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Archive for August 30th, 2018

The Incredible, Rage-Inducing Inside Story of America’s Student Debt Machine

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Ryann Liebenthal writes in Mother Jones:

When Leigh McIlvaine first learned that her student loan debt could be forgiven, she was thrilled. In 2008, at age 27, she’d earned a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Minnesota. She’d accrued just under $70,000 in debt, though she wasn’t too worried—that’s what it took to invest in her future. But graduating at the height of the recession, she found that the kind of decent-paying public-sector job she’d anticipated pursuing was suddenly closed off by budget and hiring freezes. She landed a gig at a nonprofit in Washington, DC, earning a $46,000 salary. Still, she was happy to live on that amount if it was the cost of doing the work she believed in.

At the time, she paid about $350 each month to stay in a decrepit house with several roommates, more than $100 for utilities, and $60 for her cellphone bill. On top of that, her loan bill averaged about $850 per month. “Rent was hard enough to come up with,” she recalled. Then one day while researching her options, she read about something called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) plan. At the time, Congress had just come up with a couple of options for borrowers with federal loans. They could get on an income-based repayment plan and have their student loans expunged after 25 years. Or, for borrowers working public service jobs—as social workers, nurses, nonprofit employees—there was another possibility: They could have their debt forgiven after making 10 years’ worth of on-time payments.

The PSLF program, backed in the Senate by Ted Kennedy and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007, was the first of its kind, and when people talk about “student loan forgiveness,” they’re usually talking about PSLF. It was implemented to address low salaries in public service jobs, where costly degrees are the price of entry but wages often aren’t high enough to pay down debts. A Congressional Budget Office report last year found that public-sector workers with a professional degree or doctorate earn 24 percent less than they would in the private sector. In Massachusetts, a public defender in 2014 made just $40,000, only about $1,000 more than the court’s janitor. Meanwhile, 85 percent of public-interest attorneys in 2015 owed at least $50,000 in federal student loans, according to one study. More than half owed at least $100,000. According to a 2012 study, 65 percent of newly hired nonprofit workers had student debt, and 30 percent owed more than $50,000. In order to keep people working as public defenders, or rural doctors or human rights activists, something had to be done. PSLF was an attempt at a fix.

The program was by no means a handout. Successful PSLF participants, according to one estimate, pay back as much as 91 percent of their original loan amount, so enrollees primarily save on interest. The program’s appeal was that it offered a clear path for people who struggled to pay back loans, or struggled to envision how they would ever pay them off without abandoning public service jobs for higher-paid positions elsewhere. For McIlvaine, who dreamed of working to make cities more livable, PSLF was the only way she could imagine paying off her debt. When she sent in her first payment in the fall of 2009, she felt like she’d put herself on track to get to “a place where the debt would eventually be lifted.”

Several companies, including one called FedLoan Servicing, contracted with the Education Department to handle loan repayment, and until 2012, when the government assigned all PSLF accounts to FedLoan, borrowers had to keep track of their progress toward forgiveness. At the time she began paying into the program, McIlvaine wasn’t too perturbed that there was no official way to confirm her enrollment, no email or letter that said she had been “accepted.” She trusted the Education Department to run the program effectively and followed its parameters, taking care to send in the yearly tax forms that proved her eligibility and always submitting her payments on time.

Everything seemed fine for the first few years—McIlvaine initially made payments through an Education Department website, and then, as the department increasingly outsourced its loans, hers were transferred to a company called MOHELA. But once FedLoan took over, things quickly started to go awry. While FedLoan was sorting out the transfer, her loans were put into forbearance, an option usually reserved for people having difficulty making payments; during a forbearance, any progress toward forgiveness stalls, and loans balloon with interest. Then the company failed to put several of her loans on an income-based plan—so her payments briefly shot up, she says. And when McIlvaine submitted her tax information, she says FedLoan took months to process the paperwork—while she waited, the company again put her into what it called “administrative forbearance,” so none of the payments she made during this period counted either. (McIlvaine requested a forbearance at least once, after turning in late renewal paperwork.)

