Richard Sudan

Emmett Till would have been 81 today. Why has there been no justice?

Emmett Till would’ve been 81 this year, but he was murdered for being Black in Mississippi on August 28, 67 years ago.

Many now frame Till’s death as “historic” – as the catalyst that propelled the civil rights movement forward. In human terms, however, Till’s kidnapping and torture may as well have happened yesterday. Conditions that evoked Till’s murder are still with us.

And by conditions, I don’t mean just systemic racism.

READ MORE: Missouri school sued over alleged lynching threats against Black children

I’m talking about Carolyn Bryant Donham, the woman whose words incited white supremacist vigilantes to kidnap and lynch 14-year-old Till. Over the years, both on and off the record, Donham has at various times admitted culpability and then, at others, denied it.

Unlike Till, Donham is alive. She was recently pictured for the first time in decades in Kentucky. She now knows that she’ll never have to set foot in a courtroom to answer for her role in Till’s lynching.

That’s because Leflore County, which issued an arrest warrant for Donham in 1955, a warrant that was never executed, decided last month that no charges will be filed against her.

Donham wasn’t arrested then. She won’t be arrested now. A grand jury found no evidence for manslaughter or kidnapping charges.

READ MORE: Qualified immunity is rooted in white supremacy and gives cops a free pass to lynch Black people

It would be interesting to know which witnesses and witness testimony were presented to the Mississippi grand jury.

Donham’s then-husband, Roy Bryant, and half-brother, JW Milam, were acquitted by a Leflore County court on kidnapping charges in 1955 after having been cleared by an all-white jury of Till’s murder just weeks earlier in neighboring Tallahatchie County.

As well as claiming that Till made advances, it’s believed that Donham identified Emmett Till to his killers at the point of his kidnapping.

The entire saga, from the brutal lynching to the recent pictures of Donham alive, well and at large, a saga stretched out over seven decades, serves as a stark reminder of how little value is afforded to Black lives and how whiteness, meanwhile, is protected at all costs.

Till was a victim of an anti-Black war that persists to this day and was the victim of white supremacist homegrown terror, plain and simple.

I suspect the reason Donham has avoided prosecution has less to do with evidence – after all, there was an arrest warrant issued for her in 1955 – and more to do with having to face the uncomfortable spectacle of an elderly white woman being quizzed by prosecutors about her role in a lynching and the repercussions that would entail.

For respectable white people, it’s probably more comforting to relegate Till to the history books and Black history month than it is to hold up a mirror to a woman who resembles their grandma.

This is a favor to white America. No one wants to poke the hornet’s nest undisturbed for many decades. The long arm of the law is shorter for white Americans than it is for Black kids languishing in jail for a couple of ounces of weed. We all know this.

The pursuit of justice, though, is possible with political will. Justice has the potential to be more than a set of unrealized ideals.

Irmgard Furchner is 97, a decade older than Donham. She’s accused of complicity in thousands of deaths that occurred at an SS camp during WW2. She was an administrator at the Stuttof concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. She’s currently on trial.

She claims she knew nothing of the horrors at the camp that she worked at as a teen. Despite protesting her innocence, Furchner tried to flee last year. She’d jumped into a taxi and headed to a train station. But she was apprehended. Good, because that’s how justice works. There’s been no humanizing of Furchner in the press.

“Nazi-hunters,” as they are known, pull no punches in their commitment to bringing justice to thousands of Jews and others murdered by German white supremacists and their collaborators.

White supremacy produced one of the worst horrors in human history in the form of the Shoah. Perpetrators of that crime should face the consequences if they are physically able. If Furchner is found guilty she should – and must – pay the price.

I’d argue that those complicit in the Black holocaust, a crime spanning hundreds of years between several continents from slavery to Jim Crow, should be treated in the same manner as Furchner.

American white supremacy and German white supremacy go hand in hand. In fact, Hitler was reportedly inspired by structural racism already fine-tuned in America, well before the rise of the Third Reich.

Donham is able to stand trial. Nazis being pushed into courtrooms in wheelchairs, hooked up to dialysis machines and duly sentenced stands in contrast to the image of Donham standing in her own garden of her own home being attended to by a doting son.

A lack of “new evidence” is apparently the reason she won’t face the music. Try telling Emmett Till’s family, however, or the average Black American, that a Mississippi grand jury found no evidence to indict.

In an ideal world, what’s good for German Nazis and their enablers should be good for Americans who are guilty of complicity in white supremacist murder. We claim our disdain for terrorism is universal. We claim that justice is equally applicable to everyone.

The reality is that most people will view the likes of Donham, and brazen vigilantes like Payton Gendron as entirely different entities to Irmgard Furchner. Are they really that different though?

I’m sure many Americans, indifferent to the fact that Donham will never stand trial, would cheer the punishment of Nazi collaborators.

America has had no problem sending Nazi war criminals back to Europe for prosecution. The same vigor and commitment to justice and civil rights, however, must be applied at home.

READ MORE: A white librettist wrote an opera about Emmett Till – and some critics are calling for its cancellation

Why police killings of Black people qualify as crimes against humanity

In 2020, George Floyd’s murder by a white police officer focused the world’s attention on anti-Black lynching. Like never before, we saw huge global protests in solidarity with Black Americans. Governments, corporations, celebrities and cultural figures all spoke out against anti-Black violent and unlawful deadly policing.

In April 2021, international scrutiny culminated in a report produced by leading international human rights lawyers, which I covered here for the Editorial Board. Some police killings of Black people, it said, met the legal criteria for “crimes against humanity.” The report pointed to a long history of violations of international law committed against Black people. It points to the failure of the United States government to fulfill its international human rights obligations.

Page 109 reads:

Commissioners’ concluded from the evidence of witnesses and attorneys that instead of requiring law enforcement officials to take precautions that protect life, US law and police practices allow law enforcement officials to arbitrarily endanger the lives of Black people. The Commissioners found a clear pattern of state-sanctioned criminalization of Black people through the targeted policing of Black communities permitted by US law.

READ MORE: Lawyer for family of Jayland Walker says bodycam footage contradicts police account

The report wasn’t just critical. It was practical.

It offered recommendations to state and federal governments.

Now, similarly, a new UN group has been set up to conduct an independent probe into the recent police shooting of Jayland Walker. The UN group is expected to make recommendations to state and federal governments. Its investigation has already begun.

Despite mounting criticism, however, any recommendations made to state and local governments are essentially symbolic and are unlikely to grab the attention of ordinary citizens. States make their own laws. The federal government can only enforce federal law.

READ MORE: Gun store owner facing outrage over 'disgusting' sign mocking George Floyd's death: report

In the same breath, however, international focus on US policing does signal how seriously the international community views the problem.

Millions are no longer buying the “bad apple” argument.

Bobby DiCello, attorney for Walker’s family, understands the significance of the UN’s involvement. He told the Editorial Board:

It is extremely important to the Walker family that the United Nations is investigating. It is the perfect organization to share his story and examine his death.

The opening lines, the Preamble, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the founding charter of the UN published in 1948, couldn’t be more appropriate for this tragedy. It directs us all to recognize 'the inherent dignity and 'the equal and inalienable rights' of 'all members of the human family' as 'the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.'

This is the correct frame through which to view Jayland’s story. In fact, the First Article of the Declaration offers another guiding principle to keep in mind as we consider how the actions of the police officers contributed to Jayland’s tragic death:

'All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.'

According to DiCello, as well as the ideals and guiding principles of the UN charter, there’s also a more fundamental benefit to the UN demonstrating concern about Jayland’s case.

The involvement of the UN thus gives hope to Jayland’s mother and sister - hope that some good might come out of so much violence and pain. The UN will review the shooting, examine how the police lost control, and, with the assistance of internationally recognized experts, make recommendations on how to improve police interactions with us. It will be up to everyone who receives those recommendations to make good use of them.

Anyone on the left or right, claiming to believe in democracy and the rule of law, should understand that what has become the norm with US policing at home is increasingly considered to be a grotesque abuse of state power by millions around the world.

The US is forfeiting the right to speak about the rule of law, democracy and human rights as long as Black people remain as second-class citizens in a so-called first-class democracy.

Whatever the outcome of the UN’s investigation into Jayland Walker’s death, nothing will bring Walker back. The almost unbelievable violence behind a hail of gunfire, close to 100 rounds rattled off in seconds beggars belief. Walker was unarmed when killed.

People are demanding action from their elected officials. For Americans to understand that the global perception of the country is shaped by the words of institutions like the United Nations.

READ MORE: Gov. Greg Abbott appoints officer indicted for misconduct during George Floyd protests to police regulatory agency

The color of migration policy around the world

Anti-Black racism is an international currency even in countries that speak in grandiose terms about human rights and democracy.

This reality is most visible in the realm of migration policy around the world. There is literally a racial pecking order among so-called developed nations when it comes to who’s welcome and who’s not.

That policy in short: The fairer you are, the better off you’ll be.

READ MORE: Calls emerge to 'charge and arrest' Wilbur Ross for politicizing census

Allow me to recount a recent tragedy – entirely avoidable, entirely political – that underscores the often deadly racial politics at play.

Dozens of Black African migrants died trying to scale a fence separating Morocco and Spanish territory in an attempt to enter the “Spanish” enclave of Melilla. Melilla is really part of Africa, but politically, it belongs to Spain. As such, it is part of the European Union.

For migrants and potential asylum seekers in Morocco, trying to climb the fences separating the African continent from the EU is worth the risk. Once in the EU, in this case Melilla, European and human-rights laws apply. It doesn’t matter how you arrived.

These Africans never made it.

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Perhaps dozens (the numbers are disputed) died trying to scale the fence. Human rights groups believe some died from injuries but also from getting beaten by Moroccan and Spanish border forces. It’s said some of the dead have been identified.

Pictures following the Melilla massacre showed survivors lying on the floor, hands tied, dead bodies strewn about. They were treated like human garbage. There are no flags for them or warm sentiments of solidarity from politicians. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, following the massacre, at the NATO summit reaffirmed the need to secure Spain’s borders and asked for support in doing so.

Juxtapose this with the warm welcome given to Ukrainians by Spain and other EU nations. They bent over backwards to provide housing, free movement, and access to education facilities and the job market.

The Africans and Ukrainians are equally deserving of humane treatment. Ukrainians received it while the Africans did not.

Skin color determined who lived and who died. This is why it's known as Fortress Europe, but it extends to other “developed” nations.

It includes the UK and Europe’s No. 1 ally, the United States. Like the UK and Europe, the US was built by Black people. Like the UK, and Europe, when it comes to migration, Black lives don’t matter.

The US Supreme Court recently OK’d the Biden administration’s push to end Donald Trump’s Stay-in-Mexico policy. It’s a step in the right direction, but it didn’t come in time to save the poor souls who perished while trapped in an abandoned truck near San Antonio.

There was no safe route for those people to apply for asylum legally. In their eyes, the better option was placing their trust in human traffickers rather than a system that privileges white migration.

The American dream becomes a nightmare for so many people who just want to live their lives and build a better life for their families.

American border forces are so brutal, that they essentially operate as thugs in uniform, usually spoiling for some kind of “action” – unless you’re white. The system isn’t broken. It’s working as it was designed.

Who is left at the bottom?

Black migrants.

Though Stay-in-Mexico is ending, Title 42 is still in place. It’s used mostly to expel Black migrants and prevent a path to claiming asylum legally. (In May, the US actually accelerated its expulsion of Haitians.)

Border Patrol released recently an internal investigation into the horrendous scenes at Del Rio late last year. The report confirmed that US border officials used unnecessary force against Haitians.

White men on horseback carrying whips intimidated them the same way slave patrols used to round up runaways. Can you imagine white migrants being treated in this way? Can you imagine Title 42 being used as the justification in doing so? You can’t. You’re not supposed to be able to imagine “the natural order of things” ever-changing.

White people have always had for them the red tape removed and the drawbridge thrown down. Black people have always been treated like dirt. Those in between sometimes have it a little better.

That’s just how it is.

This is America. This is Europe.

It has to change.

READ MORE: House Republican says Democrats want to deport her back to Mexico

Mass shootings do seem to be an American phenomenon

The Buffalo and Uvalde massacres shocked the nation and have rightly reinvigorated the debate around tighter gun laws and gun controls.

But the problem isn’t just easy access to guns.

It’s the sheer number of them.

Who would you vote for in 2024, Biden or DeSantis? Vote now.

The United States is a country in which there are more guns than people. A 2018 study called The Small Arms Survey revealed that approximately 1 billion firearms were in global circulation. Of that number, 857 million were thought to be in civilian hands, with 393 million alone estimated to be in the hands of American civilians.

That number exceeds the country’s total population.

And that’s surely an undercount. The Small Arms Survey was conducted nearly half a decade ago. Who knows how many more weapons there are in circulation, including semiautomatic rifles?

While it might be tempting to see mass shootings solely through the lens of easy access to guns, it doesn’t explain the whole problem.

While the US leads the world in the number of guns in circulation (other nations don’t come close), the fact remains that many countries still do have huge numbers of guns in circulation.

Second to the US is India with more than 70 million. China is third with almost 50 million. You’d think such numbers would create conditions for mass shootings in those nations as in America, but that’s wrong.

That’s why the world is side-eyeing America.

Now, some people have attempted to explain mass shootings by pointing to what they argue is an inherently violent culture in the US.

To some extent this is true.

But at the same time, the US does not have a monopoly on violence.

India is run by an increasingly authoritarian regime with almost daily videos emerging that show deadly, violent and brutal crackdowns on Indian Muslims. But there are no mass shootings. Not like in the US. The same can be said of China despite its many, many problems.

Mass shootings do seem to be an American phenomenon.

Ted Cruz was recently cornered by a British journalist and asked to explain why the shootings seem to take place only in America. Cruz ducked the question by accusing the reporter of playing politics.

Cruz could have been honest. He could have said easy accessibility is a serious issue - and he’d have been right. He could have said the violent defense of white supremacy’ is the cause – and he’d have been right.

Because the thing that distinguishes the US from other countries is not simply its longstanding love of guns – other countries have an abundance of love, too – but the relationship with white supremacy.

