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One-child policy in China, now rescinded, has led to kidnapping of young women from other countries as potential brides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

Monday, August 19, 2019

Zakaria explains South African land expropriation as simply returning land that had been taken wrongfully

Fareed Zakaria spoke an interesting “What in the World” segment Sunday where he discussed the land expropriation problem in South Africa.

Zakaria noted that back in the 1970s under apartheid, native land had been taken away from the original population and given to whites.  So this casts the expropriations as reparations, or of returning what should have belonged all the time.

Imagine if such an idea could be implemented for native Americans.
The Nation has a similarly analytic article by Jon Alsop (paywall). 

But as a matter of ideology, expropriation is the ultimate death ray against “privilege”.
Wikipedia attribution link for photo by Profberger CCSA 3.0 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Explosion in Russia leads to radiation in Scandinavia, seems to comprise multiple incidents in different locations?

Vladimir Isachekov of the Associated Press reports on the mysterious explosion near Nyonoska in northwest Russia, near Archangelsk., Aug. 14  
A story on CNN by Nick Paton Walsh discusses Skyfall, a nuclear-powered cruise missile and doomsday weapon, I guess the same explosion resulting in   radioactive contamination in Scandanavia.  US had good conventional cruise missile technology in 1991 during the Persian Gulf war, which had huge political impact now forgotten (like enabling Clinton to open a debate on gays in the military in 1993 -- things are so connected!)
The explosion near Achinsk seems to be a different event (LA Times). 

It seems that radiation may be coming from more than one incident.  Fact patterns are confusing. This is obviously a developing story.  It may fit into my novel!!  Why does Russia keep sensitive nuclear stuff so close to its NW border?  (This idea was covered in a 2011 Russian film "The Return" -- movies blog, Dec. 28, 2011.) 
Wikipedia attribution  (commons).

Friday, August 16, 2019

India demonstrates the "effectiveness" of its Internet "kill switch" in Kashmir

James Groffiths of CNN reports on the tendency for some governments to implement Internet blackouts in some regions to control political unrest.  Business Insider has a story indicating locals didn’t know India had rewritten its constitution. 
The most obvious example is the Indian government’s blackout of Kashmir and Jannu, bordering Pakistan. Troops have cut off service at the “core” level.

Other examples include Sri Lanka after Easter Sunday attacks.
It’s harder to do this in the US, Canada and Europe because of the multiplicity of router connections.

By CIA -, Public Domain, Link

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Trump urges Israel to deny entry to two of "The Squad"; do Americans really want the jobs of undocumented persons?

The Israeli government and prime minister have denied US representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) permission to visit Israel, under pressure from Trump (in a tweet) and supposedly justified by Israeli law barring persons who have advocated boycotting Israel from entering.

Here is the Washington Post story (Hudson et al) and NBCThink op-ed.

Trey Yingst, Fox foreign correspondent, shared a Hamas statement on twitter (labeled by Twitter as "sensitive material") .  Trey also interviewed Rashida's grandmother (Tlaid refused an Israeli allowance to allow her to visit if she agreed not to mention boycotts). 

It’s all pure tribalism.
Trump is also claiming that Americans applied for jobs at Koch foods after an ICE raid (Breitbart).  I thought these were menial “dirty work” jobs Americans didn’t want.

Friday, August 9, 2019

UN Climate report on food supply gets many different interpretations

Umair Irfan somewhat softens the tone of a recent UN climate report in a Vox article by re-stressing the value of land conservation (as known in the 50s) and by criticizing wasting of food in modern consumption habits, link

But Nature emphasizes the consumption habits of people in richer countries, eating meat. 

But the most dangerous problem seems to be the attitude of right-wing politicians, most of all Bolsonaro in Brazil, who still is deforesting the Amazon for short term gain.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Russian trolls are trying to get intellectually weak Americans to fight each other in the streets (NBC story)

Richard Engel et al of NBC news report that Russian trolls have selected videos of private citizen “accidents” or behaviors in public places and made them go viral, and have sometimes urged doxing of private Americans.

The idea is to create physical conflict and disruption and show “no one is immune”. 
The main NBC link is here

It is pretty easy to collide with someone on a subway.  But a troll might photograph it and then try to cause it to go viral.
Another grave risk from foreign trolls might be hacking ordinary Americans to frame them for crimes (although this can be a known threat with identity theft already).

Russian trolls seem to be attacking “individualism” and stirring up “populist” resentment against and bullying of individuals, “hecklers’ veto” or mob mentality. Trolls may also be amplifying the “white supremacy” narrative by calling people names when they clearly do not advocate supremacy by normal speech interpretation.
This goes along with Tim Pool’s narrative of coming domestic “insurgencies” by extremists on both sides.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Trump tariffs China again, may hit US consumers; China jails major dissident Trump cancels Russian missile treaty; climate change hits Siberia

Suddenly, there are a lot of potentially important international items, and they will all need more detailed followup.

First Trump announced that apparently everything else not already targeted for tariffs will face levies on September 1, 2019.  I am looking to see how this would affect my own plans for a new apple Macbook for a music project.  Apparently these items still have final assembly in China but I it is not quite certain from what I can find. Would the tariffs start when these items arrive in stores?  CNBC is talking about China’s retaliation already. 

Next, China has sentenced another human rights activist, Huang qi, to twelve years in prison, story. Huang is a founder of the Tianwang website awarded a “reporters without borders” prize in 2016.  China believes that dissenting speech strokes tensions among its citizens and we have been seeing more about how that works in the US since Trump won.

Russia has generated a couple items.  Trump is withdrawing from a Reagan-era intermediate range ballistic missile treaty with Russia, over concerns of Russia’s “cheating” (CBS).

This morning, CNN showed shocking video of sinkholes in eastern Siberia resulting from permafrost melting, threatening entire towns, as well as rampant wildfires.  Climate change is affecting polar areas much more quickly than those closer to the equator. Here is a recent BBC story.  Putin has been paying Russian families to settle Siberia and have lots of kids to raise his birthrate and support nationalism. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

EMP in Venezuela? DPRK Missile test?

The idea of electromagnetic pulse, more common in conservative media and independent sites like mine, seems to have caught hold in Venezuela, where activists claim that the latest blackout in  Caracus was an attack against Maduro and probably was some sort of flux non-nuclear EMP, Yahoo story.   Critics of the US maintain that this has to do with US meddling and propping up the non-commie Guiaodo.

North Korea is reported to have fired two missiles today, each about 270 miles, toward Japan.   Trump has blown it off.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Allowing (even "expecting") volunteers to serve at the border detention centers (after travel to them) sounds feasible, even if not happening now

On p. 21 of the print Time Magazine July 29, 2019 issue, Julissa Arce ran a sidebar “Let Americans volunteer at the border”. 

She writes that there is no good reason for a policy that Americans are not allowed to do humanitarian volunteer work at the border detention centers, from a budget or public law viewpoint. 

The normal excuses will be security.

There doesn’t seem to be any impulse to combine this with Americorps, for example (Buttigieg might go along with that).

It would be possible to imagine a setup with the major social service agencies already on contract with DHS to process refugees, to deal with the border issues.

Then there would be pressure on some Americans to sign up and do stints at the border.

As things stand now for me, it would not be possible for me to do a stint "camping" at the border and resume my sites after the period was over.  In time, this could become a real issue. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

South Korea drafts young men, and has an issue with "gay conduct", not exactly like our old DADT

John Andres Riley reports in Metro Weekly about the issue of gays in the military in South Korea, with due respect for the context of the existential danger (even to the US) from North Korea. 

The print version of the story (p. 20. July 18) is titled “Conscript Concerns” but online is the real deal “Amnesty International calls on South Korea to end law criminalizing LGBTQ soldiers.”  The law criminalizes same-sex conduct even off duty. (So did the old US UCMJ 125).

South Korea requires military service of all men 18-20 because it is technically still at war with the North.

In the US, activists forget we still have the Selective Service System but sometimes debate whether women should be required to register.

