Detainee Basic Medical Bill

Posted in Immigration, Law, Politics by Arasmus on August 28, 2008

A recent report by the Washington Post identified 30 questionable deaths out of a total of 83 detainee deaths in Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency custody between March 2003 (when the agency was created) and March 2008. In response to this report and the recent death of Mr. Hiu Lui Ng, covered by the New York Times, Representative Zoe Lofgren (D. Cal) has introduced the Detainee Basic Medical Bill (HR 5950) in the House and Senator Menendez introduced the bill (S 3005) in the Senate. For those in need of a primer (or a refresher) as to how a bill becomes an act you might want to quickly consult this educational aid.

The bill requires “the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish procedures for the timely and effective delivery of medical and mental health care to all immigration detainees in custody, and for other purposes.”  The House bill is currently being considered by the House Judiciary Committee.  Here is the House Bill (HR 5905) proposed by Representative Lofgren and supported in the House by Representatives Abercrombie, Conyers, Cuellar, Farr, Grijalva, Jackson-Lee, Kilpatrick, McDermott, Meek, Nadler, Roybal-Allard, Sanchez, Sestak, Sires, Solis, Velazquez. Click on the names of any of these Representatives to contact them by email and ask them to ensure the passage of this bill and that, in the event that the bill is not passed in this session, that they support the reintroduction of this bill in the next Congress.

Here is the Senate Bill (S.3005) proposed by Senator Menendez and supported by Senators Akaka, Bingaman, Durbin, Kennedy, Kerry, and Lieberman. Click on the names of any of these Senators to contact them by email and ask them to ensure the passage of this bill and that, in the event that the bill is not passed in this session, that they support the reintroduction of this bill in the next Congress.


Overview of The United States Immigration Process

Posted in Immigration, Politics by Arasmus on August 28, 2008

This is an overview of the United States immigration process put together by the self-described libertarian magazine  It efficiently describes the legal immigration options available to the millions of immigrants that seek to come to the United States.  As you can see, the legal options have several problems and so it would seem worthwhile in tackling the problem of illegal immigration, to make the process of legal immigration more efficient.

The Death of Mr. Ng

Posted in Immigration, Law, Politics by Arasmus on August 15, 2008

Here is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed in the federal district court in Rhode Island on behalf of Mr. Hiu Lui Ng.  The petition, which asks the court to review the legality of Mr. Ng’s detention by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was filed on July 29, 2008.  According to this report by New York Times journalist Nina Bernstein, the next day, the 34 year old Mr. Ng, unable to walk due to spinal injuries and extensive undiagnosed cancer, was dragged from his bed, carried in bruising shackles to a car and driven for two hours to a federal lockup in Hartford.  At that location an immigration officer pressured him to withdraw all pending appeals of his case and accept deportation.  Mr. Ng was then driven back to his original detention facility.  Six days later, on August 6, 2008, Mr. Ng died in custody. He is survived by his wife and two children.  All three are American citizens.

Notes on Learning

Posted in Philosophy by Arasmus on August 11, 2008

It appears to me that there are two ways in which the brain can learn; a structured way and an unstructured way. Structured learning occurs as follows: 1. Each act of learning begins with learning a basic building-block. This ability must become fluent before the next block is added, otherwise the structure will become weak. 2. Once this basic building-block has been perfected, an additional but still basic building-block is added. 3. Once a sufficient number of building blocks have been added and learned, complications, exceptions and nuance are added. Unstructured learning, known colloquially as “picking things up” is less structured; 1. Information arrives in the student’s mind without meta-data or semantics. There is no indicator as to whether this information is a basic building-block or a complication, a rule or an exception. The brain must initially identify whether the information is structured or unstructured. Often the context provides this identification. If I am taking a class in say computer coding I anticipate the information will be structured. However, if I talk to a friend of mine about computer coding in a cafe, I anticipate that the knowledge will not be structured. 2. Once my brain determines that the knowledge is unstructured, it then decides the urgency with which it must determine a structure. If determining a structure is urgent, it will scan the incoming data and try and determine a pattern. It will then compare the putative structure against the incoming data and identify parts of the structure as either rules that are always true or rules that are occasionally true. Once a tentative structure has been created, it will then categorize non-structural data within the categories created by the structure. 3. If a structure is not urgent then the incoming data free-floats in the brain. It makes a connection with existing data in a much less intentional manner. It may be recalled later as a single piece of information or together with some other knowledge structure to which it has attached itself. Structured learning requires more energy but is more efficient because the knowledge parts are categorized, delivered in a pedagogical order and with a precise destination in mind. Non-structured learning has no plan, its architecture is organic and without pre-determined goal. What is the point of this observation? The higher energy cost of structured learning means that structured learning often fails to achieve its goal for want of the necessary energy. In other words people often quit. On the other hand unstructured learning requires much less energy because but often fails to produce fruit because insufficient depth of knowledge has been achieved over a given unit of time. This produces the trivia expert or the hobbyist. The interesting question is whether more things can be achieved through a hybrid of these two approaches? Part-structured and part unstructured. Thus an individual may leave flying classes (structured knowledge acquisition) and relax by watching a film about flying (non-structured knowledge acquisition). Such a hybrid model might reduce the rate of quitting from that observed in the structured learning environment but lead to more end results than that achieved by the mere knowledge browser. The quintessential expression of this hybrid idea is the educational game.