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 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Speakers_Corner_1.jpg

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.