Wednesday, June 20, 2018

This Is Also America

So much winning it hurts:
"'Whenever they used to restrain me and put me in the chair, they would handcuff me,' said a Honduran immigrant who was sent to the facility when he was 15 years old. 'Strapped me down all the way, from your feet all the way to your chest, you couldn’t really move. . . .  They have total control over you. They also put a bag over your head. It has little holes; you can see through it. But you feel suffocated with the bag on.'
In addition to the children’s first-hand, translated accounts in court filings, a former child-development specialist who worked inside the facility independently told The Associated Press this week that she saw kids there with bruises and broken bones they blamed on guards. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to publicly discuss the children’s cases.
In court filings, lawyers for the detention facility have denied all allegations of physical abuse."
Abu Ghraib, but for children.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Milkshake Has Been Drunk

Jonathan Freedland on Trump's normalization of a genocidal dictator:
"So Kim leaves Singapore having gained much of the international legitimacy the dynastic dictatorship has sought for decades. But the gifts from Trump did not end there. He also announced an end to US military exercises in the Korean peninsula – the 'war games' which he said were costly and, deploying language Pyongyang itself might have used, “very provocative”. Trump also hinted at an eventual withdrawal of the 28,000 US troops stationed in the Korean peninsula.
And what did Kim give Trump in return for this bulging bag of goodies? The key concession, the one Trump repeatedly invoked, was a promise of 'complete denuclearisation'. Trump held this aloft as if it were a North Korean commitment to dismantle its arsenal, with work beginning right away. To be sure, such a commitment would be a major prize, one that would merit all the congratulation a beaming Trump was heaping on himself. But this is where you need to look at the small print.
First, the text itself says merely: 'The DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.' Kim has promised not 'complete denuclearisation' but simply 'to work toward' that end. Negotiators the world over know is the fudging language you use when you’ve extracted something less than a real commitment. Kim has offered only an aspiration, with no deadline or timetable, not a concrete plan."
It didn't take a genius to see this coming -- KJU got everything, Trump got a photo-op, and the long terms prospects for peace on the Korean peninsula are no different than they were last week.  Given how Trump is effectively writing South Korea and Japan out of further negotiations (another huge win for Kim), they may be far worse.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Baby Bust

For all of the political animosity between South Korea and Japan, one thing they share is a looming demographic crisis as their respective birth-rates plummet.  One Japanese village has taken the step of putting together a "Mr. January" style calendar to reach out and entice women to move back to the middle-of-nowhere:
"Finding a partner in Otari, a village in Nagano prefecture in Japan’s northern Alps known for its dramatic scenery and some of the best skiing in the country, is proving a thankless task for Kobayashi and his friends.
Its population is about a third of what it was in the 1950s; in the past decade, the number of residents has fallen from 3,734 to 2,795, including fewer than 180 children of primary and middle school age.
According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, its population will fall to just over 900 by 2060 if current demographic trends persist. As of last March, just 275 men and 218 women in their 20s and 30s lived in Otari.
Young women are more likely to leave in search of jobs, and perhaps a partner, while the men are expected to stay and inherit family farms and businesses, leaving them with little prospect of marrying and having children."
The article says very little about immigration, which is really the only serious solution for either country.


Anthony Braxton and the Fred Simmons Trio, 9 Standards (Quartet) 1993

It's make-up week, so we're reviewing for next week's final exam.  It's a pretty easy week for me, since we're just going over old material, doing a very brief reflection activity, then I'll bribe my students to raise their hands on a few worksheets with choco-pies (make that banana-choco-pies because that's how I roll).

Next week my college classes will be finished but I'll have to grade tests, which is no fun.  But it does mean the beginning of summer vacation, and buying a ticket to visit home in August.

Meanwhile I guess Trump declared war on Canada or some such.  Really bodes well for him dealing with perhaps the knottiest foreign policy situation in the world today re: North Korea.

Because he is a great big whiny asshole, obviously.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Not Again

RIP Tony Bourdain.  I loved your books.  You seemed like a mensch who was kind of a dick at times, but hey, that's life.  I'm sorry you left so soon though.