Monday, January 30, 2017

Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer Got Punched—You Can Thank the Black Bloc

The sky was gray, a light snow fell, and the weather was bitingly cold. But the mood outside New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) on Saturday was red-hot with anger, as dozens, and then hundreds, and then, as night fell, thousands arrived to protest President Donald Trump’s executive orderbarring entry into the United States of all refugees—including Syrian refugees, perhaps indefinitely—as well as visa-holders from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The rally, organized by a coalition of groups including the New York Immigration Coalition, the Arab American Association of New York, and Make the Road New York, came together within hours. The call for a rapid-response demonstration was posted on Facebook in the morning, and word quickly spread on social media. Supporters of these groups came from across New York, traveling long distances on the subway to reach an airport not easily accessible for many.
Throughout the day, the protesters huddled in a holding pen outside Terminal 4, the part of the airport where refugees and visa-holders, turned back from the United States, were being detained. They  chanted, “Love, not hate, makes America great,” and “No hate, no fear, Syrians are welcome here,” as cars driving by honked their horns in support. Inside the airport terminals, lawyers whipped out laptops to draft habeas corpus petitions to get their clients, held by Customs and Border Patrol agents, out of detention. Meanwhile, Port Authority police officers milled on the perimeter, and also blocked protesters’ entrance into Terminal 4. As the crowd grew, the demonstrators eventually spilled into the parking terminal overlooking the main protest area.
The protests lasted well into the evening, and continued as a federal judge ruled to temporarily halt part of Trump’s executive order in response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit. The order applies only to those who arrived in the United States with valid visas in the past 24 hours but were detained upon entry; they cannot be deported for now. While the order is temporary, it is a partial victory for civil-liberties advocates.
Trump’s order to bar refugees and many Middle Easterners, signed on the Friday afternoon of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, was a stunning capstone to a stunning week that seemed designed to shock Americans into submission. But in New York, and in cities around the country, protesters poured into airports in droves, determined to help those locked inside airport detention centers who had arrived just after Trump issued the ban. Taxi drivers called for a work stoppage outside JFK. Demonstrations were held in Chicago, Boston, Newark, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other cities.
Fahd Ahmed, the executive director of the South Asian–led group Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), told The Nation he feared that the current order was a test run for an expanded order down the road, perhaps targeting citizens of more countries. In addition to the denials of entry and detentions, he had heard that Muslim travelers were being harassed and harshly interrogated by US officials at airport entry points around the nation.
“What’s becoming clear is that this [order] is not just a bad, misguided policy. The current administration has a larger ideology, viewpoint and platform—a platform of white supremacy against Muslims, immigrants, and refugees,” said Ahmed, whose group has been helping lead resistance against Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.
The urgency—and fluidity—of the moment was underscored in the early afternoon, when lawyers, helped by Representatives Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velasquez, both of New York, successfully freed Hameed Darweesh, an Iraqi refugee who has worked for the US military. Darweesh had been detained for hours before the American Civil Liberties Union filed legal action on his behalf.
But the sense of victory quickly turned sour as other Muslim travelers were not released but remained in detention inside. Protesters vowed to remain outside JFK until everybody was free, and supporters of refugees also gathered inside a federal courthouse in Manhattan for a hearing on whether detainees would be able to stay in the United States.
A few hours later, at least one other Iraqi refugee who also worked for the US military, Haider Alshawi, was released after being detained for 24 hours. Alshawi was one of unknown numbers of refugees and visa holders detained in airports or turned back before hopping on a plane to the United States. Inside JFK, there were at least 11 people detained, according to Murad Awawdeh, the political director of the New York Immigration Coalition, the group that hastily organized the protest.
“This is a ban on Muslims. This is what it is,” said Awawdeh. “They’re being treated as if they have no rights.”
As the day wore on, the full scope of Trump’s order began to come into focus. The text of the order temporarily halts refugee resettlement; indefinitely bars all Syrian refugees; and, for 90 days, blocks travelers coming from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Libya. But there was confusion as to how it might impact dual-nationals and green-card holders. By the afternoon, the word from the White House had come down: Green-card holders could enter, but only if they receive an individual waiver. The State Department said dual citizens—for instance, someone with British and Iraqi citizenship—would be barred from entering the United States for now.
As more information trickled out, disgust with the order grew. Representative Keith Ellison, who is running to lead the Democratic National Committee, called for “mass rallies” against the Trump order. Senator Tim Kaine, the Democrats’ 2016 vice-presidential candidate, said he is “appalled by the cruelty the Trump Administration has demonstrated.”
And in New York, Congresswoman Velasquez forcefully spoke out against the refugee ban.
“This is ill-advised. It is mean-spirited. It goes against our values, and we got to fight it,” she told reporters at the rally. “We going to resist. We are going to organize. We are going to strategize. But we will fight for justice every single day in this country.”
As protesters chanted, “No ban, no wall, Donald Trump has got to fall,” The Nation spoke with Aditi Niak, who is from India, but received American citizenship last April.
“I was really excited to become American. And now I’m sad. I’m sad that America is being affiliated with people who don’t believe it’s a welcoming place, who feel like they can close our borders,” she said. “That’s not what America believes in. I’ve lived here for 15 years now, and this is the first time I’ve felt legitimately scared—scared for the country, scared for my friends, scared for people like me who come here for a better life and we’re being turned away. That’s not what this country stands for.”

Meet the rookie federal judge who halted Trump’s refugee deportations — to save a Syrian
Ann M. Donnelly waited half a year for her chance to convince the Senate that she would make a good federal judge. When the day finally came, she packed as many relatives as she could into the benches.
In her opening comments, she named every single one of them.
Donnelly introduced the senators to her husband, Michael. Her sister Sarah and brother Thomas. And then their spouses and their four children.
And to her mother and late father — “I know he is watching,” she told the Judiciary Committee in the spring of 2015. And her two daughters, and their boyfriends.
And then Saturday night, after a year and a week on the federal bench, Donnelly sat in her own courtroom in Brooklyn while families shouted and cried in airports nationwide.
President Trump’s sudden ban on refugees and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries had interrupted reunions midflight, leaving aunts, nephews, fathers and daughters stranded on opposite sides of security cordons, while federal officials decided who would be deported by presidential decree.
That’s the night the daughter of Mary and Jack Donnelly — whose speeches and rulings had rarely traveled beyond courthouse walls — became known across the world as the first judge to block Trump’s order.
Never before in her long legal career had Donnelly gained such attention. Nowhere close.
Her old college roommate, Darcy Gibson Berglund, remembers the Ohio-raised English major starring in a campus rendition of “Pippin” in the late 1970s but then quickly leaving the stage for the law.
“She’s an intellectual, she was not going to pursue theater,” Berglund said. But she said her friend retained “a facility with language” after graduating from law school in 1984.
Donnelly spent the next quarter-century as a New York prosecutor. Her most famous case was against two executives who looted their company — a trial that the New York Times described as “six months of sometimes tedious testimony.”
The paper recounted Donnelly’s closing arguments in the Tyco International case, when she “at times seemed like a schoolteacher lecturing her students.”
The executives “believed they were above the law, and they believe the rules that apply to other people do not apply to them,” Donnelly told the jury in 2004.
The men were convicted. This week, some of Donnelly’s old colleagues praised her demeanor during that trial — one telling the Times she was “the calm center of the spinning wheel,” even then.
She made state judge a few years after her victory in the Tyco trial, in 2009, and for years handled mostly criminal trials.
Donnelly would later tell senators that sentencing someone to prison “is one of the most difficult tasks a judge faces.” Some of her cases, however, were so horrific it didn’t seem hard.
“Not only did you strangle this woman, you then chopped her up,” she told a man in 2010, according to the New York Daily News, before sentencing him to 19 years to life for killing his ex-girlfriend and burying her in concrete.
If the killer were ever released, the paper noted, he would be deported because he had come to the United States illegally.
Several years later, a populist Republican would begin crafting campaign speeches around violent immigrants.
But first, Donnelly had to wait.
And wait, and wait, and wait after President Barack Obama nominated her to the federal court in November 2014, promising she would “serve the American people with integrity and an unwavering commitment to justice.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee did not hold hearings to approve her for months, a common theme in an era when White House and Congress stood divided.
“I’m thrilled the committee is finally moving forward,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in May 2015. “I know Ann well.”
He spoke of her parents in Ohio, and her work prosecuting sex crimes. He told his colleagues of an office Donnelly had left long ago, where “her reputation is legendary.”
“She is at her core a kind, thoughtful, compassionate person,” Schumer said.He asked her family to stand. “You’ll see, it’s a great sight.”
Donnelly’s mother and a dozen-some siblings, children, spouses, nieces and friends all rose in the chamber. One woman wiped tears from her eyes after Donnelly took the table at the front of the room.
The senators asked her only two questions, and only about criminal law.
“It’s a certain risk a judge takes,” Donnelly told Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), speaking of times she had tried to rehabilitate rather than punish a young offender, in hopes to “save someone from what is bound to be a life of crime.”
But mostly, Donnelly spoke of her family before ceding the table and waiting for the Senate’s decision.
Another half a year passed until the Senate confirmed her, nearly unanimously, with only two nays.
Yet more months went by before Donnelly was sworn in, quoting Abraham Lincoln in Brooklyn, and speaking once again about her family.
She made no great news for a full year on the federal bench — until Saturday evening, when protesters thronged major U.S. airports and an executive with the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted directions to Donnelly’s courthouse.
“Go right now if you can,” he wrote.
It had by then been a full day since Trump signed an executive order he said would “keep radical Islamic terrorists” out of the country — but which turned out to instantly bar people who had spent weeks or years planning journeys to the United States, and in some cases were already here.They had names like Labeeb Ali, who told The Washington Post he had sold his business and belongings in Iraq and obtained a U.S. visa before finding out at the airport that he couldn’t board his flight.
And Binto Adan, who The Post reported had flown thousands of miles with her 8- and 9-year-old children expecting to see her husband but who ended up being detained all day at Dulles International Airport because her family is Somali.
“I am looking for my parents! They are elderly!” a crying woman shouted in the same airport that night. And in cities from Dallas to Seattle, bewildered families sought missing members, and the ACLU’s emergency request to stop the deportations found its way to Donnelly’s courtroom in New York.
She had once been a government lawyer, but that night, she showed little patience for their arguments, The Post reported.
“Our own government presumably approved their entry to the country,” Donnelly said, weighing the risks of sending unknown numbers of people back across the oceans.
An ACLU lawyer interrupted the hearing to warn Donnelly that a flier was about to be deported to war-torn Syria unless she acted immediately.
Donnelly asked whether the government could guarantee that person’s safety and, unconvinced by the answer, issued her order just before 9 p.m.
Sending travelers back could cause “irreparable harm,” she ruled. She’d turned more eloquent phrases, but this time her written words were photographed and immediately shared across the world.“Stay is granted,” the executive director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project wrote on Twitter.
“Stay is national.”

Crowd cheers after federal judge issues stay on deportations

Play Video1:26
ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt announces to a crowd outside a Brooklyn courthouse that a federal judge had stayed deportations nationwide of those detained on entry to the United States following an executive order from President Trump that targeted citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries. (ACLU Nationwide/Facebook)
By early Sunday morning, tearful and exhausted people were emerging from security areas across the United States. They had no guarantee for their future in the United States, but they had a reprieve from immediate deportation.
And as families filtered out into the cities, the name of a federal judge they’d never heard of was in headlines across the globe.
An earlier version of this post referred incorrectly to the “federal circuit.” Donnelly is a federal judge for the Eastern District of New York.

Greenpeace Activists Deploy “Resist” Banner Above the White House
Days after Trump’s Inauguration, Activists Call for a Sustained Movement
Resist Trump Banner Action
Greenpeace activists deploy a banner on a construction crane near the White House reading "RESIST" on President Trump's fifth day in office.The activists are calling for those who want to resist Trump's attacks on environmental, social, economic and educational justice to contribute to a better America.
© Greenpeace
January 25, 2017
Washington, DC – This morning, seven activists deployed a 70-foot by 35-foot banner of the word “Resist” above the White House. The activists from around the country are still in place, calling for those who want to resist Trump’s attacks on environmental, social, economic, and educational justice to contribute to a better America.
“People in this country are ready to resist and rise up in ways they have never done before,” said activist and Greenpeace Inc. Board Chair Karen Topakian. “While Trump’s disdain and disrespect for our democratic institutions scare me, I am so inspired by the multigenerational movement of progress that is growing in every state. Greenpeace has used nonviolence to resist tyrannical bullies since 1971, and we’re not going to stop now.”
The Greenpeace USA activists say they are prepared to stay in position throughout the morning to reach as many people as possible through live broadcasts on Greenpeace USA’s Facebook page, tweets from the activists’ twitter accounts, and media interviews.
“The sun has risen this morning on a new America, but it isn’t Donald Trump’s,” said Pearl Robinson, one of the activists who unfurled the banner. ”I fear not only the policies of the incoming administration, but also the people emboldened by this election to commit acts of violence and hate. Now is the time to resist. We won’t stand rollbacks on all the progress the people have made on women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, the heightened awareness of state-sanctioned violence on black and brown folks, and the progress we have made on access to clean and renewable energy, an issue I have personally worked on my entire adult life.”
The action this morning comes after days of sustained protests against Trump, including the four activists who disrupted Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing with “Reject Rex” signs earlier this month, the veterans arrested in Senator John McCain’s office last week, and the hundreds of thousands of participants in Women’s Marches across the country over the weekend.
Since Trump has taken office, his administration has removed all mentions of climate change and LGBTQ rights from the White House website, taken steps to bring back the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, and issued a press gag order on all employees of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture.
For live updates, viewers can tune into the Facebook Live broadcast and follow tweets from the activists.
For interviews with the activists:
Cassady Craighill, 828-817-3328
For additional updates and visual requests:
Travis Nichols,, 206-802-8498
Jason Schwartz,, 347-452-3752
Visual location: The Ellipse, White House South Lawn

National Parks Service 'Goes Rogue' in Response to Trump Twitter Ban
Photo Credit: Richard Wayne Collens / Shutterstock
If you had “National Parks subtweet the new president” on your 2017 bingo card, today’s your lucky day.
After the US National Parks Service was temporarily banned for retweeting images comparing Trump and Obama’s inaugurations, the official Twitter account of the appropriately named Badlands National Park, based in South Dakota, appeared to go rogue by posting a series of now-deleted tweets on climate change.
The tweets were eventually deleted, and, while the official accounts may not be saying much right now, some “alternative” accounts have been set up. One, @BadHombreNPS tweeted: “Hey, friends. Here to support @BadlandsNPS with the science facts they can no longer share!
The most popular is @AltNatParkSer, which bills itself as the unofficial “resistance” team of the US National Parks Service.
One of its initial tweets read: “Mr Trump, you may have taken us down officially. But with scientific evidence & the Internet our message will get out.”
The owner of the account has yet to respond to the Guardian’s request for comment, but told reporters:
As of yet, it has not been verified whether the account is actually run by National Park employees.
A National Parks official told BuzzFeed the climate change tweets were posted by a “former employee” who was not authorised to use the account.
They added: “The park was not told to remove the tweets but chose to do so when they realised that their account had been compromised.”
This isn’t even the first time National Parks Twitter accounts have run afoul of the Trump administration. Over the weekend, they were temporarily told to halt tweeting after its main account retweeted pictures comparing the turnouts of Trump and Obama’s inaugurations. They later apologised for the “mistaken RTs”.

Meet the lawyers who dropped everything to work for free rescuing airport detainees


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Letters to the Revolution: Guillermo Gómez-Peñaómez-peña

Guillermo Gómez-Peña

(I address the powers that be; I look at the ceiling)
1. To the Masterminds of Paranoid Nationalism
I say, we say:
‘We,’ the Other people
We, the migrants, exiles, nomads & wetbacks
in permanent process of voluntary deportation
We, the transient orphans of dying nation-states
la otra America; l’autre Europe
We, the citizens of the outer limits and crevasses
of ‘Western civilization’
We, who have no government;
no flag or national anthem
the undoqueermented of Homoland Insecurity
We, the New Barbarians
         in constant flux,
from Patagonia to Alaska,
from Juarez to Ramalla,
todos somos mojados
We, the seventh generation, the fourth world, the third country
We millions abound,
defying your fraudulent polls & statistics
We continue to talk back & make art
[Shamanic tongues]
2. To those up there who make dangerous decisions for mankind
I say, we say:
We, the homeless, faceless vatos aquellos
in the great American metropolis
little Mexico, little Cambodia, little purgatory
We, the West Bank & Gaza strip of Gringolandia
We, the unemployed & subemployed who work so pinche hard
so you don’t have to work that much
We, whose taxes send your CEOs & armies
on vacation to the South
We, evicted from your gardens & beaches
We, fingerprinted, imprisoned, under surveillance
We, within your system, without your mercy
We, without health or car insurance,
without bank accounts & credit cards,
We, scared shitless at ground level,
but only at ground level
like a pack of hungry wolves
exploring the ruins of an empty mall
we continue to be… together
[Shamanic tongues]
3. To the lords of fear and intolerance
I say, we say:
We, mud people, snake people, tar people
We, bohemians walking on millennial thin ice
Our bodies pierced, tattooed, martyred, scarred
Our skin covered with hieroglyphs & flaming questions
We, the witches who transform trash into wearable art
We, Living Museum of Modern Oddities & Sacred Monsters
We, vatos cromados y chucas neo-barrocas
We, indomitable drag queens, transcendental putas
waiting for love and better conditions in the shade
We, bad boy & bad girls over 50
We, lusting for otherness
We, mota, peyote Ayahuasca & cocaine
We, todos somos putos y putonas
We, ‘subject matter’ of fringe documentaries
We, the Hollywood refuseniks,
the greaser bandits & holy outlaws
of advanced Capitalism
We, without guns, without Bibles
We, who never pray to the police or to the army
We, who never kissed the hand of a bishop or a curator
We, who barter and exchange favors & talismans
We, who still believe in community, another community,
a much stranger and wider community
We, community of illness, madness & dissent
community of horny angels & tender demons
We, scotch, mescal and bleeding saliva
We, frail and defiant; permanently outraged but always tender
We shape your desire while you contract our services
to postpone the real discussion
We are waiting, still waiting for you to go to sleep
so, we can continue the party
[Shamanic tongues]
4. To the Lords of Censorship
I say, we say:
We, the artists & intellectuals who still don’t wish to comply
We, who talk back in rarefied symbols & metaphors
against the corruption of formalized religion & art
We, critical brain mass
spoken word profética, sintética
We, bastard children of two humongous nuns:
‘Heterodoxia’ e ‘Iconoclastia’
We, the urban monks who pray in tongues & rap in Esperanto
We, who put on masks, penachos & wigs to shout
‘you just can’t take my art away’
We, who dance against the rhythms of the times
We, who suddenly freeze!
Standing still in our underwear
right in the center of the stage or the street
with the words carved on our chests:
‘Performance artist: will bleed for food’
‘Obsessive artist: will die for one idea’
We, critical brain mass
fuga inminente de cerebros y hormonas
spoken word profética, sintética
We continue to talk back… talk back… talk back…
[Shamanic tongues]
5. To those who are as afraid of us as we are of them
I say, we say:
We, who have no name whatsoever in the news
We, edited out, pixelated, censored, evicted, postponed
We, beyond the video frame, behind the caution tape
We, tabloid subject matter par excellence
We, involuntary actors of ‘The Best of Cops’
eternally stalking mythical blonds in the parking lot,
We, mistaken identities in your computer memory
We, generic brown & black males who fit all  
taxonomic descriptions
We, black & brown lives don’t matter
We, black & brown nude bodies in the morgue,
taxidermied bodies in the Museum of Mankind
We, prime targets of ethnic profiling & capital punishment
We, one strike & we’re out
We, prisoners of consciousness without a trial
We, of the turban, burka, sombrero, bandana, leather pants
We surround your neon architecture
While you call the Office of ‘Homeland Security’
Yes, we are equally scared of one another
[Shamanic tongues]
6. To the share-holders of mono-culture
I say, we say:
We, Americans with foreign accents & purple tongues
We, bilingual, polylingual, cunnilingual,
We, los otros del mas allá
del otro lado de la línea y el puente
We, lingua poluta et disoluta,
rapeando border mystery; a broader history
We, mistranslated señorita, eternally mispronounced
We, lost and found in the translation
lost & found between the layers of my words
We, interracial lovers,
children of interracial lovers, ad infinitum
We, Americans in the largest sense of the term
(from the many other Americas)
We, from Patagonia to Alaska
From Sao Paolo to New York
         in cahoots with the original Americans
who speak hundreds of beautiful languages 
incomprehensible to you
We [Shamanic tongues]
We, in cahoots with dozens of millions of displaced
Latinos, Arabs, blacks & Asians
who live so far away from their land
We, trapped between ICE and organized crime
[Shamanic tongues]
We all speak in unison therefore you cease to be
even if only for a moment
behind the curtain of language
I am, US, you sir, no ser
Nosotros seremos
Nosotros, we stand
not united
& when we talk back,
you become tongue-tied pendejos
[Shamanic tongues]
yess! magister dixit:
the people you call ‘aliens’
are the original inhabitants of this continent
(I will now skip 3 pages for the benefit of the audience)
7. To the masters and apologists of war 
I say, we say:
We, matriots not patriots
We, rebels, not mercenaries like you
We, labeled ‘extremists’ for merely disagreeing with you
We, caught in the crossfire,
between Christian fear & Muslim rage,
We, a thinking majority against unilateral stupidity
against preemptive strikes & premature ejaculation
We reject your arms sales & oil deals
We distrust your orange alert & your white privilege
We oppose the Patriot Act patrioticamente hablando
the largest surveillance system ever,
the biggest prison complex to date
We, whose opinions are never on the front page
of your morning paper
We, who are never polled by Fox News
who never get to debate those TV pundits
We did not vote for you,
do not support your wars,
do not believe in your violent gods
do not respect your immigration laws
Standing scared but firm
We demand your total, TOTAL withdrawal
from our minds and bodies ipso facto
[Shamanic tongues]
And when we speak in tongues, you disappear
8. Finale:
[Finally facing/addressing the audience]
We, baaaad poetry, baaad art!
We, techno-pirates, Region 4
We, the shamans exorcising Enron        
los brujos against Microsoft
poetas solitarios contra Wal-Mart
We, dervishes under the arches of McDonalds
radical clowns confronting the global police
immigrant teens torching the cars of the wealthy
We, los indignados y desterrados
El Movimiento Sin Tierra
Paracaidistas en Wall Street
the Other ‘99%’
We, the ghosts of the past
in cahoots with the future warriors
in cahoots with all innocent civilians killed
on both sides of the useless War on Terror
the useless War on Drugs
We, nosotros, going crazy to remain sane
literally dying for new ideas
performing against all odds
dancing on the edge of a crater
We, witnesses & willing victims of the End of Empire
We, Western World imploding disfunctionalia
history’s final chapter… colapso total!
We continue to talk back & make art
Tabula Rasa; take 2:
We, here we are, in (name of the city) mapeando,
mapping the immediate future
so you and I can walk on it
without falling inside the great faults of history.
You & I,
verbally walking together;
you & I,
ephemeral community;
you & I,
a tiny little nation-state;
you & I,
a one-hour-long utopia
titled ‘You & I,’
alone on stage,
fighting together the World Bank,
the IMF, the WTO & the G-8 cartels;
fighting avant-garde desire & the Patriot Act;
tu y yo, juntitos, bien abrazados,
fucking suavecito
fighting isolation & isolationism….
And art is our battlefield,
que otra?
And if we fall
we are caught in mid-air by a total stranger.