Thursday, July 19, 2012

How plastic bag bans and consumer fireworks bans are similar knee-jerk local government reactions

The similarities between local Shopping bag bans vs consumer fireworks bans?

Its now almost two weeks after Fourth of July yet in my neighborhood fireworks of all kinds still pop around every weekend. While some of these are approved consumer fireworks many of them are illegally imported black market fireworks or dangerous home made ones. I find on Fourth of Julys the same situation repeats. While the state decide to keep the regulated product legal many localities ban selling them and make displaying them an infraction it is kind of like the movement to ban or tax plastic bags which is also a legal product. I find plastic bag ban and single use bag bans in the late 2000s similar to the movement to ban legal consumer fireworks locality after locality from the late 80s early 90s even though the fireworks are certified for use by federal and state officials in 46 states. According to sources I think San Jose banned charity firework stands since the 80s but I was not there back then,  though the state of California officially approves use of such fireworks which pass many rigorous safety tests and inspections. These do not leave the ground nor explode unlike the black market ones my neighbors use. The ban on official fireworks stands does not reduce fireworks use at all as people will either go to the city that allows the sales of them just like people shopping in cities that still allow plastic bags, or revelers would just buy fireworks off the black market which is amazingly readily available the ones made in China or Mexico or those high powered commercial display versions. Most injuries and fires from fireworks are caused by the black market kind of fireworks which explode in all communities and the situation is actually worse in communities that ban legit fireworks stands which is subject to close supervision. I am surprised localities can get sparklers banned as well and make it a citable offense to light one even though it can hardly be considered a firework. Think about it a sparkler is not any more dangerous than lighting a match or lighter.  Most certified consumer fireworks are safer than many welders, torches, bbqs, campfire pits, and many other items that produce fire. It is just like the situation where individuals that litter and trash neighborhoods won't be affected by the bag ban. Also officially Plastic bag waste account for less than 1% of all litter compared to up to 33% tobacco product waste so it is really a knee-jerk reaction on local governments.

It seems like the banning of shopping bags is similar to banning of fireworks of the last two decades, the locality  essentially acts like an Ostrich thinking that their safe by burying their head in the sand when an attacker shows up. Banning the regulated product doesn't solve any issues and actually makes things worse. The ban is nearly impossible to enforce, and the ban spawns the black market of fireworks or homemade fireworks which explode and have no safety mechanisms what so ever. It is just like gun bans are not going to keep real gun lovers particularly the real troublemakers from finding loopholes to keep their guns and only is going to hurt honest gun owners.  Mass scale public fireworks displays can produce their own danger as well, as many drunk people assemble and sometimes do insane things such as playing with black market fireworks in the thick crowds. Also fireworks displays can go wrong by itself. For example in San Diego a computer glitch had resulted in three barges of fireworks to explode within a minute. Good thing it did not result in a catastrophic explosion in the barge where thousands of high powered fireworks were stored in or it would had been a mass scale tragedy. Also as cities run out of money public displays had been scaled back if not public safety had been cut back as well. Of course municipalities which pass these bans would always use false data to prove they are right in their decision no matter how "wrong" they are.

As the plastic bag ban is administrated by the Waste Management "garbage man" the fireworks control is administrated by the fire district(firemen). The rules are nearly impossible to enforce as fire districts are overwhelmed and stretched thin during fourth of July that if they were to chase after all these fireworks they would have to compromise on fire protection which is needed desperately that night with all these fire threatening events including barbeques and mass scale public fireworks displays they would not be able to respond to fires if they happen to be playing cop all night. The San Jose fire department itself tells the media a few years ago they would focus on public safety fire suppression first and only respond to fireworks complaints if its severely dangerous situation or has already caused a fire. A similar situation occurs after the bag ban in San Jose where many smaller stores in the gettos are completely oblivious the the bag ban and stores large and small continue to litter and dump in the neighborhood around them. I notice more and more parts of the city happens to be covered in mountains of garbage after the ban than before. The bag ban only results the stores to increasingly pre wrap their products in plastic packaging which are pretty much useless outside its purpose and need to be disposed once unwrapped. 

Here is more information regarding people fighting to repeal ridiculous policies in San Jose and elsewhere. This fourth of July fireworks issue really heats up and matches that of the plastic ban. 
Its a petty that cities cancelled official displays yet still prevent well regulated fundraising Fireworks stands from doing business. Only to let the dangerous life threatening black market fireworks take reign of the neighborhood. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Nationality laws? Jus Soli, Jus Sanguais, what most people won't know

Nationality Laws and what most people don't know or understand that affects them 

Here is a topic that is often overlooked by the general population. Particularly but not limited to residents and immigrants to the US. Nationality laws play a role on how a country decide who should be its subjects or not and also who is entitled to abode and protection in its country. A person might inherit a countries nationality or citizenship by different ways. These ways include Jus Soli(right of the land) which birth in a country that provides automatic citizenship for all births within the country or its territories and Jus Sanguinis(right of the blood) when the nationality or citizenship is transmitted according to the parent's nationality no matter where the child is born. Most all countries operate under the principle of Jus Sanguinis however much fewer also operate under the principle Jus Soli these countries are mostly in North, Central, and South America. Some countries in Europe such as Ireland and Spain operates under a limited Jus Soli principal. Those countries had scaled it back to combat illegal immigration tactics of anchor babies. All Jus Soli countries also have Jus Sanguinis provisions however most countries in the world only have Jus Sanguinis provisions. 

While most people in the US is kind of aware of Jus Soli even if they don't know this term. They know that one born here is automatically a citizen no matter the immigration status of the parents. Though they might not be aware of Jus Sanguinis or right of the blood. For example one can ask many immigrants whose child is born in they US a good chance is that they might have no idea that their child may be considered a citizen in their old country. Many may think that there children don't have their old country's citizenship.  However the laws of their old country might say otherwise and the details can very country to country and some can be hard to comprehend. It can involve some complications as the Master nationality rule of article 4 of the Hague convention that relates to conflict of nationality laws. The laws of the country that person is considered a nationality would prevail even over laws of the person's other nationality if he/she happens to be in that country's territory. In this case even the concept of diplomatic immunity is suspended if the diplomatic personnel happen to be assigned to a country of his "other" nationality. The nationality rule applies regardless of which country the subject primarily lives and which passport he used to enter. For example a child born in China or abroad entitled to Chinese citizenship at birth would need to depart China with not only a Chinese passport but an exit permit as required for all citizens to depart China. Even if the child primarily lives in the US and carries a US passport. He would not be allowed to depart China with a US passport.  Countries such as Poland those considered citizens to leave the country using only Polish travel documents. Unsuspecting tourists who had no idea they are considered Polish due to a grandparent holding citizenship might get detained in Poland for this reason as Polish nationality laws extends to an unlimited generations. This rule also affects immigrants who move to another country to escape military service requirements. There are a number of people who intentionally move of their home country to avoid military draft and not return as promised and think they can return after obtain their other country's passport to hide from the draft ended up arrested for draft dodging and have to complete the service upon return to the country. 

Though Jus Sanguinis may also have positive impacts for a child. For example if the child wants to return to live in their parent's country he or she is entitled to the "right of abode" in that country meaning that they don't have to go through the immigration process if they decide to live and work in their parents' country. Also now a days it pays to have a second passport regardless even if one does not plan to move to the other country. A second passport allows greatly increased economic freedom and can make immigrating to a third country much easier as sometimes countries favor immigration for certain countries more than others. The difference in visa fees and visa free access list can easily prove this discrepancy. For example it is currently very difficult to travel let alone apply for immigration with a ordinary mainland Chinese passport and many countries require visas for Chinese citizens which are expensive, hard to get, and often denied with no valid excuse, in this case  though if a child with mainland Chinese citizenship also has a second citizenship by descent from another country such as Japan, Britain, or most European countries that he or she inherited from the child can use the other passport to travel and immigrate. The privilege of another citizenship would usually cost one at least $35000 - $50,000 and may often involve immigration and residency both a hassle. Therefore the child would be very lucky for the privilege without going through all the hassle. Though beware certain countries such has Japan require the child be registored within a certain time frame in order to claim birth citizenship if they acquired a foreign citizen by birth in the country abroad. Therefore it is best to find out about the child's entitlement shortly after birth. Also few countries i.e Japan has a requirement that requires dual national children choose their nationality by a certain age though it may be possible to retain dual citizenship by using some pearls of wisdom such as only representing to the country as that country's citizen and not showing that you are another country's citizen.