Homeland Security Strapping GPS Devices To Indian Students Victimized By Scam

from the welcome-to-america dept

Homeland Security and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) group sure know how to create "international incidents" left and right. The latest (as pointed out by Slashdot) is that as part of the process of reviewing the cases of a bunch of Indian students who were allegedly duped by an operation called "Tri-Valley University" in California, ICE agents have put GPS tagging ankle-bracelets on the students to track their movements. According to the reports, Tri-Valley was a "sham" that helped foreign nationals gain immigration status in the US. That certainly sounds like it's broken the law, but to then go and tag the students with GPS monitoring bracelets while ICE sorts this all out seems rather aggressive -- and officials back in India are protesting the way the students are being treated:
But New Delhi is not happy with students being treated like criminals. Expressing "serious concern," a government spokesman said India has conveyed to the US authorities that the students, "most of who are victims themselves, must be treated fairly and reasonably, and that the use of monitors on a group of students, who were detained and later released with monitors in accordance with US laws, is unwarranted and should be removed."
It's almost as if ICE's goal is to make the US government an even bigger laughingstock for being the stereotypical over aggressive law enforcement cowboys often portrayed in the movies.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Andy (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 8:24am

    You could run a compendium of DHS/ICE stories. I think an appropriate, if not original, title could be: How to Win Friends and Influence People!

     

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  2.  
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    SP, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 8:27am

    I don't understand the outrage

    Can someone please explain how this is bad? From what I understand these "students" enrolled in a sham institution in order to access the country illegally. Doesn't that make them criminals? How should ICE handle them? Deportation and a bill?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 8:31am

    Not so much a laughingstock...

    ...as a target. The U.S. government does keep asking for it, doesn't it?

     

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  4.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 8:33am

    Re: I don't understand the outrage

    "From what I understand these "students" enrolled in a sham institution in order to access the country illegally."

    From what I understand, having read the article, many of these students (no need to put them in quotes) did NOT do as you suggest, and were actually victims of the sham itself. I'm pretty sure we aren't tagging victims of human trafficking into the States when we rescue them, are we? Why are we hamfisting a tracking system on folks who were fooled (and they're from INDIA for doG's sake, not some "dag-gum turrist country, yeehaw").

    "Doesn't that make them criminals?"

    Only if the child prostitutes that are being carted into Texas for the Superbowl are criminals. Which they aren't. I can't believe I actually have to say that....

    "How should ICE handle them? Deportation and a bill?"

    Now there's a fair question. Since many/most/some of them are victims themselves, maybe let them stay while giving them a quick crack at going through the proper immigration channels so as not to punish them simply for wanting to make a better life for themselves in America? And if they show they aren't quickly diligent about going through the legal means, deport them quickly. That'd be my suggested route....

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 8:34am

    It says in the story that not all of the students were given the GPS devices. It sounds like the focus is on those who fraudulently obtained documents or who have problems with their documents. Would you prefer that ICE just held them in custody until a deportation hearing?

     

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  6.  
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    average_joe (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 8:42am

    Re:

    It says in the story that not all of the students were given the GPS devices. It sounds like the focus is on those who fraudulently obtained documents or who have problems with their documents. Would you prefer that ICE just held them in custody until a deportation hearing?

    Either way he'd write a hit piece on the DHS. He can't resist. The Masnick Effect in full force.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 8:42am

    "on paper lived in California, in reality they worked illegally in various parts of the country"

    Why was that left out of the summary?

    Other articles seem to suggest that some students themselves were also scamming the system.


    Also, "more than a dozen" is kind of vague. Does that mean 13 or several hundred? I suspect it's really only a small handful.

    I'm more outraged by abuse of the immigration system by corporations and the unwillingness of government agencies to root out identity theft (for example when a SSN is used for employment in a dozen different states at the same time.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    SP, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 8:45am

    Re: Re: I don't understand the outrage

    "From what I understand, having read the article, many of these students (no need to put them in quotes) did NOT do as you suggest, and were actually victims of the sham itself."

    If the institution you're enrolled in doesn't exist you can't very well be a "student" there.

    "Only if the child prostitutes that are being carted into Texas for the Superbowl are criminals. Which they aren't. I can't believe I actually have to say that...."

    I'm not aware of anyone being forced to enroll in this institution and come here. Also, not all of the students have been tagged leaving me to believe that the ones who have been might have had something in their story that gave ICE reasonable cause to think they needed to be monitored.

    "Now there's a fair question. Since many/most/some of them are victims themselves, maybe let them stay while giving them a quick crack at going through the proper immigration channels so as not to punish them simply for wanting to make a better life for themselves in America? And if they show they aren't quickly diligent about going through the legal means, deport them quickly. That'd be my suggested route..."

    Is there any reason they can't do what you suggest while being monitored?

     

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  9.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 8:52am

    Re: Re: Re: I don't understand the outrage

    "I'm not aware of anyone being forced to enroll in this institution and come here."

    Perhaps you're not familiar w/how these traffickers obtain their victims. They make them and their families promises about a great new life and lure them into coming "willingly". Seems like a fair comparison in this instance.

    "Is there any reason they can't do what you suggest while being monitored?"

    I suppose not, but what's the point of monitoring them? They aren't from a "threat" country. Besides, what you suggested was a fine and deportation. Seems pretty harsh if you consider that they themselves might be victims....

     

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  10.  
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    Thomas (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 8:53am

    when has

    the Homeland Security or ICE ever cared about the rights of anyone, be they U.S. citizens or foreign nationals?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 9:00am

    Re: Re:

    We have a winner! You have spotted the Masnick Effect nicely! Taking the desired result and working backwards to find ways to justify the slam.

    The "students" appear to be illegal aliens at this point, from what I can gather. The information used on their immigration papers would be fraudulent, as the school does not exist. Their responsiblity would be to report to immigration as soon as they realize his is a scam, and have their status changed (maybe to tourist).

    They may or may not be victims of a scam, but it doesn't make them any more legal to be in the US as a result. ICE appears to be doing the smartest thing, which is keeping track of the ones they are worried will not leave the country if required.

    Next Mike is going to get mad because border guards actually have the balls to ask for your passport. The nerve of these people!

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 9:00am

    Re: Re: Re: I don't understand the outrage

    "If the institution you're enrolled in doesn't exist you can't very well be a "student" there. "

    From the article:

    "SEVIS is a web-based technology maintained by the US to track and monitor schools and programs, students, exchange visitors and their dependents, while they are legally enrolled in the US education system. Indeed, Tri-Valley University is among the SEVIS Approved Schools listed on the US ICE website. Authorities have since shut down the university."

    Someone screwed up big time there. The students (some/most of them, at least) were scammed. GPS tagging them seems harsh to me.

     

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  13.  
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    Kris B, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 9:12am

    Steriotypical Cowboys in movies

    Those actors play those roles at the behest of their gub'mental investors and counterparts. We are being trained to accept the police state. As for the injun kids, shape em up or ship em out.

     

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  14.  
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    Michael, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't understand the outrage

    Not to mention, we did put out a sign reading:

    "Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free"

    Perhaps people being duped by someone into, you know - believing we actually stand by that sign, should not be treated like criminals.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 9:23am

    Re: Re:

    Yup.

    But it is good to see that this blog has been exposed for the propagandistic bile machine that it is.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, they have your balls in their hands when they're asking for your passport.

    Big difference.

     

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  17.  
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    Michael, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re: Re:

    First, attaching a tracking device to a foreign national without clearly staging why - not a great political move.

    Second, we do not affix tracking devices on illegal aliens when we discover them in other ways (say, when they go to the hospital), so why these guys?

    Third, Here you have a point: "They may or may not be victims of a scam, but it doesn't make them any more legal to be in the US as a result" However, do you really attach tracking devices on them? How does that make sense? If you know they are here illegally and believe they were willfully involved in the scam, you detain them. Do we really have ICE policies in which we allow people to enter the country illegally as long as they have a tracking bracelet on?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 9:49am

    "It's almost as if ICE's goal is to make the US government an even bigger laughingstock for being the stereotypical over aggressive law enforcement cowboys often portrayed in the movies."

    Hopefully it will be their demise.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 10:03am

    Re: "Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free"

    Yet another symbol basterdized over history:
    Author John T. Cunningham wrote that "The Statue of Liberty was not conceived and sculpted as a symbol of immigration, but it quickly became so as immigrant ships passed under the statue. However, it was Lazarus's poem that permanently stamped on Miss Liberty the role of unofficial greeter of incoming immigrants"

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 10:05am

    This seems to not be so to easy unravel though it does appear these people were scammed but took advantage of their status anyway. If this is the case or not ICE is fully within its rights to lock them up until the matter is resolved. Regardless of what country they r from. They would then be released or deported. Im sure it sucks to be gps monitored but it beats a jail or detention center...

     

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  21.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 10:15am

    im sorry, but you all need to read a bit more before launching into a bunch of rhetoric.

    according to a different indian news source (ndtv) there are about 1500 indian students enrolled in the school and only ~20 students are having their locations tracked.

    The reason some are and some are not is because some of the students are under investigation for knowingly violating immigration laws and abusing their status while engaging in activities that are not allowed such as working full time while attending this school. these students who were gaming the system that was gaming others, do have a pretty high likelihood of flight risk and are part of an actual criminal investigation.
    the majority of the students are being allowed to attempt to transfer to another school in order to stay in the US.

    The entire situation is being blown way out of proportion by people on both sides most of whom have not dug a bit further into whats actually going on...

     

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  22.  
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    average_joe (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 10:22am

    Re:

    Dig in a bit further? But that's not how The Masnick Effect works. Chant with me: "Down with the DHS! Down with the DHS!" Get with the techdirt program, dude. We WANT an "international incident."

     

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  23.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 10:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I know, right? The Masnick Effect is so powerful this time it even convinced the Indian Government! Even they are buying into the idea that this is a bad move on the part of ICE/DHS! ZOMG!!!111!!one!!

     

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  24.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 10:46am

    Question for ya

    Do you think if they had gps trackers for the 100,000 plus Jap-Americans in 1948 we "conspiracy" nuts will still be worried about internment camps.

    P.S. You have no rights

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, the Masnick Effect is ignoring huge parts of the story in order to find a way to fulfill your mission, in this case to slap ICE.

    Mike ignored that the devices are only fitted to those people that ICE feels are risks. There are some people duped in the scam, others who may have been more aware of what was going on and were just using the "school" as a way to sneak into the US.

    The number, suggested by another post here are 20 students out of 1500 being tracked - just over 1%. Call the World Court in the Hague, we have a major issue here! Not.

    All that happened is that Mike Masnick was so intent of finding a way to slap at ICE (his target of the month, I guess) that he is willing to ignore or willing not to take a few minutes to look around to find out a little more of what is happening. If he did, he would have found out his entire rant was for nothing.

    That you (and many others here) are stupid enough to buy into it just makes me shake my head.

     

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  26.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re:

    you were included in my comments, being one of the people just trying to get a rise without concern for what is actually going on.

     

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  27.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "That you (and many others here) are stupid enough to buy into it just makes me shake my head."
    So that's what the rattling sound was. Hmm... mystery solved.

    The question is this: are these students, regardless of their status as citizens (even a legit foreign student is not considered a citizen), to be afforded the same rights of privacy that the constitution grants us? If so, then they should not be denied the privacy by being tracked 24/7... That’s what we do to home-arrest criminals, not people who are a 'flight risk' while under some investigation... those get detained without bail.

    If they don't get the same freedoms, then detain or deport them. If they haven't even been charged for anything, then why is any action at all being taken against them?

    If tracking this is not illegal because of their status as non-citizens, do you really think it's the best way to go in foreign relations? Obviously not, since the Indian government has already said they don't agree with the treatment of their citizens.

    “Hmm… we think something may be going on, so let’s come up with some new and interesting action to take while ignoring all the systems we already have in place to deal with immigration situations”. Sounds like ICE to me… considering how they ignored the existing process for stopping infringement with the domain seizures.

     

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  28.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:44am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Hell, I probably should have dug deeper as well. Stupid blizzard, but no excuse. Still, some of the questions of what they're doing are valid and remain....

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Did you just say "I know, right?"

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What's even sadder is that you don't realize you are just as guilty of the same thing you always accuse Mike of, which is.... drum-roll... bias.

    You cannot sit there and claim that others ignore facts and parts of the story to draw a conclusion without acknowledging that you do it yourself.

    When you are willing to do a self analysis and in-post acknowledge where your interpretation is open to dispute, others will begin listening to you.

     

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  31.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 12:11pm

    Tri-Valley Was A Front For A Ring Which Was Importing Illegal Temp Workers.

    I had researched this case a bit. Tri-Valley University seems to be set up in a small office building, possibly suitable for a dentist's office or a pawnshop, with a single listed phone number, and purports to have more than a thousand students. Even if you assume that everything is on-line, the bursar's office of a real institution would be considerably bigger. Hundreds of students were listed as being residents of a small apartment nearby, which had actually been occupied a year previously by several students, but was no longer occupied. Most of the "professors" listed on Tri-Valley's website, when contacted by journalists, had never heard of it, and had no idea that their names were being used. The school catalog will probably prove to have been plagiarized from a legitimate school. There are 419 spammers who make copies of the websites of legitimate banks and law offices, changing the addresses and inserting their own names, and this will be more of the same. People were enrolled for Ph.D. degrees which they obviously did not have the prerequisites for, and which the school obviously did not have the resources to teach, for example, no hospital for the health sciences degrees.

