Asylum Insanity — DallasObserver — And deconstructing Wall Street & almost the entire US government etc. — by Thom Prentice

Welcome to the land of the free. While we decide whether we feel like deporting you, we’ve got a cold dank cell that’ll suit you just fine.

[New Term: Refuge Routlette]

By Keegan Hamilton


First Friends program director Sally Pillay keeps a map on her office wall that shows detention centers nationwide. Caleb Ferduson. [I wonder what a map of Auschwitzia might have looked like?]

Hussein Mohamed took a hard road to America. Born into a minority clan in a nation rife with ethnic conflict, the boyish 24-year-old with gangly limbs and intense brown eyes describes fleeing his village in Somalia in 2012 after gunmen threatened to kill him. Mohamed says he was forced to quit his jobs as an English teacher and taxi driver and escape to neighboring Kenya. After making his way to South Africa, he forked over his life savings to human smugglers, who shipped him across the Atlantic to Brazil and guided him north through the jungles of South and Central America into Mexico.
“They’re not criminals. In fact, they’re following the legal procedure the government has put in place for them to get protection.”

When he finally arrived at a border crossing in Brownsville this past summer, Mohamed thought he’d safely reached the end of a harrowing 10-month journey. He had no inkling of the ordeal awaiting him on the other side of the Rio Grande.

Mohamed approached a U.S. Border Patrol agent and recounted his story. He explained that he wanted to seek asylum, a classification of refugee status granted to people who arrive in the United States having fled persecution in their homeland. He was immediately handcuffed and placed in immigration detention: a cold, cramped cell in a privately owned and operated prison facility. Soon after, along with hundreds of other detainees, he was herded onto a cargo plane and transferred without explanation to a jail in Newark, New Jersey.

[Yes, you heard that right. And under Obama, not Bush/Cheney.]


Sally Pillay is the program director at First Friends, a New Jersey nonprofit that helps find temporary homes for asylum seekers released from detention. Caleb Ferguson


Jamila Hammami, director of the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, says “the psychological damage is huge” for LGBT Caleb Ferguson

Eight months later, Mohamed is seated in the jail’s makeshift visitor center, a stuffy gymnasium with rows of plastic chairs and tables arranged on the basketball court. It has been more than a year since he spoke with his family in Somalia, and he fears the worst. He knows exactly one person in America, a fellow Somali immigrant who lives somewhere in California. He dreams of moving there, finding work, maybe starting a family.

Instead, he will likely be deported, shipped back to the war-torn country on the Horn of Africa he worked so hard to escape. Mohamed’s request for asylum was denied because he lacks a passport or other documents to confirm his identity. [HELLO! Calling NSA? Can you please confirm the identity of...] He has filed an appeal, and his detention ticks on indefinitely.

There are no statutory limits to the amount of time a non-citizen like Mohamed may be held in immigration detention. [How about speedy trial? OH! Only applies to criminal defendants. But wasn't he hancuffed and arrested?]

When the process goes smoothly, asylum seekers tend to be released in a matter of weeks. Many end up imprisoned for much longer. Approximately 6,000 survivors of torture — exiles from Iran, Myanmar, Syria and other brutal regimes — were detained in immigration jails while seeking asylum over the past three years, according to a 2013 report by the Center for Victims of Torture. [Under Obama. Not Bush/Cheney.]

“It’s really tragic,” says Amelia Wilson, staff attorney for the American Friends Service Committee, a faith-based organization that aids asylum seekers. [No, it is not tragic. IT IS OUTRAGEOUS! The "liberals" and the "left" needs to get PISSED OFF!] “They’re fleeing persecution, and many of them have just fled institutions of incarceration in their home country. Through guile or luck or the right contacts, they manage to get out of their country. They come here and they’re promptly detained. They’re shocked. They’re not criminals. In fact, they’re following the legal procedure the government has put in place for them to get protection.”

Over the past five months, Voice Media Group, which owns the Dallas Observer, visited detainees at two immigration detention centers and conducted extensive interviews with outreach workers, attorneys, academics and other experts on the asylum process. Our investigation revealed how a process created to save innocent lives has come to embody some of the worst aspects of American immigration policy: The nation’s system of mass deportations and incarceration has devastating consequences for vulnerable individuals who seek nothing more than safety and a new beginning.

The immigration overhaul the Senate passed in June 2013 addresses several issues with asylum, but the legislation remains stalled in the [TeaBagger] House of Representatives. Raising concerns about fraudulent claims, some Republican leaders are now pushing draconian measures that would put even more asylum seekers behind bars. House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, has said the asylum system is “exploited by illegal immigrants in order to enter and remain in the United States.” [Meanwhile the CAPITALIST BANKER/CORPORATE EXPLOITERS are still walking around free.]

“The tone of immigration politics, even when it comes to asylum seekers, has gotten really vicious,” says Alina Das, co-director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the New York University School of Law. “People have generally forgotten what it means to be seeking asylum in our country. It’s really disturbing, and I think it’s a sad commentary on how easily a minority of elected officials can hijack an issue that should really speak to core American values.”

Though the political climate looks bleak for advocates of asylum reform, an ongoing pilot project offers a glimmer of hope. The project allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at facilities in New York City, Newark, San Antonio, Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul to release select detainees seeking asylum into a program coordinated by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. As of March 31, the program has helped secure temporary housing and social services for 32 people, including survivors of torture, victims of domestic abuse and LGBT individuals, all of whom would otherwise have remained jailed indefinitely. [Well good for the Lutherans.]

“There’s growing recognition from ICE that maybe detention is not appropriate for all of these folks,” says Megan Bremer, a staff attorney at LIRS [real bright bulbs in the chandelier, eh?]. Early successes aside, Bremer cautions that the arrangement is only temporary and receives zero government funding. “A lot of programs locally are running on a deficit. If it weren’t for all the volunteers providing time and services, the program would not be in existence.”

Beyond the humanitarian concerns, the cost of detaining asylum seekers and other nonviolent immigrants creates an enormous burden for American taxpayers. The Department of Homeland Security budget for “custody operations” in the 2014 fiscal year is $1.84 billion. According to DHS’ own estimates, if the agency used electronic ankle monitoring and other less expensive alternatives instead of detention [OFTEN IN PRIVATE CORPORATE BUILT-FOR AND RUN BY FACILITIES], the government could save more than $1.44 billion annually: a 78 percent reduction in costs.

Yet every day at airports and border crossings around the country, immigrants like Mohamed — who committed no crime beyond seeking to save his own life — are locked up for weeks, months and even years. And if they are sent home, deportation can be tantamount to a death sentence.

The two most famous asylum seekers in recent history are Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, but those cases are hardly typical. The ex-National Security Agency contractor fled first to Hong Kong and then to Moscow after supplying journalists with a trove of information about controversial U.S. spy tactics; the WikiLeaks co-founder sought refuge in an Ecuadorian embassy in London amid fears he’d be extradited to Sweden to face sexual-assault charges. Perhaps the only thing these men have in common with the average asylum seeker in the U.S. is that they are stuck in legal limbo waiting to resolve their claims.

