Headlines for June 20, 2018

Read more of this story here from Democracy Now! by Democracy Now!.

Read more

Wednesday round-up

Read more of this story here from SCOTUSblog by Edith Roberts.

Wednesday round-up

The dust continues to settle from the court’s unanimous rulings on Monday in two partisan-gerrymandering cases, Gill v. Whitford and Benisek v. Lamone, both of which the justices sent back to the lower courts without reaching the merits. At CNN, Joan Biskupic reports that “[t]he Supreme Court’s rejection of Democrats’ challenge to districts they say were rigged on a partisan basis by Wisconsin Republicans [in Whitford] came on a 9-0 vote, but dueling opinions revealed internal conflicts and portend difficulty ahead for any future gerrymandering claim.” At The Economist’s Democracy in America blog, Steven Mazie observes that “[t]he justices have bought themselves some time, but they are unlikely to find relief from the question of how far legislatures can go in rigging elections.”  At ACS Blog, Gury-Uriel Charles maintains that “plaintiffs challenging partisan gerrymandering claims seem to have been given a reprieve to take one last shot,” and “they would be wise to follow the path laid out for them by Justice Kagan, as she’s their only hope.” Additional commentary and analysis come from Justin Levitt in an op-ed for The Washington Post, Richard Pildes in an op-ed for The New York Times, Mark Joseph Stern at Slate, Vann Newkirk at The Atlantic, Eric Segal in an op-ed for NBC News, Galen Druke at FiveThirtyEight, Carolyn Shapiro in an op-ed at The Hill, Thomas Mann at Brookings, Medium’s Flippable blog, Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker, and Walter Olson at the Cato Institute’s Cato at Liberty blog, who notes that “not a single Justice [in Whitford] backs the notion that other branches’ irresponsible failure to act on some problem can, by itself and without more, make it legitimate for courts to step in.”

This blog’s opinion analysis in Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, in which the justices ruled that the existence of probable cause for arrest does not automatically bar a First Amendment retaliatory-arrest claim, comes from Heidi Kitrosser. Subscript has a graphic explainer for the decision. At Constitution Daily, Scott Bomboy reports that “Justice Kennedy said that Lozman should be able to at least argue that a concerted municipal policy targeted at him overrides any probable cause claim made by Riviera Beach.” For the Miami Herald, Alex Daugherty reports that “Lozman is now 2-0 at the Supreme Court, an accomplishment that his lawyer said is unprecedented for an individual plaintiff in a court that rejects around 7,000 cases every year and hears only 80.” Additional coverage comes from Jim Saunders and Dara Kam for News Service of Florida (via Flagler Live), Carolina Bodado at Law360 (subscription required), and Brittany Shammas at Miami New Times, who reports that “[t]he ruling could shield other municipal agitators from arrest for criticizing elected officials at public meetings, giving them a cause of action against the government if they are able to prove animosity.” Commentary comes from Kelly Tarrant in an op-ed for Chicago Now, The Media Coalition, and Clay Calvert in an op-ed for the Tampa Bay Times,

Susan Klein provides this blog’s opinion analysis for Chavez-Meza v. United States, in which the court held on Monday that a decision not to grant a proportional sentence reduction does not require a detailed written explanation. Subscript’s graphic explainer is here. At Courthouse News Service, Kevin Lessmiller reports that the court found “that the judge’s awareness of the case record allowed for his use of a barebones form order.” Evan Lee analyzes the opinion in Monday’s other sentencing case, Rosales-Mireles v. United States, in which the justices held that a sentencing-guideline miscalculation found to be plain error ordinarily calls for the court of appeals to vacate a defendant’s sentence, for this blog. Here is Subscript’s graphic explainer. In an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, Adam Carrington observes that the “majority and dissenting opinions … articulated the underlying tension between justice and necessity in our judicial procedures.”

Briefly:

  • For this blog, Steve Vladeck covers the federal government’s request in Sessions v. City of Chicago, Illinois that the Supreme Court limit the scope of a nationwide injunction that prohibits the administration from denying funding to cities that don’t comply with some immigration enforcement measures.
  • At Take Care, Jim Oleske unpacks Justices Elena Kagan’s and Neil Gorsuch’s dueling concurrences in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the court ruled in favor of a baker who refused for religious reasons to make a custom cake for a same-sex wedding.
  • At Reason, Damon Root notes that Timbs v. Indiana, in which the court will decide next term whether the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause applies to the states, “gives the Supreme Court an opportunity to consider the broader injustices that occur in the name of civil asset forfeiture.”
  • For Agence France-Presse (via Abogado), Sébastien Blanc reports that “[t]he US Supreme Court on Thursday will decide whether to hear an appeal in [Dassey v. Dittmann,] a case made famous by popular Netflix series ‘Making a Murderer’ that raised troubling questions about the American judicial system.”
  • For the Chicago Tribune, William Lee reports that “Drew Peterson is taking his case to the nation’s highest court as the former Bolingbrook, Ill., police officer seeks to undo his murder conviction for the death of his third wife.”

We rely on our readers to send us links for our round-up.  If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, podcast, or op-ed relating to the Supreme Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] scotusblog.com. Thank you!

The post Wednesday round-up appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Read more

North Korea To Return Remains Of Up To 200 US Service Members

Read more of this story here from Newsy Headlines by Newsy Headlines.


Watch Video

U.S. officials told multiple outlets that North Korea is expected to soon return as many as 200 sets of remains believed to be U.S. service members who fought in the Korean War.

Four members of the Trump administration told CNN that while those remains are expected to be handed over "in the coming days" it's not yet clear when and where that transfer will happen.

But once the U.S. does have possession of those remains, they'll reportedly be sent to a military lab in Hawaii where a DNA verification process will be conducted. 

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed earlier this month to recover the remains of prisoners of war and those missing in action from the Korean War.

According to data from the Department of Defense, about 7,700 U.S. military personnel are still unaccounted for from the Korean War. And the remains of an estimated 5,300 Americans are still in North Korea.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN

Read more

Chairman Frazier — Stolen Children Expose Truth About U.S. Government

Read more of this story here from CENSORED NEWS by Brenda Norrell.

. Cheyenne River Lakota Chairman Harold Frazier, Eagle Butte, S.D. By Cheyenne River Chairman Harold Frazier Censored News I often consider the Lakota Oyate as strong patriots and warriors that have taken up the cause of the United States of America. Despite the way we have been treated in our collective past. Our history together has been filled with death and destruction resulting in Read more

U.S. Leaving U.N.’s Human Rights Council, Cites Anti-Israel Bias

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by MATTHEW LEE and JOSH LEDERMAN / The Associated Press.

WASHINGTON  — The United States is leaving the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, which Ambassador Nikki Haley called “an organization that is not worthy of its name.” It’s the latest withdrawal by the Trump administration from an international institution.

Haley said Tuesday the U.S. had given the human rights body “opportunity after opportunity” to make changes. She lambasted the council for “its chronic bias against Israel” and lamented the fact that its membership includes accused human rights abusers such as China, Cuba, Venezuela and Congo.

“We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights,” Haley said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, appearing alongside Haley at the State Department, said there was no doubt that the council once had a “noble vision.”

But today we need to be honest,” Pompeo said. “The Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights.”

The announcement came just a day after the U.N. human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, denounced the Trump administration for separating migrant children from their parents. But Haley cited longstanding U.S. complaints that the 47-member council is biased against Israel. She had been threatening the pull-out since last year unless the council made changes advocated by the U.S.

“Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded,” Haley said.

Still, she suggested the decision need not be permanent, adding that if the council did adopt reforms, “we would be happy to rejoin it.” She said the withdrawal notwithstanding, the U.S. would continue to defend human rights at the United Nations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office called the U.S. decision “courageous,” calling it “an unequivocal statement that enough is enough.”

