Posted on July 06, 2018 in Countdown

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DREAMers Countdown: It’s been 304 days since President Trump moved to end DACA. The courts did step in to block the move, but Congress has yet to provide a permanent fix. TWEET THIS

Yemen TPS Extension is Not Good Enough

When the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced an 18-month extension to the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) affecting Yemeni nationals in the U.S., many breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that Yemenis previously covered by TPS wouldn’t have to return to the dangerous conditions of their war-torn country. But it’s important to remember that in yesterday’s announcement Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen issued only an extension, but did not redesignate TPS for Yemen. What this means is that Yemenis not already covered by TPS under the earlier designation couldn’t apply to be covered today. This is similar to what was done with TPS for Syria, and it doesn’t make much sense, since there is an obvious acknowledgment that the situation in those countries isn’t safe enough for people to be sent back to them. This is just not the right thing to do in the face of some of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

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Not Your Usual Election

June has had a lot of primaries spread out across many states. It’s impossible to make some clear, sweeping narrative from the results, but there are definitely some highlights worth noting. Back on June 12th (which seems like forever ago, at least to us), Maine voters not only used the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) method for the first time, but also approved using RCV in general elections for federal offices beginning in November 2018, and for primary elections for state and federal offices going forward. Yay, RCV! On June 26th, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat Rep. Joe Crowley for the Democratic nomination for U.S. House in New York’s 14th district. We know everyone’s talking about Ocasio-Cortez, but we just have to, too! She’s young, she’s Latina, she cares about Palestinians, she protests child detention centers, she supports Medicare for all and a federal jobs guarantee – the list goes on and on. Long story short, she’s here to shake up the Democratic party, shake up the House, shake up D.C, and maybe even shake up the White House.

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Good Riddance Scott Pruitt

How terrible was Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt? He was so terrible that he opposition to environmental protection was hardly noticeable amid wider terribleness in so many other ways. Scott was so terrible he spent $43,000 of taxpayer money to build himself a soundproof phone booth at his office, causing the Government Accountability Office to condemn the move as a violation of federal law. Scott was so terrible he was making his government staff look for a job for his wife that paid no less than $200,000 per year. Scott is so bad he was charging taxpayers for his frequent first class air travel, and reportedly retaliated against employees who objected to his lavish spending at the expense of the public.  Amid 18 federal investigations into his conduct, Scott finally resigned (Yay!). Oh wait, Trump’s replacement of Scott is another enemy of the environment? Just great.

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The “National Security” Exception to Justice

As you surely know by now, the Supreme Court ruled on the Muslim Ban. By a vote of 5-4, the Court handed a significant victory to the Trump Administration. The decision willfully disregarded the open bigotry which formed the foundation to the Muslim Ban. Chief Justice John Roberts uncritically took for gospel every unsubstantiated national security pretext for the Ban. The Court made clear that a president can justify nearly any discriminatory policy, and can speak openly about the bigoted goals of that policy, as long as the policy itself is written in a neutral way. Nothing in the opinion limits President Trump from adding more countries to the Muslim Ban list at a whim, only to later claim security justifications to retrofit his proclivities. However, the legal authority of the President for the Muslim Ban was grounded in law that Congress can change. The next fight is advocating for them to do so. Want to learn more about this? Read our full take.

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Another Season of the “Peace” Circus

Jared visited Israel last week to discuss Trump’s “ultimate deal” for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He also met with other Arab leaders, but not with the Palestinians. Many wondered: “How could this work when the Palestinians aren’t even part of the talks?” But don’t worry, nothing good could come from these talks even if the Palestinians were a part of them. The entire history of “peace negotiations” suffered the crippling defect of having no pressure on Israel, allowing it to take whatever it wanted away from the Palestinians while pretending to “negotiate.”  Because it’s simply absurd to suggest that the most pro-Netanyahu and anti-Palestinian US administration in history is going to be the first to pressure Israel to abide by international law, we can safely ignore this circus and look for other ways to build support for peace and justice without relying on this administration. Jared, though, is sad that the Palestinian leadership has “no ideas” for peace. Well, here’s an idea for you, Jared: stop offering unconditional military aid and diplomatic protection to the party destroying the Palestinian village of Khan Al-Ahmar, as part of their greater plan to destroy peace.

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The Occupation is Bad Enough

We (Countdown readers and writers) all know that Palestinians face unspeakable violence by the Israeli occupation. But if that weren’t bad enough, Palestinians often suffer brutality from their own leaders, both in the West Bank and Gaza. Following a peaceful protest calling for an end to sanctions by the West Bank-based Palestinian authority on Gaza, security forces violently arrested protesters, and were caught “kicking them, punching them and beating them with batons,” even after they had been arrested. Sexual harassment and violence against female demonstrators was also reported. In Gaza, security agents in civilian clothes also reportedly assaulted protesters after an altercation between Hamas and Fatah supporters occurred during a demonstration in support of detainees held in Israeli prisons. These types of actions are simply inexcusable, and unbefitting of any group that claims to fight for the right of the Palestinian people to live free from occupation.