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Congress Told ICE to Detain Fewer People. Instead It Keeps Adding Private Prisons.


Congress Told ICE to Detain Fewer People. Instead It Keeps Adding Private Prisons.
For the seventh time this year, ICE has started using a new jail in Louisiana.
Noah Lanard

In a now familiar pattern, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has started sending immigrants to another for-profit jail in the Deep South. Mother Jones has learned that the latest addition to ICE’s rapidly expanding southern detention network is the LaSalle Correctional Center in Olla, Louisiana, a jail run by the private prison company LaSalle Corrections.

In February, Congress directed ICE to reduce its detention population, but ICE has ignored that request. After President Donald Trump forced a government shutdown in December, legislators averted another shutdown in February with a bipartisan bill that directed ICE to go from detaining nearly 49,000 people to 40,520 by October. Instead, ICE has pushed its detention population to all-time highs. The agency was detaining a record-high 55,220 people as of Saturday and has been rapidly contracting with new private prisons to house that increased number of detainees.

ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox confirmed that the agency started using the Olla jail this month. He said there are about 100 immigrants there so far. The facility can hold up to 755 people, according to LaSalle’s website.

The LaSalle Correctional Center is one of eight detention centers that ICE has started using in Louisiana and Mississippi since February, the month Congress directed the agency to detain fewer people. All of the new immigration jails are run by private prison companies. Six are run by LaSalle Corrections. The new jails have primarily been used to hold adults seeking asylum after being stopped at the southern border. As I wrote last month:

Concentrating asylum seekers in Southern states makes it particularly likely that they will lose their cases because of the region’s harsh judges and shortage of immigration lawyers. There are not enough judges in Louisiana to hear the new cases, and there are no immigration courts in Mississippi. As a result, many of these new asylum seekers will be forced to represent themselves in video hearings with out-of-state judges.

After I reported last month that ICE had quietly opened three new detention centers in the south, Democratic legislators and presidential candidates harshly criticized the move. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to ICE demanding answers about the new detention facilities. Warren wrote that “it appears that ICE has decided to place immigrant detainees at these facilities without providing proper notice, despite the fact that they suffer from a myriad of health and safety problems.” Warren asked ICE to respond to a detailed list of questions by July 25, but the agency still hasn’t gotten back to her, according to Warren’s press office.

At the start of the Trump administration, ICE was detaining, on an average day, about 1,900 people in Louisiana and none in Mississippi. The agency started using one new detention facility in each state in 2018, but that pace has quickly accelerated with the eight new centers opening this year. The 10 facilities that ICE has begun using under Trump’s administration—eight in Louisiana and two in Mississippi—have a combined capacity of more than 10,000 people. NBC News reported that more than 6,500 people were being detained in Louisiana by ICE last month, second only to Texas.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Aug 23, 2019, 12:49 PM (1 replies)

James Fallows: If Trump Were an Airline Pilot

James Fallows
Aug 22, 2019
If Trump Were an Airline Pilot


But now we’ve had something we didn’t see so clearly during the campaign. These are episodes of what would be called outright lunacy, if they occurred in any other setting: An actually consequential rift with a small but important NATO ally, arising from the idea that the U.S. would “buy Greenland.” Trump’s self-description as “the Chosen One,” and his embrace of a supporter’s description of him as the “second coming of God” and the “King of Israel.” His logorrhea, drift, and fantastical claims in public rallies, and his flashes of belligerence at the slightest challenge in question sessions on the White House lawn. His utter lack of affect or empathy when personally meeting the most recent shooting victims, in Dayton and El Paso. His reduction of any event, whatsoever, into what people are saying about him.

Obviously I have no standing to say what medical pattern we are seeing, and where exactly it might lead. But just from life I know this:

If an airline learned that a pilot was talking publicly about being “the Chosen One” or “the King of Israel” (or Scotland or whatever), the airline would be looking carefully into whether this person should be in the cockpit.

If a hospital had a senior surgeon behaving as Trump now does, other doctors and nurses would be talking with administrators and lawyers before giving that surgeon the scalpel again.

If a public company knew that a CEO was making costly strategic decisions on personal impulse or from personal vanity or slight, and was doing so more and more frequently, the board would be starting to act. (See: Uber, management history of.)

If a university, museum, or other public institution had a leader who routinely insulted large parts of its constituency—racial or religious minorities, immigrants or international allies, women—the board would be starting to act.

If the U.S. Navy knew that one of its commanders was routinely lying about important operational details, plus lashing out under criticism, plus talking in “Chosen One” terms, the Navy would not want that person in charge of, say, a nuclear-missile submarine. (See: The Queeg saga in The Caine Mutiny, which would make ideal late-summer reading or viewing for members of the White House staff.)

Yet now such a person is in charge not of one nuclear-missile submarine but all of them—and the bombers and ICBMs, and diplomatic military agreements, and the countless other ramifications of executive power.

If Donald Trump were in virtually any other position of responsibility, action would already be under way to remove him from that role. The board at a public company would have replaced him outright or arranged a discreet shift out of power. (Of course, he would never have gotten this far in a large public corporation.) The chain-of-command in the Navy or at an airline or in the hospital would at least call a time-out, and check his fitness, before putting him back on the bridge, or in the cockpit, or in the operating room. (Of course, he would never have gotten this far as a military officer, or a pilot, or a doctor.)


Posted by babylonsister | Fri Aug 23, 2019, 07:22 AM (2 replies)

Fireworks at San Francisco DNC meeting as committee votes down climate debate resolution

Nothing is more important imo...

Fireworks at San Francisco DNC meeting as committee votes down climate debate resolution
Fight over climate debate expected to continue Saturday
By Casey Tolan | ctolan@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: August 22, 2019 at 11:05 am | UPDATED: August 22, 2019 at 2:34 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — The question of whether Democrats should hold a climate-specific presidential debate erupted into its own acrimonious debate at an annual party meeting Thursday, with officials stamping down a resolution to support it in the face of raucous opposition from activists.

In a 17-to-8 vote, the Democratic National Committee’s resolutions committee defeated a resolution that called for the candidates to debate each other about their views and policies on climate change — on a national stage.

Young protesters filling the room hissed, jeered and sang the union song “Which Side Are You On?” before and after the vote.


The battle hinges on the definition of a debate or a forum. DNC rules only allow third-party groups to hold forums, with candidates speaking one at a time, not debates, with candidates onstage at the same time.

CNN and MSNBC are hosting two presidential forums on climate change next month, but activists say that isn’t enough. Rather than a format that that doesn’t allow interaction between the contenders, they’re demanding a head-to-head, DNC-sponsored debate to give the climate crisis the attention it deserves.

Party leadership, including DNC chair Tom Perez, is strongly against the idea, insisting it would be unfair to focus a debate on any single issue.


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Aug 22, 2019, 05:43 PM (14 replies)

'Just Ridiculous': Trump's Mar-a-Lago Cronies Meddled in Veterans Affairs as Employees Seethed

August 22, 2019 12:57PM ET
‘Just Ridiculous’: Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Cronies Meddled in Veterans Affairs as Employees Seethed
Internal emails reveal how an inexperienced trio of Trump’s cronies worked to make big changes to the health care provider for 9 million veterans
By Andy Kroll

WASHINGTON — They were called the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd” by people inside the government. A damning exposé dubbed them the “shadow rulers of the VA.”

In the early days of the Trump administration, a trio of businessmen — one of whom was a member of the president’s private Mar-a-Lago club — worked behind the scenes to shape policy at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the $200-billion federal agency that provides healthcare to nearly 9 million vets. As ProPublica and other news organizations documented, Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter, a doctor in West Palm Beach named Bruce Moskowitz, and a D.C. lawyer named Marc Sherman formed a triumvirate of outside advisers, vetting VA personnel decisions, corresponding with the agency’s leader, and proposing their own ideas for reforming the VA.

