News Releases

Executive Order and Child Separation

KEVIN JOHNSON, krjohnson at ucdavis.edu, @krjohnson58
Professor of public interest law and Chicana/o studies, Johnson wrote the piece “Trump and Sessions can end immigrant family separations without Congress’ help,” published Wednesday morning by The Conversation. He is author of How Did You Get to Be Mexican? A White/Brown Man’s Search for Identity.

KARINA MORENO, karymorenophd@gmail.com, @karyinbrooklyn
Moreno is an assistant professor in the School of Business, Public Administration, and Information Sciences at Long Island University-Brooklyn. She is a native of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Her pieces include “The Private Deportation Machine” and “Political Theater at the Border.”

She said today: “The announcement for Trump’s executive order comes as several ongoing lawsuits are challenging the separation policy. Additionally, a 1997 Flores agreement states that children can only be held in the least restrictive setting possible.

“Trump says this was the Democrats’ policy: yes and no. Obama had a huge influx of unaccompanied children at the border seeking asylum as part of the Central American refugee crisis. In an effort to not violate their right to procedural due process, the measures in place either held families together until they got to their immigration hearing, judge; or, the state assumed custody of minors until a guardian or family member claimed the child (the child was then released to this sponsor). Detention centers were regulated with basic standards on living conditions and how long children could be held, as well as required facilities to have childcare licensing. Most are run by private corporations. … Deportation has become a billion-dollar industry.”

Background:

From the New York Times: “Fact-Checking the Trump Administration’s Case for Child Separation at the Border.”

See AP piece “U.S. has split up families throughout its history“: “Some critics of the forced separation of Latino children from their migrant parents say the practice is unprecedented. But it’s not the first time the U.S. government has split up families, detained children or allowed others to do so.

“Throughout American history, during times of war and unrest, authorities have cited various reasons and laws to take children away from their parents.”

New Paper: Big Banks Again Putting Taxpayers on Hook with Complex Trades

NPR reported on “All Things Considered” Tuesday evening in “Big Banks Are Once Again Taking Risks With Complex Financial Trades, Report Says” that: “Big banks are skirting the rules on the sale of the complex financial instruments that helped bring about the 2008 financial crisis, by exploiting a loophole in federal banking regulations, a new report says.

“The loophole could leave Wall Street exposed to big losses, potentially requiring taxpayers to once again bail out the biggest banks, warns the report’s author, Michael Greenberger, former director of trading and markets at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.” Also see from Bloomberg: “Swap Loophole Leaves U.S. Taxpayers on Hook for Trades.”

The American Banker reports in “Will states pick up where feds left off on derivatives regulation?” that “Greenberger discussed the issue during an event sponsored by the nonprofit Institute for New Economic Thinking, alongside Paul Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman, and Thomas Hoenig, who recently retired as vice chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

“Both former regulators supported Greenberger’s argument.

“‘I am 90 years old. I started in banking 70 years ago,’ Volcker said, as he criticized the rising influence of financial lobbyists in the nation’s capital, and the urge among financial firms to roll back regulations when the economy is strong. ‘What strikes me is I’ve seen it all before, over and over again.'”

Available for a limited number of interviews for the next week, with more availablity thereafter:

MICHAEL GREENBERGER, via Ben Yelin, byelin@law.umaryland.edu and Janet Terry, jterry@law.umaryland.edu
Now a professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, Greenberguer summarizes his findings in “Too Big to Fail Banks’ Regulatory Alchemy“: “Thus, as the tenth anniversary of the Lehman failure approaches, there is an understanding among many market regulators and swaps trading experts that large portions of the swaps market have moved from U.S. bank holding company swaps dealers to their newly deguaranteed foreign affiliates. But, what has not moved abroad is the very real obligation of the lender of last resort to rescue these U.S. swaps dealer bank holding companies if they fail because of poorly regulated swaps in their deguaranteed foreign subsidiaries, i.e., the U.S. taxpayer.”

He concludes that with relief “unlikely to be forthcoming from either the Trump administration or a Republican-controlled Congress, some other means will have to be found to avert another multitrillion dollar bank bailout and/or financial calamity caused by poorly regulated swaps on the books of big U.S. banks. This paper notes that the relevant statutory framework affords state attorneys general and state financial regulators the right to bring so-called ‘parens patriae’ actions in federal district court to enforce, inter alia, Dodd-Frank on behalf of a state’s citizens. That kind of litigation to enforce the statute’s extraterritorial provisions is now badly needed.”

