Archive | February 15th, 2017

Muslim-American Olympian Who Claimed to be Detained Because of Trump Travel Ban was Detained Under Obama


What do you get when you combine fake news with fake victimhood? Well, you get this story.

A story involving Ibtihaj Muhammad, U.S. Olympian and first Muslim-American female to win gold for the United States who is also an American citizen born and raised in New Jersey, claimed last week that she had been detained and questioned by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agents for two hours without explanation.

Muhammad made this claim on February 7th, saying her detention occurred only a “few weeks ago,” putting her incident right around the time of President Trump’s inauguration. Which, because fact-checking is something the mainstream media only does when it serves their cause, led to many in the media to characterize the story as a Muslim-American Olympic hero getting caught in the web of President Trump’s harsh, terrible, and non-existent Muslim ban.

However, we now know that Muhammad’s detention did not last two hours, and it occurred during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration.

According to an official with Customs and Border Enforcement who spoke with the Washington Examiner on condition of anonymity, Muhammad’s detention was nothing remarkable whatsoever. The official said, “She comes and goes many times. She travels quite extensively. She has never been stopped before. She wasn’t targeted. The checks are totally random; random checks that we all might be subject to.”

Muhammad was also not held for two hours, he said, adding that “the entire ordeal wrapped up in under an hour.”

The official also said, “This all happened in December, which was well before any executive order. Which is a totally separate incident.”

While true that Muhammad never initially gave an actual date of the incident in which she was detained, it’s equally important to note that she deliberately allowed for the media to run with the story as if it had occurred during the Trump Administration.

Below is a portion of an interview, also quoted in the Washington Examiner, which Muhammad gave to Popsugar’s Lindsay Miller about her detainment by customs. Note the specific nature of the lead question and Muhammad’s direct, personal response:

Popsugar: Do you know anyone who was directly impacted by Trump’s travel ban?

Ibtihaj Muhammad: Well, I personally was held at Customs for two hours just a few weeks ago. I don’t know why. I can’t tell you why it happened to me, but I know that I’m Muslim. I have an Arabic name. And even though I represent Team USA and I have that Olympic hardware, it doesn’t change how you look and how people perceive you.

Unfortunately, I know that people talk about this having a lot to do with these seven countries in particular, but I think the net is cast a little bit wider than we know. And I’m included in that as a Muslim woman who wears a hijab.

How odd for Muhammad to claim she’s suffered direct impact by things, when she knows for a fact she has not suffered direct impact by those things. Unless, of course, Muhammad is deliberately misleading people.

The purpose here isn’t to blame Muhammad and absolve the media, nor blame the media and absolve Muhammad. The point is to highlight the fact that the media eagerly gobbled up a story without even cursory fact-checking, from an outspoken critic of the Trump Administration, because their agenda happened to coincide with an activist with an axe to grind.

How deep did Muhammad’s deception go? This constitutes a mere sampling of the outlets who repeated variations of the story of Muhammad’s detainment because of the Trump travel ban.

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Women’s gyms lay bare limits of Saudi reforms

Saudi women in black shrouds

By James M. Dorsey

A Saudi decision to license within weeks the kingdom’s first women-only gyms constitutes progress in a country in which women’s rights are severely curtailed. It also lays bare the limitations of Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s plan for social and economic reforms that would rationalise and diversify the kingdom’s economy.

Restrictions on what activities the gyms will be allowed to offer reflects the power of an ultra-conservative religious establishment and segments of society critical of the long overdue reforms that became inevitable as a result of sharply reduced oil revenues and the need to enhance Saudi competitiveness in a 21st-Century knowledge-driven global economy.

At least two years in the making, the licensing rules announced by Princess Reema bin Bandar, the vice-president for women’s affairs of the General Authority of Sports, the kingdom’s sports czar, focus on Prince Muhammad’s plans laid out in a document entitled Vision 2030. The plans involve streamlining government expenditure, including public health costs, in a country that boasts one of the world’s highest rates of obesity and diabetes.

… gyms would be licensed to focus on activities such as swimming, running and body-building but not for sports such as football, volleyball, basketball and tennis.

“It is not my role to convince the society, but my role is limited to opening the doors for our girls to live a healthy lifestyle away from diseases that result from obesity and lack of movement,” Princess Reema said in announcing the licensing.

Princess Reema, the kingdom’s first ever women’s sports official, hopes to open gyms in every district and neighbourhood in the kingdom. The move constitutes progress in a country that has yet to introduce sports in public girl’s schools and has no public facilities for women’s sports.

Commercially run gyms catering primarily to upper and upper middle class women as well as privately organised women’s sports teams have been operating in the kingdom in a legal nether land for several years.

Princess Reema indicated that gyms would be licensed to focus on activities such as swimming, running and body-building but not for sports such as football, volleyball, basketball and tennis.

The licensing rules are in line with a policy articulated in 2014 by Muhammad al-Mishal, the secretary-general of Saudi Arabia’s Olympic Committee. At the time, Mr Al-Mishal, responding to pressure by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said women would be allowed to compete only in disciplines that were “accepted culturally and religiously in Saudi Arabia” and to a literal interpretation of the Qur’an. Mr Al-Mishal identified such sports as equestrian, fencing, shooting and archery.

The idea to de-emphasise team sports was intended to limit the potential of football becoming a venue of anti-government protest as it had in Egypt and elsewhere during the 2011 popular Arab revolts.

They are also in line with unrealistic hopes abandoned several years ago to emphasise individual rather than team sports in a men’s only national sports plan. The idea to de-emphasise team sports was intended to limit the potential of football becoming a venue of anti-government protest as it had in Egypt and elsewhere during the 2011 popular Arab revolts. It proved unrealistic, given that Saudi Arabia, like most nations in the region, is football-crazy. Saudi Arabia announced earlier this month that it would privatise five of the kingdom’s top football clubs.

Women’s sports is one litmus test of Saudi Arabia’s ability to tackle its social, political and economic challenges head on and move forward with Prince Muhammad’s outline of how the government hopes to diversify the economy, streamline its bloated bureaucracy and safeguard the Al Saud’s grip on power.

Vision 2030 identifies sports “as a mainstay of a healthy and balanced lifestyle” and promises “to encourage widespread and regular participation in sports and athletic activities”.

The licensing of women’s gyms is occurring even though Vision 2030 made no reference to facilities for women. The document also failed to even implicitly address demands by the IOC and human rights groups that women be allowed to compete freely in all athletic disciplines rather than only ones mentioned in the Qur’an.

The Washington-based Institute of Gulf Affairs, headed by Saudi dissident Ali al-Ahmed, reported in 2014 that up to 74 per cent of adults and 40 per cent of children are believed to be overweight or obese.

The report asserted:

Women in Saudi Arabia are being killed softly by their government. Not by public executions or brutal rapes and beatings, but by day-to-day restrictions imposed on them by their government… It must be understood that restrictions on women sports and physical activity have nothing to do with culture or religion, but rather, are fuelled by the ruling elite as a means to control the population. As long as the Saudi government continues to claim that such bans are a result of cultural and personal practices, women will continue to suffer a decline in physical and mental health, as well as their social, economic and political status.

It said that the restrictions amounted to “an almost completely sedentary lifestyle forced on women by the government through a de facto ban on physical education and sports participation for women that stems from the Wahhabi imperative of ‘keeping women unseen’”.

Saudi media have reported that lack of exposure to sun had led to vitamin D deficiency among 80 per cent of Saudi women.

A Human Rights Watch report concluded last year that “inside Saudi Arabia, widespread discrimination still hampers access to sports for Saudi women and girls, including in public education”.

The group noted that Saudi women were denied access to state sports facilities and barred from participating in national tournaments and state-organised sports leagues as well as attending men’s national team matches as spectators. Women have difficulty accessing the 150 clubs that are regulated by the General Authority, which organises tournaments only for men.

Human Rights Watch called on the Saudi government to demonstrate its sincerity by making physical education for girls’ mandatory in all state schools; ensuring that women can train to teach physical education in schools; establishing sports federations for women and allowing them to compete domestically and internationally; supporting women who want to compete in international sporting competitions on an equal footing with men; and allowing women to attend sporting events involving men’s national teams.

“Saudi authorities need to address gender discrimination in sports, not just because it is required by international human rights law, but because it could have lasting benefits for the health and well-being of the next generation of Saudi girls,” Human Rights Watch director of global initiatives Minky Worden said at the time.

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To Oppose Trump, Jews Must Join the Fight Against Fascism and Zionism

  • "Make Israel Great Again" posters referencing Donald Trump
    “Make Israel Great Again” posters referencing Donald Trump’s campaign line the streets of Tel Aviv. | Photo: Reuters
The relationship between the Trump administration and Israeli figures shows the shared ethnocentric attributes of Israel and U.S. white nationalism.

In potentially the biggest con ever executed, Donald Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV show celebrity, ascended to the most powerful position in the world – the presidency of the United States of America. Throughout his election campaign and since his inauguration, Trump has displayed authoritarian rhetoric and tendencies that have begged the question – is the new Republican regime a form of fascism?

