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Judi Lynn

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 The US Wants to Deport This Palestinian—but First It’d Have to Recognize Palestine

 The US Wants to Deport This Palestinian—but First It’d Have to Recognize Palestine

Officially “stateless” in the eyes of the US government, Hisham Shaban Ghalia has ground the mechanisms of deportation to a halt.

By John Washington

 Beginning in besieged Gaza, through Turkey, Greece, Venezuela, Central America, and Mexico, Hisham Shaban Ghalia traveled 10,000 miles—flying, riding buses, walking, and even swimming—to get to the United States. But despite coming to this country to seek asylum from violence and hardship in the Gaza Strip, Shaban has been languishing for the past 16 months in an immigration detention center in Florence, Arizona. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Shaban can’t stay in the country. But because of the peculiar legal and diplomatic tangle that Shaban finds himself in, he can’t be sent back home, either. That’s because, according to US law, Shaban has no home to be deported to.

Shaban’s asylum claim was denied last August, but ICE has neither deported him nor released him from custody. Shaban’s lawyer, Liban Yousuf, of the nonprofit Council on American-Islamic Relations, who began representing him pro bono only this January, filed a habeas corpus petition on February 20 (over six months after his asylum claim was denied) asking for Shaban to be granted supervised release, which, though it would provide no legal status, could allow him to work. While the petition is still being reviewed, ICE issued a “Decision to Continue Detention” on February 25, explaining that “ICE is currently working with the Government of Palestine” in order to remove him from US custody. But the fact that the United States does not recognize Palestine as a state has rendered this process difficult. In his case file, ICE documents refer to his home country only within parentheses, his citizenship listed as: “Stateless (Palestine).” Shaban told me, “I have a serious fear that I’ll spend my life here [in detention].” As of publication, he has spent 499 days behind bars.

Beyond Citizenship

“Everyone,” according to Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “has the right to a nationality.” Palestine, in the early decades of the last century, was seen as a home for stateless Jews. Now, it is the Palestinians who are rendered stateless, who are searching for a recognition of their nationality, their home. Neve Gordon, author of Israel’s Occupation, explained the peculiar predicament of statelessness: “When a person is stripped of any connection to a state and all that remains is his or her being a human being, that is the moment when they need the most human rights, and they have no rights.”

Worldwide, there are an estimated 15 million stateless persons—what Vicent Chetail, professor of international law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, called “a growing problem.” The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) however, not counting Palestinians in the figure, puts the worldwide number of stateless at 10 million. Chetail explained that due to “very restrictive legislation” for Palestinians requesting Refugee Status, “there are no other possibilities than to leave their country and enter into another one in an illegal manner.” (Asking for asylum, as Shaban did at the US border, however, is not illegal, according to both US and international law).


‘This Is a Coup’: Brazil’s Workers Party Faces Its Greatest Test

‘This Is a Coup’: Brazil’s Workers Party Faces Its Greatest Test

Posted on Mar 24, 2016
By Sonali Kolhatkar

Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva holds a shirt with text that reads in Portuguese,
“Let’s unite Brazil, there won’t be a coup,” during a meeting with union leaders Wednesday.
[font size=1] (Andre Penner / AP) [/font]

Brazil, the world’s fifth-largest country in terms of population and Latin America’s most expansive state, is in political turmoil. The left-leaning Workers Party, PT (as it is known by its Portuguese acronym), is facing an existential crisis after 14 years in power. Accusations of corruption from opposition parties and the glare of a right-wing media empire could hand the reins of government to conservative forces. Mass street protests drawing tens of thousands of mostly white, upper-middle-class families with slick props and coordinated, simplistic messaging offer a convincing backdrop of popular political will for change. It is a familiar script in Latin America—one that has played out in Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras and elsewhere. Will Brazil succumb to this new model of right-wing coups?

