Saunders: Climate migration isn’t a thing – but maybe we should make it one

Good commentary by Saunders on the reality:

The world is likely to suffer a lot of destruction, disruption, economic and political instability and death as a result of rising global temperatures and ocean levels, even if we’re able to keep atmospheric warming to 2 degrees.

One thing we’re not going to encounter, however, is mass immigration across international borders. “Climate migration,” scholars of the subject tend to agree, is not something that will happen internationally on any significant scale, even under the worst imaginable projections. “Climate refugees” are not a plausible future problem for any developed country.

You may have been led to believe otherwise. A startling range of international organizations and publications have issued reports and alarmist stories based on the assumption that the millions of people whose lands will be hurt by climate change are going to respond by fleeing to another country.

United Nations agencies have embarrassed themselves by predicting climate migrations that never materialize. One charity predicts that a billion people will be displaced by 2050; a news report last year amplified that assumption to 1.5 billion. In July, The New York Times Magazine ran a cover story that observed (correctly) that “billions of people” will have their livelihoods hurt by global warming, and then inferred that most of them will become migrants.

The renowned Dutch migration scholar Hein de Haas warned recently that these studies and forecasts lack any credibility because they “are not based on fact and scientific knowledge. They either have no scientific basis at all, or reflect extremely simplistic quasi-scientific reasoning.”

In fact, the scholarly community has come together to warn, with increasing urgency, that the notion of “climate migration” is false and dangerous.

Last November, 31 of the world’s most respected climate scholars published a paper in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change warning against “misleading claims about mass migration induced by climate change” which, they said, continue to circulate in both academia and policy circles without any scientific foundation. Although climate change will indeed threaten lives, they agreed, the notion that a warming climate and rising ocean levels will produce “climate refugees” is a “false narrative” driven by political motives.

Dr. de Haas outlined those motives: “For left-wing groups, it serves to raise attention to the issue of climate change… For right-wing groups, it serves to raise the spectre of future mass migration, and the need to step up border controls.”

Earlier this year, the world’s leading migration scholars published the sixth edition of the standard textbook on the subject, The Age of Migration. Though their work is otherwise deeply concerned about both refugees and climate change, they included a new chapter on “climate migration,” which warns that the concept contradicts everything that actually is known about human responses to climate shocks and disasters.

In the world of actual knowledge, the last 10 years have seen an unprecedented amount of serious, well-funded study into the question of what families and communities in climate-devastated places are going to do when their livelihoods turn into ocean or desert. While the answers are varied and often disturbing, one thing people almost never do under such circumstances is move far away.

The definitive work on climate migration remains the Foresight Report, commissioned in 2011 by Britain’s Government Office for Science, which commissioned more than 80 studies in multiple disciplines. It found that climate will sometimes have an impact on local migration. But that impact is quite likely to be negative – that is, climate change will often prevent people from migrating. Not only that, but it found that when regions suffer climate devastation, people are equally likely to migrate into those regions.

In 2018, the Migration Policy Institute conducted a comprehensive review of all the research evidence on climate and migration. It found that climate shocks are highly likely to reduce a community’s likelihood of moving (by hurting their ability to afford to migrate); when they do use migration as a survival strategy, it’s almost always within the local region.

None of that should have been a surprise. The one thing we’ve long known about immigrants and refugees is that they’re products not of ruin and absolute poverty but of comparative prosperity – and thus ability to move – within their communities.

There will be a lot of human migration during the coming decades – most of it regional or internal – and the small number moving to faraway cities because of climate devastation will be greatly outnumbered by those making exactly the same journey simply in order to have a better life.

The fact is that people who live in highly climate-vulnerable regions, where incomes tend to be low anyway, really ought to be migrating – and countries such as Canada could use them. Rather than spreading false alarm about desperate hordes headed for our borders, we ought to be thinking of ways to encourage and make possible climate migration. The world would be better off if it really was a thing.

Toronto-area school board sorts online classes alphabetically, raising concerns of racial segregation

Perhaps a more neutral approach like the date of birth?

In a kindergarten virtual classroom at the York Region District School Board, half the children have the surname Wong, and two of them have the same first name.

It’s a similar story in other online classes that are filled with children sharing the same last names after the board, north of Toronto, separated its roughly 30,000 virtual learners into four areas and assigned them to classes alphabetically by surname. The board only later discovered it had inadvertently created groups that did not reflect the racially diverse nature of this part of the province.

The issue at York highlights the challenges school boards face launching virtual classes after the Ontario government let families choose between in-class learning and online instruction. Parents in a Facebook group have raised concerns about the lack of diversity and described classes in which all the students have the surname Chen or Cao. In other instances, half the class are Khans or Wongs.

Clayton La Touche, an associate director at the board, said he understood parents’ concerns but that redoing the classes in a different way would have delayed the start of the school year. It is not out of the ordinary to have more than one student in a classroom with the same surname, but he acknowledged that having an entire class is unusual.

“It is an unintended impact of the decision,” Mr. La Touche said. “However, although we certainly respect and would wish to have had mixed classes in that way, if it is a matter of mixing names versus forming classes in time to be able to have a reasonable start, in my belief it is a measured risk.

“At the end of the day, what we have is our students in front of teachers.”

At other school boards, including Peel and Toronto, an effort was made to keep virtual learners with their neighbourhood peers as much as possible, or to mix students.

One parent, whose son’s last name is Wong, said 15 of the 29 kindergarten children in his son’s York Region online class have the same surname. His classroom last year had only one other Wong out of 28 students. The parent, who lives in Markham, asked that his first name not be used to keep his child’s identity private.

The parent said it was comical when he first saw it. Then he wondered why the board was segregating and creating a lack of diversity in the class.

He hastened to add that the family likes the teacher and the class is going pretty well. It was just that he felt the whole process was not ideal.

Another parent, Michael She, who lives in Richmond Hill, said his two children’s virtual classrooms have students with various last names, but that is not the case for some of his friends. “For fairness, a lot of parents would have wished, at a minimum, for a random distribution to keep it more representative of the York Region area,” Mr. She said.

Several school boards in the Greater Toronto Area, including York, have started virtual school more slowly than in-person classes because of families switching to online learning at the last minute amid a rise in COVID-19 cases. Some students still do not have assigned teachers.

Mr. La Touche said scrapping the process because of the alphabetical listing would have further delayed the start of the school year for thousands of students. “Not to minimize the concern in any way, however, the greater interest was in ensuring that we had a successful start and as timely a start as possible,” he said.

Vidya Shah, an assistant professor in education at York University, said considering that the provincial government gave boards only about a month to organize students for in-person and virtual schooling, mistakes were inevitable.

Prof. Shah said that for some students who were perhaps the only ones with a particular surname at their regular school, being grouped by surname “can be quite honouring and create a sense of community automatically.”

“In other ways,” she added, “it goes against the very heart of public education, which is to have very diverse spaces with lots of students, with various identities that can come together and learn and take risks together.”

In non-pandemic times, class lists are typically done in collaboration with teachers and school administrators. Darren Campbell, president of the elementary teachers’ union in York Region, said many factors go into forming classes, including paying attention to the learning needs of students.

“This method [the alphabetical grouping] is not one teachers would feel creates the most successful class communities in a school,” Mr. Campbell said, adding: “It’s far from ideal.”

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-toronto-area-school-board-sorts-online-classes-alphabetically-raising/

 

Wealthy Britons step up citizenship shopping to thwart Brexit

Not surprising:

The number of British entrepreneurs looking to “buy” citizenship from countries offering visa-free access to the European Union has risen sharply, investment migration firms say, as prospects of a post-Brexit trade deal between Britain and the bloc darken.

Investment immigration firm Astons said it had seen a 50% and 30% year-on-year increase in interest from clients seeking Cypriot or Greek citizenship respectively this quarter, less than four months before UK passport-holders are likely to lose their rights to freedom of movement across the EU.

Henley & Partners also reported a rise in requests for advice on investment migration applications to Malta, Portugal, Austria and several Caribbean islands, which offer a range of residency rights, visa-free travel to the EU and citizenship to investors in local business or property.

Citizens of certain Caribbean sovereign states including St. Lucia and St Kitts & Nevis also enjoy preferred access to the EU, thanks to close ties with EU members as a result of historic, diplomatic and modern trade agreements.

“This isn’t about tourists. This is the UK high net worth community that have a constant need to travel to and spend significant time in the EU,” said Henley & Partners director Paddy Blewer.

“This is investment migration as a volatility hedge and a component in a high net worth portfolio value defence strategy,” he said, adding that volumes of client engagement were higher now than immediately after the 2016 Brexit vote.

Interest in additional citizenships is rising even as the European Commission examines possible steps to curb EU states selling passports and visas to wealthy foreigners, due to concerns it can help organised crime groups.

Cypriot residency can be secured in two months with a 300,000 euro ($351,870) property purchase. Securing citizenship takes six months and requires a minimum property investment of 2 million euros.

Reuters reported in December how some donors to Britain’s ruling Conservative Party had sought Cypriot citizenship including hedge fund manager Alan Howard.

“Both Cypriot and Caribbean investments are proving very popular … primarily driven by high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) from the UK who have an eye on the future and life after Brexit,” said Astons spokesman Konstantin Kaminskiy.

CARIBBEAN DREAM

Henley & Partners said its volume of engagement with clients seeking alternative citizenship or residence by investment climbed 40% in the first quarter of 2020 versus Q1 2019, before flattening during the COVID-19 lockdown in Q2.

But interest has rallied since July 1, with a 15% year-on-year increase in engagement to Sept. 10, as the end of the Brexit transition phase nears.

Henley & Partners’ Blewer said clients were increasingly drawn to Caribbean citizenship applications – which is likely to give them better travel access to the EU than Britain – but which have a lower minimum investment and a quicker approval process.

Saint Lucia citizenship, offering visa-free travel to 146 countries, can be obtained in around four months for a minimum investment of 76,152 pounds, data supplied by Astons showed.

For less than 40,000 pounds more, investors can obtain citizenship of St. Kitts & Nevis – and visa-free travel to 156 countries – in around 60 days.

In contrast, Malta offers citizenship in exchange for around 1 million pounds of investment, but the process takes up to 14 months.

Portugal, meanwhile, typically processes investment migration applications in three months but only grants EU residency to investors and visa-fee travel to just 26 countries.

