Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Drinking on New Years Eve

There was some talk when I was in my twenties that every time a person got
 drunk they killed a few brain cells.  

please don't drive if you are drinking

Questions for the future: buy, save, borrow, or just stay home

We don't save anymore, but we are told to go out and buy things.  We can't borrow like we used to and since we don't have savings, how can we buy anything anyway?

We are drowning our world with our clutter (it is worth a trip to the garbage dump just to see the reality of this), but we are told that if we stop accumulating (i.e. being consumers) many people will be destitute.

What a dilemma.  

Maybe the answer is finding a different way for the economy to survive.  Its crazy to depend so much on people buying things.  With all our intelligence, and ability to invent i-phones and other technologically advanced gadgets, you would think we could find a better way.


New York Times Letter to the Editor - on the economy

To the Editor:

We consumers are getting contradictory messages about spending. On the one hand, we are told that our overconsumption is polluting and cluttering up the earth with garbage, using up resources and showing insensitivity to all the needy people in the world. On the other hand, we are told that until we start buying more goods and services, the economy will be in the dumps and we will leave many of our fellow citizens jobless, homeless and hungry.

Something is wrong with that picture. I personally don’t feel like buying much of anything, and my life is a lot less cluttered.

Ina Aronow
New Rochelle, N.Y., Dec.
24, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Immigration to Italy Doubles

Overloaded boats, many carrying over 300 people - are landing in southern Italy. There have been 25,000 requests for asylum in 2008 alone. There has to be a reason for all this. Italy is pained at the consequences, but people are running from something they perceive as terrible.
Hundreds of immigrants land on Italian island

By Peter Popham in Milan
Sunday, 28 December 2008
London Guardian
Italy's reception centre on Lampedusa, between Malta and Tunisia, was built to house only 840 illegal migrants but now has twice that number

More than 900 immigrants have arrived on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa this weekend, bringing the numbers which have landed in Italy this year to more than 30,000 - more than double the number that arrived in 2007 and much the highest figure since the traffic started.

The conditions of the journey, which takes at least four or five days, are more hellish than ever. “They travel literally one on top of another,” said Francesco Galipo, at the Maritime Rescue Centre in Palermo. “We have intercepted boats 14 metres long with 324 people on board.”

After a lull during which rough seas prevented crossings, the latest landings brought the arrivals over the Christmas period to more than 1,700. Laura Boldrini, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, commented, “We can no longer consider summer the only season when people arrive. Now they are coming all the year round.”
- more

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Report on the Cause of Immigration to the U.S. - from Global Exchange


The List

link to photo

Surely I have written about this before. It's about flying while named Jose and Maria. Those are my parent's first names. They are in their mid eighties. Every time they fly they are searched. Why? Because their names are Jose and Maria. As Juan Fernando Gomez writes in his article in today's WaPo, too bad for any kid named Juan (or Jose and Maria). Think twice before you name your newborn.

Somebody out there, who the TSA is afraid of, has the same name as my parents. Every time their wheelchairs are pushed through security, someone says "stop!."

Of course, this isn't as bad as what Gomez experiences. The first time this happened to them, four years ago, the porter who was helping with their baggage had a quiet talk with the airline clerk at the check in counter. I called Continental and they assured me it wouldn't happen again. They were wrong.

Luckily, when we flew my Dad to New York for the opening of the 2007 Yankees season, the guy who searched him was sympathetic. With an apologetic smile, he gently searched my 84 year old father.

Let's hope Obama gets some sense back into our Department of Homeland Security. He needs to have a talk with the head of the TSA.

My Dad fought in the Pacific Theater in WWII. He was part of the invasion of Luzon. He even took his kids to see the Alamo. That's pretty American for a guy born in Mexico. He doesn't deserve to be on anybody's list of questionable travelers. Neither does Juan Fernando Gomez.


Why Can't I Get Off This List?
Washington Post
By Juan Fernando Gómez
Sunday, December 28, 2008; Page B03

I call it the little room. In most cases it's actually not that small, but my claustrophobia seems to kick in as soon as the immigration officer separates me from the other passengers on my flight and escorts me through a door into my own private travel hell.

As you sit in crowded airports waiting for your long-delayed flights, cursing yourself for traveling over the holidays, remember: It could be worse. You could be me. My ordeal begins before the plane touches down in the United States, some time between the moment when the flight attendant begins handing out blank immigration and customs forms and when I hear the wheels disengaging in the belly of the plane. Will I sail through immigration and customs, I wonder, or will this be the time that they get me? Might I even be whisked off to Guantanamo?

The crazy thing is that I have done nothing wrong. I am a U.S. citizen and have no criminal record. I pay my taxes (well, except for those few years when, right out of grad school, I was convinced that taxes did not apply to me). I don't litter. The problem is that I happen to share a name with at least one shady character on the Terrorist Screening Center's watch list. At least, that's the list that I believe I am on, although no official will tell me for sure.

My name is common in Latin America, the Spanish equivalent of John Smith. It also seems to be particularly popular among law-breakers. I once sneaked a peek at an immigration officer's computer and saw an entire screen full of my doppelgangers. Who knows how many of them were bad guys and how many were law-abiding saps like me?

It doesn't help that my travel habits are similar to those of people who actually belong on a watch list. I grew up in Medellín, Colombia, during the height of the Pablo Escobar drug wars and have worked for the better part of the past decade in some of the most dangerous places in the world. In countries such as Afghanistan and Colombia, I help farmers find legal, profitable and sustainable alternatives to growing coca and poppies, the raw material for cocaine and heroin. So I guess it's understandable that my passport -- packed with added pages and stamps marking my entry into and exit from countries such as Cambodia, Bolivia and Haiti -- raises eyebrows.

It seems to me, though, that airport security should know enough to tell me from the terrorists. I'm not easily offended, but being treated like a dangerous criminal every time I enter the country is getting a little old...more

Juan Fernando Gómez is a director in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region for Chemonics, a Washington-based international development consulting firm.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Nice Move After the Advent of Prop 8

FA to tackle homophobia with video featuring football stars
Jenny Percival
The Guardian, Saturday 27 December 2008

A video showing football stars speaking out against homophobia will be released next year as part of an unprecedented drive by the sport's governing bodies to tackle a sharp rise in abuse and discrimination.

