Friday, July 29, 2016

British immigration: more time combating clandestine immigrants means less time investigating scams

What do immigration inspectors do?

The Telegraph has the story: Overwhelmed border guards diverted from other immigration scams to deal with threefold increase in migrants arriving by lorry and Channel Tunnel

“It's worrying that problems at the border meant that that organised crime and sham marriages were not properly investigated. In addition overstayers were not returned and illegal working was not tackled."

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Refugees from Central America

The NY times has the story:

"The White House on Tuesday announced a substantial expansion of a program to admit Central American refugees to the United States, conceding that its efforts to protect migrants fleeing dangerous conditions had left too many people with no recourse.

The administration said it would broaden an initiative that currently lets unaccompanied Central American children enter the United States as refugees, allowing their entire families to qualify, including siblings older than 21, parents and other relatives who act as caregivers.

It is unclear how many refugees might be eligible, but during its two years, the program for children has drawn 9,500 applicants, which could eventually grow to many times that with the broader criteria.

The expansion was denounced by Republicans and it sharpened a contrast with Donald J. Trump, who has centered much of his presidential campaign on a call to shut out immigrants.

Republicans said the Obama administration should be focused on tackling what they called a border crisis. The expansion would instead essentially open an entirely new channel for Central American families escaping endemic violence to gain legal entrance to the United States.

“What we have seen is that our current efforts to date have been insufficient to address the number of people who may have legitimate refugee claims, and there are insufficient pathways for those people to present their claims,” Amy Pope, a deputy Homeland Security adviser, said in a conference call to announce the changes. She said the revisions showed a recognition that “the criteria is too narrow to meet the categories of people who we believe would qualify under our refugee laws, but they just don’t have the mechanism to apply.”

The White House also said it had reached an agreement with Costa Rica to serve as a temporary host site for the most vulnerable migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras while they wait to be processed as refugees. These migrants would first undergo security screening in their home countries. Costa Rica would accept up to 200 people at a time among those who are found to be eligible, for periods of six months.


The United Nations high commissioner for refugees has agreed to set up an unusual process to review requests from potential refugees while they are in their home countries. Administration officials also said they would begin reviewing applications from refugees in their home countries, a step they hoped would discourage people from making the dangerous trip to the United States border.

Republicans said the expansion was the latest example of the White House’s misuse of its authority."

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

An unusual kind of sex worker in Malawi

Here's a story (and video) and then a followup story from the BBC that reports a surprising twist in sex for hire: The man employed to have sex with teenage girls
"In some remote regions of Malawi, it's traditional for parents to employ a man to have sex with their daughter when she reaches puberty."

And here:
"In some remote southern regions of Malawi, it's traditional for girls to be made to have sex with a paid sex worker known as a "hyena" once they reach puberty. The act is not seen by village elders as rape, but as a form of ritual "cleansing". However, as Ed Butler reports, it has the potential to be the opposite of cleansing - a way of spreading disease.
...
"Aniva is by all accounts the pre-eminent "hyena" in this village. It's a traditional title given to a man hired by communities in several remote parts of southern Malawi to provide what's called sexual "cleansing". If a man dies, for example, his wife is required by tradition to sleep with Aniva before she can bury him. If a woman has an abortion, again sexual cleansing is required.
And most shockingly, here in Nsanje, teenage girls, after their first menstruation, are made to have sex over a three-day period, to mark their passage from childhood to womanhood. If the girls refuse, it's believed, disease or some fatal misfortune could befall their families or the village as a whole.
"Most of those I have slept with are girls, school-going girls," Aniva tells me."
...
"All of those involved in these rituals are aware that these customs are condemned by outsiders - not just by the church, but by NGOs and the government as well, which has launched a campaign against so-called "harmful cultural practices".
"We are not going to condemn these people," says Dr May Shaba, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Gender and Welfare. "But we are going to give them information that they need to change their rituals."

And here is the followup story, yesterday:
Malawian 'hyena man' arrested for having sex with children

"An HIV-positive Malawian man, who says he is paid to have sex with children as part of initiation rites, has been arrested on the president's orders.
Eric Aniva, a sex worker known in Malawi as a "hyena", was the subject of a BBC feature last week.
He told the BBC that he did not mention his HIV status to those who hire him.
President Peter Mutharika said the police should investigate and charge him over the cases of defilement he had seemingly confessed to.
...
""While we must promote positive cultural values and positive socialisation of our children, the president says harmful cultural and traditional practices cannot be accepted in this country," presidential spokesman Mgeme Kalilani said in a statement
Mr Aniva would "further be investigated for exposing the young girls to contracting HIV and further be charged accordingly", he said.
The president had also ordered all men and parents involved to be investigated, Mr Kalilani said.
"All people involved in this malpractice should be held accountable for subjecting their children and women to this despicable evil," the statement said.
"These horrific practices although done by a few also tarnish the image of the whole nation of Malawi internationally and bring shame to us all."
Last year Malawi banned child marriage, raising the legal age of marriage from 15 to 18 - something activists hoped would put an end to early sexual initiations."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sperm banks may need some regulation

The NY Times has the story: Sperm Banks Accused of Losing Samples and Lying About Donors

Some of the problems reported in the story are of the banking sort: when depositors sought to withdraw the sperm they had deposited (e.g. before undergoing chemo for testicular cancer) they found the bank no longer had it.  Others problems have had to do with incorrect information about donors...

