Statues topple and a Catholic church burns as California reckons with its Spanish colonial past : The Conversation


Statues of the Spanish missionary Junípero Serra have been toppled by protesters in LA, San Francisco and Sacramento. Californians are questioning whether Serra was a saint or a colonizer – or both.

Source: Statues topple and a Catholic church burns as California reckons with its Spanish colonial past : The Conversation

Mexico wants to run a tourist train through its Mayan heartland — should it? : The Conversation


President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has a dream for the Yucatan Peninsula. He wants to build a train that will leverage the tourism economy of Cancun by bringing more visitors inland to the colonial cities, Mayan villages and archaeological sites that dot the region.

The Yucatan is a unique Mexican cultural crossroads. Many Maya here continue to farm, live and dress according to indigenous traditions developed millennia before the Spanish colonized the Americas. Travelers also come from across the globe to sunbathe along the modern, highly developed Riviera Maya. Over 16 million foreigners visited the area in 2017; three-quarters of them were American.

The Mexican government thinks that a tourist train could turn Maya villages into destinations, too, bringing an infusion of cash and jobs into one of its poorest and most marginalized regions. Commuters would also benefit from rail travel.

But there are social and environmental consequences to laying 932 miles of railway tracks across a region of dense jungle, pristine beaches and Maya villages. And in his haste to start construction this year, López Obrador – whose energy policy is focused on increasing fossil fuel production in Mexico and rebuilding the coal industry – has demonstrated little concern for conservation.

 

Source: Mexico wants to run a tourist train through its Mayan heartland — should it?  : The Conversation

Pictures of dead migrants inspire our sympathy. But what use is that to them? | Gary Younge | Opinion | The Guardian


On the morning of 17 January 2018 a humanitarian group, No More Deaths, released a report showing how, over four years, US border patrol agents had destroyed 3,856 gallons of water that had been left for migrants in the desert.

That afternoon, Scott Warren, a No More Deaths volunteer, was arrested for bringing food, water, bedding and clean clothes to two men who had entered the country illegally. He found them in an area where 32 bodies had been recovered in the previous year alone.

Charged with conspiracy to transport and harbour migrants, he faced up to 20 years in prison. Earlier this month his trial ended in a hung jury.

Put differently, an American jury was asked whether, in effect, it should be illegal for one human being to provide basic sustenance to preserve the lives of other human beings in desperate need – and it could not quite make up its mind. (The jury was deadlocked, having split 8-4 in Warren’s favour. The state will decide whether to try him again next week.)

So when we see a photograph of the lifeless body of 26-year-old Salvadorean Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, clutching his dead 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, face down in the Rio Grande, it is important to decipher exactly what the source of the shock might be.

As Warren’s case illustrates, such deaths are not news in the conventional sense, any more than the police shooting black men in the street in the US is “news”. In the absence of mass protest there is a level of racialised suffering that rarely exceeds the status of white noise in the west. Not only do we know these things happen and have been happening for a long time; we know they don’t happen by accident, and could be prevented if we, as a society, had the will to do so. There is pathos in the suffering, but there is policy behind it too.

The tragic image is news because the basic humanity of those who perish has been so routinely denied that the evidence that they are not “cockroaches”, “animals”, “aliens”, “illegals”, rats or vermin but actual people feels genuinely novel – it provides an empathic injection into the morally sclerotic vein of a dehumanised political culture.

This was a father and daughter, holding on to each other until the very end: tender, vulnerable, heartbreaking. In a sense this is the problem. If for the stories of their lives to break through in the mainstream they must first be dead, what use is it to them? The fact that they are objects of pity, shame or even anger does not make them any less objects ripe for our projection.

Empathy could be the first step to solidarity – click, share, engage. Warren must have been conscientised and radicalised somehow. In 2006 I drove all the way up the US-Mexican border from Brownsville, Texas, where Angie Valeria and Óscar were found, to San Diego. On the way I spoke to Armando Alarcón, who was carried over the Rio Grande by his father when he was Angie Valeria’s age. When Alarcón saw a news story about the body of an eight-year-old girl found by a border patrol after she had been abandoned by her smuggler, he bought a Cessna 172 plane and founded a group called Paisanos al Rescate – Fellow Countrymen to the Rescue.

 

Source: Pictures of dead migrants inspire our sympathy. But what use is that to them? | Gary Younge | Opinion | The Guardian

Sunday Topics: Impeachment poll, Trump is triggering a geopolitical realignment, Dems’ internal troubles


The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

Impeachment poll

A new CNN poll shows an increase in support for impeaching President Trump, but it also shows that Americans still resist impeachment even though they support the ongoing investigations of him by Democrats in the House of Representatives.

  • President Trump’s approval rating remains steady at 43% approve, 52% disapprove.
  • Support for impeachment increased over the last month to 41% predominantly among Democrats and college educated whites, while 54% oppose impeachment.
  • The percentage of people who say Democrats are overreaching in their investigations of Trump decreased correspondingly to 40% over the same period, and 53% say that Trump isn’t doing enough to cooperate with those investigations.
  • 47% agree that Democrats’ investigations of Trump are justified by the facts while 44% disagree.
  • 67% want Robert Mueller to publicly testify before Congress.
  • 66% believe that legislative cooperation between Congress and the White House is being negatively impacted…

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Trump’s border wall ‘not a wall’, says outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly | The Independent


Build the wall! Build the wall!” was the auditorium-filling chant which soundtracked Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

But the US president’s core electoral promise of a concrete border wall, paid for by Mexico to keep out the “bad hombres”, will be neither paid for by Mexico nor a wall – even if funding for it is eventually approved by Congress.

And Mr Trump has known this since “early on in the administration”, according to outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly.

“To be honest, it’s not a wall,” Mr Kelly told the Los Angeles Times this weekend, in a wide-ranging interview published a day before his departure.

“The president still says ‘wall’. Oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward ‘steel slats’. But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it,” Mr Kelly said.”

 

Source: Trump’s border wall ‘not a wall’, says outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly | The Independent

Trump keeps spotlight on immigration, but punts on asylum changes | TheHill


President Trump on Thursday sought to keep the spotlight on his hardline immigration policies, saying he is “finalizing a plan” to deny asylum claims from people who enter the country illegally.
The White House had signaled the president would be announcing the legally questionable change to the nation’s asylum system during a Roosevelt Room event days before the midterm elections.
Instead, Trump announced no new policies, but suggested an official announcement on the asylum plan could come in an executive order “next week.”
“Under this plan, the illegal aliens will no longer get a free pass into the country by lodging meritless claims in seeking asylum,” the president said in a speech delivered before leaving the White House for a campaign rally in Missouri.
Trump said asylum applications now must be made at ports of entry only.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 says any immigrant in the U.S. may apply for asylum regardless of whether they entered through a legal port of entry. But Trump insisted his plan would be “totally legal.”
Any asylum-seekers who are caught crossing the border illegally will be held in tents instead of being released pending a legal hearing, he said.
“We are building massive numbers of tents and we will hold them in tents,” he said.
The president’s comments was aimed at a caravan of migrants from Central America traveling toward the U.S., which reportedly includes many who are fleeing poverty and violence and seeking asylum. Trump called the caravan an “invasion” that poses a major security threat.
“These illegal caravans will not be allowed into the United States and they should turn back now,” said Trump, who has previously suggested the caravan represents a security threat, partly because it likely includes “Middle Easterners.”
Trump called the provision allowing those seeking asylum to enter anywhere a “loophole” that is a magnet for illegal immigration.
“The endemic abuse of our asylum system makes a mockery of our immigration system,” he said.

 

Source: Trump keeps spotlight on immigration, but punts on asylum changes | TheHill

Mexico’s next president likely to defy Trump on immigration : The Conversation


United States President Donald Trump has long blamed Mexico for the flow of Central Americans seeking to enter the United States’ southern border.

Migrants just cross Mexico like they’re “walking through Central Park,” Trump once claimed.

In truth, Mexico is aggressive in enforcing U.S. immigration policy. In 2014 President Enrique Peña Nieto implemented a robust deterrence effort, the Southern Border Program, to deter migration across Mexico’s border with Guatemala.

Between 2014 and 2015, Mexican deportations of Central Americans traveling to the U.S. – primarily Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans – more than doubled, from 78,733 in 2013 to 176,726 in 2015. During the same period, U.S. border agents detained half as many Central American migrants at the border.

 

Source: Mexico’s next president likely to defy Trump on immigration : The Conversation

Trump’s Art of Unpredictability Starts to Backfire Overseas – Bloomberg


As a businessman, U.S. President Donald Trump saw strength in his willingness to keep multiple balls in the air and change approach as they fell. In international relations, that unpredictability may be proving a liability.

In recent days, Trump’s sudden policy reversals on everything from tariffs to nuclear non-proliferation have prompted complaints from allies and rivals alike. Such flexible negotiating tactics — laid out in Trump’s 1987 book “The Art of the Deal” — have led them to question America’s reliability as a negotiating and, in some cases, security partner.

With defense ministers from around the world convening Friday for the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore, questions around U.S. reliability are likely to rival familiar concerns about China’s growing military assertiveness.

“A lot of delegates will be asking the questions they started asking last year about U.S. consistency and its determination to carry on a full defense of the rules-based international order,” said John Chipman, director general of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, which organizes the event at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.

Read a QuickTake on how Trump is treating trade as a national security issue

Trump’s moves have put long-standing alliances under strain and created opportunities for China — which has already displaced the U.S. as the top trading partner for most Asian nations — to conduct outreach of its own. Amid U.S. tariff threats in April, China and Japan held their first trade negotiation in eight years.

Fresh in the minds of delegate are Trump’s decisions to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, abandon a trade ceasefire with China, remove exemptions for some allies on steel and aluminum tariffs, and cancel — and then revive — his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The summit moves blindsided two key Asian allies: South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had just returned from Washington, and Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe.

“I’m lost” when it comes to Trump, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said during a speech in Brussels on Thursday, just before the U.S. confirmed it would impose new steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

Depleted Credibility

 

Source: Trump’s Art of Unpredictability Starts to Backfire Overseas – Bloomberg

Trump promises to ‘close government’ if Mexico wall is blocked – BBC News Daily


Trump promises to ‘close government’ if Mexico wall is blocked

President Donald Trump has vowed to close down government if that is what it takes to build the wall along the border with Mexico, which he promised during his election campaign. 


The US president told supporters at a “Make America Great Again” rally in Phoenix, Arizona, that the opposition Democrats were being “obstructionist”. During the 80-minute speech, he also took aim at the media, blaming them for giving far-right groups “a platform”. 


Clashes took places outside the rally between anti-Trump protesters and police, who used teargas to disperse the demonstrators after they reportedly threw rocks.

Six things that could topple Trump’s wall

As president, Mr Trump has asked for design ideas for the barrier, with a chosen few to be selected this month for a prototype showcase this summer in San Diego, California. Mr Trump says he wants a wall along half the 2,000-mile (3,100km) border – with nature, such as mountains and rivers, helping to take care of the rest. However, the route crosses difficult terrain, is home to a lot of wildlife and cuts across land owned by Native American tribes as well as private citizens. So is building the wall actually possible?

Read Full Analyst

Lucy Rodgers and Nassos Stylianou

BBC News

Source: BBC News Daily