of a Repub­li­can law­mak­er, said that “a lot of mon­ey” was giv­en to migrants trav­el­ing toward the Unit­ed States. There is no evi­dence of that.
    By Lin­da Qiu
    Oct. 20, 2018

    WHAT WAS SAID

    “But a lot of mon­ey has been pass­ing to peo­ple to come up and try and get to the bor­der by Elec­tion Day, because they think that’s a neg­a­tive for us. … They have lousy pol­i­cy. The one thing, they stick togeth­er, but they want­ed that car­a­van and there are those that say that car­a­van didn’t just hap­pen. It didn’t just hap­pen. A lot of rea­sons that car­a­van, 4,000 peo­ple.”

    — Pres­i­dent Trump, at a cam­paign ral­ly in Mis­soula, Mont., on Thurs­day

    THE FACTS

    This lacks evi­dence.

    A car­a­van of migrants is trav­el­ing north toward Mex­i­co and the Unit­ed States — and prompt­ing alarm and false claims from Mr. Trump and Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Matt Gaetz, Repub­li­can of Flori­da.

    There is no evi­dence that George Soros, a bil­lion­aire and major Demo­c­ra­t­ic donor, paid thou­sands of migrants to “storm.” Nor is there evi­dence that Democ­rats sup­port the effort, as Mr. Trump has said..

    Mr. Gaetz is wrong about sev­er­al things in his descrip­tion of the video he post­ed.

    First, it was not shot in Hon­duras, which he lat­er acknowl­edged. Google Maps and Face­book pho­tos place the store­front seen in the video, an auto parts shop, in Chiquim­u­la, Guatemala. As Kirk Sem­ple of The New York Times report­ed, the migrant car­a­van was formed last week in San Pedro Sula, Hon­duras, and has made its way north through Guatemala.

    Sec­ond, Mr. Gaetz’s spec­u­la­tion that the migrants were being offered cash to join the car­a­van by Mr. Soros is unfound­ed. Open Soci­ety Foun­da­tions, Mr. Soros’s phil­an­thropic orga­ni­za­tion, has denied any involve­ment.

    Luis Assar­do, a Guatemalan jour­nal­ist, said in an email that he spoke to res­i­dents of Chiquim­u­la and was told that some local mer­chants had giv­en the migrants mon­ey while oth­ers had offered food, cloth­ing or oth­er help.

    The video appears to show each migrant receiv­ing a sin­gle bill, so the largest amount they could have received was 200 quet­za­les, equal to about $26. Migrants in the car­a­van told The New York Times that the Guatemalans gen­er­al­ly hand­ed out one or two quet­zals, or about 13 to 26 cents — under­cut­ting Mr. Trump’s claim of “a lot of mon­ey” exchang­ing hands.

    The migrants said they were not paid to join the car­a­van.

    BREAKING: Footage in Hon­duras giv­ing cash 2 women & chil­dren 2 join the car­a­van & storm the US bor­der @ elec­tion time. Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to inves­ti­gate the source! pic.twitter.com/5pEByiGkkN
    — Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) Octo­ber 17, 2018

    In an inter­view, Mr. Gaetz says he now sus­pects that the men hand­ing out mon­ey were car­tel mem­bers sow­ing good will and seek­ing to sub­vert the gov­ern­ment. He is also con­cerned that Amer­i­can non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions were involved in orga­niz­ing the car­a­van, but con­cedes that “they may not be.” He empha­sized that he was mere­ly ask­ing ques­tions — and is “still ask­ing.”

    The notion that refugees will leave their homes sole­ly for a lit­tle cash is “crazy,” said Alex Mensing, a project coor­di­na­tor with Pueblo Sin Fron­teras, a transna­tion­al group that cap­tured Mr. Trump’s atten­tion last spring.. (The group did not coor­di­nate the car­a­van that is now trav­el­ing north, but has been orga­niz­ing sim­i­lar jour­neys for years.)

    “You don’t have to pay peo­ple to try to save their own lives,” Mr. Mensing said. “They are flee­ing vio­lence, death threats or eco­nom­ic vio­lence.”

    There is sim­i­lar­ly no evi­dence that Democ­rats “want­ed that car­a­van.” Though Democ­rats (and many Repub­li­cans) oppose the Trump administration’s pol­i­cy of sep­a­rat­ing fam­i­lies detained at the bor­der, Democ­rats have sup­port­ed leg­is­la­tion to improve bor­der secu­ri­ty..

    ...

    ———-

    “Did Democ­rats, or George Soros, Fund Migrant Car­a­van? Despite Repub­li­can Claims, No” by Lin­da Qiu; The New York Times; 10/20/2018

    “The notion that refugees will leave their homes sole­ly for a lit­tle cash is “crazy,” said Alex Mensing, a project coor­di­na­tor with Pueblo Sin Fron­teras, a transna­tion­al group that cap­tured Mr. Trump’s atten­tion last spring.. (The group did not coor­di­nate the car­a­van that is now trav­el­ing north, but has been orga­niz­ing sim­i­lar jour­neys for years.) ”

    So Pueblo Sin Fron­teras is say­ing they did­n’t orga­nize the cur­rent car­a­van. So who did? We’ll accord­ing to the fol­low­ing Dai­ly Beast arti­cle, it start­ed with pro-gov­ern­ment Hon­duran TV reporters lying to audi­ences and encour­ag­ing them to join the car­a­van by telling them all the food and costs would be pro­vid­ed. Keep in mind that the Hon­duran gov­ern­ment is an ally of the US and the Trump admin­is­tra­tion backed this gov­ern­ment after the dis­put­ed elec­tion last year. That’s the gov­ern­ment that appears to have encour­aged this.

    Specif­i­cal­ly, it appears to have start­ed about a month ago when migrant activist Bar­to­lo Fuentes learned about small groups of about 200 Hon­durans who were orga­niz­ing among them­selves to make the jour­ney north. Fuentes has years of expe­ri­ence orga­niz­ing such car­a­vans and offered his help. Then the pro-gov­ern­ment HCH cable news chan­nel, the coun­try’s most-watched cable news chan­nel, did a report on Fuentes’s work. The anchors inter­viewed a woman who was sup­pos­ed­ly part of the car­a­van and who men­tioned for­eign assis­tance. The anchors, with­out any sup­port­ing evi­dence, told TV audi­ences Fuentes would pay for the migrants’ food and trans­porta­tion. Fuentes was lat­er inter­viewed by these anchors and strong­ly denied this, but at that point the dam­age was done. Thou­sands of Hon­durans sud­den­ly joined the car­a­van.

    So it sure looks like the Hon­duran gov­ern­ment, which kind of owes Trump a favor at this point over the US deci­sion to back his con­test­ed elec­tion, returned the favor in the form of prompt­ing a giant car­a­van a month before the US mid-terms:

    The Dai­ly Beast

    For­get Trump Hys­te­ria, Here’s How the Migrant Car­a­van ‘Cri­sis’ Real­ly Began

    It wasn’t sup­posed to be a big deal, but a TV sta­tion close to the Hon­duran gov’t want­ed to embar­rass an orga­niz­er and said he’d pay for every­thing. Then ‘the avalanche’ began.
    Jeff Ernst,
    Sarah Kinosian
    10.23.18 4:50 AM ET

    TAPACHULA, Mexico—When Bar­to­lo Fuentes speaks about migrants, the usu­al­ly soft-spo­ken for­mer politi­cian gets pas­sion­ate, and an ency­clo­pe­dic knowl­edge of immi­gra­tion issues shines through. Bespec­ta­cled and 54 years old with salt and pep­per hair, he has the look of a pro­fes­sor, but he draws on a life­time work­ing with migrants in Hon­duras, and on his own per­son­al expe­ri­ence.

    In 1980 an old­er broth­er migrat­ed north, and by the end of the decade Bar­to­lo sought refuge in Mex­i­co him­self after receiv­ing threats. Cen­tral America’s right-wing death squads were noto­ri­ous and his ear­li­er par­tic­i­pa­tion in protests against the U.S.-backed Con­tras, who used his coun­try as a stag­ing ground in their CIA-backed war on Nicaragua’s San­din­istas, made him a poten­tial tar­get.

    Until recent­ly, Fuentes lived in rel­a­tive anonymi­ty despite being a for­mer leg­is­la­tor and the host of a radio show on migra­tion called “With­out Bor­ders.” But today, depend­ing on who you ask, he is either a hero who’s put his own life on the line to help migrants, or a cyn­i­cal vil­lain. Many in the Hon­duran government—concerned with the country’s image amid a mass exodus—portray Fuentes as a “coy­ote,” or human traf­fick­er, who orga­nized the migrant car­a­van and took advan­tage of the peo­ple in it with “false promis­es” for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es.

    ABOUT A MONTH AGO, when Fuentes first became aware of small groups dis­persed through­out Hon­duras that were orga­niz­ing among them­selves to make the trek north, he decid­ed to help out, just as he had done with a pre­vi­ous migrant car­a­van last April—and indeed through­out his life.

    At the time, all the groups com­bined num­bered no more than 200 peo­ple, Fuentes says. As some­one who had helped repa­tri­ate the bod­ies of many migrants who died in the jour­ney al Norte, he was acute­ly aware of the dan­gers and want­ed to help ensure the people’s safe­ty.

    “No one expect­ed this human avalanche,” he told The Dai­ly Beast in a phone call from the Hon­duran cap­i­tal, Tegu­ci­gal­pa.

    But then a report on the country’s most-watched cable news chan­nel, HCH, paint­ed a pic­ture of the car­a­van that changed every­thing. The anchors inter­viewed a woman who was sup­pos­ed­ly part of the car­a­van. The woman talked about safe­ty in num­bers, called Fuentes the orga­niz­er and men­tioned for­eign assis­tance. The anchors, with­out any sup­port­ing evi­dence, then said that Fuentes would pay for the migrants’ food and trans­porta­tion.

    Fuentes was lat­er inter­viewed by the anchors and strong­ly refut­ed what was said, but by then the dam­age was done.

    “When I saw the [HCH] news report, I said ‘This is my oppor­tu­ni­ty,’” said Gus­ta­vo Mon­toya, 57, a migrant in the car­a­van whose face was sun­burned and eyes were sparkling as he arrived in the this town in south­ern Mex­i­co. “It grabbed my atten­tion that we could pass eas­i­ly. It impressed a lot of peo­ple.”

    “After that news pro­gram I start­ed to get hun­dreds of calls, then it took on a life of its own,” said Fuentes. “In Hon­duras, the gov­ern­ment wants to min­i­mize why peo­ple are leaving—they know they are going to leave and they want to say they are doing so because of lies and the oppo­si­tion, not the con­di­tions that they cre­at­ed. This is in line with what the Unit­ed States is saying—that there are false promis­es being made. And this pro-gov­ern­ment news pro­gram played into that mes­sag­ing, try­ing to say that there is financ­ing when real­ly peo­ple just need to get out.”

    Soon after­ward, Hon­durans from across the coun­try head­ed west to join the car­a­van, which swelled by the thou­sands. Many were pro­pelled to join by the HCH report, but the major­i­ty were peo­ple who had been con­sid­er­ing migra­tion for a long time and now saw an oppor­tu­ni­ty to head north with added safe­ty in num­bers and with­out hav­ing to pay a coy­ote, which can cost as much as $7,000.

    “We are in the mid­dle of a cri­sis in Hon­duras,” said Fuentes’ wife Dunia Mon­toya, who shares her husband’s aca­d­e­m­ic aura and is also a jour­nal­ist and migra­tion activist. “In Hon­duras 300 peo­ple leave dai­ly. What fright­ens the world is the accu­mu­la­tion of a week or two of peo­ple that con­cen­trat­ed togeth­er, but in Hon­duras we have been liv­ing in a human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis since long ago.”

    SOME GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS in Hon­duras are call­ing for an increase in social wel­fare spend­ing to com­bat the caus­es of migra­tion. But exist­ing pro­grams are high­ly politi­cized and rife with cor­rup­tion. Pres­i­dent Juan Orlan­do Her­nan­dez already has spent more than any of his predecessors—to lit­tle or no effect on the lives of the poor.

    Accord­ing to FOSDEH, a local think tank, about two-thirds of the pop­u­la­tion lives in pover­ty and the total num­ber increased by rough­ly six per­cent in 2017; 80 per­cent of work­ers earn below the min­i­mum wage of a few hun­dred dol­lars per month. On top of this, Hon­duras ranks among the most vio­lent coun­tries on the plan­et. Few­er than one in 10 crimes is ever solved.

    And then there’s the drought. Hon­duras is one of the coun­tries that has been most affect­ed by cli­mate change, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the part of its ter­ri­to­ry that inter­sects with what’s known as the Cen­tral Amer­i­ca Dry Cor­ri­dor. In the past, farm­ers in this region could rely on two har­vests annu­al­ly, but now they are lucky to pro­duce one. This year, a severe drought dur­ing the rainy sea­son meant tens of thou­sands of fam­i­lies pro­duced none.

    Data from U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Patrol shows an increase in rur­al migra­tion in the past year due to these issues, and so many migrants from that par­tic­u­lar region have attempt­ed to flee in the last week that Hon­duras closed its bor­der there with Guatemala indef­i­nite­ly.

    WITH A MIDTERM ELECTION loom­ing in the U.S., Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump threat­ened to cut aid to Hon­duras, Guatemala, El Sal­vador and Mex­i­co if they didn’t stop the car­a­van, prompt­ing those gov­ern­ments to send secu­ri­ty forces to their respec­tive bor­ders. Then, with­out evi­dence to sup­port the claim, Trump said the car­a­van was orga­nized by Democ­rats and one of their major donors, bil­lion­aire George Soros. At a cam­paign ral­ly in Mon­tana last Thurs­day he said, “It’s going to be an elec­tion of the car­a­van.” On Fri­day he said, “These are some bad peo­ple com­ing through. These aren’t babies, these aren’t lit­tle angels com­ing into our coun­try.”

    On Mon­day Trump float­ed the idea the car­a­van was rife with crim­i­nals and “Mid­dle East­ern­ers,” only to have Guatemala’s pres­i­dent claim, in a burst of pure syco­phancy meant to back up Trump’s claims, that sev­er­al mem­bers of the so-called Islam­ic State had been inter­cept­ed. No evi­dence was pre­sent­ed to sub­stan­ti­ate that state­ment. New York Times fact check­ers rub­bished it in short order. And, as it hap­pens, for more than a cen­tu­ry “Mid­dle East­ern­ers” have been a sig­nif­i­cant part of the Hon­duran pop­u­la­tion. They’re called Tur­cos because they immi­grat­ed so long ago they came with Ottoman pass­ports.

    By Mon­day, in any case, most of the car­a­van, by then over 7,000 strong, suc­cess­ful­ly passed into Mex­i­co. Trump announced via Twit­ter that since Hon­duras, Guatemala and El Sal­vador were unable to halt the advance of the car­a­van, “We will now begin cut­ting off, or sub­stan­tial­ly reduc­ing, the mas­sive for­eign aid rou­tine­ly giv­en to them.”

    The les­son to gov­ern­ment lead­ers in the region should be just what a capri­cious ally Trump can be.

    Hon­duran Pres­i­dent Juan Orlan­do Her­nan­dez has a lot more to lose than $180 mil­lion in U.S. assis­tance if the Unit­ed States with­draws its sup­port from his gov­ern­ment. The Unit­ed States is a close ally and sup­port­ed Her­nan­dez dur­ing a dis­put­ed elec­tion ear­li­er this year, which was fraught with irreg­u­lar­i­ties that swung in his favor and prompt­ed the head of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States to call for new elec­tions.

    Wash­ing­ton chose instead to rec­og­nize Her­nan­dez as the win­ner and cer­ti­fied that his gov­ern­ment was mak­ing progress on human rights despite cor­rup­tion scan­dals and abus­es, includ­ing extra­ju­di­cial killings that have tak­en place on his watch. Over 30 peo­ple were killed in the unrest that fol­lowed the elec­tion and the cri­sis polar­ized the coun­try fur­ther.

    WITH EACH PASSING DAY, the news cov­er­age is inspir­ing more and more peo­ple to flee Hon­duras. Anoth­er car­a­van, this with rough­ly 1,000 peo­ple accord­ing to reports, crossed into Guatemala on Sun­day. Yare­li Guillen, a 19-year-old house­keep­er in San Pedro Sula with fair skin, dark hair, a cheru­bic face, and a voice younger than her years is about to migrate for the sec­ond time, after first leav­ing her rur­al home­town for the city. “I have work, but I also know there’s no oppor­tu­ni­ty here for me to grow and I need to help my fam­i­ly—there has been prac­ti­cal­ly no har­vest this year,” she said.

    ...

    ———-

    “For­get Trump Hys­te­ria, Here’s How the Migrant Car­a­van ‘Cri­sis’ Real­ly Began” by Jeff Ernst, Sarah Kinosian; The Dai­ly Beast; 10/23/2018

    “Until recent­ly, Fuentes lived in rel­a­tive anonymi­ty despite being a for­mer leg­is­la­tor and the host of a radio show on migra­tion called “With­out Bor­ders.” But today, depend­ing on who you ask, he is either a hero who’s put his own life on the line to help migrants, or a cyn­i­cal vil­lain. Many in the Hon­duran government—concerned with the country’s image amid a mass exodus—portray Fuentes as a “coy­ote,” or human traf­fick­er, who orga­nized the migrant car­a­van and took advan­tage of the peo­ple in it with “false promis­es” for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es.

    Bor­to­lo Fuentes is being cast as the man behind the car­a­van. And yet, when you look at how the sit­u­a­tion played out, it sure looks like the peo­ple behind the car­a­van are the pro-gov­ern­ment reporters who told audi­ences that Fuentes would pay for their food and trans­porta­tion:

    ...
    ABOUT A MONTH AGO, when Fuentes first became aware of small groups dis­persed through­out Hon­duras that were orga­niz­ing among them­selves to make the trek north, he decid­ed to help out, just as he had done with a pre­vi­ous migrant car­a­van last April—and indeed through­out his life.

    At the time, all the groups com­bined num­bered no more than 200 peo­ple, Fuentes says. As some­one who had helped repa­tri­ate the bod­ies of many migrants who died in the jour­ney al Norte, he was acute­ly aware of the dan­gers and want­ed to help ensure the people’s safe­ty.

    “No one expect­ed this human avalanche,” he told The Dai­ly Beast in a phone call from the Hon­duran cap­i­tal, Tegu­ci­gal­pa.

    But then a report on the country’s most-watched cable news chan­nel, HCH, paint­ed a pic­ture of the car­a­van that changed every­thing. The anchors inter­viewed a woman who was sup­pos­ed­ly part of the car­a­van. The woman talked about safe­ty in num­bers, called Fuentes the orga­niz­er and men­tioned for­eign assis­tance. The anchors, with­out any sup­port­ing evi­dence, then said that Fuentes would pay for the migrants’ food and trans­porta­tion.

    Fuentes was lat­er inter­viewed by the anchors and strong­ly refut­ed what was said, but by then the dam­age was done.

    “When I saw the [HCH] news report, I said ‘This is my oppor­tu­ni­ty,’” said Gus­ta­vo Mon­toya, 57, a migrant in the car­a­van whose face was sun­burned and eyes were sparkling as he arrived in the this town in south­ern Mex­i­co. “It grabbed my atten­tion that we could pass eas­i­ly. It impressed a lot of peo­ple.”

    “After that news pro­gram I start­ed to get hun­dreds of calls, then it took on a life of its own,” said Fuentes. “In Hon­duras, the gov­ern­ment wants to min­i­mize why peo­ple are leaving—they know they are going to leave and they want to say they are doing so because of lies and the oppo­si­tion, not the con­di­tions that they cre­at­ed. This is in line with what the Unit­ed States is saying—that there are false promis­es being made. And this pro-gov­ern­ment news pro­gram played into that mes­sag­ing, try­ing to say that there is financ­ing when real­ly peo­ple just need to get out.”

    Soon after­ward, Hon­durans from across the coun­try head­ed west to join the car­a­van, which swelled by the thou­sands. Many were pro­pelled to join by the HCH report, but the major­i­ty were peo­ple who had been con­sid­er­ing migra­tion for a long time and now saw an oppor­tu­ni­ty to head north with added safe­ty in num­bers and with­out hav­ing to pay a coy­ote, which can cost as much as $7,000.
    ...

    Again, this is a gov­ern­ment that prob­a­bly feels pret­ty indebt­ed to Trump right now giv­en the US deci­sion to ignore the calls by Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States to call for new elec­tions despite all the irreg­u­lar­i­ties that ensured Her­nan­dez’s vic­to­ry:

    ...
    Hon­duran Pres­i­dent Juan Orlan­do Her­nan­dez has a lot more to lose than $180 mil­lion in U.S. assis­tance if the Unit­ed States with­draws its sup­port from his gov­ern­ment. The Unit­ed States is a close ally and sup­port­ed Her­nan­dez dur­ing a dis­put­ed elec­tion ear­li­er this year, which was fraught with irreg­u­lar­i­ties that swung in his favor and prompt­ed the head of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States to call for new elec­tions.

    Wash­ing­ton chose instead to rec­og­nize Her­nan­dez as the win­ner and cer­ti­fied that his gov­ern­ment was mak­ing progress on human rights despite cor­rup­tion scan­dals and abus­es, includ­ing extra­ju­di­cial killings that have tak­en place on his watch. Over 30 peo­ple were killed in the unrest that fol­lowed the elec­tion and the cri­sis polar­ized the coun­try fur­ther.
    ...

    Of course, the false report­ing was­n’t the only thing that trig­gered the car­a­van. Ram­pant pover­ty, crime, and drought from cli­mate change all cre­at­ed the con­di­tions that made the too-good-to-be-true promise made by these reporter too tempt­ing to refuse for many Hon­durans with lit­tle to lose:

    ...
    Accord­ing to FOSDEH, a local think tank, about two-thirds of the pop­u­la­tion lives in pover­ty and the total num­ber increased by rough­ly six per­cent in 2017; 80 per­cent of work­ers earn below the min­i­mum wage of a few hun­dred dol­lars per month. On top of this, Hon­duras ranks among the most vio­lent coun­tries on the plan­et. Few­er than one in 10 crimes is ever solved.

    And then there’s the drought. Hon­duras is one of the coun­tries that has been most affect­ed by cli­mate change, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the part of its ter­ri­to­ry that inter­sects with what’s known as the Cen­tral Amer­i­ca Dry Cor­ri­dor. In the past, farm­ers in this region could rely on two har­vests annu­al­ly, but now they are lucky to pro­duce one. This year, a severe drought dur­ing the rainy sea­son meant tens of thou­sands of fam­i­lies pro­duced none.

    Data from U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Patrol shows an increase in rur­al migra­tion in the past year due to these issues, and so many migrants from that par­tic­u­lar region have attempt­ed to flee in the last week that Hon­duras closed its bor­der there with Guatemala indef­i­nite­ly.
    ...

    And the Hon­duran gov­ern­ment does­n’t appear to be the only gov­ern­ment try­ing to cur­ry favor with Trump. The pres­i­dent of Guatemala decid­ed to claim, with­out pro­vid­ing evi­dence, that sev­er­al ISIS mem­bers had be caught in the car­a­van. The fact that these caught mem­bers were parad­ing on TV makes it clear that this was a bla­tant lie. A bla­tant lie intend­ed to but­tress the bla­tant lie Trump made a day ear­li­er about the car­a­van being rife with crim­i­nal and “Mid­dle East­ern­ers”:

    ...
    WITH A MIDTERM ELECTION loom­ing in the U.S., Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump threat­ened to cut aid to Hon­duras, Guatemala, El Sal­vador and Mex­i­co if they didn’t stop the car­a­van, prompt­ing those gov­ern­ments to send secu­ri­ty forces to their respec­tive bor­ders. Then, with­out evi­dence to sup­port the claim, Trump said the car­a­van was orga­nized by Democ­rats and one of their major donors, bil­lion­aire George Soros. At a cam­paign ral­ly in Mon­tana last Thurs­day he said, “It’s going to be an elec­tion of the car­a­van.” On Fri­day he said, “These are some bad peo­ple com­ing through. These aren’t babies, these aren’t lit­tle angels com­ing into our coun­try.”

    On Mon­day Trump float­ed the idea the car­a­van was rife with crim­i­nals and “Mid­dle East­ern­ers,” only to have Guatemala’s pres­i­dent claim, in a burst of pure syco­phancy meant to back up Trump’s claims, that sev­er­al mem­bers of the so-called Islam­ic State had been inter­cept­ed. No evi­dence was pre­sent­ed to sub­stan­ti­ate that state­ment. New York Times fact check­ers rub­bished it in short order. And, as it hap­pens, for more than a cen­tu­ry “Mid­dle East­ern­ers” have been a sig­nif­i­cant part of the Hon­duran pop­u­la­tion. They’re called Tur­cos because they immi­grat­ed so long ago they came with Ottoman pass­ports.
    ...

    All in all, it’s sure look­ing like the con­di­tions for cur­rent car­a­van cri­sis was cre­at­ed by a com­bi­na­tion of a cor­rupt Hon­duran gov­ern­ment, ram­pant crime, and cli­mate change. But the actu­al spark that cre­at­ed the car­a­van was thanks to Hon­dura’s pro-gov­ern­ment media. Media work­ing at the behest of a right-wing gov­ern­ment that owes Trump big time.

    Adding to the dark com­e­dy nature of the nar­ra­tive com­ing out of the White House, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence just told report­ed that it’s actu­al­ly Venezue­lan left­ists financ­ing the car­a­van. Yep. And who told Pence this fun fact? The pres­i­dent of Hon­duras:

    Talk­ing Points Memo

    ‘No Proof Of Any­thing’: Trump Unrav­els When Pressed On Migrant Con­spir­a­cies

    By Matt Shuham
    Octo­ber 23, 2018 4:53 pm

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump final­ly admit­ted Tues­day that he had “no proof” to sup­port his bla­tant lies and con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the migrants and asy­lum-seek­ers trav­el­ing toward the U.S.-Mexico bor­der.

    The Pres­i­dent also tried — and failed — to get Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence to accuse Democ­rats of fund­ing the car­a­van, and to say there were Islam­ic State mem­bers in the car­a­van.

    Pence did say that, dur­ing a phone call ear­li­er Tues­day, the vice pres­i­dent of Hon­duras had told him that the group “was orga­nized by left­ist orga­ni­za­tions and financed by Venezuela.”

    “What else did they say, Mike, about ISIS?” Trump attempt­ed. “Did they say some­thing?”

    They hadn’t. Pence returned to talk­ing about left­ist groups.

    Pressed ear­li­er for proof for Democ­rats’ non-exis­tent involve­ment with the car­a­van, Trump was sim­i­lar­ly eva­sive.

    “You’re going to find out. And we’re going to see. Maybe they made a bad mis­take, too,” he said.

    ...
    ———-

    “‘No Proof Of Any­thing’: Trump Unrav­els When Pressed On Migrant Con­spir­a­cies” by Matt Shuham; Talk­ing Points Memo; 10/23/2018

    “The Pres­i­dent also tried — and failed — to get Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence to accuse Democ­rats of fund­ing the car­a­van, and to say there were Islam­ic State mem­bers in the car­a­van.”

    Yep, Trump actu­al­ly tried to coax a new set of lies out of Mike Pence dur­ing a joint phone call after Pence told him that the Hon­duran pres­i­dent blamed the financ­ing of the car­a­van on Venezuela:

    ...
    Pence did say that, dur­ing a phone call ear­li­er Tues­day, the vice pres­i­dent of Hon­duras had told him that the group “was orga­nized by left­ist orga­ni­za­tions and financed by Venezuela.”

    “What else did they say, Mike, about ISIS?” Trump attempt­ed. “Did they say some­thing?”

    They hadn’t. Pence returned to talk­ing about left­ist groups.
    ...

    So it sounds like the right-wing needs to work out its nar­ra­tive. Trump clear­ly wants to idi­ot­i­cal­ly assert that the Democ­rats are behind the car­a­van. And he clear­ly wants to claim there’s ISIS mem­bers in the car­a­van (Pence has been sort of back­ing him up on that lie). And as we saw above, the Guatemalan pres­i­dent was hap­py to push the ISIS meme. But the Hon­duran pres­i­dent is point­ing fin­gers as Venezuela. What will the nar­ra­tive be that they ulti­mate­ly arrive at? We’ll find out. But the actu­al caus­es (crime, pover­ty, cli­mate change, and the Hon­duran gov­ern­men­t’s media assets) will pre­sum­ably con­tin­ue avoid­ing blame and main­tain the con­di­tions where new polit­i­cal­ly con­ve­nient car­a­vans can be cre­at­ed as need­ed in the future.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 23, 2018, 3:29 pm
  8. Here’s anoth­er piece that describes the fac­tors that led to the sud­den­ly growth of the migrant car­a­van. As we should expect, in addi­tion to the dis­in­for­ma­tion pro­mot­ing the car­a­van that was heav­i­ly pushed by pro-gov­ern­ment cable TV, it sounds like Face­book and What­sApp also played key roles:

    Bar­to­lo Fuentes, the migrant activist who end­ed up lead­ing the car­a­van, explains how he was ini­tial­ly con­tact over What­sApp by a small group of peo­ple in Sep­tem­ber who were plan­ning on mak­ing the trip to the US and want­ed Fuentes’s advice on about the trip. A week before the car­a­van start­ed, Fuentes post­ed a fli­er on his Face­book page call­ing for peo­ple to meet at 8 a.m. on Octo­ber 12 at a bus ter­mi­nal. Then there was surge in media cov­er­age, espe­cial­ly from the pop­u­lar pro-gov­ern­ment HCH broad­cast­er. By the time peo­ple start­ed gath­er­ing at the ter­mi­nal around on Octo­ber 11th, there were already live streams from Face­book pages and the whole thing had gone viral across Cen­tral Amer­i­ca. The car­a­van orga­niz­ers were stunned with the sud­den flow of peo­ple far beyond any­one’s expec­ta­tions. With­in days of the car­a­van’s depar­ture almost no one in the car­a­van could explain how it all start­ed. They could only cite Face­book posts or TV cov­er­age that prompt­ed them to decide to join.

    So that explains at least part of the dynam­ic that led to this unusu­al­ly large car­a­van sud­den­ly pop­ping up less than a month before the US mid-terms. But that still leaves a num­ber of unan­swered ques­tions. Ques­tions relat­ed to the lessons we’ve been learn­ing about Face­book and What­sApp in recent years, the les­son that the right-wing has mas­tered the art of weaponiz­ing social media a mass manip­u­la­tion. So giv­en the fact that the pro-gov­ern­ment (right-wing gov­ern­ment) cable TV sta­tion was appar­ent­ly spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion to pro­mote the car­a­van and giv­en the obvi­ous­ly polit­i­cal gift the tim­ing of the car­a­van rep­re­sents to the Amer­i­can right-wing, the obvi­ous ques­tion of whether or not right-wing forces were also behind the Face­book and What­sApp pro­mo­tion of the car­a­van has to be asked (even though it prob­a­bly can’t real­is­ti­cal­ly be answered, espe­cial­ly for What­sApp)

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    How the migrant car­a­van became so big and why it’s con­tin­u­ing to grow

    By Kevin Sieff and Joshua Part­low
    Octo­ber 23, 2018 at 8:10 PM

    HUIXTLA, Mex­i­co — Edith Cruz was sit­ting at home in cen­tral Hon­duras, scan­ning Face­book on her phone, when she saw the post about the car­a­van on a com­mu­ni­ty news page.

    It was Oct. 12. She and her cousin had just opened a small busi­ness sell­ing tor­tillas when they were con­front­ed by a gang, threat­ened with death if they didn’t hand over half of their prof­its. She looked at the Face­book post: “An avalanche of Hon­durans is prepar­ing to leave in a car­a­van to the Unit­ed States. Share this!” With­in three hours, her bags were packed.

    The ques­tion of how the migrant car­a­van began has wound its way to the Amer­i­can midterm elec­tions. Pres­i­dent Trump and oth­er Repub­li­cans have sug­gest­ed that Democ­rats paid migrants to begin the jour­ney. As the group con­tin­ues to grow, the largest such car­a­van in recent years, its begin­nings are being scru­ti­nized: How did more than 5,000 migrants from across Cen­tral Amer­i­ca find each oth­er?

    Although the caravan’s ori­gin sto­ry remains some­what opaque, the answer from many migrants here is that they had want­ed to leave for months or years, and then — in a Face­book post, a tele­vi­sion pro­gram, a What­sApp group — they saw an image of the grow­ing group and decid­ed.

    “Right away, I knew I would go,” said Irma Ros­ales, 37, from San­ta Ana, El Sal­vador, who saw images of the car­a­van on tele­vi­sion and bought a bus tick­et to meet up with the group in Guatemala last week.

    “I had been wait­ing for a way to get north, and then I heard about the car­a­van,” said Edib­er­to Fuentes, 30, who had fled Hon­duras for south­ern Mex­i­co but was strand­ed for months, with­out the mon­ey to pay for a smug­gler to trav­el to the Unit­ed States.

    “I packed my bag in 30 min­utes,” said Jose Mejia, 16, from Ocote­peque, Hon­duras, who heard about the car­a­van when his friend knocked on his door at 4 a.m. and said sim­ply, “We’re going.”

    On Tues­day, they stopped to rest in the small south­ern Mex­i­can city of Huixt­la, wash­ing their clothes in buck­ets of water, send­ing mes­sages to their fam­i­lies from Inter­net cafes, accept­ing what­ev­er dona­tions local res­i­dents were will­ing to offer. There was word that hun­dreds more migrants from across Cen­tral Amer­i­ca, drawn by the end­less media cov­er­age, were on their way.

    The Hon­duran gov­ern­ment claims that com­mu­ni­ty activists, led by a for­mer leg­is­la­tor named Bar­to­lo Fuentes, were ini­tial­ly behind the group, intend­ing to malign the country’s lead­ers. The bulk of the migrants here are still from Hon­duras.

    “There’s clear evi­dence where it began. Bar­to­lo was the per­son who was in front of the media; he was the face of this event,” Alden Rivera Montes, Hon­duras’ ambas­sador to Mex­i­co, said in an inter­view.

    “They were try­ing to show Hon­duras as a failed coun­try, which is total­ly false,” Rivera Montes said.

    Vice Pres­i­dent Pence said in an inter­view with The Wash­ing­ton Post on Tues­day that Hon­duras’ pres­i­dent told him the car­a­van was financed by Venezuela’s left-wing gov­ern­ment. There is no evi­dence to sup­port that claim.

    Fuentes told The Post he was mere­ly help­ing to con­nect small groups of would-be migrants who were already plan­ning to trav­el north. In Sep­tem­ber, there were posts on Hon­duran Face­book groups about the plans for the car­a­van.

    “These peo­ple who have nor­mal­ly migrat­ed, hid­den, day after day, had decid­ed to come togeth­er and trav­el togeth­er to pro­tect them­selves,” Fuentes said.

    He said he was in touch with four groups of would-be migrants who were talk­ing on What­sApp and oth­er social net­works — in Tegu­ci­gal­pa, the cap­i­tal, as well as La Cei­ba, Colon and San Pedro Sula — about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of trav­el­ing togeth­er.

    “They con­tact­ed me; they said, ‘We saw what you’ve writ­ten; we want you to tell us how the car­a­van had gone in March,’ ” he said.

    Fuentes had a long career as a polit­i­cal activist on the Hon­duran left. A for­mer stu­dent leader who had protest­ed against the U.S.-backed “con­tra” war to over­throw the neigh­bor­ing Nicaraguan gov­ern­ment, he was elect­ed to the leg­is­la­ture in 2013 and host­ed a radio show about migra­tion called “With­out Bor­ders.” He is a staunch crit­ic of Pres­i­dent Juan Orlan­do Hernán­dez.

    A week before the car­a­van start­ed, Fuentes post­ed on his Face­book page a fli­er about the car­a­van that read, “We aren’t going because we want to, vio­lence and pover­ty is dri­ving us out.” It called peo­ple to meet at 8 a.m. on Oct. 12 at the San Pedro Sula bus ter­mi­nal.

    “We are going to accom­pa­ny these peo­ple,” Fuentes wrote on Face­book on Oct. 5. “We will sup­port them at least for the depar­ture.”

    The ear­ly days of the car­a­van received a surge of media cov­er­age in Hon­duras, par­tic­u­lar­ly from HCH, a pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion broad­cast­er in the coun­try. By the time peo­ple start­ed gath­er­ing at the bus ter­mi­nal on Oct. 11 and 12, there were live streams on var­i­ous Face­book pages. Before Amer­i­cans had heard about it, the car­a­van had gone viral in Cen­tral Amer­i­ca.

    “Every­one wants to know who is guilty, who is behind this,” said Iri­neo Muji­ca, direc­tor of Tijua­na-based Pueb­los Sin Fron­teras, which has advo­cat­ed for this and pre­vi­ous car­a­vans, help­ing to arrange the routes and oth­er logis­tics. “But no one has the pow­er to orga­nize this many peo­ple. No one can engi­neer an exo­dus.”

    By mid-Octo­ber, the explo­sion of media cov­er­age and viral social media posts across Cen­tral Amer­i­ca prompt­ed an explo­sion in the num­ber of migrants. With­in days of the caravan’s depar­ture from San Pedro Sula on Oct. 13, almost no one could pin down the group’s offi­cial ori­gin sto­ry. They could cite only the Face­book post or tele­vi­sion pro­gram that led to their own deci­sion to migrate.

    Many of the migrants watched the car­a­van grow in real time, sur­prised as the num­bers surged.

    “When I arrived at the bus ter­mi­nal (in San Pedro Sula), there were 30 peo­ple. A few hours lat­er, there were hun­dreds,” said Jose Vijin, 32, from north­west­ern Hon­duras.

    Migrant car­a­vans have trav­eled through Cen­tral Amer­i­ca for sev­er­al years, part human rights protest, part effort to guar­an­tee safe pas­sage for Cen­tral Amer­i­cans tra­vers­ing a dan­ger­ous route north. Nor­mal­ly, a Cen­tral Amer­i­can migrat­ing to the Unit­ed States must pay a series of car­tel-linked smug­glers to make the jour­ney, a sum that can reach more than $10,000. The car­a­van offered a rel­a­tive­ly safe way to migrate that was basi­cal­ly free of cost.

    The last car­a­van, which left south­ern Mex­i­co in March, received so much media atten­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing its final days, that it appears to have set the ground­work for the cur­rent, larg­er exo­dus, said many migrants. The cur­rent group is expo­nen­tial­ly big­ger than pre­vi­ous car­a­vans. Hon­durans, Guatemalans and Sal­vado­rans who missed their chance this spring decid­ed that this time, they would rush to join the group.

    ...

    ———-

    “How the migrant car­a­van became so big and why it’s con­tin­u­ing to grow” by Kevin Sieff and Joshua Part­low; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 10/23/2018

    “Although the caravan’s ori­gin sto­ry remains some­what opaque, the answer from many migrants here is that they had want­ed to leave for months or years, and then — in a Face­book post, a tele­vi­sion pro­gram, a What­sApp group — they saw an image of the grow­ing group and decid­ed.”

    TV, Face­book, and What­sApp. That’s how peo­ple in Hon­duras, and even­tu­al­ly else­where in Cen­tral Amer­i­ca, learned about the car­a­van. Bor­to­lo Fuentes was first con­tact by a small group of would-be migrants in Sep­tem­ber, he agreed to help them:

    ...
    Fuentes told The Post he was mere­ly help­ing to con­nect small groups of would-be migrants who were already plan­ning to trav­el north. In Sep­tem­ber, there were posts on Hon­duran Face­book groups about the plans for the car­a­van.

    “These peo­ple who have nor­mal­ly migrat­ed, hid­den, day after day, had decid­ed to come togeth­er and trav­el togeth­er to pro­tect them­selves,” Fuentes said.

    He said he was in touch with four groups of would-be migrants who were talk­ing on What­sApp and oth­er social net­works — in Tegu­ci­gal­pa, the cap­i­tal, as well as La Cei­ba, Colon and San Pedro Sula — about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of trav­el­ing togeth­er.

    “They con­tact­ed me; they said, ‘We saw what you’ve writ­ten; we want you to tell us how the car­a­van had gone in March,’ ” he said.

    Fuentes had a long career as a polit­i­cal activist on the Hon­duran left. A for­mer stu­dent leader who had protest­ed against the U.S.-backed “con­tra” war to over­throw the neigh­bor­ing Nicaraguan gov­ern­ment, he was elect­ed to the leg­is­la­ture in 2013 and host­ed a radio show about migra­tion called “With­out Bor­ders.” He is a staunch crit­ic of Pres­i­dent Juan Orlan­do Hernán­dez.
    ...

    He then posts on Face­book a week before the Octo­ber 12th depar­ture date, let­ting any­one who want­ed to join know to show up at a bus ter­mi­nal. Then there was a surge of media cov­er­age, in par­tic­u­lar­ly from the pop­u­lar pro-gov­ern­ment HCH cable news chan­nel, along with live Face­book streams. An explo­sion of media cov­er­age in the days fol­low­ing its depar­ture ensure the whole thing went viral across Cen­tral Amer­i­ca before audi­ences in the US had even heard about it:

    ...
    A week before the car­a­van start­ed, Fuentes post­ed on his Face­book page a fli­er about the car­a­van that read, “We aren’t going because we want to, vio­lence and pover­ty is dri­ving us out.” It called peo­ple to meet at 8 a.m. on Oct. 12 at the San Pedro Sula bus ter­mi­nal.

    “We are going to accom­pa­ny these peo­ple,” Fuentes wrote on Face­book on Oct. 5. “We will sup­port them at least for the depar­ture.”

    The ear­ly days of the car­a­van received a surge of media cov­er­age in Hon­duras, par­tic­u­lar­ly from HCH, a pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion broad­cast­er in the coun­try. By the time peo­ple start­ed gath­er­ing at the bus ter­mi­nal on Oct. 11 and 12, there were live streams on var­i­ous Face­book pages. Before Amer­i­cans had heard about it, the car­a­van had gone viral in Cen­tral Amer­i­ca.

    “Every­one wants to know who is guilty, who is behind this,” said Iri­neo Muji­ca, direc­tor of Tijua­na-based Pueb­los Sin Fron­teras, which has advo­cat­ed for this and pre­vi­ous car­a­vans, help­ing to arrange the routes and oth­er logis­tics. “But no one has the pow­er to orga­nize this many peo­ple. No one can engi­neer an exo­dus.”

    By mid-Octo­ber, the explo­sion of media cov­er­age and viral social media posts across Cen­tral Amer­i­ca prompt­ed an explo­sion in the num­ber of migrants. With­in days of the caravan’s depar­ture from San Pedro Sula on Oct. 13, almost no one could pin down the group’s offi­cial ori­gin sto­ry. They could cite only the Face­book post or tele­vi­sion pro­gram that led to their own deci­sion to migrate.
    ...

    So it sounds like the car­a­van had an unusu­al amount of media atten­tion. Keep in mind that these car­a­vans are a com­mon thing, so it’s not like this one was some sort of media-wor­thy nov­el­ty.

    But despite this wave of media cov­er­age (includ­ing from the pro-gov­ern­ment HCH), the Hon­duran gov­ern­ment his now blam­ing it all on Bor­to­lo Fuentes, claim­ing he did it all to make the Hon­duran gov­ern­ment look bad:

    ...
    The Hon­duran gov­ern­ment claims that com­mu­ni­ty activists, led by a for­mer leg­is­la­tor named Bar­to­lo Fuentes, were ini­tial­ly behind the group, intend­ing to malign the country’s lead­ers. The bulk of the migrants here are still from Hon­duras.

    “There’s clear evi­dence where it began. Bar­to­lo was the per­son who was in front of the media; he was the face of this event,” Alden Rivera Montes, Hon­duras’ ambas­sador to Mex­i­co, said in an inter­view.

    “They were try­ing to show Hon­duras as a failed coun­try, which is total­ly false,” Rivera Montes said.
    ...

    Amus­ing­ly, the Hon­duran gov­ern­ment also told Mike Pence, with­out evi­dence, that the Venezue­lan gov­ern­ment was financ­ing the whole thing. So the Hon­duran gov­ern­ment seems to be very inter­est­ed in fram­ing the car­a­van as some sort of attack on itself (pre­sum­ably in part to deflect from the role the pro-gov­ern­ment TV cov­er­age played):

    ...
    Vice Pres­i­dent Pence said in an inter­view with The Wash­ing­ton Post on Tues­day that Hon­duras’ pres­i­dent told him the car­a­van was financed by Venezuela’s left-wing gov­ern­ment. There is no evi­dence to sup­port that claim.
    ...

    The car­a­van mem­bers them­selves are say­ing that it was all of the media atten­tion of the last car­a­van from March/April of this year that helped gen­er­ate inter­est in this car­a­van. The fact that they don’t have to pay traf­fick­ers for pro­tec­tion is anoth­er big incen­tive for the car­a­van approach. So when you com­bined the inher­ent advan­tages of a car­a­van (cheap­er and safer) with the exten­sive free adver­tis­ing they received from the media, it’s almost sur­pris­ing there aren’t more and larg­er car­a­vans of this nature:

    ...
    Migrant car­a­vans have trav­eled through Cen­tral Amer­i­ca for sev­er­al years, part human rights protest, part effort to guar­an­tee safe pas­sage for Cen­tral Amer­i­cans tra­vers­ing a dan­ger­ous route north. Nor­mal­ly, a Cen­tral Amer­i­can migrat­ing to the Unit­ed States must pay a series of car­tel-linked smug­glers to make the jour­ney, a sum that can reach more than $10,000. The car­a­van offered a rel­a­tive­ly safe way to migrate that was basi­cal­ly free of cost.

    The last car­a­van, which left south­ern Mex­i­co in March, received so much media atten­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing its final days, that it appears to have set the ground­work for the cur­rent, larg­er exo­dus, said many migrants. The cur­rent group is expo­nen­tial­ly big­ger than pre­vi­ous car­a­vans. Hon­durans, Guatemalans and Sal­vado­rans who missed their chance this spring decid­ed that this time, they would rush to join the group.
    ...

    “The last car­a­van, which left south­ern Mex­i­co in March, received so much media atten­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing its final days, that it appears to have set the ground­work for the cur­rent, larg­er exo­dus, said many migrants. The cur­rent group is expo­nen­tial­ly big­ger than pre­vi­ous car­a­vans.”

    So giv­en that the large amounts of atten­tion that car­a­van from ear­li­er this year received and the role that atten­tion appears to have played in the unprece­dent­ed size of the cur­rent car­a­van, it’s worth not­ing that one of things that drew enor­mous inter­na­tion­al atten­tion to that last car­a­van was the deci­sion of Don­ald Trump and the GOP to politi­cize it at the time. As the fol­low­ing arti­cle from ear­ly April describes, these car­a­vans are com­mon place and typ­i­cal­ly done pri­mar­i­ly to bring pub­lic atten­tion to asy­lum seek­ers (and not to sim­ply bum rush the bor­ders of a coun­try like the GOP is claim­ing). They’ve been going on for years. But Trump and the GOP decid­ed to politi­cize the last one and now there’s a super-car­a­van. So in that sense, we can thank Don­ald Trump and the GOP for the unprece­dent­ed size of the cur­rent car­a­van:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    The migrant car­a­van denounced by Trump will end in Mex­i­co City, but some peo­ple vow to go on alone

    By Joshua Part­low
    April 5, 2018

    MATIAS ROMERO, Mex­i­co — The car­a­van of Cen­tral Amer­i­can migrants that has prompt­ed scathing tweets from Pres­i­dent Trump is expect­ed to end its jour­ney at the Mex­i­can cap­i­tal rather than push­ing north to the U.S. bor­der, orga­niz­ers said Wednes­day.

    The sheer size of the group — more than 1,000 peo­ple, swollen by Hon­durans leav­ing their coun­try after a con­tentious pres­i­den­tial elec­tion — has made the logis­tics of trav­el too dif­fi­cult, they said.

    “When we saw the num­bers, we were shocked,” said Iri­neo Muji­ca, a Mex­i­can Amer­i­can activist who is help­ing orga­nize the trek. “It’s impos­si­ble to trav­el with this many peo­ple.”

    Trump warned on Twit­ter this week that a “big Car­a­van” was “now com­ing across Mex­i­co and head­ing to our ‘Weak Laws’ Bor­der” — one of a num­ber of warn­ings he issued about the march. The pres­i­dent, who made the fight against undoc­u­ment­ed immi­gra­tion a core cam­paign promise, declared that he would sent troops to the bor­der to pre­vent a flood of ille­gal crossers.

    But while many of the Cen­tral Amer­i­cans in the group say they will try to get to the Unit­ed States on their own, it has been decid­ed that the orga­nized car­a­van will fin­ish in Mex­i­co City after a stop in the city of Puebla lat­er this week.

    In a puz­zling turn­about, Trump on Thurs­day appeared to praise “strong immi­gra­tion laws” in Mex­i­co for keep­ing the car­a­van from mov­ing toward the U.S. bor­der. Ear­li­er this week, Trump accused Mex­i­co of doing lit­tle to halt the flow of migrants, and threat­ened to pull out of the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment as pun­ish­ment.

    “The Car­a­van is large­ly bro­ken up thanks to the strong immi­gra­tion laws of Mex­i­co and their will­ing­ness to use them so as not to cause a giant scene at our Bor­der,” Trump wrote in a tweet, which also took cred­it for poli­cies that have lim­it­ed bor­der cross­ings.

    In Mex­i­co, some of the fam­i­lies hud­dled under tar­pau­lins and trees at a soc­cer field in Matias Romero said they were frus­trat­ed to learn that the car­a­van won’t reach the bor­der, hav­ing count­ed on the pro­tec­tion offered by the big group.

    After flee­ing San Pedro Sula, Hon­duras, because of gang threats, Kate­ri­na Dominguez Enam­ora­do, 22, had been in Tapachu­la, a south­ern Mex­i­co town, when she joined the car­a­van. She expect­ed it would end in Tijua­na, the Mex­i­can bor­der town across from San Diego. If she had known it would go only halfway across Mex­i­co, she said, she would have tried to work in Tapachu­la and save mon­ey for the jour­ney.

    “My mis­sion is to reach Tijua­na, even if I have to beg for mon­ey and hitch­hike,” she said.

    Mex­i­can immi­gra­tion offi­cials on Wednes­day hand­ed out legal per­mits of up to a month to hun­dreds of migrants who spent their fourth day in a pub­lic park here in the south­ern state of Oax­a­ca, wait­ing for the car­a­van to con­tin­ue. This spares them from imme­di­ate depor­ta­tion but is not a long-term solu­tion. For Muji­ca, the orga­niz­er, that’s as much as he expects.

    Muji­ca, the direc­tor of Pueblo Sin Fron­teras, a migrants’ rights group, said he nev­er intend­ed to bum-rush the group over the bor­der. In fact, he said, many of the migrants hop­ing to reach the bor­der planned to ask for asy­lum — not sneak over ille­gal­ly.

    Car­a­vans like this one are com­mon as an attempt to raise aware­ness, but they exist apart from the reg­u­lar flow of migrants. Con­ser­v­a­tive U.S. media seized on this year’s car­a­van as an exam­ple of unchecked migra­tion, and Trump’s com­ments brought it more atten­tion.

    Although the pres­i­dent has repeat­ed­ly warned about the dan­gers of ille­gal immi­grants pour­ing over the bor­der, the num­bers have fall­en. U.S. bor­der author­i­ties report­ed a 26-per­cent decline in the num­ber of peo­ple detained along the Mex­i­co bor­der in 2017 com­pared with the pre­vi­ous year.

    Muji­ca reit­er­at­ed that the point of the car­a­van was to empha­size the need for legal reforms, draw atten­tion to the migrants’ plight and press for more wel­com­ing poli­cies from Mex­i­can author­i­ties. He said “the best thing we have won” from the spot­light Trump has turned on this par­tic­u­lar group is a high-lev­el meet­ing with Mex­i­can immi­gra­tion author­i­ties to talk about long-term change.

    Before, “it was like deaf ears, nobody was lis­ten­ing,” Muji­ca said, adding that migrants will be able to “exer­cise their rights with these doc­u­ments.”

    Orga­niz­ers say that migrants can now take bus­es on their own to Puebla, a city south of the cap­i­tal, where a work­shop on immi­gra­tion law is planned for Fri­day. Rodri­go Abe­ja, one of the orga­niz­ers, said help was being sought from a break­away fac­tion of Mexico’s teach­ers union, which has years of expe­ri­ence con­ven­ing large protests and is gen­er­al­ly aligned with the country’s left­ist pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. But the logis­tics remain flu­id.

    Even before Trump got involved, this had become the biggest car­a­van that this group of orga­niz­ers had seen.

    Many Hon­durans who fled after their country’s con­test­ed pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Novem­ber had already amassed in Tapachu­la and joined the car­a­van when it set off late last month. Muji­ca said that at least 80 per­cent of the migrants are from Hon­duras.

    One of them, Maria Ele­na Col­in­dres Orte­ga, 43, had been a con­gress­woman in Hon­duras until Jan­u­ary. She said she joined in the hope of even­tu­al­ly apply­ing for polit­i­cal asy­lum in the Unit­ed States. More than 20 peo­ple were killed in post-elec­tion protests, and Hon­duras has long been a dan­ger­ous place for activists.

    “I couldn’t wait for them to kill me,” Col­in­dres Orte­ga said.

    The hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered here still face daunt­ing prospects. After the rel­a­tive safe­ty of the car­a­van ends, dan­gers abound for migrants, espe­cial­ly in the vio­lence-rid­den Mex­i­can states along the U.S. bor­der. And while most here have tales of woe, prov­ing the need for asy­lum to U.S. courts is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter.

    ...

    Trump has made the migrant car­a­van a cen­tral theme in tweets. He has warned that Mex­i­co must stop the group or risk being penal­ized in the nego­ti­a­tions over revis­ing the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment. He has also threat­ened to reduce U.S. aid to Hon­duras.

    ———-

    “The migrant car­a­van denounced by Trump will end in Mex­i­co City, but some peo­ple vow to go on alone” by Joshua Part­low; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 04/05/2018

    Trump has made the migrant car­a­van a cen­tral theme in tweets. He has warned that Mex­i­co must stop the group or risk being penal­ized in the nego­ti­a­tions over revis­ing the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment. He has also threat­ened to reduce U.S. aid to Hon­duras.”

    Yep, the car­a­van from March/April of this year was a cen­tral theme of Trump’s tweets at the time, along with Trump pro­claim­ing that the US has a ‘weak law’ bor­der. It’s kind of the per­fect adver­tise­ment to encour­age future, big­ger car­a­vans:

    ...
    Trump warned on Twit­ter this week that a “big Car­a­van” was “now com­ing across Mex­i­co and head­ing to our ‘Weak Laws’ Bor­der” — one of a num­ber of warn­ings he issued about the march. The pres­i­dent, who made the fight against undoc­u­ment­ed immi­gra­tion a core cam­paign promise, declared that he would sent troops to the bor­der to pre­vent a flood of ille­gal crossers.

    But while many of the Cen­tral Amer­i­cans in the group say they will try to get to the Unit­ed States on their own, it has been decid­ed that the orga­nized car­a­van will fin­ish in Mex­i­co City after a stop in the city of Puebla lat­er this week.
    ...

    But as the direc­tor of Pueblo Sin Fron­teras, the migrant rights group that orga­nized this ear­li­er car­a­van, stressed, the plan for these car­a­vans was nev­er to sim­ply bum-rush the peo­ple across the US bor­der. The car­a­van is dis­tinct from the reg­u­lar flow of migrants. That’s not to say that peo­ple don’t use the car­a­van to safe­ly reach Mex­i­co and then inde­pen­dent­ly try to cross the US bor­der. But the actu­al car­a­vans are about rais­ing aware­ness, mov­ing peo­ple safe­ly so they don’t become prey to the car­tels and kid­nap­pers:

    ...
    Muji­ca, the direc­tor of Pueblo Sin Fron­teras, a migrants’ rights group, said he nev­er intend­ed to bum-rush the group over the bor­der. In fact, he said, many of the migrants hop­ing to reach the bor­der planned to ask for asy­lum — not sneak over ille­gal­ly.

    Car­a­vans like this one are com­mon as an attempt to raise aware­ness, but they exist apart from the reg­u­lar flow of migrants. Con­ser­v­a­tive U.S. media seized on this year’s car­a­van as an exam­ple of unchecked migra­tion, and Trump’s com­ments brought it more atten­tion.

    Although the pres­i­dent has repeat­ed­ly warned about the dan­gers of ille­gal immi­grants pour­ing over the bor­der, the num­bers have fall­en. U.S. bor­der author­i­ties report­ed a 26-per­cent decline in the num­ber of peo­ple detained along the Mex­i­co bor­der in 2017 com­pared with the pre­vi­ous year.
    ...

    So when Trump and the GOP direct­ed inter­na­tion­al atten­tion to the car­a­van, they were almost thank­ful because it got them the atten­tion for the migrants’ cause they were seek­ing in the first place:

    ...
    Muji­ca reit­er­at­ed that the point of the car­a­van was to empha­size the need for legal reforms, draw atten­tion to the migrants’ plight and press for more wel­com­ing poli­cies from Mex­i­can author­i­ties. He said “the best thing we have won” from the spot­light Trump has turned on this par­tic­u­lar group is a high-lev­el meet­ing with Mex­i­can immi­gra­tion author­i­ties to talk about long-term change.

    Before, “it was like deaf ears, nobody was lis­ten­ing,” Muji­ca said, adding that migrants will be able to “exer­cise their rights with these doc­u­ments.”
    ...

    But it’s also worth not­ing that this car­a­van in March/April was, itself, an excep­tion­al­ly large car­a­van, due large­ly to the polit­i­cal tur­moil in Hon­duras fol­low­ing the con­test­ed elec­tion out­come. An out­come the US backed in favor of Hon­duras’s cur­rent right-wing gov­ern­ment:

    ...
    Orga­niz­ers say that migrants can now take bus­es on their own to Puebla, a city south of the cap­i­tal, where a work­shop on immi­gra­tion law is planned for Fri­day. Rodri­go Abe­ja, one of the orga­niz­ers, said help was being sought from a break­away fac­tion of Mexico’s teach­ers union, which has years of expe­ri­ence con­ven­ing large protests and is gen­er­al­ly aligned with the country’s left­ist pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. But the logis­tics remain flu­id.

    Even before Trump got involved, this had become the biggest car­a­van that this group of orga­niz­ers had seen.

    Many Hon­durans who fled after their country’s con­test­ed pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Novem­ber had already amassed in Tapachu­la and joined the car­a­van when it set off late last month. Muji­ca said that at least 80 per­cent of the migrants are from Hon­duras.
    ...

    Over­all, it’s look­ing like we can attribute the size of the cur­rent car­a­van to a com­bi­na­tion of a social media viral cam­paign, the pro-gov­ern­ment Hon­duran tele­vi­sion cov­er­age and the deci­sion of Trump and the GOP to politi­cize the ear­li­er car­a­van.

    So giv­en the immense media atten­tion the cur­rent car­a­van is receiv­ing, should we expect even larg­er ones in the future? We’ll see, but as the fol­low­ing arti­cle makes clear, the GOP is plan­ning on mak­ing ‘the car­a­van’ its cen­tral talk­ing point in the final weeks of the mid-terms, and heav­i­ly pro­mot­ing the idea that George Soros and the Democ­rats are fund­ing it. Which means the GOP is loud­ly send­ing the mes­sage to the rest of the world that, yes, there are for­eign­ers who will pay for these car­a­vans. And as we’ve seen, that’s the kind of mes­sag­ing cam­paign that’s great for mak­ing the next car­a­van even big­ger:

    The Dai­ly Beast

    Trump’s Own Team Knows His Car­a­van Claims Are Bull­shit

    Asked for evi­dence sup­port­ing the president’s claims about the car­a­van, a senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial told reporters to ask ‘the Mex­i­can author­i­ties.’

    Lach­lan Markay, Asaw­in Sueb­saeng, Sam Stein, Will Som­mer
    10.23.18 7:52 PM ET

    Don­ald Trump and his polit­i­cal allies have embarked on an aggres­sive, end-of-the-cam­paign effort to drum up fear among vot­ers about a car­a­van of poor migrants sev­er­al thou­sand miles from the U.S.-Mexico bor­der. Much of it is mis­truths and embell­ish­ments, but Trum­p­land could care less.

    “It doesn’t mat­ter if it’s 100 per­cent accu­rate,” a senior Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial told The Dai­ly Beast. “This is the play.”

    Over the past few days, Trump has issued cryp­tic warn­ings about the south­ern bor­der being over­run. His vice pres­i­dent has ampli­fied base­less accu­sa­tions that ter­ror­ists may have infil­trat­ed the group of—largely—Honduran asy­lum seek­ers. And con­ser­v­a­tive media have pro­vid­ed ’round-the-clock cov­er­age of what they depict as a mob gain­ing in size and steam.

    Stok­ing immi­gra­tion fears is a tried and true polit­i­cal win­ner for the Repub­li­can Par­ty. In 2014, GOP law­mak­ers were able to cap­i­tal­ize on a surge of fam­i­lies rush­ing to the south­ern bor­der and opaque warn­ings that ISIS agents, car­ry­ing the Ebo­la virus, could sift through unde­tect­ed.

    Trump, how­ev­er, has per­fect­ed the art. In 2016, his top domes­tic pol­i­cy item was to build a bor­der wall to pre­vent an over­flow of undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants from com­ing into the coun­try. He did this—and did it successfully—despite ille­gal immi­gra­tion being at a 40-year low.

    In 2018, Trump has reprised the lines but with a touch of addi­tion­al MAGA flair. On Mon­day night, the pres­i­dent proud­ly affirmed that he is a “nation­al­ist” politician—adopting a term that often car­ries the bag­gage of “eth­nona­tion­al­ism” or “white nation­al­ist” neo-fas­cism that, among oth­er hor­rors, cul­mi­nat­ed in the Char­lottesville atroc­i­ty last year.

    Trump him­self seemed aware of the risks he took in adopt­ing the moniker, telling the crowd that he wasn’t sup­posed to “use that word.” But, in real­i­ty, it was mere­ly a con­tin­u­a­tion of the 2016 play­book. His cam­paign man­ag­er dur­ing that run, Steve Ban­non, was thrilled to hear Trump embrace the nation­al­ist tag, accord­ing to the former’s friends. When Ban­non worked in Trump’s West Wing last year, he put admin­is­tra­tion pri­or­i­ties on his office white­board under the head­ing of “POPULIST” and “NATIONALIST,” accord­ing to those who saw it.

    For Repub­li­cans, the sharp turn toward immi­gra­tion fears, and those relat­ed to the car­a­van in par­tic­u­lar, has been viewed a clear polit­i­cal win­ner, even as some acknowl­edge that the rhetoric from the pres­i­dent and others—including phil­an­thropist and Demo­c­ra­t­ic financier George Soros was fund­ing the car­a­van—has been overblown.

    “Soros is prob­a­bly not mas­ter­mind­ing these peo­ple com­ing to the bor­der,” con­ced­ed one GOP oper­a­tive in an inter­view on Tues­day. “When it comes to allow­ing seg­ments of the base to believe what they want to believe, it hap­pens on both sides. Repub­li­cans are no more guilty of it than Democ­rats.”

    What made the car­a­van polit­i­cal­ly use­ful, the oper­a­tive con­tin­ued, was that it res­onat­ed with pre­cise­ly the vot­er sect that the GOP need­ed to reach in the next two weeks. “It’s an issue that moti­vates Trump’s most ardent con­ser­v­a­tive base,” the oper­a­tive said. “If your wor­ry was that we’re not going to be able to turn our base vot­ers out, well—what’s the oppo­site of kryp­tonite?”

    Pub­licly, the White House has defend­ed the president’s insis­tence that the car­a­van con­tains “crim­i­nals” and “unknown Mid­dle East­ern­ers.” But it hasn’t always been grace­ful. On Tues­day, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence soft­ened the charge to mere­ly “peo­ple of Mid­dle East­ern descent.” His office then said that 10 sus­pect­ed ter­ror­ist were appre­hend­ed by the U.S. every day—conflating those cap­tured world­wide with those found along the south­ern bor­der. Lat­er that day, the pres­i­dent him­self seemed to con­cede that he’d been riff­ing it while argu­ing that there was the pos­si­bil­i­ty that he could end up being cor­rect.

    After every­one from the White House press sec­re­tary to the vice pres­i­dent has vouched for his claim that “Mid­dle East­ern­ers” have infil­trat­ed the car­a­van, Trump tells reporters he has no proof of “Mid­dle East­ern­ers” in there, but that there “very well could be.”
    — Ash­ley Park­er (@AshleyRParker) Octo­ber 23, 2018

    In a con­fer­ence call with reporters on Tues­day, senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials declined to defend the claims com­ing from the pres­i­dent him­self, refer­ring reporters to “the Mex­i­can author­i­ties” on ques­tions about the con­struct of the car­a­van. “The pres­i­dent has made his com­ments on it, we’re not going to speak for him on what that looks like,” said one of the offi­cials, whom the White House made avail­able on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty.

    But the absence of sup­port­ing evi­dence has not slowed the admin­is­tra­tion down. A recent White House email blast of talk­ing points to Trump sur­ro­gates and media allies, sent and com­piled by White House aide Julia Hahn, strong­ly empha­sized the “car­a­van” and the sup­posed “cri­sis” at the bor­der, accord­ing to those who have read the email. And even Repub­li­can crit­ics of the pres­i­dent and his use of the car­a­van cat­nip con­ced­ed that it would have a tan­gi­ble elec­toral impact.

    “I do think it works that’s why he does it,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R‑AZ) said in an inter­view. “I’m not say­ing there are nev­er any peo­ple with nefar­i­ous motives. But [Pres­i­dent Trump] didn’t say that based on any evi­dence… it was just thrown out there because he knows it works.”

    To date, the car­a­van hasn’t made its way into any cam­paign adver­tise­ments. But one top GOP offi­cial involved in House races said it was just a mat­ter of time. “It’s a lit­tle new but I’d be shocked if it wasn’t in one soon,” the oper­a­tive said.

    But ads aren’t exact­ly need­ed to give the issue any more atten­tion. Despite pos­ing no clear or imme­di­ate threat to U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty, the car­a­van has become a fix­ture of the polit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tion and nation­al media broad­cast­ing. Google search ana­lyt­ics show sig­nif­i­cant­ly more inter­est in the “car­a­van” than in “health care” start­ing on Sun­day. The New York Times put the sto­ry above the fold two days in a row.

    Now two days in a row. Hap­pen­ing all over again. pic.twitter.com/r1RYRnbF0n
    — Mark Copelovitch (@mcopelov) Octo­ber 23, 2018

    How it got to that point illus­trates the ways in which a flat­tened media land­scape can allow fringe-ish sto­ries to take root and bloom into nation­al con­tro­ver­sies. Trump wasn’t the first Repub­li­can to cir­cu­late rumors about a “CARAVAN” in an attempt to rile up Repub­li­cans ahead of the midterms. That would be Rep. Matt Gaetz (R‑FL), a staunch Trump defend­er, who on Oct. 17, tweet­ed video he claimed was mem­bers of the car­a­van receiv­ing mon­ey, pos­si­bly from Soros, in Hon­duras to “join the car­a­van & storm the US bor­der @ elec­tion time.” Gaetz’s video has been retweet­ed more than 44,000 times, as of Tues­day, and received near­ly 2 mil­lion views.

    BREAKING: Footage in Hon­duras giv­ing cash 2 women & chil­dren 2 join the car­a­van & storm the US bor­der @ elec­tion time. Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to inves­ti­gate the source! pic.twitter.com/5pEByiGkkN
    — Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) Octo­ber 17, 2018

    Gaetz even­tu­al­ly con­ced­ed that the video was shot in Guatemala, not Hon­duras. And, since the migrants in the video received just a sin­gle bill, the most they could have received was rough­ly $26—hardly enough to induce some­one to trav­el thou­sands of miles to “storm the US bor­der.”

    Still, Gaetz’s video went viral along­side the idea that the migrants are for some rea­son intent on reach­ing the Unit­ed States before Elec­tion Day. Pro-Trump Face­book and Twit­ter accounts have shared pic­tures of a Mex­i­can police offi­cer with a bloody face, claim­ing it’s proof that mem­bers of the car­a­van have over­run Mex­i­can law enforce­ment. In fact, the images were from an unre­lat­ed protest six years ago.

    Tons of mis­in­for­ma­tion about the car­a­van float­ing around. This pho­to of a blood­ied police offi­cer has tens of thou­sands of shares on a few big FB pages. It was tak­en in 2012, and has noth­ing to do with the car­a­van. pic.twitter.com/CPxPBygbRv
    — Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) Octo­ber 22, 2018

    Trump sup­port­ers have also seized on an image of Hon­durans burn­ing an Amer­i­can flag with a swasti­ka drawn on it, dub­bing them the “car­a­van pro­test­ers” and imply­ing that they were mem­bers of the car­a­van.

    Damn these Hon­duran migrants seem like they real­ly want to come here... pic.twitter.com/oSUaaHoLku
    — Vin­cent James (@RealVinceJames) Octo­ber 21, 2018

    In a wide­ly cir­cu­lat­ed tweet retweet­ed by con­ser­v­a­tive colum­nist Ann Coul­ter, right-wing social media per­son­al­i­ty Vin­cent James wrote, “Damn these Hon­duran migrants seem like they real­ly want to come here.” In real­i­ty, the Hon­durans were protest­ing in front of the U.S. Embassy in Hon­duras and weren’t mem­bers of the car­a­van.

    The car­a­van issue has even earned its own “Bik­ers for Trump” hoax, with online rumors fly­ing around that a horde of Trump-lov­ing bik­ers were head­ed to the bor­der to stop the car­a­van before it crossed into U.S. ter­ri­to­ry.

    TROOPS being DEPLOYED to the bor­der! Bik­ers for TRUMP and the CITIZENS MILITARY MILITIA are also deploy­ing to work with ICE and BORDER CONTROL! They can use funds and sup­plies Please go to war Drum­mer web­site to find infor­ma­tion on dona­tions! PRAY FOR THEM ALL!!
    — Bil­lie Scha­ef­fer (@USAgaggy63) Octo­ber 23, 2018

    For Democ­rats watch­ing it all unfold, the past few days have pro­duced a nau­se­at­ing case of déjà vu. Matt Can­ter, who head­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­to­r­i­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee in 2014, recalled how the clos­ing weeks of that cycle turned on “bor­der cross­ings, ebo­la, and behead­ings.” Though Can­ter sus­pect­ed that vot­ers had become “a lit­tle sick of the bait­ing and the scare tactics”—citing thefail­ure of Ed Gille­spie to win the Vir­ginia guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion in 2017 by piv­ot­ing to fear-mon­ger­ing over MS-13 gangs—he con­ced­ed that the car­a­van sto­ry like­ly would hurt.

    ...

    ———-

    “Trump’s Own Team Knows His Car­a­van Claims Are Bull­shit” by Lach­lan Markay, Asaw­in Sueb­saeng, Sam Stein, Will Som­mer; The Dai­ly Beast; 10/23/2018

    “It doesn’t mat­ter if it’s 100 per­cent accu­rate,” a senior Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial told The Dai­ly Beast. “This is the play.”

    It’s always fas­ci­nat­ing when politi­cians sud­den­ly get hon­est about their dis­hon­esty. But that’s what just a bunch of anony­mous Trump offi­cials just did for this arti­cle. They’re just going to proud­ly say what­ev­er works polit­i­cal­ly. And giv­en the round-the-clock cov­er­age con­ser­v­a­tive media is giv­ing this car­a­van, what­ev­er they say is going to be loud­ly repeat­ed over and over:

    ...
    Over the past few days, Trump has issued cryp­tic warn­ings about the south­ern bor­der being over­run. His vice pres­i­dent has ampli­fied base­less accu­sa­tions that ter­ror­ists may have infil­trat­ed the group of—largely—Honduran asy­lum seek­ers. And con­ser­v­a­tive media have pro­vid­ed ’round-the-clock cov­er­age of what they depict as a mob gain­ing in size and steam.

    Stok­ing immi­gra­tion fears is a tried and true polit­i­cal win­ner for the Repub­li­can Par­ty. In 2014, GOP law­mak­ers were able to cap­i­tal­ize on a surge of fam­i­lies rush­ing to the south­ern bor­der and opaque warn­ings that ISIS agents, car­ry­ing the Ebo­la virus, could sift through unde­tect­ed.

    Trump, how­ev­er, has per­fect­ed the art. In 2016, his top domes­tic pol­i­cy item was to build a bor­der wall to pre­vent an over­flow of undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants from com­ing into the coun­try. He did this—and did it successfully—despite ille­gal immi­gra­tion being at a 40-year low.
    ...

    The intend­ed audi­ence is for the right-wing Big Lie machine is, of course, Trump vot­ers. But as the expe­ri­ence from the March/April car­a­van demon­strates, when Trump and the GOP make these car­a­vans a major US top­ic of US media it also gets more atten­tion else­where in the world. Like in Cen­tral Amer­i­ca. Which like­ly led to the unprece­dent­ed size of the cur­rent car­a­van:

    ...
    For Repub­li­cans, the sharp turn toward immi­gra­tion fears, and those relat­ed to the car­a­van in par­tic­u­lar, has been viewed a clear polit­i­cal win­ner, even as some acknowl­edge that the rhetoric from the pres­i­dent and others—including phil­an­thropist and Demo­c­ra­t­ic financier George Soros was fund­ing the car­a­van—has been overblown.

    “Soros is prob­a­bly not mas­ter­mind­ing these peo­ple com­ing to the bor­der,” con­ced­ed one GOP oper­a­tive in an inter­view on Tues­day. “When it comes to allow­ing seg­ments of the base to believe what they want to believe, it hap­pens on both sides. Repub­li­cans are no more guilty of it than Democ­rats.”

    What made the car­a­van polit­i­cal­ly use­ful, the oper­a­tive con­tin­ued, was that it res­onat­ed with pre­cise­ly the vot­er sect that the GOP need­ed to reach in the next two weeks. “It’s an issue that moti­vates Trump’s most ardent con­ser­v­a­tive base,” the oper­a­tive said. “If your wor­ry was that we’re not going to be able to turn our base vot­ers out, well—what’s the oppo­site of kryp­tonite?”

    ...

    To date, the car­a­van hasn’t made its way into any cam­paign adver­tise­ments. But one top GOP offi­cial involved in House races said it was just a mat­ter of time. “It’s a lit­tle new but I’d be shocked if it wasn’t in one soon,” the oper­a­tive said.

    But ads aren’t exact­ly need­ed to give the issue any more atten­tion. Despite pos­ing no clear or imme­di­ate threat to U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty, the car­a­van has become a fix­ture of the polit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tion and nation­al media broad­cast­ing. Google search ana­lyt­ics show sig­nif­i­cant­ly more inter­est in the “car­a­van” than in “health care” start­ing on Sun­day. The New York Times put the sto­ry above the fold two days in a row.

    Now two days in a row. Hap­pen­ing all over again. pic.twitter.com/r1RYRnbF0n
    — Mark Copelovitch (@mcopelov) Octo­ber 23, 2018

    ...

    And note how the Trump/GOP fix­a­tion on the car­a­van got start­ed: GOP con­gress­man Matt Gaetz fraud­u­lent­ly claimed that footage of the car­a­van mem­bers receiv­ing small amounts of mon­ey in Guatemala was actu­al­ly footage of them being paid in Hon­duras to make the jour­ney. And George Soros was the one pay­ing them to reach the US before Elec­tion Day for some unspec­i­fied dia­bol­i­cal plot:

    ...
    How it got to that point illus­trates the ways in which a flat­tened media land­scape can allow fringe-ish sto­ries to take root and bloom into nation­al con­tro­ver­sies. Trump wasn’t the first Repub­li­can to cir­cu­late rumors about a “CARAVAN” in an attempt to rile up Repub­li­cans ahead of the midterms. That would be Rep. Matt Gaetz (R‑FL), a staunch Trump defend­er, who on Oct. 17, tweet­ed video he claimed was mem­bers of the car­a­van receiv­ing mon­ey, pos­si­bly from Soros, in Hon­duras to “join the car­a­van & storm the US bor­der @ elec­tion time.” Gaetz’s video has been retweet­ed more than 44,000 times, as of Tues­day, and received near­ly 2 mil­lion views.

    BREAKING: Footage in Hon­duras giv­ing cash 2 women & chil­dren 2 join the car­a­van & storm the US bor­der @ elec­tion time. Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to inves­ti­gate the source! pic.twitter.com/5pEByiGkkN
    — Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) Octo­ber 17, 2018

    Gaetz even­tu­al­ly con­ced­ed that the video was shot in Guatemala, not Hon­duras. And, since the migrants in the video received just a sin­gle bill, the most they could have received was rough­ly $26—hardly enough to induce some­one to trav­el thou­sands of miles to “storm the US bor­der.”

    Still, Gaetz’s video went viral along­side the idea that the migrants are for some rea­son intent on reach­ing the Unit­ed States before Elec­tion Day. Pro-Trump Face­book and Twit­ter accounts have shared pic­tures of a Mex­i­can police offi­cer with a bloody face, claim­ing it’s proof that mem­bers of the car­a­van have over­run Mex­i­can law enforce­ment. In fact, the images were from an unre­lat­ed protest six years ago.

    Tons of mis­in­for­ma­tion about the car­a­van float­ing around. This pho­to of a blood­ied police offi­cer has tens of thou­sands of shares on a few big FB pages. It was tak­en in 2012, and has noth­ing to do with the car­a­van. pic.twitter.com/CPxPBygbRv
    — Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) Octo­ber 22, 2018

    ...

    That’s the mes­sage Gaetz was push­ing to US audi­ences and it’s a mes­sage that undoubt­ed­ly also trav­eled to Cen­tral Amer­i­ca too. So you have to won­der how many peo­ple across Cen­tral Amer­i­ca are under the impres­sion that George Soros will pay them to trav­el to Amer­i­ca thanks to Gaetz and the GOP? And don’t for­get the Hon­duran gov­ern­ment claim­ing Venezuela is pay­ing for this.

    As we can see, we aren’t sim­ply wit­ness­ing a GOP pre­tend freak out over a migrant car­a­van that pos­es no mean­ing­ful threat to any­thing oth­er than the prof­it mar­gins of human traf­fick­ers. We’re actu­al­ly wit­ness­ing the GOP incite future mega-car­a­vans. End­less fear­mon­ger­ing about how the US has ‘weak law’ bor­ders and that George Soros and Venezuela will pay for the migrants is pret­ty much the best adver­tis­ing these car­a­vans could get. And giv­en the way the GOP is glee­ful­ly exploit­ing the car­a­van for polit­i­cal gain, it’s the kind of pro-car­a­van adver­tis­ing the GOP no doubt is hap­py to pro­vide.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 24, 2018, 3:38 pm
  9. Now that it looks almost cer­tain that Brazil is going to be elect­ing a fas­cist pro-tor­ture/pro-dic­ta­tor­ship lunatic as pres­i­dent on the runoff elec­tion this Sun­day, here’s a pair of arti­cle that remind us that the elec­tion of Bol­sonaro does­n’t just rep­re­sent doom for Brazil. It also rep­re­sents the lat­est instance of an anti-envi­ron­ment strong­man politi­cian com­ing to pow­er in a world where anti-envi­ron­men­tal­ist strong­man politi­cians are com­ing to pow­er almost every­where:

    The Guardian

    Our plan­et can’t take many more pop­ulists like Brazil’s Bol­sonaro

    Just when Earth bad­ly needs pro-envi­ron­ment lead­ers, we get big-busi­ness strong­men. There’s a rea­son for this grim irony

    Jonathan Watts

    Wed 24 Oct 2018 01.00 EDT
    Last mod­i­fied on Wed 24 Oct 2018 12.35 EDT

    Unless every poll is wild­ly wrong, Brazil will prob­a­bly elect a racist, sex­ist, homo­pho­bic advo­cate of tor­ture at the end of this month. The for­mer army cap­tain Jair Bol­sonaro near­ly won out­right in the first round, secur­ing the votes of almost 50 mil­lion peo­ple – despite his extreme views being well known.

    What is less well under­stood, how­ev­er, is the cat­a­stroph­ic envi­ron­ment impli­ca­tions of his rise to the brink of pow­er. And in this, Bol­sonaro is not unique: around the world, dimin­ish­ing resources are fuelling a glob­al rise of author­i­tar­i­an lead­ers ded­i­cat­ed to doing the bid­ding of some of the world’s most envi­ron­men­tal­ly dam­ag­ing inter­ests.

    The Brazil­ian elec­tion results were announced on 8 Octo­ber – just as cli­mate sci­en­tists were issu­ing their most dra­mat­ic warn­ing yet that human­i­ty has just 12 years to slash emis­sions or suf­fer the con­se­quences of dan­ger­ous glob­al warm­ing. If coun­tries do not start plant­i­ng trees and cut­ting fos­sil fuels now, they said, then it will be impos­si­ble to pre­vent a rise of more than 0.5C, which would com­plete­ly erad­i­cate all of the world’s corals and irre­versibly dis­rupt weath­er sys­tems, bring­ing droughts, floods and extreme heat that will push hun­dreds of mil­lions into pover­ty.

    His­to­ry tells us that when envi­ron­ments dete­ri­o­rate, soci­eties turn to sup­posed strong­men and reli­gious zealots rather than smart, prag­mat­ic lead­ers. That is hap­pen­ing now. In addi­tion to the dic­ta­tor­ships of Chi­na, Rus­sia and Sau­di Ara­bia, a grow­ing num­ber of young democ­ra­cies have relapsed into author­i­tar­i­an­ism: the Philip­pines under Rodri­go Duterte, Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan, Egypt under Abdel Fat­tah el-Sisi, and next, it would seem, Brazil under Bol­sonaro. And under­ly­ing this is envi­ron­men­tal stress, which has been build­ing for over two cen­turies.

    Start­ing in Britain, the car­bon-cap­i­tal­ist indus­tri­al mod­el has long been extract­ing min­er­als and organ­ic resources, and dis­charg­ing the waste into the air, sea and land. As more nations devel­oped, they export­ed their envi­ron­men­tal stress to the next coun­try ris­ing up the eco­nom­ic lad­der.

    Now that this par­a­digm is being repli­cat­ed by the world’s most pop­u­lous coun­try, Chi­na, there are very few places left to absorb the impact. Com­pe­ti­tion for what is left is grow­ing. So is vio­lence and extrem­ism. Cen­tre-ground politi­cians who once talked chum­mi­ly about “win-win solu­tions” have been pushed to the side­lines. No one believes this any more. Vot­ers may not see this in envi­ron­men­tal terms, but con­scious­ly or sub­con­scious­ly they know some­thing is bro­ken, that tin­ker­ing is no longer enough.

    In the US, with mas­sive sup­port from the fos­sil-fuel indus­try, Don­ald Trump has under­mined the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, opened up swaths of nation­al parks to indus­try, cut pol­lu­tion con­trols and promised to pull out of the Paris accord. In Aus­tralia, Mal­colm Turn­bull was eject­ed from pow­er by his col­leagues because he tried to ful­fil promis­es to cut car­bon emis­sions. And now in Brazil, vot­ers are back­ing a politi­cian who has vowed to pull his coun­try out of the Paris deal, abol­ish the main gov­ern­ment agency tack­ling defor­esta­tion and end the demar­ca­tion of indige­nous land.

    Bol­sonaro has the back­ing of agribusi­ness and min­ing lead­ers, who are rub­bing their hands in glee at the prospect of an Ama­zon denud­ed of its great­est pro­tec­tions. The mar­kets – which are heav­i­ly dri­ven by extrac­tive indus­tries – also love him. The main stock index and exchange rate of the Brazil­ian real spiked after his first round win. An edi­to­r­i­al in the Wall Street Jour­nal endorsed him as a “con­ser­v­a­tive pop­ulist”.

    Such neo-fas­cist politi­cians should not be blithe­ly dis­missed. They are the hired guns of the indus­tries work­ing against the Paris accord and oth­er inter­na­tion­al agree­ments that aim to pre­vent fur­ther envi­ron­men­tal cat­a­stro­phes, which hit the poor­est hard­est. Their “anti-glob­al­ism” is first and fore­most anti-nature and anti-future. An extrac­tion-first approach may bring eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits in the short term, as cronies and cam­paign donors clear more forests, open up plan­ta­tions and dig more mines – but the prof­its are con­cen­trat­ed while the envi­ron­men­tal stress is shared.

    The great fear cli­mate sci­en­tists have is that a warm­ing plan­et could cre­ate feed­back loops that will make every­thing much worse. But there has not been enough study of eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal feed­back loops. How drought in Chi­na puts pres­sure on the Ama­zon to pro­duce more food and clear more for­est. Or how pow­er­ful busi­ness inter­ests will choose a dic­ta­tor over a demo­c­rat if it means eas­ing envi­ron­men­tal con­trols that threat­en their abil­i­ty to meet quar­ter­ly growth tar­gets.

    We are already see­ing a widen­ing gap between politi­cians and sci­en­tists. While the lat­ter urge more ambi­tious cli­mate action, the for­mer know they will receive more cam­paign funds if they oppose emis­sions cuts, sup­port extrac­tive indus­tries and weak­en pol­lu­tion reg­u­la­tions. It is not just dic­ta­tor­ships. Britain is push­ing ahead with frack­ing, Ger­many with coal and Nor­way with oil explo­ration.

    At some point, vot­ers will realise that eco­log­i­cal stress is at the core of the world’s cur­rent woes. The aha! moment may be when water grows pro­hib­i­tive­ly expen­sive, or crops fail owing to suc­ces­sive heat­waves, or the refugee cri­sis sparks war, but at some point the weak­ness of the strong­men will be appar­ent, and peo­ple will seek change. The dan­ger is, by then it may be too late. Cli­mate and pol­i­tics alike will have passed a tip­ping point, lead­ing to social chaos and the mor­ph­ing of pop­ulists into full-blown dic­ta­tors-for-life.

    ...

    ———-

    “Our plan­et can’t take many more pop­ulists like Brazil’s Bol­sonaro” by Jonathan Watts; The Guardian; 10/24/2018

    “What is less well under­stood, how­ev­er, is the cat­a­stroph­ic envi­ron­ment impli­ca­tions of his rise to the brink of pow­er. And in this, Bol­sonaro is not unique: around the world, dimin­ish­ing resources are fuel­ing a glob­al rise of author­i­tar­i­an lead­ers ded­i­cat­ed to doing the bid­ding of some of the world’s most envi­ron­men­tal­ly dam­ag­ing inter­ests.”

    As we can see, one coun­try after anoth­er is choos­ing to fol­low the lead of strong­man politi­cians com­ing to pow­er on a griev­ance-filled ‘pop­ulist’ right-wing agen­da but backed by the pow­er­ful and envi­ron­men­tal­ly destruc­tive indus­tries on the plan­et. And what’s so dis­turb­ing as that, as his­to­ry tells us, when the envi­ron­ment dete­ri­o­rates, soci­eties increas­ing­ly turn to strong­men and reli­gious zealots. In oth­er words, when the going gets tough, human­i­ty goes insane. Over and over:

    ...
    His­to­ry tells us that when envi­ron­ments dete­ri­o­rate, soci­eties turn to sup­posed strong­men and reli­gious zealots rather than smart, prag­mat­ic lead­ers. That is hap­pen­ing now. In addi­tion to the dic­ta­tor­ships of Chi­na, Rus­sia and Sau­di Ara­bia, a grow­ing num­ber of young democ­ra­cies have relapsed into author­i­tar­i­an­ism: the Philip­pines under Rodri­go Duterte, Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan, Egypt under Abdel Fat­tah el-Sisi, and next, it would seem, Brazil under Bol­sonaro. And under­ly­ing this is envi­ron­men­tal stress, which has been build­ing for over two cen­turies.

    ...

    In the US, with mas­sive sup­port from the fos­sil-fuel indus­try, Don­ald Trump has under­mined the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, opened up swaths of nation­al parks to indus­try, cut pol­lu­tion con­trols and promised to pull out of the Paris accord. In Aus­tralia, Mal­colm Turn­bull was eject­ed from pow­er by his col­leagues because he tried to ful­fil promis­es to cut car­bon emis­sions. And now in Brazil, vot­ers are back­ing a politi­cian who has vowed to pull his coun­try out of the Paris deal, abol­ish the main gov­ern­ment agency tack­ling defor­esta­tion and end the demar­ca­tion of indige­nous land.

    Bol­sonaro has the back­ing of agribusi­ness and min­ing lead­ers, who are rub­bing their hands in glee at the prospect of an Ama­zon denud­ed of its great­est pro­tec­tions. The mar­kets – which are heav­i­ly dri­ven by extrac­tive indus­tries – also love him. The main stock index and exchange rate of the Brazil­ian real spiked after his first round win. An edi­to­r­i­al in the Wall Street Jour­nal endorsed him as a “con­ser­v­a­tive pop­ulist”.

    Such neo-fas­cist politi­cians should not be blithe­ly dis­missed. They are the hired guns of the indus­tries work­ing against the Paris accord and oth­er inter­na­tion­al agree­ments that aim to pre­vent fur­ther envi­ron­men­tal cat­a­stro­phes, which hit the poor­est hard­est. Their “anti-glob­al­ism” is first and fore­most anti-nature and anti-future. An extrac­tion-first approach may bring eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits in the short term, as cronies and cam­paign donors clear more forests, open up plan­ta­tions and dig more mines – but the prof­its are con­cen­trat­ed while the envi­ron­men­tal stress is shared.
    ...

    “Such neo-fas­cist politi­cians should not be blithe­ly dis­missed. They are the hired guns of the indus­tries work­ing against the Paris accord and oth­er inter­na­tion­al agree­ments that aim to pre­vent fur­ther envi­ron­men­tal cat­a­stro­phes, which hit the poor­est hard­est. Their “anti-glob­al­ism” is first and fore­most anti-nature and anti-future. An extrac­tion-first approach may bring eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits in the short term, as cronies and cam­paign donors clear more forests, open up plan­ta­tions and dig more mines – but the prof­its are con­cen­trat­ed while the envi­ron­men­tal stress is shared.”

    That’s a pret­ty good way to describe these kinds of politi­cians: anti-nature and anti-future hired guns of the indus­tries that have the most to lose from sav­ing the envi­ron­ment.

    And this twist­ed dynam­ic, where envi­ron­men­tal dete­ri­o­ra­tion and col­laps­ing resources leads peo­ple to vote for the strong­men who will exac­er­bate the dete­ri­o­ra­tion, rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not human­i­ty is fac­ing a kind of polit­i­cal doom-spi­ral: where envi­ron­men­tal crises lead to strong­men lead­ing to worse envi­ron­men­tal crises and worse strong­men, etc. If human­i­ty’s hard­wired instinct to think and react in a short-term man­ner when under stress can’t be over­come, we lit­er­al­ly may not be capa­ble as a species of avoid­ing that kind of doom-loop:

    ...
    The great fear cli­mate sci­en­tists have is that a warm­ing plan­et could cre­ate feed­back loops that will make every­thing much worse. But there has not been enough study of eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal feed­back loops. How drought in Chi­na puts pres­sure on the Ama­zon to pro­duce more food and clear more for­est. Or how pow­er­ful busi­ness inter­ests will choose a dic­ta­tor over a demo­c­rat if it means eas­ing envi­ron­men­tal con­trols that threat­en their abil­i­ty to meet quar­ter­ly growth tar­gets.

    We are already see­ing a widen­ing gap between politi­cians and sci­en­tists. While the lat­ter urge more ambi­tious cli­mate action, the for­mer know they will receive more cam­paign funds if they oppose emis­sions cuts, sup­port extrac­tive indus­tries and weak­en pol­lu­tion reg­u­la­tions. It is not just dic­ta­tor­ships. Britain is push­ing ahead with frack­ing, Ger­many with coal and Nor­way with oil explo­ration.

    At some point, vot­ers will realise that eco­log­i­cal stress is at the core of the world’s cur­rent woes. The aha! moment may be when water grows pro­hib­i­tive­ly expen­sive, or crops fail owing to suc­ces­sive heat­waves, or the refugee cri­sis sparks war, but at some point the weak­ness of the strong­men will be appar­ent, and peo­ple will seek change. The dan­ger is, by then it may be too late. Cli­mate and pol­i­tics alike will have passed a tip­ping point, lead­ing to social chaos and the mor­ph­ing of pop­ulists into full-blown dic­ta­tors-for-life.
    ...

    “At some point, vot­ers will realise that eco­log­i­cal stress is at the core of the world’s cur­rent woes. The aha! moment may be when water grows pro­hib­i­tive­ly expen­sive, or crops fail owing to suc­ces­sive heat­waves, or the refugee cri­sis sparks war, but at some point the weak­ness of the strong­men will be appar­ent, and peo­ple will seek change. The dan­ger is, by then it may be too late. Cli­mate and pol­i­tics alike will have passed a tip­ping point, lead­ing to social chaos and the mor­ph­ing of pop­ulists into full-blown dic­ta­tors-for-life.”

    That’s per­haps that sad­dest pos­si­bil­i­ty: that human­i­ty will even­tu­al­ly wake up and real­ize that lis­ten­ing to siren songs of ‘pop­ulist’ strong­men was a real­ly bad idea but it will be too late and con­di­tions will be per­fect for these strong­men ‘pop­ulists’ mor­ph­ing into dic­ta­tors-for-life. Plen­ty of peo­ple liv­ing under dic­ta­tor­ships would love to change their sit­u­a­tion but can’t. “We have no choice” will become the default slo­gan for all of the hor­rors of the future.

    Let’s also not for­get that in Bol­sonaro’s case, the odds of him becom­ing dic­ta­tor-for-life are alarm­ing­ly high sim­ply because he’s open­ly in favor of a mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship. Brazil won’t have to wait until it’s ‘too late’ eco­log­i­cal­ly to get a dic­ta­tor-for-life. They’re know­ing­ly vot­ing one in now. So if Bol­sonaro does indeed stay in pow­er for years to come and unleash­es a new wave of eco­log­i­cal destruc­tion across the Ama­zon, how is he going to respond as the impacts of cli­mate change inevitably become unde­ni­able? The fol­low­ing arti­cle gives us a hint. It turns out that Bol­sonaro does­n’t deny that cli­mate change is hap­pen­ing. He does­n’t deny that humans are caus­ing it. And he does­n’t deny that it could lead to the destruc­tion of human­i­ty. But he exclu­sive­ly pins the blame on over­pop­u­la­tion.

    Now, it’s unde­ni­able that over­pop­u­la­tion is a major prob­lem fac­ing human­i­ty. And if it was­n’t for the influ­en­tial Reli­gious Right, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Unit­ed States, there would have been far more resources put into fam­i­ly plan­ning and oth­er pro­grams for lim­it­ing pop­u­la­tion pop­u­la­tion. Point­ing out the per­ils of over­pop­u­la­tion is one of the few valid points Bol­sonaro makes. But to exclu­sive­ly rely on fam­i­ly plan­ning pro­grams, at the same team he’s about to dec­i­mate Brazil’s rain forests at the behest of the most envi­ron­men­tal­ly is obvi­ous­ly just trolling. Bol­sonaro clear­ly does­n’t care at all about the cat­a­stro­phe his poli­cies are going to cre­ate or future Brazil­ians and he’s clear­ly point­ing to over­pop­u­la­tion because that’s a per­fect Nazis device for pin­ning the blame of eco-col­lapse on the poor­est peo­ple in the world and immi­grants. As the envi­ron­ment gets worse, politi­cians like Bol­sonaro will point to the poor­est pop­u­la­tions, which typ­i­cal­ly have the high­est birth-rates, and immi­grants (who often have high­er birthrates and come from coun­tries with high­er birthrates) and declare that they are the cause of all of this envi­ron­men­tal destruc­tion. Not Bol­sonaro or the pow­er­ful resource-extrac­tion indus­tries behind him and not the wealthy nations that con­sume far more per-capi­ta than any­one else. In oth­er words,
    Bol­sonaro is already lay­ing the ground­work for a future Nazi-like response to eco-col­lapse of blam­ing immi­grants and the poor­est peo­ple on the plan­et:

    The Guardian

    Ama­zon at risk from Bol­sonaro’s grim attack on the envi­ron­ment

    Threats to the rain­for­est and its peo­ple and an end to the Paris agree­ment are among the promis­es of Brazil’s pres­i­den­tial hope­ful, reports Cli­mate Home

    Fabi­ano Maison­nave for Cli­mate Home, part of the Guardian Envi­ron­ment Net­work
    Tue 9 Oct 2018 06.32 EDT

    No more Paris agree­ment. No more min­istry of envi­ron­ment. A paved high­way cut­ting through the Ama­zon.

    Not only that. Indige­nous ter­ri­to­ries opened to min­ing. Relaxed envi­ron­men­tal law enforce­ment and licens­ing. Inter­na­tion­al NGOs, such as Green­peace and WWF, banned from the coun­try. A strong alliance with the beef lob­by.

    In a nut­shell, this is what Jair Bol­sonaro, who is sail­ing towards Brazil’s pres­i­den­cy after tak­ing a near-major­i­ty in a first round vote on Sun­day, has promised for the envi­ron­ment.

    An enthu­si­ast for tor­ture and the 1964–85 mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship, the retired army cap­tain is famous for racist, homo­pho­bic, author­i­tar­i­an and misog­y­nis­tic rhetoric. But his views on how to man­age Earth’s largest trop­i­cal rain­for­est are just as grim and appalling.

    Bol­sonaro has gal­vanised vot­ers in urban cen­tres who are dis­il­lu­sioned with the polit­i­cal establishment’s cor­rup­tion scan­dals and attract­ed to his “tough-on-crime” posi­tions amid ris­ing crim­i­nal­i­ty rates. He received 46% of the vote on Sun­day and now faces a 28 Octo­ber run off with the Work­ers Party’s Fer­nan­do Had­dad, who polled 29%.

    In the Ama­zon, ille­gal log­gers, min­ers, land-grab­bers, as well as large land own­ers have ral­lied to his ban­ner. Here, they don’t expect Bol­sonaro to enforce the law. On the con­trary, the hope is that he ful­fils his promise to oblit­er­ate near­ly all envi­ron­ment and pro-indige­nous leg­is­la­tion. He won mas­sive sup­port in rur­al cen­tral west­ern states and all but one Ama­zon­ian state.

    In August, Bol­sonaro raised eye­brows inter­na­tion­al­ly when he pledged to join Trump’s US and with­draw Brazil from the Paris agree­ment. That means the coun­try would no longer be com­mit­ted to curb its emis­sions from the defor­esta­tion of the Ama­zon, which is here a big­ger source of green­house gas than the burn­ing of fos­sil fuels.

    Bol­sonaro accepts the cli­mate is chang­ing dan­ger­ous­ly. CHN asked him about this dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in April. He said the solu­tion was in con­trol­ling the growth of the world’s human pop­u­la­tion.

    “This explo­sive pop­u­la­tion growth leads to defor­esta­tion,” he said. “Because you will not grow soy on the ter­race of your build­ing or raise cat­tle in the yard. So we have to have a fam­i­ly plan­ning pol­i­cy. Then you begin to reduce the pres­sure on those issues that lead, yes, in my opin­ion, to glob­al warm­ing, which could be the end of the human species.”

    Yet he praised pres­i­dent Trump’s pol­i­cy on the Paris deal and implied that it was part of a UN plot to strip Brazil’s sov­er­eign­ty over the Ama­zon.

    “Con­grat­u­la­tions to Trump. If it were good for them, [the US] wouldn’t have denounced it,” he said, adding that a con­cept for a “136m-hectare eco­log­i­cal cor­ri­dor” that would be “under world’s con­trol, not ours” had “been dis­cussed”. ” I don’t know how deeply,” he added.

    Brazil’s cur­rent envi­ron­ment min­is­ter Edson Duarte said: “Instead of spread­ing the mes­sage that he will fight defor­esta­tion and organ­ised crime, he says he will attack the min­istry of envi­ron­ment, Iba­ma and ICM­Bio [Brazil’s fed­er­al envi­ron­ment agen­cies]. It’s the same as say­ing that he will with­draw the police from the streets.”

    Speak­ing to the O Esta­do de S.Paulo news­pa­per, Duarte said: “The increase of defor­esta­tion will be imme­di­ate. I am afraid of a gold rush to see who arrives first. They will know that, if they occu­py ille­gal­ly, the author­i­ties will be com­pla­cent and will grant con­cor­dance. They will be cer­tain that nobody will both­er them.”

    Bolsonaro’s envi­ron­ment poli­cies are tied to racist atti­tudes toward minori­ties and Brazil’s indige­nous peo­ples. In a speech last year, he said: “Minori­ties have to bend down to the major­i­ty … The minori­ties [should] either adapt or sim­ply van­ish.”

    Express­ing a view com­mon to mil­i­tary cir­cles, he has claimed, with­out evi­dence, that indige­nous land rights are part of a west­ern plot to cre­ate sep­a­ratist Ama­zon­ian states sup­port­ed by the UN.

    “Soon­er or lat­er, we will have dozens of coun­tries inside [Brazil]. We won’t have any inter­fer­ence in these coun­tries, the first world will exploit the Indi­ans, and noth­ing will be left for us,” he said last year.

    Bol­sonaro has promised to open indige­nous lands to min­ing and oth­er eco­nom­ic activ­i­ties. About 13% of Brazil’s ter­ri­to­ry is recog­nised indige­nous lands, most of them in the Ama­zon. They are a major bar­ri­er to pro­tect the for­est, only 2% of rain­for­est defor­esta­tion has occurred inside indige­nous ter­ri­to­ry.

    The law pro­tects indige­nous rights. Arti­cle 231 of the 1988 Con­sti­tu­tion states that indige­nous peo­ples have “orig­i­nal rights over the lands that they have tra­di­tion­al­ly occu­pied”, although the land belongs to the state and they have no own­er­ship rights over min­er­als.

    But there are con­cerns about whether Bol­sonaro will respect these laws. Sev­er­al ana­lysts have warned Brazil could slip towards author­i­tar­i­an rule. These fears have increased in the past weeks. His run­ning mate, gen­er­al Antônio Mourão, has argued for a new con­sti­tu­tion with­out pop­u­lar par­tic­i­pa­tion and raised the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Bol­sonaro could pro­claim a self-coup.

    Both Bol­sonaro and Mourão have defend­ed the excess­es of Brazil’s mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship, which dis­placed and killed (inten­tion­al­ly or through dis­eases) thou­sands of Indi­ans in the Ama­zon, amid an effort to build roads and hydro­elec­tric dams in the for­est. The armed forces have nev­er recog­nised any wrong­do­ing.

    “If he wins, he will insti­tu­tion­alise geno­cide,” says Dina­mam Tuxá, the nation­al coor­di­na­tor of Brazil’s Asso­ci­a­tion of Indige­nous Peo­ples, in a phone inter­view with Cli­mate Home News. “He has already said that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment will no longer cham­pi­on indige­nous rights, such as access to the land. We are very scared. I fear for my own life. As a nation­al leader, I am sure I will be pun­ished by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment for defend­ing the rights of the indige­nous peo­ples.”

    Dur­ing the cam­paign, Bol­sonaro promised he will abol­ish the min­istry of envi­ron­ment and trans­fer its func­tions to the min­istry of agri­cul­ture. The agri­cul­ture port­fo­lio will be hand­ed to politi­cians from the “beef cau­cus”, a con­ser­v­a­tive group of law­mak­ers who con­trol about one third of Con­gress and have opposed indige­nous land demar­ca­tions and advo­cat­ed for the reduc­tion of con­ser­va­tion units, among oth­er mea­sures, to expand the agri­cul­ture fron­tier. Last week, they for­mal­ly endorsed Bol­sonaro.

    In sev­er­al speech­es, he said he would end the “fine indus­try” run by Iba­ma and ICM­Bio, to con­trol ille­gal min­ing, defor­esta­tion and log­ging. On Sun­day he used his first post-elec­tion state­ment to vow to neuter Iba­ma.

    This is per­son­al for Bol­sonaro. In 2012, he was caught fish­ing ille­gal­ly inside a fed­er­al reserve off the coast of Rio de Janeiro and was issued a $2,700 fine. Since then as a mem­ber of Brazil’s cham­ber of deputies, he has tar­get­ed Iba­ma, going as far as pre­sent­ing a bill that for­bids its agents to car­ry weapons, even though they oper­ate in some of the most dan­ger­ous areas of the coun­try.

    Iba­ma will be stripped of its envi­ron­men­tal licens­ing pow­ers, he said dur­ing the cam­paign. These will be redis­trib­uted to oth­er offi­cial agen­cies. That means, for instance, that fed­er­al agency will no longer be able to con­tain con­tro­ver­sial projects such as the reopen­ing of the dis­used BR-319, an 890km high­way that cuts from one of the most pre­served areas of the Ama­zon, and São Luiz do Tapa­jós, a giant hydro­elec­tric plant planned to be built in an area inhab­it­ed by the Munduruku indige­nous group and riv­er dwellers.

    BR-319, which con­nects Man­aus to Por­to Vel­ho, is spe­cial­ly trou­ble­some, as it will allow for sec­ondary roads. Accord­ing to a study by NGO Idesam, an area as big as Ger­many and Bel­gium com­bined is under its influ­ence and will become more vul­ner­a­ble to land-grab­bers and defor­esta­tion. Recent attempts to pave it have been barred by Iba­ma.

    “He names Iba­ma and ICM­Bio as his num­ber one pub­lic ene­mies and has giv­en sev­er­al mes­sages that he will reverse envi­ron­ment and social laws,” said André Guimarães, direc­tor of the Ama­zon Envi­ron­men­tal Research Insti­tute. “How­ev­er, one thing is what he says dur­ing the elec­toral cam­paign. Anoth­er thing is what he will be able to do if he takes office.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Ama­zon at risk from Bol­sonaro’s grim attack on the envi­ron­ment” by Fabi­ano Maison­nave; The Guardian; 10/09/2018

    “An enthu­si­ast for tor­ture and the 1964–85 mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship, the retired army cap­tain is famous for racist, homo­pho­bic, author­i­tar­i­an and misog­y­nis­tic rhetoric. But his views on how to man­age Earth’s largest trop­i­cal rain­for­est are just as grim and appalling.

    Yep, we don’t just have to fear Bol­sonaro pulling a coup and turn­ing into a dic­ta­tor. We also have to real­ize that if he does become a dic­ta­tor that’s going to give him plen­ty of time to utter­ly destroy and per­ma­nent­ly destroy Brazil’s envi­ron­ment. And even if he does­n’t become a dic­ta­tor, he’ll still have the pow­er to do irre­versible harm to Brazil’s envi­ron­ment and the glob­al envi­ron­ment with moves like pledg­ing to pull Brazil out of the Paris cli­mate agree­ment

    ...
    In the Ama­zon, ille­gal log­gers, min­ers, land-grab­bers, as well as large land own­ers have ral­lied to his ban­ner. Here, they don’t expect Bol­sonaro to enforce the law. On the con­trary, the hope is that he ful­fils his promise to oblit­er­ate near­ly all envi­ron­ment and pro-indige­nous leg­is­la­tion. He won mas­sive sup­port in rur­al cen­tral west­ern states and all but one Ama­zon­ian state.

    In August, Bol­sonaro raised eye­brows inter­na­tion­al­ly when he pledged to join Trump’s US and with­draw Brazil from the Paris agree­ment. That means the coun­try would no longer be com­mit­ted to curb its emis­sions from the defor­esta­tion of the Ama­zon, which is here a big­ger source of green­house gas than the burn­ing of fos­sil fuels.
    ...

    On top of that, he casu­al­ly embraces the idea that Brazil’s minori­ties, in par­tic­u­lar the indige­nous pop­u­la­tions, which have rights to the Ama­zon that cur­rent­ly stand in the way of indus­tri­al defor­esta­tion, need to “bend down to the major­i­ty … The minori­ties [should] either adapt or sim­ply van­ish.” He is already talk­ing about wip­ing pop­u­la­tions out:

    ...
    Yet he praised pres­i­dent Trump’s pol­i­cy on the Paris deal and implied that it was part of a UN plot to strip Brazil’s sov­er­eign­ty over the Ama­zon.

    “Con­grat­u­la­tions to Trump. If it were good for them, [the US] wouldn’t have denounced it,” he said, adding that a con­cept for a “136m-hectare eco­log­i­cal cor­ri­dor” that would be “under world’s con­trol, not ours” had “been dis­cussed”. ” I don’t know how deeply,” he added.

    Brazil’s cur­rent envi­ron­ment min­is­ter Edson Duarte said: “Instead of spread­ing the mes­sage that he will fight defor­esta­tion and organ­ised crime, he says he will attack the min­istry of envi­ron­ment, Iba­ma and ICM­Bio [Brazil’s fed­er­al envi­ron­ment agen­cies]. It’s the same as say­ing that he will with­draw the police from the streets.”

    Speak­ing to the O Esta­do de S.Paulo news­pa­per, Duarte said: “The increase of defor­esta­tion will be imme­di­ate. I am afraid of a gold rush to see who arrives first. They will know that, if they occu­py ille­gal­ly, the author­i­ties will be com­pla­cent and will grant con­cor­dance. They will be cer­tain that nobody will both­er them.”

    Bolsonaro’s envi­ron­ment poli­cies are tied to racist atti­tudes toward minori­ties and Brazil’s indige­nous peo­ples. In a speech last year, he said: “Minori­ties have to bend down to the major­i­ty … The minori­ties [should] either adapt or sim­ply van­ish.”

    Express­ing a view com­mon to mil­i­tary cir­cles, he has claimed, with­out evi­dence, that indige­nous land rights are part of a west­ern plot to cre­ate sep­a­ratist Ama­zon­ian states sup­port­ed by the UN.

    “Soon­er or lat­er, we will have dozens of coun­tries inside [Brazil]. We won’t have any inter­fer­ence in these coun­tries, the first world will exploit the Indi­ans, and noth­ing will be left for us,” he said last year.
    ...

    His run­ning mate recent­ly call for a new con­sti­tu­tion with­out pop­u­lar par­tic­i­pa­tion and raised the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Bol­sonaro could pro­claim a self-coup. And Bol­sonaro cam­paigned on abol­ish­ing the min­istry of envi­ron­ment and putting those respon­si­bil­i­ties in the hands of the “beef cau­cus” that runs the min­istry of agri­cul­ture. So he could rapid­ly do long-term dam­age with a new con­sti­tu­tion or mass defor­esta­tion with or with­out that coup:

    ...
    But there are con­cerns about whether Bol­sonaro will respect these laws. Sev­er­al ana­lysts have warned Brazil could slip towards author­i­tar­i­an rule. These fears have increased in the past weeks. His run­ning mate, gen­er­al Antônio Mourão, has argued for a new con­sti­tu­tion with­out pop­u­lar par­tic­i­pa­tion and raised the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Bol­sonaro could pro­claim a self-coup.

    Both Bol­sonaro and Mourão have defend­ed the excess­es of Brazil’s mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship, which dis­placed and killed (inten­tion­al­ly or through dis­eases) thou­sands of Indi­ans in the Ama­zon, amid an effort to build roads and hydro­elec­tric dams in the for­est. The armed forces have nev­er recog­nised any wrong­do­ing.

    “If he wins, he will insti­tu­tion­alise geno­cide,” says Dina­mam Tuxá, the nation­al coor­di­na­tor of Brazil’s Asso­ci­a­tion of Indige­nous Peo­ples, in a phone inter­view with Cli­mate Home News. “He has already said that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment will no longer cham­pi­on indige­nous rights, such as access to the land. We are very scared. I fear for my own life. As a nation­al leader, I am sure I will be pun­ished by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment for defend­ing the rights of the indige­nous peo­ples.”

    Dur­ing the cam­paign, Bol­sonaro promised he will abol­ish the min­istry of envi­ron­ment and trans­fer its func­tions to the min­istry of agri­cul­ture. The agri­cul­ture port­fo­lio will be hand­ed to politi­cians from the “beef cau­cus”, a con­ser­v­a­tive group of law­mak­ers who con­trol about one third of Con­gress and have opposed indige­nous land demar­ca­tions and advo­cat­ed for the reduc­tion of con­ser­va­tion units, among oth­er mea­sures, to expand the agri­cul­ture fron­tier. Last week, they for­mal­ly endorsed Bol­sonaro.

    In sev­er­al speech­es, he said he would end the “fine indus­try” run by Iba­ma and ICM­Bio, to con­trol ille­gal min­ing, defor­esta­tion and log­ging. On Sun­day he used his first post-elec­tion state­ment to vow to neuter Iba­ma.
    ...

    But per­haps the most omi­nous part of Bol­sonaro’s rhetoric is the fact that he appears to acknowl­edge that cli­mate change is man-made and could lead to the end of the human species, but he exclu­sive­ly attrib­ut­es this to over­pop­u­la­tion. Yes, over­pop­u­la­tion is a major dri­ver of cli­mate change, but when a Nazi like Bol­sonaro fix­ates on over­pop­u­la­tion as the sole solu­tion for a cri­sis he is try­ing to exac­er­bates that’s a pret­ty obvi­ous sign about the nature of the kinds of solu­tions he’ll be advo­cat­ing after ‘fam­i­ly plan­ning’ does­n’t save the day. It starts with ‘we need to focus on fam­i­ly plan­ning’ and ends with ‘we sim­ply can’t afford to have those peo­ple around. We have no choice!’:

    ...
    Bol­sonaro accepts the cli­mate is chang­ing dan­ger­ous­ly. CHN asked him about this dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in April. He said the solu­tion was in con­trol­ling the growth of the world’s human pop­u­la­tion.

    “This explo­sive pop­u­la­tion growth leads to defor­esta­tion,” he said. “Because you will not grow soy on the ter­race of your build­ing or raise cat­tle in the yard. So we have to have a fam­i­ly plan­ning pol­i­cy. Then you begin to reduce the pres­sure on those issues that lead, yes, in my opin­ion, to glob­al warm­ing, which could be the end of the human species.”
    ...

    Just think about that: the guy who has pledged to destroy all of the envi­ron­men­tal laws stand­ing in the say of defor­esta­tion tells us that it’s real­ly just explo­sive pop­u­la­tion growth that’s caus­ing all of this defor­esta­tion. And that’s the guy poised to become Brazil’s next pres­i­dent and pos­si­bly Brazil’s next dic­ta­tor. For who knows how many years to come. So when the future strong­men of Brazil are declar­ing that this or that minor­i­ty group needs to be wiped about because there are too many peo­ple and ‘we just don’t have a choice’, it will be worth recall­ing the choice Brazil is about to make in a few days. Grant­ed, recall­ing this blun­der in the future won’t real­ly help, but we might as well learn from his­to­ry at some point, even if it’s too late.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 25, 2018, 12:24 pm
  10. This was prob­a­bly inevitable: Trump appears to be lead­ing a full scale ‘Willie Hor­ton-iza­tion’ of the GOP’s clos­ing argu­ments for 2018 mid-terms. The par­tic­u­lar ad that prompt­ed all the com­par­isons to the infa­mous Willie Hor­ton ad was tweet­ed out by Trump Wednes­day night. The ad focus­es a twice-deport­ed Mex­i­can immi­grant who was giv­en the death penal­ty for the 2014 killing of two Cal­i­for­nia police offi­cers. The ad starts off focus­ing on Bra­ca­montes, blam­ing Democ­rats for ‘let­ting him in’ (in real­i­ty he was orig­i­nal­ly deport­ed by Bill Clin­ton) then shifts to footage of peo­ple riot­ing in streets and push­ing down fences, and asks the ques­tion, “Who else would Democ­rats let in?” As one con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor put it, “I don’t see any­thing in this video that I haven’t heard from the pres­i­dent con­sis­tent­ly for the past cou­ple of years,” but added, “it’s not the mes­sage I would be clos­ing the cam­paign on.” And that’s the mes­sage Trump is clos­ing the cam­paign on:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Trump revives ‘Willie Hor­ton’ tac­tic with ad link­ing ille­gal immi­grant killer to Democ­rats

    By Allyson Chiu
    Novem­ber 1, 2018 at 6:10 AM

    Pinned at the top of Pres­i­dent Trump’s Twit­ter feed Wednes­day was a video. The man on the screen has a shaved head and a mus­tache and long chin hair. Smil­ing, he announces, “I killed f—— cops.”

    The man is Luis Bra­ca­montes, a twice-deport­ed Mex­i­can immi­grant who was giv­en the death penal­ty in April for killing two Cal­i­for­nia law enforce­ment offi­cers in 2014. At the time of the shoot­ings, Bra­ca­montes was in the Unit­ed States ille­gal­ly — and now, with the midterm elec­tion approach­ing, he’s the star of the GOP’s lat­est cam­paign ad.

    “Ille­gal immi­grant, Luis Bra­ca­montes, killed our peo­ple!” reads text on the 53-sec­ond video, which is filled with audi­ble exple­tives. “Democ­rats let him into our coun­try. . . . Democ­rats let him stay.”

    The text is super­im­posed over videos of Bra­ca­montes appear­ing to show no remorse for his crimes, and even declar­ing, “I’m going to kill more cops soon.”

    More footage fol­lows: Throngs of uniden­ti­fied peo­ple riot­ing in uniden­ti­fied streets and push­ing down fences in undis­closed loca­tions. A Fox News Chan­nel cor­re­spon­dent inter­view­ing a man iden­ti­fied only as “deport­ed immi­grant in car­a­van,” who asks to be par­doned for attempt­ed mur­der.

    “Who else would Democ­rats let in?” the video asks. An image of Bra­ca­montes smil­ing reap­pears before being replaced by text, “Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Repub­li­cans are mak­ing Amer­i­ca safe again.”

    The video, which the pres­i­dent pro­mot­ed Wednes­day after­noon to his 55.5 mil­lion Twit­ter fol­low­ers, came with a mes­sage from Trump to “Vote Repub­li­can now!” As of ear­ly Thurs­day morn­ing, the video had been viewed more than 1.8 mil­lion times, draw­ing wide­spread con­dem­na­tion.

    (Note: The fol­low­ing video post­ed by Trump con­tains graph­ic lan­guage.)

    It is out­ra­geous what the Democ­rats are doing to our Coun­try. Vote Repub­li­can now! https://t.co/0pWiwCHGbh pic.twitter.com/2crea9HF7G
    — Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Octo­ber 31, 2018

    Trump and Repub­li­cans were crit­i­cized for “fear­mon­ger­ing,” and the ad has been decried as “racist,” with many liken­ing it to the infa­mous “Willie Hor­ton” ads sup­port­ing George H.W. Bush in the 1988 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Only the video Trump shared, crit­ics say, is “far worse.”

    as you recall, Bush cam­paign dis­tanced itself from the Willie Hor­ton TV ad

    this is com­ing direct­ly from the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States

    from dog whis­tle to gut­tur­al scream https://t.co/a5UOILF5KK
    — John Har­wood (@JohnJHarwood) Octo­ber 31, 2018

    About 30 years ago, William Hor­ton, a rel­a­tive­ly unknown African Amer­i­can felon in Mass­a­chu­setts, became “Willie Hor­ton,” the focal point of attack ads from Bush’s cam­paign against Michael Dukakis, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee and gov­er­nor of Mass­a­chu­setts.

    Hor­ton, a con­vict­ed mur­der­er serv­ing a life sen­tence, was tem­porar­i­ly released from prison in June 1986 as part of Massachusetts’s week­end fur­lough pro­gram, which Dukakis sup­port­ed. Hor­ton escaped while on fur­lough and in April 1987, he raped a white woman and stabbed her white fiance.

    The “Revolv­ing Door” TV ad accus­ing Dukakis of being soft on crime showed con­victs com­ing in and out of prison through a revolv­ing door made of prison bars, and was meant to allude to Hor­ton, Rolling Stone report­ed. The ad was large­ly mas­ter­mind­ed by Roger Ailes, who found­ed Fox News Chan­nel in 1996.

    “The only ques­tion is whether we depict Willie Hor­ton with a knife in his hand — or with­out it,” Ailes once told a reporter, accord­ing to Rolling Stone.

    Anoth­er ad called “Week­end Pass­es,” run by the Nation­al Polit­i­cal Action Com­mit­tee, took things a step fur­ther and includ­ed Horton’s mug shot. That ad was cre­at­ed by Lar­ry McCarthy, who had worked under Ailes for six years dur­ing the 1980s, the New York­er report­ed.

    “This was a clas­sic exam­ple of racial cuing,” Claire Jean Kim, a polit­i­cal-sci­ence pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at Irvine, said in a 2012 PBS spe­cial. “The insin­u­a­tion is, if you elect Gov­er­nor Dukakis as pres­i­dent, we’re going to have black rapists run­ning amok in the coun­try. It’s play­ing to white fears about black crime.”

    Whether it was sim­ply an attempt to crit­i­cize Dukakis’s crime poli­cies or if it was an appeal to racial fears, the “Willie Hor­ton” ads worked. “Willie Hor­ton was dev­as­tat­ing to Mr. Dukakis,” the New York Times wrote in 1990.

    Kim, who described the ad’s strat­e­gy as “incred­i­bly effec­tive” and “mas­ter­ful,” said even decades lat­er, it still “sets the bar for racial cuing.”

    “Can­di­dates talk about not want­i­ng to be Willie Hor­tonized,” she said.

    On Wednes­day, crit­ics slammed Trump and Repub­li­cans for pro­mot­ing what was described as a “Willie Hor­ton redux” by both CNN’s Chris Cuo­mo and the New Repub­lic, a left-lean­ing mag­a­zine.

    ...

    With only five days until the midterm elec­tion, Trump has returned to immi­gra­tion with renewed gus­to. His anti-immi­gra­tion stance was crit­i­cal to his suc­cess dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and “he is count­ing on sim­i­lar­ly inflam­ma­to­ry words and images to help the GOP hold its con­gres­sion­al majori­ties,” The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Seung Min Kim report­ed. Just this week, Trump pub­licly vowed to end birthright cit­i­zen­ship and said he would deploy as many as 15,000 active-duty troops to the bor­der.

    Con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor Scott Jen­nings told Cuo­mo that he wasn’t sur­prised by the ad.

    “I don’t see any­thing in this video that I haven’t heard from the pres­i­dent con­sis­tent­ly for the past cou­ple of years,” Jen­nings said. But, he added, “it’s not the mes­sage I would be clos­ing the cam­paign on.”

    Lemon echoed his fel­low anchor when rebuk­ing the ad.

    “It’s a naked appeal to fear and hate, and it is racist,” he said.

    Dou­glas Brink­ley, a his­to­ry pro­fes­sor at Rice Uni­ver­si­ty, brought up Willie Hor­ton on Lemon’s show, not­ing that although the 1988 ad was effec­tive in the sense that Bush won the elec­tion, it did lit­tle to help the for­mer president’s per­son­al image.

    “The Willie Hor­ton ad gave George Her­bert Walk­er Bush his one big black eye in his­to­ry,” Brink­ley said.

    ———-

    “Trump revives ‘Willie Hor­ton’ tac­tic with ad link­ing ille­gal immi­grant killer to Democ­rats” by Allyson Chiu; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 11/01/2018

    “The video, which the pres­i­dent pro­mot­ed Wednes­day after­noon to his 55.5 mil­lion Twit­ter fol­low­ers, came with a mes­sage from Trump to “Vote Repub­li­can now!” As of ear­ly Thurs­day morn­ing, the video had been viewed more than 1.8 mil­lion times, draw­ing wide­spread con­dem­na­tion.”

    Hordes of peo­ple from south of the bor­der are com­ing to kill you and your fam­i­ly. That’s the mes­sage to Amer­i­can vot­ers Trump wants to turn into the mes­sage in the final stretch of the mid-terms. There’s going to be riots and peo­ple push­ing down fences and they’re com­ing to com­mit hor­ri­ble vio­lence:

    ...
    The man is Luis Bra­ca­montes, a twice-deport­ed Mex­i­can immi­grant who was giv­en the death penal­ty in April for killing two Cal­i­for­nia law enforce­ment offi­cers in 2014. At the time of the shoot­ings, Bra­ca­montes was in the Unit­ed States ille­gal­ly — and now, with the midterm elec­tion approach­ing, he’s the star of the GOP’s lat­est cam­paign ad.

    “Ille­gal immi­grant, Luis Bra­ca­montes, killed our peo­ple!” reads text on the 53-sec­ond video, which is filled with audi­ble exple­tives. “Democ­rats let him into our coun­try. . . . Democ­rats let him stay.”

    The text is super­im­posed over videos of Bra­ca­montes appear­ing to show no remorse for his crimes, and even declar­ing, “I’m going to kill more cops soon.”

    More footage fol­lows: Throngs of uniden­ti­fied peo­ple riot­ing in uniden­ti­fied streets and push­ing down fences in undis­closed loca­tions. A Fox News Chan­nel cor­re­spon­dent inter­view­ing a man iden­ti­fied only as “deport­ed immi­grant in car­a­van,” who asks to be par­doned for attempt­ed mur­der.

    “Who else would Democ­rats let in?” the video asks. An image of Bra­ca­montes smil­ing reap­pears before being replaced by text, “Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Repub­li­cans are mak­ing Amer­i­ca safe again.”
    ...

    “Who else would Democ­rats let in?” It’s basi­cal­ly the oppo­site of the “Who else would Mike Dukakis let out [of prison]?” mes­sage at the heart of the 1988 Willie Hor­ton ad. An ad that almost defined race-bait­ing in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics for the last 30 years and, of course, was cre­at­ed by Fox News cre­ator Roger Ailes:

    ...
    About 30 years ago, William Hor­ton, a rel­a­tive­ly unknown African Amer­i­can felon in Mass­a­chu­setts, became “Willie Hor­ton,” the focal point of attack ads from Bush’s cam­paign against Michael Dukakis, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee and gov­er­nor of Mass­a­chu­setts.

    Hor­ton, a con­vict­ed mur­der­er serv­ing a life sen­tence, was tem­porar­i­ly released from prison in June 1986 as part of Massachusetts’s week­end fur­lough pro­gram, which Dukakis sup­port­ed. Hor­ton escaped while on fur­lough and in April 1987, he raped a white woman and stabbed her white fiance.

    The “Revolv­ing Door” TV ad accus­ing Dukakis of being soft on crime showed con­victs com­ing in and out of prison through a revolv­ing door made of prison bars, and was meant to allude to Hor­ton, Rolling Stone report­ed. The ad was large­ly mas­ter­mind­ed by Roger Ailes, who found­ed Fox News Chan­nel in 1996.

    “The only ques­tion is whether we depict Willie Hor­ton with a knife in his hand — or with­out it,” Ailes once told a reporter, accord­ing to Rolling Stone.
    ...

    And that’s Trump’s final mes­sage to vot­ers. But, as the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, it’s not like it’s just Trump going ‘full Hor­ton’ in the final stretch of the cam­paign. Repub­li­cans across the coun­try are run­ning extreme­ly sim­i­lar dis­turb­ing ads of this nature, with many of them pro­duced by the super­PACs asso­ci­at­ed with House and Sen­ate Repub­li­can lead­er­ship. It’s clear­ly a pop­u­lar mes­sage with the par­ty as a whole. And not just because anti-Lati­no race-bait­ing helps fire of the Repub­li­can base. It’s also a great dis­trac­tion from all the deeply unpop­u­lar posi­tions held by the par­ty. As one GOP oper­a­tive put it, “It’s clear­ly work­ing. We are all talk­ing about it and not health care”:

    CNN

    Trump’s racist video is part of a broad­er GOP midterm strat­e­gy aimed at the con­ser­v­a­tive base

    By Eric Brad­ner and Fre­dreka Schouten, CNN

    Updat­ed 12:16 PM ET, Thu Novem­ber 1, 2018

    Wash­ing­ton (CNN)President Don­ald Trump’s new Willie Hor­ton-style web video post­ed to Twit­ter on Wednes­day night rep­re­sent­ed a new flash­point in a cul­ture war he is stok­ing ahead of next week’s midterm elec­tions. But it also came as part of a broad­er strat­e­gy GOP can­di­dates are using in key House, Sen­ate and gov­er­nor’s races.

    Repub­li­can can­di­dates and out­side groups involved in tough races, par­tic­u­lar­ly in deep-red states and dis­tricts where turn­ing out the con­ser­v­a­tive base is all that mat­ters, are air­ing tele­vi­sion adver­tise­ments stok­ing fears and spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion about the group of migrants still 900 miles from the South­ern bor­der.

    It’s the GOP’s clos­ing argu­ment in Ten­nessee, where Repub­li­can Rep. Mar­sha Black­burn, who faces Demo­c­ra­t­ic for­mer gov­er­nor Phil Bre­desen in a com­pet­i­tive Sen­ate race, has aired ads that men­tion the “car­a­van” near­ly 800 times, accord­ing to an analy­sis by Kantar/CMAG, which tracks polit­i­cal ads.

    One Black­burn ad describes the migrants as “gang mem­bers, known crim­i­nals, peo­ple from the Mid­dle East, pos­si­bly even ter­ror­ists.” A nar­ra­tor says that “Mar­sha Black­burn will stand with Trump to build the wall and stop the car­a­van.”

    The migrants, trav­el­ing as a group for safe­ty, have left their home coun­tries and are head­ing to the Unit­ed States. Trump and his allies have tried to stoke fears about the group and tie them to Democ­rats ahead of the midterm elec­tions. There have been no reports, in the press or pub­licly from intel­li­gence agen­cies, to sug­gest there are peo­ple from the Mid­dle East embed­ded in the car­a­van.

    The Sen­ate Lead­er­ship Fund, a super PAC aligned with Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell, has also aired ads attack­ing Bre­desen. “The car­a­van is com­ing, yet Bre­desen is too lib­er­al to care,” a nar­ra­tor says in one ad.

    The ads mim­ic a strat­e­gy Trump set into motion weeks ago. Ignor­ing some Repub­li­cans’ pleas to put a boom­ing econ­o­my at the fore­front in the midterms, the Pres­i­dent has launched an all-out cul­ture war depict­ing immi­grants, par­tic­u­lar­ly Lati­nos, as a threat to the nation. He said Wednes­day he might send 15,000 troops — three times the num­ber cur­rent­ly fight­ing ISIS in Iraq — to meet the group of migrants. He has hyped it as an immi­nent threat, even though the group is shrink­ing in num­bers and still weeks from the bor­der.

    On Wednes­day night, Trump esca­lat­ed his race-fueled cam­paign fur­ther, post­ing on Twit­ter a video pro­duced by the Repub­li­can con­sult­ing firm Jamestown Asso­ciates that depicts Democ­rats as plot­ting to help peo­ple they depict as Cen­tral Amer­i­can invaders over­run the nation with cop killers.

    The web ad fea­tures Luis Bra­ca­montes, a Mex­i­can man who had pre­vi­ous­ly been deport­ed but returned to the Unit­ed States and was con­vict­ed in Feb­ru­ary in the killing of two Cal­i­for­nia deputies.

    “I’m going to kill more cops soon,” Bra­ca­montes is shown say­ing in court as cap­tions flash across the screen read­ing, “Democ­rats let him into our coun­try. Democ­rats let him stay.”

    The web ad recalled the 1988 “Willie Hor­ton” ad backed by sup­port­ers of George H.W. Bush’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. It depict­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­nent Michael Dukakis as respon­si­ble for the rape Hor­ton, a con­vict­ed mur­der­er, com­mit­ted while out of prison while fur­loughed under a Mass­a­chu­setts pro­gram. The ad was seen as play­ing into white fear and racist stereo­types of African-Amer­i­can.

    Thir­ty years lat­er, Trump’s spot is the Willie Hor­ton ad on steroids — and play­ing into the same racist stereo­types, this time with Lati­no immi­grants.

    A source close to the White House described the web ad as well as Trump’s immi­gra­tion push as “chang­ing the argu­ment from fam­i­ly uni­fi­ca­tion to inva­sion.”

    “It’s clear­ly work­ing. We are all talk­ing about it and not health care,” the source added.

    New CNN polls under­score why Repub­li­cans — who wide­ly view main­tain­ing con­trol of the House as a long-shot but see turn­ing out con­ser­v­a­tives in key Sen­ate races as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to expand their major­i­ty there — are all-in on a strat­e­gy of fear-mon­ger­ing over racial divides.

    In Ari­zona, 50% of Repub­li­can like­ly vot­ers say immi­gra­tion is the most impor­tant issue — up from 35% in Sep­tem­ber. And in Neva­da, 42% of Repub­li­can like­ly vot­ers iden­ti­fied immi­gra­tion as the most impor­tant issue, an increase from 28% in Sep­tem­ber. Both states fea­ture com­pet­i­tive Sen­ate races.

    What’s not clear: Whether Repub­li­can vot­ers’ shift­ing views are a response to Trump’s mes­sag­ing, or whether Trump and oth­er GOP can­di­dates are shift­ing their mes­sag­ing as a reac­tion to the move­ment in their base.

    Some Repub­li­cans run­ning in more mod­er­ate ter­ri­to­ry have bro­ken with Trump over his fear mon­ger­ing on immi­gra­tion. Rep. Car­los Curbe­lo, a Flori­da Repub­li­can run­ning for re-elec­tion in a dis­trict Hillary Clin­ton won in 2016, called the new web ad “part of a divide-and-con­quer strat­e­gy.”

    ...

    How­ev­er, can­di­dates and out­side groups in oth­er com­pet­i­tive races where Repub­li­cans’ pri­ma­ry con­cern is turn­ing out their base are also air­ing ads stok­ing fears about the group of migrants.

    The Con­gres­sion­al Lead­er­ship Fund, the House Speak­er Paul Ryan-aligned super PAC, launched an ad in Min­neso­ta’s 1st Dis­trict — a large­ly pro-Trump dis­trict that is among the GOP’s best chances of flip­ping a House seat — cast­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date Dan Fee­han as “weak on bor­der secu­ri­ty, soft on crime.”

    “A car­a­van of ille­gal immi­grants march­ing on Amer­i­ca. Over 7,000 strong, the car­a­van is full of gang mem­bers and crim­i­nals,” a nar­ra­tor says. It has aired 124 times, per Kantar/CMAG.

    In South Car­oli­na’s 1st Dis­trict, Repub­li­can Katie Arring­ton high­lights “an MS-13 killer arrest­ed in the Low Coun­try; a car­a­van of ille­gal immi­grants march­ing on our bor­der; Demo­c­rat Joe Cun­ning­ham, cam­paign­ing with the sanc­tu­ary city may­or of L.A.; the Pelosi agen­da, open bor­ders, under­min­ing law enforce­ment.” It has aired 125 times, per Kantar/CMAG.

    A GOP group in Texas aired an ad accus­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who is chal­leng­ing Repub­li­can Sen. Ted Cruz, of cheer­ing on the migrants. “The car­a­van is com­ing, some say crim­i­nals among them. But there’s Beto O’Rourke, cheer­ing them on,” a nar­ra­tor says.

    Two oth­er Repub­li­can Sen­ate can­di­dates, state Sen. Leah Vuk­mir in Wis­con­sin and Corey Stew­art in Vir­ginia, have also adver­tised about the “car­a­van.” Stew­art’s ad has run 469 times, per Kantar/CMAG.

    In Kansas, Repub­li­can guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date and staunch Trump ally Kris Kobach uses footage of Fox News per­son­al­i­ty Tuck­er Carl­son dis­cussing the group of migrants grow­ing “more mas­sive by the day.”

    What those can­di­dates all have in com­mon: They need to jolt the con­ser­v­a­tive base before Tues­day’s midterms. In Black­burn and Cruz’s cas­es, both will win if Repub­li­cans turn out to vote. The same is true in Min­neso­ta’s 1st Dis­trict, where Repub­li­can Jim Hage­dorn hopes to win the retir­ing Rep. Tim Walz’s seat. In Vuk­mir and Stew­art’s cas­es, both are under­dogs wor­ried that Repub­li­can vot­ers will sit out the race.

    On most of the map — espe­cial­ly the states and dis­tricts where the par­ti­san make­up is more bal­anced — Repub­li­cans have gen­er­al­ly not made the “car­a­van” their focal point in the clos­ing days of the midterms. Still, most aren’t dis­pleased to see Trump dri­ving a cul­tur­al mes­sage of fear.

    “It’s incen­di­ary, I get it,” one Neva­da Repub­li­can said of the Trump ad. “It’s a turnout game, and it fires up peo­ple on both sides.”

    ———-

    “Trump’s racist video is part of a broad­er GOP midterm strat­e­gy aimed at the con­ser­v­a­tive base” by Eric Brad­ner and Fre­dreka Schouten; CNN; 11/01/2018

    “Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s new Willie Hor­ton-style web video post­ed to Twit­ter on Wednes­day night rep­re­sent­ed a new flash­point in a cul­ture war he is stok­ing ahead of next week’s midterm elec­tions. But it also came as part of a broad­er strat­e­gy GOP can­di­dates are using in key House, Sen­ate and gov­er­nor’s races.

    It’s not just Trump. It’s a broad strat­e­gy. A strat­e­gy that’s played a key role in the GOP’s hopes in Ten­nessee, where the GOP has been run­ning ads that men­tion “car­a­van” near­ly 800 times:

    ...
    Repub­li­can can­di­dates and out­side groups involved in tough races, par­tic­u­lar­ly in deep-red states and dis­tricts where turn­ing out the con­ser­v­a­tive base is all that mat­ters, are air­ing tele­vi­sion adver­tise­ments stok­ing fears and spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion about the group of migrants still 900 miles from the South­ern bor­der.

    It’s the GOP’s clos­ing argu­ment in Ten­nessee, where Repub­li­can Rep. Mar­sha Black­burn, who faces Demo­c­ra­t­ic for­mer gov­er­nor Phil Bre­desen in a com­pet­i­tive Sen­ate race, has aired ads that men­tion the “car­a­van” near­ly 800 times, accord­ing to an analy­sis by Kantar/CMAG, which tracks polit­i­cal ads.

    One Black­burn ad describes the migrants as “gang mem­bers, known crim­i­nals, peo­ple from the Mid­dle East, pos­si­bly even ter­ror­ists.” A nar­ra­tor says that “Mar­sha Black­burn will stand with Trump to build the wall and stop the car­a­van.”

    The migrants, trav­el­ing as a group for safe­ty, have left their home coun­tries and are head­ing to the Unit­ed States. Trump and his allies have tried to stoke fears about the group and tie them to Democ­rats ahead of the midterm elec­tions. There have been no reports, in the press or pub­licly from intel­li­gence agen­cies, to sug­gest there are peo­ple from the Mid­dle East embed­ded in the car­a­van.
    ...

    And it’s not just can­di­dates or con­ser­v­a­tive super­PACs. The Sen­ate Lead­er­ship Fund and Con­gres­sion­al Lead­er­ship Fund are all run­ning sim­i­lar ads:

    ...
    The Sen­ate Lead­er­ship Fund, a super PAC aligned with Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell, has also aired ads attack­ing Bre­desen. “The car­a­van is com­ing, yet Bre­desen is too lib­er­al to care,” a nar­ra­tor says in one ad.

    The ads mim­ic a strat­e­gy Trump set into motion weeks ago. Ignor­ing some Repub­li­cans’ pleas to put a boom­ing econ­o­my at the fore­front in the midterms, the Pres­i­dent has launched an all-out cul­ture war depict­ing immi­grants, par­tic­u­lar­ly Lati­nos, as a threat to the nation. He said Wednes­day he might send 15,000 troops — three times the num­ber cur­rent­ly fight­ing ISIS in Iraq — to meet the group of migrants. He has hyped it as an immi­nent threat, even though the group is shrink­ing in num­bers and still weeks from the bor­der.

    ...

    The Con­gres­sion­al Lead­er­ship Fund, the House Speak­er Paul Ryan-aligned super PAC, launched an ad in Min­neso­ta’s 1st Dis­trict — a large­ly pro-Trump dis­trict that is among the GOP’s best chances of flip­ping a House seat — cast­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date Dan Fee­han as “weak on bor­der secu­ri­ty, soft on crime.”

    “A car­a­van of ille­gal immi­grants march­ing on Amer­i­ca. Over 7,000 strong, the car­a­van is full of gang mem­bers and crim­i­nals,” a nar­ra­tor says. It has aired 124 times, per Kantar/CMAG.
    ...

    And as one GOP oper­a­tive put it, “It’s clear­ly work­ing. We are all talk­ing about it and not health care”:

    ...
    A source close to the White House described the web ad as well as Trump’s immi­gra­tion push as “chang­ing the argu­ment from fam­i­ly uni­fi­ca­tion to inva­sion.”

    “It’s clear­ly work­ing. We are all talk­ing about it and not health care,” the source added.
    ...

    It’s an inva­sion (and nev­er mind our wild­ly unpop­u­lar health care poli­cies)! That’s how the GOP as a par­ty is clos­ing out the mid-terms. Going all in on out doing ‘Willie Hor­ton’.

    In fair­ness, the GOP isn’t exclu­sive­ly focus­ing on dis­gust­ing race-bait­ing in order to dis­tract from its wild­ly unpop­u­lar health care poli­cies. Some can­di­dates are actu­al­ly talk­ing some their health care stances. With up-is-down com­plete fic­tion lies, of course.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 1, 2018, 3:36 pm
  11. Here’s an inter­est­ing fol­lowup on the ori­gins of ‘the Car­a­van’ in Hon­duras and the mys­tery over how it grew so large so sud­den­ly and why it was timed to arrive dur­ing the US mid-terms, arguably one of the worst pos­si­ble times it could have made the jour­ney giv­en the US polit­i­cal dynam­ics: First, recall how it appeared that a pro-Hon­duran gov­ern­ment cable news chan­nel, HCH broad­cast­er, played a key role in dis­sem­i­nat­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion about the car­a­van and pro­vid­ing heavy cov­er­age. The pro-gov­ern­ment sta­tion false­ly claimed that com­mu­ni­ty activists, led by a for­mer leg­is­la­tor named Bar­to­lo Fuentes, were ini­tial­ly behind the group and that Fuentes would pay for their food and trans­porta­tion. The right-wing Hon­duran pres­i­dent also alleged­ly told Mike Pence that Venezuela was financ­ing the car­a­van. Also recall how Face­book and What­sApp (owned by Face­book) played a key role in dis­sem­i­nat­ing this mis­in­for­ma­tion.

    Now we’re learn­ing more about the role Face­book played in this dynam­ic and how it was that the size of the car­a­van explod­ed in the days before it depart­ed Hon­duras. It turns out some­one set up a sophis­ti­cat­ed fake Face­book account pre­tend­ing to be Bar­to­lo Fuentes and used that account to send mis­in­for­ma­tion to a large num­ber of migrant activists. Most of the mes­sages were sent using Face­book Mes­sen­ger which would have helped keep the exis­tence of this fake account ‘under the radar’. The account oper­at­ed entire­ly in Span­ish and pre­cise­ly tar­get­ed influ­encers with­in the migrant rights com­mu­ni­ty. Fuentes only learned about the exis­tence of this fake account from the migrant activist group Pueblo Sin Fron­teras. As we pre­vi­ous­ly saw, Pueblo Sin Fron­teras has indeed orga­nized pre­vi­ous car­a­vans but did NOT orga­nize this one. As we’ll see below, the rea­son the group did not sup­port this car­a­van was specif­i­cal­ly because of the hor­ri­ble polit­i­cal dynam­ic of doing it right before a US elec­tion. But the fake pro­file was telling peo­ple Pueblo Sin Fron­teras was going to lead the car­a­van on its jour­ney.

    So who was behind this fake Face­book account? We don’t know, and Face­book is refus­ing to give out any infor­ma­tion bar­ring a sub­poe­na or request from law enforce­ment, say­ing it does not share such infor­ma­tion out of respect for the pri­va­cy of its users. That Face­book cit­ed an alleged respect for user pri­va­cy would be hilar­i­ous enough for ran­dom users, but keep in mind that this is a user who bla­tant­ly imper­son­at­ed a pub­lic offi­cial for the pur­pose of spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion to the pub­lic. Even Fuentes him­self can’t get any infor­ma­tion from Face­book.

    But there is one clue about the iden­ti­ty of the per­son (peo­ple) behind the fake account: the Hon­duran cap­i­tal of Tegu­ci­gal­pa is list­ed in the fake pro­file as Fuentes’s home­town, not his real home­town of the San Pedro Sula sub­urb of El Pro­gre­so. Accord­ing to the Buz­zFeed arti­cle, this is NOT the kind of mis­take that some­one from Hon­duras would make. Fuentes is a well-known politi­cian in the coun­try.

    So it’s look­ing like Face­book once again was used by right-wing forces to sow dis­in­for­ma­tion and is once again doing as lit­tle as pos­si­ble to cor­rect this.

    Ok, first, here’s a post by Josh Mar­shall where he notes Face­book’s oppo­si­tion to reveal­ing any­thing about the imper­son­ator, not even the coun­try of ori­gin. Appar­ent­ly Face­book con­sid­ers the coun­try of ori­gin to be part of that fake user’s pri­va­cy. Mar­shall also notes that, accord­ing to immi­gra­tion activists he’s spo­ken with, it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble that the Hon­duran peo­ple them­selves had no under­stand­ing of the grave polit­i­cal risks of trav­el­ing to the US right before the US mid-terms, so the tim­ing of the car­a­van was­n’t shock­ing from the per­spec­tive of the poor migrants who actu­al­ly joined the car­a­van. But as Mar­shall notes, it was only after the fake account start­ed oper­at­ing that the car­a­van began to swell. And as Mar­shall also notes, it’s hard to imag­ine a dis­in­for­ma­tion oper­a­tion this sophis­ti­cat­ed would have lim­it­ed itself to just one fake account. So that’s anoth­er aspect of Face­book refus­ing to give out any infor­ma­tion about this: we have no idea how many oth­er fake accounts were doing the same thing:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Edi­tor’s Blog

    Fake Face­book Account Had Role Build­ing Immi­grant Car­a­van

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Decem­ber 6, 2018 4:25 pm

    Here’s a very, very inter­est­ing Buz­zfeed arti­cle which reports that a fake Face­book account appears to have had an impor­tant role stir­ring up the Hon­duran immi­grant car­a­van which coin­cid­ed almost pre­cise­ly with the 2018 midterm elec­tion. Face­book has admit­ted the account was an imposter account imper­son­at­ing a promi­nent Hon­duran politi­cian. But it is refus­ing to release infor­ma­tion about the account, who may have set it up or what coun­try it orig­i­nat­ed from.

    For starters, it’s impor­tant to note that what­ev­er the role of this account or oth­ers that may come to light, it didn’t cre­ate the Hon­duras’ emi­gra­tion cri­sis that goes back to the lat­er years of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. There have been oth­er ‘car­a­vans’, the main point of which is to give migrants safe­ty in num­bers and not be prey to crim­i­nals and gangs on the jour­ney north. But the tim­ing of the October/November 2018 event has always been sus­pect.

    Dur­ing the height of the news fever back in Octo­ber I reached out to a promi­nent US pro-immi­gra­tion activist and asked this per­son, ‘Am I crazy to be sus­pi­cious that you’ve got the biggest car­a­van yet head­ing north timed almost per­fect­ly for the final weeks of the US elec­tion?’ The answer was very inter­est­ing. It was basi­cal­ly, ‘Yeah, we’re all very sus­pi­cious but there’s no clear evi­dence that it hasn’t grown up organ­i­cal­ly.’

    One of the things that seemed so odd to me was that if you’re an immi­grant look­ing to escape the run­away mur­der rate and gang and para­mil­i­tary vio­lence in Hon­duras, the worst pos­si­ble time to make the attempt would be in the final days of a US elec­tion cam­paign in which the gov­ern­ment has every incen­tive to make an exam­ple of you to show its anti-immi­grant bona-fides. Like you may or may not make at anoth­er, less elec­tion focused time. But you’re def­i­nite­ly not get­ting into the coun­try when Don­ald Trump is try­ing to use you as a scare cud­gel to sal­vage con­trol of Con­gress.

    What this per­son told me was that that wasn’t that hard to under­stand. From years work­ing with peo­ple in the region this per­son told me, you’d just be sur­prised. They’re not as versed on the inter­nal dynam­ics of our pol­i­tics as you might think. This was a valu­able cor­rec­tive to my myopia and lack of per­spec­tive. I don’t know much about the inter­nal dynam­ics of their pol­i­tics and they don’t know ours.

    Still the per­son I was speak­ing to remained pret­ty sus­pi­cious. There just wasn’t any evi­dence that it wasn’t grow­ing up in the way oth­er immi­grant car­a­vans have over recent years.

    Now we get to this Buz­zfeed arti­cle. The account was cre­at­ed about a week before the car­a­van depart­ed and imper­son­at­ed a man named Bar­to­lo Fuentes who Buz­zfeed iden­ti­fies as “a Hon­duran activist, jour­nal­ist, and for­mer law­mak­er.” The sub­tleties to the sto­ry are impor­tant. Fuentes was ini­tial­ly skep­ti­cal about this par­tic­u­lar car­a­van. It wasn’t get­ting much atten­tion. But it caught on so dra­mat­i­cal­ly that he even­tu­al­ly joined it for a peri­od of time, not as a prospec­tive immi­grant but as a sup­port­er.

    The account main­ly used Face­book mes­sen­ger to com­mu­ni­cate with oth­er influ­en­tial fig­ures in Hon­duras and con­firm Fuentes’ sup­port of the effort. In Buzzfeed’s recon­struc­tion, this bogus account didn’t start the effort and actu­al­ly kicked off just after the efforts to orga­nize it got under­way. But before the account got start­ed not many peo­ple seemed to be join­ing. Only after the account kicked into gear did enthu­si­asm and par­tic­i­pa­tion spike. The account also claimed false­ly that the car­a­van was being led by a migrant rights orga­ni­za­tion called Pueblo Sin Fron­teras. Lat­er, once the car­a­van swelled to a mas­sive scale, the Pueblo Sin Fron­teras did get involved, though in a sup­port rather than lead­er­ship role.

    The rel­e­vant point though is that it wasn’t true when the imposter account false­ly spread the word.

    It appears that this account helped the car­a­van gain key momen­tum to the point where its size became a self-ful­fill­ing prophe­cy, spurring even more to join and groups which hadn’t been sup­port­ive to get involved.

    So far, it seems like we only know about this sin­gle account. It’s hard to believe one Face­book account could play that deci­sive a role. But the account seems to have been sophis­ti­cat­ed. And it is equal­ly dif­fi­cult to believe that a sophis­ti­ca­tor oper­a­tor or orga­ni­za­tion would have gone to such trou­ble and lim­it­ed their efforts to a sin­gle imposter account.

    ...

    ———-

    “Fake Face­book Account Had Role Build­ing Immi­grant Car­a­van” by Josh Mar­shall; Talk­ing Points Memo; 12/06/2018

    “Here’s a very, very inter­est­ing Buz­zfeed arti­cle which reports that a fake Face­book account appears to have had an impor­tant role stir­ring up the Hon­duran immi­grant car­a­van which coin­cid­ed almost pre­cise­ly with the 2018 midterm elec­tion. Face­book has admit­ted the account was an imposter account imper­son­at­ing a promi­nent Hon­duran politi­cian. But it is refus­ing to release infor­ma­tion about the account, who may have set it up or what coun­try it orig­i­nat­ed from.

    Yes, Face­book, the com­pa­ny now known for ram­pant pri­va­cy vio­la­tions, won’t even give out the appar­ent coun­try of ori­gin for the fake account.

    Mar­shall also notes that, while it’s not sur­pris­ing that a large num­ber of migrants would have joined such a car­a­van despite the per­il of doing this right before a US elec­tion because they sim­ply would­n’t be famil­iar with the role immi­gra­tion plays in US pol­i­tics, immi­gra­tion activists are still sus­pi­cious of this car­a­van. It did­n’t seem to hap­pen the way past car­a­vans did:

    ...
    Dur­ing the height of the news fever back in Octo­ber I reached out to a promi­nent US pro-immi­gra­tion activist and asked this per­son, ‘Am I crazy to be sus­pi­cious that you’ve got the biggest car­a­van yet head­ing north timed almost per­fect­ly for the final weeks of the US elec­tion?’ The answer was very inter­est­ing. It was basi­cal­ly, ‘Yeah, we’re all very sus­pi­cious but there’s no clear evi­dence that it hasn’t grown up organ­i­cal­ly.’

    One of the things that seemed so odd to me was that if you’re an immi­grant look­ing to escape the run­away mur­der rate and gang and para­mil­i­tary vio­lence in Hon­duras, the worst pos­si­ble time to make the attempt would be in the final days of a US elec­tion cam­paign in which the gov­ern­ment has every incen­tive to make an exam­ple of you to show its anti-immi­grant bona-fides. Like you may or may not make at anoth­er, less elec­tion focused time. But you’re def­i­nite­ly not get­ting into the coun­try when Don­ald Trump is try­ing to use you as a scare cud­gel to sal­vage con­trol of Con­gress.

    What this per­son told me was that that wasn’t that hard to under­stand. From years work­ing with peo­ple in the region this per­son told me, you’d just be sur­prised. They’re not as versed on the inter­nal dynam­ics of our pol­i­tics as you might think. This was a valu­able cor­rec­tive to my myopia and lack of per­spec­tive. I don’t know much about the inter­nal dynam­ics of their pol­i­tics and they don’t know ours.

    Still the per­son I was speak­ing to remained pret­ty sus­pi­cious. There just wasn’t any evi­dence that it wasn’t grow­ing up in the way oth­er immi­grant car­a­vans have over recent years.
    ...

    And it was the fake Fuentes account that appeared to play a key role in giv­ing the car­a­van momen­tum right in the final days before the depar­ture:

    ...
    The account main­ly used Face­book mes­sen­ger to com­mu­ni­cate with oth­er influ­en­tial fig­ures in Hon­duras and con­firm Fuentes’ sup­port of the effort. In Buzzfeed’s recon­struc­tion, this bogus account didn’t start the effort and actu­al­ly kicked off just after the efforts to orga­nize it got under­way. But before the account got start­ed not many peo­ple seemed to be join­ing. Only after the account kicked into gear did enthu­si­asm and par­tic­i­pa­tion spike. The account also claimed false­ly that the car­a­van was being led by a migrant rights orga­ni­za­tion called Pueblo Sin Fron­teras. Lat­er, once the car­a­van swelled to a mas­sive scale, the Pueblo Sin Fron­teras did get involved, though in a sup­port rather than lead­er­ship role.

    The rel­e­vant point though is that it wasn’t true when the imposter account false­ly spread the word.

    It appears that this account helped the car­a­van gain key momen­tum to the point where its size became a self-ful­fill­ing prophe­cy, spurring even more to join and groups which hadn’t been sup­port­ive to get involved.
    ...

    And as Mar­shall also points out, giv­en the sophis­ti­cat­ed nature of this Face­book oper­a­tion and the obvi­ous intent behind it, it’s hard to believe there were oth­er fake accounts that we just haven’t dis­cov­ered yet:

    ...
    So far, it seems like we only know about this sin­gle account. It’s hard to believe one Face­book account could play that deci­sive a role. But the account seems to have been sophis­ti­cat­ed. And it is equal­ly dif­fi­cult to believe that a sophis­ti­ca­tor oper­a­tor or orga­ni­za­tion would have gone to such trou­ble and lim­it­ed their efforts to a sin­gle imposter account.
    ...

    Now let’s take a look at the actu­al Buz­zFeed arti­cle, and how Face­book refus­es to give even the coun­try of ori­gin of the Face­book account out due to an alleged con­cern over user pri­va­cy (Bwa­ha­ha!!). It also note that there appeared to be a mis­take made by the peo­ple behind the fake account: they incor­rect­ly set the home­town of Fuentes to Hon­duras’s cap­i­tal, which is the kind of mis­take a Hon­duran would be unlike­ly to make since Fuentes is a well known politi­cian. There are also a num­ber of quotes from Pueblo Sin Fron­teras about the group’s appre­hen­sion about the car­a­van, with the group’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive assert­ing that “Nobody want­ed this to take place so close to the elections...Somebody was clear­ly try­ing to mis­lead peo­ple to gen­er­ate more inter­est in the car­a­van.”:

    Buz­zFeed

    A Mys­te­ri­ous Imposter Account Was Used On Face­book To Drum Up Sup­port For The Migrant Car­a­van

    Days before the migrant car­a­van left Hon­duras, a fake Face­book account was used to try to bol­ster its num­bers. The social media giant has since deac­ti­vat­ed the account but has refused to pro­vide infor­ma­tion about who cre­at­ed it.

    Ken Bensinger
    Buz­zFeed News Reporter

    Kar­la Zablu­dovsky
    Buz­zFeed News Reporter

    Post­ed on Decem­ber 6, 2018, at 12:17 p.m. ET

    Just days before the migrant car­a­van set out from Hon­duras, an imposter stole the iden­ti­ty of a promi­nent ear­ly sup­port­er on Face­book, using a fake account to try to boost the caravan’s num­bers.

    Bar­to­lo Fuentes, a Hon­duran activist, jour­nal­ist, and for­mer law­mak­er told Buz­zFeed News that some­one used the pho­ny account to send Face­book mes­sages false­ly claim­ing that estab­lished migrant groups were orga­niz­ing the effort. News like that — com­ing from a well-known pub­lic fig­ure in Hon­duras, such as Fuentes — could go a long way to con­vinc­ing peo­ple to join the group of migrants trav­el­ing to the US.

    The car­a­van, which thread­ed north through Guatemala and Mex­i­co, even­tu­al­ly bal­looned in size to more than 7,000 peo­ple. It also became a polit­i­cal flash­point in the lead-up to last month’s US midterm elec­tions.

    In response to a query from Buz­zFeed News, a Face­book spokesper­son said the pho­ny account “was removed for vio­lat­ing [the company’s] mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion pol­i­cy,” but declined to share any fur­ther infor­ma­tion, such as what coun­try it orig­i­nat­ed from, what email address was used to open it, or any oth­er details that might reveal who was behind it. Face­book added that, bar­ring a sub­poe­na or request from law enforce­ment, it does not share such infor­ma­tion out of respect for the pri­va­cy of its users.

    Fuentes said he believes it’s impor­tant to find out who was behind the rogue account — but hasn’t got­ten any answers from Face­book. “Who knows how many mes­sages could have been sent and who received them?”

    ...

    As far as Fuentes can tell, the fake account, which pri­mar­i­ly used Face­book Mes­sen­ger to spread dis­in­for­ma­tion, was cre­at­ed less than a week before the car­a­van was sched­uled to depart.

    On his real account, Fuentes did post a few times about the car­a­van, which he said he’d heard about in mid-Sep­tem­ber after being invit­ed to join a small pri­vate What­sApp group of would-be migrants. One of his posts, from Oct. 4, showed a styl­ized image of a bedrag­gled migrant and indi­cat­ed the car­a­van “spon­ta­neous­ly con­vened” with­out any for­mal orga­niz­er.

    But the mes­sages being sent by the imposter, which also had Fuentes’s pho­to, had a very dif­fer­ent fla­vor, the for­mer law­mak­er learned. They claimed that the promi­nent and influ­en­tial migrant rights orga­ni­za­tion Pueblo Sin Fron­teras was orga­niz­ing the car­a­van and would be lead­ing it on the ardu­ous jour­ney.

    But the news was fake. Although Pueblo Sin Fron­teras had orga­nized sev­er­al pre­vi­ous car­a­vans, includ­ing a big one in the spring that attract­ed 1,500 peo­ple, it staunch­ly opposed the lat­est effort based on well-found­ed fears it would stoke anti-immi­grant sen­ti­ment ahead of the elec­tions.

    The bogus Fuentes account stands out for its sophis­ti­ca­tion and tim­ing. It was cre­at­ed before the car­a­van depart­ed, when the event had not yet attract­ed news cov­er­age. It oper­at­ed entire­ly in Span­ish and pre­cise­ly tar­get­ed influ­encers with­in the migrant rights com­mu­ni­ty. And rather than crit­i­cize or under­mine the car­a­van — as oth­er online cam­paigns would lat­er attempt to do — it was used to legit­imize the event, mak­ing a loose­ly struc­tured grass­roots event appear to be a well-orga­nized effort by an estab­lished migrant group with a proven track record of suc­cess­ful­ly bring­ing Cen­tral Amer­i­can peo­ple to the US bor­der.

    Fuentes has been unable to get any infor­ma­tion from Face­book about the account, but one small detail stood out. Who­ev­er cre­at­ed it list­ed the Hon­duran cap­i­tal of Tegu­ci­gal­pa as Fuentes’s home­town, rather than the San Pedro Sula sub­urb of El Pro­gre­so. That might seem like a minor error, but it’s the sort of mis­take a for­eign­er — not a Hon­duran — would make about the well-known for­mer law­mak­er, whose left-wing par­ty stands in oppo­si­tion to the cur­rent president’s admin­is­tra­tion.

    When the imposter account began sow­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion, the car­a­van was not expect­ed to be huge — in fact, very few peo­ple even knew about it. Only around 160 men, women, and chil­dren showed up at the bus sta­tion in San Pedro Sula at the appoint­ed time ear­ly Oct. 12.

    Fuentes has no idea how many mes­sages were sent by the imposter account, or who might have received them. He said the What­sApp group where he learned about the car­a­van had only a few dozen peo­ple in it, and he sub­se­quent­ly found out about a few oth­er such groups that were equal­ly small. He was sur­prised to see peo­ple con­tin­u­ing to arrive at the bus sta­tion through­out the morn­ing, even­tu­al­ly attract­ing media cov­er­age.

    Fuentes was inter­viewed on Honduras’s top-rat­ed tele­vi­sion news sta­tion, HCH, as the crowd gath­ered. The huge turnout inspired him to join the car­a­van for at least part of its jour­ney, although he had no plans to immi­grate to the US. By the next morn­ing, before the car­a­van had even depart­ed, the num­ber of migrants had swelled to more than 1,200 — mak­ing it among the largest in his­to­ry.

    By the time the caravan’s par­tic­i­pants had trav­eled the near­ly 200 miles to cross the Guatemalan bor­der on Oct. 16, so many oth­er migrants had joined that it had grown to some 3,000 peo­ple — more than dou­ble the size of any pre­vi­ous car­a­vans.

    That same day, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump issued the first in a series of increas­ing­ly incen­di­ary tweets about it, threat­en­ing to with­hold aid to Hon­duras if the migrants didn’t turn around.

    The Unit­ed States has strong­ly informed the Pres­i­dent of Hon­duras that if the large Car­a­van of peo­ple head­ing to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Hon­duras, no more mon­ey or aid will be giv­en to Hon­duras, effec­tive imme­di­ate­ly!— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Octo­ber 16, 2018

    But the car­a­van con­tin­ued to grow — reach­ing an esti­mat­ed 7,200 migrants as it advanced through south­ern Mex­i­co. With the midterm elec­tions less than a month away, Trump and oth­er Repub­li­cans seized on the issue, call­ing the car­a­van an “inva­sion” and fram­ing it as a cri­sis that only a Repub­li­can vic­to­ry in the midterms could solve. The pres­i­dent sent thou­sands of sol­diers to the bor­der, and he, along with oth­er politi­cians and pun­dits, point­ed fin­gers at “left­ist orga­ni­za­tions,” Venezuela, gang mem­bers, and even George Soros for orga­niz­ing the car­a­van.

    “The Amer­i­can peo­ple, I think, see through this,” Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence told Fox News on Oct. 27. “They under­stand this is not a spon­ta­neous car­a­van of vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.”

    Many of the migrants left the car­a­van to remain in Mex­i­co, but more than 5,000 reached Tijua­na. Now, as many remain hud­dled at the bor­der with mea­ger sup­plies and lit­tle clar­i­ty about whether they’ll be able to enter the Unit­ed States, it’s impos­si­ble to know what role the fake Face­book account may have played in help­ing to swell num­bers.

    “It’s impor­tant for me to find out who was behind it,” said Fuentes, who was detained and sub­se­quent­ly deport­ed after cross­ing the Guatemalan bor­der on Oct. 16 — an action he calls ille­gal.

    Fuentes first learned about the pho­ny account from Iri­neo Muji­ca, who rep­re­sents Pueblo Sin Fron­teras and has orga­nized pre­vi­ous car­a­vans.

    In an inter­view, Muji­ca said the group had been against the car­a­van because of the like­li­hood it would be used to stir up anti-immi­grant sen­ti­ment in the lead-up to the midterms.

    That’s why he was so infu­ri­at­ed by the Face­book mes­sages claim­ing he not only sup­port­ed the car­a­van but would per­son­al­ly be trav­el­ing to Hon­duras to lead it out of San Pedro Sula. But once the car­a­van attained crit­i­cal mass, Pueblo Sin Fron­teras decid­ed to show sup­port, albeit from the side­lines.

    In south­ern Mex­i­co, Muji­ca, who holds dual US and Mex­i­can cit­i­zen­ship, was arrest­ed by Mex­i­can fed­er­al police on Oct. 18, while lead­ing a march in sup­port of the migrants. He was sub­se­quent­ly released on bond.

    The largest car­a­van orga­nized by Pueblo Sin Fron­teras num­bered 1,500 peo­ple. To this day, Muji­ca said he is mys­ti­fied by how the lat­est car­a­van could have grown so large.

    “Nobody want­ed this to take place so close to the elec­tions,” he added. “Some­body was clear­ly try­ing to mis­lead peo­ple to gen­er­ate more inter­est in the car­a­van.”

    ———-

    “A Mys­te­ri­ous Imposter Account Was Used On Face­book To Drum Up Sup­port For The Migrant Car­a­van” by Ken Bensinger and Kar­la Zablu­dovsky; Buz­zFeed News; 12/06/2018

    “Nobody want­ed this to take place so close to the elections...Somebody was clear­ly try­ing to mis­lead peo­ple to gen­er­ate more inter­est in the car­a­van.”

    Yep, some­body was clear­ly try­ing to mis­lead peo­ple to gen­er­ate more inter­est in the car­a­van. And they clear­ly knew enough about Hon­duras’s immi­gra­tion activist com­mu­ni­ty to know to imper­son­ate Fuentes and suc­cess­ful­ly pull it off while pre­cise­ly tar­get­ing influ­encer in the migrant rights com­mu­ni­ty. But they did make one mis­take: incor­rect­ly list­ing Fuente’s home­town as the Hon­duran cap­i­tal. Giv­en that Fuentes is a well-known nation­al politi­cian it’s a rea­son­able assump­tion that his home­town would be the nation’s cap­i­tal, but that’s still wrong and a real Hon­duran would like­ly know this:

    ...
    The bogus Fuentes account stands out for its sophis­ti­ca­tion and tim­ing. It was cre­at­ed before the car­a­van depart­ed, when the event had not yet attract­ed news cov­er­age. It oper­at­ed entire­ly in Span­ish and pre­cise­ly tar­get­ed influ­encers with­in the migrant rights com­mu­ni­ty. And rather than crit­i­cize or under­mine the car­a­van — as oth­er online cam­paigns would lat­er attempt to do — it was used to legit­imize the event, mak­ing a loose­ly struc­tured grass­roots event appear to be a well-orga­nized effort by an estab­lished migrant group with a proven track record of suc­cess­ful­ly bring­ing Cen­tral Amer­i­can peo­ple to the US bor­der.

    Fuentes has been unable to get any infor­ma­tion from Face­book about the account, but one small detail stood out. Who­ev­er cre­at­ed it list­ed the Hon­duran cap­i­tal of Tegu­ci­gal­pa as Fuentes’s home­town, rather than the San Pedro Sula sub­urb of El Pro­gre­so. That might seem like a minor error, but it’s the sort of mis­take a for­eign­er — not a Hon­duran — would make about the well-known for­mer law­mak­er, whose left-wing par­ty stands in oppo­si­tion to the cur­rent president’s admin­is­tra­tion.
    ...

    Also keep in mind that, giv­en the evi­dence that the right-wing Hon­duran gov­ern­ment was also pro­mot­ing this car­a­van, per­haps this account was being run by some­one work­ing in the gov­ern­ment (pre­sum­ably from the cap­i­tal) and they care­less­ly set the Hon­duran cap­i­tal as the fake pro­file’s home­town because they were lit­er­al­ly work­ing from there.

    And note how, when the imposter account bean, the car­a­van was only around 160 peo­ple. So this account appears to have played a poten­tial­ly very sig­nif­i­cant role in that last minute surge. And since Face­book won’t coop­er­ate with Fuentes we have no idea how many Face­book mes­sages were sent from this account and who received them:

    ...
    When the imposter account began sow­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion, the car­a­van was not expect­ed to be huge — in fact, very few peo­ple even knew about it. Only around 160 men, women, and chil­dren showed up at the bus sta­tion in San Pedro Sula at the appoint­ed time ear­ly Oct. 12.

    Fuentes has no idea how many mes­sages were sent by the imposter account, or who might have received them. He said the What­sApp group where he learned about the car­a­van had only a few dozen peo­ple in it, and he sub­se­quent­ly found out about a few oth­er such groups that were equal­ly small. He was sur­prised to see peo­ple con­tin­u­ing to arrive at the bus sta­tion through­out the morn­ing, even­tu­al­ly attract­ing media cov­er­age.
    ...

    Based on the infor­ma­tion Fuentes has, the account was cre­at­ed less than a week before the car­a­van’s sched­uled depar­ture and pri­mar­i­ly used Face­book Mes­sen­ger to spread the dis­in­for­ma­tion, which would have kept this dis­in­for­ma­tion oper­a­tion more under the radar. And those mes­sages claimed that Pueblo Sin Fron­teras was orga­niz­ing the car­a­van and would be lead­ing it. Pueblo Sin Fron­teras was actu­al­ly staunch­ly opposed to it pre­cise­ly because of the tim­ing with respect to the US mid-terms and only joined after it had swelled in size:

    ...
    As far as Fuentes can tell, the fake account, which pri­mar­i­ly used Face­book Mes­sen­ger to spread dis­in­for­ma­tion, was cre­at­ed less than a week before the car­a­van was sched­uled to depart.

    On his real account, Fuentes did post a few times about the car­a­van, which he said he’d heard about in mid-Sep­tem­ber after being invit­ed to join a small pri­vate What­sApp group of would-be migrants. One of his posts, from Oct. 4, showed a styl­ized image of a bedrag­gled migrant and indi­cat­ed the car­a­van “spon­ta­neous­ly con­vened” with­out any for­mal orga­niz­er.

    But the mes­sages being sent by the imposter, which also had Fuentes’s pho­to, had a very dif­fer­ent fla­vor, the for­mer law­mak­er learned. They claimed that the promi­nent and influ­en­tial migrant rights orga­ni­za­tion Pueblo Sin Fron­teras was orga­niz­ing the car­a­van and would be lead­ing it on the ardu­ous jour­ney.

    But the news was fake. Although Pueblo Sin Fron­teras had orga­nized sev­er­al pre­vi­ous car­a­vans, includ­ing a big one in the spring that attract­ed 1,500 peo­ple, it staunch­ly opposed the lat­est effort based on well-found­ed fears it would stoke anti-immi­grant sen­ti­ment ahead of the elec­tions.
    ...

    And Fuentes only learned about the fake account from a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Pueblo Sin Fron­teras:

    ...
    “It’s impor­tant for me to find out who was behind it,” said Fuentes, who was detained and sub­se­quent­ly deport­ed after cross­ing the Guatemalan bor­der on Oct. 16 — an action he calls ille­gal.

    Fuentes first learned about the pho­ny account from Iri­neo Muji­ca, who rep­re­sents Pueblo Sin Fron­teras and has orga­nized pre­vi­ous car­a­vans.

    In an inter­view, Muji­ca said the group had been against the car­a­van because of the like­li­hood it would be used to stir up anti-immi­grant sen­ti­ment in the lead-up to the midterms.

    That’s why he was so infu­ri­at­ed by the Face­book mes­sages claim­ing he not only sup­port­ed the car­a­van but would per­son­al­ly be trav­el­ing to Hon­duras to lead it out of San Pedro Sula. But once the car­a­van attained crit­i­cal mass, Pueblo Sin Fron­teras decid­ed to show sup­port, albeit from the side­lines.
    ...

    But Face­book refus­es to give any infor­ma­tion about this fake account...citing respect for user pri­va­cy:

    ...
    In response to a query from Buz­zFeed News, a Face­book spokesper­son said the pho­ny account “was removed for vio­lat­ing [the company’s] mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion pol­i­cy,” but declined to share any fur­ther infor­ma­tion, such as what coun­try it orig­i­nat­ed from, what email address was used to open it, or any oth­er details that might reveal who was behind it. Face­book added that, bar­ring a sub­poe­na or request from law enforce­ment, it does not share such infor­ma­tion out of respect for the pri­va­cy of its users.

    Fuentes said he believes it’s impor­tant to find out who was behind the rogue account — but hasn’t got­ten any answers from Face­book. “Who knows how many mes­sages could have been sent and who received them?”
    ...

