Harvard art museum exhibit on migration closing soon

Folks near Boston: an exhibit on migration at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum is closing on January 5.

Don’t touch the cardboard beer boxes:

Sign admonishes visitors not to touch the used tampons:

But maybe it is okay to touch the bricks:

Photos contrast the border with Mexico with the border with Canada (over which most of our Hollywood stars are fleeing?):

Europeans welcome migrants into their welfare states and rip up their streets while the Chinese build superhighways and 24,000 miles of high-speed rail:

From the permanent collection, an idea for repurposing your analog multimeter:

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CEO of global real estate empire tells others to host migrants

“In Christmas Day Message, Pope Francis Shines Light On Migrant Suffering” (NPR):

In his annual Christmas Day address, Pope Francis offered a message of hope and a call for kindness to migrants around the world.

“May the Son of God, come down to earth from heaven, protect and sustain all those who, due to these and other injustices, are forced to emigrate in the hope of a secure life,” the pontiff said from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

“It is injustice that makes them cross deserts and seas that become cemeteries,” he said. “It is injustice that turns them away from places where they might have hope for a dignified life, but instead find themselves before walls of indifference.”

Pope Francis runs an enterprise that owns roughly 177 million acres of land around the world (source). Is he offering to host migrants either in Vatican City or on other church-owned land?

Separately, why the emphasis on helping those who are young, healthy, and fit enough to migrate? If the goal is helping the unfortunate, shouldn’t priority be given to those who are too old, sick, or out of shape to trek across continents? Wouldn’t the true humanitarian send an Airbus A380 out to scoop up those whom migration would help the most?

Finally… Happy Kwanzaa!

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Re-education camp for immigration wrongthinkers

“Man accused of bias crime, saying ‘go back to your country’ must write essay on immigrants” (KATU):

A man accused of spitting on an immigrant and telling them to go back to their country now has to write an essay about the hardships of immigration, the Multnoamh County District Attorney’s office said.

In a unique sentencing, Denson received 90 days in jail with credit for the time he’s served and has until March to hand in a 500-word essay.

If the court accepts his essay, the bias crime charge will be dropped. If the court does not approve of his essay, or if he fails to turn one in, Denson may face more jail time.

“This is a unique resolution to a very serious incident,” said Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Nicole Hermann who prosecuted this case. “Mr. Denson needs to understand the impact his actions had on the victim and our immigrant communities. This is an opportunity for him to reconcile his behavior through compassion, learning and understanding.

I would love to know if the judge can articulate a standard for evaluating whether the essay expresses the appropriate amount of contrition for wrongthinking!

(Separately, note the use of “them” as a pronoun for a Ukrainian described as a singular “man” in the article.)

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If immigrants determine the outcome of U.S. elections, why pay for a military?

Front page of nytimes.com on November 10:

“An influx of immigrants has flipped a state….”

From the article:

Not long ago, this rolling green stretch of Northern Virginia was farmland. Most people who could vote had grown up here. And when they did, they usually chose Republicans.

The fields of Loudoun County are disappearing. In their place is row upon row of cookie-cutter townhouses, clipped lawns and cul-de-sacs — a suburban landscape for as far as the eye can see. Unlike three decades ago, the residents are often from other places, like India and Korea. And when they vote, it is often for Democrats.

In 1990, the census tracts that make up Mr. Katkuri’s Senate district were home to about 35,000 people — 91 percent of them white. Today, its population of 225,000 is just 64 percent white.

“If my parents came back today, they wouldn’t recognize the place. The changes came like a tidal wave.”

In the 13th Senate district, where Mr. Katkuri lives, one in five residents are immigrants.

Around the advent of the modern immigration system, in 1965, foreign-born people made up only about five percent of the American population. Now they are nearly 14 percent, almost as high as the last peak in the early 20th century. The concentrations used to be in larger gateway cities, but immigrants have spread out considerably since then.

The main purpose of funding a military is to prevent people from other countries from exercising political control, right? If the NYT is correct and people from other countries (“immigrants”) are exercising political control in the U.S. already, what is the point of working all of those extra hours each year to fund our $700 billion military?


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Should we expect less pollution with a larger population?

“Air quality in the US is getting worse and could be killing thousands, study finds” (CNN).

The implication of the article is that, given sufficiently aggressive government regulation, we should expect improved air quality every year.

But if we combine a growing population (chart) with a trend toward greater urbanization (data), wouldn’t our starting assumption about air quality be that the typical American would be breathing filthier air every year? If we hit any kind of technological plateau, a larger denser population should experience dirtier air, no?

We are gradually adopting some cleaner technology, but we are also gradually growing in number of people and density. Why is CNN shocked that one growth curve can’t beat the other consistently?

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Fast-food economics in Massachusetts: Higher minimum wage leads to a shorter work week, not fewer people on welfare

One reason for a $15/hour minimum wage cited by advocates is that current minimum wage workers are generally on welfare (public housing and Medicaid if not also food stamps, etc.) and therefore, the theory goes, the employer is being subsidized by taxpayers.

(How a $15/hour job would lift a household above the welfare thresholds is unclear; in our corner of Massachusetts, a family of four is entitled to housing and/or health insurance subsidies up to $130,000/year. At $15/hour, that’s 167 hours/week, 52 weeks/year.)

I recently talked to the owner of 12 fast-food outlets here in Massachusetts. He is a Democrat and enthusiastically supports the party’s proposals for increasing the number of migrants to the U.S. “Immigrants work harder than Americans,” he said, “who have been on welfare for multiple generations and don’t have a culture of work.” He also appreciates immigrants as customers.

There is one part of the Democrat platform that he does not agree with: the $15/hour minimum wage. “Every time wages go up,” he said, “my employees ask to work fewer hours so that they don’t lose MassHealth [Medicaid].” On his side, he does not want anyone working more than 30 hours per week, the threshold that would trigger a requirement for him to provide health insurance under Obamacare. Out of 160 workers total, he provides health insurance to only 10. “My premiums are sky-high,” he noted, “because we have so few people on the policy.”

(This may show the irrelevance of Econ 101 principles in a half-planned economy like the U.S. Econ 101 says that the higher wage would induce workers to supply more labor hours, not fewer. But Econ 101 never met MassHealth and other means-tested programs!)


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Immigrant who drove up prices for housing now runs for office on a rent control platform

Kshama Sawant is running for re-election to the Seattle City Council. One of her campaign posters from August:

From her site:

Seattle needs rent control, citywide and without corporate loopholes, to stop skyrocketing rents. We need to build tens of thousands of units of social housing, paid for by taxing Amazon and big business, to provide a public alternative to the broken private development system. … Meanwhile, skyrocketing housing costs and weak tenant rights laws have combined to lead to an epidemic of evictions. … As a member of Socialist Alternative, I wear the badge of socialist with honor, and I’m excited to see candidates identifying as socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez winning elections across the country.

What has driven up the cost of housing in Seattle? Maybe it was Sawant herself! Wikipedia says that she migrated to Seattle from India via a marriage to a programmer at Microsoft. “New milestone in King County: Immigrant population tops 500,000” (Seattle Times): “Since the start of the decade [2010], King County has had the third biggest increase in foreign-born residents among all U.S. counties. … That means that nearly one in four inhabitants of the county (24 percent) were born outside the United States, significantly higher than the national average of 14 percent.”

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Why do we put tourists through immigration interviews when our borders are open to asylum-seekers?

On a typical cruise, passengers hand over their passports at the beginning of the trip and the ship’s staff handles any and all immigration bureaucracy. The countries being visited rely on the cruise line to authenticate people and to take at least most of the visitors away.

When we arrived in Canada this standard practice was observed. The Canadians presumably had an opportunity to inspect a list of people on board, but they didn’t invest time and money to talk to each tourist and/or crew member.

It was a different story coming into U.S. waters. A group of immigration officials were flown up from Anchorage to Barrow, one of the most remote towns on our planet. They proceeded by tender boat to join us on board. The ship set up an assembly line so that La Migra could talk to each passenger at least briefly, scan and offer to stamp passports, and then go back to Anchorage by tender boat, taxi, and airplane. It was a huge waste of time and money for everyone involved.

This “screen everyone” practice might have made sense 30 years ago. But with families stepping over the southern border of the U.S. and saying “I am entitled to asylum because I live in a place that is almost as violent as Baltimore or New Orleans,” what is the point? Anyone willing to spin a yarn of violence and suffering can get set up for three generations of public housing, free health care via Medicaid, food stamps, and free smartphone. So the point of the passport check cannot be to make sure that people will go home. Anyone from our cruise could have asked for asylum just the same as someone who migrated up from Central America.

Since 9/11, a good catch-all explanation for apparently wasteful government spending is “because terrorism”. I don’t think that is the reason for screening every passenger on a cruise visiting a U.S. port, though. German senior citizens do not fit the profile of a typical terrorist. The agents who see people face to face do not seem more likely to spot a terrorist than a person with a computer looking at all of the passport data provided by the cruise line.

Readers: Now that there are so many ways to stay in the U.S. forever (and at taxpayer expense for multiple decades), is this screening process obsolete? If complete face-to-face screening is a such a good idea, why don’t the Canadians do it?

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Demanding more refugee migrants in Arlington, Virginia

The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (founded with private money to help Jews settle in the U.S.; currently running with tax dollars to bring in non-Jews) helped set up a protest at National Airport in Arlington, Virginia: “Waiting for Refugees Who Are Not Coming”. They demand at least 95,000 migrants right now.

