Giant deer in prehistory

This 7 August 2019 video says about itself:

When Giant Deer Roamed Eurasia

Megaloceros was one of the largest members of the deer family ever to walk the Earth. The archaeological record is full of evidence that our ancestors lived alongside and interacted with these giant mammals for millennia. But what happened when they did interact, when humans met this megafauna?

Did Philips help NSA spying on Mandela?

This 13 December 2013 video from the USA says about itself:

“One of Our Greatest Coups”: The CIA & the Capture of Nelson Mandela

As South Africa prepares to hold a state funeral for Nelson Mandela, we look at how the CIA helped the South African [apartheid regime] track down and capture Nelson Mandela in 1962.

In 1990, the Cox News Service quoted a former U.S. official saying that within hours after Mandela’s arrest a senior CIA operative named Paul Eckel admitted the agency’s involvement. Eckel was reported as having told the official, “We have turned Mandela over to the South African security branch. We gave them every detail, what he would be wearing, the time of day, just where he would be. They have picked him up. It is one of our greatest coups.”

Several news outlets have reported the actual source of the tip that led to the arrest of Mandela was a CIA official named Donald Rickard. On Thursday, Democracy Now! attempted to reach Rickard at his home in Colorado. On two occasions, a man who picked up the phone hung up when we asked to speak with Donald Rickard. The activist group RootsAction has launched a campaign to urge the CIA to open its files on Mandela and South Africa and the media watchdog group Fairness in Accuracy in Reporting has questioned why corporate media outlets have largely ignored the story. We speak to journalist Andrew Cockburn who first reported on the CIA link to Mandela’s arrest in 1986 in the New York Times.

Translated from Dutch weekly De Groene, 7 August 2017:

Investigation: How Philips made a Dutch pocket telex “spyable” for the NSA

Encrypted, but not for America

Intelligence services fear that China will gain access to our secrets thanks to built-in back doors in Huawei equipment. The USA has had those back doors for a long time. At the end of the last century, for example, Philips made a difficult to crack pocket telex “spyable” for the NSA. A reconstruction.

By Huub Jaspers and Marcel Metze

Spring 2014. In a family restaurant in the woods around Eindhoven we find a source, let’s call him “Frank Molenaar”. The case on which he is going to provide us with information played in the mid-nineteen eighties. Yet he still wants to remain anonymous. The conversation takes place in a private dining room, without viewers or listeners. “What we are talking about was state secret at the time”, he explains, “public disclosure was punishable by imprisonment.” Is that still true? The General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) believes that the issue must remain secret for more than thirty years after that date. It rejects a request for disclosure. The then deputy director Marc Kuipers writes: “One of the (…) grounds for refusal is that the provision of the requested data must not harm national security. (…) The AIVD must be able to keep its sources, its working methods (…) and its current level of knowledge secret.”

This answer makes the story of “Frank Molenaar” all the more fascinating. It is about the NSA and how the US American eavesdropping service called in Philips to remove an encrypted pocket telex from the market. That pocket telex – a text device avant la lettre – was developed by the Dutch small business Text Lite. The encryption program that Text Lite had built in was difficult to crack even for the NSA. Something had to be done about it, the Americans thought.

What makes the issue even more fascinating is that the ANC would have used the pocket telex to transfer secret messages from Nelson Mandela – who was then imprisoned on Robben Island – from Zambia to London. Dutch activist Connie Braam had given the device to the ANC. This raises the question: has Philips helped the NSA to intercept Mandela?

Philips had been in contact with the NSA for some time. Subsidiary USFA – an abbreviation for Ultra Sonore Manufacturing Department – built cryptographic devices intended for sending and receiving encrypted diplomatic and military communications. But the development costs were high and sales outside the Netherlands were limited. That changed in 1977. That year, a USFA employee traveled to the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, not far from Washington. What he discussed is unknown. What is certain is that it did not end with this one visit and that Philips USFA has since been on a leash of the NSA.

In addition to spying, the NSA also dealt with the development and construction of cryptographic machines and associated software. Shortly after the visit of the USFA employee, the NSA chose Philips as a subcontractor. The Dutch corporation was allowed to build a license for an NSA device for encrypted data transmission for the European NATO countries. Of course, that device contained an encryption program developed by the NSA itself, the so-called Walburn algorithm. Philips also installed another NSA encryption (Saville, developed by the NSA and the British GCHQ) in its new communication equipment for the Dutch army.