    So that teach­es us some­thing about Face­book and pri­va­cy: Face­book will fight for your privacy...as long as you’re run­ning a right-wing dis­in­for­ma­tion oper­a­tion.

    And giv­en the wild suc­cess this fake account had, it rais­es the ques­tion of what else Face­book is going about this fake account. Is the user going to be allowed to do it again? Was there a much larg­er net­work of fake accounts that have yet to be dis­cov­ered? Face­book isn’t talk­ing.

    And more gen­er­al­ly, can Face­book pre­vent some­thing like this again? Or are fake Face­book pro­files imper­son­at­ing pub­lic fig­ures just some­thing Face­book can’t real­ly pre­vent? Keep in mind that if the user obscured their dig­i­tal trail — like using a throw away email address and vir­tu­al pri­vate net­work to sign up — it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble Face­book itself has no idea who did this and can’t effec­tive­ly pre­vent them from doing it again.

    So that’s all anoth­er rea­son not to believe the things you read on Face­book. And prefer­ably #Delete­Face­book.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 7, 2018, 2:28 pm
  12. Phew! That’s kind of a relief. A lit­tle: Pres­i­dent Trump is sched­ule to make a tele­vised address to the Amer­i­can pub­lic tonight to build up pub­lic sup­port for his deci­sion to keep the gov­ern­ment shut­down over demands for fund­ing for ‘the Wall’. And while it sounds like Trump will con­tin­ue fan­ning the flames of fan­ta­sy by try­ing to con­vince the pub­lic that there real­ly is a big nation­al emer­gency with the US-Mex­i­co bor­der, at least we’re get­ting reports that he’s not plan­ning on for­mal­ly declar­ing the sit­u­a­tion a nation­al emer­gency and uni­lat­er­al­ly order­ing the mil­i­tary to start build­ing the wall, a move he’s been open­ly con­sid­er­ing in recent weeks. So the real nation­al emer­gency that would be cre­at­ed by the pres­i­dent declar­ing a fake nation­al emer­gency in order to extri­cate him­self out of his shut­down show­down cri­sis of his own mak­ing is at least not immi­nent.

    Still, while that kind of nation­al night­mare won’t be hap­pen­ing tonight, it’s still loom­ing. And when the White House is dou­bling down on such out­ra­geous lie that even Fox News calls them out — like the lie that four thou­sands “sus­pect­ed ter­ror­ists” have entered the US ille­gal­ly, with the south­ern bor­der be a key point of entry — it’s pret­ty clear that Trump and his entire team are ful­ly com­mit­ted to whip­ping up a fake cri­sis. And a great way to make that fake cri­sis feel much more ‘real’ is to declare it an emer­gency and start using those emer­gency pow­ers. And the more exten­sive­ly those pow­ers are used, not just at the bor­der but inside the US, the more real this fake emer­gency is going to feel.

    So in the inter­est­ing of peer­ing into the abyss, here’s a look­ing at the US his­to­ry of pres­i­den­tial emer­gency pow­ers and all the things Trump could do if/when he even­tu­al­ly goes down that path. For instance, he’ll also have the option of declar­ing any US cit­i­zen who pro­vides assis­tance to asy­lum seek­ers or undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants in the US as a threat to nation­al secu­ri­ty. “Sanc­tu­ary cities” could be declared defi­ant of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and the mil­i­tary could be ordered in to enforce immi­gra­tion law. Things like shut­ting down web­sites that he does­n’t approve of can be shut down. And when Amer­i­cans start protest­ing in response, the mil­i­tary can be brought in to sup­press those protests:

    The Atlantic

    What the Pres­i­dent Could Do If He Declares a State of Emer­gency

    From seiz­ing con­trol of the inter­net to declar­ing mar­tial law, Pres­i­dent Trump may legal­ly do all kinds of extra­or­di­nary things.

    Eliz­a­beth Goitein January/February 2019 Issue

    In the weeks lead­ing up to the 2018 midterm elec­tions, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump reached deep into his arse­nal to try to deliv­er votes to Repub­li­cans.

    Most of his weapons were rhetor­i­cal, fea­tur­ing a mix of lies and false inducements—claims that every con­gres­sion­al Demo­c­rat had signed on to an “open bor­ders” bill (none had), that lib­er­als were foment­ing vio­lent “mobs” (they weren’t), that a 10 per­cent tax cut for the mid­dle class would some­how pass while Con­gress was out of ses­sion (it didn’t). But a few involved the aggres­sive use—and threat­ened misuse—of pres­i­den­tial author­i­ty: He sent thou­sands of active-duty sol­diers to the south­ern bor­der to ter­ror­ize a dis­tant car­a­van of des­per­ate Cen­tral Amer­i­can migrants, announced plans to end the con­sti­tu­tion­al guar­an­tee of birthright cit­i­zen­ship by exec­u­tive order, and tweet­ed that law enforce­ment had been “strong­ly noti­fied” to be on the look­out for “ILLEGAL VOTING.”

    These mea­sures failed to car­ry the day, and Trump will like­ly con­clude that they were too timid. How much fur­ther might he go in 2020, when his own name is on the ballot—or soon­er than that, if he’s fac­ing impeach­ment by a House under Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­trol?

    More is at stake here than the out­come of one or even two elec­tions. Trump has long sig­naled his dis­dain for the con­cepts of lim­it­ed pres­i­den­tial pow­er and demo­c­ra­t­ic rule. Dur­ing his 2016 cam­paign, he praised mur­der­ous dic­ta­tors. He declared that his oppo­nent, Hillary Clin­ton, would be in jail if he were pres­i­dent, goad­ing crowds into fren­zied chants of “Lock her up.” He hint­ed that he might not accept an elec­toral loss. As democ­ra­cies around the world slide into autoc­ra­cy, and nation­al­ism and anti­de­mo­c­ra­t­ic sen­ti­ment are on vivid dis­play among seg­ments of the Amer­i­can pop­u­lace, Trump’s evi­dent hos­til­i­ty to key ele­ments of lib­er­al democ­ra­cy can­not be dis­missed as mere blus­ter.

    It would be nice to think that Amer­i­ca is pro­tect­ed from the worst excess­es of Trump’s impuls­es by its demo­c­ra­t­ic laws and insti­tu­tions. After all, Trump can do only so much with­out bump­ing up against the lim­its set by the Con­sti­tu­tion and Con­gress and enforced by the courts. Those who see Trump as a threat to democ­ra­cy com­fort them­selves with the belief that these lim­its will hold him in check.

    But will they? Unknown to most Amer­i­cans, a par­al­lel legal regime allows the pres­i­dent to side­step many of the con­straints that nor­mal­ly apply. The moment the pres­i­dent declares a “nation­al emergency”—a deci­sion that is entire­ly with­in his discretion—more than 100 spe­cial pro­vi­sions become avail­able to him. While many of these tee up rea­son­able respons­es to gen­uine emer­gen­cies, some appear dan­ger­ous­ly suit­ed to a leader bent on amass­ing or retain­ing pow­er. For instance, the pres­i­dent can, with the flick of his pen, acti­vate laws allow­ing him to shut down many kinds of elec­tron­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tions inside the Unit­ed States or freeze Amer­i­cans’ bank accounts. Oth­er pow­ers are avail­able even with­out a dec­la­ra­tion of emer­gency, includ­ing laws that allow the pres­i­dent to deploy troops inside the coun­try to sub­due domes­tic unrest.

    This edi­fice of extra­or­di­nary pow­ers has his­tor­i­cal­ly rest­ed on the assump­tion that the pres­i­dent will act in the country’s best inter­est when using them. With a hand­ful of note­wor­thy excep­tions, this assump­tion has held up. But what if a pres­i­dent, backed into a cor­ner and fac­ing elec­toral defeat or impeach­ment, were to declare an emer­gency for the sake of hold­ing on to pow­er? In that sce­nario, our laws and insti­tu­tions might not save us from a pres­i­den­tial pow­er grab. They might be what takes us down.

    1. “A LOADED WEAPON”

    The premise under­ly­ing emer­gency pow­ers is sim­ple: The government’s ordi­nary pow­ers might be insuf­fi­cient in a cri­sis, and amend­ing the law to pro­vide greater ones might be too slow and cum­ber­some. Emer­gency pow­ers are meant to give the gov­ern­ment a tem­po­rary boost until the emer­gency pass­es or there is time to change the law through nor­mal leg­isla­tive process­es.

    Unlike the mod­ern con­sti­tu­tions of many oth­er coun­tries, which spec­i­fy when and how a state of emer­gency may be declared and which rights may be sus­pend­ed, the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion itself includes no com­pre­hen­sive sep­a­rate regime for emer­gen­cies. Those few pow­ers it does con­tain for deal­ing with cer­tain urgent threats, it assigns to Con­gress, not the pres­i­dent. For instance, it lets Con­gress sus­pend the writ of habeas corpus—that is, allow gov­ern­ment offi­cials to imprison peo­ple with­out judi­cial review—“when in Cas­es of Rebel­lion or Inva­sion the pub­lic Safe­ty may require it” and “pro­vide for call­ing forth the Mili­tia to exe­cute the Laws of the Union, sup­press Insur­rec­tions and repel Inva­sions.”

    Nonethe­less, some legal schol­ars believe that the Con­sti­tu­tion gives the pres­i­dent inher­ent emer­gency pow­ers by mak­ing him com­man­der in chief of the armed forces, or by vest­ing in him a broad, unde­fined “exec­u­tive Pow­er.” At key points in Amer­i­can his­to­ry, pres­i­dents have cit­ed inher­ent con­sti­tu­tion­al pow­ers when tak­ing dras­tic actions that were not authorized—or, in some cas­es, were explic­it­ly prohibited—by Con­gress. Noto­ri­ous exam­ples include Franklin D. Roosevelt’s intern­ment of U.S. cit­i­zens and res­i­dents of Japan­ese descent dur­ing World War II and George W. Bush’s pro­grams of war­rant­less wire­tap­ping and tor­ture after the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks. Abra­ham Lin­coln con­ced­ed that his uni­lat­er­al sus­pen­sion of habeas cor­pus dur­ing the Civ­il War was con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly ques­tion­able, but defend­ed it as nec­es­sary to pre­serve the Union.

    The Supreme Court has often upheld such actions or found ways to avoid review­ing them, at least while the cri­sis was in progress. Rul­ings such as Youngstown Sheet & Tube Com­pa­ny v. Sawyer, in which the Court inval­i­dat­ed Pres­i­dent Har­ry Truman’s bid to take over steel mills dur­ing the Kore­an War, have been the excep­tion. And while those excep­tions have out­lined impor­tant lim­it­ing prin­ci­ples, the out­er bound­ary of the president’s con­sti­tu­tion­al author­i­ty dur­ing emer­gen­cies remains poor­ly defined.

    Pres­i­dents can also rely on a cor­nu­copia of pow­ers pro­vid­ed by Con­gress, which has his­tor­i­cal­ly been the prin­ci­pal source of emer­gency author­i­ty for the exec­u­tive branch. Through­out the late 18th and 19th cen­turies, Con­gress passed laws to give the pres­i­dent addi­tion­al lee­way dur­ing mil­i­tary, eco­nom­ic, and labor crises. A more for­mal­ized approach evolved in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, when Con­gress leg­is­lat­ed pow­ers that would lie dor­mant until the pres­i­dent acti­vat­ed them by declar­ing a nation­al emer­gency. These statu­to­ry author­i­ties began to pile up—and because pres­i­dents had lit­tle incen­tive to ter­mi­nate states of emer­gency once declared, these piled up too. By the 1970s, hun­dreds of statu­to­ry emer­gency pow­ers, and four clear­ly obso­lete states of emer­gency, were in effect. For instance, the nation­al emer­gency that Tru­man declared in 1950, dur­ing the Kore­an War, remained in place and was being used to help pros­e­cute the war in Viet­nam.

    Aim­ing to rein in this pro­lif­er­a­tion, Con­gress passed the Nation­al Emer­gen­cies Act in 1976. Under this law, the pres­i­dent still has com­plete dis­cre­tion to issue an emer­gency declaration—but he must spec­i­fy in the dec­la­ra­tion which pow­ers he intends to use, issue pub­lic updates if he decides to invoke addi­tion­al pow­ers, and report to Con­gress on the government’s emer­gency-relat­ed expen­di­tures every six months. The state of emer­gency expires after a year unless the pres­i­dent renews it, and the Sen­ate and the House must meet every six months while the emer­gency is in effect “to con­sid­er a vote” on ter­mi­na­tion.

    By any objec­tive mea­sure, the law has failed. Thir­ty states of emer­gency are in effect today—several times more than when the act was passed. Most have been renewed for years on end. And dur­ing the 40 years the law has been in place, Con­gress has not met even once, let alone every six months, to vote on whether to end them.

    As a result, the pres­i­dent has access to emer­gency pow­ers con­tained in 123 statu­to­ry pro­vi­sions, as recent­ly cal­cu­lat­ed by the Bren­nan Cen­ter for Jus­tice at NYU School of Law, where I work. These laws address a broad range of mat­ters, from mil­i­tary com­po­si­tion to agri­cul­tur­al exports to pub­lic con­tracts. For the most part, the pres­i­dent is free to use any of them; the Nation­al Emer­gen­cies Act doesn’t require that the pow­ers invoked relate to the nature of the emer­gency. Even if the cri­sis at hand is, say, a nation­wide crop blight, the pres­i­dent may acti­vate the law that allows the sec­re­tary of trans­porta­tion to req­ui­si­tion any pri­vate­ly owned ves­sel at sea. Many oth­er laws per­mit the exec­u­tive branch to take extra­or­di­nary action under spec­i­fied con­di­tions, such as war and domes­tic upheaval, regard­less of whether a nation­al emer­gency has been declared.

    This legal regime for emergencies—ambiguous con­sti­tu­tion­al lim­its com­bined with a rich well of statu­to­ry emer­gency powers—would seem to pro­vide the ingre­di­ents for a dan­ger­ous encroach­ment on Amer­i­can civ­il lib­er­ties. Yet so far, even though pres­i­dents have often advanced dubi­ous claims of con­sti­tu­tion­al author­i­ty, egre­gious abus­es on the scale of the Japan­ese Amer­i­can intern­ment or the post‑9/11 tor­ture pro­gram have been rare, and most of the statu­to­ry pow­ers avail­able dur­ing a nation­al emer­gency have nev­er been used.

    But what’s to guar­an­tee that this pres­i­dent, or a future one, will show the ret­i­cence of his pre­de­ces­sors? To bor­row from Jus­tice Robert Jackson’s dis­sent in Kore­mat­su v. Unit­ed States, the 1944 Supreme Court deci­sion that upheld the intern­ment of Japan­ese Amer­i­cans, each emer­gency pow­er “lies about like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any author­i­ty that can bring for­ward a plau­si­ble claim of an urgent need.”

    2. AN INTERNET KILL SWITCH?

    Like all emer­gency pow­ers, the laws gov­ern­ing the con­duct of war allow the pres­i­dent to engage in con­duct that would be ille­gal dur­ing ordi­nary times. This con­duct includes famil­iar inci­dents of war, such as the killing or indef­i­nite deten­tion of ene­my sol­diers. But the pres­i­dent can also take a host of oth­er actions, both abroad and inside the Unit­ed States.

    These laws vary dra­mat­i­cal­ly in con­tent and scope. Sev­er­al of them autho­rize the pres­i­dent to make deci­sions about the size and com­po­si­tion of the armed forces that are usu­al­ly left to Con­gress. Although such mea­sures can offer need­ed flex­i­bil­i­ty at cru­cial moments, they are sub­ject to mis­use. For instance, George W. Bush lever­aged the state of emer­gency after 9/11 to call hun­dreds of thou­sands of reservists and mem­bers of the Nation­al Guard into active duty in Iraq, for a war that had noth­ing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Oth­er pow­ers are chill­ing under any cir­cum­stances: Take a moment to con­sid­er that dur­ing a declared war or nation­al emer­gency, the pres­i­dent can uni­lat­er­al­ly sus­pend the law that bars gov­ern­ment test­ing of bio­log­i­cal and chem­i­cal agents on unwit­ting human sub­jects.

    One pow­er pos­es a sin­gu­lar threat to democ­ra­cy in the dig­i­tal era. In 1942, Con­gress amend­ed Sec­tion 706 of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Act of 1934 to allow the pres­i­dent to shut down or take con­trol of “any facil­i­ty or sta­tion for wire com­mu­ni­ca­tion” upon his procla­ma­tion “that there exists a state or threat of war involv­ing the Unit­ed States,” res­ur­rect­ing a sim­i­lar pow­er Con­gress had briefly pro­vid­ed Woodrow Wil­son dur­ing World War I. At the time, “wire com­mu­ni­ca­tion” meant tele­phone calls or telegrams. Giv­en the rel­a­tive­ly mod­est role that elec­tron­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tions played in most Amer­i­cans’ lives, the government’s asser­tion of this pow­er dur­ing World War II (no pres­i­dent has used it since) like­ly cre­at­ed incon­ve­nience but not hav­oc.

    We live in a dif­fer­ent uni­verse today. Although inter­pret­ing a 1942 law to cov­er the inter­net might seem far-fetched, some gov­ern­ment offi­cials recent­ly endorsed this read­ing dur­ing debates about cyber­se­cu­ri­ty leg­is­la­tion. Under this inter­pre­ta­tion, Sec­tion 706 could effec­tive­ly func­tion as a “kill switch” in the U.S.—one that would be avail­able to the pres­i­dent the moment he pro­claimed a mere threat of war. It could also give the pres­i­dent pow­er to assume con­trol over U.S. inter­net traf­fic.

    The poten­tial impact of such a move can hard­ly be over­stat­ed. In August, in an ear­ly-morn­ing tweet, Trump lament­ed that search engines were “RIGGED” to serve up neg­a­tive arti­cles about him. Lat­er that day the admin­is­tra­tion said it was look­ing into reg­u­lat­ing the big inter­net com­pa­nies. “I think that Google and Twit­ter and Face­book, they’re real­ly tread­ing on very, very trou­bled ter­ri­to­ry. And they have to be care­ful,” Trump warned. If the gov­ern­ment were to take con­trol of U.S. inter­net infra­struc­ture, Trump could accom­plish direct­ly what he threat­ened to do by reg­u­la­tion: ensure that inter­net search­es always return pro-Trump con­tent as the top results. The gov­ern­ment also would have the abil­i­ty to impede domes­tic access to par­tic­u­lar web­sites, includ­ing social-media plat­forms. It could mon­i­tor emails or pre­vent them from reach­ing their des­ti­na­tion. It could exert con­trol over com­put­er sys­tems (such as states’ vot­er data­bas­es) and phys­i­cal devices (such as Amazon’s Echo speak­ers) that are con­nect­ed to the inter­net.

    To be sure, the fact that the inter­net in the Unit­ed States is high­ly decentralized—a func­tion of a rel­a­tive­ly open mar­ket for com­mu­ni­ca­tions devices and services—would offer some pro­tec­tion. Achiev­ing the lev­el of gov­ern­ment con­trol over inter­net con­tent that exists in places such as Chi­na, Rus­sia, and Iran would like­ly be impos­si­ble in the U.S. More­over, if Trump were to attempt any degree of inter­net takeover, an explo­sion of law­suits would fol­low. Based on its First Amend­ment rul­ings in recent decades, the Supreme Court seems unlike­ly to per­mit heavy-hand­ed gov­ern­ment con­trol over inter­net com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

    But com­pla­cen­cy would be a mis­take. Com­plete con­trol of inter­net con­tent would not be nec­es­sary for Trump’s pur­pos­es; even with less com­pre­hen­sive inter­ven­tions, he could do a great deal to dis­rupt polit­i­cal dis­course and hin­der effec­tive, orga­nized polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion. And the Supreme Court’s view of the First Amend­ment is not immutable. For much of the country’s his­to­ry, the Court was will­ing to tol­er­ate sig­nif­i­cant encroach­ments on free speech dur­ing wartime. “The progress we have made is frag­ile,” Geof­frey R. Stone, a con­sti­tu­tion­al-law schol­ar at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, has writ­ten. “It would not take much to upset the cur­rent under­stand­ing of the First Amend­ment.” Indeed, all it would take is five Supreme Court jus­tices whose com­mit­ment to pres­i­den­tial pow­er exceeds their com­mit­ment to indi­vid­ual lib­er­ties.

    3. SANCTIONING AMERICANS

    Next to war pow­ers, eco­nom­ic pow­ers might sound benign, but they are among the president’s most potent legal weapons. All but two of the emer­gency dec­la­ra­tions in effect today were issued under the Inter­na­tion­al Emer­gency Eco­nom­ic Pow­ers Act, or ieepa. Passed in 1977, the law allows the pres­i­dent to declare a nation­al emer­gency “to deal with any unusu­al and extra­or­di­nary threat”—to nation­al secu­ri­ty, for­eign pol­i­cy, or the economy—that “has its source in whole or sub­stan­tial part out­side the Unit­ed States.” The pres­i­dent can then order a range of eco­nom­ic actions to address the threat, includ­ing freez­ing assets and block­ing finan­cial trans­ac­tions in which any for­eign nation or for­eign nation­al has an inter­est.

    In the late 1970s and ’80s, pres­i­dents used the law pri­mar­i­ly to impose sanc­tions against oth­er nations, includ­ing Iran, Nicaragua, South Africa, Libya, and Pana­ma. Then, in 1983, when Con­gress failed to renew a law autho­riz­ing the Com­merce Depart­ment to con­trol cer­tain exports, Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan declared a nation­al emer­gency in order to assume that con­trol under ieepa. Sub­se­quent pres­i­dents fol­lowed his exam­ple, trans­fer­ring export con­trol from Con­gress to the White House. Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton expand­ed ieepa’s usage by tar­get­ing not just for­eign gov­ern­ments but for­eign polit­i­cal par­ties, ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions, and sus­pect­ed nar­cotics traf­fick­ers.

    Pres­i­dent George W. Bush took mat­ters a giant step fur­ther after 9/11. His Exec­u­tive Order 13224 pro­hib­it­ed trans­ac­tions not just with any sus­pect­ed for­eign ter­ror­ists, but with any for­eign­er or any U.S. cit­i­zen sus­pect­ed of pro­vid­ing them with sup­port. Once a per­son is “des­ig­nat­ed” under the order, no Amer­i­can can legal­ly give him a job, rent him an apart­ment, pro­vide him with med­ical ser­vices, or even sell him a loaf of bread unless the gov­ern­ment grants a license to allow the trans­ac­tion. The patri­ot Act gave the order more mus­cle, allow­ing the gov­ern­ment to trig­ger these con­se­quences mere­ly by open­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into whether a per­son or group should be des­ig­nat­ed.

    Des­ig­na­tions under Exec­u­tive Order 13224 are opaque and extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to chal­lenge. The gov­ern­ment needs only a “rea­son­able basis” for believ­ing that some­one is involved with or sup­ports ter­ror­ism in order to des­ig­nate him. The tar­get is gen­er­al­ly giv­en no advance notice and no hear­ing. He may request recon­sid­er­a­tion and sub­mit evi­dence on his behalf, but the gov­ern­ment faces no dead­line to respond. More­over, the evi­dence against the tar­get is typ­i­cal­ly clas­si­fied, which means he is not allowed to see it. He can try to chal­lenge the action in court, but his chances of suc­cess are min­i­mal, as most judges defer to the government’s assess­ment of its own evi­dence.

    Amer­i­cans have occa­sion­al­ly been caught up in this Kafkaesque sys­tem. Sev­er­al Mus­lim char­i­ties in the U.S. were des­ig­nat­ed or inves­ti­gat­ed based on the sus­pi­cion that their char­i­ta­ble con­tri­bu­tions over­seas ben­e­fit­ed ter­ror­ists. Of course if the gov­ern­ment can show, through judi­cial pro­ceed­ings that observe due process and oth­er con­sti­tu­tion­al rights, that an Amer­i­can group or per­son is fund­ing ter­ror­ist activ­i­ty, it should be able to cut off those funds. But the gov­ern­ment shut these char­i­ties down by freez­ing their assets with­out ever hav­ing to prove its charges in court.

    In oth­er cas­es, Amer­i­cans were sig­nif­i­cant­ly harmed by des­ig­na­tions that lat­er proved to be mis­takes. For instance, two months after 9/11, the Trea­sury Depart­ment des­ig­nat­ed Garad Jama, a Soma­lian-born Amer­i­can, based on an erro­neous deter­mi­na­tion that his mon­ey-wiring busi­ness was part of a ter­ror-financ­ing net­work. Jama’s office was shut down and his bank account frozen. News out­lets described him as a sus­pect­ed ter­ror­ist. For months, Jama tried to gain a hear­ing with the gov­ern­ment to estab­lish his inno­cence and, in the mean­time, obtain the government’s per­mis­sion to get a job and pay his lawyer. Only after he filed a law­suit did the gov­ern­ment allow him to work as a gro­cery-store cashier and pay his liv­ing expens­es. It was sev­er­al more months before the gov­ern­ment reversed his des­ig­na­tion and unfroze his assets. By then he had lost his busi­ness, and the stig­ma of hav­ing been pub­licly labeled a ter­ror­ist sup­port­er con­tin­ued to fol­low him and his fam­i­ly.

    Despite these dra­mat­ic exam­ples, ieepa’s lim­its have yet to be ful­ly test­ed. After two courts ruled that the government’s actions against Amer­i­can char­i­ties were uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, Barack Obama’s admin­is­tra­tion chose not to appeal the deci­sions and large­ly refrained from fur­ther con­tro­ver­sial des­ig­na­tions of Amer­i­can orga­ni­za­tions and cit­i­zens. Thus far, Pres­i­dent Trump has fol­lowed the same approach.

    That could change. In Octo­ber, in the lead-up to the midterm elec­tions, Trump char­ac­ter­ized the car­a­van of Cen­tral Amer­i­can migrants head­ed toward the U.S. bor­der to seek asy­lum as a “Nation­al Emer­gency.” Although he did not issue an emer­gency procla­ma­tion, he could do so under ieepa. He could deter­mine that any Amer­i­can inside the U.S. who offers mate­r­i­al sup­port to the asy­lum seekers—or, for that mat­ter, to undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants inside the Unit­ed States—poses “an unusu­al and extra­or­di­nary threat” to nation­al secu­ri­ty, and autho­rize the Trea­sury Depart­ment to take action against them.

    Such a move would car­ry echoes of a law passed recent­ly in Hun­gary that crim­i­nal­ized the pro­vi­sion of finan­cial or legal ser­vices to undoc­u­ment­ed migrants; this has been dubbed the “Stop Soros” law, after the Hun­gar­i­an Amer­i­can phil­an­thropist George Soros, who funds migrants’-rights orga­ni­za­tions. Although an order issued under ieepa would not land tar­gets in jail, it could be imple­ment­ed with­out leg­is­la­tion and with­out afford­ing tar­gets a tri­al. In prac­tice, iden­ti­fy­ing every Amer­i­can who has hired, housed, or pro­vid­ed paid legal rep­re­sen­ta­tion to an asy­lum seek­er or undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grant would be impossible—but all Trump would need to do to achieve the desired polit­i­cal effect would be to make high-pro­file exam­ples of a few. Indi­vid­u­als tar­get­ed by the order could lose their jobs, and find their bank accounts frozen and their health insur­ance can­celed. The bat­tle in the courts would then pick up exact­ly where it left off dur­ing the Oba­ma administration—but with a new­ly recon­sti­tut­ed Supreme Court mak­ing the final call.

    4. BOOTS ON MAIN STREET

    The idea of tanks rolling through the streets of U.S. cities seems fun­da­men­tal­ly incon­sis­tent with the country’s notions of democ­ra­cy and free­dom. Amer­i­cans might be sur­prised, there­fore, to learn just how read­i­ly the pres­i­dent can deploy troops inside the coun­try.

    The prin­ci­ple that the mil­i­tary should not act as a domes­tic police force, known as “posse comi­ta­tus,” has deep roots in the nation’s his­to­ry, and it is often mis­tak­en for a con­sti­tu­tion­al rule. The Con­sti­tu­tion, how­ev­er, does not pro­hib­it mil­i­tary par­tic­i­pa­tion in police activ­i­ty. Nor does the Posse Comi­ta­tus Act of 1878 out­law such par­tic­i­pa­tion; it mere­ly states that any author­i­ty to use the mil­i­tary for law-enforce­ment pur­pos­es must derive from the Con­sti­tu­tion or from a statute.

    The Insur­rec­tion Act of 1807 pro­vides the nec­es­sary author­i­ty. As amend­ed over the years, it allows the pres­i­dent to deploy troops upon the request of a state’s gov­er­nor or leg­is­la­ture to help put down an insur­rec­tion with­in that state. It also allows the pres­i­dent to deploy troops uni­lat­er­al­ly, either because he deter­mines that rebel­lious activ­i­ty has made it “imprac­ti­ca­ble” to enforce fed­er­al law through reg­u­lar means, or because he deems it nec­es­sary to sup­press “insur­rec­tion, domes­tic vio­lence, unlaw­ful com­bi­na­tion, or con­spir­a­cy” (terms not defined in the statute) that hin­ders the rights of a class of peo­ple or “impedes the course of jus­tice.”

    Pres­i­dents have wield­ed the Insur­rec­tion Act under a range of cir­cum­stances. Dwight Eisen­how­er used it in 1957 when he sent troops into Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas, to enforce school deseg­re­ga­tion. George H. W. Bush employed it in 1992 to help stop the riots that erupt­ed in Los Ange­les after the ver­dict in the Rod­ney King case. George W. Bush con­sid­ered invok­ing it to help restore pub­lic order after Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na, but opt­ed against it when the gov­er­nor of Louisiana resist­ed fed­er­al con­trol over the state’s Nation­al Guard. While con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ed all these exam­ples, none sug­gests obvi­ous over­reach.

    And yet the poten­tial mis­us­es of the act are legion. When Chica­go expe­ri­enced a spike in homi­cides in 2017, Trump tweet­ed that the city must “fix the hor­ri­ble ‘car­nage’?” or he would “send in the Feds!” To car­ry out this threat, the pres­i­dent could declare a par­tic­u­lar street gang—say, MS-13—to be an “unlaw­ful com­bi­na­tion” and then send troops to the nation’s cities to police the streets. He could char­ac­ter­ize sanc­tu­ary cities—cities that refuse to pro­vide assis­tance to immi­gra­tion-enforce­ment officials—as “con­spir­a­cies” against fed­er­al author­i­ties, and order the mil­i­tary to enforce immi­gra­tion laws in those places. Con­jur­ing the specter of “lib­er­al mobs,” he could send troops to sup­press alleged riot­ing at the fringes of anti-Trump protests.

    How far could the pres­i­dent go in using the mil­i­tary with­in U.S. bor­ders? The Supreme Court has giv­en us no clear answer to this ques­tion. Take Ex parte Mil­li­gan, a famous rul­ing from 1866 inval­i­dat­ing the use of a mil­i­tary com­mis­sion to try a civil­ian dur­ing the Civ­il War. The case is wide­ly con­sid­ered a high-water mark for judi­cial con­straint on exec­u­tive action. Yet even as the Court held that the pres­i­dent could not use war or emer­gency as a rea­son to bypass civil­ian courts, it not­ed that mar­tial law—the dis­place­ment of civil­ian author­i­ty by the military—would be appro­pri­ate in some cas­es. If civil­ian courts were closed as a result of a for­eign inva­sion or a civ­il war, for exam­ple, mar­tial law could exist “until the laws can have their free course.” The mes­sage is decid­ed­ly mixed: Claims of emer­gency or neces­si­ty can­not legit­imize mar­tial law … until they can.

    Pre­sent­ed with this ambi­gu­i­ty, pres­i­dents have explored the out­er lim­its of their con­sti­tu­tion­al emer­gency author­i­ty in a series of direc­tives known as Pres­i­den­tial Emer­gency Action Doc­u­ments, or peads. peads, which orig­i­nat­ed as part of the Eisen­how­er administration’s plans to ensure con­ti­nu­ity of gov­ern­ment in the wake of a Sovi­et nuclear attack, are draft exec­u­tive orders, procla­ma­tions, and mes­sages to Con­gress that are pre­pared in advance of antic­i­pat­ed emer­gen­cies. peads are close­ly guard­ed with­in the gov­ern­ment; none has ever been pub­licly released or leaked. But their con­tents have occa­sion­al­ly been described in pub­lic sources, includ­ing FBI mem­o­ran­dums that were obtained through the Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act as well as agency man­u­als and court records. Accord­ing to these sources, peads draft­ed from the 1950s through the 1970s would autho­rize not only mar­tial law but the sus­pen­sion of habeas cor­pus by the exec­u­tive branch, the revo­ca­tion of Amer­i­cans’ pass­ports, and the roundup and deten­tion of “sub­ver­sives” iden­ti­fied in an FBI “Secu­ri­ty Index” that con­tained more than 10,000 names.

    Less is known about the con­tents of more recent peads and equiv­a­lent plan­ning doc­u­ments. But in 1987, The Mia­mi Her­ald report­ed that Lieu­tenant Colonel Oliv­er North had worked with the Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency to cre­ate a secret con­tin­gency plan autho­riz­ing “sus­pen­sion of the Con­sti­tu­tion, turn­ing con­trol of the Unit­ed States over to fema, appoint­ment of mil­i­tary com­man­ders to run state and local gov­ern­ments and dec­la­ra­tion of mar­tial law dur­ing a nation­al cri­sis.” A 2007 Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty report lists “mar­tial law” and “cur­few dec­la­ra­tions” as “crit­i­cal tasks” that local, state, and fed­er­al gov­ern­ment should be able to per­form in emer­gen­cies. In 2008, gov­ern­ment sources told a reporter for Radar mag­a­zine that a ver­sion of the Secu­ri­ty Index still exist­ed under the code name Main Core, allow­ing for the appre­hen­sion and deten­tion of Amer­i­cans tagged as secu­ri­ty threats.

    Since 2012, the Depart­ment of Jus­tice has been request­ing and receiv­ing funds from Con­gress to update sev­er­al dozen peads first devel­oped in 1989. The fund­ing requests con­tain no indi­ca­tion of what these peads encom­pass, or what stan­dards the depart­ment intends to apply in review­ing them. But what­ev­er the Oba­ma administration’s intent, the review has now passed to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. It will fall to Jeff Sessions’s suc­ces­sor as attor­ney gen­er­al to decide whether to rein in or expand some of the more fright­en­ing fea­tures of these peads. And, of course, it will be up to Pres­i­dent Trump whether to actu­al­ly use them—something no pre­vi­ous pres­i­dent appears to have done.

    5. KINDLING AN EMERGENCY

    What would the Founders think of these and oth­er emer­gency pow­ers on the books today, in the hands of a pres­i­dent like Don­ald Trump? In Youngstown, the case in which the Supreme Court blocked Pres­i­dent Truman’s attempt to seize the nation’s steel mills, Jus­tice Jack­son observed that broad emer­gency pow­ers were “some­thing the fore­fa­thers omit­ted” from the Con­sti­tu­tion. “They knew what emer­gen­cies were, knew the pres­sures they engen­der for author­i­ta­tive action, knew, too, how they afford a ready pre­text for usurpa­tion,” he wrote. “We may also sus­pect that they sus­pect­ed that emer­gency pow­ers would tend to kin­dle emer­gen­cies.”

    In the past sev­er­al decades, Con­gress has pro­vid­ed what the Con­sti­tu­tion did not: emer­gency pow­ers that have the poten­tial for cre­at­ing emer­gen­cies rather than end­ing them. Pres­i­dents have built on these pow­ers with their own secret direc­tives. What has pre­vent­ed the whole­sale abuse of these author­i­ties until now is a base­line com­mit­ment to lib­er­al democ­ra­cy on the part of past pres­i­dents. Under a pres­i­dent who doesn’t share that com­mit­ment, what might we see?

    Imag­ine that it’s late 2019. Trump’s approval rat­ings are at an all-time low. A dis­grun­tled for­mer employ­ee has leaked doc­u­ments show­ing that the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion was involved in ille­gal busi­ness deal­ings with Russ­ian oli­garchs. The trade war with Chi­na and oth­er coun­tries has tak­en a sig­nif­i­cant toll on the econ­o­my. Trump has been caught once again dis­clos­ing clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion to Russ­ian offi­cials, and his inter­na­tion­al gaffes are becom­ing impos­si­ble for law­mak­ers con­cerned about nation­al secu­ri­ty to ignore. A few of his Repub­li­can sup­port­ers in Con­gress begin to dis­tance them­selves from his admin­is­tra­tion. Sup­port for impeach­ment spreads on Capi­tol Hill. In straw polls pit­ting Trump against var­i­ous poten­tial Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, the Demo­c­rat con­sis­tent­ly wins.

    Trump reacts. Unfazed by his own brazen hypocrisy, he tweets that Iran is plan­ning a cyber oper­a­tion to inter­fere with the 2020 elec­tion. His nation­al-secu­ri­ty advis­er, John Bolton, claims to have seen iron­clad (but high­ly clas­si­fied) evi­dence of this planned assault on U.S. democ­ra­cy. Trump’s inflam­ma­to­ry tweets pro­voke pre­dictable saber rat­tling by Iran­ian lead­ers; he responds by threat­en­ing pre­emp­tive mil­i­tary strikes. Some Defense Depart­ment offi­cials have mis­giv­ings, but oth­ers have been wait­ing for such an oppor­tu­ni­ty. As Iran’s state­ments grow more war­like, “Ira­nopho­bia” takes hold among the Amer­i­can pub­lic.

    Pro­claim­ing a threat of war, Trump invokes Sec­tion 706 of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Act to assume gov­ern­ment con­trol over inter­net traf­fic inside the Unit­ed States, in order to pre­vent the spread of Iran­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion and pro­pa­gan­da. He also declares a nation­al emer­gency under ieepa, autho­riz­ing the Trea­sury Depart­ment to freeze the assets of any per­son or orga­ni­za­tion sus­pect­ed of sup­port­ing Iran’s activ­i­ties against the Unit­ed States. Wield­ing the author­i­ty con­ferred by these laws, the gov­ern­ment shuts down sev­er­al left-lean­ing web­sites and domes­tic civ­il-soci­ety orga­ni­za­tions, based on gov­ern­ment deter­mi­na­tions (clas­si­fied, of course) that they are sub­ject to Iran­ian influ­ence. These include web­sites and orga­ni­za­tions that are focused on get­ting out the vote.

    Law­suits fol­low. Sev­er­al judges issue orders declar­ing Trump’s actions uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, but a hand­ful of judges appoint­ed by the pres­i­dent side with the admin­is­tra­tion. On the eve of the elec­tion, the cas­es reach the Supreme Court. In a 5–4 opin­ion writ­ten by Jus­tice Brett Kavanaugh, the Court observes that the president’s pow­ers are at their zenith when he is using author­i­ty grant­ed by Con­gress to pro­tect nation­al secu­ri­ty. Set­ting new prece­dent, the Court holds that the First Amend­ment does not pro­tect Iran­ian pro­pa­gan­da and that the gov­ern­ment needs no war­rant to freeze Amer­i­cans’ assets if its goal is to mit­i­gate a for­eign threat.

    Protests erupt. On Twit­ter, Trump calls the pro­test­ers trai­tors and sug­gests (in cap­i­tal let­ters) that they could use a good beat­ing. When coun­ter­pro­test­ers oblige, Trump blames the orig­i­nal pro­test­ers for spark­ing the vio­lent con­fronta­tions and deploys the Insur­rec­tion Act to fed­er­al­ize the Nation­al Guard in sev­er­al states. Using the Pres­i­den­tial Alert sys­tem first test­ed in Octo­ber 2018, the pres­i­dent sends a text mes­sage to every American’s cell­phone, warn­ing that there is “a risk of vio­lence at polling sta­tions” and that “troops will be deployed as nec­es­sary” to keep order. Some mem­bers of oppo­si­tion groups are fright­ened into stay­ing home on Elec­tion Day; oth­er peo­ple sim­ply can’t find accu­rate infor­ma­tion online about vot­ing. With turnout at a his­tor­i­cal low, a pres­i­dent who was fac­ing impeach­ment just months ear­li­er hand­i­ly wins reelection—and marks his vic­to­ry by renew­ing the state of emer­gency.

    This sce­nario might sound extreme. But the mis­use of emer­gency pow­ers is a stan­dard gam­bit among lead­ers attempt­ing to con­sol­i­date pow­er. Author­i­tar­i­ans Trump has open­ly claimed to admire—including the Philip­pines’ Rodri­go Duterte and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan—have gone this route.

    Of course, Trump might also choose to act entire­ly out­side the law. Pres­i­dents with a far stronger com­mit­ment to the rule of law, includ­ing Lin­coln and Roo­sevelt, have done exact­ly that, albeit in response to real emer­gen­cies. But there is lit­tle that can be done in advance to stop this, oth­er than attempt­ing deter­rence through robust over­sight. The reme­dies for such behav­ior can come only after the fact, via court judg­ments, polit­i­cal blow­back at the vot­ing booth, or impeach­ment.

    ...

    ———-

    “What the Pres­i­dent Could Do If He Declares a State of Emer­gency” by Eliz­a­beth Goitein; The Atlantic; January/February 2019 Issue

    “But will they? Unknown to most Amer­i­cans, a par­al­lel legal regime allows the pres­i­dent to side­step many of the con­straints that nor­mal­ly apply. The moment the pres­i­dent declares a “nation­al emergency”—a deci­sion that is entire­ly with­in his discretion—more than 100 spe­cial pro­vi­sions become avail­able to him. While many of these tee up rea­son­able respons­es to gen­uine emer­gen­cies, some appear dan­ger­ous­ly suit­ed to a leader bent on amass­ing or retain­ing pow­er. For instance, the pres­i­dent can, with the flick of his pen, acti­vate laws allow­ing him to shut down many kinds of elec­tron­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tions inside the Unit­ed States or freeze Amer­i­cans’ bank accounts. Oth­er pow­ers are avail­able even with­out a dec­la­ra­tion of emer­gency, includ­ing laws that allow the pres­i­dent to deploy troops inside the coun­try to sub­due domes­tic unrest.”

    Yep, there’s a rel­a­tive­ly unknown par­al­lel legal regime that grants pres­i­dents extra pow­ers and the mag­ic words to get that regime start­ed are “nation­al emer­gency”. This par­al­lel regime isn’t spelled out in the con­sti­tu­tion. And what emer­gency pow­ers are declared in the con­sti­tu­tion are left to Con­gress. But that has­n’t pre­vent pre­vent­ed some legal schol­ars and past pres­i­dents from assert­ing that there are inher­ent con­sti­tu­tion­al pow­ers dur­ing times of emer­gency and, for the most part, the Supreme Court has sup­port­ed those emer­gency pow­ers when pres­i­dents declared and used them:

    ...
    1. “A LOADED WEAPON”

    The premise under­ly­ing emer­gency pow­ers is sim­ple: The government’s ordi­nary pow­ers might be insuf­fi­cient in a cri­sis, and amend­ing the law to pro­vide greater ones might be too slow and cum­ber­some. Emer­gency pow­ers are meant to give the gov­ern­ment a tem­po­rary boost until the emer­gency pass­es or there is time to change the law through nor­mal leg­isla­tive process­es.

