Dutch referendum against Big Brother secret police law

Dutch anti-spying on citizens poster

This poster is against the new Dutch law on secret services, saying it violates human rights.

Dutch NOS TV reports today that 407,582 people have signed to have a consultative referendum against a new law giving secret services ‘Big Brother’ powers to spy on the Internet activities of all citizens, including the great majority of people not suspected of any crime. The law also wants sharing of the results of that spying with foreign secret services, like the NSA and the CIA in the USA (where Donald Trump wants more spying and more torture by secret police); even data which the Dutch secret services have themselves not analyzed yet. Senior legal advisers of the Dutch government like the Raad van State are critical of the law. So are human rights organisations like Amnesty International.

This is a Dutch 1 October 2017 video, in which comedian Arjen Lubach criticizes the law. Amsterdam University student Marlou Gijzen first got the idea for the referendum.

For a consultative referendum in the Netherlands, 300,000 signatures are needed. If the referendum will go ahead, then Dutch media think it will be on the day of the local elections, 21 March 2018.

There is a good chance that the Dutch electorate will reject this anti-privacy law; if one bases oneself on the two national referenda in the Netherlands so far.

On 1 June 2005, there was a referendum on the proposed European Union constitution. The referendum had been proposed by politicians supporting that European Union constitution, expecting they would win. The VVD right-wing pro-Big Business party campaigned in that referendum with TV propaganda claiming ridiculously that if people would vote No then mass murder in Auschwitz concentration camp would start again. However, 61.5% of voters voted No; especially not so rich voters.

Technically, the Dutch government and the European Union respected the Dutch No vote, and also the French No vote, against the European constitution. However, they replaced it with the Lisbon treaty, with only cosmetic changes. About that treaty, the voters of the Netherlands and all European Union countries except Ireland, were not given the right to vote. So, still disrespect for the voters.

On 6 April 2016, there was again a referendum in the Netherlands. This time on the proposed treaty between the European Union and Ukraine. This time, over 400,000 signatures had been collected by a committee which said they were neither for nor against the treaty. Like in the 2005, practically the whole political and Big Business establishment campaigned for a Yes vote for the treaty. But, again, 61,1 of the people voted against.

The Dutch Mark Rutte government disrespected that vote while hypocritically claiming they did respect it.

If voters will vote No to the Big Brother law in March 2018, will politicians respect that then? Looking at how they disrespected the two earlier referendums, one cannot be over-optimistic. However, if people don’t vote or vote Yes to Big Brother, then civil liberties will 100% certainly be damaged.

Now, politicians, including politicians who used to like referendums when they still thought they would win them, have plans to abolish the law making consultative referendums possible.

Will there be a referendum against the plans to abolish referendums?


‘A government critic? You’re a Russian spy!’

This video from the USA says about itself:

Edward R. Murrow: “A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy”

“See It Now” on CBS – March 9, 1954.

By Joseph Kishore in the USA:

The New York Times and the criminalization of dissent

11 October 2017

The campaign within the American media and political establishment over allegations of Russian “hacking” and manipulation of the US elections is being transformed into an increasingly frenzied demand for the criminalization of dissent.

During the first months of the Trump administration, the charges of Russian interference in US politics were primarily used to prosecute a struggle within the American ruling class centered on issues of foreign policy. The anti-Russian campaign has now developed into an effort to associate all opposition within the United States to the actions of a “foreign enemy.”

A series of increasingly ludicrous articles have appeared in the US press, channeling information supposedly gathered by the Senate Intelligence Committee from social media companies. The latest appeared on Tuesday in the New York Times, which has played the central role in the media campaign. The front-page article (“Russians Spun American Rage Into a Weapon: Facebook Posts in US Fueled Propaganda”) is a piece of pure political propaganda, filled with unsubstantiated statements, wild speculation and unsupported conclusions.

Social media posts from Americans, the Times asserts, have become “grist for a network of Facebook pages linked to a shadowy Russian company that carried out propaganda campaigns for the Kremlin.” The newspaper claims to have reviewed hundreds of these posts, concluding, “One of the most powerful weapons that Russian agents used to reshape American politics was the anger, passion and misinformation that real Americans were broadcasting across social media platforms.”

The article names several Facebook pages that it baldly asserts, without proof, were owned and controlled by the unnamed Russian company, including United Muslims of America, Being Patriotic, Secured Borders, and Blacktivist.

The entire premise of the Times article is absurd. Pages associated with Russia, it is claimed, are reporting and sharing expressions of anger, sowing discontent and divisions. United Muslims of America, for example, “frequently posted content highlighting discrimination against Muslims.” This, somehow, is criminal activity. Those who originally produced the content or shared the posts are acting, at best, as Russian patsies, and, at worst, as co-conspirators. The Times cites one Trump supporter who shared a post from the Being Patriotic group, characterizing him as “not bothered…by becoming an unwitting cog in the Russian propaganda machine.”

The claims of Russian manipulation read like the ravings of individuals suffering from paranoid delusions. According to an earlier statement from Republican Senator James Lankford, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Russian “trolls” are responsible for pushing the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence. Russian “troll farms,” he claimed, were working to “raise the noise level in America.”

Clint Watts, a former top FBI agent who has testified at Senate Intelligence Committee hearings on Russian intervention in the elections and has been frequently quoted in the media, replied to Lankford’s comments by declaring, “The Russians can just sit back and say: ‘Amplify on both sides. Make people angry.’ And it works, man, God, it works.”

Such claims reproduce the worst tactics used during the period of McCarthyite redbaiting. What used to be called “Commie dupes” are now “Russian dupes.” (Unconcerned by the fact that the Soviet Union was dissolved over a quarter century ago, GQ magazine recently posted an article that featured a graphic replacing the “G” in “Google” with a hammer and sickle). Dissent and opposition, according to this line, are to be interpreted not as the product of internal divisions and social tensions, but the nefarious workings of a foreign power.

The Times article includes lines that read like they came straight from the proclamations of Senator Joe McCarthy or the files of J. Edgar Hoover. “The Russians,” it states, “appear to have insinuated themselves across American social media platforms and used the same promotional tools that people employ to share cat videos, airline complaints, and personal rants.” The article speaks of the need to “purge social media networks of foreign influence.”

And what was supposedly involved in this major “covert propaganda campaign?” According to US Senate investigators, Russian companies spent a total of $100,000 on Facebook advertisements to promote messages like those cited by the Times.

Another article appearing in the Times on Tuesday (“Google Inquiry Connects Election Ads to Russians”) asserts that “accounts believed to be connected to the Russian government” purchased a grand total of $4,700 worth of ads, while “a separate $53,000 worth of ads with political material…were purchased from Russian internet addresses, building addresses or with Russian currency…”

This is an infinitesimal fraction of what is spent by political campaigns awash in money from corporate executives and American plutocrats. Some $2.65 billion was spent by the Clinton and Trump campaigns and organizations supporting them during the presidential race. Nearly $7 billion was spent on all US federal elections last year. Yet the Russian government’s supposedly massive campaign of subversion and propaganda amounts to a few tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook, Twitter and Google!

The conclusions would be laughable if the consequence were not so serious.

The New York Times, in close coordination with the Democratic Party and the US intelligence agencies, is engaged in a campaign that is nothing less than criminal. It is engaged in a political conspiracy to outlaw dissent in the United States and justify state efforts to prohibit, blacklist and suppress speech, particularly on the Internet. If the Russian government is merely amplifying content produced by others—including videos depicting police violence and other crimes—then the logical conclusion is that this original content must be proscribed.

Any content or article, including from the Times itself, that examines social discontent in the United States is susceptible to being picked up by the Russians and promoted. Halting such “foreign intervention” requires a regime of censorship and self-censorship of and by all media outlets—precisely what exists in a dictatorship.

The basic target of the lying campaign over Russian manipulation of US public opinion is not Russia, but the American population. The state institutions and the two parties, Democratic and Republican, are deeply discredited and broadly hated. The working class does not need the Russian or Chinese governments to know that American society is massively unequal, that the political system is controlled by the rich, and that the police engage in brutal acts of violence on a daily basis.

Control of the Internet and the suppression of free speech online is a basic strategic issue for the American ruling class. The emergence of online communication and Internet platforms broke the control of the major media conglomerates over the distribution of information. Under conditions of growing popular opposition to social inequality and war, and deepening political crisis, establishing state control over the Internet is seen as a matter of the greatest urgency.

This is what Google has already begun to do. As the World Socialist Web Site has documented, changes to Google’s search algorithm in April, introduced under the pretext of combating “fake news” and promoting “authoritative content”, have resulted in a fall in referrals from Google to the WSWS by nearly 70 percent, and to 13 other left-wing sites by between 19 and 63 percent.

The actions of Google are only the beginning. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms are preparing or have already begun to implement similar measures. The US Justice Department has demanded that staff at the American branch of Russian news agency RT register as foreign agents by October 17 or face possible arrest. This action will be used as a precedent for targeting left-wing and antiwar websites and organizations as agencies of a “foreign enemy” that must be shut down or censored.

It is necessary to organize the working class and youth against this neo-McCarthyite assault on free speech and the Internet, connecting the defense of democratic rights to opposition to social inequality, war, dictatorship and the capitalist system. Meetings must be organized throughout the country and internationally to expose what is taking place and mobilize opposition. The WSWS urges all its readers to sign the petition against Internet censorship and contact the Socialist Equality Party today.

Real Neat Blog Award, congratulations to 17 nominees!

Real Neat Blog Award

Late in 2014, I made this new award: the Real Neat Blog Award. There are so many bloggers whose blogs deserve more attention. So, I will try to do something about that 🙂

It is the first award that I ever made. I did some computer graphics years ago, before I started blogging; but my computer drawing had become rusty 🙂

The ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog Award are: (feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.

4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.

5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

My seven questions are:

1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

2. What is your favourite sport?

3. What has been a special moment for you so far in 2017?

4. What is your favourite quote?

5. What was your favourite class when still at school?

6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?

7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?

My nominees are:

1. The Dire-Diarist

2. reveusewrites

3. Soul On Rice

4. MillionDollarGirl 🙂

5. daisymonts

6. Messy Mapmaker

7. Wish to Dish

8. The life of a dreamer.

9. James Mole

10. JFAB

11. Physicsmania

12. Mrs and Life

13. Hope Dream Wait

14. Your Everyday Coffee Blog

15. #LeftGate

16. Lebana’s Journal

17. boufarik09gaimlcom

Real Neat Blog Award, congratulations to fourteen nominees!

Real Neat Blog Award

Late in 2014, I made this new award: the Real Neat Blog Award. There are so many bloggers whose blogs deserve more attention. So, I will try to do something about that 🙂

It is the first award that I ever made. I did some computer graphics years ago, before I started blogging; but my computer drawing had become rusty 🙂

The ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog Award are: (feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.

4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.

5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

My seven questions are:

1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

2. What is your favourite sport?

3. What has been a special moment for you so far in 2017?

4. What is your favourite quote?

5. What was your favourite class when still at school?

6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?

7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?

My nominees are:

1. No Time to Think

2. Persefonne


4. Sally Cortés

5. The petite wanderer

6. Mrinalini Raj

7. The cats meows

8. huggers.ca

9. That Desperate Friend

10. Ronnie’s Blog

11. Letras bohemias

12. littlegirlstory

13. “I’m a simple woman”

14. Amanda Likes to Travel

London bomb abused for Internet censorship

This video says about itself:

UK Planning To Implement Further Internet Restrictions

25 May 2017

By Steve James in Britain:

Parsons Green bomb seized on to call for greater internet censorship

30 September 2017

An 18-year-old orphaned Iraqi asylum seeker, Ahmed Hassan, has been charged with attempted murder and causing an explosion following the September 15 failed “bucket bomb” attack on a packed underground train at London’s Parsons Green tube station.

Around 30 people were injured, either by the “fireball” which erupted from a builder’s bucket in a supermarket bag or the panicked crush that followed the explosion. One woman suffered severe burns and will require months of hospital treatment.

The attack was used by both the British and US authorities as an opportunity to call for extended internet monitoring and censorship, as the bomb’s design has been circulating on the internet for years.

In the event, it seems that only the detonator exploded. Had the device functioned as intended the impact would have been much worse. According to the prosecutor at Westminster Magistrates Court, the bomb contained “many hundred grams” of triacetone triperoxide [TATP], a highly unstable explosive substance that can be concocted with easily purchased ingredients, and “an electronic timer and several containers of quantities of metal shrapnel including knives, screws and similar items clearly designed to cause severe injuries and death to those nearby.”

Hassan is accused of having constructed the device in a garden shed at the home of his foster parents, having bought some bomb components from Amazon.

Only hours after the explosion, before anything was made public about the suspected attacker, the bomb’s design and apparently homemade character and before any arrests had even been made, US President Donald Trump tweeted his view of the perpetrators as “sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard [Metropolitan Police].”

He continued, “The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!”

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “working with the internet companies” to “deal with the terrorist propaganda, with the extremist propaganda, with the hatred that is put out across the Internet.”

Last week, May met with French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni at a meeting at the United Nations that included representatives of Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Speaking for the trio, Macron threatened to “name and shame” companies that do not comply with their demands.

May asserted, “Industry needs to go further and faster in automating the detection and removal of terrorist content online, and developing technological solutions that prevent it being uploaded in the first place.”

Former CIA director, General David Petraeus, told the BBC that governments had to look at “the tools and the authorities necessary to eliminate if possible and at the very least reduce very dramatically the way Islamists have been able to use cyberspace.” He called the internet a “whole new domain of warfare.”

May, Petraeus, Trump et al are calling for carte blanche censorship and powers to exclude whole sections of the population from internet use as and when politically convenient.

Ultimate responsibility for the attack lies with the ongoing neo-colonial occupation and destruction of swathes of the Middle East by the United States and its British and European allies.

The alleged attacker, Ahmed Hassan, is clearly a traumatised youth. He was orphaned when his parents were killed in Iraq. He arrived illegally in the UK in 2015 and applied for asylum. He has been followed carefully by the British authorities from the moment he set foot in the country. According to an unnamed immigration officer who “mentored” Hassan, he had also been tortured in Iraq and was suffering from post-traumatic stress. He is said to have expressed “anger at Tony Blair”, then prime minister who, in 2003, sent thousands of British forces into Iraq as a part of the US-led invasion and occupation.

After arriving in the UK, Hassan was placed by Surrey Council and Spelthorne Council with Penny and Ronald Jones—from all accounts a dedicated and caring couple from Sunbury, who have, over the years, fostered hundreds of vulnerable children. The retired couple, aged 71 and 81, had only returned to foster care a few months ago to deal with the influx of refugee children. The couple, said to be in “shell shock,” reportedly had severe problems with Hassan.

According to the Daily Mail, Hassan had already been referred to the government’s anti-Islamic Prevent programme, intended to identify young people in danger of being radicalised, “several months ago”, by Surrey County Council. Neighbours reported that police had visited the Jones’ house at least five times in the four weeks prior to the attack.

Trump’s statement that the attacker was known to the British authorities was borne out by a report in the Daily Mail. It cited neighbours of Ronald and Penelope Jones who said that Hassan (then unnamed) was detained by police at the same tube station days before the attack. Serena Barber said, “I know about two weeks ago he was arrested by police at Parsons Green, for what I don’t know, and returned back to Penny and Ron. After that Penny said she was going to have to stop caring for him, she couldn’t handle him.”

Hassan was arrested at the port of Dover the morning after the explosion. Over subsequent days another six people were arrested in Newport and Cardiff, South Wales, Sunbury, Surrey and in Hounslow, London. All have been released, having been held for days, without charge.

One Yahyah Faroukh, is a 21-year-old fast food worker from Hounslow, and a former foster child of the Jones couple. Faroukh too is a refugee, a Syrian who left Damascus in 2012. He was arrested the day after the attack and held for five days.

Faroukh was seized outside his workplace at a fast food restaurant by undercover police, who wrapped him in plastic to preserve forensic evidence before bundling him away. His picture and recent travel details were broadcast across the media. Faroukh’s mother suffered a heart attack following her son’s arrest and is now in a critical condition. The young man’s father also died recently. His employer has been subject to “abuse, threats, anger and hatred” and has demanded an apology from the Metropolitan Police.

Hassan and Faroukh’s circumstances have shed further light on the treatment of unaccompanied children, who arrive as asylum seekers in Britain, and their vulnerability. According to the Home Office, 11 percent of all asylum applications are from children who arrive in Britain alone. Between June 2016 and June 2017, 2,944 unaccompanied children applied for asylum. Most were from Libya and Syria. In 2016, 1,376 were from Syria. Unaccompanied children are placed in foster care until they become adults.

Fostering and adoption agencies, along with refugee support groups have expressed concerns that the May government will also use the bombing as a pretext to create further obstacles to settling child refugees within the UK.

Earlier this year, the British government dropped the so-called “Dubs amendment,” which committed the government to accepting 3,000 unaccompanied minors. Home Secretary Amber Rudd claimed “The specified number of 350 children … reasonably meets the intention and spirit behind the provision.” The British government excused its filthy evasion by claiming that the programme could “incentivise” children to travel to Europe.

Officially, there are around 300,000 unaccompanied child refugees worldwide, although this is acknowledged to be only a fraction of the real figure.

Trump administration attacks United States civil liberties

This video from the USA says about itself:

Feds Demand Facebook Info On Anti-Trump Supporters

29 September 2017

According to the ACLU, the Justice department obtained a warrant to search three Facebook accounts that organized Inauguration Day protests against Trump.

By Trévon Austin in the USA:

US Justice Department demands Facebook turn over information on anti-administration activists

30 September 2017

The US Department of Justice has issued warrants demanding that Facebook turn over private account information on three individuals described by their attorneys as “anti-administration activists” who “are generally very critical of [the Trump] administration’s policies.” The private account information on thousands of Facebook users could be funneled to the government as a result of the warrants.

Facebook received the warrants in February, but was until recently under a gag order barring it from making the warrants known to the targeted individuals or the public. The social media giant has not said whether it has, or plans to, comply with the search warrants.

One of the targeted Facebook users, Emmelia Talarico, operated the disruptj20 web page where protests against Trump’s inauguration were organized and discussed. Approximately 6,000 individuals visited the site, and the Department of Justice would have access to their identities should Facebook hand over the information sought in the warrants.

Talarico says that if the authorities are able to obtain her account information, they will have access to her “personal passwords, security questions and answers, and credit card information,” as well as “the private lists of invitees and attendees to multiple political events sponsored by the page.”

This follows a similar warrant issued to the web provider DreamHost, in which the government demanded that the company turn over all data on disruptj20.org, including visitor logs and IP addresses for 1.3 million people who visited the site. The warrant also demanded access to emails, photos and other data of those involved in contributing to and producing the site.

These warrants are part of a massive attack by the Trump administration on freedom of speech and political expression, focused on the Internet and social media. It is aided and abetted by a McCarthyite campaign led by the Democratic Party and the intelligence agencies, with bipartisan support from congressional Republicans, casting all political opposition to the policies of the government and to the growth of social inequality and poverty as the result of Russian “fake news” and media manipulation. The aim is to criminalize social opposition and political dissent and brand them as anti-American and treasonous activity.

Such sweeping demands for private information are in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, which prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures” and states that warrants must be based upon “probable cause…particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

They also violate the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and the press, and the right to peacefully protest.

Washington DC Superior Court Judge Robert Morin largely granted the Justice Department’s request to collect vast sets of records, including the emails of Facebook users and membership lists.

Yet this flagrant attack on democratic rights and assertion of police-state powers has evoked no significant protest from either the political or media establishment. Not a single leading Democratic politician has issued a statement opposing the warrants.

