February 4, 2017

sane

The authors are real. The articles are fake. Who is behind the sinister ‘CGS’ website? (Yahoo News)

“The CGS Monitor … has taken fake news to new depths with its use of fake opinions,” Mefford wrote in a posting this week on the Atlantic Council’s website. “How do we really know who said what? Academics, scholars, politicians, and writers must now vigilantly manage their brand as a core part of their work. Your opinion, it turns out, may no longer actually be yours.”


Even South Park “Can’t Keep Up” with Donald Trump

How do you do you “do” satire when the entire American scene seems like one giant episode of a satire movie?

Parker noted that the show’s most recent season, which coincided with the bitter final throes of the election season, tried at first to mock current events—before admitting that their efforts “couldn’t keep up” with the unfolding reality.

“You know, it was like what was actually happening was way funnier than anything we could come up with,” Parker continued. “You know what I mean? So. . .we decided to just kind of back off and let them do their comedy and we‘ll do ours.”


Along those lines…

How to Stay Sane as a Cartoonist in Trumpland

I know we’ll all “remain sane” somehow—we have to, so that we can be smart and energized and fight back. But with three years and fifty-odd weeks to go, there are definitely moments when I find myself in total sympathy with this comment someone recently added to his post of my cartoon on Twitter: “My desire to be well-informed makes me wish I could fall asleep and wake up on a different planet.”


Posting for its relevance to the climate debate generated by the Trump presidency…

The Snow Guardian of the Rockies

For over 40 years, a man named billy barr (he prefers his name to be spelled all lowercase) has lived alone in a small cabin in Gothic, Colorado. It’s one of the coldest and most isolated places in the United States. Bored and without anything to preoccupy himself, he began recording snow levels in 1973. “The main thing I interacted with was the weather and the animals, so I just started recording things just cause it was something to do,” he says in this short film, The Snow Guardian, by Day’s Edge Productions. “I had nothing to prove, no goals, no anything.” Climate researchers at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab discovered that barr’s detailed records showed compelling evidence of climate change, and the data has been vital in understanding the severe impending effects of global warming. For more information, visit www.endofsnow.com and read “The Hermit Who Inadvertently Shaped Climate-Change Science.


The Deep Denialism of Donald Trump

There are horrific lies of omission: last week, the White House released a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that pointedly declined to refer to Jews, because others were killed, too. And there are denials of truth that are impossible to categorize: the President met with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., an anti-vaccine zealot with a history of falsehoods, and talked to him about possibly forming a commission on vaccine safety. (After Kennedy said he’d actually been asked to lead such a commission, provoking dismay, the Trump team said that no decision had yet been made.) Then there are lies so ludicrous that it is hard (though essential) to take them seriously: according to Trump, the United States has just gone through the most devastating instance of voter fraud in the nation’s history. And, in his telling, every one of the millions of illegal votes happened to be cast for his opponent.


 

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February 1, 2017

Muslim ban


Starting off with a few fun tweets…

rowling


Setting a dangerous precedent, the President has now refused to work with CNN:

White House ices out CNN (Politico)

The White House has refused to send its spokespeople or surrogates onto CNN shows, effectively icing out the network from on-air administration voices.

“We’re sending surrogates to places where we think it makes sense to promote our agenda,” said a White House official, acknowledging that CNN is not such a place, but adding that the ban is not permanent.

A CNN reporter, speaking on background, was more blunt: The White House is trying to punish the network and force down its ratings.

“They’re trying to cull CNN from the herd,” the reporter said.

Administration officials are still answering questions from CNN reporters. But administration officials including White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and senior counselor Kellyanne Conway haven’t appeared on the network’s programming in recent weeks.

Spicer, speaking at an event at the George Washington University on Monday, denied that CNN was being frozen out, pointing out that he’s answered CNN’s questions in the regular daily briefings.

But, he added “I’m not going to sit around and engage with people who have no desire to actually get something right.”

Calling something fake news because you don’t like the facts is completely in line with the post-truth presidency.


Steve Bannon’s own words show sharp break on security issues

Rhetoric like this is dangerous and quite insane.

Steve Bannon, who has ascended in just months from relative obscurity to become one of President Trump’s most influential advisors, has said that Islam is “the most radical” religion in the world and the U.S. is engaged in a civilizational struggle potentially leading to “a major shooting war in the Middle East again.”

This is eminently reassuring as well, given his new role on the NSC:

“We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years, aren’t we?” he said in March 2016. “There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face — and you understand how important face is — and say it’s an ancient territorial sea.”

This man is unhinged:

“The way the media is presenting this, it’s almost like they’re conforming to blasphemy law,” he said. “They will not criticize Islam, the president of the United States will not criticize Islam. Mrs. Clinton will not criticize Islam. Do you get a sense that the media in the West — and I mean in London and in the United States — is almost working under the precepts of sharia law right now?”

Concern about brewing conflict, he said, was a fundamental concept behind Bannon’s media enterprise. “Our big belief, one of our central organizing principles at the site, is that we’re at war,” he said.

It’s war. It’s war. Every day, we put up: America’s at war, America’s at war. We’re at war,” he said in December 2015. “Note to self, beloved commander in chief: We’re at war.”


No ‘G’day, mate’: On call with Australian prime minister, Trump badgers and brags

“This is the worst deal ever,” Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to confirm that the United States would honor its pledge to take in 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center. Trump, who one day earlier had signed an executive order temporarily barring the admissions of refugees, complained that he was “going to get killed” politically and accused Australia of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.”

U.S. officials said that Trump has behaved similarly in conversations with leaders of other countries, including Mexico. But his treatment of Turnbull was particularly striking because of the tight bond between the United States and Australia — countries that share intelligence, support one another diplomatically and have fought together in wars including in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Trump Executive Order Threatens Foreign Students. How Will Their Universities Respond?

“One of things we are advocating is that schools resist providing information about their students from the federal government,” says Shirin Vossoughi, an assistant professor at Northwestern University. “It’s possible that in the future the Trump administration may attempt to withhold funding from publicly funded schools if they refuse to share information, but it’s important for them to stand strong on this issue.”

The University of Alberta is actively recruiting students from the affected travel ban countries:
The U of A has waived application fees for citizens of the seven countries affected by the U.S. travel ban. Applicants from these affected countries with questions about study permits, or concerns about meeting application or document deadlines, should contact University of Alberta International at welcome@international.ualberta.ca for advice. The university will make efforts to accommodate, wherever possible.

Trump to focus counter-extremism program solely on Islam

The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.


Leaked Draft of Trump’s Religious Freedom Order Reveals Sweeping Plans to Legalize Discrimination

The draft order seeks to create wholesale exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious or moral objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, and trans identity, and it seeks to curtail women’s access to contraception and abortion through the Affordable Care Act.

Language in the draft document specifically protects the tax-exempt status of any organization that “believes, speaks, or acts (or declines to act) in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life.”


declutter


And I end today with a protest poem from 1914 by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Here it is read by Amanda Palmer.

PROTEST

To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticize oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.

Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.
Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.

Originally posted at Brainpickings.org.

January 30, 2017

1939


Suspect in Quebec Mosque Attack Quickly Depicted as a Moroccan Muslim. He’s a White Nationalist. (The Intercept)

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer exploited the attack to justify President Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. “It’s a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant and why the President is taking steps to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to our nation’s safety and security,” Spicer said at this afternoon’s briefing when speaking of the Quebec City attack.

But these assertions are utterly false. The suspect is neither Moroccan nor Muslim. The Moroccan individual, Mohamed Belkhadir, was actually one of the worshippers at the mosque and called 911 to summon the police, and played no role whatsoever in the shooting.


Trump fires acting AG after she declines to defend travel ban (CNN.com)

President Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night for “refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” the White House said.

“(Yates) has betrayed the Department of Justice,” the White House statement said.


Questions multiply over Bannon’s role in Trump administration (Washington Post)

Bannon has no job experience in foreign policy. After serving in the Navy for seven years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, his eclectic career took him to Goldman Sachs, to consulting to documentary filmmaking and then to the running of Breitbart News, a far-right website known for peddling conspiracy theories.

From his perch as chief of Breitbart News, which produced a satellite radio show, Bannon cemented his role as a champion of the alt-right, an anti-globalism movement that has attracted support from white supremacists and helped power Trump’s populist White House victory.

Trump sees Bannon as a generational peer who shares his anti-establishment instincts and confrontational style. According to several people familiar with their relationship, Bannon has cultivated a rapport with Trump over security issues in recent months, and impressed Trump with his grasp of policy in talks they have held together with top intelligence and military officials.


Starbucks to hire 10,000 refugees worldwide after Trump ban (Yahoo.com)

Message from Howard Schultz to Starbucks Partners: Living Our Values in Uncertain Times

We are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question.

The promise prompted #boycottstarbucks to trend on Twitter, here is a sampling of some of the tweets:

On the anti-boycott front:

On the pro-boycott front, it was framed as stealing American jobs from Americans. Weirdly, mainly black people and veterans featured prominently in the narrative, presumably as representative of America’s version of refugees for those pro-boycott?


We started to see an interesting framework develop where the credit for what is happening in the US is shifting from Trump to Bannon. This may be a particularly effective tactic. Trump is nothing if not a narcissist. One can imagine that he will not tolerate anyone overshadowing his moment in the sun, and if the messaging in the media increasingly focuses on Bannon instead of Trump, perhaps he will distance himself from this dangerous demagogue, which can only be a good thing.

President Bannon? (NYT)

As his first week in office amply demonstrated, Mr. Trump has no grounding in national security decision making, no sophistication in governance and little apparent grasp of what it takes to lead a great diverse nation. He needs to hear from experienced officials, like General Dunford. But Mr. Bannon has positioned himself, along with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as the president’s most trusted aide, shutting out other voices that might offer alternative views. He is now reportedly eclipsing the national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

While Mr. Trump long ago embraced Mr. Bannon’s politics, he would be wise to reconsider allowing him to run his White House, particularly after the fiasco over the weekend of the risible Muslim ban. Mr. Bannon helped push that order through without consulting Mr. Trump’s own experts at the Department of Homeland Security or even seeking deliberation by the N.S.C. itself. The administration’s subsequent modifications, the courtroom reversals and the international furor have made the president look not bold and decisive but simply incompetent.


How Trump’s Immigration Order Is Affecting Higher Education (The Atlantic)

There will be wide-ranging effects on post-secondary education that are of particular interest to me, not the least of which will be on enrollment and retention rates. Students from affected countries mid-research who cannot pursue research or leave the country, students from other countries who cannot now journey to the US to present research at conferences, professors who are now limited from travel either into or out of the US. This has cast a dark shadow, indeed.


Tech companies to meet on legal challenge to Trump immigration order (Reuters)

A group of technology companies plans to meet on Tuesday to discuss filing an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit challenging U.S. President Donald Trump’s order restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, said a spokesperson for a company organizing the gathering.

The meeting is being called together by GitHub, which makes software development tools.

Amicus, or friend of the court, briefs are filed by parties who are not litigants in a case but want to offer arguments or information to the judge.

Alphabet Inc’s Google, Airbnb Inc and Netflix Inc are among the companies invited, a separate person familiar with the situation said.

Representatives for Google and Netflix could not immediately be reached for comment. An Airbnb spokesman declined to comment.

January 29, 2017

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c170125.tif

UBC Statement in response to U.S. executive order

The University of British Columbia is deeply concerned about a new executive order signed by President Trump on Friday preventing individuals from seven countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days. We are especially concerned about the effect of the executive order on some UBC students, faculty and staff, as well as other scholars in Canada, the U.S., and around the world.

Therefore, I have established a task force, headed by Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President International pro tem Pam Ratner and including representatives from across the university and from both campuses, to determine what assistance the university can offer those affected.

The task force, with an initial budget of $250,000.00, will begin its work immediately.

We will also work closely with the provincial and federal governments, responsible agencies and community groups and other universities across Canada, through Universities Canada, to respond to this unfolding situation.

UBC strongly affirms that it will continue to welcome students, faculty and staff from around the world, including those seeking refuge from violence and hardship. Along with the other members of Universities Canada, we support Prime Minister Trudeau’s recent statement that Canada will continue to welcome those fleeing persecution, terror and war regardless of faith and affirming that diversity is our strength.

UBC’s academic strength and stature depends upon the freedom of our faculty, staff and students to travel abroad for purposes of scholarship and study and upon our ability to welcome the most talented individuals from around the world to our campuses. Actions that restrict this movement based on a person’s nationality or birthplace go against our values as a university.

We will continue to monitor developments and will keep the university community informed of the task force’s deliberations and actions.

In the meantime, students, faculty, staff and other members of the UBC community with concerns about the implications and effects of President Trump’s executive order should contact Adel el Zaim at 604-827-4140 or adel.elzaim@ubc.ca


Kaine likens Trump Remembrance Day statement to Holocaust denial

One could think it was an inelegant framing, an attempt to be inclusive of the myriad victim groups, but why give Trump the benefit of the doubt when the undoubted architect (Bannon) is well-positioned to utilize the favourite tactics of neo-nazis and deniers? The minimization and attempt to erase Jews from the narrative of their own destruction is a preferred tactic of the deniers. It was a whitewash, pure and simple. Otherwise, the statement would have acknowledged the driving force behind the genocide was the destruction of the Jews and then included a comprehensive acknowledgement, by naming, of the other groups targeted. Naming and acknowledging holds power. That the highest leader in the land doesn’t understand that, or willfully neglects it to court the worst subhuman impulses of the alt-right, is a scary thing indeed. Does he have a rudimentary level of intelligence? This should have been a no-brainer.

Kaine also linked the Trump administration’s break with precedent to Trump counselor Steve Bannon, the former publisher of Breitbart, a news site adopted by the so-called “alt-right”.

“I think all of these things are happening together,” Kaine said, “when you have the chief political adviser in the White House, Steve Bannon, who is connected with a news organisation that traffics in white supremacy and antisemitism, and they put out a Holocaust statement that omits any mention of Jews.”


Lyft will donate $1M to ACLU after Trump immigration ban (The Hill)

The ride-hailing company Lyft is pledging to donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in response to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.

In a letter emailed to customers early Sunday morning, Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green announced their decision to donate money to help “defend our constitution.”

The email condemned Trump’s executive order halting the Syrian refugee program and banning entry to all citizens of several Muslim-majority countries.

“Banning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the U.S. is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values,” the co-founders wrote.

“We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.”

The million-dollar donation to the ACLU will be made over four years.


Meanwhile, as Uber violated the taxi work stoppage at JFK on Saturday night, a movement took  off to dump Uber accounts:


McCain, Graham: Trump order may become ‘self-inflicted wound’ in terrorism fight (The Hill)

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday said they fear President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration “will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.”

“Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred,” the senators said in a joint statement, using an alternate acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. “This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”


China military official says war with US under Donald Trump ‘becoming practical reality’

War with the US under Donald Trump is “not just a slogan” and becoming a “practical reality”, a senior Chinese military official has said.

The remarks were published on the People’s Liberation Army website, apparently in response to the aggressive rhetoric towards China from America’s new administration.

They communicated a view from inside the Central Military Commission, which has overall authority of China’s armed forces.


Shaping the Resistance

The scene at JFK as taxi drivers strike following Trump’s immigration ban (USA Today)

New York taxi drivers have their own response to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban: A strike.

As protests continue to break out across major U.S. airports Saturday night following President Trump’s immigration ban, taxi drivers at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport have gone on strike.

In postings to social networks Saturday the New York Taxi Workers Alliance announced that from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET there would be no pickups at JFK as a protest to the immigration ban that some are taking as a ban on Muslims.


Airbnb Is Offering Free Housing To Those Turned Away By Trump’s Refugee Ban (BuzzFeed)

This evening Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky posted a message on Facebook criticizing President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily halting the US refugee program. “Not allowing counties or refugees into America is not right, and we must stand with those whoa re affected,” Chesky wrote.

Chesky announced that Airbnb will provide free housing to refugees who have been turned away from US-bound flights, and are not in their “city/country of residence,” he said. Neither Chesky nor Airbnb responded to questions about the specifics of the program. An Airbnb spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the company “will leverage existing tools and will share details in the next few days.”


Lawyers Work Pro-Bono for Detainees

habeus


sch


University of Michigan Issues Letter of Support for International Students

Full text reproduced as a static link was unavailable at the time of posting:

Protecting the interests of our international community of scholars

For generations, the University of Michigan has been known throughout the world as a leading international community of scholars. U-M has admitted international students since the late 1840s, and our first foreign-born faculty member was hired in 1846. Our ability to attract the best students and faculty from around the globe enhances our teaching, learning, research and societal impact and is in part responsible for our standing as a great public research university.

Fostering an environment that promotes education and research at the highest levels is among my most important responsibilities as the University of Michigan’s president. The leadership of the university is committed to protecting the rights and opportunities currently available to all members of our academic community, and to do whatever is possible within the law to continue to identify, recruit, support and retain academic talent, at all levels, from around the world.

We are currently focused on potential changes to immigration laws, policies and practices that could affect the status and safety of U-M students and personnel, particularly international students and those who may be undocumented. This includes several programs and policies that affect international students and faculty. Additionally, we are working to understand the implications on our community of the “extreme vetting” executive order blocking immigration from certain countries.

Many of our efforts are in collaboration with major academic organizations including the Association of American Universities (AAU) and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). U-M is among more than 600 colleges and universities who have signed a letter supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Executive Order. Here on campus, we have established a working group to help us better understand the needs and concerns of international members of our campus community and to consider ideas for additional support.

The university also supports legislation known as the BRIDGE Act that would allow individuals in the U.S. who arrived as children to stay in the country for another three years without the threat of deportation, while Congress addresses changes to the immigration system. BRIDGE stands for Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy, and it was introduced with bipartisan congressional support.

More information on U-M’s support of undocumented students, as well as information on how you can contact your legislators if you wish to support BRIDGE, is available from Public Affairs. We will keep the U-M community informed by updating this page with any related developments, so I urge you to check it regularly.

The university’s actions related to immigration status are consistent with our long-standing positions on non-discrimination, privacy and public safety. Those are:

  • The University of Michigan welcomes and supports students without regard to their immigration status. We will continue to admit students in a manner consistent with our non-discrimination policy. Once students are admitted, the university is committed to fostering an environment in which each student can flourish.
  • The university complies with federal requirements associated with managing its international programs. Otherwise, the university does not share sensitive information like immigration status.
  • Campus police do not inquire about or record immigration status when performing their duties.
  • In accordance with federal law, the enforcement of immigration law rests with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection. Campus police will not partner with federal, state, or other local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law except when required to do so by law.
  • The university maintains a strong commitment to the privacy of student records for all students, consistent with state and federal laws. We do not provide information on immigration status to anyone except when required by law.
  • The university offers in-state tuition to undocumented students who meet certain conditions.
  • The university offers confidential counseling services to all students.

Note: this post is an exact copy of the On the Agenda: Protecting the interests of our international community of scholars post made on the site of President Mark S. Schlissel January 28, 2017.