A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘middle east

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO notes that the redevelopment of Toronto’s Port Lands is continuing.
  • Crooked Timber argues that climate denialism exposes the socially constructed nature of property rights.
  • D-Brief notes the reburial of Kennewick Man.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes there is no sign of a second planet around Proxima Centauri.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at life in Texas.
  • The LRB Blog analyzes Milo’s stumble.
  • Marginal Revolution considers the levels of disorderliness different societies, like Sweden, can tolerate.
  • The NYRB Daily reports on the poisoning of a Russian dissident.
  • The Planetary Society Blog suggests Voyager 1 picked up Enceladus’ plumes.
  • Peter Rukavina writes of his mapping of someone’s passage on the Camino Francés.
  • Supernova Condensate looks at the United Arab Emirates’ plan to build a city on Mars in a century.
  • Torontoist reported on a protest demanding action on the overdose crisis.

  • Towleroad describes the plight of Mr. Gay Syria in Istanbul and reports on the progress of same-sex marriage in Finland.
  • Understanding Society considers the complexity of managing large technological projects.
  • Window on Eurasia links to one Russian writer arguing Putin should copy Trump and links to anotehr suggesting the Russian Orthodox Church is overreaching.

[LINK] “The Stories We Tell about Resettlement: Refugees, Asylum and the #MuslimBan”

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Anthropologist Nadia El-Shaarawi, writing at Savage Minds, describes her experiences interviewing Middle Eastern candidates for refugee status and frames them in the context of the anti-refugee sentiment and exclusionary state structures.

As a volunteer legal advocate working with refugees who were seeking resettlement, I learned to ask detailed questions about persecution. These were the kind of questions you would never ask in polite conversation: Who kidnapped your best friend? Were they wearing uniforms? What did those uniforms look like? Where did they hit you? Did you pay a ransom for her release? How did you identify her body? Questions like these, which refugees are asked over and over as part of the already extreme vetting that they undergo to be granted asylum and resettlement, are personal, intimate, painful. They demand a precise and consistent command of autobiographical detail and the strength to revisit events that one might otherwise want to forget. They try to get to the heart of what happened to a person, what forced them to leave everything behind.

On a more cynical level, these questions try to catch a person in a lie, to identify those who are not “deserving” of refuge. The answers are checked and cross-checked, asked again and again across multiple agencies and organizations. In separate interviews, family members are asked the same questions. Do the answers match up? Do the dates and places make sense? Were you a victim of persecution? Are you who you say you are? While these questions and their answers shape the narrative of an individual resettlement case, there is a way in which they don’t get to the heart of what happened to a person, why someone was forced to flee, cross at least one border to enter another state, and is now seeking resettlement in a third country.

Vetting, extreme or otherwise, is about inclusion and exclusion. But before someone even gets to the arduous, opaque process of being considered for resettlement in the United States, decisions are made at the executive level about who to include in a broader sense. While the Refugee Convention provides protection for any person with a “well-founded fear of persecution” on specific grounds, this has never been the full story of the US refugee program, where a presidential determination each year decides how many refugees will be resettled, and from where. Some die-hard advocates and detractors aside, refugee resettlement has historically had bipartisan support and mostly stays under the radar of public attention, except, it seems, in moments where it becomes a reflection of broader anxieties and struggles over belonging and exclusion.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 19, 2017 at 4:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

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  • blogTO notes the amazing spike upwards in temperatures for this weekend.
  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of some stark war memorials of the former Communist world.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on brown dwarf HIP 67537b.
  • The LRB Blog looks at Donald Trump’s interest in a Middle Eastern peace settlement that looks as if it will badly disadvantage the isolated Palestinians.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen reflects on his reading of Julius Evola and other hitherto-marginal writers.
  • The NYRB Daily notes the potential health catastrophe that could result from Donald Trump’s anti-vax positions.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer suggests that the corruption marking the relationship of France and Gabon over that country’s oil is finding an echo in the Trump organization’s involvement in Filipino real estate.
  • Torontoist calls for regulation of road salt on grounds of its toxicity.
  • Transit Toronto looks at the various scenarios for King Street.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia’s economic growth will lag behind growth elsewhere for the foreseeable future, and looks at protest in St. Petersburg over the return of an old church to the Orthodox Church.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO shares some secrets about the TTC.
  • Centauri Dreams notes how exoplanet HAT-P-2b somehow induces pulsations in its parent star.
  • Citizen Science Salon looks at a new crowdsourcing effort to find Planet Nine from old WISE images.
  • Dangerous Minds reports on a marijuana bouquet delivery service.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on the detection of the atmosphere of super-Earth Gliese 1132b./li>
  • Language Hat examines the different source languages for neologisms in Russian.
  • Language Log reports on an obscene Valentine’s Day ad from Sichuan.
  • The LRB Blog reports on the search of Syrians in Istanbul for health care.
  • Marginal Revolution reports on the fascist experimentations of economist Franco Modigliani.
  • The NYRB Daily reports on the stunning war art of Paul Nash.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that non-Russian republics tend to have better health indicators than the average, and warns of the potential instability that could be triggered by the failure of Putin’s vision for Trump.

[LINK] “Students affected by travel ban look to Canada”

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MacLean’s carried Laura Kane’s Canadian Press article noting the beginning in a surge of applications to Canadian institutions of higher education from students which have been already affected by Trump’s visa rules, or who might be.

Mahdi Ebrahimi Kahou was awarded a full scholarship last year to complete his PhD in economics at the University of Minnesota, a top-five U.S. school in his field.

But last Friday, the Iranian citizen said he watched his dream evaporate with a stroke of U.S. President Donald Trump’s pen.

“I don’t know how to explain the feeling, to be honest,” he said. “I can’t do anything. I can’t concentrate. I can’t study. Everything is hectic.”

Ebrahimi Kahou is now part of what Universities Canada calls a “surge” in applications to Canadian institutions by U.S. students, in the wake of Trump’s executive order banning entry of citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days.

Some schools have moved quickly to extend application deadlines for foreign students, including McGill University’s graduate law department and Brock University. Others said late applications from qualified applicants will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Ebrahimi Kahou, 29, holds a graduate degree from the University of Calgary, and his common-law wife and five-year-old stepdaughter live in Alberta. Trump’s order means the man can’t leave Minneapolis to visit his loved ones for at least the next three months.

Shortly after the order came into effect, Ebrahimi Kahou contacted Kevin Bryan, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management who had published a blog post offering to help economics or strategy students affected by the travel ban.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2017 at 8:40 pm

[LINK] “Trump’s Ban Undermines Iraqi Cooperation Against Islamic State”

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Meghan L O’Sullivan writes for Bloomberg View about how the ban on Iraqis’ entry specifically, by demonstrating a lack of American trust, undermines the US-Iraqi relationship more generally.

There are many good reasons to object to the Trump administration’s new ban on allowing people from seven predominantly Muslim Middle East countries to travel to the U.S. and halting the acceptance of Syrian refugees. I am among the many Americans ashamed that our great country could so easily push aside its history of caring for people with the most desperate needs in the world. I also am among the national security analysts who don’t see how this helps deliver on the promise of protecting the U.S. from terrorism, and worry that they will inflame the resentment and anti-Americanism that fuel attacks against our citizens at home and abroad.

But, most tangibly and practically, I am among the millions of Americans who served as soldiers, diplomats or humanitarian workers in Iraq or Afghanistan, and therefore have insights into how the immigration ban has made Defense Secretary James Mattis’s job of devising a plan to eradicate Islamic State a whole lot more difficult.

On Saturday, Trump issued a national security memo giving Mattis and the Pentagon 30 days to “develop a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS.” Yet the immigration ban seriously complicates that task by jeopardizing the cooperation of Iraqis. Iraqis are among the most important partners we have in fighting the Islamic State. While the U.S. and its allies are providing critical air, intelligence and logistical support in northern Iraq, it is Iraqi forces — both Arab and Kurd — that are pushing Islamic State out of Mosul, the nation’s second-largest city.

As evidenced by Mattis’s efforts to get exceptions to the immigration ban for Iraqis who worked alongside American forces, we rely heavily on Iraqis willing to risk their lives, and those of their families, to work with us. Such cooperation has cost many Iraqi lives. Signaling that we may need them while we are operating in Iraq, but see them as a security threat in the U.S., will have an immediate chilling effect. This distrust will not be limited to those Iraqis who want to become U.S. residents or citizens, but will permeate all of our relationships there.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 1, 2017 at 5:45 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • blogTO reports on how a trespasser at track level disrupted subway service today.
  • Crooked Timber argues Trump’s migration ban is best under stood as an elaboration of existing Western immigration policies, taking them to their logical conclusion.
  • Dangerous Minds looks at 1980s New York City industrial rockers Missing Foundation.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze examines the orbit of Proxima Centauri around the A-B pair.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog profiles four millennial students to attack the idea of their generation as lazy.
  • Language Log and Strange Maps look at how the list of countries whose citizens are banned from the US does not map onto the list of countries which have provided terrorists who have attacked the United States.
  • The LRB BLog looks at the first ten days of the Trump Administration.
  • The NYRB Daily looks at the scale of the popular mobilization against Trump.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at how modest immigration controls in Argentina are overshadowed by the US.
  • Transit Toronto reports on streetcar line repair on Queen Street.
  • Window on Eurasia wonders if Trump will allow Russia to do as it will in most of the former Soviet Union, and looks at the prospect Russia might lose out in international sporting events.