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.

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. 
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. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

China's intends to export Internet authoritarian culture to the rest of the world; this may even help drive EU changes to copyright

The Atlantic has a disturbing article in the Atlantic, June 18, “Beijing wants to rewrite the rules of the Internet”, story, June 18, about a speech Xi Jingping gave in April.

Some of the points in the article sound predictable – that tech companies selling to China have to make China-only versions (and then you get into the Trump tariffs and trade war issues).  

But Xi Jingping is selling the idea in Africa, particularly to less democratic (and probably homophobic) countries like Nigeria.  European companies are probably more vulnerable to changes in Internet governance in developing countries than is big tech in the US now. 
But the trend is not good.  It is to withdraw and disable the free-flowing participation of individuals in political debate now, which China and authoritarian countries see as destabilizing because it feeds on class resentments and unsustainable ideas of individualism. The Internet should be institutionalized the way everything else is, which sounds suspiciously like the “Digital Single Market” idea in the EU, and the recent Copyright Directive changes (Articles 11 – link tax, and 13 – pre-upload monitoring and filtering) that is attracting so much attention now.  (The EU passed a preliminary vote on this matter today, and the entire EU Parliament could vote in December – I covered this on Wordpress.) 
The West is allowing communism to creep into its own political thinking again, even as it looks only at the right wing separatist movements. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Trump makes a deal with the devil (not his first) to get a promise for total denuclearization of DPRK

There is plenty of effusive criticism this morning for Trump’s behavior in giving accolades to Kin Jong Un, with all his hyperbole, months after calling him “little rocket man” and being called a “dotard” back.
Vox talks about the Senate Republicans waffling on this here
Of course, getting North Korea to get rid of its nukes in a verifiable way would be a tremendous accomplishment for any president.

But this is the kind of behavior that in my own life I find so offensive to engage in personally, like on social media – or to sell to people.  I don’t like to indulge people at all.

Vox has a “Today explained” Podcast on Apple iTunes that would take time to listen to. 
The brutal dictatorship continues.  But maybe America is a tad, or even a lot, safer.

Update: June 15

This morning, when Trump was asked why he coddled a vicious dictator at Singapore, Trump answered bluntly (on CNN), "I don't want to see a nuclear war destroy you and your family."

Monday, June 11, 2018

Sessions nixes gang violence as a credible fear for asylum seekers; Trump's summit seems to have a good first inning

Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that gang violence and domestic violence will no longer be allowed as credible fear reasons for asylum seekers, a measure which would affect asylum seekers mainly from Central America.

The New York Times story by Katie Brenner and Caitlin Dickerson is here. 

It is not likely to affect LGBT asylum seekers particularly.  The legal reasoning seems to be that gang and domestic violence is not caused by government.  But if extended to some countries in Africa, would this reasoning apply to female mutilation? 

Jason Dzubow considers the decision "not so bad" as he explains on The Asylumist here

Trump reports that the Summit with Kim Jong Un is off to a good start (CNN). 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Trump goes ballistic in Canada, on the even of Singapore summit

On the eve of a summit in Singapore, Trump goes wild, partly on Twitter, at a G7 Micro-summit in Canada.

Trump seemed to be saying that he would go along with free trade for everyone, and then blasted an insult at Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau (who is cute). Is the PM “meek and mild” or reneging on a promise?  Not sure.  

How does this make Trump look going into the Summit?  Unclear.

Vox explains in an article by Zeehan Aleem.  
There's all the stuff about wanting to re-admit Russia despite Crimea. 
Trump says he will send a signal right away in the first moments of the meeting as to go, no-go. 

The meeting is held on a secure island right off the coast of Singapore. The press has been critical of Singapore’s authoritariansism.  For example, Singapore still has a male-only sodomy law (not enforced).  But that’s where many states in the US were until June 2003. More importantly, Singapore doesn’t allow demonstrations.
No, I wasn't invited to go. 

 In the meantime, I should apologize to Canadian actor Richard Harmon ("the greatest of all time" as per Timo) for Trump's behavior, as an American wanting to get a movie made. "Blame Canada" indeed. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Summit back on, Kim Jong Un sends Trump "The Manifesto"

Now, the summit back on for June 12.  I don’t know if I would count on it for sure, given the yoyo history of this child's-play diplomacy.

Furthermore, Kim Jong Un wrote a “manifesto” which was delivered to Trump, after the physical package was examined by Secret Service.

Because of a “degrees of separation” process, Trump may vaguely know of my DADT book series and that is has been called “The Manifesto.”  What will pass through his mind now?

Here is the CNN story, by Lindsay Benson. 
Maybe Will Ripley should run for president in 2020.  He is old enough (not by much).

Thursday, May 31, 2018

EU's GDPR rules might hamper terror investigations and facilitate some specific kinds of hacking

An important op-ed on p. A19 of the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, May 31, 2018 by Brian E. Finch and Steven P. Farmer, illustrated by Phil Foster, talks about how the EU’s recent GDPR implementation may inadvertently facilitate cycbercrime and hacking, especially domain name theft or takeover, that seems to be happening more.  This could be a major "unintended consequence" for consumers, even outside the EU. 

The article is “The E.U.’s Gift to Cybercriminals” explains how locking down WHOIS information can make domain theft more likely, and can hamper anti-terror investigations.
A recent story in Medium by Battelle also goes into how GDPR could make it much harder for startups to compete with larger companies in building up subscriber lists because of encouraging consumer reticence, something I notice in my own behavior.  I’ll come back to this later.
Picture: Border station at Pharr, TX: my visit, yesterday.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Why are children separated from asylum-seeking parents at the US southern border?

Here is a disturbing narrative from Marian G., an asylum seeker from Hondouras, on CNN as an op-ed
The title is eye-catching, “At the border, my son was taken from me”. 

She was finally granted asylum and reunited with her son.

But the son was in a “federally” run foster home while she was in detention near the border. I’ve nevezr heard of federally sponsored foster care, or of any quasi-private sponsorship program for asylum seekers and their children;  most of it is grass roots and off the books run by local groups (as with LGBT) and involves some risk taking by the volunteers. 

That should be differentiated from sponsorship for refugees, which exists for small groups in Canada.  In the US, large social service organizations, under DHS, supervise churches and non-profits who assign many volunteers to one refugee family.

Newsweek has a short article explaining that Sessions claims that the measure discourages parents from bringing kids into the country illegally, but it is legal once you ask for asylum!  The Los Angeles Times weighs in with an editorial.

Update: May 31

USA Today offers an op-ed explaining how families can be reunite quickly most of the time, here (with video).  Opposing view by Andrew Arthur.  It will take some care analysis to compare the points and figure all this out,

And Arizona Gannett has a story here.

Update: June 14

Paul Ryan wants the GOP to develop a bill to prevent family separation at the border, as Democrats have proposed already in bills, CNBC story.

The LA Times has a chilling story of what happens inside a Texas youth migrant shelter, here.

Update: June 20

Trump signed an XO regarding separation while keeping "zero tolerance", story.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Ebola vaccine used in the Congo (Democratic Republic)

Julia Belluz of Vox explains how the new Ebola vaccine is being used now in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, link here.
One wonders, with a vaccine in development and on shelf so long, why it wasn’t usable in 2014.

Jack Andraka reported that he’ll go to west Africa for a research project this summer (from Stanford).  It would sound like this vaccine should be mandatory.  While we’re at it, remember that college campuses should insist on both meningitis vaccines (A and B). 

I’m a big believer in prevention.
Wikipedia attribution link, photo of quarantine card by Julia Broska, CCSA 4.0.

Monday, May 21, 2018

North Korea summit to be held in Singapore seems to be in trouble; then what? (Oh, "We'll see what happens!")

Trump’s planned summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un seems to be “going off the rails”, as in this Voix article by Zach Beauchamp, rather like a lab experiment filled with tweets. 
Christine Kim at el have a more detailed story on Reuters, over the gulf on what “denuclearization” really means.  South Korea’s Moon may have spun too optimistic a sales pitch.  The UK independent discusses the ‘”talk about the talks” here.
Would South Korea accept a much reduced presence of US troops, if there were some sort of international supervision (even from China) to make sure nuclear activity doesn’t continue?
The press says Trump has bragged about his “accomplishment” before it could come to pass. 

Trump says, "we'll see what happens." 

If the talks fall apart, would North Korea resume testing its missiles?  A bloody nose attack sounds rather unthinkable.  For the US, an EMP threat could linger if the tension remains.   The release of three prisoners however would help release some tensions.
But Trump is now said to have been briefed on unconventional attacks like EMP, probably in March.

