They're not Norwegian dissidents, after all.
Not content with its plan to effectively end asylum for new applicants, the Trump administration has dreamed up some brand new fuckery to hit asylum-seekers with. Immigration attorneys tell Buzzfeed News and the San Diego Union-Tribune the Border Patrol has taken to issuing fake court notices to asylum seekers, as a way of keeping out immigrants who could otherwise legally be allowed into the US. Yes, you read that right. We have to repeat it to believe it ourselves: The Border Patrol is telling migrants they have nonexistent court dates so they won't exercise their rights to legally enter the land of freedom and equal justice under law.
Because without respect for the law, you don't have a country, right? Doesn't mean the law has to respect you.
It's all about Order and Order.
Attorney General Bill Barr likes to think of police officers as a brave army that's literally at war -- with crime, or with evildoing criminals, or maybe with the communities they police. And if people don't like it, they should just shut up, submit to lawful authority, and stop resisting. Back in August, at a Cop Convention in New Orleans, Barr explained that American law enforcement shouldn't be hamstrung by all this stupid stuff about "rights," because cops are right and anyone a cop decides is a criminal is wrong:
We need to get back to basics. We need public voices, in the media and elsewhere, to underscore the need to "Comply first, and, if warranted, complain later." This will make everyone safe – the police, suspects, and the community at large. And those who resist must be prosecuted for that crime. We must have zero tolerance for resisting police. This will save lives.
Barr didn't explain how a 10-year-old who gets shot to death within seconds of cops pulling up on him was being too much of a loudmouthed resister, but on Tuesday he offered further thoughts on who deserves police protection and who doesn't. He seems to think that "comply first, and if warranted, complain later" offers too much latitude, because there's entirely too much complaining about unarmed black people getting shot by cops.
But at least the Walmart shoplifter is no longer at large.
A federal appeals court ruled this week that a homeowner isn't entitled to compensation after police wrecked his house and left his family homeless. Leo Lech's Greenwood Village, Colorado, residence was the setting of a 19-hour standoff with police in June 2015. An armed shoplifter, who'd scored two belts and a shirt from Walmart, broke into Lech's home and held off pursuing officers with a handgun. The cops fired tear gas into the residence, exploded walls, blew out windows, and finally drove a military-style armored vehicle through the front door.
SWAT officers apprehended the shoplifting suspect, who had nothing to do with Lech, but in their wake, they left behind the climax of an Avengers movie.
"The interior of the Lech Home was a mass of debris and destroyed belongings from the projectiles launched into the home by the Defendants. Chemical munitions or other projectiles were stuck in the walls. The Lech Home was completely uninhabitable and its condition posed a danger to anyone entering the home," one of Lech's attorneys, David Williams, wrote in a federal lawsuit filed in August 2016.
You'd think, under those circumstances, Lech would've won the free house lottery. If he didn't receive a giant novelty check at a public ceremony, the cops could've at least come back on the weekends and helped rebuild like on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." They'd already had demo day. But this was like a bad "Property Brothers" episode where they demolish your house and then tell you to fuck off.
Can a white guy get some due process around here?
It's a truth universally acknowledged that "law and order" conservatives will turn into common ACLU members whenever a white guy is faced with actual accountability. Head White Man in Charge Donald Trump is staring down the barrel of an impeachment inquiry, so it's only natural that the Fraternal Order of Police would publicly defend his constitutional right to shred the Constitution.
The National FOP released this statement on Tuesday. Please don't try to read while drinking coffee.
That's just precious. First, let's talk about how the police generally treat the "indigent living on the street" or "homeless people," as they're called in non-Victor Hugo fan fiction.
A few years back, Crown Heights, New York, cops beat up a homeless man who was sleeping (with permission) in a synagogue. Miami police arrested a woman last year for "obstructing the sidewalk" with her homelessness. San Francisco police were recently accused of handing out tickets to homeless people "like candy." If the homeless can't pay the fine for their unseemly poverty, they are subject to a bench warrant, which kicks them off the waiting list for a shelter. The cycle just grows more vicious from there.
Homelessness is a complex problem with no easy solutions. I'm sure there are police officers who try to balance the rights of homeless people with the laws that criminalize their existence. But it insults our intelligence and moral sensibilities to compare the least powerful among us to the most powerful man in the world. Trump tried to extort the Ukrainian president so he could gather dirt on his political opponent. He's not the likely subject of a Bob Dylan protest song.
Look Under Your Chairs, Fortune's Most Powerful Women! It's A Baby Kirstjen Nielsen Stole From Its Mommy.
Sorry not sorry.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen appeared yesterday at Fortune magazine's "Most Powerful Women Summit," an event that had lost some participants, like Hillary Clinton and singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, because who wants to be onstage with an engineer of concentration camps? Fortunately, she was interviewed by "PBS NewsHour" correspondent Amna Nawaz, who didn't let Nielsen get away with any doubletalk -- or rather, tried not to let Nielsen get away with doubletalk, although every effort to fact check the former gulag chief was met by more bafflegab.
The Guardian notes the conference was "attended by people who paid a $13,500 fee to join Fortune's Most Powerful Women membership." Well worth it, since they all got their names listed in a handsome leatherbound book and received a certificate suitable for framing. That kind of thing looks very impressive to college admissions officers, we hear.
If you don't like it, he'll have another one in a few months.
Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was for Medicare For All before he was against it. Now, he's for it for all who want it, which we guess is not everyone. It's confusing. But the South Bend, Indiana, mayor is trying to torpedo Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who support Medicare For All. Let's take a look at Buttigieg's current position.
Whoa, those are a lot of promises there, slick. It's similar to the Republican shuck and jive on health care. They were going to gut the Affordable Care Act but they were also going to keep everything voters liked about it, such as protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It was the sort of sleight-of-hand "magic" Marianne Williamson might've appreciated. I still haven't met the people who are so in love with their health insurance plans they fear the government separating them like immigrant families at the border. I do have friends with very generous, fully funded health care plans but they work for Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Wonkette (individually, not all at once). That's a relatively small percentage of the country. So are the folks with sweet union plans Joe Biden vows to protect. But Medicare For All has great appeal for Americans who are stuck with plans they might as well have retrieved from a bubblegum machine (and also Wonkette). That's a bigger group than pundits and politicians want to admit.
Finally some shitty immigration enforcement at the Canadian border, eh?
[Story updated with new info, see note at end] A British couple and their 3-month-old baby are getting treated to the full force of immigration law under the Stephen Miller regime after accidentally entering the US on an unmarked back road that crossed the Canada-US border. For over a week, they've been in family immigration prison in Pennsylvania while the wheels of US immigration law slowly work at getting them deported for a wrong turn. Here's how it all went pear-shaped for the Connors family, according to the Washington Post:
Originally from the United Kingdom, the two couples and their three young children were driving near the U.S.-Canada border on Oct. 3 during a visit to Vancouver when an animal ventured into the road, forcing them to make an unexpected detour. But before the family could get very far, flashing lights from a police car appeared in their rearview mirror. The officer that pulled them over was American — they had accidentally crossed the border.
The brave Border Patrol agents ignored the miscreants' excuses that, as British citizens on valid passports, they were OK to visit the US. After all, they didn't cross at a port of entry, so clearly they were terrorists, human smugglers, or worse, maybe. In a complaint the family filed Friday with the Inspector General for the Homeland Security Department, Eileen Connors explained that they were all kept in a freezing, dirty Border Patrol facility, then flown to the Berks Family Residential Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania, and treated like the dangerous criminals they clearly are:
"We will never forget, we will be traumatized for the rest of our lives by what the United States government has done to us," Connors wrote in a sworn statement, later adding, "We have been treated like criminals here, stripped of our rights, and lied to. … It is undoubtedly the worst experience we have ever lived through."
Don't drive on a back road if you and your little baby can't do the time, lady.
Black people should be safe in their own homes.
Atatiana Jefferson was shot dead in her own home Saturday in front of her eight-year-old nephew. Fort Worth, Texas, police officer Aaron Dean killed the 28-year-old black woman, senselessly and callously. Dean was responding to a wellness check from one of Jefferson's neighbors, who was concerned that the doors to her house were open late at night. I don't know why he called the police. "Protect and serve" does technically apply to black people, but it's not always worked out in practice.
Shockingly, Dean was charged with murder Monday. He'd resigned earlier that day, and interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said he would've fired Dean anyway for several policy violations. It's encouraging that it's against policy to murder black women in their homes. It's in the manual and everything.
Dean and another officer responding to the nonemergency call entered through Jefferson's backyard. When Dean saw Jefferson through her bedroom window, he shined a flashlight at her like a common pervert and shouted, "Put your hands up! Show me your hands!" He didn't identify himself as a police officer and didn't wait more than a few seconds before shooting her. This was not an effective wellness check.
Border Patrol Not Bringing Their Best. Like This (Alleged) Rapist. Who Was Allowed To Retire After Arrest.
The Very Best People, part infinity.
The Border Patrol has always been full of assholes. We know we shouldn't generalize. Some, we suppose, may be good people. But just in the last few months, there was the Border Patrol guy who pleaded guilty to running down a migrant with his truck, and the agent accused of raping multiple women he'd met online. Not to mention the Border Patrol agent charged with murdering four women in Laredo in 2018 -- he preyed on women he figured wouldn't be missed because they were prostitutes. And that's on top of the regular human rights violations, but that's when they're on duty.
So good news for the Border Patrol: Its latest accused isn't a serial killer, at least. But Gus Zamora, the husband of one of the agency's top commanders, was indicted by a grand jury in July for raping a female agent, who had considered him a mentor and friend. As the New York Times notes in its story on the case, the Border Patrol has a lot of difficulty recruiting and retaining women, who make up only about 5 percent of its 20,000 agents. Can't imagine why.
THAT IS NOT A THING
According to the City of Southaven, Mississippi, undocumented immigrants don't have a right to not be murdered in their own homes.
In the middle of the night on July 27, 2017, two Southaven police officers went to the wrong house with no warrant. They then shot Ismael Lopez in the back of the head, killing him instantly. And now, they want a court to say that this was all fine, because Lopez didn't have the right not to be murdered in his own home.
In a motion to dismiss brief in Linares v. Southaven, Katherine Kerby, the lawyer for the City of Southaven and Zachary Durden, the officer who killed Mr. Lopez, makes the insane argument that undocumented immigrants have no constitutional rights and can therefore be summarily executed with no constitutional violations.
Everyone loves it when black people forgive.
Amber Guyger's defense team might've preferred her trial was held in 1992 Simi Valley, but instead the now convicted murderer was at the mercy of a non-white judge and predominately minority jury. As a result, she was treated fairly. She didn't pull a Zimmerman and escape punishment for killing Botham Jean, but her sentencing was generous. The prosecution asked for no less than 28 years -- a poetic reminder that Jean would've turned 28 this week -- but the jury gave her ten (or a "dime" if you watch a lot of "Law & Order").
I'm not that upset about the sentence. She'll serve at least five years of serious time. The former police officer is also permanently a felon. She can never return to her normal life. She also seemed like the type of cop who held a reductive view of the world: There were "good guys" and "bad guys." She's now one of the bad guys.
I also don't mind that 18-year-old Brandt Jean forgave his brother's killer. That's his business. I'm the petty AF atheist of my Southern black family. Like Barnabas Collins, I am neither good nor gentle: I do not forgive. I'm sure as hell not hugging anyone, murderer or no. But Brandt reminds me of the kind, spiritual, forgiving people I knew growing up. I just wish that all the white people praising his "grace" would remember Brandt Jean whenever they encounter another young black man they don't know. Maybe they wouldn't instinctively cross the street or clutch their purses. Maybe they'd think he's just offering a hug gift-wrapped from Jesus and not trying to rob them ... maybe.
No, it's crazier than that.
Back in March, Donald Trump wanted SOMETHING! DONE! at the US-Mexico border. Like maybe a 2,000-mile moat, with sharks with frickin' lasers on their heads. In a story that still manages to be astonishing even after all we know about the man, the New York Times reported yesterday evening that President Psychopath thinks about border security with all the subtlety and low cunning of a ten-year-old boy devising cool tortures for bad guys. Compared to his murder fantasies, Trump's demand at one meeting to seal the border by noon the next day, regardless of how many Americans might be trapped in Mexico, seems rational and diplomatic.
Just look at this creep:
Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate.
Whoever manages to publish a copy of THAT document deserves the Pulitzer. Which Trump will demand the reporter collect by climbing a pole covered in broken glass and biting flies. Naked.
And of course the fantasy moat wasn't Trump's only cool idea to inflict pain on the evil border crossers:
Former cop Amber Guyger found guilty of murder.
It's only been a few hours since we talked about the closing arguments in Amber Guyger's murder trial, but now we have a verdict. A jury found the former Dallas cop guilty of murdering Botham Jean in his own home last September. I'm still in shock. It's like there are laws in this country against killing black men. I had a hunch how this would turn out and it feels great to be wrong.
I wasn't the only one worried Guyger would moonwalk out of the courtroom a free home invader. Dallas church leaders were already calling for non-violent protest in the event of an acquittal. C'mon, guys, don't start rehearsing the 2019 remix of "We Shall Overcome" before the jury's even finished deliberations. Guyger tried to stand her ground and claim self-defense for senselessly killing Jean. She had the gall to invoke Texas's "Castle Doctrine" for Jean's own residence, which she mistook for her own after all her senses apparently failed her. It took just two days for the jury to rightly give those bogus arguments the middle finger of justice.
Judge agrees 'Castle Doctrine' is swell defense for intruder entering home of man she killed.
A man's home is his castle -- unless a white woman cop gets lost and declares it's hers. Amber Guyger colonized Botham Jean's apartment last year, and now our Lady Columbus wants to save her ass by invoking the so-called Castle Doctrine -- Texas's version of "stand your ground," which permits someone to use lethal force against an intruder in their own home. But as Dallas County Assistant District attorney Jason Fine said yesterday, "Let's not bury the lede here": It wasn't Guyger's apartment. She might've believed so, but the dead man's lease said otherwise.
FINE: You can believe all kinds of crazy stuff. I could believe I'm in Florida right now, doesn't mean I'm reasonable. It's not what the defendant thinks (that determines what's reasonable and what isn't). Every defendant thinks they're justified.
The jury began deliberations Monday in what the news called the "apartment-mixup murder case," like it's a common Scooby Doo episode. Fine and lead prosecutor Jason Hermus systematically dismantled Guyger's bogus defense and made a compelling case for murder. The former -- thank God -- police officer testified on Friday and unleashed her weapons-grade tears. She should've thanked the Academy afterward.
Her defense is indefensible.
Last year, (fortunately) former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger shot and killed Botham Jean in his own apartment. But she thinks she's suffered enough. I've dreaded this trial. Guyger is the hat trick of white woman cop, and I fear the jury will free her to invade the homes of other black men and execute them on sight. As a black male homeowner, that concerns me more than a softening real estate market.
This is America. Guyger has every right to a defense -- even if it insults our intelligence and offends our moral sensibilities. Alan Dershowitz can't have all the fun. Her attorneys argue that Guyger acted in self-defense against an intruder in what she believed was her own apartment. I don't care how many Tony Robbins seminars Guyger attended. She can't just "transform" Jean's residence into her own through the "power of positive thinking." Texas Ranger David Armstrong supported the defense yesterday when he testified that he didn't believe Guyger committed any crime -- not murder, manslaughter, or criminally negligent homicide. She didn't even violate the apartment building's quiet hours for firing her gun after 10 p.m.
And how did the school think arresting a six-year-old is a good idea?
A school resource officer in Orlando, Florida, has been suspended after arresting two children at a charter school last Thursday and trying to send them to juvenile detention. One of the kids, a 6-year-old, was cranky after not sleeping well, and had kicked at someone in the school office during a tantrum. (It's not clear yet what the other child, aged 8, supposedly did to deserve also being handcuffed and arrested.) Her grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, was called and informed the girl would be charged with battery and was on the way to juvie, which is about as America in 2019 as a story can get. No, hold on, it won't be that until Donald Trump praises the cop's quick action to protect the community from a young thug.
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