McIlvaine initially hoped these problems were just “hiccups,” but they kept piling up. And when she tried to figure out what was going on, she says, FedLoan’s call center “loan counselors” brushed the whole thing off as an inconsequential administrative oversight. Astonishingly, the cycle would repeat over the next four years.

Despite these frustrations, McIlvaine kept diligently sending in her checks. In January 2016, she took advantage of a new program introduced by President Barack Obama that helped lower her monthly bill, and when she did, her loans were again inexplicably put into forbearance. On top of that, four months later, as she was trying to save for her wedding, FedLoan sent her a bill for $1,600, more than $1,300 above her monthly payment amount. When she phoned the company in a panic, they told her the bill was an administrative glitch and said not to worry about it; they’d sort it out. Warily, she accepted—after all, there wasn’t much else she could do.

In August 2016, McIlvaine was offered a job at Mercy Corps, a nonprofit in Portland, Oregon, which came with a $10,000 raise and great benefits—the extra security she believed would allow her to start a family. But Mercy Corps required a credit check, and McIlvaine discovered that FedLoan had never actually dealt with that $1,600 bill, instead reporting it as 90 days past due and plunging her previously excellent credit score to an abysmal 550. When she called FedLoan in tears, she recalls, she was treated dismissively and told to “pay more attention” to her loans—and again the only option offered to her was to take an administrative forbearance while the company sorted out the issue. Ultimately she got the job, but only after she lodged a formal complaintwith the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the watchdog agency created during the Obama era, which prompted FedLoan to send her a letter in October 2016 claiming the company had fixed the issue and that her credit had been restored. “But in true FedLoan Servicing style,” she told me, “they only contacted two of the three credit bureaus.” It took several more months to fix her score with the third bureau, Equifax.

If not for FedLoan’s errors and delays, McIlvaine estimates, her loans would be eligible for forgiveness as soon as 2020. But instead, in the nine years she’s been participating in PSLF, months of payments haven’t been counted toward her 10-year requirement, ultimately delaying the date of her forgiveness by at least a year. All the while, although she’s been making payments of between $300 and $450 a month, her total debt has not gone down. After nearly 100 payments, she still owes the entire amount she initially borrowed.

FedLoan declined to comment on McIlvaine’s tribulations. But as complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and lawsuits against the Education Department and FedLoan pile up, she’s hardly alone. In 2017, the bureau issued a report excoriating FedLoan for mismanaging PSLF, misleading borrowers, and losing track of payments. The previous year, the American Bar Association had filed suit against the Education Department for reneging on its own rules about how the program was supposed to work and who was eligible for forgiveness. Then, in August 2017, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2018 at 9:08 pm

Two excellent movies on Netflix

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First, The Surrounding Game, which explores the appeal of Go (aka Baduk (Korea) and Weichi (China)).

Second, The Accountant, a good action movie.

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2018 at 4:24 pm

Posted in Games, Go, Movies & TV

All hail the flying taxi

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Tom Vanderbilt writes in The Economist’s 1843:

On January 31st, on an overcast day at a runway in eastern Oregon, a vehicle called Vahana, which at first glance resembled a helicopter, climbed with a wobble to a height of five metres and managed to remain aloft for a whole 53 seconds. “While it was in the air, my heartbeat must have been twice what it was normally,” says Zach Lovering, the engineer who oversees the project at A3, a division of Airbus, an aviation manufacturer. “At some point I had to remind myself to breathe.”

Such palpitations may seem unwarranted for a trip that, in raw numbers, was considerably less impressive than the first flight in 1903 by the Wright brothers. Their plane travelled 852ft in 59 seconds along a freezing beach in North Carolina. But the Vahana, whose name derives from a Hindu spirit animal that ferries deities on its back, is a different sort of beast. It’s an electrically powered, vertical-take-off-and-landing craft – a flying taxi, in other words.

After take off, the eight sets of blades rotate 90 degrees from the horizontal to the vertical, turning something that works like a helicopter into something that works like a plane. The technology is in its infancy, but if the machines don’t crash and burn, urban skylines could one day be humming with pilotless craft, flying around cities safely and cheaply.

Personal air transport has been one of society’s fever dreams since the early days of flight itself. Norman Bel Geddes, a visionary industrial designer, stoked imaginations in the 1940s with his book “Magic Motorways”, which anticipated autonomous vehicles with designs for flying cars that he called “roadable” aeroplanes.

Science fiction could soon become reality. A seductive vision of the future has been depicted in a video from Uber Elevate, the ride-sharing company’s aerial division. A woman is shown opening the Uber app on her smartphone as she walks out of a meeting. She selects “Uber Air”, then enters a tall building, pressing an elevator button marked “Uber Port”. We next see her walking out onto a rooftop arrayed with sleek taxis ready to take off. She grabs a seat in one and is whisked away over the city. As she flies, she casts a glance that is hard to read – is it pity or derision? – at the cars hopelessly locked in traffic below. Dara Khosrowshahi, the company’s CEO, says he hopes Uber’s service will be up and running within five years.

Over a dozen companies are working on similar projects. Kitty Hawk, which is backed by Larry Page, co-founder of Google, will shortly begin testing its autonomous vehicle in New Zealand, where the technology can be tried out away from prying eyes. Others looking to open up the skies include Boeing’s Aurora, German startups Volocopter and Lilium, and Ehang, a Chinese drone manufacturer. In September 2017, Volocopter began to test its taxis over Dubai. The GoFly prize, sponsored by Boeing, offers $2m to anyone who can “design and build a safe, quiet, ultra-compact…personal flying device capable of flying 20 miles while carrying a single person”. It has received thousands of entrants, from university research labs to garage experimentalists.

Gwen Lighter, CEO of the prize, suggests the competition has stirred such interest because a convergence of several technologies make this “a moment of achievable innovation”. The energy density of batteries is increasing by between 5% and 8% each year, enabling longer flights. 3D printing allows improved models to be rapidly mocked up. “What you have is this golden moment,” she says. The dream of an aircraft of one’s own is becoming a reality.

Of course personal air mobility already exists for those rich enough to hire helicopters or private jets. In 1942, Igor Sikorsky, a Russian-American aeronautical engineer, predicted in an article in the Atlantic that in just over a decade commuters would be carried across New York in helicopters. A limited service did operate in the city in the 1960s and 1970s, but it was scuppered by a fatal crash in 1977.

These days, apps such as Voom allow well-heeled customers to summon helicopters to whisk them over traffic in sprawling cities such as São Paolo. Just a few years ago Uber toyed with the idea of “Uber chopper”. But Justin Erlich, the company’s policy head for advanced mobility initiatives, said that it soon became clear this wouldn’t work. They are too noisy for cities to welcome by the hundreds. And vehicles that can plummet from the sky if a single rotor fails make urbanites twitchy.

The question is no longer whether flying cars are possible, but whether they can become a form of mass transit. Though a taxi such as Vahana looks like a helicopter, it is fundamentally a different form of transport. “We’re talking about a new way to move people,” Lovering says. The craft’s electric propulsion makes it far cheaper than gas-powered helicopters, allowing much lower prices for passengers and lower emissions. Multiple rotors increase safety and reduce noise. Upon landing and take-off, Vahana is currently 20 decibels quieter than a helicopter. At 250 feet in the air, the craft is no louder than a Prius 100 feet away. Most importantly, Vahana does not need a trained pilot.

The sky remains a distant frontier. Ehrlich says that Uber aims to “leverage height in the way that skyscrapers and elevators together totally changed cities”. But there are good reasons why it will be hard to accommodate flying taxis, says Parimal Kopardekar, who leads NASA’s experiments on air transportation. You may be able to solve the noise and safety issues – the tall buildings, the cranes, the low-visibility conditions that ground helicopters. But in a city like New York the existing airports already struggle with capacity, and the airspace is buzzing with growing numbers of unpiloted commercial drones. Those drones – and the expectation that unmanned flying taxis will travel beyond the line of sight of operators on the ground – have compelled NASA to start work on an automated air-traffic control system. This will allow vehicles to communicate directly with one another rather than wait for instructions from a human controller. The skies will soon be filled with machines talking to machines.

Yet flying taxis will face the same challenges as earth-bound vehicles. Transportation systems rapidly become clogged: expanding road space tends to increase congestion because it encourages more people to drive. The same is likely to be true in the sky, even though it is more expansive than roads (aircraft can manoeuvre in three dimensions, unlike automobiles). . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2018 at 4:03 pm

Did Trump Break His Promise to Kim to Sign a Permanent Peace Treaty?

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Very interesting post, and it makes sense to me. Kevin Drum writes:

This story hasn’t been retracted since it ran yesterday, so….

President Donald Trump told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their Singapore summit in June that he’d sign a declaration to end the Korean War soon after their meeting, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations. But since then, the Trump administration has repeatedly asked Pyongyang to dismantle most of its nuclear arsenal first, before signing such a document.

….Here’s the background: North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, which started the war….Fighting ceased in 1953, but the warring parties only signed an armistice — a truce — which means the war technically continues to this day….This is one major reason North Korea has oriented its foreign policy around how to deter a future attack by the United States and South Korea, mostly by developing a strong nuclear program that includes around 65 nuclear warheads and missiles that can reach all parts of the US mainland.

But during a New Year’s Day address, Kim noted that he wanted to focus more on improving his country’s economy, which is one of the world’s poorest. To do so, experts tell me, Kim needs a peace declaration to end the Korean War. This would provide political cover for him to denuclearize part — or, less likely, all — of his arsenal.

….It seems like Kim took Trump at his word in Singapore. And in the agreement Kim and Trump signed after their summit, two items about establishing peace between the two countries came before a denuclearization commitment, which helps explain why North Korea thinks a peace declaration should come before nuclear concessions. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly asked Pyongyang to hand over 60 to 70 percent of its nuclear warheads within six to eight months. That pressure angered Kim, a source told me, since the North Korean leader believes he was promised that a signed declaration would come before any nuclear concessions — which may be the reason statements from Pyongyang about nuclear talks have turned increasingly antagonistic.

It’s easy to believe this is true, and it’s pretty nuts. There’s nothing wrong with signing a formal end to the Korean War, of course, but this is something Kim wants. Just like a formal meeting with the American president was something Kim wanted. The idea that the US should give Kim a couple of freebies before he does anything of substance is monumentally naive considering North Korea’s past behavior.

Then again, if Trump really did promise this and then reneged, it would appear to Kim that the United States was once again reverting to its past behavior: making promises and then breaking them at the slightest justification. For example, after the 1994 Agreed Framework was signed, the US routinely missed shipments of heavy oil; failed to build the two light-water reactors it had promised; and refused to remove North Korea from its list of state-sponsored terrorism.

This history convinced Kim that the United States was not a trustworthy negotiating partner. So if it’s happened again, it’s small wonder that Kim is acting badly. It all depends on what Trump really promised Kim, and there’s no formal or informal record of that since Trump doesn’t believe in such things. But it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if Trump cavalierly offered a final peace treaty—which Kim took very seriously—and then got talked out of it by his advisers when he got home. If that’s the case, it explains a lot.

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2018 at 12:21 pm

Shave Soap Chemistry & the Unnecessary Lubricating Razor Head

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Joshua Chou has an interesting post at Sharpologist:

Understanding why quality wet shave soap and cream provide more protection than their out-of-the-can counterparts requires scratching the surface at the molecular level. Furthermore, the emergence of over-engineered technology in multi-blade cartridge heads was likely a direct contributor to a generation losing the best component of the daily shave: a good lather.


Admittedly, my first safety razor shave was performed with a $20 razor and a cheap can of Barbasol. I was impatient to try out my new toy and had failed to simultaneously order a proper shave soap or cream with my new razor. Introducing a wet shaving neophyte to the “art” with a cheap can of cream was not only underwhelming, it was downright painful.

Needless to say, my first wet shaving experience elicited nicks, cuts and under-the-chin weepers. It was truly a classic example of what not to do. Luckily, I remained undeterred in my quest for a quality single-blade shave and subsequent shaves performed with the right product have improved drastically over my initial foray into the wonderful world of wet shaving. No more canned cream meant no more weepers.

In reality, canned shaving cream is a misnomer. It’s not cream at all. It’s foam. The chemical properties of canned foam “creams” (and I use the term very loosely) vary widely from the high-quality shave soap typically used by wet shaving enthusiasts.

Shave Soap And The Micelle

Soaps are made from a process called saponification wherein a salt (typically a sodium or potassium) is mixed with a fatty acid and reacted along with an alkali like potassium hydroxide or sodium. The resulting molecule includes a longer hydrophobic (water-fearing) fatty acid chain with a hydrophilic (water-loving) head. The longer fatty chain’s hydrophobic and non-polar properties causes adherence to fats. Conversely, the ionic and hydrophilic salt is more prone to adhere to water in mixture.

Because soap includes both unique properties it acts as an emulsification bridge between oil and water, separating them in either bilayer sheets, liposomes or spherical structures called micelles. These bilayer sheets or micelles tend to trap the oils that are attached to dirt, making it a great cleansing agent.

However, when it comes to shaving, a quality soap acts as a great emulsification buffer layer between the blade and the skin. The longer the fatty tail, the thicker the lather.

And, based on the chemistry above, that layer operates best under conditions that include water and oil. That means the complete buffered layer would not be wholly efficacious without your pre-shave oil. You’re already activating the soap with water but skipping the oil step may cause you to be missing some of the emulsifying benefits of the soap.

Lube Over-Engineering

But why on earth did manufacturers opt for canned creams over quality soaps at the same time multi-blade cartridge razors first made their debut? The answer is likely more complex than we might expect.

Believe it or not, the lubrication strip on cartridge razors actually fills at least some of the same face-protection need as a quality shave soap, albeit limited to the real deal. The other half of lubrication need with the multi-blade cartridge shave can typically be completed with some hand soap in the shower or canned cream. However, we can easily surmise several economic incentives at play here.

First, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2018 at 12:05 pm

Posted in Science, Shaving

The power of voting: Oklahoma Teachers Just Purged the Statehouse of Their Enemies

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Eric Levitz writes in New York:

For nearly a decade, Republican officials have been treating ordinary Oklahomans like the colonial subjects of an extractive empire. On Governor Mary Fallin’s watch, fracking companies have turned the Sooner State into the earthquake capital of the world(literally) dictated policy to her attorney general; and strong-armed legislators into giving them a $470 million tax break — in a year when Oklahoma faced a $1.3 billion budget shortfall.

To protect Harold Hamm’s god-given right to pay infinitesimal tax rates on his gas profits (while externalizing the environmental costs of fracking onto Oklahoma taxpayers), tea party Republicans raided the state’s rainy-day funds, and strip-mined its public-school system.

Between 2008 and 2015, Oklahoma’s slashed its per-student education spending by 23.6 percent, more than any other state in the country. Some rural school districts were forced to adopt four-day weeks; others struggled to find competent teachers, as the GOP’s refusal to pay competitive salaries chased talented educators across the border into Texas. Students who were lucky enough to have both five-day weeks and qualified instructors still had to tolerate decaying textbooks. Polls showed overwhelming public supportfor raising taxes on the wealthy and oil companies to increase investment in education. GOP lawmakers showed no interest in those polls.

And, for a while there, it really looked like they didn’t have to.

Mary Fallin rode a wave of fracking dollars to reelection in 2014, while her GOP allies retained large majorities in both chambers of the legislature. With no organized opposition to counter the deep pockets of extractive industry, Republican officials could reasonably conclude that working-class Sooners had no material interests that their party was bound to respect.

But then, Oklahoma teachers decided to give their state a civics lesson. Inspired by their counterparts in West Virginia, Oklahoma teachers went on strike to demand long-overdue raises for themselves, more education funding for their students, and much higher taxes on the wealthy and energy companies — to ensure that those first two demands would be honored indefinitely.

They won one out of three. Despite the fact the teachers had no legal right to strike — and that the Oklahoma state legislature requires a three-fourths majority to pass tax increases of any kind — the teachers galvanized enough public support to force Fallin to give an inch. As energy billionaire (and GOP mega-donor) Harold Hamm glowered from the gallery, Oklahoma state lawmakers passed a tiny increase in the tax on fracking production (one small enough to leave Oklahoma with the lowest such tax rate in the nation), so as to fund $6,100 raises for the state’s teachers.

The strikers were pleased, but unappeased. They promised to make lawmakers pay for refusing to finance broader investments in education with larger tax hikes. “We got here by electing the wrong people to office,” Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, told the New York Times in April. “We have the opportunity to make our voices heard at the ballot box.” Hamm and his fellow gas giants (almost certainly) made an equal and opposite vow — that those few Republicans who held the line against tax hikes of any kind would not regret their bravery.

Last night, Oklahoma’s GOP primary season came to an end — and the teachers beat the billionaires in a rout. Nineteen Republicans voted against raising taxes to increase teacher pay last spring; only four will be on the ballot this November. As Tulsa World reports: . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2018 at 8:57 am

US continues to attack its own citizens: U.S. is denying passports to Americans along the border, throwing their citizenship into question

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Kevin Sieff reports in the Washington Post:

On paper, he’s a devoted U.S. citizen.

His official American birth certificate shows he was delivered by a midwife in Brownsville, at the southern tip of Texas. He spent his life wearing American uniforms: three years as a private in the Army, then as a cadet in the Border Patrol and now as a state prison guard.

But when Juan, 40, applied to renew his U.S. passport this year, the government’s response floored him. In a letter, the State Department said it didn’t believe he was an American citizen.

As he would later learn, Juan is one of a growing number of people whose official birth records show they were born in the United States but who are now being denied passports — their citizenship suddenly thrown into question. The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown.

In a statement, the State Department said that it “has not changed policy or practice regarding the adjudication of passport applications,” adding that “the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud.”

But cases identified by The Washington Post and interviews with immigration attorneys suggest a dramatic shift in both passport issuance and immigration enforcement.

In some cases, passport applicants with official U.S. birth certificates are being jailed in immigration detention centers and entered into deportation proceedings. In others, they are stuck in Mexico, their passports suddenly revoked when they tried to reenter the United States. As the Trump administration attempts to reduce both legal and illegal immigration, the government’s treatment of passport applicants in South Texas shows how U.S. citizens are increasingly being swept up by immigration enforcement agencies.

Juan said he was infuriated by the government’s response. “I served my country. I fought for my country,” he said, speaking on the condition that his last name not be used so that he wouldn’t be targeted by immigration enforcement.

The government alleges that from the 1950s through the 1990s, some midwives and physicians along the Texas-Mexico border provided U.S. birth certificates to babies who were actually born in Mexico. In a series of federal court cases in the 1990s, several birth attendants admitted to providing fraudulent documents.

Based on those suspicions, the State Department during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations denied passports to people who were delivered by midwives in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. The use of midwives is a long-standing tradition in the region, in part because of the cost of hospital care.

The same midwives who provided fraudulent birth certificates also delivered thousands of babies legally in the United States. It has proved nearly impossible to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate documents, all of them officially issued by the state of Texas decades ago.

A 2009 government settlement in a case litigated by the American Civil Liberties Union seemed to have mostly put an end to the passport denials. Attorneys reported that the number of denials declined during the rest of the Obama administration, and the government settled promptly when people filed complaints after being denied passports.