Unlike Snowden and Assange, the vast majority of asylum seekers are anonymous. In 2012, according to the United Nations, 45 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced owing to persecution and conflict. While the majority became refugees, roughly 1 million sought political asylum. (The only difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee is location: Refugees typically remain near their homeland when they initiate the process, while asylum seekers arrive at their desired destination without prior authorization.)[Without prior authorization. Well I'll be!]
Several ancient societies, including the Greeks, Hebrews, and Egyptians, respected the right of asylum, but the framework that exists today was established in 1951 to deal with [exclude -- except for the Nazis used to set up the CIA and start the rocket programs that led to nuclear missiles and the space program, the missiles before the program.] with millions of displaced people in the aftermath of World War II [that we DID NOT WANT!!!]. As a party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, the U.S. agreed to “not return refugees to countries where their life or freedom would be threatened and where they are more likely than not to be tortured.” In the old days, asylum seekers were rarely detained. [WOW! TALK ABOUT VIOLATING INTERNATIONAL LAW!]


With the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, everything changed. Later that year, 60 Minutes broadcast a report emphasizing the fact that Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the suspected mastermind behind the attack, had applied for asylum. The sound bite that stuck was provided by a representative from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an anti-immigrant group: “Every single person on the planet Earth, if he gets into this country, can stay indefinitely by saying two magic words: ‘political asylum.’”

In truth, Abdel Rahman had entered the U.S. on a tourist visa

and received a green card despite his status on a terrorist watch list.

He didn’t apply for asylum until years later, and his claim was ultimately rejected. But the damage was done. [Did 60 Minutres/CBS ever apologize? Issue a retraction. Of course that means nothing to the Richet Sector fascists of the US.] According to a 1998 report on asylum by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C., the 60 Minutes segment “created the impression that few, if any, claims of asylum in the United States are legitimate.” In the aftermath, federal agencies adopted more stringent standards for identification of asylum seekers (typically requiring a passport, birth certificate, or other form of ID) and imposed a minimum 180-day waiting period before issuing a work permit. [Bureauratic Adolf Eichmanns. Always following orders. And covering their bosses asses. Until they are caught after the war, that is.]

Unsatisfied with these reforms and reacting to a broader influx of undocumented immigrants, Congress passed a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws in 1996. The legislation set a one-year deadline for immigrants to apply for asylum and created an “expedited removal” process to swiftly deport anybody who arrives at a port of entry without proper documentation. For the first time in history, arriving asylum seekers were subject to mandatory detention. [Mighty White of 'em to do so, I'd say.]

“That became somewhat of a game-changer,” says Annie Sovcik, director of the Washington, D.C., office of the Center for Victims of Torture. “From there, you started to see an overall growth in the detention system itself, both in the number of people detained on a daily and annual basis, as well as in the different categories of people that are held.” [AND in the size of the bureaucracy and the PRIVATE FOR-PROFIT PRISON CORPORATIONS.]

The immigration detention boom had begun, and it would only get bigger. The number of beds in immigration jails has more than quintupled since 1996, rising from 6,280 to 34,000 in 250 facilities across the nation in 2014. Since 2006, Congress has required ICE to keep all 34,000 of those beds perpetually filled, a provision known as the bed mandate. [THE BED MANDATE?!] Critics of this no-vacancy policy argue that civil immigration offenders with no criminal history have no business behind bars.

Partnering with the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, Sovcik coauthored a report in 2013 about detention’s psychological toll on asylum seekers. Drawing on testimony from dozens of former detainees, the report details the appalling conditions found in some detention facilities along the southern border. The findings echoed another report from 2013 by Americans for Immigrant Justice. [i am SO SURE we can COUNT ON OBAMA to change things up, aren't you?]


“The temperature in the cells is so cold that [Customs and Border Patrol] officers themselves refer to them as ‘hieleras,’ or iceboxes, in Spanish. Detainees’ fingers and toes turn blue and their lips chap and split due to the cold. Blankets are not provided. These crowded hieleras have no mattresses, beds or chairs,” the Americans for Immigrant Justice report states. [Two Words: "War Crimes".]

“They’ve signed up for a certain degree of hardship during these journeys,” Sovcik says of asylum seekers in general. “But at that moment when they believe they’ve reached a place they can ask for help, they’re handcuffed and taken into cold rooms. They have no idea what’s going on. There’s a certain degree of shock in that experience that adds to the intensity of their trauma.” [Really? Whodda thunk it?]

Research has shown that the longer asylum seekers are incarcerated, the more emotionally fragile they become. A team led by Dr. Allen Keller, an associate professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine and director of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, interviewed 70 asylum seekers detained in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania for a study published in The Lancet in 2003.

“What we found were very alarmingly high levels of psychological distress among asylum seekers in detention,” Keller tells Voice Media Group. “There was a clear correlation between the length of time in detention and the severity of these symptoms, including depression, sadness and hopelessness, as well as profound symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress.”

In 2009, ICE issued new parole standards: If arriving asylum seekers pass a “credible fear” interview, they can be eligible for release. Nevertheless, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a report in April 2013 concluding that ICE “continues to detain asylum seekers under inappropriate conditions in jails and jail-like facilities.”

A spokesman for ICE did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story. [OF COURSE NOT! THEY ARE THE FUCKING OBAMA FEDERAL GOVERNMENT!]

Megan Bremer, who helped organize the LIRS’ pilot program, says her organization received approval from ICE before agreeing to discuss the project.

“Until there’s some movement from Congress on the bed mandate, ICE really feels its hands are tied,” Bremer says. ["Feels" is one thing; "actually are" is quite another.] “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of divisive rhetoric right now and fear-mongering about who is coming into this country.”

In New York and New Jersey, two women have been instrumental in securing the release of asylum seekers. The first is Sally Pillay, program director at First Friends, a nonprofit group that provides the simple but vital service of visiting immigrants who might otherwise remain isolated behind bars. Ebullient and loquacious, 36-year-old Pillay may well have spent more time inside the detention centers than anyone except the guards and staff.

When she joined First Friends in 2008, while she was earning her master’s degree in social work, there was one immigration jail for the entire New York City area, housing a total of 320 detainees. Today, five facilities hold more than 1,500 immigrants and asylum seekers on any given day.

Beyond providing moral support, Pillay helps detainees keep in touch with their families, refers them to pro bono legal services and sometimes serves as a 24-hour on-call cab service when people are paroled.

“The facility where most asylum seekers are, it’s horrible. If you go outside, you’re surrounded by toxic fumes and the smell is unbearable,” Pillay says. “When somebody is released, they have no transportation. Do they care? No. [ICE] calls us and says, ‘Hey, can you take this person to the train station?’ It can be 10 or 11 at night.”

