The real immigration problem

Donald Trump tweeted a video showing 1,000 migrants coming through a chain link fence at the border.  They were all caught, of course.   We are catching a lot more migrants.  This makes sense, because long before Trump became president, we have spent billions making our southern border more secure.  The Customs and Border Patrol  shows a surge in the number of apprehension and inadmissibility at the SW Border.  Last month approximately 90,000  immigrants who have been apprehended.  This number is about 10,000 less than the CBP numbers which include both   apprehensions and inadmissibilities.

Looking at the video clip a second time, it looks like we could have swarmed in and arrested the first few migrants to get through the hole in the fence and the rest would have not entered the US.  At least on that day at that location.   So, a conscious decision was made to make as big arrest as possible.

I am certain walls do impede the flow of migrants.     Trump likes the word “walls” but what really works are fences.  In fact, what the video showed was that a chain link fence worked, because it took time for the migrants to cut a hole in the fence, and this delay allowed immigration enforcement officers (ICE) to get in position to round everyone up.   It certainly looks like night time video surveillance cameras also work.   The end result of spending all this money at the border,  should logically be that fewer of those intending to cross, actually succeed.  Thus the video could be used, not to show a crisis, but how we’ve succeeded in avoiding one.  I’m certain “electronic walls” (detectors, cameras, drones) work also,

The coyotes will always find ways to get people across the border.  That’s their job.  They will look for the areas with the least barriers to cross.  Obviously, the chain link fence was easy to breach, but the group was so big, it was easy for CBP to spot them.   Border security has been beefed up with about 525 more border agents.

Drugs and other  human trafficking come across the border at the ports of entry, not through holes in chain link fencing.   Both Obama and Trump administrations have been increasing funding to deal with illegal drug smuggling.   It’s a huge problem, but it is a separate issue from the migrant inflows.   Trump is always conflating and confusing these issues.

Statistics are interesting because we are presented with a partial picture and misinterpretations or distortions  are common.  The distortions are often purposeful, particularly with commentators attempting to dramatize the problems.

We know how many people,  who attempt to cross out southern border,   get caught.  This is in the Customs and Border Patrol report.  Last month, 90,000 migrants got caught.  What we want to know is how many made  it to the US.   There are no really good numbers, and trying to guess this based on those caught is wrong.   If measures to catch migrants were basically unchanged, then we could assume that the migrants making it across successfully would go up in proportion to the number who are caught.  Of course this is not true.   Even if we knew how many get into the country illegally, there are substantial numbers who get caught later, particularly if they are involved in criminal activities.   About the best we can say, is that the worst of the migrants, run a high chance of being deported later.

On any particular day or month, you just don’t know in the general population of illegal immigrants is increasing or decreasing.  A lot are here, not because they crossed in illegally, but they overstayed their visas.  A substantial number return to their country.   A general estimate of illegal immigrants in the US is 11 million and our population of illegals may be on the decline.

Now on to removal statistics.   We sent 256.000 illegal immigrants back to their country in Fiscal Year 2018 (last full  month is Sept 2018).   I believe Mexicans crossing at the southern border can be quickly deported.  Returning others to their country of origin has become the real immigration problem.  Apprehensions are nearly double from a year ago, with the real surge from Guatemala and not Mexico.  The real problem is we have run out of space to adequately house immigrants.

 

With more than 13,000 migrants in custody—an unprecedented number and more than twice what CBP considers a “crisis level”—McAleenan said, calling the situation an “unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our southwest border.” The overcrowding of CBP facilities have caused the agency to start directly releasing some migrants caught at the border, instead of transferring them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which itself doesn’t have sufficient detention capacity to accept them.  This is the first time in more than a decade that the CBP has had to directly release its detainees and is trying to pick those with the lowest risk, McAleenan said.

Trump hates “catch and release” but he is forced into it because there’s no room at the facilities.  So, we are having a trade war over what?  Beds?  You’ve got to be kidding.   This is what Mexican officials will be telling US leaders in Washington on Wednesday  They will be saying “You invested heavily in law enforcement, and nothing else.  That was the route you took,  You were successful.  Now deal with it.”   Also, that they will retaliate in equal measure to any trade tariffs.

The threat of higher tariffs on Mexico, could not come at a worse time, as the USMCA (or NAFTA II) has not bee ratified by Mexico, Canada nor the US.   What we need most right now, is cooperation between the US, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras on economic development and immigration policy.  The hostile and aggressive actions of Trump will only make the situation worse.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

https://www.theepochtimes.com/border-patrol-apprehensions-reach-10-year-single-day-record-of-over-4100_2857594.html

Ice report (256,000 removals)  includes CBP apprehensions at the border.   Note of the violations, 57% were for “failure to appear”  which makes sense.  Who would appear at a hearing where they would be deported?  This kind of violation is for the catch and release group.   Initial book-in was 154K from ICE and 243K from CBP in FY 2018 for a total of 397,000  – incredible.

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration

 

 

 

 

 

Trump is not making America great

We are in a trade war.  It raises the price of many items. When prices go up, sales go down,  stores close and people lose jobs.   Both the Chinese and Americans will pay a hefty price.   US farmers are basically on welfare, accepting government handouts   Our relations with many countries, including Canada and Mexico have been severely weakened.  Other countries, not the US, will take the lead in cut carbon emissions and slow the devastating effects of  climate change. We  applaud dictatorships.  We turn our heads as Brazil dismantles the  oversight environmental groups, so President Bolsonaro can step up the destruction of the Amazon rainforest without any internal dissent.   We will soon present to the world a Israel-Palestinian peace plan, which has zero support in Palestine.   It is hope only a political document, aimed at Trump’s re-election.  We have cause serious disruption in the UN negotiations for peace settlement in Libya by siding with General Haftar, (with Egyptian, UAE, Saudi Arabia direct military support and Russia’s support as well).

I correctly predicted this back in August 2015 in my blog:

Ok. I’m in favor of fresh blood, but not that fresh. Donald Trump can sell. He’s been selling his whole life. If you put up a luxury condominium, you have to sell it for top price- and this is what Trump has doing for the last about 30 years. These days, he pushes Trump brand.  All I hear from Trump is marketing. Great marketing and maybe it’s enough for domestic consumption. He isn’t capable of building international cooperative agreements. He’s thinks way too much in terms of power relationships as dividing the world into friends and enemies. This was the great Bush/Cheney failure.