The PT swept into power on the wings of the once-beloved President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula—as he is still affectionately known—was succeeded by his onetime chief of staff, Dilma Rousseff. Both Lula and President Rousseff now face serious accusations stemming from their former affiliation with the Brazilian energy company Petrobras. Rousseff faces impeachment proceedings that have been brought against her by opposition officials with support from the judiciary.

Rousseff has remained defiant, saying, “I have committed no irregularity. I will never resign.” And thus far there has been no proof of wrongdoing on her part. Still, the calls for her resignation are relentless. There have also been no charges against Lula, despite a swirl of rumors and three hours of questioning during his recent detention by police that some characterized as a kidnapping. Lula has stated he will run for president again in 2018, which may be part of what the right fears.

Meleiza Figueroa, an American doctoral student at the University of California at Berkeley and an occasional Truthdig contributor, is currently living in Brazil and conducting research in the Amazon. In a Skype interview from the municipality of Santarém in the state of Pará, she described what is unfolding in Brazil as “a naked power grab on the part of the right-wing elites.”


Cuba Reflections: On Life and Death

March 25, 2016
Cuba Reflections: On Life and Death

by Paul Street

A Nice Surprise

It’s not very often that you hear or see a salaried U.S. corporate media employee defend Fidel Castro and Che Guevara’s Cuban Revolution and its accomplishments. That’s why I did a double take when I read a recent opinion piece titled “Cuba’s Success Lost in Media Frenzy” in the Gannett-owned Iowa City Press-Citizen. The commentary was not written by some radical academic or graduate student at the local university (I’m not sure such a professor can be found at the University of Iowa anymore) or by an independent radical like me (I have a long record of publishing pieces in the Press-Citizen’s laudably open-minded Opinion page). No, it was penned in defense of President Barack Obama’s recent historic visit to Cuba by a clever young man named Ian Goodrum, who happens to be the paper’s “community content and engagement editor.”

Goodrum did a decent job. He rightly mocked “most media in the U.S. media” for using President Barack Obama’s recent historic visit to Cuba as “an opportunity to denounce the tiny island nation for daring to have an economic and political system different from our own.” He criticized that media for taking seriously the “increasingly absurd pronouncements from [Cuban] expatriates.” Goodrum justly criticized White House Press Secretary Earnest for absurdly claiming that the U.S. had been “ignoring” Cuba for “more than 50 years.” As Goodrum noted, Earnest’s comment is preposterous given dedicated U.S. efforts to punish and overthrow the Castro government, including a “crushing trade embargo and crippling sanctions” and the “the encirclement of isolation of Cuba by the United States” (Goodrum) for more than a half century.

Goodrum detailed some of Cuba’s remarkable “accomplishments since the [1959 Cuban] revolution,” all achieved despite the hostility of Uncle Sam. The triumphs Goodrum mentions are considerable:

“Keeping the aforementioned antagonisms in mind — and understanding that survival under the baleful eye of the world’s richest nation is a miracle in itself — (socialist Cuba’s) successes are nothing to sneeze at. Infant mortality has dropped while life expectancy and literacy rates have skyrocketed. Economic growth has stayed consistent with the exception of a few years during the “Special Period,” when the loss of 80 percent of Cuba’s trade led to a downturn. Yet the social safety net and housing, education and food guarantees from the government were able to continue even in this time of extreme privation. Media outlets like to talk about how the average monthly salary amounts to $20 or $30, but this is a dodge. Comparing Cuban economic indicators to those of the United States is a matter of apples — heh — and oranges. When weighed against countries like the Dominican Republic or Haiti, Cuba stands head and shoulders above its direct competitors.”

“What could be considered the crown jewel of Cuba’s economy, the health care sector, is perhaps the best example of what a system like Cuba’s can do. Transmission of HIV from mother to child was eliminated in Cuba and a vaccine for lung cancer has been developed there. Exporting medical professionals around the world to deal with threats like the Ebola outbreak show the country’s commitment to help those in need, and a disproportionate capability to do so. But this is what can happen when you prioritize public welfare over profits” (emphasis added).


