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In 3 Months, 3 Immigrants Have Died at a Private Detention Center in California

Mother Jones

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A Honduran immigrant held at a troubled detention center in California’s high desert died Wednesday night while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Vincente Caceres-Maradiaga, 46, was receiving treatment for multiple medical conditions while waiting for an immigration court to decide whether to deport him, according an ICE statement. He collapsed as he was playing soccer at the detention facility and died while en route to a local hospital.

Caceres-Maradiaga’s death is the latest in a string of fatalities among detainees held at the Adelanto Detention Facility, which is operated by the GEO Group, the country’s largest private prison company. Three people held at the facility have died in the last three months, including Osmar Epifanio Gonzalez-Gadba, a 32-year-old Nicaraguan found hanging in his cell on March 22, and Sergio Alonso Lopez, a Mexican man who died of internal bleeding on April 13 after spending more than two months in custody.

Since it opened in 2011, Adelanto has faced accusations of insufficient medical care and poor conditions. In July 2015, 29 members of Congress sent a letter to ICE and federal inspectors requesting an investigation into health and safety concerns at the facility. They cited the 2012 death of Fernando Dominguez at the facility, saying it was the result of “egregious errors” by the center’s medical staff, who did not give him proper medical examinations or allow him to receive timely off-site treatment. In November 2015, 400 detainees began a hunger strike, demanding better medical and dental care along with other reforms.

Yet last year, the city of Adelanto, acting as a middleman between ICE and GEO, made a deal to extend the company’s contract until 2021. The federal government guarantees GEO that a minimum of 975 immigrants will be held at the facility and pays $111 per detainee per day, according to California state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), who has fought to curtail private immigration detention. After that point, ICE only has to pay $50 per detainee per day—an incentive to fill more beds.

Of California’s four privately run immigration detention centers, three use local governments as intermediaries between ICE and private prison companies. On Tuesday, the California senate voted 26-13 to ban such contracts, supporting a bill that could potentially close Adelanto when its contract runs out in 2021. The Dignity Not Detention Act, authored by Lara, would prevent local governments from signing or extending contracts with private prison companies to detain immigrants starting in 2019. The bill would also require all in-state facilities that hold ICE detainees, including both private detention centers and public jails, to meet national standards for detention conditions—empowering state prosecutors to hold detention center operators accountable for poor conditions inside their facilities.

An identical bill passed last year but was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown. “I have been troubled by recent reports detailing unsatisfactory conditions and limited access to counsel in private immigration detention facilities,” Brown wrote in his veto message last September. But he deferred to the Department of Homeland Security, which was then reviewing its use of for-profit immigration detention. In that review, the Homeland Security Advisory Council rejected the ongoing use of private prison companies to detain immigrants, citing the “inferiority of the private prison model.” Yet since President Donald Trump took office, the federal government has moved to expand private immigration detention, signing a $110 million deal with GEO in April to build the first new immigration detention center under Trump.

Nine people have died in ICE custody in fiscal year 2017, which began October 1. Meanwhile, private prison stocks have nearly doubled in value since Election Day.

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In 3 Months, 3 Immigrants Have Died at a Private Detention Center in California

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Housing Prices Are Booming in Southern California

Mother Jones

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From the LA Times today:

The median home price in Los Angeles County has reached the all-time high set in 2007, a milestone that follows five years of steady recovery but comes amid renewed concerns over housing affordability. Home prices rose nearly 6% in April from a year earlier, hitting the $550,000 level where the median plateaued in summer 2007 before a sharp decline that bottomed out in 2012.

….Orange County surpassed its pre-bust high last year, and in April set a new record of $675,000. San Diego County also exceeded its pre-bust peak for the first time last month, as the median price — the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less — climbed 7.4% to $525,000.

Inflation has risen 20 percent since 2007, so this means home prices in Southern California haven’t really set a record. They’re still 20 percent away from that. Here’s how CoreLogic scores the current housing market compared to its bubble peak:

So things look OK. Loan delinquencies are low, credit scores have remained high, and national housing prices are high but not stratospheric.

And yet…Southern California, Arizona, and Florida are all overvalued. That’s three out of the four states that led the bubble in 2006. Even Texas, which avoided the last bubble, is looking high. And anecdotally, homes are selling pretty fast around here.

This is the kind of thing that makes me think we might be back into a recession by 2018. The expansion is nine years old, unemployment is about as low as it can get, housing prices are increasing at a good clip, auto sales are anemic, and corporate profits are rising steeply. On the other side of the ledger, economic growth and wage growth are pretty modest, and there are no signs of an oil price spike around the corner.

I dunno. Things just feel a little fragile right now. But maybe I’m off base.

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Housing Prices Are Booming in Southern California

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To Understand the Cost of the War on Women, Look to Mississippi

Mother Jones

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Few policy areas have been so strongly affected by the first 100 days of the Donald Trump administration as women’s health care and access to reproductive services. Trump promised he would launch an all-out offensive against abortion access protections and organizations like Planned Parenthood, and the Republican Congress has begun the process. Across the country, emboldened anti-abortion state legislatures have tried to pass a new wave of abortion restrictions.

But in Mississippi, extensive abortion restrictions have been on the books for years. It’s one of a handful of states with only one operating abortion clinic—the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which Mississippi conservatives have fought to close—leaving thousands of women, particularly low-income women of color, with limited access to services. The state has poured resources into more than three dozen crisis pregnancy centers, which offer nonmedical services and counsel women against having an abortion. A new crisis pregnancy center opened right across the street from the clinic late last month.

There was a time when what was happening in Mississippi was seen as unique. Now women across the country fear their state could be next.

Enter Jackson, an award-winning documentary highlighting the realities of living in a state seeking to eliminate abortion access. Released on the festival circuit last June and broadcast nationally on Showtime earlier this week (Showtime Showcase will rebroadcast the film on Friday, and it is now available on demand), the documentary offers an intimate look into the lives of three women: Shannon Brewer, the director of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization; April, a 24-year-old single mother of four who’s facing an unplanned pregnancy; and Barbara Beavers, the executive director of the pro-life Center for Pregnancy Choices, a Jackson-based crisis pregnancy center. In following the often intersecting lives of its subjects, Jackson not only highlights the struggles of operating Mississippi’s last clinic, but also explores what life can be like in a state with few options. Filmed over three years and drawing from more than 700 hours of footage, Crow deftly connects the women’s stories to one another and to developments at the state and national levels and gives viewers an opportunity to understand the people caught up in the fight for reproductive rights.

Mother Jones caught up with Crow shortly before Jackson‘s national broadcast premiere to discuss how audiences have reacted to the film, what it was like to spend years working with the documentary’s subjects, and what the film means at a time when access to abortion is under an increased threat.

Mother Jones: How would you describe this documentary to someone, and how did you decide you wanted to make it?

Maisie Crow: Jackson is a film about the anti-abortion movement’s efforts to dissemble and take apart access to abortion in Mississippi and really across the Deep South. And now it really rings true across the country. In 2012, I read an article about HB 1390, the admitting privileges law that had just been signed by Gov. Phil Bryant. I was shocked—I grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, and at the time there was an abortion clinic there. For as much as I knew, there were abortion clinics in every city. To realize there was a state with one abortion clinic and there was a law that could close it down, I was totally shocked. I went down to Mississippi shortly after reading that article.

Over time, I built really strong connections with the clinic, including Shannon Brewer the director of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization and Dr. Willie Parker who was providing abortion care there at the time. I spent a lot of time getting to know them, and then I made a short film called The Last Clinic (released in 2013). And it was in making that film that I realized I wanted to tell a larger story and weave in the anti-abortion movement in Mississippi and what they were doing to block access for women.

MJ: Two of the women in this film—Shannon and April—are African American. I’ve done some writing about the unique complexities women of color, particularly black women, face when it comes to accessing abortion care. Its not just economics; there’s a very specific type of shame that black women can feel for even considering an abortion. How did you navigate telling those stories?

MC: Being a woman who is not from Mississippi, who did not grow up in those circumstances, and who is not a woman of color, I really relied on Shannon to help me understand what that experience was like. I paid careful and close attention to make sure that I was telling Shannon and April’s story in the best and most honest way possible because it was not my experience and so many problems can arise from that.

MJ: How did you first come in contact with April and begin working with her? She seems to be a remarkable example of an everyday woman’s experience in the state.

MC: I think it is risky to say that her experience is an everyday woman’s experience because we all have vastly different experiences in life and health care. But once I met Barbara and started filming Barbara, I knew I had to tell the story of a woman who sought care at Barbara’s crisis pregnancy center, and that is where I met April. The day or two after I met April—I was at her house doing an interview—she told me she had consumed Clorox to terminate a pregnancy. In the film, that’s revealed during a counseling session at the crisis pregnancy center. That was the moment where I was like, this is really scary—for women to feel like they have to resort to drinking bleach because they don’t want to be pregnant. That was something that couldn’t be left out of a film about access to abortion care.

Women’s choices should be their choices no matter what their situation in life. I want women to be educated on what their choices are. And to come to a place like Mississippi and meet women who don’t know what their options are, not because they’re not smart but because they haven’t been given that knowledge or they’ve been misled—that’s alarming to me.

I really felt April’s experience was vital in terms of understanding how these laws and these crisis pregnancy centers and the stigma, how those things work together to affect a woman. April’s story is unique to her, but there are certainly other women that have experienced similar things, whether it’s multiple unwanted pregnancies without access to contraceptives or accurate information about abortion. After the screening in Jackson, Mississippi, several women came up and said, “Thank you for making this. I’ve been to that same crisis pregnancy center and I felt the same shame that April felt.”

MJ: So, as you’re talking to one woman of color in charge of Mississippi’s only clinic with abortion services and another woman of color navigating a very difficult pregnancy, you are also interacting with Barbara, who comes from a strong anti-abortion perspective. How familiar were you with her side of the story going into this?

MC: I was probably most familiar with Barbara’s perspective. I grew up in South Texas. I grew up more in the pro-life movement and the conservative mindset than the liberal community that I am part of now. So that gave me unique insight into Barbara’s world, and I think that helped me understand her and get good access.

MJ: A typical documentary about abortion access often follows a woman who is certain she wants an abortion through the gauntlet she has to go through—from the informed-consent information many states require doctors to distribute, to the often required ultrasound and the mandatory waiting period—before she can get the procedure. Why isn’t that the main story in Jackson?

MC: It is important for that voice to be portrayed, but what I felt was missing in the overall discussion was the complexity, the nuance, the gray areas that exist in places, especially in the Deep South, where there is a layer of stigma and shame associated with abortion. That tends to influence some of the decision-making. So you might have a woman that doesn’t want to be pregnant, who is not being given access to contraceptives, who has not been advised properly on contraceptive use. She doesn’t want to be pregnant, but she feels like she has no options. What is that experience like? That is what I was trying to understand because when I got down to Mississippi I realized that it was not cut and dry.

Photo Courtesy of Maisie Crow

MJ: What was it like for you to film both sides of this issue?

MC: It was weird. You’re filming both sides of this super contentious issue and there are a lot of emotions and passions in it. As a woman I have my own beliefs, I certainly don’t try to set those aside or remove them because it has to do with my health care as well. But I worked to not necessarily let that get in my way or allow myself to get angry or frustrated.

MJ: This film is having its national broadcast premiere during a very intense political moment when it comes to reproductive rights and abortion access. How does your film fit into all that?

MC: I am glad that the film exists at this point in time because I think it is a really scary moment for reproductive rights and access to reproductive health care. I think that this film helps people understand the different issues that are woven into a women’s ability to access reproductive health care. I hope it really sparks some discussions. We’ve seen at festivals that audiences are really engaged and want to talk about these issues. There is so much to say and so much to talk about and it is my hope that the film sparks these discussions and people can continue them in their communities.

MJ: Jackson has been on the festival circuit for several months now, and it was screened both before and after the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, as well as before and after the presidential election. Have reactions to the film changed in the months since its first screening?

MC: Of course! Prior to the election, I think there was a sense of confidence that things were changing and that this country was becoming more progressive and that women’s rights were being treated more fairly in regards to health care. The reaction used to be, “Oh, look at what’s happening in Mississippi.” Or “Oh, it’s too bad that’s happening in Mississippi.” Or “What can we do to change what is happening in Mississippi?” Now it’s “Oh my God, this is happening in my backyard.” People are really alarmed.

There’s a moment in the film where Dr. Parker is standing in front of the Supreme Court steps and he says, “In November, vote as if women’s lives depended on it because they will.” We partnered with Planned Parenthood for a screening that had been planned before the election but didn’t happen until a week or two after it. And in that screening, you could hear people crying at that part. The screenings have changed drastically. It’s no longer “What’s happening to the women in Mississippi?” It’s “What’s happening to the women across this country?”


To Understand the Cost of the War on Women, Look to Mississippi

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Fox News Just Tweeted the Worst Tweet in the History of Tweets

Mother Jones

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Every day, according to Business Insider, Twitter users send about 300 million tweets. Most of those tweets are bad. This one is the worst. Ever.

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Fox News Just Tweeted the Worst Tweet in the History of Tweets

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Climate March Brings Thousands of People to Protest Donald Trump

Mother Jones

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The latest version of organized protest against President Donald Trump is officially underway with the third annual People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. The event is expected to draw thousands of participants both in the nation’s capital and sister marches nationwide, where demonstrators plan to speak out against the Trump administration’s plans to undo the federal regulations that are in place to fight climate change.

Coincidentally, Saturday’s march also marks the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. During that period, the president has stacked his administration with prominent climate deniers, proposed eliminating billions in scientific research, and threatened to withdraw from the Paris climate treaty.

Mother Jones has three reporters on the scene in DC. Be sure to follow Rebecca Leber, Nathalie Baptiste, and Tim Murphy in DC, Jaelynn Grisso in New York, Karen Hao in Oakland, along with our rolling collection of updates below:

3:20 pm ET As we get ready to finish our coverage, here is something to think about.

During the march, Trump tweeted this.

He might want to check out what happened in his own back yard today, as thousands of people chanted, “The oceans are rising and so are we.”

3:10 pm ET In Los Angeles, marchers are also starting to gather.

3:05 pm ET A report from Oakland, where an idigenous leader sings some songs for the climate marchers.

3:03 pm ET Leonardo DiCaprio is all in on the climate march.

2:50 pm ET This is what is happening at the Bay Area march.

2:45 pm ET Here are some conversations Rebecca Leber had at the march in DC.

2:40 pm ET Despite the heat, the crowds in DC aren’t thinning.

2:33 pm ET Marchers are starting to gather in Oakland, Calif.

2:20 pm ET Some more images from DC.

2:15 pm ET Tim Murphy catches up with a man who wants to be the next governor of Virginia.

2:10 pm ET Marchers have arrived at the White House. Wonder who is at home?

2:05 pm ET Here are some reports from New York, where there are celebrity sightings, and Chicago, where it’s raining.

Meanwhile, back in DC, scientists and educators at the march are calling themselves “defenders of truth.” According to the march website, they “defend the facts and promote scientific learning in service of humanity.”

Rebecca Leber/Mother Jones

1:45 pm ET And look who Rebecca Leber just saw. Bill Nye, who also marched for science last weekend, tells her, “Science is political but we don’t want it to be partisan.”

1:39 pm ET Marches all over.

1:30 pm ET

1:16 pm ET The marchers are now going past a particular hotel. They have something to say about its owner.

1:12 pm ET Our environmental reporter Rebecca Leber is on the scene.

1:10 pm ET Despite the heat, this dog persisted.

1:07 pm ET The DC march has begun!

12:41 pm ET Here are some participants from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

12:35 pm ET Nathalie Baptiste captures the mood on the mall.

12:32 pm ET While you are waiting for the march to begin, take a look at some of our great Climate Desk coverage.

12:25 pm ET The crowds are growing and the temperature is rising—and that’s the point.

12:14 pm ET Marchers came to DC from all over the country.

11:57 am ET More marchers in DC.

11:50 am ET Environmental justice is a crucial part of this conversation—so are broken promises.

11:47 am ET Switzerland also joined in—this from Geneva.

11:32 am ET From DC where the weather is clearing. Temps supposed to rise above 90 today.

11:25 am ET This is what is happening in Pittsburgh right now.

10:30 am ET We will be sharing a few of the signs that appear.

10:09 am ET People are still gathering under overcast skies for the Climate March in Washington, D.C. but even before it began, the EPA tweaked its website.

Meanwhile, in Denmark, things have already started:

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Climate March Brings Thousands of People to Protest Donald Trump

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