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Donald Trump’s Campaign Promises: Tracking His Progress and Fact Checking His Claims – NBCNews.com

Posted: February 20, 2017 at 7:09 pm

President Donald Trump campaigned, and won, on larger-than-life promises.

From the bold (create 25 million jobs) to the specific (he won’t eat another Oreo until Nabisco moves production back to the United States) to the wildly aspirational (“I will give you everything”), Trump offered up so many promises during his presidential bid that it was hard to know at times where bravado ended and his policy agenda began.

NBC News found that Trump took 141 distinct stances on 23 major issues. From this roving platform, a set of bold goals emerged. As president, Trump vowed to curb immigration, repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, create jobs for Americans, defeat “radical Islamic terror” and rebuild American infrastructure, to name just a few.

Follow along as we track his progress here.

Trump’s core campaign promises defied party-line politics as much as they stuck to them, and united a surprising coalition of voters that drew historically white, working-class Democrats into a conservative coalition that fueled the reality television star to a surprising victory in November.

In the hands of an outsider candidate bent on shaking up Washington, D.C., it was a triumphant strategy. Now, they are the test of his presidency.

He will have to tackle broad catchphrase pledges “build the wall” and “so much winning” with policy while he working with a Republican-led Congress filled with the “establishment” politicians he derided throughout his campaign and Democratic lawmakers intent on opposing much of his agenda.

Can Trump fulfill his promises when confronted with the realities of first-ever elected office, a complex global economy, and a divided nation?

With this tracking tool, we’ll chart the success of his presidency using 10 core goals as a lens, examining how Trump’s goals collide with the realities of governing.

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Donald Trump’s Campaign Promises: Tracking His Progress and Fact Checking His Claims – NBCNews.com

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The UAE has a plan to colonize Mars in the next 100 years, and the oil money to finance it – Quartz

Posted: at 6:49 pm

The UAE has a plan to colonize Mars in the next 100 years, and the oil money to finance it
… eyed the elaborately decorated exhibit booth of the United Arab Emirates space agency, founded in 2014, wondering whether itand the UAE's $500 billion sovereign wealth fund, swollen with petrodollarscould be the financiers needed for a Mars
UAE Announces Plans to Have a Human Colony on Mars by 2117Futurism
The UAE Has Announced Plans To Build A City The Size Of Chicago On MarsWccftech
United Arab Emirates Reveal Plan to Build City on MarsCrave Online
Dubai Media Office –Washington Post –T.co
all 101 news articles »

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The UAE has a plan to colonize Mars in the next 100 years, and the oil money to finance it – Quartz

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The USA Just Approved HUMAN Embryo Genome Modification Research Paving the Way For Designer Babies – The Christian Truther

Posted: at 6:47 pm

Sometime very soon the first humans to be genetically edited will be born, and the United States just paved the way.

In December 2015, scientists and ethicists at an international meeting held at the NAS in Washington said it would be irresponsible to use gene editing technology in human embryos for therapeutic purposes, such as to correct genetic diseases, until safety and efficacy issues are resolved.

On February 14th, 2017; the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine issued a report outlining the permissible circumstances upon which the research into editing human embryos could be conducted.

Their latest statement signals that the NASis softening its approach, to the use of gene-editing technology such as CRISPR-CAS9.

Previously genome editing was already being planned for use in clinical trials on people to correct diseases. However, the primary concern is over the utilization of the technology in human reproductive cells or early embryos because the changes would be passed along to offspring.

Although gene editing of human reproductive cells to correct inherited diseases must be approached with caution, caution does not mean prohibition, the committee said in a statement.

The rise in genome editing signals the real end of the human being. Simply put, directly after the first genome alteration and birth, the natural genome would be something entirely man-made.

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The USA Just Approved HUMAN Embryo Genome Modification Research Paving the Way For Designer Babies – The Christian Truther

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Reckoning with the Addict and the U.S. War on Drugs – OUPblog – OUPblog (blog)

Posted: February 19, 2017 at 11:49 am

In 2015, nearly 1.25 million people in the United Stateswere arrested for the simple possession of drugs. Moreover, Americas War on Drugs has led to unprecedented violence and instability in Mexico and other drug-producing nations. Yet in spite of billions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, drug abuse has not decreased.

