Tuesday, December 31, 2019

PragerU presents an interesting take on democracy in a fragile Islamic country

I found this PragerU video today, about whether Sharia and Democracy can coexist in Pakistan.

The incident the video describes is horrific.  But the video makes the point that the extremist parties are multiple and fractured.  If they came together, they would make Pakistan into another Saudi Arabia, to say the least. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Senate needs to call and hear John Bolton, and his comments on North Korea really matter right now

ABC News provided more coverage of Kim Jong Un’s possible “Christmas present”, which Donald Trump sounded blasé about from his desk in his resort at Mar a Lago today.  “We’ll see what happens.”

USA Today, in a story by Jeanine Santucci, reports on Bolton’s tweets and articles, to the effect that Trump really does not have a policy to deter North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and missiles that can reach the US, and that Trump is playing a rhetorical game.
Axios has an article by Jonathan Swan that “goes deeper” Dec 22, link.
Democrats want the Senate to call John Bolton to testify in any impeachment trial, but did not try to do so themselves, claiming that courts could delay the impeachment.


Update: Dec. 25

A speaker on CNN reminded viewers today that apparently North Korea had never proven it could launch an ICBM that could survive re-entry.  Maybe it has now.  But even without that possibility, it could try a high-altitude EMP blast, maybe a test over the mid Pacific.

The Washington Post has a sobering article by Joby Warwick Christmas Day which includes speculative discussion of possible DPRK submarines and anti missile detection technology.  It also reposted an article from Bloomberg by Jon Herslovitz (paywall). 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

More nuanced interpretations on CBS (from Trump's own camp at Bedminster) of Kim Jong Un's Christmas card

CBSN interviews prof. Chang in Bedminster NJ, recommending that the US pay more attention to Kim Jong Un’s increase of missile test threats, probably a long range test right after Jan 1, 2020.

North Korea has taken a vacation from this while doing unit testing under the radar right now.  And Peter Bergen’s recent book explains Trump’s softening in March 2018 as a response to South Korea’s overtures right after the Winter Olympics (p. 214-215);  my book review will come later.  But Trump’s softening did not lead to the respite from long range tests, as Trump claims;  North Korea’s work schedule did.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

CNBC studies health care in other countries: Germany

CNBC explains with a recent video, “How Germany’s Universal Health-Care System Works”

The main point is to make the commitment to cover everybody.

Germany has a private and public system with mandatory insurance and carefully managed premiums and actuarial rating. But it spend less per patient than American systems and has better outcomes.
CNBC covers some other countries, which we’ll cover over time. 
In the US, a federal judge has thrown out the individual mandate as potentially unconstitutional since Trump’s tax package removed the “tax” penalty.

I visited Berlin and Dresden in 1999.  I also visited Germany by Eurailpass in 1972 and saw the East German border from the train. 
By Mfield, Matthew Field, http://www.photography.mattfield.com; edit by Waugsberg (rotation 0,4°) - Own work, GFDL 1.2, Link

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Gay "civil union" in Israel, which still does not formally recognize gay marriage, but accepted gays in the military long before the U.S. did

Although Israel has been seen as progressive on LGBT issues, allowing (even requiring) gays to serve in the military after about 1992, it does not fully recognize gay marriage, although it recognizes gay marriages from other countries. (Rand corporation had used Israel as an example in recommending how to lift the ban in the U.S.) 

The video above notes a same-sex wedding, which is more what we would call a civil union. 
Wikipedia: By Foto: Bernd Schwabe in Hannover - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Fareed Zakaria: Democracy is in recession (to quote a Stanford professor)

Liberty and Law Are Under Attack WorldWide;  Consider the Impeachment Crisis in that Context” Fareed Zakarai opines on CNN, Washington Post op-ed today here. Fareed presented this on his Global Public Square on CNN this morning. 
All over the west, even with the Brexit rout, voters seem to want voters and jobs and are willing to accept more rules to see others toe the line.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Singapore court considers its sodomy law, to follow the recent example of India among former British colonies

Singapore has a court battle going on about whether to declare its anti-gay sodomy law, 377A, unconstitutional.

A complication comes from the fact that there are two laws, 377 and 377A, to cover different forms of gay male sex, and sex among lesbians is legal (SCMP article).

Singapore has always been a socially strict conservative country because it feels it needs to be stable for business.  It also has housing laws that require some ethnic balance in condos and apartments.

Singapore has what is practically the inside of an O’Neill cylinder at its airport.

Despite the social conservatism, it has a low birthrate (CNA News). 

Wikipedia attribution: By Matteo Morando - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Saturday, December 7, 2019

North Korea suddenly reported to have conducted a major solid fuel test; protests return in France

North Korea is said to have conducted a solid fuel test today, as a possible prelude to another ICBM test of a missile capable of reaching the US. (CNN)  

North Korea also has said that “denuclearization is off the table” but seems to insist on resuming some sort of discussion in December, even as the impeachment vote comes up.
Will Ripley of CNN tweeted a picture of the DPRK test site tonight. 

Trump blew the idea off and said Kim isn't interested in interfering with our elections. Unfortunately, Trump doesn't make very interesting videos.  Consider this now:

Also, Timcast has a disturbing video about the lastest protests in France, and a very disturbing take on them.  Ford Fischer, with steel pot and avoid tear gas himself. had covered similar protests in February for News2share (content that YouTube would soon demonetize).  What is so disturbing now is that MoveOn seems to be calling for similar massive protests here. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

North Korea sends cryptic threat of a "Christmas Present" if Trump doesn't respond to their "offers" this month

AOL has republished a Business Insider story that North Korea has sent a cryptic warning to the US to expect a “Christmas present” if it does not make progress in “talks” this month, link here

North Korea had promised to stop testing of ICBM’s or similar missiles in April 2018 but many in the intelligence community are not convinced (BI story)

A “Christmas present” or New Years could be a longer missile test, or possibly a demonstration of an ability to make an EMP attack, from a satellite or missile, or perhaps some kind of cyberattack (that sounds harder for them to do now).  EMP by non-nuclear magnetic flux is possible and has been used on the ground in the middle East. The US had contemplated a flux attack in early 2018 on some of North Korea’s facilities (which might be protected by being largely underground) in early 2018 before Trump toned his talk down around the first of March, after the Olympics.

Trump is reported today in some conservative outlets to have, when meeting in the EU with NATO,  renewed his threat of military action against DPRK “if we have to”

NBC News offered a video (with ads that seem inappropriate for the material) speculating a long missile test or nuclear test. The video is a little more alarming than the text Associated Press article.

It strikes me that this matter is especially provocative in that Santa Claus would pay his visit right at the time of an impeachment vote, perhaps.  Really getting dangerous.  Isn't anybody connecting the dots? 
Wikipedia attribution link for P.D. photo of Trump in DMZ in 2019

Friday, November 29, 2019

London Bridge attack today confounds usual divisions in journalism between right and left

The earliest information coming out of London is that the perpetrator of the knife attack, Usman Khan, had been in prison for earlier offense.

You can interpret this in a few ways.  If the UK were more lax on guns, he could have killed more people.  But you could turn this around and argue that the pedestrians could have defended themselves, from an asymmetric attack.
The citizens who stepped up like unarmed soldiers became casualties.
CNN has always been hawkish on national security for all western countries despite its reputation for being on the Left.

London Bridge special web picture on wikipedia. I crossed it myself on foot in Nov. 1982. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Greenhouse gas emissions increasing even more rapidly than expected

Somini Sengupta writes in the New York Times Tuesday about a newer United Nations report that indicates greenhouse gasses are increasing even much more rapidly than expected.  

Governments are planning top produce about 50% more fossil fuels by 2030 than is consistent with keeping warming by 2050 to 1.5 C.  

