Family Sues DEA and TSA After Elderly Man’s Life Savings Were Seized at Airport

When Rolin’s daughter, Rebecca Brown, tried to take her fathers’ savings—$82,373 in cash—on an airplane, a DEA agent seized it simply because large amounts of cash are considered suspicious by the agency.

…Brown and Rolin are now the lead plaintiffs in a federal class-action lawsuit …challenging the DEA and TSA’s practice of seizing large amounts of cash from airline passengers without any evidence of any underlying crime.

…In cases like Brown’s, the DEA seizes cash using civil asset forfeiture, a practice that allows police to seize cash and property suspected of being connected to criminal activity, even if the owner is not charged with a crime.

Federal, state, and local law enforcement seize millions of dollars in cash every year in drug interdiction operations, much of being transported along highways and through airports. In 2016, a USA Today investigation found the DEA seized more than $209 million from at least 5,200 travelers in 15 major airports over the previous decade.

…A 2017 report by the Justice Department Inspector General found that the DEA seized more than $4 billion in cash from people suspected of drug activity over the previous decade, but $3.2 billion of those seizures were never connected to any criminal charges.

Family Sues DEA and TSA After Elderly Man’s Life Savings Were Seized at Airport –


DNA Tests Make Native Americans Strangers in Their Own Land

The DNA industry has, in fact, found a way to profit from reviving and modernizing antiquated ideas about the biological origins of race and repackaging them in a cheerful, Disneyfied wrapping …offering a 21st-century version of pseudoscience that once again reduces race to a matter of genetics and origins. 

…If Native Americans are reduced to little more than another genetic variation, there is no need for laws that acknowledge their land rights, treaty rights, and sovereignty. Nor must any thought be given to how to compensate for past harms, not to speak of the present ones that still structure their realities.

…They conflate ethnicity with geography, and geography with genetic markers.

…In this way, race and ethnicity are separated from and elevated above experience, culture, and history.

…In North America,” the company blandly explains, “Native American ancestry tends to be five or more generations back, so that little DNA evidence of this heritage remains.” In other words, 23andMe claims DNA as conclusive proof of Native American identity, then uses it to write Native North Americans off the map altogether.

…“DNA is not a liquid that can be broken down into microscopic drops.… We inherit about a quarter of our DNA from each grandparent—but only on average.… If you pick one of your ancestors from 10 generations back, the odds are around 50 percent that you carry any DNA from him or her. The odds get even worse beyond that.”

In reality, such testing does not tell us much about our ancestors. That’s partly because of the way DNA is passed down through the generations and partly because there exists no database of ancestral DNA. Instead, the companies compare your DNA to that of other contemporary humans who have paid them to take the test. Then they compare your particular variations to patterns of geographical and ethnic distribution of such variations in today’s world—and use secret algorithms to assign purportedly precise ancestral percentages to them.

…Native American nations are political and cultural entities, the products of history, not genes, and white people’s assertions about Native American ancestry and the DNA industry’s claim to be able to reveal such ancestry tend to run roughshod over this history.

…The recognition of tribal sovereignty at least acknowledges that the existence of the United States is predicated on its imposition of an unwanted, foreign political entity on Native lands. The concept of tribal sovereignty has given Native Americans a legal and collective basis for fighting for a different way of thinking about history, rights, and nationhood. Attempts to reduce Native American identity to a race that can be identified by a gene (or a genetic variation) do violence to our history and justify ongoing violations of Native rights.

DNA Tests Make Native Americans Strangers in Their Own Land | The Nation


House to investigate Trump ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy

“As we have previously written to you, MPP is inconsistent with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) statutory authority, while exposing thousands of people to threats of murder, sexual violence, and kidnapping as they are forced to wait in extremely dangerous conditions before their asylum claims may be heard,” the letter reads.

“As of today, there are 31 active travel advisories for Mexico, including 5 warnings in which the State Department explicitly advises Americans against travel. It is difficult to understand why this administration is sending children and families to areas where they will face certain harm,” the members wrote.

…”It is imperative that the United States end this reckless course of action and reaffirm its commitment to the principles of due process on which this country was founded.” 

House to investigate Trump ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy | TheHill


Rail or trail? Topsham-Augusta trail proposal could derail the potential future return of passenger train service to Augusta, rail advocates warn.

Advocates for restoring passenger train service to Augusta — and potentially beyond to Waterville and Bangor — fear the Merrymeeting Trail proposal could squash any hopes they have of rail service returning to that corridor. 

…Richard Rudolph and Jack Sutton, directors of the Maine Rail Group, said once the rail corridor is converted to a trail, rail service will never return, due to the difficulty of both restoring the rails and reclaiming the space from those who would be using it as a trail. 

…“There are plenty of places to walk or bike, there aren’t that many places to run a train,” he said. “Common sense will tell you if we lose that rail to a bike or walking trail, it’s not going to be returned.” 

