What’s an Indigenous Immigrant?

I’m back in our AirBnB in Paris where we live like the guys in La Boheme if they had 500 Mbit symmetric fiber Internet. No longer limited to 0.5 GB of mobile data per day at $10 (the Verizon Travel Pass; Google Maps by itself can consume close to this quota), it is time to check the New York Times. “Los Angeles City Council President Steps Down After Racist Comments”:

In a meeting last year, Nury Martinez mocked Indigenous immigrants and the Black child of a fellow council member. She will remain on the council but relinquished her leadership role.

The president of the Los Angeles City Council stepped down from her powerful leadership role on Monday after a leaked audio recording revealed racist and disparaging remarks that she had made about the Black child of a white council member, and about Indigenous immigrants in the city’s Koreatown neighborhood.

“I take responsibility for what I said, and there are no excuses for those comments. I’m so sorry,” Nury Martinez, the council president, said in a statement on Monday announcing that she would resign from the leadership role, but not from the council as some people had demanded. “As a mother, I know better and I am sorry. I am truly ashamed.”

In the profanity-laced recording, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times and which was first reported by The Los Angeles Times on Sunday, Ms. Martinez, who is Latina, compared the Black child of a white council member to a “changuito,” Spanish for little monkey. She also called Oaxacan immigrants living in Koreatown “short little dark people.”

There is much to ponder here. If this politician were not a mother, she would not “know better”? What is it about motherhood that gave her so much wisdom?

Second, how is it possible for someone to be both indigenous and an immigrant? From M-W:

indigenous: produced, growing, living, or occurring natively or naturally in a particular region or environment

immigrant : a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence or a plant or animal that becomes established in an area where it was previously unknown

Aren’t these opposite terms and concepts?

Finally, this politician is a racist and therefore cannot serve as leader of the 15-member City Council. At the same time, she is not a racist and therefore can serve as a member of the City Council?

Speaking of Los Angeles, Land of Lockdown in the Sun, here’s an except from In a Dry Season, a book that I read in prep for the UK trip:

[a Brit who returns from living in Los Angeles] smiled and patted his arm. “Thanks. You’re sweet.” She snatched a cigarette from his packet and lit up. “You don’t smoke,” Banks said. “I do now.” Jenny blew out a long plume. “I’ve just about had it up to here with those nico-Nazis out there. You can’t smoke anywhere. And to think California was a real hotbed of protest and innovation in the sixties. It’s like a fucking kindergarten run by fascists now.”

The book was published in 1999.

Speaking of immigrants and the UK, here’s a book that was for sale at the Tate Modern:

What else were they selling?

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Have the TV networks been showing Ron DeSantis?

A reader comment on What would it cost to retreat from Tampa to Orlando as Hurricane Ian appraoches?:

It’s amusing to watch the media’s approach to the hurricane and Ron DeSantis. They pretty much have to put him on TV, discussing plans to evacuate, etc. But the contrast with this young, vibrant, competent governor speaking extemporaneously versus the decrepit old fossil in Washington squinting his eyes to read what somebody else put on the teleprompter must be driving them nuts.

Assuming that DeSantis is continuing to demonstrate competence and organization, the best way for the media to support Democrats would be to ignore him. This would be the flip side of featuring Andrew Cuomo during coronapanic so much that he won an Emmy and the hearts of Americans identifying as female (see “Hot for governor! Women confess they are developing ‘MAJOR crushes’ on Andrew Cuomo” and remember that, due to his masterful management of the virus, New York State had only 367 COVID-tagged deaths per 100,000, while Sweden’s radical “give the finger to the virus” policy resulted in a horrific 1,849 deaths (per million)).

At this point it is unclear that Ron DeSantis will be doing a lot of briefings. Maybe he is going to be busy managing the statewide response instead of getting in front of cameras. But if the DeSantis twitter feed fills up with briefings that aren’t shown on CNN, can we infer that CNN has its thumb on the scale?

Here’s this morning’s briefing:

Let’s compare to a recent press conference from Joe Biden:

Who wants to compare the two for cognitive function and apparent competence to manage? No fair if you’re a passionate Democrat or Republican! Maybe we should let the European readers judge.

How about the Democrat running to liberate Floridians from the hated tyrant? Here’s his Twitter profile this morning:

Without scrolling, it is all about fascism and abortion care, neither of which is going to de-flood Fort Myers and Naples.

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Hurricane lies from state media (NPR)

“Some don’t evacuate, despite repeated hurricane warnings, because they can’t” (state-sponsored NPR):

Depending on a family’s financial situation, evacuating away from a storm can be costly.

“Many modest- to low-income households simply don’t have the cash or credit,” said Joshua Behr, research professor at Old Dominion University, in a 2018 interview with NPR.

Behr emphasized that the poorest may often wait until the last minute to evacuate, resulting in little to no availability for affordable hotel rooms.

The tragedy of inequality yet again and the obvious remedy is an expansion of the government that funds NPR so that enhanced transferism can be implemented.

As discussed in Practicalities of evacuation from Florida’s west coast, however, all of the quoted material from the NPR article is a lie. The county-run shelters near Fort Myers are (1) free, (2) pet-friendly, (3) equipped with backup generators, (4) stocked with free food and water, and (5) accessible via free transportation (Uber or government-run; summon via taxpayer-funded Obamaphone or wait for the flood and the knock on the door from the public safety crews). A poor person would actually save money by going to the shelter because he/her/zir/their food would be paid for. (The information regarding hotel rooms is also a lie; plenty were available starting at about $60 per night as of the day before the storm made landfall.)

Aside from lack of funds, what other obstacles could a person face in getting to safety?

And while many emergency warnings and notices are now printed in both English and Spanish, there’s still a gap when for those who speak other languages.

More than 400,000 households in Florida speak Haitian as their primary shared language, according to the Census Bureau. Tens of thousands of Floridians speak Portuguese, French, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Arabic, German, Russian, Italian or another language as their primary shared language at home.

“While looking at an evacuation map at a county in Florida, I saw they have it in both English and Spanish and thought ‘OK, that’s great.’ But also there are people there who may not speak either language,” said Cuite.

Cuite says alongside the language barrier being an issue for people, there are also different levels of literacy to account for.

Some people may not be able to read, which makes things like finding their evacuation zone a challenge,” she said.

NPR has previously informed us that low-skill immigrants make a country rich. Today, NPR informs us that a substantial number of migrants can’t speak English or Spanish, are illiterate in all languages, and live in households in which all members are illiterate in all languages. Putting these two together, we can infer that this Army of the Illiterate will boost what we are told is the world’s most advanced economy.

Our neighborhood came through the overnight thunderstorms, which Mindy the Crippler did not appreciate. The phone shrieked a couple of times with a tornado warning and the federal government’s advice to Floridians to take shelter in basements (the nearest of which is in Atlanta?). There was heavy rain at times and some branches had come down from the palm trees. The neighborhood teenagers played football on the green (I also removed my shirt and a nice young lady paid me $100 to put it back on).

There have been no power glitches so far and no wind gusts above about 30 mph.

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Giorgia Meloni is more dangerous than Vladimir Putin (CNN and New York Times)

“The Future Is Italy, and It’s Bleak” (NYT, July 22, 2022):

Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party … could open the way for the Brothers of Italy to become the first far-right party to lead a major eurozone economy. For Europe and the country, it would be a truly seismic event.

Like other far-right parties across Europe, it is descended from a fascist or collaborationist original

Perhaps we will not all burn together in the fire. But if the far right takes over the government, in Italy or elsewhere, some of us surely will.

“Italy’s Hard-Right Lurch Raises New Concerns in Washington” (NYT, yesterday):

Italy’s election of a far-right governing coalition, … despite concern about their party’s fascist roots. … members of the Trump wing of the Republican Party embraced the rise of a nationalist whose party has roots in Mussolini-era fascism.

“Giorgia Meloni claims victory to become Italy’s most far-right prime minister since Mussolini” (CNN, yesterday):

the most far-right government since the fascist era of Benito Mussolini. … She has also called abortion a “tragedy,” raising fears for the future of women’s rights in the country.

“How Giorgia Meloni and her far-right party became a driving force in Italian politics” (CNN, Sept 25, 2022):

The National Alliance, formerly the Italian Social Movement, was unapologetically neo-fascist, formed by supporters of Benito Mussolini. … Now, the 45-year-old ultra-conservative … never wavering from a conservative agenda that puts in question LGBT rights, abortion rights and immigration policies.

A full-scale war had to unfold in Ukraine before the New York Times was prepared to call Vladimir Putin names, but Giorgia Meloni earned these monikers before taking a single official action. Maybe this means she will win the Nobel Peace Prize soon! (Barack Obama was nominated after 12 days of being in office.)

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How can the death of a 96-year-old dominate the news if we are facing multiple emergencies?

Here’s the front page of the New York Times right now:

Of course, it is sad that a 96-year-old has died, but this is the newspaper that has told us we’re facing a “climate emergency” (Biden will fix), a public health emergency (COVID-19), a second public health emergency (racism), a public health crisis (racism, again), a global health emergency (monkeypox), a domestic health emergency (monkeypox, again), a non-health emergency (homelessness), a kids’ mental health emergency (give them a computer while their school is closed for 1.5 years and then give them therapy), etc., etc.

If these emergencies are, in fact, emergencies, how is it possible for everyone’s attention to be directed toward the transition from an elderly monarch with purely ceremonial duties to a child of that monarch?

(Separately, what would Meghan Markle need to do in order to obtain the position of queen for herself?)

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Counting “undetected” undocumented immigrants

“Biden Administration Has Admitted One Million Migrants to Await Hearings” (New York Times, today):

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — At a modest hotel a few miles from the ocean here, most of the rooms have been occupied this summer by families from African countries seeking asylum — 192 adults and 119 children in all.

They are among the more than one million undocumented immigrants who have been allowed into the country temporarily after crossing the border during President Biden’s tenure, part of a record-breaking cascade of irregular migration around the world.

Distinct from the hundreds of thousands who have entered the country undetected during Mr. Biden’s term, many of the one million are hoping for asylum — a long shot — and will have to wait seven years on average before a decision on their case is reached because of the nation’s clogged immigration system.

It is the text that I have highlighted above that is the subject of this blog post. If the folks who have “entered the country undetected” were not detected, how can anyone purport to begin to estimate their number?

There are some less-interesting tidbits in the article:

The million who have been allowed in since Mr. Biden took office — a figure that comes from internal Homeland Security data and court filings — are from more than 150 countries around the globe. With few pathways to enter the United States legally, crossing the border without documentation is often the only option for those fleeing crime and economic despair.

The U.S. is bordered by only two countries, Canada and Mexico. How is the U.S. then the “only option” for people “from more than 150 countries”? If people have the right to claim asylum anywhere in the world, why is it a journalistic fact, not an opinion, that their only option to cross multiple borders before taking up residence in Portland, Maine?

“Since we can’t go back in time and convince Americans to have more babies, we’ll need immigrants to fill out the labor force,” said Amon Emeka, a sociology professor at Skidmore University. “It will be critical that immigrants be integrated in the U.S. labor market to make up labor shortfalls in the years to come.”

This is the opposite of the perspective that I heard in Oslo last week. Rather than additional migrants, Norwegians with whom I spoke said they would rather have open space and elbow room, even if it means counter-service restaurants (“Panera-style”) are destined to be the norm rather than table-service. It would not be an improvement, from their perspective, to grow Norway from 5 million population to 10 million, especially not with low-skill immigrants.

Who benefits when Metro Portland’s population is expanded and rents consequently go up? As predicted in this article by a Harvard professor, folks who own businesses and apartment buildings:

Ben Conniff, co-founder and chief innovation officer at Luke’s Lobster, said his business relies heavily on immigrants. About one-third of the employees at the company’s processing plant in Saco are asylum seekers, and he is desperate to hire more.

What’s the timeline?

Currently, it takes between five and seven years for asylum cases to be decided. If an application is denied, there are opportunities to appeal, adding more years to an immigrant’s time in the country.

If a child is born at the beginning of an asylum-seeker’s residence in the U.S., in other words, he/she/ze/they could be 18 years old before the end of the legal process and therefore able to get the rest of the family in via chain migration (the parents, e.g., will have an automatic right to a Green Card because the adult child is a U.S. citizen via birthright citizenship).

Maria Zombo, an Angolan asylum seeker and mother of six who lives outside of Portland, recently opened an African grocery store in the revitalized downtown of Biddeford. She came to the country on a tourist visa eight years ago, and has yet to receive an initial response to her application for asylum. She has started a business, purchased a home and had a child.

Her experience is not atypical, said Conchita Cruz, co-executive director of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, a nonprofit.

“People are having their entire life here happen before they get an answer,” Ms. Cruz said.

In U.S. family courts, having even one child is considered a disabling condition for a plaintiff identifying as a “mother” with respect to the world of employment yet this mother of six is hard at work running a money transfer shop (photo: Kirsten Luce):

Maybe the folks who say that low-skill migrants are an economic boon are right? (Or possibly, the NYT happened to feature this migrant rather than hundreds who were not working?)

Circling back to the main topic of this post… how do we know how many migrants are in the U.S. if many are “undetected”? “Yale Study Finds Twice as Many Undocumented Immigrants as Previous Estimates” (2018) describes an attempt: “After running 1,000,000 simulations of the model, the researchers’ 95% probability range is 16 million to 29 million, with 22.1 million as the mean.”


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Trump vs. Biden in the New York Times

According to my browser, the word “Trump” occurs 6 times on the front page of today’s New York Times. “Biden” occurs 3 times.

Biden is featured for expanding government (and, therefore, borrowing and the deficit) as well as for being a quarter century older than the mandatory retirement age for an FAA air traffic controller (gone before age 56, even at the sleepiest airports where there might be one operation every 10 minutes).

Some of the headlines mentioning Trump:

Excerpts from the Trump stories:

Liberal excitement is understandable. Mr. Trump faces potential legal jeopardy from the Jan. 6 investigation in Congress and the Mar-a-Lago search. They anticipate fulfilling a dream going back to the earliest days of the Trump administration: to see him frog-marched to jail before the country and the world.

But the nightmare wouldn’t stop there. What if Mr. Trump declares another run for the presidency just as he’s indicted and treats the trial as a circus illustrating the power of the Washington swamp and the need to put Republicans back in charge to drain it?

There is an obvious risk: If Mr. Trump runs again, he might win.

It’s impossible to understand the G.O.P. reaction to the raid, though, without accounting for the context of the Russia investigation of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign that consumed the first two years of his presidency. … investigations of prominent figures of one party carried out by officials of the other party aren’t going to be met by a relaxed attitude and sympathetic understanding.

The last time there was a significant investigation of a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, Democrats waged all-out war on the prosecutor. The independent counsel, Ken Starr, had a Republican background, but he wasn’t working for a G.O.P. administration. He was appointed by a three-judge panel after Mr. Clinton’s own attorney general, Janet Reno, triggered the investigation.

The Russia investigation was a national fiasco that brought discredit on the F.B.I. and everyone who participated in it. The probe prominently featured a transparently ridiculous dossier generated by the Clinton campaign, eventually spinning into a special-counsel investigation that became, to some significant extent, about itself and whether Mr. Trump was guilty of obstruction. People who should have known better got caught up in the feeding frenzy and speculated that the walls were closing in on Mr. Trump or that he might have been a Russian asset going back decades.

That experience guarantees that no Republican is going to take assurances about the Mar-a-Lago search, or any other Trump investigation, at face value.

Is it fair to say that Trump (our distant neighbor here in Palm Beach County, though there is a world of difference between the Palm Beach and Jupiter lifestyles!) has more mindshare, nearly two years after his last election, than any other former president with the same distance from being in office?

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Inflation of 0 percent reported as inflation of 8.5 percent

Subhead from the newspaper of record today, “The Consumer Price Index climbed 8.5 percent in July, a bigger slowdown than expected, but inflation may remain uncomfortably high for some time.” Let’s dig into the article:

The Consumer Price Index climbed 8.5 percent in the year through July, compared with 9.1 percent the prior month, a bigger slowdown than economists had projected. After stripping out food and fuel costs to get a sense of underlying price pressures, prices climbed by 5.9 percent through July, matching the previous reading.

On a monthly basis, the price index did not move at all in July. That’s because fuel prices, airfares and used cars declined in price, offsetting increases in rent and food costs.

Core inflation was also slower than economists had expected on a monthly basis, climbing by 0.3 percent. In June, that figure was 0.7 percent.

The best official number that we have for the current inflation rate is actually 0 percent (“the price index did not move”). Or perhaps 3.65 percent (0.3 percent per month, annualized). But we are informed that inflation is a frightening 8.5 percent because of price changes that occurred at some point prior to July.

Do we believe that the 0 percent rate will endure? On the one hand, the typical American has bought so much since 2020 that it is tough to believe he/she/ze/they could fit anything more into his/her/zir/their house or apartment. On the other hand, every kind of service enterprise, including travel and tourism, is jammed, struggling to raise wages enough to attract labor, etc. (As noted here previously, one would expect that these enterprises would be half empty as the Followers of Science shied away from crowded environments so as to #StopTheSpread, but it seems that Science says the best way to end the COVID-19 pandemic is to gather unmasked in airliners, theme parks, concert halls, etc.)

Here’s the saddest photo from our Oshkosh trip, a donut shop in Chattanooga that has cut its hours due to “staffing shortages”. When they finally decide that they need to pay a high enough wage to open long enough to make enough profit to pay the rent, won’t they also have to contribute to inflation by raising donut prices?

In other words, until the labor market has cleared via employers raising wages, shouldn’t we expect more inflation? Also, we are still addicted to deficit spending since we can’t accept that the appropriate size for government is whatever we’re willing to pay in tax. It is tough to imagine inflation staying anywhere near 0 percent while politicians in D.C. are, at our behest, borrowing and spending (and then having the Fed magically absorb the new debt?).


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Sheryl Sandberg’s departure from Meta/Facebook as explained by NYT and New York Post

“What Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ Has Meant to Women” (NYT):

On Wednesday, Ms. Sandberg announced that she was leaving her position as chief operating officer of Facebook’s parent company, Meta — the perch that made her one of the highest-profile women in American business. She had been in the job for five years when she published “Lean In,” and her singular role and success in Silicon Valley helped amplify the book’s message.

For many women “Lean In” has been a bible, a road map to corporate life. Many others have come to understand its limits, or to view it as a symbol of what is wrong with applying individual-focused solutions to the systemic issues holding back women in the workplace, especially women of color and low-income women.

But it was also eminently clear to many readers of “Lean In” that what had allowed Ms. Sandberg to ascend the corporate world’s ladder went far beyond sheer will. She was a white, Harvard-educated woman, months away from becoming one of the world’s youngest-ever billionaires.

“It’s hard for Black women to lean in when you’re not even in the room,” said Minda Harts, 40, a consultant and the author of “The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table.”

Last month, when a draft ruling revealed the Supreme Court’s intent to overturn Roe v. Wade, Ms. Sandberg put out a statement mourning the loss of women’s abortion access.

“This is a scary day for women all across our country,” Ms. Sandberg wrote on Facebook. “Every woman, no matter where she lives, must be free to choose whether and when she becomes a mother.”

In short, it’s all about skin color and abortion, according to the New York Times. What do the journalists at the New York Post have to say? “Meta investigated Sheryl Sandberg for using corporate resources to plan wedding: report”:

Departing Meta executive Sheryl Sandberg announced her resignation from the tech giant during an ongoing probe into her alleged use of corporate resources to plan her wedding, according to a report Thursday.

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Inflation running at 13 percent is characterized as being 8.6 percent

Inflation is at 8.6 percent: “Consumer prices jumped 8.6 percent in May compared to last year as inflation holds grip on U.S. economy” (NBC).

If we dig into the article a little, however, we find that current inflation, month-to-month, is actually at 13 percent per year (up 1 percent from month to month).

Another example… “U.S. inflation hit a new 40-year high last month of 8.6 percent (Politico):

America’s rampant inflation is imposing severe pressures on families, forcing them to pay much more for food, gas and rent.

The costs of gas, food and other necessities jumped in May, raising inflation to a new four-decade high and giving American households no respite from rising costs.

Consumer prices surged 8.6 percent last month from 12 months earlier, faster than April’s year-over-year surge of 8.3 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.

On a month-to-month basis, prices jumped 1 percent from April to May, a steep rise from the 0.3 percent increase from March to April. Much higher gas prices were to blame for most of that increase.

What does Zillow expect for inflation in house prices in our ZIP code (the non-waterfront parts of Jupiter, Florida)? (note that real estate inflation is explicitly excluded from official government CPI) A 14.6 percent boost.

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