State Dept. project looks suspiciously like an infiltration plan

State Dept. project looks suspiciously like an infiltration plan

Emilio Paz • March 26, 2016

Are the State Department and the White House on the same wavelength? Do they coexist in the same government? The same city? The same constellation?

The question comes up because, less than a week after President Barack Obama personally assured his Cuban counterpart, Raúl Castro Ruz, that Washington has neither the capacity nor the intention to impose change on Cuba” and that the United States “will not impose our political or economic system on you,” the State Department has announced that it will give some enterprising U.S. organization $753,989 to train as many as 30 “young emerging leaders from Cuban civil society” … “to manage and grow civil society organizations that will actively support democratic principles in Cuba” — exactly the kind of governance that Havana does not want shoved down its throat.

We are indebted to journalist Tracy Eaton and his blog “Along the Malecón” for publishing the text of the announcement, released on Friday (March 25) and promptly disseminated by the official websites Granma.cu and Cubadebate.cu.

Basically, the announcement says this:

Over a three-year period, the State Department will give $753,989 (that’s more than three-quarters of a million dollars) to a U.S. nonprofit organization or U.S. educational institution to support the young Cubans “in a two- to four-month professional development program that will include specialized training” to help them develop “action plans for nongovernmental community activities in Cuba.”


Ecuador Has the Best Social and Development Policies, Says UN

Ecuador Has the Best Social and Development Policies, Says UN

Published 25 March 2016

Ecuador is one of the most “resilient” countries in Latin America in how it has been able to cope with the current recession.

Ecuador has created some of Latin America's best social development and poverty reduction policies over the last few years, according to the United Nations Development Program.

The UNDP regional representative, Jessica Faieta, highlighted some of Ecuador's achievements in her last conference in the South American country Thursday. Among them include major advancements in poverty reduction, education, access to health care, and empowering women, among others.

Faieta added that these advancements continued despite the country going through a period of economic deceleration, caused mostly by the plunge in oil prices.

“Ecuador has one of Latin America’s most innovative, effective and interesting social agendas from the perspective of the United Nations and it is precisely in a moment for focusing its social and economic policies to safeguard people,” Faieta said in the framework of the Ecuadorean legislative accountability.


Open Letter to the International Community about the political situation in Brazil

Open Letter to the International Community about the political situation in Brazil
Professors and researchers from Brazilian universities 26 March 2016

A new type of “judicial-mediatic coup”, more complex and sophisticated than the military coup, is under way in Brazil. Brazilian intellectuals seek support from the international community. Español

We, professors and researchers from Brazilian universities, hereby address the International Academic Community to report serious breaches in the rule of law currently taking place in Brazil.

After a long history of coups and a violent military dictatorship, our country has enjoyed its longest period of democratic stability since the 1988 Constitution established a number of individual and civil rights.

Despite progress in recent years with respect to social policy, Brazil remains a deeply unequal country with a political system marked by high levels of patronage and corruption. The influence of big business in the electoral process through private campaign financing has led to consecutive corruption scandals involving politicians from all sides.

In recent years, a national outcry against corruption has increasingly dominated public opinion. Public accountability and law enforcement agencies have responded by intensifying anti-corruption efforts, targeting major companies and political elites.

Unfortunately, this laudable process has been used to destabilize a democratically elected government, resulting in an exacerbation of the current economic and political crisis in our country. The same judiciary that should protect the political and legal integrity of our country has become an epicenter of this process.

The main anti-corruption investigation, the “Operação Lava Jato” (Operation Car Wash), is headed by a lower level federal judge, Sérgio Moro, who has systematically utilized procedures that Brazilian legislation clearly defines as exceptional, such as pre-trial detention and coercive transportation of witnesses for depositions. Arbitrary detentions have been openly justified as a method to pressure the accused into accepting plea bargains in which they denounce alleged accomplices. Information about the cases has been regularly and selectively leaked to the media. Indeed, evidence suggests that the press has received prior information about important police operations so as to mobilize public opinion against the accused. Even the nation’s President was targeted by an illegal wiretap. The above-named judge subsequently handed over excerpts of both legal and illegal wiretaps to the press for public disclosure, even when they involved private discussions with no relevance to the investigation. The purpose was clearly to embarrass specific politicians.

Complaints against leaders of political parties in the opposition have been disregarded and silenced by the mainstream press. At the same time, although the “Operação Lava Jato” has yet to accuse President Dilma Roussef, the corruption investigations have been used to support impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Eduardo Cunha, an opposition congressmen. Cunha, however, is accused of corruption and is being investigated by the Ethics Committee of the same House

When the actions of public authorities begin to challenge basic legal rights such as the presumption of innocence, equal protection, and due process, we must exercise caution. When noble ends seem to justify procedural breaches, the danger is enormous.

Sérgio Moro does not have the necessary exemption and impartiality to head the current investigations. The fight against corruption must be conducted within strict legal boundaries that respect the fundamental rights of defendants.

Segments of the judiciary involved in this process have worked in close in alliance with the mainstream media, that has been historically aligned with Brazil’s political oligarchy. In particular, the country’s largest television station, the Globo Television Network, openly supported the military dictatorship (1964-1985).

We fear that the breakdown of the rule of law under way is a threat to Brazilian democracy that may lead to grave and even violent social polarization. For these reasons, we ask our colleagues abroad for solidarity and support in the defense of legality and of Brazil’s democratic institutions.


America’s Astounding Human Rights Hypocrisy in Cuba

America’s Astounding Human Rights Hypocrisy in Cuba

Posted on Mar 25, 2016
By Harvey Wasserman

[font size=1]
America has more people incarcerated (2.2 million) than any other country. (Bart Everson / CC BY-SA 2.0)
Our American president’s long-overdue visit to Cuba was a great thing for many reasons. But maybe our elected officials should cease their hypocritical yapping about the human rights situation in Cuba until they come clean about what’s happening here in the United States.

To be sure, there is much to say about how this authoritarian regime has handled dissent. The details abound in the corporate media. But the idea of the United States lecturing Cuba or any other country on this planet about human rights comes down somewhere between embarrassing and nauseating. Consider:

•The U.S. right now has the world’s largest prison population by far. There are 2.2 million citizens in prison here for offenses that include smoking pot and failing to pay off certain debts. At its peak, there were 2.5 million in Stalin’s Soviet Gulag.

•The U.S. prison population is hugely overfilled with African-Americans and Hispanics.

•The racial bias of the prison population is directly related to a deliberate Jim Crow strategy of disenfranchisement aimed at keeping people of color from voting.

•There are more citizens in U.S. prisons than there are prisoners in China, another authoritarian country. China’s population is 4 to 5 times as large as that of the U.S. They do not have an alleged Bill of Rights.


Journalist Robert Cox Recalls Work During Argentina's Dirty War

Journalist Robert Cox Recalls Work During Argentina's Dirty War

Updated March 25, 2016·6:58 PM ET

Published March 25, 2016·4:26 PM ET

President Obama paid tribute to the Argentines who suffered and died during the "Dirty War" starting in the 1970s. Among those he singled out for praise Thursday was journalist Robert Cox, then editor of the Buenos Aires Herald, who helped to reveal the disappearances, torture, and murder of leftists and others under the military junta. NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Cox about his work during that period.


Argentines are marking the 40th anniversary of the military coup that set off the Dirty War, a seven-year-long wave of political oppression that claimed thousands of lives. President Obama, who's just returned from a visit to Argentina, acknowledged the victims of the Dirty War there earlier this week. And he also acknowledged some of those who stood beside them.


BARACK OBAMA: The journalists, like Bob Cox, who bravely reported on human rights abuses despite threats to them and their families.