The BBC reports that tipping points can be reached at only 1-2 degrees C increase rather than 5 degrees, and refers to a Nature article with a world map showing nine specific areas of greatest concern. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Trump administration wants to make asylum seekers wait longer to work

Yael Sachacher has an important op-ed in the Washington Post today, “Why forbidding asylum seekers from working undermines the right to seek asylum”, link here  (paywall).

The Trump administration has proposed a rule to go in the Federal register extending the waiting time before asylum seekers (at least from some Central American countries) beyond the 180 days.

The opinion piece considers this to violate international law, as undermining a right to survive.

The policy seems motivated by Trump’s base, by fear of job market competition (where in many cases there are labor shortages), and fear of gang associations (which is problematic, because generally Central American immigrants have lower crime rates than Americans, but there are some unpredictable risks).
The only way to bridge this gap is to encourage private sponsorship efforts, which right now are informal.  Pay attention to Canada.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Western China's not-so-hidden abuse of Muslim populations, being overlooked while Hong Kong goes on

While violence seems to surge again in Hong Kong, in western China (Xingjiang) Uyghur peoples are severely monitored with kids and some parents kept in reeducation camps to become “Chinese”.

The Washington Post has a detailed story by Lateshia Beachum. 

This shows how for China will go to discipline and socialize its outlier peoples. 
 The people often practice Islam and look Caucasian.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Independent media noticing the bombing and gang events in Sweden, especially Malmo

There are increasing reports, mainly in independent and sometimes conservative Media, that some areas of Sweden, especially Malmo, are getting overrun with criminal gang attacks and bombings, and burglaries. Quillette has a recent story by Henrik Jonsson, “Abandoning Malmo to its Criminals”. 

Andy Ngo mention this story on Twitter.  It refers to an early story that presents a particularly shocking picture of Malmo.

Tim Pool described real problems in Sweden in 2017, after a trip subsidized by Watson, and criticized by some as “helicopter journalism”.   His explanation here is pretty lucid, about the quibbling in the discussion.

He recently posted another discussion of the recent bombings especially in Malmo.

I have a friend in NYC who came from Germany and told me about similar problems in Berlin when I saw her in September 2016 (before the election).  In Germany there is suppression of criticism of hospitality to migrants and the apparent personal risks for people there it may cause.
I visited Sweden in myself in early August 1972, taking the train to Kiruna from Narvik.  Some one tried to “pick me up” in a hotel in Kiruna, an odd place for a solicitation. The iron mines in the distance are spectacular.  I met a student from Montreal on the train back to Stockholm, and corresponded with him for two or three years. 

By Fpo74 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Conservative YouTube channel claims China is accusing the CIA of promoting feminization of men in Asia

“Black Pigeon Speaks”, whose YouTube channel was briefly banned (he is a normal conservative) reports that China has accused the American CIA of encouraging “feminization” of men in Asia. This sounds a little like an expansion of the “Manchurian candidate” idea (guess who that is).

This started in Japan after WWII (maybe understandable), spread to Korea in the 1980s as the South Korean government wanted to distract citizens from politics, and then to China.

He talks about “soy boys” in the West (I think Eduardo discussed this in a video, and probably Tim Pool) and “meat” in Asian countries.  China has complained that is men are being “sissified”.
The video seems also aimed at those who want to see gender fluidity be seen as OK.

BPS also notes that physically stronger and more physically attractive men (including gay men – Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell is a good example) tend to be more conservative (or at least libertarian) politically, and resent the intersectionalities imposed by the far Left.  There are cultural splits growing in LGBTQ communities in all western countries.
BPS also avoids using the term “Nazi” in the video at all, which Tim Pool has said gets videos removed.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Job market and training in Kenya, hampered by social values?

Someone sent me a story about a job skills “boot camp” in Moringa, Kenya, noting that university graduates do not find jobs there.

