Rent Party live at The Gallery Cabaret on Friday March 22, 2019
Monthly Archives: March 2019
Trump Administration and Mexico attempted to cover-up violations by targeting Journalists and Activists
March 8, 2019
National Lawyers Guild condemns “Operation Secure Line”
Investigation and leaked documents uncovered human rights violations, watch list, and sytematic targeting.
Clear evidence Trump Administration is conspiring against US journalists with a foreign government. Was this secret program the planning phase of another Jamal Khashoggi scenario or just another routine disregard for the First Amendment? Another scandal on the pile.
TIJUANA, Mexico—Leaked US-Mexican government documents revealed both governments are maintaining a secret database targeting at least 59 journalists, activists, and an attorney as part of an intelligence-gathering mission under “Operation Secure Line,” based on their work reporting on and offering humanitarian aid to the recent caravans of migrants fleeing from violence and poverty. The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) condemns this practice as a blatant violation of civil liberties and attempt to intimidate those seeking to provide necessary, legal and legitimate aid to migrants and their families.
An NLG delegation was in Tijuana investigating violations of migrants’ rights by US and Mexican authorities when the documents, titled “San Diego Sector Foreign Operations Branch: Migrant Caravan FY-2019, Suspected Organizers, Coordinators, Instigators and Media,” were uncovered. Prior to the leaked report, the delegation heard stories of hours-long interrogations, harassment, confiscation of electronic devices, and intimidation of activists and lawyers by immigration authorities on both sides of the border related to their humanitarian work, including members of the group Pueblo Sin Fronteras (PSF). Many activists who felt singled out by CBP correctly suspected that they were on a government watch list due to their association with the migrant caravan, especially following the of two journalists and US attorneys with Al Otro Lado who were denied entry into Mexico earlier this month, who were held and faced questioning for up to 10 hours.
“It’s worrisome, but not surprising… I was taken into a concrete
cell for interrogation and they took my phone, scanned all my notebooks, all the papers I brought… It angers me that the government is using taxpayer funds to create a database meant to intimidate people.”
Alex Mensing, a US citizen living in Tijuana who helped coordinate the delegation’s meetings with domestic and international NGOs, as well as Mexican human rights and immigration authorities, chose not to accompany the delegation to San Diego on Wednesday for meetings with the ACLU, Border Angels, and the International Rescue Committee. Mensing has been repeatedly stopped for secondary questioning by US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) on a clear effort to intimate PSF and other volunteers. “It’s worrisome, but not surprising,” Mensing told Telemundo yesterday. “I was taken into a concrete
cell for interrogation and they took my phone, scanned all my notebooks, all the papers I brought… It angers me that the government is using taxpayer funds to create a database meant to intimidate people.” For the last four months, Mensing has attempted to obtain information directly from CBP about his repeated questioning to no avail.
“We witnessed migrants who had traveled days fleeing violence and persecution, only to be denied their right to claim asylum at the border, in contravention of international law. Instead, they were required to put their name on a handwritten list, then wait indefinitely while trying to find food and shelter, dodging violence and deportation, in hope that their names would be called to start the arduous process that is the US asylum system.”
Pooja Gehi, Executive Director of the NLG and member of the Tijuana delegation, said, “We witnessed migrants who had traveled days fleeing violence and persecution, only to be denied their right to claim asylum at the border, in contravention of international law. Instead, they were required to put their name on a handwritten list, then wait indefinitely while trying to find food and shelter, dodging violence and deportation, in hope that their names would be called to start the arduous process that is the US asylum system.”
It is also important to note that Mexico has previously operationalized their surveillance of activists and journalists through practices such as Pegasus malware, and the leaked list also delegitimizes the Democrats’ offer of a “technological wall” as an acceptable compromise to Trump’s border wall that would be any more lawful or based in human rights principles.
While government surveillance of activists is nothing new, and an issue the NLG has a long history of fighting, we are particularly concerned that binational surveillance of activists will not only deter people from engaging in humanitarian action but will also leave migrants in need of humanitarian and legal support with neither, thereby exacerbating human suffering at the border.
Since last year, NLG lawyers, legal workers, and law students have been on the ground in Tijuana volunteering legal support, training, and observation in coordination with other organizations such as Al Otro Lado. The NLG urges deepened investigation into this report and demands an immediate termination of the illegal practice of targeting activists and journalists.
The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.
(Adam’s Note: This blog was mostly extrapolated from a press release by the National Lawyers Guild without any prior approval or consent. The headline and prefaces to the text and the presentation of the text reflect my personal editorial perspective and points of emphasis.)
Lisa needs practice for her #M4A podcast so I fired up the Facebook Live and started rolling. We’re having some fun with our lefty Romper Room and we talked about #MedicareForAll #M4A, some #GreenNewDeal some #Bernie2020 and looked back again at #ACA #Obamacare and the #GOP #RepealAndReplace movement that won a lot of elections but then backlashed in the midterms when after seizing all levels of American government it was revealed they had nothing but misery and despair and more money for #BigPharma and #BigInsurance to offer the desperate and pissed off American voters that are tired of paying more for less.
