fresh voices from the front lines of change








Vijay Prasad


Why We Must Remember Berta Cáceres

On March 2, 2016, gunmen broke into the home of Berta Cáceres Flores and assassinated her. Cáceres led the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), which opposed the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque River. This river, in western Honduras, is considered to be sacred by the indigenous Lenca community. The company that wanted to build the dam — Desarrollos Energéticos Sociedad Anónima (DESA)—was owned and controlled by one of the most powerful families in Honduras, the Atala Zablahs. The Honduran Army, at the behest of DESA and the Atala Sablah family, guarded the site. The assassination of Berta Cáceres came alongside the March 15, 2016, murder of Nelson Noé García of COPINH, and the October 18, 2016, murders of José Ángel Flores and Silmer Dionisio George of the Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán (Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán, or MUCA). A new “wave of extractive and energy-generating projects” has been on the table in Honduras for the past decade, since the coup d’état of 2009. The government has been eager to weaken the regulatory framework to allow companies of all kinds to have access to Honduras’ wealth. It is now well-known that Honduras has amongst the highest murder rates in the world; but that is not why these people are killed. They are killed for what they stand for, and whom they stand against. Honduras has many challenges: corruption, militarization, the attack on the land of the indigenous communities, the femicides, and the political murders. All the more reason to fight hard not only to defend the rights of the people, but to reclaim the country in their name.

Buttigieg Exits, Biden Exults After SC Vote

Biden races to lock down moderates as Buttigieg exit rocks rapidly shifting Democratic race. CNN: "Joe Biden is moving closer to consolidating the support of moderate Democratic voters and donors after a resounding victory in South Carolina and Pete Buttigieg's departure from the party's presidential race. The question heading into Super Tuesday is whether the former vice president and his growing momentum will be enough to keep pace in the delegate race with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. He'll also need to stave off former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose ads have blanketed the airwaves and social media apps in Super Tuesday states. Bloomberg could be positioned to be a spoiler for Biden, helping Sanders rack up delegates by dividing moderate voters. Fourteen states and American Samoa will vote on Tuesday on the biggest day of the Democratic primary -- with 34% of the party's pledged delegates up for grabs. Sanders expects a big win in California, the day's biggest prize, as well as in other western and northeastern states. Biden is aiming to build on his advantage with African American voters in southern states like Alabama and North Carolina. The biggest battleground could be Texas, where Biden is campaigning Monday, and Sanders is hoping to recreate the Latino-led coalition that led him to victory in Nevada."

Bloomberg Gets Cold Shoulder In Selma

People turn backs on Mike Bloomberg at Bloody Sunday church service in Selma. The Guardian: "Mike Bloomberg faced a small but tense protest at the historic Brown Chapel in Selma, Alabama, on Sunday, a handful of people standing and turning their backs on the former New York mayor as he spoke in the pulpit. Even before Bloomberg began speaking, it was clear his presence at the black church, which was the epicenter of the civil rights movement in Selma, was controversial. Pastor Leodis Strong prefaced the mayor’s speech by saying that when he first invited Bloomberg, he rebuffed the invitation only to later change his mind. 'It shows a willingness on his part to change,' Strong said, before adding that he wanted Bloomberg to come to Selma to listen to people. But several in the audience could be heard whispering in contempt – referencing the stop-and-frisk policing policy he pursued in New York and his immense wealth. One of the people who turned his back to the mayor was Ryan Haygood, president and chief executive of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice As Bloomberg spoke, he said, he thought about the kind of police brutality the civil rights organizers faced in the chapel 55 years ago as they protested for equal voting rights. Bloomberg, Haygood said, presided over the same kind of tactics as mayor of New York. As he realized the Democratic candidate was not planning to address that issue, Haygood said, he decided to turn his back."