"Frozen sperm has become a major industry, dominated by a few large sperm banks, but with smaller stocks of sperm maintained at hundreds of assisted-reproduction centers nationwide. The Food and Drug Administration requires that donor sperm be tested for infectious diseases. Beyond that, sperm banks are lightly regulated. Several states require health department licensing of the labs, but only New York conducts routine inspections.

"Some of the new cases accuse sperm banks of careless record-keeping, or mishandling or misappropriation of sperm banked for a client’s personal use. Others say the banks use hyped, misleading descriptions to market their donors.

"Several cases accuse a Georgia facility of marketing sperm as belonging to a neuroscientist with a genius-level I.Q. who turned out to be a schizophrenic felon, and who has fathered at least 36 children.
...
"Sperm banks are not required to verify the information provided by donors, and lawyers familiar with the industry say many do not. They set their own limits on how many children a donor can sire, but unless the mothers voluntarily report the births, they may not know how many half-siblings are out there. Some, including the two largest, California Cryobank in Los Angeles and Fairfax Cryobank, headquartered in Virginia, test for many genetic conditions, while others test for very few.

"So it is buyer-beware — for people banking their own sperm for personal use after cancer treatment, and for those relying on a sperm bank’s description of an anonymous donor.

"Sean Tipton, a spokesman for the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, said his group does not see a need for further regulation and believes that the industry is generally reliable.

“All indications are that sperm donation has been a terrific way to help people start a family even if, as with anything that involves humans, there are mistakes and some less-than-perfect actors,” he said."

Monday, July 25, 2016

Trust and crime: Reputation in the (illegal) market for sex

Quartz has an article on how sex workers can vet new customers, in the age of the internet: Sex workers have created the perfect method for keeping people honest online. (I like the url better than the headline: http://qz.com/621994/trust-and-crime/

"If you work at Goldman Sachs in New York City and you want to tie up a woman and then have sex with her, there’s a good chance you’ll first have to speak to Rita.
She’ll insist on calling your office, speaking to the switchboard operator, and being patched through to your desk. Then she will want to check out your profile on the company website and LinkedIn. She’ll demand you send her message from your work email, and require a scan of either your passport or driver’s license.
...
"Mid-range prostitution is a relatively new market, enabled by technology. Before the internet, it was hard for escorts to find customers: They had to either walk the streets searching for customers (the lower end of the market), rely on word-of-mouth, or work with agencies. Walking the streets was dangerous, while agencies ate up a large share of workers’ profit and autonomy, and created a bottleneck to entering the market. The internet changed all that.

“Before the internet, agencies provided the steady flow of clients and screening, but their capacity was capped,” Baylor University economist Scott Cunningham said. Soon after Craigslist launched in 1995, US escorts quickly started marketing directly to customers online. This newfound ability to advertise on the internet grew the market, said Cunningham, because more women and men could work independently
...
"Even criminals need someone they can trust

"If you’re selling something illegal, you can’t rely on the law to make sure the buyer upholds their end of the deal. Once the bill comes, clients might turn violent, or turn out to be cops. That means trust commands a large premium and that’s the centerpiece of Rita’s business model: watertight background checks on would-be johns.

"Rita represents sex workers who offer BDSM in addition to sex. When rough play is on the list of services you offer, a high level of trust is essential; hence, Rita’s elaborate screening process, which can take days. “I am looking to weed out police and crazies,” she said. She estimates that only one in four potential customers ultimately passes. Those who do win some time with a professional escort/dominatrix, but it comes at a hefty price: Each hour can cost up to $800, and Rita’s cut is 30%."

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Repugnance watch: Pokemon in Saudi Arabia

Reuters has the story:
Top Saudi clerical body renews fatwa against Pokemon

"The General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars said it had revived a 2001 decree against a Pokemon card game in response to queries from believers.

The Council argued that the mutations of the creatures in the game, who are given specific powers, amounted to blasphemy by promoting the theory of natural evolution.

"It is shocking that the word 'evolution' has been much on the tongues of children," the fatwa read.

It also said the game contained other elements prohibited by Islamic law, including "polytheism against God by multiplying the number of deities, and gambling, which God has forbidden in the Quran and likened to wine and idols".

The fatwa added that symbols used in the game promoted Japan's Shinto religion, Christianity, Freemasonry and "global Zionism".

In conservative Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's two holiest sites, cinemas are banned and women's sports are discouraged as promoting sin."