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Liz Fong-Jones
and her trusty daemon Misty
and her trusty daemon Misty

Liz's posts

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These are my daughters. If you attack Middle Easterners fleeing persecution, you attack them. Their mother came here from Iran after the revolution, looking for a safer life. America let her in despite our conflict with Iran, because American principles are more important than our fears and disputes. If you don't believe our principles always come first, then you don't believe in America.

Make no mistake. When you attack immigrants, you're attacking America. We're a nation of immigrants. Of all races. Of all creeds. Anyone who doesn't believe that, is welcome to leave and find another country. Because if you turn your back on immigrants in need, if you turn your back on freedom of religion, you understand less about what it means to be an American than every immigrant who ever stepped onto our soil.

Being born an American is nothing to be proud of. Being born an American is easy; any idiot can get born here. Immigrants and refugees earned the right to come here. Nobody is more American than the person who came here fleeing repression and seeking freedom.

If you want to be proud of being an American, then you have to support American ideals. Speak out against those who seek to limit speech, limit religion, or turn away people in need. Don't mute what they say. Don't let it go for the sake of friendship or family. Speak out.

Silence isn't just death. Silence is blood on our hands. The blood of those we turned away. And the blood of a country that fell, not because of war or terrorism, but because we were afraid to trust the very principles that made it strong.

#syria #refugees #freedom #wearebetterthanthis

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Now you, too, can learn about how to organize effectively and change your tech employer's policies.

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The news continues to develop almost faster than I can type analyses. But I've tried to round up the most critical updates from the past few hours, together with a discussion of what they mean.

The short version is this: we're seeing the formation of an "inner circle" of government, including Trump, Bannon, Miller, Kushner, Priebus, and possibly Flynn and Conway, who have been taking deliberate steps to hobble the ability of all other parts of government – the rest of the Executive branch, Congress, and most especially the courts – from controlling them. Somewhat unexpectedly, they went straight for an attempt to grab extraordinary physical powers over people (yesterday's Muslim ban), rather than trying to boil the frog slowly; in the context of other moves taken over the past week, this starts to look like a coherent strategy.

Power, including the power to execute every one of the things that Trump promised to do during the campaign, is the primary goal; money, in large, untraceable quantities, appears to be the secondary.

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(you can now sign with a twitter account --

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I signed and so should you if you can afford to.

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Lapo Elkann, heir to the Fiat fortune, claimed in November that he had been kidnapped by a transgender sex worker in Manhattan, who was demanding his family send $10,000 (£8,000) "to guarantee his safety." When investigators caught up with him, they discovered it had all been a ruse by Elkann in an attempt to squeeze more money from his family after a bender in the Big Apple.

There appears to have been a woman involved -- at least, Elkann is said to have spent two days holed up with her, partying. He is believed to have come up with the plot when he ran out of money to continue paying for the sex worker's time and the substances being used.

The sex worker was also arrested when authorities caught up with Elkann, because the world is shitty and full of awfulness. According to the Daily Beast, however, the charges against the sex worker have been voided and sealed (source: It is not known under what terms, but thank the gods. Sex workers are not usually that fortunate.

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This is worth another read a year later now that we elected the person advocating mass-deportations...
Shaun King asks a fair question about Donald Trump's plan to deport eleven million people over a two-year period. Answering it feels a bit like doing a sociopathic sort of "What If?," but sometimes it's good to see what's actually involved in a policy proposal.

If you want to deport all of these people, you'll have to do a few things:

(1) Figure out who you want to deport.
(2) Round them up.
(3) Transport them to wherever you're deporting them to.
(4) Dump them there and get them to stay.

The biggest things that probably aren't blindingly obvious are:

- Identifying people is harder than it sounds, since it's not like everyone has proof of citizenship tattooed on their arms. You'll have to put people in the field, and they'll have to have a lot of leeway to deal with ambiguous cases. Which is another way of saying they need the power to decree someone an outsider and deport them.

- Rounding people up is easier than it sounds, Ben Carson to the contrary. The police have more guns, and if you're already at the point where the local field commander is willing to say "this entire neighborhood is probably deportable," it turns out that rounding people up and/or shooting resisters isn't very challenging at all. Most people will stop shooting when you threaten to kill their families, and the ones that don't, well, you just kill them and their families.

- Transporting people is much harder than it sounds. 450,000 people per month is a lot; even with serious packing, you can only fit about 80 people into a standard boxcar or truck; a typical modern train might have 140 boxcars or so, which means it can only transport about 11,000 people, and loading them takes time. Unfortunately, people are somewhat scattered out, so if you want this to work, you'll need to use trucks and so on to deliver people to staging areas, where you can store them for a while until a train is ready. Fortunately, there's a lot of prior art on how to concentrate people in a small space while they're getting ready to be loaded on trains.

- Mass-deporting people to an area you don't control is harder than it seems, because the people who control that area are likely to object. You'd probably have to conquer and subjugate Mexico as a first step, and then set up receiving camps on the other end. Unloading areas would have to be fairly heavily armed and guarded, of course, to keep people from attacking you; the logistics are somewhat similar to the staging camps on the sending side, only you have to worry less about killing people.

- Running this is going to be really expensive, so you might consider finding ways for the project to help pay for itself. So long as you have people concentrated in one place, maybe have them do labor as well? They can pay for their own deportation!

So I suppose the good news is that we can answer Shaun's question fairly straightforwardly, because this has been done before and we do know what it looks like. We don't quite have the right expertise in the US, because none of our past mass-deportation efforts were quite at this scale per month; the transatlantic slave trade moved roughly this many people over three centuries, the Trail of Tears moved only about 16,500 people, and the internment of Japanese civilians during WWII only about 110,000. But outside the US, there's much more experience with it; probably the world's top expert on it was Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962), who ran a program very much like this which managed to move people at about this rate. 

Trump's team may be interested in checking him out; there's a tremendous amount written about his system, I'm sure it would be very helpful. And as I noted in a comment below, the design of this program really wasn't easy; they had to iterate through quite a lot of trial solutions before they could come up with a final one. You should always save work by studying prior art when you can.

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The ACLU, in a friend-of-the-court brief in the Stephens case, underscored the concerns that Ginsburg raised in Hobby Lobby. The implications of a ruling in the funeral homes’ favor would be “staggering,” it declared. “People hold sincere religious beliefs about a wide variety of things, including racial and religious segregation and the role of women in society. … If religious motivation exempted businesses from anti-discrimination laws, our government would be powerless to enforce those laws.”

Among other things, “business owners could refuse service to people of color, on the ground that their religious beliefs forbid racial integration. Employers could refuse to hire women or pay them less than men, because their religious beliefs require women to remain at home. And educational institutions receiving federal benefits could impose religiously motivated racial segregation policies on their students. All civil rights laws would be vulnerable to such claims where the discrimination was motivated by religion.”

Hobby Lobby, Ginsburg warned, was “a decision of startling breadth.” How broad is just now becoming clear.

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Systematic racism is alive and well in America.

I live in a gentrifying black neighborhood (Bed-Stuy), and as I was coming home from work today I witnessed a moped rider being run off the street into parked cars by a white SUV. A blue striped white SUV. And the moped rider was my neighbor's son, who with his friends tinkers with and welds together homemade mopeds. And sometimes rides them around the block, at reasonable and safe speeds, signaling, always going the correct way down the streets etc. OH SHIT.

Four cops jumped out of the SUV [which had neither siren nor lights on] once he'd been forced into a parked car, tackled him, and arrested him, then confiscated his motorbike. A pile of other cops came to watch, including an unmarked car with two plainclothes police and a big van to haul away the bike.

I caught the whole thing on video as soon as I realized what was going on [and yes, you should film, any time you see a person of color being harassed by the police]. Seriously, the escalation of force and arrest was unnecessary and did nothing to make my neighborhood safer. Had this kid been white, he'd have been pulled over with siren/lights and let off with a warning. Instead, he was ridden off the road, tackled, and hauled off for arrest.

The racism of broken windows, caught in action. And we wonder why there are so few black engineers. Because when they tinker and experiment, they're locked up and given criminal records.
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