Klobuchar Rally Canceled Amid Protests

Klobuchar rally in Minnesota canceled amid protests. Politico: "Sen. Amy Klobuchar canceled a rally in her home state Sunday night as several dozen protesters chanted 'Black Lives Matter,' 'Klobuchar has got to go' and 'Free Myon' — referencing the case of a black teenager convicted of murder after a flawed police investigation. According to videos that emerged on social media, the senator’s rally was set in St. Louis Park, Minn., at a local high school. WCCO-CBS Minnesota reported that the protesters made their way into the rally and on stage, where they continued chanting. After a 40-minute delay, the rally was canceled. A campaign spokesperson told the press: 'The campaign offered a meeting with the Senator if they (protesters) would leave the stage after being on stage for more than an hour. After the group initially agreed, they backed out of the agreement and we are canceling the event.'"

Judge Overturns Cuccinelli's Appointment, Policies At DHS


Judge rules Cuccinelli appointment to top immigration post was unlawful, voiding some asylum orders. CBS: "A federal judge on Sunday ruled that Ken Cuccinelli was unlawfully appointed to a top immigration post in the Trump administration, invalidating some of his directives to restrict the access asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border have to lawyers. In his 55-page order, Judge Randolph Moss of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., said Cuccinelli was "not lawfully" appointed last year as acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that administers and vets benefits for non-citizens like refugees, asylum-seekers and green card holders applying for U.S. citizenship. Moss said the June 2019 appointment of Cuccinelli, a vocal proponent of President Trump's hardline immigration agenda, violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. The federal judge, an appointee of President Obama, held that Cuccinelli was not eligible to become acting USCIS director last year because the position of principal deputy he initially assumed was not a 'first assistant' job, as defined by the 1998 law. Along with finding Cuccinelli's appointment at USCIS unlawful, Moss voided a directive Cuccinelli issued last year to reduce the time asylum-seekers in so-called 'credible fear' proceedings have to receive counsel from lawyers. The judge also invalidated an order that barred asylum officers from granting extensions for the time migrants have to prepare for interviews, except 'in the most extraordinary circumstances.' Moss' order stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) on behalf of five Honduran asylum-seekers and their children who received negative credible fear decisions by asylum officers. The judge set aside those decisions, as well as the expedited deportations orders issued against the five asylum-seekers, and ordered USCIS to process their cases again."

Trump's Permanent War On Good Government

The President is winning his war on American institutions. The Atlantic: "When Donald Trump came into office, there was a sense that he would be outmatched by the vast government he had just inherited. The new president was impetuous, bottomlessly ignorant, almost chemically inattentive, while the bureaucrats were seasoned, shrewd, protective of themselves and their institutions. They knew where the levers of power lay and how to use them or prevent the president from doing so. Trump’s White House was chaotic and vicious, unlike anything in American history, but it didn’t really matter as long as 'the adults' were there to wait out the president’s impulses and deflect his worst ideas and discreetly pocket destructive orders lying around on his desk. After three years, the adults have all left the room—saying just about nothing on their way out to alert the country to the peril—while Trump is still there. Within the federal government, career officials are weighing outside job opportunities against their pension plans and their commitment to their oaths. More than 1,000 scientists have left the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, and other agencies, according to The Washington Post. Almost 80 percent of employees at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture have quit. The Labor Department has made deep cuts in the number of safety inspectors, and worker deaths nationwide have increased dramatically, while recalls of unsafe consumer products have dropped off. When passing laws and changing regulations prove onerous, the Trump administration simply guts the government of expertise so that basic functions wither away, the well-connected feed on the remains, and the survivors keep their heads down, until the day comes when they face the same choice as McCabe and Yovanovitch: do Trump’s dirty work or be destroyed. Four years is an emergency. Eight years is a permanent condition. “Things can hold together to the end of the first term, but after that, things fall apart,” Malinowski said. 'People start leaving in droves. It’s one thing to commit four years of your life to the institution in the hope that you can be there for its restoration. It’s another to commit eight years. I can’t even wrap my head around what that would be like.'"

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