Regarding the separation of immigrant families in the United States:

The history of the United States is one of cruel domination and inhumanity.

Since the creation of the United States in 1776 (242 years ago), until 1865 (153 years ago), American citizens owned Black slaves. Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation for another 100 years (until 1965).

188 years ago (in 1830, under Andrew Jackson), the United States passed the Indian Removal Act, resulting in the forced relocation of over 10,000 Native Americans (over 2,000 died).

125 years ago (in 1893), U.S. settlers overthrew the King of Hawai’i, with the intent of annexation. Under duress, then-King Kalakaua was forced to sign a new constitution that relinquished his power to white Americans who controlled the legislature. Despite opposition by then-President Grover Cleveland, Hawai’i became a state in 1958 (Eisenhower).

Following the brutal Philippine-American War 119 years ago (1899, 200,000+ deaths), the United States (represented by then-Governor of the Philippines Taft) imposed a strict rule over the island that lasted until WWII, when the U.S. left the Philippines to fend for themselves against Japan.

76 years ago (1942, FDR), the United States forced over 100,000 residents of Japanese ancestry into an internment camp. The U.S. Census Bureau only admitted their complicity in 2007. 

Knowing this history should allow us to avoid the inhumanity of our forefathers. And yet, we have failed to do this time and time again. We let paranoia and xenophobia and supersede logic, compassion, and whatever the U.S. claims to stand for. Don’t make that mistake today.

In 2018, the United States apprehended and separated between 1,000 and 2,000 children from families trying to cross the U.S.-Mexican border. Over 11,000 children are held in Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) sites, which have been overfilled for Do4 years (since 2014). The ORR regularly loses children (according to one NYT story, 1,475 children cannot be found). 

What can you do about this?

  1. Support the ACLU; whose chapters in California are actively litigating.
  2. Donate to Act Blue, a collective of eight groups who oppose the separation of children from parents when attempting to cross the U.S. border.
  3. Call your Senator and express your opposition. Don't worry - Senator's offices are very used to this type of call. You can check out the above link for an example script.
  4. If you are in a major city, volunteer to become a Child Advocate through the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights.

 

 

Understanding a little more about recent coverage of Korean-U.S. relations through adjective use

Yesterday, U.S. President Trump pulled out of a "highly-anticipated" summit meeting with North Korea's Kim-Jung Un. Given the freshness of this story, it'll take some time collect enough articles to do an anlaysis of this specific incident. But, in the meantime, some interesting results from my analysis of Korean-U.S. relations in American news below.

(Data cleaned and analyzed using R tidytext, quanteda, and OpenNLP. Graphs produced by ggplot2 or MediaCloud.)

Count of articles using the words "Trump" and "North Korea" in top American news media (digital + traditional). Results gathered using MediaCloud archive.

Count of articles using the words "Trump" and "North Korea" in top American news media (digital + traditional). Results gathered using MediaCloud archive.

As we can see above, the majority of the coverage appeared to be between May 7 (when North Korea claimed to have demolished a nuclear test site) and May 21. Using those two weeks as my window, I pulled all articles referencing "Trump" and "North Korea" from four news outlets: CNN (n =96), Fox (n = 114), the New York Times (n = 89) and the Washington Post (208), a total of 507 news stories.

I tagged all the words in the news stories for their part of speech using OpenNLP. I then pulled out all the adjectives, removed duplicates, and screened them for accuracy (OpenNLP has an above 90% accuracy, but the human eye is critical to ensuring quality results). I finally looked at the use of these adjectives in relation to specific actors/parties (mainly North Korea, South Korea, and the United States). Given the effect of political personalization, I consider both the country name and the name of the leader (e.g., "North Korea" OR "Moon Jae-In" OR "President Moon" OR "Moon Jae In") as keywords. I retained the adjective if it appeared within three words of the NK, SK, or US keywords.

Raw counts are presented below (keep in mind the corpus is not perfectly balanced... also, sorry I was too lazy to reorder the charts XD Just so tired and wanted to practice some code):

Most commonly used adjectives related to Trump/U.S.

 

Most commonly used adjectives related to Kim Jung-Un and North Korea

 

Most commonly used adjectives related to President Moon and South Korea

New UW Study on Russian Twitter Trolls in U.S. Media

This past week, my research team published a study on news media's use of tweets written by Russia's Internet Research Agency (a copy of the study can be found here).

We also wrote a parallel article with Columbia Journalism Review.

Importantly, we show that Russian tweets conveying stereotypical partisan beliefs were picked up by a variety of mainstream and partisan news outlets. We are particularly critical of news stories that use "strings of tweet" to represent the vox populi (voice of the people). Unlike the more traditional "man on the street" interviews, tweets used in news stories (particularly online ones) are difficult to verify.

However, as shown by the (admittedly shallow) penetration of IRA tweets, it is still important for journalists to verify these Twitter users to the best of their ability. Journalists can do so by corresponding outside of the tweet-o-sphere (e.g., email), trying to look up the user's name on a search engine, or by looking at that user's past social media history.

Digital, partisan news outlets were particularly susceptible to embedded these IRA tweets. Liberal and conservative organizations both used tweets to convey cheap talk (discourse that supports their position or criticizes their opponents'). If the goal of Russian disinformation in the United States was to increase doubt in the news media system and increase polarization in the civil sphere, the amplification of these messages through partisan outlets represent some measure of success.

 

Why does this matter? Aside from natural concerns about deceptive foreign practices to our public sphere, the appearance of these messages across a broad range of news organizations  (bost partisan and traditional, liberal and conservative) shows how little tweets were checked. It highlights a greater problem: our willingness to promote partisan messages to prove a political point, even if they have little to no journalistic value and are not verified. 

Parkland shooting news coverage bigrams

Below is a bigram of words associated with "students", "victims", "cruz", "shooter", and "student" (darker arrows indicate higher frequency) from a corpus of stories about the Parkland shooting (written within a week of the shooting).

[Note that "student" is often used for the shooter, and "students" is often used for the victims]

Bigrams constructed using rvest. Articles were gathered using MediaCloud from CNN, Daily Mail, Daily Caller, Huffington Post, Fox News, Yahoo News, Daily Beast, Chicago Tribune, Raw Story, NBC News, CBS News, sfgate, Breitbart, Gateway Pundit, The New York Times, and USA Today (n = 75).

!florida_gun_bigrams.png