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.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Venezuela embassy standoff and Putin-North Korea summit; will mainstream media connect the dots, please?

There are a couple of potentially serious things developing quickly.

Ford Fischer of News2Share was at the Venezuelan embassy last night as the “Embassy Protection Coalition” and Medea Benjamim braced for a possible Secret Service raid to remove remnants of the Maduro regime, if I recall properly. The Trump administration wants to recognize only Juan Guaido, as part of the MAGA "red line".

While one may despise Madura and the failure of Venezuela under communism, there is another practical complication.

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un are meeting in a summit near Vladivostok, Russia, on the Pacific Ocean.

Putin has recently announced hypersonic missiles to be available in 2020 for Russia’s defense, and Kim Jong Un could feel emboldened to start missile testing again after meeting with Putin, given the breakdown of talks with Trump in Hanoi.

That, when you think about the possible EMP threat that James Woolsey has talked about before (discussed on these blogs previously) but that the mainstream media refuses to talk about much, could present a devastating risk to the US homeland given Trump’s volatile and unpredictable behaviors.  The Russian missile could also possibly create an undersea detonation and splatter US coasts with fallout. 

 CNN has a typical story. Fox news has an odd story about a “train mishap”.  (If you get an "access denied", copy the URL into your browser and click one more time and you will get the story. Or get it from Twitter, here.   This almost sounds like a perversion of the EU Article 11 "link tax" in the US since news stations don't have paywalls like newspapers do.)
The Washington Times (p. A9 Apr 25) in an article by Guy Sanger talks about Kim and Putin discussing North Korean laborers. 
David E. Sanger of the New York Times had talked about a “Red line” between the US and Putin over Venezuela on April 1. 
Of course, this is speculative, and we’ll have to see what verifiable facts come in if the media pays more attention.  This is all serious stuff.

As of 10 AM Thursday, CNN wasn't taking all this very seriously.  Just business as usual. A slight change in physics leverage. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Notre Dame donations from billionaires stirs more riots in Paris; horror in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday

Yellow Vest protests in France grow as rightist populists join with leftists in demanding expropriation of billionaire wealth, after offers to repair the Notre Dame.

A purification in France?
Sri Lanka has blocked most social media after massive coordinate bombing attacks that seemed to focus on Christians on Easter Sunday, and there have been arrests but little information, Time story. 
Trey Yingst has been covering Sri Lanka from Jerusalem, twitter video here

By Louis H. G. - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Militia group holding undocumented migrants broken, leader arrested by FBI

The FBI has arrested the leader of an armed militia holding undocumented migrants at gun point to turn them over to border patrol, as in the Buzzfeed News story Aldofo Flores. 

The “citizen’s arrest” idea is said not to apply to federal immigration law.  The actions were called kidnappings. 

United Constitutional Patriots funding attempts was cutoff by GoFundMe, Paypal, and probably other processors, whom they want the public to believe is trustworthy for fundraising.
Militias came to public attention back in the 1990s in connection with Timothy McVeigh.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

North Korea resumes "minor" missile testing

North Korea has tested a short range “tactical guided weapon” but not an ICBM, according to many news reports, such as this one on CNN 

This is the first test of anything since a meeting between Trump and Un in Hanoi broke up in February.

But there are more reports of railroad cars near a suspected site where HEU is manufactured.

And Kim Jong Un is expected to meet with Putin in eastern Russia soon.

WJLA7 reported this in Washington DC around 6:02 PM but there were no detailed stories online until around 7 PM when NBC had a story.  ABC News had mentioned it late in the Evening News at 6:30 PM EDT.

Will Ripley of CNN suggests that Kim Jong Un is trying to send a nudge to Trump to back off on the sanctions. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Trump administration orders detention of asylum seekers who enter illegally, even after passing credible fear interviews (90 day wait as DHS is overwhelmed now)

Attorney General William Barr has issued an order, to go into effect in 90 days, to allow the government to hold asylum seekers in detention if they entered the country illegally, even after passing the first credible fear interview.

