New England lawmakers question border patrol checkpoints far from the border

Federal law allows Customs and Border Protection to conduct the checkpoints within 100 miles of the international border.

MONTPELIER, Vt.  —Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, joined members of Congress from Vermont and New Hampshire in questioning Customs and Border Protection about temporary highway checkpoints that are set up away from the Canadian border.

In a letter to Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan dated Wednesday, the lawmakers including both senators from New Hampshire and Vermont asked whether the lack of arrests from the random stops justifies what they called the harmful economic impact.

The lawmakers specifically cited a June checkpoint on Interstate 93 near Woodstock, New Hampshire, that resulted in no arrests, but caused severe traffic congestion.

They also asked about four checkpoints in South Hero, Vermont, that stopped 4,200 vehicles and resulted in one arrest for a visa overstay.

Federal law allows CBP to conduct the checkpoints within 100 miles of the international border.

CBP spokesman Michael McCarthy said the agency would respond directly to the members of Congress.

Elizabeth Warren Won’t Admit It, but the Primary System Is Racist

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By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan

As the United States becomes increasingly diverse, and the Democratic Party even more so, the presidential nomination process remains heavily weighted by two states that are among the whitest in the nation, Iowa and New Hampshire.

When we asked about this racial disparity at a presidential candidate forum that the “Democracy Now!” news hour co-hosted in South Carolina last week, Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren bristled, replying, “I’m just a player in the game.” Warren and the other Democratic candidates need to answer why their party’s primary process favors these two small, rural, aging and almost entirely white states, and they need to explain how this “game” that weeds out candidates so early in the process is anything other than a glaring example of systemic racism.

The forum was held at South Carolina State University, an HBCU (historically black college or university) in Orangeburg, S.C. Here is the question and answer, in full:

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Warren, just 30 seconds left. But speaking about racial injustice, do you think the order of the primary states should change? You have Iowa and New Hampshire —

SENELIZABETH WARREN: Wait, let me make — let me just — before you finish, are you actually going to ask me to sit here and criticize Iowa and New Hampshire?

AMY GOODMAN: No, I’m asking about the order.

SENELIZABETH WARREN: No, that is what Iowa and New Hampshire are all about.

AMY GOODMAN: But let me just ask. They’re two of the whitest states in the country, and then we move to South Carolina with a very significant population of people of color, and it means the candidates spend so much of their time catering to those first two states. Overall, do you think that should change?

SENELIZABETH WARREN: Look, I’m just a player in the game on this one. And I am delighted to be in South Carolina. Thank you.

Warren’s irritated reaction to the question betrays the Democratic Party’s rigid orthodoxy on first-in-the-nation status for both the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary.

In 1972, Iowa Democrats moved the caucus up to Jan. 24, to give themselves extra time to process the results from all the precincts (currently numbering 1,678). That early date made the Iowa caucuses the nation’s first indicator of each candidate’s standing, and thus attracted extraordinary media attention.

Sensing they were on to something, the Iowa Democratic and Republican parties agreed to always hold their caucuses early, and on the same day, to maximize national press coverage. New Hampshire then managed to cement its hold as the first primary state, immediately following the Iowa caucuses. This has been the status quo since the 1970s, but nothing says it has to stay that way.

MSNBC played our exchange with Warren for Democratic presidential hopeful Julian Castro, who responded,

“I actually believe that we do need to change the order of the states, because I don’t believe that we are the same country that we were in 1972. … Our country has changed a lot in those 50 years, the Democratic Party has changed a lot. Demographically it is not reflective of the United States as a whole, certainly not of the Democratic Party. And I believe that other states should have their chance. So yes, of course, we need to find other states. I don’t believe that forever we should be married to Iowa and New Hampshire going first.”

There are already four majority-minority states: California, Hawaii, New Mexico and Texas, along with the District of Columbia. Holding caucuses or primaries in these states first would likely have a dramatic effect on the outcome.

The lead-up to both Iowa and New Hampshire now are so long, with candidates, in some cases, spending more than a year making frequent, extended campaign swings through both states. Imagine if they were spending that much time in more diverse states, like South Carolina.

Elizabeth Warren, to her credit, did travel to Orangeburg to participate in this first-ever presidential candidate forum on environmental justice. The forum was co-moderated by Mustafa Santiago Ali, former Environmental Protection Agency official, now at the National Wildlife Federation. At the top of the forum, Mustafa defined environmental justice:

“Environmental justice is the disproportionate impacts that continue to happen in our communities. The things that no one else wants, they place them in communities of color, low-income communities and indigenous lands. They become the sacrifice zones, the sacrifice zones for coal-fired power plants, for certified animal feeding operations, for waste treatment facilities, for unhealthy housing.”

The concerns of the first states in the presidential nomination process disproportionately impact the agenda for the entire race. Democracy is about representation. The primary and caucus system needs to be reformed now.

Hate crime violence in US hit 16-year high in 2018: FBI

The annual report found that the number of victims in anti-Latino or Hispanic hate crimes increased more than 21 percent

Woman holding up anti-racism sign at a rally near the US Capitol in Washington, DC [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]
Woman holding up anti-racism sign at a rally near the US Capitol in Washington, DC [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Violence resulting from bias or prejudice in the United States reached a 16-year high last year, the FBI said on Tuesday, with the number of victims in anti-Latino or Hispanic hate crimes rising more than 21 percent.

The data coincides with an ongoing debate over President Donald Trump‘s hardline immigration policies and follows the August 2019 mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, when the suspected gunman told police he was singling out Mexicans.

More:

“We’re seeing the swapping of one derided group in the social-political arena for another,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

“Attacks against Muslims peaked around 2016 when terrorism was the concern. Now immigration is the number one issue and Latinos are being targeted.”

There were 671 victims in anti-Latino or Hispanic incidents in 2018, compared with 552 the year before, the FBI said in its annual Hate Crime Statistics report.

Janet Murguia, head of the Washington-based Latino civil rights organisation UnidosUS, said Trump carries some responsibility for that increase.

“President Trump frequently refers to Latinos in the most hateful and bigoted ways, and words matter,” she said. “Having just visited El Paso and hearing first-hand from the victims of the tragic shooting there, I know that hateful words have hateful consequences, and can result in violence and even death.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The FBI said that hate crimes overall fell slightly in 2018 after three years of increases, with 7,120 reported incidents. The agency did not offer a reason for the decrease. But the 0.77 percent drop in incidents roughly matches the percentage decrease in the number of police departments that voluntarily sent data to the FBI in 2018.

Despite the slight fall, violence against individuals increased, the FBI said, pointing specifically to the increase of the number of “crimes against persons”, instead of property.

Walmart
A makeshift memorial for victims of the shooting that left a total of 22 people dead decorates the Cielo Vista Mall Walmart in El Paso, Texas [Mark Ralston/AFP]

The latest FBI data showed an 11.7 percent rise last year in the number of hate crimes that involved the physical or verbal assault of a person, and the number of hate-crime homicides hit its highest level yet with 24 murder victims.

The FBI report showed white individuals made up 53.6 percent of the known criminals who carried out the attacks. That is an increase of nearly three percentage points.

Democratisation of hate

Hate crimes singling out black people dropped to the lowest share since the FBI began publishing the data in 1992, with incidents involving anti-black bias comprising 27 percent of the total.

That is down from a peak in 1996 when anti-black crimes were 42 percent of reported incidents.

“We’re having a democratisation of hate,” Levin said. “There is a reshuffling in who is being targeted.”

That worries experts who fear attacks will rise this year in the run-up to a heated presidential election in 2020 and that attacks will increasingly target people and not property in the form of vandalism or other damage.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

Is Texas About to Execute an Innocent Man? Rodney Reed’s Family Demands Retrial Amid New Evidence

The state of Texas is facing growing calls to halt the upcoming execution of Rodney Reed, an African-American man who has spent over 20 years on death row for a rape and murder he says he did not commit. A group of 26 Texas lawmakers — including both Democrats and Republicans — have written a letter this week to Governor Greg Abbott to stop the execution planned for November 20. More than 1.4 million people have signed an online petition to save Reed’s life. Supporters include celebrities Kim Kardashian West, Rihanna and Meek Mill. Reed was sentenced to die after being convicted of the 1996 murder of a 19-year-old white woman, Stacey Stites, with whom he was having an affair. But since Reed’s trial, substantial evidence has emerged implicating Stites’s then-fiancé, a white police officer named Jimmy Fennell, who was later jailed on kidnapping and rape charges in another case. In a major development, a man who spent time in jail with Fennell signed an affidavit last month asserting that Fennell had admitted in prison that he had killed his fiancée because she was having an affair with a black man.