The video will be shown in cinemas, on TV and in stadiums in an attempt to rid terraces and pitches of homophobic chants and slurs, the Guardian can reveal.

The Football Association (FA), the Professional Footballers' Association, the players' union, Kick It Out, the sport's diversity and inclusion campaign, and Peter Tatchell, of gay rights group Outrage!, began work on plans for the video at the end of last month. It is hoped that up to a dozen players, including David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand, Sol Campbell, David James, Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole and Cristiano Ronaldo, will be persuaded to take part. The video is due to be released in March and could be shown in schools if the FA wins the backing of the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

"We're delighted that the FA has decided to produce and fund the video, it will have a hugely positive impact on young people and help to challenge bigoted attitudes among fans," said Tatchell.

The FA has put aside a budget of £20,000 and is hoping that a major advertising agency will take on the project at minimal cost.

Gay rights groups have been pressing the FA to tackle homophobia and believe the ad campaign is a breakthrough, prompted by a number of recent high-profile allegations of homophobia. Hampshire police are still investigating the homophobic and racist chanting directed at Portsmouth's Sol Campbell during a match against Tottenham Hotspur in September.

Danny Lynch, of Kick It Out, said that football - often seen as the one of the last bastions of homophobia - was out of synch with public opinion. "When we were set up 15 years ago, monkey chanting and banana throwing was commonplace, but football has changed and you just don't see that kind of behaviour any more. But in the absence of traditional racist abuse, we have seen this sharp rise in homophobic abuse and dealing with it is now a key part of our remit, " said Lynch.

Justin Fashanu was the first openly gay professional player when he came out in 1990. Eight years later, after he committed suicide, a coroner said prejudices, and the sexual assault charge he was facing, probably overwhelmed him.

Jason Bartholomew Hall, of the Justin Fashanu Campaign, said: "Footballers are revered by youngsters. It would be fantastic if they saw their heroes saying that homophobia is unacceptable."

Guardian article on response to the Pope's comments against gay rights: "Pope's Speech: 'Gay Rights Groups React Angrily'

And People Began to Disappear

What kind of contract with the devil would a small town make to help its financial situation?  Building a detention facility, then filling the place with its own people is about the worst they could do.  This didn't stop them.

Below is an excellent NYT article on Central Falls, Rhode Island. It is long, has a video and numerous photographs.  If you are interested in the impact of recent arbitrary immigration policies, you best read this article by Nina Bernstein.
Leaning on Jail, City of Immigrants Fills Cells With Its Own
New York Times
Published: December 26, 2008
CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — Few in this threadbare little mill town gave much thought to the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, the maximum-security jail beside the public ball fields at the edge of town. Even when it expanded and added barbed wire, Wyatt was just the backdrop for Little League games, its name stitched on the caps of the team it sponsored.

Then people began to disappear: the leader of a prayer group at St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church; the father of a second grader at the public charter school; a woman who mopped floors in a Providence courthouse.

After days of searching, their families found them locked up inside Wyatt — only blocks from home, but in a separate world.

In this mostly Latino city, hardly anyone had realized that in addition to detaining the accused drug dealers and mobsters everyone heard about, the jail held hundreds of people charged with no crime — people caught in the nation’s crackdown on illegal immigration. Fewer still knew that Wyatt was a portal into an expanding network of other jails, bigger and more remote, all propelling detainees toward deportation with little chance to protest

Friday, December 26, 2008

A few comments on virgins and religion

This post is not about sexual mores or behavior. It is about virgins.  The religious kind.

After posting something on immigration policy in the Obama administration, I decided to include a vintage image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  For those who don't know, she is supposed to be the Virgin Mary (mother of Christ) who appeared to an indigenous man in Mexico in 1531.

Many believe her apparition really occurred.  Some think it is folklore.  I generally stay out of those disputes.  You can't prove anything either way.  What is clear, tangible, and important is that she is considered the most important religious figure to millions of people in the Americas.  Not just to people who are Catholic.

New Age people might say she is an incredibly popular and powerful female diety, along the line of Isis and Quan Yin.

Guadalupe is everywhere these days.  On calenders, t-shirts, posters, table cloths, medals, and painted clocks.  She has gone beyond being the Mexican Mother of Christ to a commodity.  Yet I don't think it has diminished her power and the respect people have in her.

As for myself, I am not actively practicing any religion.  My parents and grandparents are (and were) deeply religious Catholics.  My maternal grandfather died walking home from the 3 pm mass on Good Friday.  (he was in his 60s and had a heart attack)

When I was a child, my parents, who sent me to Catholic school, were very open minded about what I was exposed to.  I would go to church with my Baptist friends, and my Pentecostal friends.  I'm sure I would have gone to a synagogue if I would have had any Jewish friends.

While the nuns at school told us that anyone not Catholic was not going to heaven (this was during the 60s, I hope they no longer do this), I was never convinced they were right.

It was a confusing position for me to be in.  Once, while in college I asked my Dad's best friend (who is a Basilian priest) why wasn't it enough to just be a good person.  He said that believing in God was also necessary.  At least he didn't specify a religion.

With all that in mind.  I can still say that I think the Virgin of Guadalupe is awesome - for women, for Catholics, for Americans, for Mexicans -- for people - whether they go to church or not.

The Virgin of Guadalupe Says there Will Be a DREAM Act in 2009

The Economist is saying that comprehensive immigration reform may not happen, but the DREAM Act will.  The NYT is saying that Obama's recent picks for the cabinet are making it look like even more could happen.

Is somebody praying out there?
Getting Immigration Right
New York Times
Published: December 25, 2008

It’s way too early to tell whether the United States under President-elect Barack Obama will restore realism, sanity and lawfulness to its immigration system. But it’s never too early to hope, and the stars seem to be lining up, at least among his cabinet nominees.

If Mr. Obama’s team is confirmed, the country will have a homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano of Arizona, and a commerce secretary, Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who understand the border region and share a well-informed disdain for foolish, inadequate enforcement schemes like the Bush administration’s border fence. And it will have a labor secretary, Hilda Solis of California, who, as a state senator and congresswoman, has built a reputation as a staunch defender of immigrants and workers.

