Everyday Erinyes #101

 Posted by at 8:16 am  Politics
Nov 182017

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can’t include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as “unceasing,” “grudging,” and “vengeful destruction.”

Less than two months ago, I included a story about a church leader who was fleecing the state by telling members to file fraudulent unemployment claims in order to keep their “contributions” up.  Well, this lovely church leader is back in the news again.  This time it’s for kidnapping.

North Carolina’s social services laws cite “family preservation,” so as to prevent “unnecessary placement of children away from their families.” Yet, many children have been taken from their families and put into the custody of church members. Thus far, three single mothers have come forward to allege a county court clerk bypassed the foster system so that church members were able to obtain custody of their children, despite a judge calling the conduct inappropriate.

A child advocate who visited the church to ensure that two foster children were safe was surrounded by members after “Pastor” Jane Whaley shouted from the pulpit, “You are here to cause strife!” and called her “wicked.”

“One thing that is confusing for people in the community is how these children can be so well-behaved and so well-dressed if things are so bad,” said John Huddle, who lost his children after be severed ties with the church. “But the clothing can cover the bruises and the smiles can hide the hurt.”

Hanky alert.

Alecto, you’ve been on this case – better get reinforcements.

I’ve addressed this issue before, but it isn’t going away.

A photo of several deported veterans went viral over the weekend as the U.S. celebrated Veterans Day on Saturday. The photo was taken by photojournalist Herika Martinez for the Agence France-Presse news agency.

The photo depicts a group of several Mexican men who served in the U.S. military in order to become citizens, but were denied and deported. The soldiers protested on Memorial day this year in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Apparently, there are about 230 people who served in the U.S. military and expected to gain citizenship, but didn’t.

The article also states, “Serving in the military does not automatically confer citizenship….”  Well, dammit, it should!  Just think about this phrase:

Tisiphone, what kind of person can make sense of that?

This next story may need a hanky alert too – it did for me -you may be a little tougher.

MS-13 is, according to Wikipedia, “an international criminal gang,” which originated in the 1980’s in Los Angeles and spread.  Though El Salvadorean origin predominates among its members, a guy named Donald Trump has been leaning on them as a boogey-man to tout his wall.  Ed Gillespie also made use of the name in his campaign, fortunately to somewhat less effect.

There is a prison in Massachusetts, the Plymouth County Correctional Facility, which is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and operated by the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department, yet is somehow also being used by ICE.  Currently there is an activist incarcerated there named Martin Gottesfeld, who is awaiting federal trial on hacking charges related to Justina Pelletier and her treatment by Boston Children’s Hospital.  (Martin was with Anonymous.  It made quite a splash at the time.  I don’t know why he is still awaiting trial on charges from 2014, but he is.)  Martin has been interviewed by and is still in touch with Ryan Grim, who is now with The Intercept (he was previously with the Huffington Post), and provided Ryan with this story.

A few months ago, some members of MS-13 were moved into Martin’s unit.

“When they first came in the unit, all of us were like, ‘Oh shit, MS-13, there goes the neighborhood,’ but they turned out to be model inmates,” he said. Beyond their so-far-unsuccessful attempts to attend church, he said, they’ve been unfailingly kind and rule-abiding. Many of them, he said, seem to have been swept up in broad conspiracy charges. “Contrary to the public impression that’s been painted by the Tucker Carlsons of the world, these guys are ideal inmates, they wanna go to church, don’t cause trouble,” he said. “I don’t think these are bad guys, not the killer rapists they’re being portrayed as.”

The incident which prompted Martin to bring this up to Ryan happened at breakfast.

Breakfast starts early in the BS-1 unit, Gottesfeld told The Intercept in a phone interview, and the elderly man was “head food-runner,” responsible for handing out trays. Each inmate is entitled to a single tray of food, but one young, white inmate and his friend grabbed a second.

The elderly man chased after the younger fellow and his friend, demanding the tray back; if any prisoner takes a second tray, that means somebody else won’t get breakfast. “The white kid dropped the tray and went to swing at the old guy, and that’s when the MS-13 guys just descended,” Gottesfeld said.

They rushed to the defense of the 72-year-old food-runner, and, granted they were not gentle with the young punk, when he was led out in handcuffs, he was in good enough condition to yell at them about how Trump is going to close the border and kick the Mexicans out.

The final irony, Gottesfeld added, is that the elderly man is a Republican and a Trump supporter, “but the nicest guy you could meet.”

Megaera, please make sure that neither the 72-year-old nor his defenders, nor Martin, are hurt, physically or with any loss of privilege, as a result of this incident.  Thank you.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 HERE.


Everyday Erinyes #64

 Posted by at 9:34 am  Politics
Feb 252017

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

With Keith, and Sam, and John Oliver keeping us up on many if not most of the more far-reaching things that are going on, and also the administration of Schmuck à l'Orange deliberately switching gears and moving as fast as possible in order to keep us as confused as possible, I am trying to find things which may have gone unnoticed, but which are still telling.

Perhaps my favorite for the week is the story of the Texas State Senator who was holding a hearing on three anti-abortion bills.  A NARAL intern was giving pro-choice testimony and went a couple of seconds over the allotted two minutes, saying

 …stop playing with women’s health care as if it’s your own political puppet… 

when the Senator brought down his gavel so hard he shattered a glass-topped table.

A few minutes later,

[Senator Charles] Schwertner allowed the president of the anti-abortion Texas Alliance for Life lobby group to extend his testimony, including a quote attributed to Catholic saint and scholar Thomas More, for the same length of time as Hennessy’s, without an interruption. Schwertner is the chair of the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee…. Schwertner’s aggressive gaveling appeared to be limited to Hennessy’s testimony. When others' statements went over time, the senator instead warned them by repeatedly thanking them for their testimony. 

Obviously channeling Mitch McConnell.

To her credit, the intern, Maggie Hennessy (FINALLY someone with an Irish name who is on the correct side), was not discouraged.  Megaera, I hope you can arrange it so that the Senator IS discouraged.

While I was researching in Cosmopolitan (I hear Teen Vogue also has grest political news, better than the New York Times – not that that is such a high bar), I found this:

The plan is for large numbers to join in casting a spell on the Pussygrabber-in-Chief every night of a waning crescent moon "until he's driven from office."

The spell was publicized by Michael M. Hughes, who (whether alone or with assistance I'm not sure) "tweaked" it from multiple spells he saw going around private witchcraft groups.  He then published it on the internet, and it quickly spread with events being formed around the country.

    Hughes explained that he chose a binding spell because "we're not wishing harm on anyone, we're just trying to stop the harm they're doing. It's not the equivalent of punching a Nazi in the face, it's the equivalent of tying him up and taking his bullhorn away."

The ritual itself is pretty standard magic working, binding Trump from doing harm to others and to himself, rather than asking any forces to do harm to him. There are objects to represent the elements and to represent Trump himself. The tarot card of the Tower represents ambitions built on lies, which are struck down by a lightning flash of truth. For those who believe in witchcraft, it looks to be an effective spell. 

If anyone here is a Wiccan or has friends who are, they are most welcome to engage, and, in fact, everyone is welcome, whether Wiccan or not, even complete skeptics.  Yes, I know the introductory ritual was last night, but the last I looked, it takes the moon at least a week to wane.  It's worth checking the almanac.  Alecto, maybe you can give them a hand, help them focus, send them strength.

Of course deportations are a thing this week.  I could probably write all week on it and not run out of material.  But instead, I'd like to share a couple of stories from people who have not been deported, but are terrified they will be.  They are farm workers, continuing to go to work and do their jobs (and incidentally paying their taxes).

The United Farm Workers, who shared the stories, already assigned them false names, but I just have a whim to use "Jane Doe" and "Richard Roe," only in Spanish.

So.  Ricardo Corzo lives and works in the area around Fresno, CA.  The story he tells happened on February 8 (and things have gotten worse since.)

At an intersection that many farm workers pass while going to work ICE pulled over our van. One of the farm workers in my van was handcuffed and it looked like they were going to take him and some other farm workers in, but then the agents got an emergency call of some type and they were let go. I had read the Know Your Rights card that the UFW gave myself and other workers but in the heat of the moment we were just paralyzed to even remember anything. This is why I appreciate the upcoming know your rights meetings the UFW is holding that will give us the opportunity to role play how to respond and prepare us.

The "know your rights meetings" the UFW is holding include role playing, since, as "Ricardo" points out, in the heat of the moment one gets paralyzed.  The web page is requesting donations to support such meetings, but it's not a requirement, and I think it's important for us to know these stories.  Even people with empathy don't always have the imagination to predict what bullies will come up with to scare vulnerable people.

Juana Gama lives and works in Ventura County.  She feels people are being targeted by the color of their skin.

I have heard about the immigration raids in my community. Everyone is afraid they will be next. I am very thankful that the United Farm Workers organizes “Know Your Rights” information sessions. The information is very helpful, but we are very nervous.

Recently I began to receive mail at my house addressed to a strange name. I write “return to sender” and “does not live here”, but the letters have continued. Soon after I began to hear loud knocks on my front door from police officers asking for the same name on the letters. Since Donald Trump announced his expanded deportation orders, I have been afraid to answer the door when the police have come. They have come often enough that my neighbors have noticed and they are also worried. We are working hard trying to earn a living, feed our families, feed this great nation. It’s not right. We can’t let hate divide us. That’s not our America. I hope you can help us.

I found that chilling.  And I was born in the USA and am blonde.  The little fact of Law Enforcement being at the wrong place has been proven not to prevent the occupants of a home from getting killed.

Oh, yeah – the picture is of one of the PRIVATE "detention facilities" doing ICE's dirty work of "holding" people (in at least one case, "holding" a young mother with a brain tumor.)  Tisiphone, please see what you can do.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4038937


Everyday Erinyes #63

 Posted by at 7:16 am  Politics
Feb 182017

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction.

So – which one of you ladies is in charge of devious?  Megaera possibly.  Well, Megaers, we have a real doozy of devious right here.

Trump is caught between two camps. His supporters count the end of deportation protections as a key component of his promise to strengthen immigration enforcement. In campaign speeches, Trump repeatedly promised to end the program on “day one” of his presidency and called the protections “unconstitutional executive amnesty.”

On the other side…. Some Republican strategists are concerned that suspending DACA could energize Latino voters and liberal activists in key congressional districts during the midterm elections next year.

But senior Trump aides … have examined at least two options that would not directly involve Trump, according to two immigration policy advisors to the White House: a lawsuit brought by states, and new legal guidance that details who is a priority for deportation.

[email protected]#%&*)(+.  (That's my personal opinion.  Condensed.)

The "legal guidance" mentioned above would be from none other than Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.  It would be what you would expect.  As for the states, yes, there are plenty which would gleefully join in a lawsuit suchas is proposed.  However there are also some which would willingly file as amici curiae on the right side.

Faithful America does have a petition which is pertinent.

If you read TomCat's open thread yessterday, and watched/listened to Keith, you know some of the crap ICE is already doing (and there is more in last week's Erinyes.)  This, however, kind of frosted me –

Diagnosed with PTSD …served two tours in Afghanistan and pleaded guilty for cocaine conviction and is a resident and VETERAN… Perez may likely get deported.

Judge reviewing the case and Tammy Duckworth has written a letter on his behalf. 

Daily Kos user "Vetwife" has this to say –

I do not condone this veteran’s activity but he fought for America and was willing to take a bullet.   Now America or a so called America cannot say, “ We owe you a place here with your family”? 

And I must say I agree.  Tisiphone, maybe you can look into this whole topic?

You may or may not know that a lot of veterans who were non-citizens mistakenly thought that their oath to protect the nation made them a citizen.  That has never been true, although a lot of us think it ought to be, and ought always to have been.  In theory, I guess, it should be pert of a recruiter's duty to make that clear.  In practice, many recruiters believe their duty is to sign up their quota.

Frankly, too, there is so much going on that it is difficult to stay even marginally focused.  If you read over TomCat's posts for the last few days, you already know that ICE has gone nutters.  If you read or see any news, you know that Thursday was to be a "Day without Immigrants" to make a point – amy you probably also know that one pink slip today (not sure whether there was an actual pink slip or if they were just told) read:  "You and your family are fired.  Love you."

How much of the immigration brou-ha-ha is to distract us from the Pumpkin Psychopath and his – "handling" – of classified information, ya think?  Two tidbits have managed to achieve a little notice, not from prior Russian influence, but simply happening now.  The first is that he has intelligence so worried what he might do with information that they are simply not giving it to him.  I don't mean the truncated briefings that Mother Jones has brought up – I mean they are deliberately withholding things.

And his sheer carelessness with classified information is now way beyond the wunsecured-obsolete-smartphone stage.  Last week he left a key to classified information in plain sight on his desk while meeting with the CEO of Intel.  AND REPORTERS.

Then there was the debacle at Mar-a-Lago where he was transacting classified business, in person and on the phone, clearly audible – with whatever member of the club just happened to feel like coming over.  One of them thought it would be fun to have his picture taken with the nuclear football – so he did – and posted it on Facebook!  (It was nice of the UK Independent to scramble the face – but anyone can go to google and find it with the face intact; you don't have to be on Facebook.)

Alecto, since this is happening constantly, perhaps you can step in?

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4037577


Everyday Erinyes #62

 Posted by at 7:11 am  Politics
Feb 112017

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

The Marshall Project has a series called "Case in Point," in which Andrew Cohen examines a single case or character which sheds light on the criminal justice system.  Jules Letemps is such an individual with such a case, and, while it certainly sheds light on how people may be sentenced and spend years in prison for stuff they didn't do – and there are way too many of those cases – this one also sheds light on immigration in the United States.

The article gives a good deal of backstory, which is, if depressing, worth reading.  But the gist of the case is this:

Letemps came to Florida in 1981 on “humanitarian parole,” a temporary status granted to those fleeing their country for urgent humanitarian reasons. He had fled Haiti on a boat with his father and sister, among thousands of Haitians who emigrated due to political unrest and economic turmoil….

When he arrived in Florida, Letemps moved in with his mother (shown right) in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood, where she had arrived the year before. He got jobs picking tomatoes and selling food at an airport kiosk. He soon left Miami to work at an orange grove near Orlando. There he started dating a woman and in 1986, she got pregnant. Letemps claims this was what led to his drug charge. “I couldn’t help her because I didn’t have a good job,” he said. “I bought 20 dollars worth of dope so I could sell it and make some money, but then the police arrested me.”

Letemps pled guilty to delivery of cocaine, and was sentenced to the five months he had already spent in jail. Immigration officials took no action against him. It was [a] later sexual assault conviction that brought him to ICE’s attention.

When he came to Florida, he was 17.  When he was 26, he left his home, his (pregnant) partner, and his two daughters to go to work at a dealership where his job was washing the cars.  He never got there.  Nor did he ever come home.  He was stopped by a police officer, fingered by a crying woman as her rapist, arrested, and charged.

He was assigned a public defender but no interpreter.  He was found guilty and given four concurrent life sentences, and has been in prison ever since.  He gradually lost contact with everyone except his mother, Pierrecina Aureus.  Siblings, nieces, nephews, his partner, his daughters – none knows him now.

In 2010, Centurion, a non-profit legal service which has works on exoneratatons, took on his case.  Their lawyers discovered in the file of the trial a seroligical test of a semen stain on the victim's robe, which completely excluded Letemps as the rapist.  THE EVIDENCE HAD BEEN IN THE RECORDS ALL THE TIME.  Apparently the public defender misunderstood it.  It was never presented to the jury. 

The Florida State Courts initially ruled that Centurion’s appeal came too late, but the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted them permission. In July 2015, a federal district judge ordered a new trial. And in October 2016, the state dropped all charges.

Centurion knew there would be immigration issues, so they brough on immigration attorney John Pratt.  Since his initial entry status was "humanitarian parole," and the felony conviction would have revoked that, he is now categorized as an "arriving alien" in court proceedings, not entitled to a bond hearing before a judge.  Only DHS can let him go.  Or not.  In November they denied that, so he will likely be detained until his immigration status is resolved.  He is now 53, so he has been in prison a little over half his life.

“Based on Mr. Letemps’ criminal past, ICE determined that his detention is warranted,” wrote [ICE} spokesperson [Tammy] Spicer in an email.

Alecto, I think this has been going on long enough.

Speaking of immigration, the Baltimore Sun raises a question about all the – stuff – that happened last week, when the executive order/Muslim ban was thrown into the mix at every United States airport.

When we worry and wonder about authoritarian regimes that inflict cruelty on civilians, we often imagine tyrannical despots unilaterally advancing their sinister agendas. But no would-be autocrat can act alone. As a practical matter, he needs subordinates willing to carry out orders. Of course, neither Donald Trump nor Steve Bannon personally detained any of the more than 100 people held at airports over the weekend pursuant to the administration's executive order on immigration, visitation and travel to the United States. They relied on assistance.

They refer to incidents such as the 5-year-old child handcuffed and detained, separated from his mother, for several hours.  The mother traveling with two children who was handcuffed, detained for 20 hours without food, separated from her children (who were US citizens.)  The 65-year-old mother of a US serviceman detained for 33 hours and denied the use of a wheelchair.  I expect we all heard about all of these.  They point out:

The men and women who work for the federal government completed these and other tasks and then returned to their families, where perhaps they had dinner and read stories to their children before bedtime.

Authoritarians don't need monsters.  They need people who will follow orders dutifully, even if the orders are monstrous.  And the Sun continues that we all need to ask ourselves what we will do.  Because it's so much easier to do nothing than to do something.  "If we do nothing, that is a choice. It means we accept a government that has demonstrated it is capable of inflicting cruelty on the innocent and defenseless."

Megaera, Tisiphone, come and visit all of us this week.  Help reinforce our spines so that we will have the backbone to keep resisting all the way.

The Furies and I will be back.  We are considering adding a special, one-time, "delusion edition" between Saturdays.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4036175