The mismatch between education in these countries and jobs may be leftover from colonialism and may well be complicated by antiquated social values (and homophobia), which makes volunteerism and foreign assistance (except from non-democratic countries) difficult.  It may be difficult for large western companies to function well, which tends to make these countries targets for China, Russia, etc (even North Korea).  So the bad faith influence of some “evangelists” in the past may be bad for security now.
Wikipedia  child labor in Kenya picture: 
By Kabai Ken - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Monday, November 4, 2019

Journalist in Congo who warned about Ebola killed in attack

A journalist in the Congo who had also worked as a volunteer and who raised awareness of Rbola, was killed in a local terror attack. He worked for a radio station in Lwemba, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.    ABC News reports

ABC links to a story of “what you need to know” about Ebola, comparing it to HIV in being bloodborne (this can be misleading politically).

Vaccine use is increasing “concentrically” but there are new antibody therapies that can increase survival.  

Saturday, November 2, 2019

"The Rising Threat of Digital Nationalism" in this weekend's Wall Street Journal

Akash Kapur has a major “Saturday Essay” in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, “The Rising Threat of Digital Nationalism”, link

China has set the example. Russia wants to set up a "Runet” with a kill switch to the outside world".  About 25% of all countries have shut down Internet for temporary periods, causing logistical disruption for visitors and citizens and businesses alike. 

The sub-headline on p. 2 of the continuation is “Is the Global Internet Coming to an End?

The basic underlying problem is populism;  politicians, however oligarchical, find they can soothe inequalities if they prod individualistic citizens back into localism and tribalism, moving up to nationalism.

The article talks about the possible evolution of a “splinternet”
It also suggests that big social media companies should be mediated by the same sorts of fairness doctrines that conventional media had in the past.
But the growth of huge tech empires with a few large companies controlling things came about as the Dotcom boom started to come apart around the year 2000.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

OONI tracks overseas censorship and Internet shutdowns

Cnet has a story by Laura Hautala about the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), which tracks uneven censorship overseas, here

The article starts out with a story of how a University of Toronto student found he could pay his taxi driver in Ethiopia when the government shut off Internet access.
Curiously, there is an unrelated food channel on YouTube with the same acronym.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Trump, in unusual Sunday morning address, announces death of major ISIS leader

President Trump has confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi when trapped in a tunnel in northwest Syria, in an unusual Sunday morning address.
The speech was quite graphic and personal in tone, and some observers felt Trump had “said too much” from the viewpoint of protecting intelligence gathering.
This is a rapidly developing story.

The Washington Post actually downplayed the story in the way it worded its headline, as Tim Pool explains

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

New countries that could exist soon (could western Russia split off?)

General Knowledge has at least three videos, “New Countries that Might Exist Soon”.
I’ll link video #2.

One of the most interesting (for my writing) was Ingria, which would incorporate NW Russia (including St. Petersburg), SW Finland, and E Estonia.   The “Allegro train” remember runs from Helsinki to St. Petersburg. The Finnish part had been ceded back in the October 1917 revolution and returned (Karelia) as a result of the Russo-Finnish war.  When I visited a couple of Finnish cultural centers (esp. in Ohio) this summer, I found them concerned about Russia.  There was a mysterious assassination in the border town of Imatra in Dec 2016.  Maybe a connection?
Other “countries” discussed here are Quebec and California. Harvard undergrad student John Fish, who grew up in Waterloo Ontario (near Toronto) is taking a gap year to work in Montreal and hasn’t mentioned the language or culture issue at all.  It’s as if, as Prager U says, he can work “anywhere”.
The first video discussed Catalonia and the autonomous regions of Spain (including the Basque area – I visited Bilbao and San Sebastian in May 2001).
By SeppVei - Own work, Public Domain, Link

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Artists and filmakers ponder the "Boycott Divestment Sanctions" movement against Israel for aggressive West Bank / Gaza policies

There is controversy over a “Boycott Divestment Sanctions” movement against Israel, and the fear that some employers in media, especially film and in Hollywood, will blacklist or refuse to hire artists who participate publicly.  Alex Ritman has an article in Hollywood Reporter.  

