Monthly Archives: August 2006

US Government Blocks Re-Entry of Citizens

Ed Hasbrouk has pointers to an incredible story: :

The USA has forbidden any airline from transporting to the USA a Mr. Jaber Ismail, a natural-born USA citizen and California resident, not a dual citizen. They aren’t saying they will arrest him or detain him for questioning on arrival. They aren’t asking the government of the country he has been visiting to arrest him. But they won’t let him come home.

There’s been some discussion of this as a Constitutional question, but it’s actually much more fundamental as a question of international human rights law, including treaties which the USA has actually ratified…

News articles vary on this: some say that the government is just preventing airlines from flying them home — which is bad enough! — others say they are barred from entering the country at all:

Federal authorities told the [San Fransisco] Chronicle that although neither Muhammed nor Jaber Ismail has been charged with a crime, they are barred from reentering the United States unless they submit to further FBI questioning in Pakistan.”

I have doubts about the legality of the no-fly rule although presumably the government might defend it by saying that victims of the new blackballing could sail or fly to Canada or Mexico and then walk in to the USA. In any case, this abuse of it should certainly demonstrate why it’s a bad policy. And when, as in this case, it matures into a de facto no-entry ruling, that ought to be unconstitutional.

It seems that Ismail has a lawyer who understands the issues,“They want to come home and have an absolute right to come home,” said [Julia Harumi] Mass, who has filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security and a petition with the Transportation Security Administration.

“They can’t be compelled to waive their constitutional rights under threat of banishment,” Mass said. “The government is conditioning the return to their home on cooperation with law enforcement.”

Aviation watch lists were created in 1990 to keep terrorists off planes and track drug smugglers and other fugitives. But since al Qaeda’s attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the government has expanded the lists significantly. Members of the public cannot find out if, or why, they are on a no-fly list.

Michael Barr, director of the aviation safety and security program at USC, said the Ismail case appears to be unusual in the realm of federal terrorism investigations.

“You become what is called a stateless person, and that would be very unprecedented,” Barr said.

Speaking of which … our friends at Homeland Security have a proposal to, as Ed puts it,

to formalize the power of the DHS to prohibit anyone (including citizens of the USA) from traveling to or from the USA (or, for that matter, through the air over the USA, such as on flights between Europe and Mexico, or Canada and Latin America) except by express prior permission of the DHS.

Ed’s got a lot of useful information on that proposal as well.

Posted in Law: Right to Travel | 2 Comments

Ernesto Advances Slowly

Grey, very grey, overcast. Drippy with occasional bouts of rain, but not thing violent–yet. The center hasn’t made landfall yet, and the new track is a little west of us anyway, so I may not see the worst of it, (although some models have landfall only a few miles south of here). In any case, it seems to have decided to top out at tropical storm levels.

As Forecaster Pasch put it,

Discussion: Tropical Storm Ernesto: DURING THE DAY…ERNESTO BECAME SOMEWHAT MORE ORGANIZED-LOOKING ON RADAR AND SATELLITE IMAGES. RECENTLY … HOWEVER … THE PRESENTATION HAS BECOME A BIT RAGGED-LOOKING ON THE IMAGERY. FLIGHT-LEVEL WINDS HAVE NOT INCREASED…AND THE FALL IN CENTRAL PRESSURE THIS AFTERNOON WAS ROUGHLY COMMENSURATE WITH THE TYPICAL SEMI-DIURNAL PRESSURE CHANGE. IN OTHER WORDS … ERNESTO IS NOT STRENGTHENING. IT IS SOMEWHAT PUZZLING WHY THE TROPICAL CYCLONE HAS NOT INTENSIFIED TODAY.

Works for me.

Update (6pm): The rain got here.

Posted in Miami | 1 Comment

Meet the Class of 2010

Via Legal Theory Blog: Coming to a Classroom Near You:

Undergraduates this year; law students in Fall 2010.  Here are some their characteristics from Beloit College’s mindset list (following the link for the whole list):

  • The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.
  • They have known only two presidents.
  • For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.
  • They are wireless, yet always connected.
  • A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate burglary was to their parents’.
  • The Moral Majority has never needed an organization.
  • DNA fingerprinting has always been admissible evidence in court.
  • “Google” has always been a verb.
  • Text messaging is their email.
  • They have no idea why we needed to ask “…can we all get along?”
  • They have always known that “In the criminal justice system the people have been represented by two separate yet equally important groups.”
  • They have rarely mailed anything using a stamp.
  • Being techno-savvy has always been inversely proportional to age.
  • Public school officials have always had the right to censor school newspapers.
  • There have always been live organ donors.
  • They have never put their money in a “Savings & Loan.”
  • Dolphin-free canned tuna has always been on sale.
  • “Outing” has always been a threat.
  • The U.S. has always been studying global warming to confirm its existence.
  • They grew up with virtual pets to feed, water, and play games with, lest they die.
Posted in Kultcha | Leave a comment

The Best Laid Plans

Miami will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

No, not just the public schools and the university, although we’re closed for two days. Pretty much the whole town.

And the joke is that

  • the Ernesto forecast has (for now) been demoted to a tropical storm until it gets to points far north of us and
  • the storm has slowed a bit: even on the original track it wasn’t supposed to hit until late Tuesday afternoon.

Now we’re looking at very late Tuesday or even early Wednesday. And possibly an anti-climax at that. When they close the public schools, pretty much everybody falls into line; and planners are undoubtedly still smarting from their failure to close early for one of last year’s hurricanes which meant that a lot of commuters struggled home in dangerous weather. So now we’re very very cautious.

False alarms are nowhere as bad as the real thing, but I find that the irregular procession of even false alarms take their toll — there’s something very … distracting … about the real possibility of slowly oncoming doom, even when it starts seeming somewhat less likely. And those makeup classes are a pain for all concerned.

Yesterday I had a chance to stock up on gasoline for our generator with almost no lines, but didn’t — and the storm track moved over Miami a few hours later. Today I stocked up on gas (the line wasn’t that bad, maybe 10-15 minutes) and within minutes of coming home with the goods learned that Ernesto was being downgraded.

I believe this constitutes the basis for a testable hypothesis.

Posted in Miami | 4 Comments

*Sigh* (Ernesto Edition)

The latest hurricane track has shifted to put Ernesto right over us. They’re saying category one (modulo uncertainty), which in principle should be not so bad except that the last two times last year it was fairly bad — and my roof still isn’t fixed from last year.

I suppose that after class this afternoon I will have to go and get some gasoline to run my generator if the power goes out; by this time there will undoubtedly be long lines for gas and spot shortages.

I hear that the public schools will be closed tomorrow. The university is currently meeting to decide if we’ll be open tomorrow and should have an announcement out very soon. (It was in fact due 20 minutes ago.) On the current forecast, things might get messy by Tuesday’s evening rush hour, which makes planners very reluctant to order a normal day, but also means that if you close, most of the day it’s for no reason. But with the schools shut, if you open, people have to either stay home or bring their kids. It’s a mess.

Posted in Miami | 2 Comments

Miami In the Pink

Pink means “hurricane watch”. The good news, though, is that Ernesto isn’t strong right now. It will weaken over land, strengthen over water — thus the critical question seems to be at what angle it hits Cuba: if the diagonal angle is right it will weaken a lot; otherwise it may be stronger.

Posted in Miami | Leave a comment