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Archive for July, 2010

Take your pick. There’s the (married) immigration judge in Canada who was sentenced to 18 months in jail for offering to issue a favorable verdict for an asylum seeker in exchange for sex. Not even a regular immigrant, an asylum seeker–someone who was in Canada to flee from a physically abusive father. There’s the new $280 English proficiency test required of all prospective skilled worker immigrants to Canada, even those who have validated degrees from English-speaking universities. And not just people who have degrees from those universities,  but people who have PhDs in English literature from those universities. Meet two of them on the other side of that link. Most disturbingly, there’s the news that more restrictive border policy and this summer’s heat wave have resulted in enough dead Mexican immigrants that the the Pima County morgue in Arizona is running out of space. How can we let these deaths continue to occur in our name? Mexican immigrants only want the same opportunity to work that our ancestors were given x number of generations ago.

It’s a real grab bag of crap. Canada has a more enlightened immigration policy than the U.S., though some would argue that it’s because they don’t share a border with Mexico. I don’t care what the reason is for their enlightenment, I’m just glad for it. So in that sense, it’s a big disappointment to see the current Canadian government looking for technicalities like the language test to obstruct the processes that have been working so well, but at least they are being called out for their unfairness and at least real sickos like this predator immigration judge are being dealt with harshly. In the U.S., things look much less rosy. Yes, much of the Arizona paper-check law has been blocked for now, but that’s really a minor issue when you consider that a majority of the country probably would not support an amnesty for illegals and nowhere even close to a majority would favor going to an Ellis Island 2.0, everyone who passes a medical exam can enter the country-type system.

On the good news front, stories like these are making it much easier for me to decide what sort of law I want to study if I enroll in law school in 2011…

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Phew, magazine internship app completed just in the nick of time! Wish me luck. Now for the links.

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I hate to do this, but I’m going to just do links for one more night. I’m working hard to finish a magazine internship application due this Friday, so please bear with me.

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It was an exceptionally busy day today and I’m tired, so you’ll have to make do with an extra-long list of links for the day. Full coverage returns tomorrow.

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The biggest news of the day: Wikileaks releasing 90,000+ classified documents on the war in Afghanistan. Alleluia! Two quick thoughts:

  1. If you can afford it, donate to Wikileaks here and help them continue to speak truth to power
  2. If you hear or read anyone saying, “Look, this isn’t a big deal, this doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know,” ignore that person as a death-worshiping neocon and draw your own conclusion on the story. Nearly every pro-war response to the Wikileaks release has hewed so close to this line that it almost seems orchestrated. A perfectly good example is all-around horrible person Bill Kristol 2.0 Max Boot (HT). The people using this line are the equivalent of the cop at any major accident scene going, “Move along, nothing to see here.”

Coverage-wise, you should start with the main NYT article on it since they were one of three newspapers given access to the files weeks ahead of publication. Another of the lucky three papers was Der Spiegel, and their lead-in page with links to all of their articles can be found here. Make sure you don’t miss their interview with Wikileaks founded Julian Assange, who came up with an instant classic line: “I enjoy crushing bastards.” Justin Raimondo at Antiwar.com pays tribute to Wikileaks, but also reminds us not to forget the brave whistle-blower who made all of this possible, the imprisoned Spc. Bradley Manning. Andrew Sullivan aggregates even more reactions here. Salon republishes some responses from government officials here, including everyone’s least favorite hawk, Joe Lieberman.

My favorite response was actually a very measured and balanced one, coming in this Globe & Mail editorial. Money quote:

If a war is to incur such a high cost, in lives and treasure, and is based on such a nuanced argument, then support for it cannot be taken for granted. Governments have a special duty to speak extensively about operations, including individual combat incidents. They need to disclose the facts – regarding the support of Pakistan or the effectiveness of the Afghan security forces – that underpin the strategy. Where such information is not forthcoming, leaks of raw military intelligence are a necessary, if extreme, service that fills in the picture.

Try to dispute that argument. Even a neocon, if he or she cares about liberal democratic values at home as much as they purport to care about them abroad, should have nothing to argue with in that statement.

My feelings on the case are mainly a deep sense of gratitude to Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and everyone responsible for Wikileaks and a tiny breath of relief as a small bit of optimism creeps back into me and hopes that these revelations might turn public opinion against this awful war once and for all. Westerners have to be moved by these stories of targeted killing squads wearing our uniforms, innocent families accidentally being shot to death and, in the anecdote that was most disturbing to me, a deaf-mute man being shot dead for failing to heed a command to halt. We have to say these horrors–our teenagers coming home in body bags as they protect highways for Hamid Karzai’s dope baron half-brother to make a quick buck, our soldiers being put in bad situations that end up with them putting civilian lives at risk, our soldiers being ordered to do vile things like execute people without trial–will not continue in our name. It’s time that we make Obama earn his Peace Prize and end the war now.

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I came across a pair of interesting, seemingly contradictory stories on secondary education this weekend. The first was a piece in the NYT, bemoaning the fact that America had gone from first to twelfth place in the percentage of adults 25-34 with college degrees. The other was a post on The Economist’s Democracy in America blog about for-profit colleges in America. You would think that if more people are going to for-profit schools like University of Phoenix, America’s college degree rate would be increasing. The discrepancy emerges because of the significantly higher number of people who start programs–university, community college, for-profit, vocational, etc—but don’t finish them.

I think most people would probably assume that we should pin the low completion rate on the cost of education in the U.S. We certainly do pay a lot of money for secondary education here. But it’s my contention that the low completion rate is in large part because of the lowering of standards at pre-secondary levels. (more…)

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