Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Trump says he’s never doubted Russian meddling. Here are the multiple times he has.

leave a comment »

:sigh: Wouldn’t it be great to have a president who does not repeatedly tell obvious lies like these?

Written by LeisureGuy

18 February 2018 at 5:32 pm

History of school shootings in the United States

leave a comment »

From K12Academics:

1700s
The earliest known United States shooting to happen on school property was the Pontiac’s Rebellion school massacre on July 26, 1764, where four Lenape American Indian entered the schoolhouse near present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania, shot and killed schoolmaster Enoch Brown, and killed nine or ten children (reports vary). Only two children survived.

1800s
• November 2, 1853 Louisville, Kentucky A student, Matthew Ward, bought a self-cocking pistol in the morning, went to school and killed Schoolmaster Mr. Butler for excessively punishing his brother the day before. Even though he shot the Schoolmaster point blank in front of his classmates, he was acquitted.

An April 30, 1866 editorial in the New York Times argued against students carrying pistols, citing “…pistols being dropped on the floor at balls or being exploded in very inconvenient ways. A boy of 12 has his pantaloons made with a pistol pocket; and this at a boarding-school filled with boys, who, we suppose, do or wish to do the same thing. We would advise parents to look into it, and learn whether shooting is to be a part of the scholastic course which may be practiced on their boys; or else we advise them to see that their own boys are properly armed with the most approved and deadly-pistol, and that there may be an equal chance at least of their shooting as of being shot.”

• June 8, 1867 New York City At Public School No. 18, a 13 year old lad brought a pistol loaded and capped, without the knowledge of his parents or school-teachers, and shot and injured a fellow classmate.

• December 22, 1868 Chattanooga, Tennessee A boy who refused to be whipped and left school, returned with his brother and a friend, the next day to seek revenge on his teacher. Not finding the teacher at the school, they continued to his house, where a gun battle rang out, leaving three dead. Only the brother survived.

• March 9, 1873 Salisbury, Maryland After school as Miss Shockley was walking with four small children, she was approached by a Mr. Hall and shot. The Schoolmaster ran out, but she was dead instantly. Hall threw himself under a train that night.

• May 24, 1879 Lancaster, New York As the carriage loaded with female students was pulling out of the school’s stables, Frank Shugart a telegraph operator shot and severely injured Mr. Carr, Superintendent of the stables.

• March 6, 1884 Boston, Massachusetts As news of Jesse James reached the east coast, young kids started to act in the same manner. An article from the New York Times reads, “Another “Jesse James” Gang – “Word was brought to the Fifth Police Station to-night that a number of boys were using the Concord-street School-house for some unknown purpose, and a posse of officers was sent to investigate. The gang scattered at the approach of the police, and in their flight on drew a revolver and fired at Officer Rowan, without effect, however. William Nangle, age 14, and Sidney Duncan, age 12, were captured, but the other five or six escaped, among them the one who who did the shooting. The boys refused to disclose the object of their meeting, but it is thought that another “Jesse James” organization has been broken up.”

• March 15, 1884 Gainsville, Georgia In the middle of the day, a group of very drunk Jackson County farmers left the Jug Tavern drinking and shooting their revolvers as they headed down the street driving people into their homes. As they approached the female academy, the girls fled the schoolyard into the school where the gang followed swearing and shooting, firing several rounds into the front door. No one was hurt.

• July 4, 1886 Charleston, South Carolina During Sunday school, Emma Connelly shot and killed John Steedley for “circulating slanderous reports” about her, even though her brother publicly whipped him a few days earlier.

• April 12, 1887 Watertown, New York Edwin Bush, a student a the Potsdam Normal School committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

• June 12, 1887 Cleveland, Tennessee Will Guess went to the school and fatally shot Miss Irene Fann, his little sister’s teacher, for whipping her the day before.

• June 13, 1889 New Brunswick, New Jersey Charles Crawford upset over an argument with a school Trustee, went up to the window and fired a pistol into a crowded school room. The bullet lodged in the wall just above the teacher’s head.

The first known mass shooting in the U.S. where students were shot, was on April 9, 1891, when 70 year old, James Foster fired a shotgun at a group of students in the playground of St. Mary’s Parochial School, Newburgh, New York, causing minor injuries to several of the students. The majority of attacks during this time period by students on other students or teacher, usually involved stabbing with knives, or hitting with stones.

