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.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Quora posts show how Nazism and fascism come from the Left

This is a pretty instructive post on Quora, “Why do some conservatives try to claim that Nazis are lefty wing?” There are at least three good answers given.  One of them invokes the Nolan chart, of World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

The second answer shows that Nazi society amounted to socialism for proper Germans, as well as statism (rather like China today up to this point), and but then throwing in anti-Semitism. There does seem to be a focus on managing the individual so that he/she doesn’t benefit from the sacrifices of others without putting his own skin in the game. Note the “we demand” for “the people” and listing what will not be tolerated.
The comparison with the alt-right today is instructive.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A home building contractor in California discusses illegal immigration and its social impact

“A House Painter in L.A. Talks About Illegal Immigration and Its Impact”.

A self-employed painting and drywall homebuilding contractor gives a balanced perspective on illegal immigration.

He believes that only legal immigration should support construction or any other industry (like harvesting crops or fruit).  Without illegal immigration, he says, Americans would take more manual labor jobs, and consumers would have to pay more for some items.  Kid would do more chores, he even adds, and have a better understanding of the real value of learning to work (as my father used to say).

Monday, August 20, 2018

WSJ reports that MS-13 is getting much more organized in the U.S.

Del Quentin Wilber has a booklet-length illustrated article in the Wall Street Journal today about the attempt of MS-13 to organize itself more formally.  The title is “MS-13 gang tries to organize am unruly young membership; Goal of building a cohesive national structure proves elusive so far.” 

The tone of the article is a little bit tongue-in-cheek and disturbing, as if “success” would be a good thing. The group’s influence is scattered in various suburbs (particularly on Long Island in and some areas in northern Virginia and Maryland).  More organization could put more Americans at incidental risk, and feed Donald Trump’s narrative that Central American migrants fleeing gang warfare have to be kept out of the country because of Trojan horse concerns, regardless of humanitarian concerns. But it would also feed the mainstream narrative that gang violence should justify asylum, which Sessions has pushed back on. 

It is called “Mara Salvatrucha” or “The Program”. Money does get sent back to people in El Salvador, through control of the gangs.  The article suggests the group would move into other US areas, particularly those with former Mafia ties.  It also refers to a recent big meeting in Richmond.

Friday, August 10, 2018

North Korean denuclearization seems to stall more

President Trump says we are in good shape in North Korea.

I found a video from CBS where as recently as January Kim had actually threatened a “pre-emptive strike”

Fox News had a routine story that North Korea was threatening to stall denuclearization over the continuation of sanctions. 

Kim Jong Un has reportedly sent a second letter to Trump (Washington Times).

David Sanger describes the situation now as a "standoff".

But Michael Gordon of the Wall Street Journal says that the moratorium on missile tests means that Kim doesn't have the ability to test re-entry.  However EMP might be possible.

Update: Monday, Aug. 13

Foreign Affairs has a major article by Ankit Panda and Vipin Narang, "Why North Korea's Nuclear Program Isn't Going Anywhere" with the byline "Two months after Singapore, Kim clearly has the upper hand", like in a chess game.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Trump wants less immigration, period. Is this motivated by race? Also -- marriage to asylum seekers?

Tonight, Chris Cuomo, on CNN, blasted Trump’s hostility to all immigration, including legal.  Indeed, a lengthy article by Perry Bacon, Jr. “What is really behindTrump’s controversial immigration policies?”  To be very blunt, this amounts to, keeping America as white as possible, to please his base. 

Merit-based immigration would probably include well-educated immigrants from India and some east Asian countries, but probably not be very good for Central America, which right now shows the greatest need.   It would not affect LGBT applicants when well qualified in work.

The Asylumist does have a new article on asylum seekers getting green cards when married to US citizens or legal residents, and this will work in most cases.  Same-sex marriage would be honored. I could be tacky and wonder if that could pressure Americans into marrying asylum seekers.  But a marriage would have to be valid and a bona fide relationship. 

Update: Aug. 9

Check out Dara Lind's article on Vox on Trump's war on asylum seeking, with a lot of detail and uncertainty as to what will happen. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

South Africa likely to allow expropriation of white-owned farrmland without compensation as reparations

South Africa is planning constitutional changes that would allow expropriation of some lands from white landowners and giving it to blacks, a kind of reparation for apartheid, without compensation.

However, left-wing leadership has claimed that some white farmers had owned land occurred by criminality in the past, colonialism and more.

South Africa says that the seizures have happened when negotiations on tribal claims have broken down. 

