India’s terrifying water crisis

Meera Subramanian writes:

India’s water crisis offers a striking reminder of how climate change is rapidly morphing into a climate emergency. Piped water has run dry in Chennai, the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, and 21 other Indian cities are also facing the specter of “Day Zero,” when municipal water sources are unable to meet demand.

Chennai, a city of eight million on the Bay of Bengal, depends on the fall monsoon to provide half of the city’s annual rainfall. Last year, the city had 55 percent less rainfall than normal. When the monsoon ended early, in December, the skies dried up and stayed that way. Chennai went without rain for 200 days. As winter passed into spring and the temperature rose to 108 degrees Fahrenheit, its four water reservoirs turned into puddles of cracked mud.

Some parts of the city have been without piped water for five months now. Weary women with brightly colored plastic jugs now await water tankers, sometimes in the middle of the night. On June 20, the delayed summer monsoon arrived as a disappointing light shower.

These water crises are now global and perennial. Day Zero plagues cities from Cape Town to Mexico City to São Paulo, Brazil. Nearly half of the human population is living with water scarcity, inhabiting places unable to fully meet their drinking, cooking and sanitation needs. [Continue reading…]

America’s long shameful history of separating children from their parents

Karen Heller writes:

As a child, he believed the camp to be a magical oasis, where mythical dinosaurs prowled the woods at night. A native of Los Angeles, he marveled at the “flying exotica” of dragonflies, the treasures of rural life and, that first winter, the “pure magic” of snow.

George Takei spent ages 5 to almost 9 imprisoned by the U.S. government in Japanese American internment camps. A relentless optimist, he believed the shameful legacy of incarcerating an estimated 120,000 Americans during World War II would never be forgotten or duplicated.

At 82, Takei came to understand that he may be mistaken on both counts.

Stories fell into the sinkhole of history, given the omission of the camps from many textbooks and the shame felt by former internees, many of whom remained silent about their experiences, even to descendants. Takei takes no refuge in silence.

The “Star Trek” actor has lived long enough to see thousands of immigrant children jailed near the border. On Twitter, to his 2.9 million followers, he wrote, “This nation has a long and tragic history of separating children from their parents, ever since the days of slavery.”

Sitting in his Manhattan pied-à-terre near Carnegie Hall, the activist for gay rights and social justice calls his government’s actions “an endless cycle of inhumanity, cruelty and injustice repeated generation after generation” and says “it’s got to stop.”

Takei was fortunate. He and his two younger siblings were never separated from their parents, who bore the brunt of fear and degradation in the swamps of Arkansas and the high desert of Northern California. They shielded their children, creating a “Life Is Beautiful” experience often filled with wonder. His father told him they were going for “a long vacation in the country.” Their first stop, of all places, was the Santa Anita Racetrack, where the family was assigned to sleep in the stalls. “We get to sleep where the horsies slept! Fun!” he thought.

Takei had little understanding of his family abandoning their belongings, the government questioning their patriotism and their return to Los Angeles with nothing, starting over on Skid Row. As a teenager, he came to understand the toll. [Continue reading…]

ProPublica reports:

The Border Patrol agent, a veteran with 13 years on the job, had been assigned to the agency’s detention center in McAllen, Texas, for close to a month when the team of court-appointed lawyers and doctors showed up one day at the end of June.

Taking in the squalor, the stench of unwashed bodies, and the poor health and vacant eyes of the hundreds of children held there, the group members appeared stunned.

Then, their outrage rolled through the facility like a thunderstorm. One lawyer emerged from a conference room clutching her cellphone to her ear, her voice trembling with urgency and frustration. “There’s a crisis down here,” the agent recalled her shouting.

At that moment, the agent, a father of a 2-year-old, realized that something in him had shifted during his weeks in the McAllen center. “I don’t know why she’s shouting,” he remembered thinking. “No one on the other end of the line cares. If they did, this wouldn’t be happening.”

As he turned away to return to his duties, the agent recalled feeling sorry for the lawyer. “I wanted to tell her the rest of us have given up.” [Continue reading…]

George Conway confronts Trump’s racism while Kellyanne Conway tries to cover it up

George Conway writes:

[H]ow naive an adult could be. The birther imaginings about Barack Obama? Just a silly conspiracy theory, latched onto by an attention seeker who has a peculiar penchant for them. The “Mexican” Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel incident? Asinine, inappropriate, a terrible attack on the judiciary by an egocentric man who imagined that the judge didn’t like him. The white supremacists’ march in Charlottesville? The president’s comments were absolutely idiotic, but he couldn’t possibly have been referring to those self-described Nazis as “good people”; in his sloppy, inarticulate way, he was referring to both sides of the debate over Civil War statues, and venting his anger about being criticized.

