On Tuesday the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General released a report on overcrowding at US detention centers. Buzzfeed ran photos from the report.
Inspectors detailed how, when they visited several the facilities earlier this month, they found adults and minors with no access to showers. Many adults were only fed bologna sandwiches, and detainees were seen banging on cell windows — pressing notes to the windows that detailed their time in custody.
Inspectors described the conditions as "dangerous" and "prolonged." Some adults were held in standing-room-only conditions for a week. There was little access to hot showers or hot food for families and children in some facilities.
The inspectors said the overcrowding and prolonged detention for the single adults represented a security risk for detainees, agents, and officers. Adults purposely clogged toilets with Mylar blankets and socks in order to be released from their cells, while some refused to return to cells after they had been cleaned. Others tried to escape.
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In a tweet this morning, Trump chooses the dehumanizing word "infest" to describe immigrants coming to the US. This is eerily similar to German Nazi propaganda "linking Jews and vermin or disease to Germany."
"Democrats are the problem. They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13. They can’t win on their terrible policies, so they view them as potential voters!"
Twitter users responded strongly.
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While it should come as no surprise to anyone that follows the news or gets depressed by Twitter on a regular basis, freedom of the press – an important check against corruption and the misuse of power in a democracy – is on the decline.
We've been seeing it daily of late: political leaders spewing targeted hate at particular journalists or the outlets they work for. Pundits calling the facts uncovered during deep-dive investigative reporting lies, or alternate versions of the truth, instead of trying to defend their viewpoints or confessing to their bullshit once they've been caught. Hell, Trump went so far as to call journalists "enemies of the people." That's a term that Stalin was fond of.
The assault on the media doesn't stop there, either. With increasing frequency, journalists around the world are facing charges and incarceration for nothing more than doing their jobs. As insane as it is, those are the lucky ones. In some locales, being a journalist can get you killed. It's been common, in recent years, for reporters in Mexico to vanish or to wind up dead – their work to bring the truth to light displeasing to drug cartels and corrupt local officials. And then there's this, from Reporters Without Borders:
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The line separating verbal violence from physical violence is dissolving. In the Philippines (down six at 133rd), President Rodrigo Duterte not only constantly insults reporters but has also warned them that they “are not exempted from assassination.” In India (down two at 138th), hate speech targeting journalists is shared and amplified on social networks, often by troll armies in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pay.
If you've had the sneaking suspicion over the past year that the world is going to hell, you're not alone. Amnesty International's 2017-2018 State of the World's Human Rights Annual Report says that in many countries, the politics of hate and fear are quickly becoming the norm.
The report, which covers the activities of 159 countries paints a troubling picture of the conditions that many people are forced to endure on an alarmingly more regular basis. For those who keep track of human rights issues, this is old hat--the world can be a shitty place, full of shitty people doing shitty things to folks that don't deserve it. What's new this year, although it's likely news to no one, is that America is one of a small group of countries at the forefront of Amnesty International's concerns. In a press release for the report, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, states:
"The specters of hatred and fear now loom large in world affairs, and we have few governments standing up for human rights in these disturbing times. Instead, leaders such as al-Sisi, Duterte, Maduro, Putin, Trump and Xi are callously undermining the rights of millions."
The report goes on call out the Trump administration's attempted rollback of women's rights and to block the entry of visitors and immigrants from Muslim countries, as particularly troubling and that Trump's "...backward steps on human rights are setting a dangerous precedent for other governments to follow."
The whole text of the annual report is available for download, here. Read the rest