TBR News February 26, 2017

Feb 26 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 26, 2017: “After producing endless, and mostly either deliberately skewed or invented, stories critical of President Trump, the media is squealing with childish rage at being kicked out of his press conferences.

At one time, the print media, and then television news, had a powerful effect on the public but as time went on and the Internet developed, once-impressed readers began to discover that the media was feeding them concoctions and pap their owners required and leaving truth and objectivity locked in a public lavatory somewhere.

Trump is paying them back in kind by ignoring them and self-important twits that they are, the media is flopping around like someone with a grand mal seizure (like the epileptic Hillary on-stage during her campaign) but the public isn’t impressed.

The media has rushed to join the Internet but its daily bleatings are so packed with objectionable ads for useless products that it is difficult to read an article without learning what actress is actually a man or the joys of uni-sex lavatories.”

Table of Contents

  • Anti-Trump headlines: Washington Post February 25
  • Trump’s media war threatens journalists globally, protection group warns
  • The Print Apocalypse and How to Survive It
  • Social media stirred up by Trump’s snub of White House Correspondents’ dinner
  • Mexico says Trump won’t see a peso for his border wall
  • Germany hate crime: Nearly 10 attacks a day on migrants in 2016
  • 136 Turks with diplomatic status sought asylum in Germany: ministry
  • Islamic State planning attacks in Britain: anti-terrorism lawyer
  • The great alien invasion
  • The Long History of Deportation Scare Tactics at the U.S.-Mexico Border
  • China swaps bad debt for faint hope
  • Only in America

 Anti-Trump headlines: Washington Post February 25


  • Sanders burns Trump with taunting tweet about the size of his inauguration crowd
  • After Trump’s immigration order, anxiety grows in Florida’s vegetable fields
  • Nixon’s former attorney sees ‘echoes of Watergate’ in President Trump’s first month
  • Trump trashed Paris in his CPAC speech. The city’s mayor fired back.
  • ‘This wasn’t an endorsement’: Rory McIlroy defends playing golf with Trump
  • President Trump wants to put on a show. Governing matters less.
  • Trump cites a meaningless statistic about national debt and says no one is reporting on it
  • With Trump’s changes, the deportation process could move much faster
  • Cabinet members keep scrambling to clean up after Trump speaks
  • Trump will not attend the White House correspondents’ dinner


Trump’s media war threatens journalists globally, protection group warns

Committee to Protect Journalists says president is sending a signal to countries such as Turkey, Ethiopia and Venezuela that ‘it is OK to abuse journalists’

February 25, 2017

by Edward Helmore

The Guardian

The Trump administration should “act as a champion of press freedom”, a senior member of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Saturday, rather than prosecute a war with mainstream US media that could “send a signal to other countries that it is OK to verbally abuse journalists and undermine their credibility”.

Rob Mahoney, deputy executive director of the CPJ, a nonprofit that promotes press freedom worldwide, told the Guardian Trump’s attacks on the press do not “help our work trying to deal with countries like Turkey, Ethiopia or Venezuela, where you have governments who want to nothing more than to silence and intimidate the press.”

Mahoney also said attempts to favour conservative press outlets and declare the mainstream media the “enemy of the American people” looked like a deliberate effort by the White House to “inoculate itself from criticism”.

“Any time the press now uncovers an scandal or wrongdoing the administration can dismiss it as false,” he said.

On Friday, the administration blocked a number of media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN and the Guardian, from an off-camera briefing with press secretary Sean Spicer.

Spicer later said the White House planned to “aggressively push back” against the press. “We’re just not going to sit back and let false narratives, false stories, inaccurate facts get out there,” he said.

On Friday night, Trump kept up his attack, using Twitter to say: “FAKE NEWS media knowingly doesn’t tell the truth. A great danger to our country. The failing @nytimes has become a joke. Likewise @CNN. Sad!”

Within the press, reaction was furious. New York Times editor Dean Baquet said “nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations”.

Lee Glendinning, editor of Guardian US, said: “This is a deeply troubling and divisive act. Holding power to account is an essential part of the democratic process, and that’s exactly what the Guardian will continue to do.”

The White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) attempted to play down the issue, noting the administration was still providing near-daily briefings.

“I don’t think that people should rush to judgment to suggest that this is the start of a big crackdown on media access,” WHCA president Jeff Mason told the New York Times.

Nonetheless, the episode came a day after senior Trump adviser Steve Bannon, in an appearance at the conservative CPAC event in Maryland, denounced the “corporatist, globalist media”, which he said was “adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda” and “always wrong” about the administration.

“Every day there is going to be a fight,” Bannon said.

Some observers suggested the move to block some organisations from the Friday briefing was an attempt to distract the public from controversial stories. On Saturday, the Trump administration faced new reports regarding its efforts to downplay what intelligence agencies believe to be communications between campaign staff and Russian intelligence.

The Washington Post reported that the administration asked senior members of the intelligence community and Congress to call news organizations and challenge such reports. The calls were organised after the administration unsuccessfully asked FBI officials to dispute the accuracy of stories, the Post said.

On Friday, the veteran newscaster Dan Rather, who has emerged as a strong critic of the Trump White House, wrote on Facebook that “the time for normalizing, dissembling, and explaining away Donald Trump has long since passed.

“The barring of respected journalistic outlets from the White House briefing is so far beyond the norms and traditions that have governed this republic for generations, that they must be seen as a real and present threat to our democracy.”

