Opportunity Costs: Unequal Justice in Alabama’s Community Corrections Programs

Southern Poverty Law Center - Tue, 07/30/2019 - 13:36
Tella Barnett fears she’ll end up behind bars again if she gets behind on her payments.

New report reveals employers, other details about troubled J-1 summer work travel program

Southern Poverty Law Center - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 14:23
The students from the Dominican Republic were told that they could experience American culture while working at resorts and ice cream shops.

Texas sheriff who stars on reality show fails to publicly address sexist images posted on Facebook by one of his top officers

Southern Poverty Law Center - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 14:21
Stories about law enforcement officers disciplined for posting offensive images or words on Facebook are increasingly popping up in the news.

Weekend Read: School Lunches

Southern Poverty Law Center - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 12:45
Pennsylvania officials came under fire this week when they attempted to collect money owed for school lunches in one of the poorest districts in the state.

Paul Fromm with Maxime Bernier: Pleased With PPC Immigration Platform

So rather than engaging in the usual long-winded lead up I engage in, let's just get to the point on this one:

Yep, white supremacist Paul Fromm, seen here with Max Bernier happily patting him on the back, is pleased with the PPC platform regarding immigration.

Though he's not as happy that a former PPC candidate was removed for merely posting the link to a white supremacist group with ties to terrorism:

Fromm has been a fixture on the far right in Canada since the late 1960s and has associated with such groups as the Heritage Front, Volksfront, the KKK, American Front, and the recently illegal terrorist group Blood & Honour/Combat 18 (among others):

Bernier himself has seemingly decided to throw his lot in with extremists including the Northern Guard:

Proud Boys:

ID Canada (formerly Generation Identity Canada):

The Yellow Vesters:

And an assortment of other alt-right and racist figures:

Identity Dixie Leaders Helped Plan Deadly Rally

Southern Poverty Law Center - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 09:42
Behind the shield of anonymity, members of a neo-Confederate hate group appeared to have emerged without consequences for their participation in a deadly Virginia rally. But that shield has vanished.

Family of Herbert Lee to visit Civil Rights Memorial that honors his sacrifice

Southern Poverty Law Center - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 06:20
Clifton Franklin was a high school football running back who – at 16 – wanted to play in a big game between Louisiana rivals. His mother, however, had other plans.

SPLC: Resuming barbaric practice of federal executions serves no useful purpose

Southern Poverty Law Center - Thu, 07/25/2019 - 13:27
The U.S. Department of Justice announced today that it plans to resume the executions of people who are awaiting the death penalty in federal prisons, ending nearly two decades in which the federal government had not imposed capital punishment.

More families seek damages for harm suffered due to Trump administration’s family separations

Southern Poverty Law Center - Thu, 07/25/2019 - 06:28
After seeking asylum from Guatemala at a port of entry in 2017, M.C.L. and his 7-year-old son spent two days in various cells where the temperature was kept extremely cold, with only a thin blanket and a single mattress to share.

SPLC: Trump administration plan to kick millions off food stamps is ‘cruel and arbitrary’

Southern Poverty Law Center - Wed, 07/24/2019 - 07:43
The Trump administration announced a plan this week that would “tighten” the rules governing who qualifies for food stamps, a move that would likely take basic food provisions away from about 3 million people.

Guest Article: The Canadian Far-Right an Eco's Hallmarks of Fascism

I had been planning on writing an article for the blog detailing Umberto Eco's fourten hallmarks of fascism and even started gathering some relevant screenshots (some of which I have included). However last month I saw that Twitter user Seussterhoff had already posted a series of tweets providing an outline of the hallmarks. As such I asked Seussterhoff if they would be willing to write an article on the topic for the blog and more fully flesh out the connection between the far right groups ARC, Yellow Vests Canada Exposed, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, and others have been reporting on.

I would very much like to thank Seussterhoff for this article; if you aren't following this Twitter account, you really should be.

