Fasten your seatbelt, Peter Thiel, it’s going to be bumpy for Trump in Silicon Valley! – Recode

More strong commentary by Kara Swisher on Silicon Valley finding its spine and its contrarian, Peter Thiel:

So I thought my column this week would be a fun one, focused on the what-the-f&#k article last week in the New Yorker about some deeply narcissistic tech titans — are there any other kind? — who are “prepping” for the apocalypse by hoarding gold, stashing weapons and even buying spreads in remote places to hide.

Aside from commenting on their base inanity and deep selfishness, I even had the best joke to impart that one techie told me:

In the event of doomsday, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is I have a bunker in New Zealand. The bad news? Peter Thiel is my neighbor.

Ahahaha. Imagining the end times spent with the quirky tech investor — who does, in fact, have one of those Kiwi escape pods — is certainly surreal. But it’s not much more bizarre than Thiel’s response this weekend as he tried mightily to spin an epic fib he told last year about President Donald J. Trump.

It took place in the question-and-answer part of a speech in D.C. that Thiel delivered in late October about his support of Trump, after a reporter asked him about the Muslim ban threat the candidate had clearly made.

As I reported then:

“The media is always taking Trump literally,” says Peter Thiel, while his supporters take him “seriously.” Well, thank goodness Peter Thiel is here to translate words that are said by someone who may be running the most powerful country in the world. He’s just kidding! Sort of! Not really again, but another nice pivot.

Dear Peter Thiel: Words. Matter. A. Lot. Look at me writing them down here on my keyboard.

I was being quite sarcastic then, because at the time I thought that Trump very much meant to do exactly as he said and that Thiel was either very stupid or very disingenuous for pretending otherwise.

Let me state for the record, I do not think Peter Thiel is very stupid.

But a fabulist? Well, let’s fast-forward to this weekend, when Thiel tried to launch another whopper in a pathetic attempt to defend Trump’s appalling executive order to bar the entry of refugees and also travelers from seven Muslim nations into the U.S.

A Thiel spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that “Peter doesn’t support a religious test, and the administration has not imposed one.”

Oh. Peter. Words. Still. Matter. A. Lot.

So please, for the love of Facebook, stop manipulating those words when everyone can see the real-life actions and consequences they have resulted in.

More to the point, every time you open your mouth, you look more and more like you got played by Steve Bannon and his army of hobgoblins to the detriment of tech leaders whom you somehow got to bow and scrape to the new administration.

It was bad enough that you pulled off that frightful kumbaya by trooping the most powerful people in Silicon Valley into Trump Tower for what amounted to a photo op for Trump and managed to get them to do so without uttering a word about key issues at the core of tech, like immigration. I called them “sheeple” at the time for doing that and staying silent, with you as their unlikely shepherd.

Now worse, you have dragged your pals, like tech icon Elon Musk and Uber’s Travis Kalanick, onto the president’s advisory council, with the promise that engagement with Trump will give them the chance to change his mind.

Not so, as it turns out, since they now look like quislings in the wake of the immigration disaster. After asking for suggestions on Twitter this weekend of how to approach Trump later this week on the ban, they are getting pilloried on social media for even being affiliated with the whole sorry mess.

…As for the vast majority of tech leadership and pretty much all of their employees, they are now making a break for the wall-free border with the government’s capricious and ill-conceived crackdown on immigrants and refugees.

The burn started slowly on Friday, with muted opposition largely focused on the impact on their workforces. Only a few strong voices, such as the very brave Reed Hastings of Netflix, made powerful moral statements about the Trump order.

Hastings’s this-shall-not-stand tone was infectious, as it turned out. By the end of the weekend, techies were ratcheting up the volume by the hour with increasingly more emotional, moral-high-ground statements, as well as offers of gobs of money (Google, Lyft, Uber and high-profile techies like Chris Sacca and Tony Faddell), food (DoorDash) and even homes (Airbnb).

Google founder Sergey Brin’s appearance at San Francisco International Airport was a heartening visual of that. While he said he was there as a refugee and not as a rep for the search giant, his presence spoke volumes about the way this was headed.

I knew that would be the case after I tweeted this note below late Friday night and it quickly started to garner a plethora of responses, including from some prominent techies, all of whom wanted in.

That included Laszlo Bock, former head of Google People Ops, who wrote: “former tech leader here, but still 100 percent against excluding people from our nation based on religion, origin, etc.”

It went on like that as opposition to the Trump immigration order has grown and I expect it to do so even more, as those very rich and very powerful and very influential tech companies start to act like they actually have money, power and influence. And, thank goodness, some of the loudest people on earth finally realize they have a very loud voice.

Behind the scenes, where all the real stuff happens, I am told the political arm-twisting has commenced and that there are a number of joint efforts that are under way. We’ll see how effective and long lasting they are, especially since there are many things tech wants from the Trump administration, as I have outlined before.

But given Trump has literally made good on several of his more heinous campaign promises that everyone thought he would not, I think cooperation between tech and Trump is going to be rarer than more opposition.