The stigma of the addict has remained tried-and-true for decades, even centuries, and it affects every proposed solution to eliminating drug abuse and the drug trade, from treatment models to aggressive drug enforcement measures. With the solidification of the punitive drug control system in the 1970s and 1980s, years of stigmatizing individuals dependencies to substances like cocaine, derivatives of the poppy plant, and alcohol reached its logical conclusion: the addict was cast as a criminal. But if the stigma of the addict were removed altogether, many fear that drug addiction would increase to the overall detriment of society.

With the drug war concept growing increasingly unpopular, treatment policies have been touted as the next frontier in reducing drug abuse and crippling the drug trade. However, the success of treatment policies is more than simply discarding the War on Drugs. Its reckoning with the addict. If the treatment approach is to achieve widespread success, we must minimize our stigma of the addict in conjunction with creating more viable rehabilitative options that can successfully displace punitive drug control measures.

A look at how American society has stigmatized the addict over the last 100 years reveals how much work remains to be done.

Drug addicts have gone to great lengthsmonetarily, physically, emotionally, etc.to cure themselves of myriad addictions. In the 1930s, an experimental treatment known as the serum cure used heat plasters to raise blisters on the addicts skin. Upon withdrawing the serum from the blisters, the administers of the treatment then re-injected the serum directly into the addicts muscles multiple times over the course of the week that followed. Remarkable results were claimed from the serum cure.

Other miracle cures included horse blood injections, the infamous Keeley Cure, which introduced a substance into the body that allegedly contained gold, and placing the excrement of animals into substances like alcohol to induce aversion to them.

Those who did not turn to vogue, experimental treatments often resorted to substituting one substance addiction for another: cocaine for morphine or morphine for alcohol. It all depended upon which substance society deemed the more undesirable at the time.

At one point, the stigmatization of the addict proved so intense that some resorted to sterilization, especially in the age of eugenics. Addicts, as it went, did not have the right to pass on their undesirable addictions to their offspring or to society at large.

While the personal cost of such remedies was high for the addict, it was by no means as costly as enduring the sense of shame that came with being an addict in US society.

While todays addict is more likely to undergo a stay in a treatment facility, a prison, or on the street rather than an unusual, experimental cure, the stigma of the addict remains as sharp as ever, so much so that it prevents treatment resources from being made available to a greater portion of the population. It discourages addicts from seeking the help they need.

According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only 14% of people struggling with drug dependency seek treatment. Treatment implies accepting the status as addict in the path to recovery, a step that for some is too gruesome to endure.

Contrary to popular belief, many of the architects of the US War on Drugs were politicians in favor of treatment approaches to drug abuse. The US anti-drug campaign was not initially intended to be a war per se, but instead an incredible mobilization of US resources to target widespread drug use in the 1960s and 1970s, a period wracked by civil unrest and opposition to authority figures.

But ultimately the desire to minimize crime overtook an increased focus on treatment. Mistakenly, drug control came to be associated with increasing numbers of non-white, lower class drug addictsalready undesirables. Soon the larger umbrella of crime prevention subsumed drug addicts, many who might have been successfully rehabilitated if the conditions proved more favorable. Tackling addiction then grew increasingly intertwined with making US cities and towns safer.

In time, leaders would mobilize supply control measures domestically and abroad, and soon an entire bureaucracy formed around criminalized drug control where the addict was the criminal. Those who advocated genuine treatment options from the 1970s onward fought a losing battle. This made sense given longer traditions of stigmatizing addicts and the intense pressures addicts faced to overcome their dependencies.

The question now is not whether we can fund more treatment programs to reduce drug addiction and move past the War on Drugs, but whether or not we discard the stigma of the addict, which undergirds any solution to drug abuse in our society. With drug control in the United States an inherently racialized, class-based phenomenon, its easier to stigmatize and blame than it is to rehabilitate.

While increasingly sophisticated treatment options and facilities have developed over time, our society is not yet in a position where we embrace our addicts, especially those of lower classes, races, and ethnicities. Although blacks and Latinos use and sell drugs at similar or lower rates to whites, they comprise nearly 60% of those being held for drug offenses at state prisons. Nothing has contributed more to the systematic mass incarceration of people of color in the United States than the War on Drugs, according to Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow.

As it stands, drug control fluctuates between two extremes: addiction as crime versus addiction as disease. For most of our recent history, we have subscribed to the former position. Treatment programs on a mass scale should be carefully constructed so that they promote the recuperating addict and his or her recovery post-addiction in a less stigmatizing environment. We must give addicts a second chance to be full citizens in our society capable of making a fresh start.

Perhaps the first step involves supporting campaigns that popularize the notion of seeing addiction as a disease through events and social media, such as National Recovery Month each September. Supporters of this cause offer support to addicts and their families and celebrate recovery. Could such awareness, if it grows powerful enough, then serve to inspire more aggressive political action?

In whatever direction we proceed, we must find a way to reckon with the stigma of the addict, an effort that has to be more powerful than the inclination to see the addict as a criminal.

Featured image credit: Chainlink by Unsplash. Public Domain via Pixabay.

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President Trump Signs Executive Order Ramping Up The War On … – TheFix.com

Posted: at 11:49 am

On Thursday morning, President Trump signed three new executive orders, including the Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking. This executive order addresses multiple kinds of trafficking, including human and drug trafficking.

According to CNN, this EO is aimed at combating transnational drug cartels, prescrib[ing] steps for various federal agencies to increase intelligence sharing among law enforcement partners. Theorder established an inter-agency task force to compile a report detailing “the progress made in combating criminal organizations” along with “recommended actions for dismantling them.”

In essence, this EO makes good on President Trumps campaign promises to combat rising drug addiction and overdose deaths in the United States through law enforcement and border patrol. He is echoing tough on crime language that originated with President Richard Nixon in the 1970s and continued through the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

The War on Drugs that Richard Nixon initiated has been deemed a policy failureon all levels by the United Nations. A 2013 study in the British Medical Journal found that despite efforts to limit the supply of these drugs, since 1990 prices have fallen while the purity of the drugs has increased, the Guardian reported.

The presidents EO claims that drug cartels are drivers of crime, corruption, violence, and misery. It goes on to say the trafficking by cartels of controlled substances has triggered a resurgence in deadly drug abuse and a corresponding rise in violent crime related to drugs. However, to say thatinternational drug trafficking is to blame forthe rise in drug abuse, addiction, and crimeis a stretch, at best.

Particularly when much of the current addiction epidemic in the U.S. can be tied to Big Pharma and the overprescription of certain drugs by doctors. Not only that, in communities where decriminalization has been prioritizedlike the police-run Angel Programin Gloucester, Massachusettshelping people struggling with addiction to get treatment instead of arresting them for drug use or drug possession has resulted in a reduction of ancillary crimes associated with drug use.

The one area that these drug war policies have been effective is in the mass incarceration and destruction of communities of color in the United Statesthe black community in particular. Nixons former domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman later admitted that the War on Drugs was designed to target black people, saying in an interview, We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.

The result, which intensified after Bill Clinton signed the 1994 Crime Bill, has been the incarceration of black folks on an incredibly large scale. According to a 2016 report by the Drug Policy Alliance,while black people comprise 13% of the U.S. population and are consistently documented by the U.S. government to use drugs at similar rates to people of other races, they make up 31% of those arrested for drug law violations, and nearly 40% of people incarcerated in state or federal prison for drug law violations.

Ramping up the drug war mindset is bad news for those touched by addiction. It took nearly half a century to realize that “fighting” drugs with aggressive law enforcement is more harmful than effectiveat a huge cost, in terms of lives lost and billions of tax dollars wasted.

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Immigrant Round-ups Stir Fears – Consortium News

Posted: at 11:37 am

During last falls campaign, Donald Trump vowed to get rid of the bad hombres among the 11 million undocumented people in the U.S., but recent raids appear far less targeted, reports Dennis J Bernstein.

By Dennis J Bernstein

President Donald Trump is keeping his promise to go after undocumented people in the United States, with recent reports of sweeps by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (or ICE) sending waves of fear through the Latino and other immigrant communities in California, Texas and Arizona.

Trump had justified the need for such round-ups as necessary to get rid of bad hombres but immigrant advocates say the raids are indiscriminate, rounding up as many undocumented people as possible.

It is now clear the Trump Administration is not concerned with public safety, said California State Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin De Leon. They are only focused on ripping hard-working men, women, and children from their families and communities. Mass deportations will not make us safer, instead they will simply undermine our states economy.