Could such a measure lead to more talk of reparations in the U.S.?

Critics say this could lead to a Venezuela-like crisis in food production. 

Update: Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018 at 6:45 PM EDT)

Tim Pool's take on all this in a video. Pool recommends this Newsweek article
Wikipedia attribution link for p.d. apartheid sign.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

House aims on countering Trump, improving immigration for some workers; more on DACA

Trump may be rehearsing his usual kudos and threats over an early fall government shutdown over funding to “build that wall”, but the House, in somewhat bipartisan fashion, recently approved a DHS funding bill. H.R. 392, which would allow more flexible in lawful visas for returning workers, including non-seasonal and now non-agricultural.  Furthermore, the bill would make it clear that gang violence and some domestic violence could be considered as credible fear items in asylum applications.

HR 392 is called the “Fairness for Highly Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017”, link here

David Bier explains in the Washington Examiner July 30, here

Informed Immigrant has an important post that will help some DACA adults renew their DACA status before fall despite Trump’s rollback on Obama’s order and Congress’s inconclusion on fixing DACA, here

On my IT Jobs blog Aug 1, I have another post on immigrants who depend on tips for income and a note about Sierra Leone.

Update: Aug 7

Vox (Dara Lind) explains just how complicated DACA has gotten, with litigation in Texas.  Congress needs to do its job. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

North Korea seems to be making ICBM's great again, after Singapore summit

Joby Warwick and Ellen Nakashima report US CIA or military intelligence photos suggesting North Korea has resumed production of more missiles and even ICBM’s, story and photo here

President Trump had suggested that North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat to the U.S. but admitted he had buttered up Kim Jon Jung to eliminate the threat.
Duck and cover wouldn’t be enough.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Kids being left behind as parents are deported; conservatives report smugglers deliberately take advantage of family separation crisis

As the Trump administration runs out of time to comply with a federal judge’s order on family separations, it’s finding that a number of kids are left behind after parents are deported.  Some parents fear taking their kids home to violence torn countries and leave them behind, after being given a Hobson’s choice (NBC News story ).   Who will raise the kids in the U.S.?
CNN warns that Congress needs to act on this quickly; Trump’s policies are unintentionally strengthening MS-13 in some parts of Central America and may make national security worse (two stories, one and two).

David Bier of the Cato Institute now reports on HR392 as improving fairness for highly skilled legal immigrants
But the Washington Examiner reports on smuggling of migrants complicating the job of legitimate border security, Anna Giaritelli writer.

Update: July 27

Michael Lavers of the Washington Blade has a detailed story on the situation in El Salvador, not just limited to trans and "obviously" gay people, but the entire security problem in general/  

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Litigation claims government undercounting allowable green cards for EB-5 immigrant investors

There is some legal controversy over the EB-5 immigrant investor program .

This program allows immigrants to get green cards (including spouses and dependent children under 21) when they make investments in a domestic US business and add ten or more jobs.
A group of 450 Chinese investors have filed suit concerning the way allowable slots for green cards are counted, as explained here on Business Wire.  

The suit maintains that family members of investors are counted illegally against a quote.
David J. Bier, an immigration policy analyst for the Cato institute, supplied some expert analysis here

Allowing any public benefit based on creating jobs is an interesting and challenging concept.
In another matter, Jason Dzubow offered a blog posting today on the Asylumist on how individuals can help asylum seekers, and it is indeed a moving target with poor guidance from government, and might involve some risk.  Individuals can help refugees through the supervision of social service agencies, but there is much less help for asylum seekers, by definition. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Iran could be prepping for cyber attack on US; so could Russia

Courtney Cube et al report for NBC News that Iran is preparing the possibility of a major cyberattack on the United States, story here.

But there was no evidence that a major attack is imminent.
Late Sunday, President Donald Trump tweeted in all caps a gaslighting threat to Iran.  David Hogg (and later his sister Lauren) jumped on this with viral retweets and rewrites, addressed to the president.
Democrats are claiming that the nuclear deal, which Trump canceled, really did pull the world back from a war in the middle East that might have happened around 2013 or so.
Whether Iran could actually reach the US power grid is debatable.  The article suggests DDOS attacks, but the actual nodes should not be reachable from the public Internet. David Sanger takes this up in his book “The Perfect Weapon” but doesn’t really show whether a really large purely cyber attack on the grid is possible.  EMP (especially E1, even non-nuclear) is another matter.
One possible risk could include attacks not only against poorly shielded commercial companies (like Sony, as well as large retailers and credit cards) but possibly against cyber accounts of individual Americans or non-profits, to create more discord even for law enforcement.  This idea hasn’t gotten much attention yet.

