Keep an Eye on the News, Summer 2018

The news is coming fast and furious right now, probably because of the coming midterms and there are so many interesting stories that I will not be able to write in depth about each one of them while they are still relevant. So here are a few things you might want to keep an eye on.

21contractors-01-jumbo

Immigration:

We still have to watch what will happen to those children we have stolen, the ones we now don’t have enough information to give back to their parents. Will we find a way to reunite these families. These children have disappeared into the foster care system or into centers run by charitable organizations who have been taking care of immigrant children for some time now. There is also a private business called MVM which is being paid $750/day for each child in their program.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/intelligence-contractor-makes-millions-flying-immigrant-kids-to-shelters

https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2016/09/15/nearly-500-immigrant-children-call-fort-bliss-home-temporarily/

We also have to keep an eye on Congress in the matter of immigration. Trump is very angry at Democrats and is saying some pretty terrible things about them, such as calling them child traffickers because they will not vote for the hardline Goodlatte immigration bill favored by Trump and the extremists on the right-wing in the House – The Freedom Caucus. Goodlatte version 1 failed to pass the US House vote – today, 6/19/2018. Is there a bill that can pass and what will it mandate at our southern border?

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/393460-hardline-immigration-bill-fails-in-the-house/

Leaving Our Allies

leaving un human rights Getty images

Human Rights Council of UN – We left the Council.

“After more than a year of complaints and warnings — some subtle and others a little less so — the Trump administration has announced that the United States is withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley announced the decision in a joint statement Tuesday.”

“’I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from human rights commitments,” Haley told the media. “On the contrary, we take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.’”

https://www.npr.org/2018/06/19/621435225/u-s-announces-its-withdrawal-from-u-n-s-human-rights-council

Are you feeling the isolation yet?

China and Plastics

plastic waste big nyt.com

China will no longer collect the world’s plastics.

“An estimated 111 million metric tons of plastic waste will be displaced by 2030 as a result of China’s recent ban on the import of most plastic waste, according to new research.”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/06/21/china-ban-plastic-waste-recycling/721879002/

Climate Change and Immigration:

draught in Honduras, etc big

Apparently climate change is making matters worse in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, which may be a partial explanation for the tensions and gang activities in those nations and in the number of immigrants we are seeing. The Northern Triangle, the dry corridor, consisting of these three nations, has been experiencing long draughts and then long periods of torrential rains which has caused crops to fail and raised prices on food and made choices scarcer.

“One factor causing migrants to risk everything—even potentially losing their children—to travel through the heat of summer in the dangerous desert and towards the barbed wire fences and tent cities springing up just south of the United States border: climate change.

Many of the migrants being detained here now hail from what’s referred variously as the Dry Corridor or the Northern Triangle, which consists of the three countries immediately south of Mexico: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/climate-change-sparked-the-border-migration-crisis

Reorganizing Government

Mick Mulvaney nyt big

There is plan afoot to combine some government departments to help make government smaller, supposedly. Mick Mulvaney would like to combine the Departments of Education and Labor. (Do we see how this might lead to an emphasis on vocational training, over a more college bound approach to education, in order to remake the goals students will tend to pursue after leaving high school.) This reorganization includes changes in our social safety net. Read all about it.

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/393479-white-house-releases-sweeping-proposal-to-reorganize-government/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/congress/white-house-to-propose-merging-education-labor/2018/06/21/8f5e8e54-7561-11e8-bda1-18e53a448a14_story.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/us/politics/trump-welfare-department-reorganization.html

Will An Authoritarian Leader Be Unseated

Muharrem Ince big Turkey

Erdogan is the leader of Turkey and, if you have been paying attention, he has grown more and more authoritarian in his approach to governing Turkey. There was a coup, which many think Erdogan may have engineered. When Erdogan ended the coup he got to do some pretty brutal purging.

On June 24ththere is an election in Turkey. Mr. Ince is running against Erdogan and he is attracting crowds, surprisingly. The world is kind of waiting with some hope that Ince can unseat Erdogan on June 24th. That’s pretty close to now. Keep an ear bent.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/opinion/ince-erdogan-turkey-election.html

 

Know Your Dictators 2

FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives at the EU summit in Brussels

Hungary

Viktor Orbán

These are notes taken from Paul Lendval writing in The Atlantic.

Timeline

1989

Orbán was a young man, unshaven with long hair (26 years old)

Fidesz – He was a member of this youth group. He gave a 6 ½ minute speech calling for free elections and withdrawal of soviet troops.

Instant fame.

1992

By the age of 30 he was in control of Fidesz

1994

Moved his party (Fidesz) to the right

1998

Fidesz won the election and Orbán became the youngest PM in the history of Hungary.

1998-2002

Prime Minister of Hungary

2010 – present

Prime Minister again and expected to win on April 8th(Lendval’s article was written on April 7th, the day before the election. Orbán won the election.

Ideology

Orbán began as a liberal, a “fiery left-wing atheist”. He was very poor as a child. He worked with the Soros Foundation and even took his family to Oxford under Soros Foundation sponsorship but he returned to Hungary after only 4 months in England.

Now Orbán is a right-wing populist leader.

Ethnic Nationalism and Deep-rooted Corruption mark his rule in Hungary, a return to past practice.

Orbán is busy now “concentrating power, eliminating constitutional safeguards, reshaping the state in his image (?), and posing a potential threat to even the future of the EU.”

Orbán is now a multimillionaire.

He wants Hungary to be a Christian nation (true, but also a message to the people of Hungary about how he will treat the issue of migrants and refugees from Syria who are usually not Christians)

He calls his own brand of government “illiberal democracy”.

Fidesz explores the “national question” – there is still much “bitterness” about the unnatural divisions of the people of Hungary caused by a post WW I treaty. Many nurse feelings of “national humiliation”.

Orbán runs on “faith in the homeland and Christian values” (know your peeps)

Policy

Orbán has filled state power positions with loyal supporters.

He uses Immigration as a “wedge issue”, with the migrant and refugee crisis at its highest point.

Orbán built a fence (wall) – a 110 mile fence on the border with Serbia and another fence on the border with Croatia. He exploits both the “victim myth” from that post WW I treaty and the “will to survive”.

“Even critics of the government’s harsh treatment of asylum seekers admitted that Orbán saw earlier than most of his EU colleagues that borders had to be controlled before a relocation plan for migrants could be agree upon.”

“[He] won back support by weaponizing the immigration issue.”

76% of the people of Hungary thought refugees would increase the likelihood of terrorism.

82% believed refugees too jobs and social benefits, creating a social burden.

Implications

Orbán has been influencing other post-communist states to join a nationalistic group which so far includes the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.

“…to quote the chairman of the European Stability Initiative think tank, Gerald Knaus, [he is] the most dangerous man in the European Union.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/04/viktor-Orbán-hungary/557246/

The following information is from an article in the New York Times by Patrick Kingsley on May 1, 2018.

“After Viktor Orbán’s Victory, Hungary’s Judges Start to Tumble”

Courts

A “flurry of judges began resigning in quick succession.”

“[O]ne of Mr. Orbán’s oldest friends and allies, Tunde Hando, has systematically packed the courts with loyalists in her role as chief of the judiciary for the past six years.”

Orbán is facing discipline “under a process known as the Article 7 procedure.

Censure could affect “the thinking of investors,” says Knaus.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/01/world/europe/hungary-viktor-Orbán-judges.html

 

 

 

Sinclair Broadcasting on Immigration

Sinclair Broadcasting has once again left its biased fingerprints all over my local news. It looks as if this right wing media propaganda outlet has learned to be a bit more subtle about the stories they force on local news outlets. They have abandoned their easily recognizable mouthpiece, Brian Ephstyen for new sources that do not identify their leanings, unless you are a listener who pays attention to sources.

October 6, 2017 on the evening news there was offered up, in some detail, the report of a group called FAIR – (Federation for American Immigration Reform) giving us data (collected by the group) which tells exactly what illegal immigrants cost Americans (supposedly a lot).

There is enough divisiveness already in my county in the middle of New York State to call out a tar-and-feather incident against “cheating” immigrants and “favored” refugees at the slightest provocation. And here are our most popular local news stations reporting data designed to turn up the level of anger almost to the boiling point.

Apparently Sinclair does not realize how apolitical most of our residents are most of the time. But there may come a time when people begin to see that they don’t have to tune into Fox News or Rush Limbaugh to get their righteous indignation levels topped off. They can get a great dose of “stranger danger” right on their local news.

Here are some of the numbers offered up by FAIR and Sinclair. They are presented in the new graphic format favored by Donald Trump which we are beginning to see everywhere, especially in presentations of data summarized by Congressional committees. The Russia committee in the Senate had such a chart done in blue and white information chunks (pictographs and numbers, the new hieroglyphics) when they moaned on camera yesterday about being unable to talk with the author of the Russian dossier.

 

 

 

But who is this group FAIR and do they live up to their name or did they adopt it to throw us off the scent? They are definitely a right wing group and they have fought to get immigrants out of America for some time. There is no fact check data yet on their latest report because it is very new, but there are fact check reports dating back to 2002 which call into question the supposed facts of this extreme group.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that definitely leans left, but which has a solid reputation and is not usually considered a propagandist organization has a few things to say about FAIR.

“FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements. Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country. One of the group’s main goals is upending the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans. FAIR President Dan Stein has called the Act a ‘mistake’.”

Follow the link above to the article which contains much more evidence in case you are unconvinced by this little tidbit.

Why would my local news station include such a bogus study unless it was ordered to do so by Sinclair? The national news we used to be offered came from more mainstream sources, mostly the Associated Press or similar outlets. In this case we were told that this was a study by a research group called FAIR. All a listener had to do was look up the group on the internet to see its bona fides but I doubt that many people did that. The story was not reported in print on the site at cnycentral .com used by the local news channels, and there was, once again, no place for comments or public feedback on the site.

Did the story make a splash? I am guessing that those who heard it and agreed with it may have gotten a smug smile on their face to congratulate themselves on how they were able to make such correct assumptions, and that this article proves that immigrants are taking money from hard-working Americans. But, considering the source, does it? I have yet to hear any backlash against the story. But I am writing this, and perhaps someone will send an editorial to the local paper, if they will print it, which I doubt.

Syracuse University lost Si Newhouse this week and they are grateful for all he has done to make Syracuse an important center for training journalists and for the communications industry, but as I understand it, the Newhouse family are possibly the very Conservatives who are forcing local journalism away from the middle road and into the fringes of the nuts on the right wing. I would not want our college to lose its academic clout, but I would hope that we might see a more moderate trend coming back into at least our local print news.

If Sinclair Broadcasting is controlling your local media market call them out whenever you get a chance. They will not tell your neighbors where their news is coming from or that it might possibly be designed to sway their feelings in order to nudge them to agree with the opinions endorsed by Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

Immigration Policy – Please Rethink Mass Deportations

I think in order to deal with the immigration issue fairly you have to engage that special ability that most of us possess; you must be empathetic. You have to imagine that you live in a nation suddenly made un-liveable, perhaps by war, or famine, or a power vacuum and resulting lawlessness, or just a society so stagnant that you can see that your children will always be doomed to the deprivations of poverty.

Try Empathy

You have to follow the mental experience a bit further, and hear the stories about America that people tell. These stories say that America is not paved with gold but is still a land of opportunity where enterprising people can get a job, or start a business, and slowly build a good life for themselves and for their children. You find people who share with you ways to enter American legally and offer instructions for how to stay longer than is legal. You find a land that is far from perfect but you are willing to start at the bottom, in the most onerous, poorly paid jobs and then build up patiently to a better life. Often you and your family are willing to do work American citizens will not do.

Maybe you came to meet someone and outstayed your visa. If you came alone perhaps you came as a student and overstayed your visa. Maybe you never actually attended college at all and just enrolled to get into the country. Maybe you walked across a border successfully avoiding customs and then stayed.

Immigrant Guilt

There are some things that are problematic about your decision to stay here without legal status. Perhaps you need to steal an identity to get the documents you need to be employed, so you hack someone’s computer or steal a purse or wallet or buy a fake ID. Some employers know you have no papers but will look the other way and pay you under the table. These actions make you a criminal in your new land so you must hide, live a life that is full of fear and less free than the lives of legal citizens, to avoid calling attention to yourself. Stealing ID’s hurts someone who is a legal citizen and you know that it is wrong. Working under the table leaves you with no protections against an abusive or exploitative boss. Either way you wish you were here legally, especially for your children’s sake.