The confluence of immigrants and labor is exactly what this country — particularly, and disastrously, the Bush administration — has not been able to figure out.

In simplest terms, what Ms. Solis and Mr. Obama seem to know in their gut is this: If you uphold workers’ rights, even for those here illegally, you uphold them for all working Americans. If you ignore and undercut the rights of illegal immigrants, you encourage the exploitation that erodes working conditions and job security everywhere. In a time of economic darkness, the stability and dignity of the work force are especially vital.

This is why it is so important to reverse the Bush administration’s immigration tactics, which for years have attacked the problem upside down and backward. To appease Republican nativists, it lavished scarce resources solely on hunting down and punishing illegal immigrants. Its campaign of raids, detentions and border fencing was a moral failure. Among other things, it terrorized and broke apart families and led to some gruesome deaths in shoddy prisons. It mocked the American tradition of welcoming and assimilating immigrant workers.

But it also was a strategic failure because it did little or nothing to stem the illegal tide while creating the very conditions under which the off-the-books economy can thrive. Illegal immigrant workers are deterred from forming unions. And without a path to legalization and under the threat of a relentless enforcement-only regime, they cannot assert their rights.

It’s a system that the grubbiest and shabbiest industries and business owners — think of the hellish slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, running with immigrant child labor — could not have designed better. Through it all, the Bush administration’s response to criticism has been ever more enforcement.

Ms. Solis, whose father immigrated from Mexico and was a Teamsters shop steward and whose mother, from Nicaragua, worked on an assembly line, promises a clean break from that past. She lives in El Monte, a Los Angeles suburb where two compelling stories of immigrants and labor have emerged in recent years.

The first was tragic: a notorious 1995 raid at a sweatshop where Thai workers were kept in slave conditions behind barbed wire. The second is less well-known but far more encouraging: a present-day hiring site for day laborers at the edge of a Home Depot parking lot. The Latino men who gather in that safe, well-run space uphold an informal minimum wage and protect one another from abusive contractors and wage thieves. It’s good for the store, its customers and the workers.

Ms. Solis is a defender of such sites and has opposed efforts in other cities to enact ordinances to disperse day laborers and force them underground. She understands that if day laborers end up in our suburbs, it is better to give them safe places to gather rather than allow an uncontrolled job bazaar to drive wages and working conditions down.

That’s a bit of local wisdom that deserves to take root in the federal government.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

For Those Who Can't Go Home For Christmas

link to image

Today is Christmas.  This is Houston, so the weather is weird.  Its too warm for sweats, too cool for shorts (at least for me).  I was outside, talking to my neighbors.  Turns out their Dad is not home this Christmas.  He went to see his parents.  He had been here for more than a decade without documents.  He and his wife persisted for years to regularize his status.  There were all sorts of complications.  He needed all his IRS reports (w2 forms) for those years to prove he had paid taxes.  Some of the reports were missing.  He couldn't find his former employer who would have had copies.  Meanwhile, the lawyer just charged more and more.  But my neighbor is a really hard worker.  He has a regular job, but also cuts lawns for businesses on the weekends.  Sometimes his wife goes to help, even though she also has another job during the week.

The day after Hurricane Ike, none of us had electricity.  So most of us were sitting on our porches (we live in an old neighborhood, and most of the houses have a front porch).  I went over to visit them.  He smiled and told me, I'm going to Mexico.  I asked what happened and he told me that had finally been regularized.  He had such a big smile on his face.  He hadn't seen his parents in over 10 years.  

So today when his daughter in law told me that he was gone for two weeks, I could just imagine how he felt being in his first home again.  Sure, Houston is his home now.  He has a wife and family.  But his parents are still back there.  

It's just a reminder for those of us that grit our teeth at Christmas when we go see our parents.  Not everyone is so lucky to have the option "to go back."  I'm glad my neighbor Tomas finally went home again.  Even though, I must say, we all miss him when he is not around.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

DREAM Act Has a Chance

The Economist is saying that if larger Comprehensive Immigration Reform doesn't happen, "smaller steps" may be taken - this could include the DREAM Act - lets hope.

The Economist

December 20, 2008
U.S. Edition

The border closes;

Tougher enforcement and the recession have cut the flow of immigrants; but the state of the economy has made it harder to overhaul a broken system

UNTIL recently, most of the people who came to Emilio Amaya's office in San Bernardino were working illegally. Now the flow of immigrants has slowed, and those who used to toil on building sites and in restaurant kitchens are taking long breaks to visit their relatives. Fortunately, a new line of business has emerged. Mr Amaya is helping people fill in forms that will enable them to move their possessions back to Mexico.

It is an abrupt reversal of a once seemingly inexorable trend. Ever since 2002, when America began to recover from a mild economic downturn, migrants both legal and illegal have streamed over the border. By 2006 Americans rated immigration as the nation's second-most-important problem after the Iraq war, according to Gallup. A bold attempt to reform immigration laws the following year was scuppered by an extraordinary outburst of popular anger. Yet, almost at that moment, the problem began to go away.

The least desirable kind of immigrant has declined the most steeply. In the year to September 2008 724,000 fewer people were caught trying to cross into America from Mexico, the lowest annual tally since the 1970s (see chart). Border cops have naturally claimed credit for the drop. But the heavy hand of the law is probably much less of a deterrent than the invisible hand of the market.

Illegal immigrants often work as builders and landscapers, two trades that have collapsed along with the housing market. As the most casual workers in any industry, they are often laid off first. Although it is impossible to say how many are out of work, one clue comes from their closest competitors in the labour market. In the past year the unemployment rate among Hispanic Americans has risen from 5.7% to 8.6%. That is a steeper increase than for whites or blacks.

In some places, such as Arizona, tough penalties for companies that hire illegals have made the situation worse. Edmundo Hidalgo, who runs a Hispanic organisation in Phoenix, says employers who are prepared to wink at illegality in a tight labour market become more scrupulous when there are lots of workers to choose from. Not surprisingly, the Arizona border is particularly quiet these days. "Why risk your life to come and be unemployed?" asks Wes Gullett, who steered John McCain's presidential campaign in Arizona.

