Friday, April 16, 2021

Last Call For Immigration Nation, Con't

The good news is that the Biden administration is scrapping the ridiculous "Mulsim Ban" restrictions on refugees entering the US. The bad news is that for now, the Biden administration is keeping the Trump regime's historically low levels of refugees allowed in.

President Joe Biden on Friday signed an emergency determination to speed refugee admissions to the U.S., but kept his predecessor’s historically low cap of 15,000 refugees for this year, triggering an outcry from advocates for refugees and even Biden allies.

Many were surprised Biden has not replaced the cap by former President Donald Trump, having submitted a plan to Congress two months ago to quadruple that number. The administration has indicated he may still do so.

For now, Biden is adjusting the allocation limits set by Trump, which officials said have been the driving factor in limiting refugee admissions. The new allocations provide more slots for refugees from Africa, the Middle East and Central America and lift Trump’s restrictions on resettlements from Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, just over 2,000 refugees have been resettled in the U.S. A senior administration official said Biden’s new allocations, formalized in an emergency presidential determination, could result in speedier admissions of already screened and vetted refugees in a manner of days.

Refugee resettlement agencies applauded speedier admissions and more slots but were disheartened Biden did not touch Trump’s cap, the lowest since the program began 41 years ago.

“It sends an important message to make it higher and now Biden will still be presiding over and has essentially put his stamp of approval on the lowest refugee admissions cap in history at a time of global crisis,” said Mark Hetfield, president of HIAS, a Maryland-based Jewish nonprofit that is one of nine agencies that resettles refugees in the U.S.

Biden presented a plan to Congress more than two months ago to raise the ceiling on admissions to 62,500 and to eliminate restrictions imposed by Trump that have disqualified a significant number of refugees, including those fleeing war.

But Biden has not issued a presidential determination since his administration notified Congress, as required by law. The action does not require congressional approval and past presidents have issued such presidential determinations that set the cap on refugee admissions shortly after the notification to Congress.

New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez urged Biden to act.

“Failing to issue a new Determination undermines your declared purpose to reverse your predecessor’s refugee policies,” the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote in a letter to Biden.

Menendez said it also makes it unlikely that the program can hit its target next budget year of 125,000, which Biden has pledged to do.

Biden has given no explanation for the inaction, other than to say “it’s going to take time to rebuild what has been so badly damaged, but that’s precisely what we’re going to do.”

This is an odd way of doing things, and frankly this is the one thing so far that I really think Biden is screwing up and badly. There's no reason to keep the 15,000 cap on refugees right now, COVID-19 or not, and if that's the actual case, then Biden needs to make that clear.

Saying "well we're going to do better in the future" when you have the opportunity to do better now is not doing better.

I don't get it, but Biden can, and should, fix it as soon as possible.

Now would be a good start.

Welcome To Gunmerica, Con't

America is getting back to normal as COVID-19 is being addressed, and by "normal" I mean we're getting back to killing each other with firearms in mass shootings, that most American of 21st century traditions.

A gunman opened fire outside and inside a FedEx facility near Indianapolis' main airport Thursday night, killing eight people, wounding several others and sending witnesses running before taking his own life, police said. 
Police were called to the facility at about 11 p.m. local time for what has become the country's deadliest shooting since 10 people were killed March 22 at a grocery in Colorado.
The names of the victims or gunman were not immediately released. 
"The (gunman) came into the parking lot, and I believe he exited his vehicle and quickly began shooting. ... The first shooting occurred in the parking lot, and then he went inside and did not get very far into the facility at all," Indianapolis police Deputy Chief Craig McCartt told CNN early Friday.

"I think that it probably only lasted one to two minutes, from what we're hearing," he said. 
The incident marks at least the 45th mass shooting in the United States since the Atlanta-area spa shootings on March 16. CNN considers an incident to be a mass shooting if four or more people, excluding the gunman, are shot and wounded or killed. 
Police in Indianapolis arrived "to a very chaotic scene, with victims and witnesses running everywhere," McCartt said. 
McCartt said he believes the gunman killed himself as officers encountered him. No police officer fired, he said. 
The motive for the shooting was not immediately known, Indianapolis police spokeswoman Genae Cook said.

Some 45 mass shooting just in the last 30 days. Yep, America's back to normal.


