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How Trump Is Really Changing Immigration: Making It Harder for People to Come Here Legally

May 13, 2018 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

A Trump supporter named John B. who emailed me recently wrote
that, “No one is against legal immigration.” President Trump and
his administration are, I replied.

Yes, Trump still wants his big, beautiful wall to stop illegal
border crossings. But he’s been railing against all forms
of immigration since his campaign. And he’s having a much
easier time chipping away at legal immigration than funding his
wall. In some cases, the methods are strict quotas or new rules.
But paperwork and red tape work, too. For instance,
this administration tripled the number of pages in green card
applications. Forms for sponsoring a foreign-born spouse are
times longer
than they used to be.

Here’s an overview of key ways Trump has made it more difficult
and expensive to come here legally for foreign students, skilled
temporary workers, green cards holders, refugees and others.

H1-B visas

The Trump administration has piled new compliance rules,
documentation requirements and other regulations on H-1B visas. These changes make
it much more costly for employers to use H-1B visas to hire skilled
foreign workers, which is a likely reason that applications dropped
by 20% from 2016 to 2018.

Trump needs legal
immigrant entrepreneurs, investors and workers to keep expanding
economic growth — especially with unemployment now below

H4 visas

The Trump administration announced plans to take away work permits from those with H-4
visas — the visa for spouses of H-1B workers. In 2015, the
Obama administration allowed H-4s to work, and about 91,000 of these visa holders, many of whom are as skilled as their spouses, leaped
at the opportunity.

Foreign students

The number of foreign students at U.S. universities was down
about 17% in 2017 and likely will fall further this
year. A major draw of studying in the United States is the ability
to work here after graduation. Those on student visas can legally
work for 12 months after earning their degrees, and STEM graduates
can stay for three years under a program called Optional Practical
. In 2016, about 200,000 students signed up for OPT, which is
often a first step toward an H-1B visa.

Foreign students fear that President Trump will
restrict OPT or the H-1B visa. Trump hasn’t canceled OPT yet (and
his administration even defended it in court) but $63,000 a year (the cost of tuition and living expenses at UCLA) starts to look
like a very risky investment if paying …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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These Should Be the End Times for American Patriotism

May 13, 2018 in Blogs

By Sam Haselby, Aeon

It is time to start treating American patriotism – the most deadly form of identity politics – as a question, not an answer.

Patriotism is the organising passion of modern political life in the United States yet its vitality defies obvious explanation. The country has no national education system. There’s neither compulsory military nor civil service. No government agency distributes the ubiquitous US flags, nor enforces observance of the rituals to country performed at schools and sporting and political events throughout the country. Despite lacking the classic machinery for inculcating patriotism and spreading it among the people, American patriotism is a norm in the true sense: at least within the US itself, it exists in a place without question.

One of the conceits of American patriotism – that it is a salubrious version of the pernicious nationalism that other countries have – has helped to protect it from critical questioning of almost any type. The kinds of 20th-century Leftist political movements that in principle opposed nationalism fared poorly in the US, and this might be why popular justifications for the country’s patriotism tend to be shallow. They are often based on appeals to treasured details of family or community life: patriotism is Little League baseball on a warm summer day, the courtesy of the small-town merchant, a neighbourhood rebuilding together after a destructive storm. All nationalisms make sentimental appeal to intimate but generic experience, and the effects can help to raise armies and start wars. They carry, in other words, formidable political force. But they are not any kind of serious moral or intellectual case for patriotism.

American patriotism is in some ways old. It is notable for being perhaps the first nationalism in the fully modern sense of the concept, ie the loyalty to nation of a kingless people. Some of its defining qualities have changed very little, including the distinctive cult of the ‘founding fathers’, which began while they were still living. The strength of the preoccupation with the founders is that it is an open way to demonstrate national belonging. Talking about ‘the founders’, declaring loyalty to …read more


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Can Artificial Intelligence Help Find Alien Intelligence?

May 13, 2018 in Blogs

By The Conversation

Scientists are considering whether artificial intelligence (AI) could help us search for alien intelligence in ways we haven’t even thought of yet.

In the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), we’ve often looked for signs of intelligence, technology and communication that are similar to our own.

But as astronomer and SETI trailblazer Jill Tarter points out, that approach means searching for detectable technosignatures, like radio transmissions, not searching for intelligence.

Now scientists are considering whether artificial intelligence (AI) could help us search for alien intelligence in ways we haven’t even thought of yet.

‘Decoding’ intelligence

As we think about extraterrestrial intelligence it’s helpful to remember humans are not the only intelligent life on Earth.

Chimpanzees have culture and use tools, spiders process information with webs, cetaceans have dialects, crows understand analogies and beavers are great engineers. Non-human intelligence, language, culture and technology are all around us.

A capuchin (Sapajus libidinosus) using a stone tool (T. Falótico). An octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) carrying shells as shelter (N. Hobgood). (Wikimedia/Tiago Falótico, Nick Hobgood), CC BY-NC-SA

Alien intelligence could look like an octopus, an ant, a dolphin or a machine — or be radically different from anything on Earth.

We often imagine extraterrestrial life relative to our ideas about difference, but those ideas aren’t even universal on Earth and are unlikely to be universal across interstellar space.

If some of us have only recently recognized non-human intelligence on Earth, what could we be missing when we imagine extraterrestrial life?

In early 2018, astronomers, neuroscientists, anthropologists, AI researchers, historians and others gathered for a “Decoding Alien Intelligence” workshop at the SETI Institute in Silicon Valley. Astrobiologist Nathalie Cabrol organized the workshop around her 2016 paper “Alien mindscapes,” where she calls for a new SETI road map and a long-term vision for “the search for life as we do not know it.”

In her paper, Cabrol asks how SETI can move past “looking for other versions of ourselves” and think “outside of our own brains” to imagine truly different extraterrestrial intelligence.

Thinking differently

Silicon Valley is famous for valuing “disruptive” …read more


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May 1968: The Posters That Inspired a Movement

May 13, 2018 in Blogs

By The Conversation

The movement produced an important visual language for protest that still resonates half a century later.

The uprisings that took hold of France in May 1968 provided a blueprint for the kind of widespread social unrest capable of unifying students and factory workers. Beginning with protests over university reform, action escalated quickly to widespread strikes and occupations. The country’s leaders feared an actual revolution could be about to take place.

The movement also produced an important visual language for protest that still resonates half a century later. While often aesthetically crude in design, posters were pasted up in the streets calling for solidarity in the fight against capitalism.

Emanating from the printing room of Paris’ École des Beaux Arts, a group calling itself Atelier Populaire (“Popular Workshop”) subsequently produced the posters. They called them “weapons in the service of the struggle”. This extensive series depicted the tools of the proletariat, including the hammer, the spanner, the paintbrush, and reclaimed them as objects of power rather than subservience.

To create their posters, the group used a production technique – screen print – that was as immediate as the messages they sought to communicate through the work. It harnessed the kind of grass roots energy that is evident in thousands of hastily-produced banners and placards that continue to challenge the status quo around the globe today.

Atelier Populaire’s approach was to work in an egalitarian way. Each print was attributed to the collective rather than the individual designer. Its approach remains a veritable touchstone for those whose work and activism is driven by disillusion and disenfranchisement with the current system – especially those representing organisations which work anonymously to highlight their grievances.

The output is referenced in a huge number of works from protests movements that have taken place since 1968. Its influence is clear throughout high profile exhibitions of political materials such as Disobedient Objects and From Hope to Nope in London and Get With the Action in San Francisco.

‘Be young and shut up’: a poster from the movement on display in Paris. EPA

But this reverence really shouldn’t be the …read more


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Mad Magazine's Clout May Have Faded — But Its Ethos Matters More than Ever Before

May 13, 2018 in Blogs

By The Conversation

The magazine taught its readers to never swallow what they’re served.

Mad Magazine is still hanging on. In April, it launched a reboot, jokingly calling it its “first issue.”

But in terms of cultural resonance and mass popularity, it’s largely lost its clout.

At its apex in the early 1970s, Mad’s circulation surpassed 2 million. As of 2017, it was 140,000.

As strange as it sounds, I believe the “usual gang of idiots” that produced Mad was performing a vital public service, teaching American adolescents that they shouldn’t believe everything they read in their textbooks or saw on TV.

Mad preached subversion and unadulterated truth-telling when so-called objective journalism remained deferential to authority. While newscasters regularly parroted questionable government claims, Mad was calling politicians liars when they lied. Long before responsible organs of public opinion like The New York Times and the CBS Evening News discovered it, Mad told its readers all about the credibility gap. The periodical’s skeptical approach to advertisers and authority figures helped raise a less credulous and more critical generation in the 1960s and 1970s.

Today’s media environment differs considerably from the era in which Mad flourished. But it could be argued that consumers are dealing with many of the same issues, from devious advertising to mendacious propaganda.

While Mad’s satiric legacy endures, the question of whether its educational ethos – - its implicit media literacy efforts – remains part of our youth culture is less clear.

A merry-go-round of media panics

In my research on media, broadcasting and advertising history, I’ve noted the cyclical nature of media panics and media reform movements throughout American history.

The pattern goes something like this: A new medium gains popularity. Chagrined politicians and outraged citizens demand new restraints, claiming that opportunists are too easily able to exploit its persuasive power and dupe consumers, rendering their critical faculties useless. But the outrage is overblown. Eventually, audience members become more savvy and educated, rendering such criticism quaint and anachronistic.

During the penny press era of the 1830s, periodicals often fabricated sensational stories like the “Great Moon Hoax” to sell more copies. For a …read more