Are Voters Fixing Voting? *Gerrymandering * Ranked Choice Voting

DREW SPENCER PENROSE, dpenrose at fairvote.org, via Rich Robinson, rrobinson at fairvote.org, @fairvote
Penrose is law and policy director for FairVote. He recently wrote the piece “Maine approves ranked choice voting, this time for keeps.” Maine Public is reporting: “Results from nation’s first statewide ranked-choice voting election could be announced as soon as Tuesday.”

DAVID DALEY, davedaley at gmail.com, @davedaley3
Daley is a senior fellow for FairVote, former editor-in-chief of Salon.com and a frequent lecturer and media source about gerrymandering. He is author of the book Ratf**ucked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count, as well as this recent piece in the Boston Globe.

He just wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post called “The only people who can fix gerrymandering now are voters,” which states: “This decade, Wisconsin voters have cast ballots for their state assembly on maps drawn so surgically by Republicans that, in 2012, the GOP captured more than 60 percent of the seats with 174,000 fewer votes.

“Whether Democrats found themselves ‘packed’ into districts that overwhelmingly went blue or efficiently sprinkled throughout reliably red seats, the end result was the same. Wisconsin’s politics lurched dramatically to the right: voter ID bills and antilabor laws that lacked voter support sailed easily through the legislature. Uncompetitive districts drew no competition at all. Nearly 50 percent of all state assembly seats went uncontested by a major party in 2016. Turnout plummeted as well; Between 2012 and 2016, Wisconsin suffered the second-biggest decline in voter participation nationwide.

“On Monday, however, the Supreme Court — on narrow, technical grounds — punted on two crucial partisan gerrymandering cases, one from Wisconsin and another from Maryland, that had provided an opportunity to rein in this toxic, destructive practice that has accelerated the extremism and polarization in our politics. A unanimous court, citing a lack of standing by the Wisconsin voters from any one district to bring a claim against statewide maps, sent the case back to the district court to be reargued on different grounds. The trouble is, there’s not much time before the 2020 Census and the next round of redistricting. …

“Unfortunately, the high court continues to step away from creative solutions to systemic problems. In Shelby County v. Holder, the court argued that anti-discriminatory provisions of the Voting Rights Act targeting states that had historically disenfranchised voters were no longer necessary. Now, instances of racially motivated voter suppression must be challenged one by one — and, as we saw in the case of Ohio’s voter purges last week, these individual cases are often punted back to state election boards, overwhelmingly controlled by the GOP. …

“Just last week in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, the Supreme Court upheld Ohio’s policies of purging voters from the rolls after not participating in three federal elections (and not responding to official notices mailed to their homes). With Ohio’s policy greenlighted, over a dozen states have indicated that they will adopt a similar system. …

“There is some hope. This fall, as many as seven states will vote on ballot initiatives to create independent redistricting commissions. Arizona and California already use independent bodies for line-drawing to take the process out of the legislature — their maps, based on nonpartisan standards like compactness and keeping related communities together, are more just and more competitive. Maine, meanwhile, has enacted ranked choice voting to make its elections more representative and fair.” See FairVote’s page on ranked choice voting.

* ICE Contracts Former CIA Interrogator * Who Speaks? Bush and Obama Policy

KEN KLIPPENSTEIN, kenneth.klippenstein at gmail.com, @kenklippenstein
An independent journalist, Klippenstein broke the story: “Veteran CIA Interrogator Training ICE Officers” (for TYT Network), which states: “Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has contracted a private security firm run by a former top CIA interrogator to train ICE officers in ‘intelligence collection’ and ‘counterterrorism elicitation,’ federal documents show. The documents indicate that the training is to help ICE officers collect information from ‘terrorist suspects.’

“The $91,812 no-bid contract was awarded on May 7 — three days after the Department of Homeland Security,which oversees ICE, authorized its controversial new policy of separating undocumented families caught crossing the border.”

ROBERTO LOVATO, robvato at gmail.com, @robvato
An independent journalist, Lovato’s past pieces include “Central American deportees fear yet more trauma and violence back home” and “The Guantanamization of Immigrant Detention.”

He tweeted today: “Watching U.S. media, it would appear that Republican and Democratic Party operatives are better-suited to speak to these child separation issues than we Central Americans are. The amount of spin baked into much of the reporting on Trump’s child policy is as astonishing as it is tragic….

“I remember visiting S. Texas facilities that Laura Bush and Michelle Obama’s husbands built. I also remember interviewing Satsuki Ina, a Japanese psychologist, who as a child, was interned in a Texas concentration camp she compared to those Texas child refugee prisons Bush & Obama built.

“Between 2009 and 2014, I heard stories of and saw one to five-year-old Salvadoran kids who cried before being handed over to foster care after their parents were ripped from them by ICE.” Before becoming a journalist, Lovato supported refugee and displaced communities in wartime El Salvador.

See piece by The Onion: “Laura Bush Publishes Courageous Op-Ed Calling For Imprisonment Of Whoever Created ICE.”

Poor People’s Campaign: Nationwide Civil Disobedience

AP reports: “Thousands of anti-poverty activists have launched a campaign in recent weeks modeled after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign of 1968.” The Louisville Courier Journal reports Monday: “Anti-poverty activists plan another protest at Kentucky Capitol today.”

See from CommonDreams: “Hundreds Arrested Nationwide as Poor People’s Campaign Demands ‘End to the War Economy.'”

Other issues the Poor People’s Campaign is focusing on include voter suppression, immigrant injustice, lack of universal single payer healthcare and attacks on the social safety-nets and union rights.

Rev. GRAYLAN S. HAGLER, gshagler at verizon.net, @graylanhagler, @unitethepoor
Rev. WILLIAM H. LAMAR IV, william.lamar at metropolitanamec.org
Rev. Hagler is senior pastor at the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C. and chairperson of Faith Strategies. Rev. Lamar is pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.

They were arrested at the Supreme Court last week protesting the court’s decision on Ohio voter suppression. See from “Democracy Now”: “Religious Leaders Shackled, Held in Jail Overnight, After Praying in Protest Outside Supreme Court” and “In the Streets with the New Poor People’s Campaign Against Racism and Poverty.”

JOHN CAVANAGH, via Domenica Ghanem, and domenica@ips-dc.org, @ips_dc
Cavanagh is director of the Institute for Policy Studies, which submitted testimony to Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Elijah Cumming’s panel on the Poor People’s Campaign on Tuesday.

Cavanagh said today: “There’s an enduring narrative that if the millions of people in poverty in the U.S. just worked harder they would be lifted up out of their condition. But here we’re proving — with data and analysis spanning 50 years — that the problem is both structural barriers for the poor in hiring, housing, policing, and more, as well as a system that prioritizes war and the wealthy over people and the environment they live in. It is unfathomable, for example, that in the wealthiest nation in the world, medical debt is the number one cause of personal bankruptcy filings, and one and a half million people don’t have access to plumbing.”

Yemen: “America’s Dirty War”

AP is reporting: “The Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s exiled government began an assault Wednesday on the port city of Hodeida, the main entry point for food in a country already teetering on the brink of famine.

“The assault on the Red Sea port aims to drive out Iranian-aligned Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who have held Hodeida since 2015, and break the civil war’s long stalemate. But it could set off a prolonged street-by-street battle that inflicts heavy casualties.

“The fear is that a protracted fight could force a shutdown of Hodeida’s port at a time when a halt in aid risks tipping millions into starvation. Some 70 percent of Yemen’s food enters via the port, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies. Around two-thirds of the country’s population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are already at risk of starving.” See @accuracy Twitter feed on Yemen.

SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI, sha980 at mail.harvard.edu, @shireen818
Originally from Yemen, Al-Adeimi just completed her doctoral studies at Harvard University and starts as an assistant professor of education at Michigan State University in August. See a profile of her in Harvard Ed. Magazine.

Al-Adeimi has written a series of pieces for In These Times magazine, including “Trump Doesn’t Care About Civilian Deaths. Just Look at Yemen,” which states: “Yemen has been under attack by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and a coalition of various countries since March 26, 2015. The coalition is supported by the United Kingdom and the United States, with both countries providing hundreds of billions in weapons sales, targeting and logistical support, and in the case of the United States, mid-air refueling of jets. Yemeni civilians, on the other hand, are defenseless against this barrage of foreign attackers.

“The war has claimed the lives of at least 10,000 Yemeni civilians due to violent attacks, and has led to the deaths of at least 113,000 children who have died from hunger and preventable diseases such as cholera since 2016. …”

Most recently, she wrote “What the Deployment of Green Berets to the Saudi-Yemen Border Tells Us About America’s Dirty War,” which states: “The U.S. government has long sought to distance itself from the morally inexcusable war on Yemen — but this public relations effort is even more difficult after The New York Times reported on May 3 that, in December of last year, U.S. Special Forces (commonly known as the Green Berets) deployed to Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen. Though Saudi Arabia and the UAE are occupying parts of Yemen, the countries rely on Yemeni, Latin American, Sudanese, Blackwater and even al-Qaeda mercenaries to fight on the ground. Mercenaries also include former U.S. Military officer Stephen Toumajan, who commands the UAE’s military helicopter branch. The Saudi-Yemeni border, on the other hand, represents the only front where Yemeni and Saudi soldiers are engaged in direct on-the-ground combat. By placing American special forces at the Saudi-Yemeni border, the United States is engaged in direct combat with Yemen’s Houthis.

“Not only does this reality contradict the Pentagon’s previous statements about its involvement in Yemen, it also brings into question the U.S. government’s intended goals. Is the U.S. military so committed to achieving Saudi Arabia’s mission to regain control of Yemen that it is willing to risk American lives? Alternatively, if the U.S. is advising and training soldiers, repairing and refueling aircraft, patrolling Yemeni waters alongside Saudi Arabia and now fighting Yemenis on the ground, is it really just Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen?

“Following the latest revelations of the increased U.S. role in Yemen, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced he would seek ‘further clarification on these activities,’ while Rep. Mark Pocan urged Congress to ‘stop this secret, unconstitutional war.’ Yet members of Congress ought to consider that this has always been America’s war — from the very beginning.”

Trump Doesn’t Care About Civilian Deaths. Just Look at Yemen.

What the Deployment of Green Berets to the Saudi-Yemen Border Tells Us About America’s Dirty War

* Korean Americans * Nuclear Protesters

HYUN LEE, hyunlee70 at gmail.com
CHRISTINE HONG, cjhong at ucsc.edu
Scores of Korean American and allied organizations released a “Statement of Unity on the Upcoming U.S.-North Korea Summit.” Lee is managing editor of Zoom in Korea; Hong is an associate professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute.

See pieces at Zoom in Korea, including the unity statement and “Congressman Ro Khanna Emphasizes Continued Diplomacy with North Korea,” which contrasts Khanna’s stance with the current hawkish Democratic Party leadership of Chuck Schumer. See action alert by Roots Action on that issue.

Their unity statement read: “The United States and North Korea should take immediate mutual steps to prevent military conflict and alleviate tensions. They should establish and maintain a military hotline and communications channel and halt all military exercises and other provocative actions. The United States should withdraw the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea. And in step with North and South Korea, which have agreed to ‘carry out disarmament in a phased manner’ in the Panmunjom Declaration, U.S. Forces in Korea should take corresponding measures to reduce its troops.”

JESSICA STEWART, PAUL MAGNO, kingsbayplowshares at gmail.com
Stewart and Magno are with the Kings Bay Plowshares, seven of whom are imprisoned and being prosecuted for protesting against the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal.

The group notes: “Seven Catholic plowshares activists entered Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia on April 4th, 2018. They went to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to ‘beat swords into plowshares’.

“The seven chose to act on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who devoted his life to addressing what he called the ‘triple evils of militarism, racism and materialism.’ Carrying hammers and baby bottles of their own blood, the seven attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction. They hoped to call attention to the ways in which nuclear weapons kill every day, by their mere existence and maintenance.”

See from America Magazine about their action: “Protesting our country’s nuclear weapons is (still) worth going to jail for.”

North Korea: * Peace? * Hypocrisy of U.S. Nuclear Policy

JAMES BRADLEY, james at jamesbradley.com
Bradley, educated in Japan, has written about Korea in two of his books, published English and translated into Korean, among other languages. His books include Flyboys, The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia and The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War. He currently is working on a book about the Vietnam War and is available from Vietnam for Skype or telephone interviews.

ALICE SLATER, alicejslater at gmail.com
Slater is the New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War.

She addressed the position of Sen. Chuck Schumer and other members of the current Democratic Party senate establishment, saying they have “disgracefully argued the [National Security Advisor John] Bolton position in a letter to Trump egging him on to be tough on North Korea.” See from action alert from RootsAction.

She also said it was “hypocritical and blind to be calling for the complete denuclearization of North Korea” while the U.S. is continuing its nuclear policies. …

“This summer 122 countries negotiated a UN treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons — their manufacture, possession, use, threat of use, just as we have banned chemical and biological weapons. The grassroots campaign that worked with governments to get that result, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, received the Nobel Peace Prize for that achievement this past December. None of the nuclear weapons states or U.S. allies under the U.S. nuclear umbrella of deterrence signed the treaty.” See material from ICAN, including “Trump Kim Summit: ICAN launches roadmap to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula.”

“Interestingly, when the UN General Assembly’s First Committee for Nuclear Disarmament voted last fall for the negotiations to go forward, while the five western nuclear states, the U.S., Russia, U.K., France, and Israel voted NO, three Asian states, China, India, and Pakistan, ABSTAINED, and North Korea was the ONLY nuclear weapons state to vote YES! …

“Not only should we be calling for a peace treaty with the U.S., North and South Korea, and get our 28,000 U.S. troops out of South Korea, a peace treaty which we refused to negotiate since 1953, but we should call for the states to sign and ratify the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. There are 50 ratifications required for the treaty to ‘enter into force’ and have the force of law. So far, 58 have signed and 11 countries have ratified.”

Slater wrote the piece “Democracy Breaks Out at the UN as 122 Nations Vote to Ban the Bomb” for The Nation last year.

See from the Guardian: “U.S. to loosen nuclear weapons constraints and develop more ‘usable’ warheads.”

See IPA news releases: “U.S. Nuclear Stance Toward Russia Increasing Existential Threats” and “U.S. Breakthrough on Nuclear First Strike Threatens Stability.”

Korean Americans Weigh in on Summit

The U.S.-North Korea summit is scheduled to be held in Singapore on June 12. For other upcoming events, see accuracy.org/calendar.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes in “Democrats Childishly Resist Trump’s North Korea Efforts” about a letter from Sens. Chuck Schumer, Sherrod Brown, Richard Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Patrick Leahy, Robert Menendez and Mark Warner. Kristof writes they “are on the same side as National Security Adviser John Bolton, quietly subverting attempts to pursue peace.”

For timely updates, see @accuracy Twitter list on Korea.

HYUN LEE, hyunlee70 at gmail.com
CHRISTINE HONG, cjhong at ucsc.edu
Scores of Korean American and allied organizations just released a “Statement of Unity on the Upcoming U.S.-North Korea Summit.” Lee is managing editor of Zoom in Korea; Hong is an associate professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute.

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Activist Just Back from Afghanistan as Ceasefire is Announced

CNN is reporting: “Afghanistan announces temporary ceasefire with the Taliban.”

KATHY KELLY, kathy at vcnv.org, @voiceinwild
Kelly arrived back to the U.S. from Afghanistan Wednesday night. She is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. While in Kabul, she is a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers.

She said today: “It’s being reported that this ceasefire is only with the Taliban, but there are other fighting networks in Afghanistan. In 2017, Human Rights Watch reported that 42 percent of the insurgent attacks against civilians were by the Taliban, which was 65 percent of civilian deaths; 12 percent were Islamic State. But for any kind of lasting peace, you need to address the desperation people have in terms of finding work to get food to their families. This desperation is causing many to resort to joining these fighting networks.

“Part of the desperation is also because of the drought. [See piece below.]

“These efforts at lasting peace I think should be done through reparations by the U.S. for all the damage its government has caused Afghanistan. It would probably be cheaper to do that than continue to spend billions on war.

“It should be noted that this ceasefire takes place as the Taliban have been surrounding different cities and even enacting military take-overs for short periods.”

Kelly just wrote the piece “Digging Deeper” for The Progressive: “Rural families in drought-stricken areas watch their crops fail and their livestock die of dehydration. In desperation, they flee to urban areas, including Kabul, where they often must live in squalid, sprawling refugee camps. In the city, an already inadequate sewage and sanitation system, battered by years of war, cannot support the soaring population rise.

“Droughts in other countries have led to violent clashes and civil wars. It’s difficult to imagine that Afghanistan, already burdened by forty years of war, will escape eventual water wars.

“The most sophisticated and heavily armed warring party in Afghanistan is the U.S. military. Despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars on non-military aid to Afghanistan, the United States has done little to improve Afghanistan’s infrastructure or alleviate its alarming water crisis. President Donald Trump’s interest in what’s happening under the ground in Afghanistan is focused exclusively on the U.S. capacity to extract Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, estimated to be worth trillions of dollars.”

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