Rather, 85, added: “These are the dangers presidents are supposed to protect against, not create. For all who excused Mr Trump’s rhetoric in the campaign as just talk, the reckoning has come. I hope it isn’t true, but I fear Mr Trump is nearing or perhaps already beyond any hope of redemption.”

Opposing the mainstream media plays well with Trump’s base. Mahoney said it also serves the administration’s aim to protect itself against legitimate criticism.

“If you go back to the early 1970s and the terrible relations between Nixon and the press,” he said, “it was nonetheless allowed to do its job, and we got Watergate.”

Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America, said in a statement the White House was doing “a grave disservice to the American people”.

“The president’s worries over probing questions and damaging revelations cannot outweigh his duty to allow the American people to gain the information and insight they deserve,” she added.

Several organisations, including the Washington Post, are developing Trump-focused investigative units, which will likely rely on anonymously sourced stories. Trump has attacked the practice of quoting anonymous sources, while chief of staff Reince Priebus called on the media to “stop with this unnamed source stuff”.

The president, however, has left himself open to charges of hypocrisy. In the 1980s and 1990s, he regularly spoke to the press under aliases, in order to promote himself.

Moves to choose which outlets are briefed by the administration also conflicted with remarks made by Spicer as recently as December, when he said media outlets should not be stopped from covering the White House.

The dispute is carrying over into areas where detente is usually observed, for example the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The 29 April event has been plagued by withdrawals. The New York Times has not attended since 2008; the Guardian will not attend this year. Buzzfeed reported this week that CNN may not attend either.

The news service owned by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is reportedly backing a prominent pro-immigration campaign, is pulling out of hosting an afterparty. Vanity Fair and the New Yorker have said they will not host parties either.

The Print Apocalypse and How to Survive It

With paper ads in massive decline, legacy newspapers like The New York Times are slowly returning to the business models that dominated the ’30s—the 1830s.

November 3, 2016

by Derek Thompson

The Atlantic

For the last 15 years, the decline of print newspapers has been the sort of story that, ironically, many newspapers have trouble following. It is not breaking news, nor a violent explosion, but rather a decade-long structural shift without heroes or obvious villains. Between 2000 and 2015, print newspaper advertising revenue fell from about $60 billion to about $20 billion, wiping out the gains of the previous 50 years.

But lately, the collapse of newspapers is looking less like a steady erosion than an accelerating avalanche. This should scare both reporters and readers—all the while, pointing to a new business model for legacy newspapers that is, ironically, their first business model. The collapse of advertising is across the board, affecting just about every broadsheet and tabloid. Print ads are down 15 percent at Gannett, down 17 percent at McClatchy, and down 16 percent at Tronc. The Wall Street Journal is cutting staff and trimming sections, like Greater New York.

Where is all of this money going? To tiny plates of glass. Two earnings reports this week offered a microcosmic glimpse of the shift. On Wednesday morning, the New York Times announced that print ad revenue fell 19 percent for the quarter. Nine hours later, on Wednesday afternoon, Facebook announced that its digital advertising revenue rose 59 percent. There is no direct comparison between the Times, a newspaper that pays luxuriously for reporters and editors, and Facebook, an attention arbitrage network that induces content from unpaid maker-viewers. But it illustrates the larger story most dramatically told by venture capitalist Mary Meeker’s annual slideshow: Audiences are migrating from print bundles to mobile networks and aggregators.

The mobile ad market is duopolistic, with Facebook and Google earning about half of all revenue.That still leaves a multi-billion dollar pool of money for the taking. But there are hundreds of large and thirsty animals at the water’s edge. The herd of national “newspapers” is crowded, with BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, Vox, Refinery29, Breitbart, Drudge, and dozens more newspaper, magazine, and digital-only sites attracting national audiences that are much larger than any national newspapers could have dreamed of in the 1990s. (Not to mention commercial sites like Craigslist, which have replaced the lucrative classifieds section.) Scale is a beautiful thing. But online, the business model for most of these sites isn’t about maximizing value per reader but rather about maximizing readers at a vanishingly small per-unit value.

Where do newspapers go from here? Back to readers, perhaps. In 2000, circulation accounted 26 percent of the New York Times’ revenue. By 2014, well into the collapse of print advertising, circulation’s share had grown to 54 percent, after including the paper’s growing digital subscriptions. Today circulation is 60 percent of the company and growing. About 1.6 million people now subscribe to the paper’s journalism or crossword app, and online subs are growing faster than they were a year ago.

This future of the newspaper business would serve as a corrective, returning the industry to its distant past. In Tim Wu’s The Attention Merchants, he tells the story of the dawn of newspaper advertising. In the 1830s, the largest newspaper in New York City had a circulation of only 2,600, at a price of 6 cents, making it a luxury product for its time. Benjamin Day, a 23-year-old print shop owner, had the ingenious idea to sell a paper for a penny. That cent wouldn’t cover the cost of journalism and printing, but that was alright, because Day’s decided he would use the low price to attract an audience of readers that could be converted into a salable audience for advertisers. The customers were the product. His paper, the New York Sun, first appeared on September 3, 1833. Within two years, it had nearly 20,000 readers, the most of any paper in the city. Day “decisively demonstrated that a business could be founded on the resale of human attention,” Wu wrote.

The emerging business models of the Times and the Wall Street Journal are slowly traveling back in time to recover the subscription-first model that dominated the industry before the 1830s—with one important catch. The 1830s were a heyday of local papers; without the advent of telegraphs or telephones, news didn’t travel well. But today it’s local news organizations that are suffering the most. “People in Cleveland and Dallas and San Diego have not only stopped subscribing to their local newspapers but in many cases are reading the websites of national news organizations instead of the website of their local paper,” wrote Timothy Lee at Vox, one of the foremost news sites he’s talking about.

