North America

ICE condemned for force-feeding detainees

Human Rights Watch condemned US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for force-feeding detained migrants. Detained men at the agency's El Paso Processing Center have been participating in a hunger strike since early January. ICE officials said that 11 men are striking, but AP reports the number may be closer to 30. In mid-January a federal judge authorized ICE to force-feed six of the protesters. The detained men have been protesting "rampant verbal abuse and threats of deportation from guards" and long detentions while awaiting a hearing. Most of the hunger strikers are from India or Cuba. (Photo: Hetsumani/Pixabay)

North America

Demand investigation into death of migrant child

UN Special Rapporteur of the human rights of migrants Felipe González Morales called for an independent investigation into the death of Jakelin Ameí Caal, a Guatemalan migrant child who died while in US Customs and Border Protection. Jakelin was in custody, along with her family and other migrants, after crossing the Mexico border. The factual causes leading up to her death are currently disputed. In the report, Morales stresses the importance of finding out what happened to Jakelin, stating that "if any officials are found responsible they should be held accountable." (Photo via Jurist)

North America

Trump order blocks intercepted asylum-seekers

The White House issued a proclamation that bans migrants caught entering the US unlawfully from seeking asylum. The ban's stated purpose is to funnel migrants from Mexico and Central America to ports of entry, where they will be allowed to apply for asylum "in an orderly and controlled manner instead of unlawfully." But Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrant Rights Project, stated: "The law is clear: People can apply for asylum whether or not they’re at a port of entry, and regardless of their immigration status. The president doesn't get to ignore that law, even if he dislikes it." (Photo via Jurist)

North America

After Pittsburgh, American Jews face a choice

The lines are starkly drawn in Pittsburgh—and, hopefully, across the country—in the wake of the synagogue massacre that left 11 dead. President Trump visited the synagogue, and was joined by the Israeli ambassador. This took place over the protests of Pittsburgh's Mayor Bill Peduto, who asked the White House to delay the trip in light of the sensitive situation in the city. While the rabbi at the Tree of Life Synagogue, the massacre site, welcomed Trump, many members of his congregation clearly dissented. More than 35,000 people signed an open letter to Trump from the local chapter of the progressive Jewish group Bend the Arc, stating: "You are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism." Hundreds demonstrated against Trump's visit under the standard of another Jewish progressive formation, If Not Now, with banners reading "ANTI-SEMITISM = WHITE NATIONALISM" and "ANTI-SEMITISM UPHOLDS WHITE SUPREMACY." (Photo via IfNotNow)

North America

Podcast: looming fascism and the digital dystopia

In Episode 21 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rants in anguish about how he has been forced by market and technological forces beyond his control into the same matrix of digital media that is fast eroding the very concept of truth and lubricating the consolidation of a fascist order in the United States and the world. In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, Weinberg documents Trump's complicity and virtual green-lighting of the attack, and calls out his rote condemnation as rank hypocrisy. From the wave of hate unleashed immediately upon his inauguration through the "false flag" theory he floated about the MAGA-bomber, Trump has played to anti-Semitism in barely veiled terms. The doublethink that now lets him get away with his blatantly disingenuous disavowal of the massacre is related to the post-truth environment fundamentally inherent to digital media. Listen on SoundCloud, and support our podcast via Patreon. (Photo via Germ)

North America

Native Americans unite against ‘termination’ threat

At its annual convention in Denver, the National Congress of American Indians spoke strongly against the Trump administration's decision to halt the restoration of ancestral lands to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe of Massachusetts, invoking a return to the disastrous policies of the "termination era." At issue are 321 acres where the Wampanoag sought to build a casino. The US Interior Department issued a decision in 2015 to take the lands into trust for the trib, and ground was broken on the casino the following year. But opponents challenged the land transfer in the courts. In April 2016, a federal judge found the Interior decision had bypassed the Supreme Court's 2009 ruling in Carcieri v Salazar, concerning a land recovery effort by the Narragansett Indian Nation of Rhode Island. In the Carcieri case, the high court ruled that the federal government had no power to grant land in trust for tribes recognized after passage of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. In September of this year, the Interior decision was reversed by Tara Sweeney, the new assistant secretary for Indian Affairs. Sweeney determined that the Mashpee Wampanoag-—whose ancestors welcomed some of the first settlers to the Americas more than 300 years ago—could not have their homelands restored because they were only federally recognized in 2007. (Photo: Indianz.com)

