Harvard hires for the Department of Ethnicity, Indigeneity, and Migration

“[Faculty of Arts and Sciences] unveils anti-racism agenda” (Harvard Gazette, August 20, 2020):

Calling on the FAS community to be “relentless, constructively critical, and action-oriented,” Gay said that she would: restart the search for four new senior faculty in ethnicity, indigeneity, and migration (EIM); establish a new visiting professorship in EIM; appoint an inaugural associate dean of diversity, inclusion and belonging; expand the Inequality in American postdoctoral fellows program; initiate a study of racial diversity among senior staff; and create a task force to examine the FAS visual culture.

What happens when you kick everyone off campus five months earlier?

“The calls for racial justice heard on our streets also echo on our campus, as we reckon with our individual and institutional shortcomings and with our faculty’s shared responsibility to bring truth to bear on the pernicious effects of structural inequality,” she said. “I am clear-eyed that the work of real change will be difficult, and for many it will be uncomfortable. Change is messy work. Institutional inertia will threaten to overwhelm even our best efforts. If we are to succeed, we must challenge a status quo that is comfortable and convenient for many.”

A lot of echoes in those empty buildings! The mostly-empty campus will have some new signs:

Finally, Gay outlined the charge for her new Task Force for Visual Culture and Signage. Led by Dean of Arts and Humanities Robin Kelsey, the group will be comprised of faculty, students, and staff, and will pursue a comprehensive study of FAS’s visual culture and articulate guidelines for evolving imagery across campus.

What if the new professors of Indigeneity suggest giving the campus back to the rightful owners of the real estate, i.e., perhaps the Wampanoags or the Massachusetts (the tribe, not to be confused with the current Commonwealth of Maskachusetts)? Will Harvard dip into its $40+ billion (thanks, Donald Trump!) endowment to pay rent on the Native American-owned campus?


  • Not everyone at Harvard got the memo regarding the benefits to natives of migration. From a Harvard economics professor: “Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers”
  • also from Harvard’s econ nerds, “Effects of Immigration on African-American Employment and Incarceration” (NBER): For white men, an immigration boost of 10 percent caused their employment rate to fall just 0.7 percentage points; for black men, it fell 2.4 percentage points. That same immigration rise was also correlated with a rise in incarceration rates. For white men, a 10 percent rise in immigration appeared to cause a 0.1 percentage point increase in the incarceration rate for white men. But for black men, it meant a nearly 1 percentage-point rise.
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Banksy can sell anything except migrants

The British artist Banksy can sell almost anything, including a more-than-$1-million work that shreds itself as soon as purchased. We are informed that low-skill immigration makes a country richer and yet Banksy cannot sell the migrants that he has collected. See “Banksy’s migrant rescue boat stranded at sea with more than 200 on board” (Reuters):

A rescue boat funded by British street artist Banksy has issued urgent calls for help, saying it is stranded in the Mediterranean and overloaded with migrants who it has been unable to bring ashore.

The Louise Michel, named after a French feminist anarchist, started operating last week. It is trying to find a safe port for the 219 migrants it has picked up off the coast of Libya since Thursday.

Another said the boat was unable to move and “no longer the master of her own destiny” due to her overcrowded deck and a life raft deployed at her side, “but above all due to Europe ignoring our emergency calls for immediate assistance.”

The 30-metre long Louise Michel, a former French Navy boat daubed in pink and white, was bought with proceeds from the sale of Banksy artwork.

From designboom:


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Tsarnaev appeal might go to the Supreme Court

In April 2015, I wrote the following:

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been convicted by an impartial jury of 12 locals wearing “Boston Strong” T-shirts. Now they are deciding what to do with him.

In July, the appeals court agreed with me that a local jury was unlikely to be impartial (NPR):

The higher court noted that the judge who presided over Tsarnaev’s trial had rejected the defense team’s request for a more distant trial venue where prospective jurors might be less likely to be prejudiced against the Chechen immigrant. That judge did so, the ruling maintained, promising that local jurors would be adequately screened.

But the three-judge panel ruled that the trial judge had failed to impanel an impartial jury.

In another part of the opinion, Judge Juan Torruella wrote that the District Court judge relied on “self-declarations of impartiality” by prospective jurors, calling that “an error of law and an abuse of discretion.”