Update:  July 24

The Western Journal points out that Trump's threat to Iran could be related to the Strait of Hormuz closure threat back in the early 1980s, which was a threat to US oil supply then.  But it's attack on David Hogg is pretty silly.

The Wall Street Journal, in an article by Rebecca Smith, reinforces the NBC story on Russian cyber sabotage of utilities, across "air gaps" by going through suppliers with inside access to utilities but weak security themselves. This appeared separately from the NBC story on Iran. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Trump administration wants to eliminate all affirmative asylum seeking

As if Sessions’s announcements on eliminating gang and domestic violence as asylum credible fear reasons weren’t enough, not Caitlin Dickerson reports on p. A14 of the New York Times today that the Trump administration wants to eliminate all asylum seeking at the border (affirmative).
That is to see, the only way would be to be pre-approved as a refugee, or get a valid visa for another reason and then apply for asylum within one year. Here is the story 

I know that churches have sent people, even teens, to several Central American countries (some of my knowledge is detailed), so I am wondering if conditions in these countries are this horrible everywhere. This needs more investigation. The US may have forced the drug wars from Colombia north.

Doctors are reporting on the medical and mental dangers migrant children face in long detention, here

Jason Dzubow has an important blog post on the “clock running” on asylum seekers. /

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

CDC seems to recommend Ebola vaccine only in part of the Congo for now

Here is some more information that has come my way regarding vaccinations for third world (Africa) areas.

Apparently the Ebola vaccine is not completely licensed or easily available yet, and the CDC right now seems to be recommending it only for certain areas of the Congo(s). And some of the rural areas are very hard to reach, given also the refrigeration requirements. Scientific American has an article by Dina Fine Maron in May  2018 here
In Sierra Leone, CDC has not yet recommended the Ebola vaccine despite the history that the country was not declared Ebola-free until March 2016.
Picture of Freetown by Magnus Ohman, CCSA 1.0 Wikipedia.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Media reacts viscerally to Trump's appeasement of Putin; Anderson Cooper calls it "disgraceful"

The “liberal” media is furious. Trump’s photo-op in Helsinki was shameful. He blamed both countries. “We’re all to blame”.  Trump is still obsessed with Hillary’s emails.
Here’s the op-ed by Chris Cizilla. 

Fox News has an odd spin, that I haven’t dissected. What?  Putin wants Mueller to come to Moscow? Putin says he will offer to question the twelve Russian officers indicted, with Mueller present?? 

Here are Vox’s annotations of the remarks.  Vox is a moderate publisher politically. 

The Wall Street Journal tried to keep a neutral tone

Paul Ryan has issued a statement on the Russian meddling as unacceptable. 

Facebook friends have replaced “Poopiepants” with “Putinpants”.

 And Finland says it is the land of the free press. 

As if this weren’t enough, a federal judge has halted the deportations.  

Wikipedia attribution link for Trump baby balloon picture under CCSA 4.0 by Hammersfan.  

 Wikipedia has questioned the legal legitimacy of the photo.  The simplest idea is for a toy maker to sell replicas.  Too bad Toys ‘R” Us is gone.  Original artist (UK) is Matt Bonner.  Let’s hope he releases a license to manufacture replicas.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

US Intelligence warns we are on the precipice of a major cyber attack from abroad (Russia)

The Director of  US Intelligence, Dan Coats, warns that the “lights are blinking red” on the US vulnerability to cyber attack, in the wake of indictment of 12 Russian operatives by the DOJ, just as Putin plans to meet with Putin, story. Coats compared the warnings to those in the month before 9/11.  Yet the GOP wants to impeach the messenger, Rosenstein.

The focus seems to be on the midterm elections and on the vulnerability of US voters to fake news and rumors driven attributed to the alt right but possibly fed from overseas.  It’s literally stuff like “David Hogg is an alien” (or had a facelift).  It’s that silly.

I think that it is the illiteracy of a lot of the electorate is a big problem.  And bloggers don’t take personal responsibility for the literacy of their audience, who may take things way out of context and not even understand parody or satire.  We wind up with incidents like Comet Ping Pong.
Some readers have trouble grasping “meta-speech” and that this is not the same thing as advocacy.
    And that conjectures stated in subjunctive mood for debate aren’t intended to be received as fact.
But authoritarian leaders love the masses’s vulnerability to propaganda.
I’m now reading David Sanger’s “The Perfect Weapon”.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Informal hosting of (undocumented) "families belonging together" happening; Sessions doubles down on asylum

Two more quick immigration developments.

Marissa Lang and Arelis R. Hernandez report on p. A6 of the Washington Post on Thursday, July 12, 2018, “Stepping up to help migrant families There seems to be an informal network of homes for hosting and drivers for transport as a kind of “underground railroad”.  The overreaching organization "Immigrant Families Together: or “Informed Immigrant” that doesn’t seem to have a formal contact point for regular donations.  I’ll keep a close watch on whether there is anything I can do to “step up”.  I don’t have the house anymore for hosting (sold in Oct. 2017).  We’ve been down this path before the LGBTQ asylum seekers, even starting before the 2016 elections.

Tal Kopan of CNN reports that the U.S, will turn away far more asylum seekers at the border “under new guidance”.    It had been reported before that gang and domestic violence were no longer considered legitimate credible fear standards.  There seems to be a real controversy over whether someone can enter the country illegally (without external assistance) and still request asylum, but international law protocol maintains that generally they can.  However, persons fleeing “private” violence must be able to show that the government in the home country is unwilling or unable to intervene. 
Since some churches are willing to send youth groups on missions in Central American countries, there is a legitimate question if some areas are still relatively safe. Another question is whether the U.S. can assist these countries in restoring law in order in some areas so there is less reason for families to flee.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Singapore bans blogging about political issues by individuals, and most public assemblies

President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un met in Singapore recently, as widely reported.

Singapore is known for finicky lifestyle rules on litter, but it also is quite fussy about speech on the Internet. I don’t know how old this article is, but apparently it claims that Singapore bans blogging about political and social issues in any depth and even mentioning some things (like homosexuality). 
It also bans public gatherings without a permit (but does Russia). 
The article says that the restrictions may be reasonable as part of keeping harmony in an ethnically diverse city state where people live close together -- maybe as part of keeping a pro-business climate. But there is also a presumption in their system of thought that speakers are responsible for assessing the literacy of their audiences.  That’s an idea that has been creeping up in the US, given the 2016 election and then Charlottesville.

The idea reminds one of China’s plans for a personal “social credit score” by 2020.

It’s also illegal to Skype with a foreigner in a public place in Sinagpore. 

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Singapore’s “Speaker’s Corner” by Raynald Santika, CCSA 4.0

Saturday, July 7, 2018

North Korea seems to be slouching toward resuming nuclear and missile tests after Pompeo visit

Pompeo’s talks with North Korea did not go well, according to the hype. He did not meet with Kim Jong Un, whom Trump has buttered up, to avoid nuclear attack on US soil, according to Trump's own statements. 
Saturday morning they were reported as characterized as “regrettable” by North Korean news. But later today they were called “gangster-like” and “cancerous”, according to the Washington Post story  by John Hudson and Carol Morello.

Obviously, DPRK wants to see much more evidence that the US will wind down its own presence in the region and lift sanctions.

A big danger could come if North Korea were to resume missile tests, despite claims of having destroyed facilities in front of reporters like Will Ripley.
Emily Stewart has an article on Vox that will probably have to  be updated.

Update: July 12

North Korea failed to show up for a meeting at the DMZ today on repatriation of remains, Will Ripley. CNN

Thursday, July 5, 2018

DACA people tell harrowing stories of their youth on CNN, "How We Became Americans"

Look at this booklet-length article on CNN “How We Became Americans”, largely by DACA young adults now, link

One story in particular got my attention: Ana Rodriquez claims that Bill Clinton’s NAFTA agreement destroyed her parents’ agricultural business with lower prices, resulting in economic migration. On the surface, that might give some justification to Trump’s desire to break old trade agreements and impose tariffs.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Recent federal rulings throttling deportations and separations don't prevent authorities from threatening (would-be) asylum seekers with separation

Julian Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff report to NBC News an exclusive story, that parents are still forced to decide whether to leave with or without their children, in deportation, even after passing credible fear interviews or otherwise filing for asylum legally.  The link is here

The NBC story points out that the California judge’s opinion, reported on this blog June 27, did not forbid this practice.  The story does not mention or analyze the impact of a DC federal judge’s ruling (separate) reported here June 29, but common sense suggests that his second opinion could matter.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

NYTimes reports that ISIS was very effective with local policing

Rukmini Callimachi has a detailed, booklet length story about ordinary police work and justice under ISIS when it controlled Mosul, Iraq, “In ISIS Territory, Justice was swift for petty beefs”, link (paywall). 

The writer has many other articles about ISIS in her library at the Times.

But it seems that in local matters, ISIS was surprisingly efficient, with “broken windows” policing.
I had a coworker when I worked for the Minnesota Orchestra years ago with relatives in Mosul.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

North Korea seems to be cheating on dismantling nukes, may be making fuel

North Korea is said to be making nuclear fuel at three or more sites, according to US intelligence, as in this ABC story, link
North Korea may believe it can hide this activity to keep out from under Trump’s sanctions. Donald Trump has not yet publicly reacted to these reports.
It’s even more bizarre because Kim Jong Un is supposed to visit Trump in Washington.  Could Kim really risk traveling so far?

Update: July 3

Hankyoreh, a site in South Korea, discusses the pragmatic aspects of Trump's buttering up Kim Jong Un here

Friday, June 29, 2018

Trump's DOJ wants to bar asylum at any illegal border entry

Dara Lind on Vox reports on a DOJ plan to bar asylum claims from all people who enter the country illegally (not at points of entry) after apprehension.  It would not affect people who reach a legal point of entry and ask for asylum, or who (within the one year period) ask for asylum after overstaying a visa. 

A Washington Post op-ed by Lindsay M. Harris asks why Trump and Sessions “act this way” in trying to criminalizing asylum seekers from Central America. The short answer is, they believe the world is a zero-sum game and they think they are beholden to an anti-immigrant base that, largely incorrectly, think that immigrants took away their jobs or committed crimes against them (in isolated cases, this does happen).

Update: Tuesday, July 3

A federal judge in Washington DC has ordered the Trump administration to follow the law and allow asylum seekers to file applications normally, and especially not detain them illegally after passing a credible fear interview.  The legal details seem a bit complex and could take time to sort out (with regard to Sessions on disqualifying gang activity as a factor, and on illegal entry). More detailed posts will come later (maybe on my Wordpress blog) as there is a lot of material here to go over.

Richard Gonzales has a typical story on NPR here.

The case is Damus v. Nielsen

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Credible reports of young minors forced to appear alone in border immigration courts; Save the Children's "zero tolerance"

There are grotesque reports from the border that toddlers as young as three are showing up in court alone, and NBC News seems to confirm it. 

 There is a page at the Save The Children site with an “emergency alert” and its own “Zero Tolerance”, here

Putting this all together, it would sound as though the government will have problems finding relatives to sponsor the separated children (unless they are indeed reunited with their parents as the court order from California decreed yesterday).  How would this jive with the STC sponsorship programs, which right now are reversible.   A quick look at sponsorship requests showed one in El Salvador open for about 18 months.
STC is one of the beneficiaries in my own estate trust(s), so this is a personally sensitive and provocative issue.  Skin in the game? 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Federal judge in California orders ends to family separations at border

A federal judge ordered that the Trump administration halt most family separations at the US border, as in a CNN story, by Laura Jarrett. 

Except for unfit parents, all children have to be reunified within 30 days, and all 5 year olds or less within 14 days.  This ruling would seem to override the Flores Settlement. 

Appeals are likely. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Supreme Court's upholding of Trump Travel Ban #3 still stirs outrage and demonstrations, even given national security arguments from the Court

Yes, there is a lot of demonstration about the Supreme Court’s ruling that Travel Ban #3 is constitutional.

The president’s power to call his own shots over national security “trump” over the appearance of incidental religious discrimination.

The majority (in the 5-4 opinion) noted that the countries involved covered 8% of the world’s Muslims, and two of the countries (Venezuela and North Korea) were not.

"Commie" Venezuela had been predicted as a possible source of a large number of future asylum claims. 

NBC News noted that Justice Roberts did go out of his way to condemn the internment of Japanese Nisei during WWII.

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake offered an annotated interpretation of the ruling, here

Trump’s statements during the 2016 campaign were discounted by the court.

USA Today, however, published a lengthy argument that the travel ban is still religious discrimination, here.  Fareed Zakaria also recommended reading Adam Serwer's analysis in The Atlantic. 

Michael K. Lavers reports on LGBT groups pointing the harm to LGBT persons in these countries (especially Muslim countries).  For the most part, however, there have been relatively few gay asylum cases from these countries, compared to Russia, Nigeria, some other sub-Saharan countries, and Egypt.

In another matter, Senator Diane Feinstein says that the Trump administration is not uniting parents in detention with their kids and that he his using the kids as pawns to get the parents to drop asylum claims, link.