For example, what of Trump’s hard-line stance in the campaign on encryption or his appointment of very anti-net neutrality FCC chairman Ajit Pai? Neither will be easy to find common ground on.

And just today, Bloomberg is reporting another executive order being drafted focused on work visas that tech companies depend on, which will have a big impact on how critical talent is recruited. According to the report, “companies would have to try to hire American first and if they recruit foreign workers, priority would be given to the most highly paid.”

Well, that’s not going to go over well at Coupa Cafe in Palo Alto. No, no. no. (Fly-on-the-wall dream: I’d love to be in the boardroom at Facebook, where Peter Thiel is a director, to hear him explaining this one away.)

More: I was at a chock-full event in Palo Alto last week, as tech types planned their attack on the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the reinstatement of the global gag rule by Trump and the GOP that restricts foreign aid to those organizations that reference abortions in family planning. It was a move that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg spoke out against last week. “We don’t have to guess,” she wrote, noting that the move is a disaster for women globally. “We know what this will do.”

What else? Well, now there are rumors that Trump could sign another executive order aimed at restricting advances in rights made by gays and lesbians, such as allowing people to refuse to do business with them due to religious objections (expect federal legislation here too). And, earlier this week, press secretary Sean Spicer said, “I don’t know,” when asked if Trump would rescind a Barack Obama executive order banning anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors.

Given tech leaders have been very vocal in their support of gay issues, which are important to their employees, if Trump does any of this, it should go off like a Roman candle in Silicon Valley.

I’ll be curious what Thiel, who is now famously gay after his speech at the Republican National Convention this summer, will say about it if that comes to pass. I am guessing declaring that “Peter doesn’t support anti-gay orders, and the administration has not imposed one” will not work quite as well the second time around.

And neither will Silicon Valley not taking Trump both seriously and literally anymore. Because these are serious times and we need serious people who will literally be compelled to act and speak out on all this and more. (And if you think I am going to stop nagging you all, you should ask my kids how that goes.)

It’s probably a bummer for many of tech’s leaders that car execs or finance types or Hollywood moguls are not held to this high standard. In fact, the New York Times’ Mike Isaac tweeted about that yesterday.

Donald Trump’s Immigration Order Is Horrifying |

Hopefully, the Trump administration will learn from this and ensure proper vetting of all future policy decisions.

But I am not hopeful given their tendency to dig in rather than listen (the Holocaust Day press release not mentioning Jewish victims being a case in point):

The malevolence of President Trump’s Executive Order on visas and refugees is mitigated chiefly—and perhaps only—by the astonishing incompetence of its drafting and construction.

NBC is reporting that the document was not reviewed by DHS, the Justice Department, the State Department, or the Department of Defense, and that National Security Council lawyers were prevented from evaluating it. Moreover, the New York Times writes that Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the agencies tasked with carrying out the policy, were only given a briefing call while Trump was actually signing the order itself. Yesterday, the Department of Justice gave a “no comment” when asked whether the Office of Legal Counsel had reviewed Trump’s executive orders—including the order at hand. (OLC normally reviews every executive order.)

This order reads to me, frankly, as though it was not reviewed by competent counsel at all.

CNN offers extraordinary details:

Administration officials weren’t immediately sure which countries’ citizens would be barred from entering the United States. The Department of Homeland Security was left making a legal analysis on the order after Trump signed it. A Border Patrol agent, confronted with arriving refugees, referred questions only to the President himself, according to court filings.

. . .It wasn’t until Friday — the day Trump signed the order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and suspending all refugee admission for 120 days — that career homeland security staff were allowed to see the final details of the order, a person with the familiar the matter said.

. . .The policy team at the White House developed the executive order on refugees and visas, and largely avoided the traditional interagency process that would have allowed the Justice Department and homeland security agencies to provide operational guidance, according to numerous officials who spoke to CNN on Saturday.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Department of Homeland Security leadership saw the final details shortly before the order was finalized, government officials said.

Friday night, DHS arrived at the legal interpretation that the executive order restrictions applying to seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen — did not apply to people who with lawful permanent residence, generally referred to as green card holders.

The White House overruled that guidance overnight, according to officials familiar with the rollout. That order came from the President’s inner circle, led by Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon. Their decision held that, on a case by case basis, DHS could allow green card holders to enter the US.

As I shall explain, in the short term, the incompetence is actually good news for people who believe in visa and refugee policies based on criteria other than—let’s not be coy about this—bigotry and religious discrimination. The President has created a target-rich environment for litigation that will make his policies, I suspect, less effective than they would have been had he subjected his order to vetting one percent as extreme as the vetting to which he proposes to subject refugees from Bashar al-Assad and the bombing raids of Vladimir Putin.

Source: Donald Trump’s Immigration Order Is Horrifying |

Candice Malcolm in the Sun highlights issues pertaining to dual nationals, of particular concern given her husband’s Iranian ancestry, but finds little fault with the other aspects of the executive order:

There is a lot to unpack in Trump’s EO, and while trying to understand the law and its impact, it’s important to separate the facts from the hysteria.