    Information is sketchy, but it appears that students were required to take one course-- probably a course in religion-- but that no instruction in engineering, medicine, law, or business administration was actually available. This one course was conducted over the internet. In short, there is a kind of weird mixture of missionary zeal and greed. The students must have known that they were not being instructed in their stated fields, and that they had not been placed in contact with professors in those fields, but of course they were taking jobs, mostly in IT. As near as I can make out, there are crooked temp agencies or consulting/outsourcing firms, in the New York and Washington areas, which recruit in India, fix up phony student visas with Tri-Valley University, bring in their Indians with these visas, never send them out to California, and send them instead to work at the temp agencies' customers, working full time, in violation of the regulations pertaining to student visas. The paperwork seems to have been so shoddy that it crumbled at the first examination. Some students seem to have been previously attached to the University of Northern Virginia, which despite its name, is not a state university, or accredited at all. It is a for-profit school, and itself appears to be a diploma mill. What probably happened was that the employing company tried to lower the "mordida" from nine thousand dollars per worker per year to only five thousand, and something backfired.

    ==========================================

    Here are links to the "relevant blogosphere," in this case, a site run by an immigration lawyer. They knew all about Tri-Valley back in May, 2010.

    http://forums.immigration.com/showthread.php?311562-Tri-Valley-University&s=e8be6739a65 9410666b271fd932eb3c6
    http://www.trackitt.com/usa-discussion-forums/h1b/638882071/tri-valley-univer sity-is-a-fraud

    And the local newspapers:

    http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_17151508?source=most_emailed&nclick_check=1
    http:/ /www.pleasantonweekly.com/news/show_story.php?id=5991

    For Northern Virginia University:

    http://www.fairfaxunderground.com/forum/read/2/447664/447731.html
    http://www.acics.o rg/commission%20actions/content.aspx?id=1448

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't understand the outrage

    Talk about your false advertising...

     

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  33.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Like, TOTALLY!

     

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  34.  
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    Not an electronic Rodent, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 1:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, the Masnick Effect
    fulfill your mission
    Mike ignored
    Mike Masnick was so intent
    Nice tinfoil hat. Again I have to ask did he kill your puppy or something? Disagree with his opinion if you want, but with you it seems personal.
    If it's personal do what everyone else does, build a shrine and plot heinous things that you'll never actually do or something and stop dragging the rest of us in. If it's not personal, try a little less personal rhetoric and more compelling argument because all you're accomplishing is making him look more credible by comparison.

    You see I'd be tempted to agree that in this case the story looks a bit thin, on the other hand when you start ranting at anyone (and it's usually Mike) it makes me want to dismiss any points you might have and look for reasons to support whoever you're ranting at.

    "Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity" (and no Mike that wasn't a pop at you either just a maxim). I'd put this one down simply to not looking too deep into the story. You often come across like you swallow the US government's press releases hook, line, sinker, rod and copy of Angling Times so I wouldn't lay claim to any moral highground were I you. So y'know... relax a bit and dissagree rather than rant. You might live longer too - you sound like you're heading for early heart failure with all that stress

    Just sayin'....

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Not an electronic Rodent, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re:

    Dig in a bit further? But that's not how The Masnick Effect works. Chant with me: "Down with the DHS! Down with the DHS!" Get with the techdirt program, dude. We WANT an "international incident."
    You do know that DHS doesn't exactly look great outside the US don't you? I'm sure it's not the whole story, but pretty much every time they make the news over here it's for some sort of protectionist response to something or other, or demanding something from other countries without offering anything in return, or overblown rhetoric about terrorism, or something similar.

    To me since the DHS was formed (which itself is probably a symptom rather than the cause), America seems increasingly insular, protectionist and out of touch with the rest of the world while at the same time being more demanding and bullying than ever before.

    So if he is baised as you suggest maybe there's a reason for it, just as I have a reason for my own and I'm sure you have your own reasons for the many predjudices you display.

    So, and I'm just thinking out loud, maybe it's worth a discussion instead of epithets? "The Masnick Effect"? Catchy perhaps but not productive and to my mind mis-named since assuming the accusation is true he's hardly alone. Besides I always think of is as "The Reason Effect", but then I am a Douglas Adams fan...

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 4:20pm

    I'm increasingly questioning why any foreigner would desire to be inside of this country. I certainly would not remain were it not for familial obligations.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 4:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hey, all I am doing is pointing out the things that Mike "forgot" to mention in the story, all of which lead many here (including yourself, it seems) to come to a false conclusion.

    That was his intention. He succeeded.

    Mike isn't stupid. Every word is carefully crafted as part of his world view. Never attribute to stupidity what is clearly malice.

     

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  38.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 7:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    We don't 'tag and release' suspects. We detain them. Or we deport them. You can't be so stupid as to think we all actually believe your side of this, either, can you?

    Remember folks, there are (at least) three sides to every story, and only one of those is 'The Truth.'

     

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  39.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Starting to sound like we're turning into our old Cold War dance partner, doesn't it?

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2011 @ 4:31am

    They should never have been tagged with a GPS tracker, they should have been immediately deported, to protect their rights.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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