The story notes that ironically, in South Korea, men with lighter skin may be viewed as more effeminate. Asian men usually don’t have the variety of body hair that Caucasians have.

Trump backed off his aggressive stance on North Korea right around March 1, 2018 after the Olympics and it is a good thing for many people that he did, whatever you think of the circumstances with Kim Jong Un now.  Kim would like the state of war to end.

It's ironic that the gay press has called attention to another hidden tripwire in the North Korean situation. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Ebola outbreak in Congo gets a declaration as a world emergency by WHO; what about vaccinating travelers?

The Ebola outbreak in the Congo has been declared as a world health emergency, as in the NBC News story. 
There is concern that infected but unvaccinated persons could spread it quickly by air.
The latest information by WHO on vaccination for people traveling to Africa is here.  I would be concerned about volunteers or students or professionals going to other countries and not getting the vaccine yet. It doesn’t seem to happen and it needs to.

The CDC has issued an alert for North Kivu in the Republic of the Congo, link here

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Protesters try to shut down ICE in Washington DC after Trump announces restricting asylums thru Mexico; it gets quite energetic

Numerous outlets reported on sizable demonstrations in Washington DC yesterday against Trump’s latest immigration actions, some reportedly including “Jewish” activists. I stayed inside (from the heat) and worked on my music and on another matter (the CASE bill in the Senate) and didn’t get to this.

Daniel Mortiz-Rabson reports for Newsweek on ICE protests in SW Washington Tuesday, trying to block entrance, after Trump issued an XO requiring most Central American asylum seekers to attempt to apply in Mexico first before coming into the US. Elizabeth Warren speaks in their video.

The Washington Post (Marissa J. Lang) reports that there were  ten arrests inside the ICE lobby. The story has outstanding still photos, with a couple people I recognized from the LGBTQ community. 

Caroline Patrickis reports on the arrests for WJLA7 with video. (The WJLA embed works only with http, without the https.) 

Marissa J. Lang offers this log on Twitter with several videos. 

Reports of ICE raids around the country seem spotty and focused on known criminals, it turns out. 

My own picture comes from Dec 2017, at Net neutrality demonstrations.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Virginia blogger seems to have helped put Bolsonaro in office in Brazil; Trump uses international law to force Central American asylum seekers to do Mexico

Today the Washington Post, in a story by Terrence McCoy, describes how an amateur right-wing blogger, Olavo de Carvalho, 72, who lives alone in Dinwiddie County VA (SW of Richmond and Petersburg) influenced politics in Brazil and helped right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro win power in Brazil.  Olavo is called Brazil's "Rush Limbaugh". 

Bolsonaro’s homophobia (as unnationalist and counter tribal) is causing Glenn Greenwald, who lives in that country with his husband, concerns, according to other report.  But gay marriage has been legal in Brazil since 2013.

Bolsonaro’s presidency also worries climate change activists, who would want to stop the cutting down of the Amazon forests as a sump for carbon dioxide.

In other news, today Trump is moving to stop most Central American asylum claims at the southern border, on the theory that under international law Mexico can be asked to take them (and has often offered it).  This would not apply to sex trafficking cases. Molly O’Toole reports for the Los Angeles Times.  There are good questions about people who fly to South America from Africa and try to seek asylum in the US (Tim Pool).  As for LGBTQ, this would apply to "them".  Mexico allows same-sex marriage in some areas. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Thomas Friedman says Netanyahu is in a box and could turn Israel into a "banana republic"

Thomas Friedman has a disturbing analysis in the New York Times, “Who is a Bigger Threat to His Democracy, Bibi or Trump?  It’s a Tough One”, about a second national lection in Israel upcoming in September, following Netanyahu’s apparent inability to hold a coalition in April.

Friedman talks about scenarios where Netanyahu (“BibI”) could go to jail, and his incentives to override the constitution to protect himself, making Israel more like a typical authoritarian “banana republic” which demands reannexation of all of the West Bank and takes no prisoners, and is run by the “religious zealots”.