Dale McCormick, a former city councilor, said she loves the Rail Trail and loves the Merrymeeting Trail proposal, but not if it prevents the future development of rail service in Augusta. 

McCormick said if gas prices increase again, rail travel would be more feasible because of its energy efficiency and more popular with passengers. There should be a way to do both the trail project and protect the future of rail, she said. 

Rail or trail? Topsham-Augusta trail proposal could derail the potential future return of passenger train service to Augusta, rail advocates warn. – Portland Press Herald


How Slavery Shaped American Capitalism And the Myth of Its Economic Impact

[The legacy of anti-black racism undoubtedly has to contributed to a] divided American labor movement, weakened progressive political alliances, and undermined the provision of public goods.

…A major effect of slavery on US economic development came through its foundational influence on America’s legal and political institutions.

One of the central problems faced by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 was how to create a common legal and political framework that would unite the slave states of the South with Northern states that were then in the process of abolishing slavery.

…[The Southern voters] were disproportionately represented at the federal level through the three-fifths clause. …The constitution effectively restricted federal taxing and regulatory power to international and interstate commerce.

…This division of federal and state power over slave property is not just manifest in now-dormant articles of the constitution dealing with slavery. It imbues all parts of the constitution and arguably lent to the American state system its distinctive form, which combines strong property protections with weak regulatory and fiscal powers (the introduction of a federal income tax in 1913 required a constitutional amendment).

…[The federal government’s] powers to tax, spend, and interfere with the interests of the wealthy (e.g., through regulating banks or providing debt relief) were explicitly curtailed.

…In principle the states were left to regulate and tax as they liked, but their practical ability to do so was constrained by federally mandated capital mobility. This created a fiscal and regulatory race to the bottom, as the wealthy could force relatively weak state legislatures to compete for their investments — just as city and state governments prostrate themselves before Amazon and Boeing today.

…Einhorn’s point is not that the framers were all proslavery (they were not) nor that they intended to produce a capitalist paradise of unfettered accumulation. Her point is that in making certain concessions to the slave-owners the framers unintentionally generated those conditions. Slave-owners were particularly afraid of allowing democratic control over property because they were literally afraid of their property. They were haunted by the threat of slave insurrections, as well as foreign armies turning their slaves into enemy soldiers through offers of freedom (as the British had recently done). Einhorn concludes that “if property rights have enjoyed unusual sanctity in the United States, it may be because this nation was founded in a political situation in which the owners of one very significant form of property thought their holdings were insecure.”

…[The argument] that slavery was “the nursing mother of the prosperity of the North,” …was an encouragement to secessionists, who imagined that the North would do everything to avoid a war that would cripple the Northern economy by cutting it off from a major source of its wealth.

…It’s true that cotton was among the world’s most widely traded commodities, and that it was America’s principal antebellum export. But it’s also true that exports constituted a small share of American GDP (typically less than 10 percent) and that the total value of cotton was therefore small by comparison with the overall American economy (less than 5 percent, lower than the value of corn).

…The size of the Southern economy as a share of the national economy fell from 1800 to 1860. 

…It’s true that slavery made many fortunes, in both cotton and sugar, such that there were more millionaires per capita in the Mississippi Valley than anywhere else in the country. But it’s also true that most of that wealth stayed in the South, where it was tied up in land and slaves, such that the net effect on real accumulation was probably negative.

How Slavery Shaped American Capitalism


AOC should leave the Democratic Party

In the 2006 and 2012 Senate races, Sanders ran as a Democrat in the primary, then refused the nomination when he won so he could run as in Independent without facing a Democratic challenger.

AOC might also want to also have it both ways, using the Democratic designation to get elected in her liberal district while bashing the party that gave her power.

…The two-party system ensures a wide range of views within a political label, and particularly within the Democratic one — exemplified by Biden and AOC’s contrasting views.

…When asked by New York magazine what her role in Congress might look like in a Biden administration, AOC groaned, followed by “Oh, God.” That is not a response one would expect to the prospective election of a member of her own party. Without betraying her beliefs, AOC could have graciously said, “I look forward to working with a Democratic president.”

…In the interview, the congresswoman who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens complained, “We’re not allowed to talk about anything wrong the Democratic Party does.” Nonetheless, she went on to complain that “Democrats can be too big of a tent” and that “they let anybody who the cat dragged in call themselves a progressive. There’s no standard.”

Perhaps AOC would be happier leaving for another party that let her set the standards.

…It’s no coincidence that the far-left Democrats — including AOC’s three colleagues in “The Squad” — were elected in very safe liberal districts. But the Democrats now control the House not because of a handful of radicals, but because 40 mostly moderate Democrats took seats from Republicans in 2018.

…Members of the [progressive] caucus often engage in the narcissism of small differences, building hostility toward Democrats holding views that diverge in minor ways.

AOC should leave the Democratic Party (opinion) – CNN

Nothing says progressive like being willing to burn the house down if they don’t get their way. It’s this kind of thinking that got us Trump.