No, I thought, President Trump was boorish, dim-witted, inarticulate, incoherent, narcissistic and insensitive. He’s a pathetic bully but an equal-opportunity bully — in his uniquely crass and crude manner, he’ll attack anyone he thinks is critical of him. No matter how much I found him ultimately unfit, I still gave him the benefit of the doubt about being a racist. No matter how much I came to dislike him, I didn’t want to think that the president of the United States is a racial bigot.

But Sunday left no doubt. Naivete, resentment and outright racism, roiled in a toxic mix, have given us a racist president. Trump could have used vile slurs, including the vilest of them all, and the intent and effect would have been no less clear. Telling four non-white members of Congress — American citizens all, three natural-born — to “go back” to the “countries” they “originally came from”? That’s racist to the core. It doesn’t matter what these representatives are for or against — and there’s plenty to criticize them for — it’s beyond the bounds of human decency. For anyone, not least a president. [Continue reading…]

The Daily Beast reports:

When White House reporter Andrew Feinberg posed a question to Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday about the president’s racist tweets against the four congresswomen known as the “Squad,” he found himself taken aback by her response.

Feinberg, a reporter for the website BeltwayBreakfast.com, asked the White House counselor which countries President Donald Trump was referring to when he suggested Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar—all U.S. citizens—should “go back” to where they came from.

Instead of answering that question, Conway asked him, “What’s your ethnicity?”

“Uh… why is that relevant?” Feinberg asked before Conway interrupted him to say, “Because I’m asking you a question.”

After Conway shares that her ancestors are from Ireland and Italy, the reporter said, “My ethnicity is not relevant to the question I’m asking you.”

Conway still would not answer Feinberg’s question, instead insisting that he question was relevant because Trump said “originally” from—he didn’t—and going on a rant about how “a lot of us are sick and tired in this country of America coming last,” echoing comments she made on Fox News earlier in the day about the “Squad” representing a “dark underbelly in this country.”

In that same Fox interview, Conway distanced herself from her husband George Conway, whose latest Washington Post column is headlined: “Trump is a racist president.” [Continue reading…]

Trump’s undiluted racism is met with fading resistance from Republican and corporate leaders

The Washington Post reports:

When Donald Trump assailed Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals during his 2015 presidential campaign launch, companies including Macy’s and NBC rushed to cut their business ties with him.

When a tape surfaced in 2016 of Trump boasting about grabbing women’s genitals, top Republican officials briefly pulled their endorsements, disinvited him from events and even sought to remove him from the ticket.

When, as president, Trump equivocated on condemning white supremacists in a deadly Virginia rally, top business leaders disbanded White House advisory boards in protest.

But on Monday, a day after Trump posted tweets promoting the racist trope that four minority congresswomen should “go back” to their countries of ancestry, the president waltzed onto the South Lawn of the White House with the confidence of a man fully supported by his party and by much of the corporate world that had once kept him at arm’s length. [Continue reading…]

Neo-Nazi blogger, Andrew Anglin, celebrates Trump’s latest racist tweets

The ADL reports:

President Trump’s recent racist tweet, posted on Sunday, July 14, was greeted with enthusiasm by white supremacists and other extremists.

Mr. Trump’s inference that four U.S. Representatives who are women of color – Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ayana Pressley (D-MA) – are not U.S. citizens, and that they should “go back” to their “original” countries, was echoed and applauded online by a raft of racist extremists.

Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin was apparently thrilled by the tweets, posting on his popular Daily Stormer website: “Man, President Trump’s Twitter account has been pure fire lately. This might be the funniest thing he’s ever tweeted. This is the kind of WHITE NATIONALISM we elected him for. And we’re obviously seeing it only because there’s another election coming up. But I’ll tell you, even knowing that, it still feels so good.”

Anglin also emphasized the political implications of Mr. Trump telling people of color to “go back” to their countries: “This is what elected Trump and this is what will always be the best way for him to gain support,” and underscored the importance of these comments being directed at U.S. citizens, particularly Rep. Pressley, who was born in Cincinnati: “So this is not some half-assed anti-immigrant white nationalism. Trump is literally telling American blacks to go back to Africa.” [Continue reading…]

Neo-Nazi blogger, Andrew Anglin, ordered to pay $14 million to woman targeted in racist ‘troll storm’

BuzzFeed reports:

A federal judge ruled more than $14 million should be awarded to a woman who was barraged with anti-Semitic and threatening messages online after a neo-Nazi blogger instructed his followers to target her and her family with a “troll storm.”

The ruling was handed down Monday against Andrew Anglin, a white supremacist and publisher of the website The Daily Stormer.

In his decision, judge Jeremiah Lynch found that Anglin “acted with actual malice” when he told followers: “Let’s Hit Em Up. Are y’all ready for an old fashioned Troll Storm? Because AYO – it’s time, fam.”

What followed were a series of racist and sometimes threatening messages to Montana real estate agent Tanya Gersh, her co-workers, and her family, including her 12-year-old son. [Continue reading…]

Twitter finds no fault in Trump’s racism

CNN reports:

President Trump’s weekend tweets in which he used racist language to attack four progressive Democratic congresswomen are not against Twitter’s rules, a company spokesperson told CNN Business Monday — a conclusion apparently contradicted by Twitter’s written policies.

The episode represents a tough first test for a new stance Twitter announced less than a month ago, in which it will label and down-rank tweets from Trump and other world leaders that break its rules, rather than removing them.

Trump has repeatedly tested Twitter’s community standards with his regular tirades on the platform. Some of the president’s tweets have run afoul of Twitter’s rules. [Continue reading…]

Music: Theo Croker — ‘Portrait of William’

 

Trump moves to effectively end asylum at southern border

The Associated Press reports:

Reversing decades of U.S. policy, the Trump administration said Monday it will end all asylum protections for most migrants who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border — the president’s most forceful attempt to block asylum claims and slash the number of people seeking refuge in America.

The new rule, expected to go into effect Tuesday, would cover countless would-be refugees, many of them fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. It is certain to face legal challenges.

According to the plan published in the Federal Register, migrants who pass through another country — in this case, Mexico — on their way to the U.S. will be ineligible for asylum. The rule also applies to children who have crossed the border alone.

The vast majority of people affected by the rule are from Central America. But sometimes migrants from Africa, Cuba or Haiti and other countries try to come through the U.S.-Mexico border, as well.

There are some exceptions, including for victims of human trafficking and asylum-seekers who were denied protection in another country. If the country the migrant passed through did not sign one of the major international treaties governing how refugees are managed (though most Western countries signed them) a migrant could still apply for U.S. asylum.

Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Monday that his country “does not agree with any measure that limits access to asylum.” Mexico’s asylum system is also currently overwhelmed.

Trump administration officials say the changes are meant to close the gap between the initial asylum screening that most people pass and the final decision on asylum that most people do not win.

Attorney General William Barr said that the United States is “a generous country but is being completely overwhelmed” by the burdens associated with apprehending and processing hundreds of thousands of migrants at the southern border.

He also said the rule is aimed at “economic migrants” and “those who seek to exploit our asylum system to obtain entry to the United States.”

But immigrant rights groups, religious leaders and humanitarian groups have said the Republican administration’s policies amount to a cruel effort to keep immigrants out of the country. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are poor countries, often wracked by violence.

“This is yet another move to turn refugees with well-founded fears of persecution back to places where their lives are in danger — in fact the rule would deny asylum to refugees who do not apply for asylum in countries where they are in peril,” said Eleanor Acer of Human Rights First.

ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, who has litigated some of the major challenges to the Trump administration’s immigration policies, said the rule was unlawful and the group planned to sue.

“The rule, if upheld, would effectively eliminate asylum for those at the southern border,” he said. “But it is patently unlawful.” [Continue reading…]

Trump’s raging racism

Charles M Blow writes:

America was born with a congenital illness and it has been in need of active rehabilitation ever since, although it has often rejected the curative treatments and regressed.

Challenging America to own its sins and live up to its ideals isn’t a vicious attack, it’s an act of patriotism. As James Baldwin once put it, “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

And, who better to lead the charge than four women who represent the future face of America.

But, Trump — and many of his supporters and defenders — spew their racism and tell themselves that it is perfectly acceptable when it is read back to them, in much the same way that a dog will eat its own vomit. [Continue reading…]