To determine whether a regime or politician is fascist in nature it is useful to examine Umberto Eco’s essay “Ur-Fascism.” In it, Eco constructs a list of 14 features typical of Fascism. He states:

These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.”

Trump’s rhetoric and his administration’s deeds so far eerily qualify under multiple categories, including fear of difference, appeal to a frustrated middle class and the practice of what George Orwell called “newspeak,” among others.

The Trump Administration and Anti-Semitism

Since the rise of Trump, there has been a spike in incidents of anti-Semitism and a sharp escalation in bomb threats aimed at Jewish community centers. In a recent case that received media attention, a Jewish family was targeted by white nationals and neo-Nazis in Whitefish, Montana, the hometown of Richard Spencer, an “alt-right” ideologue. Importantly, anti-Semitism is a main principal of the racial theory that guides white supremacy and the “alt-right.”

Trump’s own racist-hued history is well-documented; his campaign received endorsements from famous white supremacists and members of the Ku Klux Klan and he has surrounded himself with the likes of Steve Bannon, the former executive chair of Breitbart news, a haven for the “alt-right”.

In what many see as an egregious display of anti-Semitism and even Holocaust denial, Trump’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement failed to specifically address the suffering of Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis, even though racial struggle and the targeting of Jews as an ethnic group set for extermination (i.e. the “Final Solution”) were at the core of Nazi ideology.

Jews, Anti-Semites and Israel

One would logically expect the American Jewish community to unite around vocal opposition and resistance as a response to the new Republican administration’s fascist tendencies and ties to white nationalists and neo-Nazis. Though some rabbis have come out in protest over Trump’s Muslim travel ban, the American Jewish community’s response to the new administration has been weak and split, with one main reason – Israel. Trump and his gang have capitalized on the inherent contradiction between liberal cosmopolitan Jewish values and an ethical emphasis on human rights, and the unjust nationalist policies of Israel towards indigenous Palestinians.

RELATED: White Identity Politics Will Soar Under Trump: Alt-Right Leader

This contradiction was highlighted in a recent debate between Rabbi Matt Rosenberg and Richard Spencer, in which the latter justified the creation of a white “ethnostate” by using the example of the exclusionary Zionist ideology and practices of the state of Israel. The rabbi was left speechless. Accordingly, the term “white Zionism” has been used to describe “alt-right” ideology.

In line with widespread support for Trump in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu has been very favorable, even jovial at the prospects of the new Republican administration. With Donald Trump as their champion, the Tea Party represents tribal, misogynist and nationalistic attitudes that are championed by Jewish right-wing Zionists like Netanyahu. In fact, the very idea for the “alt-right” Breitbart news website was conceived in Israel and it has faithfully served as an outlet for the Tea Party, anti-Semitic and Zionist agendas. On a personal level, Trump and Netanyahu are mirror images of each other in their corruption, extravagance and talent in manipulating the press.

But this is nothing new. Zionists and anti-Semites have historically shared mutual interests. While anti-Semites have wanted to get rid of Jews, Zionists have concentrated their efforts on attracting them to Israel’s shores, i.e. Judaizing Israel as a means to fight the “demographic threat” posed by native Palestinians.

Jewish Collaborators and Faux-Friends

In order to guarantee support of the American Jewish community for Israel, which manifests in unparalleled diplomatic and financial backing by the United States government, prominent figures within the American Jewish community have whitewashed and trivialized the contradiction between American Jewish liberal values and the discriminatory policies in Israel. Anyone, but especially Jews, who vocally criticize the injustices perpetuated by Israel against Palestinians or others are marginalized and viciously attacked by Zionist organizations and their members.

OPINION: Israel’s Fundamentalist Alliance

Predictably, some of these same apologists are now protecting the new Trump administration. One such example is the lawyer Alan Dershowitz. For years Dershowitz carelessly used the pejorative “anti-Semite” to describe any critics/opponents to Zionism and the state of Israel, including Students for Justice in Palestine and the non-violent Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) organization. When referring to Steve Bannon, however, he claimed that “you should not toss that phrase around casually” and that it is “not legitimate to call somebody an anti-Semite because you might disagree with their policies.” Dershowitz, a so-called guardian of civil liberties, also came out in defense of Trump himself after the recent debacle in which the president disrespectfully called Judge James L. Robart a “so-called judge” on Twitter. Dershowitz remained true to his Trumpophilia stating the president “shows respect for independent judiciary”.

Some claim that it is impossible for Jews or for gentiles who have Jewish friends or family (as in ‘some of my best friends are Black’) to be anti-Semites. In addition, according to Dershowitz and his ilk, those who support the goals of Zionism and the Israeli government are automatically friends of the Jewish people.

This logic is employed to explain away anything reeking of anti-Semitism from Trump’s administration: e.g. the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, is married to a Jewish man, Jared Kushner, their family are members of the orthodox politically right-wing Hassidic Chabad movement, and the president has ‘beautiful Jewish grandchildren.’ What’s more, Trump’s new appointee for Israeli ambassador, David Friedman, is an orthodox Jew and staunch Zionist who subscribes to the fantasy of Greater Israel. This same sort of rationale is employed by Breitbart contributor and “alt-right” ideologue Milo Yiannopoulos, who has Jewish heritage and is openly gay (another community persecuted by the Nazis).

These anecdotes prove that the exclusionary versions of Zionism that Israel has adopted since its inception are contradictory to an expression of Judaism as an ethical tradition unbound by race or nation state. Instead, Jewish political Zionism developed as a secular ideology, with nationalistic and messianic overtones inspired by and coming from Christian Zionism (which predates the Jewish version) and the more contemporary Jewish far-right. As such, it is directly aligned with (fascistic) racist views that promote a form of global apartheid, now championed by Trump and his new Republican administration.

Against Fascism, White Supremacy and Zionism

Israel was inspired by the aspect of Zionist ideology that argued for the necessity of a safe refuge and homeland for the Jewish people who suffered persecution and trauma. Zionism has led to noteworthy accomplishments: Israel has served as a model for nation-building and Israelis have managed to revitalize ancient Hebrew into a modern and vibrant language. Zionism helped create an image of a new Jew – one who works the land, fights in all dimensions for his/her rights and raises his/her head tall and proud.

However, as with all settler-colonialist and exclusivist projects, the indigenous population has paid the price. As a result of political Zionism and Israeli policies, Palestinians have undergone a process of ethnic cleansing and genocide to make room for non-native Jewish settlers.

As the blooming relationship between the Trump administration and Israeli politicians and apologists shows, the ethnocentric character of Israel shares many attributes with – and has been a source of inspiration for – American white nationalism, now embodied in Trump’s administration.

In order to effectively fight this new administration and protect community members against the growing tide of anti-Semitism, American Jews need to recognize these parallels, come to terms with the failure of political Zionism and renounce collaborators such as Alan Dershowitz and David Friedman.

To counter Trump it is essential that American Jews fight against all ethnocentric, exclusivist forces, including fascism, white supremacy and Zionism. The long history of trauma and persecution must guide Jews in a quest to vanquish these forces alike toward a vision of justice, freedom and equality for all.

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Germans Outraged as US Plays Nazi-Era Version of Anthem

  • The German national flag is seen in front of dark clouds at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, May 30, 2016.
    The German national flag is seen in front of dark clouds at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, May 30, 2016. | Photo: Reuters.
The error has become an embarrassing gaffe for the United States Tennis Association, which has apologized to the German team.

German tennis has responded with outrage after the United States Tennis Association made the embarrassing error of playing the Nazi-era version of Germany’s national anthem during a Federation Cup tie in Hawaii.

The version played included the first stanza, beginning “Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles,” which was used as Nazi propaganda. It was dropped after World War Two.

“I thought it was the epitome of ignorance, and I’ve never felt more disrespected in my whole life, let alone in Fed Cup,” Germany’s Andrea Petkovic was reported as saying, adding that she considered walking off court before the singles match against Alison Riske.

German team coach Barbara Ritter said the mistake was “an absolute scandal, a disrespectful incident and inexcusable.”

The USTA tweeted its apologies, saying “The USTA extends a sincere apology to the German Fed Cup team & fans 4 the outdated National Anthem. This mistake will not occur again.”

“We hope so,” the Deutscher Tennis Bund responded on Twitter.

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NFL Players Skip Trip to ‘Israel’ to Be ‘Voice for the Voiceless’

  • Defensive end Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks
    Defensive end Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks | Photo: Reuters
Michael Bennett said that he would not allow Israel to “use” him to cover up its abuses against the Palestinians.

Several U.S. football players are boycotting an NFL trip to Israel paid for by the Israeli government in a major setback to Israeli efforts to whitewash the country’s occupation of Palestinian lands and continuing illegal settlement expansion.

RELATED: Israel Made 2016 Deadliest Year for Palestine in a Decade

The Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett is one of the major stars boycotting the trip, posting a statement on his Twitter profile explaining that when he agreed to the trip he was not informed “that my itinerary was being constructed by the Israeli government for the purposes of making me, in the words of a government official, an ‘influencer and opinion-former’ who would then be “an ambassador of good will.’”

He said he was excited to visit the land as a whole including the West Bank and Gaza. “I will not be used in such a manner. When I do go to Israel — and I do plan to go — it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza so I can see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives.”

Bennett’s brother Martellus Bennett, who plays for the NFL’s New England Patriots, said earlier this week that he would not be going to the White House to meet President Donald Trump as a member of the Super Bowl champions.

“One of my heroes has always been Muhammad Ali. I know that Ali always stood strongly with the Palestinian people, visiting refugee camps, going to rallies, and always willing to be a ‘voice for the voiceless.’

RELATED: ‘Entire Land Is Ours’: Israel Legalizes Palestinian Land Theft

“I want to be a ‘voice for the voiceless,’ and I cannot do that by going on this kind of trip to Israel,” the defensive end for the Seahawks said in his statement. The Denver Broncos running back Justin Forsett also said he would not be going on the trip.

Their decision to skip the trip to Israel came shortly after an open letter was published in The Nation where several activists including Angela Davis, Alice Walker, John Carlos and Craig Hodges called on the NFL players to “consider the political ramifications of a propaganda trip organized by the Israeli government.”

The letter argued that the visit “aims to prevent players from seeing the experience of Palestinians living under military occupation.”

Bennett concluded by saying that he expected some public backlash against his decision but argued that he had to pull out of the trip in order to be true to “my own values and my own conscience.”

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Massacring Men, Women & Children in Yemen… In the Name of Saving American Lives


Revolution Newspaper

Yemen map


Nawar al-Awlaki, 8 years old, one of nine children under 13 who were killed in Trump's raid in Yemen, January 29, 2017.
Nawar al-Awlaki, 8 years old, one of nine children under age 13 who were killed in the raid, January 29, 2017.

On January 29, in the pre-dawn darkness, Navy Seal Team 6 Special Forces and commandos from the United Arab Emirates were helicoptered into central Yemen, the small impoverished country at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula. They landed near a tiny farming village in the Yakla district of al-Bayda province. Plans for the attack were drawn up under President Obama, and now was launched by the Trump-Pence regime. It was reportedly the regime’s first military operation.

The U.S. military had “visited” this village before. In 2013, under Obama, a U.S. drone struck a wedding party there, killing 12 civilians.

On January 29, with U.S. drones flying overhead, 50 soldiers and their military dogs walked toward the village, supposedly on a mission to capture a “high value” member of Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula and gather intelligence. The killing began when Sheikh Abdelilah Ahmed al Dahab’s 11-year-old son heard something and looked outside to see what it was. He was shot dead instantly. “No one thought that marines would descend on our homes to kill us, kill our children and kill our women,” al Dahab told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), which detailed what happened during this surprise U.S. assault.

Two tribal leaders and an 80-year-old also came out to find out what was happening. They, too, were executed. The Seals surrounded one of the several small brick homes that make up this village and opened fire indiscriminately, even gunning down those trying to escape. “The villagers say the 38-year-old mother of seven, Fatim Saleh al Ameri was fatally shot by special operators while trying to flee with her two-year-old son Mohammed. ‘We pulled him out from his mother’s lap. He was covered in her blood,’ said 11-year-old Basil Ahmed Abad al Zouba, whose 17-year-old brother was killed.” (BIJ)

Villagers began returning fire. Soon U.S. helicopter gunships arrived and shot at everything, including homes and people fleeing, BIJ reports. A missile hit Fahad Ali al Ameri’s home; his three-month-old daughter was killed in her crib. Members of the reactionary jihadist Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula had been camped nearby and joined the battle, which raged for another two hours.

When the fighting ended, 25 Yemeni civilians were dead. Nine were children—from three months to 13 years old. Fourteen Al Qaeda members were reportedly killed along with one Navy Seal.

Among the dead, in what investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald described as “a hideous symbol of the bipartisan continuity of U.S. barbarism,” were:

Abdallah Mabkhout al Ameri, a subsistence farmer who was too old to work himself. He’d survived the 2013 wedding party massacre which had killed his eldest son. On January 29 he was killed “alongside his 25-year-old daughter Fatima and 38-year-old son Mohammed. Three of Mohammed’s four children also died—Aisha, 4, Khadija, 7, and Hussein, 5,” BIJ reports. “A further nine members of the extended family were killed.”

Another innocent victim, whose relatives had been executed by the U.S., was eight-year-old Nawar al-Awlaki. Her father, the Islamist Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was assassinated by an Obama-approved U.S. drone strike in 2011—and her 16-year-old half-brother, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, also an American citizen, was executed by another U.S. drone two weeks after his father. Nawar was hiding inside when a bullet struck her in the neck. With no medical assistance possible given the U.S. assault, she bled out and died two hours later.

“It is true they were targeting [al-Qaida] but why did they have to kill children and women and elderly people?” Zabnallah Saif al-Ameri told BIJ. “If such slaughter happened in their country, there would be a lot of shouting about human rights. When our children are killed, they are quiet.”

Why Should Anyone Want U.S. Imperialism to “Succeed”?

Trump and his fascist minions immediately declared the Yemen slaughter “absolutely a success.” Why? Because, according to Trump’s press spokesman Sean Spicer, it “prevented future loss of life here in America.” Trump, who promised to kill the families of suspected “terrorists” during his campaign, issued a statement mourning the loss of life… of one American, a Seal Team 6 mass killer: “Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism.”

No one with a heart and a conscience should accept the sick, putrid logic of justifying mass murder for empire in the name of saving American lives—whether the crime is done by more “mainstream” Republicans or by Democrats like Obama or fascists like Trump.

Where does that logic lead? To justifying the hundreds of U.S. drone strikes in Yemen since 2002 which have likely killed well over 1,000 people, including civilians… to U.S. backing (under Obama and Trump) for Saudi Arabia’s barbaric terror-bombing campaign targeting markets, schools, hospitals, and residential neighborhoods—a bombing campaign that has caused most of Yemen’s 10,000 war-related civilian casualties… and to U.S. support for the Saudis’ land and sea blockade aimed at starving Yemenis into submission, a blockade which has already put more than 12 million people on the brink of starvation.

This is the logic of carrying out genocide and burning down the world to save America—in reality, to attempt to “save” American imperialism.

No one with a shred of concern for humanity should want any of this to succeed. Wishing for America to succeed is wishing for a murdering empire of global enslavement and oppression that threatens the planet and future of humanity to “succeed.”

No. We should welcome our rulers’ failures and defeats, because the actions they are carrying out are for imperialism and are totally unjust, totally immoral, and totally illegitimate. The failures and defeats of the rulers can weaken their hold on power and domination over the masses, and make it more difficult for them to carry out further crimes. And they heighten the possibilities for an actual communist revolution that could replace this criminal, outmoded system with something radically different and far better.

(For a deeper discussion of the centrality of internationalism and revolutionary defeatism, readers should dig into “Internationalism—Revolutionary Defeatism,” “Internationalism and an International Dimension,” and “Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way,” pp. 264-277 in Bob Avakian’s THE NEW COMMUNISM.)

As part of preparing the ground for a real revolution, there’s an urgent need for much more mass opposition (or “vehement opposition,” as Glenn Greenwald says, writing for The Intercept), to U.S. crimes around the world—crimes that the Trump-Pence regime is now threatening and preparing to escalate as a key part of its fascist agenda. Many thousands are rightly outraged by Trump’s lying, his deportations, his Muslim and refugee bans, his attacks on the press, and more. A question for you: Why shouldn’t you be equally outraged by, and protest just as vigorously, Trump’s crimes and abuses directed at the millions and potentially billions of people living outside U.S. borders?


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Trump Attacks Middle Eastern and North African Immigrants… People Fight Back… TAKE IT HIGHER!d


Image result for trump cartoons

Revolution Newspaper

This past week and a half has seen an extremely important and very inspiring outpouring of struggle against the Trump-Pence regime’s attempt to ban Muslim immigrants from seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Thousands poured out to airports as soon as news of this ban spread, and at least tens of thousands more have demonstrated all week long, from New York City to Starksville, Mississippi, from Utah to LA. Hundreds of lawyers volunteered their services. As we go to press, Trump’s order has been legally stayed for the time being; but what will happen is far from certain.

An Outrageous Ban

On Friday, January 27, Trump signed an executive order that imposed a selective ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Passengers in mid-flight or who arrived in the U.S. after the order was signed were “detained,” while authorities moved to send them back to their countries of origin. Permanent residents of the U.S. (green card holders) were among those barred from entry, as were refugee families who had been screened for years and finally admitted to the U.S. They had valid visas. Even a five-year-old separated from his mother, a stage 4 breast cancer patient, was barred from entering the U.S. Beyond those detained at U.S. airports, news media identified 90,000 people directly hit by the ban—stranded while visiting their home countries or sent back from airports around the world.

The ban specifically targeted Muslims. Trump’s close adviser, Rudy Giuliani, told FOX “News”: “I’ll tell you the whole history of it: When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban.’” And then, Giuliani said, Trump “called me up, he said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’” The ban established preferential treatment for refugees seeking asylum who are identified with “minority religions” in their country of origin. As these are all majority-Muslim countries, that meant Christians. In case there was any doubt about the latter provision’s intent, Trump told Christian Broadcast News that it was intended to give priority to “Christians” seeking asylum over “Muslims.”

Trump’s executive order also bars all refugees from around the world from entering the U.S. for 120 days, and bans those from Syria indefinitely.   Many of those refugees are from the Middle East and Muslim-majority countries which have been subjected to horrendous U.S. military aggression that has gone on for decades and in fact is still going on as we write, with U.S. troops and allies routinely murdering whole families, and literally millions being forced to flee for their lives. Further, these countries have been bitterly exploited and their economies and societies devastated by U.S. imperialist capital. This in turn has given rise to a relatively numerically small but significant section of people who have taken up fundamentalist Islamic jihadism—a thoroughly reactionary ideology and a brutal movement—and now tens of millions find themselves caught between these two reactionary forces, making life even more unlivable.

Political Crisis

Immigrants are deeply woven into the economy and fabric of U.S. society. One in every three people in New York City is an immigrant. Immigrants play a critical role in the U.S. economy, ranging from super-exploited workers in construction, agriculture, and service work to highly educated professionals in medicine (over 25 percent of all doctors in the U.S. are from other countries) and engineers in high-tech.

Part of what was expressed in the movement against the ban is that in many places—technology, academia, medicine and medical research, for example—companies and institutions that rely on people working for them from around the world see Trump’s policies as a real threat to their ability to compete and survive. They are trying to band together against Trump on these policies. There has also been outrage “from below,” among people who work in these professions and communities. Younger people, who have grown up with co-workers and friends from around the world, are furious at seeing them demonized and attacked this way. They are not willing to stand for that.

Sections of the ruling class—mainly but not just the Democrats—have profound fears about the social, political, and economic repercussions of Trump’s slash-and-burn assault on all immigrants and want to tone this down. And they insist that allowing (relatively tiny) numbers of refugees into the U.S. serves to project the U.S. as a global “defender of human rights.”

The Trump regime aims to radically transform the status quo in the world, and in the U.S., and to remake society as fascist. It demonizes and threatens all people of Muslim faith. It vows to drive women back into the position of being subservient appendages of men. It threatens to crush Black and Brown youth. It has declared it will tear apart millions and millions of immigrant families, from Mexico, Latin America, and the world over. It is already moving to forcibly silence all opposition, even from within the ruling class, and brutally crush any resistance from the masses. And it is ready to go to—and perhaps over—the brink of nuclear war and environmental destruction as part of that. Building a base for that requires playing on the fears and deep-seated racism and American chauvinism of sections of people. This immigration ban is one part of that.

As people rose up against this, and as lawyers fought in the courts, the courts in turn stayed the hand of the Trump-Pence regime. And as we post this article, the ban remains halted, temporarily.


Needed—An UNCOMPROMISING Movement Against the Whole Program

From the early days of the movement there has been a contradiction between the anger of the people in the streets and the attempts of the Democratic politicians to jump to the head of this and lead this back into the confines of the system. This is in two senses. First, the Democrats’ political program is to direct people to strengthen the “checks and balances” of the system. They want to keep these demonstrations very moderate—that is why there is such a disconnect between the temper of the crowd and what is projected by these politicians—and they want to direct people’s efforts toward supporting local mayors, pressuring the judiciary, etc.

Second, the Democrats promote the notion of the “true America” as being a haven for immigrants. In fact, as the accompanying article makes clear, America (that is, U.S. capitalism-imperialism) has always exploited and used immigrants, often plunging them into truly horrendous conditions, to build up their system. They hope for, at most, some kind of compromise in which the essential program of the Trump regime will go through, but with some loopholes and softening of some elements of it. (SeeA Nation of Immigrants? Give Us A Break! America: “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses, Yearning to Be Free”… So We Can Exploit the Shit Out of Them”)

Meanwhile, the Trump-Pence fascists do not intend to back off of anything. They are attempting to intimidate the judiciary and hammer wavering Republicans into line, and they are threatening mayors of the major cities, even as the so-called sanctuary cities actually do NOT provide anything like sanctuary.

Through talk radio, Breitbart News, FOX News, and other media, they are whipping up their loyal and bigoted minions to support all this. And that’s not to mention Trump’s direct agitation on Twitter. Should they get away with this, the next step could very well be registration of all Muslims and other extraordinary forms of surveillance. Anyone who doubts the real possibility of concentration camps should remember Trump’s remarks during his campaign, when he was asked about policies implemented in World War 2 that registered and then interned first- and second-generation Japanese-Americans in concentration camps for nearly four years. When asked specifically by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, about proclamations that led to the camps, Trump said: “I don’t want to bring it back, George, at all. I don’t like doing it at all. It’s a temporary measure until our representatives—many of whom are grossly incompetent—our representatives can figure out what’s going on.”

What is needed are two things: first, in the immediate struggle, people should continue to intensify what has been and is an extremely important struggle and fight to win. The many different kinds of demonstrations and actions should continue, growing in size, and ranging from the teach-ins and vigils, to defending individuals from illegitimate attempts by law enforcement to round them up and exile them, to forceful mass expressions of anger. Should the courts reverse themselves and find in favor of Trump-Pence, people need to pour into the streets in 10 times the numbers at least, and refuse to leave, shutting down business as usual and challenging the operation of the whole system, and resistance needs to spread into every office and factory and school in this country.

But what we face right now is larger than a series of terrible attacks on different fronts. After all, in just the past two weeks the Trump-Pence regime has launched attacks against a whole spectrum of people and issues—against Mexico and Mexican immigrants, against environmental regulations and struggles to maintain the environment, against Native American peoples, against the public school system, against women and LGBT people (through nominating a reactionary to the Supreme Court)… the list goes on and on. THIS IS A PACKAGE—an attempt, through relentless moves one after the other, to radically re-order society into fascism. If we fight these one at a time, there may be some victories here or there, but the overall trajectory is into horror. Think about it—this regime is not only bolting into place an openly white supremacist America in which those who are not white will have virtually NO rights and many will be confined in prisons or camps, one way or another… this regime is also threatening other countries. After all, the perverted leader of the regime is known to have asked the CIA at briefings “if we have nuclear weapons, why can’t we use them?” The greatest danger before us right now is to underestimate the danger that this regime poses across the board, not only in the U.S. but to the entire world and, indeed, to the fate of humanity and the environment.

This leads to the second and even greater need—a movement that says NO! to the whole thing, that demands the immediate OUSTER of this vicious and extraordinarily dangerous fascist regime. The stance embodied in the slogan “In the name of humanity, we REFUSE to accept a fascist America” must spread. The simple demand embodied in the posters and stickers that say “NO!” must be seen everywhere. Word and understanding must be spread of what this regime really embodies and intends. Determination to oust it as soon as possible, in the next months before it has fully dug itself in and eliminated opposition, must grow exponentially. Discussion within this movement over how to do this and, going even deeper, where this regime came from and what must be done to really get past the kind of society in which this is always a threat and in which, even in the “best of times” people are exploited and ground down and oppressed, and the few rights they do have occur in the context in which a) those rights are weak and subject to and conditioned by the real dictatorship of those who rule society, and b) we can find ourselves in a situation in which even those rights can be snatched away.

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The “Obama Legacy”


Besides Carrying Out War and Aggression All Over the World and Committing Crimes Against Humanity… Besides Deporting Nearly 3 Million Immigrants… Besides Not Only Leaving Intact But Sharpening Up the Repressive Powers He Inherited From Bush…


Revolution Newspaper

Barack Obama was America’s first Black president—put in office by a ruling class that badly needed “plastic surgery” internationally and “at home” after the disastrous Bush administration with its blood-soaked and utterly unjustified war on Iraq and everything concentrated in the callous, racist way it handled Hurricane Katrina. He came into office promoting the idea that America had at long last put its “racial problems” behind it, and that it was also now going to be a great friend to the oppressed peoples of the world. We’ll get into the actual war crimes and crimes against humanity that he committed at another time. But right now, particularly at a time when there’s a lot of “nostalgia” for the Obama years, let’s look at what he did about and TO Black people—and let’s include Michelle Obama in that as well, for she not only did things in her own right but also played the role of assuring those who would normally be raising questions, that she was “authentic” and “keeping Obama real.” And particularly at a time when Obama is doing great damage in disarming people about the biggest threat they face right now, it is extremely important to face the TRUTH about this.

1) After Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, Obama’s BULLSHIT message was, “First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law” and “Our police officers put themselves on the line for us every single day.” When the pigs in Baltimore murdered Freddie Gray and the youth of Baltimore rose up demanding justice—Obama called them “thugs,” while never condemning the murdering cops. Obama’s Department of Justice issued Consent Decrees on police departments around the country—which include reports that acknowledged some of the murderous crimes being carried out by the pigs, but then wrapped all this in talk of bullshit reforms. In Ferguson, for example, the Justice Department report showed widespread, pervasive racism—but then wrapped that sliver of truth in a bigger lie, saying that Michael Brown caused his own death! The actual Department of Justice record under Obama was of supporting literally every single act of police violence that has come before the U.S. Supreme Court. For his whole eight years in office, Obama continually defended murdering pigs gunning down Black and Latino youth—and at the same time both attacked, and at other times misled, those fighting against police murder, telling people to work with the cops.1

2) Obama put the blame for the poverty, high prison rates, poor education, and the whole oppressive situation Black and Latino youth face on the people themselves. He preached that the problem is the lack of “personal responsibility”—”absentee fathers“—(often “absentee” due to being thrown into the prison system on a racist basis!), youth with sagging pants, too much TV, and so on. He completely left out the actual reality of how this system has devastated communities of the oppressed; left little “choice” for millions of youth except the underground economy or the military; how Black people are continually discriminated against in housing, health care, education, and jobs, as shown by study after study, making a mockery of the notion of “equality”; how young Black men are targeted with “stop and frisk” racial profiling and outright police murder; and how millions of them are thrown into prisons, many for minor drug violations. In a speech to graduates from Morehouse College he said, “We know that too many young men in our community continue to make bad choices” and now “There’s no time for excuses.” And who better than Barack Obama, the first Black president, to deliver this message to Black youth for their plight? If George Bush or now, Trump does this—Black people, at least many, would more readily see this as racist. But when the first Black president did it, it was able to get people to swallow this poison. And this is a big part of WHY he was brought forward and supported by the ruling class as president—to promote the LIE that America was “post-racial” and that if Black people were having problems “it was their own fault.” 2

3) Obama promoted the notion that Black people should be part of joining the military and going all over the world to kill other oppressed people in the interests of U.S. imperialism. In June, 2015 he made a big deal, posthumously awarding two World War I “heroes” with the Medal of Honor; one to a Jewish son of Russia immigrants and another to one of the all-Black “Harlem Hellfighters” who he said had both gone “unacknowledged and uncelebrated.” This was like celebrating the Black “Buffalo Soldiers” who after the Civil War helped the U.S. Army steal the land of and carry out the genocide of the Native Americans. While Michelle Obama made supporting military families and spouses her personal mission, Barack Obama, as the first Black president provided a “role model for Black people”—commander in chief who reaffirmed the policy of indefinite military detentions; who presided over torture in Guantánamo; who oversaw a weekly “kill list” and escalated the use of Predator drones, killing countless innocent civilians. Obama waged war on seven countries and supported Israel TWICE in its genocidal onslaughts against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Decades ago, looking at all that U.S. imperialism did around the world, Malcolm X called “Uncle Sam” a “bloody-jawed wolf”—Obama is just another one of those wolves, and if anyone can’t see it, it’s because they don’t want to see it!3

4) Obama continually attempted to, and too often succeeded in, politically neutering prominent Black intellectuals and artists, as well as other artists and intellectuals with progressive reputations, promoting the illusion that they had “one of their own” in the White House—covering up that no matter who is in the White House he (or she) must serve “the bloody-jawed wolf” of U.S. imperialism, and thereby enlisting them in the crimes against humanity carried out by the very empire which built itself in the first place on slavery and genocide. It is a very sad commentary that very few prominent Black intellectuals or artists besides Cornel West continually and forcefully condemned Obama for his wars of empire and military aggression against other oppressed peoples, as well as the extremely dangerous effect he was having on the struggle against the oppression of Black people as a people.4

5) After a cold-blooded white supremacist massacred nine people in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina… because they were Black… after they had opened their doors to him… Obama went to South Carolina and delivered what was supposed to be a eulogy for the Black people who had been slaughtered. And right there, at the funeral, in front of the loved ones of those who had been killed, he actually had the nerve to say that this murder was part of “God’s plan”—and that the main thing people needed to learn from this horrible thing was the “power of forgiving”—when in fact if anything, what the so-called “power of forgiving” has taught the people over and over and over again, is that it has enabled nothing but the people learning to and being forced to live with oppression. As for the ridiculous notion of this being part of “God’s plan,” then why not chalk up ALL the horrors of the Middle Passage, centuries of slavery that make the mind and heart ache and boil to even think of them, the decades of lynching, and now the hell of mass incarceration and criminalization in every sphere—why not chalk ALL that up to “God’s plan” rather than the workings of U.S. capitalism-imperialism, its institutions of white supremacy, and the horrible way that they have conditioned all too many white people to act? Because everyone except someone like Ben Carson would recognize what a lie that was, that’s why!! And by the way, as long as we’re on the topic of (the nonexistent) “God”—why would anyone worship a god with a “plan” that fiendish and cruel??!?5

6) When Obama ran for president in 2008, he threw Jeremiah Wright not only under the bus but off the goddamn bridge for saying a little bit of the truth about America. Wright had given sermons where he had said things like: “[The United States] Government lied about their belief that all men were created equal. The truth was they believe all White men were created equal” and “The Government lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq being a threat to the United States’ peace. And guess what else? If they don’t find them some Weapons of Mass Destruction, they gonna do just like the LAPD and plant them some Weapons of Mass Destruction. Governments lie…” Obama gave an entire well-publicized speech trashing Wright, who had been his minister in Chicago, saying Wright had “a view that sees white racism as endemic,” and that his thinking was “divisive” and draws people away from the problems of “two wars, a terrorist threat, a failing economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change.” In this way, in a phrase, Obama covered over how there is systematic oppression of Black people and an entrenched system of white supremacy running through every institution of America and at the very core of the country. This kind of “cover-up” continued throughout his presidency.6

7) Obama did some high-profile things, like visiting prisons and releasing some prisoners to give the impression he was actually doing something about the horror of mass incarceration in the USA—which is an international scandal where America is known for its “addiction” to imprisoning Black and Latino men and women under the guise of the “war on drugs”—part of what amounts to a slow genocide that can become very fast at any time. Obama implemented some policies aimed at reducing the prison population like getting rid of some of harsh minimum sentencing policies that led to the shortening of sentences and/or the early release of thousands of prisoners. Obama commuted the sentences of over 1,000 prisoners. But this is thimble-full in an ocean of blood—in a prison system where over 2 million people are behind bars. And consider this: If the trend set by Obama of reducing the prison population were to continue—and this is a big IF, now with Trump in office—it would take 80-90 years (!) to get to where the prison population was in 1980. The fact that Obama did anything at all was consistent with the whole point and purpose of his presidency—to give a “fresh progressive face” to America after the horror of the Iraq War and the open torture of the Bush regime along with the scandal of its massive prison system that had tarnished America’s reputation—and its ability to dominate—around the world. And the fact that this was bullshit cosmetics, designed to fool the inattentive, was ALSO consistent.7

8) In the face of a horrible situation where masses of youth are killing each other in Chicago and other cities, as well as rampant random (or “white-on-white”) slaughter more generally in America, Obama has covered over the real reason this is happening—refusing to point the finger at what and who really is causing this. Once again he, along with Michelle Obama, has led the way in preaching that the problem is “gun control” when the shooters are white, and gun control plus a lack of “personal responsibility” when they are Black or Latino—when in fact, the problem is that these youth have been left with no future, that they have been trained in and acting on the very dog-eat-dog outlook of this system as it translates into their circumstances, and that the only way out of this is the radical overturning of this system and a whole new economic and political system and, in the case of the “mass shooters” phenomenon, that this sick and twisted society is unique in the sheer amount of people that it evidently conditions and drives to carry out such monstrous things.8

9) Black people were especially hard hit by the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. Predatory subprime loans, which had much higher interest rates, affected people of all nationalities, but the banks deliberately targeted Black and Latino people in particular. It came out in court that loan officers at Wells Fargo referred to these subprime loans as “ghetto loans,” and referred to Black customers as “mud people.” Foreclosures severely affected Black and Latino communities at much higher rates than whites. According to a 2008 report this led to “the greatest loss of wealth to people of color in modern U.S. history—between $164 billion and $213 billion for loans taken during the past eight years.” (State of the Dream 2008: Foreclosed) Across the nation, more than 240,000 Black people lost homes they had owned. But Obama did NOTHING to aid Black people who were devastated by the crash of 2008. The programs Obama introduced intended to help some of these homeowners are now widely considered failures. (See: “Obama Failed to Mitigate America’s Foreclosure Crisis”9)

10) Perhaps worst of all, Obama became the “normalizer-in-chief”—paving the way for the fascist Donald Trump. He literally told people, “it’s gonna be alright,” reiterating over and over again that it was of utmost importance to have a “peaceful transition of power”—which in effect meant telling people to ACCEPT FASCISM. He did absolutely nothing to sound an alarm about the real and urgent danger looming over the world or to rally people to resist this. He did the opposite. He said, “I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition”—which meant paving the way for this fascist to come into office without massive opposition, especially from Black people and other oppressed peoples.10

In fact, it is this normalization that gives us the best clue as to WHY Obama so deeply put the knife into the backs of Black people. Remember when Obama came out after Trump won, a few days later and said: “We are now all rooting for his [Trump’s] success in uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy… [W]e have to remember that we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We’re patriots first….” So he TOLD us straight up why he did this—that he is on the same team as Trump!!!

