Friday, October 19, 2018

Trump's pressure on Mexico leads to stoppage of migrants leaving Guatemala



Mexico, because of pressure from Donald Trump, is trying to keep a controversial procession of migrants from Honduras and other places from crossing from Guatemala into Mexico, Yahoo! story here

Guatemala as a country has allowed US faith-based groups to improve its infrastructure, like water systems. 
  
There remain good questions as to whether Mexico could accept more refugees or asylum seekers.

  
The ability of a country to accept more migrants for humanitarian reasons (as opposed to skills) should depend on the ability of the country to find private persons or families to take responsibility for sponsoring them.  Canada does this. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Washington Post publishes Khashoggi's last column; how Facebook was misused in Myanmar



Here is Jamal Khashoggi’s last column, in Arabic, which the Washington Post has finally published.   The “translate to English” button on Google Chrome does work.

The Post also as a detailed story on Saudi subterfuge, to spy on his cell phone (leading to his attempts to buy other sim cards) and attempts to bring him back to the kingdom.  And Saudi Arabia has kidnapped dissidents from other Arab countries.

The article seems like a sobering reminder of what the Electronic Frontier Foundation preaches – that community hygiene on communications matters:  those not in danger can indirectly cast danger on those who are.  On p. 17 of my DADT-3 book, I see a sobering reminder of how authoritarian values can arise from personal values – and I note toward the end of the paragraph how authoritarian systems sometimes collapse from within, as started with the Arab Spring, but how mass self-published communications systems can suddenly be subverted. Note, for example, Paul Mozur’s recent story on how this led to genocide in Myanmar.
 
Update: Oct 19 
 
Saudi Arabia's major admission today of a "fight club". 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Khashoggi case brings up case of safety of people outside authoritarian countries they came from



I haven’t gotten to this yet, but CNN reports on Turkey’s evidence of the possible extra-judicial murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, link
  

Saudi Arabia may have intended to lure Jamal out of the US to Saudi Arabia, and an attack inside the consulate in Turkey was the “backup plan”.
   
 We see problems with China sometimes kidnapping people from Hong Kong, or possibly Thailand, and North Korea has kidnapped from Japan before. 

Update: Oct. 15

Saudi Arabia said to be prepared to confess the death occurred during an interrogation gone wrong, NY Post story.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Clinton Foundation weighs in on LGBTQ asylum seekers



The Clinton Foundation offers, on Medium, and article about Katie Sgarro and her work at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for LGBTQ asylum seekers, here

However the article dates back mainly to work in 2014, before the climate became much more difficult with Trump’s election
  .
Remember, it wasn’t common to ask the public to assist with housing until the summer of 2016 (before the election) when some mainstream churches with strong youth departments became vocal on the problem (as they were with World Vision, etc), even outside conventional LGBTQ organizations. Previously, there had been sporadic reports on individual cases (especially from Russia) in the gay press.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Trump and Pompeo pretend to be denuclearizing DPRK (??)



Alex Ward of Vox is appropriately skeptical of Pompeo’s (and Trump’s) claims of recent progress toward denuclearization of North Korea, as explained here

Apparently the facility where Kim had tested a “hydrogen bomb” back in September 2017 had already been destroyed.

It’s like handing in the same term paper twice.
  
Then there is the question as to whether the US should sign some sort of “non-binding” peace treaty.
Today, of course, we know Nikki Haley stepped down and “quit when she was ahead”.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Export control and Treasury department rules has led US web hosts to close accounts of some legal foreign nationals for years



Since there has been a lot of attention to deplaforming some individuals and groups from not only social media but from conventionally hosted web sites since the Charlottesville riots in the U.S. in August 2017, it is only natural to go back and look for possible previous examples of similar practices.
  
A number of web hosts will not allow people from “blacklisted” countries or “rogue states” to have accounts on their platforms. The legal reason for this practice is supposedly US export controls (Commerce Department), which include encryption, which is common with all web hosting. Another reason is Treasury Department rules which ban companies from doing business with certain individuals in a few countries.  These might be difficult for web hosts to comply with (in an analogy to downstream liability issues in the US like Section 230, and DMCA for copyright).

In an article about Bluehost, Wikipedia notes an incident in 2009 reported in Newsweek (Evgeny Morovo) where the company canceled an account of a legal resident from Belarus (the account was professional).  Other countries involved in these possible “self-censorshop_include Myanmar, Cuba, North Korea (of course), Sudan (not sure on South Sudan), Zimbabwe, and some countries in the former Yugoslavia.   Some companies probably will not do business in Russia or China.

Wikipedia also notes that a few companies belonging to the Endurance group were hacked in 2015 by elements of the “Syrian Electronic Army” supposedly supporting Assad.
  
Companies may face challenges complying with Articles 11 and 13 of the new European Copyright Directive as it is rolled out, with regard to materials originating in the US but viewable in the EU, especially if the companies have operations in the EU.  It is unclear whether a holding company owning web hosts could reduce legal exposure by simply not allowing some subordinates to operate in the EU.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

A lot of South Koreans seem to fear Moon Jae-in will allow communism to take over the South



At an outdoor farmer’s market in Arlington VA today I had a conversation with a South Korean native business owner, who had been there recently and who implied that South Korean president Moon Jae-in is “communist” himself.
  
Indeed, Moon seems to week something closer to unification and a peace treaty (and I asked if that would mean communism or expropriation comes to the South), as in this USA Today article by Thomas Maresca on Aug. 15, here.


And earlier this year, in March, after the thaw started, a BBC correspondent  Laura Bicker was criticized when her remarks were seen as calling Moon “communist”, Catherine  Chung story here. Bicker’s original column here.