Here is a typical story, on Slate, by Eliot Hannon. 

The order would seem to contradict the Flores settlement and would probably be litigated. But some experts say that Trump’s order is still legal if limited only to those who entered illegally to start.
Stephan Dinan of The Washington Times writes that migrants who have been released are overwhelming the border city of Yuma, AZ.  
DHS is certainly running out of detention space to enforce Barr’s order.

There remains a question as to whether private citizens could quasi-sponsor asylum seekers.  Recently, there have been special shelters opened (like Casa Ruby in Washington DC) and auto trips to Texas to bring back specific LGBT asylum seekers to several cities. But the mechanisms by which one volunteers to do this have not been made public. 

Some commentators still insist that Trump came up with the family separation last spring deliberately to get around the Flores rule. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Assange hauled out of embassy in London, will face charges in U.S.; implications for journalists, and for Chelsea Manning

The U.S. DOJ has charged Julian Assange with helping Chelsea (previously Bradley) Manning with password cracking to steal classified documents, according to many news reports Thursday morning, for example, the Daily Beast, which links to its earlier story about London police hauling Assange out of the Ecuadoran embassy for jumping bail with regard to an earlier charge of sexual misconduct in Sweden.

Chelsea Manning has been jailed since early March in Alexandria, VA for refusing to testify to a grand jury about Assange.  Some of this time was in solitary confinement. Curiously, the LGBTQ  press doesn’t seem to be willing to cover the matter (while a battle over Trump’s partial transgender ban in the military plays out in the press).  Ford Fischer and his News2Share outlet has reported extensively on her confinement.

But Manning had been given clemency (not the same as a pardon) by President Obama before he left office.

It isn’t clear as of early Thursday what will happen with her confinement.

But a more disturbing question concerns the rights and responsibilities of journalists.  Reporters (and bloggers) may not break the law themselves (as apparently Assange may have). Most legal precedent suggests they may publish classified information sent to them. However, most reputable news outlets will not cross a certain line

In the years following 9/11, I contacted authorities several times when unusual information about possible (sometimes overseas) attacks was passed to me (as my website was quite visible in the early days of Web 1.0).  In at least one case, I later published the contact.   

Pool’s video talks about the responsibilities of journalists and talks about Greenwald and Snowden for comparison. Pool says his video was suppressed for a while.  I had no trouble viewing it.  He mentions the possibility of a "failsafe" release. 

Update: April 16

Lior Leser explains the "conspiracy" part of the US indictment against Assange, which actually failed. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Trump keeps running afoul of the law on asylum seekers; now family separation is a "binary choice"

Trump’s fiasco with asylum seekers at the border changes with the hour.

A federal judge (Richard Seeborg in San Francisco) has ruled that Trump cannot keep asylum seekers in Mexico. 

We’ve already heard about the odyssey of Kirtsjen Nielsen, who resigned after cutting short a long trip (I know the feeling, it happened to me in 1976, with "New York deli service on the way back) to return because Trump thinks she isn’t tough enough.

Vox has the details here

We’ve also heard a lot today about the “binary choice” that Trump wants on family separation. It’s like “Sophie’s Choice”.  Keep families together in detention indefinitely, or let the children be released under Flores while the parents stay in jail. 

We also heard earlier today that Trump had been “planning” family separations since early in his term. That’s bound to lead to more angry demonstrations and protests.  Well, it has to.

Trump has also said, “we have no more room at the inn” for more asylum seekers. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Kim Jong Un visits father's birthplace; what kind of decision is forthcoming?

Kim Jong Un recently attended his father’s birthplace (in Samjiyon).

This has been said to be a warning that he will make an important decision soon.  This could mean, for example, launching a satellite or resuming a nuclear test.  Here is the CNN story

The Korea Times also has a story

A March 15 NYTimes story by Sang-Hoen suggests that Kim could resume playing with nuclear weapons if sanctions are not eased.  This is more than playing with matches. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Trump could close border and disrupt US economy.

I did talk to someone who spent four days in mid March in some border towns, especially McAllen and Brownsville-Matamoros.  It was a church group, and some of the time was spent in service events like cooking and serving meals. It seems as though there are host families in the area. There will be more followup on Wordpress soon.

But we also know that the crisis is increasing, and Trump has threatened to close the border, which could have economic threats, blocking the arrival of imports (like auto repair parts).  A lot of produce could become much more expensive.

Many people live across the border and commute legally. 

Stephanie Collinson explains for CNN, link

Trump also has threatened to cut off aid to Honduras and El Salvador. Trump argues that the governments of these countries allow gangs and cartels to run wild anyway.

Update: April 6

Trump now says he will give Mexico a year to stem the migration or else impose a tariff or then close the border.  He says that the asylum system should be scrapped because it doesn't work (CNN).

Picture, Wikipedia: 
By No machine-readable author provided. Dand8282 assumed (based on copyright claims). - No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY 2.5, Link

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

News reports that asylum seekers waiting to be let in are experiencing violence; Border detentions seems to become unmanageable

NBC News has a compelling story about the peril of asylum seekers held up in Tijuana and not allowed to enter the US. 

And there are plenty of other stories about how overwhelmed customs and border patrol is, with people sleeping outside in tents. 

The situation may be rapidly getting worse, and faith-based organizations are likely to try to organize more efforts.
There have been trips to bring LGBT asylum seekers who were able to apply legally to various shelter or safe houses in various cities around the US, and it is possible for private citizens to “sponsor” them (the government will help only with locating relatives, if there are relatives).  This information (compared to housing requests that were made in 2016) may be circulated much more widely in the gay press soon.
By Baylor98 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Liberian graduate student jeopardized by Trump's intended suspension of of DED

The “deferred enforced departure” (DED) program for humanitarian reasons has gotten much less attention that temporary protected status.
But Andrea Castilo in the Los Angeles Times reports about a Ph D student from Liberia who has not been back there since 2002 under threat of deportation. That’s Yatta Kiazolu who was born in Botswania to Liberian parents. She is now a Ph D candidate in history at Berkeley.

The Trump administration says that Liberia is stable now and that Ebola has subsided.

An insurance company that I worked for owned a Liberian ship registry as a subsidiary in the 1990s. People would even be rotated into management there.
Wikipedia attribution link CCSA 3.0. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

South Korea not so pessimistic about the results of the Hanoi talks ; New Zealand attack

Chung-in Moon writes a more hopeful interpretation of the collapse of the talks between Donald Trump and Kim Jung-Un, from the viewpoint of South Korea, in a lengthy article in Foreign Affairs this spring.

South Korea doesn’t seem to be as dedicated to the idea of “dismantle first”.
Later Friday Vox reported that North Korea has threatened to resume tests.

I've seen the media coverage of the attack in New Zealand by the ethnic right extremist Brenton Torrant, and the "manifesto" is in Document Cloud.  I can only say that I am am absolute anti-tribal individualist and don't pay attention to groups at all.  But I guess I'm "guilty" because I didn't reproduce.  For people who think the way he does, this is a very big deal.  There is controversy over who the extremist named in the manifesto, a potentially very disturbing topic, as was the reported live-streaming.   Some feel that the document is intended to be confusing. More about this later.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Russia special underwater thermonuclear weapon and sub will destabilize NATO soon, and threaten the Baltics

Alex Lockie has a particularly disturbing story in Business Insider about an underwater (detonated deep) thermonuclear weapon, under Putin’s development, which would be detonated undersea near a continent to contaminate most of the continent and make it uninhabitable, maybe a prospect more horrifying even than EMP.  
The weapon would be ready in 2020 and would not be part of the regular Russian Navy, but have special deployment controlled directly by the Kremlin.

Putin wants the weapon to make break up the NATO “attack on one is an attack on all” idea. If NATO were undermined, Putin could move to retake the Baltics and Poland and other former communist states (Finland might be in danger – it has a draft).
 It's natural to wonder if North Korea could get a hold of some version of this new weapon.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Russia tightens online speech laws a bit

James Griffiths and Nathan Hodge have a story on CNN of a new law in Russia providing misdemeanor jail sentences for spreading fake news, or for publishing “disrespect” for government officials.

Russia’s Internet is relatively open compared to China’s (which may have facilitated the meddling in 2016 from St. Petersburg), with some other exceptions like the 2013 anti-gay propaganda law.

The story would tend to suggest it may not be as dangerous for American bloggers to visit Russia now as I had thought.  But Al Jazeera would disagree.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

North Korea appears to be planning a satellite launch soon, possibly with dangerous implications after all

Will Ripley, on CNN, reports Saturday morning March 9, on new evidence that North Korea could be planning a satellite or missile launch soon.

Intelligence from commercial satellite imagery shows assembly of an object a Sanumdong, near Pyongyang, and its placement on a train to Sohae, a location where activity was noted yesterday.

There was talk that a satellite could contain “ICBM components” which could (if you connect the dots) imply the capability of some sort of electromagnetic pulse blast, at least E1 level, from a satellite, as warned previously in early 2017 by James Woolsey.  That could be a strategy to prevent a “bloody nose” retaliation from the Trump administration if there is a launch.

I had not particularly noticed that the Vox article linked in yesterday’s post had explained that Sohae is primarily a satellite facility, not missile.  But satellites could be dangerous.  Even so, a satellite launch in the near future sounds a lot more likely than an ICBM, at least as it is now.

North Korea has released a second “short film” documenting the failure of the Hanoi summit.

Wikipedia article with map (not separate, see entire article).

Ellen Mitchell has a potentially disturbing story in The Hill saying that tensions are reaching the "boiling point" in the headline, referring to an ABC interview with John Bolton on March 10 by Stephanopoulos. But the article is not quite as alarming as the headline. By Raymond K. Cunningham, Jr. - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Thursday, March 7, 2019

North Korea resumes work on missile test site after Hanoi summit with Trump collapses

American intelligence (presumably CIA) reports that North Korea has resumed construction of an apparent missile test site on the southwest coast of North Korea, apparently about 150 miles or so north of the 38th parallel. Politico has a typical report here Reuters has a typical story here. NBC News has a detailed story with photographs and maps from March 5.  It does not appear that there is a missile there immediately ready to launch.

The general spin is that North Korea wants relief from sanctions before progress continues.  Trump does seem willing to scale down the military exercises with South Korea, depending on South Korea’s wishes.

There is also a spin that North Korea has finished local warhead testing and doesn’t need to continue it. Given the way the supposed thermonuclear weapon was put on display in September 2017 that sounds hard to believe.

Were North Korea to start firing missile tests into the Pacific, that would be a very grave development. Yet Vox's Alex Ward argues, don't worry yet.

North Korea even made a "short film" about the summit, described here.

Wikipedia attribution link for North Korea missile picture, CCSA 2.0, by Stefan Krasowski

Wikipedia picture of Kim Jong Un showing off his hydrogen warhead in Sept 2017; Wikipedia says this picture does not have a free license.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Internet said to inflame tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir

The escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan, with both being nuclear powers, stoked talk about “loose nukes” but also is putting social media companies under pressure because content on their platforms , even from individuals in western countries, could fire up local tensions further.  CNN has a story by Ravi Krishnavi “Internet warriors’ are pushing India and Pakistan onto dangerous ground.

Although Nassim Nicholas Taleb had warned about these kinds of asymmetric risks from the Internet in “Skin in the Game”.

Apple News had reported on a lull in the Kashmir in an earlier story by Roshan Mughal.

I had first heard about the escalation from Trey Yingst’s twitter account.

One of the problems is that in developing countries, Facebook (in particular) is “the Internet”.

Wikipedia attribution link to map (p.d.)

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Singapore, China, and the U.S. -- social credit systems creep into our lives

Last night, at a monthly gay social in Arlington VA, there was a middle-aged man from Singapore who explained to me how the government controls everything, including Internet speech and even the showing of movies and presentation of drama, to prevent unrest. Organizing of people into groups is now allowed, except at one location, a town square part.

The reason for this is that Singapore, being small, wants to maintain its brand reputation as a stable place for international business.

I wonder if they are following something like China’s social credit system, which keeps getting tighter.

The Timcast above maintains that a hidden social credit system is coming to the U.S. through payment processors and credit card companies.  There are more cases now of personal checking accounts being cut off.  There is one reported case where the declination was related to a person’s gofundme campaign for a film thought to be racially offensive.  I don’t have any details and will look into this further.  Maybe I’ll be banned by everybody for talking about it ???

Seriously, I made an announcement about my own “future” (especially at the end of 2021, 32 more months) on my dadtnotes blog and will explain more of my reasoning soon on these legacy blogs, but the tense and combative and polarized political climate is one reason.   And some of this seems to have to do with the horror that a Donald Trump or a Mike Pence could really win in 2020 – because the Democrats have gone so far to the extreme Left.  

Update: March 12

Economic Invincibility weighs in on the social credit score issue today.  EI has expressed some support for Trump but seems entirely logical and objective.  Maybe on national security matters (and climate change) the White House needs one person under 30 as another "adult in the room" because someone of Martin's age has to live much longer with any catastrophe that happens, so has pragmatism as well as ideology to consider. 
By Erwin Soo from Singapore. - Panorama evening, Singapore Skyline.., CC BY 2.0, Link

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Trump and Kim start second summit in Hanoi, ironic given the Vietnam war of the past

Meg Wagner and Veronica Rhoda have a summary story of the prep for the meeting between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump.

Kim, shown smoking cigarettes and still fat in the media, took a 1300-mile armored train ride through eastern China.

It’s interesting that Trump and Kim had a preparatory dinner tonight.

Trump seems to have flipped 180 degrees, and seems content as long as Kim doesn’t do tests outside his boundaries.

One year ago this date, there was concern from some observers that even on the US mainland US civilians could be put in measurable danger by Trump’s aggressive attitude, which had perhaps started to soften a bit during the winter Olympics.

Trump is trying to push the idea that North Korea could become like Vietnam, and have a kind of statist capitalism under a Communist party – essentially like China.  That's ironic for all of us who were drafted during the Vietnam war.  But that would undermine the idea of “a god king”.  If you’re going to rule the world, at least look physically fit.

Update: Thursday, Feb. 28 

The talks ended without an agreement, because Kim insisted on lifting the sanctions first. John Hudson and Simon Denyer give a pessimistic assessment in this op-ed in the Washington Post. Could missile tests start to happen again?

Monday, February 25, 2019

Is the Venezuelan mess related to Russian and Chinese meddling? Then what about El Salvador?

Hal Brands writes in Bloomberg that the unrest in Venezuela is partly provoked by Russian and Chinese influence in Latin America, in other countries like Ecuador and Nicaragua, using business deals to support authoritarian leaders who promote instability. 

It wouldn’t be hard to extend this reasoning to what is happening in El Salvador with the gangs and breakdown of rule of law. 

But of course it is easy for the US (most of all Trump) to say that Maduro’s behavior, blocking aid, shows how socialism can collapse into outright immorality. 

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Roger Noriega encourages Trump to double down on Maduro.
Look at this PDF showing the sentencing Maduro.  

Wiki: By The Photographer - Own work, CC0, Link

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Putin doubles down on missile threat to US over European policy

Putin has threated the US with missile deployment that could target “decision centers”, should the US place missiles in Europe (so as to defend the Baltics or possibly even Finland). Neil MacFarguhar writes for the New York Times.  Russian interference is likely already affecting EU politics and breakup movements.