De Leon issued a statementcritical of ICE actions on Feb. 10, saying he had been misled by ICE assurances that refugee advocates had exaggerated when they claimed that more than 100 people had been arrested in raids across Southern California a day earlier.

I appreciate that ICE finally disclosed details about their recent raids, but stunned to learn that ICEs public comments made [on Feb. 9] were blatantly false, said De Leon, noting that ICE later confirmed that it had arrested 160 people.

De Leon, perhaps the most influential elected Latino official in the state of California, called on ICE to work more effectively with the communities of California that De Leon represents. If you want to ensure ongoing safety of the public and law enforcement personnel, my recommendation is to drop the mass deportation threats roiling our communities and instead focus strictly on dangerous felons, he said.

Among the groups most targeted for mass deportation are the undocumented day laborers and domestic workers who work the fields and clean the major hotels and the houses of the rich and famous.

Chris Newman is Legal Director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network or NDLON, which represents tens of thousands of day laborers from coast to coast. I spoke with him earlier this month.

Dennis Bernstein: Could you talk about the concerns that NDLON now has, in terms of the unfolding, what weve seen already with these anti-immigrant directives, coming from the President of the United States and the mass sweeps that have followed?

Chris Newman: Well, its certainly far worse than we would have imagined, even days before the president was inaugurated. And I think that theres no question that the Trump administration is trying to terrorize people, trying to terrorize immigrants, trying to terrorize the country, in an effort to try to assert legitimacy for the administration and to try to exercise executive authority.

I do think, again, they are going out of their way to conflate anxieties that people have about the economy, about terrorism, about globalization. Theyre doing their best to sort of bundle them all up. And the reality is that the real world implications for immigrants are quite dire. And, so, you are quite right. We are left in a position of reacting as the president appears to be making good on many of his campaign promises.

DB: Now, weve seen a couple of high profile cases of them demonstrating their resolve to intimidate and deport. Of course, here in the San Francisco Bay Area, where there was a case where ICE showed up at a daycare center, a medical center, and said they had the wrong address. They were looking for a rapist. But all the kids in the daycare center were terrorized.

We now have seen the arrest of a woman who was in the country 21 years, taken out, essentially, out of the arms of her family. Are you hearing more and more about intimidation, about things happening? Could you give us a sense of how that might be reverberating in the community that you represent?

CN: I think that youve put your finger right on it. These actions are a deliberate effort to intimidate and terrorize the community. One of the things I think is commonly misunderstood about the organized xenophobes, the people who are really the propelling force of the Trump campaign: their goal is to limit the foreign born, non-white population of the United States. And deportation is only a piece of how they hope to bring about that agenda. In fact, they want to bring about a far more sophisticated and nefarious plan to effectuate a reduction of the foreign-born, non-white population through attrition.

And so, the idea is to make life sufficiently miserable for immigrants, such that they voluntarily go home. The tipping line that people know about is the South deportation. And, also, such that people are deterred from coming to the United States. And within that context, and within that broader agenda that they have, deportation/criminal enforcement is just one tool. Their goal is to cut access to education, to jobs, to the means of survival, and also to instill fear. And within that context the act of showing courage and resistance contravenes the strategy.

You can look to the deportation of Guadalupe in Phoenix as an example of the brutality of the Trump policy. But you can also look to the way in which the community responded in Phoenix, and the courageous protests as a sign of resistance. And it will also be the new normal.

CN: I think that ICE should be called to task for their lack of transparency in all of these enforcement operations. ICE public information officers or spokespeople have been intentionally obfuscating, precisely to try to create, I think, a sense of chaos, confusion, and unrest. And, to me, it seems totally unacceptable that, number one, ICE refuses to provide details of enforcement operations. And, number two, that that seems to be an acceptable answer from the mainstream press.

I think ICE must be compelled to answer how many people were detained, and why and where. And, I think, reporters should not accept No for an answer. It cannot be the new normal that the largest federal interior law enforcement agency does not provide basic information about raids. Particularly when we have a president who has intentionally engaged in a strategy of well call it the disruption, or the intentional, sort of, sowing of chaos, that theyve been involved in. Yes, so I dont have details, but ICE should be providing them, forthwith.

DB: Now, let me ask you, on that policy: is this now a pattern in practice, of not saying whos being arrested, why theyre being arrested, or where theyre taken? Is this a new intensification? How would you describe that?

