Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Post

The freak-out deconstructed:

The ban is in place while the Department of Homeland Security determines the “information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.” It could, however, be extended or expanded depending on whether countries are capable of providing the requested information. 
The ban, however, contains an important exception: “Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.” In other words, the secretaries can make exceptions — a provision that would, one hopes, fully allow interpreters and other proven allies to enter the U.S. during the 90-day period.

According to the draft copy of Trump's executive order, the countries whose citizens are barred entirely from entering the United States is based on a bill that Obama signed into law in December 2015.

In case one was still concerned:

The suspect - the third suicide bomber at the Stade de France according to French police - entered the Greek island of Leros on 3 October.

He was with Ahmad al-Mohammed, a fellow Stade de France attacker. 

Islamic State militants killed 130 people in Paris on 13 November.

French police have not named the man in the latest appeal for information.

But the BBC's Ed Thomas has matched the image released by French police with a photo on the arrival papers at Leros.

Our correspondent says the two men bought ferry tickets to leave Leros to continue their journey through Europe with Syrian refugees. 


A Syrian refugee arrested in Germany Monday was ready to strike imminently with attacks similar to those in Brussels and Paris, and the suspect was probably inspired by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), investigators said.

Jaber Albakr, 22, arrived in Germany in February last year during a migrant influx into the country and was granted temporary asylum in June 2015. Officials said he had not previously aroused suspicion.


Approximately 850 people from the UK have travelled to support or fight for jihadist organisations in Syria and Iraq, say the British authorities. About half have since returned to the UK.  

Canadian tech firms have issued a letter to Ottawa pleading for temporary residency for migrants displaced by the recent American immigration ban:

A group of Canadian technology company founders, executives and investors on Sunday called in a letter for Ottawa to immediately give temporary residency to those displaced by a U.S. order banning the entry of people from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The open letter said U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order, which temporarily bars travelers from Syria and six other countries and also puts a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States, had already "impacted several in our community."

"Canadian tech companies understand the power of inclusion and diversity of thought, and that talent and skill know no borders," said the letter, signed by more than 200 industry players.

"Many Canadian tech entrepreneurs are immigrants, are the children of immigrants, employ and have been employed by immigrants."

Signatories included John Ruffolo, head of the venture arm of one of Canada’s biggest pension funds, and Tobias Lutke, chief executive officer of e-commerce software company Shopify, which went public in 2015 and is valued at around $4.6 billion.

The Canadian government has not said what, if any, tangible action it could take, but in tweets on Saturday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada welcomed those fleeing war and persecution and posted an archived picture of him greeting Syrian refugees arriving in Toronto in 2015.

Yes, about that:

Dr. Ahmad Chaker, with the Syrian Canadian Council, said language is an issue many refugees face when trying to find jobs. Transportation is another problem.

"The other challenge is where they live and the workplace," he told CBC News. "They don't have driving licenses. They don't have cars."  ...

In late January 2016, Branka Kovacevic, owner of Royal Feed Screws in Oldcastle, Ont. told CBC News she had job openings for refugees. Since then, she has not hired any newcomers because no organization has information about their skill levels.

"No one has any information," she said. "Which profile they have, do they have education in machining...any information about their education and skills. I didn't find anyone who has that information."

Data obtained by The Canadian Press shows that government-assisted refugees have more children, lower language skills and lower education levels compared with those being resettled by private groups.

“Overall, the needs of this population are higher than originally expected,” says the six-page brief from the Immigration Department.

The national unemployment rate in December was 6.9%.

Of course he is a professor. Of course he is:

An American-born biology professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland intends to officially become a Canadian citizen after living in the country for three decades, calling himself a “political refugee” of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Steve Carr, a California native whose mother hails from Stratford, Ont., says he has applied for Canadian citizenship as “insurance” against Trump’s hardline immigration policy.

The longtime permanent resident of Canada has flirted with becoming a naturalized citizen since moving to Newfoundland for a teaching gig in 1987, but as a self-proclaimed American patriot, says he couldn’t bring himself to swear an Oath of Allegiance to the Queen.

He says he watched in disbelief when the voting returns came in last November, feeling “sick to (his) stomach” as it became clear Trump had won the presidential race.

Carr says Trump’s rhetoric divides the American public into “us” and “them” — his supporters and everyone else — and as a Buddhist scientist with liberal leanings, he falls squarely in the latter camp.

He says he’s concerned about being flagged by U.S. customs and immigration officials for having twice visited Cuba on an American passport during professional trips permitted under the previous administration’s relaxed travel restrictions.

Carr worries that under Trump’s reshaped foreign policy, his trips to Cuba may land him on a no-fly list or even in a cell.

(Sidebar: whatever you say, blowhard!)

Universities were once places of thought and discussion.

With guys like this yahoo, universities have been reduced to places where rabbles puff out their chests and pretend to be important.

When the only thing one thinks is: "Cool blue berets!", one might not want to commit to a military mission:

Like every NATO member, Canada has committed to spend two per cent of GDP on defence. We currently spend less than half that. It is unlikely, to say the least, that Canada will spend the extra $20 billion per year it would cost to make the two per cent target, but that is no reason to not work harder to find ways and budgetary room to invest in a larger, more capable Canadian military. If it takes the White House prodding Canada to bring this about, so be it.

And in the meantime, Canada at least needs to be smart about using what military forces it has. A peacekeeping mission to Africa simply is not a priority given our limited means and the current international situation, even if the federals Liberals had badly wanted one as a way to ingratiate themselves to the United Nations. Canada is already reinforcing our allies in Europe, tensions are rising in the Pacific, and Canada remains a part of the anti-ISIL coalition active in Iraq. A 600-man deployment to Africa is a luxury at the best of times, and these are certainly not that.

No one in Trudeau's government is willing to beef up the armed forces and make them formidable.

The armed forces have become another prop for an opaque banana republic.

Premier Kathleen Wynne will get back into office because of Ontario. A province whose political fortunes are swayed by powerful teachers' and workers' unions doesn't experience a political sea change until either one of those unions gets mad:

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s veto of road tolls for the City of Toronto on Friday clearly establishes one thing.

She’s not going down in next year’s provincial election without a fight and without pulling out all the stops to win.

It could work.

Wynne’s eleventh hour attempt to transform herself into a populist premier through such measures as vetoing Toronto’s bid for road tolls and removing the 8% provincial portion of the HST from hydro bills, is a stretch given her political career.

After all, she entered politics as a spendthrift Toronto school trustee, who helped lead the charge against then Conservative premier Mike Harris’ attempts to force that board to bring in a balanced budget.

Wynne started out as premier telling Ontarians she wanted to have the difficult “conversation” with them about raising new “revenue tools” — including possible road tolls — to pay for public transit and roads.

That’s why her 180-degree reversal, vetoing tolls for the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway requested by Mayor John Tory and Toronto council, was so hypocritical, especially given her government’s previous statements about respecting municipal autonomy.

Now Wynne says she’s heard the cries of Ontarians about their rising cost of living and wants to help them.

But she was deaf to those appeals for years as Ontarians complained about skyrocketing electricity rates brought about by Liberal government decisions and, more recently, her cap-and-trade scheme, which started raising the price of almost everything on Jan. 1.

Still, the public can be forgiving of political hypocrisy.
(Sidebar: because of idiocy.)


Several generating plants will be paid as they sit idle for up to a year or more because that’s a money-saving move in the province’s screwy electricity system.

PC MPP Vic Fedeli, who represents the North Bay area where one plant is located, said as many as 100 jobs could be lost in the province, while the Ontario government announces it’s buying more Quebec hydro power.

“I stated that very day that this will cost Ontario jobs in the non-utility generators (NUGs)... and that’s precisely what’s happened,” Fedeli said Wednesday.

Energy advisor Tom Adams calls this “long-term paid holiday” courtesy of Ontario hydro customers a symptom of a diseased system that’s bringing on new power generation while struggling with an excess of electricity supply.

“They’re still approving the construction of mostly wind and solar,” Adams said. “A lot of these wind turbines were getting installed in the north right beside paper mills that were shutting down.

“Screwed up? Let me count the ways. This just goes on and on and on,” he said.

And now, perhaps students aren't studying enough:

While a student wrote of one of his peers: 'A girl in my honors science class asked the teacher, and was 100% serious, if ramen grew on ramen trees.'

Geography proved a stumbling block for others. 

'A classmate of mine asked if Asia was a town in China, and, assuming that she was right, said that it was crazy that so many people from our school came from one town,' one user shared.

(paws up)

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