North America

Environmentalists challenge border wall plans

A group of environmental advocacy organizations filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security over concerns that the border wall will result in detrimental environmental impacts to the areas surrounding the construction sites. The Secretary of Homeland Security's office has issued a series of waivers, dubbed the Lower Rio Grande Valley Border Wall Waivers, that would exempt construction projects related to the planned border wall from federal environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act. The advocacy groups argue that the broadness of the waivers would violate separation of powers and other constitutional doctrines. (Photo via Jurist)

North America

Canada’s high court deals blow to treaty rights

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the federal government does not have a responsibility to consult with First Nations before introducing legislation, even in cases when it would impact their lands and livelihood. The 7-2 ruling ends a challenge by the Mikisew Cree First Nation of Alberta to a 2013 reform of Canada’s environmental laws by the administration of then-prime minister Stephen Harper. The reform altered the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Fisheries Act, the Species at Risk Act, and the Navigable Waters Protection Act, reducing the number of projects that require environmental assessment studies and narrowing the scope of those assessments. The Mikisew Cree contended that the reform violated constitutionally-protected treaty rights of Canada’s indigenous First Nations. (Photo of Mikisew Cree Chief Archie Waquan via CBC)

North America

Japanese-Peruvian veteran of US concentration camps dies waiting for justice

Isamu (Art) Shibayama, a rights advocate for Latin Americans of Japanese descent who were detained in prison camps in the United States during World War II, died July 31 at his home in San Jose, Calif. Born in Lima, Peru, in 1930, Shibayama was 13 when his family was detained and forcibly shipped to the United States. They were among some 2,000 Japanese-Peruvians who were rounded up and turned over to the US military for detention after the Pearl Harbor attack. Upon their arrival in New Orleans, the family was transported to the "internment camp" for Japanese-Americans at Crystal City, Texas. The family would remain in detention until 1946. Shibayama eventually won US citizenship, but was denied restitution for his wartime detention on the basis that he had not at the time been a US citizen or legal resident. He was still seeking justice from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at the time of his death. (Photo via the New York Times)

North America

Prisoners across US strike to protest conditions

Inmates across the US began a planned 19-day strike in protest of poor conditions, no-to-low pay for work, and racist prison administration practices. The strike, set to take place in 17 states, was organized by many groups, including Jailhouse Lawyers Speak. Those participating in the strike will not show up to their assigned jobs and will engage in sit-ins; some prisoners may elect to go on hunger strike. The strike is set to last until Sept. 9, coinciding with the start of the Attica Prison Uprising in 1971. Organizers planned the strike for August after seven inmates were killed during a riot at a South Carolina prison in April. (Photo: Bureau of Prisons)

North America

Podcast: What will it take to stop Trump?

In Episode 14 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the national protest wave that brought down president Park Geun-Hye in South Korea last December, and asks why Americans can't similarly rise to the occassion and launch a mass militant movement to remove Donald Trump. Given this extreme emergency—the detention gulag now coming into place, with undocumented migrants the "test population" for domestic fascism—we should be mobilizing in our millions. Weinberg identifies two significant obstacles to unity: 1. The fundamental split in the left over the whole question of Russia and its electoral meddling; and 2. The phenomenon of party parasitism, with both the Democrats and sectarian-left factions seeking to exploit popular movements to advance their own power. He concludes by asking whether social media can empower us to sidestep the Dems and the alphabet-soup factions alike and work rapidly and efficiently to build a leaderless, broad-based, intransigent movement around the aim of removing Trump. Listen on SoundCloud, and support our podcast via Patreon. (Photo of protest at Foley Square, Manhattan, by Syria Solidarity NYC)

North America

Podcast: First they came for the immigrants….

In Episode 13 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg deconstructs Trump's executive order ostensibly ending the policy of family separation on the southern border, and demonstrates how it actually lays the groundwork for indefinite detention of migrants on military bases. The Central American peasantry, expropriated of its lands by state terror, CAFTA and narco-violence, is forced to flee north—now into the arms of Trump's new gulag. Immigrants are the proverbial canaries in the American coal-mine. The Trump crew are testing their methods on them because they are vulnerable, and banking on the likelihood that non-immigrants will say "not my problem." But if they get away with what they are doing now to a vulnerable and isolated population of non-citizens, it sets a precedent—and ultimately nobody is safe. Listen on SoundCloud, and support our podcast via Patreon.