“With HNWIs, time is often more important than what is essentially a small fluctuation in cost and many are looking to secure additional citizenship as fast as possible in the pandemic landscape,” Arthur Sarkisian, managing director of Astons, said.

EU authorities are under pressure to clamp down on investment migration programmes by member states.

Sven Giegold, a member of the European Parliament from Germany’s Green party, said these kind of citizenship sales “posed a serious threat to EU security and the fight against corruption” in the bloc.

“EU passports and visas are not a commodity. Money must not be the criterion for citizenship and residence rights in the EU,” he said.

Source: Wealthy Britons step up citizenship shopping to thwart Brexit

Army commander orders Canadian soldiers to call out racism in the ranks

Clear message:

Soldiers who witness — or become aware of — racism and hateful conduct in the ranks will be expected to blow the whistle to their superiors under a sweeping new order issued today by the commander of the Canadian Army.

The new directive, which is being distributed to all army units across the country, also warns of consequences for those who turn a blind eye.

“We will hold our members accountable for their actions,” Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre wrote in the order, a copy of which was obtained by CBC News.

Soldiers “at all levels will be expected to intervene and report incidents,” he said, “and where necessary, we will provide support to those affected by these behaviours.

“Failure to act is considered complicity in the event.”

Eyre, who verbally outlined his expectations last week at a virtual meeting of commanding officers from across the country, promised he would give explicit direction on how to handle a growing number of cases of far-right extremism in the ranks.

He made the pledge as the army conducts an investigation of the 4th Ranger Group. That probe was triggered by a series of CBC News reports about a reservist who was allowed to continue to serve after being identified as a member of two far-right groups.

The order also comes as prosecutors in the U.S. are pursuing firearms charges against former Canadian army reservist Patrik Mathews, who is accused of recruiting for a white supremacist organization in the States.

Eyre was not available for an interview Thursday. He’s told CBC News previously that he is deeply concerned about the spread of a far-right ideology across the army.

While only a handful of such cases have been made public to date, Eyre said “one is too many” and vowed the army would take action in concert with the rest of the Canadian Armed Forces.In his interview with CBC News earlier this month, Eyre said it “sickens” him to see racism and intolerance in Canadian society — especially when people holding those views want to join the military.

The 25 page order, which was signed late Wednesday, said that a commanding officer is now “directed to take a proactive response to concerns of hateful conduct and does not need a written complaint to investigate any concerns.”

Those in charge of army units and formations now also have the authority to “temporarily” relieve someone accused of racist behaviour from duty “until the appropriate investigation or follow up has concluded.”

There are limits to that authority, however: the order says that commanders must “balance the public interest, including the effect on operational effectiveness and morale, with the interests of the member” before taking the formal step of relieving soldiers of duty.

And the order still depends on the willingness of soldiers to call each other out over racist and inappropriate behaviour.

“Bystander intervention training will be key in our efforts to eliminate hateful conduct, because we all have a responsibility to act and respond if we witness hateful conduct and associated incidents,” says the order.To that end, commanding officers have been told they need to keep an eye out for whistleblowers and “investigate any reports of threatening, intimidating, ostracizing, or discriminatory behaviour taken in response to a hate incident report.”

Some aspects of the order still need to be worked out. The order cites the need for a way to identify soldiers who “may be leaning towards a hateful ideology, or who are exhibiting troubling conduct.”

The army says it plans to develop a mechanism to monitor and track reports of hateful conduct in the ranks, which will plug into an existing Department of National Defence system announced last summer.

Range of penalties includes dismissal

Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, has suggested in the past that commanders take the proactive step of regularly monitoring the social media accounts of soldiers under their command.

The army also plans to train soldiers in identifying hateful conduct in the ranks.

Balgord said his group is pleased with what it sees in the order but remains concerned about the amount of discretion allowed when it comes to punishing those caught engaging in in hateful conduct.”The devil in the detail here is really going to come down to how this new order is put into effect,” he said, adding that “any member caught participating in a hate group” should be ejected from the Armed Forces.

There are a range of sanctions available under the military’s disciplinary and administrative systems, up to and including dismissal from the Forces.

The order also explicitly gives the commander the option of rehabilitating the individual.

Source: Army commander orders Canadian soldiers to call out racism in the ranks

How Hispanics see themselves varies by number of generations in US

Interesting how identity changes over generations, not atypical for many with immigrant ancestry:

The terms Hispanics in the United States use to describe themselves can provide a direct look at how they view their identity and how the strength of immigrant ties influences the ways they see themselves. About half of Hispanic adults say they most often describe themselves by their family’s country of origin or heritage, using terms such as Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican or Salvadoran, while another 39% most often describe themselves as “Hispanic” or “Latino,” the pan-ethnic terms used most often to describe this group in the U.S.

The terms Latinos use to describe their identity differ across immigrant generations

Meanwhile, 14% say they most often call themselves American, according to a national Pew Research Center survey of Hispanic adults conducted in December 2019.

The use of these terms varies across immigrant generations and reflects their diverse experiences. More than half (56%) of foreign-born Latinos most often use the name of their origin country to describe themselves, a share that falls to 39% among the U.S.-born adult children of immigrant parents (i.e., the second generation) and 33% among third- or higher-generation Latinos.

