A new report by the nation alleges that Federal authorities used a sophisticated cloning system to tap protesters phones during unrest in Portland, Oregon this summer.
Meanwhile, Immigrant detainees are receiving incredibly poor medical and dental care while in government custody -- and a new report by the Democratic House Homeland Security Committee shows that they often face penalties for speaking out.
And lastly, the gig economy has truly outdone itself, as a new startup called Civvl (that’s the word Civil, with two V’s for some reason), promises to hire gig workers to carry out evictions, capitalizing on every aspect of the country’s economic recession at once to do basically the most amoral thing possible. Very cool!
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Feds Tapped Portland Phones
A new report in the Nation cites two former intelligence officials making a pretty stunning allegation: that Federal agents sent to quell protests in Portland Oregon also engaged in a classified cell phone cloning operation that aimed to lift information off of protesters phones.
According to the Nation, the DHS has not come clean about this. Details of the operation are still classified, but the Nation reports that it included interceptions of protesters phone calls by either the DHS or other federal agencies involved, like the Department of Justice.
While this would be a shocking weaponization of unwarranted surveillance against citizens exercising first amendment rights, it’s not exactly hard to believe. The Washington Post previously reported that the DHS’s intelligence division was building out dossiers on prominent journalists covering the protests in Portland, and then refused to answer congressional inquiries about them.
Another key piece of evidence the Nation cites is an anonymous former official saying that when the DHS’s intelligence wing asked for volunteers to go to Portland, very few hands got raised. The former official said quote: “The fact that they asked for volunteers shows that it was outside the scope of their duties...you only do that if you don’t have the ability to order someone to go, probably because it’s illegal.” endquote.
It’s unclear when, or if we’ll get an understanding of the full scope of the federal government’s actions in Portland. It’s even more unclear whether there will be any consequences for the people responsible.
ICE Detainees Punished for Speaking Out
Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee on Monday issued a devastating report on the conditions for immigrants in ICE detention.
The core complaints that detainees are getting insufficient medical and dental care are something we’ve heard for years about ICE.
But what the Democrats new findings show is that the fascist agency may have started internally punishing detainees who speak out and ask for better treatment.
The report cites eight separate inspections of ICE facilities in multiple states, saying quote.
“Conditions at ICE facilities also revealed ongoing problems with cleanliness, use of segregation, and access to legal and language services.” Endquote.
What that looks like in practice is distressing. The Washington post notes that the report tells of one detainee in Louisiana who went into anaphylactic shock four times in four months before anyone thought to do a blood test and discover his peanut allergy.
And when detainees spoke out, they were threatened. In some cases, the report said guards threatened to lock detainees in solitary confinement if they complained too much or made too many medical requests.
ICE claims it’s taking the report seriously, just as it claimed it was taking last week’s allegations of mass hysterectomies being performed on women under its care seriously. We’ll believe it when we see some proof of change. I doubt that’s coming anytime soon.
New App is Uber for Evictions
Has the gig economy gone too far? Well, yes. Many years ago. But would you believe that it continues, now, to get even worse?
A startup called CIVVL launched recently, flying under the radar until a VICE report today explained what it was all about. The company is basically UBER for landlords, but instead of a driver you hire someone to evict your tenants for you.
This is brutal, soul-crushing stuff for everyone involved, except the landlords throwing people out on the street of course. The company has been advertising widely on craigslist, according to VICE, with ads that promise steady work due to just how messed up the economy is.
Per VICE, one of the ads reads quote:
"Unemployment is at a record high and many cannot or simply are not paying rent and mortgages. We are being contracted by frustrated property owners and banks to secure foreclosed residential properties."
In other words, CIVVL is taking unemployed people desperate for any paying work and using them to evict other probably unemployed people from their homes, all while taking a cut of what must be some of the dirtiest money imaginable. They’re also spelling the name of their company C I V V L, which somehow makes the whole thing even more depraved because they couldn’t even bother to give their company a name that didn’t sound overtly evil and stupid.
VICE reports that CIVVL is actually connected to a larger gig-economy company called OnQuall, that’s CALL spelled with a Q for some reason, which runs a portfolio of similarly misspelled apps like LawnFixr and MoveQwik. To put icing on top, the app charges you a $35 enrollment fee to sign up to be an eviction-deliverer.
It’s clear that this company is scraping the bottom of the absolute barrel, but the fact that there are no regulatory protections making something like this illegal is just a testament to how broken this country is. As Chicago’s Autonomous Tenant’s Union put it, the company’s existence is quote: "a frank admission that our housing system is predicated on violence." endquote.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
The Daily Beast exposed an anonymous right-wing troll who’s been going on anti-mask rants on the ultra-conservative RedState site: and it turns out he’s a PR guy for Dr. Fauci’s infectious disease agency. Probably not for much longer though!
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office suggested in a filing Monday that it had grounds to investigate President Trump and his businesses for criminal fraud. So, we’ll see where that one goes! Could be promising, but we’ve heard that before.
The CDC on Monday mysteriously withdrew advice that it had published just days before on its website about the dangers of COVID-19 spreading through aerosolized droplets. Just wiped it right off the site, despite the fact that independent scientists confirm that method of transmission is a risk, right as we’re all about to head inside for the winter.
And finally, Louisville, Kentucky’s Interim Chief of Police declared a state of emergency for the police department Monday, cancelling all days off and vacation requests for officers ahead of a big Attorney General announcement in the Breonna Taylor case. The announcement should come some time this week, and it looks like the cops are gearing up for some major backlash.
That’s all for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie today! Stay tuned for the full show this afternoon.
Sept 22, 2020 - AM Quickie
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn