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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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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New DHS Policies, Predicted Weeks Ago

When Will We Know?”—an ongoing series

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today released two memos from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly that explain how the department will detain and prosecute undocumented immigrants and criminal immigrants. For any readers who follow the “rogue” Citizenship and Immigration Service Twitter account @ALT_USCIS, the publication of the memos—and details inside them—comes eleven days after that account supplied those details. (CNN and other news outlets reported the existence of the memos two days ago.)

There are many online accounts of government employees (including at least two accounts whose writers claim to be inside the White House itself) who have “gone rogue” and are hard at work sharing with the world all the changes that have been introduced since the new presidential administration took the reins of power. @ALT_USCIS is a must-read account as of right now. If journalism is the first draft of history, this Twitter account is supplying the previews.
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Putting Help on I.C.E.

When Will We Know?”—an ongoing series

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed on February 10 that ICE agents this week raided homes and workplaces across the nation in an immigration enforcement crackdown code-named “Operation Cross Check.”

The Washington Post reported that the search for undocumented immigrants became “unusually intense” this week and listed the locations as: Vista, Pomona and Compton, California; Austin, Dallas, and Pflugerville, Texas; Alexandria and Annandale, Virginia; Charlotte and Burlington, North Carolina; Plant City, Florida; the Hudson Valley region of New York; and Wichita, Kansas.

(I live in the Hudson Valley. The local media has not yet identified the location of any ICE raids that took place in the Hudson Valley.)

ICE does not usually release statements about its activities before a mission is completed, but many rumors proliferated about Operation Cross Check, so an ICE official, Virginia Kice, reported that any numbers of arrested individuals that the bureau might announce are “preliminary given that the five-day operation concluded only hours ago”—which confirmed that the raids were taking place and that the operation was finished—and that more would be revealed on Monday.

Kice told The Daily Beast that thirty-eight were arrested in the Los Angeles area on February 9 alone, and multiple sources report that as many as 160 individuals (one source old me the number is “200+”) were arrested in the operation. Also detained by ICE and its affiliates this week was any ability to get help to those being held, as several human rights activists have learned.

Here is that story:
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With Friends Like These …

In a speech delivered on Monday, February 6, to personnel at U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida, the U.S. President stated that U.S. media has been consciously suppressing reports about terrorist attacks in recent years.

“You’ve seen what happened in Paris, and Nice. All over Europe, it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it.” The U.S. President concluded, “They have their reasons, and you understand that.”

The claim that the press “does not want to report” on terrorism, when combined with the baleful, “They have their reasons,” is a plain assertion that the media is complicit with terrorists or is at least pro-terrorism.

Autocrats in our current era will not march into newspaper offices and destroy printing presses, as they did once upon a time; they will simply shame and harass them into silence. They will cajole their credulous supporters into not believing credible evidence and into a resistance of critical independent thinking.
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It Can’t Happen Here, Can It?

Certain though Doremus had been of Windrip’s election, the event was like the long-dreaded passing of a friend. “All right. Hell with this country, if it’s like that.”—Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here

The title begs the question: what is the “It” that can’t happen here? The free, democratic election of a fascist (lowercase F, even though any difference in degree or style of fascism is truly no difference at all)? Or any movement to resist it after it takes power?

Sinclair Lewis gives one succinct answer at the end of the second chapter of his 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here: “The hell it can’t.” In the chapter, several of the leading lights of life in fictional Fort Beulah, Vermont, are conversing and considering the campaign promises of U.S. Senator Buzz Windrip, who is considering a run for the Democratic Party nomination against President Franklin Roosevelt.
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Speculation About Saudi Plans

Is Ali al-Nimr About to Be Executed?

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There are two things about Ali Mohammed al-Nimr that we know today (December 6, 2016), and they are the same two sad, maddening things that we know about Ali al-Nimr every day: He remains in prison and he is awaiting his fate. Anything else, everything else, is speculation. Today, speculation about Ali al-Nimr is drowning out the few things we actually know.

Ali al-Nimr is the young Saudi protester who faces a sentence of death by beheading followed by a posthumous crucifixion (the public display of his dead body), and we know one other solidly reported thing about him today: he phoned home this morning.
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Harassment & Free Speech

The essayist who wrote this in 2012:

We are all by now accustomed to the periodic whinging of public figures after another round of drive-by shootings on Twitter. But the problem isn’t restricted to those who put themselves on a public platform. Just take a look at how people are talking to each other as well. Frankly, it’s terrifying, and it occurs to me that one of the great challenges of the next decade will be how we, as a society, manage those people unable to manage themselves.

… was banned “permanently” from posting on Twitter this week. A spokesman for Twitter told an interviewer for Buzzfeed, “People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter, but no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.”

The author of the essay quoted above, titled, “The Internet Is Turning Us All Into Sociopaths,” is one Milo Yiannopoulos, who seems to have decided that his article was more useful to him as a point-by-point, how-to-become-a-sociopath expository essay instead of a complaint against sociopathy. In the subsequent four years, he became famous as an Internet sociopath, celebrated as an “alt-Right wing” hero of some sort, a keyboard bully who never had the balls to say what he wrote to anyone’s face and yet wore a bulletproof vest for show as if he had even one time spoken truth to power.
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