It’s unclear how many mass shooters are white men, particularly young white men, who are motivated by some kind of white supremacist ideology. But some of the most high-profile mass shootings were certainly committed by men who fit that description. The shootings seem to be in line with the rise in hate crimes generally.

Naysayers will point to mass shootings committed by nonwhite men but how many of those were motivated by a racist ideology?

And how many such individuals are out there? Authorities are struggling to keep tabs. High profile cases where perpetrators openly identify with white supremacist ideology make headlines.

But we also know that not every white supremacist publishes a manifesto or has a swastika on their chest. The true number of white supremacists, incubating online, plotting the next massacre, might never be known. But one thing is certain. The number is growing.

Former federal agents have blown the whistle many times, warning of the growing number of white supremacist groups in the US, and of the corruption of law enforcement by white supremacist groups.

Director of the FBI Christopher Wray has spoken of how white supremacy is the fastest growing form of domestic terrorism.

Joe Biden echoed as much when he claimed domestic terrorism from white supremacists is the most lethal terrorist threat in the nation.

It’s not hard to join the dots.

Hate crimes are on the rise.

Mass shootings are on the rise.

White supremacy is on the rise

I believe that over time, the link between a surge in mass shootings and the growth of white supremacy will become ever clearer.

But those in power must not sit on their hands and wait for more carnage to get to grips with the problem. There’s no time for thoughts and prayers. Faith without works is dead, as the saying goes.

It won’t be possible overnight, and it may not even be possible, but white supremacy is the most important issue facing America. The past will continue to haunt the present unless a new course is charted.

Sections of the media, often framing young white men, who have internalized white supremacist ideology to the point that they want to murder, as misguided youth who went off the rails is as stupid as presenting Azov (Ukrainian neo-Nazis) as freedom fighters.

The United States has the most firearms in circulation in the entire world. I would bet too, that it is also home to the greatest number of white supremacists in the world. That’s a lethal combination.

An FBI agent may have had foreknowledge of the Buffalo massacre. So who is policing the police?

As I write from the UK, and as I read about the heartbreaking details of yet another mass murder, trying to grasp the pain that parents who have lost their babies must be feeling, I look at my own kids.

Tonight, I hugged them extra tight.

Seeing the likes of Ted Cruz, in the face of another massacre, brazenly repeat the insane hyperbole that the accessibility of semiautomatic rifles is not at the root of it all is sickening and incomprehensible.

Cruz for one, when questioned about the fact that mass school shootings seem only to happen in the US, accused a British journalist of having a “political” agenda. This Orwellian selfish doublespeak has come to contaminate so much of our political discourse.

But there’s another elephant in the room.

What are police for?

The 19 kids and two teachers shot dead in Uvalde were failed by local law enforcement, including customs and border officials.

They took too long to enter the building, a failing that has now been acknowledged by officials. Law enforcement prevented parents from rescuing their kids. They prevented them – while doing nothing.

One parent, Angeli Rose Gomez, defied officers. She entered the school after initially being handcuffed and rescued her kids herself.

Other reports from the scene depict parents begging police to storm the building to save their children. Some parents were threatened with arrest and tasers for trying to do what police wouldn’t.

All of this begs an important question: What are police for?

And the FBI?

When we talk about Uvalde, we have to talk about the role of law enforcement regarding the tragic Buffalo shooting. Because highly questionable “law enforcement” is at the heart of all of this.

Payton Gendron, a white supremacist, was yet another unemployed teen who managed to obtain a semiautomatic rifle with ease.

He targeted a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, because he wanted to kill Black people. He accomplished his goal.

While in the aftermath, the usual excuses and criticism of white vigilantism began circulating in the media, there’s an aspect to Buffalo that needs more attention. In fact, it demands in.


A former FBI agent allegedly had contact with Gendron minutes before he attacked. It’s believed the former agent, who is known online as “Sandman,” had prior knowledge of Gendron’s attack plan.

Investigators say “Sandman” was part of a right-wing clique that regularly communicated with Gendron online, reveling in their shared hatred of Blacks, Jews and nonwhite people.

Some clique members were invited to view Gendron’s plans. If they had prior knowledge, investigators say that none called it in.

On the contrary, “Sandman,” who Gendron praised in his online diaries, is alleged by those with knowledge of the case to have offered Gendron advice about semiautomatic rifles and manufacturers.

The FBI is trying to figure out “Sandman”’s identity. Gendron quoted him. On May 2, Gendron allegedly quoted “Sandman” in a post:

When the time finally comes to deal decisively with a whole host of society's problems, and not go to prison for it, you'll know. Just be ready. You have spent your entire life, from the day you were born, right up to this very moment, reading this sentence, coming to where you are right now.
Look around you. Are you content with where you are right now? Are you where you want to be? If so, continue to march. If not, what are you going to do? What's your plan? Get and keep your mind, body and spirit right. Pray. Lift. Run. Read. Shoot. And teach your kids to do those things.

The FBI is investigating if those in communication with Gendron can be charged as accomplices. It’s unclear as to how many accepted Gendron’s invitation to view the details of his planned shooting, nor how many watched the livestream of Gendron’s murder spree.

No surprises

Some might be startled that a former FBI agent might have been complicit in Payton Gendron’s attack on a Black neighborhood.

Attorney Terrence M. Connors, who is representing several families of the slain in Buffalo, was not shocked. Neither am I.

The FBI’s fingerprints are on plans by a home-grown terrorist group to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. I’d need to write a thesis to list similar cases with corrupt cops wedged in the middle.

How many more reports does the FBI need to produce about the danger of white supremacists within its own ranks before meaningful action is taken? White supremacy is America’s greatest threat.

There is no more time for thoughts and prayers, and whataboutery. There’s no more evidence needed to understand that the scourge of white supremacy is tearing the fabric of American society apart.

ICE is secretly spying on Americans without warrants or probable cause

In the decades following Sept. 11, the growth of the surveillance state has whittled down to their bones the American values of freedom and liberty for the purpose of ensuring security, safety and protection.

It’s long been argued that the US Department for Homeland Security has morphed into a rogue agency, compromising the freedom and privacy of ordinary Americans, rather than protecting them.

The evidence of this has been mounting.

Now it’s snowballing.

According to a two-year investigation by the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has developed a sophisticated dragnet capable of bypassing privacy and data laws to gather data on millions of ordinary Americans.

The report’s findings, based on federal Freedom of Information Act requests, depicts an organization prying into millions of people’s lives in a manner extending well beyond the remit of immigration law.

ICE utilized facial recognition technology to scan photographs of drivers licenses in one in three Americans. If you drive a car, you might be one of the unlucky 70 percent of adults, who’ve been tracked.

If you have relocated in recent years, or if you have connected utilities to your new home (who doesn’t?), congrats! ICE has probably cataloged the new address into its database – because it can.

ICE seems capable of finding three in four American adults at any time based on information it’s swept up in its data dragnet. Have you seen Enemy of the State with Will Smith and Gene Hackman? Yeah, that.

For the most part, this is happening in secret, without warrants.

And it doesn’t stop there.

ICE has apparently been tapping child welfare records, credit information, department of motor vehicle records, private social media accounts and the housing records of millions of Americans.

The Georgetown report also examines ICE’s spending. Between 2008 and 2021, the agency spent almost $3 billion on surveillance initiatives and data sharing programs. A country struggling to find baby formula might be better off, I dunno, not paying ICE to spy on its own citizens.

The report found that oftentimes, ICE took information from state and local agencies without their being aware of it – imagine that.

US taxpayers have been handing over personal information to trusted services, which in turn have been penetrated by ICE, which has been harvesting people’s private data – all paid for by US taxpayers.

Findings suggest the chain of events might have begun at the end of George W. Bush’s tenure. It’s not a left-right issue. It’s an issue. Period.

Most alarming, to my way of thinking, is the allegation that ICE exploits the vulnerability of undocumented migrant children.

The US Department of Health and Human Services often interview traumatized kids arriving in the US in order to ascertain family members or existing support networks already in the country.

Guess what?

ICE entered an information sharing agreement with HHS, using the data collected to arrest the family members of those children.

This program has since been rolled back, but that’s not the point.

It should never have happened.

Every country has the right to manage its borders. But there’s a humane way to do things without being assholes.

It’s not exactly a leftwing fever dream to imagine a system, funded to the hilt, calling itself democratic, not exploiting children in order to put their family members behind bars, in the name of the law.

White migrants to the US have historically had the red carpet rolled out. It's not just history. President Joe Biden made a grand public gesture in recent weeks of inviting 100,000 Ukrainians to the country.

But most nonwhite migrants who are entering the US are usually fleeing the effects of US imperialism. They’re at the mercy of one of the most repugnant border enforcement agencies on the planet.

And ICE is greasing the machine.

The revelations about ICE should be enough to raise alarm bells among “respectable white people” to borrow EB editor John Stoehr’s phrase.

If not, then the fact that ICE has been caught spying on a huge section of American society surely ought to be enough for ordinary people to demand a real set of checks and balances to reign in the tentacles of the DHS, and the nightmarish agencies under it, such as ICE.

What I want to see is a report on the influence of white supremacy, from individuals and on an ideological level, on agencies like ICE.

As is the case with so many other federal agencies, one of the reasons ICE is so utterly corrupted, I would bet, is because it’s heavily influenced and operated by the kind of old school decision-makers who are ruining America while making it less safe for everyone.

Israel's assassination of 'voice of Palestine' journalist Shireen Abu Akleh requires asking 'hard questions'

Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was loved and revered. She covered oppression faced by the Palestinians living for decades under Israeli occupation. She pulled no punches. She was known as the “voice of Palestine.” Her death, or martyrdom, has broken the hearts of many.

Shireen was a Palestinian-American reporting for Al Jazeera. The Doha-based news network said she was shot dead by Israeli forces while doing her job, reporting on Israeli raids conducted in Jenin.

It’s not just Palestinian Muslim journalists who are under threat. Shireen was Christian. Anyone of any faith, or nationality faces immediate danger, if they simply try to report on the facts.

Al Jazeera described the shooting as a “cold-blooded assassination.”

Let’s take a look at the facts. Shireen’s colleagues and witnesses claim that she was deliberately killed in order to send a message.

Israel initially blamed her death on Palestinian gunfire. After walking that claim back, authorities said a full investigation will take place.

Meaning Israel will investigate itself.

That Israel shifted from denial to pledging a full investigation suggests officials know something about the incident that will make their initial statement look suspect. We can speculate about that.

Needing no speculation is the fact that Human Rights Watch has described Israeli investigations as “whitewashed mechanisms.”

Also needing no debate is that countless journalists have been killed by Israeli gunfire over the years with little or no accountability. The official line is that none were intentional or Palestinians are to blame.

Since 1967, according to the Palestine Journalists Syndicate, 86 Palestinian journalists have been killed – 50 of them since 2000.

After the Great March of Return protests in Palestine in 2018-2019, a UN report found reasonable grounds to suggest that Israeli snipers shot at journalists, medics, healthcare workers, children and people with disabilities “knowing they were identifiable as such.”

In addition, we know that Israel's airstrikes on Gaza last year obliterated key media buildings reporting on events from Palestine.

Ultimately, this issue extends even beyond justice for the Palestinians. Israel’s shooting of journalists, and attacks on the media in general, should alarm anybody concerned with free speech and a free press.

There’s no liberal defense as there was decades ago. The indefensible can’t be defended. Israeli occupation is apartheid in every sense.

In August 2018, I was aboard one of a group of boats sailing from Europe to Gaza to deliver medical aid to the Palestinians, thus breaking the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip. We set off from Sicily.

The passengers were international activists and journalists, including nationals from Israel, Canada, France, Iran, Spain and Sweden.

About 40 nautical miles from Gaza, after two weeks at sea, in the dead of the night on August 4, we were surrounded by Israeli vessels and arrested in a long and drawn-out process that took several hours.

All this in international waters.

It’s hard to do justice to the scene but our small boat, in which the engine had blown days before, had been slowly continuing to Gaza, nonetheless, bobbing haplessly along before being intercepted.

The power of the Israeli forces surrounding our tiny beat-up boat called The Freedom was disproportionate, to say the least.

We had broken no laws. Even so, our ship was taken by Israeli commandos. They pointed guns at us for hours. We were towed from Gaza, which had been visible, and taken to Ashdod, Israel.

Taking aid to a besieged people via international water is not a crime under international law. Our arrest, however, was illegal.

We were held for days. We were treated like criminals. It was the Israelis who broke the law, though. They assaulted us. They detained us. They stole from us. One of our sister boats, which was ahead of us, was viciously attacked. Those aboard sustained serious injuries.

It’s worth remembering that a similar flotilla, the Mavi Marmara in 2010, was also raided at night en route to Gaza. Israeli commandos killed nine people. To this day, nobody has been held to account.

Nobody ever is.

That’s why there’s little faith in an impartial investigation of Israel by Israel for Israel in the shooting death of Shireen Abu Akleh.

Recent days have seen unthinkable video footage of mourners, who were carrying the coffin of Shireen Abu Akleh, being attacked by Israeli soldiers. Her coffin almost hit the ground. Videos showing the disgraceful scenes were seen by millions around the world.

They needed no explanation.

Even so, media outlets reported that grieving Palestinians “clashed” with Israeli security forces, reminding us the occupation is glossed over at every turn by those with the power to shape our thinking.

That’s as true in the US as it is in the UK.

A 2021 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology examined tens of thousands of articles in the Times published during the first and second intifadas. It found that anti-Palestinian coverage persisted even when Israeli violence was greater than Palestinian resistance to it.

There’s nowhere to hide.

Either Israel is a rogue state operating under apartheid or it’s a democracy – in which case it’s time to ask hard questions.

Qualified immunity is rooted in white supremacy and gives cops a free pass to lynch Black people

Though it took more than a century as well as countless lives lost to white supremacy, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act is now US law.

It has been widely hailed as an important piece of symbolism.

Considering America’s longstanding love affair with lynching, however, which continues to this day, symbolism is the most we can take away.

While it’s good that those terrorists of lynching now potentially face another layer of punishment, it’s too little too late. Why?

Because the new law does not deal with a core problem: police.

White men in uniform lynch the most.