Putin is responding to Trump’s withdrawal from a nuclear weapons containment treaty.

Putin has also claimed hypersonic missiles which would threaten any NORAD defenses.

Yet, there were stories last night on CNN claiming that Trump could be a “Russian agent”.

And Trump believes North Korea has no missiles capable of reaching the US because Putin told him so.

Reuters reports that Putin threatened a "Cuban missile crisis" if the US invites it.
Expect more unusual tactics from the Russians, maybe even “libel trolling” the media.  

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Hungary offers the most energetic pro-birth incentives yet

Hungary’s right-wing prime minister Viktor Orban just nixed the income tax lifetime for women who bear four or more children.  NBC News has a typical story (AP sources) here.  This story definitely presents the values of the "alt-right".

Some of the provisions encourage marriage, some just encourage reproduction.  There is a subsidy for the purchase of large vans for large families.  There is a low-interest loan for women under 40 marrying for the first time, forgiving a third of the debt with a second child and the entire loan after the third child.  There is also a loan program for children with two or more children.

But what sounds offensive is the idea that Orban wants “Hungarian children” and a group identity, with “zero tolerance” for immigration, which takes Trumpism to extreme.

As a gay male, I can’t see getting it up to give my group more children or copies of my genes.

I don’t seem to have those tomcat instincts.   Hungary doesn't seem like a good place for men who don't reproduce. 

Wikipedia: By Il conte di Luna from Brescia - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Trump claims Obama/Hillary would have started a war with North Korea and that he restrained himself

In a story “The War that Wasn’t”, Peter Baker writes about Donald Trump’s claim that Barack Obama was prepped for a pre-emptive strike against North Korea as if Hillary Clinton would have done it.

In fact, there was a lot talk about a very dangerous “bloody nose attack” (maybe magnetic flux on infrastructure) until at least the Winter Olympics. Mattis had to remain the officially recognized adult in the room for a while.  By March 2018 the president seemed much less likely to do it and gradually set up the summit, where he buttered up Kim Jong Un.

Trump has said that placating Kim was necessary to avoid war, which is un-Trump-like behavior generally.
Trump has also said that he does not believe North Korea can reach the continental US with nuclear missiles because "Putin told him so" (CNN).  That contradicts US intelligence.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Russia will test blocking international Internet within its borders

MSNBC reports that Russia is testing limiting the Internet to its own borders (quasi-China) at least as a temporary national security test, link here. This follows Fareed Zakaria's discussion of the Internet kill switch in many countries Sunday. 

Dan Coates talked about this as he also warned that Russia could turn off electricity in New England in the dead of winter.  EMP would do that – but air gaps make that very hard to do with cyberthreats alone.

In the meantime, note the bad news from the EU on the Copyright Directive on my main blog == it's getting worse and more ominous. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Fareed Zakaria GPS looks at the Internet kill switch around the world

Fareed Zakaria today, on his Global Public Square, discussed the inclination of depots overseas to use the “Internet Kill Switch”, breaking down the original promise of “Intrinsic Liberty”. 
Apparently Internet access has been cut off completely for some periods in Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Sudan, and Bangladesh.

There were partial blackouts at least 188 times in 2018.

In Egypt, any content provider with at least 5000 followers must register with the government, and Russia has similar rules.

India has had 128 partial shutdowns in its history.

And China’s Internet is, as we know, a “walled garden”.
Less developed countries take incitement and political instability very seriously.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

News2Share is livestreaming Yellow Vest protests from France; more on LGBT at southern border

Ford Fischer (News2Share) is in Paris filming Yellow Vest protesters who are still active, with somewhat diffuse political objectives.
Here is a typical video now. 

The Daily Mail has a recent story indicating that the protests are now in their 13th straight week. 