1900–1930s
There are very seldom reports of mass or multiple school shootings during the first three decades of the 20th Century, with the three most violent attacks on schools involving either arson or explosions.

February 26, 1902 Camargo, Illinois teacher Fletcher R. Barnett shot and killed another teacher, Eva C. Wiseman, in front of her class at a school near Camargo, Illinois. After shooting at a pupil who came to help Miss Wiseman and wounding himself in a failed suicide attempt he waited in the classroom until a group of farmers came to lynch him. He then ran out of the school building, grabbed a shotgun from one of the farmers and shot himself, before running away and leaping into a well where he finally drowned. The incident was likely sparked by Wiseman’s refusal to marry Barnett.
February 24, 1903 Inman, South Carolina Edward Foster, a 17-year-old student at Inman High school, was shot and fatally wounded by his teacher Reuben Pitts after he had jerked a rod from Pitts’ hands to resist punishment. According to the teacher, Foster struck the pistol Pitts had drawn to defend himself, thus causing its discharge. Pitts was later acquitted of murder.
October 10, 1906 Cleveland, Ohio Harry Smith shot and killed 22-year-old teacher Mary Shepard at South Euclid School after she had rejected him. Smith escaped and committed suicide in a barn near his home two hours later.
March 23, 1907 Carmi, Illinois George Nicholson shot and killed John Kurd at a schoolhouse outside of Carmi, Illinois during a school rehearsal. The motive for the shooting was Kurd making a disparaging remark about Nicholson’s daughter during her recital.
March 11, 1908 Boston, Massachusetts Elizabeth Bailey Hardee was shot to death by Sarah Chamberlain Weed at the Laurens School, a finishing school in Boston. Weed then turned the gun on herself and committed suicide.
April 15, 1908 Asheville, North Carolina Dr. C. O. Swinney shot and fatally wounded his 16-year-old daughter Nellie in a reception room at Normal and Collegiate Institute. He then committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
February 12, 1909 San Francisco, California 10-year-old Dorothy Malakanoff was shot and killed by 49-year-old Demetri Tereaschinko as she arrived at her school in San Francisco. Tereaschinko then shot himself in a failed suicide attempt. Tereaschinko was reportedly upset that Malakanoff refused to elope with him.
January 10, 1912 Warrenville, Illinois Sylvester E. Adams shot and killed teacher Edith Smith after she rejected his advances. Adams then shot and killed himself. The incident took place in a schoolhouse about a mile outside of Warrenville after the students had been dismissed for the day.
March 27, 1919 Lodi Township, Michigan 19-year-old teacher Irma Casler was shot and killed in her classroom at Rentschler school in Lodi Township, Michigan by Robert Warner, apparently because she had rejected his advances.
April 2, 1921 Syracuse, New York Professor Holmes Beckwith shot and killed dean J. Herman Wharton in his office at Syracuse University before committing suicide.
May 18, 1927 Bath, Michigan School treasurer Andrew Kehoe, after killing his wife and destroying his house and farm, blew up the Bath Consolidated School by detonating dynamite in the basement of the school, killing 38 people, mostly children. He then pulled up to the school in his Ford car, then blew the car up, killing himself and four others. Only one shot was fired in order to detonate dynamite in the car. This was deadliest act of mass murder at a school in the United States.
February 15, 1933 Downey, California Dr. Vernon Blythe shot and killed his wife Eleanor, as well as his 8-year old son Robert at Gallatin grammar school and committed suicide after firing three more shots at his other son Vernon. His wife, who had been a teacher at the school, had filed for divorce the week before.
September 14, 1934 Gill, Massachusetts. Headmaster Elliott Speer was murdered by a shotgun blast through the window of his study at Northfield Mount Hermon School. The crime was never solved.
December 12, 1935 New York City, New York, Victor Koussow, a Russian laboratory worker at the School of Dental and Oral Surgery, shot Prof. Arthur Taylor Rowe, Prof. Paul B. Wiberg, and wounded Dr. William H. Crawford at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, before committing suicide.
April 27, 1936 Lincoln, Nebraska, Prof. John Weller shot and wounded Prof. Harry Kurz in a corridor of the University of Nebraska, apparently because of his impending dismissal at the end of the semester. After shooting Kurz Weller tried to escape, but was surrounded by police on the campus, whereupon he killed himself with a shot in the chest.
June 4, 1936 Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Wesley Crow shot and killed his Lehigh University English instructor, C. Wesley Phy. Crow went to Phy’s office and demanded that Mr. Phy change his grade to a passing mark. Crow committed suicide after shooting Phy.
September 24, 1937 Toledo, Ohio 12-year-old Robert Snyder shot and wounded his principal, June Mapes, in her office at Arlington public school when she declined his request to call a classmate. He then fled the school grounds and shot and wounded himself.