In order to qualify for parole, asylum seekers are required to confirm their identity and show proof of “community ties,” which, practically speaking, entails proving they have a friend or family member with a spare bedroom. It’s harder than it sounds: Documents may have been lost, stolen or confiscated, and asylum seekers seldom have local contact to rely on. [SAME fascist LOGIC BEHIND VOTER ID!]

Since June, Pillay has participated in the LIRS pilot program, coordinating with community members (mostly churchgoers) willing to host an immigrant. In seven months, she has found shelter for seven asylum seekers. “We rely on the kindness of strangers,” she says. “You’re asking somebody not to charge any money or anything. It can be a burden sometimes. We have to rely on the generosity of host families.”

Pillay’s counterpart in New York is Jamila Hammami, director of the Brooklyn Community Pride Center’s Queer Detainee Empowerment Project. Hammami says detention for LGBT asylum seekers can be especially nightmarish. LGBT detainees are 15 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than their heterosexual counterparts while incarcerated, according to a 2013 report from the Center for American Progress. [Under OBAMA, NOT Bush/Cheney. HURRAY FOR GAY MARRIAGE!] They’re also more likely to end up in solitary confinement, a tactic that keeps them separated from other inmates.

“They’re victims of torture and persecution, but when you’re put in a detention center, you’re not safe there, either,” Hammami says. “It’s like being in a microcosm of the community that you’re trying to flee. The psychological damage is huge.”

Clement Lee, a staff attorney at Immigration Equality, a nonprofit group that advocates for LGBT asylum seekers, describes situations in which detainees live in perpetual fear of having their sexuality revealed, knowing it will lead to physical and verbal abuse by guards and other inmates.

“When I talk to clients by phone, they’re looking over their shoulder left and right to make sure nobody is listening,” Lee says. “I have to encourage clients to use code words when talking to me about being gay or transgender. This is a country that offers humanitarian protection, but they don’t feel safe even when they’re applying — there’s something a little disjointed about that.”

Finding housing for parolees is only half the battle. [You are kidding, RIGHT?]

Asylum seekers aren’t allowed to look for employment until 180 days after they’ve filed their application, and bureaucracy and backlogs can delay work authorization for months. Legally barred from finding a job, they are forced to subsist on handouts. [MAKES SENSE TO ME!]

“I had no idea how vast or complex the asylum seeker process really was,” Hammami says. “I thought it was like, they come here and we help them with housing and they can work. I completely found out that’s not the case at all. It’s horrible. Horrible, and so incredibly complex.”

One of Hammami’s clients in Brooklyn is a soft-spoken 29-year-old Nigerian woman who asked that her name not be published because she fears people from her homeland may still be trying to track her down. Born into a devout Muslim family, “Tamara” entered an arranged marriage at age 19. [SHIT!] When her husband died suddenly five years later, the families

ordered the young widow to remarry her brother-in-law. [This kind of shit is straight out of the Old Testament/Torah.]

Tamara says her stepmother was abusive and threatened to harm her if she did not obey.

“[My husband's family] gave her land and properties and money,” Tamara says. “She knew if I’d leave, they’d want to get all that back from her.”

With the help of a sympathetic family friend, Tamara hatched an escape plan. She booked a flight to New York and arrived at JFK Airport in June 2012, afraid, confused and alone. She wound up in detention for four months. After she was released, Hammami’s organization provided a small stipend, but, despite having earned her GED and completed a variety of certification courses, she hasn’t been able to achieve her goal of becoming a nurse, owing to a misspelling of her name on her immigration paperwork. [Of for CHRIST"S SAKES! FUCKING STUPID BUREAUCRATS!] Because of the typo, she has been unable to obtain a state ID, and without that, she can’t enroll in nursing school.

With Hammami’s help, Tamara found work as a server at a restaurant in Brooklyn, and she hopes to enroll in nursing school in the coming year. Though still bitter about her months in detention, Tamara says the tribulations were worth it in the end.

“The good thing is, I’m free from everything now,” she says. “The good thing is the freedom. I’m finally able to think straight. The people here, they’re accommodating. People don’t even know you, but they just want to help you.”

Not every asylum seeker is as fortunate. Of the roughly 68,000 people who applied for asylum in 2012, only 29,000 had their requests approved. Reasons for rejection can run the gamut from security concerns to fraudulent claims, but in many cases the decision whether to approve an application appears to be cruelly arbitrary.

A series of reports by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University “found extensive disparities in how the nation’s immigration judges decide the thousands of individual requests for asylum that they process each year.” In New York, where judges decide one out of every four asylum cases in the United States, the disparity has improved in recent years but still remains an area of concern. One judge approved just 5 percent of asylum cases in a single year. Another judge in the same building approved 67 percent of such cases. [Any guesses as to who the Bagger was?]

The inherent randomness is commonly known as

“refugee roulette,”

a phrase coined in a 2008 Stanford Law Review report. Analyzing more than 270,000 decisions by immigration judges and asylum officials over a four-and-a-half-year period, the authors concluded that “in many cases, the most important moment in an asylum case is the instant in which a clerk [BUREAUCRAT] randomly assigns an application to a particular asylum officer [BUREAUCRAT] or immigration judge. [BUREAUCRAT.]

Jaya Ramji-Nogales, a professor at the Beasley School of Law at Temple University and a coauthor of the refugee roulette study, says the problem boils down to a matter of time and resources. Immigration judges typically lack both. Facing a backlog of more than 354,000 cases [either let 'em all go or hire enough judges to TAKE CARE OF IT!] — an 85 percent increase from five years ago — judges are forced [NO THEY ARE NOT! THEY COULD MONKEYWRENCH THE SYSTEM IF THEY HAD CONSCIENCES] to make snap decisions about complex legal issues that can have life-or-death consequences. A recent Washington Post story quotes one immigration judge who describes the current system as “like doing death-penalty cases in a traffic-court setting.” [Hello.]

“In comprehensive reform, we see money for night-vision goggles at the border, everything the border patrol could possibly want,” Ramji-Nogales says. “But we don’t see the same funds directed to immigration courts. That’s huge. Who wants to be the person in this [NAZI] political climate that says, ‘Let’s pour money into immigration court’?”

Every asylum seeker has a heartbreaking story to tell. Unfortunately, the tales aren’t always true. [HORSESHIT ON THE "UNFORTUNATELY"! THE SYSTEM IS SO FUCKED UP AND UNFIXED BY OBAMA SO I DON'T CARE HOW MANY ASYLUM-SEEKERS LAWYERS COACH THEIR CLIENTS! AND, HEY, DO LAWYERS ***EVER EVER EVER*** COACH THEIR FUCKING CLIENTS? LIKE CORPORATE CEOs AND SENATORS?] In 2012, federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed an array of charges against 30 attorneys, paralegals, interpreters and others accused of helping dozens of Chinese immigrants file fraudulent asylum claims.

