Monday, June 26, 2017

Supreme Court allows most of Trump revised travel ban to go into effect temporarily until it hears case in October

The Supreme Court has allowed a limited travel ban from six “Muslim” countries to go into effect temporarily, while saying it will take up the full case in October.

The Court has ruled that the Trump administration cannot ban travel for foreigners who have a legitimate relationship (probably familial) with someone in the United States (who can provide financial support through the I-864 mechanism)   It would not authorize some kind of de facto “private sponsorship” however for people not yet in the country.  It does seem that people with job offers, or work or study arrangements could be admitted.

The Court seems to buy the idea that security validation from countries with chaotic or very hostile governments is very difficult.

The CNN story is here.

The court was unanimous on the partial ban but 6-3 on allowing the exceptions (Gorsuch voted against allowing them).

The case is Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, link.

Jeffrey Toobin points out that the “90 day” period keeps moving forward.

Friday, June 23, 2017

EU rules Russian anti-gay propaganda law in violation of treaty

The European Court has ruled that the 203 law in Russia banning the discussion of LGBTQ issues in public in a way visible to minors violates articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, which apparently Russia had signed.  The law was said to be discriminatory and a bar to free speech.
Michael Lavers has a story in the Washington Blade.

The law seems to have been inspired by a concern over the low Russian birth rate.

The law seem also to have indirectly inspired vigilante violence against LGBT people and led to closing or bars.  Some people have sought asylum in the US and Canada.

The EU ruling could make it safer for LGBT people from western countries, who are visible as such online, to travel in Russia.

Wikipedia attribution link for Moscow House of Music, CCSA 3.0, by pxNick. . 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cato study compares European and US immigrant terror risks, and in the US it is very low

Alex Nowrasteh has authored a study comparing the relative risk of deaths from immigrant terror attacks in European countries to that in the United States, where it is much lower, link here.

But the article admittedly implies that the greater volume of emergency immigration into Europe (asylum seeking rather than refugee) has resulted in larger civilian fatalities in Europe.
Many perpetrators have been in these countries a long time and have varied and complicated criminal histories beyond mere immigration.  And in the U.S., many perpetrators obviously had disturbing behavior and difficulties assimilating for a long time, often as adult children of people who had come here.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

North Korea makes its treatment of civilian POW's as ugly as possible

Peter S. Kim in the Asian Review writes about how na├»ve behavior with North Korea (especially by the South) could mean that nuclear weapons or EMP devices wind up in the hands of terrorists as well as the “terror state” itself, link.

Kim Jong Un looks fat and foppish, even girlish.  And his people worship him as a god?  Clay feet?

Otto Warmbier’s family will not allow future updates on their son’s condition, apparently awake but not aware. That makes this easier to bear for members of the public.   The DPRK has deliberately provided a situation as ugly as it can make it.  But the responsibility for this will remain with government, state, and the Trump administration (though the legacy goes back to Obama) and won’t become a subject of personalized fund-raising campaigns.

North Korea is a real enemy.  And eventually enemies can become personal responsibilities.

Wikipedia attribution link for DPEK-China picture by Roman Harak, CCSA 2.0

Update: June 20

The young man passed away Monday June 19 at about 2:30 PM.

There was a viewpoint expressed (by La Sha, on Huffington) that westerners should not feel privileged and express any contempt when they are there.

Some sort of tourism travel ban to North Korea (a reverse of Trump's ban now) sounds likely (as with  Trump on Cuba), Washington Post story.

Update: June 21

On Don Lemon's show, there were warnings that North Korean could be capable of launching an EMP blast over South Korea now.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Indonesia shows a shocking and sudden hostility to LGBT people

There has been a shocking and sudden deterioration of the lot of LGBTQ people in Indonesia since the beginning of 2016, as explained in this CNN article.

Sodomy has been a crime previously only in Aceh (site of the tsunami in 2004), but it may become so nationwide.

Politicians have suddenly discovered that gays make a convenient scapegoat. The especially prey on parental fears of not having descendants, and this is about procreation, even beyond Islam
This could lead to more asylum cases.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Cato briefs and publications seem to influence circuit courts in holding off Trump travel bans; more on detention

The Cato Institute notes that the Fourth and Ninth circuits do seem to have read that think tank’s work in reaching opinions forestalling various versions of Donald Trump’s travel bans.

Dave Bier has a piece on May 27 here .  Cato’s amicus brief for the Ninth Circuit was here.

The uncertainty and delays regarding these EO’s seem to be putting off a permanent policy where the US can admit legitimate refugees safely, maybe with private help, the way Canada does.

The Afghanistan case I discussed in the post Sunday would sound to me like a case Canada might address, through LGBT private sponsorship, not legally possible in the US now.  That would be a lot better than blind GoFundMe campaigns.

Yesterday I drove past a prison and detention complex to the east of US-1 in Jessup, MD (15 miles south of downtown Baltimore) where I am told some ICE detainees (including asylum seekers) remain in detention.  It looks like the facility is in two adjacent campuses;  I’m not sure how the detention is set up.  I am told it is a much less comfortable place than Farmville or Reading PA.  There is another facility in York, PA, also.

Generally, facilities holding ICE detainees seem to be set up physically so that it is very difficult for member of the public to photograph them well, even externally.  Farmville's is hidden from the road by a hill and slope.  The government doesn't want the public to pay attention to their existence.

Update: Later today:

The New York Times has a detailed article on the arrest of asylum seekers by ICE in some certain circumstances, by Nicholas Kulish, p. A10, link. One of these cases involves a Russian HIV+ man, and apparently Customs applies when returning from territories like the Virgin Islands. You would wonder if in the cases covered here (as with the Venezuelan), the people were carrying their papers showing legal asylum seeker status allowing them to be here,  I don't know if it matters if they were passive or defensive applicants.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Venezuela leading now with asylum seekers in US; more material on LTBTQ asylees at DC Pride 2017

CNN is reporting that the country supplying the most asylum seekers is now Venezuela, link here.

It's ironic because Venezuela is said to have offered asylum to Edward Snowden.

It also gave the USCIS link, well to repeat.

The Pride 2017 Manual has a story and gofundme campaign for a gay man in Afghanistan.  The link is here.

 Flip to page 94 in the Pdf document. The article is by Nemat Sadal.  Generally with gofundme’s to undemocratic countries I would want to know what really happens to the money.  There needs to be some lawful plan to help the person leave the country.  Canada is much better at this than the U.S. since it has private sponsorship of refugees.

The Manual also has a guide for LGBT asylum seekers on p. 76.  By Matthew Corso and Eric Scharf of DV Center Global.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Washington Post Outlook offers booklet on Israeli West Bank settlements

The Washington Post has a long Outlook Section Sunday June 4, “The 50-Years War”, by Dan Ephron, tracing the growth of Israeli settlements on the West Bank since 1967, here.

Israel college students often don’t know the geography of the Green Line, and the legalities of the Occupied Zone under Oslo II don’t seem to have been always observed.  And the growth of settlements grows more rapidly than Israel itself.

Vox had explained the legalities some time back, covered.

Wikipedia attribution link for Elon Moreh by Shuki. CCSA 2.5.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Social media companies come under new fire as conduits of terrorist propaganda after UK attacks

The two recent attacks in England, including a second vehicle attack on London Bridge last night, will bring attention back onto social media companies as sharing moral responsibility for allowing terror recruiting on their networks.

Twitter and Facebook have removed content and closed accounts, and are trying to develop automated detection tools comparable to what happens with child pornography.  Apparently many of the tools will depend on digital watermarks of known images (which Google can scan for with Picasa and gMail).  And we know that there are various lawsuits against social media companies from families of victims of terror attacks, including Paris, Santa Barbara and Orlando/Pulse.   Both companies are also fighting the weaponization of fake news.  European governments have been much more vocal about this than the US, and I would have expected Trump to say a lot more about this than he has so far.  I guess I’m giving him ideas.

A slightly older article on IJR explains how ISIS recruits.  After initial contact on Twitter, the process moves to the Dark Web.

While the problem is much more serious in Europe, social media companies will come under unified pressure.  Again, user generated content could not exist if social media companies had to screen every input before publication.

But Theresa May, British Prime Minister, said that terrorists must be denied their "safe spaces" online.
A group at the University of Maryland has developed a video game to help people learn to recognize radicalization.

Another video about why ISIS social media recruiting works with some youthful populations is here, link..

It's really hard to say where May's "Enough Is Enough" will wind up.

Perps of  crimes like these look for a religious ideology to justify their own nihilistic or "mean streak" compulsions.

May says she will not let the UK Human Rights Act deter her in fighting terrorism or detaining suspicious people, putting them on curfews ad denying them use of the Internet, link

Monday, May 29, 2017

Zakaria on GPS slams Trump's perspective on where the real terror threats are

On Sunday, Fareed Zakaria criticized President Donald Trump’s behavior in Saudi Arabia, Israel and Europe, particularly for cozying up to Saudi Arabia when the kingdom has, out of self-preservation for the royal family, spread the most extreme form of Wahhabism throughout the Sunni Muslim World. Trump scathed the leadership of the Muslim world for policies that leave their peoples in “squalor”. But his characterization of a terror-supporting state seemed to be directed at Iran, not Saudi Arabia.

True, Iran could strike at Israel and could support WMD’s that could be delivered covertly to the U.S.  But North Korea is a much more immediate and dangerous threat.  And ISIS was born in extreme Sunni Islam and could get its hands on some kinds of WMD’s (like radioactive devices) at some point.

Zakaria also offers this perspective in his “What in the world?” segment on the lack of freedom of thought on college campuses, and the demand for conformity from both the Left and Right.

ISIS is making inroads into Southeast Asia, especially the Philippines, invited extra-judicial martial law from Rodrigo Duterte, already using vigilantism against drug users.  Here is the CNN story,  TWT has been warning readers about this.  Some of the print-on-demand book industry depends on plants in the Philippines, which may be in affected areas.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Trump ponders staying in Paris climate change agreement, with a dangerous caveat

John Sutter has an op-ed about the wording of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and whether Trump will allow the U.S. to stay in.

The Paris agreement apparently does not require a country’s contribution to reduction in climate change become more ambitious with time.  That wording may persuade Trump to allow the U.S. to stay in.

The article an video are really quite graphic in the dire consequences ahead. A most inconvenient truth indeed.

Update: Sunday May 28

A conservative source indicates that Trump has told insiders he still intends to pull out, but then it gets complicated.

Update: Monday, May 29

Ted Cruz argues that Trump should withdraw from the climate pact. Cruz notes job loss in the US, but claims it doesn't require other countries to do their part and that it will not reduce warming significant.y.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

British intelligence clamps down on sharing intelligence with US after apparent leak to New York Times, which went viral on blogosphere

Manchester police and British authorities have warned the US that they will not continue sharing intelligence on counter-terrorism. President Donald Trump was scolded in Brussels today about the leak.

Specifically, the problem concerns a New York Times article that I added a link to on the previous blog post last night before I went to bed.  Apparently the photos and other details were classified. I guess you could say bloggers are part of the problem, as we have every incentive to share "intelligence" that we find.  This time it wasn't Wikileaks, it was a major newspaper.  The article apparently released the name of the prime suspect before British authorities were ready to announce it, and also showed sensitive photos of the devices.

OAN correspondent Trey Yingst tweeted the issue early today at first without a supporting link, and I retweeted, adding a comment about Trump's apparent sharing of Israeli intelligence with Russia.  Very shortly thereafter I saw that this was a "new" problem and that the NYTimes was involved, and that the president had not directly caused the problem, although he is responsible for it.  Trump has ordered the DOJ to investigate the leak.  It seems very unlikely to me that the NYTimes (or any blogger who relinked) has any exposure to real legal liability.

The latest Washington Post story on Trump's "orders" is here.  This can be a serious problem, because US authorities need overseas intelligence about possible novel threats, especially WMD.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of incident site by Dixon, under CCSA 2.0.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Manchester attack; Trump calls terrorists "losers"

There is no reason to belabor the details of terror attack in Manchester England Monday night at the concert of Ariana Grande, but Peter Bergen has a disturbing analysis on CNN of how the explosive was probably constructed, using hydrogen peroxide, a common bleach.

Trump made a point of calling terrorists “losers” (or "evil losers in life") in more than one speech abroad, not just “monsters”.  Other commentators have said that Trump simply could have said that murdering civilians is prohibited by the Koran (but there are those who question this).

The Daily Telegraph opines on Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia here.
I passed a protest poster in Baltimore recently, claiming ordinary people shouldn’t be bothered with concerns about Syria and Korea.  I couldn’t disagree more.
Update: May 24:

Detailed New York Times analysis of the evidence in Manchester by C. J. Chivers.

Monday, May 15, 2017

North Korea launches intermediate range missile

North Korea fired a test of a medium range missile with a very high parabolic path, to 1200 miles altitude (highest enough for EMP) and 400 miles distance, toward eastern Russia and possibly Alaska.

CNN has the details today here

Charlie Rose tonight on PBS was rather cavalier on speculating that North Korea might already have the capability to hit the US, at least western Alaska or Guam.

North Korea might have been behind the ransomware attack, which so far had little effect on the US. The Guardian has a story to that effect.

Update: May 23

Media have posted more stories about North Korea's malware engines (training young adults in China).  There was another missile test, aimed toward Japan, about 300 miles, and indications that North Korea is getting "better" at this. And there seems to be a breaking interchange with the South right now,

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

"Paul" explains the Arabic language and its many dialects

Paul, of Language Focus, has an interesting video “The Arabic Language and its Amazing History and Features”.

There are versions of the language for speech, writing and religious study.  It seems very logical, even if very alien to western people.