The news cycle isn’t kind to stories that take a long time to be told. Sure, no one ever stops talking about Trump and his uncle Vlad, but despite it all being a part of one two-year long shit show, there’s always something new and horrific to draw the eye. Not so with stories like the ones that are still playing on on the United States’ southern border, daily. Families are still being kept apart, kids barely able to talk are being asked to defend themselves in court, and individuals seeking asylum from the dangers of their homes are being turned away by customs agents or railroaded into custody with less than legal practices.
While much of the media has turned its focus to alleged Russian spies sleeping their way into influential positions, The Texas Tribune just keeps on keeping on: their reportage on the tragedies being played out on the U.S./Mexican border is has been absolutely outstanding. But, they’re a non-profit. In order to continue to do the sort of quality journalism that they’ve been churning out of late, they could use a hand.
Right now, the Texas Tribune is raising funds to open a newsroom in the Rio Grande Valley: an area of the state that, as it’s name suggests, lays along the Mexican border by the Rio Grande River. It’s where you’ll find McAllen and Brownesville – two of the cities where DHS has been splitting up families and stashing kids away in privately operated prisons. It’s ground zero for the Trump administration’s bigoted bullshit. Read the rest
We've talked about the fact that the Trump administration wants to house thousands of asylum seekers, refugees and other legal migrants within what amount to modern-day concentration camps, inside the secure perimeter of military installations. Doing so will not only ensure that the migrant's chances of finding their way to freedom is significantly hampered, but also keep the detainees far from the prying eyes of protesters and the media. For a nation once renown for fighting to ensure freedom and democracy at home and abroad, this is bullshit. Worse still, it spits in the eye of every solider who join the military with those ideals in mind; those who come from immigrant or migrant families (that'd be most of us) and anyone who wears the uniform whilst carrying a moral compass. As The Daily Beast reports, many veterans and those still serving are very not ok with this:
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Active-duty and retired U.S. military officers and enlisted personnel are expressing a sense of moral emergency over the Defense Department setting up detention camps for undocumented immigrants on military bases.
“It smacks of totalitarianism,” said Steve Kleinman, a retired Air Force colonel and military intelligence officer.
Raf Noboa, an Iraq War veteran and former Army sergeant, said he was astounded by the “enormous moral offense” the camps represent and which the military will be ordered to support.
“America’s military once liberated people from concentration camps,” Noboa told The Daily Beast. “It beggars the mind and our morality that it might be used to secure them.”
“I knew something bad was going to happen.
Back in January, Microsoft announced that they were "proud" to support ICE. Honestly, what company wouldn't be? A U.S. federal contract, no matter how large your coffers and corporate reach might be, is a good get, due both to the amount of American lucre you'll pocket and the visuals that come from being trusted by one of the most powerful countries in the world to meet their cloud computing needs.
But hey: it isn't January anymore and Microsoft in June, 2018 is looking a little bit like IBM back in the 1930s.
Under the Trump Administration's direction, ICE and other Homeland Security entities have been busy breaking up families, emotionally scarring thousands of innocent kids, and driving their anguished caretakers into cages, or worse, to suicide. That Microsoft's Azure cloud computing services are helping such villainy along, in any capacity, might be good in the short-term, for the company's bottom line, but the optics are shit. More than this, the company's association with ICE is raising the hackles of some of their their most important assets: not their shareholders or board, but their employees.
According to Gizmodo, a number of Microsoft employees, who prefer to remain anonymous in the interest of protecting their careers, have stepped forward to report that the computer technology company's relationship with ICE has led to growing dissent among the company's workforce. When Giz questioned Microsoft's PR team on the matter, the response was a bit wishy-washy:
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Microsoft condemned family separation by ICE in a statement to Gizmodo but declined to specify if specific tools within Azure Government, like Face API—facial recognition software—were in use by the agency.
Tent cities for migrant children separated from their parents at the border? Sure, why not.
According to USA Today, the Department of Health and Human Services will be paying a visit to Fort Bliss Army base, just outside of El Paso, Texas to see if it would be a suitable location to set up a tent city designed to house between 1,000 and 5,000 migrant kids. According to the report, HHS officials are also eyeing Air Force bases in San Angelo and Abilene for the task.
So, tent cities built by the homeless are deemed illegal and get torn down by the government, but when the government wants to build one, it’s totally cool. Got it.
From USA Today:
The Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS is responsible for looking after more than 11,200 migrant children being held without a parent or guardian. Some 100 existing shelters, however, are now 95% full.
The number of migrant children held in U.S. government custody without their parents has increased more than 20% as a result of a new "zero-tolerance" policy by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. That policy directs the Border Patrol to refer all people caught crossing the border illegally for criminal prosecution, regardless of their situation.