*    *    *
The alt-right is like a box of chocolates - or, in the words of Dr. Umberto Eco, ""fascism was a fuzzy totalitarianism, a collage of different philosophical and political ideas, a beehive of contradictions." Therefore, in the spirit of tarring the alliance/cross-contamination between PEGIDA, Yellow Vests, hate preachers, Wolves/Soldiers of Odin, Northern Guard, and their good buddies with the same brush, I present Eco's fourteen hallmarks of fascism.

Eco, for the record, grew up in Mussolini's Italy. He got to know fascism firsthand. I've often found his fourteen points a useful reference for analyzing groups and movements that are prone to going off the rails. And I see every one of those fourteen points, to some extent, in the Canadian alt-right.

References: Eco's 1995 original (partially paywalled); OpenCulture's summary; Paul Bausch's point-form summary.

My thanks to the good people of ARC Collective for inviting me to expand on my Twitter thread about this. And while the screencaps may not be the world's best or most pointed examples of all the points below, the vast majority of them came from less than half an hour of casual browsing on the Facebook page of Derek Storie, a prominent Yellow Vest.

#1: The cult of tradition....

...."nourished by...syncretistic, occult elements." 

I've got a pagan friend who's prone to rage about all the ways the alt-right has appropriated and twisted Norse and pagan heritage - throwbacks to romanticized days when men were MEN and so forth. The iconography is everywhere:

Note one-eyed Odin, a reference to sacrificing for hidden truths. Ravens, incidentally, reference similar ideas, with a slant toward uncovering secrets and omniscience.

'Syncretism,' for context, is about blending the appealing bits of various cultures and traditions. Observe:

Middle is a Norse valknut symbol, with as many historic and modern interpretations as you can shake a stick at. Very watered-down, basically meaningless apart from its occasional association with white supremacy. Top right is Norse. Top left, in the words of my heathen symbologist friend, is a "Medieval Christian Icelandic 'runesign' most neo-pagans don't realize is Christian." Bottom is a Celtic triskelion. The logo is just one big syncretic mishmash. Neo-pagan or pseudo-Norse iconography like this is all over their social media.

And that's only one small example of their veneration for skewed tradition and heritage. Think about how many of them fly the Red Ensign, Canada's old flag from colonial times, and what they mean by that.

Think, too, what they mean when they try to appropriate and possess the Canadian flag: they're trying to radicalize it as a symbol and position their critics and targets as un-Canadian. Cult of tradition all over the place.

#2: Modernism is the enemy. "The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity." 

Read more »

Keean Bexte, Associated With Members/Supporters of ID Canada Hate Group, Harassing Congresswomen Attacked By Trump

I decided to follow up the article I posted yesterday concerning the Canadian far-right's celebration of Trump's overtly racist Tweet attacking four Congresswomen of colour (followed by a rally in North Carolina where he reveled in the crowd chanting "send them home!" before lying and claiming he didn't like it and tried to stop it despite video evidence showing the opposite) with a little more Canadian content on the subject.
NOTE 1: Wait just a little while, and Trump can be relied on to be completely unreliable as he reverses his reversal and defends the racist chant now.Phew! Holy run-on sentence Batman!

Anywho, on to the point....

Once again, meet one of Rebel Media's latest propagandist personalities Keean Bexte. Before I get into the meat of the issue, let's address the elephant in the room.

Yes, he actually chose to look like this:

I mean.... damn dude!

Your mother let you out of the house looking like that, did she? I mean, mine loves me enough to tell me that if I sported that haircut like that I should probably just shave it all off because I would look absolutely ridiculous.

And do you actually own another t-shirt? I legit looked at a number of photos of you and this one was rather ubiquitous:

Is it your dress t-shirt? You're "report'n" t-shirt? Did you loose a bet that requires you to wear it continuously for a year? Do you think that t-shirt is the source of your strength like Sampson's hair (sorry, I know that hair is sort of a touchy subject). Do you wear the t-shirt to prevent nipple chafing? Does it promote nipple chafing (I won't judge your kink, man)?