Russian To Judgment, Con't

Two major Russiagate stories breaking this week, first, the Treasury Department has found that Russian collusion straight up happened between the Trump people and Russian intelligence, as I've been saying for years now.
The U.S. Treasury Department said Thursday that Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate and ex-employee of Paul Manafort, “provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy,” during the 2016 election, an apparently definitive statement that neither Special Counsel Robert Mueller nor the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation made in their final reports.

“This is new public information that connects the provision of internal Trump campaign data to Russian intelligence,” Andrew Weissmann, who led the prosecution of Manafort for the Special Counsel, told Just Security on Thursday.

The eye-catching statement was included in an announcement of new sanctions related to Russian interference in U.S. elections. The Biden administration took a number of steps Thursday to punish Russia, not only for election interference, but also the SolarWinds cyberattack, its ongoing occupation of Crimea, and human rights abuses.

Kilimnik was one of 16 individuals the Treasury Department announced it was sanctioning for attempting to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election at the direction of the Kremlin. The Treasury Department is also imposing new sanctions on 16 entities, including several Russian disinformation outlets.

Kilimnik is, according to the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report, a Russian Intelligence Services officer who became central to investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election thanks to his close ties to Manafort, who served as Donald Trump’s campaign manager in 2016. After being indicted in 2018 on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice related to his unregistered lobbying work on behalf of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Kilimnik is now being targeted by Treasury for “having engaged in foreign interference in the U.S. 2020 presidential election.” The FBI is offering a reward of $250,000 for information related to his potential arrest. He is currently residing in Russia.

The Treasury Department’s statement about Kilimnik and his role in the 2016 election definitively connects dots that previous investigations did not.
This should have been the definitive information that saw Trump removed from office and charged with treason. This is what he fashioned his entire cabinet to protect him from: the knowlege that his own campaign manager gave campaign data to Russian intelligence in order for the Russians to help him steal the election.
And Trump did prevail in 2016. 

It was a blockbuster story about Russia’s return to the imperial “Great Game” in Afghanistan. The Kremlin had spread money around the longtime central Asian battlefield for militants to kill remaining U.S. forces. It sparked a massive outcry from Democrats and their #resistance amplifiers about the treasonous Russian puppet in the White House whose admiration for Vladimir Putin had endangered American troops.

But on Thursday, the Biden administration announced that U.S. intelligence only had “low to moderate” confidence in the story after all. Translated from the jargon of spyworld, that means the intelligence agencies have found the story is, at best, unproven—and possibly untrue.

“The United States intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks on U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019 and perhaps earlier,” a senior administration official said.

“This information puts a burden on the Russian government to explain its actions and take steps to address this disturbing pattern of behavior,” the official said, indicating that Biden is unprepared to walk the story back fully.

Significantly, the Biden team announced a raft of sanctions on Thursday. But those sanctions, targeting Russia’s sovereign debt market, are prompted only by Russia’s interference in the 2020 election and its alleged role in the SolarWinds cyber espionage. (In contrast, Biden administration officials said that their assessment attributing the breach of technology company SolarWinds to hackers from Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service was “high confidence.”)

“We have noted our conclusion of the review that we conducted on the bounties issue and we have conveyed through diplomatic, intelligence, and military channels strong, direct messages on this issue, but we are not specifically tying the actions we are taking today to that matter,” a senior administration official told reporters in reference to the bounty claims.

According to the officials on Thursday’s call, the reporting about the alleged “bounties” came from “detainee reporting”–raising the specter that someone told their U.S.-aligned Afghan jailers what they thought was necessary to get out of a cage. Specifically, the official cited “information and evidence of connections to criminal agents in Afghanistan and elements of the Russian government” as sources for the intelligence community’s assessment.

Without additional corroboration, such reporting is notoriously unreliable. Detainee reporting from a man known as Ibn Shaikh al-Libi, extracted from torture, infamously and bogusly fueled a Bush administration claim, used to invade Iraq, about Saddam Hussein training al Qaeda to make poison gas.
Pay attention to those who say these stories "cancel each other out" or even that the Bountygate assessment update actually nullifies the entire Russia story.
It does not.
Trump's campaign gave information to Russian intelligence through Kilimnik.
It was collusion.
That's the story.
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