SIEGEL: Robert Cox edited the English-language Buenos Aires Herald. He ultimately had to leave Argentina. He moved to Charleston, S.C. But at age 82, he now returns regularly to Buenos Aires, and he was with the president there this week. He joins us now from Argentina. Welcome to the program.

BOB COX: Thank you. It's a great pleasure to be here.

SIEGEL: Take us back those days 40 years ago. Political dissidents were, in the phrase of the day, being disappeared. You were a newspaper editor. You faced a choice about how to cover what was going on. What led you to act as you did?

COX: What I realized was is that we could save lives. That sounds extraordinary, but it is what happened. And we had to just find the ways to do it in such ways that the government wouldn't deal with us as they dealt with other people. The point was to get the story out, too, because, with that, we were able to occasionally - well, fairly frequently, really - get the government to release people. I have friends now who survived the torture chambers there because I wrote a story about them. It's an incredible - so many incredible stories like that.

SIEGEL: The way that the Buenos Aires Harold managed to do this was actually quite fascinating. The idea was, if the families of people who had been disappeared filed a writ of habeas corpus, then you could cover a legal action in court - the filing of the writ and report on the content of it- and get away with it.

COX: We decided that's what we would do, and we did get away with it. It was chaos in that time. It was like some vortex of horror in Argentina, but most people managed to not see what was happening. One of the things that I take away with it is the ability of people to compartmentalize everything according to how they want to feel most comfortable.


Blood on the Tracks: Yellowstone Buffalo Atrocities

March 25, 2016
Blood on the Tracks: Yellowstone Buffalo Atrocities

by Louisa Willcox

This winter, 582 Yellowstone buffalo have been killed, either by hunters or government agents. The killing is escalating as winter drags on and buffalo, desperate for food, leave Yellowstone Park for lower elevation grasslands north in Montana. Hundreds more buffalo could be sent to slaughter or quarantine by the time spring green-up occurs, when buffalo return to graze in the protected core of the Park.

Once buffalo approach the border of the nation’s first park, management turns fundamentally hostile. As in the case of grizzly bears and wolves, management of buffalo caters primarily to a minority of well-heeled and politically well-connected agriculture interests at the expense of the broader public, who flock to Yellowstone to see these rare and iconic species in the flesh. More on what is behind this later.

Yellowstone supports the largest and most genetically pure free-roaming buffalo population in the country. In most other places buffalo have been interbred with domestic cattle. The comeback of Yellowstone’s buffalo from the brink of extinction is one of the greatest wildlife success stories in history of the US.

We came close to losing buffalo in the American West, which is incredible given that they once numbered between 21 and 88 million animals. It is important to remember that the 4,500 or so buffalo that now live in Yellowstone are descendants of just 23 surviving buffalo at the turn of the last century. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature continues to designate Bison bison as “vulnerable to global extinction.” Our current policies that led to this year’s slaughter don’t help.


Richard Nixon used America's 'war on drugs' as excuse to target ‘anti-war left and black people,'

Richard Nixon used America's 'war on drugs' as excuse to target ‘anti-war left and black people,’ claims former aide

The civil rights leader, Rev Al Sharpton, said that John Ehrlichman’s remarks were ‘a frightening confirmation of what many of us have been saying for years’

Tim Walker US Correspondent |
@timwalker |
Wednesday 23 March 2016

[font size=1]
John Erlichman served 18 months for his role in the Watergate scandal Wikimedia/Creative Commons
America’s so-called “war on drugs” began as little more than a ploy to enable Richard Nixon to go after his political enemies, one of the disgraced President’s former policy gurus admitted in an interview which has surfaced for the first time.

John Ehrlichman, who had advised Nixon on domestic policy, told the journalist Dan Baum that the drugs war was an excuse to target “the anti-war left and black people”, Mr Baum writes, in a new report advocating drug legalisation for Harper’s Magazine.

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people,” Mr Ehrlichman said in the 1994 interview.

“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalising both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.

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