Negligence Leaves ICE Detention Facilities Overrun With Mumps

The protocol is crucial for both authorities and migrants, since being quarantined may prevent defendants from attending their court hearings. 

In the past 12 months, 236 confirmed or probable mumps cases have been reported in over 50 immigrant detention facilities. There were no cases reported between January 2016 and February 2018.

RELATED: 22 Migrants Kidnapped by Gunmen in Northern Mexico

As the number of detained immigrants reaches a record high, with over 50,000 logged as of March 6, there have been many concerns raised regarding disease control, despite the countries responsible for most traffic having vaccination rates of up to 90 percent. The protocol is crucial for both authorities and migrants, since being quarantined may prevent defendants from attending court hearings. 

The privately operated Pine Prairie Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Processing Center experienced a mumps outbreak in early January, resulting in the lockdown of hundreds of migrants. One 19-year-old inmate, Christian Mejia described many consequences of the outbreak, saying, "when there is just one person who is sick, everybody pays."

Mejia has been given an order of deportation following a hearing that was held over a conference line, since his attorney was unable to participate due to the quarantine. 

Pine Prairie was home to the first cases in January after the transfer of four migrants from the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Mississippi. After some 40 new arrivals, from the same facility, were transferred to Pine Prarie, the medical staff raised concerns, but to no avail. 

The facility's warden, Indalecio Ramos, decided to not quarantine the new arrivals, arguing that it would prevent them from making their court dates. That is not the only instance of Pine Prairie's leniency with quarantining.

Internal emails reveal that ICE asked the facility to remove a detainee classified as a "high-profile removal scheduled for deporting" of his quarantine for chicken pox and mumps. Despite warnings raised by medical staff, the agency was told to "please ensure he leaves." 

Pine Prairie is run by  private prison operator the GEO Group. According to Pablo Paez, GEO Group spokesperson, the medical teams at the facility follow standards provided by ICE indicating that the deportation of migrants is prioritized over the health and safety of detainees and staff.

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US plans to buy arms incl mortars in E. Europe, send them close to Venezuela border – Moscow

Washington plans to buy weapons including mortars and portable air-defense systems in an Eastern European country and send them close to Venezuela’s border, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said citing internal sources.

It looks like the US is considering a military intervention in Venezuela, Moscow’s top diplomat said during a press conference with Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez on Friday. In this scenario, Washington would be buying arms in Eastern Europe and sending them via cargo plane to locations near Venezuela’s borders.

According to the information that we have, in the upcoming future the US is planning to buy light weapons, mortars, air-defense systems and other arms in one of the Eastern European countries and send it close to Venezuela using an airline from one of the Post-Soviet states absolutely loyal to Washington.

On Thursday, Washington proposed a UNSC draft resolution blaming President Nicolas Maduro for causing an “economic collapse” in the country and calling for new elections. The bid was vetoed by Russia and China who accused the US of interfering in Venezuela’s internal affairs. A rival Russian draft also failed.

Also on rt.com Russian, US resolutions on Venezuela fail at UN Security Council...

The US has openly supported Venezuelan National Assembly leader Juan Guaido who proclaimed himself interim president in January following violent clashes on the streets of Caracas.

Venezuela’s opposition is also backed by US’ Latin American allies as well as many European countries including the UK, Germany, France, and Spain. Russia, China, Turkey, Iran and a number of other countries stand by Maduro who was re-elected in 2018. Supporters of both the president and the opposition leader rallied in Caracas over the past weeks.

Also on rt.com US amasses special ops in Puerto Rico, army in Colombia to oust Maduro – Russian Security Council..

In February, US president Donald Trump confirmed that military intervention in the conflict-torn country is “an option.” In response, Maduro said that his country is prepared for the “David against Goliath” fight and hinted that the military adventure could become the next Vietnam for Washington.

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‘Challenging’ Russia in the Arctic: Political posturing or a war in the making?

As Russia bolsters its efforts to secure and tap the Arctic, both the UK and the US have been vowing to meet its “challenge” – a premise that could lead to war, experts say, if their naval powers could muster the capabilities.