The move extends a broader Trump administration pattern of stepping back from international agreements and forums under the president’s “America First” policy. Although numerous officials have said repeatedly that “America First does not mean America Alone,” the administration has retreated from multiple multilateral accords and consensuses since it took office.

Since January 2017, it has announced its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, left the U.N. educational and cultural organization and pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. Other contentious moves have included slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum against key trading partners, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Opposition to the decision from human rights advocates was swift. A group of 12 organizations including Save the Children, Freedom House and the United Nations Association-USA said there were “legitimate concerns” about the council’s shortcomings but that none of them warranted a U.S. exit.

“This decision is counterproductive to American national security and foreign policy interests and will make it more difficult to advance human rights priorities and aid victims of abuse around the world,” the organizations said in a joint statement.

Added Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch: “All Trump seems to care about is defending Israel.”

On Twitter, al-Hussein, the U.N. human rights chief, said it was “Disappointing, if not really surprising, news. Given the state of #HumanRights in today’s world, the US should be stepping up, not stepping back.”

And the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank close to the Trump administration, defended the move, calling the council “notably incurious about the human rights situations in some of the world’s most oppressive countries.” Brett Schaefer, a senior fellow, pointed out that Trump could have withdrawn immediately after taking office but instead gave the council 18 months to make changes.

Haley has been the driving force behind withdrawing from the human rights body, unprecedented in the 12-year history of the council. No country has ever dropped out voluntarily. Libya was kicked out seven years ago.

The move could reinforce the perception that the Trump administration is seeking to advance Israel’s agenda on the world stage, just as it prepares to unveil its long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan despite Palestinian outrage over the embassy relocation. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is visiting the Middle East this week as the White House works to lay the groundwork for unveiling the plan.

Israel is the only country in the world whose rights record comes up for discussion at every council session, under “Item 7” on the agenda. Item 7 on “Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories” has been part of the council’s regular business almost as long as it has existed.

The United States’ current term on the council ends next year. Although the U.S. could have remained a non-voting observer on the council, a U.S. official said it was a “complete withdrawal” and that the United States was resigning its seat “effective immediately.” The official wasn’t authorized to comment publicly and insisted on anonymity.

That means the council will be left without one of its traditional defenders of human rights. In recent months, the United States has participated in attempts to pinpoint rights violations in places like South Sudan, Congo and Cambodia.

The U.S. pullout was bound to have ripple effects for at least two countries at the council: China and Israel. The U.S., as at other U.N. organizations, is Israel’s biggest defender. At the rights council, the United States has recently been the most unabashed critic of rights abuses in China — whose growing economic and diplomatic clout has chastened some other would-be critics, rights advocates say.

There are 47 countries in the Human Rights Council, elected by the U.N.’s General Assembly with a specific number of seats allocated for each region of the globe. Members serve for three-year terms and can serve only two terms in a row.

The United States has opted to stay out of the Human Rights Council before: The George W. Bush administration opted against seeking membership when the council was created in 2006. The U.S. joined the body only in 2009 under President Barack Obama.

___

Associated Press writers Jamey Keaten in Geneva and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed.

Truthdig is running a reader-funded project to document the Poor People’s Campaign. Please help us by making a donation.

Read more

What Does Poverty Feel Like?

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Beverly Gologorsky / TomDispatch.

Imagine this: every year during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 there were nearly four million home foreclosures. In that period, with job losses mounting, nearly 15% of American households were categorized as “food insecure.” To many of those who weren’t foreclosed upon, who didn’t lose their jobs, who weren’t “food insecure,” to the pundits writing about that disaster and the politicians dealing with it, these were undoubtedly distant events. But not to me. For me, it was all up close and personal.

No, I wasn’t foreclosed upon. But my past never leaves me and so, in those years, the questions kept piling up. What, I wondered daily, was happening to all those people? Where were they going? What would they do? Could families really stay together in the midst of so much loss?

I was haunted by such questions and others like them in the same way that I remain haunted by my own working-class childhood, my deep experience of poverty, of want, of worry. I wondered: How were working class families surviving the never-ending disasters in what was quickly becoming a new gilded age in which poverty is again on the rise?

As a writer and novelist, I found myself returning to the childhood and adolescence I had left behind in my South Bronx neighborhood in New York City. I thought about those who, like me once upon a time, had barely made it out of the difficulties of their daily lives only to find themselves once again squeezed back into a world of poverty by the Great Recession. How that felt and how they felt raised lingering questions that would become the heart and soul of my new novel, Every Body Has a Story. The book is finished, printed, and in stores and the Great Recession officially over, or so it’s said, but tell that to the increasing numbers of poor families scrabbling to hang on in a world that refuses to see or hear them.

What Does Poverty Feel Like to a Child?

President Trump, a man who never knew a moment of need in his life, and the politicians in his thrall regularly use the term “working class” to mean only those who are white, only those who, they believe, will support their acts. Let me be clear: the working class consists of people who are multi-racial and multi-ethnic, immigrant and native born. If you grew up where I did, you would know the truth of that fact.

And here’s a question that’s never asked: What does poverty actually feel like, especially to a child? I can attest to the fact that it sinks deep into your bones, into the very sinews of your life and never leaves you. Poverty is more than the numbers that prove it, not at all the way the pundits who write about it describe it. And for those Americans who are just one paycheck, one sick child, one broken-down car away from falling into its abyss, poverty lasts forever.

I was a serious child in an impoverished home, in a poor, working-class, diverse neighborhood in a society that valued women less than it did men. I was born to an immigrant father who worked in a leather factory and a mother who took care of children, her own and those of others. I was brought up in the South Bronx, the third of the four children who survived the six born to my mother. With the arrival of each new child, something of material and emotional value was subtracted from the other children’s wellbeing in order to support the new arrival.

Dreams were seen as a waste of the mental energy needed to seek out and acquire the basics: food, rent, clothing, whatever was essential to get through a day, a week, or at most a month. To plan long range would be as useless as dreaming and could only court disappointment. The result of such suppression was anger, depression, and dissatisfaction, which is just to start down an endless list.

Whenever I read about crime rates and addiction levels, including the spread of the opioid epidemic in poor urban or rural areas, I know it’s the result of anger, depression, and dissatisfaction, of unmet needs, big and small, that breed frustration and, perhaps most importantly, despair.

How could I forget our family apartment in the basement of an old six-story building? Through its windows I could daily watch the feet of people passing by on the street outside. In the summers, that apartment was too hot; in the winters, too cold. My mother scoured it regularly, but there was no way to keep out the rodents that competed for ownership in the night. To deal with this infestation, and fearing ever being alone in the apartment, she brought home an alley cat. However, that cat made my asthma worse. It was my mother’s savior and my enemy.

Because the clinic where I received my medications and injections was free, we had to accept home visits from a social worker sent to investigate the “environment” in which I lived. Ahead of her arrival, my brother would remove the cat from the apartment for the duration of the visit. My siblings and I colluded in this ploy in order to keep the “outsider” from telling us how to live our lives — and to protect me from the possibility of being removed from my home.

Passing a Life Sentence on the Poor

In that world of poverty, each event, each change resonated through our lives in ways too grim to recall. And nothing that happened in the world of adults was kept hidden from the children. Nothing could be. When, for instance, my father was laid off and could no longer support his family, each of us was affected. My siblings and I worried about our parents in ways that, in middle or upper class families, parents are supposed to worry about their kids.