Despite having no government experience among them, the Mar-a-Lago Crowd exerted unprecedented clout inside the VA. “The Mar-a-Lago Crowd spoke with VA officials daily,” ProPublica reported, “reviewing all manner of policy and personnel decisions.” On the subject of preventing veteran suicides — an issue of paramount importance with an average of 20 such suicides a day — one anonymous VA official said of the Mar-a-Lago Crowd, “Everything needs to be run by them. They view themselves as making the decisions.”

Now, internal emails obtained by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reveal a new facet of the Mar-a-Lago Crowd saga: the frustration and anger felt by government employees at having to deal with Trump cronies meddling in the agency’s work. (Perlmutter, Moskowitz, and Sherman did not respond to requests for comment. In response to questions from Sen. Elizabeth Warren about their unofficial roles, they said they “never profited, nor sought to profit” from their “volunteered” work with the VA.)

In a November 2017 email exchange, a senior official and medical doctor fumes about having to respond to questions from someone described as “POTUS friend/doctor” — an apparent reference to Moskowitz. The VA official, Dr. Ashwini Zenooz, writes: “I’d be happy to respond to this but these questions are just ridiculous. They don’t make sense and there is basic [sic] lack of understanding” about relevant issues. “I’m just baffled,” she goes on to write. (According to LinkedIn, Zenooz no longer works at the VA.)


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Aug 22, 2019, 05:28 PM (7 replies)

Olympic fencer and hammer-thrower who kneeled, raised fist in protest put on probation

Olympic fencer and hammer-thrower who kneeled, raised fist in protest put on probation
Race Imboden, a fencer, took a knee and hammer-thrower Gwen Berry raised a fist during the national anthem at medal ceremonies in Peru this month.
Aug. 21, 2019, 1:47 PM EDT
By Janelle Griffith

Olympic fencer Race Imboden and hammer-thrower Gwen Berry were put on a 12-month probation on Wednesday for protesting on the medal stand this month at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.

Imboden took a knee and Berry raised a fist when the national anthem played during medal ceremony. They both "could face more serious sanctions for any additional breach of our code of conduct," according to letters sent to both athletes, a spokesperson for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee told NBC News.

Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland also said in the letters that future protests, such as at next summer's Olympics in Tokyo, would be met with stiffer punishments.

“It is also important for me to point out that, going forward, issuing a reprimand to other athletes in a similar instance is insufficient,” Hirshland wrote. She said that while she applauded the “decision to be an active citizen,” Olympians must “abide by the policies" agreed to "in order to ensure the Games succeed in their purpose for many years to come.”


In a series of tweets, Imboden cited "racism, gun control, the mistreatment of immigrants" and President Donald Trump as the reasons he protested.

He also said in an opinion piece in The Washington Post on Aug. 13 that he was interested in change, not self-promotion, adding that he was influenced by "Colin Kaepernick, Megan Rapinoe, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith: black, LGBT, female and Muslim athletes who chose to take a stand."

“I spoke up, I hope, for the same reasons that athletes who’ve come before me did. I want my country to change," Imboden, who is white, wrote in the op-ed. "And I want people who look like me to start coming to terms with this reality: Even if we can’t fully identify with the challenges that minorities sometimes face, or haven’t experienced the kind of attacks that they’ve faced, we owe it to our country to use the privilege we have to fight for what is right."


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Aug 22, 2019, 05:10 PM (9 replies)

Trump Has Told Friends That Gutting Medicare Could Be a Fun "Second-Term Project"


Trump Has Told Friends That Gutting Medicare Could Be a Fun “Second-Term Project”
Republicans want Trump to deal with the exploding deficit by gutting the social safety net, and the president is reportedly receptive to the idea.
By Bess Levin
August 22, 2019

When Donald Trump was running for president, he boldly proclaimed that he would not only balance the budget, he would eliminate the entire national debt, which at the time was approximately $19 trillion. That, of course, was about as likely to happen as Don Jr. going vegan or Ivanka publicly admitting that her father is a sick individual who needs help. Instead, President Trump has pushed the federal deficit to new heights thanks to a tax cut that did not, in fact, “pay for itself,” and a trade war that has turned out to be neither “good” nor “easy to win.”

On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office said that the federal deficit will reach $960 billion for the 2019 fiscal year, which ends September 30, and breach the $1 trillion mark in 2020. Previously those figures were expected to come in at $896 billion and $892 billion, respectively, but the damage from the president’s tariffs, along with a sharp falloff in revenue thanks to the 2017 tax cuts, have caused deficit projections to rise faster than expected. Incredibly, this is all happening against the backdrop of the longest economic expansion on record and the lowest jobless rate in 50 years, conditions that typically cause the budget deficit to shrink. And under the continued tutelage of Donald Trump, the New York Times reports, things are only expected to get worse:

Mr. Trump has shown little inclination to prioritize deficit reduction, and has instead considered policies that would add to the debt. The president has mused in recent days about reducing the taxes that investors pay on capital gains, a move that is estimated to add $100 billion to deficits over the next decade. He has also talked about cutting payroll taxes, which could reduce revenues by $75 billion a year for every percentage point cut in payroll tax rates.

The president also wants to make permanent many of the temporary individual tax cuts contained in the 2017 law, which are scheduled to expire in 2025. The budget office forecast assumes those cuts expire and tax revenues rise; if they do not, future deficit projections would be even larger.

The need to borrow more money has been aggravated by several bipartisan budget agreements to raise military and nondefense domestic discretionary spending. And it could increase if the trade war further chills business investment and consumer spending, resulting in slower economic growth and fewer tax dollars flowing to the Treasury Department.

But while the nonpartisan CBO has placed the blame squarely on things like the trade war and tax cuts, Republicans—the ones who spent eight years under Obama screaming about fiscal responsibility and bankrupting our grandchildren—have an idea for how to deal with the situation that doesn’t involve taking tax cuts away from the wealthy or reeling in Tariff Man:

Conservative groups—which largely supported Mr. Trump’s tax cuts—have pushed Congress to cut future deficits by reducing benefits for federal health care and retirement programs, like Medicare and Social Security. “Something must be done soon,” the conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks said in a news release on Wednesday, “and that means taking a hard look at mandatory spending, the root cause of the United States’ fiscal woes.”

While Republicans do not expect Trump to push for cuts while campaigning for reelection, they’ve apparently encouraged him to do so should he win a second term—a proposition to which President “I’m not going to cut Social Security, I’m not going to cut Medicare” has reportedly been receptive. “We’ve got to fix that,” Senator John Thune, the number two Republican in the Senate, told the Times. “It’s going to take presidential leadership to do that, and it’s going to take courage by the Congress to make some hard votes. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road. I hope in a second term, he is interested,” Thune said of Trump. “With his leadership, I think we could start dealing with that crisis. And it is a crisis.” Republicans, said Senator John Barrasso, who seems to regularly chat with the president, have “brought it up with President Trump, who has talked about it being a second-term project.”
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Aug 22, 2019, 04:27 PM (15 replies)

Joe Conason: A Clear And Present Danger To The Republic


A Clear And Present Danger To The Republic
Joe Conason
August 21, 2019


We consider Trump’s behavior bizarre because it is so incongruous with what we expect from an American president — whose sworn duty, after all, is to act in the national interest. But what if he is consciously acting against the national interest? That disturbing question arises again and again, as it did during the Russia investigation, because almost everything Trump does can be viewed as inimical to the nation. The Danish incident is only the latest example in the long list that shows a certain method to his supposed “madness.”

In one way or another, Trump has denigrated or undermined American relationships with nearly all of our traditional allies, sometimes repeatedly. He has complained publicly about the French, the Germans, the British, the Australians, to name a few of the most important, and slammed the European Union as a trading and military partner. Indeed, he has strenuously sought to destroy the EU while befriending the so-called populist far right — the heirs of our fascist enemy. That approach to European affairs just happens to coincide perfectly with the political aims of the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile Trump has abandoned long-standing US policy on human rights, not only committing violations on our border but encouraging dictators around the world. Within the space of a few days this year he berated the Canadian prime minister, our friend and ally, while praising the murderous dictator of North Korea. Maybe that was just crazy, or maybe it was something else.