He also spoke about it on CNN to Fareed Zakaria this morning.

By Cnes - Spot Image -, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Friday, July 12, 2019

ICE may do many big city raids Sunday July 14; media reports on lawyers' advice

Vox has a comprehensive article by Emily Stuart on the ICE deportation raids expected soon. 

The article says that people do not have to open home or apartment doors to officers who don’t have warrants.  And they don’t have to answer questions.

But going to work, to church, to school could sound challenging.

Expect protests in many cities. 

The Asylumist discusses the Migrant Protection Protocols for “remaining in place” in Mexico for asylum application. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Oregon law professor says that about 86% of separated migrant children in the US have relatives in the US who could raise them if their parents remain detained

Today Warren Binford (Willammette University in Oregon)  appeared on CNN and explained that about 86% if migrant children have relatives in the United States who could take care of them even if they were released without their parents.

Although CNN has talked about ankle bracelets (which can be cut) to release migrants in detention, it’s clear that some sort of support system has to be set up.

Major charities could do major fundraisers just for these specific problems, which are taking on a wartime character.
There are sporadic suggestions online that individuals and families (including same-sex couples) should take the initiative to become licensed by their home states to become foster parents.  This sounds like a radical step and request. Here are a couple of references: the Women’s Refugee Commission, which links to ORR.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Trump steps into North Korea, apparently the first sitting president to do so

Donald Trump took twenty “baby” (ironic) steps into North Korea, as he let Kim Jong Un play “Mother May I” with him in the demilitarized zone Sunday, while in the US westerners celebrated “World Pride: as if it were a second Christmas season for the summer.  Here is CNN's lead story

Trump can claim to be the first sitting US president to do so.
There are still questions as to whether Kim Jong Un still has a hidden schedule to resume missile tests and eventual threats.  But still, Trump seems to be buying time against what could become an existential threat to the US mainland some day if not solved.
Tim Pool explains his distant family connections to North Korea(at 5:00).
By Johannes Barre, iGEL (talk) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Monday, June 24, 2019

Migrant crisis at border seems to explode as children stay in pens

CNN this morning is warning about the blatant and glaring catastrophe at the border, at least around El Paso and McAllen, and probably Del Rio.  The story and video are by Leyla Santiago.  This continues a story Saturday here about children caring for siblings or toddlers without their separated parents.  There have been tweets that the Army or National Guard must provide assistance now. Hillary Clinton also called out this problem on Twitter. 

Tim Pool notes emergencies in Deming MM and Yuma, AZ.  (I visited the border area of Yuma in 2000, ironically).

CNN showed a scene at McAllen, with masses of children in one pen, with deaths every day, and parents separated, for much longer than legal (under Flores, which gets complicated).

Pence claims that criminal traffickers are adding to the migrant stream, and also claims that Africans have been trafficked from overseas and added to the stream (at least near Del Rio).

Laura Chen was critical of a UN proposal to ask Canada to take more of asylum seekers (including "LGBTQ2") and migrants (because Canada has a more robust private sponsorship system?)

Trump’s delay of ICE raids Sunday seem like ordinary political posturing with Congress.
Crises like these can affect people who manage trusts, because beneficiaries could ask for “special needs” help from trust assets to deal with catastrophes caused by political mismanagement or corruption.

I had visited Pharr on May 30 last year (near McAllen) and found no unusual problems. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Children expected to care for other people's toddlers in detention camps on border, Newsweek story

Here is a pretty repulsive story about children being prodded to take care of toddlers while in detention camps, at least in El Paso, TX, in Newsweek, by Nichole Goodkind. 

There simply seem to be no personnel around to care for them. Maybe charities in the region, or Catholic Charities, will send people? 
 The video above was taken in McAllen in June 2018.  I had visited Pharr in May.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Strait of Hormuz near Iran a flashpoint again after a drone toy is shot down

Three writers at the Washington Post (Dan Lamothe, Erin Cunningham, and Missy Ryan) discuss the critical situation near Iran after Iran shot down a US drone, claiming that the drone had ventured into its territory. 

