Our picksFBI raids home of the biggest alien truther; how Iran spreads disinformation; DHS lays out research priorities, and more

Published 4 December 2018

·  Why did the FBI raid the home of the biggest alien truther?

·  Special Report: How Iran spreads disinformation around the world

·  China specialists who long supported engagement are now warning of Beijing’s efforts to influence American society

·  Why are people still living in the western US with the constant threat of climate change?

·  DHS lays out research priorities

·  Federal appeals court rules against another immigration crackdown attempt

·  Upcoming “Caravan” hearing will continue international scrutiny of U.S. immigration policy

Why did the FBI raid the home of the biggest alien truther? (Amy Zimmerman, Daily Beast)
A new doc examines the claims of Bob Lazar, a scientist who says he worked on extraterrestrial technology at a remote testing site near Area 51.

Special Report: How Iran spreads disinformation around the world (Reuters)
A Tehran-based agency has quietly fed propaganda through at least 70 websites to countries from Afghanistan to Russia. And American firms have helped.

China specialists who long supported engagement are now warning of Beijing’s efforts to influence American society (Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post)
“Except for Russia, no other country’s efforts to influence American politics and society is as extensive and well-funded as China’s,” specialists say in a report issued Nov. 29 by a working group convened by the Hoover Institution and the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations.

Why are people still living in the western US with the constant threat of climate change? (Cally Carswell, Vox)
New Mexicans like me are weighing our future in a fast-drying climate.

DHS lays out research priorities (Mark Rockwell, FCW)
The Department of Homeland Security is looking to improve capabilities in a range of technology areas, including identity management, blockchain forensics, biometrics, cybersecurity and machine learning for scanners.

Federal appeals court rules against another immigration crackdown attempt (Josh Gerstein, Politico)
A federal appeals court has struck down a portion of federal law that makes it a crime to encourage foreigners to enter or reside in the United States illegally. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that the provision violates the First Amendment by covering speech that is constitutionally protected.

Upcoming “Caravan” hearing will continue international scrutiny of U.S. immigration policy (Lisa Reinsberg, Just Security)
There are two hours this week that could make an incremental but important difference in the course of U.S. immigration policy: when the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), our region’s independent human rights oversight body, holds public hearings at its Washington, D.C. headquarters. As it considers crises across the hemisphere, it intends to hold a hearing on the so-called “caravan” of migrants from Central America, and a second hearing on the U.S. treatment of migrants’ rights advocates. The U.S. government is expected to participate in the first hearing, on December 5, while the “caravan” hearing is regionally focused and will not involve any governments. Together with other organizations, the International Justice Resource Center has launched a toolkit to increase awareness of, and participation in, human rights bodies’ oversight of U.S. immigration policy, including this week’s hearings.
Will these two hearings result in an epiphany for the Trump administration? Will they prompt an immediate end to immigration policies and practices that are not in line with U.S. human rights obligations? No, sadly. There is only so much that can be aired in a one-hour hearing. And while the Trump administration’s participation in IACHR hearings has improved since its initial no-show in March 2017, it has displayed antipathy for human rights oversight.
However, these hearings do represent opportunities – for clarifying and reiterating the U.S. government’s international human rights obligations; for reminding the Trump administration and the public of the minimum standards agreed to by the countries of the region and world; for recognizing the humanity and experiences of the people impacted by U.S. immigration policy; and for providing non-partisan framing and support for public opposition to an increasingly harmful, dehumanizing, and dysfunctional immigration system. Over the past two years, this country has witnessed that public opposition is one of the most effective means of challenging and limiting harmful policies and practices. Human rights oversight provides an essential platform for airing and channeling that opposition. The more attention on the IACHR hearings and other human rights oversight, the greater their potential impact.