Today we learn “Justice Department asks Supreme Court to review decision to vacate Boston bomber death sentence” (CNN). The Marathon bombing was more than 7 years ago and featured a governor’s “shelter-in-place” request:

Readers: Does the epic length of proceedings against/related to Mr. Tsarnaev reveal a defect in the U.S. legal system? From the Wikipedia page on the trial:

Tsarnaev’s attorney, Judy Clarke, opened by telling the jurors that her client and his older brother, Tamerlan, planted a bomb killing three and injuring hundreds, as well as murdering an MIT police officer days later. “There’s little that occurred the week of April the 15th … that we dispute,” Clarke said in her 20-minute opening statement

In other words, the defense and the prosecution actually agreed regrading most of the facts. Shouldn’t we have had a resolution long before now?


  • “Boston Marathon Bombing Trial: Why Are Judges Loath To Change The Venue?” (Harvey Silverglate, 2014)
  • “Brothers’ Classic Immigrant Tale Emerges as Relatives Speak Out” (NBC, 2013): Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an outspoken athlete who spoke three languages, played the piano, studied engineering, was a devout Muslim and aspired to represent the United States at the Olympics. … The brothers were part of a family refugees who fled the war-torn Chechnya region of Russia and immigrated to America a decade ago. … “They immigrated and received asylum,” Ruslan Tsarni, the brothers’ uncle, told reporters outside his home in suburban Maryland.
  • “Russia’s Warning on Bombings Suspect Sets Off a Debate” (NYT, April 2013): In March 2011, the Russian security service sent a stark warning to the F.B.I., reporting that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was “a follower of radical Islam” who had “changed drastically since 2010” and was preparing to travel to Russia’s turbulent Caucasus to connect with underground militant groups. Six months later, Russia sent the same warning to the C.I.A. … F.B.I. officials have defended their response to the Russian tip, which prompted agents to interview Mr. Tsarnaev and his parents and check government databases and Internet activity. The bureau found nothing.
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The Greeks dump gold into the sea

Our politicians inform us that low-skill migrants will make any country richer and the existing residents of any country better off. Apparently, not everyone got this memo. “Taking Hard Line, Greece Turns Back Migrants by Abandoning Them at Sea” (NYT, August 14):

The Greek government has secretly expelled more than 1,000 refugees from Europe’s borders in recent months, sailing many of them to the edge of Greek territorial waters and then abandoning them in inflatable and sometimes overburdened life rafts.

Since 2015, European countries like Greece and Italy have mainly relied on proxies, like the Turkish and Libyan governments, to head off maritime migration. What is different now is that the Greek government is increasingly taking matters into its own hands, watchdog groups and researchers say.

​For example, migrants have been forced onto sometimes leaky life rafts and left to drift at the border between Turkish and Greek waters, while others have been left to drift in their own boats after Greek officials disabled their engines.

The most confusing part of this: Since migrants make a country rich, why aren’t other countries rushing in with surplus cruise ships to pick up these valuable migrants and invite them to settle permanently? There is no country on Earth that wants to be richer?

Some 2004 images from Santorini, the all-American Greek island:

Separately, does the NYT running stories about the travails of migrants mean that we’re nearing the end of coronapanic? Will it soon be time to return to climate panic, for example?

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Joe Biden agrees that the U.S. needs refugees… but wants to limit to 125,000 per year

“America Needs Refugees” (NYT):

The statute became the basis for the successful resettlement of more than three million refugees escaping violence and persecution. The country can take pride in that sustained humanitarianism, which has also made the United States stronger.

His first executive order, in January 2017, indefinitely suspended the resettlement of Syrian refugees, froze resettlement admissions and barred entry to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. Later that year, Mr. Trump announced that he was capping refugee admissions at 45,000, — less than half of the 110,000 the year before under President Barack Obama. It was the first time that the ceiling was below 67,000.

A former widget in the Refugee Industrial Complex is now getting a paycheck from the Refugee Industrial Complex:

Marwa Al Ibrahim, a refugee from Iraq, now works as the integration program supervisor at Refugee Services of Texas in Fort Worth. Ms. Al Ibrahim worked as a translator for a French news agency in Baghdad. Her family was targeted in a car bombing that nearly killed her father. After the attack, the family applied for refugee status in 2008. In 2014, they were finally resettled in Fort Worth. Resettlement gave them a chance to be safe at last.