Like the trade war that is decimating our agricultural heartland — among the US economy’s most vital sectors — these recurring acts of sabotage are cited by his supporters as evidence of his “nationalism.” They are nothing of the kind. They are inflicting damage that our most determined enemies could never have dreamed possible before he entered the Oval Office.

You can tell yourself it’s all merely proof of his mental instability, his narcissistic compulsions, his ignorance and stupidity. Or you can wonder, as I sometimes do, whether something rational and sinister lies behind this troubling pattern.

Either way, Trump is a clear and present danger to our republic.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Aug 22, 2019, 03:08 PM (28 replies)

If Trump Were In Any Other Job


If Trump Were In Any Other Job
August 22, 2019 at 2:01 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard

James Fallows: “If Donald Trump were in virtually any other position of responsibility, action would already be under way to remove him from that role. The board at a public company would have replaced him outright or arranged a discreet shift out of power. (Of course, he would never have gotten this far in a large public corporation.) The chain-of-command in the Navy or at an airline or in the hospital would at least call a time-out, and check his fitness, before putting him back on the bridge, or in the cockpit, or in the operating room. (Of course, he would never have gotten this far as a military officer, or a pilot, or a doctor.)”

“There are two exceptions. One is a purely family-run business, like the firm in which Trump spent his entire previous career. And the other is the U.S. presidency, where he will remain, despite more and more-manifest Queeg-like unfitness, as long as the GOP Senate stands with him.”
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Aug 22, 2019, 02:12 PM (3 replies)

'Disloyal Jew'


August 22, 2019
Poem: ‘Disloyal Jew’
BY Reb Irwin Keller | Aug 21, 2019 | Poetry

I am a disloyal Jew.

I am not loyal to a political party.
Nor will I be loyal to dictators and mad kings.
I am not loyal to walls or cages.
I am not loyal to taunts or tweets.
I am not loyal to hatred, to Jew-baiting, to the gloating connivings of white supremacy.

I am a disloyal Jew.
I am not loyal to any foreign power.
Nor to abuse of power at home.
I am not loyal to a legacy of conquest, erasure and exploitation
I am not loyal to stories that tell me whom I should hate.

I am a loyal Jew.
I am loyal to the inconveniences of kindness.
I am loyal to the dream of justice.
I am loyal to this suffering Earth
And to all life.
I am not loyal to any founding fathers.
But I am loyal to the children who will come
And to the quality of world we leave them.
I am not loyal to what America has become.
But to what America could be.
I am loyal to Emma Lazarus. To huddled masses.
To freedom and welcome,
Holiness, hope and love.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Aug 22, 2019, 08:59 AM (6 replies)

So is Trump a philo-Semite or an anti-Semite? The answer is both.

So is Trump a philo-Semite or an anti-Semite? The answer is both. The principle that explains his seemingly contradictory outlook toward Jews is simple: Trump believes all the anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews. But he sees those traits as admirable.

To Trump, the belief that Jews are foreign interlopers who use their wealth to serve their own clannish interests is not a negative — as it is for traditional anti-Semites — but rather a positive. He wants Jews to be his attorneys and manage his money, so that he, too, can be rich. He wants them in his political corner, so that he, too, can be powerful. He wants to buy politicians, just like they do.

As a man who has always stood solely for his own naked self-interest, Trump does not see the anti-Semitic conception of the self-interested Jew as a complaint, but rather a compliment. He prioritizes his needs ahead of the national interest, and so he sees the idea that Jews might do the same with themselves or with Israel as entirely natural.

-- Yair Rosenberg, Washington Post


Trump keeps pushing anti-Semitic stereotypes. But he thinks he’s praising Jews.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Aug 22, 2019, 08:41 AM (3 replies)
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