CN: I would describe it as sort of an unrestrained tendency thats been with the agency since its inception. As you know, weve discussed on your program before, ICE was involved in intentional dishonesty in the rolling out of the so-called Secure Communities Program, which coerced local police to become front line law enforcement agencies.

And this is just not my view, as an attorney with a point of view as an advocate. I mean, this was the view of members of Congress and federal judges starting with a freedom of information request. ICE was intentionally involved in a deliberate strategy of disinformation about that program. And for many years, organizations like mine and others have raised questions about whether ICE is, in fact, a rogue law enforcement agency.

But, now, you have a rogue law enforcement agency essentially presided over by a rogue president. And so, I think that the types of tactics of propaganda and, again, misinformation that ICE has been involved in, are now currently, unrestrained.

And so, I do think it is incumbent upon the concerned community members to do, and to look at what Phoenix did, and look at what Puente, in Arizona, did in response to Guadalupes raid. And we need to model and replicate that type of courage and response.

But, I also think that members of the press are going to have to be more vigilant at holding ICE accountable for the dissembling way in which theyre sowing confusion about these enforcement operations.

DB: And, just finally, are you all taking precautions? Are there more meetings? Are there more informational gatherings? Are people being presented with more ways of protecting themselves? How do, you know, to be alert, what to do when they arrive. Is that part of whats going on now in terms of the defense against this?

CN: Without a doubt. I mean, we have one of the most, or the most, xenophobic senator is now the top cop in the United States, in Jeff Sessions, as the new Attorney General. And [it] is now, I think, imperative that people when you have somebody who has sort of forecasted his intent to roll back civil rights protections that have been won over the last several decades, its imperative that people take it upon themselves, not just to prepare to defend themselves, but also to defend constitutional values that have been fought for and won over generations.

And so, yes, indeed, across the country there are high-level know your rights informational seminars, such that immigrants are being prepared to defend themselves and to defend the constitution.

Dennis J Bernstein is a host of Flashpoints on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at http://www.flashpoints.net.

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Immigrant Round-ups Stir Fears – Consortium News

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Freedom and Jack London draw refugees to Fairbanks – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Posted: at 11:07 am

FAIRBANKS – My story is not at all unique, said Sveta Yamin-Pasternak. Its the same as it is for over a million people just from our wave of immigration that came over. Sheand her husband Igor Pasternaks stories are far from the standard American experience, however. Though they met in Chicago, both are Jews from the Soviet Union who came to America as political refugees.

Sveta was born in Rechitsa, a small town in Belarus, and grew up in Minsk. In 1989, her parents took advantage of an opening that allowed Jews to leave. The family traveled through Austria to Rome, where they were aided by HIAS, formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which helps refugees of all backgrounds re-establish themselves in new countries. They were assisted by Fairbanks-born HIAS worker Sam Sherman, with whom Sveta reconnected in Fairbanks many years later.

Igors family lived in Odessa, Ukraine, before leaving in 1992. Thawing relations between the United States and the USSR led to an American consulate being established in Moscow, and they were able to apply directly for political asylum.

Both had limited knowledge of America. For Sveta, the country existed only in my imagination, adding, It was ideologically constructed as the enemy, and at the same time it was a very desirable place.

Igor had seen VCR tapes that circulated underground and said, We believed that Hollywood was what it is. Money grows on trees. You can do whatever you want. Sex, drugs and rock n roll. I had no idea about the conservatism.

They did know about Alaska, however, mostly from Jack London novels which they read in school because the Soviets approved of his socialist politics.

Because both their families had relativesalready in Chicago, that is where they each wound up Sveta as a high school student and Igor having completed army service and studies in mechanical engineering. For both, the most astonishing thing about America was that they suddenly didnt have to hide being Jewish.

I could not believe that young men would walk on the street wearing yarmulkes, Sveta said. I was coming from the perspective that if at all you can, you would pass for a non-Jew for your everyday safety and to not be denied opportunities. It was mind blowing.

Igor, who describes his father as a big time dissident in the USSR, immediately noticed that nobody gives a damn about you. You could walk on the street and no one is looking at you. That was completely new.

That sense of freedom required getting used to, but both said the Jewish community in Chicago was supportive and they quickly learned English and settled in.