First, and despite the rhetoric, this is not a Muslim Ban.

The vast majority of the world’s Muslims, including all American Muslims, will not be directly affected by this order.

The EO includes a four-month pause on all refugees, and a three-month ban on all citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan. The ban includes all citizens of these seven countries, including Muslims, Christians, Jews, and athiests. The order does not list any religion, nor does it ban people from the world’s most populous Muslim countries.

Second, it is untrue that no nationals of the countries on Trump ban list have perpetrated an act of Islamic terrorism on US soil.

Both the 2016 mall attack in St. Cloud, Minnesota and the attack at Ohio State University were carried out by Somali nationals. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks.

Senators Jeff Sessions and Ted Cruz released a report highlighting the 580 individuals who have been convicted on terrorism charges in the U.S. since the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks. Of the 380 foreign-born terrorists, 21 were from Somalia, 20 were from Yemen and 19 were from Iraq.

Curiously, the largest terrorists-producing countries, including Pakistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories are not included in the blanket ban. Likewise, the 9/11 hijackers were mostly from Saudi Arabia, another country not included in the ban.

That Trump didn’t include these countries is puzzling, and undermines the national security rationale behind this order.

The most troubling aspect of this order is the blanket ban on nationals from seven countries. The wording is clunky – simply saying the US will “suspend entry” for these nationals.

There is a difference between increased screening and a flat-out ban. This is a ban that will turn away lawful residents at the border.

There have been contradictory reports and messages from different government offices, but it seems that the ban applies to legal residents, green-card holders and even dual citizens travelling with Canadian passports.

There have been reports of green-card holders being handcuffed and detained at U.S. airports. This is reckless and wrong.

Trump immigration EO needs major changes 

The job-creating, anti-extremist Canadian Conservative with a maple leaf tattoo now banned from the U.S. | National Post

National Post profile of the staffer Jason Kenney mentioned in his tweets (dealt with him during my time at CIC/IRCC, sharp guy, pleasant to deal with. Married to Candice Malcolm, another former staffer and current Sun columnist who is also extremely conservative and, IMO, overly partisan in her critiques):

Canadian Kasra Nejatian renounced his Iranian citizenship at 17, got a maple leaf tattoo and has been such an outspoken critic of the Islamic republic that he believes he would be immediately arrested if he ever returned.

He owns a tech company, Kash, with more than a dozen employees in the United States.

He’s also extremely Conservative. He spent years as a staffer for former Tory immigration minister Jason Kenney, who has described him as “one of the most hawkish people I know on national security and integration.”

But according to a bluntly worded executive order from U.S. President Donald Trump, Nejatian’s Iranian birthplace now makes him “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

“This is virtue-signalling security theatre,” Nejatian told the National Post by phone from San Francisco.

On Friday, Trump issued an executive order that banned U.S. entry to nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, for 90 days.

The suddenness of the ban meant that any nationals from the affected countries who were already airborne at the time of the order were detained upon landing.

The order does not make exceptions for nationals with valid U.S. visas.

Nejatian — who helped form Canada’s own protocol for screening would-be terrorists — said the new order “almost certainly makes the U.S. less safe.”

For one thing, the ban is so blunt that it excludes foreign-born nationals regardless of their loyalty to the United States, he noted.

Source: The job-creating, anti-extremist Canadian Conservative with a maple leaf tattoo now banned from the U.S. | National Post

First Nations School of Toronto ready for brighter future

While I always have mixed thoughts about ethnically (or religiously) based schooling given that it can hamper integration, understand the pressures particularly with First Nations.

It will be important to have some long-term evaluations of this school’s effectiveness, not just in terms of graduation rates (important, where I expect improvement) but 10 years post-graduation in terms of employment and income:

Twenty-five years ago, Shannon Judge was an indigenous student in a Barrie high school where sports teams were named the “Redskins.”

A generation earlier her mother, from Wasauksing First Nation near Parry Sound, wasn’t allowed to speak her first language of Ojibwe at the elementary school she attended on her reserve.

Today, Judge’s two children are finally breaking the cycle at First Nations School of Toronto. Raven, 9, and Rayne, 8, are part of a new era of indigenous education that teaches them through the lens of aboriginal experience and history.

Thanks to their school, both children now speak Ojibwe with their grandmother, which has inspired Judge to take lessons too, provided by volunteers through the school. Morning smudging ceremonies and daily 40-minute language and culture classes with an elder are part of their routine.

“I feel like my kids are getting something from school that’s not only education, but a connection to their history and identity that empowers them and gives them a sense of worthiness,” says Judge.

As of this month, students will have the option of keeping that connection until they graduate from Grade 12, following the school’s long-awaited move from its cramped quarters at Dundas Street Public School.

The Judge family - Shannon and Neal with Raven, 9 and Rayne, 8, - are shown outside the First Nations School of Toronto, which opened in its new location this month.

The move to the spacious building — site of the former Eastern Commerce Collegiate, which closed in 2015 due to falling enrolment — means that beginning in September, First Nations School will introduce a new high school grade each fall. The new Grade 9 class next September will become the first graduates in 2021.

That will make it Ontario’s first publicly-funded school to offer aboriginal education from kindergarten through Grade 12.

“The dynamics have changed,” principal Jonathan Kakegamic said following the Jan. 10 opening on the six-acre property, also home to the Aboriginal Education Centre run by the Toronto District School Board.

The kids, currently in kindergarten through Grade 8 and from all over the city, were beside themselves to see all the space, inside and out. Instead of eating breakfast and lunch in a crowded classroom, they now have a cafeteria, along with their own gym and an auditorium.

“I’m just excited to be here,” says Kakegamic, who moved from Thunder Bay last August to become principal. “It’s an honour to be part of this new era.”

Attendance has already risen to 131 students from 96 in September and the new site will accommodate 600.

Teacher Maliha Mitha reads to her Grade 1 and 2 class at First Nations School of Toronto during the children's first week at the new site.

Kakegamic and others in the community stress that expanding to secondary school is critical to reducing high dropout rates among indigenous students, who often feel lost in a larger system that doesn’t teach their perspective and history.

Source: First Nations School of Toronto ready for brighter future | Toronto Star

Aga Khan’s Global Centre for Pluralism moves in to heritage digs after decade of delays

I remember being involved in the closing of the lease negotiations. Nice to see this being realized:

A think-tank founded by the Aga Khan with $30 million from taxpayers has finally moved into a prime heritage building in Ottawa 10 years after the federal government gave it a 99-year lease.

The Global Centre for Pluralism (GCP) pays the federal government $1 a year to use the building at 330 Sussex Dr., formerly the Canadian War Museum. The agreement also allows the GCP to lease out office space in the building at commercial rates.

And it already has a tenant: the Royal Canadian Mint, a Crown corporation.

The centre’s opening comes after a decade of false starts and missed deadlines.

It also highlights the close relationship successive Canadian governments have sought to foster with the Aga Khan, the hereditary leader of the world’s Ismaili Muslims and a well-known philanthropist.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been forced to defend his recent visitto the Ismaili spiritual leader’s private island in the Bahamas. Trudeau, who through his father has a long personal relationship with the Aga Khan, has said the visit and a similar one in 2014 were personal.

But the Aga Khan and his charitable organizations have a long-standing relationship with the government of Canada, which sees their development work as aligned with Canada’s objectives and has contributed money to their projects for decades.

The Global Centre for Pluralism got its start in 2006, when the government of Stephen Harper gave $30 million to establish an operating fund for the think-tank, which is supposed to spread Canadian values of pluralistic democracy around the world.

Source: Aga Khan’s Global Centre for Pluralism moves in to heritage digs after decade of delays – Politics – CBC News

Trump’s Muslim-targetted immigration ban

The Canadian government continued to play a balancing act between securing Canadian interests (ensuring that Canadian dual nationals would not be affected, later extended to Canadian permanent residents) while, in what may become a pattern, a PM tweet affirming Canadian values with respect to diversity and refugees (PMO says Canadian dual citizens can travel freely to the U.S. despite Trump travel ban ). British PM May was later to obtain a similar exemption for British dual nationals.

But as outrage mounted, the government responded by having IRCC Minister Hussen announce that  Canada will offer temporary residency to people stranded in Canada as a result of the ban.

As Michael den Tandt notes, Donald Trump’s refugee ban pushes Canadian politicians to forge common front:

In closing America’s borders to refugees and banning visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations including U.S.-allied Iraq, President Donald Trump has managed the seemingly impossible; to shove Conservative stalwart Jason Kenney and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, long-time foes, into the same tent.

They’re joined there by Saskatchewan conservative premier Brad Wall, Alberta New Democratic premier Rachel Notley, B.C. Liberal premier Christy Clark, Ontario Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne, Toronto conservative mayor John Tory, as well as federal Conservative leadership candidates Deepak Obhrai and Michael Chong — all of whom spoke in support of helping refugees Saturday, in response to Trump’s move, as did Kenney and Trudeau.

Such an unlikely political agglomeration could only occur under extraordinary circumstances, which these are. Just over a week into his presidency, Trump’s series of jarring statements and draconian executive orders have left federal Conservatives divided, federal New Democrats struggling to find a role and Trudeau’s Liberals carefully threading their way through a crisis unlike any in modern memory.

Large and smaller players in the tech industry have been vocal (Tech leaders finally find their voice, opposing Trump’s Muslim ban: ‘So un-American, it pains us all.’) with the best quote from Netflix’s CEO Hastings:

Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all. Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe. A very sad week, and more to come with the lives of over 600,000 Dreamers here in a America under imminent threat. It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity.

Meanwhile, the Canadian tech industry called for the government to  give temporary residency to those displaced by a U.S. order banning the entry of people from seven Muslim-majority countries (Canadian Executives Urge Govt Action After Trump Muslim Ban …) – done, while others in the industry see the ban as an opportunity:

Canadian technology executives are making plans to capitalize on U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration orders, using the new president’s crackdown to help their efforts to recruit skilled workers from overseas.

“I think it’s really sad and horrible from a political landscape perspective, but very selfishly it’s an incredible opportunity” said Dennis Pilarinos, a former Microsoft executive whose 22-person software startup in Vancouver, Buddybuild, is in hiring mode. “It’s a chance to welcome incredibly talented engineers who might not have otherwise considered roles in Canada.”

 Trump immigration ban ‘a boon’ for Canadian tech industry, say executives 

Some of the better commentary I have seen to date include that of H.A. Hellyer:

What is there to say about this – except that it is all utterly and wholly outrageous.

There is only one respectable response to this policy from Americans inside the U.S. and leaders outside of the U.S. – unreserved and unqualified condemnation.

But no one should assume that is going to be the automatic retort. On the contrary: Republicans who mocked and denounced Mr. Trump for touting the proposed policy during the presidential election and primaries are now either giving silent consent, or openly supporting their new leader. My own Prime Minister, didn’t take the opportunity, when asked, to say she deplored the policy – instead, Theresa May said that the U.S. was responsible for its own policies.

It would be foolish to say that this policy will radicalize Muslims worldwide – they’re not automatons who will readily flip just because of a stupid and bigoted policy from this U.S. presidency. But make no mistake – this policy does give a huge amount of fodder to Islamic State and the extremist Islamist narrative. They will use and abuse it for years to come.

An irony of ironies: The only people happy with this policy today are right-wing populists in the West, and extremist Islamists worldwide. The free world has just become a lot less free – and certainly not one bit safer.

 Trump’s ‘vetting’ just made the world less free – and less safe

Shaista Aziz (which provoked the greatest number of retweets that I have ever had) calls out British PM May for not saying anything publicly during her meeting with Trump (not known whether she said anything privately):

As a journalist who happens to be a British Muslim woman, I’ve been following the dog whistle politics of the U.S. election campaign and now the car crash Trump presidency in much the same way I followed the Brexit build up and final outcome.

There are many parallels: Mr. Trump’s victory triggered a spike in hate crime across the country, just as Brexit did across the United Kingdom. The incendiary racist language and ‘othering’ of British and American Muslims, the fake facts, fake news and demonizing of immigrants has created an environment where open bigotry is flourishing.

All of this has left many citizens here and across the Atlantic Ocean terrified and worried for the safety and well-being of their loved ones: It feels like our humanity is being questioned and stamped on daily, our value as human beings continues to be down graded by populist politicians and right wing media outlets.

It was behind this backdrop that British Prime Minister Theresa May became the first leader in the world invited to meet Mr. Trump at the White House. All eyes were on Ms. May as she congratulated Mr. Trump on his “stunning” victory and went on to laud the special relationship between both countries. Incidentally, as part of this special relationship, Mr. Trump was seen grabbing Ms. May’s hand as they walked outside the White House.

Last year, Ms. May said she would stand up for the ‘dignity’ of all British citizens when asked about Trump’s Muslim ban proposals. So the meeting was Ms. May’s moment. This was the time to call out Mr. Trump on his Muslim ban and bigotry. She could have said: What you are doing is anti-American. She could have said: President Trump, you are guilty of hate crimes against your people. Religious freedoms, she could have said, are key to any open and free society. And targeting any person on the basis of their religion is hateful and cruel and not a policy welcome in any office.

She could have sent a clear signal to British Muslims and the rest of the population that she is she is serious about tackling Islamophobia and about building a truly cohesive nation.

Instead, her shameful silence toward Mr. Trump and his shameful Muslim ban will only seek to embolden those looking to fuel division and hate.

 Let’s call Trump’s Muslim ban what it really is: A hate crime 

The best article I have seen on who is included and who is excluded is from the Atlantic (What Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration Does—and Doesn’t Do), with the correction that Canadian dual citizens are exempt. This of course keeps on changing as the White House continues to improvise; not only is the ban wrong from moral and policy perspectives, it demonstrates the incompetence of the Trump administration in implementation.

And nice to see Jason Kenney, obviously affected by some of the people he knows affected by the ban, back on the national stage do a 10 tweet takedown of the ban:

1/ Just spoke to a former staffer of mine who was raised in Iran. Immigrated to Canada at 14, he ran as a Conservative for Parliament at 19.

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

2/ He is so Canadian he has a maple leaf tattoo. He despises the Iranian dictatorship & would be thrown in jail if he returned there. He has

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

3/ renounced Iranian citizenship, & is one of the most hawkish people I know on national security & integration. He is running a successful

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

4/ startup in the USA. As a result of yesterday’s Executive Order, he is now barred from entering USA, where he has created dozens of jobs.

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

5/ Yazidi refugees from Daesh’s genocide, US military officers of Iranian origin & countless others join him in being inadmissible to the US

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

6/ Meanwhile, Wahabi militants from Saudi Arabia are unaffected by this EO. This is not about national security. It is a brutal, ham-fisted

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

7/ act of demagogic political theatre. Now we are hopelessly polarized between the false choice of open-border naïveté and xenophobia.

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

8/ The Government of Canada should immediately facilitate temporary residency for bona fide travellers stranded by the EO, e.g. by issuing

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

9/ministerial instructions to visa officers for issuance of Temporary Residence Permits under Sec 25 of Immigration & Refugee Protection Act

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

10/ Republicans in Congress who (rightly) challenged President Obama for making law through EOs should now challenge President Trump’s EO.

— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) January 29, 2017

Lastly, the reaction of the Iranian government, given that the largest group affected are Iranian, with the director of The Salesman, Oscar winning director Asghar Farhadi, announcing that he and those involved in the film will not attend given the ban and related uncertainty:

In a statement released in response to the ban, which temporarily prohibits citizens of seven Muslim countries from entering the U.S., the ministry warned that Trump’s move would only help terrorist groups in their recruiting efforts. “The United States administration’s decision to impose a ban against Muslims’ travel to the US – though for a temporary three-month period – is a flagrant insult to the Muslim world, specially the great Iranian nation; and despite claims about confronting terrorism and protecting security of the American people, it will be recorded in the history as a great gift to extremists and their sponsors,” the statement said. The ban, which includes Iran, “has targeted the Iranian people and is an obvious insult to each and every member of the Iranian nation,” the ministry said.

In Iran, Shock and Bewilderment Over Trump Visa Crackdown – The New York Times

Laying out the impact on people and families (article was written before the weekend chaos):

TEHRAN — Families, businesspeople, athletes and tourists from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa found their travel plans — and even their futures — in a state of suspension on Friday after President Trump signed an executive order temporarily barring thousands from obtaining visas to travel to the United States.

The order is expected to freeze almost all travel to the United States by citizens from the Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days. Three of those countries are considered sponsors of terrorism (Iran, Sudan and Syria), and three are designated countries of concern (Libya, Somalia and Yemen).

Passport-holders from those countries, who have American visas but are outside the United States, will not be permitted to return.

“We only want to admit those who will support our country and love deeply our people,” Mr. Trump said on Friday before signing the order at the Pentagon. “We will never forget the lessons of 9/11, nor the heroes who lost their lives at the Pentagon.”

(The 19 hijackers implicated in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack came from Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. None of those countries will be subject to what Mr. Trump described as “new vetting measures.”)

During the 90-day period, the Trump administration will assess if the foreign governments on the list are providing enough information about citizens seeking visas to enable the United States to assess whether they pose a terrorism risk. If the governments do not comply, they will be given 60 days to do so; failing that, their citizens will be barred from entering the United States.

Government reaction to the order has been cautious. But there is little doubt that the demand for information will be a challenge for Iran, which sends far more people to the United States each year, around 35,000, than any other country on the list.

While Iran willingly allows its citizens to travel to the United States, it is ideologically opposed to sharing information with Washington. But if it does not, many of its citizens will be cut off from visiting relatives who are among the estimated one million Iranian-Americans living in America.

The visa ban will provide an early indication of where relations between Tehran and the Trump administration are headed, one analyst said.


The Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti in “The Salesman.” She canceled her trip to the Academy Awards on Feb. 26 on news of President Trump’s visa crackdown.CreditHabib Majidi/Cohen Media Group, via Amazon Studios, via Associated Press 

“Trump will regard the Iranian reaction as a test,” said Farshad Ghorbanpour, who is close to the government of President Hassan Rouhani. “If Iran doesn’t comply, they won’t do so either on other issues. We will see in 30 days.”

Another analyst doubted the government would comply with the order.

“We are not obliged to give information about our citizens to the Trump administration,” said Hamidreza Taraghi, considered a hard-liner. “Such a move would be unjustifiable.”

In the United States, Americans of Iranian descent expressed shock and dismay at news of Mr. Trump’s impending policy change, and were particularly concerned about their relatives and friends in Iran.

Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, a Washington-based advocacy group, said many Iranian citizens with valid green cards and American visas were distraught. Those outside the United States are fretting they will not be allowed in, and those already in the country fear they will not be able to leave, even temporarily, because they will be barred from returning.

“There is a sense of bewilderment, as well as a sense of injustice,” over why Iran was even included on the list of targeted countries, Mr. Parsi said. No Iranian has been accused of an attack on the American homeland. By contrast, he said, the Sept. 11 attackers included citizens from countries which are not on the list — and “the United States has produced more ISIS fighters than Iran has.”

Iran’s most popular actress, Taraneh Alidoosti, announced on Twitterthat she was canceling her trip to the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Feb. 26, after reports that Mr. Trump was about to sign the sweeping executive order.

