2 February 2017   Leave a comment

Public Radio International has a tremendous resource for those scholars who wish to place the current immigration debates in the US in historical contest.  A number of historians have annotated President Trump’s Executive Order with references to similar policies in the past.   The Executive Order without the annotations can be accessed here.  The annotated version is an extraordinary window of how the immigration debate has waxed and waned throughout American history.  The Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota and the Immigration and Ethnic History Society have also produced an immigration syllabus which one can download and access readings.

As a matter of historical interest, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, the designer of The Statue of Liberty, originally modeled the statue after an Arab woman.  The statue was originally designed to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal.  But the ruler of Egypt went bankrupt and Bartholdi shelved the project.  He then changed the garb of the statue to Greco-Roman and we now know the statue as Lady Liberty.

Image result for statue of liberty


The US Department of the Treasury has very slightly eased some of the sanctions on Russia that were imposed because of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.  The change relates to the sale of “Requesting, receiving, utilizing, paying for, or dealing in licenses, permits, certifications, or notifications issued or registered by the Federal Security Service (a.k.a. Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti) (a.k.a. FSB) [the FSB is the successor to the agency once called the KGB] for the importation, distribution, or use of information technology products in the Russian Federation.”  The amounts are limited to $5,000 per year.  In some sense the change is trivial, but it is a curious act given that the fighting in eastern Ukraine between Russian-speaking separatists and the Ukrainian government has spiked recently.  First, the easing of information technology access to a country that has been implicated in cyber activities with the intent of influencing an election is hard to explain.  Second, diplomacy is often the sending of very subtle signals (the breakthrough for US-Chinese relations was the sending of a ping-pong team in 1971) and it is difficult to figure out what this signal to Russia may be.  The former director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Nikolai Kovalyov was quoted in TASS as saying: ”

“This shows that actual joint work on establishing an anti-terrorism coalition is about to begin,” Kovalyov said. “This is the first step on the way leading to cooperation in the war on terror.”

“Without easing these sanctions it would have been impossible to take the next step,” the lawmaker said. “These practical actions indicate that US President Donald Trump has been consistent,” he stressed.

Apparently, Russia thinks the easing is significant.


We are getting more information about the US Special Operations attack on Yemen on 29 January.  The attack had been developed in the Obama Administration but President Obama did not authorize the attack because he wanted additional intelligence before he committed to the use of force.  The attack was described as successful by the Trump Administration even though a US Navy SEAL, chief petty officer William Owens, was killed and three other US soldiers were injured.

“White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who is also a US Navy Reserve public affairs officer, told Reuters: ‘Knowing that we killed an estimated 14 AQAP members and that we gathered an unbelievable amount of intelligence that will prevent the potential deaths or attacks on American soil — is something that I think most service members understand, that that’s why they joined the service.'”

According to medics at the scene of the strike, 30 civilians, including 10 women and children, were killed.  According to The Guardian:

“The special forces, apparently lacking full intelligence, were confronted by heavily-fortified positions, including landmines, and faced heavy gunfire from buildings all around during the 50-minute firefight. One of the US planes sent in to help had to be left behind and was deliberately destroyed.

“US military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.”

Image result for map Yakla Yemen




Posted February 2, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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