[30! ONLY 30! WHY, YOU KNOW, i THINK THERE ARE ONLY 10 or 15 BANK CEOS INVOLVED WITH THE BANK BAILOPUT BANKS THAT OBAMA SURE COULLDA PUT IN PRISON BY NOW, SURE COULDDA.]

One lawyer was caught on tape telling his client to “just make it up” if immigration officials probed for details of the forced-abortion narrative he’d scripted for her. ON HERR FUEHRER OBAMA’s WATCH, NOT Bush/Cheney. AND OBAMA HAS YET TOI THROW ONE FUCKIng BANKSTER OR CORPORATE POLLUTER OR CRiMINAL INTO JAIL! It is getting to the point that if the TeaBagger House decides to impeach Obama, I would not stand in the way. Biden could HARDLY BE WORSE! Biden is a lamebrain and a Goofus. In contrast, GORE would have been INFINITELY BETTER than CLINTON back in LEWINSKYGATE, ESPECIALLY given the Climate Change/Global Warming catastrophe we face just 15 years hence. Shouldda impeached Clinton despite those pre-Bagger Baggers.]

The high-profile Chinatown case — it was the subject of a front-page story in the New York Times, headlined “An Industry of Lies” [TYPICAL nyt UNDERSTATEMENT] — has contributed to backlash against asylum seekers that advocates fear could have tragic consequences for those with legitimate claims. [The Eichmann Democrats, Vichy Liberals and what is left of the left needs to get PISSED OFF!]

The elected official leading the campaign against asylum seekers is Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. On February 11, Goodlatte presided over a hearing for the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security ominously titled “Asylum Fraud: Abusing America’s Compassion?”

“Our nation’s record of generosity and compassion to people in need of protection from war, anarchy, natural disaster and persecution is exemplary and easily the best in the world,” Goodlatte began. [Oh, RIGHT. These kinds of people must have some real background ANGST about chickens-coming-home-to-roost since they are always incessantly patting themselves and the country on the back and just awhistlin' past that ole graveyard, their "God Bless Americas" my ass!] “We grant asylum to tens of thousands of asylum seekers each year. We expect to continue this track record in protecting those who arrive here in order to escape persecution. Unfortunately, however, because of our well-justified reputation for compassion, many people are tempted to file fraudulent claims just so they can get a free pass into the United States.”

Goodlatte claimed that 70 percent of asylum applications are fraudulent, and stated that “the rule of law is being ignored and there is an endemic problem within the system that the [Obama] administration is ignoring.”

[Is there no decency anymore. At long last, is there no decency? Or at least accountability for lying? Or do we have to wait for the trap door to swing for them to fall "straight" into HELL, do NOT pass GO, do NOT collect $200.]

The 70 percent statistic comes from a 2006 report from the Government Accountability Office on benefit fraud. The authors analyzed 239 asylum cases and concluded that 29 of them — or 12 percent — were fraudulent. To reach the alarming 70 percent figure, Goodlatte included an additional 138 cases from the report that exhibited “possible indicators of fraud.” [What happened to the watchdog-of-the-press?]

He also cited “a separate DHS report [that] shows that the Obama administration is abusing current law by not detaining certain individuals seeking asylum.” [The only thing that would have made this statement better would be to have said "certain KNOWN individuals".]

Upon request, Goodlatte’s office provided Voice Media Group with a draft copy of a 2012 DHS report to Congress titled “Detained Asylum Seekers.” According to the report, 68,795 people applied for asylum in 2012. Of those, 24,505 (roughly 36 percent) were detained, including 796 in New Jersey and 302 in New York. The average stay was about 79 days, but nearly 25 percent were held for 90 days or longer.

In point of fact, anyone who sets foot in this country and seeks asylum is detained, if only briefly. [SO IT IS 100%! THE SON OF A BITCH WAS REALLY, REALLY LYING!] Those who meet the criteria to be considered an “affirmative” applicant — meaning they applied within a year of arriving, possess proper identification and followed regulations — are rarely detained for any length of time.

“In practice, only a very small number of affirmative asylum applicants are detained,” the report reads. “On the other hand, many defensive applicants … are detained for at least some portion of the processing of their immigration cases.”

Those “defensive applicants” — people fighting deportation because they fear returning to their homeland, including those who passed a “credible fear” interview — accounted for more than 23,000 cases of detention in 2012. Defensive applicants include people who failed to apply for asylum within a year of arriving in the U.S. and individuals like Hussein Mohamed, the young Somali detained in New Jersey. His mistake was to walk across the border and immediately approach a border patrol agent to make his claim. [THAT "OFFICER FRIENDLY" THING WILL GETCHA EVERY TIME!] By crossing on foot and essentially turning himself in, Mohamed became a member of a subset of asylum seekers subject to “expedited removal,” a type of deportation proceeding with mandatory detention.[Letssee with my limited understanding of English. "Expedited". And "detained."

"In the perverse way the system works right now," LIRS attorney Megan Bremer explains, "if you come to the border and ask for asylum, you're considered a defensive asylum applicant. If you actually leave the airport — I don't know where you go — but the next day, you go to the immigration office and ask for asylum, then you're affirmative. It makes no sense." [INSANITY HANNITY CALAMITY OH THE HUMANNITY!]

Bremer says the results of the ongoing pilot project with ICE prove that asylum seekers should not be incarcerated. “The people that are being referred [by ICE officials], they represent no danger to our community,” he insists. “They have credible claims. They would be released except for the lack of community ties.”

It costs about $160 per day to keep each asylum seeker in immigration detention. It costs nothing to release them on parole to the nonprofit groups participating in the LIRS pilot program. Bremer says the fiscal considerations are helping “put feet to the fire” to prove to Congress that the program is safe and saving taxpayers money. The federal budget for immigration detention and deportation stands at $2.8 billion a year, with less than $100 million devoted to alternatives to detention such as electronic ankle monitoring.

Bremer says the lack of federal funding for the pilot program “really limits the ability to deepen the capacity or scale up across geographic areas. It’s not going to grow to meet the need without deeper pockets.”

In order to secure additional funding after the pilot programs in New York, New Jersey and San Antonio end in June, Bremer and other advocates must convince politicians like Goodlatte, ICE officials and the general public that asylum seekers deserve compassion. [Well that Good Samaritan tall tale Jesus told sure didn't work, did it?]. Misconceptions about the asylum process and suspicions of fraud make matters difficult.

The uncomfortable truth is there is no surefire way to prevent fraud. [BOY THAT IS THE CASE WITH BANKING!] The very nature of asylum requires officials to take people at their word to a certain extent. Documents and witness testimony are available in some instances, but short of personally traveling to conflict zones like Syria or lawless corners of Somalia and Pakistan, there is often no way for officials (or journalists, for that matter) to independently verify the facts as asylum seekers tell them.

A 31-year-old Pakistani man named Khan incarcerated at a New Jersey detention facility tells Voice Media Group he has spent the past seven months behind bars waiting for a decision on his asylum claim. He says he was forced to flee his home in Pakistan’s tribal region after the Taliban executed his parents and threatened to kill him, his wife and their children.

[So we are FIGHTING the TALIBAN in AFGHANISTAN -- which didn't even attack New York, Pennsylvania or Washington and AGAINST WHOM THERE IS NO DECLARATION OF WAR! -- but we are NOT HELPING THE PEOPLE WHO MANAGE TO GET THE FUCK Out OF THERE?! Makes sense to me!]

“The Taliban, they killing all the time,” Khan says in broken English. To emphasize this point, he lifts his hands and makes a tat-tat-tat noise as if hoisting a machine gun. “The Taliban doesn’t know the word ‘sorry.’ You may be fine for one year, two year, three year, four year — then maybe 15 years they come for you.” [Sounds like a fascist/Nazi/Bagger party platform plank to me!]

Khan explains that a judge had asked him for police reports of the killing and death certificates for his parents, but those records either didn’t exist or were impossible for his friends and family in Pakistan to obtain. It’s likely impossible to verify his story without visiting his village to investigate.

[OH FOR CHRIST'S SAKES! The US MILITARY can't keep track of its OWN NUCLEAR WEAPONS and THIS FUCKING JUDGE wants this guy to GO BACK AND GET HIS FUCKING NON-EXISTENT RECORDS from the area described ON MAPS as the "UNGOVERNED TRIBAL AREAS OF NORTH WAZIRISTAN AND SOUTH WAZIRISTAN"!?! Dear me. Just dear me.]

Khan tells his tale the same afternoon Mohamed speaks of his escape from Somalia. As the African describes walking through a Brazilian jungle with human smugglers and dodging bandits along the migrant trail in Central America, he is clearly aware of how implausible it sounds.

“I tell the truth,” he interrupts himself to declare. “I cannot lie before God.”


Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.  "What is the name of our current Caesar?"  And how is that "Hope" and "Change You Can Believe In" and "Yes We Can" and "Forward" doin' fer ya lately? Ladies and Gentleman, The CURRENT CAESAR of the US EMPIRE, His Roman Majesty Barack Hussein Obama.

Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. “What is the name of our current Caesar?” And how is that “Hope” and “Change You Can Believe In” and “Yes We Can” and “Forward” doin’ fer ya lately? Ladies and Gentleman, The CURRENT CAESAR of the US EMPIRE, His Roman Majesty Barack Hussein Obama.

Worry about Ukraine — By Thom Prentice

Worry about Ukraine — By Thom Prentice

Worry about Ukraine’ don’t think about unemployed people.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about hungry children.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about families of drone bomb victims in wedding parties.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about raging, raping US Capitalists stealing AmerIndian lands in Central and South America.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about European White genocide of Native Americans.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about making new friends and smiling at strangers.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the $1 trillion US Empire military Pentagon budget which, each year, adds $1 trillion to the federal deficit each year.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the $1 trillion US Empire military Pentagon budget which, each year, adds $1 trillion to the federal deficit each year.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about cops killing young black and Hispanic men.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about cops killing young black and Hispanic men.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the fact that 2/3 of prisoners in the US are young black and Hispanic men.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the fact that 2/3 of prisoners in the US are young black and Hispanic men.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about all the Constitutional Rights and Checks and Balances that have been made “inoperative – a Nixonian term – by the Roberts Court and the Rehnquist Court which preceded it – and by Bush/Cheney and Obama.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about poverty.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about what Jesus REALLY said as opposed to what “they” tell us Jesus said.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about Global Warming.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about Global Warming.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about all the bankers NOT in prison.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about all the bankers NOT in prison.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about nationalizing the banks.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about raising the minimum wage to $15 and then raising it to $21.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about what it would be like to be kidnapped from your family and community, shipped overseas in horrific conditions to another continent and then forced to be slave laborers for wicked, cruel, iniquitous, merciless, free labor, for-profit greedy people.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about exporting jobs overseas to slave labor via NAFTA, TPP, and the other so-called “free trade agreements”.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the NSA/CIA.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the NSA/CIA.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about looking in to someone else’s, smiling and saying hello in the big box store.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about why bills used to be due in a month but are now due in 14 days.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about a woman’s right to choose.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about a woman’s right to choose.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about catastrophic Congressional corruption.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about planting and tending to some tomatoes, peppers, spinach and squash in the backyard.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about how Big Data — google, Facebook, Microsoft – are worse than the NSA.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the betrayals by the Vichy Liberals and Vichy Democrats.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t worry about all the corporate and governmental Adolf Eichmanns.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about all the corporate lobbyists at the local, state and federal levels.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the One Per Cent.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the One Per Cent.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the 99%.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the 99%.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about Goldman Sachs, Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Deutch Bank, Credit Suisse, Bank of New York Mellon, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, HSBC, PNC Bank, Capital One, TD Bank, the stock and currency exchanges, the Federal Reserve, and all the other bastards Jesus threw out of the Temple.

Worry about the Ukraine: don’t think about planting some pots of apartment patio tomatoes.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t go to the park with the kids, or the dog, or the lover, or just by yourself.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about Obama’s Tuesday morning “kill lists” meeting.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about Obama’s Tuesday morning “kill lists” meeting.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the fact that the US is a “managed democracy” which uses eyewash window treatment elections infused with billions of dollars in cash to legitimate a new form of tyranny.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Yoo, Gonzales, Wolfowitz and the rest of them aren’t in prison.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about The Prayer of St. Francis.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about why the US Empire is conducting multiple and mostly unpublicized military operations (fighting wars) in Africa.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about what the term “Africom” means.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about what the term “Africom” means.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about why the US Empire even HAS an “Africom”.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about why the US Empire even HAS an “Africom”.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about Israeli apartheid, Israeli fascism, and Israeli Gestapo/ Einsatzgruppen in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about what Jesus said in Matthew 25:31-46 which always seems to be overlooked on Sunday mornings.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the homeless, except to both fear and scorn them.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about Wall Street.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about Wall Street.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about Wall Street.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about fracking.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about having sex.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about spending more time at the park and less time at work.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about stopping and marveling at the blossoming of a flower or the budding of a tree.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about stopping and marveling at the blossoming of a flower or the budding of a tree.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about what the term “white privilege” means.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about what the term “white privilege” means.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about turning the TV off, and hurry up and go buy everything advertised on TV since getting you to worry about Ukraine and watch infantile TV shows is specifically designed to get you to watch the commercials and motivate you to “self-improve” by hurrying up and going out to buy whatever is advertised on TV…

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about looking up “Buddhism” on Wikipaedia or maybe visiting other churches, temples, synagogues, mosques or meditation centers OTHER than for weddings and funerals.

