Ukraine, Hungarian Refugee Politics, and the Future of Migrants in the EU

The Madridi Street refugee center. Ahmid and Mustafa are at right. Photo by author

The February 24, 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine unleashed, in addition to death, destruction, and hardship on the Ukrainian people as a whole, a wave of refugees not seen in Europe since World War II. Over six million Ukrainians were living outside the country as of July, in addition to over five million internally displaced: refugees within the national borders. Ukrainians fleeing armed conflict, occupation, random bombardments of apartment buildings and other civilian sites, and/or just the constant fear and uncertainty have been by and large warmly received, with both supportive legal and economic measures by the European Union (EU) and member states; and massive civilian efforts to provide aid and comfort. Many observers have noted a stark contrast with uneven attitudes and support toward other refugees—from war, economic collapse, and climate change—from the Global South, charging a “double standard” based on racial and religious prejudice. With no end of the war in Ukraine in sight, will a long-term refugee presence lead to a more accepting attitude in general? Or will a two-tier system take hold, welcoming European refugees while hardening against those from the South? Will “refugee fatigue” set in, leading to widespread resentment against both and a rise in support for xenophobic right-wing parties? Continue reading

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Pre-Roe Reproductive Rights Underground: The Story of the Janes

We are back in pre-Roe Chicago. A doctor speaks about sepsis, the emergency rooms overflowing daily with feverish women dying from botched efforts to rid themselves of unwanted pregnancies. Another woman recalls her phone interactions with a mob operative. Yes, they can get her an abortion; they have three options, from most to least expensive: a Rolls Royce, a Cadillac, or a Chevy. Young and strapped for access to cash, she elects the Chevy, and her abortion is perfunctorily performed in a dingy hotel room where she is left bleeding with no closing advice on how to further care for herself as she recovered.

The woman will go on to become a “Jane,” a member of a group of young women who developed an underground abortion network in Chicago before the since-reversed 1973 US Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. The story of this network is told in the 2020 documentary The Janes. The film was recently shown at the Danville Area Community College and sponsored by Personal Pac Danville, which has been organizing the community around fighting recent anti-abortion restrictions passed by their city council, as well as the attacks on an abortion clinic scheduled to open in the area (see Barbara Kessel’s article in the September-October 2023 Public i). Continue reading

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November/December Issue Back Cover

NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH

Honoring the Sovereignty and Self-Determination of Native Student Higher Education Communities

Monday, November 27, 7 pm

Native Chicago Jam
@ The Courtyard, Illini Union
Wiliam Buchholtz (Algonquin/Métis), Mark Jourdan (Ho-Chunk/Oneidal), Lanialoha Lee (Native Hawaiian), Amber Roy (Northern Palute/MChigeeng Ojtwe), and Dr. Doree Wiese (White Earth Ojiowe)

Tuesday, November 28, 5:30 pm

Encouragement Dinner
@ Murphy Lounge, University YMCA
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Karen Francis Begy (Dine), Independent Scholar and Higher Education Consultant
Co-sponsors: Illini Union Board, Native American House, American Indian Association of Illinois

Wednesday, November 29, 12 pm

Between Virtual Roles and Sovereign Worlds: Tribal Advisors in Historically White Institutions
@ Room 314A, Illini Union
Featuring Dr. Karen Francis-Begay (Dine), Independent Scholar

Thursday, November 30, 12:15 pm

Honoring the Spirit of Relation + Kinship with our Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ Relatives
@ Room 22, College of Education
Featuring Charlie Amáya Scott (Dine), Doctoral Candidate at University of Denver
Co-sponsor: Gender & Sexuality Resource Center

These programs are supported in part by the Student Cultural Programming Fee.

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August/September Issue Front Cover

THE STRUGGLE FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS CONTINUES

Stop Abortion Bans Rally, St. Paul, Minnesota, May 21, 2019. Photo by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr

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The Danville Abortion Clinic Troubles

Damage to the planned home of the planned new Danville abortion clinic from the May 20 attack

Mary Catherine Roberson, chair of the Danville chapter of Personal Pac, warns, “do not take it for granted that because you live in Illinois, you are safe. If the anti-abortion forces start organizing in your town, reach out to Personal Pac for support.”