Likewise, some filmmakers have found that their views change, and apparently this is not the first such boycott (involving Palestinians, settlements, etc.)  And there is quite a bit of cultural pressure in many creative circles to join boycotts as part of generally leftist “cancel culture”.  Truthout has an article by David Clennon who says he has been through more than one cycle of considering his “obligation” to boycott.

But everyone is very clear that a boycott to protest overly aggressive policies by Israel is not anti-Semitic.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Douglas Murray explains the vicious cycle inherent in populist ideologies

Douglas Murray, British conservative political commentator, discusses two of his books,  The Death of Europe”, as well as “The Madness of Crowds” with Peter Robinson on the “Uncommon Knowledge” series of the “Hoover Institution” channel.

Yes, that sounds conservative. But Murray seems to point to the death of countries as a logical consequence of the reparative justice demands of the far Left. That would be the natural result of “open borders” which the most radical elements demand as an antidote for racism.  But this in turn seems like a punitive or corrective idea after colonialism and slavery (and then segregation). 

The idea creates a vicious cycle, where the “alt-right” starts articulating “great replacement” theories, feeding populism on the right among peoples not well off enough to function well as individuals.  

It creates a problem for individuals.  I could consider, for example, in my situation, should I have housed an asylum seeker?  But the Left threatens to come back and demand that individual speakers, if they are to stay on line, be willing to actively support their collective demands as a group to protect them from the enlarging threat from the radical right.

Murray also discusses the “hardware v. software” problem for intersectional groups, especially LGBT (most of all, trans).  The irrational focus on the “born this way” argument interferes with pragmatic behavior necessary for people to live together.
Murray says he is gay himself. Generally, the tone of his comments reminds me of Joshua Green’s “Moral Tribes”. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Does Kim Jong Un's visit to Mt. Paektu and wild ride mean anything?

Various media sources give significance to Kim Jong Un’s recent horseback ride up the pseudo-sacred Mt. Paektu provides premonition of other sensational announcements.

In the past that could have been big missile launches (as in 2017) or it could be some or of conciliation made to look good (such as opening diplomatic channels to South Korea).

The Newsweek story includes a speech by John Bolton that Kim Jong Un will never give up on loosening the sanctions and keeping some sort of nuclear capability as part of his grip on power.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Judges to Trump: you can't deny green cards to legal immigrants just because of public assistance

Three federal judges have slammed Trump’s attempt to deny green cards to immigrants (legal) who apply for public assistance, some who have children born as US citizens. Here is the CNN story

Legally, the judges said that the orders flouted the intentions of Congress.
There was a story of a couple where one member has leukemia who was denied a green card.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Trump double crosses the Kurds (the largest ethnic group without a state) in Syria (?)

Ben Hubbard, Carlotta Gall, and Eric Schmitt have a detailed story in the New York Times that explains what is happening with Trump’s formal withdrawal of American forces protecting rebels in Syria.

Erdogan is expected to threaten an attack, but underground Kurdish militia called the Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF still may have covert American support, according to the NYT.

Trey Yingst has a major Twitter thread about this whole development for Fox News. 
The Kurds are the largest ethnic group without a state, major video

Wikipedia attribution: 
By Levi Clancy - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Talks with North Korea in Stockholm on "denuclearization" stall today

Michael R. Gordon and Timothy Martin (in Seoul) report ambiguous results on attempted talks between the US and North Korea in Stockholm Saturday, story.  (I visited that city once, in 1972, for two days.) 

The general idea was to be some lifting of sanctions in exchange for North Korea’s stopping of nuclear development and eventually allowing inspections.

But David E. Sanger of the New York Times reported that the talks had broken down “in hours”. 

Alex Ward had described the intended program in Vox, here

Wikipedia picture: 
By Johan Fredriksson, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Friday, October 4, 2019

The Trump-Biden-Ukraine mess is anything but a clear reason for impeachment now

I haven’t followed the Trump – Ukraine – Biden mess very much in the past few weeks, partly because I have been “on the road” and I haven’t had time to play close attention to a timeline that seems so complicated.

The Washington Post seems to have a good timeline analysis (by Philip Blake and Aaron Blake) that goes back to early 2014 when a Ukrainian president was ousted from power (ironically, almost the same days as the publication of m third book). There follows Putin’s seizure of Crimea, the plane crashes and all kinds of other skirmishes, even a cyber attack on their power grid.

A quick reading of the timeline shows the likelihood of some inappropriate behavior by the Bidens previously.

Of course, it would be illegal for Trump or any candidate to ask for foreign help in affecting US elections (however perverse 2016 turned out to be). It’s ironic to me that the same point has come up before in conjunction with earlier concerns about the possible effect of US election reform on blogging (back in the 2005 or so period, when there was an incident in my own “career” that I have talked about).

But is should not be surprising to any “whistleblower” that Trump would be tempted to probe, given obvious information available earlier on possible misbehavior in the Biden camp.

Tim Pool has a few videos on this where he seems to ask for some questions about this.

Again, I haven’t tried to plough through the details.  But on the surface, it still looks like impeachment could be self-defeating for the Democrats and backfire badly.
It is disturbing that Trump congratulations China’s 70th anniversary of something (Red Chinese communism) at the same time the Hong Kong protests grew more violent with protesters being shot.

CNN reports a second whistleblower Sunday.
Wikipedia attribution: By Marion Duimel, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Saturday, September 28, 2019

American independent journalist films the streets of Hong Kong now

Alejandro Alvarez and News2Share have some impressive video of Alejandro’s visit to Hong Kong this week, following a stop in Dubai.

Alejandro has a detailed commentary on Twitter, being added to constantly.  

Regular mainland police are stopping and frisking regular people on the streets.  Only a few years ago, Edward Snowden was holed up there comfortably.

Wikipedia attribution CCSA 4.0 for Hf9631 

Update: Sept 29

AP reports that China has shown off a nuclear missile it claims could reach the US is 30 minutes (hgh altitude EMP threat).

There are multiple protests now at China's embassy on Van Ness St in Washington, which News2share will cover.

Update: Oct. 2

Various news outlets and Alejandro report that a protester was shot in the chest by a live round (not rubber bullet), BBC story

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Snapchat and Whatsapp implicated in southern border "people smuggling" (Washington Times)

Stephen Dinan, of the Washington Times, writes that, in an operation colloquially called “iCoyote”, social media apps SnapChat and WhatsApp are aiding in smuggling of illegal imgrants across the southern border,story

The ephermal nature of these apps worked to the criminals’ advantage.

The story also implicates Uber and Lyft.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

How dangerous can Iran really be right now?

The New York Times reports (Peter Baker et al) that Trump aborted an attack against Iran back in June for shooting down a surveillance drone (story). 

Indeed, some observers believe that Trump is more aware of causing existential catastrophes than his bellicose rhetoric suggests.

But today Fareed Zakaria, and  Vox's Anna Van Wagtendonk, reported that Trump’s sanctions on Iran are working, which is why Iran was recently more daring in apparently allowing a drone attack against Saudi Arabia’s oil refinery to be launched, thinking (like a criminal) that is already has nothing to lose.

In the 1979-1980 period, the US was still vulnerable to an Iranian shutoff of the Strait of Hormuz (a fact that would occupy the “submarine hunter” Keith Meinhold who would become a major personality on breaking the ban on gays in the military in the 1990s).  World oil supply is still vulnerable to a sudden shutoff, but it is less clear if the US is a lot more autarkic, as it may not be for long given the green New Deal once that gets going (as it needs to).
The Iran-Saudi thing is ironic given climate change.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Major attack on Saudi oil refinery appears sponsored by Iran, may affect oil prices

At a time when we are contemplating requiring reduced dependence on fossil fuels, a sudden attack on an oil refining facility in Saudi Arabia calls back memories of the oil crises of 1973 and 1979.

This time, the effect is likely to be a quarter rise in the price of a gallon in the US, which does not sound severe right now compared to the past.  Saudi Arabia claims it will have most production back by early next week, although this is hard to believe.