How we did this

Meanwhile, the share who say they most often use the term “American” to describe themselves rises from 4% among immigrant Latinos to 22% among the second generation and 33% among third- or higher-generation Latinos. (Only 3% of Hispanic adults use the recent gender-neutral pan-ethnic term Latinx to describe themselves. In general, the more traditional terms Hispanic or Latino are preferred to Latinx to refer to the ethnic group.)

The U.S. Hispanic population reached 60.6 million in 2019. About one-third (36%) of Hispanics are immigrants, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Another third of Hispanics are second generation (34%) – they are U.S. born with at least one immigrant parent. The remaining 30% of Hispanics belong to the third or higher generations, that is, they are U.S. born to U.S.-born parents.

A large majority of Hispanics who are third or higher generation see themselves as typical Americans

The December 2019 survey also finds U.S. Hispanics are divided on how much of a common identity they share with other Americans, though views vary widely by immigrant generation. About half (53%) consider themselves to be a typical American, while 44% say they are very different from a typical American. By contrast, only 37% of immigrant Hispanics consider themselves a typical American. This share rises to 67% among second-generation Hispanics and to 79% among third-or-higher-generation Hispanics – views that partially reflect their birth in the U.S. and their experiences as lifelong residents of this country.

Speaking Spanish seen as a key part of Hispanic identity

What it means to be Hispanic can vary across the group. Hispanics most often say speaking Spanish is an essential part of what being Hispanic means to them, with 45% saying so. Other top elements considered to be part of Hispanic identity include having both parents of Hispanic ancestry (32%) and socializing with other Hispanics (29%). Meanwhile, about a quarter say having a Spanish last name (26%) or participating in or attending Hispanic cultural celebrations (24%) are an essential part of Hispanic identity. Lower shares say being Catholic (16%) is an essential part of Hispanic identity. (A declining share of U.S. Hispanic adults say they are Catholic.) Just 9% say wearing attire that represents their Hispanic origin is essential to Hispanic identity.

The importance of most of these elements to Hispanic identity decreases across generations. For example, 54% of foreign-born Hispanics say speaking Spanish is an essential part of what being Hispanic means to them, compared with 44% of second-generation Hispanics and 20% of third- or higher-generation Hispanics.

For U.S. Hispanics, speaking Spanish is the most important part of Hispanic identity across immigrant generations

Most Latinos feel at least somewhat connected to a broader Hispanic community in the U.S.

About six-in-ten Hispanic adults say what happens to other Hispanics affects what happens in their own lives

For U.S. Latinos, the question of identity is complex due to the group’s diverse cultural traditions and countries of origin. Asked to choose between two statements, Latinos say their group has many different cultures rather than one common culture by more than three-to-one (77% vs. 21%). There are virtually no differences on this question by immigrant generation among Latinos.

Few Hispanics report a strong sense of connectedness with other Hispanics, with only 18% saying what happens to other Hispanics in the U.S. impacts them a lot and another 40% saying it impacts them some. Immigrant Hispanics (62%) are as likely as those in the second generation (60%) to express a sense of linked fate with other Hispanics. This share decreases to 44% among the third or higher generation.

Note: Here are the questions used for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.

Source: How Hispanics see themselves varies by number of generations in US

Shame on the Globe and Mail for running Chinese government propaganda

DiManno nails it. For a paper that justifiably calls out conflicts of interest by politicians and others, some deep self-reflection in order:

This is when the Globe and Mail got it right. From the paper’s July 30 lead editorial, headlined: “The continued imprisonment of the two Michaels is an act of pointless cruelty.”

“We keep hearing that Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are suffering in conditions ‘akin’ to torture, but there is no such thing. Their false arrest and unjustified incarceration amount to torture, period.”

This is when the Globe and Mail got it wrong. The double-truck spread, smack in the middle of the glorified Report on Business section, on Sept. 19 — last Saturday.

Headlines include: “Tree fellers turn into tree lovers.” “University’s admissions offer out of this world.” “A chain of celestial lights to celebrate inclusiveness.”

Which, inclusivity, doesn’t include the ethnic minority Uighurs, a million interned since 2017 in at least 87 camps surrounded by watch towers and barbed wire fences within Xinjiang region — camps the Chinese government denied existed until satellite imagery put the lie to those claims.

I won’t go into details about the content of the cheerful stories published in the Globe’s prime real estate pages — I’m not the one being paid to shill — under the “CHINA WATCH” banner. Suffice to say that “CHINA WATCH” is the international propaganda arm of state-run English-language newspaper China Daily.

Only in tiny letters at the bottom of each page does it state: Content produced by China Daily and distributed in the Globe and Mail.

I’m not in the habit of calling out other newspapers, particularly since the Star has a policy of not calling out our own selves when we deserve to be boxed about the ears. But the Globe brands itself “Canada’s National Newspaper” and fancies itself the paper of record.

Now, everybody knows these are trying times for the newspaper industry. But of all the papers in Canada, the Globe and Mail is least threatened by economic hardship, owned by the Thomson family — its chairman, David Thomson, wealthiest Canadian, as per Forbes, with a net worth of $32.5 billion, as of last year. If the Globe splashes around in the red, the Thomson clan can just sell off one of its Group of Seven paintings. Not that it would ever come to that.

Further, the Globe was the first signatory in this country to The Trust Project, a global coalition of media organizations with the intent of promoting truthful, accurate, fair and transparent journalism — because journalism is under siege everywhere, lacerated as purveyors of fake news.

China Daily is fake news. China Watch is fake news. At the very least, the Globe should have made that clearer. I put the matter to the Globe brain-trust in emailed queries.

“As you point out in your questions, the China Daily pages are indeed paid advertisements,” acknowledged Phillip Crawley, Globe publisher and CEO, in his emailed response. “The content is visually distinct and had been labelled as produced by a third party (China Daily). However, we believe the pages should have been more clearly marked to reflect that it was a paid advertisement for our readers. We will explore how to make this more clear in the future.”

Crawley added: “We have run these ads occasionally for years and like all advertising, they have no impact on our editorial coverage. You can see this in our daily reporting of China, our editorials” — he cited an opinion piece regarding the arrest of Jimmy Lai — “and the excellent investigative work put out by our Asia correspondent, Nathan VanderKlippe, who is based in Beijing.”

(Lai is a long-time champion of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement.)

Indisputably, excellent coverage of China — the Globe was the first Western newspaper to open a bureau in what was then called Peking, more than six decades ago.

But readers won’t learn the truth about Tiananmen Square in the China Daily (or China Watch), won’t be told about the horrors inflicted and ethnic cleaning inflicted on the mostly Muslim Uighurs, won’t be enlightening on the regime’s crackdown throttling of Hong Kong and certainly won’t be provided with an accurate representation of why the two Michaels were thrown in prison.

That was the China version of tit-for-tat — the regime’s ham-fisted response two years ago, scooping up the Canadian businessmen shortly after the arrest of Meng Wanzhou on a warrant from the United States. America accuses Meng, chief financial officer of Huawei, of fraud, alleging she misled the bank HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran. Meng is under house arrest in Vancouver, fighting extradition to the U.S.

On Tuesday, China again urged Canada to immediately release Meng and let her return home so as to “safely bring bilateral relations back to the right track,” according to Chinese media reports. At the daily news briefing, a government spokesperson asserted: “Under the pretext of ‘at the request of the United States,’ Canada arbitrarily took compulsory measures on a Chinese citizen, which severely violated her legitimate rights and interests.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been able to do nothing — that we know of — to secure the release of the two Michaels, after nearly two years of detention. In June, Kovrig and Spavor were charged with espionage-related offences, which is bollocks.

A whole bunch of boldface Canadians have since signed a letter urging this country to knock off the extradition proceedings against Meng, so that the Michaels can be sprung. This is hostage diplomacy — a prisoner swap, the stuff of despots and unethical governments.

And we won’t even get into the further strong-arm squabbling between China and the U.S. over China-owned TikTok and China’s pressuring of Canada to integrate Huawei technology into our 5G network.

China has invested colossally and with sophistication in propaganda supplements that have appeared in respected publications such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, as well as opening scores of state TV satellite bureaus around the world — all pegged to “reporting the news from a Chinese perspective.” Which means gerrymandered and self-serving. All while literally ripping out international coverage within China: foreign magazines censored, the BBC flickering to black when carrying stories on such sensitive topics as Taiwan and Tibet and foreign correspondents booted out of the country.

Because the Red Dragon can. The Globe and Mail has, under the rubric of provided content, become a party to that.

China is a bully and the Globe, alas, is a pimp.

Night Images Reveal Many New Detention Sites in China’s Xinjiang Region

Seems like every week if not more, new details regarding Chinese government repression emerge:

As China faced rising international censure last year over its mass internment of Muslim minorities, officials asserted that the indoctrination camps in the western region of Xinjiang had shrunk as former camp inmates rejoined society as reformed citizens.

Researchers at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute on Thursday challenged those claims with an investigation that found that the Xinjiang authorities had been expanding a variety of detention sites since last year.

Rather than being released, many detainees were likely being sent to prisons and perhaps other facilities, the investigation found, citing satellite images of new and expanded incarceration sites.

Nathan Ruser, a researcher who led the project at the institute, also called ASPI, said the findings undercut Chinese officials’ claims that inmates from the camps — which the government calls vocational training centers — had “graduated.”

“Evidence suggests that many extrajudicial detainees in Xinjiang’s vast ‘re-education’ network are now being formally charged and locked up in higher security facilities, including newly built or expanded prisons,” Mr. Ruser wrote in the report.

The Chinese government has created formidable barriers to investigating conditions in Xinjiang. Officials tail and harass foreign journalists, making it impossible to safely conduct interviews. Access to camps is limited to selected visitors, who are taken on choreographed tours where inmates are shown singing and dancing.

The researchers for the new report overcame those barriers with long-distance sleuthing. They pored over satellite images of Xinjiang at night to find telltale clusters of new lights, especially in barely habited areas, which often proved to be new detention sites. A closer examination of such images sometimes revealed hulking buildings, surrounded by high walls, watchtowers and barbed-wire internal fencing — features that distinguished detention facilities from other large public compounds like schools or hospitals.

“I don’t believe this timing is merely coincidental,” Timothy Grose, an associate professor of China studies at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the ASPI project, said of the accumulating evidence of expanding incarceration sites.

“In my opinion, we are witnessing a new stage in the crisis,” he said. “Some detainees have been released, others have been placed in factories, while others still have been sentenced.”

China has repeatedly refused to disclose the number of detention sites and detainees in Xinjiang and elsewhere. The ASPI researchers found and examined some 380 suspected detention sites in Xinjiang. At least 61 of them had expanded in area between July 2019 and July of this year, and of those, 14 were still growing, according to the latest-available satellite images.

The researchers divided the sites into four security levels, and they said that about half of the expanding sites were higher-security facilities.

The researchers found signs that some re-education camps were being rolled back, partially confirming government claims of a shift. At least 70 sites had seen the removal of security infrastructure such as internal fencing or perimeter walls, and eight camps appeared to be undergoing decommissioning, they wrote. The facilities apparently being scaled back were largely lower-security camps, they said.

Under Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, the authorities have carried out a sweeping crackdown in Xinjiang, with as many as one million or more people incarcerated in recent years, according to scholars’ estimates. The ASPI report was issued one day after the sixth anniversary of a key moment in the increasingly harsh campaign, the sentencing of Ilham Tohti, a prominent Uighur scholar, to life in prison.

Late last year, Shohrat Zakir, the chairman of the Xinjiang government, told reporters in Beijing that the re-education sites were now housing only people who were there voluntarily, and that others who had been in the facilities had “graduated.” Where to, he did not say.

The ASPI report builds on previous investigations that also pointed to explosive growth in the prison population in Xinjiang over recent years, even as the building of indoctrination camps appeared to peak.

Last month, BuzzFeed News found 268 detention compounds in Xinjiang built since 2017. The news organization identified the compounds with the help of spots blanked out of the online mapping service from Baidu, the Chinese technology company.

An investigation by The New York Times last year found that courts in Xinjiang — where Uighurs and other largely Muslim minorities make up more than half of the population of 25 million — sentenced 230,000 people to prison or other punishments in 2017 and 2018, far more than in any other period on record for the region.

Official sentencing statistics for 2019 have not been released. But a report released by the authorities in Xinjiang early this year said that prosecutors indicted 96,596 people for criminal trial in 2019, suggesting that the flow of trials — which almost always lead to convictions — was lower than in the previous two years, but still much higher than in the years before the crackdown took off.

“Even though the internment camps are obviously the most headline-grabbing aspect of what’s happening, there’s been a much broader effort from the beginning that has also included significant incarceration” in prisons, said Sean R. Roberts, an associate professor at George Washington University and author of “The War on the Uyghurs: China’s Campaign Against Xinjiang’s Muslims.” (Uyghur is another spelling for Uighur.)

Uighurs who have left China often struggle to find out what has happened to family members who were detained, and possibly tried and imprisoned.

Still, growing numbers of Uighurs abroad report having learned of relatives being sentenced to prison terms of five, 10 or even 15 years on sweeping charges like “separatism,” said Elise Anderson, a senior program officer for research and advocacy with the Uyghur Human Rights Project, a group based in Washington, who is involved in an unfinished study of incarceration in Xinjiang.

“In some cases, people don’t even know what’s happened and have to guess,” Ms. Anderson said.

Sayyara Arkin, a Uighur woman living in the United States, said she waited years for news of her brother, Hursan Hasan, a well-known actor in Xinjiang who was taken into a re-education camp in 2018. Earlier this month, her family in Xinjiang told her that Mr. Hasan had been sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of separatism, Ms. Arkin said by telephone.

“I felt shocked,” Ms. Arkin said. “He’s an actor who focused on his work, an intellectual who had the acceptance of the government, and I never imagined this would happen.”

The United States has begun to take a more confrontational stance toward China over the repression in Xinjiang. This year, the Trump administration has imposed sanctions on officials responsible for policy in the region, as well as the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which is both a farm conglomerate and a quasi-military security institution. It has also imposed restrictions on imports of clothing, hair products and technological goods from Xinjiang, but stopped short of banning all cotton and tomatoes, two of the region’s key exports.

This week, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would bar any imports from Xinjiang unless they were proven not to have been produced using forced labor.

The Chinese government initially denied reports of mass detention in Xinjiang, and later defended the indoctrination camps, describing them as benign places that provide job training and counter religious extremism and terrorism. In a white paper released last week, Beijing defended its labor policies in the region, saying that it observed international labor and human rights standards and that its work was a successful example of governance in “underdeveloped areas with large populations of ethnic minorities.”

The Chinese authorities have also sharply criticized the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called its earlier report on forced labora “fabricated and biased accusation.” Mr. Zhao also attacked the institute’s backers, which include the State Department. ASPI says that its research is independent and not influenced by its funding sources.

Some Uighur exiles have argued that the Chinese government’s crackdown in their homeland amounts to genocide. Earlier this month, a group of watchdog groups and experts issued a joint letter that said China’s policies in Xinjiang “meet the threshold of acts constitutive of genocide,” a crime brought into international law after World War II, as well as other possible crimes against humanity.

The Chinese government has angrily rejected such claims. And the continued growth of detention sites across Xinjiang suggests that the authorities are determined to transform and subdue Uighur society for generations to come.

