‘Dulce et decorum est’ … Memorial Day

My grandfather’s younger brother, my great-uncle Walter, fought with the 104th Infantry and died in action in France in 1944. Above is a photo from Find A Grave.com of Walter Aldrich’s gravestone in Lorraine American Cemetery, near Metz, France, one of 10,000 Americans buried in that cemetery. It is the largest American World War II cemetery in Europe.
My family is not one that talks much about its military service, but many members on both sides served. Today is Memorial Day, and my family’s attitude of doing service because service is what one does without expectation of reward is worth celebrating.

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My Posts about Raif Badawi & Saudi Arabia

Raif Badawi is always in imminent danger of his punishment being resumed. He still awaits 950 lashes with a whip. Saudi Arabia’s thought-police know that any news about a prisoner can be one more form of punishment for his family. Raif Badawi is always in imminent danger. The mental torture never ceases.

When his story grows more prominent, as it has since the arrest of his sister, Samar Badawi, on July 30, 2018, that torture only becomes sharper. It becomes exquisitely more difficult to find hope.

For Raif—and for his lawyer and brother-in-law Waleed Abulkhair, who is also in prison in Saudi Arabia in a gross violation of his own human rights—and for their two brilliant and courageous wives, Ensaf Haidar and Samar Badawi, today is another challenging day. Each one is. Each day, news or none, is spent weighing the choice between daring to dream of freedom or to not expend energy in the risky business of dreaming.

Saudi Arabia arrested and imprisoned Samar Badawi on July 30, possible charges and location unknown as of this writing.

This post lists the articles I wrote over the last three-plus years about Raif Badawi, a young writer whom Saudi Arabia has punished for his essays, and whose story is finally an international matter this week in a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Canada. I will file a more current post tomorrow.

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Joel Guerrero Freed; What Comes Next?

Numbers only provide a snapshot, a sense of the size of the story. In February, soon after the new U.S. President announced a desire to deport three million illegal immigrants in his first year in office, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) started to conduct what it called “targeted enforcement operations” across the nation.

Sources report that in a five-day operation in February, some 680 individuals were detained under ICE’s new mandate. In March, another 729 were arrested in actions across the country. The total numbers are not yet known. The number deported has not been publicized.
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A Century’s End

Emma Morano (pictured above) of Verbania, Italy, died today at the age of 117, according to reports. She was the oldest person alive on the planet and she was also the last human being who was here the century before last. When we woke this morning, the 19th Century was still a part of living history; now it is entirely history.

Ms. Morano was born on November 29, 1899, and every human being alive was born after the dawn of the 20th Century or this present century.
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A Storm Named Stella

Here in Orange County, New York, a blizzard named Stella has us under a “Severe Alert.” A red banner scrolls across my weather app—which is one way the information that Winter Storm Stella has dropped snow on us for the last several hours and will continue for another fourteen hours or so. The other way I can learn that the storm is throwing two to four inches of snow per hour is found when I look out my windows.

I prefer the first method. The red banner is less scary.
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Lauri Love Banned from Twitter

Lauri Love, the British hacktivist who the United Kingdom has agreed to send to the United States to face charges despite pleas from over 100 MPs that he not be extradited, was permanently banned from Twitter this week. His account was @LauriLoveX.

The reasons are unclear, as no specific charges were fully explained to Love. It is understood that the reasons are related to an “alleged violent threat.” He wrote a few hours ago, “Being an actual Nazi on twitter: fine and dandy. Advocating punching Nazis on twitter: permanently banned for violent threats. This is why we can’t have nice things… (Only told I will never get my account back for obscure probably made-up reasons after starting a dozen support threads.)”
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ICE Detainees: Working for $1 a Day

When Will We Know?”—an ongoing series

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The federal government established the rate of pay for undocumented workers in detention centers and prisons at $1 per day back in 1979 and this pay rate has not been adjusted since. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not consider $1 for a day’s labor to be pay, anyway; officially, what it pays detained immigrants is referred to in its documentation as an “allowance.”

José Coyote Pérez (seen at top), an immigrant laborer and labor activist in upstate New York, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on February 24 and is prisoner number A#099757267 in the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York. He and other new detainees held at the Buffalo facility are working there and they are being paid $1 per day, it has been confirmed by activists.
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ICE Arrests Green Card Holder; Community Responds

UPDATED, April 29: When a GoFundMe page was established to help the family of Joel and Jessica Guerrero of New Paltz, New York, some 400 people donated $16,165 to the family of Joel and Jessica Guerrero within days. The community grew from immediate neighbors and family to the rest of the nation and beyond borders. When we remember that we are all cousins, the world shrinks in happy ways.

The fundraiser was closed at the start of April, but Joel remains in federal custody, detained by ICE. A petition on Change.org to free Joel has attracted almost 1000 signatures and many more are needed: “Please Stand With Joel & Jessica Guerrero.”

My column from March 5, 2017, with some corrections (thank you, Jessica Guerrero):
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