There are protests in other cities, like Nantes.  There is talk of a recall referendum.  Could France to a Brexit or Frexit?
Fischer has made over videos on Facebook showing the safety gear press needs to cover protests.
Other reporters whom I know are abroad.  Trey Yingst works as a foreign correspondent in Jerusalem for Fox and reports on problems with Gaza.  Michael Lavers of the Washington Blade has visited Puerto Rico and now the southern border areas (esp. Texas) to look at issues for LGBTQ asylum seekers.

The New York Times now has a detailed story by Adam Nossiter.

By Thomon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Thomas Friedman unscrambles immigration and border security history and policy for Congress and Trump

Thomas L. Friedman, the futurist opinion writer and author who has talked about flat Earth, sort of (call it projection of a tesseract), asks “What if Trump could explain as well as he inflames?  

I guess this essay would get maximum points on any AP history test.  Right, he explains why smaller countries tend to become despotic and why people in these countries need to leave, and how better policy could lessen the need for emigration.  Friedman’s prose rather reminds me of the vlogger “Economic Invincibility”  -- who makes perfect sense most of the time in a world not ready for a 26 year old to be president, perhaps (let alone an 18-year-old).  Well, Friedman is constitutionally old enough to run for president now.

The role of cellphones and Internet is well noted.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Colonialism may have contributed to today's tribalism

Journalist Christine Mungai, in the Sunday Outlook section of the Washington Post, decries the use of the term “tribalism”, as explaining our political domestic political schisms.  Amy Chua and even Sebastian Junger (back in the spring of 2016) notwithstanding, Mungai says “we don’t understand tribes” and this popular political shorthand is “racist”. 

She argues that colonialism helped shape the character of tribal behavior in Africa, and goes on to discuss the intricate social customs of the 44 tribes that make up Kenya.

Then there is the issue specifically of how France (Macron) treats the formerly French areas of Africa, which used to be part of the sovereign territory of France. 

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Trump and Putin up the ante; the Deepfakes problem menaces

Two headlines:

First, it’s common sense that Trump’s pulling out of a Cold War arms pact and Putin’s reciprocation is Milo-dangerous.  Here’s a typical story, on The Hill.  The biggest concern may be forgetting about the nuclear threat initiative’s (Sam Nunn) to police up all loose nuclear or radioactive caches around the world, especially former Soviet republics.

I’ll also share CNN’s feature page on the Pentagon’s war on Deepfake videos, particularly before the 2020 elections.  Off hand, if President Trump wanted a legitimate reason to declare a national security emergency, this development could provide the cannon fodder. Right now even amateurs can mimic others and make it appear others have said things they really didn't.  How this could be met will generate more blog posts – if our speech environment can stay up and survive all these political threats.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Trump's vision of national security seems naive to CIA; North Korea wants the rest of the world to denuclearize before it will

Intelligence and FBI chief briefed the Senate Intelligence committee Wednesday and, to put it mildly, disagreed with Donald Trump’s rosy assessment of US security. ABC News has a summary

Russia and China are both dangerous with their cyber campaigns, which may be able to cripple sectiosn of US infrastructure.  But most of all, Russia is able to exploit the divides among Americans that exist on personal levels, which keep them being able to accommodate the needs of others whom they feel are enemies or beneath them, without feeling personally slighted.

And intelligence is skeptical of Trump’s handling of North Korea, where Trump claims that missile development and testing has stopped even if it meant buttering up Kim Jong Un.  Trump has even said so publicly since the summit.

But Iran is not the threat to the US Trump claims it is, although it is a threat to Israel which could make it a threat to the US.

Remember how Turkey fit into resolving the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Trump’s claims about the southern border are seen as exaggerated, although even EFF now says that sometimes physical barriers are better than cyber surveillance. 

Brookings discusses the negotiations with the Taliban. And the CIA thinks ISIS can come back. 
Kamala Harris mentioned power grid security today, possibly thinking about the PSEG bankruptcy.