Monthly Archives: June 2017

Targeting parents who risk all for their children

 Eric Gay AP
I just returned from the Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network conference at Holy Cross. The conference is designed to encourage students, staff, and faculty to learn more about some of the world's ongoing humanitarian crises, what universities are doing to contribute in their own way, and how students might be able to break into the field. JUHAN is a really interesting initiative that has yet to take off beyond a few select schools.

Something the panelists said over and over was the sheer absence of compassion from President Trump and other members of his administration.  So, of course, I return home yesterday to his derogatory comments about Mika and then this Franco Ordonez report from McClatchy.
The Trump administration has begun a new surge of immigration enforcement targeting parents who have paid to have their children illegally brought to the United States.
The recent arrests, which had been largely rumored but not confirmed until now, have set off a new wave of confusion and fear through immigrant communities that have already been subject to greater enforcement.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have begun sharing information with immigration agents about U.S.-based relatives of unaccompanied children. The information is being used to track down the parents, according to lawyers and government case workers familiar with the practice.
Parents of the children report receiving surprise knocks on their door by immigration agents — sometimes the day after their children arrive — asking about their children and demanding that they be let in, according to government case workers. Once the parents open the door or leave the house they are detained.
“The kids are basically being used as bait at this point,” said a field specialist with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the federal agency that takes custody and shelters unaccompanied immigrant children.
Many of these minors are fleeing unspeakable violence in Central America. Their parents have spent thousands of dollars, sometimes leveraging all their possessions, to pay for the trip. They do so with full knowledge that their children might suffer sexual abuse, trafficking, and death during the migration. Yet now, the Trump administration is looking to punish parents and relatives for their involvement in human smuggling operations. No compassion.

At the height of the unaccompanied minors crisis, there were advertisements warning parents not to send their kids with coyotes. They were bad parents. There were efforts in the Northern Triangle to arrest coyotes. There were statements and rumors to the effect that those who paid for their kids' passage would be held criminally responsible. At least, I remember some of those stories from Guatemalan media. However, I don't think that ever came to fruition.

But now the US wants the world to know that we are no longer a compassionate people.

Big Data Gone Bad for Fighting Crime


Nearly two years ago, we featured a story about a software system called PredPol, a data analytics tool that promised to deliver lower crime rates through algorithms designed to recognize patterns behind a series of crimes to better anticipate how to position police officers to intervene in the activities of criminals.

The results from the pilot studies for the predictive software were promising, enough so that it received a wider test in real-life policing in being applied to more regions within the cities where it was being tested. In October 2016, Kristian Lum and William Isaac of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group released the results of their study into how well PredPol was performing in reducing crime, but what they found gives cause for concern about the data that is being used to direct police activities in the U.S. cities that have adopted the data analytics approach to fighting crime.

Lum and Isaac discovered that the software had a real shortfall because of biases in the police records that were being fed into it.

While police data often are described as representing "crime," that's not quite accurate. Crime itself is a largely hidden social phenomenon that happens anywhere a person violates a law. What are called "crime data" usually tabulate specific events that aren't necessarily lawbreaking – like a 911 call – or that are influenced by existing police priorities, like arrests of people suspected of particular types of crime, or reports of incidents seen when >patrolling a particular neighborhood.

Neighborhoods with lots of police calls aren't necessarily the same places the most crime is happening. They are, rather, where the most police attention is – though where that attention focuses can often be >biased by gender and racial factors.

Focusing on Oakland, California, Lum and Isaac tested the bias of PredPol using race and income level as observable characteristics with crimes involving illegal drug use, the incidence of which studies have indicated are relatively uniform across the racial and income demographics of Oakland's population.

But you wouldn't know that from the results of the PredPol's predictive software using Oakland's police data.

Our recent study... found that predictive policing vendor PredPol's purportedly race-neutral algorithm targeted black neighborhoods at roughly twice the rate of white neighborhoods when trained on historical drug crime data from Oakland, California. We found similar results when analyzing the data by income group, with low-income communities targeted at disproportionately higher rates compared to high-income neighborhoods.

The reason for that turned out to have been directly embedded in the data the race-neutral PredPol software used to direct police activities. Because the data reflected the increased level of law enforcement activities that already existed in the city's primarily black and low income neighborhoods, the software directed police to increase their intervention efforts in the areas where they were already disproportionately focusing their attention.

That increased attention would then be reinforced in an adverse feedback loop, as the police records being generated from their new increased activity would tend to amplify the already disproportionate law enforcement activities in these areas, which would have consequences for a police department already accused of practicing racial profiling in law enforcement.

The software-directed adverse feedback loop would also open the city up to the "squeezing balloon" problem we noted in our previous coverage, where increasing police pressure in one area would result in increases in the incidence of crime in other areas, which would now be more likely to escape both detection and intervention.

What the results indicate is that using data analytics to effectively reduce crime is more complicated than simply factoring racial or income factors out of the software packages used to maximize the return on police investment. They can be useful, but the GIGO principle definitely applies.

Cubans – lost in Panama

Mario Penton has an interesting story on what has happened to those Cubans stuck in Panama after the US and Cuba agreed to end the "wet foot, dry foot" policy. Once that policy ended, Cubans were no longer guaranteed entry and a path to citizenship should they make it to US shores.

And while Trump has undone some of Obama's deal with Cuba, he has not sought to reinstate "wet foot, dry foot" because that would be too humane  encourage Cubans to make the dangerous trek across the Florida Straits.

The Panamanian government offered to relocate 300 Cubans in the Cáritas shelter in Panama City to "a better place," a temporary shelter in Gualaca in western Panama. However, there was no promise what would happen to the Cubans once they moved to the new location. It was going to be a temporary move until the Panamanian government deported them, normalized their status in the country, or found a third country to accept them. Less than half took the government up on the offer and are instead now living in hiding throughout the country. The government has said they they will deport those who did not take them up on their offer to relocate.

The Panamanian government restricted immigration from Colombia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua after citizens complained that these migrants were responsible for increasing levels of crime. The May restrictions do not bode well for Cuban migrants.

Australian Politics 2017-06-29 15:56:00


Local council demands government change Australia's national anthem because references to 'colonisation and white settlement exclude Aboriginal people'

What about the Cornish?  My son has some Cornish ancestry so should not the Cornish be acknowledged too?  And Australia has far more people of Greek ancestry than Aborigial ancestry so should we not have the Greeks in our national anthem?  Where would we be without Greek fish shops?  And Greek greengrocers are the masters of apostrophe innovation.  And what about the Italians: Where would we be without spaghetti? 

And there's a Chinese restaurant in almost every Australian town.  Should not that be acknowledged too?  I'd back recognition of Australia's Chinese rather than Aborigines any day.  I've eaten a lot of great Chinese meals but what have Aborigines ever done for anyone?  They are very largely parasites on the rest of Australia

A town council will appeal to the government to change the countries national anthem because the current song doesn't include Indigenous Australians.

Lake Macquarie Council says references to the 'colonisation and white settlement' excludes Aboriginal people and will write to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to 'review the wording of the national anthem'.

In a notice of motion raised at Monday's meeting by Labor Councillor Brian Adamthwaite it was decided the letter would request the removal of the word 'young' from the song, replacing it with strong, the Newcastle Herald reported.

 Lake Macquarie Council will appeal to the government to change Australia's national anthem to include Indigenous Australians

The idea to propose the change was came to light during a conversation Councillor Adamthwaite, a school principal, had with an Indigenous student. 

'This particular student said to me one day, ''Do I really have to stand and sing Advance Australia Fair?',' he said.

'She said it doesn't represent my people, my people have been here a long long time and when we talk about a young country, we're talking about … colonisation and white settlement.

He would like to live in a country in where all children feel proud to sing the national anthem.

The motion was passed despite three Liberal Party Councillors opposing to the idea citing it was outside their domain.

'We're elected as leaders in the community [but] this is going far beyond my brief, it's not something we should be debating,' Nick Jones said. 

Daily Mail Australia recently reported the Recognition in Anthem Project, established by Victorian Supreme Court judge Peter Vickery, were also pushing for a new patriotic song.

Their proposed version includes references to Aboriginal culture, Uluru and 'respecting the country'.

Earlier this year the Australian government granted permission for the altered version of 'Advance Australia Fair' to be used at some events, but not as an official anthem.


"Green" NT government wants a free ride

They want to abandon a major source of revenue and then turn to the rest of Australia to pay their bills?? Typical Leftist irresponsibility

The Northern Territory government says Canberra is threatening to cut its share of GST further if it doesn't lift a fracking ban.

NT treasurer Nicole Manison says it's an "an absolute disgrace" that her federal counterpart Scott Morrison is attempting to bully her government into ending a temporary ban on unconventional gas exploration.

"Territorians should not be held to ransom on the future of their GST funding based on whether or not we seek fracking," she told reporters in Darwin.

On Wednesday Mr Morrison took aim at the government's moratorium, saying it had stymied investment and was holding the Territory economy back.

"The bottom line is this, Australia needs more gas and the Territory needs more jobs," he said. "And it needs to take advantage of the resource opportunities that it has here, whether it's on gas or anywhere else.This is important for the Territory's development and its future."

Mr Morrison said an upcoming Productivity Commission review of GST distribution would examine whether the formula was hurting the national economy by giving jurisdictions like the NT a "leave pass" for "not getting on and doing things".

"And should that sort of decision be rewarded by getting extra GST when you've got a state like Western Australia which has been realising their resource opportunities and has been penalised under the system for doing it?" he said. "I think it needs a fair dinkum look at it."

Labor says it won't lift a ban on the controversial gas extraction method until an independent inquiry releases its report in December, which was an election commitment.

Ms Manison is seeking infrastructure project investments from Canberra to mitigate the blow of huge GST cuts already announced in March, which make up 50 per cent of the NT's revenue.

She said in order for the NT to stop relying on handouts from the commonwealth it must diversify its economy, and can't put its pastoral, agriculture and tourism industries at risk by waving through hydraulic fracturing.


Stupid Leftist prank on innocent schoolkids

Anything to keep alive the"stolen generation" myth.  Some Aboriginal kids were indeed taken away from their parents -- because they were grossly neglected, not because of the colour of their skin

Year 4 children tricked into believing they would be taken away from their parents - but then were told it was just a lesson on the Stolen Generation

Nine-year-old children spent most of a school day believing they would be taken away from their parents in a bizarre Stolen Generation role play.

The Year Four students at St Justin's Catholic primary school on the outskirts of Sydney burst into tears when a nun broke the news at 9.30am on Tuesday.

She held up what she said was a letter from the Prime Minister saying their parents weren't looking after them well enough so they would be taken away.

Distraught children asked their teacher if it was true, and she said yes. They were not told it was an exercise until 2.50pm when they were asked to write down how they felt.

Natalie Wykes said she was looking at moving her son Kynan to a public school over the incident, which she called 'emotional abuse'.

'He came home and he said "Mum, I was really scared at school today",' she told Daily Mail Australia.

'They said you won't be seeing your family again, that they had to change their last names, and even where they would be sleeping in the school.

'During the day they had to do activities that Aboriginal children did whey they were taken, like picking up rubbish and raking leaves, running around the oval and doing star jumps.

'If they didn't do it right they'd get yelled at, it was pretty full on.'

Ms Wykes said Kynan even tried to escape from the school by faking bumping heads with a friend during lunch so the school would call his mother to get him.

'I get these calls all the time so I didn't think anything of it until he came home and told me he did it because it he was afraid he wouldn't be allowed to come home,' she said.

She complained to the principal on Wednesday and said Kynan told him 'the army can come and take us away at any time', and remained convinced even after being told that wasn't true.

Another mother, Mary Jane Turner, said her son Tyrone was in the same class and the lesson distressed him even more because he suffered from anxiety.

She said Tyrone came home in tears and was too upset to eat his lunch at school.

Tim Gilmour, assistant to the director of schools in the Catholic diocese of Wollongong, said the activity was intended to give students an experience of the infamous chapter in Australia's history.

'We wanted to ask them how they would feel if we did that now. It was done without incident last year and quite a lot of parents said the activity was a good one,' he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr Gilmour said students in two of the three classes that participated were told early on it was a role play but it 'wasn't done as well as it should have been' in the other.

'Seven students became a bit distressed but they were reassured by their teacher and made to understand the context of the activity,' he said.

He said the diocese would look at how it could be 'refined' and whether it needed significant changes for next time.

Stolen Generation members were also outraged by the lesson, saying it was an inappropriate way to teach children about it.

'I’m aboriginal and my grandfather was a part of the stolen generation, this is absolutely disgusting to be teaching the kids such lies to the point also where they’ll fear they’ll be taken if they play up,' Sascha Smith wrote on social media.  'Furious is an understatement right now.'

'We weren’t taken away because of neglect, we were taken because of the colour of our skin,' NT Stolen Generation Aboriginal Corporation spokeswoman Eileen Cummings told News Corp.

'We were taken away because they believed that our people couldn’t teach us anything, they wanted to educate us because we were half-caste children.'


Abbott: ‘Let’s make Australia work again’

TONY Abbott has no plans to leave politics any time soon, he said on Tuesday, because Australia needs strong conservative voices and less compromise from government.

The former prime minister, now a Turnbull Government backbencher, made the comments as a Brisbane business event on Tuesday, a day after a leaked tape emerged of Christopher Pyne gloating that the Liberal party’s left faction was “in the winner’s circle”.

“I’m in no hurry to leave public life because we need strong liberal conservative voices now, more than ever,” he said.
Mr Abbott watches as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivers his address at the 59th Liberal Party Federal Council Meeting in Sydney on Saturday. Picture: Dan Himbrechts

Mr Abbott watches as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivers his address at the 59th Liberal Party Federal Council Meeting in Sydney on Saturday. Picture: Dan HimbrechtsSource:AAP

Mr Abbott’s comments came as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull again insisted the Liberal party was “harmonious”.

But the dumped prime minister has outlined his own six point plan, complete with slogan (make Australia work again) on his website, that appears to position himself very much as alternative leader to Mr Turnbull.

Mr Pyne’s leaked comments apparently reopened old wounds from the leadership contest Mr Abbott lost to Mr Turnbull 21 months ago.

Mr Pyne, one of Mr Abbott’s most senior lieutenants at the time, told moderate faction colleagues at a late-night function last week he had voted for Mr Turnbull in every Liberal leadership ballot.

That was news to Mr Abbott. He accused Mr Pyne of not being fair dinkum, saying it was incredibly disappointing to discover his loyalty was never there.

Mr Turnbull on Tuesday was distancing himself from the spat, rejecting suggestions his party was a “tinderbox” about to erupt.

But the prime minister admitted people in politics could get “scratchy” with each other. “The party room is very harmonious, very united,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, noting Mr Abbott was not a minister in his government. “He’s one member in the party room.”

In his address to conservative think tank the Institute of Public Affairs in Brisbane on Tuesday morning, Mr Abbott said it had not been a good year for Australia and “too many people feel let down and ripped off”.

“We are letting ourselves down. We are not what we should be; and we know it. That’s why most of the attempted pep talks sound so hollow.”

Mr Turnbull said the coalition recently had been able deal with complex issues such as schools funding and energy policy.

However, Mr Abbott said in making compromises to get legislation through parliament “the war doesn’t actually end”.

“The battleground just shifts and in the meantime principles have become negotiable and the whole political spectrum has moved in the wrong direction,” Mr Abbott said.

The Australian reported that Mr Abbott also told the conservative crowd, “we need to make Australia work again”, a slogan he has apparently adopted in his vision for the country.

“Because our country, plainly, is not working as it should. We are letting ourselves down. We are not what we should be; and we know it,” he said.

He insisted the next election would not be won by drawing closer to Labor values, in the wake of this year’s Budget, which many conservatives attacked as “Labor-lite”.

“The next election can only be won by drawing up new battlelines that give our people something to fight for; and the public something to hope for,” he said.

“We can’t even look across the Tasman without a twinge of acute embarrassment”.

“We have an abundance of energy — but the world’s highest power prices; an abundance of land — and property prices to rival Hong Kong’s; some of the world’s smartest people — yet with school rankings behind Kazakhstan.”

Mr Abbott’s address came as one of his conservative allies, former minister Eric Abetz, said Mr Pyne should have resigned from the ministry at the time if he did not support Mr Abbott.

Mr Pyne insisted as a member of the leadership team he was loyal to Mr Abbott in the lead-up to the 2013 election which the coalition won.

“[We] were absolutely central to him becoming prime minister and defeating the Labor Party in 2013 and almost defeating them in 2010, so nobody could ever question my determination to see a coalition government in power,” he told the ABC’s Q & A program on Monday night.


Former prime minister Tony Abbott lashes out at Australia’s submarine program, calls for ‘Plan B’

CONCERNS for Australia’s naval incapabilities have been highlighted in a leadership lunch that called for a “plan B” for Australia’s new fleet of submarines.

Continuing his campaign trail critiquing the Turnbull government, former prime minister Tony Abbott warned the government’s $50 billion submarine investment needs to be reconsidered.

In a speech at the Centre for Independent Studies titled Submarines: why settle for second best?, Mr Abbott disclosed that when a fleet of Russian naval ships appeared in international waters off Brisbane during the G20 summit in 2014, he was told at the time “that neither of our two deployed submarines could shadow it”.

While Australian officials played down the presence of the flotilla at the time, led by the Russian Pacific Fleet flagship the cruiser Varyag, frantic efforts were under way in Moscow to establish the intention of the fleet, according to News Corp’s Ian McPhedran at the time.

“There is no doubt this is posturing, to show the power of the Russian fleet,” a source said.

Just a month earlier, the then-Prime Minister Mr Abbott threatened to “shirt-front” Vladimir Putin over Russia’s role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and the deaths of 38 Australian residents.

While the Navy sent three Australian warships, News Corp Australia understood at the time the government also asked about the possibility of a Collins Class submarine joining the mission.

It was told that the nearest boat was in Perth and would not be able to reach the area until well after the G20 summit was over.

“I worry that a decade or so hence, maybe sooner, Australia might face a security crisis in our region and find that governments of yesterday and today had left their successors with inadequate means to deal with it,” Mr Abbott said in his speech today.

“[The lack of submarines] was a stark reminder of the limitations of a strategic deterrent comprising just six conventional submarines of which two are in deep maintenance, two are in training, with only two available at any one time — and limited by an underwater cruising speed of just 10 knots.

“The Russian Pacific Fleet reportedly has five ballistic missile subs, 10 nuclear powered attack subs and eight conventional subs. If the world were becoming more secure and if our allies were becoming more dominant, perhaps that wouldn’t matter very much.

“This must be hoped for and it should be worked towards but it can’t be taken for granted.

“Government’s job is to plan for the worst as well as to work for the best. We will be judged by history as well as by our contemporaries and, at least where national defence is concerned, we have to think and prepare for the very long term indeed.”

Mr Abbott’s government set up the three-way compeition between Japan, Germany and France for the submarine contract.

French shipbuilder DCNS won the design job and the 12 conventional-powered submarines will be constructed in Adelaide.

Yet Mr Abbott said “the French-based design is hardly begun, let alone finalised. No contract to build has been signed and won’t be for years”. The first steel is expected to be cut by 2022, and the first sub will enter service in the early 2030s.

In his speech, Mr Abbott called for Australia to “consider” nuclear-powered submarines “before the opportunity is lost for another several decades”.

“The whole point of the next submarine acquisition was to avoid the problems of the Collins — to find the submarine that could be brought swiftly into service with the least possible modifications — but what we have done so far risks an exact repetition,” Mr Abbott said.

“All the submarines on which the bids were based are excellent for their countries’ needs — but none, it seems, for ours. “The Japanese sub lacked range, the German sub lacked size, and the French sub lacked conventional power. “But instead of changing what we wanted, we’ve decided — again — to bring an orphan submarine into being.”

Yet despite the criticism, Mr Turnbull said he wanted to stress that “I do not want to interrupt the process of acquiring new submarines given that it had languished for so long”.

“The design process with DCNS should continue and so should the build if that remains our fully considered assessment of what’s best,” he said.

“But parallel with that, we should rethink what we want our subs to do, and what they might be up against in a changing threat environment, and explore nuclear powered options while our committed costs are only in the hundreds of millions.”


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