An entire ecosystem works together to support refugees like Ms. Al Ibrahim. Resettlement agencies partner with faith communities, volunteer networks, hospitals and employers in cities all over the country, to provide them with basic needs like housing, medical care and job skills. They help with immigration and legal services, cultural orientation, and trauma-informed mental health care. It is the unlikeliest thing — a bureaucratic program laced with good will and hope.

With more Syrians living here, we could be having more and better protests:

The Trump administration’s destruction of the refugee resettlement program is too important to ignore. I keep thinking of the Syrian artist in Idlib Province who painted a mural of George Floyd in June. It was especially poignant to see support for the Black Lives Matter movement coming out of Idlib, the last region of Syria where rebels resist Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Syrians are still barred from entering the United States.

There is hope:

If elected, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged to end the “vile Muslim ban” on his first day in office. He plans to set the admissions cap at 125,000 refugees and “raise it over time commensurate with our responsibility, our values and the unprecedented global need.”

The question for today… We know that low-skill immigrants make America great/rich. We know that low-skill refugee immigrants make America even greater if not, perhaps, even richer than non-refugee low-skill immigrants. Why is it rational to have a limit of 125,000 per year? If we are morally obligated to accept people who claim refugee status, isn’t it immoral to have any kind of limit? If immigrant refugees make us better off, isn’t it irrational, on a purely selfish basis, to have any kind of limit?


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Test and trace revisited

Back in May, I asked “The government can’t find the 22 million undocumented, but it will find and track every coronafected human inside the U.S.?”

And what about those 22 million soon-to-be-Americans whose documentation is not quite in order. Do they answer the phone and open the door to the friendly government testing and tracing agents? Do they supply a biological sample so their DNA can be extracted and parked in a database? Do they give the government agent a list of all places visited, with dates and times, and the names of everyone else who was there?

According to the reader comments on “Why won’t the Europeans let in Americans who test negative for coronavirus?” we have no reliable test for determining coronavirus infection.

Putting these together… “New York county issues subpoenas to people refusing to talk to contact tracers” (The Hill):

“We are not receiving the necessary cooperation when we contact those who are positive for COVID-19 or those who had been at some of these gatherings,” Rupert said. “My staff has been told that a person does not wish to or have to speak to my disease investigators. They hang up, they deny being at the party, even though we have found their name from another party attendee, or a parent provides us with the information.”

“Many do not answer their cell phones and do not call back,” she added. “Sometimes parents answer for their adult children and promise that they have been home consistently, when they have not been. This must stop.”

“Unfortunately I am now forced by these circumstances to send subpoenas to the individuals who are required to cooperate with us,” Rupert said. “Failure to comply will be costly: $2,000 per day.”

He said he will not “have the health of our county compromised because of ignorance, stupidity, or obstinance.”

Like our health care system, the court system is designed to deal intensively with one case at a time, not with thousands or millions of similar cases. How is a litigation approach to contact tracing going to work?

Below, the Federal Courthouse in Los Angeles and, across the street, the usual California homeless encampment (residents of which receive heaps of thoughts and prayers from those driving by in their brand-new Teslas!). From a February expert witness trip.

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Migrants and Refugees were Genghis Khan’s best weapons

I enjoyed Professor Dorsey Armstrong’s Years that Changed History: 1215 course.

One interesting tidbit: When Genghis Khan wanted to take over a big fortified city, he would attack surrounding small villages and drive the inhabitants as migrants and refugees to the big city. Swelled with a larger-than-usual population, the big fortified city would collapse from within, its resources (such as food) exhausted. This saved Temüjin, the Great Khan, the effort of a traditional Greek/Roman-style siege and catapult attack on a walled city.

Thus did Genghis Khan assemble the largest contiguous land empire that the world has ever seen.

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File under Did Not Waste Any Time: divorce lawsuit in Minneapolis police murder case

From the Daily Mail:

Beauty queen wife of Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin files for DIVORCE on same day he is arrested and charged with George Floyd’s murder and says she is ‘devastated’ for the dead man’s family

As part of a press push for her bid for beauty contest Mrs. Minnesota America 2018, Kellie raved about Derek in an interview from 2018, telling the Pioneer Press: ‘Under all that uniform, he’s just a softie.’