As soon as the US Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on June 24, 2022, Indiana enacted a new total ban on abortion. After lawsuits against it were cleared away by the Indiana Supreme Court, it went into effect on August 1, causing the considerable flow of abortion seekers from Indiana to Illinois to further increase. Continue reading

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FirstFollowers: Using Participatory Action Research to Make Change in Our Community

FirstFollowers has a tradition of doing participatory action research at Champaign-Urbana Days, the premier outdoor summer event aimed primarily at the Black community. Participatory Action Research (often called PAR) aims to gather data and information, not just for publication but to bring about change. While most people at C-U Days are focusing on barbecue, the stage performers, or meeting up with family members and friends from the past, we put on our research caps and tap into the wealth of knowledge and information the people in the park embody. Most of us are not professional researchers. We are individuals who have spent time in prison or had loved ones subjected to incarceration. But we are fully aware that those who are touched by a problem are closest to the solution. However, few people bother to ask them for their opinions. Continue reading

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A “Pattern of Problematic Conduct”: Urbana Officer Tests Police Accountability (Shortened Print Version)

Urbana Police Officer John Franquemont arguing with Laquesha Thadison before arresting her on April 5, 2020. Photo courtesy Urbana Police Department

This article originally appeared at WILL/Illinois Public Media on July 5, 2023. Reprinted with permission. It has been edited for space and style. See the full version here.

“I had a big goose egg on my forehead,” Tianna Morrow recalled, after being pushed down by Urbana police officer John Franquemont. “I busted my head on the cart where the kids put their shoes.”

Morrow and her boyfriend, Lamar DeShawn Phillips, who are both Black residents of Urbana, were sleeping when they were woken up in the middle of the night by police in January, 2018. They had crashed on the couch at an apartment rented out by Phillips’s brother. Morrow says they had his permission to be there, but police were called by the brother’s girlfriend, who was also residing in the apartment. Continue reading

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A “Pattern of Problematic Conduct”: Urbana Officer Tests Police Accountability (Full Version)

Urbana Police Department Officer John Franquemont after arresting Laquesha Thadison in April 2020. Photo courtesy Urbana Police Department

This story is part of a partnership, focusing on police misconduct in Champaign County, between the Champaign-Urbana Civic Police Data Project of the Invisible Institute, a Chicago-based nonprofit public accountability journalism organization, and Illinois Public Media. This investigation was supported by funding from the Data-Driven Reporting Project, which is funded by the Google News Initiative in partnership with Northwestern University|Medill School of Journalism.

This article originally appeared at WILL/Illinois Public Media on July 5, 2023. Reprinted with permission. It has been edited for style.

“I had a big goose egg on my forehead,” Tianna Morrow recalled, after being pushed down by Urbana police officer John Franquemont. “I busted my head on the cart where the kids put their shoes.”

Morrow and her boyfriend, Lamar DeShawn Phillips, who are both Black residents of Urbana, were sleeping when they were woken up in the middle of the night by police in January, 2018. They had crashed on the couch at an apartment rented out by Phillips’s brother. Morrow says they had his permission to be there, but police were called by the brother’s girlfriend, who was also residing in the apartment. Continue reading

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Code Blue: Suffering through DWB in Rantoul

This essay, submitted to the Rantoul Press in 2009, was never published. The author shares it now to give context to community concerns with policing in Rantoul in the wake of recent police shootings of young Black men.

“You were put here to protect us, but who protects us from you? Every time you say ‘that’s illegal,’ doesn’t mean that it’s true.” (Boogie Down Productions, 1989)

When I was a teenager those were just words to a song. As an adult, they’ve become a motto. I have been DWB (driving while Black) for 20 years now and I’ve learned there are special Rules of the Road for those who suffer with DWB. Continue reading

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Community of Urbana-Champaign Cooperative Housing to Reduce the Post-Pandemic Youth Housing Divide

Harvest House on West Washington Street in Urbana, an early COUCH house. Photo courtesy of COUCH

Housing cooperatives have a long history in the US. In university towns like C-U, those laboratories of young people assume new importance in the post-pandemic city. Escaping the logic of a typical landlord-tenant agreement, members self-manage and maintain the houses in which they live. The Community of Urbana-Champaign Cooperative Housing (COUCH) was constituted at the end of the 1990s through the efforts of a group of current and former university students. Fast-forward to 2019: COUCH has evolved to consist of three houses and 37 members. The total number of members that have at one point passed through COUCH since its foundation exceeds five hundred. For organizations like COUCH, the pandemic meant two years of crisis and deep transformation. In 2023, the first year in which the co-op has reverted almost to its pre-pandemic state by reducing the vacancy rate that characterized the previous two years, it is a good moment to reflect on the state of the group and to look at the larger role of youth housing co-ops in the US. Continue reading

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The Kingfisher is Flying to Illinois

2023 painting by Kingfisher team member Olivia Jean Merrell. Photo by Kingfisher Task Force, used with permission

In 2007 the UIUC Board of Trustees acknowledged the opposition of faculty, student organizations, and NCAA guidelines prohibiting the use of race-based mascots in intercollegiate athletics, and voted to eliminate “Chief Illiniwek” as the campus mascot. Tired of waiting for leadership on the issue, some students have moved ahead. You can read about this history in a May 2019 Public i article by Stephen Kaufman.