The other two Facebook users named in the warrants are Lacy MacAuley and Legba Carrefour. In court filings against the search warrant for his account, Carrefour said it “contains a significant amount of private material concerning my personal life.” He added in a statement that the warrants are “part of a pattern of prosecutorial overreach in the repression of Inauguration Day protesters.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), representing the three Facebook users, filed a motion to invalidate the three warrants. ACLU lawyers said the warrants were too broad and would reveal private information about those not involved in alleged violence during the inauguration protests.

“We are deeply concerned about the government engaging in a fishing expedition,” said Scott Michelman, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of the District of Columbia.

Of particular concern, Michelman said, is that the government search would disclose “anti-administration dissident activities that would then be investigated by the very administration that they are protesting.”

The Trump administration claims the warrants are part of a criminal investigation into the January 20 demonstrations in the capital in which more than 200 protesters were arrested.

The disclosure of the Justice Department warrants coincided with an announcement by tech giant Apple that in the first half of 2017, it received its highest ever number of US government national security letters requesting data. According to Apple’s transparency report, it received between 13,250 and 13,499 requests affecting between 9,000 and 9,249 accounts.

On Thursday, Google also released its transparency report. It received up to 499 requests for data, affecting between 1,000 and 1,499 accounts.

These developments in the US are part of an international attack on political dissent. Just last month, the German government raided the homes of the alleged administrators of the left-wing website “linksunten.indymedia.org” and shut the site down. The German government has also passed a law requiring social media companies to remove “violent extremist” material.

The issue of illegal and unconstitutional domestic spying in the US, including the pervasive National Security Agency surveillance exposed four years ago by Edward Snowden, has been completely dropped by the media and the political establishment. The Obama administration defended the NSA and blocked any rollback of government spying on electronic communications or legal action against those who organized it. It set the table for the Trump administration by prosecuting more whistleblowers for exposing classified information than any previous administration.

Technology and information monopolies such as Facebook and Google are complicit in the ruling class attack on freedom of speech and access to information. The World Socialist Web Site has exposed the political blacklisting of left-wing and antiwar websites by Google, which has implemented algorithms that, in the name of demoting “low-quality content,” slash search referrals to left-wing sites. The WSWS has been most heavily impacted by this censorship.

In response to political pressure, Facebook has turned over to Congress a list of 3,000 accounts, supposedly connected to Russia, which the company claims made $100,000 in ad purchases to “sow divisions” during the 2016 US election. Twitter is facing similar demands that it crack down on ads from Russian users such as the Russian English-language news outlet RT.

This video from the USA says about itself:

ICE Raids “Sanctuary City” in Santa Cruz, CA | Undocumented America

31 March 2017

Residents in ‘sanctuary city’ Santa Cruz, CA were shocked after an ICE raid to catch gang members also rounded up people for being undocumented. “My daughter, her crime is to have been undocumented. But she has no crime here.”

By Evan Blake in the USA:

ICE arrests nearly 500 immigrants in raids on “sanctuary cities” across US

30 September 2017

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced Thursday that it carried out a sweeping, nationwide crackdown on immigrants living in so-called “sanctuary cities.” The campaign, dubbed “Operation Safe City,” involved the arrests of 498 individuals over a four-day period ending Wednesday.

Major metropolitan areas across the US were targeted in the latest ICE raids, including Los Angeles County (167 arrests), Philadelphia (107), Denver (63), New York (45), Seattle (33), Baltimore (28), Cook County, Illinois (30), San Jose (27), Washington, D.C. (14) as well as the entire state of Massachusetts (50).

The immigrants abducted in these raids represent a broad swath of the world’s population, coming from 42 countries.

In their press release, ICE details ten sensationalized stories of the crimes for which some of these immigrants have been accused. They then claim that 317 of those detained had prior criminal convictions, implying that 181 had no criminal record whatsoever. The most common offense cited by ICE was drunk driving, for which 86 of the undocumented immigrants have been detained and face deportation.

Any crimes they may have committed are a product of the diseased social relations of capitalism and can largely be attributed to the impacts of poverty and desperation that have driven them to leave their home countries to come to the US, where they face ostracism and demonization by the government and media.

