Prejudice Pervades Arizona's Immigration Crackdown

Arizona in 2010 is the new Alabama.

Equating anti-Mexican sentiment in Arizona today with segregationist sentiment in Alabama during 1960s-era civil rights struggles is becoming commonplace in the wake of recently adopted Arizona legislation authorizing police to crack down on illegal immigrants.

However, Dan Pochoda, Legal Director of the ACLU in Arizona, saw this parallel long before the recent uproar over targeting Mexicans for intensified immigration enforcement in that Southwest border state.

Pochoda is one of the lawyers pressing a class action federal lawsuit charging the Sheriff’s Department in Maricopa County – the area that includes the state capital of Phoenix – with racial profiling of Mexicans during high-profile immigration sweeps through Latino communities.

“Defendants’ pattern and practice of racial profiling goes beyond these sweeps to include widespread, day-to-day targeting and mistreatment of persons who appear to be Latino,” states one document in that lawsuit filed in mid-2008.

Joe Arpaio, the controversial and colorful Maricopa County Sheriff – noted for making prisoners wear pink underwear and housing them under tents in searing desert sun – proudly defends using physical appearance alone as the trigger for immigration enforcement.

Initial plaintiffs in that federal lawsuit included persons who are lawful U.S. citizens but who were stopped, detained, interrogated or searched during Arpaio’s sweeps.

Sheriff Arapaio

Those sweeps by Maricopa County deputies, over a dozen since early 2008, include the use of volunteer ‘posse’ members who are untrained yet carry guns, Pochoda said. Posse members range from elderly retirees to motorcyclists who portray themselves as “patriots” protecting America.

Saving Face in Afghanistan

In the documentary film “The Most Dangerous Man In America,” Daniel Ellsberg tells about a fellow Rand Corporation war planner circa 1968 who described the US commitment to the war in Vietnam this way:

“We are 10 percent concerned about the Vietnamese; we are 20 percent concerned about the Chinese; and we are 70 percent concerned about saving face.”

The United States has now clearly arrived at the same insidious predicament in Afghanistan.

US soldier overlooking the land we have decided to tameUS soldier overlooking the land we have decided to tame

Sure, we are concerned about al Qaeda and other violent elements hostile to the United States. The threat from al Qaeda is real – as is the fact that a history of foreign, and especially US, intervention in Muslim lands is at the root of this hostility. This backstory, of course, is embargoed from mainstream American minds — as our military policies rely on yet more intervention in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Last week an Americanized Pakistani who had lost his job as a financial analyst and whose $285,000 home had been foreclosed failed in a bumbling attempt to bomb Times Square. Already, demagogues like Senator Joe Lieberman are working the incident as a means of emasculating the Constitution, calling among other things for revocation of the man’s US citizenship.

Former CIA operative Bob Baer told MSNBC that Americans should not be surprised at attacks like this, given the killing of dozens of Pakistanis by remotely piloted drones each week in the Pashtun areas of northwest Pakistan. Former CIA European station chief Tyler Drumheller added this: “We cannot think that we’re going to attack them and they won’t attack us.”

Sure, the nations of the Middle East and South Asia have problems, and many people there are hostile to the US and its ally Israel. Sure, the Taliban are far from free-market westerners. But none of this justifies a military occupation of Afghanistan. The Taliban, at least up to this Time Square incident, have never attacked us and had shown no interest in doing so; and al Qaeda has reportedly moved on from Afghanistan.

Besides having no impact on the effort to defeat al Qaeda, supporting 100,000 very expensive US troops and a massive military infrastructure in Afghanistan is actually playing into al Qaeda’s hands, since the tremendous cost of supporting this military bootprint in such an inaccessible, rugged place furthers Osama bin Laden’s clearly expressed desire to drive the US to bankruptcy.