    Unlike the mod­ern con­sti­tu­tions of many oth­er coun­tries, which spec­i­fy when and how a state of emer­gency may be declared and which rights may be sus­pend­ed, the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion itself includes no com­pre­hen­sive sep­a­rate regime for emer­gen­cies. Those few pow­ers it does con­tain for deal­ing with cer­tain urgent threats, it assigns to Con­gress, not the pres­i­dent. For instance, it lets Con­gress sus­pend the writ of habeas corpus—that is, allow gov­ern­ment offi­cials to imprison peo­ple with­out judi­cial review—“when in Cas­es of Rebel­lion or Inva­sion the pub­lic Safe­ty may require it” and “pro­vide for call­ing forth the Mili­tia to exe­cute the Laws of the Union, sup­press Insur­rec­tions and repel Inva­sions.”

    Nonethe­less, some legal schol­ars believe that the Con­sti­tu­tion gives the pres­i­dent inher­ent emer­gency pow­ers by mak­ing him com­man­der in chief of the armed forces, or by vest­ing in him a broad, unde­fined “exec­u­tive Pow­er.” At key points in Amer­i­can his­to­ry, pres­i­dents have cit­ed inher­ent con­sti­tu­tion­al pow­ers when tak­ing dras­tic actions that were not authorized—or, in some cas­es, were explic­it­ly prohibited—by Con­gress. Noto­ri­ous exam­ples include Franklin D. Roosevelt’s intern­ment of U.S. cit­i­zens and res­i­dents of Japan­ese descent dur­ing World War II and George W. Bush’s pro­grams of war­rant­less wire­tap­ping and tor­ture after the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks. Abra­ham Lin­coln con­ced­ed that his uni­lat­er­al sus­pen­sion of habeas cor­pus dur­ing the Civ­il War was con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly ques­tion­able, but defend­ed it as nec­es­sary to pre­serve the Union.

    The Supreme Court has often upheld such actions or found ways to avoid review­ing them, at least while the cri­sis was in progress. Rul­ings such as Youngstown Sheet & Tube Com­pa­ny v. Sawyer, in which the Court inval­i­dat­ed Pres­i­dent Har­ry Truman’s bid to take over steel mills dur­ing the Kore­an War, have been the excep­tion. And while those excep­tions have out­lined impor­tant lim­it­ing prin­ci­ples, the out­er bound­ary of the president’s con­sti­tu­tion­al author­i­ty dur­ing emer­gen­cies remains poor­ly defined.
    ...

    And it’s not like the emer­gency pow­ers auto­mat­i­cal­ly go away when the emer­gency ends. As a result, thir­ty states of emer­gency are in effect today and Con­gress has done next to noth­ing to address this:

    ...
    Pres­i­dents can also rely on a cor­nu­copia of pow­ers pro­vid­ed by Con­gress, which has his­tor­i­cal­ly been the prin­ci­pal source of emer­gency author­i­ty for the exec­u­tive branch. Through­out the late 18th and 19th cen­turies, Con­gress passed laws to give the pres­i­dent addi­tion­al lee­way dur­ing mil­i­tary, eco­nom­ic, and labor crises. A more for­mal­ized approach evolved in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, when Con­gress leg­is­lat­ed pow­ers that would lie dor­mant until the pres­i­dent acti­vat­ed them by declar­ing a nation­al emer­gency. These statu­to­ry author­i­ties began to pile up—and because pres­i­dents had lit­tle incen­tive to ter­mi­nate states of emer­gency once declared, these piled up too. By the 1970s, hun­dreds of statu­to­ry emer­gency pow­ers, and four clear­ly obso­lete states of emer­gency, were in effect. For instance, the nation­al emer­gency that Tru­man declared in 1950, dur­ing the Kore­an War, remained in place and was being used to help pros­e­cute the war in Viet­nam.

    Aim­ing to rein in this pro­lif­er­a­tion, Con­gress passed the Nation­al Emer­gen­cies Act in 1976. Under this law, the pres­i­dent still has com­plete dis­cre­tion to issue an emer­gency declaration—but he must spec­i­fy in the dec­la­ra­tion which pow­ers he intends to use, issue pub­lic updates if he decides to invoke addi­tion­al pow­ers, and report to Con­gress on the government’s emer­gency-relat­ed expen­di­tures every six months. The state of emer­gency expires after a year unless the pres­i­dent renews it, and the Sen­ate and the House must meet every six months while the emer­gency is in effect “to con­sid­er a vote” on ter­mi­na­tion.

    By any objec­tive mea­sure, the law has failed. Thir­ty states of emer­gency are in effect today—several times more than when the act was passed. Most have been renewed for years on end. And dur­ing the 40 years the law has been in place, Con­gress has not met even once, let alone every six months, to vote on whether to end them.

    As a result, the pres­i­dent has access to emer­gency pow­ers con­tained in 123 statu­to­ry pro­vi­sions, as recent­ly cal­cu­lat­ed by the Bren­nan Cen­ter for Jus­tice at NYU School of Law, where I work. These laws address a broad range of mat­ters, from mil­i­tary com­po­si­tion to agri­cul­tur­al exports to pub­lic con­tracts. For the most part, the pres­i­dent is free to use any of them; the Nation­al Emer­gen­cies Act doesn’t require that the pow­ers invoked relate to the nature of the emer­gency. Even if the cri­sis at hand is, say, a nation­wide crop blight, the pres­i­dent may acti­vate the law that allows the sec­re­tary of trans­porta­tion to req­ui­si­tion any pri­vate­ly owned ves­sel at sea. Many oth­er laws per­mit the exec­u­tive branch to take extra­or­di­nary action under spec­i­fied con­di­tions, such as war and domes­tic upheaval, regard­less of whether a nation­al emer­gency has been declared.
    ...

    So not only does Trump have the abil­i­ty to declare a nation­al emer­gency, he’s got enor­mous prece­dent. Except, of course, the ’emer­gency’ in this case is a fake cri­sis aggres­sive­ly pro­mot­ed by the right-wing dis­in­fo­tain­ment com­plex. But as long as Trump can get away with declar­ing a fan­ta­sy emer­gency a real emer­gency, he’s going to have a whole lega­cy of emer­gency pow­ers prece­dents to work with. That includes the pow­ers Con­gress grant­ed pres­i­dents in 1942 to allow the pres­i­dent to shut­down or take con­trol of wire com­mu­ni­ca­tions facil­i­ties. And today that means Trump could basi­cal­ly take over the inter­net and selec­tive­ly cen­sor what­ev­er con­tent he wants, at least in Amer­i­ca:

    ...
    2. AN INTERNET KILL SWITCH?

    ...

    One pow­er pos­es a sin­gu­lar threat to democ­ra­cy in the dig­i­tal era. In 1942, Con­gress amend­ed Sec­tion 706 of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Act of 1934 to allow the pres­i­dent to shut down or take con­trol of “any facil­i­ty or sta­tion for wire com­mu­ni­ca­tion” upon his procla­ma­tion “that there exists a state or threat of war involv­ing the Unit­ed States,” res­ur­rect­ing a sim­i­lar pow­er Con­gress had briefly pro­vid­ed Woodrow Wil­son dur­ing World War I. At the time, “wire com­mu­ni­ca­tion” meant tele­phone calls or telegrams. Giv­en the rel­a­tive­ly mod­est role that elec­tron­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tions played in most Amer­i­cans’ lives, the government’s asser­tion of this pow­er dur­ing World War II (no pres­i­dent has used it since) like­ly cre­at­ed incon­ve­nience but not hav­oc.

    We live in a dif­fer­ent uni­verse today. Although inter­pret­ing a 1942 law to cov­er the inter­net might seem far-fetched, some gov­ern­ment offi­cials recent­ly endorsed this read­ing dur­ing debates about cyber­se­cu­ri­ty leg­is­la­tion. Under this inter­pre­ta­tion, Sec­tion 706 could effec­tive­ly func­tion as a “kill switch” in the U.S.—one that would be avail­able to the pres­i­dent the moment he pro­claimed a mere threat of war. It could also give the pres­i­dent pow­er to assume con­trol over U.S. inter­net traf­fic.

    The poten­tial impact of such a move can hard­ly be over­stat­ed. In August, in an ear­ly-morn­ing tweet, Trump lament­ed that search engines were “RIGGED” to serve up neg­a­tive arti­cles about him. Lat­er that day the admin­is­tra­tion said it was look­ing into reg­u­lat­ing the big inter­net com­pa­nies. “I think that Google and Twit­ter and Face­book, they’re real­ly tread­ing on very, very trou­bled ter­ri­to­ry. And they have to be care­ful,” Trump warned. If the gov­ern­ment were to take con­trol of U.S. inter­net infra­struc­ture, Trump could accom­plish direct­ly what he threat­ened to do by reg­u­la­tion: ensure that inter­net search­es always return pro-Trump con­tent as the top results. The gov­ern­ment also would have the abil­i­ty to impede domes­tic access to par­tic­u­lar web­sites, includ­ing social-media plat­forms. It could mon­i­tor emails or pre­vent them from reach­ing their des­ti­na­tion. It could exert con­trol over com­put­er sys­tems (such as states’ vot­er data­bas­es) and phys­i­cal devices (such as Amazon’s Echo speak­ers) that are con­nect­ed to the inter­net.
    ...

    Then there’s the eco­nom­ic emer­gency pow­ers he’ll have as a result of the Inter­na­tion­al Emer­gency Eco­nom­ic Pow­ers Act of 1977 com­bined with George W. Bush’s Exec­u­tive Order 13224. With these pow­ers, Trump could lit­er­al­ly sanc­tion indi­vid­ual Amer­i­can cit­i­zens he deems to be pro­vid­ing sup­port for what­ev­er is caus­ing the emer­gency. So, for instance, if he declared some future car­a­van of asy­lum seek­ers an emer­gency, he could sanc­tion any­one offer­ing help to those asy­lum seek­ers. The immi­grants rights com­mu­ni­ty could be destroyed:

    ...
    3. SANCTIONING AMERICANS

    Next to war pow­ers, eco­nom­ic pow­ers might sound benign, but they are among the president’s most potent legal weapons. All but two of the emer­gency dec­la­ra­tions in effect today were issued under the Inter­na­tion­al Emer­gency Eco­nom­ic Pow­ers Act, or ieepa. Passed in 1977, the law allows the pres­i­dent to declare a nation­al emer­gency “to deal with any unusu­al and extra­or­di­nary threat”—to nation­al secu­ri­ty, for­eign pol­i­cy, or the economy—that “has its source in whole or sub­stan­tial part out­side the Unit­ed States.” The pres­i­dent can then order a range of eco­nom­ic actions to address the threat, includ­ing freez­ing assets and block­ing finan­cial trans­ac­tions in which any for­eign nation or for­eign nation­al has an inter­est.

    In the late 1970s and ’80s, pres­i­dents used the law pri­mar­i­ly to impose sanc­tions against oth­er nations, includ­ing Iran, Nicaragua, South Africa, Libya, and Pana­ma. Then, in 1983, when Con­gress failed to renew a law autho­riz­ing the Com­merce Depart­ment to con­trol cer­tain exports, Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan declared a nation­al emer­gency in order to assume that con­trol under ieepa. Sub­se­quent pres­i­dents fol­lowed his exam­ple, trans­fer­ring export con­trol from Con­gress to the White House. Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton expand­ed ieepa’s usage by tar­get­ing not just for­eign gov­ern­ments but for­eign polit­i­cal par­ties, ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions, and sus­pect­ed nar­cotics traf­fick­ers.

    Pres­i­dent George W. Bush took mat­ters a giant step fur­ther after 9/11. His Exec­u­tive Order 13224 pro­hib­it­ed trans­ac­tions not just with any sus­pect­ed for­eign ter­ror­ists, but with any for­eign­er or any U.S. cit­i­zen sus­pect­ed of pro­vid­ing them with sup­port. Once a per­son is “des­ig­nat­ed” under the order, no Amer­i­can can legal­ly give him a job, rent him an apart­ment, pro­vide him with med­ical ser­vices, or even sell him a loaf of bread unless the gov­ern­ment grants a license to allow the trans­ac­tion. The patri­ot Act gave the order more mus­cle, allow­ing the gov­ern­ment to trig­ger these con­se­quences mere­ly by open­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into whether a per­son or group should be des­ig­nat­ed.

    Des­ig­na­tions under Exec­u­tive Order 13224 are opaque and extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to chal­lenge. The gov­ern­ment needs only a “rea­son­able basis” for believ­ing that some­one is involved with or sup­ports ter­ror­ism in order to des­ig­nate him. The tar­get is gen­er­al­ly giv­en no advance notice and no hear­ing. He may request recon­sid­er­a­tion and sub­mit evi­dence on his behalf, but the gov­ern­ment faces no dead­line to respond. More­over, the evi­dence against the tar­get is typ­i­cal­ly clas­si­fied, which means he is not allowed to see it. He can try to chal­lenge the action in court, but his chances of suc­cess are min­i­mal, as most judges defer to the government’s assess­ment of its own evi­dence.

    ...

    Despite these dra­mat­ic exam­ples, ieepa’s lim­its have yet to be ful­ly test­ed. After two courts ruled that the government’s actions against Amer­i­can char­i­ties were uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, Barack Obama’s admin­is­tra­tion chose not to appeal the deci­sions and large­ly refrained from fur­ther con­tro­ver­sial des­ig­na­tions of Amer­i­can orga­ni­za­tions and cit­i­zens. Thus far, Pres­i­dent Trump has fol­lowed the same approach.

    That could change. In Octo­ber, in the lead-up to the midterm elec­tions, Trump char­ac­ter­ized the car­a­van of Cen­tral Amer­i­can migrants head­ed toward the U.S. bor­der to seek asy­lum as a “Nation­al Emer­gency.” Although he did not issue an emer­gency procla­ma­tion, he could do so under ieepa. He could deter­mine that any Amer­i­can inside the U.S. who offers mate­r­i­al sup­port to the asy­lum seekers—or, for that mat­ter, to undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants inside the Unit­ed States—poses “an unusu­al and extra­or­di­nary threat” to nation­al secu­ri­ty, and autho­rize the Trea­sury Depart­ment to take action against them.

    Such a move would car­ry echoes of a law passed recent­ly in Hun­gary that crim­i­nal­ized the pro­vi­sion of finan­cial or legal ser­vices to undoc­u­ment­ed migrants; this has been dubbed the “Stop Soros” law, after the Hun­gar­i­an Amer­i­can phil­an­thropist George Soros, who funds migrants’-rights orga­ni­za­tions. Although an order issued under ieepa would not land tar­gets in jail, it could be imple­ment­ed with­out leg­is­la­tion and with­out afford­ing tar­gets a tri­al. In prac­tice, iden­ti­fy­ing every Amer­i­can who has hired, housed, or pro­vid­ed paid legal rep­re­sen­ta­tion to an asy­lum seek­er or undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grant would be impossible—but all Trump would need to do to achieve the desired polit­i­cal effect would be to make high-pro­file exam­ples of a few. Indi­vid­u­als tar­get­ed by the order could lose their jobs, and find their bank accounts frozen and their health insur­ance can­celed. The bat­tle in the courts would then pick up exact­ly where it left off dur­ing the Oba­ma administration—but with a new­ly recon­sti­tut­ed Supreme Court mak­ing the final call.
    ...

    Then there’s the pos­si­bil­i­ty of Trump sim­ply send­ing troops to engage in domes­tic police actions. That should be help­ful for deal­ing with any protests:

    ...
    4. BOOTS ON MAIN STREET

    The idea of tanks rolling through the streets of U.S. cities seems fun­da­men­tal­ly incon­sis­tent with the country’s notions of democ­ra­cy and free­dom. Amer­i­cans might be sur­prised, there­fore, to learn just how read­i­ly the pres­i­dent can deploy troops inside the coun­try.

    The prin­ci­ple that the mil­i­tary should not act as a domes­tic police force, known as “posse comi­ta­tus,” has deep roots in the nation’s his­to­ry, and it is often mis­tak­en for a con­sti­tu­tion­al rule. The Con­sti­tu­tion, how­ev­er, does not pro­hib­it mil­i­tary par­tic­i­pa­tion in police activ­i­ty. Nor does the Posse Comi­ta­tus Act of 1878 out­law such par­tic­i­pa­tion; it mere­ly states that any author­i­ty to use the mil­i­tary for law-enforce­ment pur­pos­es must derive from the Con­sti­tu­tion or from a statute.

    The Insur­rec­tion Act of 1807 pro­vides the nec­es­sary author­i­ty. As amend­ed over the years, it allows the pres­i­dent to deploy troops upon the request of a state’s gov­er­nor or leg­is­la­ture to help put down an insur­rec­tion with­in that state. It also allows the pres­i­dent to deploy troops uni­lat­er­al­ly, either because he deter­mines that rebel­lious activ­i­ty has made it “imprac­ti­ca­ble” to enforce fed­er­al law through reg­u­lar means, or because he deems it nec­es­sary to sup­press “insur­rec­tion, domes­tic vio­lence, unlaw­ful com­bi­na­tion, or con­spir­a­cy” (terms not defined in the statute) that hin­ders the rights of a class of peo­ple or “impedes the course of jus­tice.”

    Pres­i­dents have wield­ed the Insur­rec­tion Act under a range of cir­cum­stances. Dwight Eisen­how­er used it in 1957 when he sent troops into Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas, to enforce school deseg­re­ga­tion. George H. W. Bush employed it in 1992 to help stop the riots that erupt­ed in Los Ange­les after the ver­dict in the Rod­ney King case. George W. Bush con­sid­ered invok­ing it to help restore pub­lic order after Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na, but opt­ed against it when the gov­er­nor of Louisiana resist­ed fed­er­al con­trol over the state’s Nation­al Guard. While con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ed all these exam­ples, none sug­gests obvi­ous over­reach.

    And yet the poten­tial mis­us­es of the act are legion. When Chica­go expe­ri­enced a spike in homi­cides in 2017, Trump tweet­ed that the city must “fix the hor­ri­ble ‘car­nage’?” or he would “send in the Feds!” To car­ry out this threat, the pres­i­dent could declare a par­tic­u­lar street gang—say, MS-13—to be an “unlaw­ful com­bi­na­tion” and then send troops to the nation’s cities to police the streets. He could char­ac­ter­ize sanc­tu­ary cities—cities that refuse to pro­vide assis­tance to immi­gra­tion-enforce­ment officials—as “con­spir­a­cies” against fed­er­al author­i­ties, and order the mil­i­tary to enforce immi­gra­tion laws in those places. Con­jur­ing the specter of “lib­er­al mobs,” he could send troops to sup­press alleged riot­ing at the fringes of anti-Trump protests.
    ...

    And as was revealed back in 1987, Oliv­er North worked with FEMA to set of a secret con­tin­gency plan autho­riz­ing “sus­pen­sion of the Con­sti­tu­tion, turn­ing con­trol of the Unit­ed States over to fema, appoint­ment of mil­i­tary com­man­ders to run state and local gov­ern­ments and dec­la­ra­tion of mar­tial law dur­ing a nation­al cri­sis”:

    ...
    How far could the pres­i­dent go in using the mil­i­tary with­in U.S. bor­ders? The Supreme Court has giv­en us no clear answer to this ques­tion. Take Ex parte Mil­li­gan, a famous rul­ing from 1866 inval­i­dat­ing the use of a mil­i­tary com­mis­sion to try a civil­ian dur­ing the Civ­il War. The case is wide­ly con­sid­ered a high-water mark for judi­cial con­straint on exec­u­tive action. Yet even as the Court held that the pres­i­dent could not use war or emer­gency as a rea­son to bypass civil­ian courts, it not­ed that mar­tial law—the dis­place­ment of civil­ian author­i­ty by the military—would be appro­pri­ate in some cas­es. If civil­ian courts were closed as a result of a for­eign inva­sion or a civ­il war, for exam­ple, mar­tial law could exist “until the laws can have their free course.” The mes­sage is decid­ed­ly mixed: Claims of emer­gency or neces­si­ty can­not legit­imize mar­tial law … until they can.

    Pre­sent­ed with this ambi­gu­i­ty, pres­i­dents have explored the out­er lim­its of their con­sti­tu­tion­al emer­gency author­i­ty in a series of direc­tives known as Pres­i­den­tial Emer­gency Action Doc­u­ments, or peads. peads, which orig­i­nat­ed as part of the Eisen­how­er administration’s plans to ensure con­ti­nu­ity of gov­ern­ment in the wake of a Sovi­et nuclear attack, are draft exec­u­tive orders, procla­ma­tions, and mes­sages to Con­gress that are pre­pared in advance of antic­i­pat­ed emer­gen­cies. peads are close­ly guard­ed with­in the gov­ern­ment; none has ever been pub­licly released or leaked. But their con­tents have occa­sion­al­ly been described in pub­lic sources, includ­ing FBI mem­o­ran­dums that were obtained through the Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act as well as agency man­u­als and court records. Accord­ing to these sources, peads draft­ed from the 1950s through the 1970s would autho­rize not only mar­tial law but the sus­pen­sion of habeas cor­pus by the exec­u­tive branch, the revo­ca­tion of Amer­i­cans’ pass­ports, and the roundup and deten­tion of “sub­ver­sives” iden­ti­fied in an FBI “Secu­ri­ty Index” that con­tained more than 10,000 names.

    Less is known about the con­tents of more recent peads and equiv­a­lent plan­ning doc­u­ments. But in 1987, The Mia­mi Her­ald report­ed that Lieu­tenant Colonel Oliv­er North had worked with the Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency to cre­ate a secret con­tin­gency plan autho­riz­ing “sus­pen­sion of the Con­sti­tu­tion, turn­ing con­trol of the Unit­ed States over to fema, appoint­ment of mil­i­tary com­man­ders to run state and local gov­ern­ments and dec­la­ra­tion of mar­tial law dur­ing a nation­al cri­sis.” A 2007 Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty report lists “mar­tial law” and “cur­few dec­la­ra­tions” as “crit­i­cal tasks” that local, state, and fed­er­al gov­ern­ment should be able to per­form in emer­gen­cies. In 2008, gov­ern­ment sources told a reporter for Radar mag­a­zine that a ver­sion of the Secu­ri­ty Index still exist­ed under the code name Main Core, allow­ing for the appre­hen­sion and deten­tion of Amer­i­cans tagged as secu­ri­ty threats.

    Since 2012, the Depart­ment of Jus­tice has been request­ing and receiv­ing funds from Con­gress to update sev­er­al dozen peads first devel­oped in 1989. The fund­ing requests con­tain no indi­ca­tion of what these peads encom­pass, or what stan­dards the depart­ment intends to apply in review­ing them. But what­ev­er the Oba­ma administration’s intent, the review has now passed to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. It will fall to Jeff Sessions’s suc­ces­sor as attor­ney gen­er­al to decide whether to rein in or expand some of the more fright­en­ing fea­tures of these peads. And, of course, it will be up to Pres­i­dent Trump whether to actu­al­ly use them—something no pre­vi­ous pres­i­dent appears to have done.
    ...

    This plan by Oliv­er North is the infa­mous “Rex 84” scheme. Recall how Rex 84 was cre­at­ed with the idea of the mass intern­ment of black Amer­i­cans — under the assump­tion of mass civ­il upris­ing by black mil­i­tants — and one of the key fea­tures of the scheme was the dep­u­ti­za­tion of right-wing para­mil­i­taries to main­tain order. Might the Trump team have some sort of Rex 84 Redux in mind? Spark mass protests in the Lati­no and immi­grant rights com­mu­ni­ties and fol­low that up with mass arrests and incar­cer­a­tions? Per­haps with the help of dep­u­tized groups like the Oath Keep­ers to keep the pro­tes­tors in line? It’s a grim thought, but one of the key lessons we’re learn­ing over and over in the Trump era is the grim plau­si­bil­i­ty of the pre­vi­ous­ly unthink­able.

    And that’s per­haps the most chill­ing aspect of this look back at the his­to­ry of exec­u­tive pow­ers and nation­al emer­gen­cies: Trump will clear­ly enjoy draw­ing upon a wide array of the emer­gency pow­ers grant­ed to him by Amer­i­ca’s grow­ing lega­cy of exec­u­tive emer­gency pow­ers. But of all the exam­ples of pre­vi­ous nation­al emer­gency pow­ers, the grimmest, Rex 84, is clear­ly the most ‘Trumpian’ in nature. And while US isn’t at the point yet where mass upris­ings could be used to impose a Rex 84-inspired mass crack­down, a great way to get to that point is the dec­la­ra­tion of a bla­tant­ly fake nation­al emer­gency about a bla­tant­ly fake bor­der cri­sis.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 8, 2019, 4:12 pm
  13. Nazi trolls are going to troll. It’s one of the unavoid­able parts of the New Nor­mal of the inter­net age. But as Adam Ser­w­er reminds us in a new piece in The Atlantic dis­cussing the abun­dant overt trolling in the man­i­festo of neo-Nazi killer Bren­ton Tar­rant, the Nazis were always trolls going back to the begin­ning of the move­ment in the ear­ly 1920’s. Trolling was a cru­cial polit­i­cal weapon. This is in part because trolling gave their vio­lent exter­mi­na­tion­ist rhetoric an air of plau­si­ble deni­a­bil­i­ty. But it was also a way of express­ing a con­tempt for the pre­vail­ing lib­er­al order. As Ser­w­er puts it, “the insin­cer­i­ty itself was a moral act, an expres­sion of con­tempt for the weak.” In oth­er words, trolling is a means towards the ends of over­turn­ing the pre­vail­ing moral order.

    It’s worth not­ing how this relates to the slo­gan ‘Me ne frego’ (“I don’t care”) used by Ital­ian fas­cists that was echoed by Mela­nia Trump’s dis­turb­ing “I don’t real­ly care, do you?” jack­et that she wore in pub­lic while trav­el­ing to a vis­it to the immi­grant child deten­tion cen­ters. While the slo­gan may have start­ed off as an embrace of a will­ing­ness to die in bat­tle, it went on to sym­bol­ize a kind of moral autoc­ra­cy and the rejec­tion of the soci­ety’s con­cepts of moral­i­ty. It was lit­er­al­ly a slo­gan stat­ing ‘I don’t care about your con­cepts of right and wrong’ as the fas­cists took over Italy. And that was the slo­gan in large let­ters on Mela­ni­a’s jack­et as she took a high-pro­file trip to the vis­it the cen­ters for large num­bers of undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grant chil­dren who were sep­a­rat­ed from their par­ents and held in prison-like con­di­tions. So it was a chill­ing­ly apt use of a slo­gan that has come to sym­bol­ize a rejec­tion of lib­er­al moral­i­ty.

    As Ser­w­er notes, part of the appeal of trolling for the orig­i­nal Nazis is that lib­er­al soci­ety, which is gen­er­al­ly pred­i­cat­ed on the pre­tense of an open debate of ideas, is sim­ply ill-equipped to deal with trolls. How does one engage in a debate or sim­ply assess some­one who shrouds their extrem­ist beliefs with an “I’m just jok­ing about these calls for mass mur­der (Or am I?)” wink and nod pati­na. It was a chal­lenge soci­eties utter­ly failed to address dur­ing the rise of the fas­cists and Nazis in the 1920’s and 30’s and they are doing it again today:

    The Atlantic

    Nazis Have Always Been Trolls

    They rely on mur­der­ous insin­cer­i­ty and the unwill­ing­ness of lib­er­al soci­eties to see them for what they are.

    Mar 21, 2019
    Adam Ser­w­er
    Staff writer at The Atlantic

    The cow­ard who gunned down 49 Mus­lim wor­ship­pers in New Zealand left behind a white-nation­al­ist screed ratio­nal­iz­ing his mass mur­der as a nec­es­sary act to pre­serve the white race.

    The man­i­festo is strik­ing for its trolling—its com­bi­na­tion of fanati­cism, insin­cer­i­ty, and attempts at irony. The killer was par­tic­u­lar­ly obsessed with the idea of “white geno­cide,” a term that does not actu­al­ly refer to mass mur­der, eth­nic cleans­ing, or even vio­lence, but to the loss of polit­i­cal and cul­tur­al hege­mo­ny in coun­tries that white suprema­cists think should belong to white peo­ple by law. The the­o­ry of white pop­u­la­tion decline is innu­mer­ate non­sense; as The New York­er’s Jelani Cobb writes, the con­spir­a­cy is a kind of pro­jec­tion, a para­noia that the past geno­cide, colo­nial­ism, and eth­nic cleans­ing forced on the West’s for­mer sub­jects will be vis­it­ed upon it.

    Although the man­i­festo itself was writ­ten in the dis­tinc­tive ver­nac­u­lar of the far-right inter­net, there is noth­ing new about white suprema­cists trolling. The Nazis were ded­i­cat­ed trolls who weaponized their insin­cer­i­ty to take advan­tage of lib­er­al soci­eties ill-equipped to con­front them. This was not done just for polit­i­cal advantage—rather, the insin­cer­i­ty itself was a moral act, an expres­sion of con­tempt for the weak.

    The orig­i­nal Nazis were open about their inten­tions, but their strate­gic insin­cer­i­ty cre­at­ed a fog of doubt that allowed observers to avoid the obvi­ous. In 1922, The New York Times infa­mous­ly declared that many believed “Hitler’s anti-Semi­tism was not so gen­uine or vio­lent as it sound­ed, and that he was mere­ly using anti-Semit­ic pro­pa­gan­da as a bait to catch mass­es of fol­low­ers and keep them aroused, enthu­si­as­tic, and in line for the time when his orga­ni­za­tion is per­fect­ed and suf­fi­cient­ly pow­er­ful to be employed effec­tive­ly for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es.” In 1930, even after the Nazis had become the sec­ond-largest par­ty in the Ger­man leg­is­la­ture, the Times assured its read­ers that “there is no present basis for assum­ing that the Nazis will attempt to make anti-Semi­tism a mil­i­tant issue in their leg­isla­tive pro­gram.”

    Many of the ide­o­log­i­cal descen­dants of the Third Reich have raised the ban­ners of lib­er­al prin­ci­ples in their defense. They say they are defend­ing free speech, or due process, or democracy—but their only pur­pose is to emp­ty these con­cepts of mean­ing, to make them as con­temptible to their ide­o­log­i­cal oppo­nents as they are to them. In this, too, they resem­ble their ide­o­log­i­cal fore­bears.

    As Han­nah Arendt wrote in The Ori­gins of Total­i­tar­i­an­ism, Nazi sup­port­ers were “sat­is­fied with blind par­ti­san­ship in any­thing that respectable soci­ety had banned, regard­less of the­o­ry or con­tent, and they ele­vat­ed cru­el­ty to a major virtue because it con­tra­dict­ed society’s human­i­tar­i­an and lib­er­al hypocrisy.” A hor­ri­fied reac­tion to such expres­sions of cru­el­ty mere­ly affirms the impor­tance of being cru­el. “Vul­gar­i­ty, with its cyn­i­cal dis­missal of respect­ed stan­dards and accept­ed the­o­ries, car­ried with it a frank admis­sion of the worst and a dis­re­gard for all pre­tens­es which were eas­i­ly mis­tak­en for courage and a new style of life,” she wrote.

    The ideas in the shooter’s screed are placed beyond argu­ment, pre­sent­ed as expres­sions of iron laws of nature. Such writ­ings intend to bait the earnest into mak­ing fools of them­selves. Both race itself and white­ness by exten­sion are bio­log­i­cal fic­tions made real only by society’s embrace of both con­cepts; the pseu­do­science con­coct­ed to jus­ti­fy such def­i­n­i­tions changes with polit­i­cal neces­si­ty. The shooter’s def­i­n­i­tion of who counts as white would not have applied 100 years ago, but white suprema­cy is a nos­tal­gic ide­ol­o­gy, one that looks at the past not for wis­dom or knowl­edge, but for fairy tales of pris­tine white soci­eties that nev­er exist­ed.

    “Nev­er believe that anti-Semi­tes are com­plete­ly unaware of the absur­di­ty of their replies. They know that their remarks are friv­o­lous, open to chal­lenge. But they are amus­ing them­selves, for it is their adver­sary who is oblig­ed to use words respon­si­bly, since he believes in words,” wrote Jean-Paul Sartre in his 1946 essay “Anti-Semi­te and Jew.” “The anti-Semi­tes have the right to play. They even like to play with dis­course for, by giv­ing ridicu­lous rea­sons, they dis­cred­it the seri­ous­ness of their inter­locu­tors.”

    The crimes of the Nazis have, for some, obscured the extent to which they relied on mur­der­ous insin­cer­i­ty and the unwill­ing­ness of lib­er­al soci­eties to see the Nazis plain­ly for what they were. In the 1930s, falling for this ploy might have been under­stand­able; with the hind­sight of his­to­ry, it is incom­pre­hen­si­ble that many con­tin­ue to do so. But it is impor­tant to under­stand that weaponized insin­cer­i­ty was an essen­tial ele­ment of fas­cism from the very begin­ning.

    ...

    Ulti­mate­ly, as with the New Zealand shoot­er, every joke, every pithy ref­er­ence, every pre­tend ges­ture toward the moral stan­dards of lib­er­al democ­ra­cy has the same punch line: We are going to kill you. There is noth­ing more pro­found to unearth from their ideas, or from them.

    ———–

    “Nazis Have Always Been Trolls” by Adam Ser­w­er; The Atlantic; 03/21/2019

    “Although the man­i­festo itself was writ­ten in the dis­tinc­tive ver­nac­u­lar of the far-right inter­net, there is noth­ing new about white suprema­cists trolling. The Nazis were ded­i­cat­ed trolls who weaponized their insin­cer­i­ty to take advan­tage of lib­er­al soci­eties ill-equipped to con­front them. This was not done just for polit­i­cal advantage—rather, the insin­cer­i­ty itself was a moral act, an expres­sion of con­tempt for the weak.

    Yep, the insin­cere trolling of the Nazis itself was a moral act. The Nazi moral­i­ty of con­tempt for the weak, where ideals like democ­ra­cy, equal­i­ty and rights for women and minori­ties are what is seen as weak. And a Nazi moral par­a­digm where cru­el­ty is a virtue:

    ...
    As Han­nah Arendt wrote in The Ori­gins of Total­i­tar­i­an­ism, Nazi sup­port­ers were “sat­is­fied with blind par­ti­san­ship in any­thing that respectable soci­ety had banned, regard­less of the­o­ry or con­tent, and they ele­vat­ed cru­el­ty to a major virtue because it con­tra­dict­ed society’s human­i­tar­i­an and lib­er­al hypocrisy.” A hor­ri­fied reac­tion to such expres­sions of cru­el­ty mere­ly affirms the impor­tance of being cru­el. “Vul­gar­i­ty, with its cyn­i­cal dis­missal of respect­ed stan­dards and accept­ed the­o­ries, car­ried with it a frank admis­sion of the worst and a dis­re­gard for all pre­tens­es which were eas­i­ly mis­tak­en for courage and a new style of life,” she wrote.

    ...

    “Nev­er believe that anti-Semi­tes are com­plete­ly unaware of the absur­di­ty of their replies. They know that their remarks are friv­o­lous, open to chal­lenge. But they are amus­ing them­selves, for it is their adver­sary who is oblig­ed to use words respon­si­bly, since he believes in words,” wrote Jean-Paul Sartre in his 1946 essay “Anti-Semi­te and Jew.” “The anti-Semi­tes have the right to play. They even like to play with dis­course for, by giv­ing ridicu­lous rea­sons, they dis­cred­it the seri­ous­ness of their inter­locu­tors.”
    ...

    But the trolling is also high­ly strate­gic, in part because it allows observers to avoid tru­ly see­ing what was star­ing them in the face: that the Nazis real­ly are intent on mass exter­mi­na­tion. They aren’t jok­ing. And yet, repeat­ed­ly in the 1920’s and 30’s, observers arrived at the con­clu­sion that the Nazis were just engaged in hyper­bol­ic rhetoric. Their words weren’t to be tak­en seri­ous­ly:

    ...
    The orig­i­nal Nazis were open about their inten­tions, but their strate­gic insin­cer­i­ty cre­at­ed a fog of doubt that allowed observers to avoid the obvi­ous. In 1922, The New York Times infa­mous­ly declared that many believed “Hitler’s anti-Semi­tism was not so gen­uine or vio­lent as it sound­ed, and that he was mere­ly using anti-Semit­ic pro­pa­gan­da as a bait to catch mass­es of fol­low­ers and keep them aroused, enthu­si­as­tic, and in line for the time when his orga­ni­za­tion is per­fect­ed and suf­fi­cient­ly pow­er­ful to be employed effec­tive­ly for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es.” In 1930, even after the Nazis had become the sec­ond-largest par­ty in the Ger­man leg­is­la­ture, the Times assured its read­ers that “there is no present basis for assum­ing that the Nazis will attempt to make anti-Semi­tism a mil­i­tant issue in their leg­isla­tive pro­gram.”

    ...

    The crimes of the Nazis have, for some, obscured the extent to which they relied on mur­der­ous insin­cer­i­ty and the unwill­ing­ness of lib­er­al soci­eties to see the Nazis plain­ly for what they were. In the 1930s, falling for this ploy might have been under­stand­able; with the hind­sight of his­to­ry, it is incom­pre­hen­si­ble that many con­tin­ue to do so. But it is impor­tant to under­stand that weaponized insin­cer­i­ty was an essen­tial ele­ment of fas­cism from the very begin­ning.
    ...

    Flash for­ward to today, and we have a grow­ing far right pres­ence on the inter­net that had turned trolling into a giant game: say some­thing so extreme it gets you banned or cen­sored, and then wave the flag of ‘free speech!’ The fact that the Nazis, when they take pow­er, would almost imme­di­ate­ly ban free speech is just part of the trolling:

    ...
    Many of the ide­o­log­i­cal descen­dants of the Third Reich have raised the ban­ners of lib­er­al prin­ci­ples in their defense. They say they are defend­ing free speech, or due process, or democracy—but their only pur­pose is to emp­ty these con­cepts of mean­ing, to make them as con­temptible to their ide­o­log­i­cal oppo­nents as they are to them. In this, too, they resem­ble their ide­o­log­i­cal fore­bears.
    ...

    It’s worth recall­ing that when Matthew Hale, the neo-Nazi leader of the white suprema­cist World Church of the Cre­ator, was caught on tape ask­ing one of his fol­low­ers to mur­der Judge Lefkow, Hale’s attor­ney, Glenn Green­wald, argued that Hale’s bare­ly cod­ed request to kill Lefkow was sim­ply a “mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion” and he was­n’t actu­al­ly call­ing for the judge’s mur­der. Instead, it was pro­tect­ed polit­i­cal speech. While that was­n’t exact­ly trolling that Hale was engaged in on that tape, it’s anoth­er exam­ple of a Nazi attempt­ing to use bare­ly-cod­ed lan­guage to pro­voke vio­lence under the ban­ner of ‘free speech!’

    So what’s soci­ety to do? That sad­ly remains an open ques­tion but Ser­w­er does end his piece with some very good advice: when Nazis are trolling you there is a one very sim­ple and accu­rate way to inter­pret their trolling: the Nazis are sim­ply telling you “we are going to kill you.” That’s their under­ly­ing mes­sage:

    ...
    Ulti­mate­ly, as with the New Zealand shoot­er, every joke, every pithy ref­er­ence, every pre­tend ges­ture toward the moral stan­dards of lib­er­al democ­ra­cy has the same punch line: We are going to kill you. There is noth­ing more pro­found to unearth from their ideas, or from them.

    And sure, it’s deeply unset­tling to inter­pret the avalanche of online neo-Nazi/‘Alt Right’ trolling as effec­tive­ly death threats against you and every­one you know (at least every­one you know who isn’t a Nazi). But that’s what they are. Death threats that are intend­ed to be seen by oth­er Nazis are real death threats and ral­ly­ing cries and intend­ed to be seen by every­one else as just a sick joke. And that’s a pret­ty good way to char­ac­ter­ize Nazi-like move­ments: very sick, seri­ous, and dead­ly jokes that are laughed off at soci­ety’s per­il.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 22, 2019, 11:20 am
  14. Here’s a par­tic­u­lar­ly grim set of arti­cles in light of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s ongo­ing strat­e­gy of using cru­el­ty as a tool for dis­cour­ag­ing refugees and asy­lum seek­ers from com­ing to the Unit­ed States:

    The lead­er­ship of the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (DHS) is once again in a state of flux and the end result of that flux appears to be the con­sol­i­da­tion of influ­ence by Stephen Miller, the far right pro­tege of Steve Ban­non and old friends with Richard Spencer, over DHS’s immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy.

    Note that it was report­ed ear­li­er this year that Miller would tell White House staffers that “I would be hap­py if not a sin­gle refugee foot ever again touched America’s soil.” That’s the cur­rent de fac­to shad­ow-direc­tor of DHS fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of DHS Secu­ri­ty Kirst­jen Nielsen yes­ter­day. Trump has been agi­tat­ing towards a return to his fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion poli­cies (sep­a­rat­ing kids from par­ents when deal­ing with the refugee and asy­lum seek­ers at the US south­ern bor­der) and Nielsen was report­ed­ly resist­ing this, which pre­sum­ably played a big role in her res­ig­na­tion. Nielsen was­n’t chan­nel­ing the spir­it of Miller enough so some­one new is required.

    Word is that Miller is also push­ing for a num­ber of oth­er senior DHS replace­ments. Specif­i­cal­ly, Miller wants to see Trump dis­miss the direc­tor of Unit­ed States Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion Ser­vices, Lee Ciss­na, and the depart­men­t’s gen­er­al coun­sel, John Mit­nick. So DHS could be in for not just a new direc­tor soon but also a new gen­er­al coun­sel. And who knows who else. And all of the peo­ple cho­sen will pre­sum­ably be will­ing to imple­ment Stephen Miller’s vision of a DHS that will be cru­el to refugees and asy­lum seek­ers as Miller deems nec­es­sary to dis­suade them from even try­ing to come to Amer­i­ca. What could pos­si­bly go wrong?:

    CNN

    Stephen Miller wants Trump to oust more senior lead­ers at Home­land Secu­ri­ty

    By Priscil­la Alvarez, Jake Tap­per and Abby Phillip
    Updat­ed 12:17 PM ET, Mon April 8, 2019

    Wash­ing­ton (CNN)White House senior advis­er Stephen Miller wants to make sure that out­go­ing Home­land Secu­ri­ty Sec­re­tary Kirst­jen Nielsen is only the first of a string of senior offi­cials head­ed out the door.

    Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials say that Miller, who played key a role in Nielsen’s ouster, also wants the Pres­i­dent to dis­miss the direc­tor of Unit­ed States Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion Ser­vices, Lee Ciss­na, and the depart­men­t’s gen­er­al coun­sel, John Mit­nick.

    A senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial also said that under the law, DHS Under Sec­re­tary of Man­age­ment Claire Grady, the cur­rent act­ing deputy sec­re­tary, is next in line of suc­ces­sion to be act­ing sec­re­tary. That means there are ques­tions as to whether she will need to be fired as well in order to make Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sion­er Kevin McAleenan the act­ing DHS sec­re­tary, as Trump tweet­ed Sun­day night.

    Miller’s height­ened influ­ence with­in the West Wing has been aid­ed by the Pres­i­dent, who recent­ly told aides in an Oval Office meet­ing that Miller was in charge of all immi­gra­tion and bor­der relat­ed issues in the White House, accord­ing to a per­son famil­iar with the meet­ing.

    Miller has always infor­mal­ly been one of the lead­ing hard­lin­er voic­es on immi­gra­tion in the West Wing. But this change for­mal­izes that role and it also gives him the abil­i­ty to call and chair meet­ings on immi­gra­tion issues. This change was first report­ed by The Wash­ing­ton Post.

    ...

    The Pres­i­dent has pushed in recent weeks to rein­state the fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion pol­i­cy, which Nielsen resist­ed, a source famil­iar with the dis­cus­sions says. Trump rescind­ed that pol­i­cy amid pub­lic out­rage and scruti­ny from the courts last sum­mer.

    Addi­tion­al­ly, after Trump walked back his threat to close the US-Mex­i­co bor­der and praised Mex­i­co for doing more to stop the flow of immi­grants, the Pres­i­dent has since soured on his own walk back. By the end of the week, Trump became frus­trat­ed once again about the issues at the bor­der, dis­sat­is­fied that Mex­i­co was not doing enough and look­ing for his aides to take tougher steps to address the prob­lem.

    The changes have left the depart­ment in lim­bo, which has had at least three posi­tions filled by peo­ple in an act­ing capac­i­ty in senior roles.

    Late last week, the White House abrupt­ly with­drew the nom­i­na­tion of Ron Vitiel­lo for direc­tor of Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment, which caught both Con­gress and the depart­ment by sur­prise. Nielsen was unaware what was hap­pen­ing until after the nom­i­na­tion was pulled, a per­son famil­iar with the news said.

    Asked about the mood at DHS fol­low­ing Nielsen’s res­ig­na­tion, one DHS offi­cial told CNN there was “some exas­per­a­tion,” adding that the depart­ment does­n’t “have enough depth” to fill long­time vacan­cies.

    “We are los­ing lead­er­ship faster than we can get it con­firmed or even hired per­ma­nent­ly,” the offi­cial said.

    ———-

    “Stephen Miller wants Trump to oust more senior lead­ers at Home­land Secu­ri­ty” by Priscil­la Alvarez, Jake Tap­per and Abby Phillip; CNN; 04/08/2019

    “Miller’s height­ened influ­ence with­in the West Wing has been aid­ed by the Pres­i­dent, who recent­ly told aides in an Oval Office meet­ing that Miller was in charge of all immi­gra­tion and bor­der relat­ed issues in the White House, accord­ing to a per­son famil­iar with the meet­ing.”

    Keep in mind that immi­gra­tion-relat­ed issues are prob­a­bly going to be the cen­ter­piece of Trump’s 2020 reelec­tion cam­paign. Fear-mon­ger­ing about immi­grants and asy­lum seek­ers is going to be a core Trump mes­sage. So when Trump puts Miller in charge of all immi­gra­tion and bor­der relates issues in the White House he’s effec­tive­ly mak­ing Miller one of the most pow­er­ful fig­ures in the admin­is­tra­tion because so much of what the admin­is­tra­tion is going to be doing between now and the elec­tion is going to be relat­ed to show­cas­ing for immi­gra­tion-relat­ed fear-mon­ger­ing but also show­cas­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s will­ing­ness to employ cru­el­ty as a pol­i­cy tool. In oth­er words, Stephen Miller’s chill­ing id is set to become man­i­fest in Trump’s immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy as a strat­e­gy of increas­ing Trump’s polit­i­cal appeal. But before Miller’s id can ful­ly man­i­fest as DHS pol­i­cy he’s going to have to clean house at the DHS lead­er­ship lev­el. Which is about to hap­pen:

    ...

    Miller has always infor­mal­ly been one of the lead­ing hard­lin­er voic­es on immi­gra­tion in the West Wing. But this change for­mal­izes that role and it also gives him the abil­i­ty to call and chair meet­ings on immi­gra­tion issues. This change was first report­ed by The Wash­ing­ton Post.

    ...

    The Pres­i­dent has pushed in recent weeks to rein­state the fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion pol­i­cy, which Nielsen resist­ed, a source famil­iar with the dis­cus­sions says. Trump rescind­ed that pol­i­cy amid pub­lic out­rage and scruti­ny from the courts last sum­mer.

    ...

    The changes have left the depart­ment in lim­bo, which has had at least three posi­tions filled by peo­ple in an act­ing capac­i­ty in senior roles.

    ...

    Asked about the mood at DHS fol­low­ing Nielsen’s res­ig­na­tion, one DHS offi­cial told CNN there was “some exas­per­a­tion,” adding that the depart­ment does­n’t “have enough depth” to fill long­time vacan­cies.

    “We are los­ing lead­er­ship faster than we can get it con­firmed or even hired per­ma­nent­ly,” the offi­cial said.

    So a Miller-direct­ed lead­er­ship purge is tak­ing place at DHS in antic­i­pa­tion of an elec­tion year immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy that’s going to be so inhu­mane that the cur­rent lead­er­ship could­n’t be trust­ed to go through with it. It’s more than a lit­tle omi­nous. Espe­cial­ly because, as the fol­low­ing arti­cle from June of 2018, short­ly after Trump end­ed his fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion pol­i­cy for fam­i­lies mak­ing asy­lum claims, Miller does­n’t just advo­cate for inhu­mane poli­cies like fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tions as a means of dis­cour­ag­ing asy­lum seek­ers from even com­ing to the US at all. He also appears to enjoy it. As one White House offi­cial told reporters, “Stephen actu­al­ly enjoys see­ing those pic­tures at the border...He’s a twist­ed guy, the way he was raised and picked on. There’s always been a way he’s gone about this. He’s Waf­fen-SS.”:

    Haaretz

    Trump Advis­er Rips Into Stephen Miller: ‘He’s Waf­fen-SS’

    Miller, the archi­tect of Trump’s hard-line immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy, is the pro­tege of Steve Ban­non and an old friend of the con­tro­ver­sial white nation­al­ist leader Richard Spencer

    Haaretz
    Jun 22, 2018 4:28 PM

    Stephen Miller, the 32-year-old White House advis­er, has ignit­ed a polit­i­cal firestorm in the Unit­ed States as the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy of sep­a­rat­ing migrant chil­dren from their par­ents and deten­tions in cages is putting pres­sure on the nation.

    Miller him­self is report­ed­ly hap­py with how things are going, which led one fel­low staffer to equate his behav­ior to that of the Nazi SS, Van­i­ty Fair report­ed Wednes­day.

    “Stephen actu­al­ly enjoys see­ing those pic­tures at the bor­der,” an out­side White House advis­er said. “He’s a twist­ed guy, the way he was raised and picked on. There’s always been a way he’s gone about this. He’s Waf­fen-SS.”

    The gov­ern­ment should know how bad this looks and how inno­cent chil­dren are actu­al­ly suf­fer­ing. That kind of sce­nario is unac­cept­able to most Amer­i­cans as exem­pli­fied by for­mer First Lady Lau­ra Bush’s with­er­ing crit­i­cism. https://t.co/F4PKL00xLS— Bill O’Reil­ly (@BillOReilly) June 18, 2018

    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion will not win on this one and it should reverse course today.— Bill O’Reil­ly (@BillOReilly) June 18, 2018

    Both, Mela­nia Trump and Lau­ra Bush made the rare polit­i­cal move of speak­ing out against the pol­i­cy — join­ing the UN human rights chief, who called it “uncon­scionable.” Even stal­wart Trump sup­port­ers like Bill O’Reil­ly have admit­ted defeat on the issue, writ­ing on Twit­ter, “The Trump admin­is­tra­tion will not win on this one and it should reverse course today.”

    Miller told The New York Times over the week­end that the Trump administration’s pol­i­cy of sep­a­rat­ing migrant fam­i­lies was a “sim­ple deci­sion.” Miller’s com­ments has showed him as the key force push­ing Trump’s hard­line immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy at a time when the White House is increas­ing­ly divid­ed amid the grow­ing pub­lic out­rage over the pol­i­cy.

    “No nation can have the pol­i­cy that whole class­es of peo­ple are immune from immi­gra­tion law or enforce­ment,” Miller told the Times in an inter­view. “It was a sim­ple deci­sion by the admin­is­tra­tion to have a zero tol­er­ance pol­i­cy for ille­gal entry, peri­od. The mes­sage is that no one is exempt from immi­gra­tion law.” The White House had hint­ed that it would go down that path last year, but U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump back­tracked.

    Researchers have point­ed out the hypocrisy of Miller’s posi­tion as his fam­i­ly came to the Unit­ed States as Jew­ish refugees from Europe. His great-grand­fa­ther Nison Miller was even report­ed­ly denied legal asy­lum in the Unit­ed States, but made it into the coun­try regard­less. “Order of Court Deny­ing Peti­tion” is the title of a gov­ern­ment form dat­ed “14th Novem­ber 1932,” dug up by researchers prov­ing Miller’s fam­i­ly his­to­ry as an ille­gal immi­grant.

    Miller, who grew up in a lib­er­al Jew­ish home in San­ta Mon­i­ca, Cal­i­for­nia, was Trump’s chief speech­writer through­out the cam­paign, a role he has been tapped to con­tin­ue in the White House. Miller is known for his abil­i­ty to pro­voke his audi­ence — he often stirred up the crowds at cam­paign ral­lies before Trump would take the stage.

    Miller is an old friend of the con­tro­ver­sial white nation­al­ist leader Richard Spencer, Moth­er Jones report­ed in Decem­ber 2017. The two met while they were stu­dents at Duke Uni­ver­si­ty, where both of them mem­bers of the con­ser­v­a­tive stu­dent union. Spencer told the mag­a­zine that Miller “is not alt-right or a white nation­al­ist or an iden­ti­tar­i­an.” But he added: “Could Miller and Trump do good things for white Amer­i­cans? The answer is yes.”

    In Feb­ru­ary 2018, 17 Jew­ish groups, includ­ing the left-lean­ing J Street, called on the White House to dis­miss Miller as its senior pol­i­cy advis­er.

    Orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing Amer­i­can Jew­ish World Ser­vice, Amer­i­cans for Peace Now and T’ruah: The Rab­binic Call for Human Rights, issued the call in an open let­ter they sent Thurs­day to White House chief of staff, Gen. John Kel­ly. The let­ter was spear­head­ed by the Nation­al Coun­cil of Jew­ish Women.

    The co-authors wrote that Miller, who favors an immi­gra­tion reform he said would ben­e­fit appli­cants who would assim­i­late more eas­i­ly into Amer­i­can soci­ety than oth­ers, has “extreme view­points and advo­ca­cy of racist poli­cies.”

    Miller and Steve Ban­non, the for­mer exec­u­tive chair of Bre­it­bart News, authored Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial inau­gur­al address have been at the fore­front of Trump’s pop­ulist mes­sag­ing. Miller, who wrote Trump’s speech at the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion, was accused of pro­mot­ing a dystopi­an view of Amer­i­ca, a theme car­ried through in Trump’s inau­gur­al address, in which Trump referred to crime, pover­ty and the dis­ap­pear­ing man­u­fac­tu­ing base in the coun­try as “Amer­i­can car­nage.”

    Before join­ing the cam­paign, Miller worked as com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor for then Alaba­ma Sen­a­tor Jeff Ses­sions, one of the first Repub­li­cans to come out in sup­port of Trump. As an aide to Ses­sions, Miller was instru­men­tal in defeat­ing a pro­posed bill for immi­gra­tion reform.

    In a lengthy pro­file of Miller pub­lished in Politi­co last June, his old boss com­pared him to Karl Rove, the leg­endary polit­i­cal advis­er of for­mer U.S. Pres­i­dent George W. Bush.

    Pri­or to his stint with Ses­sions, Miller worked as a press sec­re­tary for two oth­er Repub­li­cans – Con­gress­woman Michele Bach­mann and Con­gress­man John Shadegg.

    ...

    ———-

    “Trump Advis­er Rips Into Stephen Miller: ‘He’s Waf­fen-SS’ ”; Haaretz; 06/22/2018

    Stephen actu­al­ly enjoys see­ing those pic­tures at the bor­der,” an out­side White House advis­er said. “He’s a twist­ed guy, the way he was raised and picked on. There’s always been a way he’s gone about this. He’s Waf­fen-SS.”

    Miller actu­al­ly enjoyed see­ing the pic­tures of peo­ple in tur­moil. That’s how one White House advis­er por­trayed him last year. And giv­en that he referred to fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion poli­cies as a “sim­ple deci­sion” high­lights how casu­al­ly he views these deci­sions. The fact that he’s old friends with Richard Spencer does­n’t help with the “Waf­fen-SS” descrip­tion:

    ...
    Miller told The New York Times over the week­end that the Trump administration’s pol­i­cy of sep­a­rat­ing migrant fam­i­lies was a “sim­ple deci­sion.” Miller’s com­ments has showed him as the key force push­ing Trump’s hard­line immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy at a time when the White House is increas­ing­ly divid­ed amid the grow­ing pub­lic out­rage over the pol­i­cy.

    ...

    Miller is an old friend of the con­tro­ver­sial white nation­al­ist leader Richard Spencer, Moth­er Jones report­ed in Decem­ber 2017. The two met while they were stu­dents at Duke Uni­ver­si­ty, where both of them mem­bers of the con­ser­v­a­tive stu­dent union. Spencer told the mag­a­zine that Miller “is not alt-right or a white nation­al­ist or an iden­ti­tar­i­an.” But he added: “Could Miller and Trump do good things for white Amer­i­cans? The answer is yes.”
    ...

    Of course an old friend of Richard Spencer would find fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion poli­cies to be a “sim­ple deci­sion.” Lack­ing empa­thy sim­pli­fies a lot of deci­sions. And it’s that joy­ful Waf­fen-SS mind­set that is increas­ing­ly look­ing like the cen­ter­piece for Trump’s 2020 reelec­tion cam­paign because Trump has been push­ing for a new fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion pol­i­cy for a while now:

    NBC News

    Trump’s sup­port of renewed child sep­a­ra­tion pol­i­cy led to col­li­sion with Nielsen
    A senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial believes Trump is con­vinced fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion has been the most effec­tive pol­i­cy at deter­ring asy­lum-seek­ers.

    By Julia Ains­ley and Geoff Ben­nett
    April 8, 2019, 9:16 AM CDT

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has for months urged his admin­is­tra­tion to rein­state large-scale sep­a­ra­tion of migrant fam­i­lies cross­ing the bor­der, accord­ing to three U.S. offi­cials with knowl­edge of meet­ings at the White House.

    Trump’s out­go­ing Home­land Secu­ri­ty sec­re­tary, Kirst­jen Nielsen, resist­ed — set­ting her at odds with the pres­i­dent.

    Accord­ing to two of the sources, Nielsen told Trump that fed­er­al court orders pro­hib­it­ed the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty from rein­stat­ing the pol­i­cy, and that he would be revers­ing his own exec­u­tive order from June that end­ed fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tions.

    Three U.S. offi­cials said that Kevin McAleenan, the head of Cus­toms and Bor­der Patrol who is expect­ed to take over as act­ing DHS sec­re­tary, has not ruled out fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion as an option.

    The pol­i­cy McAleenan would con­sid­er, accord­ing to the offi­cials, is known as “bina­ry choice” and would give migrant par­ents the option between being sep­a­rat­ed from their chil­dren or bring­ing their chil­dren with them into long-term deten­tion.

    ...

    A senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial said it seems Trump is con­vinced that fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion has been the most effec­tive pol­i­cy at deter­ring large num­bers of asy­lum-seek­ers.

    ———-

    “Trump’s sup­port of renewed child sep­a­ra­tion pol­i­cy led to col­li­sion with Nielsen” by Julia Ains­ley and Geoff Ben­nett; NBC News; 04/08/2019

    “A senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial said it seems Trump is con­vinced that fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion has been the most effec­tive pol­i­cy at deter­ring large num­bers of asy­lum-seek­ers.”

    Yep, Trump is con­vinced that fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tions are a deter­rent to stop asy­lum-seek­ers. And that’s why he wants to rein­sti­tute the fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion poli­cies. But then Nielsen informed him that fed­er­al courts orders pro­hib­it­ed it, so he had to replace her:

    ...
    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has for months urged his admin­is­tra­tion to rein­state large-scale sep­a­ra­tion of migrant fam­i­lies cross­ing the bor­der, accord­ing to three U.S. offi­cials with knowl­edge of meet­ings at the White House.

    Trump’s out­go­ing Home­land Secu­ri­ty sec­re­tary, Kirst­jen Nielsen, resist­ed — set­ting her at odds with the pres­i­dent.

    Accord­ing to two of the sources, Nielsen told Trump that fed­er­al court orders pro­hib­it­ed the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty from rein­stat­ing the pol­i­cy, and that he would be revers­ing his own exec­u­tive order from June that end­ed fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tions.
    ...

    But Trump isn’t just plan­ning on fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tions to dis­cour­age asy­lum-seek­ers from com­ing to the US. He appears to have also decid­ed to make pub­lic state­ments direct­ed at asy­lum seek­ers that would dis­cour­age them from com­ing and wag­ing a rhetor­i­cal cam­paign that por­trays asy­lum-seek­ers as dan­ger­ous liars who aren’t actu­al­ly fac­ing dan­gers in their home coun­tries. For exam­ple, dur­ing a recent speech on Sat­ur­day to the Repub­li­can Jew­ish Coali­tion, Trump declared his sus­pi­cions that asy­lum seek­ers are not fac­ing real dan­gers and are, them­selves, built like dan­ger­ous mixed mar­tial arts fight­ers and would assault Amer­i­cans. And then the next day Trump announced that the US is “full” and that immi­grants or asy­lum seek­ers should­n’t both­er com­ing dur­ing a trip to a Bor­der Patrol sta­tion:

    The Hill

    Trump says some asy­lum-seek­ers look like they’re ‘fight­ing for the UFC’

    By Kyle Bal­luck — 04/07/19 07:28 AM EDT

    Pres­i­dent Trump said on Sat­ur­day that some asy­lum-seek­ers should be “fight­ing for the UFC,” call­ing the process a “scam.”

    Speak­ing to the Repub­li­can Jew­ish Coali­tion in Las Vegas, Trump said asy­lum-seek­ers are “some of the rough­est peo­ple you’ve ever seen, peo­ple that look like they should be fight­ing for the UFC,” refer­ring to the Ulti­mate Fight­ing Cham­pi­onship, a com­pa­ny that pro­motes mixed mar­tial arts match­es.

    Trump also said that asy­lum-seek­ers are coached.

    “They read a lit­tle page giv­en by lawyers that are all over the place — you know lawyers, they tell them what to say,” Trump said.

    “I am very fear­ful for my life. I am very wor­ried that I will be accost­ed if I’m sent back home,” he added. “No, no. He’ll do the accost­ing.”

    The pres­i­den­t’s com­ments came after he last week backed away from a threat to close the bor­der with Mex­i­co.

    ...

    He said dur­ing a vis­it to a Bor­der Patrol sta­tion in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia one day lat­er that the immi­gra­tion sys­tem is “full.”

    “The sys­tem is full. We can’t take you any more,” Trump said on Fri­day, adding that whether it is “ille­gal immi­gra­tion” or asy­lum-seek­ers, the answer is “I’m sor­ry. We’re full.”

    ———-

    “Trump says some asy­lum-seek­ers look like they’re ‘fight­ing for the UFC’ ” by Kyle Bal­luck; The Hill; 04/07/2019

    “Speak­ing to the Repub­li­can Jew­ish Coali­tion in Las Vegas, Trump said asy­lum-seek­ers are “some of the rough­est peo­ple you’ve ever seen, peo­ple that look like they should be fight­ing for the UFC,” refer­ring to the Ulti­mate Fight­ing Cham­pi­onship, a com­pa­ny that pro­motes mixed mar­tial arts match­es.”

    Yep, days before Trump fires Nielsen for her unwill­ing­ness to reim­ple­ment a new fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion pol­i­cy, Trump smears asy­lum seek­ers as fak­ers who aren’t real­ly fac­ing real dan­gers are are, them­selves, actu­al­ly dan­ger­ous fight­ers who will “do the accost­ing” if allowed into the US:

    ...
    Trump also said that asy­lum-seek­ers are coached.

    “They read a lit­tle page giv­en by lawyers that are all over the place — you know lawyers, they tell them what to say,” Trump said.

    “I am very fear­ful for my life. I am very wor­ried that I will be accost­ed if I’m sent back home,” he added. “No, no. He’ll do the accost­ing.”

    The pres­i­den­t’s com­ments came after he last week backed away from a threat to close the bor­der with Mex­i­co.

    ...

    And then the next day Trump declares that the US is “full” and asy­lum-seek­ers should­n’t both­er com­ing:

    ...
    He said dur­ing a vis­it to a Bor­der Patrol sta­tion in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia one day lat­er that the immi­gra­tion sys­tem is “full.”

    “The sys­tem is full. We can’t take you any more,” Trump said on Fri­day, adding that whether it is “ille­gal immi­gra­tion” or asy­lum-seek­ers, the answer is “I’m sor­ry. We’re full.”
    ...

    As we can see, it’s pret­ty clear that Trump is con­vinced that tripling-down on fear and hatred towards Latin Amer­i­cans and a whipped up bor­der crises is his best shot at reelec­tion in 2020. And that cam­paign strat­e­gy isn’t just putting Stephen Miller in the Trump 2020 cam­paign dri­ving seat. Miller is now effec­tive­ly one of the most pow­er­ful peo­ple in the US nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment as a result of his ele­va­tion as the per­son in charge of Trump’s immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy at DHS. The joy­ful­ly sadis­tic Waf­fen-SS guy is in charge of US immi­gra­tion and asy­lum pol­i­cy and it’s hap­pen­ing as a core ele­ment of a polit­i­cal strat­e­gy that’s sup­posed to appeal the Amer­i­can elec­torate next year.

    So if you think the sit­u­a­tion at the US south­ern bor­der is grim now, just wait. Stephen Miller has some sadis­tic 2020 cam­paign stunts new poli­cies he’s work­ing on.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 8, 2019, 11:58 am
  15. Here’s anoth­er sto­ry to keep in mind when­ev­er you hear about the US gov­ern­ment sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly down­play­ing the threat posed by far right domes­tic mil­i­tants:

    A mili­tia group, Unit­ed Con­sti­tu­tion­al Patri­ots, has been detain­ing migrants at the US-Mex­i­co bor­der in New Mex­i­co and post­ing videos of their exploits on Face­book. One video shows the armed men in masks and fatigues stop­ping around 300 migrants at gun­point, order­ing them to ground, and then wait­ing for US Bor­der Patrol to show up to hand them over. In at least two videos, one of the men in fatigues iden­ti­fies him­self as Bor­der Patrol when stop­ping the migrants. These videos raise obvi­ous ques­tion about whether or not Cus­toms and Bor­der Patrol (CPB) is active­ly work­ing with the group and tol­er­at­ing their vig­i­lante actions. CPB acknowl­edges that they are in con­tact with the group but deny that the agency con­dones armed arrests of migrants.

    So there is def­i­nite­ly a prob­lem with armed mili­ti­a’s oper­at­ing as bor­der vig­i­lantes on the US-Mex­i­co bor­der. The open ques­tion at this point is the extent to which the mili­tia vig­i­lantes have the back­ing of US Bor­der Patrol:

    CNN

    A mili­tia group detained migrants at the bor­der. The ACLU calls it kid­nap­ping

    By Cather­ine E. Shoichet, Dean­na Hack­ney, Gene­va Sands and Paul P. Mur­phy, CNN
    Updat­ed 5:47 PM ET, Fri April 19, 2019

    (CNN)A mili­tia group near the US-Mex­i­co bor­der detained hun­dreds of peo­ple this week, New Mex­i­co’s attor­ney gen­er­al told CNN.

    “My office has been informed that this week, an armed group has detained near­ly 300 peo­ple near Sun­land Park, New Mex­i­co,” Attor­ney Gen­er­al Hec­tor Balderas said in a writ­ten state­ment. “These indi­vid­u­als should not attempt to exer­cise author­i­ty reserved for law enforce­ment.”

    Videos post­ed online pur­port­ed­ly show­ing migrants held by the Unit­ed Con­sti­tu­tion­al Patri­ots group and hand­ed over to the US Bor­der Patrol drew swift con­dem­na­tion from the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union of New Mex­i­co.

    “We can­not allow racist and armed vig­i­lantes to kid­nap and detain peo­ple seek­ing asy­lum,” the ACLU said in a let­ter to state author­i­ties denounc­ing the actions and ask­ing the gov­ern­ment to step in. “We urge you to imme­di­ate­ly inves­ti­gate this atro­cious and unlaw­ful con­duct.”

    ...

    The New York Times report­ed that a spokesman for the mili­tia group said their actions were legal, “com­par­ing the deten­tion of the migrants to ‘a ver­bal cit­i­zen’s arrest.’ ”

    Videos show armed men in masks, fatigues

    Var­i­ous pri­vate mili­tia groups — often espous­ing anti-immi­grant views — have patrolled the bor­der for years.

    But it’s rare to see video of an armed group detain­ing migrants on the US side of the bor­der.

    Author­i­ties say they’re look­ing into videos post­ed on the Unit­ed Con­sti­tu­tion­al Patri­ots New Mex­i­co Bor­der Ops Face­book page.

    ...

    The videos pur­port to show mem­bers of the group detain­ing migrants, includ­ing fam­i­lies with chil­dren, who’ve just crossed the bor­der.

    They show peo­ple often in full mil­i­tary fatigues, with hand­guns strapped to their sides, wear­ing gloves and black face masks. Armed men order migrants to stop, force them to sit on the ground and then appar­ent­ly call Bor­der Patrol to pick them up. At least two videos post­ed on the group’s Face­book page depict a man in fatigues ver­bal­ly iden­ti­fy­ing him­self as “Bor­der Patrol” as he stops a group of migrants.

    CBP says it does­n’t con­done civil­ians inter­fer­ing in law enforce­ment mat­ters

    Asked about the Unit­ed Con­sti­tu­tion­al Patri­ots and the videos the group has post­ed online, a US Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion spokesman declined to com­ment on the group itself or the social media posts, but said the agency “does not endorse or con­done pri­vate groups or orga­ni­za­tions tak­ing enforce­ment mea­sures into their own hands.”

    “Inter­fer­ence by civil­ians in law enforce­ment mat­ters could have pub­lic safe­ty and legal con­se­quences for all par­ties involved,” the spokesman said in a writ­ten state­ment, refer­ring those who sus­pect ille­gal activ­i­ty to call 911 or con­tact the agency direct­ly. “Bor­der Secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions are com­plex and require high­ly trained pro­fes­sion­als with ade­quate resources to pro­tect the coun­try.”

    And a CBP spokesman said the agency is look­ing into videos post­ed in which a mem­ber of the group appears to claim he works for the Bor­der Patrol.

    A state­ment on the Unit­ed Con­sti­tu­tion­al Patri­ots’ Face­book page describes the group as “Amer­i­cans that believe in the Con­sti­tu­tion and the rights of every Amer­i­can that will stand up for there rights in uni­ty and help keep Amer­i­ca safe.”

    “We’re just here to sup­port the Bor­der Patrol and show the pub­lic the real­i­ty of the bor­der,” spokesman Jim Ben­vie told The New York Times, not­ing that his group had been camped near El Paso, Texas, for the past two months and intends to stay until Pres­i­dent Trump’s planned bor­der wall is built.

    But Bor­der Patrol offi­cials are dis­tanc­ing them­selves from the group.

    “We have con­tact with them, but they do not work with us. They do not work along­side us,” one Bor­der Patrol offi­cial said.

    When it comes to pro­tect­ing the bor­der and mak­ing arrests, that author­i­ty is “strict­ly for Bor­der Patrol and Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion,” the offi­cial said, say­ing he has­n’t seen any­one from the mili­tia group attempt to make an arrest.

    “By law, they can­not con­duct an arrest,” the offi­cial said. “If they do, then some­body needs to do some­thing about it.”

    Gov­er­nor’s office calls threat­en­ing migrants ‘unac­cept­able’

    A spokesman for New Mex­i­co Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said state and local author­i­ties are look­ing into the mat­ter.

    “They have absolute­ly not been autho­rized by our office or any oth­er. We are active­ly work­ing with the AG’s Office, state police and local police to deter­mine what has gone on and what can and will be done,” said Tripp Stel­nic­ki, a spokesman for the gov­er­nor. “That migrant fam­i­lies might be men­aced or threat­ened in any way, shape or form is com­plete­ly unac­cept­able.”

    Peter Simon­son, exec­u­tive direc­tor for the ACLU of New Mex­i­co, told CNN that while mili­tia groups have patrolled near the bor­der before, now such groups feel empow­ered by rhetoric they hear from the White House.

    “We con­cede that these groups have a free­dom to asso­ciate, to assem­ble, free­dom to speech and our state gun laws do give them abil­i­ty to car­ry weapons,” Simon­son said. But the ACLU’s key con­cern, he said, is that pri­vate armed cit­i­zens are “tak­ing it upon them­selves to car­ry out jus­tice and not allow­ing fed­er­al author­i­ties to do their job.”

    “These peo­ple are armed, their inten­tions are mis­guid­ed and they cer­tain­ly don’t have train­ing, much less any author­i­ty, to be con­duct­ing arrests and long-term deten­tions of peo­ple com­ing across the bor­der,” Simon­son said. “We are con­cerned this is such a poten­tial­ly explo­sive sit­u­a­tion, we are wor­ried some­one is going to get hurt.”

    ———-

    “A mili­tia group detained migrants at the bor­der. The ACLU calls it kid­nap­ping” by Cather­ine E. Shoichet, Dean­na Hack­ney, Gene­va Sands and Paul P. Mur­phy; CNN; 04/19/2019

    “They show peo­ple often in full mil­i­tary fatigues, with hand­guns strapped to their sides, wear­ing gloves and black face masks. Armed men order migrants to stop, force them to sit on the ground and then appar­ent­ly call Bor­der Patrol to pick them up. At least two videos post­ed on the group’s Face­book page depict a man in fatigues ver­bal­ly iden­ti­fy­ing him­self as “Bor­der Patrol” as he stops a group of migrants.

    So there’s an armed mili­tia run­ning around pre­tend­ing to be “Bor­der Patrol” and hold­ing migrants until the actu­al bor­der patrol agents show up. It’s more than a lit­tle dis­turb­ing. And while CPB denies endors­ing the group’s actions, the agency does acknowl­edge hav­ing con­tact with the group:

    ...
    Asked about the Unit­ed Con­sti­tu­tion­al Patri­ots and the videos the group has post­ed online, a US Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion spokesman declined to com­ment on the group itself or the social media posts, but said the agency “does not endorse or con­done pri­vate groups or orga­ni­za­tions tak­ing enforce­ment mea­sures into their own hands.”

    “Inter­fer­ence by civil­ians in law enforce­ment mat­ters could have pub­lic safe­ty and legal con­se­quences for all par­ties involved,” the spokesman said in a writ­ten state­ment, refer­ring those who sus­pect ille­gal activ­i­ty to call 911 or con­tact the agency direct­ly. “Bor­der Secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions are com­plex and require high­ly trained pro­fes­sion­als with ade­quate resources to pro­tect the coun­try.”

    And a CBP spokesman said the agency is look­ing into videos post­ed in which a mem­ber of the group appears to claim he works for the Bor­der Patrol.

    ...

    But Bor­der Patrol offi­cials are dis­tanc­ing them­selves from the group.

    We have con­tact with them, but they do not work with us. They do not work along­side us,” one Bor­der Patrol offi­cial said.

    When it comes to pro­tect­ing the bor­der and mak­ing arrests, that author­i­ty is “strict­ly for Bor­der Patrol and Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion,” the offi­cial said, say­ing he has­n’t seen any­one from the mili­tia group attempt to make an arrest.

    “By law, they can­not con­duct an arrest,” the offi­cial said. “If they do, then some­body needs to do some­thing about it.”
    ...

    Keep in mind that if the way this group oper­ates is to hold migrants at gun­point until CPB arrives it seems impos­si­ble that CPB would­n’t be aware this was hap­pen­ing and being done in a way that casts the mili­tia as CPB helper. So it’s going to be inter­est­ing to see what turns up in the inves­ti­ga­tion into this. The FBI has report­ed­ly arrest­ed the leader of the group, Lar­ry Hop­kins, are charges of being a felon in pos­ses­sion of a gun.

    As the fol­low­ing arti­cle describes, it turns out the FBI had already inves­ti­gat­ed the Unit­ed Con­sti­tu­tion­al Patri­ots over “mili­tia extrem­ist activ­i­ty” in 2017. And accord­ing to that inves­ti­ga­tion, wit­ness­es told the FBI that the the leader of the group, Lar­ry Hop­kins, bragged about train­ing vol­un­teers to kill Barack Oba­ma, Hillary Clin­ton, and George Soros:

    Reuters

    Leader of armed group at U.S. bor­der boast­ed of assas­si­na­tion train­ing: FBI

    Julio-Cesar Chavez, Andrew Hay
    April 22, 2019 / 9:10 AM / Updat­ed

    LAS CRUCES, N.M./TAOS, N.M. (Reuters) — The head of an armed group that stops migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico bor­der ille­gal­ly alleged­ly boast­ed of train­ing vol­un­teers to kill for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton, an FBI agent said in court papers.

    Lar­ry Hop­kins, leader of the Unit­ed Con­sti­tu­tion­al Patri­ots, appeared in court in Las Cruces, New Mex­i­co, on Mon­day to face charges of being a felon in pos­ses­sion of a firearm. The FBI said it found guns dur­ing a 2017 vis­it to his home.

    The UCP has helped the U.S. Bor­der Patrol detain some 5,600 migrants in New Mex­i­co in the last 60 days, the group said.

    Defense attor­ney Kel­ly O’Connell said Hop­kins planned to plead not guilty to the firearms charge. He said the charges were unre­lat­ed to UCP’s actions at the bor­der.

    “This is not even deal­ing with what’s going on right here,” O’Connell said.

    Wear­ing a dark green prison jump­suit and bright orange sneak­ers, Hop­kins appeared at ease in court and did not speak to any­one but his attor­ney.

    The UCP has said its two-month pres­ence at the bor­der was intend­ed to sup­port U.S. Bor­der Patrol, which has been over­whelmed by record num­bers of Cen­tral Amer­i­can fam­i­lies seek­ing asy­lum.

    In court papers, the FBI said wit­ness­es in 2017 accused Hop­kins of say­ing the UCP was train­ing to assas­si­nate Oba­ma; Clin­ton, who was the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in 2016; and George Soros, a financier who sup­ports lib­er­al caus­es. The accu­sa­tions were made dur­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into “mili­tia extrem­ist activ­i­ty,” the agency said.

    The Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union and oth­er crit­ics accuse the UCP of being a “fas­cist mili­tia” whose mem­bers ille­gal­ly detain and kid­nap migrants by imper­son­at­ing law enforce­ment.

    UCP mem­bers, many of whom have served with U.S. Spe­cial Forces, take turns liv­ing in a camp­ing trail­er close to the bor­der near Sun­land Park, New Mex­i­co and patrolling a five-mile sec­tion of bor­der, much of it unfenced.

    Armed with rifles and wear­ing cam­ou­flage uni­forms with the group’s eagle insignia, the group has post­ed dozens of videos show­ing the vol­un­teers instruct­ing migrant fam­i­lies to sit and wait until Bor­der Patrol agents arrive. The group has been accused of detain­ing women and chil­dren at gun­point, a claim it fierce­ly denies.

    The videos show armed men casu­al­ly stand­ing at a dis­tance from migrants and unarmed UCP vol­un­teers some­times offer­ing them water. The group gained atten­tion after it post­ed an April 16 video show­ing as many as 300 migrants, most of them fam­i­lies, sit­ting at its camp wait­ing for Bor­der Patrol.

    New Mexico’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov­er­nor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, on Fri­day ordered an inves­ti­ga­tion of the UCP. She said “men­ac­ing or threat­en­ing migrant fam­i­lies and asy­lum-seek­ers is absolute­ly unac­cept­able and must cease.”

    “NOT BREAKING ANY LAWS”

    FBI Spe­cial Agent David Gabriel said in a crim­i­nal com­plaint that in Octo­ber 2017 the agency received reports a mili­tia was being run out of Hop­kins’ home in Flo­ra Vista, New Mex­i­co.

    When agents entered the home they col­lect­ed nine firearms, rang­ing from pis­tols to rifles, Hor­ton was ille­gal­ly in pos­ses­sion of as he had at least one pri­or felony con­vic­tion, accord­ing to the com­plaint.

    Hop­kins, the UCP’s nation­al com­man­der, told the agents that his com­mon-law wife owned the weapons in ques­tion, accord­ing to court papers.

    UCP spokesman Jim Ben­vie said the group’s aim was to pub­li­cize the “bor­der cri­sis.”

    ...

    ———–

    “Leader of armed group at U.S. bor­der boast­ed of assas­si­na­tion train­ing: FBI” by Julio-Cesar Chavez, Andrew Hay; Reuters; 04/22/2019

    “In court papers, the FBI said wit­ness­es in 2017 accused Hop­kins of say­ing the UCP was train­ing to assas­si­nate Oba­ma; Clin­ton, who was the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in 2016; and George Soros, a financier who sup­ports lib­er­al caus­es. The accu­sa­tions were made dur­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into “mili­tia extrem­ist activ­i­ty,” the agency said.”

    So wit­ness­es told the FBI in 2017 that Unit­ed Con­sti­tu­tion­al Patri­ots’ leader was brag­ging about train­ing peo­ple to car­ry out polit­i­cal assas­si­na­tions and this is the same mili­tia that appears to have some sort of qui­et work­ing rela­tion­ship with US Bor­der Patrol.

    And in oth­er news...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 23, 2019, 2:05 pm
  16. The hor­rors of Trump’s immi­grant child deten­tions back in the news fol­low­ing recent reports of stun­ning con­di­tions at a Clint, Texas, Bor­der Patrol facil­i­ty where 250 chil­dren were kept for weeks with­out reg­u­lar access to beds, show­ers, tooth­brush­es, and soap. The Trump admin­is­tra­tion had a pre­dictable expla­na­tion: it was the Democ­rats’ fault. Specif­i­cal­ly, it was the fault of Democ­rats in con­gress because that they had­n’t yet giv­en the Trump admin­is­tra­tion all of the mon­ey the admin­is­tra­tion had request­ed for its var­i­ous immi­gra­tion pro­pos­als. That’s alleged­ly why the chil­dren could­n’t get beds, show­ers, tooth­brush­es or soap...not enough mon­ey. This is fol­low­ing an announce­ment by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion ear­li­er this month that it was can­cel­ing edu­ca­tion­al and recre­ation­al pro­grams and legal aid in shel­ters because of bud­get short­falls and request­ed $2.9 bil­lion to expand these deten­tion facil­i­ties.

    On a pos­i­tive note, all but 30 of the chil­dren were removed from the Clint, Texas, facil­i­ty after this was report­ed on, although 100 of those kids were just sent back to the facil­i­ty. Hope­ful­ly they get soap and blan­kets this time.

    The Demo­c­ra­t­ic-con­trolled House just vot­ed on a $4.5 bil­lion emer­gency fund­ing pack­age so we’ll see if that results in an improve­ment in the con­di­tions for these kids. But as we’ll see in the fol­low­ing pair of arti­cles, there’s still plen­ty of rea­son to be con­cerned that con­di­tions won’t improve even with that emer­gency fund­ing. Why? Well, for starters, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is already threat­en­ing to veto that emer­gency fund­ing bill in favor of a ver­sion cre­at­ed by the Repub­li­can con­trolled Sen­ate that has few­er con­trols on how the mon­ey is spent. And as the fol­low­ing arti­cle points out, one of the key con­cerns of the Democ­rats who vot­ed in sup­port of this emer­gency fund­ing is that it won’t actu­al­ly be used for improv­ing the con­di­tions of the undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants held in deten­tion and instead will sim­ply be used to expand the deten­tion sys­tem so even more peo­ple end up held in inhu­mane con­di­tions. And as we’re going to see in the sec­ond arti­cle, that’s a real con­cern because the Trump admin­is­tra­tion lawyers have already argued before the courts with­hold­ing basic ameni­ties, like soap and tooth­brush­es, from detained migrants does not vio­late the government’s respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­vide “safe and san­i­tary” con­di­tions to detained chil­dren. Yep, the Trump admin is simul­ta­ne­ous­ly argu­ing that the inhu­mane con­di­tions of the chil­dren being held in deten­tion is the fault of the democ­rats for not fund­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s full immi­gra­tion agen­da at the same time the admin­is­tra­tion lawyers are argu­ing that there’s no real oblig­a­tion to pro­vide the chil­dren basic ameni­ties like soap and tooth­brush­es:

    The Nation

    Democ­rats Con­front a Dilem­ma at the Bor­der
    Law­mak­ers want to deliv­er aid to migrant chil­dren. Can they do so with­out help­ing Trump expand the deten­tion sys­tem?

    By Zoë Car­pen­ter
    06/26/2019 1:07 PM

    Last week, a group of lawyers vis­it­ed a remote Bor­der Patrol facil­i­ty in Clint, Texas, that was designed for the tem­po­rary deten­tion of about 100 adult migrants. What they found were some 250 chil­dren in appalling con­di­tions. Sev­er­al were sick and in quar­an­tine; oth­ers had lice. Very young chil­dren had been left in the care of slight­ly old­er chil­dren. Although the gov­ern­ment is bound by a legal agree­ment and oth­er reg­u­la­tions to pro­vide “safe and san­i­tary” con­di­tions for under­age migrants and to trans­fer them out of Bor­der Patrol cus­tody with­in 72 hours, chil­dren told lawyers they had been in the facil­i­ty for weeks with­out reg­u­lar access to beds, show­ers, tooth­brush­es, and soap.

    The grim dis­patch from Clint added to pre­vi­ous reports of wors­en­ing con­di­tions in immi­gra­tion deten­tion facil­i­ties. The Bor­der Patrol is cur­rent­ly hold­ing about 15,000 peo­ple, near­ly four times its capac­i­ty, a num­ber that excludes the tens of thou­sands of peo­ple already trans­ferred to ICE cus­tody. In ear­ly June, the Depart­ment of Home­land Security’s Inspec­tor Gen­er­al report­ed “imme­di­ate risks or egre­gious vio­la­tions of deten­tion stan­dards” at mul­ti­ple facil­i­ties, includ­ing con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed food and poor san­i­ta­tion; a pre­vi­ous IG report found “dan­ger­ous over­crowd­ing” at a pro­cess­ing cen­ter in El Paso. While con­cerns about immi­gra­tion deten­tion cen­ters pre­date the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, mon­i­tors describe an esca­lat­ing human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis due in part to the sheer num­ber of peo­ple being detained and the long length of time they are held in facil­i­ties designed for tem­po­rary stays. One doc­tor who recent­ly vis­it­ed the Ursu­la Bor­der Patrol pro­cess­ing facil­i­ty in McAllen, Texas, wrote in a med­ical dec­la­ra­tion that the con­di­tions there could be “com­pared to tor­ture facil­i­ties,” and are “tan­ta­mount to inten­tion­al­ly caus­ing the spread of dis­ease.” Since Decem­ber, at least sev­en immi­grant chil­dren have died in fed­er­al cus­tody or short­ly after being released.

    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion describes the prob­lem large­ly as an issue of mon­ey. The Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices, which over­sees the shel­ter sys­tem for under­age migrants and is charged with find­ing spon­sors to release the chil­dren to, claims its facil­i­ties are at capac­i­ty, caus­ing to chil­dren to stay in Bor­der Patrol cus­tody for longer peri­ods of time. “Here is a sit­u­a­tion where, because there is not enough funding…they can’t move the peo­ple out of our cus­tody,” act­ing Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sion­er John Sanders told the Asso­ci­at­ed Press. Ear­li­er this month the admin­is­tra­tion announced that it was can­cel­ing edu­ca­tion­al and recre­ation­al pro­grams and legal aid in shel­ters because of bud­get short­falls at HHS, and request­ed $2.9 bil­lion to expand its facil­i­ties.

    On Tues­day night the House vot­ed on a $4.5 bil­lion emer­gency fund­ing pack­age intend­ed to address the cri­sis. The mea­sure passed after an intense debate among Democ­rats about the wis­dom of pour­ing more mon­ey into a dys­func­tion­al and expand­ing deten­tion sys­tem. Some pro­gres­sive law­mak­ers, along with immi­grant rights advo­cates, argued that mis­man­age­ment and pol­i­cy deci­sions made by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion were to blame for a “man­u­fac­tured” crisis—and that the focus should be on dis­man­tling the deten­tion sys­tem, not on prop­ping it up. Poor con­di­tions are “not due to a lack of resources; [they’re] due to a desire—an active desire by this admin­is­tra­tion to hurt kids,” Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez said on Mon­day evening before a meet­ing in House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi’s office regard­ing the fund­ing pack­age. “We need to stop fund­ing the deten­tion of chil­dren under any and all cir­cum­stances.” Ulti­mate­ly, Oca­sio-Cortez was one of three pro­gres­sive Democ­rats to vote against the bill, which passed most­ly along par­ty lines.

    The over­rid­ing con­cern was that some of the mon­ey referred to as a “human­i­tar­i­an aid” pack­age could be used to expand deten­tion capac­i­ty. “I think there’s been a lot of obfus­ca­tion in this debate, where peo­ple who sup­port a more mil­i­ta­rized bor­der are point­ing to these con­di­tions as rea­son to appro­pri­ate more mon­ey for more jails,” said Clara Long, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and a mem­ber of the mon­i­tor­ing team that vis­it­ed the Clint facil­i­ty. “Expand­ing deten­tion cen­ters means more peo­ple are going to be detained and that puts more peo­ple at risk, when the best way to ensure that chil­dren are safe and that asy­lum seek­ers’ rights are respect­ed is to opt to release peo­ple and have them live in com­mu­ni­ties and with their fam­i­lies,” said Long.

    Jonathan Ryan, the CEO of the legal aid orga­ni­za­tion RAICES, explained his con­cerns to Isaac Chotin­er in sim­i­lar terms. “We are being pre­sent­ed with a false choice,” Ryan said. “It is either you with­hold funds from chil­dren who des­per­ate­ly need them, or you pro­vide funds that will be used to cre­ate more cages, more con­cen­tra­tion camps, more deaths of chil­dren at the bor­der.”

    Mem­bers of the Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive and His­pan­ic cau­cus­es in the House did man­age to add some stricter con­di­tions into the fund­ing pack­age, which directs $788 mil­lion to new Bor­der Patrol facil­i­ties; $112 mil­lion for food, med­ical care, and oth­er neces­si­ties for peo­ple in Bor­der Patrol cus­tody; and $866 mil­lion to shel­ters under the juris­dic­tion of HHS. Ulti­mate­ly, Democ­rats hope the fund­ing will help the admin­is­tra­tion move chil­dren more quick­ly from Bor­der Patrol cus­tody to HHS shel­ters, which are bet­ter equipped to care for them. But some of those pri­vate­ly oper­at­ed shel­ters, called “tem­po­rary influx” facil­i­ties, are on fed­er­al prop­er­ty and exempt from state reg­u­la­tions an over­sight; the bill requires that these cen­ters meet cer­tain stan­dards of care and lim­its the time that chil­dren can be kept there to 90 days. The largest of these, known as Home­stead, is a 3,200-bed com­pound in south Flori­da owned by a for-prof­it cor­po­ra­tion called Cal­iburn Inter­na­tion­al. For­mer White House chief of staff John Kel­ly joined Caliburn’s board ear­li­er this year, short­ly before the com­pa­ny secured a $341 mil­lion no-bid con­tract from the gov­ern­ment. Long, who vis­it­ed Home­stead in March, said that the idea of chil­dren leav­ing Bor­der Patrol cus­tody for that shel­ter was “cold com­fort” giv­en what she wit­nessed there, although she added that a 90-day lim­it was bet­ter than none at all.

    “There are a lot of peo­ple mak­ing a lot of mon­ey by lock­ing those kids up. The fact is, they don’t need to be there,” said War­ren Bin­ford, the direc­tor of the clin­i­cal law pro­gram at Willamette Uni­ver­si­ty, and anoth­er mem­ber of the team that report­ed on con­di­tions in Clint. (That team is tasked with eval­u­at­ing the government’s com­pli­ance with the Flo­res set­tle­ment, a legal agree­ment gov­ern­ing the treat­ment of migrant chil­dren in fed­er­al cus­tody.) Bin­ford and oth­er attor­neys say that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to need­less­ly sep­a­rate chil­dren from rel­a­tives at the border—including, in some cas­es, their par­ents—and has been slow to release chil­dren to spon­sors, in part because of changes to the vet­ting process that put spon­sors at risk for deten­tion and depor­ta­tion, dis­cour­ag­ing them from com­ing for­ward. Accord­ing to Bin­ford, many of the chil­dren held for extend­ed peri­ods in Bor­der Patrol cus­tody or in HHS shel­ters have par­ents or rel­a­tives in the Unit­ed States, but the admin­is­tra­tion is mak­ing lit­tle effort to find them.

    Many pro­gres­sives vot­ed for the House fund­ing mea­sure despite seri­ous mis­giv­ings. “I have tremen­dous appre­hen­sions about [sup­port­ing the leg­is­la­tion],” Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus co-chair Prami­la Jaya­pal said before the vote. “I am not doing so with a free heart. I am not doing so believ­ing that this is going to solve the prob­lems. I am doing so because I am will­ing in the name of these chil­dren to see if we can do some­thing to improve those con­di­tions at the bor­der.” Even that hope remains ten­ta­tive: Trump threat­ened to veto the House leg­is­la­tion, pre­fer­ring the ver­sion that the Sen­ate is expect­ed to vote on lat­er this week, which places few­er restric­tions on the mon­ey. Con­gress has only a few days to rec­on­cile dif­fer­ences between the two bills before the July 4 recess.

    ...

    ———-

    “Democ­rats Con­front a Dilem­ma at the Bor­der” by Zoë Car­pen­ter; The Nation; 06/26/2019

    “Last week, a group of lawyers vis­it­ed a remote Bor­der Patrol facil­i­ty in Clint, Texas, that was designed for the tem­po­rary deten­tion of about 100 adult migrants. What they found were some 250 chil­dren in appalling con­di­tions. Sev­er­al were sick and in quar­an­tine; oth­ers had lice. Very young chil­dren had been left in the care of slight­ly old­er chil­dren. Although the gov­ern­ment is bound by a legal agree­ment and oth­er reg­u­la­tions to pro­vide “safe and san­i­tary” con­di­tions for under­age migrants and to trans­fer them out of Bor­der Patrol cus­tody with­in 72 hours, chil­dren told lawyers they had been in the facil­i­ty for weeks with­out reg­u­lar access to beds, show­ers, tooth­brush­es, and soap.”

    Weeks with­out reg­u­lar access to beds, show­ers, tooth­brush­es, and soap and leav­ing very young chil­dren in the care of slight­ly old­er chil­dren. That’s what was dis­cov­ered at just one of the fed­er­al facil­i­ties where undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grant chil­dren are being held. But this is all the fault of the Democ­rats for not pro­vid­ing enough fund­ing accord­ing to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. It’s the kind of expla­na­tion that’s defies log­ic giv­en the low costs of things like tooth­paste and soap, which only fuels con­cerns that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is basi­cal­ly hold­ing these kids hostage in these con­di­tions in order to force Con­gress to allo­cate the full range of funds for Trump’s immi­gra­tion-relat­ed agen­da. An agen­da that would involved a dra­mat­ic expan­sion of the num­bers of these deten­tion facil­i­tates if the admin­is­tra­tion can get all of the funds it desires. The fact that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is threat­en­ing to veto the House­’s emer­gency fund­ing bill in favor of a Sen­ate ver­sion that has few­er restric­tions on how the fund­ing is spent adds to the sus­pi­cions that we’re see­ing a child abuse hostage cri­sis designed to extract mon­ey from con­gress in order to cre­ate even more poor­ly-run deten­tion facil­i­ties:

    ...
    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion describes the prob­lem large­ly as an issue of mon­ey. The Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices, which over­sees the shel­ter sys­tem for under­age migrants and is charged with find­ing spon­sors to release the chil­dren to, claims its facil­i­ties are at capac­i­ty, caus­ing to chil­dren to stay in Bor­der Patrol cus­tody for longer peri­ods of time. “Here is a sit­u­a­tion where, because there is not enough funding…they can’t move the peo­ple out of our cus­tody,” act­ing Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sion­er John Sanders told the Asso­ci­at­ed Press. Ear­li­er this month the admin­is­tra­tion announced that it was can­cel­ing edu­ca­tion­al and recre­ation­al pro­grams and legal aid in shel­ters because of bud­get short­falls at HHS, and request­ed $2.9 bil­lion to expand its facil­i­ties.

    On Tues­day night the House vot­ed on a $4.5 bil­lion emer­gency fund­ing pack­age intend­ed to address the cri­sis. The mea­sure passed after an intense debate among Democ­rats about the wis­dom of pour­ing more mon­ey into a dys­func­tion­al and expand­ing deten­tion sys­tem. Some pro­gres­sive law­mak­ers, along with immi­grant rights advo­cates, argued that mis­man­age­ment and pol­i­cy deci­sions made by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion were to blame for a “man­u­fac­tured” crisis—and that the focus should be on dis­man­tling the deten­tion sys­tem, not on prop­ping it up. Poor con­di­tions are “not due to a lack of resources; [they’re] due to a desire—an active desire by this admin­is­tra­tion to hurt kids,” Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez said on Mon­day evening before a meet­ing in House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi’s office regard­ing the fund­ing pack­age. “We need to stop fund­ing the deten­tion of chil­dren under any and all cir­cum­stances.” Ulti­mate­ly, Oca­sio-Cortez was one of three pro­gres­sive Democ­rats to vote against the bill, which passed most­ly along par­ty lines.

    The over­rid­ing con­cern was that some of the mon­ey referred to as a “human­i­tar­i­an aid” pack­age could be used to expand deten­tion capac­i­ty. “I think there’s been a lot of obfus­ca­tion in this debate, where peo­ple who sup­port a more mil­i­ta­rized bor­der are point­ing to these con­di­tions as rea­son to appro­pri­ate more mon­ey for more jails,” said Clara Long, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and a mem­ber of the mon­i­tor­ing team that vis­it­ed the Clint facil­i­ty. “Expand­ing deten­tion cen­ters means more peo­ple are going to be detained and that puts more peo­ple at risk, when the best way to ensure that chil­dren are safe and that asy­lum seek­ers’ rights are respect­ed is to opt to release peo­ple and have them live in com­mu­ni­ties and with their fam­i­lies,” said Long.

    ...

    Many pro­gres­sives vot­ed for the House fund­ing mea­sure despite seri­ous mis­giv­ings. “I have tremen­dous appre­hen­sions about [sup­port­ing the leg­is­la­tion],” Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus co-chair Prami­la Jaya­pal said before the vote. “I am not doing so with a free heart. I am not doing so believ­ing that this is going to solve the prob­lems. I am doing so because I am will­ing in the name of these chil­dren to see if we can do some­thing to improve those con­di­tions at the bor­der.” Even that hope remains ten­ta­tive: Trump threat­ened to veto the House leg­is­la­tion, pre­fer­ring the ver­sion that the Sen­ate is expect­ed to vote on lat­er this week, which places few­er restric­tions on the mon­ey. Con­gress has only a few days to rec­on­cile dif­fer­ences between the two bills before the July 4 recess.
    ...

    And note how some of the facil­i­ties hous­ing immi­grants while they await their hear­ings are pri­vate­ly run for-prof­it facil­i­ties, the largest of which has for­mer White House chief of staff John Kel­ly sit­ting on its board, high­light­ing how poten­tial­ly prof­itable a dra­mat­ic expan­sion in deten­tion facil­i­ties could be and how the prof­it-motive is going to play into the deci­sions to leave immi­grants in dan­ger­ous con­di­tions:

    ...
    Mem­bers of the Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive and His­pan­ic cau­cus­es in the House did man­age to add some stricter con­di­tions into the fund­ing pack­age, which directs $788 mil­lion to new Bor­der Patrol facil­i­ties; $112 mil­lion for food, med­ical care, and oth­er neces­si­ties for peo­ple in Bor­der Patrol cus­tody; and $866 mil­lion to shel­ters under the juris­dic­tion of HHS. Ulti­mate­ly, Democ­rats hope the fund­ing will help the admin­is­tra­tion move chil­dren more quick­ly from Bor­der Patrol cus­tody to HHS shel­ters, which are bet­ter equipped to care for them. But some of those pri­vate­ly oper­at­ed shel­ters, called “tem­po­rary influx” facil­i­ties, are on fed­er­al prop­er­ty and exempt from state reg­u­la­tions an over­sight; the bill requires that these cen­ters meet cer­tain stan­dards of care and lim­its the time that chil­dren can be kept there to 90 days. The largest of these, known as Home­stead, is a 3,200-bed com­pound in south Flori­da owned by a for-prof­it cor­po­ra­tion called Cal­iburn Inter­na­tion­al. For­mer White House chief of staff John Kel­ly joined Caliburn’s board ear­li­er this year, short­ly before the com­pa­ny secured a $341 mil­lion no-bid con­tract from the gov­ern­ment. Long, who vis­it­ed Home­stead in March, said that the idea of chil­dren leav­ing Bor­der Patrol cus­tody for that shel­ter was “cold com­fort” giv­en what she wit­nessed there, although she added that a 90-day lim­it was bet­ter than none at all.
    ...

    Next, here’s an arti­cle that points out the fact that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion lawyers are already argu­ing that with­hold­ing basic ser­vices like soap and tooth­brush­es does not vio­late the government’s respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­vide “safe and san­i­tary” con­di­tions to detained chil­dren. Yep, they seri­ous­ly just argued this as part of an appeal of a rul­ing that found that such ameni­ties are indeed required:

    Vox

    As immi­grant chil­dren go with­out soap and tooth­brush­es, Trump and Pence say Con­gress is to blame

    Lawyers vis­it­ing a deten­tion cen­ter in Texas found chil­dren there lacked basic neces­si­ties. Trump and Pence blame Con­gress.

    By Anya van Wag­ten­donk Jun 23, 2019, 5:39pm EDT

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence respond­ed sep­a­rate­ly to crit­i­cism over reports that the gov­ern­ment is not pro­vid­ing detained immi­grant chil­dren with ade­quate food, water, soap, tooth­brush­es, or blan­kets. In three inter­views that aired Sun­day, both men blamed Democ­rats for the con­di­tions at deten­tion facil­i­ties.

    Ques­tions about the con­di­tions detained minors are in began to arise fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of an Asso­ci­at­ed Press report that detailed the find­ings of a team of lawyers that toured a deten­tion facil­i­ty in Clint, Texas. The lawyers report­ed they found 250 infants, chil­dren, and teenagers being held with­out ade­quate access to food, water, or med­i­cine. They also said they saw babies and tod­dlers being left in the care of slight­ly old­er chil­dren, and that there was poor access to areas for bathing, places to sleep, and fresh clothes.

    Pence told CNN’s Jake Tap­per that he believes the gov­ern­ment should “of course” pro­vide chil­dren with basic ameni­ties. But he blamed con­gres­sion­al Democ­rats for the lack of suf­fi­cient bed space, argu­ing that they had stymied efforts to increase fund­ing for US Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion (CBP) dur­ing the gov­ern­ment shut­down last win­ter.

    Tap­per pressed Pence on the “hor­rif­ic con­di­tions” at the Clint deten­tion cen­ter, where lawyers who vis­it­ed the facil­i­ty told sto­ries of flu and lice out­breaks and min­i­mal adult super­vi­sion. “It’s the worst con­di­tions I have ever wit­nessed in sev­er­al years of doing these inspec­tions,” War­ren Bin­ford, one of the lawyers, told PBS New­sHour.

    “You’re a father. You’re a man of faith,” Tap­per pressed the vice pres­i­dent. “You can’t approve of that.”

    “No Amer­i­can should approve of this mass influx of peo­ple com­ing across our bor­der,” Pence respond­ed. “It is over­whelm­ing our sys­tem.”

    Speak­ing with Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press, Trump also said that Democ­rats were to blame for the poor con­di­tions at the bor­der.

    “It looks like these kids are being used as, as some sort of — is it hostages?” Todd asked.

    “If the Democ­rats would change the asy­lum laws and the loop­holes, which they refuse to do because they think it’s good pol­i­tics, every­thing would be solved imme­di­ate­ly. But they refuse to do it,” Trump said.

    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion has defend­ed these con­di­tions in court

    These inter­views fol­lowed a viral video of a Jus­tice Depart­ment attor­ney argu­ing before the Ninth Cir­cuit Court of Appeals that with­hold­ing basic ameni­ties, like soap and tooth­brush­es, from detained migrants does not vio­late the government’s respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­vide “safe and san­i­tary” con­di­tions to detained chil­dren, some­thing estab­lished in what’s known as the Flo­res set­tle­ment.

    In the video, pub­lished last week, one of the three appel­late judges incred­u­lous­ly asks the lawyer, Sarah Fabi­an, if “there are cir­cum­stances when a per­son doesn’t need to have a tooth­brush, tooth­paste, and soap? For days?”

    Fabi­an answered by argu­ing the Flo­res set­tle­ment was vague, mak­ing its lan­guage on pro­vid­ing chil­dren with safe and san­i­tary con­di­tions unen­force­able.

    At issue is what the Flo­res set­tle­ment directs the gov­ern­ment to do. The name comes from a 1997 fed­er­al court deci­sion, Flo­res v. Reno, that cre­at­ed guide­lines for keep­ing chil­dren in immi­gra­tion deten­tion cen­ters. The Flo­res set­tle­ment requires that chil­dren be released to “respon­si­ble” adults as quick­ly as pos­si­ble, that their deten­tion con­di­tions be as unre­stric­tive pos­si­ble, that the con­di­tions in which they are being kept are safe and san­i­tary, and that they be giv­en basic neces­si­ties like food, water, and med­i­cine.

    The set­tle­ment came back before judges in 2015, when lawyers argued that the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion was vio­lat­ing immi­grants’ rights. In fil­ings dur­ing that case, they alleged dan­ger­ous con­di­tions at hold­ing facil­i­ties.

    The judge in that case, US Dis­trict Judge Dol­ly Gee, found that these con­di­tions indeed vio­lat­ed Flo­res. The rul­ing was con­firmed by the Ninth Cir­cuit in 2017, but the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has tak­en on an appeal, argu­ing the set­tle­ment doesn’t man­date that the gov­ern­ment pro­vide chil­dren with tooth­brush­es and soap.

    Fabi­an is one of the lawyers from the Depart­ment of Jus­tice rep­re­sent­ing the gov­ern­ment in this appeal.

    The three judges on the Ninth Cir­cuit probed Fabi­an on the def­i­n­i­tion of “safe and san­i­tary” last week. Judge William Fletch­er asked her if the gov­ern­ment con­sid­ered “cold all night long, lights on all night long, sleep­ing on con­crete and you’ve got an alu­minum foil blan­ket” to be with­in the bounds of safe and san­i­tary.

    Fabi­an argued that the spe­cif­ic ameni­ties in ques­tion — tooth­brush­es, soap, tooth­paste, and blan­kets — were not item­ized with­in the orig­i­nal set­tle­ment.

    “One has to assume ... par­ties couldn’t reach agree­ment on how to enu­mer­ate that or it was left to the agen­cies to deter­mine,” she said.

    Argu­ing on behalf of the detained chil­dren, Peter Schey, pres­i­dent of the Cen­ter for Human Rights & Con­sti­tu­tion­al Law, said “the plain mean­ing” of the words safe and san­i­tary need­ed to be hon­ored.

    “Today we have a sit­u­a­tion where once a month a child is dying in cus­tody,” he said. “Cer­tain­ly the Bor­der Patrol facil­i­ties are secure, but they’re not safe and they’re not san­i­tary.”

    The judges did not rule on the issue, and did not say when they would before end­ing the ses­sion. How­ev­er, clips of Fabian’s argu­ments were wide­ly cir­cu­lat­ed on social media.

    When Pence was shown one such clip by Tap­per, he respond­ed by say­ing, “I can’t speak to what that lawyer was say­ing.”

    ...

    ———–

    “As immi­grant chil­dren go with­out soap and tooth­brush­es, Trump and Pence say Con­gress is to blame” by Anya van Wag­ten­donk; Vox; 06/23/2019

    “These inter­views fol­lowed a viral video of a Jus­tice Depart­ment attor­ney argu­ing before the Ninth Cir­cuit Court of Appeals that with­hold­ing basic ameni­ties, like soap and tooth­brush­es, from detained migrants does not vio­late the government’s respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­vide “safe and san­i­tary” con­di­tions to detained chil­dren, some­thing estab­lished in what’s known as the Flo­res set­tle­ment.”

    What was dis­cov­ered at that facil­i­ty in Clint, Texas, was legal­ly accept­able. That’s what Trump’s Jus­tice Depar­tent lawyers just argued in their appeal of a rul­ing that found the oppo­site was the case. That’s how ded­i­cat­ed the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is to defend­ing the treat­ment of these chil­dren:

    ...
    In the video, pub­lished last week, one of the three appel­late judges incred­u­lous­ly asks the lawyer, Sarah Fabi­an, if “there are cir­cum­stances when a per­son doesn’t need to have a tooth­brush, tooth­paste, and soap? For days?”

    Fabi­an answered by argu­ing the Flo­res set­tle­ment was vague, mak­ing its lan­guage on pro­vid­ing chil­dren with safe and san­i­tary con­di­tions unen­force­able.

    At issue is what the Flo­res set­tle­ment directs the gov­ern­ment to do. The name comes from a 1997 fed­er­al court deci­sion, Flo­res v. Reno, that cre­at­ed guide­lines for keep­ing chil­dren in immi­gra­tion deten­tion cen­ters. The Flo­res set­tle­ment requires that chil­dren be released to “respon­si­ble” adults as quick­ly as pos­si­ble, that their deten­tion con­di­tions be as unre­stric­tive pos­si­ble, that the con­di­tions in which they are being kept are safe and san­i­tary, and that they be giv­en basic neces­si­ties like food, water, and med­i­cine.

    The set­tle­ment came back before judges in 2015, when lawyers argued that the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion was vio­lat­ing immi­grants’ rights. In fil­ings dur­ing that case, they alleged dan­ger­ous con­di­tions at hold­ing facil­i­ties.

    The judge in that case, US Dis­trict Judge Dol­ly Gee, found that these con­di­tions indeed vio­lat­ed Flo­res. The rul­ing was con­firmed by the Ninth Cir­cuit in 2017, but the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has tak­en on an appeal, argu­ing the set­tle­ment doesn’t man­date that the gov­ern­ment pro­vide chil­dren with tooth­brush­es and soap.

    Fabi­an is one of the lawyers from the Depart­ment of Jus­tice rep­re­sent­ing the gov­ern­ment in this appeal.

    The three judges on the Ninth Cir­cuit probed Fabi­an on the def­i­n­i­tion of “safe and san­i­tary” last week. Judge William Fletch­er asked her if the gov­ern­ment con­sid­ered “cold all night long, lights on all night long, sleep­ing on con­crete and you’ve got an alu­minum foil blan­ket” to be with­in the bounds of safe and san­i­tary.

    Fabi­an argued that the spe­cif­ic ameni­ties in ques­tion — tooth­brush­es, soap, tooth­paste, and blan­kets — were not item­ized with­in the orig­i­nal set­tle­ment.

    “One has to assume ... par­ties couldn’t reach agree­ment on how to enu­mer­ate that or it was left to the agen­cies to deter­mine,” she said.
    ...

    So as we can see, the scan­dal here isn’t sim­ply the dis­cov­ery of these chil­dren being kept in a gov­ern­ment facil­i­tate with­out basics like soap and blan­kets. The larg­er scan­dal is that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is argu­ing that this isn’t a scan­dal at the same time it’s using these kids as bar­gain­ing chips in order to get more funds from Con­gress to expand this sys­tem. And even that scan­dal is dwarfed by the much larg­er scan­dal that this entire scan­dal appears to all be going accord­ing to plan.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 26, 2019, 3:53 pm
  17. Here’s a rather dis­turb­ing sto­ry about the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s fight with fed­er­al immi­gra­tion judges: The Trump admin­is­tra­tion is cur­rent­ly work­ing on strip­ping the fed­er­al immi­gra­tion judges of their rights to union­ize. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, this union, Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Immi­gra­tion Judge, has been high­ly crit­i­cal of a num­ber of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s deci­sions regard­ing immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy. The Trump admin­is­tra­tion is argu­ing that the judges should­n’t be allowed to union­ized because they serve man­age­ment posi­tions. As the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, this isn’t the first time a pres­i­dent has tried to make the same argu­ment. Bill Clin­ton’s jus­tice depart­ment tried some­thing sim­i­lar in 2000, argu­ing that immi­gra­tion judges make pol­i­cy through the issuance of deci­sions, but the Fed­er­al Labor Rela­tions Author­i­ty (FLRA) reject­ed the argu­ment.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, as the fol­low­ing arti­cle also notes, it sounds like the Trump admin­is­tra­tion does have oth­er avenues for elim­i­nat­ing this union that would be far more like­ly to suc­ceed. Specif­i­cal­ly, there’s a fed­er­al statute allows the pres­i­dent to an exec­u­tive order strip­ping employ­ees of col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights if they work in intel­li­gence or nation­al secu­ri­ty. It’s unclear why the Trump admin­is­tra­tion isn’t tak­ing that approach and is instead basi­cal­ly try­ing to reat­tempt the same argu­ment that was reject­ed in 2000.

    Now here’s the dis­turb­ing part of this sto­ry: It was just report­ed that the Jus­tice Department’s Exec­u­tive Office for Immi­gra­tion Review (EOIR) sent an email out to all immi­gra­tion court employ­ees that includ­ed a link to a blog post on VDare.com, a promi­nent white nation­al­ist site. That VDare.com blog post specif­i­cal­ly talks about the move to decer­ti­fy the immi­gra­tion judges union and includes pic­tures of judges with the term “kritarch” pre­ced­ing their names. “Kritarch” was a term for the judges that ruled in ancient Israel dur­ing a time when Israel was ruled by a sys­tem of judges under a kritarchy. So the DOJ sent an email out to all of the immi­gra­tion court employ­ees that linked to a VDare.com blog post­ing about the fight over the immi­gra­tion judge union that char­ac­ter­ized the judges as ancient Israeli judge rulers. The DOJ is explain­ing that these dai­ly emails sent out to immi­gra­tion court employ­ees are gen­er­at­ed by a con­trac­tor and not reviews by the DOJ itself. We are not giv­en the iden­ti­ty of this con­trac­tor.

    So, true to form, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has man­aged to incor­po­rate far right anti-Semit­ic memes in its fight to get more com­pli­ant immi­gra­tion judges. Ok, first, here’s an arti­cle describ­ing the recent­ly announced push to elim­i­nate the immi­gra­tion judges union:

    Gov­ern­ment Exec­u­tive

    Trump Admin­is­tra­tion Looks to Decer­ti­fy Vocal Fed­er­al Employ­ee Union
    The Jus­tice Depart­ment says immi­gra­tion law judges oper­ate as man­agers, an argu­ment the Fed­er­al Labor Rela­tions Author­i­ty reject­ed in 2000.

    Eric Katz
    Senior Cor­re­spon­dent
    August 12, 2019

    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion is look­ing to strip immi­gra­tion judges of their rights to union­ize, tak­ing aim at a labor group that has vocal­ly crit­i­cized some of the president’s major pol­i­cy ini­tia­tives.

    The Jus­tice Depart­ment filed its peti­tion with the Fed­er­al Labor Rela­tions Author­i­ty on Fri­day in an attempt to decer­ti­fy the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Immi­gra­tion Judges. The union—originally cer­ti­fied in 1979—represents about 400 judges around the coun­try. The admin­is­tra­tion is argu­ing they serve in man­age­ment posi­tions and are there­fore not eli­gi­ble to union­ize.

    The effort fol­lows a sim­i­lar, and unsuc­cess­ful, strat­e­gy pur­sued by the Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tion. FLRA reject­ed the Jus­tice Department’s argu­ment in 2000 that immi­gra­tion judges make pol­i­cy through the issuance of deci­sions, not­ing the judges do not set prece­dent and their rul­ings are often appealed and reviewed. FLRA also said the immi­gra­tion court sys­tem was estab­lished specif­i­cal­ly so judges do not main­tain any man­age­ment duties to enable them to focus on hear­ings.

    Still, a Jus­tice spokesper­son said the judges are man­age­ment offi­cials under the statu­to­ry def­i­n­i­tion. Fed­er­al law defines agency man­agers as “any indi­vid­ual employed by an agency in a posi­tion the duties and respon­si­bil­i­ties of which require or autho­rize the indi­vid­ual to for­mu­late, deter­mine, or influ­ence the poli­cies of the agency.”

    An FLRA region­al direc­tor is now like­ly to open an inves­ti­ga­tion into the union and its mem­bers, seek­ing infor­ma­tion about their respon­si­bil­i­ties. Jus­tice will then sub­mit “fac­tu­al and legal argu­ments in sup­port of its peti­tion,” the spokesper­son said. The region­al direc­tor can then issue a deci­sion or request a hear­ing to solic­it more infor­ma­tion. Either par­ty can appeal the region­al director’s deci­sion to the full FLRA board.

    In 2000, the region­al direc­tor reject­ed Justice’s argu­ment and the full board upheld that deci­sion upon appeal. One of the author­i­ty mem­bers rul­ing in the union’s favor was Dale Cabaniss, cur­rent­ly Pres­i­dent Trump’s nom­i­nee to lead the Office of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment.

    The admin­is­tra­tion could have pur­sued anoth­er track, as fed­er­al statute allows the pres­i­dent to uni­lat­er­al­ly issue an exec­u­tive order strip­ping employ­ees of col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights if they work in intel­li­gence or nation­al secu­ri­ty. Pres­i­dents Carter, Rea­gan, George W. Bush and Oba­ma all issued orders to that effect.

    “It seems to me if they want­ed to get rid of the judges’ union [the admin­is­tra­tion] would say they are involved with nation­al secu­ri­ty,” said one for­mer senior FLRA offi­cial, who added the pres­i­dent could have done away with the union “at the stroke of the pen” with lit­tle recourse for the group. The Trump admin­is­tra­tion has repeat­ed­ly stressed the nation­al secu­ri­ty sig­nif­i­cance of its immi­gra­tion-relat­ed poli­cies.

    Ash­ley Tabad­dor said her union was not noti­fied of the peti­tion and learned about it from infor­ma­tion Jus­tice released to the media.

    “It appears that the DOJ is repeat­ing their pre­vi­ous unsuc­cess­ful effort before the FLRA to dis­band the union based on the same set of unfound­ed claims,” Tabad­dor said. She called the effort “noth­ing more than a des­per­ate attempt by the DOJ to evade trans­paren­cy and account­abil­i­ty and under­mine the deci­sion­al inde­pen­dence” of her mem­bers, adding immi­gra­tion judges “do not set poli­cies, and we don’t man­age staff.”

    Tabad­dor, a Los Ange­les-based judge, has joined oth­er mem­bers of her union in crit­i­ciz­ing Jus­tice for cre­at­ing a quo­ta sys­tem on immi­gra­tion judges, among oth­er issues. The judges have said that by tying the quo­ta to their per­for­mance reviews, the admin­is­tra­tion is cre­at­ing finan­cial incen­tives to decide cas­es more quick­ly.

    “The gov­ern­ment has now tied our finan­cial inter­est in keep­ing a job with the out­come of our deci­sion,” said Ameina Khan, the NAIJ vice pres­i­dent and a New York-based judge, adding that “right there the integri­ty of the process as a whole” has now been “put into ques­tion.”

    Tabad­dor has crit­i­cized Pres­i­dent Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial “zero-tol­er­ance” pol­i­cy that led to fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tions at the U.S.-Mexico bor­der as cre­at­ing unprece­dent­ed pres­sure on the court sys­tem, which is now fac­ing a back­log of more than 900,000 cas­es. She pushed back last year after Trump said increas­ing the num­ber of judges would lead to wide­spread “graft” and ques­tioned the need for judges at all, say­ing the pres­i­dent was mak­ing alle­ga­tions with­out evi­dence and her mem­bers were “shocked and dis­ap­point­ed” by the com­ments. Immi­gra­tion judges have for years pushed for inde­pen­dence from the Jus­tice Depart­ment alto­geth­er, argu­ing the attor­ney gen­er­al wields too much influ­ence over deci­sion-mak­ing and the judges should not split resources with law enforce­ment.

    ...

    ———-

    “Trump Admin­is­tra­tion Looks to Decer­ti­fy Vocal Fed­er­al Employ­ee Union” by Eric Katz, Gov­ern­ment Exec­u­tive, 08/12/2019

    “The Jus­tice Depart­ment filed its peti­tion with the Fed­er­al Labor Rela­tions Author­i­ty on Fri­day in an attempt to decer­ti­fy the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Immi­gra­tion Judges. The union—originally cer­ti­fied in 1979—represents about 400 judges around the coun­try. The admin­is­tra­tion is argu­ing they serve in man­age­ment posi­tions and are there­fore not eli­gi­ble to union­ize.”

    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion clear­ly hates unions in gen­er­al, so on one lev­el the only thing sur­pris­ing about this move is that it took this long for them to attempt it. But this is also hap­pen­ing in the con­text of a push to enforce quo­tas on these judges to speed up cas­es instead of hir­ing more judges:

    ...
    Tabad­dor, a Los Ange­les-based judge, has joined oth­er mem­bers of her union in crit­i­ciz­ing Jus­tice for cre­at­ing a quo­ta sys­tem on immi­gra­tion judges, among oth­er issues. The judges have said that by tying the quo­ta to their per­for­mance reviews, the admin­is­tra­tion is cre­at­ing finan­cial incen­tives to decide cas­es more quick­ly.

    “The gov­ern­ment has now tied our finan­cial inter­est in keep­ing a job with the out­come of our deci­sion,” said Ameina Khan, the NAIJ vice pres­i­dent and a New York-based judge, adding that “right there the integri­ty of the process as a whole” has now been “put into ques­tion.”

    Tabad­dor has crit­i­cized Pres­i­dent Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial “zero-tol­er­ance” pol­i­cy that led to fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tions at the U.S.-Mexico bor­der as cre­at­ing unprece­dent­ed pres­sure on the court sys­tem, which is now fac­ing a back­log of more than 900,000 cas­es. She pushed back last year after Trump said increas­ing the num­ber of judges would lead to wide­spread “graft” and ques­tioned the need for judges at all, say­ing the pres­i­dent was mak­ing alle­ga­tions with­out evi­dence and her mem­bers were “shocked and dis­ap­point­ed” by the com­ments. Immi­gra­tion judges have for years pushed for inde­pen­dence from the Jus­tice Depart­ment alto­geth­er, argu­ing the attor­ney gen­er­al wields too much influ­ence over deci­sion-mak­ing and the judges should not split resources with law enforce­ment.

    ...

    It also appears that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion could poten­tial­ly decer­ti­fy the union uni­lat­er­al­ly with an exec­u­tive order:

    ...
    The admin­is­tra­tion could have pur­sued anoth­er track, as fed­er­al statute allows the pres­i­dent to uni­lat­er­al­ly issue an exec­u­tive order strip­ping employ­ees of col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights if they work in intel­li­gence or nation­al secu­ri­ty. Pres­i­dents Carter, Rea­gan, George W. Bush and Oba­ma all issued orders to that effect.

    “It seems to me if they want­ed to get rid of the judges’ union [the admin­is­tra­tion] would say they are involved with nation­al secu­ri­ty,” said one for­mer senior FLRA offi­cial, who added the pres­i­dent could have done away with the union “at the stroke of the pen” with lit­tle recourse for the group. The Trump admin­is­tra­tion has repeat­ed­ly stressed the nation­al secu­ri­ty sig­nif­i­cance of its immi­gra­tion-relat­ed poli­cies.
    ...

    So it would be inter­est­ing to know why they aren’t tak­ing that approach. Is this more about cre­at­ing a big pub­lic fight with the judges for the pur­pose of mak­ing it look like judges are the obsta­cle to Trump not accom­plish­ing all of his anti-immi­gra­tion pledges to vot­ers? Who knows, but Trump’s white nation­al­ist base is clear­ly quite inter­est­ed in this fight as evi­denced by the VDare.com blog post cov­er­ing the sto­ry and call­ing the judges “Kritarchs”. And the Depart­ment of Jus­tice just hap­pened to ‘acci­den­tal­ly’ let all those judges know that the white nation­al­ists know who they are:

    Buz­zFeed News

    The Jus­tice Depart­ment Sent Immi­gra­tion Judges A White Nation­al­ist Blog Post With Anti-Semit­ic Attacks

    “The post fea­tures links and con­tent that direct­ly attacks sit­ting immi­gra­tion judges with racial and eth­ni­cal­ly tinged slurs,” a union chief said in a let­ter.

    Hamed Aleaz­iz Buz­zFeed News Reporter

    Last updat­ed on August 22, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. ET
    Post­ed on August 22, 2019, at 4:16 p.m. ET

    An email sent from the Jus­tice Depart­ment to all immi­gra­tion court employ­ees this week includ­ed a link to an arti­cle post­ed on a white nation­al­ist web­site that “direct­ly attacks sit­ting immi­gra­tion judges with racial and eth­ni­cal­ly tinged slurs,” accord­ing to a let­ter sent by an immi­gra­tion judges union and obtained by Buz­zFeed News.

    Accord­ing to the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Immi­gra­tion Judges, the Jus­tice Department’s Exec­u­tive Office for Immi­gra­tion Review (EOIR) sent court employ­ees a link to a blog post from VDare, a white nation­al­ist web­site, in its morn­ing news brief­ing ear­li­er this week that includ­ed anti-Semit­ic attacks on judges.

    The brief­in­gs are sent to court employ­ees every week­day and include links to var­i­ous immi­gra­tion news items. Buz­zFeed News con­firmed the link to a blog post was sent to immi­gra­tion court employ­ees Mon­day. The post detailed a recent move by the Jus­tice Depart­ment to decer­ti­fy the immi­gra­tion judges union.

    A let­ter Thurs­day from union chief Ash­ley Tabad­dor to James McHen­ry, the direc­tor of the Jus­tice Department’s EOIR, said the link to the VDare post angered many judges.

    “The post fea­tures links and con­tent that direct­ly attacks sit­ting immi­gra­tion judges with racial and eth­ni­cal­ly tinged slurs and the label ‘Kritarch.’ The ref­er­ence to Kritarch in a neg­a­tive tone is deeply offen­sive and Anti-Semit­ic,” wrote Tabad­dor. The VDare post includes pic­tures of judges with the term “kritarch” pre­ced­ing their names.

    Tabad­dor said the term kritarchy is a ref­er­ence to ancient Israel dur­ing a time of rule by a sys­tem of judges.

    “VDare’s use of the term in a pejo­ra­tive man­ner casts Jew­ish his­to­ry in a neg­a­tive light as an Anti-Semit­ic trope of Jews seek­ing pow­er and con­trol,” she wrote.

    ...

    “Pub­li­ca­tion and dis­sem­i­na­tion of a white suprema­cist, anti-semit­ic web­site through­out the EOIR is anti­thet­i­cal to the goals and ideals of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice,” she wrote. The court, Tabad­dor wrote, should imme­di­ate­ly with­draw the email and issue an apol­o­gy to all immi­gra­tion judges, includ­ing those men­tioned in the post.

    “Sep­a­rate­ly, EOIR should take all appro­pri­ate safe­ty and secu­ri­ty mea­sures for all judges giv­en the tone and tenor of this post­ing,” she wrote.

    After pub­li­ca­tion of this arti­cle, EOIR Assis­tant Press Sec­re­tary Kathryn Mat­ting­ly told Buz­zFeed News “the dai­ly EOIR morn­ing news brief­in­gs are com­piled by a con­trac­tor and the blog post should not have been includ­ed. The Depart­ment of Jus­tice con­demns Anti-Semi­tism in the strongest terms.”

    A for­mer senior DOJ offi­cial said that the email in ques­tion was “gen­er­at­ed by a third-par­ty ven­dor that uti­lizes key­word search­es to pro­duce news clip­pings for staff. It is not reviewed or approved by staff before it is trans­mit­ted.”

    ———-

    “The Jus­tice Depart­ment Sent Immi­gra­tion Judges A White Nation­al­ist Blog Post With Anti-Semit­ic Attacks” by Hamed Aleaz­iz, Buz­zFeed News, 08/22/2019

    “After pub­li­ca­tion of this arti­cle, EOIR Assis­tant Press Sec­re­tary Kathryn Mat­ting­ly told Buz­zFeed News “the dai­ly EOIR morn­ing news brief­in­gs are com­piled by a con­trac­tor and the blog post should not have been includ­ed. The Depart­ment of Jus­tice con­demns Anti-Semi­tism in the strongest terms.””

    It was just a com­plete “oops!” that just coin­ci­den­tal­ly hap­pened about two weeks after the Trump admin­is­tra­tion announced that it was push­ing to decer­ti­fy the union. It was­n’t intend­ed to be a threat to those judges. That’s the offi­cial expla­na­tion. Keep in mind that VDare.com has been gen­er­at­ing immi­gra­tion-relat­ed posts and sto­ries for years and these emails sent out by this unnamed third-par­ty con­trac­tor are sent out to immi­gra­tion court employ­ees every sin­gle week­day. So unless this con­trac­tor was recent­ly hired by the DOJ and very inex­pe­ri­enced, it’s hard to believe that they did­n’t already know that VDare.com’s con­tent should­n’t be includ­ed in these emails.

    And keep in mind that, as a result of this sto­ry, there are going to be white nation­al­ists from all over now read­ing that VDare.com blog post that describes these judges as “kritarchs”, hence the calls by the union chief for “appro­pri­ate safe­ty and secu­ri­ty mea­sures for all judges giv­en the tone and tenor of this post­ing.” This is the Trump admin­is­tra­tion we’re talk­ing about, after all. An admin­is­tra­tion with a proven track record of incit­ing the far right into tak­ing vio­lent action against its per­ceived ene­mies, espe­cial­ly if those per­ceived ene­mies are char­ac­ter­ized as ‘the Jews!’ which is exact­ly what that blog post­ing did. In oth­er words, Trump’s DOJ just basi­cal­ly issued a gen­er­al threat against US immi­gra­tion judges with this email. A deni­able threat in the form of an ‘oops!’ acci­dent done by a con­trac­tor. It’s the kind of labor rela­tions approach we should prob­a­bly expect at this point, which is what makes this an extra dis­turb­ing sto­ry.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 23, 2019, 1:25 pm

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