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.

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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.