We can quibble about the percentages, but it’s clear the US government and the US military are, again, in the costly face-saving business. The face they are saving has to do with US military prestige and the policy, at a time of great domestic economic stress and need at home, of escalating war in Afghanistan and Pakistan instead of doing everything possible to ratchet hostilities down and pull the troops out.

SECRECY AND PUBLIC RELATIONS

Forget the PR. The decision to escalate has to do with the fact that the war is not going well and the hope that if they just keep it going long enough, a combination of our immense power and determination will somehow wear the insurgency down and disprove the old notion of Afghanistan as the “graveyard of empires.”

Meanwhile, it is difficult for critics to get at the truth about Afghanistan thanks to the incredible secrecy of our military operations and our wars. This is one side of a two-sided monster. The other side is the military’s powerful public relations capacity. There’s the secret world of managing the wars, and there’s the PR world of explaining them to the tax-paying public. And never the twain shall meet.

Back in 1971, Daniel Ellsberg blew the lid off this monster when he xeroxed and released the so-called Pentagon Papers. Unfortunately, what the government and the military learned was not to let such a thing happen again. The Obama administration is currently going after one New York Times reporter, James Risen, in court and is working in other areas to plug other leaks.

Exxon Mobil’s Forked Tongue: Watch What Big Oil Does, Not What It Pays to Have Said

With British Petroleum spewing more than 200,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico in what could be an ecological cataclysm,  it is useful to look at the hypocrisy of the energy companies when it comes to an even worse crisis threatening life itself on the planet–rapid climate change due to increasing carbon in the atmosphere.

For years, the oil industry, and especially its largest company, Exxon Mobil, has been funding foundations and scientists that seek to refute the mounting evidence of global warming.  A recent Greenpeace study, released in March, found that Exxon Mobil was second only to Koch Industries in offering financial backing for these climate change deniers.  Between 2005 and 2008, Koch Industries, a privately held oil firm based in Texas, gave $24.9 million to anti-global warming scientists and foundations. Exxon Mobil, over the same period, gave $8.9 million.
 
Shrinking polar cap opens new oil drilling opportunities

Shrinking polar cap opens new oil drilling opportunities

Heavily criticized for its climate denial propaganda and lobbying, Exxon Mobil claimed in 2006 that it would no longer fund such activities. It has continued to do so, however, though a stealth campaign of funding foundations like the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and International Policy Network in the UK and the Cato and Heritage Foundations in the US, all of which themselves give money to the climate change deniers.

Other oil companies, like Shell, Chevron and others, do the same thing but at a lower level and with a lower profile than Exxon Mobil.

But here’s where the hypocrisy and lying become chutzpah.

Dave Lindorff kicks off the new ThisCantBeHappening news collective website

Award-winning investigative reporter Dave Lindorff has been raking the journalistic muck now for 38 years, since he started out reporting the goings-on of three small towns at the mouth of the Connecticut River for the Middletown Press in 1972. A regular columnist for Counterpunch.org, he has also written for such diverse and seemingly mutually exclusive …

Hurricane Season and the BP Oil Rig Disaster

One thing you don’t hear much mention of in all the coverage of the BP oil rig blowout that is now pouring 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico, just a few dozen miles off the coast of Louisiana, is the 2010 hurricane season, which officially starts on June 1, but which can start significantly earlier.

This is, after all, an El Nino year, so storms could be more frequent and stronger than usual. In 2007, recall, the first storm of the season was Tropical Storm Andrea, which reached a size strong enough to merit a name on May 7, just a week later than today.

I'm not Shedding Any Tears for Former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates

The former Los Angeles police chief, Daryl Gates, who died late last month of cancer at his home in California, is being widely credited in mostly laudatory newspaper obituaries as the man who developed the idea of Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT)units–those paramilitary police teams so loved by Hollywood filmmakers–who bring the art and weaponry of modern warfare into communities, breaking into houses with faces covered in ski masks, and carrying assault weapons in order to make arrests for often minor offenses, or blowing away people–often innocent people–in what the modern military c