Refugees, Women in Black and the Serbian police


"You can’t tell who is craziest: the refugees, the police or those women," said a local shopkeeper. He made a cross over his chest, to express his sincere Serbian bewilderment.

He had just witnessed ten shabby Afghan and Syrian refugees walking past, escorted by ten Women in Black from Serbia, Italy and Spain, themselves escorted by ten policemen and a police car.

By the railway station in downtown Belgrade, the temporary citizens-from-nowhere are living their nomad existences in the the rubble of the so-called Belgrade Waterfront construction project. The refugees loiter all day, hoping for something to happen, between the city bus yards and huge trash-cans full of boxed food that the aid workers supply on a regular basis.

Around five pm there is a kind of tea ceremony where about 800 people gather, most of them arriving from the organized camps where they sleep. They arrive to be heard, to be seen. We Women in Black went to join them to show this Belgrade political scene to our international colleagues.

It’ s been now two years since the Syrian refugee crisis seized headlines, but the refugees are not entirely Syrians, but a global peoples’ market of Afghans and Nigerians as well. In the beginning there were many more refugees, and far less aid from the locals and the Serbian state. The migrants were simply collapsing on flat surfaces anywhere in Belgrade, urban nooks, parks and lots where they ate, drank and slept.

Now the bus-station square, a favorite place to cluster for obvious reasons, has been fenced and organized. Read the rest

Notes from Jeremy Corbyn's barn-burning speech at the Labour Party conference


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn -- re-elected in an unprecedented landslide despite back-stabbing from party grandees and MPs -- inaugurated his new term with a hell of a conference speech. Read the rest

How Hong Kong's vulnerable, reviled refugee community saved Edward Snowden

Supun and Nadeeka let Edward Snowden hide in their home in Lai Chi Kok; Jayne Russell for National Post

When Edward Snowden flew to Hong Kong with thumb-drives full of damning US government documents, he assumed his freedom was forfeit: he didn't even make an escape plan. Read the rest

Private prison contractor's $1B no-bid deal to run immigration jails guarantees 100% occupancy payouts

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Private prison titan Corrections Corporation of America has extensively diversified its holdings into the entire carceral-industrial sector: halfway houses, electronic monitoring, mental health -- and family immigration detention, a growth industry where the human rights standards are rock-bottom and the payouts are guaranteed to jackpot. Read the rest

Nauru files: leaks tell abused childrens' stories from Australia's offshore concentration camp


You may have heard about Nauru on a recent This American Life episode: the tiny Pacific island that was stripped of all vegetation and made virtually uninhabitable by phosphate mining, then turned into an international pariah by its desperate practice of selling citizenship to crooks, now an offshore detention centre for people seeking asylum in Australia, where cruelty and abuse are legendary. Read the rest

Mexico-US illegal migration has been at zero for 8 years, and other eye-opening facts


NPR's On the Media have released a new installment in their indispensable Breaking News Consumer's Handbook (previously), this one about migration -- legal and illegal -- and it's a doozy. Read the rest

It's getting harder and harder to use gag clauses to silence laid off workers in America


In America, it's common practice to make severance pay for laid-off workers contingent on signing a "nondisparagement clause" that prohibits workers from ever speaking ill of their former employers -- some contracts I've seen even prohibit revealing the existence of these clauses, combining silence with secrecy. A winning combination if you're a rapacious corporation engaged in legally questionable labor practices. Read the rest

American Youtube musician breaks silence over 100-day detention in Jakarta


Ewan writes, "In Septempber of last year, American YouTube musician Kina Grannis embarked on a tour of Asia. As usual, her social media presences detailed the process beautifully (I've interviewed Kina myself and have called her the gold standard among YouTube musicians on more than one occasion). Read the rest

As criminal justice reform looms, private prison companies get into immigration detention, halfway houses, electronic monitoring, mental health


Nixon's War on Drugs, Reagan's three strikes rules, and Clinton's "superpredator" crime bill turned America into history's greatest imprisoner, a carceral state where a racially biased justice system was made worse with every passing day, thanks to the campaign contributions and lobbying by the private prison industry, led by Corrections Corporation of America. Read the rest

Starving pensioners in Japan responsible for shoplifting crime-wave


Japan's recently expanded prisons are already at 70% occupancy, an incarceration epidemic blamed on hungry pensioners who account for 35% of the nation's shoplifting, with a high rate of re-offending. Read the rest

Senior U.S. immigration judge says 3 and 4 year old children can represent themselves in court


The ACLU deposed Judge Jack H Weil, a senior judge responsible for training other immigration judges, in a case over whether 3- and 4-year-olds needed legal representation during deportation hearings. Judge Weil insisted that children as young as three could be taught the basics of immigration law and didn't need taxpayer-funded lawyers in order to get a fair hearing.

Read the rest

UK to deport Californian who lived 48 years in country


71 year old Thomas Podgoretsky has resided in the UK for 48 years on a permanent leave to remain visa. He has four British children and six British grandchildren, as well as three British ex-wives. The Home Office has given him 72 hours to prepare for his deportation to the USA, despite his having no living relatives there. Read the rest

Banksy in the Calais "jungle" reminds us that Steve Jobs was the "son of a Syrian migrant"


A new stencil/pasteup in the notorious "Jungle" refugee camp in Calais, France depicts Steve Jobs with a satchel and a classic Macintosh. Read the rest

US immigration law: so f'ed up that Trump's no-Muslim plan would be constitutional


For more than a century, the US judiciary has been handing down rulings that affirm that non-US citizens, including those seeking entry into the USA, have no rights under the US Constitution -- rulings that also grant the President the power to exclude people based on race, marital status and other biased grounds. Read the rest

Ironically, modern surveillance states are baffled by people who change countries

Public Health Service officers examining immigrants arriving to Ellis Island

Scott Smith and his family moved from the USA to the Netherlands and discovered that despite living in the most heavily surveilled moment in human history, neither his old country nor his new one can figure out how to relate to them. Read the rest

You're only an "economic migrant" if you're poor and brown


Ned Richardson-Little is a Canadian academic who went to the US "in search of a better life," did research in Germany and settled in the UK, something he was able to do thanks to his economic migrant grandfather who happened to have been born in Scotland. Read the rest

The US government turned down Anne Frank's visa application


Otto Frank sought help from his college friend Nathan Strauss Jr, the son of the owner of Macy's, to get a US visa, but the US State Department turned him and his family down. Read the rest

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