On modeling

The Atlantic’s City Lab blog posted an interview with Josef Konvitz and his comments on modeling and forecasting stuck out to me —

Great projects have dynamic effects, precipitating changes throughout urban regions that are all but impossible to model in advance because no one can anticipate their impact. Projects are often sold on the basis of the number of construction jobs or new housing starts that will follow. This narrow approach to cost-benefit analysis would have led the Victorians to conclude that a major sewer system for London was too expensive. By the same token, bridges and tunnels linking New York and New Jersey would never have been built a century ago. The test of good infrastructure is whether it makes best use of the density, size, and complexity of cities.

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On interview techniques

After being found guilty and sentenced to 40 years by the ICTY today, David A. Graham over at The Atlantic’s Notes highlights a 1993 interview conducted with Radovan Karadzic —

In January 1993, still relatively early in the Bosnian war, [CBC’s] As It Happens scored an interview with Karadzic. In a retrospective segment years ago, former host Michael Enright reminisced about preparing for the interview and his plan to ask standard questions. But he decided that wasn’t going to cut it, so he took a more direct approach when the tape started rolling:

“Mr. Karadzic, generally how—in your view, how is the ethnic cleansing going?” Enright deadpanned.

Karadzic was unsurprisingly annoyed.

“Ethnic cleansing was not part of our policy any time,” he fumed. “Ethnic cleansing was on all sides, and it was sort of ethnic shifting of the people, because Serbs have escaped from Muslim surroundings and the Bosnians have escaped from Serbian surroundings.”

Enright kept rolling, maintaining a studiously detached tone.

[…] It’s a remarkable interview: A reporter asking extremely tough questions of a leader, with great authority and command of facts, about a faraway conflict. You don’t hear this sort of exchange often. For one, few war criminals will talk to the media. For another, few reporters have the chops to pull it off live like this. They might worry about losing access, too—although when the interview ended, Karadzic signed off with a cheery, “Welcome, any time!”

[links in original; click through for further transcript and audio]

On emergency

Held on 5 February, the Foreign Policy program at Brookings hosted the American Academy in Berlin for the 2016 Richard C. Holbrooke Forum focusing on the global refugee crisis. I finally got around to watching the interesting exchange between Leon Wieseltier, Michael Ignatieff, and Martin Indyk.

Worth watching for Wieseltier’s brief discussion about emergency; of his current research on the 1939 Evian conference; and, debates about security, nation states and refugees, cosmopolitanism vs. communitarianism, and universalism vs. particularism.

See also: Lawfare podcast #158 with Leon Wieseltier for a discussion of the absorptive capacities of states

On implementing EU-Turkey agreement

On Super Tuesday

A ways back, I was deeply involved in an American student anti-genocide campaign, specifically responsible for education programming. I eventually came to the belief that the organization’s time and energy was best spent educating Americans on global issues, certainly, but to also pay a large amount of attention to issues closer to home. I didn’t have the language at the time to express my feelings convincingly, but seeing the news about Trump’s dominance in the polls made me revisit those discussions once again —

On debates re: European burden sharing

On more proposed changes to Norwegian asylum and immigration policy

[05.04.2016 update: tracing the debate of the updated proposal can be found here.]

New innvandrings- og integreringsminister Sylvi Listhaug (Frp) put out a 150 page (! document available here) document outlining proposed changes to the Norwegian asylum and immigration policy today, including 40 major + minor changes to laws and regulations. Debate will is scheduled to conclude by 9 February, with proposals presented to Stortinget soon after.

The proposals include (via NRK) —

  • Tightens rules governing family reunification so that a person must have four years of work or education in Norway before family reunification can take place.
  • The government will issue payment cards to refugees instead of giving them cash. The aim is to prevent refugees sending money to family back home.
  • Asylum seekers arriving by transit visas across the border from Russia will not be able to get asylum.
  • Restricts visa freedom for asylum seekers. This means that asylum seekers are not entitled merits of his application for asylum in Norway, can be expelled from the border.
  • Creating a regulatory authority that gives right to grant temporary residence permits without taking a final decision on the need for protection. The temporary residence permit does not give the right to permanent residence, and does not provide a basis for family immigration.
  • It is proposed that the basis for permanent residence will lapse if the need for protection lapses within a period of five years.
  • The Government will reintroduce the distinction between people who are entitled to stay for the UN Refugee Convention, and those who are entitled to protection against return to their homeland after the human rights returning ban.
  • Unaccompanied minors seeking asylum to be given protection until the age of 18 years. It should then be re annual assessment, which determines whether an alien fulfills conditions for protection or stay in Norway on other grounds.
  • That an applicant shall be entitled to a permanent residence permit in Norway, the foreign national must sit the final examinations in Social Studies in a language he or she understands, as well as a final exam in Norwegian, indicating they master a minimum of spoken Norwegian.
  • Ministry wants to change Introduction Act so that people between 55 and 67 years of age must undergo training in Norwegian and social studies.
  • Permanent residence shall be refused if the applicant can not determine their own identity, or failure to obtain travel documents when it has prevented the return, or that the need for protection due to the applicants’ own actions after the applicant left the country of origin, and that the main purpose of these actions has been to obtain a residence permit.
  • The Government proposes that the appeal deadline is reduced from three weeks to one week in cases where the Directorate of Immigration (UDI) considers it obvious that an applicant does not meet the conditions for protection or protection against return.
  • The Government also proposes to make certain changes to the rules on legal aid in immigration cases, and proposes to remove the right to free legal advice in rejection cases under the Immigration Act.
  • It is proposed that the police should get store fingerprints of asylum seekers for 10 years.

Tracking public discussion: