"Slave Ship Conditions" for Somalis as Deportation Flight Sheds Light on Horrific Practices Under Trump

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by Julia Conley, staff writer, Dec 19, 2017

www.commondreams.org

"Slave Ship Conditions" for Somalis as Deportation Flight Sheds Light on Horrific Practices Under Trump

For nearly 48 hours, before a deportation flight bound for Somalia was rerouted back to the U.S., 92 people on board were shackled and denied food, water, and access to bathrooms 

 

Attorneys for 92 Somali nationals who were held in "slave ship conditions" for nearly 48 hours during a deportation flight, say that the group's harrowing experience is indicative of immigration officials' procedures under the Trump administration.

The passengers were denied food, water, and access to a bathroom, according to a class-action lawsuit, filed by the Somalis with the help of four immigrant rights groups including Americans for Immigrant Justice and the Immigration Clinic at the University of Miami.

Their hands and feet were shackled during the first leg of the trip to Dakar, Senegal on December 7, and while the plane sat on a tarmac there for 23 hours before Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) decided to reroute the flight back to the U.S. due to "logistical concerns."

"When the plane’s toilets overfilled with human waste, some of the detainees were left to urinate into bottles or on themselves," according to the lawsuit. "ICE agents wrapped some who protested, or just stood up to ask a question, in full-body restraints. ICE agents kicked, struck, or dragged detainees down the aisle of the plane, and subjected some to verbal abuse and threats."

"I think it's reflective of the Trump Administration's overall crackdown on immigration as well as reflective of their attitude towards Somalia and towards Muslims," said Kim Hunter, who represents two of the plaintiffs in the case, in an interview with the Guardian.

In addition to drawing attention to the "inhumane conditions and egregious abuse" the lawsuit alleges, immigrant rights advocates are urging the government to reopen the passengers' deportation cases.

The U.S. has generally avoided removing people to Somalia in recent decades in light of security concerns there. Al-Shabaab, an armed group with ties to Al Qaeda, is active in the country and killed more than 500 people in a truck bombing in October. Many of the deportees, who escaped as refugees fleeing civil war, fear they could be targeted by the group if returned to Somalia.

One plaintiff, named in the lawsuit as Musa, "believes news of this aborted flight has reached the general Somali public. He believes that having been on the December 7 flight jeopardizes his safety upon his return, and he believes that al-Shabaab will kill him for being a Westernized Somali."

Some of the passengers were brought to the U.S. as children, and at least one was detained after a routine check-in with immigration officials.

"This is now a disturbing pattern where ICE is targeting people who have been living in the community for many years on these orders of supervision and with work permits and suddenly they are snatched from their families and communities," said Rebecca Sharpless, another attorney representing the passengers. "It is not safe for these men and women to return, especially in light of the escalation of terrorist violence in Somalia in the last weeks."

While the Trump administration has insisted it's focusing its deportations on those with criminal backgrounds, lawyers representing the Somalis say about one-third of the passengers had no criminal record while others had been convicted only of petty crimes like shoplifting.

"I'm not terribly convinced we're deporting the worst of worst," Hunter told the Guardian.

The passengers are currently being held in a detention center outside Miami, while their lawyers work to halt another attempt to deport them.

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"We're Ready to Stop It Again": KXL Opponents Flood Nebraska's Capitol

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by Jessica Corbett, staff writer August 07, 2017

www.commondreams.org

"We're Ready to Stop It Again": KXL Opponents Flood Nebraska's Capitol

"Commissioners in Nebraska have a choice to make—either they protect the fossil fuel industry's greed, or they stand up for the health and safety of our climate and our communities."

Hundreds demonstrated in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Sunday as part of the March to Give Keystone XL the Boot.

The protest of TransCanada's proposed pipeline kicked off a week of events planned to coincide with public hearings, set to begin Monday, by the Nebraska Public Service Commission about the pipeline, which would run 275 miles across the state.

Locals farmers and ranchers as well as members of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and Yankton Sioux Tribe marched with a coalition of environmentalists from Bold Nebraska, 350.org, Sierra Club, Indigenous Environmental Network, CREDO, Greenpeace, Oil Change International, and MoveOn. Some even rode on horseback through Lincoln's streets.

    LIVE: Marchers from the Kickapoo Nation have arrived on horseback, as the crowd swells to Give Keystone XL the BOOT! #BootKXL #NoKXL pic.twitter.com/DwFDWF1jwh

    — Greenpeace USA (@greenpeaceusa) August 6, 2017

The coalition has collected thousands of written public comments expressing concerns about Keystone XL's threats to climate, water, and property rights, which will be delivered to the commission Thursday morning.

"The Nebraska Public Service Commission has an immense responsibility. Not only does it have the responsibility to act in the best interest of Nebraska but also bear the trust responsibility the federal government chooses to ignore," said Harold Frazier, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe chairman.  "Approving the permit for TransCanada would send a message that Nebraska supports the damage that has already happened to our environment from the tar sands oil."

    Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier speaks at March to Give #KeystoneXL the Boot in Lincoln. #nokxl #bootkxl #mniwiconi pic.twitter.com/6Jrd2JpGm2

    — Bold Nebraska (@BoldNebraska) August 6, 2017

"Keystone XL never has been and never will be in Nebraska's public interest. This is a foreign pipeline, headed to the foreign export market, wanting to use eminent domain for private gain on Nebraska landowners," said Bold Alliance president Jane Kleeb, who also noted that the proposed pipeline route crosses the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer.

A recent Greenpeace report (pdf) predicted that the Keystone XL pipeline, if constructed, would average more than one significant spill per year, posing a serious threat to all water resources along the route. The Nebraska Sand Hills—the Western Hemisphere's largest sand dunes—has been designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. (However, the department seems unlikely to fight the pipeline, with a deputy secretary who, before his appointment by President Donald Trump, had built a successful career as a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry.)

"It is not in Nebraska's interest to place a tar sands pipeline through Nebraska's eastern Sand Hills and over the Ogallala Aquifer, or to allow a foreign corporation to use eminent domain for corporate greed and abuse landowners with 'all risk, no reward' easements," said Art Tanderup, a landowner along the Keystone XL route.

    "We stopped Keystone XL twice already and we're ready to stop it again" @janekleeb #BootKXL pic.twitter.com/zOy3Qwu6pv

    — Sierra Club Live (@SierraClubLive) August 6, 2017

"Commissioners in Nebraska have a choice to make—either they protect the fossil fuel industry's greed, or they stand up for the health and safety of our climate and our communities," said 350.org's Sara Shor. "Communities in Nebraska and from surrounding states, including farmers, Indigenous peoples, and many more, are here to keep the pressure on and fight for a livable future. We've built solar panels in the path of Keystone XL to show what we need on a massive scale."

Last month, the coalition launched the Solar XL campaign to install solar panels at several locations along the proposed pipeline route, which a 350.org statement explained "will help power the farms and ranches threatened by TransCanada's use of eminent domain for private gain."

Sunday's protest ended with a display in front of the state's Capitol, with protesters using their bodies to send a message: Yes Solar XL, No KXL.

    Today's march ended with this human banner: Yes #SolarXL, #NoKXL. We're building the clean energy future we need, no more pipelines #BootKXL pic.twitter.com/AF8a1GBoK7

    — 350 dot org (@350) August 7, 2017

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"Welfare Reform" Is Pushing Women Into Unwaged Work -- It's Time to Change

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By Sarah Jaffe, Truthout June 29, 2017

www.truth-out.org

"Welfare Reform" Is Pushing Women Into Unwaged Work -- It's Time to Change 

Welfare reform briefly became a hot topic on the campaign trail last year when Hillary Clinton was criticized for supporting the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, signed into law with great fanfare by President Bill Clinton, who famously declared that the law would "end welfare as we know it." The law did precisely that, turning the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program into the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant, which came along with stringent requirements for the people, most of them women, who received it. Since that time, extreme poverty has spiked in the country, and the share of single mothers with no income or benefits has gone from 12 percent to 20 percent. But welfare rights activists never stopped fighting for their rights, and many are backing a bill being reintroduced by Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, the RISE Out of Poverty Act.

Reverend Annie Chambers (Big Momma’s House, Baltimore, MD): I am one of the eight women that started the National Welfare Rights Organization … But now, the system has changed, it's so bad for people that we have got to get back to that. That is what we are talking about now. Even training the younger people -- the younger men and women now, because a lot of men are raising their children -- to come back to the drawing board. They really need to know how to organize, how to go into the districts, how to work with district managers and social workers and fight for what they need. Even to go to the governor, the White House. I have been locked up in every state in the United States because we got out there and fought.

Contact Rev. Annie Chambers at 443-768-7682, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 247 N. Dallas Court, Baltimore, MD 21231

Rachel West (US PROStitute’s Collective, San Francisco Bay Area): We are supporting this initiative because when welfare reform was brought in, millions of women were literally thrown into the street -- no income, nothing. How were women supposed to support their kids when that happened? Well, it is even documented now that women went into prostitution. A lot of women had to feed their kids. Into shoplifting, selling drugs, whatever women could do to survive. Into so-called "crimes of poverty." Then, what happened was a lot of women ended up going to prison. There is a direct connection between welfare reform and women going to prison for crimes of poverty. We know the fastest growing prison population now is women, mostly women of color, and 70 percent are mothers. That is the major reason why we are supporting this, because we don't think women should be forced into prostitution through poverty and lack of any means to be able to survive. Contact US PROStitute’s Collective at https://uspros.net/ or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Pat Gowens (Welfare Warriors, Milwaukee, WI): On welfare, ever since 1996 when the Clintons did the welfare reform bill, the moms have to work for no pay for 30 hours a week, and the average check is $390. For instance, in Milwaukee, our Head Start program was using 96 women at 20 hours a week for no pay. No pay, no Social Security credits, no unemployment credit, no protection from sexual harassment, because there is no money. And you have to do that to get a $390 check…and if you don't, you get sanctioned. The welfare bill (the TANF bill) allowed time limits to be as low as 18 months to two years. In Wisconsin it is two years. After that, you can't get any benefits. So, if you have no job, you are in the street with no money, no benefits… The RISE Out of Poverty Act would say that instead of only allowing mothers to do this unwaged work, that women could do their mandatory hours on job search, number one, and they could also do it going to college... In the states right now, they can require the mother to leave their babies at two months, three months, whatever, one year. In Wisconsin, it is two months. At that point, the children have no one-on-one care anymore from their mom, and the mom has to again go into that unwaged workforce or, if she can find a job, the paid workforce. This [RISE] would say the states couldn't do that. They would have to let the mothers be home…one year…or more… [and] they can't use the TANF money simply to take children away because of poverty.

Contact the Welfare Warriors at www.WelfareWarriors.org, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. For the full article and to add your comments: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/41100- welfare-reform-is-pushing-women-into-unwaged-work-it-s-time-to-change-that Or listen to the whole interview https://thebaffler.com/interviews-for-resistance/the-poor-under-attack

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"What to the Slave is 4th of July?": James Earl Jones Reads Frederick Douglass's Historic Speech

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by Democracy Now!

www.commondreams.org

"What to the Slave is 4th of July?": James Earl Jones Reads Frederick Douglass's Historic Speech

In a Fourth of July holiday special, we begin with the words of Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery around 1818, Douglass became a key leader of the abolitionist movement. On July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York, he gave one of his most famous speeches, "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro." He was addressing the Rochester Ladies Antislavery Society. This is actor James Earl Jones reading the speech during a performance of historian Howard Zinn’s acclaimed book, "Voices of a People’s History of the United States." He was introduced by Zinn.

Transcript

HOWARD ZINN: Frederick Douglass, once a slave, became a brilliant and powerful leader of the anti-slavery movement. In 1852, he was asked to speak in celebration of the Fourth of July.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS: [read by James Earl Jones] Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is a constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes that would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour forth a stream, a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and the crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

AMY GOODMAN: James Earl Jones, reading Frederick Douglass’s famous 1852 Independence Day address in Rochester, New York. It was part of a performance of Howard Zinn’s Voices of a People’s History of the United States.

© 2016 Democracy Now!

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#FightFor15: Fast Food Workers Stage Rallies Across Country, Demanding Living Wage and Union Rights

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by Julia Conley, staff writer, February 12, 2018

www.commondreams.org

#FightFor15: Fast Food Workers Stage Rallies Across Country, Demanding Living Wage and Union Rights

The average fast food worker earns too little to afford a two-bedroom rental apartment in every U.S. state

 

Fast food and other low-paid workers across the country, with a focus on the South, are staging walkouts and demonstrations on Monday to call attention to the fight for a minimum wage of $15 per hour and the right to unionize.

Together with the Poor People's Campaign, the national group Fight for $15 is staging rallies in cities including Detroit, Los Angeles, and Memphis—the site of the historic sanitation workers' march exactly 50 years ago.

Fifteen hundred marchers are expected to attend a demonstration in Memphis, where workers, supported by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., marched in 1968 to demand safety standards, a living wage, and recognition of their union.

Supporters of the movement are tying the fight for a $15 minimum wage to civil rights.

"The fight for strong unions was at the heart of the original Poor People's Campaign, and it must be at the forefront of our effort as well," said the Rev. William Barber II, co-chair of the new Poor People’s Campaign, originally started by King in 1967. "To truly defeat systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation, all working people must have the freedom to come together and harness their power collectively."

According to the compensation research company PayScale, fast food workers make an average of $8.28 per hour. Those wages, depending on hours, leaves those workers making about $15,000 to $21,000 per year.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour leaves workers unable to afford a two-bedroom rental apartment in any U.S. state.

The Poor People's Campaign and Fight for $15 are also planning six weeks of "direct action and nonviolent civil disobedience" starting on Mother's Day.

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