It’s hard going 16 years without an official mascot. To most people, mascots might not be a big deal, but for us at Illinois, how our university is represented is an extension of how we represent ourselves. That’s why, tired of waiting, we’ve decided to spend our time building one of our own. Our mascot is the Kingfisher, a distinctive orange and blue bird found in Illinois, with a wingspan of nearly two feet and nests that are lined with the bones of its prey. We, a group of dedicated students, faculty, and alumni, have been working diligently these past few years to make this mascot the icon it’s becoming, and for those who may not know of our work, we’d like to update you about all we’ve accomplished. Continue reading

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Another View of the Ukraine War

The expansion of NATO in Europe since its founding in 1949. Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 3.0

Readers will note that the Public i has recently published three articles about the Ukraine War. However, there are still more issues not yet fully addressed.

“When two elephants fight it is the grass that gets trampled.” Swahili proverb

The New Cold War

Although the Ukraine War is certainly about the self-determination of the Ukrainian people, it is more than that, actually much more than that. On a geopolitical level, it is, after a brief pause, fundamentally a continuation of the Cold War that lasted from just after World War II until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Russia and the former Soviet republics that are now independent countries were in a state of confusion and rebuilding for some years, but Russia has substantially stabilized, most of the East European countries formerly allied with the Soviet Union have been incorporated into the eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union, and a few of the border states formerly within the Soviet Union are in a state of contestation and flux. We should ask the question: why has Russia invaded or supported rebellions in small breakaway slices of territories in the countries of Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia), Azerbaijan (Nagorno-Karabakh), and Moldova (Transnistria), as well as Ukraine (Donetsk and Luhansk)? One relevant answer is that these are buffer zones between Russia and the rest of NATO and European Union countries. Russia is protecting its borders, just as the US continues to do under the infamous Monroe Doctrine. It is relevant that NATO has been talking for years about eventually including Ukraine and Georgia in that alliance. (The question of the Russian annexation of Crimea is more complicated, especially concerning its fossil fuel resources and large number of Russian residents.) Continue reading

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For Whom the Bell Tolls

A 15-year-old girl works on a tobacco farm in North Carolina. July 2013. © 2013 Human Rights Watch

For whom does the bell toll? These days it tolls for our children, gunned down in our streets and schools because of gun violence. And as if this were not enough, there are the child laborers among us and the rollback of protections proposed by atavistic lawmakers. Child labor is not a thing of the past and it is on the rise.

Know Their Names

Just in late June and July of this year, three boys died while working on the job in violation of state and federal law. Duvan Thomas Perez, 16, died after being caught by a conveyor belt while cleaning machinery in a poultry processing plant. Michael Schuls, 16, died after being trapped under machinery at a logging company. Pinned between a trailer rig and its trailer, Will Hampton, also 16, died while working at a landfill. Continue reading

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August/September Issue Back Cover

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Summer Issue Front Cover

FAREWELL TO DANIEL ELLSBERG

Daniel Ellsberg on March 19, 2011, speaking at a rally near the White House to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other potential fronts, such as Libya. (Photo courtesy of Ben Schuman/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)]

Ellsberg and co-defendant Anthony Russo

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US/NATO Proxy War in Ukraine: Continuity in US Foreign Policy

President Jimmy Carter’s adviser “Zbigy” Brzeziński (right) defended the decision to provoke the Russians into invading Afghanistan, despite the cost to the Afghan people

The war in Ukraine is barbarous and awful beyond comprehension. The formula in the US media that the attack was unjustified is true, but its frequent corollary, that it was completely unprovoked, is not. This is Noam Chomsky’s and Daniel Ellsberg’s assessment, but is unheard in US media, as usual. Jeffrey Sachs on Democracy Now! pointed out that the New York Times has used the word “unprovoked” regarding this invasion 26 times in its editorials, its opinion columns, and its invited guest op-eds.