My older brother, then 18 or 19, who might have gone to community college ended up in the Army instead, after which, without any special training, his work-life consisted of one dead-end job after another. My eldest sister, saddened by our brother’s lost chance, considered the possibility of college, always knowing how improbable getting there would be.For the youngest of us, my sister and I, the key thing was to get jobs as soon as we could. And we did. I wasn’t quite 13 when I lied myself into a job at a juice store under the Third Avenue El in the Bronx.

Poverty meant buying yesterday’s — or even sometimes last week’s — bread. In such a world, you shopped by the piece, not the pound. Even time is a different commodity in the world of the poor. Joblessness creates unbearable amounts of time to kill, while working three jobs just to get by leaves no time even for sleep. The free time needed to train for, prepare for, or develop a career, or even to relax and develop a life, isn’t readily available with a family to feed. Where there are few or no options for mobility — and in these years of the new Gilded Age, cross-class mobility has, in fact, been on the decline — escape fantasies are a necessity of daily life. How else to get through the drudgery of it all?

In such a world, so lacking in the possibility of either movement or escape, drugs tend to play a big role in the lives of the young and the middle-aged. Recently, doctors have received much of the blame for providing too manyopioid prescriptions too easily, while poverty is hardly blamed at all. One of the cruelest results of poverty is that people often fault themselves for their predicaments instead of a system that devalues their worth.

There was a curse, which was also a kind of wish, repeated in the hallways of my neighborhood’s rundown buildings. It went something like this: May the landlord stay healthy and have to live in this building for the rest of his life! Behind such a wish is the deep knowledge that the people most responsible for one’s everyday misery have never had to scrabble for their livings and don’t have a clue what poverty feels like. On television or at the movies, crises are often depicted as drawing people closer. In the world of the poor, however, it’s often the very opposite: poverty and unemployment break up homes, tear families apart, send some into substance abuse and others to one miserable job after another.

Need in America Today

And yet… and yet… what’s most troubling is not what’s changed but what hasn’t, which includeswhat poverty feels like in the body, the psyche, and the soul. In the body, it mostly results in the development of chronic or untreated ailments in a world in which nutrition is poor and, even if available, unbalanced. Asthma is one example that can be found now, as then, in nearly every family living in poor rural areas and inner cities such as the one in which I grew up.

In the psyche, poverty begets fear, anxiety, tension, and worry, constant worry. In the soul, poverty, which feels like the loss of you know not what, is always there like a cold fist to remind you that tomorrow will be the same as today. Such effects are not outgrown like a child’s dress but linger for a lifetime in a country where the severest kinds of poverty are again on the rise(and was just scathingly denounced by the U.N.’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights), where each tax bill, each favor to the 1%, passes a kind of life sentence on the poor. And that is the definition of hopelessness.

Americans who barely made it through the recent recession now find themselves in conditions (in supposed good times) that seem to be worsening. In poor neighborhoods and rural areas, even when people listen to the pundits of cable TV chatter on about economic inequality, the words bleed together, because without the means to make real change, the present is forever. At best, such discussions feel like ateardrop in an ocean of words. Among professionals, pundits, and academics barely hidden contempt for those defined as lower or working class often tinges such discussions.

If media talk shows were ever to invite the real experts on, those who actually live in neighborhoods of need, so they could tell uswhat their daily lives are actually like, perhaps impoverishment would be understood more concretely and provoke action.It’s often said that poverty’s always been with us and so is here to stay. However, there have been better safety nets in the relatively recent American past. President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society of the 1960s, though failing in many ways, still succeeded in lifting people out of impoverished lives. Union jobs paid fairly decent wages before they began to be undermined during the years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Better wages and union jobs aided people in finding better places to live.

During the past few decades, however, with huge sums being poured into this country’s never-ending wars, unions weakening or collapsing, wages being pushed down, and workers losing jobs, then homes, so much of that safety net is gone. If Donald Trump and his crew of millionaires and billionaires continue with their evisceration of the rest of the safety net, then food stamps, welfare aid directed at children’s health, and women’s reproductive rights, among other things, will disappear as well. Add to that the utter disregard the Trump administration has shown for people of color and its special mean-spiritedness toward immigrants, whether Mexican or Muslim — and for growing numbers of non-millionaires and non-billionaires the future is already starting to look like the worst, not the best, of times.