What if the refugee-migrants did show up? Can they sign up for a taxpayer-subsidized house? From the Arlington ministry of housing:

No. The Housing Choice Voucher Program wait list is closed and we are not accepting new applications. We do not anticipate that the waitlist will be opened for several years. …. The average wait for a voucher is approximately 5 years. There are many families and individuals who have applied for housing assistance and are on the waiting list for the Housing Choice Voucher Tenant-Based program.

Maybe things are better in the semi-private sector? “Arlington’s Affordable Housing Crisis” (Arlington Magazine, February 19, 2019):

Arlington’s affordable housing shortage has grown increasingly dire in recent years. And that’s before Amazon announced plans to bring 25,000 new jobs—and more people needing places to live—to the area.

A county report issued in 2017 surmised that only about 8.2 percent of Arlington’s housing stock—9,369 units—was affordable for households earning less than 60 percent of [area median income].

What about a little farther away? Somewhere else in the Greater D.C. area? “Northern Virginia’s growing crisis in affordable housing” (The Arlington Catholic Herald, August 30, 2019):

Years ago, people with low incomes could easily find a market-rate affordable apartment, that is, a dwelling place in a privately owned complex that had relatively low monthly rent because of the age of the building, lack of amenities or a less desirable location. An apartment is considered affordable if people making 60 percent of the area median income spend 30 percent or less of their income on rent.

Now, those market-rate affordable apartments, also known as MARKs, are nearly gone. Officials in Arlington and Alexandria say they have lost approximately 29,000 MARKs in the past 19 years mostly due to rent increases.

Maybe it was better back in 2013 before Donald Trump ruined everything? “3,600 apply for 122 new Arlington apartments” (Washington Post, 2013).

So… the HIAS folks are standing in a town where, due to population growth and consequent market demand, Americans can no longer afford to live. After commuting in through a multi-hour traffic jam, they’re holding signs demanding the importation of migrants who will need to compete for the same housing supply and highway capacity.


  • What were garages for people born in the mid-20th century will be homes for their children and grandchildren (NYT on California)
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Could Ali Hassan Saab have avoided prosecution by writing a novel?

According to our Justice Department:

“According to the allegations, while living in the United States, Saab served as an operative of Hizballah and conducted surveillance of possible target locations in order to help the foreign terrorist organization prepare for potential future attacks against the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “Such covert activities conducted on U.S. soil are a clear threat to our national security and I applaud the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this investigation and prosecution.”

“As a member of the Hizballah component that coordinates external terrorist attack planning, Alexei Saab allegedly used his training to scout possible targets throughout the U.S,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “Even though Saab was a naturalized American citizen, his true allegiance was to Hizballah, the terrorist organization responsible for decades of terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds, including U.S. citizens and military personnel. Thankfully, Saab is now in federal custody, and faces significant prison time for his alleged crimes.”

In 2000, Saab lawfully entered the United States using a Lebanese passport. In 2005, Saab applied for naturalized citizenship and falsely affirmed, under penalty of perjury, that he had never been “a member of or in any way associated with . . . a terrorist organization.” In August 2008, Saab became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Finally, unrelated to his IJO activities, in July 2012, Saab married another individual (CC-1) so that CC-1 could apply for naturalized citizenship in the United States based on their marriage. On March 13, 2015, Saab and CC-1 jointly filed a petition seeking to obtain naturalized citizenship for CC-1. In doing so, Saab and CC-1 falsely claimed under penalty of perjury that their marriage was “not for the purpose of procuring an immigration benefit.”

Could Mr. Saab have done almost everything that he did perfectly legally? What if he wrote and published (electronically) a novel about an American jihad in which targets were scouted out and the characters discussed the challenges and merits of attacking the different targets? He could even have included his explosives drawings and been protected under the First Amendment. Mr. Saab’s colleagues back in Lebanon could have downloaded the book and gotten all of the information that he attempted to convey to them covertly.

[Separately, consider the impact of this event on the American immigration and criminal justice industries. They banked revenue when Mr. Saab immigrated in 2000. They got paid more during his citizenship process. They got paid again, presumably, when it was time for Mr. Saab to bring in his spouse (of unspecified gender ID?), “CC-1”. The press release from the Federales describes a potential prison sentence of 50+ years, so that’s decades of paychecks, health care, and pension checks for people who work in the Federal prisons. Plus a couple of years of paychecks for a judge, lawyers, and other court-affiliated personnel.]


  • Five fast facts about the accused jihadi: “In 2005, he flew through Turkey back to the U.S. and was stopped and interviewed at the airport ‘due to the detective of an explosive substance on his luggage or clothing.’ He had just completed his explosives training.” (but three years later, he was approved for citizenship)
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