THESE are the questions the people really want answers to Crutchie!

If you know Bexte, you do so likely for one or more of a number of reasons. He was a member of the Calgary Wildrose executive who was involved in some Roger Stone-esque dirty trickery in his effort to support Jason Kenney's campaign for leadership of the United Conservative Party. He managed to get a resolution at the Conservative policy convention eliminating birthright citizenship in Canada to pass before leaving the party in a huff because he didn't get his way over dairy products. He is suspected to have been one (if not the one) to have promoted a men's rights "documentary" by claiming that everyone knows that "feminism is cancer" and then create another online persona to take the blame for the email.

Those who read this blog are also aware of his links to Fireforce Ventures (an online store exposed by Ricochet which glorified the racist regime of the former Rhodesia and made liberal use of racist epithets) as well as a number of individuals associated with both Alberta conservative campus politics and the hate group ID Canada (formerly Generation Identity Canada):

With a pedigree like that, it was only a matter of time before Ezra Levant, who has jumped started the careers of alt-right and alt-light figures such as white nationalist Faith Goldy, propagandist Lauren Southern, hate group founder Gavin McInnes, career criminal Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, former British Nationalist Party's Jack Buckby, serial liar Jack Posobiec, and Laura "My Life Is Meaningless Without Twitter" Loomer amongst others:As a Rebel Media personality, Keean has recently been tasked with covering American politics by which I mean harassing Democratic politicians. Here for example is his hard hitting report (ie badgering) of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar which also appeared on another virulently Islamophobic website late last month:

The whole "Omar married her brother to commit immigration fraud" slander seems to have begun in 2016 though it was quickly and definitively debunked:

That of course hasn't stopped the likes of Bexte and others from continuing to promote this slander (one can see it continually being referred to in screen shots posted in the article yesterday) as evidenced by the past several days:

NOTE 2: More on Avi Yemini who Bexte retweeted:
  • Tommy Robinson's Australian wingman, Avi Yemini, has pleaded guilty to unlawful assault and admitted throwing a chopping board at his former wife's head, the Herald Sun reports.— Josh Halliday (@JoshHalliday) July 18, 2019 
I can't stress enough how much this Ilhan Omar smear — now on Fox and talk radio, and coming from the president himself — is based on absolute nonsense. It's Pizzagate-levels of delusion.— Will Sommer (@willsommer) July 19, 2019

In the world of racist misogynists like Bexte, a woman (and in this case a woman of color) refuses to talk to or acknowledge him is all that is the real crime.
In fact this really brings me to the main point of the article here. As Canadian Trump supporters, members of Rebel Media have been acting as one of this country's primary propaganda avenues. Bexte himself is a fan of Trump and after the current occupant of the Oval Office posted his racist tweet Bexte decided to jump on the train:

The question he continues to ask in the video is of the "have you stopped beating your wife?" variety.  Bexte, a person for whom acting in bad faith seems as natural as breathing, isn't at all interested in an answer. He wants a reaction as evidenced by this exchange with journalist Emily Leeham whom he berated along men who had accompanied him at a Linda Sarsour speaking engagement in Winnipeg. The telling moment occurs at about the 1:00 mark:
Keean Bexte from the Rebel Media other local men cornering me while asking inflammatory questions to get an emotional response. This is how the Rebel Media works. Video taken April 26, 2019 outside the Ukrainian Labour Temple in Winnipeg. Please share.— Emily Leedham (@Emily_Leedham_) April 28, 2019
Like Ms. Leeham, the four Congresswomen dealt with Bexte in the best way possible (and really, he should be used to women ignoring him by this point in his life). He's also disingenuous as hell since he himself makes it clear he's prefectly fine with violence and threats of violence as illustrated here when he defends border agents who posted rape and murder fantasies about Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on social media:

Bexte after all really isn't a journalist:

He's an agenda-driven propagandist who already has a narrative that he's going to push:

Now because Rebel Media is, in this writers ever so humble opinion, less a journalist endevor than it is primarily a business profiting from the anger and hate it stokes, Bexte and Ezra Levant (if not Levant personally than as part of Rebel Media's business model) have as they do bought a domain name and created a petition where the supporters can (a) impotently sign to voice their anger based on half truths and lies which won't actually accomplish anything but will make the signer feel as if he or she is doing something concrete and (b) provide Rebel Media marketers with personal information and email address that can be used to contact the signers and solicit donations.... allegedly. And of course there also has to be some sort of public stunt involved too:

He also received a visit from former (if short-live in his tenure) Rebel alum Jack Posobiec:

It should be noted that Posobiec is a nutbar who:He was also fired by Levant because he was too dishonest even for Rebel Media.
Let that fact sink in there.
The campaign Bexte is engaged on is patently dishonest, but it does conform with the current toxic political environment on the right and as such will get an audience in those circles:

When should we start taking bets on when Bexte starts going down the same path as Goldy?

Just kidding. He's already well on his way:

Weekend Read: Racism is Killing Black Americans

Southern Poverty Law Center - Fri, 07/19/2019 - 08:27
Racism affects every aspect of American life – none more so than our medical system.

John Tanton's Legacy

Southern Poverty Law Center - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 15:24
John Tanton, the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement, has left behind a legacy that spawned more than a dozen nativist organizations, driven an anti-immigrant agenda for four decades, and found friends in the White House.

Canadian Far Right Celebrate Donald Trump's Most Recent Example of Overt Racism

In 1947, a short film was produced by the American War Department warning Americans to be wary of racist demagogues and the dangers they pose to democratic institution:

The film was produced in response to horrors of a global war still fresh in the memories of the American public in which a man who had been a failure through most of his life but who had a gift for public speaking and manipulating public was able to achieve power in part by dividing citizens of his adopted country into Aryan übermensch and untermensch who's citizenship and humanity were stripped from them.
Now 71 years later, another demagogue is using (not reading because he proudly doesn't read) the same playbook:

In some ways this isn't a surprise. American politicians have for years used racist dog whistles to rile up their supporters, the Southern Strategy and Ronald Reagan's reference to "welfare queens" being two cases. And Donald Trump has a long history of racial animus; the refusal to rent to African-American tenants in the 1970s for which he and his father, the Central Park jogger case, his claims in 1989 that African-Americans had an advantage over whites, a 1991 book quoting him as suggesting Black Americans were lazy and that the only people he wanted counting his money were Jews whick also plays on stereotypes, his attacks on Native Americans during an effort to prevent tribal competition with him in the gambling industry, his birther attacks on President Obama, his claim that a judge couldn't be objective in a case he was being sued in because of his Mexican-American heritage, his efforts to stop Muslims from entering the United States and the lie that Arab-Americans were seen celebrating the 9/11 attacks, and so many more.

This was a man who, immediately upon entering the presidential race in 2015, labeled Mexican migrants as rapists and criminals, though he did allow that there MIGHT be some good people.

The racial animus is what in part attracted the bulk of Trump's supporters. When it was reported that he didn't want immigrants from "shit hole countries" his supporters began parroting that line while at the same time denying that he said it. So it can't be at all surprising when these same supporters embrace the overtly racist "go back where they came from" line while denying that it is racist but also assuming that the four congresswomen are foreign and Muslim (two of the four are) because of the colour of their skin.

The Canadian far-right who admire Trump have embraced this same xenophobic and exclusionary rhetoric:

Kevin "The Poodle" Johnston, fresh off being on the receiving end of a multi-million dollar defamation judgement for his attacks on a Muslim-Canadian businessman for which he is unrepentant and doubling down, and long time white supremacist (and promoter of the recently outlawed Blood & Honour/C18 terrorist group) Paul Fromm aren't the only two examples of course:

Similar posts can be found on the Yellow Vests Canada, Northern Guard, and a host of other far-right Facebook groups. Some of the most vile of the rhetoric can be found on the profile of Georges Hallak, a Quebec racist, Islamophobic, theocrat who ARC has discussed in detail and in passing in past articles:

Hallak is a huge fan of Trump and of course embraces the same xenophobia about immigrants and refugees despite himself being an immigrant from Lebanon:

The response to this post might be the most telling regarding the character of the far right:

It is hard to get through to people who believe that Donald Trump has class, but I do digress.