It seems that those who foster ideologies that deny decent lives to millions believe that people will take it forever. History, however, suggests another possibility and in it perhaps lies some consolation. Namely, that when misery reaches its nadir, it seeks change. Enough is enough was the implicit cry that helped form unions, spur the civil rights movement, launch the migrant grape boycotts, and inspire the drive for women’s liberation.

In the meantime, the poor remain missing in action in our American world, but not in my mind. Not in me.

Truthdig is running a reader-funded project to document the Poor People’s Campaign. Please help us by making a donation.

Read more

The West Point Soldier Who Called It as He Saw It

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Spenser Rapone.

Editor’s note: On the outside, Spenser Rapone’s West Point graduation uniform looked like all the other cadets’. Underneath his dress uniform, however, was evidence of his political views: a T-shirt bearing Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara’s image, and a cap that read, “Communism will win.”

The shirt and hat made waves in the U.S. military community after Rapone posted photos of them on social media in September, and now he has been given an “other than honorable” discharge. According to The Associated Press, he was charged with “conduct unbecoming of an officer” after an Army investigation determined that he “went online to promote a socialist revolution and disparage high-ranking officers.”

In the following statement for Truthdig, Rapone explains his political beliefs.

I am a combat veteran with the First Ranger Battalion, a recent graduate of West Point and a former second lieutenant who was stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y. Since identifying myself as a socialist, there has been much controversy generated by a number of my public statements.

It began with my post on social media, in which I expressed my full and enthusiastic support of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his fight against racial injustice, white supremacy and police brutality. After revealing a picture of myself in uniform with the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick, I was met by solidarity from my fellow soldiers, as well as harsh blowback from my chain of command.

To this day, I stand by my convictions, despite the efforts of ranking officers to pressure me into silence. I believe that standing up for the exploited and the oppressed is the most honorable thing we can do as people. No job should hinder or repress this pursuit, which is why I decided to resign my commission as an officer in the United States Army. My conditional resignation was denied by the secretary of the Army. Instead, the military forced me into either submitting an unconditional resignation or appearing before a board of inquiry—an adversarial trial in which a jury of senior officers would determine my fate. Rather than submit to the antics of what amounts to a show trial at best, I tendered my unconditional resignation. Passing judgment on me one last time, the military determined the character of my service to be “other than honorable.” Despite the brass prolonging my time in service, I have come to the conclusion that leaving the military altogether, whatever the circumstances, is the only moral way forward. During this ordeal, I have learned that I am far from alone in my feelings of disillusionment and betrayal within the rank and file of the U.S. military.

As a teenager, I believed the United States military was a force of good for the world. I thought that I signed up to fight for freedom and democracy, to protect my loved ones and my country from harm. My experiences showed me otherwise.

After bearing witness to the senseless destruction in Afghanistan during my combat deployment to Khost Province in the summer of 2011, I knew that our wars must be stopped. I was assigned to my platoon as an assistant machine-gunner. I took part in missions where human beings were killed, captured and terrorized. However, the horror wrought by the U.S. military’s overseas ventures is not limited to combat engagements alone. Some nights, we barely did anything at all but walk through a village. As such, the longer I was there, the more it became apparent that the mere presence of an occupying force was a form of violence. My actions overseas did not help or protect anybody. I felt like I was little more than a bully, surrounded by the most well-armed and technologically advanced military in history, in one of the poorest countries in the world. I saw many of my fellow soldiers all too eager to carry out violence for the sake of violence. There is no honor in such bloodlust; quite the contrary. I saw firsthand how U.S. foreign policy sought to carry out the subjugation of poor, brown people in order to steal natural resources, expand American hegemony and extinguish the self-determination of any group that dare oppose the empire. Idealistic and without a coherent worldview yet, I thought that perhaps pursuing an officer’s commission would allow me to change things and help put a stop to the madness. I was wrong.

