Preface by Claire O’Brien
Let this be where we stop them. Let’s go no further. We must hound Haspel relentlessly, daily, making it impossible for her to function. Set up 24 hour protest sites as close to the Justice Dept, Congress, and the White House, her home and her church as we can get. Everyone who deals with her, every university visit, every lecture, every meeting, every member of her personal staff gets flooded with public outrage. WE SAY NO, WE SAY NO AND WE KEEP SAYING NO.
Reblogging on Electrica in the Desert
Gina Haspel is almost certainly going to be the next director of the CIA. This shouldn’t happen, but it will.
For those unfamiliar: Haspel was deputy head of the Agency under now-secretary of state Mike Pompeo. But that wasn’t her first job. She also oversaw the CIA torture programme in a secret black-site in Thailand. In 2005 she was promoted (probably because she’s really good at torturing people), and was then in charge of the CIA’s global network of torture sites.
This makes her a terrible person, but probably quite a good CIA agent.
Just to be clear, this is not a theory a rumor or a smear. Nobody debates these facts. This was her job. She supervised torture camps.
The response in the press is pretty disheartening, to be honest. Or, at…
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Lebanon’s Rashidieh camp holds event in solidarity with Ahed Tamimi Last Thursday, NGOs from across South Lebanon gathered to promote and raise awareness of children’s rights, specifically in support of the Palestinian human rights icon, Ahed Tamimi. The event brought together hundreds of children along with NGO workers and representatives at Al-Quds Youth Centre in…
As Trump tries to escalate the tide of xenophobia that is sweeping across the US, a caravan of desperate migrants from Central America has arrived at the US-Mexican border seeking admission as refugees.
Trump has mocked and belittled these terrified people. He has dismissed their hopes and dreams. He has also chosen to ignore the fact that the migrants are fleeing social deprivation and conflict caused by the interference of the agencies of the US in nations such as Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. It was the psychopathic desires and actions of the CIA that caused civil wars in these nations, resulting in the poverty and danger that forced families to flee their homes.
Trump and his cronies (and the US Surplass) owe the people of Central America a huge debt. The least they can do is allow some of them a home where they can exist in…
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This is 26-year-old Ethan Saylor, killed in a Maryland movie theater in 2013 by three off-duty sheriff’s deputies who were working security. Mr. Saylor, who had Down Syndrome and an IQ of 40, had been ordered to leave the theater and had refused. He wanted to see the movie again and to wait for his caregiver, but had no money for a second ticket and was ordered out. He died shortly after deputies threw him to the ground and knelt on his back to handcuff him. Although the coroner ruled his death a homicide caused by asphyxiation, the deputies were not charged. It took until last month, after years of public struggle and legal appeals, for the Saylor family to finally win what would have to pass for justice for their son.
America is a dangerous place for some people. Identifying those most vulnerable to state intrusion or violence reveals much of what is most important about our country.
We cannot for a moment set aside the intense scrutiny required of us by law enforcement’s constant threat to African American lives. In 2017, for example, although only 13 percent of the population is Black, 23 percent of police shooting fatalities were Black. But that specific danger lies near the far end of a continuum on which every degree of difference from a narrow norm represents a risk. A lot more of us are on that continuum than we realize. In spite of national rhetoric to the contrary, the United States is really a strikingly conformist society, something we often don’t notice until a kind of confrontation suddenly pops up – that is, when the language of a public ideal collides with widespread social stigma instead of covering that stigma up.
Down Syndrome is such a good example of how that happens, even after the long, hard, and apparently successful struggle by families to transform public perception. It’s hard to believe the clumsy, rough, mean-spirited, and ignorant treatment Ethan received. He called out for his mother, yelling that he was hurt, shortly before he drew his last breath. And this happened long after Down Syndrome meant a lifetime in institutions, beginning in early childhood. In fact, America has long been introduced to both the potential and the particular charm of Down Syndrome people, many of whom have big personalities. Until you remember that they used to be routine targets – of ridicule, bullying, physical abuse, hostility, and social isolation. And it looks like, under society’s veneer, they still are – that’s the mentality exhibited by the deputies who killed Ethan. They admitted that they had immediately recognized him as disabled, but for them that clearly didn’t mean he had specific civil rights protected by federal law. For them, his disability had a meaning much older than that: Ethan was upset and uncooperative, not compliant and inferior. Thus, the deputies ignored the informative pleas of Ethan’s caregiver and moved with quick hostility put him in his place.
This is Florida resident Gilberto Powell, 22, beaten in the face by police who found the bulge in his shirt suspicious. The bulge was Powell’s colostomy bag. Gilberto has Down Syndrome
A ragged American flag flutters outside Rosa Castro’s trailer near the U.S.-Mexico border. She has no electricity, no running water, and little hope that she ever will.
Castro is one of about 500,000 people residing in hundreds of unincorporated towns in south Texas, places with quirky names such as Little Mexico, Radar Base, Betty Acres and Mike’s that were created when developers carved up ranchland that was unprepared for human habitation and sold the parcels at bargain prices, mostly to low-income immigrants and Mexican Americans.
Buyers plunked down double-wide trailers or wood-and-cinder-block houses and waited for the paved roads, electricity, and water and sewer systems to arrive.
For thousands of people, they never did.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says the enclaves, known in Spanish as colonias, represent one of the largest concentrations of poverty in the United States. Texas outlawed their creation and expansion in 1989. The state and federal government have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to improve some of the outposts, but have done little in others, for reasons that include the high costs and questions about who owns which land.