Did I get it right?   Yesterday,  Trump downplayed the missile launches by North Korea as unimportant, while John Bolton, US National Security Adviser stated that they were a direct violation of the UN resolution against North Korea.   In this case Bolton was clearly  right.  Trump leaves Japan with Prime Minister Shinzou Abe not knowing who to believe.

Trump is not the master of negotiations.  It’s all themes.  He is a salesman, and more at home at his rallies.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Predicting the US Presidential Election 2020

Wow this may seem way too early, as we don’t know which one of the 23 announced Democrats will make it to the be their party’s candidate.   However,  there are states which consistently vote for Republicans or Democrats, and this is the basis of political forecasting.   And there is this incredible paradox in forecasting as the forecast itself can alter the actual results.  If the consensus  says that party ‘X’ will win, then supporters of Party “X’ are less motivated to vote, and the supporters of Party ‘Y’ are more motivated, meaning more will vote.   Also the candidates will change their strategy based on which states are leading or lagging in their run.

I sum it up like this: – it is difficult to identify how a population feels about a candidate when the candidates are doing everything in their power to change people’s opinion.

Polls can be so wrong, for a long list of reasons.  Of the eligible voters, 42% did not vote.  Any poll which included the general public, may be representative of the popularity of a candidate, but this isn’t what counts in an election.   In an evenly divided state such as Florida,  obtaining a representative sample in a timely manner is difficult.  The polling  margins in Florida (% difference between candidates) were very small in 2016, so results were significantly affected by sampling errors.   If this stuff interest you, then you have to know the state symbols and the websites.

There are many sites  of which  270towin.com  and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball are the best right now in providing non-partisan forecasts of the US Presidential elections.     In my opinion,  forget any website which says “It looks like a landslide for Candidate ‘X’  or Party ‘X,’      I can’t predict much, but a landslide is out of the question.  We have been a very evenly divided country politically for at least 19 years.

To make a educated guess of who will win the election,  the prognosticators generally subdivide the electoral states into 7 categories (Solid Dem, Likely  Dems, Lean Dems, Toss up,  Lean Rep, Likely Rep and Solid Rep).   There’s a 5 category model with Likely and Lean combined into one category.

There are 5 big toss ups, as follows with the state symbol and electoral votes:   AZ(11), FL(29), WI(10), MI(16), PA(20).   This is the “Consensus view” per the 270toWin website.   The total is 86 votes.   We have in these 5 states something I will call “Hardcore uncertainty.”    The tossup total is 87 (one extra comes from NE),

The biggest prize is Florida, carrying 29 EV, or about a third of the total tossups.  The candidate which wins Florida,  Michigan and Pennsylvania takes 75% of the tossups.

Now, not everyone is agreeing on this tossup category.  Larry Sabato’s Crystal ball from the University of Virginia, considers PA, AZ, WI and NH as tossups, for a total of 46%.    Sabato adds NH but the state only has 4 EV’s.  So, the big prize is Pennsylvania.   In Sabato’s forecast, Florida leans Republican and Michigan leans Democrat,  Net it is a gain of 13 EV’s in favor of Republicans.

As I take a more broad view of the  “solids” in the map,  it seems that evident that Republicans are the majority in  the US heartland with a solid red, from North Dakota and Montana to Oklahoma and Louisiana.   Democrats are solid on the very populous east and west coasts.   Texas was usually considered a solid Republican state, but is now considered in the “likely” group for Republicans.   Our country is not as divided as the maps might seem to present.  It is far mixed up politically with local elections in red states going to Democratic candidates and vice versa.    The third link from Wikipedia has an excellent discussion on “Map Interpretation.:

This forecasting is interesting because everyone sees the same information at the same time.   In fact each political party is very focused on the polling numbers.  and generates their own forecasts to boot.    Again, I come back to the point that whatever the consensus forecast is at any one time, the subsequent actions of the parties acts to drive the statistics in the opposite direction,  reducing the forecast’s accuracy.  For example,  if Democrats believe they can turn Texas or Republicans can turn Michigan, they will race to the state, with a barge of arguments why only their candidate can run the country.  A final point is the hypocrisy in all this is not lost, as each candidate will tell their supporters that they are more interested in issues rather than polling statistics, when their staffs and paid consultants are looking daily at the numbers.

Stay tuned,

Dave

https://www.270towin.com/

http://crystalball.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/2020-president/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_states_and_blue_states

Rebranding: Trump’s mean and egotistical actions

If you buy a hotel, you need to sweep clean any presence of the  prior owner.  The clean sweep goes beyond just the uniforms and paperwork.  Everything should have the name of the new owner.  This is re-branding.

Trump knows branding.  One of Trump’s famous maneuvers was to have his failed Taj Mahal casino  carry only “Trump bottle water” in which he had a royalty.  So, he was still making money as the casino went bankrupt.

A lot of non-partisan social programs have been eliminated because they had Obama’s name on them.  Two examples below:

First example of Trump’s meanness and partisanship (even where it doesn’t exist) was the cancellation of the Let’s move program.  It was started by Michelle Obama,  aimed at combating child obesity and it couldn’t be more spot on.   It promoted healthy diets and exercise for children.  Who could argue with that!   Obviously,  Trump did not have to maintain vegetable gardens at the White House.   But it was a terrible mean streak to end a program with such worthwhile objectives.   See the “Let’s move” website now in the government archives.

The second act of meanness and ego, was the cancellation of the Harriet Tubman $20 bill, simply because this  was proposed during the Obama years.   It was really Jack Lew, the Secretary of the Treasury who made the decision to replace  Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman,  The Treasury Department didn’t outright cancel the Tubman bill, just postponed it to after 2028,  pushing beyond Trump’s presidency.  Andrew Jackson legacy was particularly controversial, particularly on his military action against American Indians.  (see link).   Harriet Tubman was a fantastic choice,  a clear heroine in time of slavery.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Let’s Move    (Eliminated by Donald Trump,  website is no longer maintained.  This is an archive copy, for historical purposes).

Harriet Tubman     (Incredibly brave woman in a country which at that time was  govern by white wealthy men)

Andrew Jackson

Did not believe the Supreme Court to be the final arbiter of the Constitution.   I guess that is why Trump doesn’t want Jackson gone from our currency.

Trail of Tears 

 

 

China Trade Deal

“They broke the deal,”  is Trump’s rallying cry.  And really very dumb, because there was no deal.  There were drafts of critical pieces of a deal.  The Chinese have responded much more quietly, and that is a continued belief that a negotiated trade agreement is reached.

Trump probably has walked away from a hundred deals.  It is what real estate investors do every day.  The price and terms of a deal are not to his liking, he has the right to walk away.

Trump has also talked how he likes to win. That doesn’t make for good diplomacy.   The chief negotiator is Robert Lighthizer, who has been in the thick of trade negotiations many times and successfully crafted agreements.   He is known as a trade hardliner.   I am hopeful he can avoid massive tariff hikes, but he’s definitely running out of time.

The other hardliner is Peter Navarro,   And I am very worried about his influence as it’s all about principle and not compromise.  He could be the number 1 deal breaker.   He looks at what other countries are doing, which puts the US industries in a weaker position,  and argues for aggressive action.   Punishing countries through tariffs can really do major damage to our own economy.  The one industry which will suffer the most, are Trump’s most ardent supporters,  the Midwest farmers through tariffs on soybean exports.  Peter Navarro is a professor of economics, and has written many books, where he can hold the high ground of ideology.  Now, he’s in the trenches.

So, let me for a minute, put myself in Vice Premier Liu He position, China’s top trade negotiator, who arrived in Washington today.  Of course, he will remind Trump that both countries will suffer as a result of intensifying the trade wars.   He will tell Trump that China will retaliate by raising tariffs on a large number of products.   Citrus growers in Florida will feel the impact.   Now, the president is listening, because that’s 29 electoral votes in 2020 and Florida is definitely a swing state.  Texas will also be impacted, and there’s  38 electoral votes.   Vice Premier Liu He, can’t tell Trump that he will lose California – that ship has already sailed.

Trump will be divided, not on how the trade war will affect the economy,  but his chances of being re-elected.   That’s really the sad part of all this.  Trump is thinking  whether he can sway millions of Twitter followers, that China broke the deal, which of course, was still being negotiated.  Of course, a worsening global economy and increased unemployment will definitely speak louder than the Twitter feeds.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fake News and Facebook

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes,” A nice quote, but it wasn’t said by Mark Twain.

Thanks to the internet, we have lies spreading at the speed of light.  I don’t use Facebook to obtain news.  It is filled with tabloid junk.  I have never bought a tabloid at a grocery store checkout.

Here are a sample of truly false stories:

https://www.politifact.com/personalities/facebook-posts/statements/by/

This is from Politifact.com.   They don’t identify who made up the lie, as this just gives some individuals the free publicity they are seeking.  Facebook is being responsible by banning a very select group who stream out massive numbers of  false allegations faster at incredible speed, so they can profit from the sale of videos and books.

I support what Mark Zuckerberg is trying to do, by permanently banning the worst of the bloggers from Facebook.   He will be criticized no matter what he does, usually based on the idea of curbing free speech.  However, it’s completely legal and pretty routine as every  media outlet will screen out  advertisers for violation of their policies.   Infowars doesn’t care about the truth – only publicity and fortunately they have been taken to court a number of times as follows (see Wikipedia link):

  • In February 2017, the lawyers of James Alefantis, owner of Comet Ping Pong pizzeria, sent Jones a letter demanding an apology and retraction for his role in pushing the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. Under Texas law, Jones was given a month to comply or be subject to a libel suit.[141] In March 2017, Jones apologized to Alefantis for promulgating the conspiracy theory and retracted his allegations.[142]
  • In April 2017, the Chobani yogurt company filed a lawsuit against Jones for his article that claims that the company’s factory in Idaho, which employs refugees, was connected to a 2016 child sexual assault and a rise in tuberculosis cases.[143] As a result of the lawsuit, Jones issued an apology and retraction of his allegations in May 2017.[144]
  • In March 2018, Brennan Gilmore, who shared a video he captured of a car hitting anti-racism protesters at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, filed a lawsuit[145] against Jones and six others. According to the lawsuit, Jones said that Gilmore was acting as part of a false flag operation conducted by disgruntled government “deep state” employees in promotion of a coup against President Trump.[146] Gilmore alleges he has been receiving death threats from Jones’ audience.[146]
  • Leonard Pozner, father of a Sandy Hook shooting victim who has been forced to move several times to avoid harassment and death threats accusing him of being a crisis actor, has filed a defamation suit against Jones in Texas.[147]

I feel sorry for these individuals.    They had to go to court and suffer with Infowar’s attack for over a year.  The victims of Jones’ attack  certainly did not deserve this and it looks like all they got was a retraction.     When you  allow Alex Jones to use the Facebook platform to make libelous and hurtful statement about Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, you give him the right to attack anyone.   And his history says he will.

I don’t buy into the “slippery slope” idea. I believe Facebook will use a lot of discretion in banning individuals, because they are the beneficiaries of a free flow of new ideas, even some very radical ones.

Facebook is working with fact checkers to block false information, see link below:

How is Facebook addressing false news through third-party fact-checkers?

I’ll end with a great quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

So,  go out buy a real newspaper or reliable internet sources,  support fact checking organizations  and stay away from the tabloid world.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Wikipedia Alex Jones 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/05/03/trump-jr-accuses-facebook-silencing-conservatives-day-after-it-bans-some-far-right-users/?utm_term=.97fc760b8479

No impeachment of Trump

Sometimes Fareed Zakaria gets things so right, there is little for me to add.  Anything extra would simply cloud the issue.

It is right of Congress to remove an elected president who has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors”  however 2/3 of the Senate must find the president guilty.    The trial of Bill Clinton in the Senate didn’t come close to this.  The vote for obstruction of justice was 50 guilty votes and 50 votes not guilty votes.  Voting was along party lines.

Trial by impeachment is direct opposite of a legal trial under our judicial system.   Our legal system provides numerous protections to the accused, to ensure a fair trial.   If the protections have not been afforded to the accused, then there can be justice at the appellate level.   Impeachment begins with a deeply partisan jury,  the US Senate.  The Senate is controlled by Republicans, and there is absolutely no doubt of acquittal, if it ever got to this stage.

The “high crimes and misdemeanors” criteria has been discussed many times and it is still controversial what the founders meant by this clause.  However,  the “high” is not used to mean a serious or severe crime, but rather one that is done by a “high official”  in his official capacity.

There’s nothing wrong with investigation, to keep us informed our president.  I know we can do better, in 2020.

Trump will fight back for sure.

Read Fareed Zakaria’s comments:

Impeachment Would Only Increase The “Class Resentment That Feeds Support For Trump”

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

Libya, and the Trump Administration

It is now called the “Western Offensive (2019) or “Flood of Dignity Operation”  by General Haftar.  The UN reports states:

Libya: Heavy shelling and civilian deaths ‘blatant violation’ of international law – UN envoy

I know this is not headline news.  I could be commenting on the Mueller report or the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire.

