Saturday, December 15, 2018

Climate change agreement at COP24 barely signed, despite US, and populist resistance now in Europe


Nearly 200 countries “barely” put the 2015 Paris climate change rules into place at the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poland, at COP24, NPR story

The meeting was held in a country whose economy depends on coal.


There was considerable sentiment that the developed countries had already used up more of their karma by releasing so much carbon during full industrialization.
   
Trump had pulled out in 2017, and countries (like France) are finding it harder to expect sacrifices for future generations from rural people.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Vox interview with Wilson Center scholar Van Jackson warns of our courting nuclear war with North Korea


Alex Ward, on Vox, explains “How Trump made the North Korea crisis worse”, link

The article turns out to be an interview with Wilson Center scholar Van Jackson, author of a new book from Cambridge University Press, “On the Brink: Trump, Kim, and the Threat of Nuclear War”, link here

Jackson notes that Trump may have mislead Kim a few times, at least before the Winter Olympics, besides making his bombastic threats in 2017.  Trump as even publicly admitted that he butters up Kim now to reduce the threat of war.   But even under Obama the threat was growing, and there is no clear indication Hillary Clinton would have made this any safer. 


Jackson does buy the idea that Kim wants a stable nuclear power that finally turns the corner on growing its own economy.

He says the threat of nuclear war is low now but still is there.

I would normally have made this a “book preview” on the Books blog, but it fits in here with the label for many other posts on the threats from North Korea.

The interview does not mention the EMP threat.  
  
Picture: from Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street in Washington DC.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Some videos from France sound very radical indeed; climate change activists cannot afford to ignore rural populations any longer



I don’t know how “radical” the group “WeAreChange” is in France or Europe.  But the mood of “the people” in this video is very angry and calling for revolution, and warning it will shut down the banking system around the world.   There are scattered reports of Internet blackouts, and of demonitization of content. 


Is this group from the far right or far left?  (Sounds like the Left;  the speaker mentioned Antifa.) 
    
Again, it seems like a lot of old-fashioned liberals (the Hillary Clinton crowd with its “basket of deplorables”) have missed the immediate point of climate change denial – it’s the rural populations affected the most right now.  I noticed that during my coming of age in the 1970s with the oil shocks.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Patreon explains the banning of Lauren Southern with regard to putative interference with a rescue of immigrants in the Mediterranean





There has been a lot of attention to the banning of Milo Yiannopoulos and Carl Benjamin (aka Sargon of Akkad) from Patreon recently.
  
The story of Lauren Southern (who is reported to have claimed transgenderism)  is also disturbing, as in a Canadaland story.  She reportedly was fund raising for anti-immigrant activity in the Mediterranean. A UK charity “Hope Not Hate” reportedly lobbied Patreon directly to stop her.  The activities she was fundraising for might have caused loss of life of Mediterranean migrants, according to the Patreon letter shown.   (Defend Europe and IGD are also involved in the ban.)
  
I have reviewed a few films about the migrant journeys into Europe, across the Mediterranean, largely made while Obama was president.
  
Patreon CEO (Jack Conte) talks about “manifest observable behavior”.  (It should be “observed”).  Conte said her observed behavior was participatory and not just journalistic (but “paparazzi” activity could be troubling if it is perceived as attracting violent people directly).


As a matter of person preference, I don’t personally like to run fundraisers for any organizations from my own social media or hosted accounts.  That’s partly my own branding, but I also don’t want to allow social media or hosting companies to have any direct voice in whom I can support.

This story is disturbing.  One could have a sincere belief that immigrants should not come into the country, but participating in an organization that attempts to stop it could be dangerous and sometimes unlawful.  In the video, Conte claims Lauren participated in a group trying to interfere with a search and vessel boat.  Conte mentions doxing as observed behavior that will get someone taken down. 
  
On the other side of the coin, there may be organizations that help migrants come into the US or any other western country illegally.  To participate in those likewise is a federal crime in the US.  Will Patreon have policies against this?

Update: Dec. 11

Tim Pool interviewed Lauren Southern on whether she is an "activist" or "journalist" or both.  She talked about "gonzo journalism"; but she doesn't claim to be completely "objective" but she says there are "facts", Timcast link from July 2017.  

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Protests against climate-change fuel taxes rage in Europe, similar to populism in Trump's base in the US, anti-globalist



Tim Pool reports Sunday that white working class people from rural areas are protesting in France and several other countries, as “Yellow Jackets”. including Germany and the Netherlands.
  
  
The protests have blocked many roads and damaged cars and property.
  
Macron may consider a State of Emergency.
  
The protests seemed to be about the climate-change-driven fuel taxes. These are affecting rural areas more than the cities. 
  
Just as with Trump supporters, this “forgotten majority” is opposing globalism, but moreover the idea of making sacrifices now for future generations – the ultimate challenge of climate change.   

How will these protests interact with the Copyright Directive and Article 13?  Suppose there is pressure for more countries to leave the EU? 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Conservative DC paper openly discusses increasing North Korean EMP threat



The Washington Examiner (story by Paul Bedard, Nov. 24, 2018) reports that North Korea is openly developing an EMP weapon.
  
Part of the report suggests that the main target could be South Korea.  Jamming of South Korean electronics is reported to have happened. Non-nuclear flux devices are possible, as the US military now has them and could have used them in the “bloody nose attack” which did not happen last spring, as tensions were reduced after the Winter Olympics, leading to the Singapore summit eventually.

Part of the report refers to the possibility of attacking the US East Coast from a missile from an offshore ship (an idea Michael Maloof had discussed in his book “A Nation Forsaken” or from a satellite, which James Woolsey has warned about.  This would probably be a fission nuclear weapon and most of the damage would be of the E1 variety. 

The tone of the story is blase, in that it suggests that the Pentagon has only recently stepped up working on the problem.  This also seems to be the first major article in a credible periodical that has focused on North Korea's EMP threat apart from the better known nuclear weapons threat and the possibility of missiles reaching the US, even the East Coast, based on 2017 tests. 

Recent reports about a DPRK “ultra-weapon” might refer to a non-nuclear EMP. It does not appear, even given all the talk of Pompeo’s diplomacy, that North Korea is willing to completely denuclearize (as recently discussed in Foreign Affairs).
  
I think there is a way China’s intention to apply a “social credit scoring” system to its own citizens could actually be relevant to the tensions over North Korea.  I’ll get into that another time.



Update: Nov. 28

Aviation Weekly also has a discussion of non-nuclear microwave EMP weapons.

Update: Nov. 30

Paul Bedard offered a followup report today in the Washington Examiner (under the banner "Washington Secrets"), with mention of a 2018 Report from the Electromagnetic Defense Task Force (which I thought had been disbanded). The report talked about the end of democracy and world order. Smart News actually carried this report today on irs U.S. tab. Maybe Sinclair Broadcasting (WJLA) will be the next to take notice (as well as Fox News). 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Tijuana border becomes volatile today; trouble between Russia and Ukraine near Crimea



Okay, CNN’s Samantha Vinograd sums it all up:  the risks of Trump’s “deal” with Mexico (unconfirmed maybe by the new Mexican administration), the issue of Saudi Arabia/Khashoggi  denial, and the possible prosecution of Assange. 

While I was out today, there was some physical conflict at the border in Tijuana, and the border was closed for a while.  Mexico is saying it will deport (back to Central America) possibly hundreds of people who tried to enter the US illegally today.   Maya Averbuch and Elisabeth Malkin described the entropy on the border today in the NYTimes. 

Dara Lind, of Vox, is more confident that the Mexico deal is real, and she writes a quasi-mathematical proof of her claim. 

There is also a major incident involving Russia and Ukraine, Twitter     Russians apparently seized two Ukrainian ships near Crimea and the UN Security Council meets now (Time)   Some Ukrainian sailors seem to have been taken as "POW's.  Ukraine has declared martial law for 30 days. 
   
I was away a day trip today, filming.  Messages about all this started popping on my phone.  While the cat’s away the mice play.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Mexico will keep custody of asylum seekers while US processes them (Trump "deal")



Joshua Partlow and Nick Miroff report for the Washington Post Saturday that Trump has reached a deal with Mexico, holding asylum seekers in Mexico while their claims are processed in the US (which takes months).  There was a wisecrack that Mexico has suddenly become a “waiting room” for US asylum seekers.
  
The reports so far don’t distinguish on the issue of whether migrants are situated at legal entry points.
   
LGBT asylum seekers would be treated the same way (which means that US organizations won’t be able to assist them).

CNN has a story by Caroline King referring to the Post here.
  
The same two post reporters also write that some migrants travel with orphaned or unaccompanied or other people’s children to have a better chance of gaining entry, link.  There are 14,000 unaccompanied minors in US government custody right now.

CNN has mentioned that sometimes relatives or "friends" can sponsor specific kids, but I have been told they must be relatives. 


Friday, November 23, 2018

Drug legalization in the US might help reduce the migrant crisis



George P. Shultz and Pedro Aspe have a useful op-ed Thanksgiving Day, “How we can help the migrant caravan”.  Actually, there are several caravans in different places and they seem to have different makeups.

But the writers are helpful in saying we could do a lot more to stabilize the conditions in Central American countries and, giving Trump some credit, Mexico.  Remember, however, Mexico was willing to give some caravans asylum in its southern states, and the caravans insisted on moving north to the U.S.

The biggest suggestion, of course, is decriminalizing drug possession at home, as a strategy to reduce consumption and reduce the profitability of drug cartels.  Indeed Reagan’s policies in the 1980s and the “war on drugs” may well have set this up. 
  
One comment about “race” and POC.  Being from Mexico or CA and having a Spanish surname is no predictor of what someone looks like.  There are plenty of people in Mexico of purely European ancestry (as in South America).

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Can Democrats in Congress make any headway on DACA during the lame duck session?



Here’s a (press release) statement from Juan Escalante on America’s Voice here or expanded in Huff Post.
  
Apparently the writer believes that the lame duck session should be able to legislate a reasonable solution to the DACA issue, and Temporary Protected Status.

But any action may be compromised by Trump’s threat for a partial government shutdown Dec. 7 over the Border Wall issue.
  
All of this is complicated by conflicting reports about the migrants trying to gain entry now at Tijuana (previous posts).
 
Picture: Park in Harlingen, TX, near the border (May 30, 2018, my trip) 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Foreign Affairs revisits the dangers of a "bloody nose" or "left of launch" attack on North Korea as tensions resume


Ankit Panda, in Foreign Affairs (paywall) offers a detailed article ("The Right Way to Manage a Nuclear North Korea") on the continuing dangers of North Korea, which now must be accepted as the U.S. third major rival nuclear power (after Russia and China) which Donald Trump may have difficulty admitting, despite past public statements that he buttered up Kim Jong Un to stave off nuclear war.

There is discussion of the “left of launch” strategy which would disable nukes before launch.  This sounds like the bloody nose option which had been pondered early in 2018 and then dropped after the Winter Olympics, and probably some heated private Oval Office discussions.


The article rehearses the obvious, that a left-of-launch threat could pressure Kim into using his nukes now.

There are also reports of North Korean maneuvers against a mockup of the South Korean “Pentagon”.
  
And North Korea, complaining about sanctions, now says it is working on an “ultra weapon”, which conceivably could be a non-nuclear EMP flux to use against South Korea.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Timcast documents reports of anger in Mexico against migrants, esp. near Tijuana; more on the low-wage myth



Today, Monday, November 19, 2018, Tim Pool (Timcast) produced a notable video where he explores further the reports of some violence from male migrants near Tijuana, and the desire of many Mexican citizens (south of our own border) to send them back to Central America.


Pool looks at various news reports, some of them foreign, from journalists on the ground.  His byline is even “Trump was right”.  Some reports, even from the Washington Post, seem skeptical that the migrants could be wrong.

David Bier )Cato) has pointed out a Washington Post article by Robert J. Samuelson, “The Myth of Stagnant Incomes”, debunking the idea that immigrants depress already low-wage domestic jobs.

Update: Nov. 20

The Asylumist has an op-ed on what a Democratic majority in the House means for asylum seekers.

A federal judge in Los Angeles has blocked Trump's order to refuse asylum claims after illegal entry, story by Miriam Jordan. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Trump's plans to end nuclear treaty with Russia moves the hands of the nuclear clock



Ira Helfand has a disturbing op-ed on Trump’s threat to end a 31-year-old nuclear arms limits agreement (with Putin’s Russia) that Ronald Reagan had signed with Gorbachev (for the former Soviet Union).

Helfand reports that there have been several incidents of miscommunication where a nuclear exchange could have started. He thinks we've been lucky to keep our way of life (let alone EMP, too). 

  
And Trump now wants us to “go our own way”.

Friday, November 16, 2018

WhatsApp rumor leads to mob attack on a jail in Mexico and burning of a man to death



The BBC reports a horrible incident in the town of Actalan, in central Mexico, where a mob broke into a police station and burned a prisoner to death based on a false rumor that the prisoner was involved in child kidnapping, sex trafficking and organ selling.  The rumors had been instigated on WhatsApp.
  
The link for the BBC story by Marcos Martinez is here.

Again, this incident shows the vulnerability of less literate people overseas to fake news and rumor spread in social media.

Most of the people in the town depend on money sent to them by relatives (legal or not) in the United States.
By Tim & Annette - http://www.sxc.hu/photo/5402, Copyrighted free use, Link

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

EU Copyright Directive in final negotiations, could prove disruptive to Internet user generated content around the western world



I’ve written about the European Union’s Copyright Directive with the controversial Articles 11 and 13 on my main blog, and also on Wordpress.

I thought I would share Cory Doctorow’s (Electronic Frontier Foundation) analysis on Medium here today.  Glyn Moody has a more detailed perspective here
  
The proposals are in “trilogue” now.  That’s supposed to be public, but this time, the EU parliament is behaving as if this were an “in secret” grand jury.

It’s hard to predict what will happen. Implementations might vary among countries.  They might take longer.  They might not even happen. It seems as though a major part of the EU hierarchy (most of all Axel Voss) simply thinks that user generated content on the Internet isn’t worth keeping anyway, because it challenges established cultural order.

   
Cory even says that if the Directive were implemented today, major platforms and hosting companies would either have to apply it everywhere (except China, North Korea, and a few other “desirable” countries) or simply block all EU users, and set up a completely separate Internet for the EU.  (Or make it work like China’s).

Hopefully Brexit would keep the U.K. out of this.  No wonder countries want do leave.  And we were so shocked when Brexit happened in June 2016, five months before Donald Trump was elected. 
  
One problem would occur for American bloggers or domain owners traveling to EU countries.  They might not be able to access their own blogs while in some countries.  Maybe there could be workarounds like VPN’s.  That’s pretty much how it would work if you went to China today.  (It seems that Blogger, Facebook, and YouTube are not available in China – except that Google Analytics shows I sometimes have traffic from China and various wonderful Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia – certainly Russia – would I get arrested if I went to any of these places;  my other sites seem to be available everywhere, including Wordpress blogs – so I have gotten unsolicited proposals to setup “business” in China!)

Monday, November 12, 2018

North Korea is still working on missiles to reach the US



US intelligence, somewhat independent of Trump, says that North Korea is still working on its ballistic missile programs, much of it underground or hidden, at undisclosed sites. NBC News reports with Andrew Mitchell, Courtney Kube, and Kem Dilanian. 


A second summit is likely, according to Pompeo.  Trump has in the past said that he butters up Kim Jong Un to eliminate the risk to the US homeland.

On another matter, Sen. Cotton (R-AR) seems to confuse asylum seekers with refugees when he says people should be allowed to apply for asylum except from their home countries or other approved countries.

Update: Nov. 16

There are concerns about Kim Jong Un's "ultra weapon" as part of a new message to the US as talks stall.  Is this an EMP weapon?  CNN story by Ben Westcott and Yoonjung Seo. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The House could try to get somewhere on immigration



Dave Bier has a perspective at the Cato Institute, “the Most Pro-Immigration House of Representatives in Over a Century”, link here

Bier points out that repeated attempts at immigration cuts to please Trump’s base went down, as did the travel bans.   Bier also gives a long history of Congress and immigration, and its willingness to help both illegal (through morally acceptable circumstances) and legal immigrants stay, work, and eventually live here legally and become citizens.

Democrats are unlikely to attack chain migration too hard if that helps African-American families.
But the most obvious need is to reform DACA, and to protect the asylum process.
  
And to deal with volume problems with families at the border (Flores), they may have to take a heed from Canada and look at private sponsorship.   

Trump's base still is obsessed with the idea that if effort is spent on immigrants, they can get left farther behind. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

News2Share reports on the ground from Mexico on the migrant caravans, creating anger of Facebook



News2Share has a reporter in Mexico covering migrants on a bus somewhere near Mexico City now.
  
Here is a typical link
  
Reporters indicate there are a lot of ill people on the busses or in the caravan.  The reporter has not encountered armed migrants or evidence of trojan terrorists. 

If you check “Ford Fischer” on Facebook, you will see anger from a few somewhat polarized people when they thought they were asked to “like” to posts.  Facebook should not encourage accounts to prod users into “liking” their pages. 


By the way, News2Share is not part of the “resistance”.  Comments to that effect are just plain silly. They reflect a tribal mentality that everyone must join one side or another.

Of course, it is not clear if this is representative of all of the caravans.  Tim Pool has discussed reports of armed migrants farther south from mainstream media, but the reports are conflicting.

By the time the migrants reach the US, many of them are likely to have dissipated.  Were Trump to deny the right to apply for asylum, he would certainly be taken to court again immediately.
My most recent significant visit to Mexico City happened in 1974 over Labor Day weekend.

Right wing candidates keep putting exaggerated television ads up.

Wikipedia attribution link for aerial view of Mexico City by Fidel Gonzalez, CCSA 3.0. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Trump wants to change asylum law by edict; but many countries have weakened asylum since the Soviet Union collapsed



An important column by Max Fisher and Amanda Taub in the New York Times today examines the trend, since the 1990s, for the world to be less accommodating to asylum seekers, despite the customs of international law, once the Soviet Union folded at then end of 1991. 

For example, we had a Mariel boatlift from Cuba in 1980, but in 1993 the Supreme Court supported the Clinton Administration in turning back people from Haiti.


Trump claims that many of the people in the caravans are young men, not women and children (probably not disproportionate). 

Trump wants to greatly restrict asylum claims (which must be processed once someone enters the country;  there are rules on overstayed visas).  Trump calls asylum seekers a “loophole” in the immigration system, and says people who enter illegally cannot claim asylum, application can be made only at a lawful point of entry.  This would be challenged in court (it sounds like midterm fodder for Trump’s base). It is likely that this development that could become a flash point leading to more demonstrations.

Update: Nov. 8

The Washington Post reports (Nick Miroff) that the new rule will be entered into the Federal Register and that Trump claims "emergency power".  Let the litigation begin!  

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Trump plays up the "Caravan" risk before the election; Wall Street Journal and Washington Post leave open the possibility Congress could re-interpret the "jurisdiction" clause of the 14th Amendment



First, Johnny Harris explains how the US, under Obama, started outsourcing Central American migrant problem to Mexico back in 2014.

  
Trump is planning an Executive Order precluding claiming asylum for anyone who enters the country illegally -- but I didn't think he could do that!! 
   
Yup, Trump is making hyperbolic threats about the caravans five days before the election to elicit fear, as shown by this shocking video that Trump tweeted and the CNN crucified. 
  
 Matthew Spalding has argued in the Wall Street Journal, that the “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” clause in the Fourteenth Amendment does not automatically apply to children of illegal aliens and that U.S. v Wong Kim Ark applied only when the parents are legal residents. 
  
But Josh Blackman in another piece in the WSJ argues that the clause refers to anyone here subject to US laws. 

But Peter H. Schuck and Rogers M. Smith, drawing on an example of Native American reservations, argue, even in the liberal Washington Post, that Trump might be right in that Congress could future refine the “jurisdiction” clause, and therefore limit birthright for children of unlawful residents – and that liberals in Congress should make up their minds on how to deal with this problem.  I can imagine Sarah Huckabee Sanders with an echo. 

But The Atlantic takes up the jurisdiction issue in an article by Garrett Epps from the University of Baltimore with some common sense. So that brings the jurisdiction question back to something similar to diplomat law, maybe.

CBS reports that the births to undocumented parents have fallen to their lowest level since 2000.

Update:

Tim Pool has a breaking news post about more details regarding the third caravan, maybe significant.



Wednesday, October 31, 2018

In Europe, free speech is an alienable right



A human rights court in Vienna has upheld the 2011 conviction of a woman in Austria for “disparagement of religious precepts” when she stated a that the prophet Muhammad had been a child molester, based on the historical record of his possible sex with girls who would be legally underage by today’s standards but probably not around 500 AD. 
  
The Atlantic, in an article by Graeme Wood, goes on to opine that in Europe, “free speech is an alienable right”.  The writer explains that European history may justify the vulnerability of the political institutions to vile ideas, and she offers a link to another Atlantic article explaining that the US really does leave the policing of vile ideas to private companies and interests, as we have seen with de-platforming of some controversial sites for racist or anti-Semitic, possibly even homophobic, hate speech. 

The European system seems to place less value on individualized speech, as we see from the controversy over the European Copyright Directive, which may, thankfully, be weakening. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

No, Trump can't end birthright citizenship, but Lindsey Graham wants to



First up, my understanding is that Trump cannot end birthright citizenship by Executive Order. Try this case, U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark.  
Trump’s claim that the US is the only country in the world with birthright citizenship is patently false, Bloomberg story.  Count Canada and Mexico (but don’t “blame” them, like the Simpsons.)
    
Lindsey Graham wants to introduce legislation to this effect, but look at David Bier’s response
  
Cato has an interesting story on how birthright citizenship or even partial b.c. tends to boost immigration, at least in Europe.  There are interesting studies on whether immigrants marry natives, and on whether immigrants from countries with non-Indo-European languages (which tend to be authoritarian) learn the native European language or English.  (Learning languages happens best very early in life.) 

Asylumist has a major post explaining HIAS for refugee services. 

 Alex Nowrasteh of Cato has a diagram of the path to a Green Card. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Multiple papers discuss US's growing indifference to the needs driving immigration



David Bier has a New York Post editorial Sept. 19 regarding the US’s accepting of asylees and refugees (separate issues), being less than the most generous even before Trump, here

There is a study by Andrew Forrester and Alex Nowrasteh on Cato showing that immigrants tend to assimilate and make about what native born Americans make, here

There is an important post by David Bier on how Trump has cut both Christian and Muslim admissions. 

The latest Economist (Oct 28), in an article on California, states that immigrants help the economy and job growth, but tend to depress the wages of the lowest-skilled workers (although they may take the menial jobs Americans don’t have the regimentation to do).

Fox News notes that Bowers falsely “connected” the Central American caravan to local domestic support of asylum seekers and refugees through HIAS, story.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Migrants turn down offer from Mexico for asylum, want to press to the U.S. Why?




Tim Pool reports that many of the migrants in the caravans from Central America (Honduras and now El Salvador) are refusing offers of asylum in Mexico.


Actually, his Timcast talks a lot about the semantics of a “wall” or “fence”.  A transparent fence may be better for security, but you want the fence to be has high as Fenway Park’s Green Monster. He talks about the wall in Yuma, AZ, a place I visited in 2000 (you could see across the river to the town in Mexico with little businesses).

It is appropriate for the US to expect migrants without relatives in the US to accept asylum in Mexico (where the language skills are a better fit) if offered.
  
NBC News has a detailed article on Mexico’s offer, which would apply to migrants settling in two southern Mexican states.

The New York Times has a factual piece  Oct. 26 by Annie Correal dated Oct 26, that explains (through links) how the caravan actually got started.

Dara Lind reports that Trump is now considering a new "travel ban" for these caravans, Vox article here

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.