Critics of colonias say people frustrated by the lack of services should move to established cities and towns, but residents refuse to abandon their land after years of trying to make it work. They are irked that the state government recently cut funding for health care, water and other services for colonias, and that President Trump is pushing a $25 billion border wall and security upgrades at a time when illegal border crossings are low and colonias could use a federal boost.
“We can’t move away from here. We want Washington to do something,” said Castro, a 70-year-old grandmother. “We’re in the United States after all.”
Jesse Gonzalez, an elected commissioner in Webb County, says he has made it his priority to bring a park and a water pump to La Presa. The county has applied for state grants to finance both projects.
“We don’t live in a Third World country,” Gonzalez said.
About 330 colonias — and nearly 38,000 people — are stuck in the most extreme conditions, without clean running water, sewers, or even clear boundaries needed to develop the land, according to the state. Another 115,000 people live in enclaves without paved roads, drainageor solid-waste disposal.
Residents of La Presa, a community of 300 surrounding a bluish lake at the center of town that is hidden by mesquite and sweet acacia trees, buy bottled water for drinking. Two or three times a week, they hitch empty water tanks to pickup trucks and drive about a dozen miles to Laredo to pump water for their washing machines, sinks, toilets and tubs.
The cost is nominal, about $1.25 each filling, but the supply dwindles fast.
Sylvia Zuazua, a flea market cashier, has lived without running water for decades. She and her husband paid $5,200 for an acre of land in the 1970s, dreaming of raising their family on a small farm. They bought chickens, cows and a pony, but they eventually sold them all because they had no water.
“Supposedly the United States is the richest country,” she said with a shake of her head. “I tell my husband, he’s going to be buried and we won’t see water.”
The improvements that have trickled into La Presa over the years have made a big difference, residents say. Electrical hookups arrived over a decade ago for residents who could prove they owned the land. Around the same time, the government built an adobe-tinted community center where elderly residents play loteria, the Mexican version of bingo, pick up bags of donated sweet bread and ham sandwiches, and gather for meetings.
But for those, like Castro, who cannot prove they own their land, electricity was not an option. And for county officials, some improvements are simply too expensive — extending water and sewer service to La Presa, for example, would cost more than $120,000 per family, which is more expensive than housing in Laredo.
The rightful homeowners in colonias are often unclear because many paid for their land in cash and did not have the land formally mapped out and deeded with the county government. Others illegally carved up existing plots and sold them. And in other cases, the owners died without having a will that would indicate who owns the property.
“Those property owners who have chosen to live in the subdivision without basic services are also free to choose to relocate to an area where those services are available,” Webb County spokesman Larry Sanchez said in an email. “Until there is a significant reduction in the cost per connection or other funding resources are generated, this subdivision will remain without water and sewer service or other utility services.”
Carlos Cascos, a Republican and another former secretary of state, under Abbott, said the state and federal governments should invest $100 million a year for the next 15 years to modernize colonias.
“These are basic necessities,” said Cascos, who lives in the border city of Brownsville and is running for a judgeship in Cameron County. “They’re not asking for curbs and gutters and sidewalks. They’re asking for water.”
Castro said she moved to La Presa more than a dozen years ago, after she lost her house in Laredo to foreclosure. County officials say they can do little to provide Castro access to utilities for her trailer, because it’s unclear who owns the property where she lives, and only a court can resolve the issue.
Officials tried to help her apply for public housing in Laredo, but Castro says she wants to pay her own way.
She says she also did not want to burden her relatives. But as temperatures sank this winter, she sought refuge with a brother who has heat and hot water.
“They’re going to build a park,” Castro said. “We don’t need a park. We need water.”
REPORT NUMBER THREE:“All these trade deals blocking my vision!”
REPORT NUMBER FOUR: “Huh? Oh, we’re cool. Everything’s cool. Must have been a false alarm”
Janet Smith and Don Kirby / Claire O’Brien 2013
The last Americans who were caught where the Great Depression met the Dust Bowl will be gone in another decade or so, taking their singular and historic childhoods with them. The memories of children always have a distinctive and revealing slant, and draw me like a magnet. So I felt lucky when two old friends invited a stranger to pull up a chair as they settled in to compare Depression experiences at the plucky Sierra County Senior Center in southern New Mexico.
Tuning out the instructive voice of a Tai Chi teacher and the routine clack of a swift game of 9-Ball, Don Kirby and Janet Smith quickly zeroed in on the kinds of shared memories that take root in human bone, such as prolonged periods of hunger over several years, and the shock of discovering adult powerlessness. But they eventually agreed that the Depression had done no real damage to Kirby, while impacting Smith’s life in long-term, often profound ways. What made all the difference, the two told me, was…
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Continued in English just below
Hey Bercian! ¿Estás en tu casa? ¿Hola? It’s Clara. Sólo vine a darle un regalo espléndido: un grande gallo llamado Frederico. Me siguió hasta aquí desde Nuevo México.
Mi abuela y yo estábamos de gira con una banda llamado América Turístico, pero fue despedido por tratar de iniciar una revuelta en Cleveland. Además, somos demasiado perezosos para mover equipo pesado.
Este país es una mierda.
¡Oh no, Frederico ha volado! Ahora que lo pienso, dónde está mi abuela? No estés triste, Bercian. Un pollo guapo y noble como Frederico es amado de de su rebaño. Debería haber sabido iba a regresar a ellos.
Te voy a enviar otro espléndido regalo – un pájaro carpintero gigante desde el Río Grande! De acuerdo a mi abuela, ellos aman para nadar!
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