They are also most likely to get away with it.

One hundred years ago, the police and white vigilantes worked in tandem to murder Black people. In the 1950s, the police and white vigilantes conspired together to kill Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black child.

In 2022, we might ask, what has actually changed?

It might be tempting to get all starry-eyed about America’s new anti-lynching law. The long history of racial oppression and its modern ramifications in America, however, do not permit such a luxury.

Things are too dangerous for Black people.

Racial bias among police is well documented. Police continue to terrorize Black America, knowing what the right thing to do is. They refuse to follow laws that should already ensure that being Black in America at the wrong time and place is not a death sentence.

Days ago, a video was released of an incident in 2021. It shows the shooting and execution of an unarmed Black man named Quadry Sanders at the hands of police in Lawton, Okla.

What preceded the incident does not matter. Sanders was unarmed. After being shot, while lying on the floor, when asked to “raise his hands,” he does so from a near fetal position.

He’s already dying.

Again, the cops shoot him.

All of these videos are awful, but the shooting of Sanders is especially stomach-churning. The moment he’s asked to raise his hands while on the floor riddled with bullets, dutifully complying, only to be shot several more times, sums up everything wrong with anti-Black policing.

Comply, don’t comply, carry a gun or don’t carry a gun, asleep in your home or out with your kids – if you’re Black in America, the hunt is on.

So will the new Emmett Till anti-lynching law apply to police officers too? Well, they would need to be charged first, and this is the real issue.

Qualified immunity feeds the problem.

Bishop Talbert Swan is president of the NAACP chapter of Springfield Massachusetts and a strong critic of racist policing in the United States.

He told the Editorial Board:

While I commend Congressman Bobby Rush for sponsoring and pushing the anti-lynching legislation, we understand the epidemic of legalized lynchings of Black people by law enforcement across this nation will not be abated by the threat of increased sentences.
Especially when most police officers who kill Black people are never charged. It is not the severity of a punishment that is likely to prevent hate crimes. It is the certainty of it.
In America, white police officers and white vigilantes are almost certainly will not be punished for murdering a Black person.

Last year, the Asian-American community succeeded after a couple of months in seeing the anti-Asian hate crime law become a reality.

Black people have been in America before the first European settlers arrived. They’ve experienced hundreds of years of state-sanctioned murder. And yet not an anti-Black hate crime bill in sight.

President Biden doesn’t have to wait to be lobbied.

Black communities need a solid commitment from the government to uproot white supremacy within policing. That needs to happen now.

Why is the United States accepting Ukrainian refugees but not Haitians?

Joe Biden has pledged the United States will receive 100,000 Ukrainian refugees alongside promises from other European nations to accommodate thousands more fleeing the Russian invasion.

The move has been announced just weeks after an agreement was made at the European Commission and among EU states to implement an emergency directive, providing Ukrainians legal residential status, access to education facilities and the labor market.

The swift and collective stance of solidarity by the US and European countries has been praised. Europe, once unsure about what to do with the 1.5 million refugees from the Middle East and Africa since 2015, resulting in Brexit and the ascension of far-right politics, seems to have found a united voice over the fate of Ukrainian refugees.

Reasons why can be found in extraordinary coverage of the crisis.

War happening in Europe (despite Europe’s long history of war) is apparently something “unthinkable,” as conflict is usually something taking place in Third World countries, not civilized countries like Ukraine. These are Europeans with blond hair and blue eyes, after all, making it much easier for certain news reporters to relate to them.

Glaring for anybody not living under a rock for the last seven years is the contrast between media coverage of 2022 versus 2015.

Back then, news coverage often centered on the perceived differences of the refugees, rather than on their humanity.

They weren’t white with blonde hair, so they were viewed as a threat to European values by majority Christian countries. Such countries forgot, or chose to ignore, that Jesus himself was a brown refugee fleeing persecution (and then lynched by the Roman Empire).

Europe and now the US falling over themselves to accommodate thousands of Ukrainians must feel like a slap in the face to those also seeking safety from war or born without the privilege of white skin.

Biden’s offer of allowing 100,000 Ukrainians refuge is a powerful reversal from the administration's swift deportation of thousands of Haitians just months ago.

Who can forget the scenes at Del Rio late last year, of the migrant camp in Texas which saw 15,000 Haitians enter in just over 24 hours, with the total number doubling within days.

It was a humanitarian crisis, in the midst of a global health crisis, but as is the case with Europe, rather than the Haitians being viewed as human, they were treated as a political crisis.

They were quickly removed in Biden’s quest to appease those on the right accusing him of being too soft on migration, exploiting the use of Title 42 – something that’s supposed to end at the beginning of April. (Biden is said to be planning to rescind the order soon.)

What’s worse is the US played a leading role in creating the instability in Haiti, causing Haitians to leave by the thousands. By sending Haitians back, though many had not lived in the country for years and had entered the US via Mexico, the US government potentially compromised the safety of those who’d otherwise claim asylum.

Sending people back to where they face danger is a breach of human rights.

Biden could have found a way to accept those Haitians, just as he has found a way to accept these Ukrainians.

But whether he or anyone else cares to admit it, there is simply less value placed on the lives of white refugees than non-white refugees.

For a president who campaigned as being the opposite of the openly racist Trump, his policies toward Black migrants compared with European refugees is shameful.

Enough time has passed for the Biden administration to distinguish itself from Trump’s dogma over migration. Biden is therefore now continuing to follow these policies, because he chooses too.

Decent-minded people need to force him to do better.

Playing into the “good refugee” and “bad refugee” narrative on the basis of whiteness, which Biden has done, is a dangerous path with deadly consequences, and he damn well knows it.

Prince Andrew's $15.7 million settlement to Jeffrey Epstein abuse victim is a rich guy 'evading accountability'

In modern so-called first-class democracies, what’s the price of evading accountability for the class of supremely powerful elites?

Well, more than $15.7 million, it seems, which is the approximate sum Prince Andrew paid to avoid facing Virginia Giuffre in civil court.

That’s a lot of money, considering Andrew protested his innocence throughout the saga. From his perspective, it’s a great deal of money to pay to a woman who had, according to his version of events, falsely accused him of abusing her, a former sex-trafficking victim, ruining his public image and damaging that of the wider royal family.

A few weeks after, Andrew’s in the headlines again. The British mainstream media is now presenting him as a defeated man, ousted from his family, punished by means of having his royal obligations and titles stripped. All this creates the impression that, although Andrew has been a bad boy, and we all know why, and although he never faced a judge and jury, he really has been punished, honestly he has.

In fact, it’s a royally deliberate exercise in damage control.

Jeffrey Epstein is said to have described Andrew as “low-hanging fruit,” as one of his most-prized contacts in his star-studded portfolio.

Andrew’s handling of events in the press, his energy, and attempted explanation for the excruciating car crash of an interview with the BBC – all this seems to match Epstein’s description of him.

A bit dim, and happy to keep associating with Epstein as a “working” member of the royal family, even after Epstein had been convicted of sex assault charges, a man operating in a different universe from the rest of us. Andrew is one of the obscenely rich for whom the world is their playground and the lives of ordinary human beings their sport.

Remarkably, the prince has acknowledged Giuffre was a victim of sex trafficking, having previously suggested the claims were a fabrication. He has vowed to support other victims – very noble for a man who described one of his own few character flaws as often being “too honorable.” This despite having previously suggested that the picture purportedly showing him with his arm around Giuffre as a teen, with Ghislaine Maxwell lurking in the background, was fake.

In reality, the accusations and evidence thrown at the prince lead only in one direction. It should be said, according to the letter of the law, that Andrew is innocent of having committed any crime. He’s faced no court. It should be said the law, quite obviously, does not set the benchmark for deciding who’s innocent and who’s guilty.

Plenty of crimes of morality and decency happen all the time that are perfectly legal while those who carried them out end up walking free.

Now, to be clear, if the paid settlement to Virginia Giuffre was what she wanted, more power to her. Her bravery is nothing short of heroic. I hope the money sets her family up very comfortably and helps pay for the support she needs following her trauma. While Andrew avoided court, his reputation is in tatters to the point that other royal family members have quietly disassociated themselves from him.

But here’s the thing that gets me.

For so many in Britain, the royal family is presented as some kind of representative of real British values (whatever those are meant to be), with millions firmly believing the power they hold is symbolic, and that the royals actually serve some useful function in society.

Fact is, they are an outdated economic drain on society funded by taxpayers, a relic of a shameful age and chapter in British history.

Their wealth was accumulated on the backs of others. Their image plays a central role in Britain's image at home and abroad.

They are an institution and one of the most powerful in the world. Meghan Markle once described them as others have, as “the firm” that is more akin to a criminal syndicate than anything else.

Andrew might have paid millions of pounds to avoid proving his innocence, but this is chump change, a small price to avoid having one of their own face justice and democracies in a courtroom.

Just like Epstein, Andrew was never going to face justice.

Within a relatively short space of time, he’ll likely ease his way back into public life, having received no more than a slap on the wrist.

Why is the United Kingdom arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine?

They say one of the first casualties in war is truth. Over the last few weeks, while the UK and US media have been covering Russia’s war against Ukraine, rightly highlighting the civilian casualties killed by Russian forces, there’s one story that hasn’t gained traction.

Most are aware of ultra-right-wing neo-Nazis, embedded at the heart of Ukraine’s armed forces, known to be among Ukraine’s most effective fighters.

But in an explosive new development unearthed by the investigative website Declassified UK, it’s believed that some of the anti-tank weaponry in the hands of neo-Nazis was likely manufactured in the UK, in Belfast by the French arms company, Thales.

Just days ago, the Azov battalion was reportedly pictured in Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine located in the northwest of the country, posing with the Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon (NLAW).

The UK Defense Ministry is thought to have equipped Ukraine forces with almost 4,000 NLAWs while Luxembourg is thought to have donated around 100.

Officially, parliament was informed by James Heappey MP, Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces, that the UK has not provided assistance to the Ukrainian National Guard including the Azov Battalion.

Given the new images showing Azov in the possession of NLAWS however, and considering that the UK has donated the overwhelming majority of them to Ukraine, Heappey’s assurance to parliament is surely thrown into question.

There are also concerns that weaponry headed from the UK to Ukraine has fallen into the hands of other ultra-right-wing groups beyond Azov.

The implications of the UK bearing responsibility for anti-tank rocket launchers falling into the hands of neo-Nazis like Azov are serious, especially when we consider that Africans and other nonwhite people are thought to remain trapped in the country.

In recent days, we’ve seen many reports and videos documenting the plight of non-White people fleeing the country and the racism faced by them at the borders.

Azov are viewed as an integral part of Ukraine’s national defense with ambitions, according to the group's founder Andriy Biletsky, to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade … against Semite-led Untermenschen [subhumans].”

Considering that Azov are accused of war crimes, and that they seek influence and power, arming them while nonwhite people vulnerable to their extremist ideology remain trapped in the country seems cruel and irresponsible.

While much sympathy has been drummed up for Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country, non-White people are sitting ducks. They are struggling to get through the border while Ukrainian pets have been prioritized ahead of them and while groups like Azov pose lethal danger to them amid the chaos of war.

The US Congress has denounced the Azov regiment, passing a bill in 2018 prohibiting public money from being allocated to them.

The UK, however – a strong ally of the US, potentially delivering Azov weapons, with the promise of more – makes a mockery of this.

However, given the accusations the UK and US have faced, regarding the arming of dangerous groups during the wars on Libya and Syria, while selling weapons to regimes, including Saudi Arabia and Israel, known for human rights breaches, this wouldn’t be the first time.

Putin’s claim of “denazifying” Ukraine is a false justification for the war. Civilian areas have been bombed, even during ceasefire, and the Russian armed forces, too, are known for having extreme right-wing elements.

However, whitewashing and ignoring the clear influence, danger and aspirations of neo-Nazis in Ukraine, while denouncing Russia’s aggression, is not good enough.

The danger of appeasing neo-Nazis is all too clear.

Britain and its allies do not have the luxury of denouncing human rights transgressions and war crimes while providing support for groups which view non-White people as subhuman.

It just doesn’t square.

If armed neo-Nazis in Ukraine is the price of the West defending Ukraine, we have to ask; what will be the long term cost?

This war has thrown a magnifying glass on many issues of racism, which we knew plagued the discourse. In the media, people from the Middle East and North Africa have been portrayed as little more than hapless impotent victims born in uncivilized war-torn countries, producing an unlimited stream of refugees poised to invade Europe, ready to steal jobs and housing.

Pundits have exclaimed in wonderment, though, about the fact that these new refugees from Ukraine have blonde hair and blue eyes – and look just like them.

European countries, in turn, have gone out of their way to accept the roughly 2 million Ukrainian refugees who look like them.

Just a few years ago, however, Black and brown refugees fleeing war were seen as an existential threat to European countries and “values.”

They were and are treated as a political football producing political movements like Brexit while viewed as an unwanted symptom of some sort of impending “clash of civilisations.”

We have seen the gut-wrenching reports of Black and brown people blocked at the border of Ukraine, facing racism in Ukraine and Poland, while Poland has been praised for its welcoming of Ukrainians.

And now we see, that in the middle of the war, neo-Nazis have very likely been armed by weapons made in the UK.

In UK schools, much is made of Britain's role in World War Two, fighting the Nazis and pitting the values of democracy and freedom against fascism. Britain, therefore, allegedly involved in a chain of events that equips neo-Nazis with rocket launchers is quite something.

It’s important that we understand the full picture of war, and part of that process must be grounded in understanding exactly who is fighting, for what reasons, and ultimately, the origins of weapons.

The UK providing millions of pounds in weaponry, some of it likely ending up in the hands of neo-Nazis – the most extreme elements of European nationalism – will only end in disaster.

America’s ‘war on terror’ is blind to white terror

It makes for chilling reading, but it’s entirely necessary. Recently, yet another former FBI agent blew the whistle on the deadly and growing threat posed by white supremacist extremism in the United States.

Scott, whose full name Rolling Stone decided to keep in confidence, was an undercover spy for the FBI. He infiltrated far-right domestic terror groups over decades. His work is not for the faint-hearted.