 And here’s a post Olympics piece in SCMP by David Volodzko, here
  
Given my own Army experience in the Vietnam era, this all seems so ironic given the hard-line domino theory of the past.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Trump's tribalism continues to penalize immigrant minors' but more on "family loophole"



The New York Times has several editorials on Trump’s immigration policies, including recent proposals to deny green cards to legal residents who even think about using public services.  It’s not hard to imagine how this will cost everyone in the future.

But the most telling op-ed may be this one on p. A24 of Tuesday’s paper: “Policy for Migrant Kids: Rot in the Desert”.  This concerns kids who crossed the border as unaccompanied minors. It sounds reasonable at first for the administration to screen sponsors carefully and limit them to family.  But fewer extended family will step forward if they themselves are undocumented, which means that bigger tent cities (rather like Army Special Training Company) near Tornillo, TX.

Update: Oct. 3

But Stephan Dinan on the Washington Times writes today about men sneaking minors across the border illegally, here. He claims they are 40% of illegal immigrant parents, exploiting an indirect "family loophole" (Florence, etc.).  When I see relatively polarized positions taken by different newspapers they are often simultaneously "true". 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Russia invites white farmers from South Africa with expropriated lands to emigrate



Amie-Ferris Rotman of the Washington Post reports that Russia has been inviting white farmers from South Africa to emigrate to southern Russia when their lands are expropriated, link here
  
The story maintains that this goes along with Putin’s offer of an alt-right political environment to settlers, of old-time white Christian family values – emphasizing large families and procreation. It certainly comports with Russia’s 2013 anti-gay propaganda law. Beyond a military rival, its previous competing ideology of socialism or communism has been replaced by a moral vision rightsizing individuals away from “genderlessness” and “infertility” as sins against the tribe.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Trump constricts legal immigration even more with new rule publication, while is UN speech calls for local nationalism everywhere



The Trump administration has officially published its proposed rule denying future immigration benefits (like visa extensions and especially green cards) to legal immigrants deemed likely to become public charges. Dave Bier of the Cato Institute explains in this summary.   Bier points out that the services that immigrants would purport to use are lawful.


The administration statement however appears to encourage use of resources of “family, sponsor or private organizations.”  That’s a bit disingenuous because the US does not have a formal “sponsorship” system for refugees comparable to Canada’s.


  
Along these lines, Vox has run a few articles about Trump’s UN speech, with some stress on the idea that Trump envisions a world divided into sovereign nations where every citizen of any nation is encouraged to “take care of your own” first.  For example. Jen Kirby described the speech as “America first with patriotic word salad”, using a food metaphor popular back in the 70s.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

I encounter street resentment of ICE myself



Yesterday, after parking in the Civic Center and City Hall garage in San Francisco, I walked up Leavenworth Ave right through the old Tenderloin District.

I encountered some signs like “Report ICE” and about community solidarity.

A young man challenged me and threatened to take away my camera when I photographed the sign. He was afraid that I was actually an ICE agent?

The tensions within lower income immigrant communities have never been worse, even in sanctuary cities

Monday, September 17, 2018

Kim Jong Un obey's Trump's version of "don't ask, don't tell"



David Sanger wrote of Kim Jong Un’s post-Singapore policy as “keep making nukes, but quietly”, Monday, September 17, 2018 detailed story here.  
   
Indeed, this is rather like a country’s using social media with maximum privacy settings. Kim has stopped all the public missile tests and announcements.

Trump acts like this may be good enough, because Kim would never know if his weapons really work. It’s sort of a perversion of “don’t ask don’t tell” as Trump would use it in a "deal".

Friday, September 7, 2018

Kim flips, back to talking denuclearization



Well, we’re back to Kim’s claiming that he wants to “completely ‘denuclearize’”, as in this CNBC-Reuters story

Kim will meet with South Korean president Moon Jae-In in Pyongyang Sept 18-20, despite Pompeo’s recent cancellations. 

  
South Korea’s wishes (and willingness to sign a peace treaty) seem to be bringing back the possibility of reducing hostility, even though there has been a lot of criticism in recent weeks.

The Washington Times weighs in with some surprising optimism today in a piece by Guy Taylor here.
   
By Teddy Cross - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Monday, September 3, 2018

Diplomats in Cuba, China injured by microwave weapon that may resemble E1 EMP



An Australian news site has one of the more alarming accounts of the brain injuries to some American diplomats in Cuba (in the US Embassy), and in China, as caused by microwave attacks, link here.  CNN also reports on the possibility of such attacks too. 


The United States does not say if it authorizes these kinds of attacks.  But the US military definitely has microwave weapons to disable ground electronics when deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan (see posting here March 4, 2010). Similar weapons, possibly from drones, have been suggested as a way to stop North Korean nuclear tests if diplomacy fails (as it looks like it might now).
  
But it would be possible for an enemy to use these weapons on the ground against US civilians or their electronics (similar to E1 level EMP).  They are not known to be in civilian hands at present.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Pompeo trip to North Korea cancelled; is DPRK slouching toward new missile tests?



CNBC reports that the US security situation with respect to North Korea has probably deteriorated since the time of the Singapore summit.

Trump recently and suddenly cancelled Pompeo’s trip.

Analysts see Kim as getting some relief from sanctions through China. Moreover, there is the decoupling issue. Kim seems to want the US to abandon the defense of South Korea completely and sign a treaty first.


There’s a good question, had Hillary Clinton won the election, would Kim have stages his spectacular sequence of missile tests in 2017?  We used to think no, but I’m not so sure.  After all, North Korea staged the attack on Sony back in 2014 under Obama.  A major cyber attack could have been a risk.