She also told the outlet: ‘He’s such a gentleman. He still opens the door for me, still puts my coat on for me. After my divorce, I had a list of must-haves if I were ever to be in a relationship, and he fit all of them.’

Kellie told the paper she fled Laos with her family as a child and came to America as a refugee.

A photo of the Minnesota Family Court frequent flyer:

Kellie Chauvin (pictured), a former Mrs. Minnesota winner, has filed for divorce from her husband, Derek Chauvin, the same day he was charged with George Floyd's murder

I wonder if this photo will make it into the Wikipedia page for carpe diem.


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Will we need caravan-loads of immigrant workers after we are done with coronapanic?

Immigrants may have played a substantial role in the American coronaplague. Via immigration and children of immigrants we grew our population from 200 million to 330 million (Pew) with no corresponding increase in health care system capacity. So our terror regarding overburdened hospitals was in some ways a result of the immigration. The worst-plagued cities in the U.S. have been New York (40 percent foreign-born) and Boston (25 percent foreign-born).

But the shutdown plus policies that have made collecting unemployment more lucrative than working for the typical American are winnowing the natives out of the labor force. See “Since coronavirus crisis began, one-fifth of Massachusetts workforce has filed for unemployment” (masslive, April 30), for example. Also, “Labor Markets During the Covid-19 Crisis: A Preliminary View” (Berkeley and U. Chicago agree that Americans don’t like to work!):

First, job loss has been significantly larger than implied by new unemployment claims: we estimate 20 million lost jobs by April 8th, far more than jobs lost over the entire Great Recession. Second, many of those losing jobs are not actively looking to find new ones. As a result, we estimate the rise in the unemployment rate over the corresponding period to be surprisingly small, only about 2 percentage points. Third, participation in the labor force has declined by 7 percentage points, an unparalleled fall that dwarfs the three percentage point cumulative decline that occurred from 2008 to 2016. Early retirement almost fully explains the drop in labor force participation both for those survey participants previously employed and those previously looking for work.

In other words, a lot of existing Americans are done working! This is consistent with past periods of unemployment, in which Americans who get accustomed to lying on the couch watching TV while consuming alcohol and opioids transition seamlessly to SSDI (see “Long-Term Joblessness and Disability Benefits Receipt” (ssa.gov): “At 20 years after their job loss (voluntary or involuntary), these workers had a 25 percentage point higher likelihood of receiving DI or SSI benefits”).

Could it be, then, that to replace the Americans who stop working we will need to grow the population to 400 million or so? (we don’t have an Australia/New Zealand/Canada-style policy favoring working-age skilled immigrants so we will probably need 10-20 immigrants to replace each skilled American who has gone into SSDI/opioids or conventional retirement) And then, when the next plague hits (evolution may just be a theory, but it seems to produce a steady supply of new viruses…), we’ll get into a double secret panic regarding hospital capacity.


  • When Swedish infidels do business in the U.S… the IKEA Covid-19 page says “we have made the decision to furlough hourly U.S. co-workers in store locations and our Service Office effective April 19, 2020. This will allow our hourly co-workers, who are no longer able to work due to closures, to apply for expanded unemployment benefits.”
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American health care workers rage against preferences for the H-1Bers

A friend is a physician in a moderately coronaplagued city here in the Northeast. She’s in a private discussion group for hospital workers. Since they actually do have some Covid-19 patients, they’re not in as bad financial shape as physicians, nurses, and other health care workers nationwide. However, they are having their hours, shifts, and pay cut…. except for the workers on H-1B visas.

Ordinarily, these folks are at least moderately pro-immigration. A caravan of Hondurans that crosses the border should be eligible for Medicaid soon enough, and certainly any children born to those Hondurans while they’re in the U.S. will be Medicaid-eligible. Medicaid will turn the “migrants” into “customers”.

Having their hours cut while the H-1B workers soldier on full-time at full pay, however, is apparently an unanticipated and bitter pill to swallow.

Where is the solidarity for International Workers’ Day?

(Personally, I think the rule makes sense. The H-1B workers do not have the flexibility to quit and work for another employer. So an employer of one of these indentured migrant servants shouldn’t have the right to cut hours and pay.)


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