The couple met in a coffee shop near Northwestern University in 1993. They dated throughout Svetas years at Northern Illinois University, where she earned bachelors and graduate degrees in anthropology. There she became fascinated with the cultures on both sides of the Bering Strait, leading her to Fairbanks in 1998 to pursue her Ph.D.at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

To this day, the shared indigenous culture with its nuanced differences between the Russified and Americanized everyday practices just continues to fascinate me, she said.

Igor helped her move to Fairbanks and made repeated visits during her first 11/2 years here. I did not have plans to settle here, but very quickly, within the first year, it became my home, Sveta said.

When Sveta started sending him emails about friends living in dry cabins with outhouses, Igor grew concerned. I thought, OK, time to bring her back. Even in the Soviet Union they had running water and toilets, he said, laughing.

However, after visiting her waterless cabin off Farmers Loop, I realized that privacy is such an important thing. We were able to get lost in the woods for hours and nobody would bother us. All the Jack London books came back. After two years I said, I want to be here too.

Igor came to stay in 2000. While Sveta completed her Ph.D., he earned a BFA in art. Theyve made Alaska their home ever since, except for 2007 to 2009 when Igor earned his masters degreefrom American University in Washington D.C. and Sveta did post-doc work at Johns Hopkins.

These days they collaborate on projects involving both anthropological research and art. This is what I believe success is, Igor said. We work together. We figure out how to come up with something in common between studio art and social science. In addition to the standard curriculum, Sveta and Igor team-teach original courses they developed, serving more than100 UAF students eachsemester.

Theyve also embraced the Alaska lifestyle by buying land, building their home, hunting, fishing, trapping and raising animals while conducting classes and traveling the world (theyve visited more than40countries).

Both have found Fairbanks welcoming.

I dont think Ive ever had an experience in Fairbanks connected with xenophobia, Igor said. That wasnt always the case in Chicago. Here even at the gun show, nobody told me I have an accent.

Sveta added, The big cities in the United States are perceived as very diverse and they are in their entirety, but they are actually divided into ghetto neighborhoods. People remain within their own groups.

This creates fun neighborhoods, but the cultures dont mix.

In Fairbanks, it is diverse but also a lot more integrated. Most people come from Outside, she added, so being an immigrant isnt as unique.

After living in Chicago, It feels like we have even more freedom here, Igor said.

Its a refuge from the refuge. The ultimate refuge, Sveta added.

The idea of refuge has been on her mind a lot owing to current events, making her especially sensitive to refugees fleeing far worse conditions than she knew.

I did come to the United States as a refugee, she said. I did come from a country where we faced everyday persecution. Its part of our story and it is relevant to what is happening now.

David James is a freelance writer who lives in Fairbanks.Becoming Alaskan is an ongoing series documenting the lives of immigrants in Fairbanks. Feedback and suggestions for future interviews can be emailed to nobugsinak@gmail.com.

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Diane Dimond: Shaking the Family Tree for DNA to Solve Crimes … – Noozhawk

Posted: at 10:50 am

Its a scientifically proven method of crime fighting that is banned in all but a handful of states. Why arent more crime labs using it?

Its called familial DNA testing, and it has been widely restricted because some see it as an invasion of innocent peoples privacy. Others remain convinced that it is justifiable since it solves crimes and even brings notorious serial killers to justice. You decide.

Routine DNA testing takes samples of blood, saliva, semen, skin cells and other bodily remnants from a crime scene and runs them through a national FBI database called the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, to see whether the unknown perpetrators DNA is already in the system. If no match is found, the next step could be a familial DNA test.

Heres how it works:

CODIS is the largest DNA registry in the world, containing profiles on more than 14 million individuals. Say a man was arrested in the late 1990s for assault with a deadly weapon and was required to give a DNA sample. His DNA profile would automatically have been added to the CODIS registry, to be stored forever.

If police were to recover DNA years later from, say, a murder scene, a familial DNA test could reveal whether the murder suspect came from the same family tree as the assailant. If the test were to find a familial match, police could then put a surname to the DNA material.

Familial testing can even expose the familial relationship, be it a father-child or brother-brother match.

Heres a real-life case:

When dogged detective Lt. Ken Landwehr in Wichita, Kan., finally zeroed in on Dennis Rader as being the infamous BTK Killer (bind, torture and kill killer), he wanted to be absolutely certain that he had the man who murdered 10 people over a 17-year span.

Rader had a history of taunting police with cryptic letters and, finally, with a floppy disk full of information about his murder spree. Landwehr found data on the disk that led to a computer at a local church. He discovered Rader was the church council president.

Landwehr then got a warrant to obtain a genetic sample from Raders daughter. After using a familial DNA analysis on her Pap test, technicians concluded that her DNA profile was a familial match to the DNA left at one of the BTK Killers murder scenes.

This gave Landwehr the evidence he needed to take the serial killer off the streets. Rader pleaded guilty, sparing the community a long, painful and expensive trial.

Familial DNA testing also brought a Los Angeles serial killer to justice. For more than 20 years, detectives had been looking for a perp nicknamed the Grim Sleeper, who was so named for the long spans of time in between his murders.

When a young man named Christopher Franklin was arrested on a weapons charge in 2008, his DNA was registered in CODIS. Later, during periodic rechecks of the Grim Sleepers DNA, a familial match popped up indicating Franklin was closely related. The conclusion was that Franklin was either the father of or the son of the serial killer.

A detective posed as a busboy at a pizza place, and upon testing a partly eaten slice Franklins father had left, a familial match to the crime scene DNA was found. As a result, 57-year-old Lonnie David Franklin was convicted of 10 murders and sentenced to death.

Hundreds more major crimes and cold cases have been solved using familial DNA testing both here in the United States and in the United Kingdom, where the technique was pioneered. Yet criticism about the invasion of privacy continues.

Surely, the Grim Sleepers son gave up his right to privacy when he broke the law and was required to give a DNA sample. But what about the daughter of the BTK Killer? She likely never could have imagined that her routine gynecological test would be used to convict her father of multiple murders and then stored in CODIS in perpetuity.

Advancements in forensic science force us to consider weighty issues. Should people lose their right to privacy just because a family member becomes a criminal? Or does the publics right to community safety trump the rights of the individual?

The debate has kept most states from adopting laws allowing familial DNA testing. So far, only 10 states California, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming perform it.

Study after study over the years has concluded that criminal behavior runs in families, either for genetic or environmental reasons. One study concluded that only 8 percent of families account for 43 percent of all crime. Armed with that knowledge, doesnt it make sense to shake the family tree as a last resort?

Diane Dimond is the author of Thinking Outside the Crime and Justice Box. Contact her at diane@dianedimond.com, follow her on Twitter: @DiDimond, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Diane Dimond: Shaking the Family Tree for DNA to Solve Crimes … – Noozhawk

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Joe Miller, Bill Weld, and Following Principle over Party – Being Libertarian

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:44 am

The story of Joe Miller

Of the many controversial moves that Bill Weld made, one that seems particularly confounding was his endorsement of Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska Senate race last October. The Libertarian Candidate, Joe Miller, made history this year as the best Senate Candidate in the partys history, netting a record 29.1% of the vote and coming second to incumbent Republican, Lisa Murkowski. Critics pointed to this as another example of Welds lack of commitment to the movement, but in reality, it was an example of Weld following principle.

Joe Miller is a supporter of a presidential line-item veto amendment, a balanced budget amendment, suspending all new entitlements, suspending earmarks, reducing foreign aid, and abolishing the Department of Education. He is also opposed to federal farm subsidies, the federal minimum wage, unemployment benefits, and the affordable care act. These are all fairly libertarian stances, so on what grounds did Weld oppose Miller?

First, there are the clear reasons Tea Party does not equal libertarian. While groups like the Niskanen Center and the Property and Environment Research Center discuss free market solutions to climate change, Joe Miller denies it exists. While the Libertarian Party opposes the death penalty, Joe Miller is for it. Libertarians are for the legalization of same-sex marriage, and Joe Miller is opposed to it. Where libertarians are noninterventionist, Joe Miller is a hawk. Where libertarians tend to stand up for the rights of migrants to the United States yearning to be free, Joe Miller opposes any form of amnesty. Miller has said that the totalitarian East Germany of Berlin Wall infamy is a strong example of a country taking action to control the flow of people across its borders ironic given how Ron Paul said that border fences would ultimately be used to keep citizens *in* the country.

Joe Miller said that hed caucus as a Republican and months before Weld arrived in Alaska that hed be voting for Donald Trump and not Gary Johnson while he may be principled in his own views as a Tea Party conservative, Joe Miller is not a libertarian. The main reason he was the 2016 Libertarian Senate nominee was because the Libertarian candidate chosen by the convention dropped without warning and the state party board replaced her with Joe Miller in such haste that party members had no opportunity to comment or react.

If one looks back to 2010, theyd see a familiar race Lisa Murkowski came first and Joe Miller came second, but both ran as Republican candidates. In 2010 Joe Miller, running as a Tea Party Republican, won the primary over Lisa Murkowski. But Murkowski wasnt finished, she went on to become the second Senator in United States history to win via a write-in campaign. Murkowskis first choice after losing the primary wasnt to run via write-in. Lisa Murkowski first attempted to run as a Libertarian. In talking with the Party, she said that shed even form her own Libertarian Caucus in the Senate rather than go back to caucusing with the Republicans.

Unfortunately for the Libertarian Party, the state party chair went so far as to cancel the Libertarian convention, the end result being that the Libertarian Party missed out on an opportunity to not only have a Senator (finally) but have a Senator who is experienced and a well-known figure in Washington. One whod have considerable fundraising capacity and ability to build party infrastructure. Looking at 2016, Bill Weld put principle first in his endorsement of Murkowski.

So, there you have it, a story of a high-profile potential defector; a tea party opportunist; a party apparatus that continually made detrimental decisions; and an odd circumstance where Bill Weld, of all people, ended up taking the purist route.

If there are two lessons to be learned, its that Libertarians shouldnt simply try to tie themselves to the Tea Party and that Libertarian allies can be found in some unlikely places.

Jacob Linker is a Campus Coordinator with Students For Liberty and the State Chair of Young Americans for Liberty in his state.

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Joe Miller, Bill Weld, and Following Principle over Party – Being Libertarian

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US Economic Freedom Hits Historic Low – theTrumpet.com

Posted: at 4:42 am

The United States is no longer among the worlds top 15 freest economies. In fact, according to an annual index released by the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday, the U.S. fell from being the sixth-freest economy in the world when President Barack Obama took office in 2009 to being the 17th freest economy in the world today.

The U.S. economic freedom score for 2017 was 75.1 out of 100. This means economic freedom in the U.S. has fallen to its lowest level since the Heritage Foundation started keeping track in 1995. America now ranks behind such nations as Chile, Estonia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. Since the Heritage Foundation ranks countries with scores above 80 as economically free, it has only ranked the U.S. as mostly free since 2009.

The Heritage economic freedom index is calculated based on 12 factors of economic freedom, including property rights, government spending, freedom from corruption, fiscal freedom, monetary freedom, business freedom, labor freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom and financial freedom. The 2017 report lists large budget deficits, an enormous national debt, a substantial expansion of government bureaucracy and an increased tax burden as contributing factors to the decline in Americas economic freedom.

Another index of economic freedom, published by the Fraser Institute, shows that the U.S. fell from being second freest economy in 1980 to being the 16th freest economy in 2014. According to this assessment, U.S. economic freedom actually rose from 1980 to 2000 but has been in steady decline since the turn of the millennium.

The Fraser Institute reports that the U.S. economic freedom index fell from 8.07 to 7.75 between 1980 and 2014, while Chinas economic freedom index rose from 3.64 to 6.45 during the same time period. As the U.S. turns its back on Adam Smith-style capitalism and China turns its back on Mao Zedong-style communism, both nations are adopting a mixed socialist market economy where property is privately owned but micromanaged by government bureaucrats.

Germany and most members of the European Union also have economic freedom scores in the moderately free zone, a category associated with mixed socialist market economies and authoritarian bureaucracies.

For the past two centuries, the form of government championed by Britain and Americaa form of government that has at its heart some important biblical principleshas spread throughout the Western world. Yet, in recent years, nations around the globe have been turning their back on the Anglo-American methods of economic management.

Even many key American officials have adopted an approach similar to Barack Obamas philosophy that nations should not debate the ideologies of capitalism and communism, but instead should pursue a mixed economy that uses bits of Communist theory and bits of capitalist theory.

To see where this dangerous decline in economic freedom is leading, please read Democracy Is Dying.

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US Economic Freedom Hits Historic Low – theTrumpet.com

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