I can remember that in early 1980 there was a critical situation over the Strait of Hormuz, and a fear of the choke-off of oil, after the 1979 Iran crisis had led to a “mini gas shortage” in the US, less severe than in the fall of 1973.

Trump’s bellicose actions, cancelling earlier treaties and agreements, seem in contradiction to his mellow talk now about North Korea, after he learned after the 2018 Winter Olympics how dangerous it could be to pursue aggression with Kim Jong Un.
Iran cooperates with North Korea, and can become a bigger threat to Israel. Having an unpredictable president is not good in this situation either.


Trump canceled the plan to go in 10 minutes before launch -- because he was told to? Or an act? Ford Fischer comments

WikiL By CIA - CIA World Fact Book, Public Domain, Link

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Massive power failure in South America, resolved in a few hours, seems to be a misconfiguration problem

A massive power failure blacked out much or most of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay Sunday, with some outages in Chile and Brazil.
CNN has a detailed story here.

The outage is said to be caused by an interconnection topology problem (maybe similar to the 2003 blackout in NorthEast US). It is not thought to be caused by cyberterror or malware.

But speculation for the later increased because of recent tensions between Trump and his intelligence services over exercises to introduce malware to Russia.

Wikipedia attribution, Buenos Aries apartmentsm CCSA 3.0

Sunday, June 16, 2019

NYTimes story about US low level cyberwar with Russia (endangering power grids) leads Trump to call the paper "treasonous"

The New York Times has stimulated a rather dangerous controversy with a story by David E Sager and Nicole Perlroth, “U.S. Perlroth Escalates Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid”, story here

The report implies that American cybersecurity experts have inserted malware into components of Russia’s power grid as a way to launch a counter offensive should Russia do the same here. 
President Trump bombastically called this report “treason” today, as reported by Allison Quinn in the Daily Beast and Smart News early this morning. While this may remind the reader of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, there is a good question as to why this information was leaked if it is indeed classified.  As an indirect result of the Assange situation (even Chelsea Manning) there is a good question as to whether reporters my relay classified information if they did not do anything illegal to get it and it was simply passed to them.   That has happened to me.

Trump's attack about journalists as "the enemy of the people" do seem still focused on the mainstream, not independents. Could this lead to a "national security declaration"? 

Trump's blasting of the NYT also follows a controversial front page piece Sunday June 9 where Kevin Roose makes an exaggerated claim of right-wing radicalization on YouTube of a particular person, and with a picture gallery implies that many conservative pundits advocate white supremacy when most (or maybe all) of them clearly do not. 

The story also reminds one of Ted Koppel’s book “Lights Out” (Books blog, Nov. 2015).  But there is a good question whether cyberwar is as great a threat to the power grid as is direct attack, either by high altitude nuclear weapons (which North Korea might be capable of even now, according to James Woolsey and others), or certain non-nuclear microwave flux weapons which the US Army has now in some deployed locations.

US power installations are protected by physical “air gaps” to prevent the insertion of malware, but there are ways these protections might be breached.

But low level “malware” infection attempts have gone on for years, experts say.

This would be a good topic for Tim Pool’s “Subverse” channel.

Update: June 17

Common Dreams and CNN report that president Trump was kept in the dark by the US intelligence community over fears of Trump's own immaturity (the new "baby balloon"). 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

US mine in California may be turning the trade war with respect to rare earths

The Washington Post offers a story Tuesday morning about the threat that China could fight the trade war by some sort of embargo of rare-earth metals used in electronics. But the story, by David J. Lynch, seems to imply that Trump’s insistence on autarky is working, that the US and Australia may be getting the upper hand on rare earth raw materials, especially with a large open pit mine in Mountain Pass, CA, near Las Vegas.  I have been near there (at Scott's Castle in Dec. 1997), but I don’t think I’ve seen it.
Myanmar, a less desirable country to be sure, also has a mine.

It’s interesting to see the Post implicitly support Trump’s policy.

Nevertheless, rare earth minerals could quickly become an existential issue.  Remember the gas lines of the 1970s?

This could also bring up the problem of stripmining and mountaintop removal (in the West).

Wikipedia attribution link for overhead picture, p.d. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Hong Kong protests blamed on US ("bloggers?") as China claims the right to kidnap anyone into China

Hong Kong is experiencing mass protests as mainland China has imposed new extradition laws and Chief Executive Carrie Lee has indicated willingness to go along with it.  The Associated Press reports. 

Essentially the laws seem to allow Chinese authorities to nab anyone and take him/her to China. There have been cases with, for example, booksellers. 

Remember that Edward Snowden holed up in Hong Kong (“Citizenfour”, Movie reviews, Oct. 27, 2014) as he fled prosecution in the US.

For example, as things are right now, it would seem very dangerous for someone in my circumstances to travel to either China or Russia.  This might change in 2022, but that is beyond discussion right here.  Since I have been critical of China on my blogs, could I be hauled off the streets of Hong Kong if I went there now? “Boycott Hong Kong”?
China accuses the US or organizing the protests.  No, Ford Fischer and News2Share didn’t set them up (nor did Fox News).  But advertisers ought to be OK with them if they had.

Wikipedia attribution, picture.
By Hokachung - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Friday, June 7, 2019

Mexico will accept more asylum seekers, Mexico will stop being hit with tariffs

Major media outlets report that Mexico will accept more responsibility for holding migrants and particularly taking asylum seekers, so that Trump will defer the threatened 5% tariff, NPR story here.
International law does stipulate that the bordering countries can be expected to take asylum claims.  That would reduce the incentive for people to come to the US to seek affirmative asylum.

Trump is trying to have Mexico designated as a "safe country" according to international law definition, and trying to get Mexico to follow US timeline in processing asylum claims. 

It was not immediately clear what happens with LGBTQ+ asylum seekers from Central America.

Update: June 7

Julie Ainsley has a disturbing report June 4 on NBC of tremendous overcrowding at the border.  Illegal immigrants are usually not vaccinated.  Tim Pool found a later report from NBC early today saying that DHS has just declared a new emergency at the border. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Australian climate group warns that civilization could end by 2050 if we don't get on a wartime footing now on climate change

The Breakthrough National Center for Climate Restoration in Australia has upped the ante in the worldwide climate change debate with a report that predicts that human civilization could unravel and come to an end by 2050, with “only” a 3 degree Celsius (5 F) average rise in temperature.  The paper, by David Spratt and Ian Dunlopp, is here.  The dire predictions include the usual floods, droughts and migrations so huge that political stability is impossible. 

The New York Post offered a summary of the report today here. 
The Guardian republished some of the paper, calling for a war-time footing to be developed quickly. Will social-credits scores follow? 
2050 is 30 years from now.  30 years ago was like 1989.  That sounds recent.

Ramsay Taplin operates his "Outsidely" in Australia, trying to plant more trees. 

Friday, May 31, 2019

Overcrowded detention centers and family separation abuses continue; Mexico reacts to Trump's tariffs

A DHS inspector has found a facility near El Paso TX (the Del Norte Processing Center) holding 900 migrants in a facility with space for 125 (CNN). 

Many reports say that children are still kept separated for more than 72 hours.

In June 2018, “The Cut” had made a photoessay (with videos) of detention centers in McAllen and Brownsville TX, and San Diego CA, link. I visited Pharr, TX (near McAllen) on US 281 on May 30, 2018.
Mexico’s president has called Trump’s 5% per month tariff on Mexico goods “a provocation” 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Some asylum seekers already in the US want to keep out "illegals": is this logical?

“The Asylumist” takes on the interesting and possibly logical assertion that “legitimate” asylum seekers should support keeping illegal immigrants out by “building that wall”, in a blog post May 30, 2019, here.
 The argument seems to fail on two places:  once in the US and detained, anyone has the legal right to ask for defensive asylum (if there are credible fear grounds).  The other is the recent implementation of the “LIFO” system, which makes it advantageous sometimes to enter the country, which Trump probably didn’t intend

Friday, May 24, 2019

Baseball player raises money for charity in Uganda helping sex trafficking victims

Major League Baseball, or one of its players, makes a contribution to charity overseas.  Detroit Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd and his wife help a charity, Kingdom Home, in Uganda, for girls who are victims of sex trafficking (story). This was featured on NBC Nightly News on May 23. 

Uganda is a difficult country, with its past brutal homophobia aggravated by extremist evangelicals.

Boyd’s charity is interesting because in the U.S. a law which can threaten free speech, called FOSTA, was passed in 2018 to clamp down on use of the Internet to facilitate trafficking.
In 2018, a Chicago Clubs player who beat the Nats with a grand slam home run was reported to have helped run a baseball school in Africa.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Trump's latest merit-based immigration plan evades the "moral" questions

Although Fox News has praised Trump’s (and Jared Kushner's) immigration plan announced Thursday as a boon to the US economy, even Congress is cool about it, as it doesn’t address DACA or other problems with asylum seekers.

It is reasonable, of course, and desirable to increase legal immigration for those immigrants with scare skills that tech employers need, or for seasonable laborers that agriculture needs.

Trump wants to require English proficiency and passing a civics exam, and degrees or employer sponsors.

Critics say that families would be left behind.

We’re back to the same moral dilemma:  should American charity take care its own first before taking care of people overseas, victims of dictatorships and gangs?

That question becomes more pertinent within specialized groups or “tribes”, like LGBTQ.  Those with specific connections to people overseas through their own groups will feel more incentive to help them personally, which keeps bringing back the sponsorship question, as with Canada.

In the meantime, Mexico seems to be closing the welcome mat for more caravans from Central America.

David Agren and Alan Gomez discuss Mexico’s actions in a USA Today story where they also embed Trump’s speech Thursday. 

Trump reported wants to send released undocumented migrants to specific areas like Broward County, FL, where there is no system to take care of them.  Does he want charities to step up?  What about his own hotels? 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Trump declares "national emergency" to allow banning of hardware and software from China, especially in infrastructure

President Trump issued an executive order today giving the Commerce Secretary (or DHS) the authority to ban technology hardware and software sales to or purchases from foreign adversaries, mainly China, for use in critical US infrastructure or business systems.

The Wall Street Journal has the most complete story, by Josh Zumbrum, et al, here. The main companies that could be targeted would be Huawei and ZTE. 

The administration could justify the ban by protecting facilities like the power grids from cyber hacking (or maybe airgap hacks). It could, on the other hand, base bans on privacy concerns of Americans.

The earliest story seemed to come from CNBC, Tucker Higgins, around 5 PM EDT, and was picked up by Smart News and sent to phones as a declaration of a “national emergency”. 

A national emergency (as covered earlier this year, especially on my Books blog in January, during the government shutdown, based on a long Atlantic article back in December 2018) could lead to shutdowns of other Internet services, maybe even social media or user generated content, so the working of the news headlines as sent to phones was a little scary at first.  It took about an hour for most news outlets to publish a more detailed story on what this meant. I was on the road at the time, in an ice cream shop in Warrenton VA, when I saw the headline pop.

The XO is obviously motivated by the trade war with China. But it may be a welcome sign that the Trump administration now takes the power grid threats seriously, as indicated by a March 2019 XO in EMP (which was not made a national emergency).

I wonder if “Economic Invincibility” noticed this story.

David Pakman,  a centrist to moderate liberal channel,  flashed a tweet that he will discuss the tensions with Iran tonight and considers war close at hand.

Tim Pool, who has made several important announcements lately, actually supported Trump today for refusing to back an international call for censorship after Christchurch.

Monday, May 13, 2019

While Maduro supports protest at Venezuelan embassy during police cutoffs, news media now points out connections between Maduro and drug cartels

Today, Ford Fischer and News2Share have numerous videos and tweets about DC police and Secret Service cutting off water and electricity to the Venezuelan embassy in Georgetown and even cutting the rope to get supplies into the building.  You can watch livestream reports Monday here

Protesters from code pink or apparently Maduro, claim they are poor people and victims.

Yet the Washington Post Monday offers an op-ed by Jackson Diehl, blames the drug cartels, or “Cartel of the Suns”.  Ironically this would not happen without the US Reagan-era “war on drugs”.  I remember seeing the Bolivian Revolution panels mentioned here on my visit. 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Trump's tariffs: when will they affect American consumers? "China is not your friend"

The stock market mini-shock from Trump’s tariffs on China have settled, because most experts think it will take about a month for real dealing to happen.

I take this to mean that my mid June Americans will know how much the “sales tax” will affect them.

I wonder how it will affect computers, since I will need to set up a new system to finish my music project (iMac).
What I wonder about is rare earth metals needed by electronics.  China has a lot of that.  Do we need to mine the Moon or asteroids?

Update:  May 13

China retaliated with $60B of its own; Dow down 620 early PM (2.2%).  iMac is made in Ireland, but iPhones are assembled largely in China (but some is Taiwan). 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Trump tries to sound reassuring about Venezuela, Putin, North Korea while Otto's mom calls North Korea a cancer threatening world survival

The narrative that Russia meddled in the 2016 election with social media echo chambers and fake news websites is now called “the Russian Hoax”, according to Trump, speaking about a phone call with Vladimir Putin earlier today.

CNN reports here, as does USA Today.  This is not too comforting since Facebook is having to make such drastic changes in its business model and treatment of users, which could spill over onto other platforms, partly as a result of Russian meddling with American speech. 

Putin denied that he tried to get Maduro to stay in Venezuela rather than escape to “exile” in Cuba.

Putin also seemed to confirm that North Korea was still willing to de-nuclearize.

CodePink activists from Maduro still stand pat against Guaido at the embassy in Washington.  The Secret Service and DC Police have been there but have not evicted the Maduro people, as far as I know, yet.
Cindy Warmbier, Otto’s mother, called North Korea a “cancer” that will get us all killed someday if not stopped, in a speech at the Hudson Institute today.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Venezuela erupts, possible coup near (oh, it is not...)

Widespread media reports suggest a possible or even probable coup in progress in Venezuela, by Juan Guiado.
Tim Pool has a video just out.

His video talks about how he was chased and targeted by leftist “revolutionaries” when he was there.
Maduro is using motorcycle thug gangs organized by Cuba to try to keep some sort of hold.  Gangs have run over pedestrians in the streets on camera as have white tanks.  This is as graphic as was Christchurch. 

John Bolton says “we want some peaceful transfer of power.”  Maduro’s “election” in May 2018 was seen as questionable and his term expired in January 2019 but he did not relinquish power.

Last week, News2Share filmed Maduro persons still at the Venezuelan embassy expecting to be kicked out by the Secret Service.  I paid an outdoor visit Friday.  The staff supported Maduro and his socialism in talking to me on Friday.

Independent journalist Alejandro Alvarez is at the Embassy now streaming. Ford Fischer reports also.

Eli Lake on Bloomberg explains that this is not a coup because Maduro's presence has been illegal since Jan.  Russia discouraged Maduro from escaping to Cuba (according to Pompeo).  Think now about Russia's recent meeting with Kim Jong Un. 

Monday, April 29, 2019

Apparently some non-relatives are allowed to "sponsor" release of some children in migrant shelters at the border; Trump wants to charge asylum seekers

NBC News reports that Trump wants to charge asylum seekers a fee so that all asylum claims can be resolved within 180 days.  This hardly sounds realistic.  Here is the story.  But Trump also wants to deny asylum work permits after the usual 180 days until their asylum is approved, if it still takes longer (it usually does, although there is LIFO), as per CNN. 

This idea would surely lead to fundraisers to pay the fees.

Susanne Gamboa reports a case where a family of non-relatives was finally allowed to “sponsor” a boy from an immigrant shelter after the father was returned to Guatemala.   This could lead to more similar cases and drives by non-profits to find non-relative sponsors.  This is still a murky area.