It can happen here

MIRAC — the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee — reports.

At 7:20 a.m. Monday morning, July 15, 2019, MIRAC members got notice that ICE was outside a home around 42nd and Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis. Three of us arrived there within minutes to witness two unmarked all-black SUVs and 1 pickup stopped in the far left lane blocking traffic surrounding a car.

We were too late. This person was most likely following the ‘know your rights’ advice that has been given to the community and did not open his car door. The ICE officers then proceeded to bust out the back window of his car to reach in, unlock the doors and drag this man to the ground.

An observer was across the street, yelling over two lanes of traffic, telling ICE that she wanted to see the warrant. The ICE officer moved his hand over his holster and told her not to dare to cross the street or move any closer to them. At one point the man told the ICE officers to please give his car keys to the observer and ICE told her that if she wanted to see any paperwork to meet them at their “office”.

After ICE left, we talked to a neighbor who witnessed the entire incident. He was very distraught and kept repeating himself, “So this is really happening…” We then took pictures of the damaged window on the car of the man who had been detained. You can see how all the glass fell into the car filling his child’s car seat. He left his work bag in the front seat and his coffee mug in the holder still steaming with hot coffee.

The widely reported ICE raids that President Trump has promised are reported to be targeting 2,000 families with existing removal orders. It is also being reported that there will likely be collateral arrests of individuals in proximity of targeted individuals.

What we witnessed in Minneapolis this morning may or may not have been part of a broader ICE operation. Minneapolis was not on the list of cities that were supposed to be targeted. But this is an important reminder that ICE takes people away every day in our communities, not just when the president publicly announces it. And it’s an important reminder that everyone should know their rights, and everyone has the right to not say or sign anything before talking to a lawyer.

TAKE ACTION:

1. Share ‘know your rights’ information on social media and in your neighborhood and with people you know. Here is good information in multiple languages: http://bit.ly/conocetusderechosndlon

2. Consult this guide before posting about ICE operations on social media to avoid spreading unclear or false information: https://www.facebook.com/…/a.56963099638…/2716313601715498/…

3. Contact local mayors and police chiefs to ask them to reiterate their commitment to refuse to participate or in any way coordinate with ICE operations, and ask that they immediately inform the public if they receive notification that ICE operations will be carried out in their jurisdiction.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey
612-673-2100
Twitter: @Jacob_Frey

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo
Phone: 612-673-2735
Twitter: @MinneapolisPD
Email: policepio@minneapolismn.gov

Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson
Phone: 612-348-3744
Twitter: @HennepinSheriff
Email: Sheriff@hennepin.us

Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter
651-266-8510
Twitter: @mayorcarter_

Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell
Phone: 651-266-5588
Twitter: @ToddAxtell
Email: Todd.D.Axtell@ci.stpaul.mn.us

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher
Phone: 651-266-9333
Twitter: @RamseySheriff
bob.fletcher@co.ramsey.mn.us

That “know your rights” info is a little discouraging, because it tells you all the things ICE is not allowed to do, yet as this example shows, they go right ahead and do them anyway.

The eggs came tumbling down

Yesterday, I showed you that clutch of spider eggs I’d accidentally removed from their silken egg sac. This morning I checked on them, looked into the incubator, and saw they were still resting there in a tight little ball, but when I picked up the vial, they disappeared. The coherent ball of eggs fell apart, and all the individuals went tumbling down, like little beige pearly ball bearings, and they’re rolling around on the floor of their container.

I don’t consider this a good sign — it means that they initially had some adhesive properties and that they’re drying out. Mama Spider puts a drop of mystery fluid in the egg sac as she’s laying eggs, and it’s not clear what that does for them. These eggs may be doomed. I spritzed some water vapor into the vial and also dampened the foam plug to get the humidity up, but we’ll see. I’ll be keeping an eye on them.

P.S. They’re not like chicken eggs, where a fall from 20 egg diameters up is going to crack them all. There are some privileges to being tiny.

The inevitable pedantry over Epstein and the false authority of Pornhub

You knew it was coming, because it always does. A man rapes a child, and rather than focusing on the “rape” part of the crime, they fuss over the age of the child, and what specific category the man belongs to. All the focus gets put on the rapist rather than the rape, and the victim is reduced to some kind of perverted scale. The biggest jerk this time around is Katie Herzog, who splits hairs with the worst of them.

Pedophilia is defined by the psychological establishment as a persisent attraction to pre-pubescent children. Obviously, the onset of puberty varies by individual, but it is the prepubescent element that distinguishes pedophila from other paraphilias, or aberrant sexual desires. As far as we know, Epstein’s attraction was to teen girls, and while many of us may find this icky (I do), isn’t actually all that abnormal: “teen,” for instance, was the most popular Pornhub search term in the U.S. in 2016. Plenty of men are attracted to young women. There may even be evolutionary explanations for this, as female reproductive capacity begins to decline in our 20s. The difference is that decent men know better than to act on it.

Oh, fucking hell. Porn sites shape human behavior, you don’t get to use them to justify the normality of a behavior, and you especially don’t get to use them to support “evolutionary” explanations. Herzog may have found a year in which “teen” was most popular, but a different article says the most popular search term was “stepmom” (incest seems to be popular; let’s invent an evo-psych justification for it!), and in 2018 it was “lesbian”, with “teen” in 12th place, well below that evolutionarily significant practice of “anal” at #6.

These declarations from Pornhub about what is most popular come out all the time, and they get gleefully reported by the mainstream media. It’s almost as if a porn company has discovered a great way to get free advertising. But that couldn’t be, could it?

Throwing in the “evolutionary explanation” is also annoying. Humans have plenty of excess reproductive capacity, especially given our ability to limit infant mortality. You don’t need to have babies with 16 year olds to be reproductively successful! The best strategy for our successful reproduction is a stable social environment, fair distribution of resources, economic security, access to health care, and an absence of abuse of women and children. Oh, and peace, rather than war. I guess since “socialism” doesn’t show up as a popular search term on Pornhub, that can’t be true.

Here’s the bottom line, though: Epstein was an abuser who violated the consent of children. I don’t give a flying fuck what borders you stencil in over his victims, he is a child rapist.

It’s the last day of Prime Day…resist!

Demonstrators shout slogans and hold placards during a protest at the Amazon fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota, on December 14, 2018. – A group of Amazon workers in Minnesota who are Somali refugees resettled in the Midwestern US state demanded better working conditions during a protest outside one of the retailer’s warehouses. Dozens braved frigid temperatures to demonstrate outside of the Amazon warehouse in the Minneapolis suburb of Shakopee — home to a sizable Somali immigrant population from which Amazon has heavily recruited. (Photo by Kerem Yucel / AFP) (Photo credit should read KEREM YUCEL/AFP/Getty Images)

The serfs in Minnesota who work long hours for low pay are on strike. You wouldn’t cross a picket line, would you?

Anyway, read the story, it’s an eye-opener. Workers there have grueling schedules, like having to race through the warehouse to pick an item every 8 seconds, or to pack 230 items an hour. It’s demanding and unreal, and Amazon uses the threat of firing and replacing people as a whip to keep them in line.

This isn’t the first time Amazon has faced accusations about improper working conditions. A 2015 New York Times exposé described Amazon as a “bruising workplace.” Multiple reports claimed that Amazon warehouse jobs are grueling and extremely taxing, both physically and mentally, due to ever-increasing demands. Journalist James Bloodworth wrote that there were workers who peed in bottles to avoid taking bathroom breaks. A Verge report revealed that “hundreds” of workers in a Baltimore facility were fired for not meeting productivity levels. Amazon, for its part, has denied many of these reports, insisting it is a “fair and responsible” employer.

Yet, thousands of workers in Europe have gone on strike in the past to protest increased work hours, the reduction of bonuses and an unhealthy work environment. That hasn’t really happened much in the US — Amazon workers in Europe are unionized, while US workers are not — but the workers in Shakopee could help change things.

Also interesting is that Minnesota became a hotbed of resistance to Fuhrer Bezos because they recruited workers heavily from our Somali population…and they organized to fight for the right to prayer breaks. I may not be sympathetic to the idea of prayer, but I am entirely sympathetic for workers’ right to have a little time free to do as they will during the day. Anything less is inhumane.

But it all boils down to one thing: UNIONIZE.

Truth be told, a single warehouse going on strike will likely not affect Amazon’s bottom line very much, even if it does happen on Prime Day. But it’s a sign of a much larger shift in how Amazon workers across the country are attempting to organize for a better workplace. Some workers in the Staten Island warehouse are trying to unionize, for example, as are Whole Foods employees. As Amazon introduces more automation and attempts to retrain its staff, the need to negotiate better working conditions might be more important now than ever.

Jeff Bezos would not have a hundred billion dollars if he hadn’t ripped it from the backs of labor. Imagine a country with strong unions — we wouldn’t have so many billionaires, and we’d be productive without treating human beings as automatons.

Antifa, we have a missile gap

The most damning thing about antifa is that we have photographic evidence of them mixing up lots of milkshakes — it’s so pathetic that the fascists had to make up a lie about them adding quick-set cement to them, just to make it seem like maybe they were a little bit dangerous.

Contrast that with the fascists. A police raid on a fascist group in Italy found this:

The article says it’s an air-to-air missile. I don’t think the arms race has gone so far that they have an air force yet, but maybe they just want to peel the warhead out of its shell for 500 pounds of explodey evilness.

There was also this fine collection of armaments.

I guess they’ve seen too many Avengers movies, and need a fascist shield to counter Captain America. The guns are going to be an effective response to getting milkshakes thrown on them, for sure.

Practicin’

I’m still working at this macrophotography game, and have discovered that dragonflies are the best practice subjects. They’re colorful and photogenic, they perch in easily accessible places, they’re not as skittish as spiders, and they look so cute, especially when they cock their heads and open their mandibles at you.

MAKE HER QUEEN!

A priest in Brazil declared that fat women don’t get to go to heaven, so this woman made the best possible response.

He looks so surprised. I’ve been watching this on repeat for the last ten minutes. Gosto muito dela.

Spider eggs!

Beautiful.

We’re currently cultivating 3 spider egg cases in the lab, with several more imminent, we think. This morning, I separated them from their mommies so I could put them in a temperature controlled incubator. I was delicate about it — not actually touching the sac itself, but tugging on the strands of silk holding them onto the web, and transferring them to clean vials. This one was a miracle, because without even trying I had accidentally and neatly removed the silken wrappings of the case. I don’t know if this is good or bad, since it might affect their development, but I guess we’ll find out.

These eggs were laid two days ago. Now we just watch them to see what happens next.

Also, don’t tell anyone else, but despite our care in maintaining all spiders in vials with a foam plug, or a larger container with closed lids, somehow babies are escaping, and we keep finding bits of the lab covered in webbing. Today it was the door to the incubator and the timed light. We caught the culprit for that — it was a tiny theridiidid spiderling who had built an elaborate web. We fed him as a reward.

I’m still hoping to walk in one day and find the entire lab cocooned in spider silk. My colleagues are probably not as eager as I am.

If you don’t like punching Nazis, you’re going to hate this

What do you think of a man who threw flares at ICE vehicles and buildings?

An armed man was fatally shot Saturday after throwing what authorities called “incendiary devices” at an immigration detention center in Washington state and trying to set a commercial-size propane tank on fire, according to Tacoma police.

About 4 a.m., 69-year-old Willem Van Spronsen threw “lit objects” at buildings and at cars in a parking lot, police said, causing a vehicle to go up in flames. Court records show the man was arrested last year at a protest at the privately owned detention center, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement called the man an “anti-immigration enforcement protester.”

There’s an argument to be made that he was committing acts of violence and that he was a terrorist. I’d disagree; a terrorist is trying to intimidate civilians with fear, while Willem Van Spronsen was targeting the tools of institutional oppression to stop terror. Violent, yes; terrorism, no. Read further in the article, and buried in bland language is the purpose of his act.

The attack came as thousands protested at ICE facilities nationwide ahead of the agency’s planned mass arrests of undocumented immigrants on Sunday. The Trump administration has said it will target about 2,000 families for deportation, focusing on as many as 10 cities. Seattle is not among the cities reportedly being targeted.

The Northwest Detention Center on the Tacoma Tideflats is owned and operated for ICE by a private company called the GEO Group, according to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which puts the facility’s capacity at 1,575 — one of the biggest immigration detention centers in the country, the group says. As ICE faces calls to improve conditions for migrants in its custody, some have called on the government to stop using privately run detention centers.

There is the truly criminal act, the state terrorism we stand by and watch: private companies paid by the government to imprison innocents for being born in the ‘wrong’ place.

He wrote a farewell letter. He knew he was going to die.

He wrote,

there’s wrong and there’s right.
it’s time to take action against the forces of evil.

evil says one life is worth less than another.
evil says the flow of commerce is our purpose here.
evil says concentration camps for folks deemed lesser are necessary.
the handmaid of evil says the concentration camps should be more humane.
beware the centrist.

He was right. Will Van Spronsen is a human being who acted against evil.

ICE imprisons, tortures and deports hundreds of thousands of people and the brutality and scale of their harm is only escalating. We need every form of resistance, solidarity and passion to fight against ICE and the borders that they defend. Will gave his life fighting ICE we may never know what specifically was going through his head in the last hours of his life but we know that the NWDC [Northwest Detention Center] must be destroyed and the prisoners must be freed. We do not need heroes, only friends and comrades. Will was simply a human being, and we wish that he was still with us. It’s doubtless that the cops and the media will attempt to paint him as some sort of monster, but in reality he was a comrade who fought for many years for what he believed in and this morning he was killed doing what he loved; fighting for a better world.