Jeffrey Passel, a demographer at the Pew Hispanic Centre, estimates that the number of illegal immigrants in America fell by 500,000 between 2007 and 2008. Some left the country; others worked their way to legitimacy. Few were replaced. For the past three years, Mr Passel reckons, there has been more legal than illegal immigration—a reversal of the previous pattern. And even legal immigration may now be falling.

Gabriel Jack, a Silicon Valley immigration lawyer, says companies are requesting fewer visas for foreign workers, although demand for the most popular permits still outstrips supply. Tourism and business travel seem to have declined, too. Fewer people are flying into and out of America than at this point last year, according to the International Air Transport Association. All of this changes the politics of immigration.

During the presidential campaign Mr Obama promised to tackle immigration reform in his first year in office. He has a sound reason for keeping that promise: Latinos are solidly Democratic. Exit polls for CNN suggest that Mr Obama carried Hispanic voters by 28 points in Texas, 51 points in California and 54 points in Nevada. By 2012 the Hispanic electorate will be bigger and the heavily Latino Western states will command a few more electoral-college votes, thanks to the 2010 census, which will give extra congressional seats to the West.

The abrupt slowdown in human movement might seem to improve the odds that America's broken immigration system will be overhauled soon. What do nativists have to fear, if fewer people are trampling the border and some undocumented workers are going home? In fact, though, immigration reform is becoming harder.

The immigration bill that died in 2007 would have legalised undocumented workers, stepped up enforcement of existing laws and increased the supply of immigrant workers. It was a compromise that offered something to liberals, Hispanics, conservatives and businessmen.

The recession has swept away the third part of the grand bargain. Even 18 months ago some Midwestern Democrats (including Mr Obama) were wary of a guest-worker programme. It will be extremely hard to sell an increase in foreign workers during a recession. Doris Meissner of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington notes that the last two major relaxations of immigration laws, in 1965 and 1990, both occurred at times of low unemployment.

If there is to be no grand bargain, lesser steps may be taken. Farmers, who have political clout and a perpetual hunger for cheap labour, may be allowed to hire more seasonal workers. "Americans still aren't rushing to pick lettuces in 115{degree} heat," notes Glenn Hamer, president of Arizona's chamber of commerce. The DREAM Act, which would enable some illegal aliens who were brought to America as children to become residents, may be revived.

But if no provision is made to increase the supply of foreign labour permanently, the immigration issue will come back once business picks up again. As Tamar Jacoby of ImmigrationWorks USA, a pressure group, puts it, efforts to secure the border and to police unscrupulous employers will have to compete against the dynamism of the world economy. Don't count on the cops to win.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cheney: Out of Touch with Reality

Who is Cheney kidding? It is common knowledge that Cheney has been the most feared and mistrusted Vice-President in history - has any other Vice-President shouted profanities in Congress?

The newspapers recently asked what would happen if we had another Water Gate. I say nothing... there have been numerous situations worse than Water Gate and all the potential Deep Throats have all gone into hiding.   They are all afraid of Cheney.

Biden: Cheney was probably the "most dangerous" vice president in U.S. history.


Cheney, Biden Spar In TV Appearances
Discord Centers on Scope of Executive Power

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 22, 2008; Page A02

Vice President Cheney and his successor, Joseph R. Biden Jr., exchanged insults yesterday in a pair of unusually critical television interviews, laying bare apparent animosity between the two as Cheney prepares to hand over power next month.

Cheney, offering no regrets or apologies for his aggressive role in guiding national security policies over the past eight years, openly mocked Biden for citing the wrong part of the Constitution during a campaign debate and for pledging to pursue a less expansive agenda than Cheney has.

"If he wants to diminish the office of the vice president, that's obviously his call," Cheney said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." He added: "President-elect Obama will decide what he wants in a vice president and, apparently, from the way they're talking about it, he does not expect him to have as consequential a role as I have had during my time."

Biden said in an interview on ABC's "This Week" that Cheney was "dead wrong" in his views about unfettered presidential powers during wartime and that the approach "has been not healthy for our foreign policy, not healthy for our national security, and it has not been consistent with our Constitution." He said he intended to "restore the balance" in power between the presidency and the vice presidency.

The sparring revealed lingering tensions between Cheney and Biden, who said during the election campaign that Cheney was probably the "most dangerous" vice president in U.S. history...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Spain Tightens Immigration Rules

Spain regularized 600,000 undocumented immigrants in 2005 - it needed labor at the time. Now things have changed, the global financial crisis has affected their labor market and they have decided to crack down on immigrants without papers.

Spain proposes tougher laws for immigrants

The Associated Press/Washington Post
Friday, December 19, 2008; 10:52 AM

MADRID, Spain -- Grappling with rising unemployment and a moribund economy, the Spanish government proposed new immigration rules Friday to limit the influx of immigrants.

The measures, which need Parliamentary approval, would let police hold undocumented aliens longer pending expulsion and make it harder for foreign-born residents to bring relatives over. They are yet another reflection of the dramatic turnabout in Spain's economy.

Just a few years ago, Spain was Europe's top job-creator. In 2005, it even granted amnesty to 600,000 illegal aliens, many of whom worked under-the-table as laborers in a booming real estate sector.

But with the property bubble collapse in the last year, the Spanish economy is now on the verge of recession and unemployment has soared to an EU-high of 11.3 percent. Among immigrants, the jobless rate surpasses 17 percent.

Labor Minister Celestino Corbacho said Friday the government must limit immigrants so as not to swell the ranks of the unemployed..

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hilda Solis will be Labor Secretary - a plus for laborers

Obama picked a person sensitive to laborers - Hilda Solis of California - known as a "warrior for workers"

A Warrior for Workers
The Nation
posted by JOHN NICHOLS on 12/19/2008 @ 08:42am

When the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor decided in 2000 that it would stop giving "rubber stamp" backing to disappointing Democrats, the federation's dynamic leader at the time, Miguel Contreras, declared: "We've lifted the bar for endorsements."

"It's not enough to say you're for a minimum-wage increase and expect our backing," Contreras explained. "We want candidates who make a commitment to be with us on every vote, and to be with us on the picket lines."

The first candidate to leap the bar and secure the backing of the labor group was a California legislator named Hilda Solis, who was challenging incumbent Democratic Congressman Matthew Martinez.