Since the alliance with the NSA, USFA had done significantly better commercially. So when the Americans presented themselves with a special request, Philips was open to that. According to “Frank Molenaar” – who was involved in the case in an undefined role – a secret meeting took place somewhere in the Netherlands in December 1984 where employees of both Philips and the NSA were present. The official language was English. The subject: a new encryption program for the PX-1000, the pocket telex that Text Lite had launched in 1983.

It was quickly clear to the Philips cryptographers that the new encryption was weaker than the encryption that Text Lite had built into the device, and would therefore be easier for the Americans to crack. They also understood the reason for this: a eavesdropping service must be able to eavesdrop, and therefore it is not in the interests of citizens and businesses to use devices that make it all that difficult.

The PX-1000 measured approximately twenty by ten centimeters and was equipped with a small display and a keyboard. You could type messages and send them as beeps via a normal telephone line to another PX-1000, which then made them text again – provided the owner had the correct encryption key. The device cost around a thousand guilders and would now be worth around 860 euros. By the time the NSA got wind of it, Text Lite had already sold quite a few of it, including to the Turkish army, in the Middle East and to Israel.

The company was still young, it was set up in 1981 as a producer of light newspapers – light bars with current advertising texts. The PX-1000 was an idea of technical director Hugo Krop. Krop had added ‘a very naughty feature’ to the PX-1000 on his own initiative, he said a few months before his death, in 2018. “Not because someone asked for it, but simply because it was possible.” In a hacker magazine from the USA he had read ‘how you could make the official Data Encryption Standard from America in about 1 K (1000 bits)’. There was just room for such a mini-file on the PX-1000 chip. …

Krop’s co-director Arie Hommel remembered how after the introduction of the PX-1000, Text Lite received signals that people in security circles were not happy with their beautiful device. “Occasionally someone from England came over from Scotland Yard to ask why and to whom we sold those things. They seemed to be bothered by it because they could not listen to them. And they were not the only ones. ”

The NSA was also not happy. The Americans did not contact Text Lite themselves, but engaged Philips for that job. Neither Hommel nor Krop remembered the date of the phone call from Eindhoven, but that must have been somewhere in 1984, before Text Lite went public (that happened in December, via a listing on the Amsterdam parallel market). Hommel: “We were asked to come to a Van der Valk hotel near Utrecht. That’s where the Philips people said extremely harshly: you have a product that contains encryption and we want to get rid of that. ”

According to Krop, their conversation partners were USFA employees. He confirmed Hommel’s description of the conversation: “They presented themselves with a proposal: a) how much money do you want, b) do you want to track down and buy back all devices and c) we will give you a new, at least as good, encryption key and then go we distribute that device. And by the way: this is not an offer that you can refuse. You just have to do it.” According to Arie Hommel, it was not clear that this offer was inspired by the NSA, but Hugo Krop suspected it. During a conversation with the radio program Argos, he spontaneously dropped: “Yes, if the NSA wants something, they will always get it done.”

The Text Lite directors agreed – partly enticed by an amount that according to Hommel was somewhere between thirty and forty million guilders. Philips took over the PX-1000 and tried to trace as many unsold copies as possible. It is not known whether copies have been retrieved that had already been sold. In 1990 the anti-militarist action group Onkruit occupied the USFA complex and thereby seized internal documents. It turned out that Philips resold twelve thousand PX-1000s, along with another twenty thousand chips with the DES-algorithm, to the American company Reynolds – which can no longer be traced and, according to various anonymous sources, has probably been a cover for the NSA. The selling price was around 16.5 million guilders – which roughly corresponds to the retail value.

It was a sad moment in Philips history. The corporation had once set up USFA at the request of the Dutch government. It had been warned in 1944 by its top cryptologist Colonel J. A. Verkuijl that the US had almost reached the point where it could crack the Swiss Hagelin coders used by the Netherlands.

Immediately after the war, Philips had advised the government to build its own cryptographic devices. That would reduce the chance of American hacks. By developing high-quality cryptographic technology itself, the Netherlands would also have the chance to be admitted to the exclusive group of countries that shared secret intelligence: the US, the United Kingdom and Canada (this club was later expanded to include Australia and New Zealand and became known under the nickname Five Eyes). …

The first secret telex was not ready for production until 1957. In 1962, USFA had won a NATO bid with its Ecolex IV telex, so that success seemed within reach. But competition from German (Siemens, AEG), British, Swedish / Swiss (Hagelin), Norwegian (SATK) and American sides was fierce. It had taken until 1977 – the year of the NSA alliance – for USFA to once again win a NATO bid, this time with the secret telex Aroflex. What had begun as an attempt to prevent American eavesdropping had ended in cryptological dependence on those same Americans.

Thanks to the stories of ‘Frank Molenaar’, from a few other anonymous sources and from the Text Lite directors Krop and Hommel, it is clear how the NSA, with the help of Philips, removed the overly encrypted PX-1000 from the market and replaced it with a new version PX-1000Cr. What they could not answer were two other questions: how much weaker was the new encryption of the PX-1000, and did the ANC actually use the device in communication between Mandela and ANC-London?

It took five years before we found the answers to those questions. Marc Simons and Paul Reuvers helped us analyze the weakened algorithm in the PX-1000Cr. They are the owners of a software company in Eindhoven and have set up a virtual “cryptomuseum” in their free time. They also collect as many old crypto devices as possible. Simons and Reuvers had copies of the original PX-1000 and the weakened PX-1000Cr. They succeeded in reading out the memories and schematically drawing out the encryption algorithms in both versions.

Bart Jacobs, professor of cyber security in Nijmegen, found an interested student, who only needed three months to come to the conclusion that the original version indeed contained the decryption algorithm. A second student would continue the research, but was offered a job even before graduating. The only man who could give a definitive answer is Cees Jansen, a mathematician and cryptographer who worked at USFA in the 1980s. However, he did not want to go into detail. After some insistence, Jansen appeared willing to look more closely at the algorithm scheme of the weakened PX-1000CR, as made by the men of the cryptomuseum, together with professor Bart Jacobs.

In an Argos radio broadcast, Jansen described this algorithm as “clearly weaker” and confirmed that the NSA should have been able to crack it much faster than the DES-algorithm in the original PX-1000. Our anonymous source “Frank Molenaar” had told us that this weakening amounted to a halving of the number of bits per encryption block: that made use of 64-bit blocks, the NSA backdoor used 32-bit blocks. Professor Bart Jacobs explains that this amounts to a weakening of 2 to power 32, or a factor of more than four billion. That is huge. Suppose the NSA computer had taken a year to crack a DES-message, that time would have been reduced to 0.007 – or seven thousandth – seconds via the weakened back door.

In 2010, the TV program Andere tijden dedicated a broadcast to Operation Vula. It had set up the ANC in the mid-1980s to steer diverted ANC fighters back into South Africa and to set up a communication line with Nelson Mandela. Mandela was still imprisoned on Robben Island at the time, but his release was already expected (eventually it only came in 1990). Andere tijden revealed that the Dutch anti-apartheid movement had played a role in Operation Vula in all sorts of ways.

Activist Connie Braam, eg, had acquired some copies of the original PX-1000 and gave them to the ANC. Were they used too? The man who knows all about this is the white South African writer Timothy Jenkin. At the time, he was responsible for the secret communication within the ANC. His famous escape in 1979 from a heavily guarded prison in Pretoria is currently being filmed with Daniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe in the lead role. Jenkin confirms by telephone that the ANC has used the PX-1000. But only within Europe: “For communication between London and Amsterdam, and later also between London and Paris.” The PX-1000 turned out to be unsuitable for communication between Zambia and London and was therefore not used for messages from Mandela, says Jenkin. High-quality and interference-free lines were required to transfer the encrypted audio signals via the telephone without error. “We tested it. It worked well from a quiet hotel room, but not from public telephone booths.”

Has the NSA intercepted and cracked the ANC European PX-1000 communication? We do not know. Perhaps the answer will one day come from declassified NSA archives. And has the NSA benefited from the “back door” that Philips put in it? That too remains a mystery. Not long after the acquisition, Philips launched the new version of the PX-1000 in 1985 with the addition of “Cr” (for crypto) and the new, weaker algorithm. Text Lite took care of the production and also developed a successor: PX-2000 (1985), which was “backward compatible” with the PX-1000 and probably also contained the back door. The devices were also sold under license and under different brand names (Siemens, Alcatel, Ericsson) in a number of European countries, such as Germany, England, France, Austria and Sweden. It is not clear whether the back door was in it, it is possible that the manufacturers involved have replaced this with their own encryption algorithms. There was also a version for the Dutch government. The weakened algorithm was not there, the government had its own encryption developed for which the details are unknown to date.

In any case, one conclusion remains: since Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, we know that the NSA goes very far in monitoring global electronic communications. The story of the PX-1000 is not very important on a global scale. But it is significant that the NSA also spent quite a bit of money and energy back then to ensure that electronic communication devices could be monitored. There is no reason to believe that the service has stopped that.

One last question remains: who actually made that weakened algorithm, that back door in the PX-1000? At the end of the conversation in the family restaurant in the woods near Eindhoven, “Frank Molenaar” leans towards us. “I would just like to emphasize that this algorithm did not come from Philips,” he says. “It came from the USA, it came from the NSA.”

Birds’ bills in Panama

This video says about itself:

A Look At Bill Diversity On The Panama Fruit Feeder – Aug, 7 2019

While the Panama Fruit Feeder visitors‘ fantastic plumages may be the first feature that dazzles spectators, they also exhibit an impressive diversity of bill sizes and shapes. A bird’s bill is a specialized tool that can tell us a lot about its owner, especially the kinds of foods it eats. Let’s take a closer look to see what we can find out about the birds of the Panama Fruit Feeder cam.

Another governor, more demonstrations in Puerto Rico

This 7 August 2019 Bloomberg video says about itself:

Puerto Ricans Protest as 3rd Governor In a Week Sworn In

Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez became Puerto Rico’s new governor Wednesday, just the second woman to hold the office, after weeks of political turmoil and hours after the island’s Supreme Court declared Pedro Pierluisi’s swearing-in a week ago unconstitutional.

By Andrea Lobo:

Another governor ousted in Puerto Rico as protests continue

8 August 2019

Five days after the swearing-in ceremony of Pedro Pierluisi as Puerto Rican governor, the US territory’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday morning that his appointment was “unconstitutional” and ordered his removal from office by 5 p.m.

Heralding a new wave of mass protests, the streets around the governor’s mansion, called the “Fortress”, were already full of demonstrators by the evening celebrating Pierluisi’s ouster while demanding the removal of the island’s new governor and third one in a week, Wanda Vázquez.

The court found in favor of a lawsuit filed by the Puerto Rican Senate arguing the unconstitutionality of the provision in a 2005 law that a nominated secretary of state, such as Pierluisi, doesn’t need the confirmation of the local legislature to succeed a governor.

On Friday, the former governor, Ricardo Rosselló, had stepped down in response to three weeks of mass demonstrations triggered by the publication of leaked text messages exposing influence peddling and jokes about shutting down public utilities, killing opposition politicians and dead hurricane victims.

Before officially resigning, Rosselló nominated Pierluisi as his secretary of state, the next in line to the governorship (the post was vacant because its previous occupant had already resigned in the scandal that swept away Rosselló). Only the House of Representatives had confirmed Pierluisi by Friday, but Pierluisi still claimed power, leading to the legal challenge by the Senate.

The Senate and the Supreme Court are now rescinding the 2005 stipulation 14 years after its approval, not out of any concern for democratic rights, but as a politically-calculated conspiracy to install a different representative of Wall Street, which is demanding that the political crisis be used to push through even greater social cuts.

As signaled by the thousands demonstrating on Friday evening outside the governor’s residence, with chants and signs calling for the immediate resignation of Pierluisi, his government would have immediately generated an even greater social upheaval due to opposition against his right-wing background.

As resident commissioner (Puerto Rico’s nonvoting member in the US Congress) from 2009 to 2017, Pierluisi backed the creation of the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB), a colonial outfit stripping Puerto Rico of any self-governance, to implement brutal austerity measures on behalf of the island’s creditors on Wall Street. After leaving office, he rejoined a private law firm whose main client was the FOMB.

The Los Angeles Times reported that soon after the announcement of the ruling Wednesday, protesters were already outside the governor’s mansion, yelling through a loudspeaker, “Pierluisi out! The constitution of Puerto Rico should be respected!”

Fearful of feeding the escalating social explosion, with demonstrators placing at the center of their demands the expulsion of the FOMB, Washington, which is ultimately pulling the strings in Puerto Rican institutions, has sided with a different but equally despised faction of the ruling New Progressive Party (PNP), to which Rosselló and Pierluisi both belong.

In another concocted legal interpretation, Pierluisi handed power Wednesday to Wanda Vázquez Garced, the secretary of justice, who is the next in line of succession according to the 2005 law now deemed partially unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The Constitution, on the other hand, stipulates that the legislature is responsible for picking a successor for governor if there is no confirmed secretary of state.

After weeks expressing reluctance to becoming governor, Vázquez said Wednesday she was ready to accept the office, publishing a communiqué shortly after the court ruling. “Given that the position as secretary of state is vacant, I’ll accept the Governorship of Puerto Rico, as stipulated in our Magna Carta,” the statement reads.

Popular opposition against Vázquez, however, is if anything more intense than against Pierluisi. As soon as Rosselló announced his resignation on July 24, Puerto Rican workers and youth on the streets adopted the chant, “Let it rain, let it rain, Wanda is on her way out as well!”

Among several direct corruption allegations against her, Vázquez is identified above all with covering up the corruption under Rosselló, as well as the official disregard of her department toward the disappearance of truckloads of aid for the victims of the 2017 Hurricane Maria.

Acknowledging the explosive opposition against Vázquez, marching orders were sent out by the White House to replace her with Jenniffer González, a Trump supporter, resident commissioner since 2017 and chair of the Puerto Rico Republican Party since 2015. El Nuevo Día reported yesterday, “Several sources said that … Vázquez, as governor, will name González as her secretary of State.”

“Sources indicate that, under this scenario,” the Puerto Rican daily adds, “Vázquez would quit and allow González to take the governorship. This move, according to the sources, was already agreed to by the president of the Senate, Thomas Rivera Schatz, and with the president of the House of Representatives, Carlos Johnny Méndez.” González, when asked for comment about this, simply said, “I’ll support whomever they choose.”

As early as July 26, the New York Times hinted to her installation as a possible solution to the political crisis, writing a commentary titled “She’s Puerto Rico’s Only Link to Washington. She Could Be Its Future Governor.”

The US ruling class has pursued these antidemocratic maneuvers behind the backs of the Puerto Rican people and even used the political crisis to suspend $8 billion in federal aid to the island.

PUERTO RICO’S CRISIS COULD BREAK ISLAND’S POLITICS Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana, an upstart political party, needs 49,000 signatures to qualify as an official party on the 2020 ballot. As austerity squeezes, and the climate crisis loom ever larger in Puerto Ricans’ lives, MVC is charting a different path for the island. [HuffPost]

Travelers to USA, be careful, Amnesty says

This 8 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Death by Police is Now the 6th Leading Cause of Death Among Young Men

It was once believed that police killings were the 14th leading cause of death among young people. However, a new Rutgers University study by Frank Edwards, which used federal statistics and journalistic investigation found that the death rate is far higher now. We discuss the research with Frank Edwards.

From Amnesty International in the USA today:

Travel Advisory: United States of America

The Amnesty International travel advisory for the country of the United States of America calls on people worldwide to exercise caution and have an emergency contingency plan when traveling throughout the USA. This Travel Advisory is being issued in light of ongoing high levels of gun violence in the country.

Amnesty on the USA

Racist words and acts, like the El Paso shooting, harm children’s health. U.S. pediatricians are tackling racism as a public health issue that can take a lifelong toll. By Aimee Cunningham, 3:37pm, August 6, 2019.

Harp seal pups and climate change

This 8 August 2019 video from Canada says about itself:

The Harp Seal‘s Race Against Time – Ep. 5 | Wildlife: The Big Freeze

We head away from land onto the ice floes of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where thousands of harp seals are giving birth to tiny yellow pups. The adults have come so far south from their feeding grounds that this forms a unique oasis away from their main predator, the polar bear. But there’s a catch. From the minute the pups are born, they enter a race against time. In one of the shortest mammal weaning periods, the pups have just 10 days to drink all the milk possible and start swimming before their mothers abandon them on melting ice. Our changing climate means the stakes couldn’t be higher. If the ice melts before they learn to swim, this generation of pups will drown.

Trump’s ICE mass arrests for immigrating

ICE workplace raid in Mississippi [Credit: Twitter, @ICEgov]

By Norisa Diaz and Patrick Martin in the USA:

While Trump cries crocodile tears over massacre victims

ICE rounds up nearly 700 immigrants in sweep through Mississippi poultry plants

8 August 2019

The Trump administration has given its real response to the fascist massacre in El Paso, Texas, demonstrating its sympathy for the anti-immigrant ravings of the gunman who murdered 22 people, nearly all of them Hispanic, by carrying out the largest immigration raid since Trump entered the White House.

On Wednesday, an army of 650 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, including heavily armed SWAT teams, surrounded seven poultry processing plants in Mississippi and detained all who could not prove they were in the US legally. There is no indication what proportion of the 680 detained, nearly all Latinos, are in fact undocumented. ICE officials said all those without documents would be processed for deportation, with a few “humanitarian” exceptions.

The plants are owned by two large food processing companies, Koch Foods Inc. of Park Ridge, Illinois (not connected to the Koch brothers oil empire), and Peco Foods of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. They are located in six small towns ringing the city of Jackson, the state capital—Bay Springs, Canton, Carthage, Morton, Pelahatchie and Sebastopol.

At the Koch Foods plant in Morton, where reporters witnessed the detentions, about 70 family members, friends and other residents gathered outside, shouting, “Let them go! Let them go!” as three buses were driven up and filled with detainees.

Workers were handcuffed with zip ties, their belongings were placed in plastic bags and they were boarded onto buses destined for the Mississippi National Guard base in Flowood. Press reports said that the nearly 700 workers would be processed at an airplane hangar on the base, separating them into various categories, ranging from those to be immediately deported to those to be released because they were in fact US citizens.

In a previous large-scale raid in Tennessee, the day after 100 workers were detained 500 children did not go to school. Given the far larger scale of the Mississippi raid, it is likely that thousands of children are being directly affected.

Family, friends, coworkers wave to one of several buses that are filled with immigrants rounded up at Koch Foods Inc., plant in Morton, Miss. Photo by Rogelio V. Solis via AP

In Scott County, where Morton and Sebastopol are located, School Superintendent Tony McGee told the press that students ranging from kindergarten through high school had a parent detained in the raid. He said that school bus drivers had been asked to return children to their school if there was no one at home to receive them.

ICE and Justice Department officials claimed that there was no connection between the timing of the raid and Trump’s visits to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, the same day. The US attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, Mike Hurst, told reporters, “This operation began over a year ago. You don’t bring over 650 special agents from across the country into the Southern District of Mississippi in a matter of three days without preparation for months and months and months.”

There is no doubt, however, that Trump was well aware as he set out on Air Force One that ICE agents were fanning out across southern Mississippi to make hundreds of arrests. Far from being concerned that the show of force might detract from his supposed efforts to act as a “healer” and “unifier”, he welcomed the opportunity to demonstrate to his fascistic supporters that the administration will proceed ruthlessly against migrant workers, regardless of popular outrage over the El Paso massacre.

Official statements issued by ICE were full of the bureaucratic jargon that is designed to obscure the horror being meted out to hundreds of workers, guilty of nothing but trying to feed their families by working at some of the most thankless and low-paid of jobs—at chicken-killing and processing plants whose line speeds make the work both exhausting and dangerous.

U.S. immigration officials board detained female workers onto a bus destined for a National Guard base at a Koch Foods plant in Morton, Miss. Photo by Rogelio V. Solis via AP

“All the unlawfully present foreign nationals arrested Wednesday are being interviewed by ICE staff to record any potential mitigating humanitarian situations,” an ICE statement said. That is a reference to the handful of exceptions covering detainees who are the sole caregivers to US citizen children, who may be released but forced to wear an ankle bracelet.

The vast majority, however, will either be put into deportation proceedings now, or, if they have already been issued final deportation orders, put onto planes to take them to Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras, the home countries of most of those detained.

Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence reiterated the administration’s position that it did not seek to separate parents and children, but that arrests would lead to family separations as part of the normal operation of the criminal justice system. Asked what would happen to workers who have children in the US, Albence said affected children would be placed with other family members, and, in some instances, parents could be released with ankle bracelets.

The number of businesses targeted for worksite investigations has increased by over 300 percent in the last fiscal year alone. In 2018, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) opened 6,848 worksite investigations, compared to 1,691 in 2017, according to an ICE news release. Newsweek reported that since 2016, there has been a 650 percent surge in workplace arrests by ICE.

The majority of those arrested in the sweeps have been from Mexico. However, arrestees have also included citizens of Honduras, Venezuela, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Iran, Nigeria, Korea, the Philippines, Romania and the United Kingdom.

Most of the undocumented in the US are workers currently in the labor force. According to the Pew Research Center, eight million of the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants participate in the labor force. They account for about 5 percent of all workers.

Wednesday’s raids in Mississippi underscore the real danger of fascism, which arises not primarily from the actions of individual mass murderers like the El Paso gunman, but from the mobilization of state forces, like the modern-day Gestapo of ICE and the Border Patrol, and the ultra-right political movement being built up by Trump.

President Trump vowed in June to deport “millions” of undocumented immigrants via large-scale raids. He repeated those threats, attempting to intimidate immigrants living in 10 major urban areas that were named as likely targets. In the meantime, ICE was building up for the sweep in southern Mississippi and for similar assaults yet to come.

Wednesday’s raids were executed as the world was still reeling from the three horrific mass shootings within eight days in Gilroy, California; Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, which killed a combined 34 people and injured 57.

Trump’s cynical visits to Dayton and El Paso on Wednesday, where he postured as “consoler-in-chief”, were met with angry crowds who realize that the real response from the White House to the mass shootings is more immigration raids and intensified xenophobic filth.

Before departing for Dayton and El Paso on Wednesday, he dismissed criticism of his use of xenophobic language that was echoed in the fascist manifesto of the El Paso shooter, claiming, “I think my rhetoric brings people together… Our country is doing really well.”

Trump’s Democratic opponents make a pretense of opposing his advocacy of racism and anti-immigrant bigotry. Former Vice President
Joe Biden, the current leader in the polls for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, gave a major speech Wednesday in Burlington, Iowa, denouncing Trump.

“In both clear language and in code, this president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation,” Biden said. “We have a president who has aligned himself with the darkest forces in this nation.” Trump, he continued, “has publicly and unapologetically embraced a political strategy of hate, racism, and division,” adding that he had “more in common with George Wallace than George Washington.”

This is no doubt true, but Trump has yet to match the deportation record set by the Obama-Biden administration, which deported more than 400,000 immigrant workers in 2012, compared to the highest figure under Trump, 256,000 last year.

And Biden said nothing about the role of the Democrats in Congress, who went on summer recess after approving a budget deal that fully funds the Department of Homeland Security, including money for many ICE raids like those conducted Wednesday, as well as funds for more detention centers and more ICE and Border Patrol agents. The Democrats have focused their efforts on dissipating and suppressing mass popular opposition to Trump and facilitating his reactionary pro-corporate, authoritarian and militaristic agenda.

The budget legislation pushed through Congress by the Democrats was accompanied by a pledge from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that there would be no further legislative challenge to Trump’s actions in diverting Pentagon funds to build his long-promised wall along the US-Mexico border.

ICE FILLS 3 BUSES WITH DETAINED IMMIGRANTS U.S. immigration officials raided several Mississippi food processing plants on Wednesday, filling three buses — two for men and one for women. About 70 family, friends and residents waved goodbye and shouted, “Let them go! Let them go!” [AP]

A CLOSER LOOK AT OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION STATS Data obtained this month by HuffPost through a Freedom of Information Act request reveals the most serious crime committed by more than half of the migrants arrested at the border and tagged as criminal deportees during Obama’s second term was entering the country without authorization. [HuffPost]

Third corrupt Puerto Rican governor within a week

(AP Photo/Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo). Protesters gather outside the government mansion La Fortaleza in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019, calling for the removal of the island's newly sworn-in governor, ex-Justice Secretary Wanda Vazque

This Associated Press photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo is of when protesters gathered outside the government mansion La Fortaleza in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, August 7, 2019, calling for the removal of the island’s newly sworn-in governor. Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez.

From Associated Press today:

Puerto Rico braces for more protests against latest governor


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Puerto Ricans braced for more political turmoil Thursday as the third governor in a week took charge of this U.S. territory still divided over who should lead the economically struggling island of 3.2 million people.

The swearing in of Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez as governor was expected to spur renewed protests since many Puerto Ricans see her as an extension of Ricardo Rosselló, who resigned the governorship after weeks of street demonstrations demanding his removal. …

Vázquez, who has worked in the government for more than 30 years, stepped into the position Wednesday when Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court declared that the assumption of the office on Friday by Rosselló’s pick, Pedro Pierluisi, was unconstitutional.

“Puerto Rico is living its most important juncture of its democratic history,” Supreme Court President Maite Oronoz wrote in her opinion. “The summer of 2019 will be remembered as the moment without precedent in which Puerto Ricans – of all ages, ideologies, backgrounds and creeds – threw themselves into the streets to demand more from their government.”

The court settled the political dispute over who will lead Puerto Rico after its establishment was knocked off balance by the huge street protests spawned by anger over corruption, mismanagement of funds and a leaked obscenity-laced chat in which Rosselló and several top aides disparaged islanders.

Vázquez, a 59-year-old former prosecutor, is the second woman to be governor and is to serve out the remainder of Rosselló’s term until elections in November 2020, but at least some of those involving in the anti-Rosselló protests are calling for her ouster, too. Critics of Vázquez say that she was not aggressive enough as justice secretary in pursuing corruption investigations involving members of her New Progressive Party and that she did not prioritize gender violence cases.

The new governor did not speak to reporters after she was sworn in at a ceremony accompanied by her daughter and her husband, Judge Jorge Díaz. …

A small group of protesters gathered earlier outside the governor’s mansion in San Juan’s colonial district calling for Vázquez to resign and yelling: “There’ll be no peace as long as there’s impunity!” The crowd remained calm as onlookers including tourists took pictures and video of them.

Carmen Santiago, a homemaker from San Juan participating in the protest, said Puerto Ricans have enough energy left to organize more protests.

“Especially the young people,” she said. “It should be the people who choose the governor, not the party.”

Those who oppose the new governor also mention how the Office of Government Ethics received a complaint in November about possible ethical violations by Vázquez, who was accused of intervening in a case involving a suspect charged with stealing government property at a home where her daughter lived. She appeared in court to face charges including two violations of a government ethics law, but a judge ruled in December there was no evidence for her arrest.

Pierluisi was briefly governor after he was appointed by Rosselló to fill the vacant secretary of state position while legislators were in recess. On Friday, the House approved his nomination to the job, which is first in line to replace a governor who leaves office, and he was sworn in as governor after Rosselló formally resigned. But Puerto Rico’s Senate then sued to challenge Pierluisi‘s legitimacy as governor, arguing that its approval was also necessary. The Supreme Court decided in favor of the Senate.

Rosselló resigned following nearly two weeks of protests after the public emergence of the chat in which he and 11 other men, including government officials, mocked women, gay people and victims of Hurricane Maria, among others. More than two dozen officials resigned in the wake of the leak, including then Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín.

Yanira Gil, a professor at Puerto Rico’s Interamerican University’s law school, said the Supreme Court’s ruling was overwhelming in its unanimity.

“We’re going to be including it in our courses,” she said. “This is definitely a decision for the ages.”

Originally, Wanda Vázquez did not want to succeed Rosselló, knowing how much resistance there was against her.

In her inaugural speech, Ms Vázquez said that ‘certainty for the markets’ was her priority. So, certainty for the Wall Street vulture funds; and uncertainty for the Puerto Rican people on whether their schools, hospitals etc. will be privatised and/or closed down to please these Wall Street vulture funds.