We gave a couple of shout outs to #BLM Lake County founder Clyde McLemore who had to visit the ER and has our thoughts and prayers.
We walked into an emotional minefield to talk about Israel and Rep. Ilhan Omar. This is a great wedge issue for the reactionaries and they’ve been building on and stressing the divisions within the Jewish community and between progressive Jews and other progressives for over a decade. Just to be clear: I stand with Bernie and Kamala on this issue and I #StandWithIlhan
We talked about campaigns and elections. I did some GOP-bashing but took some hope in the fact that Trump was elected over Cruzifer (Banning Muslims guy vs Carpet bombing Muslims guy).
We talked about the concerns of one community member who is dismayed about the Socialist trend in the Democratic party. We were all over the road on that one and I’m glad we have at least another 6 months to tighten that up before we do another 6 months of messaging before the IL Democratic primary. And then another 6 months to get mobilized for the 2020 Get Out The Vote campaign. We’re just getting started to #FuelTheBern
I stand with J-Street and the Peoples Resolution. – A.B.
“For the sake of the US-Israel relationship and for the long-term benefit of Americans, Israelis and Palestinians alike, we urge Congress to do more to help bring a peaceful end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and take care not to contribute to a climate in which inexact or insensitive phrasing is quickly weaponized to limit the space for discussion on these issues.”
The American political debate over Israel and the Palestinians grows more polarized and less productive by the day. Name-calling, twitter fights and congressional posturing grab headlines while substantive discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and how to end it – gets pushed to the back burner. The issues at stake – peace and security, prejudice and racism, foreign policy and geopolitics – are vitally important and deserve better than the political grandstanding we’re seeing today.
J Street is dismayed by some of the rhetoric and imagery used by some critics of Israeli policy. Harmful language that echoes long-standing stereotypes and anti-Semitic tropes concern us deeply. It is also our view that the far greater threat to the Jewish community – to its security and its values – comes from the surge of ethno-nationalism and racism that forces on the right, including President Trump, have unleashed here and across the globe.
We agree with and support the sentiments expressed in the resolution which House Democratic leadership plans to introduce this week in opposition to anti-Semitism. We support members voting for this resolution to show their agreement with these sentiments. At the same time, we are concerned that the timing of this resolution will be seen as singling out and focusing special condemnation on a Muslim woman of color – as if her views and insensitive comments pose a greater threat than the torrent of hatred that the white nationalist right continues to level against Jews, Muslims, people of color and other vulnerable minority groups in our country.
By narrowly focusing on progressive critics of Israeli policy and the politics surrounding Israel-related issues, much of our current debate bears little relation to the reality of anti-Semitism in the United States today. This plays directly into the hands of the president and his allies, who act in bad faith to weaponize the debate for political gain.
To make clear their commitment to standing against all forms of hatred plaguing our nation, we urge congressional leaders to also urgently pass legislation expressing clear opposition to Islamophobia, anti-immigrant xenophobia and all forms of racism.
Recognizing the charged atmosphere around these issues, J Street urges those looking to criticize Israeli policy and actions to do all they can to keep the debate focused on the merits of the issues by (1) acknowledging and committing to fight the very real scourge of anti-Semitism and other forms of racism and prejudice; (2) explicitly clarifying that their critique is of Israeli government policy, not of the Jewish people or of the right of the state of Israel to exist; and (3) focusing as much as possible on how American policy can help substantively to end the occupation, resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and address the legitimate needs of both peoples.
The United States, the Jewish community and Israel will only benefit from an ever more robust debate over time regarding US policy in the Middle East. Attacks on those members of Congress who criticize Israel’s policies should not be allowed to limit debate on the merits of the issues they are raising.
The US-Israel relationship is supposed to be based – as political figures consistently reinforce – on the interests and values that the two countries share. The primary challenge to that relationship right now is that the current government of Israel is regularly taking actions that run counter to American interests and implementing policies that call into question its commitment to core shared values.
For the sake of the US-Israel relationship and for the long-term benefit of Americans, Israelis and Palestinians alike, we urge Congress to do more to help bring a peaceful end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and take care not to contribute to a climate in which inexact or insensitive phrasing is quickly weaponized to limit the space for discussion on these issues.
Sign on: People’s Resolution Rejecting Antisemitism, Islamophobia, Racism, and Xenophobia
Sunday March 3, 2019 Navy Pier – Chicago, IL
It’s wise to notice that the rock star qualities of the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign have very little to do with his flashy style and smooth talk.
By himself, he could be mistaken for the crank hypes and confused repeaters distort him out to be. Surrounded by a million volunteers out of the gate and ten million dollars in mostly small ticket donations within the first week of #Bernie2020, this is something else. One man alone is a voice in the wilderness. A million people united at the very start is, at the very least, a campaign with legs. We call it the next step of a political revolution. In the ideal sense, it’s a movement to a more perfect union. In a practical sense, it’s a survival plan.