Because of the Trump Administration’s no-exceptions policy on illegal immigration, enough children to entertain the notion of opening a tent city to contain them all have been ripped from their families over the past few months, while adults, whose only crime was to come to America looking for a better life, you know, like many of our ancestors did, are being locked away in federal prisons while awaiting deportation hearings. Read the rest
The Washington Post reports that the Trump Administration is laying the necessary groundwork to warehouse the children of migrants who enter the United States illegally on military bases in Texas and Arkansas. The bases will be used to contain anyone under the age of 18 who crosses the border illegally with their parents or on their own.
In a leaked email sent to Pentagon personnel, it was disclosed that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would be making visits to four military installations in the coming weeks to evaluate whether they contain infrastructure suitable for sheltering children.
From the Washington Post:
An official at HHS confirmed the military site visits. Speaking on condition of anonymity because the plans are not yet public, the official said HHS currently has the bed space to hold 10,571 children in its network of 100 foster-care facilities.
Those facilities are at 91 percent capacity, the HHS official said, and the Trump administration’s crackdown plans could push thousands more children into government care. The official said DHS has not provided projections for how many additional children to expect.
The move to assess the suitability of housing on military property comes in the wake of the Trump Administration's escalating war on migrants and asylum seekers hoping for the shelter, protection and opportunity that the United States once stood for. With escalating violence in Mexico, South and Central America, there could be no worse time to exclude vulnerable people from entering the country, illegally or otherwise. Read the rest
Sara Elizabeth Williams' long, beautifully written profile of the merchants who established illegal storefronts on the Champs-Élysées, a stretch of road in Jordan's Za’atari refugee camp -- home to 93,000 Syrian refugees -- is a lens on the crisis created by decades of western complicity in the brutal Assad regime, followed by a global proxy war fought on Syrian soil, with no compassion or regard by any of the belligerents for the civilian costs.
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Fabio Palmieri directed IRREGULARS, a film about Cyrille Kabore, who tried time and time again to enter Europe after leaving his native Ghana at age 20. Read the rest
A new DHS policy that will go into effect on Oct 18 will force everyone who's ever been naturalized as a US citizen or who is currently residing in the USA on a Green Card (I currently reside in the USA on a Green Card) to hand over "social media handles and aliases, associated identifiable information and search results" for permanent scrutiny in our government files. Read the rest
The Humble Freedom Bundle will take $30 or more and in return give you more than 50 games, ebooks audiobooks and comics, including two never-before-heard audiobook titles from me: a newly mastered edition of the audiobook of my book on copyright, the internet and artistic integrity, Information Doesn't Want to be Free, featuring both Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer reading their introductions; and, the first 18 minutes of the forthcoming audiobook of my novel Walkaway, read by Wil Wheaton (the full book also features many other fine readers, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Amber Benson and Amanda Palmer from the Dresden Dolls). Read the rest
In 2013, Mike Zuckerman, a self-described culture hacker, attended the White House’s National Day of Civic Hacking. Inspired by what he’d learned there, Mike returned to San Francisco and founded [freespace], an organization that focuses on sustainability and urban tactical development. In the spring of 2016, Mike went to Greece where he spent four months rehabilitating an abandoned clothing factory in the industrial sector of Thessaloniki, turning it into a humane shelter that he and his colleagues named Elpida. Unlike the official migrant camps in Greece, where refugees have little say in the day-to-day operations of the camp, Elpida put its 140 residents in charge, and the results were remarkable. Not only is Elpida much less expensive to run on a per person basis than official camps in Greece, the residents don’t suffer from boredom, restlessness, and disengagement like they do at NGO-run camps.
As a pilot model, Elpida offers hope and improved living conditions for refugees in a place where no other NGO was able to provide in this kind of support.
Mike has been working with Institute for the Future (where I'm on staff) as an affiliate since 2014 and recently accepted an IFTF fellowship to help uncover and study new paradigms for restoring vulnerable places and space, such as post-disaster sites, informal refugee settlements, and decaying urban neighborhoods.
I spoke to Mike about his work at Elpida in August, 2016, just days after he returned from Greece.
Listen to the audio podcast interview with Mike Zuckerman here. Read the rest
Austrian designer Moriz Büsing created this grim interactive map of migrant and refugee deaths on the way to Europe, or trying to stay in Europe; over 32,000 deaths in 15 years. Read the rest
Banksy's brilliant piss-take on theme-parks has run its course and will now be dismantled, shipped to Calais and turned into temporary shelters for the refugees massed there. Read the rest
"We have a name for locking people up and forcing them to do real work without wages. It's called slavery." Read the rest