June 8, 2019

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Mexico Agreed to Take Border Actions Months Before Trump Announced Tariff Deal (Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, June 8, 2019, NY Times)

The centerpiece of Mr. Trump's deal was an expansion of a program to allow asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal cases proceed. But that arrangement was first reached in December in a pair of painstakingly negotiated diplomatic notes that the two countries exchanged. Ms. Nielsen announced the Migrant Protection Protocols during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee five days before Christmas.

And over the past week, negotiators failed to persuade Mexico to accept a "safe third country" treaty that would have given the United States the legal ability to reject asylum seekers if they had not sought refuge in Mexico first.

He can be forgiven for not remembering trivialities.

Posted by orrinj at 4:10 PM


Poll: Support For Impeachment Hearings Grows, But Americans Split On Way Forward (Domenico Montanaro, 6/08/19, NPR)

There is a growing desire for impeachment proceedings to begin against President Trump, but Americans are still split overall on what to do after the release of the Mueller report, an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll finds.

A slim majority of Americans (52%) want one of the following: to begin impeachment proceedings (22%), to continue investigations into potential political wrongdoing of Trump (25%) or to publicly reprimand him -- that is, censure (5%).

Thirty-nine percent say no further action should be taken and that the current investigations should end.

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"NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR" AT 70 (John Rodden, 5/28/19, Modern Age)

What are a few examples of the kinds of satirical allusions and cultural references that are invariably lost to present-day readers, even literate ones? Orwell scholars such as Peter Davison, Jeffrey Meyers, and Bernard Crick have catalogued a wide variety. Consider, for instance:

Big Brother's mustachioed visage is a composite of Stalin and Field Marshal Lord Kitchener.

The caption "Big Brother Is Watching You" recalls the famous recruiting poster of 1914 in which a finger-pointing Kitchener glares: "Your Country Needs YOU."

Victory Square is an analogue to Trafalgar Square, and Big Brother replaces Nelson atop its column.

Newspeak, which aims to diminish the range of thought by reducing its linguistic resources, is a riff on C. K. Ogden's Basic English.

The Ministry of Truth resembles the BBC's Broadcast House during the war, where Orwell worked as the producer for the Indian section of the BBC's Eastern Service on the first floor (down the hall from Room 101).

The Floating Fortress in Oceania refers both to the Flying Fortress of the American air forces during World War II and to the Floating Island in Gulliver's Travels that breaks the will of recalcitrant individuals.
The division of the world into three rival superstates--Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia--is based on James Burnham's The Managerial Revolution (1941), a sociological vision of the near-future, post-World War II era in which a technocratic elite of totalitarian ideologues rules the globe.

The brainwashed Winston's defeatist admission that "2 + 2 = 5" alludes to the billboards erected in major Soviet cities during the 1930s that urged the citizenry to work harder and fulfill the prescribed norms of the first Five-Year Plan ahead of time (i.e., in four years, not five).

Winston's despairing line "We are the dead," which both the telescreen and Julia repeat when the couple are arrested by the Thought Police, echoes the recrimination voiced by a corpse in a poem popular during World War I, "In Flanders Fields." Written by the Canadian poet John McCrae, "In Flanders Fields" gave voice to the public outrage over the waste and futility of the Great War.

Like Communist Party members in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, Inner and Outer Party members in Oceania are called "comrade."

Sexual intercourse in Oceania is for procreation only ("Our Duty to the Party"), which nods to the puritanical, state-controlled doctrines about sexuality propagandized in Stalin's USSR.

As O'Brien tortures Winston in Room 101, he expresses with exhilaration his sadistic power hunger: "Imagine a boot stamping on a human face--forever." That famous line evokes Jack London's The Iron Heel, especially its protagonist's doomsday prophecy that "the Iron Heel will walk upon our faces."

Certain examples of Orwell's satirical allusions have biographical rather than historical relevance and sometimes are private jokes or insider gossip--yet are no less important to the satire. For instance, the BBC was a division of the Ministry of Information (MOI), known as "Miniform" in telex jargon (recalling, of course, "Minitru" and "Miniluv" in Nineteen Eighty-Four). The MOI's head was Brendan Bracken, whom BBC insiders and in-the-know Londoners dubbed "B. B." Orwell would joke with fellow BBC staffers and his wife Eileen, who worked in the MOI Censorship Department until 1944, that he had never seen "B. B." and was skeptical of his existence (just as his readers are meant to doubt the reality of Big Brother).

Posted by orrinj at 8:30 AM


Main Istanbul mayoral candidates agree to first ever TV debate (Ragip Soylu,  5 June 2019, Middle East Eye)

Istanbul's two leading mayoral candidates have agreed to take part in a televised debate ahead of a controversial repeat election that is scheduled to be held on 23 June.

Ekrem Imamoglu, mayoral candidate for the Republican People's Party (CHP), won the elections on 31 March against former prime minister Binali Yildirim, the candidate for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), but the result was cancelled by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) on the grounds of alleged unlawful staffing at polling stations.

The idea of holding a TV debate - unprecedented in Turkish electoral history - was originally pitched by Imamoglu in March, prior to the original vote, but the suggestion was dismissed by Yildirim.

Posted by orrinj at 7:12 AM


'The Cruelty Is the Point' (DAVID FRENCH, June 7, 2019, National Review)

I frequently disagree with The Atlantic's Adam Serwer, but late last year he wrote a piece that should resonate with any person who's been in the crosshairs of the MAGA right. A fundamental aspect of truly Trumpist political engagement is the intentional infliction of harm on political opponents. Cruelty is the point of their interactions. That's the purpose of their communication.

I'm making a distinction here between Trump voters and online Trumpists. There are many millions of Trump voters who are kind, decent, and generous people. They're the salt of the earth and the backbone of their communities. I know them. They're my friends and family members. They're the people who help make my community a marvelous place to live. If they were the face of Trumpism, then America would be a less polarized place.

But they're not -- not by a long shot. Donald Trump's personal pugilism has been adopted, refined, and magnified by a legion of his supporters, and these individuals live to inflict misery. They don't care to win an argument. They don't care to persuade. They want to harass and swarm and mock in a carnival fun-house imitation of the online mobs generated by the woke social-justice left.

No one has understood Trumpbots as well as Eric Hoffer, although, Steve Bannon apparently offered Michael Wolff an insight for his new book: Donald has so much contempt for himself that he inevitably ends up despising the sycophants he surrounds himself with.  His movement is essentially just a cascade of self-loathing.

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Gun violence has sharply declined in California's Bay Area. What happened? (Lois Beckett  Darwin BondGraham  Peter Andringa Abené Clayton, 4 June 2019, The Guardian)

In California's Silicon Valley, the boom and the bust are playing out simultaneously. Tech companies have made the Bay Area one of the wealthiest places on earth. But on the streets of San Francisco and the cities around it, desperation is increasingly visible. A spiraling housing crisis has made it unaffordable for many people to live in the cities where they work. More than 30,000 people across the region are now homeless, many living in sprawling tent encampments or sleeping in their cars.

For each new millionaire household the San Francisco Bay Area has produced, there are at least four new people living below the poverty level. San Francisco's property crime rate has spiked to the highest in the nation. Many people - tech newcomers and longtime residents alike - complain of feeling unsafe.

At the same time, with little fanfare, the Bay Area has seen a dramatic drop in its homicide rate, driven by a considerable decrease in deadly shootings. [...]

In the past 10 years, tens of thousands of black residents have moved out of Oakland and San Francisco, as skyrocketing rents and housing prices have made the cities increasingly unaffordable. But in the region as a whole, the total number of black residents has remained steady, as the number of black residents living in the Bay Area's outlying suburbs has increased, according to annual census estimates.

Disney World is the proper model.

Posted by orrinj at 6:33 AM


Trump attacks Nasa and claims the moon is 'a part' of Mars [Adam Gabbatt on Earth (of which New York is a part),  Jun 2019, The Guardian]

Posted by orrinj at 6:30 AM


4 Disturbing Details You May Have Missed in the Mueller Report: Some troubling-to-outright-damning episodes have been lost in the noise around its release. (Quinta Jurecic, June 7, 2019, NY Times)

Coordinating with WikiLeaks?
(VOLUME I, PP. 52-54)

How much did Mr. Trump personally know about Russian efforts to assist his campaign, and when did he know it? Three pages of heavily redacted text provide hints.

Rick Gates, a top adviser, said that the campaign was "planning a press strategy, a communications campaign, and messaging based on the possible release" of Hillary Clinton emails by WikiLeaks. After receiving a call during a drive to La Guardia Airport, Mr. Trump "told Gates that more releases of damaging information would be coming." The details are redacted, and the redactions are marked "harm to ongoing matter," perhaps related to the prosecution of Roger Stone. Mr. Mueller has alleged that Mr. Stone, a Trump affiliate, sought to obtain information about WikiLeaks' planned release of anti-Clinton material and pass that information to the campaign.

Mr. Mueller found "insufficient evidence" to charge a criminal conspiracy between the Russian government and the campaign. But the campaign was clearly keeping a close eye on Russia-linked hacking and leaking efforts and expecting to benefit from them.

This section suggests that Mr. Trump may have been in the loop on the campaign's efforts to get a heads-up about what WikiLeaks had planned. And that is a very long way from "no collusion."

Looking for Clinton's "missing" emails
(VOLUME I, PP. 49, 62-63)

At a July 27, 2016, campaign rally, Mr. Trump said, "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing" -- referring to Clinton emails reportedly stored on a personal server. "Within approximately five hours" of Mr. Trump's remarks, according to the Mueller report, Russian military intelligence began a cyberattack against "Clinton's personal office."

After his July 27 comment, the report states, Mr. Trump "asked individuals affiliated with his campaign to find the deleted Clinton emails" -- including Michael Flynn.

Mr. Flynn, in turn, reached out to a Republican Senate staffer and a party operative who worked separately to obtain the emails. The operative raised money to support the project, which he marketed as "coordinated with the Trump campaign," and told others that he was in communication with Russian hackers who had access to emails he believed were Mrs. Clinton's. But Mr. Mueller "did not establish" that the operative had actually made contact with any real Russian hackers. And while the staffer obtained emails, an effort funded by a businessman close to the campaign found that they were not really Mrs. Clinton's either.

"Collusion" has no legal definition. But if the term means working behind the scenes with Russian actors to obtain hacked information damaging to Mrs. Clinton, then this section of the report describes just that -- collusion that took place at Mr. Trump's request. It just wasn't successful.

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Administration Cuts Education And Legal Services For Unaccompanied Minors (VANESSA ROMO &  Joel Rose, 6/05/19, NPR)

The Trump administration is canceling English classes, recreational activities including soccer, and legal aid for unaccompanied migrant children who are staying in federally contracted migrant shelters. [...]

One shelter-provider employee told The Associated Press the facility was notified on May 30 "that they wouldn't be reimbursing costs of providing education and other activities," throwing shelter officials into a panic over how they will cover the expenses, which they pay upfront.

Posted by orrinj at 5:56 AM