Archive for United States of America

voting inequalities in the US

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2020 by xi'an

“We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.” Barack Obama

Following a poorly attended local election in France last weekend, over-interpreted by media and political analysts as usual, with poorer categories more likely to abstain, I reflected on the supplementary degree of voting inequality in the US, where active voter suppression and voting discrimination run uncontested by legislative and constitutional bodies. As it happens, even for federal elections, the election laws are state-based, voted by partisan state lawmakers and implemented by equally partisan officials.This means discriminating practices can become part of these laws, including different restrictions on acceptable forms of identification that poorer voters may be unable to purchase, restrictions on voter registration and in particular on active drives for minority registrations, discriminatory closures of voting (poll) places,  as e.g. a single voting place for 600,000 voters, meaning unreachable stations for those without transportation means and those housebound, abusive voter purges by local administrations, e.g., the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck System having 99% more chances to remove legitimate than illegitimate voters, lifelong felon disenfranchisement, including for citizens having completed their sentence, some places asking for on-the-spot proof of US citizenship, involving document poorer voters cannot access, mail-in voting discrimination, no worker protection for participating in the vote, which takes place during the week, grossly underfunded poll budgets, leading for instance to hour long polling queues and various mismanagement of the votes, the possibility for National Guard staffing poll stations, and the century long absurdity of gerrymandering, where something like 60 million Americans live in a place where the ruling party has received the minority of the votes in a state election. Not to mention the election by an electoral college of the president where the winner may lag by 3 million votes behind his contender… And running uncontested grossly misleading political adds


Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2018 by xi'an

the end of travel?

Posted in Books, Linux, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on June 25, 2017 by xi'an

First came the bad news that travelling [by plane] with any electronic device larger than a small cell phone would be prohibited unless the device was checked in. I first thought this was a sort of weird protectionism for American airlines, since only Middle-East carriers seem to be impacted at the moment, but there are serious hints this could soon be extended to all flights to the USA. And to the UK. And likely to about every flight in a near future. That is fairly annoying and more, not only because it hugely reduces the ability to work on a plane [unless carrying paper printouts of every paper one wanted to read or review during a long flight, until this is as well considered as a fire hazard!], but mostly because quite likely these electronic devices in checked-in bags will be damaged or stolen. So the only convenient [least inconvenient] solution may be to stop travelling with laptops and operate on remote or cheap disposable machines from whenever one is. Since I presume even the smallest PCs like Raspberry Pi’s will be banned at some point. The only good news are for computer companies. And book sellers maybe.On top of this, I learned that the UK has [again!] copied the US in requiring visitors and even its own citizens to open devices to Border or Customs officers. And to disclose social media identities and associated passwords. A British Human Rights activist was recently arrested at London Heathrow for refusing to do so. And I read today that divulging those media IDs are now optional on the visa waiver program and possibly soon to be compulsory. Which sounds insane as a way to fight terrorism as it is obvious to set parallel accounts. And yet another travel nuisance.

At some point in the past, I had mused that we would soon be forced to travel with no personal item, maybe not even our own clothes, but a uniform provided by the airline. With luggages on a drone plane following by a safe margin. The invasion of privacy now contemplated and soon implemented by states that do not any longer seem concerned with Human Right goes way beyond this fantasy scenario. If travelling between countries means a massive reduction of one’s rights and dignity [which is already quite reduced under the current conditions], travelling may soon become a rare occurrence…

and it only gets worse…

Posted in pictures with tags , , , , , on January 24, 2017 by xi'an

As Paul Krugman put it in a NYT editorial, from there things can only get worse: one of the first decisions of Donald Trump as President was to ban US foreign aid to health providers abroad who discuss abortion as a family-planning option. As a senseless defiance to the millions of women who had marched across the World the day before. In support of women’s rights everywhere.

an unexpected outlet for a final message

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , on January 19, 2017 by xi'an

President Barack Obama has once again raised the epitomé of cool by writing a tribune in Science entitled The irreversible momentum of clean energy. A few days before leaving his office.

“…evidence is mounting that any economic strategy that ignores carbon pollution will impose tremendous costs to the global economy and will result in fewer jobs and less economic growth over the long term.” B. Obama, 13 January, 2017

I do not know how many other US presidents or would-be presidents have written in Science or equivalent journals (maybe Abraham Lincoln when seeking alternatives to sperm whale oil), but I doubt his immediate successor will be one of these. So, goodbye Mr. President! And sorry to see you leave…