The Eisenhower Media Project (EMP)’s May 16 full-page ad in the Times called for the US to be an agent for peace in the world, and suggested that the expansion of NATO over the last few decades was indeed a factor in the escalation of the violent impasse into a full onslaught in Ukraine. The EMP was consequently attacked for echoing Putin’s talking points. The expansion of NATO has been consistent US policy from the neoconservative Republican George W. Bush administration up to the liberal Democratic Joe Biden administration today. The neoconservative Project for a New American Century (PNAC), established in 1997 as a US foreign policy think tank, was a key influence on the Bush administration, specifically in support for the US attack on Iraq. The persistent presence of Victoria Nuland in the State Department—advised by her husband Robert K. Kagan, cofounder of PNAC—is the supreme example of the continuity of neocon influence. For the PNAC, nothing but complete US dominance in the world is acceptable. Any competitor of any kind must be dealt with in terms that ignore blowback and the devastating consequences for people throughout the world. Continue reading

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Frozen Conflicts, Flashmob Militants, and the End of the Gunpowder State

This 2016 effort by Bellingcat is one of many to try and make sense of the hundreds of militias operating in Syria during the past decade

Syria, Libya, Yemen . . . and now Sudan. Sudan has the unhappy potential to become the next of the intractable conflicts that have unfolded over the past decade. These multisided struggles involving a cocktail of militaries, militias, and mercenaries drag on year after year, producing destabilizing waves of refugees, flourishing criminal cohorts, and a plague of outside meddling. Explanations abound: neglect from the outside world, interference by the outside world, weak states, overpowered states, a need for military training, an excess of military training, and the perennial favorite of West-centric analysts: the historic legacy of . . . something. It doesn’t matter what is demonized: culture, religion, colonialism, or some other trait—the key is that chaos is attributed to vestiges of an undead past.

But what if the foreign policy imagination has been looking at these wars the wrong way? What if these wars can tell us more about the future than the past? Transformations emerge at the margins of systems, but are seldom recognized by those invested in existing paradigms. 19th-century leaders in Vienna, for example, dismissed nationalist movements as delusional, yet the nation-state replaced empire as the political norm within a few decades. Continue reading

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Daniel Ellsberg: “The Most Dangerous Man in America” and Heroic Whistleblower

Ellsberg with Howard Zinn (left) and Noam Chomsky (right) at 1971 May Day anti-war protest. Courtesy of University of Massachusetts Archives

“Wouldn’t you go to prison to help end this war?” Daniel Ellsberg, 1971

“I was PFC Manning.” Daniel Ellsberg, 2011

“The current risk of nuclear war, over Ukraine, is as great as the world has ever seen.” Daniel Ellsberg, 2023

Daniel Ellsberg recently made public his terminal cancer diagnosis. [Ellsberg died on June 16—eds.] It is an appropriate time to look back on his heroic accomplishments. Continue reading

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Anti-Abortion Centers Mislead People at Their Most Vulnerable

Reproductive justice: the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.

This past January, on the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective convened a summit to envision new futures for reproductive justice. The original framework, established in 1994 by Black women including SisterSong’s co-founder Loretta Ross, insisted that the fight for reproductive rights be combined with human rights and social justice activism. The right to an abortion, for example, while foundational, does not address the broader circumstances under which a person chooses to keep or end a pregnancy. Thirty years after first calling for reproductive justice, the 2023 summit reaffirmed their commitment while envisioning “a future rooted in human dignity and worth, bodily autonomy, joy, love, and rest.” Continue reading

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Profiting Across the Autism Spectrum

Demand for ABA practioners, including Board Certified Behavior Analysts, soared after 2014; more than 70 percent work with the autistic. From thetreetop.com/statistics/aba-therapist-demographics

Driving through north Champaign last winter I noticed a new business in a strip mall near Denny’s. At first, I assumed it was some sort of sports store due to the all-caps signage: “TOTAL SPECTRUM.” But this was not a purveyor of football helmets and jockstraps, but one of many licensed providers of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), the only state-approved “treatment” for those on the autism spectrum. As it turns out, jockstraps may be more strictly regulated than this rapidly expanding industry built upon the needs of vulnerable clients. My brief employment as an ABA “clinician” convinced me that more transparency is needed both on this industry and the therapy it markets.

Autism Speaks and the ABA Endorsement

Parents often hear about ABA through the well-known advocacy organization Autism Speaks. Their website explains ABA almost as a form of positive reinforcement: “when a behavior is followed by something that is valued (a reward), a person is more likely to repeat that behavior.” ABA proponents claim their Pavlovian approach is the only way for an autistic person to make “progress” in socialization, life skills (tying shoes, brushing teeth, etc), or academics. Continue reading

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