In emergency demonstration, hundreds protest northern Calif. ICE sweeps

March 2, 201812:32 PM CDT BY MARILYN BECHTEL

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Hundreds of spirited demonstrators marched, chanted and blocked streets surrounding U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters here Feb. 28, to protest ICE’s detention of more than 150 people in northern California, in raids that began on Sunday, Feb. 25.

The four-hours-long nonviolent protest was marked by pickets marching around the ICE building, nonviolent blockage of nearby streets, and human chains in which demonstrators locked arms through steel barrels.

Demonstrators spanned the area’s broad spectrum of racial and ethnic groups. They came from housing, community and labor as well as immigrant rights organizations. Young people made up a large part of the crowd.

Rally speakers told heartbreaking stories of parents torn away from their small children, and families cut off from loved ones suffering chronic health conditions. Many arrests reportedly took place under false pretenses, including ICE agents posing as local police officers, or under circumstances sure to traumatize families still further, as when a father was picked up while dropping his child off at school.

Francisco Juarez told how his son, Jesus Manuel, was arrested in November, taken to an unmarked vehicle and held in handcuffs for hours before ICE agents took him to a processing center.  Juarez said his son was never read his rights, even in the processing center. “Jesus has four children, and they are very, very affected by not having their father with them.”

Diana Flores, from San Francisco’s Dolores Street Community Services, told the crowd, “We today have to stand up very clearly in our hearts and minds that what is happening does not match our humanity … Let us not convince ourselves that some people deserve to be picked up. No one deserves to be separated from their families; no one deserves to be intimidated.”

A panel of attorneys volunteering their services to aid detainees reported they had met with ICE officials who told them detainees had not been brought to San Francisco because of the protest action, but instead were taken to Stockton, over 80 miles away, where authorities refused to tell them immigration lawyers were trying to reach them.

Rally speakers also expressed outrage at the U.S. Supreme Court’s Feb. 27 decision that people held in immigration detention, even for long periods of time, are not entitled to periodic bail hearings.

The ICE actions came in the wake of a warning by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who issued a press release Saturday evening saying she had been informed by “multiple credible sources” that ICE raids would start in the following 24 hours.

“As mayor of Oakland,” Schaaf said, “I am sharing this information publicly not to panic our residents but to protect them … and I know that Oakland is safer when we share information, encourage community awareness, and care for our neighbors.” She urged those who might be affected to seek information on their rights, from immigrant rights organizations like Centro Legal de la Raza.

ICE later slapped back at Schaaf, saying that while most U.S. cities cooperate with their actions, “others force ICE to assign additional resources to conduct at-large arrests in the community, putting officers, the general public and the aliens at greater risk and increasing the incidence of collateral arrests.”

Calling the mayor’s warning “reckless,” Acting ICE director Thomas Homan said that as a result, ICE had been unable to locate over 800 undocumented criminals.

Like many cities and counties in California, Oakland is a sanctuary city. California itself is a sanctuary state, having last year passed a package of far-reaching laws to protect the rights of immigrants, including Senate Bill 54, the California Values Act, which bars state and local law enforcement from using their resources to investigate or arrest people for immigration enforcement purposes.

State law also bars landlords from using tenants’ immigration status to harass them, and states that employers must require proper court documents before letting immigration agents enter a workplace or obtain workers’ records.

A broad spectrum of immigrant and civil rights organizations issued statements this week condemning the raids and calling for upholding the rights of immigrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California said, “Contrary to statements provided by ICE, agents are aggressively intimidating families in their homes and using tactics of racial profiling to detain people in public spaces” and “terrorizing people of color.”

“In all its immigration enforcement activities,” the ACLU said, “ICE must abide by the U.S. Constitution which guarantees basic rights to everyone in the United States … Together we must resist this blatant racism. We need strong families, not families torn apart by deportation. We need communities that trust each other, not communities living in fear of police every second of the day.”

And the Power, Not Panic Emergency Response Committee, a coalition of over two dozen immigrant rights, civil rights, community and faith-based organizations said, “As community, civil rights, and legal organizations, we stand together to demand an immediate halt to politically motivated abuses of power.” They added, “We are deeply troubled by the federal government’s threats against local policies that protect families and defend civil rights. We decry the awful, xenophobic agenda at play, and the trauma raids induce in communities of color … We call for full protection of all people’s constitutional rights to due process.”

Via People’s World

Learning to love the bomb: Trump policy makes nukes “more usable”

February 9, 20189:38 AM CDT BY MARILYN BECHTEL

With the new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) it released Feb. 2, the Trump administration is revealing its plans to significantly upgrade the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, develop new types of smaller-yield weapons, more closely integrate nuclear and conventional war-fighting capabilities, and expand the circumstances under which nuclear arms might actually be used.

Despite the NPR’s repeated claims that these moves are “not intended” to “enable nuclear war fighting,” analysts from a broad range of arms control and disarmament organizations are pointing out that the measures are unnecessary, enormously expensive, and greatly increase the possibility of a devastating nuclear war.

The new NPR states that the U.S. “will maintain the range of flexible nuclear capacities needed to ensure that nuclear or non-nuclear aggression against the United States, allies, and partners will fail to achieve its objectives and carry with it the credible risk of intolerable consequences for potential adversaries now and in the future.”

The new plan would also “strengthen the integration of nuclear and non-nuclear military planning.”

Besides the current nuclear triad—submarine-launched missiles, land-based intercontinental missiles, and bombers—two new nuclear-armed weapons would be developed: a submarine-launched cruise missile and a “tactical” low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile.

The NPR also makes resumption of nuclear weapons tests more likely. The U.S. signed, but never ratified, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) when it was opened for signature in 1996. The new NPR explicitly states that Washington will not seek to ratify the CTBT.

The NPR would also reverse over four decades of efforts by both Republican- and Democrat-led administrations which have cut the U.S. nuclear arsenal from over 30,000 weapons to about 4,000, of which 1,550 are operable.

It is estimated that over the next two decades, carrying out Trump’s NPR would double the portion of the military budget earmarked for nuclear weapons, with costs rising by up to $50 billion annually.

Congressional approval of such spending will be essential.

In a Feb. 2 commentary for The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, (and in the 1980s, an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower in Ronald Reagan’s administration), noted that many U.S. military officials see development of low-yield weapons as a potential “gateway drug” for nuclear war.

“Adding a nuclear cruise missile to the inventory,” he said, “means that the Russians would have to assume that any cruise missile is in fact a nuclear weapon.”

Korb also pointed out that “such new weapons undermine the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Article VI of which obligates its signatories to take steps to nuclear disarmament.” The U.S. ratified the treaty in 1970. The new document completely omits any reference to Article VI.

In another commentary published the same day, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ co-director and senior scientist Lisbeth Gronlund cited the NPR’s wide-ranging list of non-nuclear aggressions by others that could lead to U.S. first-use of nukes. Among them: “attacks on the U.S. allied or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on U.S. or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities.”

Gronlund pointed to the disconnect between the new U.S. position, and the NPR’s admonition to Russia that nuclear first-use on any level “will fail to meet its objectives, fundamentally alter the nature of a conflict, and trigger incalculable and intolerable costs for Moscow.”

Lawrence Korb also pointed out that the NPR “overestimates the extent to which our geopolitical rivals are expanding their arsenals.” He cited Trump’s rejection of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to extend the 2010 New START treaty committing both countries to significantly cut their nuclear arsenals. Korb also noted that China has “only some 60 intercontinental missiles, capable of carrying some 300 warheads.”

Calling the “world security situation… as dangerous as it has been since World War II,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board on Jan. 25 moved its Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to midnight. It said the new setting, at two minutes to midnight, is “the closest the Clock has ever been to Doomsday, and as close as it was in 1953, at the height of the Cold War.”

Showing just how much the world’s other nations are concerned over the present nuclear weapons situation, in July, 122 United Nations member countries voted to approve the new UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which would ban developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using, or threatening to use nuclear weapons. One country opposed the treaty, one abstained, and others including the nine nuclear-armed countries boycotted the talks and did not sign.

As the treaty’s initiating organization, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. ICAN’s Executive Director, Beatrice Fihn, called the treaty “a choice between the two endings: the end of nuclear weapons or the end of us.”

After the release of the new NPR, Peace Action’s Paul Kawika Martin wondered, “Who in their right mind thinks it’s a good idea to make nuclear weapons ‘more usable?’ … Who let Dr. Strangelove write the Nuclear Posture Review?

Via People’s World