Update: May 22

Trump says June 12 summit may well not happen. Trump said to want to buy back NK nukes for big bucks, infrastructure assistance to DPRK.

CNN's Will Ripley is on a train to see the beginnings of some denuclearization today, tweet.

Update: May 24

Trump cancels the summit, over displeasure over bellicose statements.  He says he is open to talking later.  Wait and see. Will Ripley comments on the CNN link.

Update: May 25

Well, maybe he can uncancel it.  Trump waffles.  It's impossible for a blog like this to keep up.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Vox explains the stakes in North Korea, and the ambiguity in statements of Pompeo, Bolton; EMP threat hasn't gone away; DPRK threatens to cancel

Vox has an important story on the goals in the negotiations coming up soon in Singapore, by Alex Ward. 

There is some scuttle going on.  Bolton has said that North Korea has to denuclearize pretty much completely to be a “normal nation”.  But Pompeo seems more concerned to make sure North Korea can’t hit the US with a nuclear weapon.

Don’t lose sight of the EMP issue.  Free Thought has a major banner story on this today, about declassified Pentagon reports on the subject. 


North Korea threatens to cancel the June 12 summit of US exercises, Yahoo.  Alex Ward on Vox writes that this is likely a bluff, according to "experts".  But Trump seems to have gotten the news about this from the media he hates; he was blindsided. 

There are also reports that Trump wanted to evacuate military families from South Korea before the Winter Olympics. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

North Korea will really destroy its nuclear test site?

Don't know if I believe DPRK will blow up its nuclear test site, until I see it. But here's one story.  The site maybe already be compromised by self-caused earthquakes.

US says it will not stop defense of South Korea.

Pentagon did not look very busy in the wee hours of Sunday morning as I rode home in a cab from the bars.

CNN'w Wolf Blitzer recently visited Cheyenne Mountain NORAD facility in Colorado. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Trump claims he conceded nothing to get the three prisoners from North Korea back

Donald Trump maintains that he gave no concessions (didn’t “pay”) for the release of three prisoners from North Korea, who came home today. Brett Samules reports for The Hill (conservative). 
The release does take a little pressure off the upcoming Summit, as it is a fait accompli now.  But some observers say that Trump’s reneging on Iran will complicate the summit.
The Summit is going to be held on Tuesday June 12, 2018 in Singapore, a moderately authoritarian country.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Trump, as expected, pulls the plug on Iran and may have escalated the risk of war

I was conveniently home when Donald Trump gave his bombastic speech pulling the plug on Obama’s Iran deal.  I thought this sounded like a day in May a year ago when he pulled out of the climate accords.

All the “elitist experts” on CNN say that the international inspections of Iran were working, and that the agreement made it possible to “watch” Iran, which is not possible for North Korea.  But possibly Trump thinks that watching is just staring. Is this Trump’s idea of “No spectatiors” at Burning Man?

“Vox explains” all this about as well as anyone else, here. It’s like a 5-2 loss in a baseball game. 

Facing renewed sanctions, Iran is likely to get belligerent.  Syria is where we would first see the symptoms, and Israel will be so much more on edge.
My own sense is that Trump may have complicated things for us and himself with North Korea, after a lot in the past few weeks has sounded quite encouraging.

I remember the days of the Iran Hostage Crisis and the EDS rescue, but I don't think Shiite is as potentially ideologically dangerous as some of the Saudi world.

Barack Obama called Trump's action on JCPOA as "misguided", Facebook post here

Monday, May 7, 2018

Trump's plan to penalize immigrants who use welfare benefits draws rancor and could lead to underground calls for hosting

The Trump administration is proposing a plan to penalize legal immigrants who use public benefits.  An immigrant who takes welfare or food stamps or some other immigration benefit (like after getting asylum or even passing the waiting period, or who came here legally with a visa) would be penalized in getting a green card later. Nick Miroff has the story March 28 in the Washington Post. 

This could lead to situations where there is more social pressure (as from churches) for people to host immigrants and actually support them as dependents.  Right now, asylum seekers (as in the LGBT community) often use publicly funded clinics for health care.  It's important to remember that the US does not have an individualized refugee sponsorship program comparable to Canada's. 

America’s Voice sent out a press release referring to the plan Monday morning.