1940s . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 February 2018 at 4:51 pm

Posted in Education, Guns

AI May Have Just Decoded a Mystical 600-Year-Old Manuscript That Baffled Humans for Decades

leave a comment »

Sarah Cascone reports in ArtNet News:

One of the world’s most infamous mysteries may have just been solved, thanks not to human genius, but to artificial intelligence. Named after Wilfrid Voynich, a Polish book dealer who purchased it in 1912, the 240-page Voynich manuscript is written in an unknown script and an unknown language that no one has been able to interpret—until now.

Computing scientists at the University of Alberta claim to have cracked the code to the inscrutable handwritten 15th-century codex, which has baffled cryptologists, historians, and linguists for decades. Stymied by the seemingly unbreakable code, some have speculated it was written by aliens. Experts have even posited that the whole thing is a hoax with no hidden meaning. Today, housed at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in New Haven, Connecticut, the manuscript’s delicate vellum pages are illustrated with botanical drawings, astronomical diagrams, and naked female figures.

When it came to tackling the centuries-old mystery, professor Greg Kondrak and grad student Bradley Hauer put their expertise in natural language processing to good use, running algorithms that compared the document’s text to the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” in no less than 380 different languages. According to the computer, the Voynich manuscript was written in Hebrew.

Other researchers had previously hypothesized that the document had been encoded using alphagrams, the letters in each word rearranged in alphabetical order. Based on that theory, Kondrak and Hauer used an algorithm to solve each anagram in the first 10 pages.

“It turned out that over 80 percent of the words were in a Hebrew dictionary, but we didn’t know if they made sense together,” Kondrak told the university. (He published his findings in the journal Transactions of the Association of Computational Linguistics.)

Their colleague, Hebrew-speaking computer scientist Moshe Koppel, took a crack at reading the first line to no avail. But, aided by a couple of spelling corrections, Google Translate had better luck.

If the Alberta team is right, the first sentence of the manuscript reads “she made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people.” Weird, yes, but an impressive breakthrough nonetheless.

Of course, after all these years, the Voynich Manuscript isn’t giving up all its secrets at once. Last year, scholars quickly debunked the claims of Nicholas Gibbs, who announced he had translated the tome from an abbreviated version of Latin and that it was a women’s health manual.

In their paper, Kondrak and Hauer acknowledged that more work needs to be done to definitively prove the accuracy of their discovery, but called their findings “a starting point for scholars that are well-versed in the given language and historical period.” Hopefully, Hebrew experts will follow up on this groundbreaking research and solve this mystery once and for all. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 February 2018 at 3:22 pm

Posted in Books, Software, Technology

Jennifer Rubin asks “What has changed in the Russia investigation?”

leave a comment »

And she answers, in the Washington Post:

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein looked practically giddy at the podium on Friday when he announced a massive indictment of 13 Russians in connection with a plot out of a spy novel to manipulate the 2016 election results. And why shouldn’t he be pleased? The indictment reflects painstaking investigatory work, laying bare a complex, well-funded and deliberate scheme to interfere with our democracy.

Rosenstein was able to explain in excruciating detail some of the evidence that would support the intelligence chiefs’ certain conclusion that Russia meddled in our election. Sure, the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency and the rest of the intelligence community kept telling us this was the case; Rosenstein described allegations that show one part of how it was done. It doesn’t rely on the credibility of former FBI director James B. Comey or on the mainstream media or on Stephen K. Bannon. The FBI and the Justice Department have the goods, because they have a thousand details that so far have been hidden from view.

This should underscore several key developments.

First, Republicans’ clumsy efforts to attack the FISA warrant for Carter Page or to smear Comey don’t matter. House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s (R-Calif.) plots and antics and concocted memo are irrelevant. The investigation, at least a good deal of it, rests on facts that are unknown to the House Republicans and are beyond dispute. No Republican is going to stand up to say the indictment is a “hoax” or the allegations against these 13 Russians are “fake.” We’ve argued for some time that their antics do not matter, in the end, because special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has the facts. This is the first real confirmation that our faith in the investigative powers of Mueller and his team was not misplaced.

Indeed, Republicans look precisely like the “unwitting” operatives in the indictment who reportedly lent assistance to the Russian operatives. Republicans’ efforts to distract and distort the growing body of evidence make them unwitting (we hope) pawns in the Russians’ efforts to deny their role. (If House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has any political survival skills, now would be a good time for him to yank Nunes off the Intelligence Committee.) And incidentally, Democrats might want to forget about their counter-memo now that the GOP and Nunes have been utterly discredited. They don’t need to stab a corpse.

Second, Trump obviously has known for more than a year, if not the particulars, at least the substantive conclusion of our intelligence community. And yet he pretended as though there was no basis for the investigation. There was no Russia scandal, he insisted. On Friday he was reduced to claiming that the plot began before his presidential announcement (who cares?) and that he had been cleared of collusion (patently false). Not only have his denials been thoroughly debunked, but his denials can now be seen as directly contrary to the facts he was being told, over and over again. Was he delusional? Or was he simply lying over and over again about the incontrovertible evidence of Russian interference?

Third, the indictment makes a finding of collusion more likely. You cannot collude if there is no one to collude with; now we know there was. The Lawfare blog explains:

The fact that this indictment doesn’t allege misconduct on the American side does not necessarily mean that Mueller lacks evidence to support such an allegation—or that he will not develop it in the future. This indictment deals with a limited subject matter: one aspect of the Russian operation—that involving social media influence measures—undertaken by non-governmental actors. It makes a point of not addressing the conduct of U.S. actors. That is neither inculpatory or vindicating. It is, rather, a deferral of the matter to another day.

What this indictment does, rather, is establish part of the predicate for a later claim of collusion. That is, the indictment details part of what it was that any Americans might have been colluding with.

Fourth, we are reminded that we already know of collusion — or put it this way, collaboration between the Russians and the Trump campaign, both in the social media space and elsewhere:

  • We know of the June 9, 2016, meeting organized after a Russian offered dirt on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Jr. enthusiastically accepted.
  • We know George Papadopoulos made multiple contacts looking for a meeting with and/or dirt from the Russians. (The Moscow Project tells us: “George Papadopoulos met for the first of at least three times with Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor and reported Russian intelligence asset, on March 14, 2016.” He kept senior campaign officials apprised of the efforts to reach out to Russia.)
  • We know he was not alone: “By the end of June, at least eight individuals involved with the Trump campaign—George Papadopoulos, Jeff Sessions, Michael Cohen, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., Michael Flynn, and Rick Dearborn—reportedly had contacts or meetings with at least 13 Kremlin-linked individuals—Josef Mifsud, the ‘Female Russian National,’ Sergei Kislyak, Felix Sater, Michael Cohen, Rob Goldstone, Natalia Veselnitskaya, Rinat Akhmetshin, Irakly Kaveladze, Konstantin Kilimnik, Aleksander Torshin, Vladimir Putin, the individual who emailed Rick Dearborn, and potentially Oleg Deripaska.”
  • We know Carter Page during the campaign went to Russia in July 2016 to deliver a speech.
  • We know the Trump team members retweeted Russian bots, helping to spread their anti-Clinton messages and divisive themes.
  • We know WikiLeaks released “a steady stream of emails stolen from Democratic and Clinton campaign operatives. Trump eagerly embraced WikiLeaks during the campaign, publicly mentioning the website 164 times in the final month of the campaign alone.”
  • We know the remarkable events of Oct. 7, 2016: “That afternoon, at 4:03 p.m., The Washington Post published the explosive ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, behind-the-scenes footage from 2005 in which Trump bragged about groping women without their consent. Just 29 minutes later, WikiLeaks began publishing the contents of Podesta’s email inbox. Whether there was explicit coordination between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks remains unknown.”

The question is no longer whether there a Russian plot to interfere with our election or whether there was a high degree of synchronization between the Trump campaign and the Russian campaign for Trump. We now have to learn how extensive was the interplay and how cognizant of foreign influence were Trump and members of his team.

