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. 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

TPS removal for Honduran immigrants; more on asylum near the California border

The Trump administration has removed temporary protected status from about 57000 people from Houduras, who could face deportation by 2020.
Generally, people would have had to ask for asylum within a year of arriving.  Being from a country, without TPS, doesn’t qualify for asylum; being a member of a particular social group might, although that is getting harder. 

The New Yorker ran a story about a gay asylum seeker from Honduras in January.

The San Diego Tribune reported that all members of the Caravan are now in the US, link.

However, the migrants themselves chose who would be the first group to apply for asylum, mostly pregnant women or mothers with small children.  But again, to qualify for asylum, the migrants will have to establish more than just the countries they come from.
A good question is why more isn’t done about the horrible corruption in some Central American countries.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Malaysia passes and enforces law against fake news even on private citizens

A man was sentenced to a month in jail in Malaysia for posting a falsely critical story of police response on Facebook.

The Verge reports here.  In some parts of the world, governments really are cracking down on “amateur reporting”, whether politically motivated or not.

However some accounts call this the first law against fake news with criminal penalties for citizens.
Even Putin tells Russians that he’ll promise them a good life but he doesn’t want them speaking out on their own!