The target is the Mitiga airport, in Tripoli, Libya, which is the only functioning international airport in Libya.  Haftar doesn’t care about the UN resolution with an arms embargo to Libya.  From the UN report:

The use of indiscriminate, explosive weapons in civilian areas constitutes a war crime,” Mr. Salame, who also heads the UN Support Mission (UNSMIL), said in a statement. He extended “with great sadness”, his “deepest condolences” to the victim’s families and wished the injured a speedy recovery. His statement pointed out that as of yesterday, there have been 54 confirmed civilian casualties, including 14 dead and 40 wounded, four of whom were health workers.“Liability for such actions lies not only with the individuals who committed the indiscriminate attacks, but also potentially with those who ordered them”, stressed the Special Representative.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Russia are backing General Haftar.  There is no question these are authoritarian regimes.   Haftar buys the support of local militias with money from the UAE and Saudi’s.  There will be continual civil war, if he comes to power.

France is a bit more complicated.  See Politico link:

France ostensibly supports the U.N.-mediated peace process, led by former Lebanese Culture Minister Ghassan Salamé, a veteran Paris-based political scientist. It has never officially acknowledged providing weaponry, training, intelligence and special forces assistance to Haftar. The death of three undercover French soldiers in a helicopter accident in Libya in 2016 provided a rare recognition of its secret presence in operations against Islamist fighters at the time.

Since the fall of Gaddafi,  the US has strongly supported efforts by the UN to bring together all sides in an unified government. By all accounts, the US is now, more than ever, is backing autocratic government.  It is an enormous step backwards.  Trump embraces autocrats much more than democratically elected leaders.   Haftar promises stability in Libya and control of radical Islamists.  This is the same thing as  Qaddafi.  Only problem is most the stability comes by suppressing their own people.

I think the Financial Times really got it right (see link below).

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Politico, France’s double game in Libya

Trump finds a new strongman in Libya

https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/12/1029031

Libya’s current situation – additional comments

The current situation is fighting continues outside of Tripoli.   Haftar’s army is meeting with strong resistance by the Tripoli government.

Libya’s situation is complex.  You can read about it, or listen to it.

For the latter, I suggest spending just 24 minutes to listen to the  panel discussion on the Libya’s current situation, as moderated by Folly Bah Thibault,  is available in the link below:

Are foreign powers worsening the conflict in Libya?

The UN passed a resolution to block foreign powers from supplying weapons to one side or the other.  Haftar’s way around this, was to insist on military weapons to fight against Islamic extremists, including ISIS.  But of course he wanted military equipment to wage war against the Tripoli government.

The panelists seemed to agree that the foreign powers were worsening the conflict,  Oliver Miles tempered his remarks by saying this was a war among Libyan, not outsiders.  But, Anas El Gomati, I think, got it right, in that the effect of Saudi Arabia and UAE assistance to Haftar, increases his confidence that he can win easier on the battlefield (where he’s used to fighting) than at the negotiating table.   The panelists also firmly said France has been involved in backing Haftar,  not necessarily with military equipment, but with creating a legitimacy for his government.

The next question was great.  Suppose Haftar succeeds, what happens next?   The name Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi did not come up, but could someone reign in Hafter, to make him more “presidential” rather than a military leader.   Anas El Gomati got it 100% right, with his statement:

“He [Haftar} has a 50 year legacy of deception and defection.”

Haftar only has Haftar’s interests in mind.  Gomati characterization of Haftar starts  about 22:00 minutes into the panel discussion.  At the end, Gomati concludes that no one could “reign in” someone who is so dishonest.    He briefly mentions that Haftar “allegedly” worked for the CIA, but it might have been a lot shorter time than the two decades in my blog.   He obviously could boast of his high level Libyan contacts, in working for and against Gaddafi.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Presenter: Folly Bah Thibault

Guests:
Anas El Gomati – director of the Tripoli-based Sadeq Institute
Francesco Galietti – head of political risk consultancy Policy Sonar
Oliver Miles – a former British Ambassador to Libya

General Kalifa Haftar and his successor (Part 3)

 

General Kalifa Haftar, born in Libya  in  1943.  He is now at  center of attention in the Libyan conflict.  He is shown above with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz on his visit to Riyadh on March 27, 2019.

This is a short biographical summary of Haftar.    Wikipedia has provided an excellent biography, with extensive internet links as provided at the end of this blog.

Based on education and experience, Kalifa Haftar is a military expert.  He graduated from the Benghazi Military University, and received additional training in Russia and Egypt.  By age 26, he had the right military training to support Gaddafi in the overthrow of King Irdis.  As a commander in Libya’s military,  Haftar supported Gaddafi for 18 years before turning against him, including plotting his downfall.  With the help of the US, Haftar  join the CIA, living in Virginia for two decades.  He is a US citizen and speaks his native Arabic language, plus Russian, Italian, English  and is conversational in French.

I have broken down Haftar’s career into 4 phases:

(1)  1969 – 1987,  Military leader and close ally of Gaddafi,   (~18 years)
(2)  1987-1990,  Prisoner of war in Chad during the “Toyota wars”, where he formed an army to oppose Gaddafi,
(3)  1990 – 2011 Worked for the CIA in Virginia, USA (21 years!)
(4)  2011 – present:  Leader in the first civil war against Gaddafi, then broke with the General National Unity (GNU) agreement and united militia forces against the Tripoli government.

Haftar in 1969 help lead the rebellion that lead to Gaddafi’s overthrow of Libya’s King Irdis.  Libya had been a colony of Italy before the defeat of Benito Mussolini during World War II.  King Irdis had ruled Libya for 18 years from 1951 to 1969.  The country was divided into three provinces,  Cyrenaica,  Tripolitania and Fezzan.  The country was never fully united as Benghazi was the capital of Cyrenaica and Tripoli was the capital of Tripolitania.  As stated in Wikipedia:

This constitutional framework left Libya with a weak central government and strong provincial autonomy.[36] The governments of successive Prime Ministers tried to push through economic policies but found them hampered by the differing provinces.[37] There remained a persistent distrust between Cyrenaica and Tripolitania.[25] Benghazi and Tripoli were appointed as joint capital cities, with the country’s parliament moving between the two.[38] The city of Bayda also became a de facto summer capital as Idris moved there.[38]

Haftar  was part of Libya’s contingent in the 1973 attack against  Israel.  Beginning in 1978,  Gaddafi began supplying arms to Chad in support of their civil war (see link).  But he wanted to occupy the northern Chad, as a measure to defend against Libya’s “soft underbelly.”  Wikipedia states:

In 1987, he became a prisoner of war during the war against Chad after being lulled into a trap and captured, then a major embarrassment for Gaddafi and represented a major blow to Gaddafi’s ambitions in Chad. While held prisoner, he and his fellow officers formed a group hoping to overthrow Gaddafi. He was released around 1990 in a deal with the United States government and spent nearly two decades in Langley, Virginia, in the US, gaining U.S. citizenship.[4]

Wikipedia states, “Another possible reason given for Gaddafi’s abandonment of Haftar was the potential that Haftar might return to Libya as a hero and thus pose a threat to Gaddafi’s rule itself.[12]”

I could not find much information on the 21 years Haftar spent at the CIA (1990 to 2011).  This would be from age 47 to 67, around half of his working career.   According to Wikipedia,

“From there, and mostly through his close contacts within the American intelligence community, he consistently supported several attempts to topple and assassinate Gaddafi.[24]”

The arrangement to bring Haftar to the US was likely done under the Reagan administration.   There were plans to support the  300 members  of Haftar’s exiled army against Gaddafi under the refugee act, but that never was completed.   He worked for  the CIA or related intelligence agencies, during the H.W.  Bush, Clinton, W. Bush and Obama administration.

A major turning point in US policy towards Libya came in December 2003, when Gaddafi announced that Libya would destroy all weapons of mass destruction,  This included stockpiles of nuclear materials (yellow cake), biological and chemical  weapons.  I believe Western countries and the US began seeing Gaddafi as much less of a threat, because his autocratic rule brought some stability to the country and could help in the fight against al-Qaeda.  From the Independent:

 In 2004 the British Prime Minister emerged from the tent in Sirte to say how struck he was that Col Gaddafi wanted to make “common cause with us against al-Qaeda, extremists and terrorism.”

Certainly, from 2004 forward,  the US was looking to improve relations with Libya and at the same time, make sure he continue to be in compliance with WMD disarmament agreements.

However,  Haftar returned back to Libya to join the rebellion against Gaddafi.   Now, he is the leader in the second civil war, which is beginning to look more like the Cyreniaca v. Tripolitania during King Irdis’ era.  And Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya) is winning again, yet it is unlikely to really unite the country.  Per Wikipedia:

Haftar has been described as “Libya’s most potent warlord”, having fought “with and against nearly every significant faction” in Libya’s conflicts, and as having a “reputation for unrivaled military experience”

Haftar’s health has been questioned.  According to Wikipedia:  On 12 April 2018, it was reported that Haftar was in a coma after suffering a stroke and was hospitalized under intensive care in Paris.

So, under the scenario of Haftar succeeding, and taking over, who would take over from Haftar.  One  possibility is Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who might see a necessity to re-arm Libya even if it is necessary to violate the WMD accord.

This would go far beyond a reversal of Arab Spring, but a return to conditions before December 2003, the date when Libya agreed to disarm.

What ever the outcome, the major outside players will be Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Russia – all autocracies.   I wish the EU and the US could play a more decisive role in uniting the country.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Note the NYT spells Haftar as Hifter.

Wikipedia:  Khalifa Haftar

Guardian:  Khalifia Haltar: Renagade General

The Unravelling,  In a failing state, an anti-Islamist general mounts a divisive campaign.

Disarmament of Libya 

Idris of Libya

Independent: Tony Blair and Colonel Gaddafi 

 

Libya’s Current Situation (Part 2)

The prior blog provides background, and explains in part why Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia would support General Hafter.  I also mention that had traveled to Libya.  I was there during a peaceful period, in mid 2013.  I was staying very near Martyr’s square, and I saw the coffins set up on one side.  Each has a picture of a person who died in the civil war.  They were empty coffins, but this display spoke volumes.  Liberty came at a steep price to Libya.  I am very afraid of what was gained in the short 9 months of 2011, will be lost.

 

 

Haftar captured three key cities:  Gharyon, Surman and Aziziya approximately 20 to 50 miles outside of Tripoli.  He has stated that he intends to take the only functioning airport, Mitigi Airport,  in Tripoli.  He launch an air strike on Mitigi on April 4, 2019.    He has taken control of the principal oil fields.  He now has control of much of the country. See New York Times link. As I stated in the prior blog, he is funded by Saudi Arabia and other countries.

The UN condemned the airstrike as Mitigi airport is not a military base but a civilian airport.  Haftar responded that the intended targets were Russian Mig fighter parked at the airport.    For the immediate future, the war between Haftar and Tripoli will be waged in the air.

Tripoli is the big prize.  But if Haftar sends his forces into Tripoli, it will be extremely bloody.  The first civil war ended without serious fighting within the capital.  Gadaffi was not allow to use his air force to defend his country, as a result of the UN Resolution 1973.  This time is different.  General Haftar  is willing to reduce Tripoli to rubble so that he can rule Libya, which is the only option he has left now anyway, according to an expert on the Libyan conflict (see NYT article).

The UN has called for an immediate ceasefire.  The US has done the same, but this doesn’t seem likely.  The US has evacuated its embassy in Tripoli.  United Nations canceled a long-planned peace conference scheduled for later this month.

Neither General Haftar nor the Tripoli government have a single united military.  Both depend on small militia groups, which have banded together.  The New York Times article points out that the militias attract “thugs and extremists” to defend Tripoli.   According to the New York Times,

All four of the Tripoli militias have profited by extorting protection money from banks and government ministries, according to United Nations experts and an authoritative study by Wolfram Lacher of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

It doesn’t seem there is any outcome to this second civil war that leads to a stable government.  What is amazing to me, is that the oil keeps flowing and being exported.  Apparently, according to the New York Times,  the Tripoli government is still in charge of the lifting of oil (actual pick up by tankers) at the port cities.  But there are payments back to the Tobruk government.  Tripoli is also continuing to pay the salaries of the military under Hafter’s command according to the NYT.

Once Haftar is in command of Tripoli, he will seek recognition from the other countries, as the legitimate government.  This will be necessary to continue the contracts for oil exports.

The best sources of information are the New York Times and Al Jazeera.   I note that the Times spells the General’s name as Kifter while Al Jazeera spells it as Kaftar.   The same spelling differences frequently occur in the spelling of names of cities.

I fear a complete reversal of the Arab Spring in Libya.  It is difficult to see any progress in democracy after the rebellion in Egypt, and I fear Libya is on course to reverse the gains made during Arab Spring.  In my next blog,  I will explore the background of General Kaftar, including his long stint working for the CIA and the fact that he is an American citizen.  It will be interesting.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Link:

Al Jazeera:  Saudi’s gave Libya Hafter military millions of dollars before the attack.

