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Eugene's Journal
Eugene's Journal
May 22, 2019

Internal memo orders military to restrict information it shares with Congress

Source: Washington Post

Internal memo orders military to restrict information it shares with Congress

By Missy Ryan and Greg Jaffe May 22 at 5:00 AM

Acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan has mandated new restrictions on the way the Pentagon shares information with Congress about military operations around the world, a move that is straining ties with key Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

In a May 8 internal memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post, Shanahan lays out the criteria for when Pentagon officials may provide congressional offices or committees information they request about operational plans and orders.

The memo comes as lawmakers from both parties complain that the Trump administration has withheld information that prevents them from executing their constitutionally mandated oversight role. Some lawmakers are also concerned about whether Shanahan has allowed the military to be drawn too deeply into President Trump’s immigration agenda.

“Congress oversees the Department of Defense; but with this new policy, the department is overstepping its authority by presuming to determine what warrants legislative oversight,” Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.), the chair and ranking Republican of the House Armed Services Committee.

The memo was shared widely inside the Pentagon but was sent to key lawmakers only after inquiries by The Post. It outlines a half-dozen guidelines, including requirements that military officials and political appointees evaluate whether the request “contains sufficient information to demonstrate a relationship to the legislative function.” The memo urges Defense Department officials to provide a summary briefing rather than a requested plan or order itself.


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/lawmakers-bristle-at-new-rules-for-sharing-pentagon-information-with-congress/2019/05/21/79315df9-d792-41df-a42e-10df9af7306e_story.html
May 18, 2019

Trump administration tells judge Congress did not deny border wall funds when it declined to appropr

Source: Washington Post

Trump administration tells judge Congress did not deny border wall funds when it declined to appropriate money for it

By Fred Barbash May 17 at 7:34 PM

OAKLAND — In the first court hearing over President Trump’s border wall funding plan, administration lawyers on Friday vigorously pressed their controversial argument that Congress did not in fact deny him the money when lawmakers excluded it from the appropriations bill they enacted in February.

To bar spending, Deputy Assistant Attorney General James M. Burnham told a federal judge here, Congress would have had to explicitly say that “no money shall be obligated” in any form to construct a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border. Having failed to do that, Burnham argued, the administration is free to tap funds never intended for border security .

“That just cannot be right,” responded Douglas Letter, general counsel for the House of Representatives, which participated as amicus in the case brought by nearly two dozen states and the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group. They are challenging Trump’s national emergency declaration to redirect taxpayer money for the wall. The House has filed a separate suit in Washington, D.C. “No money may be spent unless Congress actually appropriates it,” he said.

Letter likened the situation to that of an underage teenager who requires his mother’s signature to join the Army — but she wants him to go to college instead. “He says, ‘Mom, you can just sign this form?’ And mom walks out of the room” instead of signing it.

“Nobody can say that’s not a denial,” Letter said. This is exactly what Congress did when it balked at Trump’s request for more than $4 billion for the border wall beyond the $1.375 billion it did appropriate, he added.


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-tells-judge-congress-did-not-deny-border-wall-funds-when-it-declined-to-appropriate-money-for-it/2019/05/17/3018d35e-786d-11e9-b3f5-5673edf2d127_story.html
May 17, 2019

Tackle white supremacy as terrorism, experts say

Source: CNN

Tackle white supremacy as terrorism, experts say

By Mallory Simon and Sara Sidner, CNN
Updated 0444 GMT (1244 HKT) May 15, 2019

New York (CNN) — Americans are being killed. Murdered not for what they have done or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Slaughtered again and again because, whether Jewish, or black, or simply not "pure" white, they are seen as a pestilence to be purged.

Their murderers are followers of a vile and hateful ideology that meets the FBI definition of terrorism. But some top current and former law enforcement officials say that they are not treated as terrorists, because they are American, and they are white.

But amid the rising number of deadly white supremacist attacks, the officials say that must change. White supremacy must be called terrorism and tackled with the same vigor as ISIS and al Qaeda.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance came to that realization while investigating the homicide of a black man in the center of New York City.


Read more: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/14/us/white-supremacy-terrorism-soh/index.html
May 17, 2019

Trump's new tool for collecting social-media-bias stories has one unusual question on it: Are you a

Source: Business Insider

Trump's new tool for collecting social-media-bias stories has one unusual question on it: Are you a US citizen?

Nick Bastone 16h

The White House's new online tool for people to report perceived bias or censorship on social media platforms asks users to submit screenshots, links and any other details that could show they were penalized for their political views.

It also wants to know if you're an American citizen.

The online form, launched on Wednesday and officially called the Tech Bias Story Sharing Tool, asks about nationality in the third question, right after users enter their first and last names.

"Are you a US citizen or permanent resident?" the form asks.


The problem is that the form doesn't say exactly how the information will be used, which in the case of non-US citizens or permanent residents could be potentially dangerous. The Trump administration has pushed for stricter immigration laws, and has called for deporting immigrants who are in the country illegally without the usual legal process.


Read more: https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-new-social-media-bias-tool-asks-about-citizenship-status-2019-5


Yesterday in LBN: White House escalates war against Facebook, Google and Twitter with a campaign asking users to share stories of censorship
May 17, 2019

4th death of migrant child since December raises new alarms

Source: Associated Press

4th death of migrant child since December raises new alarms

May 16, 2019

HOUSTON (AP) — Advocates raised new alarms Thursday about the U.S. government’s treatment of migrant families after a 2½-year-old Guatemalan child became the fourth minor known to have died after being detained by border agents since December.

“The death of a single child in custody of our government is a horrific tragedy,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, chair of the advocacy group Families Belong Together. “Four in six months is a clear pattern of willful, callous disregard for children’s lives.”

The boy died Tuesday after several weeks in the hospital, American and Guatemalan authorities said. Tekandi Paniagua, Guatemala’s consul in Del Rio, Texas, said the boy had a high fever and difficulty breathing, and authorities took him to a children’s hospital where he was diagnosed with pneumonia.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the boy’s mother told Border Patrol agents her son was ill on April 6, three days after they were apprehended near an international bridge in El Paso, Texas.


Read more: https://apnews.com/868e932ae76a4269a5dedab74f0ee9b4
May 15, 2019

Asia Bibi's lawyer to defend couple on death row over blasphemy

Source: The Guardian

Asia Bibi's lawyer to defend couple on death row over blasphemy

Pakistani Christian man and wife sentenced to death for text messages sent to Muslim

Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent
Wed 15 May 2019 05.00 BST Last modified on Wed 15 May 2019 05.04 BST

The case of a Christian couple on death row in Pakistan after being convicted of blasphemy has reportedly been taken up by the lawyer who defended Asia Bibi.

Shagufta Kousar and Shafqat Masih were accused of sending blasphemous text messages to a Muslim man. They were sentenced to death, but have appealed to the high court in Lahore.

Lawyer Saiful Malook, who briefly fled Pakistan after receiving death threats when Bibi’s conviction for blasphemy was overturned last October, is to appeal against the couple’s 2014 conviction under the same law.


The couple, who have four children, are from Gojra, Punjab province, where Kousar was employed as a cleaner at a church school. A Muslim man in the city complained to officials at his mosque that he was sent blasphemous messages in English on his phone, and the complaint was passed on to the police.


The couple are illiterate and have argued they could not send text messages in English. They also said the sim card used to send the text messages was bought in Kousar’s name after her identity card was stolen.


Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/15/asia-bibi-lawyer-defend-couple-death-row-blasphemy-pakistan
May 14, 2019

No Iran threat in Syria or Iraq, top British officer says, contradicting US

Source: The Guardian

No Iran threat in Syria or Iraq, top British officer says, contradicting US

Deputy commander of anti-Isis coalition rebuts White House justification for sending troops

Julian Borger in Washington
Tue 14 May 2019 18.32 BST Last modified on Tue 14 May 2019 19.16 BST

The top British general in the US-led coalition against Isis has said there is no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria, directly contradicting US assertions used to justify a military buildup in the region.

Maj Gen Christopher Ghika, who is a deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition conducting counter-terrorist operations against Isis in Iraq and Syria, was repeatedly questioned by reporters about the threat from Shia militias in Syria and Iraq, cited by US officials over the past week as justification for speeding up the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group in the Gulf and for sending B-52 Stratofortress bombers and an anti-aircraft battery to the region.

“No – there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” Ghika said in a videolink briefing from Baghdad to the Pentagon. “We’re aware of that presence, clearly. And we monitor them along with a whole range of others because that’s the environment we’re in. We are monitoring the Shia militia groups. I think you’re referring to carefully and if the threat level seems to go up then we’ll raise our force protection measures accordingly.”

The general’s comments are likely to heighten concerns that fabricated or exaggerated intelligence may be being used by administration hawks led by the national security adviser, John Bolton, to further the case for war against Iran, in a manner reminiscent of the buildup to the Iraq invasion.

The New York Times reported on Monday night that the acting defence secretary, Patrick Shanahan, had presented the White House with a plan that involved sending up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East in the event of an Iranian attack or departure from the constraints of the 2015 nuclear deal that the US abrogated a year ago.


Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/14/no-iran-threat-in-syria-or-iraq-says-top-british-officer-in-defiance-of-us
May 14, 2019

New Study: No Link Between Crime and Undocumented Immigrants

New York Times article: Is There a Connection Between Undocumented Immigrants and Crime? (excerpt below)


Source: Mother Jones


New Study: No Link Between Crime and Undocumented Immigrants

Political Blogger

We have a new study on whether there’s an association between crime and undocumented immigrants. Today the New York Times reports on the change in crime vs. the change in undocumented immigrants in about a hundred metro areas across the country over the period 2007-2016. In general, of course, crime rates have fallen during that time. But have they fallen more or less in areas with big growth in undocumented immigrants? Here are the results:

The headline here is correct: you certainly can’t say that crime goes up when undocumented immigration increases, but you can’t really say it goes down either. The trendline is basically flat given the quality of the data we have.

This has always made sense. The vast majority of undocumented immigrants come to America to work. The last thing they want is a run-in with the law, even for the most trivial offense. They have far more incentive to avoid criminal behavior than native Americans do.

This study is just a correlation between populations, so it’s inherently not foolproof and it certainly won’t stop the argument about illegal immigration and crime. That said, there are lots of other studies out there that have come to much the same conclusion. None of them are perfect, but put them all together and it’s pretty clear that there’s really nothing here. Undocumented immigrants don’t commit crimes any more than us native Americans do.



Source: New York Times

Is There a Connection Between Undocumented Immigrants and Crime?

It’s a widely held perception, but a new analysis finds no evidence to support it.

By Anna Flagg
May 13, 2019

A lot of research has shown that there’s no causal connection between immigration and crime in the United States. But after one such study was reported on jointly by The Marshall Project and The Upshot last year, readers had one major complaint: Many argued it was unauthorized immigrants who increase crime, not immigrants over all.

An analysis derived from new data is now able to help address this question, suggesting that growth in illegal immigration does not lead to higher local crime rates.

In part because it’s hard to collect data on them, undocumented immigrants have been the subjects of few studies, including those related to crime. But the Pew Research Center recently released estimates of undocumented populations sorted by metro area, which The Marshall Project has compared with local crime rates published by the F.B.I. For the first time, there is an opportunity for a broader analysis of how unauthorized immigration might have affected crime rates since 2007.

A large majority of the areas recorded decreases in both violent and property crime between 2007 and 2016, consistent with a quarter-century decline in crime across the United States. The analysis found that crime went down at similar rates regardless of whether the undocumented population rose or fell. Areas with more unauthorized migration appeared to have larger drops in crime, although the difference was small and uncertain.


Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/13/upshot/illegal-immigration-crime-rates-research.html

May 13, 2019

Ireland bars Christian fundamentalist pastor Steven Anderson from entering country

Source: The Guardian

Ireland bars Christian fundamentalist pastor from entering country

Immigration law used for first time to deny entry to anti-gay preacher Steven Anderson

Henry McDonald
Mon 13 May 2019 14.43 BST Last modified on Mon 13 May 2019 16.05 BST

An anti-gay US Christian fundamentalist pastor who has been accused of Holocaust denial has become the first person to be barred from entering Ireland under a 20-year-old immigration law.

Steven Anderson was due to travel to Dublin on 26 May to preach in the city, but the Irish justice minister, Charlie Flanagan, took the unusual step to ban him from coming into the country.

More than 14,000 people signed an online petition set up by the Christian gay rights campaign group Changing Attitude Ireland calling on the Irish government to block Anderson’s trip to the country. The organisation claimed that in the past he had “advocated exterminating LGBT+ people”.

Confirming the barring order under the 1999 Immigration Act, Flanagan said: “I have signed the exclusion order under my executive powers in the interest of public policy.”

It is the first time the Irish government has used the legislation to bar anyone from the country.


Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/13/ireland-bars-christian-fundamentalist-pastor-steven-anderson-entering-country
May 10, 2019

Rick Scott calls for US military intervention in Venezuela.

Scott wrote this op-ed in today's Washington Post

Rick Scott: U.S. military action in Venezuela may become a necessity



But, as I said, it is not the United States’ job to send our young men and women into harm’s way to right all of the world’s wrongs. So even if you conclude that the above list of facts does not justify the intervention of the United States, there is a massive and far-reaching problem I haven’t mentioned yet: our own self-interest.

Venezuela is in our hemisphere. Russian troops are already in Venezuela.

Do you think it would be in our national interest to allow the Russians — or the Cubans, the Iranians or Chinese — to install military bases there? Naval ports? Should we allow Hezbollah to roam free?


Scott cites the Monroe Doctrine, saying that foreign bad actors must not be allowed to colonize the Americas. He concludes, "I respect those who are cautious about the dangers of military intervention. I am generally among them. But it’s time to also acknowledge that inaction can be an equally dangerous course, if not more so."

See also: Rick Scott wants the U.S. Navy to block Cuba and Venezuela’s oil trade (Miami Herald)

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