Now imagine that, even for a man of his character, the things he saw and the people he met. They are so dangerous that in the midst of his retirement the scale and threat posed by white supremacy to the security of the United States still keeps him up at night.

He can’t unsee. In the article, he points out there are millions more white supremacists plotting murder and carnage. That’s juxtaposed with a comparative handful of FBI agents tasked with tracking them.

The FBI has already uses most of the resources allotted for monitoring white supremacists. But by Scott’s estimation, those resources are clearly insufficient to keeping pace with the size of the threat.

Not only that, but according to the FBI, white supremacy is the fastest growing form of domestic terror. When we consider the fact that the FBI itself has a problem of white supremacists corrupting its ranks, it's obvious why former agents like Scott are losing sleep over the danger.

All of the above suggests that unless a plan of action is implemented to tackle the vast scale of white supremacist terror in the United States, the country is on a collision course with the enemy from within.

It would be comforting to beieve that the world's most sophisticated security services have a secret plan to counteract the white supremacist terror. But I’m more than dubious. Why?

We know terror campaigns against Black people by white supremacists have been supported by police or in conjunction with the police.

Moreover, January 6, 2021, which had white supremacy written all over it, is yet to be accounted for and we know police had prior knowledge. The Proud Boys and their knuckle-dragging brethren have yet to be classified as domestic terrorists. A dozen white supremacists even plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

It’s no wonder that former operatives like Scott are deeply concerned about white supremacist terror and the free reign being given.

He told Rolling Stone about his conversations with Klan members. He moreover recalled stoner teenagers with axes to grind who were full of sublime ignorance and fortified with an intense hatred for anyone non-white. They saw themselves as guardians of the “master race.”

These people had conviction. Tons of it.

And they aren’t aging hillbillies either.

They are in terror cells, Scott said. Yet the right-wing media treats them as patriots who love their country. These fanatics are validated by mainstream media and even some politicians while their hatred incubates on far-right websites, echo chambers and chat rooms.

Indeed, the part that hits home for me was this:

Scott fetches up a meme he pulled off one of the apps where rageful kids meet up. It is a viral poster of the so-called saints who inspire white terrorists worldwide. At the top is Saint Breivik — as in Anders Breivik, the Norwegian who slaughtered 69 people at a summer camp for kids, and another eight in Oslo with a van bomb.

Just below him is Saint Tarrant — as in Brenton Tarrant, the Australian who murdered 51 people in a pair of New Zealand mosques.

Two down from him is Robert Bowers, the Pennsylvania trucker who allegedly slew 11 at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

This meme is a totem pole for Nazi youth in training, the standings in a pennant race of killers. Bracketing their stat lines is a phrase in block chalk: “Will you make it onto the leaderboard … ?”

These fascist red-hats feel their moment has come. They are as emboldened as ever. They might yet see Donald Trump back in office. That would further validate their mission to fight for “white survival.”

This is America’s new war on terror. In the past, it did not apply to white supremacists. Black and Brown countries abroad, rich with oil and resources? They apply. The price for such blindness is high.

Not only is white supremacy not being treated like the domestic terror threat, which is obvious, but it’s often rewarded or treated with kid gloves. Lives depend on the government getting a handle on this.

Decent people must demand it.

Sheriff’s deputies allegedly circulated images of the remains of Kobe Bryant and his daughter. This goes beyond corruption

When basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were tragically killed in a helicopter crash two years ago, it sent shockwaves throughout America, and the world. LA in particular was in a state of mourning. Like a handful of other basketball legends before him, Kobe quite literally changed the game.

For me, as a teenager growing up playing basketball in the UK, obsessed with the game usually at the expense of other priorities, Bryant was one of my heroes. So I won’t pretend I’m not emotional about this. I am. His death truly upset me, and many others I know. It almost felt like a family member had left. And way too soon.

With that said, even if I’d never played the game, my views on the utterly disgraceful saga that followed Kobe’s death would be exactly the same. What unfolded for the Bryant family and the families of the other souls who perished on the helicopter was horrific. And frankly unfathomable at a time when they should have been grieving in peace.

Vanessa Bryant, following the death of her husband and daughter, filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County in September 2020. The lawsuit alleges that graphic images of Kobe and Gianna were leaked by LA county sheriff’s deputies and shared in settings and circles that had nothing to do with the investigation. Why were they shared?

Lawyers for LA county tried to have the case thrown out, arguing that while the photos had indeed been leaked by officers, because the photos never went public, Bryant’s fear of the worst happening was “not reasonable." Nevermind the fact that if true, those involved are guilty of serious misconduct. Lawyers for LA County, wanting to throw out the widow’s lawsuit, claim the photos have long since been destroyed and that they cannot be recovered.

A federal judge, though, thankfully has denied the request for the case to be dismissed, and the trial is set to go ahead in February.

Vanessa Bryant and her lawyers also successfully won the fight for the names of the sheriff’s deputies who allegedly shared the images of Kobe and Gianna’s remains, to be made public. The lawsuit cites violations of privacy, civil rights and distress. She’s had to deal with this nightmare, in addition to suffering unimaginable loss.

As the trial date nears, in a new court filing, Bryant’s lawyers have suggested the sharing of graphic images went far beyond a few officers and a handful of others as was initially suggested.

The suit alleges that close-up photos of Gianna and Kobe’s remains were circulated to at least 28 sheriff’s department devices and by at least a dozen firefighters, multiple bars and even at an awards gala. The accused are alleged to have engaged in a mass cover up while destroying evidence of their misconduct.

This scandal is about more than about the indignity of the images being shared. LA law enforcement was tasked with securing the crash scene, and in doing so, should have safeguarded privacy and by extension the emotional wellbeing of victims’ families. But they have done the opposite. With cruelty. And tried to cover their tracks.

But this case for me, even goes beyond corruption.

Because the implication that images of Kobe and Gianna’s remains were shared, even among the setting of an awards gala of all places, sits alongside another uncomfortable landscape in America. That is, the fetishisation and exploitation of Black suffering.

I don’t know the ethnicity or background of the majority of the officials allegedly involved in sharing those images and the reported cover up. But I’ll hasten a guess at this point.

Thing is, if LA police didn’t have an awful history steeped in anti-Black racism and policing, they might be given the benefit of the doubt.

But there’s a lot of bad apples in that particular basket. Beyond the obscene twisted sickness of owning a piece of the Bryant family’s trauma saved on phones to show off to friends, all possibilities of what led to this are on the table right now.

So many officers are potentially involved I find it hard to believe a fetish for Black suffering played no role in the gleeful willingness to revel in the pain of a Black man’s death along with his daughter.

The ability and entitlement to elicit entertainment from the death of Black people in the United States has a long historical precedent, one rooted in one of the greatest crimes against humanity.

Racists used to take pictures of Black lynchings, bring their kids along to witness the horror and enjoy the suffering. Is there a connection between that history, and the Kobe-Gianna images? Given the issues of policing, and the roots of those issues, is it a stretch to imagine certain officers might be guilty of something similar today? Maybe time will tell. Or maybe they will evade real accountability.

These things sadly are the norm. I could list countless other examples. This is why the truth of what happened needs to come out at the trial bravely pushed for by Vanessa Bryant and her lawyers.

Those guilty need to face accountability and ultimately punishment. Law enforcement failed to protect the dignity of the Bryant family, but now they at least deserve justice and have a chance at that, through the courts. The police are meant to uphold the law; they should not be above it or beyond it. LA police have a lot to answer for. Someone needs to be held responsible. This scandal must not be buried.

The bizarre case of the alleged kidnapping plot against Gov. Whitmer demands answers from the FBI

We’ve been warned for decades about the growing threat of white nationalism in the United States. Back in 2020, FBI director Christopher Wray acknowledged that white supremacy is the fastest growing domestic terror threat in the country, accounting for the large proportion of the FBI’s resources. Wray eventually described the J6 insurrection last year, as an act of domestic terror.

This reality is often drowned out by an avalanche of falsehoods perpetuated by the media, especially conservative media. The greatest threat to US security is posed by the existential enemy from outside, we are told. Islamic extremists, or criminals making their way across the border, are the greatest obstacles for national security.

We are told that the radical woke left, as well as those pesky Black Lives Matter protesters armed with their anti-white critical race theory, pose a danger to cities across the country as well as the minds of innocent white school children.

These fallacies have taken root, even in the minds of what many would describe as respectable Middle Americans.

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All the above simply isn’t the case. It’s a smokescreen, distraction and reaction, to the very real danger that white supremacy, or the enemy within, poses to democracy. J6 revealed the menace that unchecked white supremacy presents when bolstered by brazen confidence.

The fanatics and cohorts who swarmed the US Capitol believed their divinely ordained moment had arrived. Many saw their defense of white supremacy as the fulfilment of an almost biblical prophecy, a duty, themselves modern-day crusaders in MAGA hats, defending all that is white and pristine.

They might attempt to shroud it in patriotism, but in actuality it’s the very opposite of anything virtuous. These people are dangerous. And not nearly enough is being done to stop them in their tracks.

We’ve seen the lacklustre sentences that many of the assailants have been given. We’ve seen, too, the reluctance of the media to even describe them as terrorists.

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What happens, though, when the very organizations supposedly tasked with tackling such threats have themselves become part of the mix, for all the wrong reasons?

Look no further than the curious case of Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan’s governor. In late 2020, the FBI announced it had “foiled” a plot to kidnap her. Those involved were part of the Wolverine Watchmen, a group that shares ties and ideologies with the Boogaloo movement, another violent far-right extremist group.

Since late 2020, we've learned a few things.

While the case against the assailants has been building, it came to light that one of those involved in the plot was an FBI informant. Not only that, but it has also since been claimed that the agent in question was actually aiding the terrorists.

READ: Former top FBI official: 'Concerning' Ginni Thomas signed letter saying Jan. 6 participants 'have done nothing wrong'

The FBI has ID’d Stephen Robeson as a “double agent,”’ presenting him as going against the orders of the FBI.

But now, in another dramatic twist in the plot, a lawyer for one of the defendants, Adam Fox, has slammed the prosecution, claiming that the FBI knew exactly what Robeson was up to. He actively helped advance the plan to kidnap Whitmer.

The claim is apparently backed up by a court filing and a 2020 audio recording supposedly heard by lead FBI agents. Another informant confirmed to Fox that Robeson was indeed offering to use charity funds to purchase weapons to carry out the attack on Whitmer.

Defense attorneys for the five facing charges want all charges dismissed, citing the numerous questions about the FBI's shady squad, including the involvement of yet another agent on the case. Richard Trask was accused of domestic violence and later fired by the Feds. Robeson, too, has a criminal rap sheet dating back to the 1980s.

READ: 'You singlehandedly blocked the Emmett Till antilynching act': Rand Paul scorched over his MLK 'commemoration'

Assailants facing charges are due in court in March. But while we wait for the truth to prevail, and for the full extent of the FBI's involvement to come to light, many will be left pondering – did the FBI recruit questionable character out of simple incompetence? Or if the claim that the FBI knew exactly what was going on turns out to be true, who becomes accountable and what will be done about it?

Even if the FBI’s defense is true, and their dangerous recruits were down to shoddy decision-making, what if the plot to kidnap Whitmer had been a success?

The relationship between the FBI and many notable controversies over the years are well-known and have been well documented.

In 2022, the case of the plot to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer ultimately raises, once again, the age old uncomfortable question: Who investigates and polices the FBI?

The public deserves answers.

Homeland Security has devolved into a nearly rogue agency — accused of spying on journalists and activists

Freedom of the press and the ability of journalists to hold governments to account is regarded as a critical pillar of democracy. In the United States, it’s supposed to be safeguarded by the First Amendment.

However, especially in recent years, the US government stands accused, maybe more than ever, of allowing increasing attacks on press freedom and the abuse of state power to trample on any notion of journalists being truly able to do their job if they wish to hold the powerful to account – and go against the government line.

There are many examples to choose from, which ought to elicit concern, while the problem also clearly transcends party politics – and, by no means, is the problem new. The starkest examples might be US treatment of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden.

But ever since its inception following 9/11, the US Department for Homeland Security has descended into little more than a rogue agency that stands accused of spying not just on journalists but also activists and minority communities, too, leading many to demand that Congress make some kind of meaningful reform happen.

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These concerns have been thrust into the spotlight amid revelations that a customs border protection unit, known as the Counter Division Network, part of Homeland Security, accessed government data created to track terrorists to essentially spy on dozens of journalists on US soil, including a Pulitzer prize-winning AP journalist.

If such transgressions of press freedom were occurring outside of the US, they might garner far greater nationwide media coverage.

In July, Attorney General Merrick Garland forbade prosecutors from obtaining the personal records of journalists following outcry from the news that Trump’s Justice Department had controversially seized records of members of Congress, their aides and journalists.

But now, alarmingly, Jeffrey Rambo, one of the federal agents said to have been conducting investigations and gathering information on journalists, has suggested to investigators that such practices were the norm, rather than any exception to the rule stating, “When a name comes across your desk you run it through every system you have access to,” he said. “That’s just status quo. That’s what everyone does.”

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This is a far cry from government powers being used to protect the borders. More apparent, though, is that government powers created under the pretext of national security might have been exploited and remain exploited for politically expedient and nefarious purposes.

Similar transgressions are also believed to have taken place during Obama’s presidency. So the picture being painted suggests press freedom is not under attack from occasional abuses of federal power, but is actually under threat from endemic institutional corruption.

For many observers, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has offered little in the way of any real sufficient explanation following demands for full transparency and accountability from the media.

Despite possible criminal charges for Rambo and other agents accused of abusing sensitive government databases to access the private information and contact lists of journalists, the DOJ stopped short of pursuing prosecution against any of those allegedly involved.

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During the Trump era, verbal attacks by the former president on journalists became the norm, and a source of national embarrassment. Some have even said Trump’s violent rhetoric aimed at journalists may have presented a green-light for some to physically attack reporters. Indeed, physical attacks on reporters magnified during the Trump era.

But, surely, increasing evidence of the apparatus of the state being levied against journalists should lead to outcry from sensible people, irrespective of political affiliations. As the saying goes, “then they came for the journalists .. and we don’t know what happened after that.”