But under President Trump, the passport denials and revocations appear to be surging, becoming part of a broader interrogation into the citizenship of people who have lived, voted and worked in the United States for their entire lives.

“We’re seeing these kind of cases skyrocketing,” said Jennifer Correro, an attorney in Houston who is defending dozens of people who have been denied passports.

In its statement, the State Department said that applicants “who have birth certificates filed by a midwife or other birth attendant suspected of having engaged in fraudulent activities, as well as applicants who have both a U.S. and foreign birth certificate, are asked to provide additional documentation establishing they were born in the United States.”

“Individuals who are unable to demonstrate that they were born in the United States are denied issuance of a passport,” the statement said.

When Juan, the former soldier, received a letter from the State Department telling him it wasn’t convinced that he was a U.S. citizen, it requested a range of obscure documents — evidence of his mother’s prenatal care, his baptismal certificate, rental agreements from when he was a baby.

He managed to find some of those documents but weeks later received another denial. In a letter, the government said the information “did not establish your birth in the United States.”

“I thought to myself, you know, I’m going to have to seek legal help,” said Juan, who earns $13 an hour as a prison guard and expects to pay several thousand dollars in legal fees.

In a case last August, a 35-year-old Texas man with a U.S. passport was interrogated while crossing back into Texas from Mexico with his son at the ­McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge, connecting Reynosa, Mexico, to McAllen, Tex.

His passport was taken from him, and Customs and Border Protection agents told him to admit that he was born in Mexico, according to documents later filed in federal court. He refused and was sent to the Los Fresnos Detention Center and entered into deportation proceedings.

He was released three days later, but the government scheduled a deportation hearing for him in 2019. His passport, which had been issued in 2008, was revoked.

Attorneys say these cases, where the government’s doubts about an official birth certificate lead to immigration detention, are increasingly common. “I’ve had probably 20 people who have been sent to the detention center — U.S. citizens,” said Jaime Diez, an attorney in Brownsville.

Diez represents dozens of U.S. citizens who were denied their passports or had their passports suddenly revoked. Among them are soldiers and Border Patrol agents. In some cases, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have arrived at his clients’ homes without notice and taken passports away.

The State Department says that even though it may deny someone a passport, that does not necessarily mean that the individual will be deported. But it leaves them in a legal limbo, with one arm of the U.S. government claiming they are not an American and the prospect that immigration agents could follow up on their case. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2018 at 8:47 am

Rooney butterscotch Emilion, Lenthéric shaving soap, Baili BR171, and Peary & Henson aftershave

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The Rooney did its job efficiently, and again I was greatly taken by the fragrance of the vintage Lenthéric shaving soap. The Baili 171 continues to be great; the fact that it cost $6 is a bonus pleasure. A splash of Peary & Henson from Prospector Co. finished the job:

This aftershave splash takes its roots from old maritime travels. The arctic blue color and the chilling smell of bay leaf and coriander brings to mind the voyage of Robert E. Peary and Matthew Henson who were the first explorers to reach the North Pole. Peary and Henson were the most determined and steadfast explorers having made several record-breaking attempts. In April of 1909, along with 4 Eskimos, reached the highest [northernmost – LG] point on earth.

Witch hazel, cedar water and aloe bring the bay to life and fresh coriander [? – don’t see it in the ingredients – LG] adds a sharp bite. The smells and properties of this aftershave will invigorate, refresh and tighten your skin and prepare you for another day of endless nautical miles.

Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Distillate, Organic Aloe (Barbadensis), Distilled Water, PolySorbate 20, Vegetable Glycerin, Pimenta Racemosa (Bay), Commiphora Myrrha (Myrrh), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary), Eucalyptus Globules (Eucalyptus), Pinus sylvestris (Pine), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavendar), Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree), Phenoxyethanol.


Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2018 at 8:43 am

Posted in Shaving

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