Since the end of the recession, newspapers and magazines have shed about 113,000 jobs, while Internet publishing companies have added about 114,000. That makes it sound as if the jobs are merely shifting from pulp to pixels, but the jobs aren’t the same: There is a parallel shift from local news reporting to national news, a result of these sites needing to maximize readership. The share of reporting jobs in national news hubs like Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C., increased by 60 percent between 2004 and 2014.

National reporting might be stronger than ever, but the combination of print’s demise, digital advertising’s duopolistic concentration, and the geographical sorting of journalists has gutted local newspapers. Like the slow demise of print advertising itself, it is the sort of story that news organizations might be structurally designed to miss. The opposite of a sudden and shocking calamity exhaustively covered by every media organization, it is, rather, a thousand local disappearances, with nobody left to report on what has gone away.

Social media stirred up by Trump’s snub of White House Correspondents’ dinner

February 26, 2017


Donald Trump’s announcement that he will not attend the White House Correspondent Association’s dinner has been met with a combination of criticism, mockery, and trepidation, as people react to an unprecedented break from tradition.

Trump’s tweet on Saturday came amidst increasing tension between the president and the press. The White House excluded a number of media organizations from a White House briefing on Friday, prompting anger among the media. Trump described the mainstream media as “the enemy of the people” and the “opposition party” on Friday.

A number of media organizations said they would not attend the April event in response to the White House’s treatment of the media. The New Yorker canceled its pre-party and Vanity Fair pulled out of its after party with Bloomberg earlier this month.

It is tradition for the president to attend the annual dinner, which takes place every year to raise money for journalism scholarships. The last president to miss the event was Ronald Reagan – who was recovering from being shot.

At the dinner, the president is usually subjected to a “roasting” by a comedian, and also delivers a speech that often pokes fun at the press – a difficult task for Trump, who has derided the media since his presidential campaign

The announcement has stirred wide debate among social media users, many of whom accuse the president of being afraid to face the media, with some using the hashtag #chickenTrump.

“The WHCA takes note of President Donald Trump’s announcement on Twitter that he does not plan to attend the dinner, which has been and will continue to be a celebration of the first amendment and the important role played by an independent news media in a healthy republic,” White House Correspondents Association president Jeff Mason said in a statement.

Many people took the opportunity to remind Trump of when Obama used his 2011 WHCA speech to poke fun at the then-reality star for his belief in the ‘birther’ rumor, which suggests that Obama is not an American. Obama also made fun of the idea of Trump, who was a guest at the event, running for president – likely never believing it would come to pass.

Mexico says Trump won’t see a peso for his border wall

Mexico has threatened retaliation if the US imposes a border tax to pay for Donald Trump’s wall. The new president says his plans are “way, way, way ahead of schedule.”

February 25, 2017


Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said Mexico could tax US products tit for tat should its northern neighbor impose a levy on Mexican imports to finance Donald Trump’s pledged “great” border wall.

“Without a doubt, we have that possibility,” Videgaray said in a radio interview late Friday. “And what we cannot do is remain with our arms crossed.”

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said Mexico could bear any withdrawal of security funding by the United States. And officials have called absurd the notion that the US might deport non-Mexican irregular immigrants to Mexico. In January, President Enrique Pena Nieto canceled a trip to Washington, DC, as Trump continued to insist that Mexico would pay for his wall.

Politicians in both countries worry that Trump’s novice administration could jeopardize longstanding binational cultural and economic ties through its plans for a “military” anti-migrant operation. Vicente Fox, Mexico’s president from 2000 to 2006, has gone toe to toe with Trump on Twitter over the planned wall.

The US intends to issue a solicitation by March 6 “for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico,” the Department of Homeland Security announced Friday on FedBizOpps.org. The website connects private contractors with federal funding. The US government asked any potential vendors to submit concept papers of their prototypes by March 10.

Officials estimate that the wall would cost $6.5 million per mile (6.15 million euros per 1.6 kilometer) for a pedestrian barrier. The United States currently has 354 miles of pedestrian fencing and 300 miles of vehicle barriers, much of it built during President George W. Bush’s second term.

Trump made anti-immigrant sentiment the centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign.

‘Are you Muslim?’

A new wave of activism has begun in response to the administration’s perceived targeting of immigrants. Jodie Foster, Michael J. Fox and Keegan-Michael Key and other stars rallied for migrant equality in Beverly Hills, California, late Friday. The United Talent Agency planned the nearly two-hour United Voices rally in lieu of holding its annual Oscars party.

Restrictions on travelers from several Muslim-majority nations have also created problems at the US’s air borders, and some have accused customs agents of mission creep. Media report that border enforcers held Muhammad Ali Jr., a son of the boxer and civil rights icon who died in 2016, for questioning upon his return from vacationing in Jamaica earlier in February – because of his Arabic-sounding name. According to Ali’s lawyer, agents held him for nearly two hours and repeatedly asked: “Where did you get your name from?” and “Are you Muslim?”

The Ali family, nee Clay, date back to pre-republican times on what is now US territory. The boxer’s ancestors were brought to the British colonies as slaves.

Germany hate crime: Nearly 10 attacks a day on migrants in 2016

February 26, 2017

BBC News

Nearly 10 attacks were made on migrants in Germany every day in 2016, the interior ministry says.