“It’s nobody’s lake,” said US Admiral James Foggo in a recent interview with US media – the latest in a string of American warnings against Russia’s northward push. His concern is primarily for “Arctic Council nations – of which we are a member,” and which are not interested in the Northern Sea Route being exploited by adversary powers like Russia and China.

UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson recently joined the chorus of warnings, saying Britain would “stay vigilant to new challenges” by “sharpening our skills in sub-zero conditions, learning from longstanding allies like Norway or monitoring submarine threats with our Poseidon aircraft.”

But Russia is better positioned both legally and physically to oversee the Arctic and, while still dangerous, the bellicose statements carry little weight for the reality on the ice, experts have told RT.

Bravado for domestic consumption

Williamson’s promise to defend NATO’s northern flank from Russia must be viewed “in the context of current UK domestic politics,” believes security analyst and former UK army officer Charles Shoebridge. With Brexit just around the corner, Williamson is drumming up the Russia and China threats so that other European nations aren’t “tempted to turn to the EU for its security, but must continue to rely on the US and UK through NATO.”

Ultimately, he could be aiming just for political gain.

With the UK in political turmoil it often appears that Williamson is even positioning himself as a future candidate to replace Theresa May as PM.

Likewise in the US: James Foggo's “nobody's lake” comment was tellingly lacking in detail as to how exactly the US is going to keep Russia out of the Arctic, says retired colonel Mikhail Khodarenok.

“James Foggo’s statements at this point are of a purely political nature. It’s telling that he never clarified how exactly the US Navy is going to accomplish that task. Are they going to create naval groups in the Arctic Ocean, seize important coastal areas, channels, naval bases and ports? But that means war with a nuclear power, one which would see unrestricted use of weapons of mass destruction.”

Dangerous free-for-all

War can be averted, the experts believe, though the danger of escalation is very real. The situation, according to Khodarenok, is complicated by the vagueness of international law regarding the Arctic.

James Foggo’s statement is a fresh indication that the Arctic is becoming an arena of global rivalry over transport lanes and natural resources,” Khodarenok said.

World history knows no precedent of such a rivalry playing out without considering military factors.

Shoebridge, on the other hand, believes that when faced with the danger of an armed incident spiraling into “uncontrolled escalation,” cooler heads will prevail.

“Despite the confrontational language they might use, most leaders of most states want to avoid this,” he said.

Also on rt.com US plans expansion to Arctic in bid to challenge Russia, but can it?...

Questionable claims and capabilities

The US seeks to deny Russia and China the use of the Northern Sea Route – but the lane goes along the Russian coastline, which, under international law, gives Russia a degree of control over it, something Russia should lean on when defending its rights to use the waters, says Khodarenok.

Besides, while Foggo wants Russia and China out of the “nobody's lake,” he admits American companies can’t use it either, since their vessels are too big for local conditions. Besides, Russia is the only world power with a significant icebreaker fleet, which makes it the only one capable of rendering aid to ships that have an emergency while sailing there.
On top of that, Russia has been reviving its military installations that guard the area, including radar arrays and permanent military bases. Abandoning those is not an option, since that would mean losing a vital strategic foothold.

For Russia the Northern Sea Route has defense significance as well, since it provides access to all of the world’s oceans, as well as the ability to maneuver between theaters relying only on the capabilities of the Russian Navy.

At the end of the day the only ones undoubtedly standing to profit from the opening of the Arctic arena are military industrial contractors – with the US 2nd Fleet revived for the sole purpose of containing Russia’s Arctic ambition, Navy contracts are bound to follow.

Also on rt.com Cold War is good for business: US contractors rejoice at the new Red Scare...

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Cold War is good for business: US contractors rejoice at the new Red Scare

US politicians and media peddling scary stories about Russia and China may have a more pedestrian motive than defending 'American values and way of life' – a return to the halcyon days of the Cold War and the Pentagon gravy train.

If there's one thing mainstream Democrats and Republicans agree upon, it's that Russia and China are the new global threat, ready to pounce at the first sign of a week spot in American defenses to topple the benevolent US dominance of the globe.

If there's another – never on the record, of course – it's that war is good for business. Not actual war, what the Pentagon calls 'kinetic military action', as that would be destructive. The ideal conditions for the political class in Washington is the bygone Cold War, when it could funnel billions of dollars in taxpayer money to defense contractors, with these corporations repaying the largesse with hefty contributions to politicians.

 
War hawks mourn ‘underfunded’ US military that could ‘lose next war’ against Russia or China

With a military budget of $717 billion in 2019 – which is about four times that of China and 15 times that of Russia – Washington war hawks are still lamenting how the "underfunded" US military could lose the next war against either. There's only one way to avoid that – spend more.

 

F-35: Pie in the Sky

As the US aggressively asserted the right to intervene anywhere around the world, Russia and China began rebuilding their air forces and augmenting them with new-generation warplanes. For the US Air Force and the aerospace industry, this was like the answer to three decades of prayer.

Lockheed finally had the justification for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which produced the first prototype in 2006. There were only two tiny little problems with the F-35: nobody could get the plane to actually work as intended, and it was incredibly expensive. The total lifetime program cost was estimated at $1.5 trillion in 2015 dollars, the bulk of which would be for "operations and sustainment."

The most expensive Pentagon project to date is plagued by some of the most expensive problems – but while Lockheed Martin could not make the F-35 actually work as advertised, it did manage to spread its production over 45 US states, ensuring the program is almost impossible to kill politically. Powerful Republican senators have thrown their weight behind the F-35, warning the Pentagon against taking funding away from it in favor of a simpler F15X update proposed by Boeing.

Also on rt.com US military grounds its entire fleet of F-35 fighter jets in the wake of South Carolina crash...

Lucrative digital battlegrounds

The looming shadow of the 'Russian hacker', infiltrating (not really) American political parties and power grids, has spurred the push for cyber security – and the contracts to go with it.

Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), a program that seeks to provide the US military with secure cloud services, has attracted big tech with its $10 billion contract – which Amazon now seems increasingly likely to win, thanks to its reported inroads with the US administration. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was unapologetic, saying the US is a "great country" that "needs to be defended." Executives at the other two big-name contenders – Microsoft and Google – were equally enthusiastic, with the Microsoft president vowing to give all the tech the company creates to the "ethical and honorable" US military.

Rank-and-file employees, however, were up in arms. Those at Microsoft penned an open letter saying they had joined the company hoping the tech they create would not "cause harm or human suffering." Employee outcry at Google caused it to drop JEDI altogether, despite company leadership's enthusiastic support.

Artificial Intelligence

The for-profit patriotism at Amazon and Microsoft is bound to be rewarded with even more contracts in the coming years, because the Pentagon believes it has some catching up to do with Russia and China when it comes to artificial intelligence. The DoD's first AI strategy, while loose on wording, clearly outlines who the main adversaries are.

The known investment figures are relatively minor so far – as far as Washington's gargantuan defense budgets go. For example, in July 2018, IT consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton was awarded an $885 million to work on AI programs over the next five years, and the Pentagon requested $93 million in 2019 for Project Maven – which aims to develop algorithms for automatic analysis of drone footage. Google was working on that one, but now says it won't renew the contract due to disastrous employee backlash – even though backing out means losing on potentially bigger IT-related defense contracts to come.

With Trump just recently ordering a boost in AI development for the sake of American dominance, those contracts are certain to keep rolling in in the foreseeable future.

Naval friction

The US answer to Russia venturing into the Arctic was to reestablish the 2nd Fleet – created in 1950 as a Cold War-era check on Soviet activity in the Atlantic and disbanded by the Obama administration in 2011 to cut expenses. Apparently, no expense is too much when the threat of Russian submarines is – according to 2nd Fleet chief Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis – "real," and Russians seek to tap the resources the US wanted for itself and its allies.

The US Navy also needs to keep up its "freedom of navigation operation" at the Chinese shores, and "rebuilding" the fleet is one of Trump's staple defense promises. As an example of the accelerated – and rewarding – build-up, the Navy signed a contract worth a whopping $14.9 billion with shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls for two Ford-class aircraft carriers. In another throwback to the good old days, this is the first time since the 1980s more than one of these has been commissioned simultaneously.

The two ships will replace aging ones, keeping the number of active dedicated carriers in the US service at 11 – while China has two, and Russia one.

The final frontier

Another Trump staple, the Space Force, is shaping up to be a fount of profit for the enterprising contractor, though the new branch of the US military is still in the early stages of its creation.

While no deals have been made with the Space Force specifically in mind, there is profit to be had in it for companies like Lockheed Martin. In 2018, Lockheed was contracted to create three satellites that can survive counter-space weaponry, for $2.9 billion – and as America's "adversaries are training forces and developing technology to undermine our security in space," as Trump put it, more of that is bound to come.

Also on rt.com Trump signs directive to create not-so-‘equal’ Space Force as part of Air Force...

Way back in 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower – who commanded US forces in Europe during WWII – warned in his farewell speech about the dangers of a "military-industrial complex" dictating government priorities and foreign policy. He spoke from experience: the 'Red Scare' of the 1950s had already driven the US into an arms race based on the 'bomber gap' and 'missile gap' favoring the USSR – both of which turned out to be entirely imaginary.

"We were doing things we didn't need to do. We were building things we didn't need to build. We were harboring fears we didn't need to harbor," President Lyndon Johnson told a gathering in 1967.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Attack on Venezuela 1st step in US Attempt to Recolonize Latin America: Maduro

Speaking to HispanTV, the Venezuelan leader said U.S. President Donald Trump "has allowed himself to be led to an extremist position of foolishness."

The United States has relaunched its colonialist aspirations against Latin America, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro warned Thursday during an interview with the Iranian media HispanTV, adding that the Venezuelan military was ready to defend the independence and sovereignty of the Latin American nation.

RELATED: Nicaragua Rejects Possible Military Intervention In Venezuela

"America for Americans, that is, all our America for them, all our riches and all our power for them," Maduro said and added that Venezuela is currently at center of an imperialist attack "because they believe that, by reversing and destroying the Bolivarian Revolution, they will be able to recolonize and dominate the entire continent."

In Maduro's opinion, the U.S. President Donald Trump "has allowed himself to be led to an extremist position of foolishness, to an unattractive position. In addition, he has hinted his true desire to dominate, conquer, and subdue Venezuela."

The Venezuelan leader also denounced that, besides being part of the U.S. geopolitical aspirations in Latin America, Trump’s interventionist attitudes towards Venezuela are triggered by the desire to seize the country's enormous natural and mineral resources.

China opposes military intervention to in response to reports that the U.S. would support the Venezuelan opposition to deliver into Venezuela on Feb. 23.

"Trump's problem is" Venezuela's riches, oil, gold, gas, strategic minerals, wealth, water," to which the great strength of the country is added when it comes to controlling its own model economic, political, social and cultural "added Maduro.

According to President Maduro, most of the polls show that more than 90 percent of Venezuelans reject any U.S. military aggression. This is so because his nation is "united" around the rejection of Trump's statements.

Maduro emphasized that "Venezuela is for Venezuela," and pointed out that the entire offensive against his nation is "a test."

"I'm sure that these challenges and these tests will leave us more strengthened. I'm more than sure of that," he predicted.

Regarding the U.S. attempts to provoke a military uprising in Venezuela, President Maduro stated that the Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB), which is ready to defend the homeland and is committed to the Constitution.

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Putin: If mid-range missiles deployed in Europe, Russia will station arms to strike decision centers

If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond by stationing weapons aimed not only against missiles themselves, but also at command and control centers, from which a launch order would come.

The warning came from President Vladimir Putin, who announced Russia’s planned actions after the US withdraws from the INF Treaty – a Cold War-era agreement between Washington and Moscow which banned both sides from having ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles and developing relevant technology.

The US is set to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty in six months, which opens the possibility of once again deploying these missiles in Europe. Russia would see that as a major threat and respond with its own deployments, Putin said.

Intermediate-range missiles were banned and removed from Europe because they would leave a very short window of opportunity for the other side to decide whether to fire in retaliation after detecting a launch – mere minutes. This poses the threat of an accidental nuclear exchange triggered by a false launch warning, with the officer in charge having no time to double check.

Read more Building Avangard hypersonic glider was like launching world’s 1st artificial satellite – Putin

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapon systems, which can be used not only against the territories from which this direct threat would be projected, but also against those territories where decision centers are located, from which an order to use those weapons against us may come.” The Russian president, who was delivering a keynote address to the Russian parliament on Wednesday, did not elaborate on whether any counter-deployment would only target US command-and-control sites in Europe or would also include targets on American soil.

He did say the Russian weapon system in terms of flight times and other specifications would “correspond” to those targeting Russia.

“We know how to do it and we will implement those plans without a delay once the relevant threats against us materialize,” he said.

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There are no independent countries in the world, Putin says

Europe can’t oppose the US deployment of missiles, even if it is contrary to their interests, because no country can be truly independent these days, Vladimir Putin believes.

The Russian president thinks “the modern world is the world of interdependency” and there are no truly independent countries these days.

“Do you think European countries want missiles in Europe? Nobody wants it. But they keep silent. Where is their sovereignty?” Putin asked during his visit in Sochi.

Also on rt.com INF Treaty is about European security, not American; US left it to get new missiles – Russian envoy...

The EU Parliament, he said, makes more decisions on behalf of the member countries than “the Supreme Soviet of USSR on behalf of constituent republics” back in the days.

There are no fully independent states in the world.

On Thursday leaders from Russia, Turkey and Iran gathered in the Black Sea city of Sochi to discuss ways of ending Syria’s crisis. The talks were held amid hostile talk emerging from a meeting of the US and its allies in Warsaw, where they talked about their take on the Middle East.

Also on rt.com EU states fold like cheap tents to US demands on Venezuela, Italy one of few to stay independent...

During the meeting in Sochi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani expressed doubts over Washington’s plan to remove troops stationed with Kurdish forces in northern Syria. But Putin seemed to be the most optimistic that the move would actually happen soon.

After the summit on Syria ended, Putin stayed on in Sochi to hold talks with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.

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Norwegian airliner stranded in Iran for 60 DAYS (and counting) due to US sanctions

A Norwegian commercial airliner which made an emergency landing in Iran in December is still waiting for replacement parts it needs to fly home – components which have been blocked due to sanctions unilaterally imposed by the US.

Norwegian Air flight DY1933 – which ferries passengers between Dubai and Oslo – was forced to make an emergency landing in Shiraz, Iran, on December 14 after experiencing engine trouble. The unscheduled detour went smoothly enough: the plane landed safely, and passengers were able to catch a flight out of Shiraz the following day. The plane itself, however, has remained stranded in Iran due to a lack of spare parts: US sanctions prohibit importing technology into Iran that has more than 10 percent of American-made parts.

Also on rt.com EU countries move to evade US’ Iran sanctions by setting up payment channel for ‘humanitarian’ trade...

While it’s possible that Norwegian Air could receive a one-time exemption from the US Treasury Department to import the necessary engine parts, a lawyer who works on sanctions-related issues told NPR that it was a “long shot.”

Ironically, the US sanctions meant to deprive Iran of modernizing and integrating into the global economy may actually backfire in this case: If the Iranians so choose, they could seize the Boeing 737 – which is likely filled with sanctions-restricted technology.

Last year, Washington unilaterally re-imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Tehran after pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), colloquially known as the Iran nuclear deal.

Germany, France and the UK announced in January that they had set up a new payment system which can bypass US sanctions and facilitate “legitimate trade.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned in November that there would be “swift punishment” for any countries caught doing business with Iran.

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