Worry about the Ukraine: don’t think about what you will have to do when you can’t go to the grocery to get food because there is no food at the grocery anymore.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the many ways “social media” are actually “dys-social” – alienating people from each other rather than connecting people to each other.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about driving with the windows down, enjoying the air, and maybe reducing your gasoline costs by having the AC off.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about giving Karl Marx a curious, new, if still skeptical look.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the Keystone XL pipeline and the Alberta Tar Sands and how they will put Global Warming into overdrive.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about “make love, not war”.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about “make love, not war”.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about being immersed in a sea of Big Lies from corporations, the state, the banks, and just about every institution in society.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the fact that small businesses are the real “job creators” but it can’t create jobs when the local governments are friendly to big corporations and hostile to small business.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the straightjackets imposed on you by society and by the strait jackets you willingly put on – the “twombs” of contemporary civilization.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about savoring some silence.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about what your children and grandchildren will have to suffer because you did nothing to stop Global Warming and US Imperial aggression.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about giving a buck to the homeless woman at the freeway underpass.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about Monsanto and how it poisons your food, your water, the planet with pesticides, fertilizers and Genetically Modifed Organisms [GMOs].

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about calling a relative or two and talking for an hour when it is NOT about an injury, illness or death.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about calling a relative or two and talking for an hour when it is NOT about an injury, illness or death.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about the medical/health, insurance, hospital/pharmaceutical industrial complex and how it rips you off.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about Military/Industrial/Surveillance/Police State complex.

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about…

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about…

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about…

Worry about Ukraine: don’t think about…

thom pic

The “blood moon” eclipse if 2014 along with a Bluebonnet field

Pretty soon Rick Perry and the Texas TeaBaggers will fund a way to privatize bluebonnets and charge you a profitable fee just to look at them. Oh and the lunar eclipse too. And your little dog too.


Photos by Dallas photographer Mike Mezeul II. He wanted to show the lunar eclipse but show it in the context of life and what better than a field on the planet covered in spring Texas bluebonnets? ‘Why not the Earth in the foreground of the picture,’ he thought.

From the Dallas Observer, already gone viral

China releases blogger Charles Xue on grounds of ill-health — UK Guardian

Chinese-American venture capitalist who had 12 million social media followers had been detained since August [yet one more tale from the Stalinist/Fascist state, this time the Chinese Communist Capitalist version

Reuters in Beijing


Charles Xue, also known as Xue Manzi. Charles Xue: confessed to crime. Photograph: Reuters

A Chinese-American venture capitalist known for his controversial blogs has been released on bail after nearly eight months in detention because of a "serious illness", Beijing police said amid a crackdown on online dissent.

Charles Xue, also known as Xue Manzi, was detained in August on a charge of visiting prostitutes, an accusation that activists said stemmed from China's efforts to rein in social media.

China's crackdown on online "rumour-mongering" is widely seen as a tool to halt criticism of the ruling Communist party and has chilled political discourse, with high-profile bloggers saying they have reined in sensitive posts for fear of detention.

The government says the crackdown is necessary to preserve social stability. [No, stability of the stae dictatroship.]

Xue was released on bail because he was sick, Beijing police said on its official microblog. State television showed Xue on television on Wednesday night confessing to his crime, saying he was extremely sorry to his wife and children.

“[I] have committed a crime, have confessed and have repented,” Xue said.

Xue’s lawyer, Qi Xiaohong, declined to comment, telling Reuters it was “not convenient” for her to speak. Xue could not be reached for comment.

In September, Xue, who had 12 million followers on Weibo, appeared on state TV in handcuffs to apologise, saying that “freedom of speech cannot override the law”. [Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat! But of course, is that NOT WHAT OBAMA IS DOING?! HAS BEEN DOING?! And yes, this guy is a venture capitalist pig, but one mkust wonder what, exactly, Obama DID to assist this American citizen/human being in distress? I guess the guy can be thankful Obama didn't drone bomb him.]

[This strongly reminds me of the many time Martin Luther was forced by the Vatican in humiliating ways to recant his writings, often being made to lie prostrate on the stone floor, his arms outstretched to the side so his body would look like a cross, under the imperious glare of the cardinal or bishop sitting on his Official Chair elevated above the floor in his official "superior" position. Why is this sort of thing cross-cultural?]

China adopted tough measures to crack down on online comment last year. People may be charged with defamation if posts that contain rumours are visited by 5,000 internet users or reposted more than 500 times, according to a judicial interpretation issued by China’s top court and prosecutor. That rule could lead to three years in jail.

In a separate case, a court jailed popular microblogger Qin Zhihui for three years on Thursday on charges of defamation and affray after he confessed to spreading rumours about the Chinese government, Xinhua state news agency said.

Qin had invented a story that the Chinese government gave 200m yuan ($32.5m) in compensation to the family of a foreign passenger killed in a high-speed train crash in 2011, Xinhua said. He also told false stories about a popular television starlet and other celebrities, according to Xinhua.

Egypt’s gay community fears government crackdown — UK Guardian

Recent series of raids and long jail terms fan fears that gay people may be new target of authoritarian government.

[Gays are ALWAYS targets of authoritarian governments. This 'gay marriage' thing is just a facade to be thrown into the rubbish when the fascist states deems it useful -- making married gays or living in sin straight or gay, for instance, an ex post facto crime despite the absolute prohibition against ex post facto laws being in the US Constitution. The Stalinist/Fascist state ignores everything ELSE in the Constitution.]

Patrick Kingsley in Cairo

2001 file photo of some of the 52 men arrested at a gay nightclub in Cairo. Activists say the gay community’s support networks are stronger today. Photograph: Andrew Black/EPA

Egypt’s gay community fears it is the latest target of the country’s authoritarian government following a series of recent raids on gay people.

Activists interviewed by the Guardian said they had documented up to nine raids across the country since October 2013 – an unusually high rate of arrests. Most significantly, at least seven raids have seen people arrested at home rather than at parties or known meeting places, raising concerns that the community is facing the start of a targeted crackdown.

The latest and most concerning raid saw four men seized from their east Cairo apartment on 1 April within hours of signing the lease, according to activists. Within a week, the four were given jail terms of up to eight years – sentences unusual for both their length and the speed at which they were handed down.

Interviewees warned against exaggerating the oppression levelled at what is a flourishing underground gay community. But almost all agreed the recent arrests had frightened and perplexed many of its members. One experienced activist, who identified himself as Mohamed A, said: “It has struck fear within many of us. I could be sitting with a couple of friends [at home], and these arrests could happen at any moment.”

While homosexuality is technically legal in Egypt, citizens suspected of being gay have long been the target of sporadic detentions – with those arrested often convicted of debauchery or insulting public morals. But some activists claim the recent arrests, which began at a gay meeting-place in a poor Cairo suburb last October, are happening at a faster rate than at any point since 2004.

No one is certain how systematic they are, or exactly why they are happening. Some think the raids are simply another example of the aggression aimed at all kinds of dissidents in recent months. Also, several of the raids may have been caused by complaints from neighbours, rather than instigated by the state itself.

