Joe Biden's war on children continues. Chase Lawrence (WSWS) reports:
As of Tuesday, 4,100 migrants, most of whom are unaccompanied children, were being held in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) holding facility in Donna, Texas that only has a capacity for 250 people. The conditions, which have been exposed by a recent visit by reporters sanctioned by the Biden administration, can only be described as a crime against humanity.
Images of children lying side by side under foil blankets with only inches between them could be seen in a video taken within the camp. Children are being kept in eight “pods” consisting of 500 children each, crowded into cages lined with see-through plastic sheets. The pods only measure around 3,200 square feet and are housed in tents on hard floors with some mattresses. For reference, the average single-family home in the United States in 2019 was 2,301 square feet, according to the Census Bureau.
Children, who are 14 years and older, are processed in an intake building, fingerprinted, photos taken, and then moved to another room where they are given notices to appear for immigration court. No testing for COVID-19 is being done in the camps except on symptomatic individuals.
Illustrating the dire conditions in the camps, all shoelaces were removed by prison officials from child detainees in order to prevent self-harm, as is practiced regularly in US adult prisons. Immigrant advocates have said that there is no adequate access to soap or food.
The horrific images emerging from the camps set up along the US-Mexico border come following the Biden administration’s preparations for the escalation of deportations, utilizing “Title 42” rules to claim concern for public health to push immigrants back south of the border. A DHS spokesman told the website Axios that the DHS is “working with our partners in Mexico to increase their capacity.” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas declared on March 21 that the “border is closed.”
This is outrageous and disgusting. And it is very telling that people work overtime to try to cover for him and to try to justify his actions. There is no justification for President Biden doing this. None.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, April 1, 2021. Iraq finally passes the 2021 budget, attacks on protesters continue, and much more.
March 20 marked the 18th anniversary of our war on Iraq. It’s time for Americans to ask how our empire and its wars are working. We prefer to talk about protecting vital interests, nation-building, human rights, anything but empire. But empire is what our endless wars and our 800-plus military bases are about, and why though Iraqis have voted for them to leave, 2,500 troops remain.
Has sending most of our taxes to the Pentagon to maintain an empire worked for us? Our communities feel the drain. Only a few profit from war and weapons production.
Are we safer for attacking others? The State Department’s advisory against travel to Iraq due to “terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict and Mission Iraq’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens” just scratches the surface.
Is our democracy stronger? Empire wars have brought illegal spying, government by executive orders, extraordinary rendition, denial of habeas corpus and secrecy. The Constitution put war decisions with Congress, not the president, to guard against the urge for foreign domination.
Will the Biden Administration pull back from empire? Secretary of State Anthony Blicken, an avid supporter of the Iraq War, announced that the world doesn’t organize itself without American leadership and that he wants to reclaim that leadership. Images of millions displaced, cities in rubble and Abu Ghraib come to mind as the continued hype of Russia and China as enemies and the bombing inside Syria signal the empire will continue.
And it will, unless we pressure Congress to repeal the blanket Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) and to cut the Pentagon budget. Congress must insist on its responsibility to check the use of war. We can be a great country or be an empire. Our founders knew we could not be both.
Waiting On Biden Tweets:
The Iraq War. Arwa Damon filed a report for CNN this week and noted, "Each neighborhood, each street, each family has a story of pain and suffering. The violence was so widespread here that I, in my 18 years covering the war in Iraq, do not know a single person who has not somehow been impacted by it.
18 years and the war still drags on and it's accomplished nothing worthwhile.
The Iraqi people are no better off and suffer at the hands of kleptocrats who steal from the people over and over again.
Iraq finally approved this year's budget yesterday. MIDDLE EAST ONLINE notes, "Iraq's parliament on Wednesday approved a 2021 budget of 130 trillion Iraqi dinars ($89.65 billion) as the country wrestles with an economic and financial crisis due to low crude prices." Abeer Abu Omar and Khalid Al-Ansary (BLOOMBERG NEWS) note that this budget is based on the belief that oil will sell for at least $45 a barrel. While the Iraqi people suffer -- approximately 25% live in poverty -- don't worry about the officials, they'll keep getting their big checks. Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) explains, "Article 20 of the budget bill, which concerns cuts to the salaries of the three presidencies, the ministries, and employees, was rejected, according to Iraqi state media. "
Iraqi protesters on Thursday closed three oil facilities in the southern province of Dhi Qar, protesting against the federal budget.
Late Wednesday, the Iraqi parliament voted to approve the annual general budget, with total expenditures amounting to 129 trillion dinars (about $88 billion).
The new budget did not include articles to guarantee protesters' job opportunities, a move that they responded with disruption of oil facilities.
The approval of the budget comes after the lapse of three months of the current fiscal year and it will be applied retroactively.
Eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that "protesters with certificates specialized in the field of oil sector closed the entrances to the Dhi Qar Oil Company, its oil refinery, and the Oil Products Distribution Company, in an escalating step."
The eyewitnesses said: "Protesters set fire to the tires of vehicles in front of the entrances of the three oil companies and demanded urgent intervention to including them in the budget by providing them with job opportunities."
We'll note this Tweet:
Protests have been going on, the current wave of protests, since the fall of 2019. Not even the pandemic has prevented the protests. The protests succeeded in forcing the resignation of one prime minister. The response from the government has been to attack the protesters, to stalk them outside of protests, to kidnap them, to kill them. Suadad al-Salhy (MIDDLE EAST EYE) reports:
Jaseb Hattab al-Hiliji never noticed the motorbike carrying two young men. It was just another bike, squeezing between pedestrians in the crowded, narrow streets of Amara’s al-Sinaaiyah district.
Hiliji didn’t notice either, when one of the men got off and walked slowly but purposefully towards him.
According to eyewitnesses, that is when the man took out a gun, pointed it at Hiliji’s head and fired a bullet that silenced the 57-year-old forever.
Less than an hour later, the local police announced that they had arrested the murderer, and that the crime was triggered by a tribal dispute.
"Hiliji is a cousin of the killer, and they had major disputes and mutual lawsuits. The killer made this clear in his confessions," a senior local police officer told Middle East Eye.
"The killer said that he was returning from work and he found Hiliji in front of him while passing through the al-Sinaaiyah area, so he took out his pistol and shot him dead."
Official statements and videotaped confessions by the killer were explicit: this was a non-political crime, a family dispute. But the exact nature of the dispute was never presented, nor why the killer carried a gun in the first place.
To many in the southern city of Amara and Iraq in general, there was a different story. Hiliji was the victim of an assassination epidemic.
And like killings before, the motives given by the authorities just did not wash.
A son's disappearance
Hiliji’s tragedy stretches back further, to 7 October 2019. That’s when his son, lawyer Ali Jaseb Hattab al-Hiliji, received a phone call from a woman who said he had been assigned as her representative in a divorce case.
CCTV footage of that evening shows Ali waiting by his car in central Amara, when a woman in a black gown approached him. The footage shows him speaking to the woman, whose face cannot be seen, for several minutes before a black Chevrolet Tahoe stopped 10 metres from the two. Three masked men got out of the Tahoe and forced Ali to get into their car.
As the black Tahoe left, a modern Toyota pickup appeared. The woman voluntarily climbed into it. The pickup left behind the Tahoe.
Soon after Ali’s disappearance, rumours began to fly that he was disappeared because of links to the October 2019 anti-government protest movement that was raging in Amara and across southern Iraq and Baghdad.
Yet according to several prominent activists in the city who spoke to MEE, Ali was not a demonstrator or an activist. He had, however, participated with a number of lawyers in defending some of the youths who were arrested because of their participation in the 2019 anti-government demonstrations in its first week.
Amnesty International Iraq Tweeted about Ali Jaseb Hattab al-Heliji back in December of 2019:
The violent attacks on protester continue. Sura Ali (RUDAW) reports:
Protesters have called for demonstrations in the city of Samawah, in
al-Muthanna governorate, after activist Haider al-Khashan was kidnapped
and threatened on Thursday.
A close friend of Khashan, who asked not to be named, told Rudaw English that a car with four masked people intercepted Khashan's car while he was driving with his mother at one o'clock on Thursday morning. He was then taken to an unknown location and threatened to stop protesting before being released late in the morning.
“The kidnappers took his mother's phone as she had filmed the incident,” the source said.
“The kidnappers investigated Khashan on accusations of insulting Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, which are absolutely false,” said activist Haider Ali.
"The militia’s ways of kidnapping and threatening Samawah protesters will never stop us,” he added.
Activists launched the ”al-Muthanna rising up” Twitter hashtag after Khashan’s abduction, calling for mass demonstrations on Friday in response to his kidnap and demanding the dismissal of the local government.
While the US media continues to largely ignore the Iraq War, Iran's PRESS TV did offer a segment on it this week.
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