Ms. Alidoosti plays a leading role in ‘‘The Salesman,’’ directed by the acclaimed Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and nominated for best foreign film. She almost certainly could have obtained a visa as a ‘‘culturally unique artist,’’ but said she no longer felt like making the trip.

“This is not about me or the Academy Awards, it’s about having a discussion about this decision,” Ms. Alidoosti said. “This is such a bizarre ban, it is uprooting people’s lives in ways not imaginable.”

In 2015, according to the Department of Homeland Security, a total of 35,266 nonimmigrant visas were granted to Iranians to enter the United States, compared with 21,381 for Iraq; 16,010 for Syria; 5,549 for Yemen; 4,792 for Sudan; 2,879 for Libya and 359 for Somalia.


How Trump’s Executive Order Will Affect the U.S. Refugee Program

The order cuts the number of refugees to the U.S. in half and bars those from Syria.


As there is no American embassy or consulate in Iran, Iranians must travel to Ankara, Turkey, Dushanbe in Tajikistan or to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, to apply for a visa. The State Department says that more than 40 percent of all applications are rejected. There are numerous agencies in Iran and other countries that mediate and assist Iranians seeking appointments.

Atlantic premiers, federal ministers announce new immigration initiative

A useful pilot continues to the next step:

Atlantic Canadian companies that want to hire international students and skilled workers will soon get government help.

 Atlantic Canadian premiers and several federal ministers announced a key step in an immigration pilot project, at the conclusion of their second meeting on the Atlantic Growth Strategy initiative Friday.

Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said the provinces will now start designating employers that want to hire skilled immigrants.

Immigrants arriving in the region will have a job offer and an individualized settlement plan for them and their families.

“The idea behind this is to leverage the unique position of employers to help immigrants and their families better integrate into their new communities in Atlantic Canada and to remain here for the long-term so they can help grow the region’s economy,” Hussen said after Friday’s meeting in Wolfville, N.S.

Under the plan – part of the new Atlantic Immigration Pilot announced last July – the government will accept up to 2,000 immigrant applications this year, with increased numbers in following years depending on performance.

The pilot project is aimed at ensuring newcomers stay in the region instead of joining the stream of outmigration to other parts of the country.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said his province recognizes the need to capitalize on the 20,000 young people who choose his province for post-secondary education.

“About seven to eight thousand of them are from other countries,” said McNeil. “We’re aggressively going to work with our universities to grow that number even more and provide them an avenue to stay inside of our province to grow jobs and create opportunities.”

Source: Atlantic premiers, federal ministers announce new immigration initiative –

Peter Thiel’s New Zealand citizenship: Billionaires get citizenship abroad so they can run from the problems they create — Quartz

Thiel’s safety hatch citizenship, assessed by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, the author of The Cosmopolites (another take on the themes of Chrystia Freeland’s book, Plutocrats):

We don’t know the exact details of Thiel’s naturalization yet, but it’s hard to imagine that his exorbitant wealth didn’t help. New Zealand offers residence permits to rich investors—the hacker Kim Dotcom, who’s facing extradition to the United States, bought his way there by investing millions of dollars—and grants citizenship in special circumstances to people who don’t meet the five-year residence requirements.

In these discretionary cases, New Zealand’s immigration minister has to personally approve the petition and deem it “in the public interest because of exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian or other nature.” (Thiel does not appear to have won any prizes for his humanitarian efforts.)

Thiel’s opinions will affect some 300 million Americans, most of whom who do not have a backup passport—or indeed, even the funds for a plane ticket abroad.  More and more countries are adopting special citizenship laws to let in extraordinarily rich or talented people, whether it’s athletes, experts, or entrepreneurs. As I note in my book, The Cosmopolites, for your average billionaire, having a Plan B country has become practically de rigueur. Citizenship-by-investment is estimated to be a $2 billion a year business. A half-dozen countries, from tiny specks in the Caribbean like Antigua to EU member states like Malta, openly sell their passport to wealthy individuals so long as they are not known criminals. Even the US effectively sells green cards through its EB-5 investor program.

It’s one thing for a wealthy private citizen to buy herself options to make traveling, living, and working abroad easier. Hypocrisy among Trump’s inner circle—and indeed, in all contemporary American politics—is hardly breaking news. And the irony of a Trump confidante revealing himself to be a rootless globalist is admittedly delectable. It’s also not all that surprising: Trump’s pick for trade secretary, Robert Lighthizer, has attended the Davos World Economic Forum 15 times.

The fact that Thiel can easily run away from the very rules and regulations he’ll be helping Trump shape, however, is not funny in the least. Thiel is in a position of immense power as Trump’s advisor. His opinions will affect some 300 million Americans, most of whom who do not have a backup passport—or indeed, even the funds for a plane ticket abroad. The ease with which Thiel can opt out of American society speaks to the very concerns that conservatives themselves have voiced about the denationalized “Davos man” for decades. When Samuel Huntington worried in 2004 that America’s elites were “seceding,” he could have easily been talking about Thiel—or any number of Trump’s cabinet appointees, for that matter.

 It is the current system of passports and nations and states, along with moralistic attitudes about patriotism, that enables the rich to opt out. On the surface, there seem to be immense contradictions between the nationalist, populist, protectionist rhetoric that Trump spouts and the acquisitive globalism of a Peter Thiel type. But these twin ideologies coalesce in a mutually supportive way. Trump said in a December speech that there is no world currency, no world flag, and no world passport. That’s true. But the continued primacy of the nation-state is precisely why the practice of “sovereignty hacking” or “jurisdiction shopping,” as exemplified by citizenship-by-investment programs and offshore tax registries, has become so prevalent among those who can afford it. Picking and choosing residencies, citizenships, and tax regimes helps the wealthy exist as though the world had no borders at all, which means they can throw their support behind nationalist policies that will close off options to everyone else. It is the current system of passports and nations and states, along with moralistic attitudes about patriotism, that enables the rich to opt out.

Thiel knows this world very, very well. In fact, Thiel apparently found the concept of hacking sovereignty so compelling that in 2008, he gave his personal and financial support to the Seasteading Institute, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that promotes the creation of artificial floating nations in international waters. The political philosophy behind seasteading can be summed up as follows:

  1. Governments are bad

  2. Governments have a monopoly on sovereignty

  3. Governments would be less bad if they had to compete on the open market with each other for capital, companies, citizens, and ideas

  4. No one can compete with governments because governments control the world’s land

  5. The only spaces that aren’t controlled by existing governments are in international waters

  6. Creating lots of new countries in international waters will increase competition and make all governments better

Source: Peter Thiel’s New Zealand citizenship: Billionaires get citizenship abroad so they can run from the problems they create — Quartz

The politics of 2036, when Canada is as brown as it is white: Ibbitson

Good column by John Ibbitson on the political implications of the 2036 projections on Canada’s demographics (and a much more likely prediction than his earlier one in his book The Big Shift, although he still sticks to the Jason Kenney line that immigrants are inherently more conservative, which the 2015 election indicated was overly simplistic, given the diversity among immigrant groups and the wide margins the Liberals enjoyed in 33 visible majority ridings):

…The transformation of Canada is already far advanced, and continuing. By 2036, the agency predicts, as many as 30 per cent of all residents will not have been born in Canada. Another 20 per cent of the population will be native-born, but with at least one immigrant parent. Since the vast majority of immigrants come from Asian or Pacific nations, within 20 years Canada will likely be as brown as it is white.

Some old-stock Canadians, as Stephen Harper called them, will resent this. No one asked them, they will say, whether they wanted the European, Christian country they grew up in to be transformed into something so cosmopolitan. They lament the loss of traditional values and social solidarity. Some of them look with envy to the United States, where Donald Trump surfed nativist resentments all the way to the White House.

But a Canadian Donald Trump – at least one who wins a general election – is unlikely. There is no future courting the angry white vote. There just aren’t enough angry white voters.

Some Conservative leadership candidates are flirting with nativism nonetheless, because the Conservative Party membership is older and whiter than the general population. But, in fact, Conservatives should welcome immigrants. The Philippines, India and China accounted for 40 per cent of new arrivals in 2015. They are economically and socially more conservative than many of the native-born; many of them voted for Mr. Harper in 2011, and they are a natural constituency for the Conservative Party.

Justin Trudeau, however, won suburban ridings with large immigrant populations across the country in 2015. Politically, keeping those voters loyal is his first and most important task. Winning them back should be the first and most important task of the next Conservative leader.

The massive demographic shifts under way in Canada speak to both growth and decline across the country. In 2036, StatsCan predicts immigrants will make up at most 10 per cent of the population in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. About a third of Montreal’s population could be immigrant, but in the rest of the province they will be hard to find. In Ontario and British Columbia, about a third of the population will be foreign-born, and Alberta should be near 30 per cent.

In terms of both population and politics, Canada will be a country of large, growing, young, diverse cites, with everything in between older and whiter and continuing to decline.

Quebec will struggle to make its voice heard: those whose mother tongue is French will decline from 21 per cent of the population today to 18 per cent in 2036. The number speaking English as a native language will also go down, but up to 30 per cent of Canadians will have a mother tongue that is neither English nor French.

Canada is losing its old-time religion. Ninety per cent of Canadians identified as Christians in 1970. Today, it’s two-thirds, and will be just over one half by 2036. Christianity is not being displaced by other religions – only 7 per cent, at most, will identify as Muslim by 2036 – but by no religion at all. A quarter of all Canadians today identify with no faith, and that number could reach a third by 2036.

The fact that this country has deliberately transformed the makeup of its population in a way no other country has managed, or even attempted, speaks to the tolerant, diverse society in which we live. Multiculturalism works and Canada is proof.

If you’re grinding your teeth at this, if you long for the Canada that was, it’s easy to understand your frustration. That Canada has gone away. By 2036 it will be barely a memory.

Source: The politics of 2036, when Canada is as brown as it is white – The Globe and Mail