Friday, June 27, 2014

Evading censorship

Evading Leftist censorship can be a real problem.  Conservative internet sites will often be blocked in businesses, libraries, colleges and government departments.  And this site is one that sometimes falls victim to that.  Most readers of this bloig have long ago found ways around such blocks -- mostly by logging on only at home -- but there can be problems with some ISPs even there.  And some conservatives are poor --  particularly among the sick and elderly -- so depend on public facilities such as libraries for their internet access.  So they are sometimes  blocked.

And then there is the bamboo curtain.  Chinese censorship is erratic but it does often block this blog to readers in China.  I have, however, only a few readers there so it is no big deal and I think they have all found routes around the bamboo curtain anyway.

So what all that has been leading up to is a reminder of the ways I endeavour to provide routes around censorship of my blogs.  My contribution is to put up "mirrors" of my blogs on sites that are not known to be subject to blocking.  A mirror of this blog is, for instance, to be found here or here.  I update it about once a week.  I update it more often if I am having trouble with blogspot.

Mirrors for Greenie Watch are here or here
Mirrors for Tongue Tied are here or here
Mirrors for Political Correctness Watch are here or here
For various reasons, however, the hosting services for my blog mirrors change from time to time so as a "One stop shop" for finding out where all the mirrors are at any given time see here  or here.

Some links above may be a bit slow-loading.


America's border inundated with almost 50,000 child migrants

In the last eight months 47,017 youngsters - some as young as three - have been apprehended crossing from Mexico without their parents. And the American authorities are struggling to cope

The shocking images captured young faces pressed blankly up against thick glass panes and hundreds of children huddled under aluminium-foil blankets on concrete floors behind chain fences and barbed wire.

The pictures were filmed not in Third World refugee camps but in US border patrol stations where authorities have been overwhelmed by an unparalleled wave of unaccompanied children pouring across the frontier.

These were the scenes from tours of crowded holding centres in South Texas and Arizona after the media was given access for the first time to the facilities since the surge reached what President Barack Obama described as an "urgent humanitarian situation".

In the last eight months 47,017 youngsters, some as young as three, have been apprehended crossing from Mexico without their parents, up 92 per cent on the same period a year earlier.

Nearly 10,000 were caught last month alone and the number is on track to hit 130,000 by the end of the year.

Three quarters are from Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador, and most entered through the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, a state which has run out of facilities to hold them.

Thousands are now being flown by US authorities to military bases in Oklahoma and California, and a barren warehouse in Nogales, Arizona.

The US government has blamed an epidemic of gang violence in the Central American countries for the influx.

Some Republicans have countered that Mr Obama's decision in 2012 to defer deportation of adults who arrived in the US illegally as children has contributed to the crisis by bolstering hopes of an amnesty for undocumented minors.

But arguably the greatest impact has been erroneous rumours spreading in Central America that minors arriving alone would be granted "permits" to stay in the US – when in reality they are issued with "permisios" (notices) to appear in deportation hearings.

As the crisis deepened, Mr Obama spoke on Thursday with Enrique Pena Nieto, his Mexican counterpart, about a strategy to tackle the flood.

Barbara Mikulski, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, included up to $2.28 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to feed and shelter the estimated 130,000 minors expected to arrive in the coming year.

And Joe Biden, the vice president, added a stop in Guatemala on Friday to a scheduled Latin America trip to meet Central American leaders for talks on the dilemma.

"We're approaching this issue with a shared recognition that the current situation is not sustainable," Mr Biden told Guatemalan President Otto Perez at a joint press appearance.

"It is unacceptable. And we have a shared responsibility to take significant steps to address this issue."

Democrats sought to re-frame the deepening crisis as one of refugees rather than immigration.  "Let's be clear: This is not an immigration crisis," said Sen Bob Menendez during a press conference to unveil a package of new proposals for addressing the crisis. "This is a humanitarian and refugee crisis.  "It's being caused in large measure by thousands in Central America who believe it is better to run for their lives and risk dying, than stay and die for sure."

As politicians argued, Father Heyman Vazquez, who runs a migrant shelter in Mexico, described the harsh realities on the ground. "I remember a little boy of nine-years-old and I asked if he was going to go meet someone (in the US), and he told me 'No, I'm just going hand myself over because I hear they help kids'," he said.

John McCain, a Republican senator for Arizona, has called for the deployment of 1,500 extra border agents to deter illegal immigrants and said the influx "deserves the attention of all of us".

He added: "There has to be some kind of organised effort that is bringing them here. The average five or-six-year-old doesn't just randomly decide to leave home one day."

With no sign that the surge is easing, federal officials have been putting the children on military bases until they can be united with family members in the US or put through the straining deportation process.

But even as the causes of the influx are debated, the human faces of the crisis had been largely hidden from public sight.

After visiting a makeshift shelter in Nogales, Arizona, Tony Benegas, the Honduran honorary consul, said "it breaks my heart" to see "hundreds of kids laying in these cages, and they're wired, and sleeping on plastic containers".

Arturo Garino, the mayor of Nogales, who was eventually allowed access to the site, told The Telegraph that he had seen 1,000 children – about a quarter of them aged under 12 and some as young as three.

"I talked to some of the kids and everybody's trying to get to the promised land, which is the United States of America.

"Some of them are very young, three-or-four-years-old. There are no grown-ups there, it's unbelievable.

"These are just children. I can't understand how they traveled 1,500 miles from Central America to the Mexican border. I know there is poverty and persecution but a lot of people die on this trip, it's very, very dangerous.

"Our government needs to ask questions of the countries in Central America to find out what's happening over there."

Mr Garino said conditions inside the warehouse had improved, that doctors and vaccinations were available, and separate catering areas have been set up for boys and girls. Some of the children were playing with frisbees when he visited.

He said children were being kept there for between three and five days before being sent on to one of the military bases being readied to take them in Oklahoma and California.

After arriving, the children enter a legal process in which they are either deported to their home countries, or released to the care of relatives already in the US.

Mr Benegas said he believed the vast majority had relatives with some form of legal status in the US.

Campaign groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a complaint with the US government alleging that a total of 116 of the migrant children, aged from five to 17, had suffered abuse at the hands of Customs and Border Protection agents, including sexual assault and beatings, denial of medical care, and not being given enough food and water.

A Customs and Border Protection spokesman refuted the allegations. "In the face of overwhelming numbers of unaccompanied children crossing the border in South Texas, US Border Patrol agents have taken extraordinary measures to care for these children while in custody and to maintain security in overcrowded facilities," he said.

The controversy about the influx has in recent days stretched far beyond the border – as far afield, indeed, as a small town in southern Virginia.

Desperate for extra accommodation to cope with the surge, the federal government had signed a lease to house 500 children in an empty college in Lawrenceville. But the authorities were forced to put the plan on hold after a backlash by locals in the town of 1,400

"I was just shocked," said Brian Roberts, the local sheriff. "The way this process has been handled puts more fear in our eyes, because it's been shoved down our throat.

"Five hundred kids unaccounted for – illegal alien children in my little sleepy town – I just don't think it's the right fit for this community."



That Cuyahoga River fire thing

Tim Worstall

It's amazing how often the received wisdom about past events turns out to be completely and entirely wrong. For example, in the US, the story of the Cuyahoga river catching fire in 1969 is seen as hving been the spark (sorry) that led  to the Clean Water Act and thus the cleaning up of america's rivers. You know the sort of thing, brave Federal bureaucrats saving us all from filthy capitalism.

But the truly interesting thig is that this river fire wasn't by any means the first one in the US: actually, it was the last. And that photograph of it isn't even of that 1969 fire: it's of one on the same river 15 years earlier.

Fires were costly and dangerous, so action was taken long before the federal government got involved. In Cleveland, efforts had been made to reduce the fire threat on and off in the first part of the 20th century, but by the time of the 1952 fire — a major conflagration — local civic and business leaders had had enough, and they stepped up their efforts. This not only reduced the fire threat, but also sparked other efforts to improve the river’s health in the 1960s. In 1968, Cleveland voters approved a $100 million bond issue to finance river cleanup efforts, including sewer system improvements, debris removal, and stormwater overflow controls.

By comparison, in 1968 the federal government only spent $180 million nationwide on water quality and pollution control efforts and was still mostly concerned with ensuring navigability of waterways, even at the expense of maintaining water quality.

Against the backdrop of slow but deliberate local action, the 1969 fire was a reminder of how things had been, and reinforced the need for continued progress.

This rather reminds me of our own dear Clean Air Act in the UK. There most certainly was a 1956 act. But air quality has been improving in London since 1500 according to Bjorn Lomborg. And there's no real difference in the rate of improvement before or after the 1956 act.



Federal judge: US no-fly list violates Constitution

The U.S. government's no-fly list banning people accused of links to terrorism from commercial flights violates their constitutional rights because it gives them no meaningful way to contest that decision, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Anna Brown, ruling on a lawsuit filed in federal court in Oregon by 13 Muslim Americans who were branded with the no-fly status, ordered the government to come up with new procedures that allow people on the no-fly list to challenge that designation.

"The court concludes international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world. Indeed, for many international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society," Brown wrote in her 65-page ruling.

"Accordingly, on this record the court concludes plaintiffs inclusion on the no-fly list constitutes a significant deprivation of their liberty interests in international travel," Brown said.

The decision hands a major victory to the 13 plaintiffs - four of them veterans of the U.S. military - who deny they have links to terrorism and say they only learned of their no-fly status when they arrived at an airport and were blocked from boarding a flight.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought suit against the policy in 2010, argues that secrecy surrounding the list and lack of any reasonable opportunity for plaintiffs to fight their placement on it violates their clients' constitutional rights to due process.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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