Wednesday, October 31, 2018

In Europe, free speech is an alienable right

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

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

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

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

Asylumist has a major post explaining HIAS for refugee services. 

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

Sunday, October 28, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 27, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 19, 2018

Trump's pressure on Mexico leads to stoppage of migrants leaving Guatemala

Mexico, because of pressure from Donald Trump, is trying to keep a controversial procession of migrants from Honduras and other places from crossing from Guatemala into Mexico, Yahoo! story here

Guatemala as a country has allowed US faith-based groups to improve its infrastructure, like water systems. 
There remain good questions as to whether Mexico could accept more refugees or asylum seekers.

The ability of a country to accept more migrants for humanitarian reasons (as opposed to skills) should depend on the ability of the country to find private persons or families to take responsibility for sponsoring them.  Canada does this. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Washington Post publishes Khashoggi's last column; how Facebook was misused in Myanmar

Here is Jamal Khashoggi’s last column, in Arabic, which the Washington Post has finally published.   The “translate to English” button on Google Chrome does work.

The Post also as a detailed story on Saudi subterfuge, to spy on his cell phone (leading to his attempts to buy other sim cards) and attempts to bring him back to the kingdom.  And Saudi Arabia has kidnapped dissidents from other Arab countries.

The article seems like a sobering reminder of what the Electronic Frontier Foundation preaches – that community hygiene on communications matters:  those not in danger can indirectly cast danger on those who are.  On p. 17 of my DADT-3 book, I see a sobering reminder of how authoritarian values can arise from personal values – and I note toward the end of the paragraph how authoritarian systems sometimes collapse from within, as started with the Arab Spring, but how mass self-published communications systems can suddenly be subverted. Note, for example, Paul Mozur’s recent story on how this led to genocide in Myanmar.
Update: Oct 19 
Saudi Arabia's major admission today of a "fight club". 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Khashoggi case brings up case of safety of people outside authoritarian countries they came from

I haven’t gotten to this yet, but CNN reports on Turkey’s evidence of the possible extra-judicial murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, link

Saudi Arabia may have intended to lure Jamal out of the US to Saudi Arabia, and an attack inside the consulate in Turkey was the “backup plan”.
 We see problems with China sometimes kidnapping people from Hong Kong, or possibly Thailand, and North Korea has kidnapped from Japan before. 

Update: Oct. 15

Saudi Arabia said to be prepared to confess the death occurred during an interrogation gone wrong, NY Post story.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Clinton Foundation weighs in on LGBTQ asylum seekers

The Clinton Foundation offers, on Medium, and article about Katie Sgarro and her work at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for LGBTQ asylum seekers, here

However the article dates back mainly to work in 2014, before the climate became much more difficult with Trump’s election
Remember, it wasn’t common to ask the public to assist with housing until the summer of 2016 (before the election) when some mainstream churches with strong youth departments became vocal on the problem (as they were with World Vision, etc), even outside conventional LGBTQ organizations. Previously, there had been sporadic reports on individual cases (especially from Russia) in the gay press.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Trump and Pompeo pretend to be denuclearizing DPRK (??)

Alex Ward of Vox is appropriately skeptical of Pompeo’s (and Trump’s) claims of recent progress toward denuclearization of North Korea, as explained here

Apparently the facility where Kim had tested a “hydrogen bomb” back in September 2017 had already been destroyed.

It’s like handing in the same term paper twice.
Then there is the question as to whether the US should sign some sort of “non-binding” peace treaty.
Today, of course, we know Nikki Haley stepped down and “quit when she was ahead”.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Export control and Treasury department rules has led US web hosts to close accounts of some legal foreign nationals for years

Since there has been a lot of attention to deplaforming some individuals and groups from not only social media but from conventionally hosted web sites since the Charlottesville riots in the U.S. in August 2017, it is only natural to go back and look for possible previous examples of similar practices.
A number of web hosts will not allow people from “blacklisted” countries or “rogue states” to have accounts on their platforms. The legal reason for this practice is supposedly US export controls (Commerce Department), which include encryption, which is common with all web hosting. Another reason is Treasury Department rules which ban companies from doing business with certain individuals in a few countries.  These might be difficult for web hosts to comply with (in an analogy to downstream liability issues in the US like Section 230, and DMCA for copyright).

In an article about Bluehost, Wikipedia notes an incident in 2009 reported in Newsweek (Evgeny Morovo) where the company canceled an account of a legal resident from Belarus (the account was professional).  Other countries involved in these possible “self-censorshop_include Myanmar, Cuba, North Korea (of course), Sudan (not sure on South Sudan), Zimbabwe, and some countries in the former Yugoslavia.   Some companies probably will not do business in Russia or China.

Wikipedia also notes that a few companies belonging to the Endurance group were hacked in 2015 by elements of the “Syrian Electronic Army” supposedly supporting Assad.
Companies may face challenges complying with Articles 11 and 13 of the new European Copyright Directive as it is rolled out, with regard to materials originating in the US but viewable in the EU, especially if the companies have operations in the EU.  It is unclear whether a holding company owning web hosts could reduce legal exposure by simply not allowing some subordinates to operate in the EU.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

A lot of South Koreans seem to fear Moon Jae-in will allow communism to take over the South

At an outdoor farmer’s market in Arlington VA today I had a conversation with a South Korean native business owner, who had been there recently and who implied that South Korean president Moon Jae-in is “communist” himself.
Indeed, Moon seems to week something closer to unification and a peace treaty (and I asked if that would mean communism or expropriation comes to the South), as in this USA Today article by Thomas Maresca on Aug. 15, here.

And earlier this year, in March, after the thaw started, a BBC correspondent  Laura Bicker was criticized when her remarks were seen as calling Moon “communist”, Catherine  Chung story here. Bicker’s original column here.

 And here’s a post Olympics piece in SCMP by David Volodzko, here
Given my own Army experience in the Vietnam era, this all seems so ironic given the hard-line domino theory of the past.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Trump's tribalism continues to penalize immigrant minors' but more on "family loophole"

The New York Times has several editorials on Trump’s immigration policies, including recent proposals to deny green cards to legal residents who even think about using public services.  It’s not hard to imagine how this will cost everyone in the future.

But the most telling op-ed may be this one on p. A24 of Tuesday’s paper: “Policy for Migrant Kids: Rot in the Desert”.  This concerns kids who crossed the border as unaccompanied minors. It sounds reasonable at first for the administration to screen sponsors carefully and limit them to family.  But fewer extended family will step forward if they themselves are undocumented, which means that bigger tent cities (rather like Army Special Training Company) near Tornillo, TX.

Update: Oct. 3

But Stephan Dinan on the Washington Times writes today about men sneaking minors across the border illegally, here. He claims they are 40% of illegal immigrant parents, exploiting an indirect "family loophole" (Florence, etc.).  When I see relatively polarized positions taken by different newspapers they are often simultaneously "true".