New York Times Tripoli’s Last Civilian Airport Reopens after Militias Mobilizes against Hifter 

New York Times, Thugs and Extremists join the battle for Tripoli 

Libya and the reversal of Arab Spring (Part 1)

kaftar 1

A lot of people think international relations is like a game of chess.”  But, it’s not a game of chess, where people sit quietly, thinking out their strategy, taking their time between moves.  It’s more like a game of billiards with a bunch of balls clustered together.”

Madeline Albright, former Secretary of State

The analogy to billiards applies very much to the current state of civil war in Libya.  The balance of power between the eastern faction, or “Tobruk government” and the western faction, or “Tripoli government” is one,  seems based more on military strength than popular support.  Military strength comes from external funding, so the civil war looks more like a proxy war.

Libya’s only international airport,  may be captured any moment by a military force lead by General Haftar,  representing the government established on the eastern side of Libya.  He has the support of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and for the most part Russia.

In the years following the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, the sequence of events seemed to follow the unpredictability of billiards,  Yet, I believe in this case, one can argue that the table is larger than anyone could imagine, and there are many balls on the table that may not be as visible, but strongly influence the game.

I note that  Trump seems to believe international relations is a game of one on one poker and plays by a series of threats and  bluffs.   He couldn’t be further off the mark and the US has lost its role as a negotiator  in resolving crises.  He also seems intent on reversing as many Obama era policies, even ones that were working.     He is a strong believer in nationalism, but then feels he can bully around lesser countries, such as Guatemala and Honduras.

A bit of background to the first civil war (2011) and second civil war (2014- present)

The spark that set off Arab Spring was the death of Mohammed Bouazizi in Tunisia on January 4, 2011.

The catalyst for the escalation of protests was the self-immolation of Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi. Unable to find work and selling fruit at a roadside stand, Bouazizi had his wares confiscated by a municipal inspector on 17 December 2010. An hour later he doused himself with gasoline and set himself afire. His death on 4 January 2011[78] brought together various groups dissatisfied with the existing system, including many unemployed, political and human rights activists, labor, trade unionists, students, professors, lawyers, and others to begin the Tunisian Revolution.[70]

The rapid spread of  rebellions during Arab Spring was really incredible.  It seemed in early 2011,  a new spirit of change toward honest and open government  had swept through the Middle East.  The common people were in the streets, directly confronting their leaders first in Tunisia, then in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen.  The list of grievances were hardly new – lack of democratic process,  government officials who were stealing from the people and anyone who protested would be thrown in prison.  Fear was the driving force.   All these countries were run by a single strong dictator, but no one could match the erratic, flamboyant and egotistical  Muamar Ghadaffi, leader of Libya.  He compared protesters to cockroaches, and proudly waved the “green book” during speeches, saying that the protesters were traitors, punishable by death.  Arab Spring was a battle of the people against autocracy, which is defined as follows:

An autocracy is a system of government in which supreme power is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (except perhaps for the implicit threat of a coup d’état or mass insurrection).[1] Absolute monarchies (such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Brunei and Swaziland) and dictatorships (such as Turkmenistan and North Korea) are the main modern-day forms of autocracy.

We have for decades simultaneously rallied against autocracies, and maintain friendly relations with their leaders.  This includes both Republican and Democrat administrations.   When the US has intervened, such as in Libya Afghanistan,  and Iraq, they were based on national security issues, principally that these countries would be a danger to other countries or support radical groups in the future.   We intervened in Libya, through NATO bombings to opponents of Gadaffi   However,  we never sent troops to Libya.   Our Libyan intervention was supported by the UN Resolution 1973 passed 10-0 in March 2011.

This is somewhat personal, as I was in Libya in the early part of the Arab Spring in 2011 and ultimately had to be evacuated along with a large number of expats by a British frigate.    I went back in 2013, at a period of relative calm.  There was a lot of optimism for a  new Libya.

It was clear to me by  June 2017 that the long road to re-unify Libya might end in disaster, because key players, including Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, were quietly backing their man (General Haftar)  to the east of Libya.  I wrote the following in my blog of June 26, 2017:

“The only path forward is re-unification through UN Negotiations.   On the Tobruk side, Chief of the Army, Haftar must not be allowed to purchase arms and escalate the war.    The conflict in Libya will only become worse if the US turns a blind eye towards the arming of the Tobruk government by the Saudi supporters.  Washington and the EU need to work jointly on the  the massive refugee problem.  This is a rapidly developing story.   To follow it, it is best to do a Google search on the news.   The latest story to appear, is the release of Saif al-Islam Gadaffi and   some discussion that he could play a some leadership role.  I have very serious doubts.   The areas under control by the various rival groups seems to change regularly.  The New York Times, The Guardian and Al Jazeera seem to be the best sources of information.”

I post a  three part blog, posted on June 25 to 26, 2017.  To explain recent events, it was really necessary to give some recent historical facts on the situation.  I began with a simple statement, “Nothing is normal in Libya. At least, in the last 3 years, what happens doesn’t seem normal or logical to outsiders.”   The three  key outside players in Libya are  Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE.  There is a major rift between the public policy (UN negotiated re-unification)  and their actions – namely military and financial support to the Tobruk side.    The players back the strong man, not because his policies will lead to a more stable country, but because they perceive him as the likely winner in the conflict.

I began the series with an observation, that the Tobruk administration had announced it was cutting off diplomatic relations with Qatar  This was very weird because there was never the normal recognition of the eastern government as being the legitimate government of Libya.  But, it made sense in terms of regional politics, as Haftar was just aligning himself on the side of the new Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia (Mohammed bin Salman) and other members of the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC), in particular the UAE,

To gain control of Libya,  military success is more  important than diplomatic success 

The civil war in Libya is not about ideology.  It is all about getting outside support to buy military equipment.  Simply put, Money rules.

General Haftar need Russia on his side.  Russia seemed to be hedging its position, but I think at this point, it is firmly supporting General Haftar, because his success at capturing the oil fields held by the Tripoli government.  I said in 2017, that Qaddafi’s son,  Saif al-Islam would play some role on the side of General Haftar.   He has been busy lining up Russian support for the General’s plan to take over the country by force, since it can’t be won in the UN negotiations.

In early April, 2019, a window of opportunity opened for General Haftar.  The Tripoli government lost one of its  key supporters.  The 82 year old president of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika,  stepped down amid widespread protests in the streets of Algiers.   Protesters are now attacking  his replacement either, so Algeria is in chaos right now.

While losing one key supporter,  General Haftar’s efforts were paying off  gaining another, much more important ally – Saudi Arabia.   To understand this relation, it is necessary to understand Hafter shares with Saudi Arabia a a deep animosity towards the Muslim Brotherhood, because this has become an international political organization.  It was instrumental in electing Mohammed Morsi to replace Hosni Mubarek in Egypt after his fall in 2011.

So these are some of the factors which lead to General Haftar’s success.  Next blog, I will focus more on the current situation.

Links:

Could Libya be Russia’s new Syria

Saudis gave Libya Haftar millions of dollars before the offensive

Fighting echoes through Tripoli as thousands continue to flee
WHO says it fears the outbreak of infectious diseases among the thousands of families fleeing their homes in Tripoli.

As events have unfolded in the past week, the Al Jazeera news reporting has been excellent.  See https://www.aljazeera.com

Wikipedia: Muslim Brotherhood

Wikipedia: Second Civil War (2014 – 

Arab Spring

A bit more on Facebook

My blog on HUD and Facebook went a bit long but there were a few things missing.   I’ve included the lawsuit filing and the original HUD complaint.   Guess where I found the HUD filing – on HUD’s Facebook page!

In response, Facebook stated the following:

We’re surprised by HUD’s decision, as we’ve been working with them to address their concerns and have taken significant steps to prevent ads discrimination. Last year we eliminated thousands of targeting options that could potentially be misused, and just last week we reached historic agreements with the National Fair Housing Alliance, ACLU, and others that change the way housing, credit, and employment ads can be run on Facebook. While we were eager to find a solution, HUD insisted on access to sensitive information — like user data — without adequate safeguards. We’re disappointed by today’s developments, but we’ll continue working with civil rights experts on these issues.”

I’m curious exactly  this sensitive user information that HUD was seeking.

One final point.  What really stops “redlining” practices these day (beyond the fact that it is illegal) is Zillow and other competitors who provide maps showing available homes and rentals in a general area  with listed prices and extensive information which can be screened by the buyer.   Interestingly,  this is an area which Facebook is likely to enter.   It is a strike against discriminatory practices, at least on the information concerning availability.   See link:

Facebook sets its sights on housing. Should Zillow be worried?

As I said in the prior post, Facebook stock has actually risen after being sued.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Why HUD’s lawsuit against Facebook came as a surprise

HUD_v_Facebook

HUD_01-18-0323_Complaint

Facebook v. HUD

When I first read about this, I felt like it belonged in the “What in the world category.”    Facebook  has 2 billion active users worldwide and generates 16.6 billion dollars from targeted advertisements. (see link below).

Facebook is being sued by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for discriminatory practices in real estate.  Specifically, they are being accused of violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968.   It is fairly an indirect connection as Facebook helps advertisers narrow their audience based on their demographic data.  The initial complaint, filed in 2018 states:

“[Facebook] has provided a toggle button that enables advertisers to exclude men or women from seeing an ad, a search-box to exclude people who do not speak a specific language from seeing an ad, and a map tool to exclude people who live in a specified area from seeing an ad by drawing a red line around that area,” the complaint reads.

The problem is that some  targeting of ads is beneficial to both advertisers and Facebook users.  A Facebook user does not want to be deluged with advertisements when they use Facebook.  I’m not a great Facebook user, but I did video tape a chicken that was loose in our front yard and post it.  Catching a chicken can be difficult and timing is everything. (pretty much topic, sorry).  Over time, users likely add data such as where they went to school, languages they speak, their interests and other bits of information which helps connect them to connect with others with similar interests.  All seeming pretty harmless.

Targeting audiences is nothing new. Amazon does this all the time based on my prior purchases and I’m sure, they have a pretty good idea of my interests.  They know  I am not interested in books written in Spanish, although I live in Miami.   Any time you visit a website, be it this blog, or any other, your browser passes along considerable data including age, where you live (usually city and state), your primary language and  general interests.  Facebook can tap into a lot of information on their users for marketing purposes.

Generally, it is not in the commercial interests of real estate agents to exclude potentially interested buyers,  but they also have a mental profile of who might be the a likely buyer of a home.

Comments by HUD go further as they add Facebook’s platform causes discrimination (from NPR website):

HUD says Facebook does so by “encouraging, enabling and causing housing discrimination” when it allows companies that use their platform to improperly shield who can see certain housing ads.

Why is the US government involved? 

In real estate, a company which targets audiences of their ads for potential buyers, is likely to be more successful in selling and renting homes.  The accusation against Facebook is they are an “enabler” of real estate agents involved in “redlining.”  It can be a tricky line, because sales agents may work with customers with religious or racial bias.  It can be particularly tricky in short term rentals.   It is not illegal to refuse to rent to someone with pets or who smokes.

The Fair Housing Act was passed to prevent discriminatory practices by real estate agents and lenders.     It was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on April 12, 1968 just 8 days after the assassination of Martin Luther King.  The legislation had been opposed  by southern conservative Democrats.  All real estate sales agents and brokers are licensed by their respective states, and have to demonstrate their knowledge of the Fair Housing Act as part of their certification exam.

I know personally discrimination was a big problem.  My father told me the real estate agents would never show houses in our area to eligible black buyers because they felt it black owners would depress housing values.  Today, this would be a blatant violation of the Fair Housing Act.   Owners of apartments in Houston, Texas where I lived in the early 1980’s, would routinely refuse to rent to blacks.  It was sad, unethical and now illegal.

The southern conservative Democrats in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s were openly racists defended by a state’s rights agenda.  They viewed the federal government as meddling in their self governance.    When George Wallace, a democrat  ran for governor of Alabama in 1962, the Republicans did not nominate any candidate.  His inaugural speech included this infamous line:

“In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Certainly, the Civil Rights bill of 1964 was a great turning point for the progressive faction of the Democratic party, and the beginning of the conservative  southern states turning more to the Republican Party.  Another great stalwart against equality was Congressman Howard W. Smith from Virginia, who as Committee Chairman of the House Rules Committee, did everything he could to stall of vote on the 1964 Civil Rights bill.

Will HUD win their case?  

Facebook said they were surprised at the filing of a lawsuit.  They were in the process of working to remedy the complaint.    Usually, if there is a complaint, the Department works out some settlement for damages rather than have a court battle.   At least that seems the way the Department handles discrimination suits against banks.     The case against Facebook is a civil suit,  so no one goes to jail.  It is against the Facebook corporation, which includes Instagram.

Discrimination is part of consumer rights and never  a priority under Trump

There is zero appetite in Trump’s administration for defending victims of  violation of the law in consumer rights.   This is why Ben Carson is in charge of HUD.  He has long

Similarly, Donald Trump appointed as director of CFPB, Mike Mulvaney,  an agency.  he detests and introduced legislation in Congress to abolish it.   It is an agency aimed at protecting consumers in financial areas, such as payday loans and home loans.  Mick Mulvaney effectively fired the CFPB Advisory Council, a 25 member group in June 2018.  There is little doubt that one reason for the financial collapse in 2008, was consumers were way over their heads in debt, some due to predatory practices of lenders.  Mulvaney’s appointment was temporary.   Democrats were appalled at his replacement, Kathy Kraninger, who has nearly no experience nor experience in consumer finance and protection.  She got the job based on loyalty to Mulvaney and will likely continue to continue the strategy of slowly weakening the Bureau’s activities until it makes no sense to fund it.  An enormous loss for consumers.  It’s called death by 1,000 cuts.

Ben Carson – Champion of the Obama era rollback

I believe the Verge website nailed it, with their headline,  “When did Ben Carson start to care about the Fair Housing Act?” .    Their posts demonstrates Carson’s extreme conservative positions:

We are not used to seeing robust regulation of tech companies here in this country, particularly not from HUD, which is currently run by a man who once said that the Affordable Care Act was “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” A year ago, the New York Times found that HUD was scaling back Obama-era enforcement of fair housing laws.

From the New York Times article:

The Trump administration is attempting to scale back federal efforts to enforce fair housing laws, freezing enforcement actions against local governments and businesses, including Facebook, while sidelining officials who have aggressively pursued civil rights cases.

The policy shift, detailed in interviews with 20 current and former Department of Housing and Urban Development officials and in internal agency emails, is meant to roll back the Obama administration’s attempts to reverse decades of racial, ethnic and income segregation in federally subsidized housing and development projects. The move coincides with the decision this month by Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, to strike the words “inclusive” and “free from discrimination” from HUD’s mission statement.

Wow!    I’ve included the Verge article and the New York Times.

The federal government spends billions of dollars on a program to fund 12,000 communities to improve their services in education, transportation and other areas  But in return, these communities had to show progress they were desegregating community services such as transportation and schools using a tool developed by HUD.   It sounds like a great program.   Carson eliminated this requirement and was sued.  The courts upheld Carson’s decision, “Federal judge dismisses …”.   He claims that he eliminated this rule, so the Department can come up with a better one.  Yeah,  like no funding at all.

Trump’s dislike for the Fair Housing Act

Donald Trump (President of Trump Management Co) and his father, Fred Trump  (CEO) were found in violation of the Fair Housing Act in 1972 by the US Department of Justice, – Civil Rights Division.   The division sent both black and white applicants to the New York apartments and found blacks or people on welfare were routinely rejected.     It took time to build a case against them.  They were coding application forms so they knew whether applicants were black.  They told rental agents not to rent to blacks.   They signed a “consent decree”with the Department of Justice to end the legal action.  See Wikipedia link.

Effect of HUD lawsuit on Facebook and others

The stock price of Facebook actually has increased a bit since the announced lawsuit.  It is likely investors feel that Facebook has a good chance to prevail or settle the case without much financial impact.  It is ironic that if the case is decided by a conservative judge, which narrowly interprets the Fair Housing Act, the whole lawsuit might be thrown out.   Many other companies, such as Google will want a quick settlement.  A settlement always allows both sides to claim victory.

In sum, I think this lawsuit is just an election campaign ploy.   Facebook has weathered some pretty enormous scandals on leaked information, and so it is tainted goods at this point.  But this hardly effected investors interest in the company as it is up around 30% for the year, verses 14% for the overall market (S+P index).

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Links:

NYT, Mar 28, 2018, Under Ben Carson, HUD Scales Back Fair Housing Enforcement

Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, on a housing tour last year in Columbus, Ohio. This month, he struck the words “inclusive” and “free from discrimination” from his department’s mission statement.

The Verge: Why HUD’s lawsuit against Facebook came as a surprise: When did Ben Carson start to care about the Fair Housing Act?

Kudos to Casey Newton, for a well researched post with relevant links.

Federal judge dismisses lawsuit accusing HUD Secretary Ben Carson of dismantling Obama-era fair housing law

Federal aid will continue to 12,000 urban communities to improve their neighborhoods without any checks on efforts to desegregate schools,  transportation and other community services.

Washington Post: HUD is reviewing Twitter’s and Google’s ad practices as part of housing discrimination probe

May 17, 2018, Washington Post, HUD Secretary Ben Carson to be sued for suspending Obama-era fair-housing rule

Mick Mulvaney isn’t blowing up the CFPB, It’s more like death by a thousand cuts, critics say.

Mick Mulvaney Effectively Fires CFPB Advisory Council

Wikipedia:  Fred Trump

 

Can there be obstruction if no underlying crime was committed?

Yes.  See the link below.

https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2019/mar/25/martha-stewart-donald-trump-can-there-be-obstructi/

Per Fact Checking sites.   They really are very good.  I can see why recently Trump attacked Fact Checking websites.  Many of the worst lies (fake news) are disseminated on Facebook by bloggers.  But on occasion,  statements by Donald Trump join the “Pants on Fire” group.  So, do not trust anything posted anonymously by a blogger.  Same goes for Trump’s tweets.   Secondly, there are a ton of commentators particularly on Fox News, who live by selling books and videos, on grand conspiracy theories and deep state nonsense.  I will not vote for anyone with a track record as bad as Trump’s in the 2020 election.

Learn to separate out serious news reporting from late night “news show.”    If you ever watched a Lou Dobbs broadcast, you know what I mean.  Lou makes it very easy for his guests to respond, as there’s hardly a question embedded inside of a question, except,  “Don’t you agree with me?”.

As per the Mueller report,  I support the Attorney General’s approach.  The amount of speculation of what is contained in the report, is really incredible.  His letter cited just two conclusions contained in the report.  Redacting sensitive information from a report, particularly one related to counter-intelligence, requires considerable time.  I reject the call from impatient Democrats, saying they want everything right now.  For our justice system to work, not everything should be disclosed, including FISA subpoenas.

Barr released his letter two days after he got the report because to do otherwise would have politicians claiming he was concealing information.   It is difficult to tamp down or narrow the scope of speculation on what the report concludes.

Stay tuned,

Dave