“The Chinese government potentially could keep up this regime of intense repression for a significant amount of time,” said Professor Roberts of George Washington University. “It could essentially destroy the Uighur identity as we know it inside China.”

Source: nytimes.com/2020/09/24/wor…

Big Data has allowed ICE to dramatically expand its deportation efforts.

Of note (Palantir hired former Canadian Ambassador to Washington to lead its Canadian operations):

A New Mexico man gets a call from federal child welfare officials. His teenage brother has arrived alone at the border after traveling 2,000 miles to escape a violent uncle in Guatemala. The officials ask him to take custody of the boy. He hesitates; he is himself undocumented. The officials say not to worry. He agrees and gives the officials his information. Seven months later, ICE agents arrest him at his house and start deportation proceedings.

A family in suburban Maryland gets a knock at their door. A child opens it. ICE agents enter and take away a man as his children watch. In the decades that he lived in this country as an unauthorized immigrant, the man never had a run-in with law enforcement. No, the agents explain as they walk him to their car: They found him because of the information he gave the Maryland DMV when he got a driver’s license.

For the past decade, ICE often found its targets in the interior of the U.S. by analyzing booking fingerprints from state and local jails. But the New Mexico and Maryland stories demonstrate a new trend: Increasingly, ICE is tapping much deeper wells of data to identify people for deportation. That’s possible in large part due to Palantir Technologies, a Silicon Valley start-up poised to go public Sept. 29 in the biggest tech stock listing since Uber. Palantir’s case management software, data analysis and visualization software, and mobile app are the final layer of ICE’s vast surveillance and data sharing network.

I have worked in technology policy for more than a decade. In most meetings, I am the only Latino in the room. I’m almost always the only Latinx immigrant. Much of my work focuses on how surveillance affects immigrants and people of color. Yet, even for me, it is hard to see the technology behind ICE’s brutality. Palantir’s public offering forces us to reckon with that dinfrastructure. As authorities separated thousands of children from their parents, used reunification interviews to track down and deport children’s relatives, and warehoused immigrants in fetid facilities where six children died in less than a year, they also consolidated a powerful and dangerous domestic surveillance dragnet.

For a long time, mass deportations were a small-data affair, driven by tips, one-off investigations, or animus-driven hunches. But beginning under George W. Bush, and expanding under Barack Obama, ICE leadership started to reap the benefits of Big Data. The centerpiece of that shift was the “Secure Communities” program, which gathered the fingerprints of arrestees at local and state jails across the nation and compared them with immigration records. That program quickly became a major driver for interior deportations. But ICE wanted more data. The agency had long tapped into driver address records through law enforcement networks. Eyeing the breadth of DMV databases, agents began to ask state officials to run face recognition searches on driver photos against the photos of undocumented people. In Utah, for example, ICE officers requested hundreds of face searches starting in late 2015. Many immigrants avoid contact with any government agency, even the DMV, but they can’t go without heat, electricity, or water; ICE aimed to find them, too. So, that same year, ICE paid for access to a private database that includes the addresses of customers from 80 national and regional electric, cable, gas, and telephone companies.

Amid this bonanza, at least, the Obama administration still acknowledged red lines. Some data were too invasive, some uses too immoral. Under Donald Trump, these limits fell away.

In 2017, breaking with prior practice, ICE started to use data from interviews with scared, detained kids and their relatives to find and arrest more than 500 sponsors who stepped forward to take in the children. At the same time, ICE announced a plan for a social media monitoring program that would use artificial intelligence to automatically flag 10,000 people per month for deportation investigations. (It was scuttled only when computer scientists helpfully indicated that the proposed system was impossible.) The next year, ICE secured access to 5 billion license plate scans from public parking lots and roadways, a hoard that tracks the drives of 60 percent of Americans—an initiative blocked by Department of Homeland Security leadership four years earlier. In August, the agency cut a deal with Clearview AI, whose technology identifies people by comparing their faces not to millions of driver photos, but to 3 billion images from social media and other sites. This is a new era of immigrant surveillance: ICE has transformed from an agency that tracks some people sometimes to an agency that can track anyone at any time.

This is where Palantir’s work for ICE comes into focus. A panoply of companies collect the data.
Palantir connects the dots. The firm helps agents access different databases, build profiles from disparate sources, from commercial data brokers to driver’s license records, and see how targets interrelate to each other. The company’s software appears to be part of the agency’s largest and most aggressive enforcement actions.

Indeed, the plan for the 2017 operation that first targeted the sponsors of unaccompanied immigrant kids, obtained by the immigrant rights group Mijente, reveals a complex web of interlocking agencies, including Health and Human Services, Customs and Border Protection, and two branches of ICE. To track the moving pieces, the paper repeatedly tells officials to enter data into “ICM,” ICE’s custom-built Investigative Case Management software. Who wrote that code? Palantir.

In its recent 310-page securities filing, Palantir makes no express mention of ICE, immigrants, deportations, or the controversy that its work for ICE has generated. Instead, in his letter to investors, CEO Alex Karp repeatedly touts Palantir’s commitment to the military and the intelligence community: “Our software is used to target terrorists and to keep soldiers safe,” he writes. When criticized, Karp has described Palantir’s work for ICE as “limited,” “a de minimis part of our work”—strange things for American contractor to say about its secondlargest U.S. government client.

