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The not very evenly distributed future

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — feeling a little more Bladerunner, are we? ]

Here are a couple of tweeted news stories with relevant quotes below each of them, from one day’s mid-morning twitter feed — with thanks to fine scholars Stephen O’Leary, master of apocalyptic rhetoric, and Thomas Hegghammer, master of Jihadist culture and folkways:


One: Nature

After Hurricane Maria, 300,000 Puerto Ricans fled to Florida, and disaster experts estimate that climate and weather events displaced more than 1 million Americans from their homes last year. These statistics don’t begin to capture the emotional and financial toll on survivors who have to dig through ashes and flooded debris to rebuild their lives. [ .. ]

Climate change is going to remap our world, changing not just how we live but where we live. As scientist Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute, puts it, “There is a shocking, unreported, fundamental change coming to the habitability of many parts of the planet, including the U.S.A.”

In the not-so-distant future, places like Phoenix and Tucson will become so hot that just walking across the street will be a life-threatening event.


Two: Culture

In large cities, hospitals report armed confrontations in emergency rooms, and school administrators say threats and weapons have become commonplace. Last week two men from Uppsala, both in their 20s, were arrested on charges of throwing grenades at the home of a bank employee who investigates fraud cases. [ .. ]

Illegal weapons often enter Sweden over the Oresund Bridge, a 10-mile span that links the southern city of Malmo to Denmark. When it opened, in 2000, the bridge symbolized the unfurling of a vibrant, borderless Europe, but in recent years it has been more closely associated with smuggling, of people, weapons and drugs.


Are these two tweets, taken together, the encerroaching wave-front of William Gibson‘s “future already here — just not very evenly distributed” beginning to distribute itself a little more evenly?

Let’s backtrack forty years, with benefit of hindsight:

Simply so much.. 01

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — an experiment in blogging — morality transcending laws, the pope, battleships, jellyfish, & Catholic politicians ]

There’s simply so much going on that I need to try a few way of sifting and posting my daily catch. So here’s my experiment. Each day I’ll open a Simply so much post at the start of the day, adding things that catch my eye as I go, and posting either late in the day or the next morning.


The right to migrate trumps politics as usual:

The granting of asylum does not fall within the usual logic of statecraft in which a policy is considered from the perspective of the political interests of a governing party, taking into account how it will play to popular prejudices, how it fits with internal party disputes, its consistency with budgetary and other manifesto promises, its influence on the viability of other policies the government wants to pursue, and so on. None of these have standing in the face of the moral emergency of aiding refugees to regain their lives.

DoubleQuote that with Pope Francis: Government workers have ‘human right’ to deny gay marriage licenses:

It is the “human right” of government officials to say they cannot discharge duties that they believe go against their conscience, Pope Francis told reporters aboard the papal flight back to Rome on Monday.

“I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscience objection,” the pope told reporters on the plane. “But, yes, I can say the conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right.

“And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right.”

See also the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (my emphasis):

On the most widely accepted account of civil disobedience, famously defended by John Rawls (1971), civil disobedience is a public, non-violent and conscientious breach of law undertaken with the aim of bringing about a change in laws or government policies. On this account, people who engage in civil disobedience are willing to accept the legal consequences of their actions, as this shows their fidelity to the rule of law. Civil disobedience, given its place at the boundary of fidelity to law, is said to fall between legal protest, on the one hand, and conscientious refusal, revolutionary action, militant protest and organised forcible resistance, on the other hand.


in the Remarks by His Majesty King Abdullah II at the 70th Plenary Session of the United Nations General Assembly, we find the following description of IS:

I am here representing Jordan, and as a God-fearing, God-loving human being. I am here as a father who wants his children, like yours, to live in a compassionate and more peaceful world.

Such a future is under serious threat from the khawarej, the outlaws of Islam that operate globally today. They target religious differences, hoping to kill cooperation and compassion among the billions of people, of all faiths and communities, who live side-by-side in our many countries. These outlaw gangs use suspicion and ignorance to expand their own power. Worse still is the free hand they grant themselves to distort the word of God to justify the most atrocious crimes.

That phrase, the outlaws of Islam, nicely finesses the ongoing dispute as to whether IS should be termed “nothing to do with Islam” or “Islamic”.


Three variants on the meaning of Man of War:

The British Man of War, c 1750


The Portuguese Man of War:


GF Handel‘s The Lord is a Man of War, from his oratorio Israel in Egypt, 1739:


  • The British Man of War
  • The Portuguese Man of War
  • Handel’s Lord is a Man of War
  • Hm, that would have made a great post all by itself!


    Great Andreessen-style DoubleQuote:

    And that’s a really interesting nested question right about now, eh?

    Norway: what else?

    Saturday, September 12th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — ointment and fly, and how one thing leads to another ]



    in rapid succession on my twitterfeed the other day, I’ve been thinking of my Norwegian friend, the artist Jan Valentin Saether..


    What else?

    Ah yes, Anders Behring Breivik, the black dot in the white swoosh of the Tai-Chih symbol — and I’m beginning to get the impression the ripples are spreading:

  • The Guardian, Why are anti-immigration parties so strong in the Nordic states?
  • August: Vocativ, E.U.’s Right-Wing Parties Surging Thanks To Migrant Crisis
  • September: NY Times, Migrant Influx May Give Europe’s Far Right a Lift
  • Curious fact:

    Even in 2011, the year of the Utøya terror attacks, the Norwegian police only fired one shot.

    Who, by some other name, might smell more sweet

    Sunday, August 30th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — written while YouStink is, curiously yet coincidentally, the name of protests ongoing in Lebanon ]

    Text therefrom:

    There is no “migrant” crisis in the Mediterranean. There is a very large number of refugees fleeing unimaginable misery and danger and a smaller number of people trying to escape the sort of poverty that drives some to desperation.


    Text therefrom:

    Countries are free to deport migrants who arrive without legal papers, which they cannot do with refugees under the 1951 convention. So it is not surprising that many politicians in Europe prefer to refer to everyone fleeing to the continent as migrants.

    Grass Hoppers and Frost

    Sunday, May 5th, 2013

    [from Ellen Greer Rees, compiled by Helen Thackeray Rees Berger, modern day arrangement by Lynn C. Rees]

    On September 22, 1859, Edmund Rees, wife Margaret, and their five children ages 12-18 months (the 12-year old was my great-great grandfather) arrived in Great Salt Lake City, twelve-year old capital of the nine-year old Utah Territory. Edmund and Margaret were natives of Monmouthshire, located in the southeastern corner of Wales. While they’d joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the early 1850s, they didn’t gather to Zion until Edmund developed asthma after years spent cutting coal in the Monmouthshire mines that fueled the early Industrial Revolution.

    The Rees family started their journey with $500, the results of selling their home. $100 got them from Wales to Iowa: they left the old country on April 11, 1859, sailed across the Atlantic on the William Tabscott, landed at New Orleans, and sailed up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to Council Bluffs, Iowa by steam boat. Another $100 got them two oxen, a covered wagon, a milk cow, and safely across the Great Plains to Utah.

    Edmund was unfamiliar with handling livestock: the first time he put the yoke on the oxen, he put it on upside down.

    Margaret took over.


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