LINKS

Remembering the Greensboro Massacre of 1979, When KKK & Nazis Killed 5 People in Broad Daylight

NOVEMBER 04, 2019

Hundreds gathered this weekend to mark the 40th anniversary of the Greensboro massacre, when 40 Ku Klux Klansmen and American Nazis opened fire on an anti-Klan demonstration in Greensboro, North Carolina, killing five anti-racist activists in a span of 88 seconds. Those killed were members of the Communist Workers’ Party. Ten other activists were injured. No one was convicted in the massacre, but a jury did find the Greensboro police liable for cooperating with the Ku Klux Klan in a wrongful death. Local pastors in Greensboro are now calling on the City Council to issue an apology for the events that led to the 1979 killing. W

70 Catholics Arrested in Capitol Hill Protest of Trump’s Immigration Policies

H1 catholics arrested capitol hill protest immigration nuns clergy sit in russell senate office asylum seekers trump policies

In Washington, D.C., Capitol Police arrested 70 Catholic nuns and clergy Thursday as they held a nonviolent sit-in protest inside the Russell Senate Office Building against the Trump administration’s inhumane treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers. More than a dozen protesters stood in a circle, holding the photographs of migrant children who have died in U.S. custody, and reciting their names. The latest protests came as immigrant communities across the U.S. have prepared for reported ICE raids that were scheduled to begin last weekend but have largely not materialized.

US synagogue shooting: One person dead in Poway, California

A San Diego County Sheriff's Deputy secures the scene of a shooting incident at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego, California, U.S. April 27, 2019Police quickly sealed off the scene of the shooting in Poway

A gunman has opened fire at a synagogue in California, leaving one woman dead and three other people injured, police say.

A 19-year-old man has been arrested after the attack at Poway, north of the city of San Diego.

The synagogue had been hosting a Passover celebration when the shooting took place, reports said.

Police have not suggested a motive but US President Donald Trump said the attack “looks like a hate crime”.

The shooting comes six months after a gun attack killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. It was the worst anti-Semitic attack in recent US history.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore told reporters that investigators were reviewing the suspect’s social media activity and examining an open letter published online.

“During the shooting, four individuals were wounded and transported to Palomar hospital,” he said. “One succumbed to their wounds. The other three are in stable condition.”

Mayor Steve Vaus said the rabbi had been shot in the hand.

“For this to happen only a week later at the end of the Passover, only a week after Easter is horrific,” he told MSNBC.

How did the attack happen?

Sheriff Gore said officers were called to the Chabad synagogue just before 11:30 (18:30 GMT) after the man opened fire with an “AR-15 type” assault rifle.

He said an off-duty border patrol officer fired at the suspect as he fled the scene in a vehicle, but did not hit him.

San Diego Police secure the scene of a shooting incident at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego, California, U.S. April 27, 2019The synagogue had been marking the final day of Passover
San Diego Sheriff deputies look over the Chabad of Poway Synagogue after a shooting on Saturday, April 27, 2019 in Poway, California

The suspect was later arrested by another officer, added San Diego chief of police David Nisleit.

“He clearly saw the suspect’s vehicle, the suspect jumped out with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody.” he said.

“As the officer was placing this 19-year-old male into custody, he clearly saw a rifle on the front passenger seat of the suspect vehicle.”

What has the reaction been?

US Vice-President Mike Pence condemned the “evil and cowardly” shooting.

Speaking outside the White House, President Trump offered his “deepest sympathies”.

“At this moment it looks like a hate crime, but my deepest sympathies to all those affected and we’ll get to the bottom of it,” he said.

Minoo Anvari, whose husband was inside the synagogue, told the local CNN affiliate that the congregation was “standing together” in the wake of the attack.

“We are strong. You can’t break us,” she said.

Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter that she was “heartbroken” by the news.