The attacks are thought to have come from drones (possibly small cruise missiles) launched by Youthi rebels from Yemen, but with covert assistance from Iran (at least the last claim according to Pompeo).
The Wall Street Journal op-ed (“Heard on the Street”) says this is the real thing. 
I heard about the incident by Twitter while I was at Charlottesville Pride today.

Sunday: the drones came across Kuwait maybe from Iraq. Pompeo's tweets.
Wikipedia map: By Gordeonbleu at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, Link

Thursday, September 12, 2019

SCOTUS temporary approval of Trump's "third country" asylum policy called catastrophic; mass protests at ICE

Nicole Narea of Vox describes the Supreme Court ruling at least temporarily allowing all asylum seekers from Central American countries south of Mexico to be held in Mexico and required to file in Mexico first, “devastating”. 

However lower court judges or appeals courts will be allowed to make other rulings through the system.

Normally, asylum claims have to assume that people arriving might have passed through other hostile territory (like during WWII).

The article also discusses Third Country agreements, as with Canada.  Immigrants who land in a Canadian airport must request asylum in Canada first.

LGBT asylum seekers would not fare well applying in Mexico.

Ford Fischer is reporting (on Facebook Live under News2Share) on demonstrations at ICE and at Jeff Bezos’s house, because Bezos has worked with ICE (all in Washington).  Some of the protests were very emotional, with a woman breaking into tears as Ford filmed her.  He should have a lot of video available for license to other news outlets by Friday.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Mexico is taking on many more asylum seekers than in the past, as are Panama, Belize, Costa Rica

Mexico, and to some extent Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize, are taking in many more asylum seekers from the rest of Central America (especially El Salvador) than in the past because of recent Trump administration policy changes. Mary Beth Sheridan reports in the Washington Post here
I can add some backdrop.  In late 2018, journalists with connections to Ford Fischer’s News2Share traveled a while with a couple of migrant families, near Mexico City.  However, other journalists have discovered trafficking and extortion in the movement of migrants closer to the border.
Belize is a small country, but a protestant church in Arlington VA that I have some connection with has sent a youth group every summer to a mission at Double Head Cabbage about 20 miles inland.
First Baptist Church of Washington DC used to send a youth group to Nacascolo in Nicaragua.  And another Arlington church has sent outreach to El Salvador.
I also have a relative who has worked (for a faith-based group) on a water project in Guatemala.
So not all of Central America is bad, but with Trump in office it seems to have gotten much worse indeed.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

North Korea starting to show signs of sending Trump an ultimatum; Taliban, Venezuela show problems of dealing with "non-state" groups

A few hours after North Korea signaled an interest in resuming talks on some sort of nuclear disengagement, North Korea fired two more “innocuous” missiles toward Japan, Financial Times link here.

The Guardian has a story about North Korea’s apparently soft approach to setting up more talks. 
It’s obvious that it would insist on ending most of the sanctions, which seem to be rather porous anyway.

The biggest danger would be if North Korea starts making threats again with longer missile launches, or has cyberterror or EMP up its sleeve.
Trump’s toying with a “Taliban” deal (negotiating with a non-state) will backfire on Afghanistan, experts say (NBC).  Yet, to many in the anti-communist world, dealing with Guaido to get rid of Maduro in Venezuela, would have made sense (link).

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Hong Kong unrest could jeopardize 2022 gay games there

Lou Chibarro, Jr of the Washington Blade, and international correspondent Michael J. Lavers (who has covered hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico, and HIV treatment in Venezuela and Colombia) have been looking at the questions looming over whether the 2022 gay games can take place in Hong Kong as intended. 

The article gives some perspective on the danger that China could do a complete takeover by then and no one knows if a gay event would be welcome.

Other writers are playing down the threat that China can crack down much further. 

Map URL is from  Wikipedia page.  

Breaking:  Wed. Sept 4
Carrie Lam has withdrawn the extradition bill, CNN story

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Why does Singapore do well despite "authoritarianism"?