Think about that. Are YOU on the “same team” as Trump? Here’s someone who’s going to take the masses of Black people into a far lower circle of hell. Are YOU on that team? Is that what YOU are fighting for? Well, he’s told you that HE is on the same team.

Shit is way too serious now to harbor any illusions, to cover over any of the hard edges of what the masses face. This Trump is going to speed up what has already been a slow genocide. And if he gets away with it—and this Party is determined he will not, and we want to unite with everyone else who wants to stand up against this foul fascist pig and his regime of monsters—but if he does, history will rightly condemn Barack Obama as his number one accomplice.


1. From Obama Addresses Police Forum: Cosmetic Changes, Increased Repression; Five Lies in Obama’s Speech After Darren Wilson Went Free; Obama’s “Let Legal System Work” = Let Murdering Police Walk; Post Racial My Ass! ON THE ARREST OF HENRY LOUIS GATES IN HIS OWN HOME! By Carl Dix [back]

2. From Straight Talk About Obama and the Oppression of Black People; Six Ways That Obama Has Been Worse Than Bush; Youtube of Obama Speech at Morehouse College [back]

3. From Obama Administration: Judge, Jury, and Executioner; Six Ways That Obama Has Been Worse Than Bush [back]

4. From Bob Avkian: BA on Obama: Let’s Be Real Here: As Bad As Bush Was, In Many Ways Obama Is Worse… [back]

5. From Bob Avakian: THE NEW COMMUNISM: The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation, by Bob Avakian. (online) page 131
From Of Liberation and Love: Why Obama Embraced Forgiveness—and Why We Should NOT [back]

6. “Jeremiah Wright controversy,” on Wikipedia
From The Morning After the Elections: The Promise of Change… and the Change We Need [back]

7. From What Will It Take to Really Get Rid of Mass Incarceration? [back]

8. Chicago Tribune: An emotional Obama flexes his executive muscle on gun control.

9. From Subprime Mortgage Crisis: Nightmare of the “American Dream” for Black and Latino People
From Nathalie Baptiste: Them That’s Got Shall Get: Two years after we last investigated the foreclosure crisis in the most affluent black county in America, things aren’t exactly looking up—except, maybe, for the banks by Nathalie Baptiste
From Mother Jones: The Great Eviction: Black America and the Toll of the Foreclosure Crisis
From the Atlantic: Obama Failed to Mitigate America’s Foreclosure Crisis [back]

10. From Obama Farewell Speech: A Criminal Attempt to Lead People to Accept the Fascist Trump-Pence Regime; Obama on Trump: “We’re All on THE Same Team” (!) [back]

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ICE Arrests 600 in Nationwide Raids After Trump Order Expands Criminalization of Immigrants


Image result for US Immigrants CARTOON

Immigrant communities across the country are on edge after federal immigration agents arrested over 600 people in the past week in the largest raids since Donald Trump became president. Raids were reported in at 11 states, including California, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!” Immigrant rights activists say the actions signal a clear shift by the Trump administration to deport people who were considered a “low priority” for removal under President Obama. We speak to California state Senate President Kevin de León and Steve Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Immigrant communities across the country are on edge after federal immigration agents arrested over 600 people in the past week in the largest raids since Donald Trump became president. Raids were reported in at least 11 states, including California, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin. It is not clear if ICE, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is continuing routine operations or stepping up its deportations in line with President Trump’s policies. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, quote, “The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!” But the Department of Homeland Security has said the arrests were long planned and routine.

AMY GOODMAN: Immigrant rights activists say the actions signal a clear shift by the Trump administration to deport people who were considered a “low priority” for removal under President Obama. An executive order issued during the first week of Trump’s presidency expanded the group of immigrants considered priorities for deportation, including those without criminal records as well as those accused of crimes but not convicted. President of the California state Senate Kevin de León, who will be joining us in a minute, spoke out against the raids.

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: I can tell you half of my family would be eligible for deportation under the executive order, because if they got a false Social Security card, if they got a false identification, if they got a false driver’s license prior to us passing AB 60, if they got a false green card — and anyone who has family members, you know, who are undocumented knows that almost entirely everybody has secured some sort of false identification. That’s what you need to survive, to work.

AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the arrests, we go to Sacramento, where we’re joined by California state Senate President Kevin de León. We’re also joined by Steven Choi here in New York, the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Senator de León, talk about what you were describing in this clip, so that when President Trump says, “We only arrest — we’re deporting criminals,” what it means to have a criminal record when you’re undocumented.

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: Well, good morning, Amy. And that was a testimony during a Senate public safety hearing in Sacramento at the State Capitol, with regards to my measure, the California Values Act.

The reality is this, is that the vast majority of very hard-working, law-abiding, taxpayer residents of California and of the nation who currently are undocumented, many of them do possess, in some form — some form, identification that they probably secured to get access to employment. This is quite common. And you wouldn’t be able to do so, say, for example, work at Carl’s Jr., if you’re undocumented, without securing some type of identification.

The reality is this, is that there’s a lot of fear, there’s a lot of panic. The levels of anxiety are extremely high, especially among children, the American-born children of these law-abiding, tax-paying residents of California, because of the most recent raids that have taken place during the past week. When President Trump campaigned on deporting the most violent, those who are criminal felons, he made it very clear just recently, through his executive order, that he’s going to actually broaden the eligibility, the criteria for deportation. And the reality is this: We have innocent mothers, we have innocent fathers, hard-working individuals, who will be rounded up because of the broadening of the criteria. And they’re making — or, they will be making children fatherless, as well as motherless, separating children from their mothers, and mothers from their children.

So, what I’m trying to do with my colleagues in California is to make sure that the federal government does not commandeer our local police agencies, our state police agencies, and use our tax dollars to be an extension of the Trump deportation machine.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, you were mentioning families separated. We reported last week on the case of Guadalupe García de Rayos in Phoenix, Arizona. The felony conviction that they referred to in her case was the — the only crime was that she had been rounded up several years ago in a raid by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and convicted on a felony count of having false identification, and that was the basis by which then, suddenly now, she’s been deported with her two US-born children, and her husband here still in the United States. So this is obviously a growing problem if you expand the definition of the dangerous felony folks that are subject to deportation to include, as you say, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who have had to resort to a false identification in order to be able to work, which is why they came here in the first place, isn’t it?

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: That is correct, Juan. Again, you know, President Trump campaigned on the promise that he would actually deport very dangerous criminal felons. But the reality is this: With the executive orders and with Kris Kobach, Stephen Miller, as well as Steve Bannon, they have their sights set on hard-working residents of California and other parts of the country — New York, Florida, Texas and elsewhere.

The case in Arizona, the case of this young woman, Guadalupe, who is married, who has been a resident of Arizona for a very long time, since childhood, who has two American-born children, teenagers, I believe, routinely checked in with ICE authorities. And then, all of a sudden, the tone, tenor, the attitude of ICE changed quite dramatically after the January 20th inauguration of President Donald Trump. She clearly is not a gang member. She’s clearly not a violent offender. She’s clearly not a rapist or a thug or a murderer. But nonetheless, ICE detained her. She submitted herself to check in with them on a voluntary basis, and now has been deported.

This is not who we are as a nation, and this not who we are as a state, like California. We don’t separate children from their mothers, and mothers from their children. It’s un-American. And these are not the values that we uphold as the greatest nation in the entire world. It is my deep concern that he is instilling, he is planting the seeds of fear, of mistrust, of anxiety, of chaos. But I am especially concerned about young children, because you have young children, boys and girls, who are deeply fearful that at the curbside, when they’re waiting for their mothers or their fathers, will they actually show up to pick them up, or have they been detained by ICE agents because they have a broken taillight or they have an expired driver’s license? These are not criminals. These are individuals who make up the fabric of who we are as the greatest nation and the greatest state in the world.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Steve Choi, I’d like to ask you, in terms of what’s happening here in New York, and also is there really a substantial difference between what’s going on now in the first weeks of the Trump administration and what was occurring under the Obama administration?

STEVEN CHOI: Well, there’s a little bit of a difference here. I mean, the fact is, under the Obama administration, you saw hundreds of thousands of people being deported. And I think that’s a problem that we need to really understand in terms of context.

AMY GOODMAN: Millions.

STEVEN CHOI: Millions, hundreds of thousands of people every single year. In fact, the Obama administration, at one point, in one year, deported nearly 400,000 people. So this kind of activity has been occurring. The problem, though, with ICE saying that these are simply routine operations is that we are in a moment that is anything but routine. We have a president who, as candidate, ran the single most anti-immigrant campaign in the history of the United States. And it’s a president who, in his very first week of his presidency, declared war on immigrant communities. He has said that he is going to ramp up enforcement activity and deportations, he’s going to triple the ICE force, he’s going to expand greatly the number of kinds of offenses that people can commit. And we’re really talking about potentially 25 million people in this country who potentially could be deported, according to his executive order. So the idea that ICE turns around and says, “Look, these are just routine operations. We should not be in fear. People should not be engaging in hysteria,” there’s a little bit of blaming the victim going on. It’s their actions in this moment, and in this time of the administration, that is causing this kind of fear.

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Is President Trump Headed for a War With China? All Options Are “on the Table”


By Rajan Menon, TomDispatch

President Xi Jinping of China during a summit in Washington, DC, on March 31, 2016. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)

President Xi Jinping of China during a summit in Washington, DC, on March 31, 2016. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)

Forget those “bad hombres down there” in Mexico that US troops might take out. Ignore the way National Security Adviser Michael Flynn put Iran “on notice” and the new president insisted, that, when it comes to that country, “nothing is off the table.” Instead, focus for a moment on something truly scary: the possibility that Donald Trump’s Washington might slide into an actual war with the planet’s rising superpower, China. No kidding. It could really happen.

Let’s start with silver-maned, stately Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state. Who could deny that the former ExxonMobil CEO has a foreign minister’s bearing? Trump reportedly chose him over neocon firebrand John Bolton partly for that reason. (Among other things, Bolton was mustachioed, something the new president apparently doesn’t care for.)  But an august persona can only do so much; it can’t offset a lack of professional diplomatic experience.

That became all-too-apparent during Tillerson’s January 11th confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was asked for his view on the military infrastructure China has been creating on various islands in the South China Sea, the ownership of which other Asian countries, including Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei claim as well. China’s actions, he replied, were “extremely worrisome,” likening them to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, an infraction for which Russia was slapped with economic sanctions.

The then-secretary-of-state-designate — he’s since been confirmed, despite many negative votes — didn’t, however, stop there. Evidently, he wanted to communicate to the Chinese leadership in Beijing that the new administration was already irked beyond measure with them. So he added, “We’re going to have to send China’s leaders a clear signal: that, first, the island building stops and, second, your access to those islands is not going to be allowed.” Functionally, that fell little short of being an announcement of a future act of war, since not allowing “access” to those islands would clearly involve military moves. In what amounted to a there’s-a-new-sheriff-in-town warning, he then doubled down yet again, insisting, slightly incoherently (in the tradition of his new boss) that “the failure of a response has allowed them to just keep pushing the envelope on this.”

All right, so maybe a novice had a bad day. Maybe the secretary-of-state-to-be simply ad-libbed and misspoke… whatever. If so, you might have expected a later clarification from him or from someone on the Trump national security team anyway.

That didn’t happen; instead, that team stuck to its guns. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made no effort to add nuance to, let alone walk back, Tillerson’s remarks. During his first official press briefing on January 23rd, Spicer declared that the United States “is going to make sure we defend our interests there” — in the South China Sea, that is — and that “if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yes, we are going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.”

And what of Trump’s own views on the island controversy? Never one to pass up an opportunity for hyperbole, during the presidential campaign he swore that, on those tiny islands, China was building “a military fortress the likes of which the world has not seen.” As it happened, he wasn’t speaking about, say, the forces that Hitler massed for the ill-fated Operation Barbarossa, launched in June 1941 with the aim of crushing the Red Army and the Soviet Union, or those deployed for the June 1944 Normandy landing, which sealed Nazi Germany’s fate. When applied to what China has been up to in the South China Sea, his statement fell instantly into the not-yet-named category of “alternative facts.”

Candidate Trump also let it be known that he wouldn’t allow Beijing to get away with such cheekiness on his watch. Why had the Chinese engaged in military construction on the islands? Trump had a simple answer (as he invariably does): China “has no respect for our president and no respect for our country.” The implication was evident. Things would be different once he settled into the White House and made America great again. Then — it was easy enough to conclude — China had better watch out.

Standard campaign bombast? Well, Trump hasn’t changed his tune a bit since being elected. On December 4th, using (of course!) his Twitter account, he blasted Beijing for having built “a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea.” And it’s safe to assume that he signed off on Spicer’s combative comments as well.

In short, his administration has already drawn a red line — but in the way a petulant child might with a crayon. During and after the campaign he made much of his determination to regain the respect he claims the US has lost in the world, notably from adversaries like China. The danger here is that, in dealing with that country, Trump could, as is typical, make it all about himself, all about “winning,” one of his most beloved words, and disaster might follow.

Whose Islands?

A military clash between Trump-led America and a China led by President Xi Jinping? Understanding how it might happen requires a brief detour to the place where it’s most likely to occur: the South China Sea. Our first task: to understand China’s position on that body of water and the islands it contains, as well as the nature of Beijing’s military projects there. So brace yourself for some necessary detail.

As Marina Tsirbas, a former diplomat now at the Australian National University’s National Security College, explains, Beijing’s written and verbal statements on the South China Sea lend themselves to two different interpretations. The Chinese government’s position boils down to something like this: “We own everything — the waters, islands and reefs, marine resources, and energy and mineral deposits — within the Nine-Dash Line.” That demarcation line, which incidentally has had ten dashes, and sometimes eleven, originally appeared in 1947 maps of the Republic of China, the Nationalist government that would soon flee to the island of Taiwan leaving the Chinese Communists in charge of the mainland. When Mao Ze Dong and his associates established the People’s Republic, they retained that Nationalist map and the demarcation line that went with it, which just happened to enclose virtually all of the South China Sea, claiming sovereign rights.

This stance — think of it as Beijing’s hard line on the subject — raises instant questions about other countries’ navigation and overflight rights through that much-used region. In essence, do they have any and, if so, will Beijing alone be the one to define what those are? And will those definitions start to change as China becomes ever more powerful? These are hardly trivial concerns, given that about $5 trillion worth of goods pass through the South China Sea annually.

Then there’s what might be called Beijing’s softer line, based on rights accorded by the legal concepts of the territorial sea and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which took effect in 1994 and has been signed by 167 states (including China but not the United States), a country has sovereign control within 12 nautical miles of its coast as well as of land formations in that perimeter visible at high tide. But other countries have the right of “innocent passage.” The EEZ goes further. It provides a rightful claimant control over access to fishing, as well as seabed and subsoil natural resources, within “an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea” extending 200 nautical miles, while ensuring other states’ freedom of passage by air and sea. UNCLOS also gives a state with an EEZ control over “the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations, and structures” within that zone — an important provision at our present moment.

What makes all of this so much more complicated is that many of the islands and reefs in the South China Sea that provide the basis for defining China’s EEZ are also claimed by other countries under the terms of UNCLOS. That, of course, immediately raises questions about the legality of Beijing’s military construction projects in that watery expanse on islands, atolls, and strips of land it’s dredging into existence, as well as its claims to seabed energy resources, fishing rights, and land reclamation rights there — to say nothing about its willingness to seize some of them by force, rival claims be damned.

Moreover, figuring out which of these two positions — hard or soft — China embraces at any moment is tricky indeed. Beijing, for instance, insists that it upholds freedom of navigation and overflight rights in the Sea, but it has also said that these rights don’t apply to warships and military aircraft. In recent years its warplanes have intercepted, and at close quarters, American military aircraft flying outside Chinese territorial waters in the same region. Similarly, in 2015, Chinese aircraft and ships followed and issued warnings to an American warship off Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands, which both China and Vietnam claim in their entirety. This past December, its Navy seized, but later returned, an underwater drone the American naval ship Bowditch had been operating near the coast of the Philippines.

There were similar incidents in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2013, and 2014. In the second of these episodes, a Chinese fighter jet collided with a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane, which had a crew of 24 on board, less than 70 miles off Hainan island, forcing it to make an emergency landing in China and creating a tense standoff between Beijing and Washington. The Chinese detained the crew for 11 days. They disassembled the EP-3, returning it three months later in pieces.

Such muscle flexing in the South China Sea isn’t new. China has long been tough on its weaker neighbors in those waters. Back in 1974, for instance, its forces ejected South Vietnamese troops from parts of the Paracel/Xisha islands that Beijing claimed but did not yet control. China has also backed up its claim to the Spratly/Nansha islands (which Taiwan, Vietnam, and other regional countries reject) with air and naval patrols, tough talk, and more. In 1988, it forcibly occupied the Vietnamese-controlled Johnson Reef, securing control over the first of what would eventually become seven possessions in the Spratlys.