The term "stochastic terrorism" has been used to describe Trump's tweet and other similar examples targeting political opponents, critics, and those he feels are not sufficiently loyal to himself. Stochastic terrorism has been defines as, "the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted."

Given the reaction of the far-right in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere, it seems to be an apt term:

Hallak and his friends also gets in on the dehumanizing and dangerous rhetoric....

.... while throwing in some Canadian content:

The "non-citizens" in the Canadian government are naturalized citizens who aren't white, thus are not and never will be truly "Canadian" in the minds of these posters.

And if Trump's xenophobia is criticized by the Canadian prime minister, the "patriots" on the III% Alberta militia page have an answer.

Threaten to break away from the country and kill the prime minister in support of the racist foreign leader:

Of course, we know that if Trump's tweets do have their (I presume) desired effects....

This is one of the single most racist moments in modern American political history. As Trump began attacking my friend Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the crowd began chanting “SEND HER BACK, SEND HER BACK.” It’s utterly despicable and dangerous. We are here. We are in THAT time. UGLY.— Shaun King (@shaunking) July 17, 2019
People will be assaulted, attacked, perhaps even killed as a result of Trump's racist incitement. Hate crimes have increased. A terrorist killed 11 in a synagogue as revenge against "invaders." When will your rage be exhausted? How many of us must suffer for you to feel great?— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) July 18, 2019
People are saying Trump’s rhetoric will “get someone killed” like the President’s rhetoric hasn’t already got people murdered.— Solomon (@Solomon_Selby) July 18, 2019

....we already know the same people profiled in this article will claim it as a false flag.

Retaking Everything: The Story of Identity Dixie

Southern Poverty Law Center - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 12:34
A small Facebook campaign predicated on keeping Confederate monuments in place has morphed into a group of more than 200 ardent, secretive separatists planning to make the South a separate nation. And Hatewatch has learned the identities of some of the group’s leaders and members.

SPLC sues Trump administration over new rule that makes migrants who pass through other countries ineligible for asylum

Southern Poverty Law Center - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 12:31
The SPLC and its partners filed a lawsuit and an emergency motion this week seeking to block a new Trump administration rule that categorically bars asylum for migrants who cross the southern border without applying for and being denied asylum in any country that they pass through on their way to the U.S.

Sears and St. Germaine's sentencing delayed yet again

Here we are with yet another chapter in what seems like the never-ending saga of the James Sears/LeRoy St. Germaine sentencing hearing. Those of you who have stuck with me through this mess will recall that Sears and St. Germaine of Your Ward News were convicted of wilfully promoting hatred against women and Jews back in January. The sentencing hearing began on April 26th, and devolved quickly when Sears' delivered a truncated version of his 62 page allocution. Sears should have been sentenced on May 31st, but then he decided to fire his lawyer for, to use his words, "throwing the case." He had all sorts of grand plans for launching a constitutional challenge, among other things, now that he is self-represented, so I knew we were in for a rough ride on July 15th. 

Unlike Sears' last appearance in April, I had no illusion that this would be the end, but I also didn't expect it to feel like a new beginning either.

Your Ward News editor hate trial could be re-opened as judge delays sentencing | CBC News via @cbcnews— The Lawyer's Daily (@lawyersdailyca) July 16, 2019
Determined to "have his day in court," Sears compiled a 79 page submission, with a 29 page addendum, dealing mainly with what he perceives as violations of his Charter rights. Justice Blouin determined none of these had any merit, however, he was willing to entertain the possibility that Sears did not have a fair trial due to his lawyer, Dean Embry's, decision not to call any witnesses. 
Blouin, who is set to retire at the end of August, is widely quoted as telling Sears and the court that:“My overarching obligation is to ensure a fair trial. I’m allowing Mr. Sears an opportunity to satisfy me that this is an exceptional case and I should re-open this trial or declare a mistrial at this late date. [Sears has] made the argument that Mr. Embry basically threw the case. That’s an issue I’m going to have to decide.’’Sears now has two weeks to put forward a list of potential witnesses, their credentials, and what they would add to the proceedings. According to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, Sears intends to call Embry as a witness, along with "experts" in satire, and a former YWN columnist who is apparently an Ethiopian Jew. Blouin will then have to decide whether to reopen the case, declare a mistrial, or press on with sentencing.

The standard "I'm not a lawyer, but..." caveat applies here, however, it is my understanding that satire has only successfully been used as a defence in Canada for copyright issues. Other racists, including Gary Schipper from the Heritage Front days, have tried to lean on humour as a defence in the past, but without success. If Blouin does reopen the trial, I'm very interested to see how they determine who can be considered an expert in satire for this case, and whether anyone could possibly argue about Sears' intentions regarding his hate-filled rants in YWN without relying on a psych evaluation.

While this circus plays out, St. Germaine's sentencing is also up in the air.
B'nai Brith Canada attended court today with regard to Your Ward News, but neither editor James Sears nor publisher LeRoy St. Germaine were sentenced today, for different reasons.— B'nai Brith Canada (@bnaibrithcanada) July 15, 2019
St. Germaine, who is Metis, had his lawyer present the findings of his Gladue Report, which showed that due to the trauma suffered by his father, and the challenging upbringing St. Germaine experienced as a result, these factors should be taken into account for sentencing, and that alternatives to a custodial sentence should be considered. A source who was in attendance said that there was a discussion of having a Victim Offender Reconciliation Meeting, however, that has yet to be decided.

St. Germaine, who we learned has only a grade 8 education, and a criminal record from the 1980s for "break and enter, theft, assault causing bodily harm and assaulting a police officer," (DiManno), had an opportunity to deliver his own allocution. While I'm hoping to find more details, he appears to remain angry and unrepentant, and is quoted as saying:
“I believe in free speech. And I think I’ve done my due diligence in checking Mr. Sears’s material. Besides, there were only some 200 complaints made against the paper over the years, during which 6 million plus editions of the Your Ward News were distributed. If it offends people, for the number of people reading to the number being offended was a wide gap.”There is some good news, however. St. Germaine has apparently decided to permanently cease publishing YWN and plans to disassociate himself from Sears. He presents such a mixed message of being both unrepentant and yet ready to move on that it is hard to predict what the judge will finally decide with regards to sentencing.

Clearly, Justice Blouin will have a lot to consider prior to reconvening on August 1st. He is probably quite looking forward to retiring, given the headaches this case is causing. Hopefully he will be motivated to finally sentence these two, since most people, including me, would like this circus of a case to finally end. Sears' stalling tactics and theatrics have an impact on the identifiable groups and individuals targeted by the hate rag:
FSWC encourages the court to reconsider this latest turn of events and take into account the many people, including Holocaust survivors, victimized by Your Ward News.— FSWC (@CanadianFSWC) July 16, 2019Sears and St Germaine have been found guilty. It is my hope that before the summer is over, those targeted by YWN will find some closure and peace.


SPLC sues Florida officials over law requiring police to act as ICE agents

Southern Poverty Law Center - Tue, 07/16/2019 - 11:52
The SPLC and its partners sued top Florida officials today over a new state law that requires local police to act as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

Federal magistrate judge recommends $14 million in damages to Jewish woman targeted in neo-Nazi harassment campaign

Southern Poverty Law Center - Mon, 07/15/2019 - 15:02
Federal Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch issued a ruling today recommending that Andrew Anglin, publisher of a major neo-Nazi website, should pay more than $14 million in damages to Tanya Gersh, the Whitefish, Montana, woman who received a relentless barrage of antisemitic threats and messages from Anglin and his followers.