The ICE press release states, “Operation ‘Safe City’ focused on cities and regions where ICE deportation officers are denied access to jails and prisons to interview suspected immigration violators or jurisdictions where ICE detainers are not honored.”

The term “sanctuary city” refers to those cities that, due to public pressure stemming from sizable immigrant populations, restrain their local police from fully complying with ICE agents’ deportation requests.

These cities are largely overseen by Democratic politicians, who have offered the most tepid response to the assault on immigrants being carried out by the Trump administration. The sweeping ICE raids themselves expose the lie that there is the possibility for any kind of “sanctuary” to exist under the current economic and political system.

The press release quotes ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan as saying, “Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration. As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”

He continued, “ICE’s goal is to build cooperative, respectful relationships with our law enforcement partners to help prevent dangerous criminal aliens from being released back onto the streets. Noncooperation policies severely undermine that effort at the expense of public safety.”

The crackdown on “sanctuary cities” is intended to cultivate authoritarian sentiments within Trump’s far-right base of support, as well as embolden the fascistic agents and operatives within ICE itself.

During his presidential campaign—which was launched with a viciously xenophobic diatribe against Mexican immigrants—Trump repeatedly denounced “sanctuary” cities, and upon his election signed an executive order curbing funding to such cities. In late April, California District Court Judge William H. Orrick blocked the executive order, arguing that Trump overstepped his presidential authority.

The latest ICE raids coincide with Trump’s issuance of a new, indefinite travel ban targeting the citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, North Korea and Venezuela, which was signed by Trump on Sunday night. The new ban is being implemented after the 90-day lifespan of the initial Supreme Court-sanctioned ban elapsed.

Further escalating the clampdown on immigration, Trump announced on Friday in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the number of refugees allowed into the US next year would be capped at 45,000, the lowest number since 1980. It also came to light this week that the Department of Homeland Security is expanding a major operation to collect and analyze the social media accounts of all those who seek to immigrate to the United States and apply for citizenship.

On Thursday, Politico released a report compiling State Department data on the cumulative impact of the two previous travel bans implemented via executive orders signed by Trump this year, dubbed the “Muslim ban” for targeting majority-Muslim countries. Politico found that the monthly average of visitor visas granted to the countries affected by the bans has fallen by 44 percent compared to annual data for 2016. These visas are issued primarily to business travelers, tourists and students.

Overall, the Politico report found that “non-immigrant visas to people from all Arab nations fell 16 percent and the number issued to people from the world’s nearly 50 majority-Muslim countries fell 8 percent, even as the number issued to people from all nations was virtually unchanged.”

In response to the latest travel ban, the ACLU has filed an amendment to its existing lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s previous travel ban. In a statement, ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said, “President Trump’s newest travel ban is still a Muslim ban at its core, and it certainly engages in discrimination based on national origin, which is unlawful.”

Fighting neonazism on the Internet

This 22 April 2017 video is called Theresa May laughing meme [Jaws edition]. Modeled on the film Jaws about a ferocious great white shark, it is about Conservative Prime Minister May threatening the British National Health Service.

By Astrid Johnson in Britain:

The left is fighting a meme war on the ideological battleground online

Thursday 28th September 2017

ASTRID JOHNSON speaks with the artists kick-starting class consciousness and spreading socialist values on social media

ONLINE memes are difficult to define by their varied nature, but by far the most common and popular medium of meme is that of the funny picture, often with overlaid text.

They can cover a vast range of topics, adopt countless cultural in-jokes and range from the beautifully intricate to the hilariously mundane. But whatever the variety or the form, one thing is certain: memes dominate the internet, and have done for as long as many can remember.

For around the past five years, there’s been a rather unfavourable group of individuals exploiting the popularity of memes as a recruitment tool: the alt-right, a loosely-defined movement aligned with the right wing, fascism and white supremacy.

Spreading like a virus through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and lurking in internet forums like Reddit and 4Chan, the alt-right is orchestrating the distribution of dog-whistle phrases that mask genocide advocacy, and call for the formation of a white ethno-state.

But they’re being met with a fierce opposition from communists, socialists and anarchists. And they’re pretty good at making memes too. Indeed, left-wing memes have existed for about as long as memes themselves have in general. But in recent times, they’ve experienced a boom in popularity and production to spread class consciousness and fight back against the oncoming tide of fascism both online and off.

“I fell in love with socialism at a young age. It just seemed like common sense to me,” says one of the administrators of the Facebook page Labourwave on condition of anonymity.

Labourwave — which writes its name in a mixture of alternative characters not dissimilar to replacing an ‘e’ with a ‘3’ in a password — publishes online what some have called works of art.

After taking courses in graphic design, the site’s administrators began to fall in love with vaporwave, a counter-culture art and music movement that critiques capitalism with ironic idolization of 1990s consumerism aesthetics. “I loved the almost dystopian, anti-capitalist message.”

But as the alt-right began to expropriate vaporwave from its original community, Labourwave decided to start creating unabashedly socialist imagery, and in creating their Facebook page became part of a movement that’s seen success in making people more aware of their political options.

“I’ve seen many people say that leftist memes are what radicalised them … Memes are just modern entertainment, so it just seems logical to me.”

Labourwave thinks that, similarly to alt-right memes, art from them and others like them might be a more effective means of convincing people of left-wing politics. “Leftist memes are much different since they promote, mostly, positive messages about overcoming injustice and oppression.”

Regrettably, the left-wing community suffers from a lot of in-fighting, and this is something that can’t be escaped when making memes online. “Anarchists and authoritarian communists hardly ever get along, but that’s why I like to make a lot of left unity memes.” And Labourwave isn’t the only one trying to unite the masses.

“We don’t really like to discuss our specific ideologies,” says an admin for Sassy Socialist Memes, one of the most popular socialist meme pages on Facebook with a following of over 965,000 people.

“The strength of this page is that it acts as a broad church for leftists of all types, and that is why we can post memes about both anarchists and Maoists.”

Despite its huge success and wide reach, the people behind Sassy Socialist Memes never really intended to make something big out of their page. “It started as a fun inside joke between friends and just kept snowballing as more and more people joined the page.”

But through its success, many have begun to consider left-wing politics with a greater degree of interest. “We’ve had fans message us saying that our page got them interested in left ideology. We also have people ask us for reading recommendations or ask us questions about theory.”

At the end of the day, Sassy Socialist Memes isn’t looking to trigger any large social change through their actions. “We mainly just want people to enjoy our stuff. Anything extra is a bonus.”

However, the admins do think that if the alt-right are appropriating memes as a means of recruitment, then perhaps the left would also do good to do the same. “The alt-right uses memes as an ideological gateway, so one can say the left can do the same.”

The Labourwave Politburo of Agitation and Propaganda take this sentiment one step further. The creator of the page embraces the propagandistic, recruiting nature of socialist memes. “I hope that my work directly facilitates a revival of the ideals of the USSR. Original Soviet propaganda posters are great both artistically and at visually conveying socialist principles.”

It sees memes as a very palatable and approachable medium, and believe that this makes them perfect for sharing socialist sentiment.

“Memes can transform the essence of dense Marxist literature into an easily digestible format. Though reading theory is important, not everyone has the time.

“I have seen so many people say that they only got into it for the memes at first, but then over time they realised there was much more to it.”

The Politburo, based in the United States, has good reason for its passion, and the conviction of its views. “I was drawn to left-wing politics after watching the carnage that the great recession inflicted on the working people of this country…

“I’ve now seen the Pulse nightclub massacre in my hometown. I’ve seen Donald Trump lead a rally at my university, where he asked his supporters to swear allegiance to him.

“The only chance that my generation has is if the working people of the United States, as well as the working people of the whole world, create truly just governments based not on greed and death, but on equality and hope.”

And it is for these reasons that the Politburo does what it does. “Marxism is the ideology that supports this worldview.

“It has been responsible for near miraculous leaps in democracy and progress in the past.”

I asked the creators behind the Politburo what inspired them specifically to make the art that they do.

They shared with me a quote from the German playwright Bertolt Brecht, that I think quite effectively conveys the intention behind not all but many of the countless socialist meme creators online: “Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”