A total of 560 people were injured in the violence, including 43 children.

Three-quarters of the attacks targeted migrants outside of their accommodation, while nearly 1,000 attacks were on housing.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to open up Germany to people fleeing conflict and persecution has polarised the country and boosted hate crime.

Germany is struggling with a backlog of asylum applications and there are fears about security following a series of terrorist attacks across Europe.

The interior ministry figures

  • 3,533 attacks on migrants and asylum hostels in 2016
  • 545 attacks on individual migrants
  • 560 people injured, including 43 children
  • 988 attacks on housing (slightly fewer than in 2015)
  • 217 attacks on refugee organisations and volunteers

But the number of asylum seekers arriving in Germany in 2016 was 280,000, a drop of more than 600,000 from the previous year, following the closure of the Balkan migrant route and an EU deal with Turkey.

The issue is expected to feature heavily in parliamentary elections this September.

Sunday’s interior ministry figures, which are preliminary, were released in response to a parliamentary question.

There was no comparison with previous years because the crimes only started to be counted as a separate category in 2016.

In its statement, the interior ministry said it strongly condemned the violence.

“People who have fled their home country and seek protection in Germany have the right to expect safe shelter,” the statement read.

MP Ulla Jelpke from the leftist Die Linke party said that the government was too focused on a perceived security threat from migrants while the real threat was coming from the far right.

“Do people have to die before the rightwing violence is considered a central domestic security problem and makes it to the top of the national policy agenda?” she said, quoted by the Funke media group.

“Nazis are threatening refugees and therefore our democracy.”

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

136 Turks with diplomatic status sought asylum in Germany: ministry

February 24, 2017


Berlin (AFP) – More than 130 Turkish diplomats, soldiers and their family members have sought refuge in Germany since last July’s failed coup, according to German government data in documents seen by AFP on Friday.

“The government is aware of 136 asylum applications filed by diplomatic passport holders from Turkey. They also include family members,” said the interior ministry in a written reply to a query from a lawmaker.

The ministry said however that it did not have data on how many among the applicants are diplomats and how many are soldiers stationed at NATO bases.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has accused US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen of having orchestrated the putsch, and launched a sweeping crackdown against his followers.

Some 43,000 people in Turkey have been arrested over their suspected links to Gulen’s movement, and 100,000 fired or suspended. Many of them are teachers, police, magistrates and journalists.

The scale of the crackdown has raised international concern, with Germany among the most vocal in raising questions over the mass arrests.

That and a string of other spats have contributed to fraying ties between Ankara and Berlin.

Turkey has also been pushing for Berlin to extradite alleged supporters of Gulen and PKK militants.

In its written note, the interior ministry said it extradited 60 people back to Turkey in 2015 for various offences including terrorism and murder.

Data for 2016 would only be available in 2018, it added.

Islamic State planning attacks in Britain: anti-terrorism lawyer

February 26, 2017

by Elizabeth Piper


Islamic State militants are planning “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians” in Britain on a scale similar to those staged by the Irish Republican Army 40 years ago, the head of the country’s new terrorism watchdog said.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph published on Sunday, Max Hill, the lawyer tasked with overseeing British laws on terrorism, said the militants were targeting cities and posed “an enormous ongoing risk which none of us can ignore”.

“In terms of the threat that’s represented, I think the intensity and the potential frequency of serious plot planning – with a view to indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians of whatever race or color in metropolitan areas – represents an enormous ongoing risk that none of us can ignore,” he said.

“So I think that there is undoubtedly significant ongoing risk which is at least as great as the threat to London in the 70s when the IRA were active on the mainland.”

The IRA abandoned its armed struggle for an end to British control of Northern Ireland and unification with Ireland in a 1998 peace deal. More than 3,600 people were killed, including more than 1,000 members of the British security forces, during a sectarian conflict that began in the late 1960s.

British security officials have repeatedly said that Islamic State militants, who are losing ground in Iraq and Syria, will target Britain.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Dominic Evans)

The great alien invasion

February 26, 2017

by Harry von Johnston PhD

The illegal alien invasion of America now totals 20 -23 million and rising.  Of that number, 90% are Hispanics.

Phoenix has become the biggest gathering point and distribution hub for people migrating to the United States from Mexico.

But unlike other large cities of the Southwest, Phoenix has little history in assimilating large numbers of Hispanics. The result has been an anti-immigrant backlash.

The U.S. Border Patrol polices Phoenix’s bus station and airport — some 175 miles from Mexico — because the city has become an unofficial port of entry, says agent Shannon Stevens.

“The Phoenix area basically is going to be used as a major transportation hub for illegal immigration, because it’s going to be the first major city they get to after crossing illegally,” Stevens says.

But the city isn’t just a way-station for immigrants: It has also become a place for them to settle. Census figures show the percentage of the city’s Hispanic population nearly quadruptled  between 1990 and 2016 — from 13 percent to 25 percent. No one knows what percentage are here illegally or even from Mexico. But it is largely a population of families, helping make Arizona the fifth youngest state.

Not everyone in Phoenix is adapting so willingly to this demographic and cultural shift. Activists say the undocumented are holding down wages, costing taxpayers millions for health care and education, and contributing to crime.

80 percent of all violent crime in Phoenix can be attributed to illegal aliens.