Likewise, we no longer have to wonder why Trump tried to get the FBI to lay off former national security adviser Michael Flynn or why he fired Comey or why he smeared the FBI or why he helped draft a misleading statement to explain the June 2016 meeting. In short, there is a clear motive to interfere with and obstruct the Russia investigation.  . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 February 2018 at 12:05 pm

A former Russian troll speaks: ‘It was like being in Orwell’s world’

leave a comment »

Anton Troianovski writes in the Washington Post:

The indictment by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III of 13 Russians associated with a St. Petersburg online “troll factory” that allegedly interfered with the U.S. election has brought a sense of vindication to the handful of former employees who have already been speaking out about what they witnessed.

One of them, 43-year-old Marat Mindiyarov, a teacher by training, spoke by phone with The Washington Post on Saturday from the village outside St. Petersburg where he lives. Mindiyarov worked in a department for Russian domestic consumption. When he took a test in December 2014 to move to the factory’s “Facebook department” targeting the U.S. market, Mindiyarov recalled, he was asked to write an essay about Hillary Clinton. Here are lightly edited excerpts of the conversation.

What was your first reaction when you heard about the Mueller indictment?

I congratulate America that they achieved something — that they put forward an indictment rather than just writing about this. I congratulate Robert Mueller.

How did you end up at the troll factory?

I worked there from November 2014 to February 2015. I ended up there totally by accident — I happened to be unemployed, and this place had work right by my house. So I went there. I realized quickly that this was the kind of place where I only wanted to spend enough time until I got my salary and I could leave.

How did it feel inside?

I arrived there, and I immediately felt like a character in the book “1984” by George Orwell — a place where you have to write that white is black and black is white. Your first feeling, when you ended up there, was that you were in some kind of factory that turned lying, telling untruths, into an industrial assembly line. The volumes were colossal — there were huge numbers of people, 300 to 400, and they were all writing absolute untruths. It was like being in Orwell’s world.

What sorts of untruths did you write?

My untruths amounted to posting comments. I worked in the commenting department — I had to comment on the news. No one asked me my opinion. My opinions were already written for me, and I had to write in my own words that which I was ordered to write.

For example?

When I was there, there were sanctions [by the European Union and the United States in response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine] and the ruble started falling. I was writing everything that was the opposite: how wonderful our life was, how wonderful it is that the ruble was strengthening, and that kind of absurdity. That sanctions were going to make us stronger and so on and so forth.

Where were you writing this?

We were commenting on Russian sites — all sorts of them, LiveJournal for example, and all the Russian news websites. Wherever a given news item appeared on Russian websites, trolls were immediately created to provide the illusion of support.

What was the working environment like — was it really like a factory?

There were two shifts of 12 hours, day and night. You had to arrive exactly on time, that is, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. There were production norms, for example, 135 comments of 200 characters each. … You come in and spend all day in a room with the blinds closed and 20 computers. There were multiple such rooms spread over four floors. It was like a production line, everyone was busy, everyone was writing something. You had the feeling that you had arrived in a factory rather than a creative place.

How did the trolling work?

You got a list of topics to write about. Every piece of news was taken care of by three trolls each, and the three of us would  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 February 2018 at 8:54 am

Can Security Measures Really Stop School Shootings?

leave a comment »

Bryan Warnick, Benjamin A. Johnson, and Sam Rocha write in Scientific American:

The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation, an online publication covering the latest research.The Conversation

When deadly school shootings like the one that took place on Valentine’s Day in Broward County, Florida occur, often they are followed by calls for more stringent security measures.

For instance, after the Jan. 23 case in which a 15-year-old student allegedly shot and killed two students and wounded 16 others at a small-town high school in Kentucky, some Kentucky lawmakers called for armed teachers and staff.

If anything, the response of the Kentucky lawmakers represents what has been called the “target-hardening” approach to school shootings. This approach attempts to fortify schools against gun violence through increased security measures. These measures may include metal detectors, lock-down policies, “run, hide, fight” training and surveillance cameras.

While some of these measures seem sensible, overall there is little empirical evidence that such security measures decrease the likelihood of school shootings. Surveillance cameras were powerless to stop the carnage in Columbine and school lock-down policies did not save the children at Sandy Hook.