Martinez's labor record was reasonably good. But he had disappointed the unions by supporting free-trade deals favored by the Clinton administration -- and by failing to show up on those picket lines.

Solis, who had worked closely with the United Farm Workers, the Service Employees and other unions, won the 2000 Democratic primary in an east L.A. district. And Contreras declared that "a warrior for working families" had been sent to Washington.

Contreras was proven right.

Solis has been a steady pro-labor and progressive member of the House, taking a leadership role in fights to write union-friendly labor laws that will make it easier for workers to organize and bargain collectively, to reframe the trade debate and to defend the rights of women workers in the U.S. and abroad.

Solis has voted with the AFL-CIO 97 percent of the time since coming to Congress.

Solis serves on the board of directors of the pro-labor group American Rights at Work -- along with board chair David Bonior, the former Michigan congressman who has been her mentor and ally over the years.

Solis still shows up for picket lines.

And, now, she is President-elect Barack Obama's designee to join his Cabinet as the next Secretary of Labor.
Miguel Contreras, who died too young a few years back, is smiling today.

After too many years of attacks by Republicans and compromises by Democrats, this country's toiling millions are looking at the prospect of having a Labor Secretary who serves as a "warrior for workers.

I - When People Are Afraid They Invent Enemies

dreamacttexas could write all sorts of philosophical stuff about immigration and xenophobia... but what we write won't have the impact (or distribution) of an article from
Just because most of the national news is on the economy does not mean the immigration polemic has gone away.  
There are still people who hate immigrants and think we are being run over.  Some say that the economic downturn will increase xenophobia, lets hope not.

DECEMBER 19, 2008 11:30AM
Xenophobia From the Comfort of Your Own Computer Chair
December 19, 2008
by D.B.S.

A few days ago, Fox News ran a news segment focused on a new website, BlueServo, a joint partner ship between the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition and BlueServo that seeks to utilize "innovative real-time surveillance program designed to empower the public to proactively participate in fighting border crime."

Simply by providing your email and answering a few questions, one becomes an honorary "Virtual Texas Deputy" and gains access to a number of real-time, live streams from surveillance cameras located on the US-Mexico border. Under each live feed is a button labeled "Report Suspicious Activity." Ostensibly, if while monitoring the camera feed, a "Virtual Texas Deputy" sees something that they feel is suspicious, they can click the link and report it to the authorities so that it might be adressed. From the comfort of one's own computer chair , then, anyone can do their part to "protect their own homes, neighborhoods, and families from criminal acts."

Let's cut to the chase here: this website - and values, sentiments, and discourse that have created it - says something deeply disturbing about our nation. This website is portrayed as a tool to fight drug smuggling and criminal activity, but its actual motives are quite transparent, as it clearly intends to contribute to the notion that we must vigilantly guard our border against the so-called "illegal aliens" that seek to cross our borders.

Through the approach that federal, state, and local governments have taken in the wake of 9/11 to address the issue of immigration, immigration has become inextricably linked with two "wars": the war on drugs and the war on terror. In the days immediately following the terrorist attacks of September 11, then Attorney General Ashcroft announced that immigration control and enforcement would play a primary role in combating future terror attacks on US soil. Concomitantly, regulations on immigrants have become exceedingly severe, the border between the US and Mexico has been militarized and fortified (despite the fact that none of the 9/11 attackers arrived in the US by crossing the border, but through legal visas), and deportations and indefinite detention in immigration prisons have become widespread.

link to image

II - When People Are Afraid They Invent Enemies


Xenophobia From the Comfort of Your Own Computer Chair
by D.B.S.

Conflating the issues of national security, crime, and immigration is not only a drastic oversimplification of a complex, global phenomena that stems from globalization and transnational flows of labor and capital, but also demonstrates the lack of national conscience. If our interests are perceived to be threatened, then we will demonize whom we will, regardless of the enormous contributions made by immigrants to our social and economic infrastructure or the massive toll that their demonization takes on the advancement of human rights. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that immigrants - even those with the lowest levels of education - commit far fewer crimes than do the native born; by continuing to label immigrants as drug smugglers and terrorists, we run the risk of creating irrevocable inequalities and human rights abuses.

Which brings me back to BlueServo: validating vigilantism and xenophobia in this manner only strengthens the resolve of those who seek to harden the heart of the nation against those who come to make a better life for themselves and their families. Our nation's incapability to craft a sensible immigration policy has continually plagued our history, and one need look no further than the estimated 10 million undocumented individuals living and working in the US forced to hide in the margins of our society to see that our immigration system is broken.

As the economy worsens and the search for culprits intensifies, the United States has a choice. Continue to dehumanize immigrants as illegal, drug smugglers, terrorists, job-stealers, and a strain on the public infrastructure, or accept the realities of globalization and transnational labor and capital flows and lead by example, creating a fair, thoughtful immigration policy that is not rooted in ideology or nativism but in a recognition of the social world as it truly is.

My closing thought will be a verse from the Old Testament that the prominent sociologist Roger Waldinger included in the dedication of one of his books on immigration. The sentiment, I think, applies quite nicely here.

The stranger who lives with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Leviticus 19:34

Giving Something to Veterans

One of the worst travesties these days is what is happening to U.S. military veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.  The death toll is only a fraction of the terrible things that are occuring.  The injuries are horrific.  Modern medicine has kept many alive, but their lives are ruined.  The suicide rate is astronomical and is said to be the same number of those who actually died while on a tour.  

Veterans for America has released a guide to help with problems that arise.  While this is a very small thing considering all that our veterans need, it is still helpful.  A link to the 500+ page book is posted below the NYT editorial.
Survival Guide for Veterans

New York Times
Published: December 18, 2008
Far too often, military veterans find themselves desperately short of the information they need as they make the torturous quest for benefits within one of this country’s most daunting bureaucracies, the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Officials say help is on the way, but administrators are forever promising to streamline procedures for an era of conquered paperwork that never seems to come. That is why it is heartening to see that one promising form of help has indeed arrived: a 599-page guide to veterans’ issues, from educational help to vocational rehabilitation, from housing to citizenship.

It’s called “The American Veterans’ and Servicemembers’ Survival Guide,” and it comes, unsurprisingly, from outside the system. It is a publication of the nonprofit advocacy group Veterans for America, available as a free download at

click here for link to the Veteran's Survival Guide
link to photo

Thursday, December 18, 2008

North-South: Rival Economies

Most of us thought that Congress was angry at the automakers for making dumb decisions and killing the electric car. This seemed to be the reason behind the lack of enthusiasm for a bail out of the American automakers. But we were wrong. It's an old north-south rivalry, focusing on regional economies. The South doesn't have a national perspective - better to save the southern auto economy (fueled by foreign car makers) than to save the whole country. What else is new?

The Economic Civil War
The South's attempt to kill the North's auto industry is the latest battle in an ongoing conflict. It's time for a Third Reconstruction to put an end to it.
by Michael Lind
Dec. 18, 2008 | It is just as well that Barack Obama is emulating Abraham Lincoln by traveling to his inauguration in Washington by train. As the regional politics of the automobile bailout controversy demonstrate, the Civil War continues. If the major U.S. automobile companies go under, it will be partly because timely federal aid for them was blocked by members of Congress like Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, whose states have created their own counter-Detroit in the form of Japanese, Korean, and German transplant factories. The South will have risen by bringing down the North. Jefferson Davis will have had his revenge.

The most shocking thing about the alliance between the Southern states and America's friendly but earnest economic rivals to destroy America's most important industry is the fact that so few people find it shocking. Contrast the U.S. with the European Union. The nation-states of the European Union collaborate with each other in order to compete against foreign economic rivals, including the U.S., Japan, and China. By contrast, many states, particularly in the South, collaborate with foreign economic rivals of the U.S. in order to compete against other American states. Any British or French or German leader who proposed collaborating with Japan or the U.S. in order to wipe out industry and destroy jobs in neighboring EU member states would be jeered out of office. But it is perfectly acceptable for American states to connive with Asian and European countries in the destruction of industry elsewhere in the U.S.

link to Harper's image

1,900 immigrants not naturalized in time - couldn't vote in election

"the Ombudsman received credible information that one court denied USCIS the opportunity to administer the oath in a timely fashion to more than 1,900 approved naturalization applicants. The court's delay adversely impacted the ability of these individuals to vote in the recent general elections.

"USCIS leadership and staff worked hard to naturalize these new citizens, and they had the assistance of many district courts that proved flexible in scheduling additional naturalization oath ceremonies," said CIS Ombudsman Michael Dougherty. "courts that choose to assert exclusive authority to naturalize new citizens should also embrace a customer service ethic that recognizes the singular importance of oath ceremonies."

see report:
Cisomb Naturalization Recommendation 2008-12-16

Some Judges Delay Swearing-In Of New Citizens, Report Says
Immigration Ombudsman Says Money Is Motivation

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 18, 2008; Page A23

Federal judges in some parts of the United States have delayed the swearing-in of new citizens, keeping millions of dollars in fees that would otherwise go to immigration officials if they were allowed to administer the oaths instead, according to a new government report and immigration officials.

In one of the nation's busiest courts, a judge's delay caused nearly 2,000 people to not receive the oath in time to register for November's general election, USCIS ombudsman Michael Dougherty said in a 13-page report released yesterday.

Solidarity Dinner for Eberto Romero Tonite: Restaurante 'EL Coquito'

Eberto Romero is a friend and a beloved community organizer in Houston who has undergone a series of brain surgeries since August of this year.

Eberto has done extensive work with Border Networks for Human Rights and Hondureños Unidos. Eberto has been greatly involved in the work of immigrant rights in Houston for several years and has been a critical part of our organizing efforts and advancements.

Since August, Eberto has had nine brain surgeries in hopes of ridding a brain tumor; his last intervention was twenty days days ago. Currently, he recovers in Ben Taub Hospital and remains in stable condition.

A group of family and friends have organized a fundraiser dinner taking place tonight in Houston, TX in order to help alleviate some of the hospital expenses.

Where: Restaurante El Coquito, 6121 Hillcroft AVE; Sharpstown Area. 713.776 0220
What: Solidarity dinner for Eberto
When: Tonite, Thursday, December 18th. Starting 7:30 PM

For more information, please contact:

I urge you to please support Eberto in any possible way. I have had the pleasure of working with him; he is just a stellar individual who has given his heart to the struggle of immigrants.

En la lucha,


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

1986 Immigration Law gives hope to some

There are ways for some to obtain their green cards, but the problem is always the cost. Who has thousands of dollars to pay for an attorney, not knowing if he/she will be able to help you.

Check out your local law school. Some times they have "immigration clinics" that offer low or no cost legal help.

Settlement opens up amnesty for tens of thousands of immigrants
LA Times

Many who entered the United States on valid visas but fell out of legal status between 1982 and 1988 are eligible for the amnesty offered under the 1986 immigration reform law.

By Teresa Watanabe
December 15, 2008
For two decades, Anaheim businessman Erkan Aydin has taken on a task unimaginable for most immigrants like himself: trying to convince the U.S. government that he was here illegally.

Aydin, 50, arrived in the United States from his native Turkey with a valid student visa in 1981, but fell out of legal status when he failed to enroll in school, he said.

* Skilled immigrants a 'brain waste' in California's workforce
Skilled immigrants a 'brain waste' in...
* U.S. to renew push for crackdown on illegal workers
U.S. to renew push for crackdown on...

Colorado judge stops tax crackdown on illegal workers

The customer service representative has a powerful reason why he wants to be considered an illegal immigrant. It would make him eligible for the amnesty offered to 2.7 million illegal immigrants under the 1986 immigration reform law.

Thanks to a recent legal settlement, the chance to apply for amnesty is finally open to Aydin and tens of thousands of others who entered the country on a valid visa but fell out of legal status between 1982 and 1988. The settlement, approved this fall by a U.S. district court in Washington state, stems from a class-action lawsuit filed by attorney Peter Schey originally on behalf of an immigrant assistance program of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

"I have been born again, like a new baby," Aydin said last week in his Anaheim car dealership office. "I will start a beautiful life in this beautiful country."

The landmark reform law offered a one-time amnesty to immigrants who were in the United States unlawfully from before 1982 to about 1988.

But Congress was concerned that those who entered the country with a valid visa would argue that they fell out of legal status during that time simply to qualify for amnesty. As a result, Schey said, Congress created a rule requiring immigrants to show that their shift from legal to illegal status was "known to the government."

That rule, however, created a new problem: How to prove that the government knew about their violations?

Nigeria native Olaniyi Sofuluke, for instance, came to the United States in 1981 on a student visa to study banking and finance at Troy State University (now Troy University) in Alabama. But, lacking funds, he soon dropped out to work as a dishwasher in two Atlanta restaurants until he could earn enough for his tuition and living expenses.

That violated his visa conditions and threw him into illegal status. The university was required to send a notice to the U.S. government that Sofuluke had dropped out but was not able to provide him with a copy when he requested one five years later. So immigration officials rejected his amnesty application, saying his violations were not known to the government.

Schey, however, successfully argued that because schools were legally required to send the notices, it should be presumed that the government received them and therefore knew about the violations.

He also successfully argued that the government knew many immigrants had violated their status another way: by failing to furnish an address report every three months. The government's failure to produce the address reports showed that the immigrants had not filed them, violating the terms of their visa, he argued.

U.S. immigration officials accepted both arguments in the settlement. They have announced that immigrants whose cases involve violations known to the government may apply for amnesty between Feb. 1, 2009, and Jan. 31, 2010.

Although the settlement was announced in September, many immigrants are just learning about it. Sofuluke, now a Maryland administrator, just found out about it last week.

"I couldn't even eat dinner, I was so full of joy," he said. "I've been in the twilight zone all of this time."

As a banker in Nigeria, he said his colleagues would return from studying in the United States and regale him with stories about the land of opportunity.

He devoured news about the United States in Time and Newsweek, he said, and finally got his chance to study here in 1981.

He eventually earned an undergraduate degree in accounting and an MBA, started a dry cleaning business that employed 16 people, bought his own home and began doing volunteer work with the disabled. (He was given a work permit while his amnesty application was pending.)

"You can find the greatest opportunities here," he said in a phone interview. "That's why we call America 'the golden egg.' "

The settlement marks Schey's third and final class-action lawsuit over the 1986 amnesty law. The previous lawsuits, both settled in 2003, resulted in more than 150,000 immigrants being allowed to apply for amnesty.

In the first lawsuit, Schey successfully challenged U.S. policy that effectively barred from amnesty applicants who traveled outside the United States roughly between 1986 and 1988. Although Congress specifically allowed a "brief, innocent and casual absence" during that period for, say, holiday visits, immigration authorities at the time essentially declared that anyone who left and reentered illegally was not "innocent" and therefore became ineligible for amnesty.

In the second lawsuit, Schey argued against the rejection of amnesty applicants who had returned home and reentered with a valid visa. Immigration officials at the time held that the reentry was legal, breaking the continued illegal residency required for amnesty. Schey argued, however, that the reentry was illegal because the immigrants would have to have lied about themselves when they applied for the visa to return.

Schey said that amnesty will allow countless immigrants to report crime without fear of deportation, to visit ailing parents back home and to leave exploitative jobs.

"It will make an immeasurable difference in the lives of thousands of people," Schey said. "For many of them, it will be the first time since they entered the country 30 years ago that they will be able to move forward and end their underground existence."

For Aydin, the settlement will give him the chance to fulfill a long-held dream of serving his adopted country in law enforcement or the military.

Once he has his green card, he said, he plans to pursue a master's degree in criminal justice administration with an eye toward joining the Navy, Secret Service, FBI or CIA.

"For many years, I wanted to serve this country, but I haven't had the opportunity," Aydin said. "Now I'm happy I'll finally have the chance."

Watanabe is a Times staff writer.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Iraqi Journalist Beaten over Shoe Incident

al Zaidi, who threw the shoes has not been allowed legal representation. He is being held without charges. His brother reports multiple injuries. al Zaidi probably knew he would be facing a beating if he proceeded with his plan to throw the shoes at Bush.

It would be no surprise if the Americans were involved in the beating, especially since the U.S. government has been so supportive of torture in general since 9-11. It is also no surprise that the Arab world is celebrating al Zaidi. It is important to remember that over 1,000,000 Iraqi´s have died in the war.


link to video on Gaza rally for al Zaidi:


Bush shoe protester 'beaten by Iraqi military'• Brother claims al-Zaidi was
beaten in custody

• Hundreds protest for second day in support of journalist
Mark Tran and agencies, Tuesday 16 December 2008 16.55 GMT
London Guardian
December 16, 2008

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush has been beaten in custody, his brother said today.

Muntadhar al-Zaidi suffered a broken hand, broken ribs, internal bleeding and an eye injury, his older brother, Dargham, told the BBC. He has since been handed over to the Iraqi judiciary, a step that normally heralds a criminal case.

Iraqi security took al-Zaidi into custody and interrogated him about whether anybody had paid him to throw his shoes at Bush on Sunday, according to officials. He could face charges of insulting a foreign leader and the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who was standing next to Bush. The offence carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.

His act has generated a wave of support across the Arab world, and hundreds took to the streets of Baghdad, Mosul and other towns yesterday, demanding his release.

"Muntadhar al-Zaidi has expressed the feelings and ambitions of the Iraqi people toward the symbol of tyranny," Nassar Afrawi, a protester in Nassiriya, said.

In Baghdad, the head of the Iraqi union of journalists described al-Zaidi's action as "strange and unprofessional", but urged clemency.

"Even if he has committed a mistake, the government and the judiciary are broadminded and we hope they consider his release, because he has a family
and he is still young," Mouyyad al-Lami said. "We hope this case ends before
going to court."

Ten of thousands of people throughout Iraq have demonstrated in support of al-Zaidi. Throwing shoes is a deep insult in the Arab world, and Iraqis showed their contempt for Saddam Hussein when they removed their shoes to beat his statue with, when Baghdad fell to US forces in 2003.

Dargham al-Zaidi said he believed his brother had been taken to a US military hospital in Baghdad. Despite many offers, his brother had not been given access to any lawyers since being arrested by forces under the command of Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser.

Iraq's Flying Shoes

This CBS video provides a cultural explanation for the meaning of throwing shoes at someone in the Arab world. There is another video that I cannot post (because of profanity) that actually explains it all very well - (warning, very likely to be offensive) - try to skip the screaming at the beginning.