For a president like Joe Biden, who campaigned by offering a radical opposite to Trump, and a fresh brand of statesmanship, he now resembles more of a lame political duck, the only difference being that the Democrats still actually have a lot of power in Congress.

Decisive action on the issue of press freedom, and a serious push to transform and reform the operations of the Department for Homeland Security is not out of reach. But again, such a move requires political determination, and the current status quo suggests that such a miracle can only happen, if ordinary decent Americans demand more from their president. There surely must exist the capacity and appetite for that – somewhere. After all, press freedom is not a left, right, blue or red issue. It’s simply about freedom, and arguably one of the most important freedoms of all. It surely must be protected at all costs.

READ: 'A dangerous fascist': Critics blast Josh Hawley on the anniversary of his Fox News insurrection threat

Biden is not bringing the change he promised on immigration

Fifty-five human beings were crushed to death in the confines of a truck estimated to be carrying around two hundred souls. Of those two hundred human beings were almost certainly the ones who perished first, as the truck carrying them, likely speeding, crashed into the steel base of a pedestrian bridge. Survivors have spoken of their ordeal – as best as they can articulate such a horror scene.

Bodybags and white sheets were said to have littered the side of the road while survivors were said to have visible bones broken along with other injuries. It sounds like the set of a horror movie. Witnesses who saw the aftermath recounted how survivors hobbled away into the nearby surrounding streets, still bloodied and injured.

The 55 people who died, which happened in Chiapas Mexico, were migrants trying desperately to enter the United States. Most of them undocumented, they were likely from Guatemala. They were crammed into the truck, because, despite having the right to claim asylum at the US border, they knew the letter of the law does not apply equally.

Packing yourself into a truck container, maybe with your children, presents obvious dangers. For many migrants, though, it’s the better option. Democracies like the United States are failing the world’s most vulnerable people. It’s not right. It’s a downright disgrace.

READ: The Constitution provides a simple solution to the Democrats' Supreme Court problem that everyone is ignoring

In recent months, we saw images of the many thousands of desperate Haitian migrants, dealing with a similar plight, amassing in Del Rio with the hope of having their cases heard. For the majority of them, which was thousands, it was not to be the case. They found themselves swiftly deported to Haiti, some of them facing imminent danger from the moment they disembarked the aircraft.

For the 55 migrants who died in Mexico, they paid a price they knew they might pay, but they were willing to take their chances. That’s how bad the situation is in the homeland they left behind. We know, too, that the US often plays a pivotal role in creating the very conditions that cause people to leave their homelands in the first place.

Despite these sad realities, myths and lies about immigration persist. Presidents, from Kennedy to Obama, might well speak of the central role that migration plays in shaping American democracy. But American history also reflects the fact that so many, despite the evidence, do not believe immigration to be a good thing.

Laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Immigration Act of 1917, plus the Emergency Quota Act of 1921 reflect a desire to limit immigration (especially from those Black and brown countries outside Europe). Similarly, Donald Trump did not become president in spite of his lies about Mexicans and Muslims, but because of them.

READ: An urgent warning from 3 retired generals explains how 2024 may trigger 'military breakdown' and 'civil war'

This is a backward state of affairs for a country in which Lady Liberty exclaims, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

But why let the facts get in the way of appeasing “respectable white people,” to use John Stoehr’s nomenclature, and their fear about immigration? What are the facts? Well, it’s no secret that modern American society would simply not function without immigration. Services would collapse in a day and the same can be said of the United Kingdom. Every honest economist will tell you how immigrants boost the economy as well as innovation. Migration also has a direct positive knock-on effect regarding the democratic process.

Studies have shown, as was the case with researchers at the University of Texas, which looked at a survey of more than 600 Mexican respondents, that having family and friends who have moved abroad makes individuals twice as likely to engage in politics and more likely to become involved in organized protests. It also encourages democratization back home (for all its pros and cons.) The United Nations too, suggests migration contributes to economic development and growth when supported by appropriate policies,

That’s a far cry from the likes of Tucker Carlson.

READ: How conservatives launder their hate into the mainstream

I doubt many expected Joe Biden’s presidency to immediately make things better for migrants but at the very least there might have been the expectation that he’d try to roll back Trump’s policies as promised, not double down on them. Nothing will deter migrants from leaving in search of safety and better opportunities, not Title 42, nor the words of Kamala Harris telling would-be migrants not to come.

While this remains the case, the US therefore has an obligation to make routes safer and to prevent those who are going to make the often deadly journey from falling into the hands of human traffickers that create the tragic scenes like the one in Chiapas.

This responsibility doesn’t just rest on the shoulders of the government. Americans need to demand it! Part of that starts with recognizing the basic humanity of migrants, rather than viewing them as threats when in actual fact they are the very backbone of society.

The truth about the world the Ghislaine Maxwell trial has revealed

The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell is underway. She’s accused of taking part in the most serious crimes with Jeffrey Epstein. Given the wide-ranging implications of all of those potentially embroiled, the supremely powerful and wealthy, you'd think the episode might be generating more headlines. At the moment, though, it’s not.

And the fact that it's being treated almost like any other news story is a poignant reminder that there is one rule for the most influential and another rule for everyone else. The way in which the entire scandal has so far played out clearly reflects how the dynamics of privilege, power and race operate in today's society.

The lack of coverage proportionate to the reality and gravitas of the story is one thing. And who knows, perhaps that might change.

But the entire reason Epstein and Maxwell were able to carry out their crimes for so long, plain and simple, is because Epstein was an incredibly powerful wealthy white man, who moved in similar circles, while being protected by those who looked like him. And, of course, no one doubts that Epstein likely had dirt on many of them, too.

READ: CNN airs brutal supercut exposing Fox News's glaring hypocrisy after Christmas tree attack

Had Epstein been Black or Muslim or both, committing a fraction of the crimes with a fraction of Epstein's bank balance, the scope and nature of the coverage would be very different indeed.

There’d probably be sweeping generalizations made by the press and pundit corps about Epstein's race, religion and so on. People would be asking if there were anything endemic culturally within the white community that contributed to his crimes and questioning whether the white community as a whole is doing enough to weed out other Epsteins that it might harbor. There would be demands by some that white men everywhere issue an apology on behalf of Epstein.

This hasn't happened, as well it shouldn't, because people don't commit crimes because of skin color. Only stupid people think that.

Epstein's skin and wealth meant he received a relative pass by the justice system and to a large extent the media, up until his death. Until that point, so many of the stories about Epstein referred to his rape of children and minors as “sex crimes” or “sex with underage girls,” etc.

READ: 'Their sphincters will tighten': Matt Gaetz goes after the FBI

And let’s not forget, when Epstein did eventually face a couple of charges in 2008 related to procuring a minor for prostitution, he only served 13 months behind bars, in a private section of prison while allowed to leave jail often, under an extensive work release program.

Bear in mind that in America, thousands of Black and brown people languish in jail often for decades for very minor crimes. Sometimes we later learn that they are innocent altogether. Epstein was free to continue ruining lives after a year. Talk about a mockery of justice.

At this point, some will claim that Epstein's ability to carry out his crimes over many years, while evading justice, is more about wealth and powerful connections than his white skin. They might even claim that the reason Epstein was untouchable was because, as has been claimed by some, that he was “intelligence.” But it's not the case.

Take a look for example, at the relative slap on the wrist that the January 6 insurgents have so far received in what the FBI described as an act of domestic terror. Those people were not billionaires, nor did they maintain connections to the highest echelons of power. What they were armed with was their white skin and all of the privilege it entails. And there are many other examples. We all know it.

READ: Tucker Carlson’s ‘baseless conspiracy theory’ about the Jan. 6 rioters has been forcefully debunked

Epstein had the armory of wealth, class and whiteness. The system is almost tailor-made for the likes of him. And to put it bluntly, the system never held Epstein to account fully in his lifetime, because for all intents and purposes, Epstein and Maxwell were that system.

As if this point had not been illustrated enough, the last few days produced a spectacular development in Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial. A photo was shown in court that seemed to depict Maxwell and Epstein relaxing at Balmoral, the British Queen’s private Scotland residence.

Which reminds me, if you need another similar example of how the system favors men like Epstein, look no further than Prince Andrew. It’s not just that he’s a royal, which is the reason he has thus far evaded accountability. After all, Meghan Markle is a royal, too, and has all but been hounded by the Anglo-American press over the last few years because she’s a Black woman – to the point she’s thought of suicide.

Prince Andrew is from the same privileged bubble as Epstein. That’s why they were buddies. So, as Maxwell’s trial continues, remember it’s impossible to remove the politics of race and class from the equation.

READ: Justice Sotomayor blasts the Supreme Court’s right-wing majority: ‘Should have put an end to this madness’

Many people doubt Epstein took his own life in 2019 before he faced trial. But even if you assume the official narrative is true, the system, which should have been watching him 24-7, afforded him the ultimate privilege of choosing to leave this world without ever facing real justice while denying his victims with some measure of closure.

The signs that Kyle Rittenhouse's whiteness is working hard to vindicate him at his trial

[CORRECTION: This piece makes the claim that Jacob Blake was unarmed. However prosecutors and Blake himself have both claimed he had a knife at the time. AlterNet regrets the error.]

While the fate of Rittenhouse is yet to be determined, his trial, much like the trial of the killers of Ahmaud Arbery, is about much more than one individual. About more than Kyle Rittenhouse.

America is on trial, under the spotlight since 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, on the cusp of a seminal moment, with potential for change, yet still careening on the shaky path of injustice.

Whatever the outcome, such trials will be looked back on as a turning point in years ahead, for better or worse. Either justice will be done or injustice will. And judging by events, things could go either way.

For a start, the very fact that there were so many doubts as to whether or not Rittenhouse would even face accountability reminds us of where we are — and the true state of play. It was the same with Derek Chauvin and is the case with Ahmaud Arbery's killers. There's an acute cynicism and lack of faith in the system to deliver racial justice.

Because, while justice is a reality for some, it's evasive for others. America is the land in which George Zimmerman walked free after stalking and killing a Black child. It is the land in which Breonna Taylor was shot dead in her own bed by police, sleeping while Black. And so, while the public and the world are watching the Rittenhouse trial, they are aware of America's internal battle with white supremacy.

So far, the signs in the trial of Rittenhouse are alarming. First came the rather unprecedented decision from the judge that lawyers for Rittenhouse can refer to the men he shot as "looters" and "rioters." The prosecutors, the judge decided, must not refer to them as "victims."

The obvious fallacy of this doesn't need unpacking. But given this is the demand of the judge in a highly significant trial, the language used to frame the discourse will play a major role. Alarm bells should therefore be ringing. Whatever the judge's reasoning is behind the decision about language used in the trial, it'll be and has been applauded by racists.

The majority of those protesting in Kenosha were protesting anti-Black police brutality. Previously, unarmed Black man Jacob Blake had been shot several times by police causing paralysis, leading to protests.

Describing those crowds as rioters and looters is something that Donald Trump and the right-wing media have reveled in. The same playbook pathologizes young Black men as "thugs," Mexicans as "rapists," Muslims as "terrorists." It paints a false equivalence between fascists and anti-fascists. It's a dishonest and dangerous game.

If we surmised how the Rittenhouse trial might play out based on the chronology of events leading up to it, there is further cause for alarm.

Video footage seems to suggest that the police actively welcomed vigilantes like Rittenhouse into the city, offering them bottles of water, aware they were armed, and also that such individuals were answering the call from white supremacists to come and "defend" Kenosha.

Further video hints that police, aware that Rittenhouse had shot three people, allowed him to cross a police line and head home. He was arrested the following day, having voluntarily presented himself to the police. And a further clip reveals Rittenhouse fantasizing about shooting shoplifters just 15 days before it all went down in Kenosha.

And then of course, there is the flooding of support Rittenhouse received from those hailing him as a white supremacist hero. Conservatives, police, serving and former military members, and of course the Proud Boys, and many other sympathizers, were all said to have been among those who dug deep into their pockets to cough up the money to pay the $2 million bail bond for Rittenhouse.

Rittenhouse's bond conditions initially placed no restrictions on him meeting with white supremacist groups. There was, apparently, no evidence linking Rittenhouse to any white supremacist militia group.

And yet, following the release of Rittenhouse on bond, he was pictured in a bar posing with Proud Boys while flashing the notorious white supremacist "OK" power sign — while also donning a T-shirt that read "Free as Fuck." You can't make this stuff up.

Regardless of the history in the lead-up to the trial, lawyers for Rittenhouse will do everything they can to paint and humanize him as a teen who was simply defending himself.

But the reality here is Rittenhouse is a product of a much wider culture and system that cultivated and produced him. That same system will now punish him or vindicate him while every detail about events in Kenosha is forensically picked apart by Rittenhouse's lawyers and the prosecutors. And of course the evidence should be looked at, because everyone deserves a fair trial, right?

Had Rittenhouse been Black and armed in Kenosha, having shot three people, killing two of them, we all know his trial would have taken place right there, in the streets. The police would have shot him dead.

Rittenhouse may well yet receive the equivalent of a slap on the wrist. He could still walk.

Really, it's America that's on trial.

The reality of Ahmaud Arbery's killing is part of a long history of lynchings in Georgia

The killing of a 25-year-old, whose only crime was jogging while Black on the "wrong side" of town on the outskirts of Brunswick, Georgia, has been described as a lynching. That's not for dramatic effect.

Ahmaud Arbery's broad daylight killing was akin to a public execution committed by three white men who were clearly supremely confident of being afforded every protection by Georgia's legal apparatus.

Indeed, we now know Gregory McMichael, one of the accused, is thought to have left a voicemail to former colleague and then-District Attorney Jackie Johnson, on the day Ahmaud died requesting he call her. Johnson never returned the call, but presumably McMichael had contacted Johnson for assurances that he'd have Johnson's support.

No surprises then, months later, Johnson was arrested for misconduct in connection to Arbery's killing, accused of preventing police from initially arresting the shooter, Travis McMichael, son of Gregory.

In fact, it took months for the arrests of the McMichaels and their accomplice William "Roddy" Bryan to eventually be made, and arguably, had the video of Ahmaud's murder not gone public and viral, Ahmaud's killers may well have evaded accountability entirely.

As it stands, and as jury selection continues ahead of the trial, the realities of Ahmaud Arbery's lynching are part of a pattern of a long history of lynchings in Georgia, and of the thousands that have taken place across the country over the years. Ahmaud, unarmed, was chased and hunted by three armed men who had one goal.

The pickup truck driven by father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael is said to have sported a Confederate themed flag — something the defense will fight to keep from the court during the trial.

Ahmaud, who ran for his life until he could run no more, was eventually trapped by both McMichaels and accomplice Roddy Bryan. Faced with a life or death, Ahmaud bravely chose to defend himself and was killed by two shotgun blasts to his chest, the second at point blank. Immediately after, Gregory McMichael, according to Bryan, stood over Ahmaud and called him the N-word as he lay dying.

Police arriving at the scene did not immediately attend to the dying Ahmaud. One officer can be heard, however, consoling Travis McMichael, saying "If you need to move around, do what you need to do man, I can only imagine." Also heard in bodycam footage is an officer saying to another officer, "Did he shoot him? A self-defense thing?" which was met with a reply of "That's what it looks like."

As was the case throughout the slavery and Jim Crow eras, innocence was immediately presumed on the part of Arbery's white killers, casting Ahmaud, the unarmed Black victim, as the wrongdoer.

What's also interesting in the run up to the trial, is that potential jurors were reported to have "accidentally" been given easy access to Ahmaud's mental health and criminal history. The judge has since ruled that neither Arbery's medical records, nor dealings with police can be used as evidence in court. But it's telling that defense attorneys for the McMichael's wanted to use the mental health records.

It's an age-old tactic by white supremacist to blame the victim. The McMichaels defense wants to paint Arbery as an aggressive young Black man, despite Judge Timothy Walmsley stating that, "There is no evidence that the victim was suffering from any mental health issue" at the time he was killed. Those defense attorneys will fight tooth and nail, though, to have Arbery's private medical history and other personal records heard in court and splashed across the media.

Let's assume justice is done in this case, and Arbery's killers spend the rest of their lives behind bars? What next for the country? There's no serious federal push to root out structural racism within police forces or the ability of card-carrying white supremacists to remain in their ranks. In fact, police have been given more funding. Putting racist killers on trial, even if justice is regularly done, which it is not, is not enough. It doesn't stop the killings and murders in the first place.

De-incentivising terrorism remands more than jail time. Plenty of people now believe that a specific federal anti-lynching bill needs to become law (as has been unsuccessfully tabled before) in order to add another layer of protection under law for Black people. Please remember, too, there were plenty of cases of Black men last year and in recent years being found dead literally hanging from ropes.

They were ruled suicides, but there's reason to cast doubt.

As the McMichaels and Roddy Bryan face federal hate-crime charges, America is reminded that there needs to be an anti-Black hate crime law set in place too. Asian-American's rightly had this law quickly passed to protect their communities. Do it for Black Americans, too.

Biden is fueling the flames of paranoia about immigrants that Trump stoked before him

The news that Biden's administration is to provide legal support for unaccompanied migrant children in several American cities will doubtless be welcomed. The federal initiative is said to provide attorneys to represent children facing deportation proceedings after having entered the country on their own at the southern border.

But when examining United States border policy holistically, the move doesn't go nearly far enough. It's a drop in the ocean when considering the escalating humanitarian crisis — and it is a crisis — that exists as a result of US border policies, foreign policy and influence.

First, the way to deal with a surge in unaccompanied minors is not to buttress legal provisions. The sensible and humane thing would be to allow passage for their parents and guardians to safely enter the country in order to have their asylum claims processed together as families. The sanctity of families should be protected at all costs.

While many Democrats might choose to blame the migration crisis on the Trump era, that's too easy. Biden's administration has the power to rescind Title 42 whenever it wishes. Yet Title 42 remains in place despite Biden promising to break from such policies, and in the face of demands from the UN and countless other humanitarian groups demanding its removal. Furthermore, with the availability of vaccines, covid is no longer an excuse to maintain racist border policies.

In recent days, four United Nations agencies have warned against the dangers of deporting Haitians arriving at the border back to Haiti. Instability in the island nation is serious. Experts highlight food shortages, gang violence and political turmoil in the wake of the assassination of a former president. Haiti still suffers from the after-effects of its most recent earthquake. The US special envoy there resigned, citing the treatment of Haitians at the southern border.

The people of Haiti, mired in poverty, hostage to the terror, kidnappings, robberies and massacres of armed gangs and suffering under a corrupt government with gang alliances, simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy.

If the conditions outlined by Daniel Foote and UN agencies don't justify the chance to safely claim asylum, then what does?

There's a reason, too, why many are characterizing the treatment of Haitian migrants as anti-Black. From Afghans to Canadian border crossers, other migrants are treated better. The Biden administration's border policies break the president's campaign promises. They arguably also break domestic and international law. They are self-evidently morally repugnant, enforced with barbarity. The real reason that such policies exist is, of course, to satisfy America's insatiable unwarranted paranoia over so-called border security.

The flames of that paranoia were stoked for sure by the former president. But rather than extinguish those flames, Biden's administration is doing the equivalent of throwing chip fat into the fire. While politicians repeat endless talking points about enforcing law and safety regarding the border, the reality is that America's border policies, like the UK, ought to represent a source of national shame. But they don't. They've become mainstream political currency.

By supporting such policies, flag wavers and so-called respectable people are consigning vulnerable people to a death sentence. Deporting people back to places like Haiti could mean exactly that. Such privilege and racism are the opposite of democracy.

What certainly is a cornerstone of democracy, however, is protest.

And that's what demonstrators did recently, outside the home of Alejandro Mayorkas, demanding Biden's administration make good on promises to undo damage already done. They want an end to Title 42, the rule allowing the deportation of people suspected of having covid.

It's clear by now that relentless pressure must be applied to force the right thing. As it stands, human rights and human dignity remain buzzwords repeated by President Biden and his predecessors. Decent democrats and Democrats need to rally and demand that Biden's administration reverse the inhumane border policies.

It's tiring having to constantly argue that Black people are humans deserving of fair treatment under the law. One day, Haitian kids will grow up, becoming our future. What do we tell them to explain their treatment and that of their parents? That it was the law, a government policy? That democracy was a nice idea, applicable to some?

The government's disturbing treatment of the Proud Boys is a clear and present danger

Far-right extremism, or white supremacy, is the fastest growing ideology in the United States. The impact of white supremacists terrorizing Black communities has led to calls for serious action, even an anti-lynching bill. This alone reflects how dangerous they are.

Add to that the January 6 insurrection and the evidenced involvement of the Proud Boys, and other groups, leading to the FBI describing the attack on the United States Capitol as an act of domestic terror.

A mountain of evidence suggests that, just as Canada did (and as I've written previously for the Editorial Board), the United States should follow suit and list the Proud Boys (and others) as domestic terror groups, as part of its initiative to tackle white supremacy.

But that hasn't happened. Failure means the problem persists with the potential to worsen. The safety of Black people and people of color, and the internal security of the United States, depends on such a bold move happening. The failure to treat the Proud Boys as they should be by the federal authorities is continuing to have consequences.

Indeed, a couple of things have taken place recently that have once again brought this worrying reality into sharp focus. First, the clashes several weeks back between the Proud Boys and anti-fascists.

The scenes in Portland, Oregon, turned ugly, but thankfully nobody was killed. Here's the thing that's alarming. Prior to the Proud Boy protest and the counter demonstration, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell publicly announced that officers would not intervene. The Proud Boys are a threat, but here they were treated with kid gloves.

The lack of policing means that an approach of doubling down will be needed the next time the Proud Boys appear. Because the calculated failure to leave them to their own devices in the streets is akin to Trump's message. It's extremely dangerous, and dare I suggest, not how millions of Americans want their tax dollars spent with policing. Surely, those Proud Boys who watched events unfold in Portland at home on the TV will be salivating at the prospect of the next protest.

The plot thickens even further.

Just days ago, a judge ruled that prosecutors in the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the Kenosha shooter who shot three people at a protest against police brutality in 2020, will not be able to play for jurors a video of Rittenhouse allegedly stating his desire to shoot people — while agreeing with the Proud Boys' tactics. The news is another example of how dangerous the Proud Boys and their ilk have become.

They can terrorize the Capitol, greenlighted by the former president, and, others would argue, in the streets, allowed to do so by a police chief in Portland. Apparently the Proud Boys were allowed to post banners around the city before the violence took place.

Their white supremacist ideology is something the likes of Kyle Rittenhouse was sympathetic to. How many more like Rittenhouse are on the sideline, "standing by" for their chance, brainwashed by the nonsense of the Proud Boys? It doesn't bear thinking about.

In recent day, the Times reported that a member of the Proud Boys who was present and took part in the insurrection was also an FBI informant and was texting his contact throughout the day.

That the FBI remained in contact suggests that law enforcement were more informed about imminent violence than previously suggested. One thing is clear by now. Law enforcement have more than enough evidence and knowledge, and means, as do the FBI, to halt the Proud Boys in their tracks before they carry out further serious crimes.

Trump was a dream come true for the Proud Boys. God only knows what messaging he might have continued giving to white supremacist groups had he secured another term. Biden needs to now break up the dangerous groundwork that was laid for groups like them. And ordinary Americans need to push him. The safety of tax-paying Americans, and American democracy itself, is depending on it.

Biden is already breaking the pledge from his United Nations speech

President Joe Biden in his recent address at the United Nations announced that the United States will "lead" the world on "human dignity and human rights." If the scenes from the southern border are anything to go by, the reality as it stands is the polar opposite.

It's not just that America's racist past has yet to be accounted for. The past has a direct correlation to the present. In the same way that local police departments have roots in slave catching, in every aspect of state authority imaginable, racism festers. The United Nations recognizes this, and so do countless others around the world.

A true commitment to human rights would mean revolutionizing policy by rooting out systemic white supremacy, with checks and balances that ensure powerful institutions can never again become corrupted by such forces. But far from leaving the dark chapter of the Trump era in the past, a period in which America's longstanding racism was mainstreamed, parading belligerently in the highest corridors of power, the US seems barely able to turn a new page.

Thousands of Black migrants, having gone through a living hell to reach the US, are being met with the kind of inhumane barbarism that the US is quick to call out elsewhere in the world. The argument of the law being enforced is in itself highly questionable, as is the motive of using such an argument. But in any case, it doesn't mean a damn. The scenes at the border are just plain wrong, and it doesn't take a legal expert to know it. Anyone with two eyes, and a heart, can see it.

Black people born in the only nation to ever produce a successful slave revolt, being herded like cattle by white men on horses in the name of the law, is not an accident. It's a policy decision made somewhere along the line by powerful people sitting in offices with houses in suburbs, who would swear blind they believe in democracy.

But as the story of the Haitian migrants at the border continues, the narrative may yet worsen. Just yesterday, reports suggested that some of those Haitians detained at the southern border might be sent to a migrant "facility" at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be "processed."

The United States Department of Homeland Security has since denied the claims, despite the Biden administration advertising a new contract to operate the migrant center at the US naval base there, with an emphasis on the need for Spanish and Haitian Creole speakers.

Taking the DHS at its word, likely means that other Haitian migrants who are captured at sea will be taken to Guantanamo, as has previously been the case, and not the ones we've seen on TV. In other words, the Haitians at Del Rio might be spared imprisonment at Guantanamo, a place accused of carrying out torture, but their very own family members might be sent there instead. So much better.

A healthy dose of skepticism, however, will cast doubt on DHS claims. The published update of the advertised contract is from just a few days ago. And while the migrant facility at Guantanamo is advertised as having the capacity for 120 people, the posting also states that, "the service provider shall be responsible to maintain on site the necessary equipment to erect temporary housing facilities for populations that exceed 120 and up to 400 migrants in a surge event."

A surge in Haitians is what we have seen at the southern border. It is what we will continue to see despite attempts from both governments to stem the flow of people. Could this be why the migrant facility at Gitmo needs managers capable of dealing with greater capacity?

In addition to this, there have been suggestions that of those already deported to Haiti, paperwork was forged with some being deported to Port-au-Prince despite not having left from there in the first place.

These suggestions, alongside the visible conduct of the border authorities both in the US and Mexico, do not inspire confidence that the Haitians at the border will not end up being sent to Guantanamo. And if the border authorities look like slave-catching vigilantes, what kind of individuals will be in charge of the operational custody of the migrants at Guantanamo? It doesn't bear thinking about.

The Biden administration can talk about law and order, and human rights, all it wants. The notion that Haitians can safely claim asylum, as repeated by Mayorkas, is obscene. The horrendous border policies are part and parcel of the hostile messaging by the administration, and deterrent, telling potential asylum seekers "do not come."

The timing of Joe Biden's UN remarks could not be worse. It's one thing to honestly outline a plan, as a new leader, acknowledging that the starting point to the finish line, with the goal of the US leading the world on human rights, might be a long road — to say the least.

But Biden's statement, made while his administration continues to implement and accelerate the very same policies that would make Donald Trump proud, with the evidence literally being televised around the world, is a dangerous form of denialism that's insulting to the victims of the racist border violence we have seen.

And it's getting worse for Biden.

In his bid to appease voters illogically clinging to unfounded lies about migrants and border fears, the border controversies have whipped up a political storm. A senior US diplomat and special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, has now stepped down having handed his resignation to Anthony Blinken, saying that he would "not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees" while slamming the border policies as "deeply flawed." His resignation letter also argued that Haiti as a "collapsed state is unable to provide security or basic services and more refugees will fuel further desperation and crime."

Foote's honesty means he has no place in an administration that's digging in over its globally criticized border policies, and even fighting a federal court judgement ordering an end to families being deported and prevented from setting foot on US soil under Title 42.

Politically, there might be no easy options for the president. But the promises of his campaign, and the human rights and dignity he speaks of, are really universal values. His administration should have the guts to do the right thing, regardless of the political consequences.

Better to try and fail than to fail to try.

Haitian refugees are fleeing a crisis created in part by the US — and we owe them an enormous debt

President Joe Biden promised during his first joint address to the United States Congress earlier in the year to tackle systemic racism. America and the world was listening, including Haitians.

Some might have thought that beyond the need of the United States to eradicate the scourge of racism evident in many areas of society within its own borders, a radical plan might be implemented to tackle discrimination regarding the heavily criticized border policies.

But as is evidenced with the growing humanitarian crisis witnessed at the US/Mexico border, far from tackling systemic racism, critics say the government is continuing to perpetuate, and even exacerbate it.

Make no mistake: desperate people are capable of remarkable things. Some of those migrants, including the large number from Haiti, have traveled incredible distances, unimaginable for most of us, and have survived innumerable deadly situations, simply for the chance to live.

In recent days the number of migrants, mostly Haitian, amassing at the underpass in the small American town of Del Rio has grown, fast and to incredibly large numbers. By the time you read this, the numbers may match or surpass the size of the population of the town itself.

And despite charter planes already deporting hundreds at a time back to Haiti, despite others being removed, supposedly to be "processed" elsewhere in the US, or also deported, those numbers of Haitians crossing onto American soil are only going to increase.

Militarized border agents in Mexico rounding them up and beating them will not deter them. Border authorities in the US, and the threat of deportation, will not deter them. Nor will the sour words from American politicians prevent them from making the perilous journey from Haiti to the US in the hope of reaching relative safety.

Make no mistake: desperate people are capable of remarkable things. Some of those migrants, including the large number from Haiti, have travelled incredible distances, unimaginable for most of us, and have survived innumerable deadly situations, simply for the chance to live.

What's left behind means there is only one option for them and their families, and that's to keep moving forward. To move forward is to live, with the dream of thriving. To go back, or to put it bluntly, to be shackled, chained and forcibly taken back against their will to certain danger, means the strong possibility of death.

All of us would do the same. In fact, many of us privileged Westerners often conveniently forget that many of our ancestors, who came before us, did indeedembark on similar journeys to create a better life. And in fact, this story is the backstory for many Americans, whose forefathers and -mothers struggled to be identified as American, and whose progeny now want to slam the door shut on those fleeing perilous situations back home.

The fact that we are now seeing thousands of Haitians with Black skin being treated like dirt by the system is not a story that's separate from modern contemporary America. It's a direct by-product of it. Black people built America by the labor forcibly extracted from those of African descent, and Haiti and its wealth was both a prize fought over by various European colonies in the period of slavery and beyond while remaining an island exploited by the United States.

The United States owes a debt to Haiti and Haitians.

I'll get to Title 42 in a moment, but the relationship of the United States (and its allies and competitors) in the past with Haiti adds an extra dimension of immorality to the way in which Haitian migrants are currently being treated by immigration authorities.

To put it bluntly, Black lives do not seem to matter, and Black lives still seem to be expendable. As I've written about at the Editorial Board previously, were the thousands of migrants gathering at Del Rio and elsewhere of a different background from that which they belong, they would be treated differently. But as the saying goes, for the Haitians in particular, they lack the complexion for protection.

Cynics might call you names and decry anyone like me demanding a change in US border controls and policies as a race-baiting liberal snowflake. But the truth is, that this whole nightmare is born of a basic lack of humanity and decency, something that the US and UK love to talk about in grand terms, but which is seldom enacted by the politicians we elect and the demands we make of them.

But the question of the treatment of migrants, mostly Haitian at Del Rio and elsewhere along the border, is a legal one, as well as moral.

It's not just the UN which has raised concerns about the Biden administration continuing the use of the controversial Title 42. A federal judge ordered the administration to stop expelling families who cross the border from seeking refuge. The judge has given two weeks to enact it, but in the meantime the deportations continue and are said to be being ramped up. The administration is also appealing.

This administration has repeatedly suggested, in the face of strong criticism, that it is not refusing refuge and the right to apply for asylum for those that need it, insisting that those entering the US need to do it the right way and that measures taken are about the safety of migrants and enforcing perfectly legal border controls. Human rights and legal experts, though, cast doubt on the legality of the expulsions and have slammed them as a cynical exploitation of the law.

Quite apart from the obvious connotations of the imagery of Black people being rounded up by men on horseback, reported to be US border agents enforcing the law, there are many claims of the law being broken too — of authorities forging documentation to justify expulsions, including suggestions that some of those deported to Haiti were not even from Haiti.

The methods used by Mexican and US border authorities, for those concerned with human rights at least, resemble less civil servants carrying out the law and more heavy set men, mostly white or identifying as white, relishing in rounding up, beating and detaining vulnerable people using disproportionate force and violence.

It doesn't have to be this way, and other options are possible.

And the Democrats in the Congress certainly have the power to change or influence the tide, rather than capitulating to it.

All the evidence shows that migrants do not threaten countries like the US, but bolster its economy and cultural landscape, ultimately enriching it. Donald Trump's policies shouldn't be pandered to; they should be smashed and relegated to the dustbin of history, forever. Migrants aren't any more dangerous than Americans already in America, and they aren't going to steal your job or homes. They'll often create jobs and are the ones who might build your home, or design it.

But racism and bigotry, it seems, remain powerful.

There's a need, argument and necessity for the US to produce sensible and fair border policies giving everyone the right to be processed safely. The White House must drop the pretence of continuing Trump's Title 42 with the excuse of covid when Haitians camped in dangerous conditions present a potential health crisis in itself.

Federal law, countless legal experts, the United Nations and huge swathes of the international community make a compelling argument that must be heeded. Give the Haitians a chance to live their lives.

They are fleeing a crisis, in part created by the US. The US must now deal with that with a plan grounded in law, reason and basic simple humanity. It's not a question of means or resources. It's a matter of political will, and such political will needs to stem from the top.

The UN Human Rights Council calls on the US and its allies to stop 'the punishment of innocent civilians'

Following President Joe Biden's plan for the US military forces to withdraw from the 20-year war in Afghanistan, it's worth reminding ourselves that war and the devastating impacts of it are not only represented by boots on the ground and the presence of military.

Days before the exodus began, the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a statement calling on nations to cease punitive sanctions on countries with a plea that "the punishment of innocent civilians must end." If there's one country this statement applies to more than any, it's the US. It's worth noting that new economic measures were imposed against Afghanistan almost immediately, adding to existing sanctions, following the US withdrawal.

Billions of dollars' worth of Afghan government reserves held in US bank accounts have been frozen, and will not be made available to the Taliban, in a move said to be backed by the White House.

In addition, Executive Order 13224 signed by former President George Bush after the September 11th attacks restricts any dealings with any organizations on the US list of designated terrorist organizations, including the Taliban. This means that in the midst of a grave humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world, and in the midst of a refugee crisis, it will potentially be even more difficult for humanitarian aid to reach the country.

While such measures will ultimately put yet more pressure on ordinary Afghan people, they will also no doubt feed continuing anti-US sentiment. And, as is the case in Cuba and Venezuela and among other nations elsewhere, ultimately, US sanctions punishing ordinary Afghans will simply make a bad situation even more desperate.

According to John Sopko, Inspector General on Afghanistan Reconstruction, about 80 percent of the Afghan economy is funded by foreign donors, the largest of which is the United States. In addition to existing sanctions coupled with increasingly punitive measures against Afghanistan, the influence and control of the United States will remain strong. Perhaps stronger than ever. The military might be leaving (for now) but the presence of the US remains steadfast. In fact, billions of dollars have now been pledged over the next few years, apparently in the name of security, to bolster the police and Afghan military.

Also worth remembering at this point is that while Afghanistan remains economically at the mercy of the US, it's believed that during the 20-year failed war, billions of dollars pumped into the country, largely unmonitored, fell into the hands of corrupt officials and foreign contractors. This is not a past record that bodes well for the future. Nor does the fact that Afghanistan is said to be sitting on trillions of dollars' worth of untapped natural resources, like rare earth metals.

All of this paints a murky picture with regular Afghan people likely to feel the end result of sanctions and the inability of money to flow into the country where it is needed. The UK's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has suggested that Britain would not rule out imposing further sanctions against Afghanistan. Some sanctions, according to the UN, despite the debate around legality, are justified if targeting individuals.

But one thing the UN Human Rights Council is also clear on is that sanctions are unacceptable when they compromise human rights and development, which the recent report describes as "inalienable rights." And compromising human rights and the basic ability to survive is the overarching impact of the kind of sanctions imposed by the US.

The report highlights the impact of secondary sanctions, whereby individuals, organizations and third-party nationals are punished due to their alleged interaction with sanctioned governments or organizations. This affects humanitarian organizations and the intended beneficiaries of their aid. Of course, any aid organizations doing important work have no choice but to work and communicate with whichever government might happen to be in place at the time.

The report cited examples of sanctions imposed against Syria, Venezuela, Iran and Cuba, emphasizing how ordinary people have fallen into poverty due to the increasing inability to access housing, electricity, food, water and medicine, among other necessities.

While the UN uses carefully worded statements when discussing the impact of sanctions on ordinary people, critics argue that such consequences are by design and are not unexpected. The US and its allies have a long documented history of waging sanctions against other nations to push for regime-change or to exert influence.

But looking at a fairly recent example, a 2019 report suggested that since 2017 at least 40,000 Venezuelans have died as a result of US sanctions. The US might not have a military presence in Venezuela, but the sanctions imposed are cruelly creating innocent casualties of an economic war designed to force a change in government.

It's also believed that many Venezuelan cancer patients have been denied vital medical treatment due to being caught up in the excessively strict sanctions imposed by the US. This is exactly the kind of impact the UN is trying to draw attention to and hopes to end. The continued sanctions against Cuba, which each year the UN demands be lifted, continue to add to hardships faced by the Cuban people.

Talking about concerns for human rights in countries while imposing the very measures that impede human rights, human survival and development is not merely hypocritical. It's a callous form of cynical "soft warfare" and a tactic that doesn't get nearly as much attention and headlines as an all-out military invasion. Some describe sanctions as one of the more effective methods of modern day neo-colonialism.

And it's interesting that while the US government sees fit to punish certain governments on the basis of their human rights records, there are no similar sanctions placed elsewhere against other governments also allegedly guilty of human rights transgressions. Saudi Arabia, for example, has one of the worst human rights records in the entire world. Yet we're unlikely to witness the United States or the United Kingdom impose sanctions or financial restrictions on Riyadh. On the contrary, investment and hugely lucrative arms sales will continue, fuelling the war on Yemen, which itself constitutes one of the gravest human rights catastrophes and crises in the world at present.

Israel continually breaks international law, violates countless UN resolutions and disregards the human rights of the Palestinians on a daily basis. Will the government be sanctioned? Don't bet on it.

The US, too, is facing intense scrutiny by the UN, which is investigating human rights breaches of Black people in the country, dealing with longstanding structural racism. Based on the UN's conclusions, should the rest of the world sanction the US as a result?

In an increasingly changing global landscape, it's ever more obvious the US and its allies cannot wage war and pressure countries through cynical punitive economic measures. Not without continuing to seriously damage the very human rights they claim to revere.

Other economies and superpowers are emerging, competing and long gone are the days when the US can behave as the world's policeman, using the justification of democracy and concern for human rights without consequences while adding perhaps further irreparable damage to an already damaged international image.

Military occupations need to end, but so do economic sanctions that do nothing but immiserate the lives of ordinary people. The UN report on the very real impact on the daily lives of those already suffering hardships needs to be widely heard, but ultimately acted on. How many more reports and consultations must be written before the US government takes into account the extent to which its own policies impact the very human rights it claims to cherish and uphold?

On Cuba, Biden must keep his promise

Talk is cheap. For President Biden's words "The US stands firmly with the people of Cuba" to mean something, America must take a monumental step, and kick-start the process of lifting the embargo imposed on the Caribbean island nation once and for all. But, of course, given the fragile electoral coalition the president is holding together, and with the midterms just around the corner, he is unlikely to do so. Playing politics will take precedence over what is actually needed for the Cuban people.

The scenes over the last few weeks caught the world's attention, and Biden as leader of the so-called free world had little choice but to offer some sort of statement, which was never going to square with the decades' old stance the US has taken toward Cuba.

To be clear, there needs to be some nuance when examining the cause of the protests. Because the mass demonstrations that we have seen likely reflect a plethora of views with multiple origins, as is the case with many protests all over the world. And for sure, there are anti-government protesters. Others would have assembled, not necessarily with an agenda, but rather gathered en masse out of necessity in reaction to everyday hardships experienced in the form of food, medicine and water shortages. Anti-government middle-class white-collar workers were no doubt in the fray, too. And you can also be certain of the presence of counter-revolutionaries, no doubt backed by the US government, likely yielding a disproportionate measure of influence.

But regardless of the makeup of the protesters, including the staunchly anti-government ones, and even the reactionaries, by no stretch can we deduce that they represent the entirety of the 11 million population. Millions of Cubans, too, from all walks of life, are critical but also supportive of the government and the revolution.

This is not to say the Cuban leadership, like any government, is beyond reproach. But the Cuban people, much like the majority of people around the world, and certainly most member states of the United Nations, clearly see the elephant in the room, which cannot be avoided. The inhumane embargoes imposed by the US are a form of longstanding economic warfare. Without it, Cuba would look very different.

Whatever your analysis of the Cuban government, the United States maintains an economic heavyweight's choke-hold on the country that has been thoroughly exacerbated by covid, considering Cuba's heavy reliance on tourism. Cubans need dollars. But under Donald Trump's leadership, restrictions on financial institutions, including Western Union, and on the diaspora's ability to send money home, has had a devastating effect. Studies suggest that more than half of Cubans rely on money sent from abroad. That's a lot of families from across a broad church of society.

Trump's punitive measures and sanctions against Cuba resulted in the closure of more than 400 Western Union locations across the island, which for many was the sole means of receiving funds. Some might say that despite sanctions, Barack Obama at least gestured toward the potential for a different tone toward Cuba when he became the first president in 88 years to visit. He didn't get Guantanamo closed. But the symbolism of him setting foot on Cuban soil was not lost on the global stage.

But here's the thing. At the time of this writing, the Democratic House leadership has just stifled an amendment designed to reverse the previous administration's restriction on the amount of money Cuban émigrés in the United States can send back to Cuba.