It soon dawned on me how pervasive the military-industrial complex is. I studied, examined my own experiences and began to grasp more completely the horrors and impact of U.S. imperialism. Learning that over a million people have lost their lives since 9/11—the vast majority being innocent civilians—began to haunt me. Seeing that up to a trillion dollars a year were being diverted from education, health care and infrastructure in the U.S. to support our 800 military bases around the world began to feel increasingly maddening. Within the Army itself, one out of three women are sexually assaulted. The death of football player and later soldier Pat Tillman by friendly fire was covered up to sell a war. Generals responsible for war crimes—from the unbridled destruction of Afghan and Iraqi villages to the construction of torture prisons—are rewarded with accolades and political power. These sad and dishonorable truths increasingly grew impossible to ignore. The military was not the noble and selfless institution the commercials and Hollywood movies made it out to be—far from it.

At West Point, I soon found myself at odds with my future role as someone tasked with the responsibility of leading soldiers into battle. However, leaving West Point after my junior year would have meant returning to the enlisted ranks or finding a way to come up with a quarter-million dollars to pay the academy back. So I stuck it out, hoping I would find a way to reconcile this contradiction. Again, I was wrong. Upon returning to Fort Benning, Ga., to begin my training as an infantry officer following graduation, I was filled with dread. It was like I was in a place simultaneously familiar and unknown. There were things I noticed that my 18-year-old self could not have recognized before. Most strikingly, I observed the scope of the brainwashing within the ranks, from bald, buzz-cut, mostly teenage infantrymen fresh out of training, to college graduates eager to lead those naïve soldiers into America’s next war. I felt witness to a collective delusion—one that I was once a part of, but had somehow miraculously escaped. After nearly a year there, as I prepared to move to my new duty station at Fort Drum, one thing became clear: I cannot be a part of this any longer. I cannot kill or die for the U.S. military—no one should.

I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. My feelings and experiences are not an anomaly. I know, because I have had conversations with others who have expressed the same sentiments.

You are out there, and should you take the same steps that I have, I am with you. While the prospect is daunting, united together we have far more power than all of the generals and politicians combined. We possess the ability to grind this entire military machine to a halt. It is high time we live up to the trust and respect bestowed upon us by the people. Let our mutual love of humanity and our desire for liberation and peace be our guiding principles.

Most importantly, let us find common cause with the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Libya and so many others who have suffered at the behest of the United States. To those soldiers who I’ve heard from, and to those I haven’t yet, I hope that you too find the courage to lay your weapons down with me, and refuse your orders to kill and die for the benefit of a handful of ruling-class elites at the great expense of the rest of us. Freedom lies on the other side. Together, let us fight to put a stop to these endless trillion-dollar wars, and let us join our brothers and sisters around the world in putting a stop to all forms of exploitation, oppression and senseless violence.

Truthdig is running a reader-funded project to document the Poor People’s Campaign. Please help us by making a donation.

Read more

Family separations spark feuds across Capitol; DHS defends handling

Read more of this story here from Cronkite News RSS Feed by Cronkite News RSS Feed.

Bryan Pietsch

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Family separations spark feuds across Capitol; DHS defends handling

WASHINGTON - Democrats and immigration advocates rallied Tuesday against the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy that has led to the separation of families at the border, as immigration agency officials defended the treatment of children in shelters. It came as President Donald Trump headed to Capitol Hill to lobby House Republicans before an expected vote on a pair of GOP-backed immigration bills that the president said would end the family separations - something critics say he can do on his own. Arizona Sen. John McCain, one of a growing number of Republican lawmakers who have spoken out against the family separation policy, called it an "affront to the decency of the American people, and contrary to the principles and values upon which our nation was founded." "The administration has the power to rescind this policy," McCain said in a tweet Monday. "It should do so now." The policy of separating families is an outgrowth of the administration's new zero-tolerance policy toward illegal border crossers, which refers those immigrants for criminal prosecution. In a call with reporters Tuesday morning, officials from the departments of Homeland Security and of Health and Human Services said that under current law they can only hold families for 20 days before they have to be released. Rather than do that, the government separates the families so it can hold the adults longer. Children who show up at the border unaccompanied or are separated from their parents can be held for 72 hours before being turned over to HHS for placement. Brian Hastings, an official with Customs and Border Protection, said in that call that 2,235 families were apprehended at the Southwest border from May 5 to June 9. Of the 4,548 people in those families, 2,342 children "became unaccompanied alien children under this initiative" - or were taken away from the 2,206 adults they were traveling with. Those separations have caused an outcry, as images of crying children and youth held behind chain link enclosures have circulated. The debate consumed Washington Tuesday, with a half-dozen protests, press conferences or conference calls held to blast the policy and demand change. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus confronted the president as he left the Capitol after an hour-long meeting with GOP House members Tuesday evening. "Don't you have kids Mr. President? How would you like if they took your kids?" Rep. Juan Vargas, D-California, shouted as the president walked away. Trump and the GOP lawmakers talked about two immigration-reform bills that are expected to come up for a vote in the House as early as this week. -Cronkite News video by Dani Coble Those measures - one co-sponsored by Rep. Martha McSally, R-Tucson, and another so-called compromise bill - were offered after House leaders beat back a plan by Democrats and some Republicans to force votes on a range of four bills from both sides of the aisle. The McSally-Goodlatte bill, for lead sponsor, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virgnia, calls for more border security, would curtail family migration and would eliminate the diversity visa program, which offers green cards through a lottery system, among other changes. Details of the compromise bill have not been officially released, but news reports have indicated that it will be more moderate. Supporters say both bills would end the child separation policy and find a permanent solution for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, said that she has signed on as a co-sponsor for the Goodlatte bill and is "working to solve this issue," allowing children to remain with parents who are taken into custody. She blamed Democrats for blocking a solution. "Unfortunately, Democrats are unwilling to come to the negotiating table and work towards a legislative solution," Lesko said in an statement emailed from her office. Other Republicans turned to the administration for answers. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, sent a letter to DHS and HHS asking about the family separation policy, citing two cases where they said it took months for children to be reunited with their mothers. "These accounts and others like them concern us," the letter said. Steve Wagner, an acting assistant HHS secretary, said in the conference call Tuesday morning that the department is still figuring out how to reunite separated children with their parents. "This policy is relatively new," Wagner said. "We're still working through the experience of reunifying kids with their parents after adjudication. We're going through normal processes of identifying alternative sponsors in case we are unable to reunite with the parent." While photos of tent shelters and recordings of distressed children calling for their parents grabbed headlines this week, Wagner reiterated that "unaccompanied alien children" are treated well in the care of the department. Wagner said that children under age 13 are not kept in the highly publicized tents in Tornillo, Texas, which he called "soft-sided shelters," though he did not elaborate on the conditions children face in the tents. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, who visited an HHS shelter in Texas, said the issue has caused a national outcry, going "way beyond party." "I believe and I hope that we'll be able to reverse this in short course," Merkley said. "The president can do it at any moment and he's going to come to realize that this was deeply misguided." Read more

Apache Stronghold Sacred Journey — Oklahoma City and Cahokia Mounds

Read more of this story here from CENSORED NEWS by Brenda Norrell.

By Steve Pavey Apache Stronghold Sacred Jounrey Censored News Traveling East with stops in Oklahoma City and the St. Louis’ Cohokia mounds - the Stronghold Sacred Caravan is encountering Sites and stories with heavy trauma. Native Indians were killed or pushed out of these lands as a part of US policy and practice. We must face this past because this system of settler Read more