Here is a question and set of answers on Quora about Singapore and why it seems prosperous and desirable despite being authoritarian? 

There are some good points here: Singapore is a city-state that has to be stable to be a good harbor port for international business.  And there are some specific points about history and culture.  Fareed Zakaria has pointed out that Singapore forces housing to be diversified by ethnic group.

But there also seems to be an emphasis on “rightsizing” individuals according to their karma, so to speak, so that others have faith in the system and the country remains stable. Sometimes discipline comes down to the personal level.
Yup, I remember the hype about the canings and the chewing gum. There has been controversy about birth rates and forced family values.

Wikipedia picture of stadium in Singapore 
By L.M. Ramamuthusamy - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Deportation of arriving Harvard freshman over friends' social media posts stirs outrage; Trump admin. will deport some with ongoing medical care

The Harvard Crimson reports that an incoming freshman from Lebanon, Ismail B. Ajjawi, was had a visa canceled and was deported from Boston Logan Airport by Customs, apparently because of information about his friends’ social media use and hostile political opinions. 

I would sound as if the government believed he should have unfriended or unfollowed persons expressing hostile opinions before entering the U.S.  I have never heard of this before.

David Hogg called this out today on his own Twitter feed, just as he was moving in to start his Freshman year after a gap year.

Of course, it will be necessary to verify the facts carefully. Harvard and other organizations are providing legal assistance trying to get the visa restored.

In the ABC video the coverage starts at 9:00.

Here’s a paper by Alex Nowrasteh of Cato on the risks of crime from immigrants: even for illegal, they are lower than native born Americans. 

Time (and other sources) report that the Trump administration is ending protections from undocumented immigrants regarding medical care, and possibly their children, story by Philip Marcelo of the AP.  The deportations are in the Boston area, which seems to correspond to the deportation of the Harvard student.

Update:  Sept. 2

Sophia Cope and Saira Hussain talk about social media border searches for Electronic Frontier Foundation.  It doesn't seem to talk about the "other people" issue. 

Friday, August 23, 2019

Does Bolsonaro's behavior with respect to the Amazon threaten the entire planet? It's lungs?

Naomi Klein describes Bolsonaro’s election as a “crime scene” in a tweet thread, here.

So here is CNN’s coverage of the wildfires in the Amazon rain forest.  Except, they aren’t wild.  They may very well be set by landowners for agriculture, encouraged by Bolsonaro’s right wing regime.
Bolsonaro claims the fires were set deliberately to make him look bad.

And how to do you deal with a sovereign country if it endangers “the lungs of the planet”?

The rain forest could eventually change into a dry savannah permanently.
Would man’s survival be endangered by the loss of 20% of its oxygen generating possibility?  

But look at Tim Pool's findings on these stories (Saturday), surprising.
By Ibama from Brasil - Operação Hymenaea, Julho/2016, CC BY 2.0, Link

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Facebook and Twitter remove fake accounts from China's government intended to spread propaganda over Hong Kong

Both Facebook and Twitter have uncovered fake bot accounts apparently set up by mainland China’s government to spread propaganda in Hong kong.

The Verge (aka Vox, Makena Kelly) has a detailed story
The incident resembles the “Facebook Purge 3.0” which led to a coordinated Twitter purge in October 2018 over “coordinated inauthentic behavior” intended to increase clickbait, apparently.  But this time the social networking companies were thanked.  Be careful what you wish for. 
It's ironic that China complains now when it bans US social media in its own country.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

One-child policy in China, now rescinded, has led to kidnapping of young women from other countries as potential brides

Hannah Beech has a very disturbing story in the New York Times, about sex trafficking in China.

Wealthier men have potential brides kidnapped from nearby countries, especially Myanmar, because of the shortage of young women in China as a result of the previous one-child policy, which went away in 2015 and was replaced with a two-child policy. 
This certainly reminds one of the FOSTA sex-trafficking law in the US.  The practice in China results in the cultural fear of men of not having a lineage.