There is another way to read Palantir’s silence: Its leadership has decided that the cost of its work for ICE is de minimis, that in the eyes of its clients and the investing public it simply does not matter. As a Latino and an immigrant, I worry that on this point they will be right.

Source: Big Data has allowed ICE to dramatically expand its deportation efforts.

Cost Of Racism: U.S. Economy Lost $16 Trillion Because Of Discrimination, Bank Says

From Citigroup:

Nationwide protests have cast a spotlight on racism and inequality in the United States. Now a major bank has put a price tag on how much the economy has lost as a result of discrimination against African Americans: $16 trillion.

Since 2000, U.S. gross domestic product lost that much as a result of discriminatory practices in a range of areas, including in education and access to business loans, according to a new study by Citigroup. It’s not an insignificant number: By comparison, U.S. GDP totaled $19.5 trillion last year.

And not acting to reverse discriminatory practices will continue to exact a cost. Citigroup estimates the economy would see a $5 trillion boost over the next five years if the U.S. were to tackle key areas of discrimination against African Americans.

“We believe we have a responsibility to address current events and to frame them with an economic lens in order to highlight the real costs of longstanding discrimination against minority groups, especially against Black people and particularly in the U.S.,” wrote Raymond J. McGuire, a vice chairman at the bank and the chairman of its banking, capital markets and advisory team.

Wall Street itself has also faced accusations for years of discriminatory practices against African Americans, such as limiting approval for mortgages or not providing enough banking options in minority neighborhoods, which are among the damaging actions identified by Citigroup researchers.

Specifically, the study came up with $16 trillion in lost GDP by noting four key racial gaps between African Americans and whites:

  • $13 trillion lost in potential business revenue because of discriminatory lending to African American entrepreneurs, with an estimated 6.1 million jobs not generated as a result
  • $2.7 trillion in income lost because of disparities in wages suffered by African Americans
  • $218 billion lost over the past two decades because of discrimination in providing housing credit
  • And $90 billion to $113 billion in lifetime income lost from discrimination in accessing higher education

As a result, Citigroup urges a slew of actions to reverse discriminatory practices and boost GDP over the next five years, including addressing the wage gap suffered by African Americans and promoting diversity at the top within banks and companies.

Citigroup’s recommendations aren’t new: Various studies have shown similar findings, and experts have called for similar action for years, though so far progress has been slow.

Source: Cost Of Racism: U.S. Economy Lost $16 Trillion Because Of Discrimination, Bank Says

EU immigration: two fifths of firms won’t reallocate roles to Britons

Yet more aftereffects from Brexit:

Nine out of 10 UK businesses believe the recruitment of EU nationals plays an important role in their UK operations, but despite potential losses of EU employees, two fifths of businesses do not plan on reallocating roles to Britons.

According to a report released today by immigration law firm Fragomen, 41% of respondents said they would not replace low-skilled workers with new hires, opting instead to move work overseas, scale down production, do less business in the UK or to automate more. And 39% of employers plan to do the same for high-skilled roles that may be lost to the new immigration system.

Following the UK’s departure from the EU, the UK government is set to overhaul the UK immigration system on 1 January 2021, ending the free movement for European citizens.

Fragomen, which surveyed 502 UK businesses, found that 70% of employers have concerns about the prospect of new immigration policies coming into effect. Only 20% of UK employers fully understand how the new policies will impact their recruitment and less than 60% have offered support to employees in applying for settled status in the UK.

Ian Robinson, partner at Fragomen, said: “We are rapidly moving closer to a new immigration system which will mean huge changes for businesses across the UK, but it is clear that a vast majority of employers are not prepared. The end of free movement for EU citizens is a fundamental change to the UK’s relationship with the EU and businesses will need to rethink how they staff their organisation and run their operations”.

“The report clearly demonstrates businesses are unprepared for the changes, with the IT, hospitality and construction sectors most concerned about new policies. Understandably, the global pandemic has made long-term planning difficult but all business with EU employees need to take immediate steps to assess their business to understand how the new immigration policies will impact their staffing and what the associated costs of the new system will be to your company. There is still time, but employers must act now.”

Despite government efforts to promote the scheme, 22% of UK employers do not know where to find information in order to support their EU employees ahead of the deadline, while three in 10 did not fully understand the cost of the new immigration system.

Fragomen surveyed 502 people working in human resources and global mobility across a range of sectors and company sizes.

There has been some discussion about the UK introducing a Displaced Talent Mobility programme to enable UK employers to sponsor skilled people who are forcibly displaced. Asked what business would do if such a visa was introduced, 73% of employers said they would actively look for or consider opportunities to sponsor candidates from this talent pool.

Marina Brizar, UK director of Talent Beyond Boundaries, which helps displaced people move internationally for work by leveraging their professional, said: “Talent shortages will affect the future of the UK’s economy and society, so developing new and creative solutions to address shortages is essential.

“The globally forcibly displaced population should be part of the solution through Displaced Talent Mobility. It is encouraging that this model is being seriously considered and enthusiastically embraced by the policymakers and the business community.”

Source: EU immigration: two fifths of firms won’t reallocate roles to Britons