As researchers who have collaboratively written about school shootings, we believe what is missing from the discussion is the idea of an educational response. Current policy responses do not address the fundamental question of why so many mass shootings take place in schools. To answer this question, we need to get to the heart of how students experience school and the meaning that schools have in American life.

An educational response is important because the “target hardening” approach might actually make things worse by changing students’ experience of schools in ways that suggest violence rather than prevent it.

How security measures can backfire

Filling schools with metal detectors, surveillance cameras, police officers and gun-wielding teachers tells students that schools are scary, dangerous and violent places – places where violence is expected to occur.

The “target hardening” approach also has the potential to change how teachers, students and administrators see one another. How teachers understand the children and youth they teach has important educational consequences. Are students budding citizens or future workers? Are they plants to nourish or clay to mold?

One of the most common recommendations for schools, for example, is that they should be engaged in threat assessment. Checklists are sometimes suggested to school personnel to determine when students should be considered as having the potential for harm. While such practices have their place, as a society we should be aware that these practices change how teachers think of students: not as budding learners, but potential shooters; not with the potential to grow and flourish, but with the potential to enact lethal harm.

Of course, society can think of students in different ways at different times. But the more teachers think of students as threats to be assessed, the less educators will think of students as individuals to nourish and cultivate.

As researchers, we have read the accounts of dozens of different school shootings, and we think educators, parents and others should begin to raise the following questions about schools.

Questions of status

To what extent does the school—through things like athletics, homecoming royalties, or dances and so forth—encourage what some political scientists have called the “status tournament of adolescence” that lurks behind the stories of many school shootings?

As one reads about such shootings, one often senses a feeling of social anxiety and betrayal on the part of perpetrator. Americans hold high expectations for schools as places of friendship and romance, yet too often students find alienation, humiliation and isolation. The frustration at these thwarted expectations at least sometimes seems to turn toward the school itself.

Force and control issues

To what extent does the force and coercion employed by many schools contribute to a “might makes right” mentality and associated violence?

It is true that bullying is part of some of the stories of school shooters. Students who are bullied or who are bullies themselves will quite naturally think of schools as places appropriate for violence. There is also sometimes a rage, however, against the day-to-day imposition of school discipline and punishment. Since schools are experienced as places of force and control, for some students, they also come to be seen as appropriate places for violence.

Identity and expression . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 February 2018 at 8:19 am

How the ICE is working to strip citizenship from naturalized citizens

leave a comment »

Eoin Higggins reports in The Intercept:

FOR 10 YEARS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s investigative office has worked to keep its internal handbook out of American courts. The handbook could have been used in court to show how ICE’s push to lead on denaturalization cases stands in contrast to the language of federal law governing the process, an immigration lawyer said. “We could have used it as an exhibit in a motion to dismiss” in previous denaturalization cases, said Philip Smith, an immigration attorney from Portland, Oregon, noting the contrast.

The handbook, which was issued on January 15, 2008, and published Wednesday by the independent media outlet Unicorn Riot, makes clear that the priority for ICE’s investigative division, Homeland Security Investigations, or HSI, in denaturalization proceedings is to use the most efficient means possible to fulfill a single-minded goal: leveraging the bureaucratic process to strip citizenship from naturalized Americans.

“It’s a manual for the worst outcome” with respect to investigation targets, said Alaska immigration lawyer Margaret Stock in an interview on Tuesday. That’s not unique to ICE, Stock added — it’s how the entire U.S. justice system operates. “Their objective is to inflict the most pain as possible, as efficiently as possible,” Stock said. “They feel they’re doing their job correctly if the government wins — not if justice is done.”

The 20-page manual instructs agents on the particulars of denaturalization investigations. Documents obtained by the Freedom of Information Act-driven clearinghouse Government Attic indicate that the denaturalization investigations handbook was used through at least 2016; the handbook appears in the table of contents for HSI’s 2016 Special Agent’s Manual, sandwiched between chapters on cybercrime and fraud. “There’s no reason to believe the document is not authentic,” said Matthew Bourke, a public affairs officer with ICE. “ICE-HSI does manage a special agent handbook on denaturalization investigations.”

Last year, The Intercept obtained and reported on HSI’s guidelines for asset forfeiture.

The denaturalization handbook shows how the federal government pursues denaturalization against naturalized citizens and has instructions on how to prosecute cases efficiently to strip citizenship as quickly as possible.

Smith, the immigration lawyer, said the language of the manual — where ICE plays a chief role in pushing denaturalization — stands in contrast to the civil statute that allows for stripping Americans’ citizenship. “It shall be the duty of the United States attorneys for the respective districts, upon affidavit showing good cause therefor, to institute proceedings in any district court of the United States in the judicial district in which the naturalized citizen may reside at the time of bringing suit,” the statute reads.

The handbook, said Smith, shows how ICE is taking the power of instituting procedures away from federal prosecutors assigned to those geographic areas. “We believe Congress meant to have the case evaluated by prosecutors in the jurisdiction, the community,” Smith said. ICE declined to respond on the purported disconnect between its manual’s emphasis on ICE-led denaturalization, and the statute’s emphasis on letting federal prosecutors take the lead.

DESPITE THE NATIONAL debates that have arisen with President Donald Trump’s approach to immigration, denaturalization receives scant attention. It’s one of the many tools available to the immigration enforcement bureaucracy, but because it strips citizenship through a slow and deliberative process — and not the surprise raids by armored law enforcement officers — denaturalization isn’t synonymous with much of the reporting around ICE’s behavior.

Foreign nationals can become naturalized citizens through processes defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act. The prerequisites include filling out a number of forms, proving good moral character, passing a citizenship test, and other requirements. “In general,” the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Policy Manual Citizenship and Naturalization Guidance reads, “an applicant files a naturalization application and then USCIS grants citizenship after adjudicating the application.”

Denaturalization uses case law and the bureaucratic process to methodically take that citizenship away and then, when possible, deport those whose status has been reverted to that of a visa holder. As a tactic, denaturalization is often politically motivated, said Stock, and targeted toward particular nationalities. “You don’t see a lot of, say, Canadians or Brits being denaturalized,” said Stock.

“You don’t see a lot of, say, Canadians or Brits being denaturalized.”

Immigration attorney Lance Curtright, who practices in San Antonio, Texas, told The Intercept that denaturalization can take two forms: civil and criminal. Criminal denaturalization is usually reserved for those who committed fraud to obtain citizenship for criminal activity — crimes involving terror, drugs, and the like — and carry jail terms of up to 25 years. Civil denaturalization is based on a lower standard of proof and doesn’t result in incarceration. “They’re different methods,” said Curtright, who added that he had noticed that the government pursuing more civil cases in recent months.

The handbook runs through the duties of each agent and the different types of infractions that can result in denaturalization proceedings. And it’s nowhere clearer than in the section of the manual that deals with “Case Strategy.” In this section, ICE instructs its investigative officers to push for charges that will lead to automatic denaturalization, rather than those charges which would require a separate process.

“Case agents,” the manual reads, “should encourage the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuting a case involving naturalization fraud or illegality to include a charge of ‘Procurement of Citizenship or Naturalization Unlawfully’ under 18 U.S.C. § 1425 because, upon conviction, the court is required to revoke the defendant’s citizenship.”

“On the other hand,” the manual goes on, “a conviction for ‘False Statements’ under 18 U.S.C. § 1001 does not require the automatic revocation of a defendant’s citizenship and will result in the U.S. Government having to engage in a separate denaturalization prosecution.”

This centralization of the denaturalization process puts the onus for instituting proceedings on HSI agents. That’s indicative of a push to take away the authority provided for under the law to U.S. attorneys working in those jurisdictions, said Smith. He said that the way things are now, cases are put together by special agents in the HSI and then given to U.S. attorneys. “We don’t think it is in keeping with the statute,” said Smith.

The strategy section continues, warning agents that settling for civil infractions carries the risk that the targets of investigations may be able to retain citizenship. If the U.S. Attorney’s Office can’t be convinced to prosecute under criminal infractions, the handbook says, a settlement should be reached, if possible, with the defendant, including civil denaturalization — though that’s not ideal: “Civil denaturalization under 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a) may not result in a deportable charge against the defendant.”

Stock explained that by combining charges, the government was setting the case up to take care of everything all at once with the end goal of deportation. It’s brutal efficiency, she told The Intercept: “They want to go for the jugular.” . . .

Continue reading.

The US continues to move in what I consider to be a bad direction.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 February 2018 at 8:13 am

%d bloggers like this: