Monday, March 27, 2017

Sessions announces cutoff of funds for sanctuary cities; some states support travel bans; why some refugees are better employees than US candidates


Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new policy today at the White House briefing, to deny federal funds from cities, counties or states that maintain sanctuary for undocumented immigrants arrested (or at least previously convicted) for other crimes.

Milo Yiannopoulos reports the policy here on his own news blog.

The Washington Times had run the story 18 minutes after the announcement here.

Sessions mentioned a shooting on the harbor in San Francisco and a rape recently in Maryland.  He praised governor Hogan for not supporting a proposal to make Maryland a sanctuary state.
Social services organizations in major cities (including Washington) could lose funding, as for HIV services.

A Facebook friend posted a disturbing item about slave trafficking in the US, here.

CNN reports that refugees often can fill jobs that US employers have trouble staffing because US-born people are more likely to fail drug tests.

Also, 13 states have filed amicus briefs supporting Trump's second travel ban. To Trump's credit, his orders have noted that foreign radical Islam does specifically target non-Muslims civilians over sexual orientation and gender issues.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What we know about London lone wolf attack today


I walked across the Westminster Bridge in London in November 1982 and was greeted by someone as I approached Parliament for “International Hello Day”.  I was most recently in London in May 2001. It's about time. 


I walked in almost the exact spot the lone wolf terrorist drove his car into the crowd today.
    
Vox has a summary on what we know so far, here.

There are five fatalities, including the attacker, cnn story

Wikipedia attribution link under CCSA 3.0 of Westminster Bridge at night. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Electronics ban on flights from some Muslim countries seems illogical; a cell phone could detonate a device in checked baggage anyway (CNN)


The recent ban on electronics inside cabins on airplanes was not prompted by and specific new threat, NBC News reports tonight, story here.

Rather it was a general assessment of increased attempts by Al Qaeda to place smaller bombs inside electronics.

But on AC360 tonight, a spokesperson pointed out that a laptop in the cargohold could be detonated remotely by a cell phone.  So that supposes the idea that the ban could follow to all electronics devices on planes, period, at least from some countries



The UK also established a similar ban for six countries today, which reduces the possibility that someone coming from Dubai, for example, could change planes in London.

In the most extreme cases, air travelers could not take their electronics with them, and would either do without, or find equipment to rent, which would not be as secure.  Of course, they could save more data in the cloud.

This sounds like a problem that could grow.

Later today:

MSN just released a story, explaining the evidence from the raid in Yemen, and saying that the laptop battery space bombs require a manual trigger, so checked baggage is not an issue.  This contradicts the speculation earlier on CNN tonight.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Congress starts connecting the dots about Trump and Russia (and no wiretap by Obama)


Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) has “connected the dots” today, maybe linking the Trump campaign to promising Russia to go soft on Ukraine and get harder on NATO not “paying its dues”, as Russia sought to discredit Hillary Clinton (whom it feared for her anti-Russian aggressiveness) before the election.  Here’s a video from “The Raw Story”, link.

All of this while Comey answered questions all day on “unmasking” operatives, and on whether Obama could have ordered illegal surveillance on Trump tower (he can’t).
 
And on the same day, we learn (CNN Situation Room) that North Korea could be three years away from an ICBM that could reach the U.S.  And Trump just says that the DPRK is “behaving very badly.”

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Some countries won't take back criminal deportees from U.S.


A lesser known aspect of the immigration and “travel ban” debate is that a few countries (actually 23 of them) won’t take back deportees, especially those with criminal records.  And the Supreme Court has recently ruled that the U.S. cannot hold criminal aliens indefinitely after serving their sentences, posing a danger to the individual people in their communities.

Four of the countries on the latest (stayed) travel ban:  Iran, Somalia, Libya and Sudan are on this list. Other countries include Cuba, Vietnam and China.

That certainly gives Trump some justification for not wanting to issue them visas (but not denying entry if they already have visas, previous post).

The Washington Times has a story on this Feb. 17 here.

The problem was mentioned Sunday morning, March 19, on ABC’s “Full Measure” with Sharyl Attkisson, in conversation with Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX), link.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cato institute scholar notes subtleties in Maryland judge's order on Trump's Travel Ban 2.0


Dave Bier at the Cato institute had written a detailed argument on the constitutionality or statutory legality of various Trump travel bans back in February, link here  (this had followed an early article in the New York Times Jan 27 here.

Bier found a copy of the Maryland judge’s stay yesterday in the Los Angeles Times, here

Bier finds some relation in the Judge’s reasoning to his earlier articles, which seem to focus on the idea that Congress did not intend to allow visas to people who then cannot be allowed to enter the country (once at a border or airport) anyway.  Apply logical or mathematical contraposition (like in high school plane geometry):  if someone from one of the six banned countries has a visa, then he or she must be allowed into the country, according to the intent of previous federal immigration laws passed by Congress.

There is a lot of material to digest here.  But what matters more is what will be effective. 
  
Radicalization of family members of people already here legally (second generation) while in the U,S., even online, seems to be a much bigger issue than who can enter the country.  And that idea has implications. 

Furthermore, legitimate refugees and asylum seekers cannot be readily helped in the US in large numbers (Trump has cut the number to 50000) without thinking through the legal responsibilities of those in the US who would assist them (which gets into the whole private sponsorship issue, which is sorely lacking in the US compared to Canada). 

Note a posting Wednesday on my main "BillBoushka" blog on social media and asylum seekers (my question to the Asylumist got answered).  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Trump's Travel Ban 2.0 stayed by Hawaii judge, but is likely to pass muster in higher courts


Here’s the Court Order from Hawaii at least temporarily stopping Trump’s Travel Ban 2.0   The ruling seems to take Trump’s campaign statements as evidence of a religious bias.

However, five GOP judges in the Ninth Circuit have already indicated that the second travel ban may be within the law, CNN story here.  That's after Trump attacked the Ninth Circuit in a speech tonight. Trump called judges "Wise Guys", the name of a well-known youth Christian play.

Persons who have never been in the country might not have constitutional rights before entry.

Also the ban appears to be closely related to the inability of affected countries to cooperate with DHS, which might be viewed as falling within the president’s discretion, even if many observers disagree.

However today the Cato Institute released a paper backing up claims of generally much lower rate of criminality of immigrants, even from unstable and Muslim countries, paper by Michaelangelo Landgrave and Alex Nowrasteh.

Update:

A Maryland judge joined in with another restraining order,

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kidnapping of local aid workers in South Sudan raises issue of risk for missions


Denis Dumo of Reuters reports that rebels in South Sudan have kidnapped local people working for a U.S. charity and demand aid deliveries as ransom, link here.

The kidnappings do not appear to involve people from the US working for the charity.

But such incidents can chill the willingness of people to go to very undeveloped or unstable countries for humanitarian purposes.

Some churches send people (even young adults of college age) on missions in such countries.

A local Arlington Presbyterian church has connections to a ministry in South Sudan.

Wikipedia attribution link for USAID P.d. aerial picture of Juba.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Concern over North Korean ICBM and satellite attacks (including EMP) escalates


On Sunday March 12, 2017, the Washington Post ran a front page article by Joby Warrick, “Anxiety grows over North Korea’s arsenal”.   The article includes maps that show untested ICBM’s that now are projected to be able to reach the US East Coast by Great Circle route.

In all areas (detonation, miniaturization, and missile reach) North Korea may be further along than had been thought.  Furthermore, a week ago, James Woolsey warned Erin Burnett on CNN that North Korea might soon be able to launch a high altitude EMP weapon from an orbiting satellite.  Maybe we need to have NORAD take down any satellite that DPRK launches or has in orbit, and ask questions later.  Oh, but a Facebook friend and doomsday prepper says, it really is a weather satellite.

Of course, North Korea could detonate an EMP nuclear blast at high altitude from an ICBM but it would not be over the US until late in its journey.

It’s always struck me as odd how Kim Jung Un expects to be worshipped as a god when he looks so effeminate.

Here is a list of North Korea’s missile tests.

Until recently, projections "only" showed North Korea reaching the Pacific Northwest, but later that extended to northern Michigan along Great Circle.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of North Korean missile.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Asylum seekers go from US to Canada where approval is much more likely in many cases


Tighter rules in the U.S. on what constitutes “credible fear”, as well as stricter enforcement of filing procedures. Leads to a much lower acceptance of asylum requests in the U.S. compared to Canada, according to the Winnipeg Free Press, link.

The article appeared today, in view of increased migrants crossing the U.S. from Minnesota or North Dakota in winter into Manitoba.

About 18% of cases from African countries are accepted in the U.S., usually after long waits.  Up to 65% might be accepted in Canada.  Some applications in the U.S. fail after three or four years.

Wikipedia attribution link for Winnipeg Skyline.
 (by Krazytea) under CCSA 4.0.  I visited Winnipeg in September 1997 (was warm).

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Many illegals crossing from Mexico said to be forced to carry drugs; the "truth" keeps getting messier


I don’t know how reliable a “foreign” influenced free paper should be, but the Epoch Times reports that actual arrests of immigrants with criminal backgrounds went down considerably under Obama.  The complicated story is here.

On “The Messy Truth” on CNN tonight. Van Jones “admitted” that many people who sneak across the southern border illegally are “forced” to smuggle marijuana or harder drugs.
 
True, people could come over that way, disappear, and live here and work (in low paying job that others don’t want) for years and do no harm.  Other organizations like Cato and FEE present results showing immigrants as a whole have much lower crime rates that native born people.



Complicating the picture is the occurrence of cartel-related (and therefore gang-related) crimes in many cities, including especially the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC.  Still, most of these occur within closed circles of people (much like Mafia crime), unlike asymmetric acts by lone wolves who might be inspired by ISIS.

Trump is right in saying that we cannot disregard our borders forever, or tolerate blatant disregard of the law.  Obviously, common sense says that deportations must focus on those with criminal records, but it’s inevitable that they would increase with a lower bar.

But the facts on what really serves national security very much depend where you enter this board game and how far away your own event horizon is.

Public domain picture of men scaling fence in AZ. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Trump's Travel Ban 2.0 eliminates Iraq from list, allows for future Syrian refugees, allows people with proper paperwork back in


President Trump has just now promulgated “Travel Ban 2.0”, eliminating Iraq from the list of banned countries, as with this text copy. 
  
The statements by the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security indicated that the rationale behind the new order was the inability or disinclination of unstable or hostile government to assist in vetting potential entrants into the US.

Although refugee processing remains on hold during the 120 days, refugees from Syria will no longer automatically be banned when that period is up.

People with appropriate travel documents (from having been in the United States legally already) will be allowed back in.

Here is a CNBC summary of what has changed. 

Jeff Sessions did say that the FBI is investigating about 300 refugees (not sure what countries or when they entered) for terror associations.

Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called this "#MuslimBan2". 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Arlington VA church holds supper for Iraqi refugee family settled in December 2016


Today, Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington VA held a potluck supper in the evening in honor of an Iraqi refugee family that had arrived in early December 2016.

There was a man, wife, and four children.  The man had been a military officer in Iraq.  Grace was said in English and Arabic.  They have been settled into a commercially rented townhouse or apartment in northern Virginia.

There were dishes of Iraqi cooking

I had a chance to speak to the man.  The family had lived in Baghdad.  He suggested that the sectarian violence in Baghdad (which has never been under ISIS control) was perpetrated by a very small percentage of people   He mentioned that all three major Abrahamic religions had started in the same source and were more alike in their values than different, when practice by persons and families in the modern world.

I also mentioned that when I worked for the Minnesota Orchestra in 2002-2003 while I lived in Minneapolis, I worked with a woman with relatives in Mosul.  I believe they were Christian.  But if they were still living there in 2014 or later, they would have been invaded in ISIS.  So I am one degree of separation from all this personally.

I would also add that throughout my IT career, I worked with people from Pakistan (reporting to one) and the subject of religion never came up.  In Minneapolis, a critical software bridge at the company I worked for had been designed by a company owned by a man from Pakistan.  Even after 9/11, the subject of religion never came up.
 
Wikipedia has a breakdown of religion in Iraq   Arabic is the main language.

Friday, March 3, 2017

DHS confounds Trump's plans for revised travel ban with report indicating radicalization happens in the US with people here a long time, on the Internet


The Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC reports a DHS document that contradicts Donald Trump’s idea even for a scaled-down travel ban (without Iraq), saving that country of origin generally has little connection to terrorism.

Most terror attacks or attempts came from people who had been in the United States a long time, or form their adult kids.  The document is here  and the report on Maddow’s show is here.

The report would suggest that a sensible terror policy would focus on interfering with radicalization, possibly putting more responsibility on social media companies.  But much of the radicalization followup occurs on the Dark Web, run by overseas interests and not reachable to search engines and normal social media companies.

The DHS report(s) are based on unclassified documents.

In the meantime, it seems like Jeff Sessions must have watched “From Russia With Love” at least once.

CNN has an important report here, of a DHS study showing more than half of terror attempts coming from people born in US, maybe 2/3 for ISIS.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

DREAMer in Mississippi with slightly overstayed DACA status arrested after speaking out against her family's detention; church-run community assistance in Alexandria VA stalked by ICE


Jamiel Lynch of CNN reports the arrest of “DREAMer” Daniela Vargas after she spoke out about her family’s story at a news conference in Jackson, MS, story.

Here DACA status had lapsed in November 2016 but she had been in the process of reinstating it and given a “hall pass” (she did have trouble affording the reapplication fee).  She spoke out after agents arrested other family members on other charges.  Apparently she was pulled over and is in deportation.  The family had been in the chicken processing business.


Samantha Smith has a detailed story in the Washington Post.



WJLA reported late Thursday on an ICE raid Feb. 8 in Alexandria VA on Route 1 outside the Rising Hope Mission Church  (United Methodist) where 7-8 Hispanic men were questioned and a couple were taken away, Another story here. ICE is said to have staked out a homeless shelter.