So let's be clear. The president has the opportunity and even the responsibility to use his bully pulpit to press for changes that would ease the suffering of the Cuban people. Biden promised to reverse Trump's measures of which he himself was critical. But in much the same way as he is in many ways echoing Trump's archaic policies on immigration, the president is pretty well continuing Trump's restrictions on Cuba.

He doesn't want to poke the hornet's nest in Congress by softening the tone toward Cuba, but he does have the power to do it. And he might well be mindful of bygone fears—that the perception of a better stance on Cuba will reignite old fantasies about pandering to the imagined threat of Communism, the red dog in the backyard.

But Biden cannot claim he stands with the people of Cuba while continuing to back sanctions and measures inflicting misery on them. And the entire world is acutely aware of this paradox. Whatever problems Cuba might be dealing with, the Cuban government puts the United States to shame with free health care and education, and higher rates of literacy and life expectancy than many American citizens possess.

Cuban doctors around the world alleviating suffering among those living in some of the worst conditions imaginable command global respect. One can only wonder what else Cuba might have achieved, without the constant hostility from the US, both overt and covert. Millions worldwide demand sanctions against Cuba be lifted and Trump-era measures reversed. Most member states of the United Nations demand it, too.

At a time when the United States is under the spotlight for human rights abuses against Black people within its own borders, it is simply not enough for Biden's government to express concern for the human rights of Cubans while doubling down on the very policies that deny them a means of survival. Far from offering a break from the Trump era, Biden is in danger of becoming a legacy of it. Lifting the sanction against Cuba is the only way the US can support freedom for the Cuban people. And the US government certainly cannot talk about human rights and solidarity while Guantanamo Bay remains open. If the paradox is clear, the hypocrisy is laid bare, too.

As of late July, Cuba reportedly has more than 300,000 Covid-19 cases. It has received humanitarian aid from Nicaragua and Bolivia, among others. Now is not the time to play politics. Now is the time to save lives. History will record this moment. Biden has to decide if he wants to be remembered as the president who took steps to reverse damage done under previous administrations or as a weak president who broke his promise on Cuba and maintained the status quo for the sake of his own skin.

Journalist Richard Sudan is based in London. His reporting and writing have appeared in The Guardian, Independent and others. His reporting has taken him across Europe and to Palestine. He focuses on racism, police brutality and human rights. Find him @richardsudan.

There's little difference between Biden and Trump from the view of Haitian migrants

At least two US citizens as well as mercenaries said to be trained by the US are among those allegedly involved in Haitian President Jovenel Moise's assassination. Also in the mix is the suggestion the FBI knew.

Notwithstanding the other ways in which the US has influenced instability in Haiti, if these claims are true, at best the US security apparatus, the world's most sophisticated, has failed abysmally.

The official investigation is of course ongoing. But the worst-case scenario implicates the US in a far more sinister picture raising serious questions that may yet prove to elicit incredibly damning conclusions.

While Moise is dead, the chaos and desperation that preceded his murder has worsened. As the official investigation continues, many are pointing the finger at the US. The waters remain murky and uncertain.

But whatever questions are raised about the role of the security services, or as some argue, the complicity of US citizens in the murder of the Haitian president, this chapter of Haitian history has occurred under Joe Biden's administration. There's no getting away from that.

Therefore, some might think, Biden, who is widely hailed as offering the opposite of Trump, might seize the moment and offer a different approach to Haiti and to the plight of Haitian refugees now seeking to reach the sanctity of the US as a direct result of the turmoil.

Sadly, the opposite is true. Not only is the opposite true, but research indicates that Haitian refugees who are seeking asylum in the US as it stands, arguably have it worse under Joe Biden than Donald Trump.

According to a report by the think tank Invisible Wall, a dangerous trend has been established. In the first few weeks of 2021, the administration has deported more Haitians than the previous administration managed for all of 2020. Yes, you read that correctly.

Under Trump, Title 42 within the Public Health Service Act was implemented as a justification to increase the removal of Haitian migrants already in the US, suggesting they posed a public health risk due to the pandemic. But experts have argued, what's being done under the law in the name of public health is little more than a ruse to ramp up deportations of Haitians. It's also believed that such moves trample on the legal rights of those seeking potential asylum.

Ironically, the hike in expulsion of Haitians runs in tandem with increased arrivals, particularly via the Mexican border, fuelled by the false perception that Biden's presidency would mean more relaxed border controls. If Biden is attempting to counter such a notion for political expediency, US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkasis is the latest government official to quite brutally hammer home the messaging. Bear in mind Mayorkas himself was born of parents who once fled Cuba for the safety of the US.

But echoing Vice President Kamala Harris' recent words in Guatemala, Mayorkas, addressing Haitians (and Cubans), stated: "Allow me to be clear, if you take to the sea you will not come to the US."

These chilling words are compounded by the fact that the US Coast Guard is patrolling US waters and US territories to prevent migrants and asylum seekers from reaching US soil. They are policing the borders at sea. They turn boats around, while sending other migrants to third countries, and some to immigration detention centers.

While the Mexican border is a favored route, Miami remains an option as does Pueto Rico, or even passage via other Caribbean islands. These routes are taken because once you've set foot on US soil, asylum can be claimed regardless of the method used to get there. This right, like the universal freedom of movement, is enshrined in international and domestic law. And that's exactly how it should be in an ideal world.

Any idealism and pretty rhetoric espoused by the current administration regarding human rights and national security is apparently eclipsed by ruthless political pragmatism and the appeasement of America's unfounded border paranoia.

The sad truth is that those fleeing to the US are often doing so as a result of the mess often created, and contributed to, by the US. Legal experts argue that the Coast Guard repelling boats full of migrants, while others are deported from the US mainland, is quite simply a breach of international and domestic law as well as human rights. There have been legal challenges over the years, but the inhumanity toward Haitians continues and, according to the data, is worsening.

Some might point out that the hostility faced by Haitians and other migrants to the US is not new. They are exactly right. Biden alone is not responsible for it. Existing policies toward Haitians, and also Cubans, were worsened under Trump and preceded his presidency.

But numbers don't lie. More Haitians are being deported under Biden than under Trump while the Coast Guard acts as the mobile border wall in the sea, which Trump could never build on land.

There's nasty twist. Groups working with Haitian migrants say that not only are they dealing with all sorts of hostilities at the border, but that they face anti-Black racism from other migrant communities. They are often last when receiving food, medical care and support. Put simply, the conditions faced by Haitians are unimaginable for most of us.

The Coast Guard has the capacity to act as the most formidable search and rescue operation in the world if it really wanted to. This happening, though, is probably the fantasy of another universe.

More certainly, acting as an intimidating deterrent to those who need help, prowling US waters, turning migrants away and sending them back to poverty, detainment, persecution or worse, means the US forfeits the moral high ground regarding human rights and decency.

The same phenomenon, too, is happening in the Mediterranean as migrants try to reach Europe. They are being left to fend for themselves or worse while politicians describing themselves as modern democrats politely explain to millions of Black and Brown migrants why they can't benefit from the democracies that were built from the wealth and human labor extracted from their homelands.

Bold action by Biden could have a significant influence around the world. God knows, with Boris Johnson here in the UK, we need something to turn the tide. But rather than forge a different path from previous administrations, and show some new leadership, Biden is doubling down on the very policies that he pitted himself against, and That helped him into office. The president's migration policies are not offering any break from Trump's, but are simply accelerating them.

Richard Sudan covers human rights and American foreign affairs for the Editorial Board. Based in London, his reporting has appeared in The Guardian, Independent and others. Find him @richardsudan.

A report called for a crimes against humanity probe into the United States. Why was it ignored?

For many years, the United States condemned crimes against humanity in a global setting. Such claims were often a pretext for military invasion, regime change or installing so-called democracy while, of course, securing control of resources. We've gotten so used to hearing it, especially over the last few decades, that the phrase "crimes against humanity" has become part and parcel of the political lexicon.

When hearing the same claim thrown back at it, you'd think the US would be all ears given its track record of concern and swift action when such crimes are allegedly committed in other parts of the world. Well, that's exactly what has happened. Just one problem. Rather than "all ears," the charge seems to have fallen on "deaf ears."

A report released in March, called The International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States, was produced by a panel of human-rights lawyers from 11 countries. It determined that the cycles of murder and violence against unarmed Black Americans at the hands of (often white) police officers fit the international legal definition of "crimes against humanity." Its authors say the United States should be investigated under international law.

The commission report demands accountability from the United States, over the conduct of law enforcement, highlighting the violation of human rights obligations, with added scrutiny also examining the laws around policing. The commission also suggests that the International Criminal Court conduct an immediate investigation.

Now, this is unlikely to happen. The significance of the report, however, should not be lost. No longer can America simply accuse other countries of human rights abuses while ignoring similar accusations on its own doorstep concerning its own citizens. The report refers to "police murders" and contextualizes the pattern of killings as part of a broader history and continuation of racism and racial injustice.

The report initially emerged after the family of George Floyd and other victims petitioned the United Nations to launch a probe into deadly racist policing in the United States, following Floyd's murder by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in 2020. (Chauvin was convicted on all counts last month, including murder in the second degree. Last week, a federal grand jury indicted Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers for violating Floyd's constitutional rights.)

While a draft resolution was eventually passed, the UN Human Rights Council merely adopted it after weeks of intense pressure by the US and its allies. That saw any specific mention of America and an investigation dropped from the final wording.

The US and former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had also accused the United Nations of hypocrisy, urging a more general investigation into systemic racism internationally, focusing instead on countries like China. In other words, racism didn't exist in Donald Trump's America. You can't investigate something that doesn't exist.

The watered down plan, however, prompted the group of international legal experts to step in and conduct their own investigation, culminating in the recent report, which at the time of writing, has received no official acknowledgement from the White House. During his first address to joint-session of the Congress, President Joe Biden pledged to "root out systemic racism" within the United States criminal justice system.

The new report focusing on US police killings of unarmed Black people could certainly help. It has a number of strong recommendations for the government to follow. The commission emphasizes, moreover, that it did not reach its conclusions lightly. The report is a serious, thorough and comprehensive examination of the problem. It is forensic and uncompromising. It deserves to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, the report has gone almost totally unnoticed by the national press corps. It has gotten only a smattering of English-language coverage in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Again, an investigation by the International Criminal Court is unlikely. That said, the report does reflect intense focus around the world on the US that's acutely aware of and universally horrified by police violence and institutional racism. Many hope Chauvin's conviction is a watershed in US history, though that remains to be seen.

Getting to the root of the problem requires a radical plan and a commitment to seeing it through. The same energy that was felt over the case of George Floyd now needs to reverberate and translate into all of the other similar cases that require justice, and into a vast overhaul of the system all across America. It's no easy task but millions upon millions around the world are watching, hoping, and ultimately demanding, that the unjust killing, maiming and humiliation of Black Americans come to an end.

The secrets of the Proud Boys

The so-called Proud Boys are a white supremacist militia. They pose a clear and present danger to Black Americans and the security of the United States. They were part of the insurgency that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6 in an act that FBI Director Christopher Wray stated was clearly an act of domestic terror.

The Proud Boys fit the definition—political violence, motivated with the desire to take control of the Capitol building, believing they had God on their side. That surely meets any reasonable criteria. One Proud Boy, known as "Milkshake," was recently arrested for his role in the insurrection, and allegedly shouted, "Let's take the fucking Capitol," while wearing a hat with the words "God, Guns and Trump" emblazoned on it.

Why then has the United States thus far failed to designate officially the Proud Boys as a domestic terror group? Canada did. But the US hasn't. It's surely a fair question.

Firstly, it's worth remembering it took until 2017 for the KKK to be designated domestic terrorists despite their reign of terror beginning in the 1860s. That's a long stretch. Also worth noting are the Klan's well-documented and deep historical links to law enforcement. In the civil-rights era, southern police officers and senior officials actually coordinated with the Klan while many cops were active members of it.

Since the early 2000s, the FBI and other federal agencies have issued a number of reports warning of the deep infiltration of local law enforcement by white supremacist groups. It isn't limited to the American South. Police forces all over the country have members linked to the Proud Boys and other white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.

There's even an unofficial database for Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies believed to be members. Indeed, in one case in 1991, it was revealed that a "neo-Nazi gang of deputies" actually operated using "terrorist-type tactics" in the knowledge of their colleagues and superiors. The problem is deep-rooted, long-standing and deadly.

When Capitol Police turned their attention away, and diverted resources from the 200 or so Proud Boys who were convening near the Capitol on January 6, one must wonder why. We've all seen the videos of police officers gesturing with the "OK" hand signal meant to symbolize white power to other white supremacists. But seeing Capitol Police appear to open the gates to allow the insurgents to swarm the buildings, and seeing one officer pose for a picture with one of the seditionists, was illuminating.

But the links go deeper. Many feel groups like the Proud Boys, and other groups like the Oath Keepers, have acted as unofficial paramilitary for members of the Republican Party. At the presidential debates, Trump telling the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by" was pretty much akin to a military command. To what extent this played into the climate of violence that produced the riots themselves is an important question.

Trump's long-time advisor Roger Stone has been investigated for connections to the Proud Boys and others, even pictured with a number of far-righters who acted as his bodyguards. He's alleged to have been involved with or have had connections to people charged over the Capitol riots. (Also worth flagging is a notorious picture of Roger Stone believed to be taken with Proud Boys members.) If another adviser to another sitting president had been pictured with any extremists who were, say, Muslim or Black, or both, one can imagine how loud the outcry would be. Meanwhile, white supremacists also allegedly plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Yet the Proud Boys are not officially designated as domestic terrorists. Why?

What's also interesting is the Republicans blocking an independent commission into the events of January 6. What are they afraid of? What's the big deal in acknowledging the Proud Boys for what they are, and examining fully, their role in January 6?

Acknowledging January 6 as an act of domestic terror might be one thing. But taking the next step of calling the Proud Boys domestic terrorists has wider implications. Law enforcement officials and politicians potentially being linked to a terror group might force a political reckoning and conversation in the US that some want to avoid. But much like accounting for the history and roots of white supremacy in the US, and the wider impact this has in 2021, it's the Pandora's Box that should be opened.

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