But regardless of the background to each raid, what is unusual is how regularly and how willingly the state has prosecuted individuals – especially at a time when there is so much else in Egypt for the authorities to address.

Dalia Alfarghal, a human rights activist, said: “We have a lot of crazy things going on in the country – and they’re detaining these guys instead of catching terrorists.”

Many wonder if the government wants to assure a largely homophobic Egyptian society that – despite ousting Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last summer – they can be as conservative as the man they replaced. April’s arrests, for instance, came soon after a police chief announced a special taskforce to arrest atheists.

“These kinds of cases help show they can be society’s moral gatekeepers,” said Mahmoud, an activist on gender issues. “I guess their point is that even though the Islamists are gone, we’re still going to keep an eye on the behaviours that may, according to them, disrupt society.”

Another explanation is that widespread coverage of the raids would help distract the public from the government’s failings – much as the media storm sparked by the 2001 arrest of 52 men at the Queen Boat, a gay nightclub in Cairo, did for Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

But if that is the strategy, several note that it has not been particularly successful so far – there is too much else going on in the mayhem of Egyptian politics. “I think there is a clear difference between [now and] the time of the Queen Boat,” said Mahmoud. “At that time it was very easy to use a certain issue to camouflage others. But now, since the start of the revolution, people’s attention span only lasts a day or two – and then another thing comes up.”

The gay community’s response to the raids also differs from the aftermath of the Queen Boat arrests, according to Mahmoud. “At the time, it created a lot of panic. Everybody went to their homes, they wouldn’t talk to anybody, they were afraid of each other – because who knew who might turn the other in? But now, although there is a lot of anxiety and fear, I don’t feel it has the same impact.”

This is partly down to the community’s support networks, which activists say are bigger today than they were 13 years ago, particularly since the 2011 revolution. But stronger though the community may be, its members still strive to keep it as invisible as it ever was, fearing a fiercer crackdown.

Homosexuality as a concept, however, has become slightly more visible. This January film censors finally approved the screening of Family Secrets, billed as the first widely-shown Egyptian movie to feature a gay protagonist (though many were furious that the film ultimately suggests homosexuality is a curable disease).

But more exposure to gay issues has not necessarily led to the spread of less-homophobic attitudes. People coming out to their parents often find themselves sent to psychiatrists for a “cure”. One interviewee said they saw 16 in total.

At Mohamed A’s workplace, many people know he is gay, and he does not feel in danger as a result. But some female colleagues say they would prefer not to be left alone with him. “It’s kind of funny. In their minds, being gay is perverted and I want to have sex with any object. But maybe it’ll change with the building of trust between me and them.”

As in many countries, Egyptian homophobia has both religious and cultural roots. Regarding the former, Egypt’s Christian and Muslim communities lack high-profile liberal voices to counter homophobic readings of both religions. As for the latter, Egypt’s patriarchal society feels threatened by those who challenge traditional gender roles.

“We live in a very masculine society,” said Adam, a graphic designer who was attacked by his brothers and mother after coming out to them six years ago. “You have to follow certain lines – you have to study, graduate, then get married, and then have kids. And if you break the line, then there’s something wrong.”

In this context, gay women in Egypt say they are less conspicuous than gay men. Women have not been the focus of any crackdown – perhaps because mainstream Egyptian society, according to one gay woman, has only recently begun to deal with concepts of lesbianism. “I think people didn’t know what lesbians were 10 years ago – I didn’t even know,” said Pam, an ecologist. “It was never on TV. But now it’s part of the dialogue. You do get people calling out in the street: ya lesbian!”

Given this environment, some gay Egyptians question the usefulness of bringing western assumptions about gender and sexuality to a context as specific as Egypt, and query the application of western-rooted labels such as LGBTQI. “LGBTQI emerged in a certain context in a certain time in a certain group of people,” said Pam. “There are so many other formulations of sexuality that fall outside of that and cannot be encompassed by it.”

Others warned against equating same-sex intercourse to a defined sexual identity. In lower-class areas, said Mohamed A, it is common to find young unmarried men who have sex with other men but who do not consider themselves gay, or even know the term. “They would think that the only right thing to do is to get married,” he said, “and that being in a relationship with a man is only something temporary.”

But away from questions of definition, the main fight remains one for acceptance. Progress is slow in such a conservative society, but some see hope in the younger generation. “I feel there’s more willingness to discuss this,” said Mahmoud. “Maybe that’s more about my age group, but I see more openness and acceptance of diversity.”

Additional reporting by Manu Abdo

Putin tells Edward Snowden: Russia doesn’t carry out mass surveillance — UK Guardian — Deconstruction by Thom Prentice

Claims by Russian president to NSA whistleblower in TV show will be treated with scepticism by western intelligence officials [DUH! UKGuardian]


Edward Snowden appears via video for Putin press conference. Screengrab from Russia Today/YouTube

President Vladimir Putin has told the National Security Agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden, that Russia is not carrying out mass surveillance programmes of the kind Snowden exposed in the US.

Snowden made a video-link appearance during Putin’s marathon televised question and answer session to ask the president about Russia’s attitude to mass surveillance.

Snowden asked: “Does Russia intercept or store or analyse the communication of millions of individuals?” He went on to ask whether increasing the effectiveness of internal security systems could ever justify such actions.

To applause from the studio audience, Putin responded: “Mr Snowden you are a former agent, a spy, I used to work for a intelligence service, we are going to talk the same language.”

He said Russia did not have a comparable programme, stating: “Our agents are controlled by law. You have to get court permission to put an individual under surveillance. We don’t have mass permission, and our law makes it impossible for that kind of mass permission to exist.”

He said he was aware that “criminals and terrorists” relied on this kind of interception, and that their actions demanded a response from the security services. “We have to use technical means to respond to their crimes, including those of a terrorist nature, we do have some efforts like that. We don’t have a mass control. I hope we don’t do that,” he said.

“We don’t have as much money as they do in the US,” he added. [That the NSA/CIA always acts on behalf of wealth / Wall Street and are heavily financed because of the wealth of the nation -- I mean the One Per Cent but PAID FOR by the nation -- seems to be a direct cause/effect.

In other words, LESS wealth inequality would mean LESS NSA/CIA and less private prison systems and less militarized law enforcement, and less prison population, and less military interference with nations everywhere, and less MILITARY SPENDING and less... and MORE ACTION on Global Warming, and fiercely regulating banks and dirty oil/gas, and...]

Putin’s claims will be treated with a high degree of scepticism by western intelligence officials [DUH!]. With China, they regard Russia as the biggest culprits in terms of cyber espionage and cyber theft – which is undertaken by both countries on an industrial scale. [Maybe ALL THREE COUNTRIES, USA INCLUDED -- with the US EMPIRE BEING THE WORST WORST WORST OF THE WORST and ALWAYS CRYING FIRE IN A CROWDED THEATER.? GUARDIAN'S EMPIRE BIAS HEMORRHAGING HERE.]

The Guardian has reported how Russia is upgrading an electronic surveillance system known as Sorm, which is capable of [CAPABLE OF?} capturing telephone communications, intercepting internet traffic and storing data on subscribers including actual recordings and locations. [SOURCE? Probably some self-serving leaker from GCHQ or the NSA? Or maybe David Cameron himself?]]

While Russia may not have some [SOME?] of the technical capabilities [so now it is only absence of technical capabilities, a "technical" issue rather than a MORAL ISSUE?|] that have been perfected by the National Security Agency and GCHQ, many of the most complicated pieces of malware that have been discovered on the internet over the last few years have had their origins in Russia [SOURCE? GCHQ, NSA or David Cameron AGAIN?] – which have themselves been capable of sucking up vast amounts of information, undetected, for years. [UNDETECTED?! What the hell has NSA or GCHQ been DOING ALL ThESE YEARS?!]

Beep beep.
Whirr.
Whistle.
Deconstruction of UK Guardian complete.

Vladimir Putin denies Russian forces at work in eastern Ukraine in live Q&A — UK Guardian

In televised session Putin says Russia is not financing uprising in east, and calls for Kiev authorities to pull back heavy artillery

Amelia Gentleman


A live TV broadcast with Vladimir Putin, watched by people on the seafront in Sevastopol. Photograph: Anton Pedko/EPA

President Vladimir Putin has denied that Russian forces are operating in eastern Ukraine and accused the authorities in Kiev of “losing their marbles” in the current standoff.

During a live televised question and answer session with Russian citizens, focusing primarily on the crisis in Ukraine, Putin said Russia’s annexation of Crimea was partly triggered by Nato expansion, but denied that Russia was financing the uprising in the east. [As the US Empire financed the uprising in the Ukrainina west.]

Accusing the Kiev authorities of pulling the country into an “abyss”, he called on Ukraine to pull back its heavy artillery from the east of the country, asking: “Who are you going to use it against? Have you completely lost your marbles?”

Asked on several occasions during the annual public address whether Russia had sent troops into eastern Ukraine over the past few days, Putin said: “It’s all nonsense, there are no special units, special forces or instructors there.” The bands of men, in unmarked green military uniforms, who have seized tanks from Ukrainian forces were local residents, he said.

As talks opened in Geneva with representatives from the EU, United States, Russia and Ukraine, he said that the talks were important but added that a resolution to the crisis would not emerge during compromise talks between US and Russia, but needed to be found in Ukraine itself.


He added: “I’m sure we will come to a mutual understanding with Ukraine. We will not be able to do without each other,” he said.

Putin veered between wanting to appear conciliatory and retreating into hostile anti-American rhetoric [The US Empire, meanwhile, has not veered between conciliatory and hostile: it has been ALL HOSTILE!]

One of the people listed on the EU sanctions black list, the pro-Kremlin television host Dmitry Kiselyov, asked Putin if he felt that Nato was encircling Russia in a suffocating way, prompting the Russian president to launch into a [justified] tirade against what he described as Nato’s expansionist policy.

“When the infrastructure of a military bloc is moving toward our borders, it causes us some concerns and questions. We need to take some steps in response,” he said. “Our decision on Crimea was partly due to … considerations that if we do nothing, then at some point,

guided by the same principles, Nato will drag Ukraine in and they will say: ‘It doesn’t have anything to do with you.

“We were once promised in Munich that after the unification of Germany no expansion of Nato would happen to the east. Then it started to expand by adding former Warsaw pact countries, former USSR countries. I asked: ‘Why are you doing that?’ They told me it is not your business; people and nations have the right to chose how they defend themselves.

“Will they drag Ukraine into Nato? If Nato goes there, Russia will be pushed out from the area around the Black Sea. This is pushing out Russia from this important part of the world.

Let’s not be afraid of anything, but we should take that into account, and respond accordingly.”

blockquote>

Although he said Russian troops were not present in the east of Ukraine, he later admitted for the first time that there had previously been Russian troops in the Black Sea region of Crimea, to protect the local population and prepare for a referendum. “Of course we had our servicemen – they were acting very professionally – to conduct a referendum, to allow people to express their will … We had to protect civilians from being harmed,” he said.

Asked whether Russia had violated the principle of terroritorial sovereignty by its annexation of Crimea, he replied: “We didn’t do it by force … The decision was made by residents of Crimea itself. Russia responded to that call, and welcomed Crimea into our family.”

He said Russia wanted now to “ensure lawful rights and interests” of Russian-speaking people in east of Ukraine,

reminding viewers that eastern regions of the country were not historically Ukrainian territory. “These territories were never part of Ukraine under the tsars,” he said, but were handed over to Ukraine in the 1920s. “God knows why,” he added.

Not all the questions were straightforward. [What does this Guardian sentence mean? The following question seems to be REALLY straightforward, about the daily lives of ordinary people.] One Crimean asked the president when he would sort out a currency and banking mess that has emerged as the territory shifts to Russian control. Putin promised that the process of switching Crimea’s banking system to the rouble would be speeded up, and he promised a series of substantial rises for pensioners in Ukraine. “They will feel the advantage of joining the Russian federation materially,” he said.

Putin’s question and answer session was overwhelmed by questions from Russian citizens about the situation in Ukraine. The Russian news agency Itar Tass said two million questions had been posed on the internet in advance of the session and ranged in subject matter from the escalating crisis in Ukraine to the Russian economy, child benefits, housing and corruption. Most of the questions selected for Putin to answer on live television were gentle [what about Sunday morning network questions to the US Empire political an economic elite, as on the lame Meet the Press??] , and were often prefaced with messages of gratitude to the president for the way he was handling the situation in Ukraine.

There were moments of strange humour. [Nothing strange about this humor.] Putin was asked if he was planning to “acquire Alaska”.

He reminded viewers that Russia had sold Alaska for a cheap price to the United States in the 19th century, but said there were no plans to restore it to Russian territory. “What would you need Alaska for?” he asked. [I wonder, when Putin goes to Anadyr on the the Chukotka Peninsula for a vaca, if he can see Alaska from his front porch? lol]

Asked about Victor Yanukovich’s decision to flee to Russia from Ukraine as unrest unfolded, Putin was asked whether he would have fought to the last drop of blood if he found himself in a similar situation.

“A person makes a decision in a critical situation, based on his life experience and values. I used to work in the KGB – we had our special training. Part of that training is that you have to be absolutely loyal to your country and state.”

[Interesting that Putin identifies a distinction here between country and state as he says he is loyal to both. The received wisdom I have is that country is first and state is secondary to country.

I can see how one is loyal to country but not the state or the current regime or. Indeed, The French make precisely that distinction. (Love France but hate the government. EXAMPLE: US colonists before Independence.. But how is one loyal to state, which is an abstraction unlike country, which is REAL: both people and geography?

That Putin conflates country AND state {nation AND regime] is indicative of a reductive way of thinking AND fascist way of thinking.]