Public discontent with the situation has boiled over into state policy, leading voters and lawmakers to pass some of the most hardline anti-illegal immigrant laws in the country.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, which like Stateline.org is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the number of illegal immigrants in Arizona has more than quadrupled since 1996 — from 115,000 then to about 1,500,000 now. By comparison, the number of illegal immigrants in the United States roughly doubled, jumping from about 5 million in 1996 to about 21 million today.

Arizona’s turning point came when it became the first state since California in 1994 to adopt a ballot initiative, Proposition 200, that barred social services to illegal immigrants.

The measure, which passed with 55.6 percent of the vote despite opposition from both Democratic and Republican leaders, also makes it a crime for public employees to fail to report undocumented immigrants seeking benefits, and requires proof of citizenship to register to vote.

Unlike California’s initiative, Arizona’s Prop 200 has held up in court.  Arizona police officers, as well as federal border patrol officers, now can arrest people suspected of smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States. They also cam seize vehicles driven by illegal immigrants that are involved in an accident.

State judges can lengthen a felony sentence if the person convicted has violated federal immigration law, and city and county officials are barred from spending on migrant work centers, which illegal immigrants often use to find employment.

Law enforcement officials and lawmakers also contend that crime follows illegal immigrants across the border. The state prison system spent $79 million last year detaining more than 14,000 illegal immigrants.

To some, much of the conflict is ethnic: Hispanics in 2017 comprised over 32 percent of Arizona’s population. Of the 749,000 new residents added between 2015 and 2017, more than 53 percent were Hispanic. Census figures do not differentiate between legal and illegal residents.

They are hungry campesinos; unemployed Colombian dishwashers; Brazilian professors on the lam; Syrian women running from abusive men; felons and child molesters; young Mexican women who’ve been tricked into believing that Chicago is right up the road from Bisbee, so sure those Manolo Blahnik knockoffs will be perfect for walking there; strong-shouldered teenage boys who can lift everything you own for $7 an hour; dark-eyed men who love pornography and use breaks in their treks to ogle skin mags, then toss them on the ground before moving north again; drug addicts who litter pull-up sites with used needles; children who play with Barney dolls; terrified mothers who nurse their infants while hoping to reunite with their stone mason husbands; coyote guides who carry 9 mm automatics, long knives to slash the throats of barking dogs and epinephrine to squirt up their noses for fast energy; and pregnant girls desperate to birth their babies in the great United States.

At present, there is no ethnic group that isn’t using this border to sneak into America illegally. The numbers boggle the mind. In January, 2017 alone, the Border Patrol in the Tucson sector impounded 2,557 smuggling vehicles, confiscated 534,864 pounds of marijuana and arrested 68,704 illegals, With almost 800,000 arrests in the Tucson sector last year, that means somewhere in the neighborhood of three million illegals broke into the country successfully –an average of almost 5,000 every 24 hours.

And arrests for 2017 are up 40 percent,

Four Mexican towns abutting the Arizona border–Cananea, Altar, Naco and Agua Prieta–once quiet, traditional, mostly safe, anchored by a few old families, have become the primary smuggler-staging grounds. Their central plazas bustle with men, women and children who stay in the hotels, eat at the restaurants, buy hats, water bottles, clothes and shoes, and lounge around in public until it’s time to hop a cab up to the line.

In some places, the smugglers have made the border their own. Right across the line from Lukeville, in far western Pima County, stands a shrine believed to represent a Mexican drug-hero, Jesus Malverde. No one is quite sure whether the bandit Malverde, supposedly hung by the Mexican government in 1909, was a real person, a composite of two men or pure fiction, but to the Mexicans who mule drugs for the cartels, he’s a Robin Hood-like character, and there his monument stands, near Lukeville. The traffickers pray at the feet of this so-called narco saint on their way into our country.

The Long History of Deportation Scare Tactics at the U.S.-Mexico Border

February 26 2017

by Cora Currier

The Intercept

The Trump administration’s first moves on immigration enforcement represent an unprecedented hardline position, envisioning thousands of new agents, enlisting local police as immigration enforcers, making virtually anyone a priority for deportation, bypassing immigration courts, and, of course, ordering the construction of the infamous wall along the Mexican border. And then there is the president’s own rhetoric equating immigrants with criminals — after campaign talk characterizing Mexicans as rapists, this week he referred to his immigration policy as a “military operation” against gang members, “drug lords” and “bad dudes.”

Despite the emotionally charged rollout of these policies, it remains to be seen whether they will be fully implemented; the money and manpower required to do so would be extraordinary. There are parallels between Trump’s efforts and previous U.S. immigration crackdowns, when rhetoric about “criminal aliens,” hyped-up raids, and inflated deportation numbers created what was essentially a “terror campaign” in Mexican immigrant communities, says Kelly Lytle Hernandez, a historian at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“I think it would serve us to do our best to fight back against the scare campaign” promoting Trump’s enforcement operations, she said. “I don’t want to suggest that the terror isn’t real. But we don’t want to inflate it. I don’t want to fulfill Trump’s vision of mass deportation by fueling the panic and fear.”

The Intercept spoke with Hernandez last week about what we can learn from the history of the United States Border Patrol, which she documented in her 2010 book “Migra!” using archival records and recollections from both the U.S. and Mexico. The Border Patrol began with an act of Congress in 1924, just after the passage of legislation that outright banned immigration from Asia and put quotas on many other nationalities. Initially a scattered couple hundred patrolmen, it was responsible for enforcing immigration law at ports of entry and up to 100 miles into the interior of the country. After the 9/11 attacks, the organization became part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, under the newly created Department of Homeland Security. (Another new DHS entity, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was given responsibility for arrests, detentions, and removals away from the border.) The Border Patrol is now a 20,000-strong force that emblematizes the nation’s obsession with “securing” the U.S.-Mexico border and policing Mexican and Central American communities.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did the Border Patrol begin, and how has its authority changed over the years?

The history of the organization is quite a bit more complex than suggested by its mandate. Very early on, the United States Border Patrol focused its resources and its discretionary power upon policing one singular population: unauthorized Mexican immigrants. And that’s really been a consistent practice since 1924.

The early officers didn’t come from the Texas Rangers, they didn’t come from military backgrounds; they were largely unemployed or underemployed and landless white men from the border region. These men take the broad mandate of U.S. immigration law enforcement and make it a narrow practice of policing unsanctioned Mexican immigrants. In the U.S.-Mexico border region in the 1920s and ’30s and ’40s, if you don’t have land, you don’t have power. And so one way in which these men were able to lift up their own levels of authority and respectability in their hometown communities was by directing the force of U.S. immigration law enforcement against the region’s principal labor force, and that’s Mexican immigrants. Imagine the power of a young man who came of age in the borderlands and who had been disparaged as white trash in his youth, when he’s able to show up at the gates of a big farmer and say, “Guess what? I’m here to take away your workers.” So it’s this very local politics of race, and land and labor that is used to narrow down U.S. immigration law into U.S. immigration practice, with its specific focus on policing Mexican immigrants.

Today’s Border Patrol, especially through their union, is associated with some of the most hardline anti-immigration voices. In “Migra!” you show a much more nuanced relationship between officers and border communities. How has that political stance on immigration evolved?

I think that this is a new moment. Thinking about the Border Patrol historically, by and large the officers were not hardliners. They were people who were looking for a good job, and who found federal employment with a pension and a high wage with the Border Patrol. They then followed the often violent practices established in the 1930s and 1940s by the local guys. [In “Migra!” Hernandez describes revenge killings and gunfights with smugglers that formed Border Patrol lore. In later decades, she writes, officers by and large rejected such raw brutality but substituted other means of coercion.] But they were not rabid anti-immigration officers. There’s something different happening in this political and cultural moment, where the Border Patrol and ICE unions have come out with strong support for some of President Trump’s most extreme measures and orders.

The Trump administration is proposing a massive surge in border enforcement. A drastic increase in the number of agents, big, well-publicized raids — when have we seen this before? And how much does it relate to the reality of what is actually happening at the border?

Let’s talk about Operation Wetback of 1954, something that on the campaign trail President Trump said he was going to resurrect. The way in which Operation Wetback was sold to the U.S. public was that there was a crisis of unlawful Mexican immigration and that what we needed was a mass display of force and deportations to clear out nearly one million people and to secure the border from future unlawful entry. And so with that rhetoric, in the summer of 1954 the U.S. Border Patrol launched a series of very well-coordinated and well-publicized raids that fueled panic within immigrant populations and many employers in the borderlands. It gave the sense that there was a mass deportation campaign underway. However, on the ground, mass deportation is not what happened. At most, 250,000 were deported that summer; it was nowhere near the one million people that’s been cited by President Trump and by many scholars.

So the summer of 1954 was not a real deportation campaign. It was a terror campaign, and it was actually about legalization. The publicity campaign was a few spectacular raids designed to scare immigrants out of the country. And beneath the radar, without the press following behind, the U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS] visited with employers in the borderlands, mostly agricultural employers, and insisted that they use a watered-down version of the bracero program to legalize their undocumented workforce — what they called “drying out the wetback.” And the employers did get on board. So what really happened was scare tactics and mass amnesty. What we’re getting today is just the scare tactics. And depending on how Congress funds Trump’s orders and the memos we’re seeing from the Department of Homeland Security, we may get the raids as well.

I want to be very clear and precise on one thing — Operation Wetback was not about all undocumented immigrants. It targeted Mexican immigrants. It was a specifically racial campaign. When we summon Operation Wetback, we are summoning a racial history, and we have to be very clear about what is happening through that kind of dog whistle.

You write about how the Border Patrol made an intentional change in the language it used to describe immigrants. One regional supervisor in 1956 issued a directive saying that they wanted to avoid “a picture in the minds of the public and the courts of a poor, emaciated, Mexican worker,” and replace it with “criminal alien” or “border violator,” conjuring “criminals, often vicious in type,” and “hardened and defiant.” How was the Border Patrol involved in turning immigration enforcement into a criminal issue?

Operation Wetback was followed up by a change in the logic of why we do immigration law enforcement. The logic was: we had mass deportations, we cleared out a lot of the so-called bad hombres, the bad guys, and now we’re going to focus on the criminal alien. The Border Patrol changed the language of what they do and why they do it. Leading up to 1954, they had been policing unsanctioned laborers, primarily. After 1954, they made a very conscious shift to policing the so-called “criminal alien.” They found very few of them — that is, immigrants convicted of a crime — and yet they insisted on using this language to create a new logic for why the Border Patrol has invested so many of its resources on policing unsanctioned migration in the borderlands.

There’s a lot of resonance with what is happening now. As many people know, President Obama deported more people than any president in U.S. history. There has been a ramping up of deportation in the last eight years, which used the language of the criminal alien, but in a more limited way. We now are seeing an expansion of the notion of the criminal alien to include all persons that have been not just convicted but charged or simply suspected of any kind of crime, including any misdemeanor, or simply unlawful entry into the United States.

Last week a leaked memo proposed deploying the National Guard for immigration enforcement. There was once a plan called Operation Cloudburst which contemplated something similar. What happened to that idea?

The year preceding Operation Wetback, the Border Patrol, INS, and President Eisenhower considered deploying the National Guard to round up undocumented Mexican immigrants. They did not follow through on it, because of the ban on using the military within the United States for domestic law enforcement, but what they did was to try to approximate a militarized campaign — so the Border Patrol was able to gain access to military trucks, organize themselves in rapid response task forces, use planes, trains, trucks and buses to conduct a series of mass raids during 1954. So using military-style tactics and equipment, but not troops.

You’ve written about how the Border Patrol acted differently when it was a matter of policing migrant laborers — men, primarily— and women and children. You unearthed archives showing how these officers were often uncomfortable with the idea of policing families, especially when they encountered resistance from women. How did the conception of what’s acceptable and moral in immigration enforcement change over time?

Between 1942 and 1965, the U.S. and Mexican governments had a labor program called the Bracero Program, under which several million Mexican immigrants were able to work legally in the United States. It was limited to rural workers, agricultural laborers, and most importantly, to men. That kind of gender exclusion from the labor program almost guaranteed that women and children would not have access to legal routes of migration. So at the same time as you have the Bracero Program, you have the rise of unlawful migration by Mexican women and Mexican children, many of whom were coming to accompany men in the bracero program, or simply because they needed work too. You end up with a bifurcated labor system: one is legal and its male; and the other is unlawful and it’s female and it’s full of young people. So during this time period, the Border Patrol would run into large numbers of women crossing the border, and the confrontations that they would have with women and children — who would often fight back, holler or scream or protest their arrest — was something that made the Border Patrol officers very uncomfortable, especially as winter tourists were coming down to the border and watching how they did their work. These were really spectacles of state violence on display at the border, and it was armed officers wrestling with women and children. And so one of the ways that they reconciled this tension for border officers was that they invested in building a border wall. A large expansion of the border wall happened in the 1940s and 50s, which was in part an effort to push women and children into crossing into the backlands where tourists and community members could not see them. Border Patrol officers could make their arrests out in the desert, or women and children would have to submit to much more dangerous crossings. This is one of the untold histories of the U.S.-Mexico border wall: that it is inflected with gender, and with young people, and the efforts of the U.S. to hide the violence of border enforcement.

And you saw that again with Operation Hold The Line in the early 1990s, when the Border Patrol concentrated its efforts on blockading a particularly busy and visible section of the border. Many people have criticized this strategy as leading to many more migrants dying while attempting to cross the harsh, remote, desert portions of the border.

Yes, do you remember the infamous border crossing signs with the image of a family running, pulling a child behind them? Operation Hold the Line was a response to that dynamic, of Border Patrol agents having to confront impoverished and many times desperate migrants trying to cross in search of work, and that confrontation became embarrassing and untenable. Using an operation like Hold the Line to push all of that into the backlands is a consistent dynamic.

The Department of Homeland Security has also indicated that it will deport even people who are not Mexican citizens to Mexico, and expect Central American asylum applicants to wait in Mexico until they get a hearing. Can you talk about the history of cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico on border enforcement, and previous crises in the relationship?

There was a long period of time, certainly right through the 1960s, where the U.S. and Mexican federal governments were largely aligned on the issue of controlling Mexican migration along the border. From the U.S. perspective, yes, employers desperately wanted access to an unfettered labor population, and they hoped Mexicans would face no restrictions on entering and exiting the United States. However, there was another impulse within the United States that worried that Mexicans were racially unfit, unsuitable for citizenship. And that very powerful cohort — what today we might call ethno-nationalists but then were known as nativists — wanted there to be little to no Mexican immigration. And so within this debate between the employers and the nativists we came to a sort of compromise allowing managed Mexican migration to the United States, with a great degree of border control.

From the Mexican government’s perspective, certainly from the 1920s to the 1960s, there was concern that so many Mexican nationals were leaving Mexico and taking their laboring power to the United States at a time when Mexico was trying to reconstitute itself politically, culturally, and economically after the Mexican Revolution. So there were interests within the Mexican federal government and Mexican employers that wanted to see Mexican immigration whenever possible, curbed, in order to keep Mexican labor in Mexico.

So there’s a long history of periods where the United States and Mexico working together to control Mexican migration. It is quite new to see the Mexican government so vocally opposing U.S. plans for deportations.

There is this precedent of Chinese immigrants during the 1930s. In the United States there was a strong anti-Chinese, anti-Asian sentiment that was actually written into law so that by 1924, all persons of Asian origin were prohibited from entering the United States. There was a similar sentiment in Mexico in the 1930s, and there were a series of riots and massacres that happened. So when it came to the issue of Chinese immigration, the federal governments of the United States and Mexico both did their best to keep Chinese immigrants out of their country, and sometimes that erupted right on the borderline, where you would see U.S. and Mexican agents literally pushing Chinese workers through the fence into one country and out of the other. In terms of Central American immigrants — this is a population that has been vilified in Mexico. We should have no expectation of their being welcomed to await their asylum hearings in Mexico, and we may see conditions that are more akin to what happened to Chinese immigrants on the borderline in the 1930s.

China swaps bad debt for faint hope

February 24, 2017

by Pete Sweeney


HONG KONG-China’s debt-to-equity swap plan is a complicated attempt to carry out a corporate turnaround in the People’s Republic. The government-backed scheme, launched in mid-2016, is designed to ease the burden on the country’s heavily indebted state-owned enterprises. By mid-January, banks and borrowers had agreed to convert loans worth approximately 300 billion yuan ($43.5 billion) into shares, according to a Reuters analysis. The programme faces major challenges, however. Most of the companies involved are troubled miners and steelmakers, which could be beyond salvation unless China’s state-led system forces through tough changes.


Chinese companies have borrowed heavily since the 2008 financial crisis, with state-owned enterprises leading the splurge. These inefficient groups now owe more than half the country’s corporate debt, according to the International Monetary Fund. Total credit to non-financial corporations reached $17.9 trillion at the end of the second quarter of 2016, according to the Bank for International Settlements, almost twice what it was in 2011 and equivalent to nearly 168 percent of GDP. Some independent analysts think as many as one in five bank loans could be sour or souring – far higher than official figures. Writing down the loans could tip companies into bankruptcy and force banks to recognise huge losses. The debt-to-equity swap is another way to tackle the problem. It could also help regulators achieve their goal of developing a local market for distressed debt. (Reuters graphic: China’s non-performing loans: reut.rs/2miupdc)


Sort of. When the People’s Republic last cleaned up its banks in the late 1990s, the central government shifted dodgy loans into specially created “bad banks” which managed the dodgy credits. The recovery effort was aided by China’s rapid growth; the economy effectively outgrew the debt. Today, however, the amount of outstanding credit is much larger, while the economy is expanding at its slowest rate in decades.


Chinese regulators insist the scheme is not a system-wide bailout. The goal is to help selected companies – mainly those battered by the selloff in commodities – get over a temporary crunch. Easing pressure on cash flow gives the companies time to turn themselves around. Avoiding bankruptcy also averts bond defaults that could rattle financial markets, and mass layoffs that might lead to protests. One Chinese official initially forecast that the swap programme could reach 100 billion yuan: the number is already three times higher than that. Natixis economists estimate as much as 3.1 trillion yuan could be swapped. For an example, look at Yunnan Tin. The world’s largest tin producer, which had over 15,000 employees at the end of 2015, lost nearly 6 billion yuan over the three years ending 2015. A revival of global commodity prices helped it return to the black in the third quarter of 2016, but it still struggles with staggering debt service obligations. It was one of the first participants in the programme in October, swapping some 10 billion yuan worth of loans from China Construction Bank into shares.


Creditors exchange their debt for shares in the troubled company. But Chinese banks don’t want to hold big equity stakes on their balance sheets because these assets attract a big capital charge. That is why lenders sell the struggling company’s loans to a special-purpose vehicle, known as an asset-management company, before carrying out the swap. The state-owned company reduces its debt burden, and the bank clears a dodgy credit from its books. So far, the banks have avoided further writedowns by transferring their loans at par value. This leaves the AMCs – some of which have been set up by the bank – on the hook for further losses. Banks can help transactions along by providing credit to the AMCs. But in order to ensure that the exposure is transferred off lenders’ books, the AMC must also raise funds from other investors. These could include other banks, pension funds, other AMCs and even wealthy individuals. Regulators may even permit the AMC to issue special debt-equity swap bonds which could be sold in the wider market. If the companies involved recover, they will buy back the shares from the AMC after five years at a premium – although this may not be a hard rule. In that scenario, the securities issued in the swap would be more like subordinated bonds or deferred-interest loans than equity. So far, however, few concrete details of how the shares have been priced or who has bought them have been published.


Many state-owned companies are saddled with irrational cost structures. Some still run loss-making schools and hospitals, a holdover from the days when China was a command economy. Others dabble in real estate, financial intermediation or other non-core business lines. The challenge, though, will be disciplining companies unused to discipline, especially if local governments resist efforts to make them streamline. It’s unclear whether the AMCs will have any influence over decision making. The danger is that companies see debt relief as a signal to go on another borrowing spree. Following Yunnan Tin’s debt exchange, the company’s listed unit announced a 2.4 billion yuan private placement in December and plans to invest 2.6 billion yuan in expanding mining output the following month. This seems aggressive for what remains an indebted company operating in an industry suffering from overcapacity. The biggest shortage may be human resources. Thanks to a long-standing tradition of bailouts and government intervention, China has never had much demand for specialists with experience of turning around state-owned firms.


One worry is that banks invest in AMCs set up by other lenders, or buy their swap-backed bonds. This would simulate a cleanup but actually just redistribute the risk around the banking system. Companies would have little incentive to improve efficiency. Meanwhile banks – and the country’s taxpayers – would still be on the hook. Few believe the government will actually let troubled state companies go bankrupt even if the swap fails to restore them to health. Similarly, it seems unlikely that Beijing will let investors in the AMCs take a bath. Seen in this light, China’s swap scheme could be more like a punt on a taxpayer-financed bank bailout than an honest bet on a resurrection of state-owned companies.

Only in America


  1. Only in America……can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.
  2. Only in America……are there handicap parking places in front of a skating rink.
  3. Only in America……do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.
  4. Only in America……do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke.
  5. Only in America……do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters.
  6. Only in America……do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.
  7. Only in America……do we use answering machines to screen calls and then have call waiting so we won’t miss a call from someone we didn’t want to talk to in the first place.
  8. Only in America……do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.
  9. Only in America……do we use the word ‘politics’ to describe the process so well: ‘Poli’ in Latin meaning ‘many’ and ‘tics’ meaning ‘bloodsucking creatures’.
  10. Only in America……do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.




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