Flying Shoes Create a Hero In Arab World

By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, December 16, 2008; Page A01

BAGHDAD, Dec. 15 -- In hurling footwear and insults at President Bush, Muntadar al-Zaidi expressed what relatives said were his own frustrations with American policy in Iraq and made himself into an overnight celebrity in the Arab world...

On Monday, people across the Middle East applauded Zaidi for expressing their anger at the Bush administration. In cafes and online chat rooms, people joked about the incident with glee, releasing years of frustration with U.S. policies. Thousands of Iraqis demonstrated in the streets demanding his release from Iraqi custody.

Iraqi authorities have not charged Zaidi, but they have arrested him for "his aggressive actions against an official and a visitor of the Iraqi government," Yaseen Majeed, a top media adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said in a statement. Majeed called Zaidi "a disgrace to journalism" and said he would be handed over to the Iraqi justice system for punishment.

Munqeth al-Faroon, an Iraqi court official, said Zaidi could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison for insulting the nation's leader. On Sunday, at a news conference held by Maliki and Bush, Zaidi threw his shoes, one after the other, at the U.S. president, shouting, "This is a farewell kiss!" As Iraqi security guards converged on Zaidi, he yelled: "Dog! Dog!" ..more

Monday, December 15, 2008

Torture is not as important as Blagojevich

Why is Blagojevich more important than the Iraqis who are tortured by the U.S.? A report on how the Bush administration is responsible for the use of torture was made public five days ago and all has been quiet.

What is it about all the atrocities performed by Bush administration officials that the media is so reticent about making notice? Why are they letting Rumsfeld off the hook? There is clear evidence in the report, there are no "assumptions" - these are facts.

No wonder the Iraqi journalist threw a shoe at Bush. While technically this is an inappropriate action (you shouldn`t be throwing shoes at presidents), after over a million Iraqi deaths, people have a right to be angry...

link to Senate Armed Services Committee Report on Torture


Monday Dec. 15, 2008 09:30 EST
Senate report links Bush to detainee homicides; media yawns
by Glenn Greenwald

...This Report was issued on Thursday.
Not a single mention was made of it on any of the Sunday news talk shows, with
the sole exception being when John McCain told George Stephanopoulos that it was "not his job" to opine on whether criminal prosecutions were warranted for the Bush officials whose policies led to these crimes. What really matters, explained McCain, was not that we get caught up in the past, but instead, that we ensure this never happens again -- yet, like everyone else who makes this argument, he offered no explanation as to how we could possibly ensure that "it never happens again" if we simultaneously announce that our political leaders will be immunized, not prosecuted, when they commit war crimes. Doesn't that mindset, rather obviously, substantially increase the likelihood -- if not render inevitable -- that such behavior will occur again? Other than that brief exchange, this Senate Report was a non-entity on the Sunday shows.

Instead, TV pundits were consumed with righteous anger over the petty, titillating, sleazy Rod Blagojevich scandal, competing with one another over who could spew the most derision and scorn for this pitiful, lowly, broken individual and his brazen though relatively inconsequential crimes. Every exciting detail was vouyeristically and meticulously dissected by political pundits -- many, if not most, of whom have never bothered to acquaint themselves with any of the basic facts surrounding the monumental Bush lawbreaking and war crimes scandals. TV "journalists" who have never even heard of the Taguba report -- the incredible indictment issued by a former U.S. General, who subsequently observed: "there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account" -- spent the weekend opining on the intricacies of Blogojevich's hair and terribly upsetting propensity to use curse words...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sneak is the word for the Bush administration

Democracy Now aired a program on how the Bush administration was pushing last minute regulations on November 13, 2008. It was titled "Bush Admin Pushes Through Last-Minute Deregulation that May Be Hard to Undo."

This is all no surprise. What has been the pattern all along is not going to change now.


Bush sneaks through host of laws to undermine Obama

by Paul Harris
The Observer, Sunday 14 December 2008

The lame-duck Republican team is rushing through radical measures, from coal waste dumping to power stations in national parks, that will take months to overturn, reports Paul Harris in New York

After spending eight years at the helm of one of the most ideologically driven administrations in American history, George W. Bush is ending his presidency in characteristically aggressive fashion, with a swath of controversial measures designed to reward supporters and enrage opponents.

By the time he vacates the White House, he will have issued a record number of so-called 'midnight regulations' - so called because of the stealthy way they appear on the rule books - to undermine the administration of Barack Obama, many of which could take years to undo.

Dozens of new rules have already been introduced which critics say will diminish worker safety, pollute the environment, promote gun use and curtail abortion rights. Many rules promote the interests of large industries, such as coal mining or energy, which have energetically supported Bush during his two terms as president. More are expected this week.

America's attention is focused on the fate of the beleaguered car industry, still seeking backing in Washington for a multi-billion-dollar bail-out. But behind the scenes, the 'midnight' rules are being rushed through with little fanfare and minimal media attention. None of them would be likely to appeal to the incoming Obama team.

The regulations cover a vast policy area, ranging from healthcare to car safety to civil liberties. Many are focused on the environment and seek to ease regulations that limit pollution or restrict harmful industrial practices, such as dumping strip-mining waste.

The Bush moves have outraged many watchdog groups. 'The regulations we have seen so far have been pretty bad,' said Matt Madia, a regulatory policy analyst at OMB Watch. 'The effects of all this are going to be severe...'...more

Will DNA Testing for Immigrant Arrestees be Ruled out in Obama's Administration

Will the DNA testing of immigrant arrestees be abolished by the Obama administration? After all, it will only be in effect for 11 days before he assumes the presidency. If he allows this he will be opening the door to an even further loss of immigrants rights.

New Rule Expands DNA Collection to All People Arrested

Civil Rights Groups Assail Change
By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 12, 2008; Page A02

Immigration and civil liberties groups condemned a new U.S. government policy to collect DNA samples from all noncitizens detained by authorities and all people arrested for federal crimes.

The new Justice Department rule, published Wednesday and effective Jan. 9, dramatically expands a federal law enforcement database of genetic identifiers, which is now limited to storing information about convicted criminals and arrestees from 13 states...more