Vietnam has not been the only Southeast Asian country to receive such rough treatment. China and the Philippines both claim ownership of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal/Huangyang Island, located 124 nautical miles off Luzon Island in the Philippines. In 2012, Beijing simply seized it, having already ejected Manila from Panganiban Reef (aka Mischief Reef), about 129 nautical miles from the Philippines’ Palawan Island, in . In 2016, when an international arbitration tribunal upheld Manila’s position on Mischief Reef and Scarborough Shoal, the Chinese Foreign Ministry sniffed that “the decision is invalid and has no binding force.” Chinese president Xi Jinping added for good measure that China’s claims to the South China Sea stretched back to “ancient times.”

Then there’s China’s military construction work in the area, which includes the building of full-scale artificial islands, as well as harbors, military airfields, storage facilities, and hangars reinforced to protect military aircraft. In addition, the Chinese have installed radar systems, anti-aircraft missiles, and anti-missile defense systems on some of these islands.

These, then, are the projects that the Trump administration says it will stop. But China’s conduct in the South China Sea leaves little doubt about its determination to hold onto what it has and continue its activities. The Chinese leadership has made this clear since Donald Trump’s election, and the state-run press has struck a similarly defiant note, drawing crude red lines of its own. For example, the Global Times, a nationalist newspaper, mocked Trump’s pretensions and issued a doomsday warning: “The US has no absolute power to dominate the South China Sea. Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories.”

Were the administration to follow its threatening talk with military action, the Global Times added ominously, “The two sides had better prepare for a military clash.” Although the Chinese leadership hasn’t been anywhere near as bombastic, top officials have made it clear that they won’t yield an inch on the South China Sea, that disputes over territories are matters for China and its neighbors to settle, and that Washington had best butt out.

True, as the acolytes of a “unipolar” world remind us, China’s military spending amounts to barely more than a quarter of Washington’s and US naval and air forces are far more advanced and lethal than their Chinese equivalents. However, although there certainly is a debate about the legal validity and historical accuracy of China’s territorial claims, given the increasingly acrimonious relationship between Washington and Beijing the more strategically salient point may be that these territories, thousands of miles from the US mainland, mean so much more to China than they do to the United States. By now, they are inextricably bound up with its national identity and pride, and with powerful historical and nationalistic memories — with, that is, a sense that, after nearly two centuries of humiliation at the hands of the West, China is now a rising global power that can no longer be pushed around.

Behind such sentiments lies steel. By buying some $30 billion in advanced Russian armaments since the early 1990s and developing the capacity to build advanced weaponry of its own, China has methodically acquired the military means, and devised a strategy, to inflict serious losses on the American navy in any clash in the South China Sea, where geography serves as its ally. Beijing may, in the end, lose a showdown there, but rest assured that it would exact a heavy price before that. What sort of “victory” would that be?

If the fighting starts, it will be tough for the presidents of either country to back down. Xi Jinping, like Trump, presents himself as a tough guy, sure to trounce his enemies at home and abroad. Retaining that image requires that he not bend when it comes to defending China’s land and honor. He faces another problem as well. Nationalism long ago sidelined Maoism in his country. As a result, were he and his colleagues to appear pusillanimous in the face of a Trumpian challenge, they would risk losing their legitimacy and potentially bringing their people onto the streets (something that can happen quickly in the age of social media). That’s a particularly forbidding thought in what is arguably the most rebellious land in the historical record. In such circumstances, the leadership’s abiding conviction that it can calibrate the public’s nationalism to serve the Communist Party’s purposes without letting it get out of hand may prove delusional.

Certainly, the Party understands the danger that runaway nationalism could pose to its authority. Its paper, the People’s Daily, condemned the “irrational patriotism” that manifested itself in social media forums and street protests after the recent international tribunal’s verdict favoring the Philippines. And that’s hardly the first time a foreign policy fracas has excited public passions. Think, for example, of the anti-Japanese demonstrations that swept the country in 2005, provoked by Japanese school textbooks that sanitized that country’s World War II-era atrocities in China. Those protests spread to many cities, and the numbers were sizeable with more than 10,000 angry demonstrators on the streets of Shanghai alone. At first, the leadership encouraged the rallies, but it got nervous as things started to spin out of control.

“We’re Going to War in the South China Sea…”

Facing off against China, President Trump could find himself in a similar predicament, having so emphasized his toughness, his determination to regain America’s lost respect and make the country great again. The bigger problem, however, will undoubtedly be his own narcissism and his obsession with winning, not to mention his inability to resist sending incendiary messages via Twitter. Just try to imagine for a moment how a president who blows his stack during a getting-to-know-you phone call with the prime minister of Australia, a close ally, is likely to conduct himself in a confrontation with a country he’s labeled a prime adversary.

In the event of a military crisis between China and the United States, neither side may want an escalation, to say nothing of a nuclear war. Yet Trump’s threats to impose 45% tariffs on Chinese exports to the US and his repeated condemnation of China as a “currency manipulator” and stealer of American jobs have already produced a poisonous atmosphere between the world’s two most powerful countries. And it was made worse by his December phone conversation with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, which created doubts about his commitment to the One China policy the United States has adhered to since 1972. The Chinese authorities apparently made it clear to the White House that there couldn’t even be a first-time phone call to Xi unless the new president agreed to stick with that policy. During a conversation with the Chinese president on February 9th, Trump reportedly provided that essential assurance. Given the new American president’s volatility, however, Beijing will be playing close attention to his words and actions, even his symbolic ones, related to Taiwan.

Sooner or later, if Trump doesn’t also dial down the rest of his rhetoric on China, its leaders will surely ratchet up theirs, thereby aggravating the situation further. So far, they’ve restrained themselves in order to figure Trump out — not an easy task even for Americans — and in hopes that his present way of dealing with the world might be replaced with something more conventional and recognizable. Hope, as they say, springs eternal, but as of now, in repeatedly insisting that China must do as he says, Trump and his surrogates have inserted themselves and the country into a complicated territorial dispute far from America’s shores. The hubris of Washington acting as the keeper of world order, but regularly breaking the rules as it wishes, whether by invading Iraq in 2003 or making open use of torture and a global network of secret prisons, is an aspect of American behavior long obvious to foreign powers. It looks to be the essence of Trumpism, too, even if its roots are old indeed.

Don’t dismiss the importance of heated exchanges between Washington and Beijing in the wake of Trump’s election. The political atmosphere between rival powers, especially those with massive arsenals, can matter a great deal when they face off in a crisis. Pernicious stereotypes and mutual mistrust only increase the odds that crucial information will be misinterpreted in the heat of the moment because of entrenched beliefs that are immune to contrary evidence, misperceptions, worst-case calculations, and up-the-ante reactions. In academic jargon, these constitute the ingredients for a classic conflict spiral. In such a situation, events take control of leaders, producing outcomes that none of them sought. Not for nothing during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 did President John Kennedy look to Barbara Tuchman’s book, Guns of August — a gripping account of how Europe slipped and slid into a disastrous world war in 1914.

There has been lots of anxiety about the malign effects that Donald Trump’s temperament and beliefs could have domestically, and for good reason. But in domestic politics, institutions and laws, civic organizations, the press, and public protests can serve, however imperfectly, as countervailing forces. In international politics, crises can erupt suddenly and unfold rapidly — and the checks on rash behavior by American presidents are much weaker. They have considerable leeway to use military force (having repeatedly circumvented the War Powers Act). They can manipulate public opinion from the Bully Pulpit and shape the flow of information. (Think back to the Iraq war.) Congress typically rallies reflexively around the flag during international crises. In such moments, citizens’ criticism or mass protest invites charges of disloyalty.

This is why the brewing conflict in the South China Sea and rising animosities on both sides could produce something resembling a Cuban-Missile-Crisis-style situation — with the United States lacking the geographical advantage this time around. If you think that a war between China and the United States couldn’t possibly happen, you might have a point in ordinary times, which these distinctly aren’t.

Take the latest news on Stephen Bannon, formerly the executive chairman of the alt-right publication Breitbart News and now President Trump’s chief political strategist. He has even been granted the right to sit in on every meeting of the National Security Council and its Principals Committee, the highest inter-agency forum for day-to-day national security deliberations. He will be privy to meetings that, according to a directive signed by Trump, even the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence may not join unless “issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise will be discussed.” Calling this a break with past practice would be an understatement of the first order.

So Bannon’s views, once of interest only to a fringe group of Americans, now matter greatly. Here’s what he said last March about China in a radio interview: “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years, aren’t we? There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face — and you understand how important face is — and say it’s an ancient territorial sea.”

Think of this as Bannon’s version of apocalyptic prophecy. Then consider the volatility of the new president he advises. Then focus on the larger message: these are not ordinary times. Most Americans probably don’t even know that there is a South China Sea. Count on one thing, though: they will soon.

Posted in USA, ChinaComments Off on Is President Trump Headed for a War With China? All Options Are “on the Table”

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