America’s Guilt

In many ways Americans know your status but look the other way. Schools care about educating children so they don’t make a big deal of it if they happen to suspect that an immigrant family did not come into the country through proper channels.

Suddenly though, after the 2016 election, immigrant families find themselves in great danger of being plucked out of their new, always precarious existence and threatened with imminent deportation. It doesn’t matter, apparently, how many years you have been here. If you have a fake ID you are classified as a criminal and you are in even greater danger of being deported. Maybe you speak perfect English (or not), maybe you have paid taxes for years, maybe you have a business. You feel like an American, but suddenly you are about to be hunted down and arrested and turned out of your life.

What you did was wrong but you did it for the best of reasons (survival) to save the lives of you and your family. But America knew that this was happening and they let you stay. People did get deported; there always was the nagging fear that you might be discovered and sent back to the bad situation you came from. As time went by perhaps you felt safer and safer; more and more an American and you had children here who are citizens.

Now I’m back from my empathy experiment, but I am able to keep that viewpoint in mind.  I’m me again, a poor but still privileged white woman born in America. Up until now I have never lived in a land that was chaotic or dangerous, or in an area that was devastated by a natural disaster. Since the 2016 election I am more worried about our stability as a nation, right here in America. But I have put myself in the immigrants’ place, so I must be honest. If my family faced these circumstances and I was told of a possible way out, I think I (or you) might do the same and take that chance.

And I am watching our own President try to do something I never thought I would see in America. He is going to expel people who have been allowed to stay in America for years – to send them back into countries they don’t even call home anymore. It is not the Holocaust – when people were rounded up and murdered – but it feels so much like that; at least enough like it to tell us that it is wrong. Obviously some people will be sent back to lands that are so unstable that murder or rape or kidnapping could be real possibilities. Will neighbor turn in neighbor? Will sympathetic Americans have to hide immigrants? How will that work in such a populated world? Exactly how will immigrants without documents be identified? I cannot imagine that any of this will make life pleasant for anyone in America. How unpleasant will things get? Will some American citizens have to lose their freedom or even their lives to oppose this activity?

We Are to Blame

It is actually our fault these folks came and were allowed to stay. We don’t have a consistent way to check documents without also making citizens carry papers. We don’t have any hard borders except between Canada and Mexico and America and, as we know, many argue that these border are not all that secure. It feels un-American and is perhaps un-Constitutional to make people present documents on demand. So we have been very lax about immigration. I contend that we cannot hold people responsible if they break laws that are rarely enforced.

America needs a way to track temporary visas and find the visa holders when those documents expire. But all of the ways we could do this are distasteful or invasive or ineffective. Visas could be placed under the skin as we do with the chips to keep track of our pets. You don’t like that idea? It also has flaws. What if you travel a lot? You will have lots of implants. What if someone with no compunctions kills you in order to physically remove your implant? There will end up being a market in counterfeit implants. We are even more creative in our criminal endeavors than we seem to be in our technological innovations these days. If you don’t like that idea then perhaps you have other ways we could keep track of expired visas and pair that information with the locations of the people who let that visa expire. Right now people with expired visas can easily get lost among 350 million of us.

There must be a way to find people who got here in ways that are not approved without rousting them out after they have made a new life and sending them back to a land that is no longer theirs. However, until we have a fair way to send undocumented people back “home,” we should fight against this current administration’s plan which is inhumane and which will cause as much damage to our American democracy/republic as it will to the people who are deported.

Grandfather in the people who are here and put in place a workable system for those who are currently arriving here and staying too long. Don’t do this deportation assault in the way that these executive actions mandate. Congress, do your jobs. Interview experts, devise a system, try it out, and start over if that doesn’t work. Stop undoing programs we need and really do your homework to set up an immigration system (not a wall) that is not too invasive to citizens and works to stop people from breaking rules that are not real rules because they are rarely, unevenly, and ideologically applied.

The new Executive Action we are hearing about is just as awful as the one the courts recently overturned. We will be judged harshly by nations around the globe and many countries will not allow deported individuals back in which will leave thousands in limbo. Steve Bannon may want to isolate us from other nations but it is not a good plan. It will cause atrophy and it will make us more of a target than we are for aggression from bad actors. But this time we won’t have any friends.