Wednesday, April 30, 2008

May Day for Undocumented Workers

Marches and Rallies on May Day.
Tomorrow, May 1, there will be marches and rallies throughout the country. The marches and meetings will have different objectives - to make the country more aware of the plight of undocumented immigrants ; to protest the raids and inhumane attitude and behavior of ICE; to show support to immigrants.

There are differing attitudes among the pro-immigrant community about the marches and rallies. Some people believe that the marches make things worse - they make the other side even more angry and undocumented immigrants pay for this anger. Others say that the marches are necessary, that people cannot remain silent, because silence means agreement.

Whether you attend a march or not. It is important for everyone reading this post to at least be aware that people all over the country are so concerned they plan to take to the streets, even with the awareness of the risk involved - (the police violence that erupted in L.A. last year).

Below are times and locations of marches around the country, I apologize if some are not more specific, but this is all the information I have.


8:30 a.m.
Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum to State Capitol

8:00 a.m.
Southgate Shopping Center - I 10 & 6th Ave
Rally: 11:30 am
Armory Park


11:00 a.m.
Rally and March
Sproul Plaza to City Hall

3:00 – 8:00
City Hall

11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Meeting and March
UC Davis Campus

4 p.m.
Memorial Park

Fort Bragg
9:00 a.m.
La Bamba Store

4:00 – 8:00 Meeting and March
Medical Center- Fulton Mall

Los Angeles
12 noon

Los Angeles
2:00 – 7:00 p.m. March and Meeting
3rd/Vermont to McArthur Park

Los Angeles
11 a.m.
5 Points to City Hall

5 p.m. Meeting

5:30 p.m. Vigil and March
Martinez Marina

10:00 a.m. Meeting
Hatch Road/Crow Landing

Mountain View
5:00 p.m. Vigil
The Worker Center at Calvary Church

9 a.m.
Fruitvale Plaza – along International Boulevard

10 a.m.
Hiram Johnson High School to State Capitol

12:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Four marches
Constitutional and Laurel

San Diego
10:00 a.m.
Chicano Park to City Hall

San Diego
3:00 p.m. Rally
City College

San Francisco
12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Dolores Park to Civic Center

San Jose
4:00 p.m. Rally and March
Mi Pueblo Shopping Center

San Rafael
6:00 – 10 a.m. Vigil and march
Community Center – Canal

Santa Rosa
11:00 a.m.
Old Albertsons Shopping Center


10:00 p.m.
Lincoln Park


10:00 a.m.
Rally and March
Union Park


5:00 p.m. – 9:00 PM


5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Meeting y march
Courthouse to Jefferson Park


4:00 p.m. Meeting and march
Boston Common

2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
City Hall to Central Square




4 p.m.
Lake Street


Las Vegas
7:00 p.m. Meeting
US Federal Courthouse


11:00 a.m. Meeting
Warinanco park


3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tiguex Park

Santa Fe
4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Downtown – De Vargas Park


New York City
4:00 p.m.
Meeting and March
Union Square Park to Federal Plaza


Peaceful Gathering
Legislative House


4:00 p.m. Meeting and March
SW Park

11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
March to State Capitol


4:00 p.m. March and Meeting
Downtown to Mellon Square Park


5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.Meeting
State Capitol

2:00 pm
1900 block of Louisiana at St. Joseph Parkway
Mickey Leeland Federal Building

6:00 p.m.
Municipal Park

San Antonio
12 noon – 7:00 p.m. Meeting and March
Plaza del Zacate


12 noon – 6:00 p.m. Meeting
Cornwall Park

Mt. Vernon
11:00 a.m. Meeting and March

3:00 p.m. March and Meeting
Seattle Center Fisher Pavillion

3:30 p.m. March
Miller Park


12 noon March and meeting
State Capitol

12 noon


6:00: p.m.
Clark Park to Grandview Park

Information provided by blogs:

Vivir Latino
Citizen Orange

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

10 Deadly Sins of Xenophobia

image from

Navarrette says it all in the following article. His premise is accurate. There will be more on the 10 ugly things later this week.

April 28, 2008 Monday 4:55 PM EST

Commentary: 10 ugly things about the immigration debate

By Ruben Navarrette Jr. Special to CNN
SAN DIEGO, California

In a recent commentary, I wrote that, as a Mexican-American, the ugliness of the immigration debate offends me -- not as a Mexican, but as an American.

A woman wrote in and asked me to be more specific: Just what was it about the immigration debate that was so ugly?

She came to the right place. After nearly 20 years of writing opinions and insisting that I don't speak for all Hispanics, in recent months, I've heard from hundreds of Hispanics who -- appreciative of my middle-ground approach to the immigration issue -- insist that I can speak for them anytime. So, with the authority vested in me, I'll now share some of what other Hispanics are saying.

It's not far off from what Janet Murguia had to say. As president of the National Council of La Raza, the largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States, Murguia recently delivered an important speech to the National Press Club. The topic: the immigration debate and what she called a wave of hate sweeping the land -- one that isn't limited to illegal immigrants, but which is now affecting all Hispanics regardless of where they were born, what language they speak or what flag they salute.

The way Murguia sees it, immigration is "on the verge of becoming one of the largest civil rights issues of our generation." And, Hispanics are playing the piñata.

Murguia was right on the button. To borrow a phrase, it's getting ugly out there. And U.S.-born Hispanics see it as plain as day. Here are 10 things they find distasteful about this debate:

The hypocrisy. We have two signs on the U.S.-Mexican border: "Keep Out" and "Help Wanted."

The racism. With lightning speed, the debate went from anti-illegal immigrant to anti-immigrant to anti-Mexican.

The opportunism. Too many politicians are trying too hard to portray themselves as tough on illegal immigration.

The simple solutions. "Build A Wall." "Deport All Illegals." A quick rule of thumb: If it fits on a bumper sticker, it's not a workable policy.

The naiveté. People ask why Mexico won't help stop illegal immigration. Hint: Last year, Mexicans in the United States sent home $25 billion.

The profiling. Dark skin and Spanish surnames shouldn't be proxies for undocumented status. Been to Arizona lately?

The meanness. Nazi-produced Internet video games let players shoot illegal immigrants crossing the border. Fun stuff.

The amnesia. Americans think grandpa was welcomed with open arms and that he plunged into the melting pot. Whatever.

The buck-passing. Americans love to blame Mexico for their choices, yelling across the border: "Stop us before we hire again."

The double standard. The same folks who have zero tolerance for illegal immigrants easily tolerate those who hire them.

Some of this is painfully familiar, recalling earlier versions of this debate as it played out a hundred or two hundred years ago. Hispanics are the new Germans, the new Irish, the new Italians. But it's also ugly. It was then. It is now.

Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a member of the editorial board of the San Diego Union-Tribune and a nationally syndicated columnist. Read his column here.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

from Lexus Nexus Academic

Hire them but what will happen when they get here?

Image from the
State of Oregon Archives

It is no surprise that there is a shortage of farm workers - there have already been efforts in California, Arizona, and Colorado to arrange the recruitment in Mexico.

The workers entering the country with proper documents -but they are still bringing themselves, meaning they will mostly be identifiably immigrants - ready to be plucked off the street by a Sheriff's Deputy - especially if they go to Arizona. Why would anyone want to get a temporary job in one of these states? In Arizona they would be stepping into a war zone.

You can be sure that most of the recruits have desperate reasons to come here - most likely their families are barely (if that) making enough to survive. How else could the recruited workers justify taking such a risk?

here is an excerpt from the text that accompanied the picture above:

"Migrant workers from Mexico also eased Oregon's farm labor shortages. Their entry into the United States was made possible by a wartime farm labor agreement between the U.S. and Mexico that created the "Bracero Program." By 1943 these contract workers were garnering praise from Oregon farmers...One farmer's wife summed it up: "We sure like these new Mexicans. They want to work all the time." But the braceros also experienced discrimination, wage disputes, poor housing, and other problems. Some observers thought that the labor force should be changed yearly. Otherwise, they argued, the men could become "too lonesome for home..." From 1942 to 1947 over 15,000 Mexican men worked on Oregon farms, ranches, and orchards as bracero." *see below for citation


The Associated Press
Washington Post
Tuesday, April 29, 2008; 4:55 AM

HURON, Calif. -- Weary of waiting for Congress to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, the United Farm Workers hopes to recruit Mexican laborers to pick crops on U.S. farms.

The union's efforts to import temporary workers under an existing government program follows similar moves by lawmakers in Arizona and Colorado, who are also trying to create new pathways to bring in foreign field hands without approval from Washington.

This month, UFW President Arturo Rodriguez signed an agreement with the governor of the Mexican state of Michoacan to help recruit local residents to apply for temporary jobs on U.S. farms, all of which would be covered under union contracts.

Under the new pact, government field staff in Michoacan will distribute information on U.S. labor protections, especially in rural towns known for sending a large number of their residents north.

In exchange, the union will negotiate contracts with U.S. growers willing to guarantee that legal workers' rights will be respected on both sides of the border, UFW International Director Erik Nicholson said.

The UFW got involved after hearing that Mexican recruiters were charging people as much as $5,000 for short-term contracts under the existing, but rarely used federal guest worker program, Nicholson said.

"Agriculture is a global industry, so we're building an international infrastructure to advocate for these global workers," Nicholson said. "Workers need to know about their rights on both sides of the border."

Immigration raids and employer penalties have led to a shortage of workers in the nation's largest farm states, leading many in the agriculture industry to conclude that growers can't get their products to market without a stable supply of workers from abroad.

But with Congress deadlocked over immigration reform, the question is under what conditions the workers will be hired _ legally or illegally.

The farm labor force in the U.S. currently numbers about 1.6 million people, 70 percent of whom are thought to be undocumented, according to people in the industry. Only about 70,000 farm workers were brought in from abroad last year for the short stints permitted under H2-A visas issued by the U.S. Department of Labor...

for complete WP/AP article click here

*Cited from Oregon Archives, "Life on the Home Front" - exhibition on labor and WWII. Source: Erasmo Gamboa, Mexican Labor and World War II.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Telling us what we already knew about immigration

It is commonly known among immigration lawyers and advocates that being undocumented does not make a person a criminal. This has always been so. Interesting that so many people think otherwise. The WP presents this information as if it was a surprise. Thank goodness a U.S. Attorney who would be considered official representative of our government has verified what we already knew. See dreamacttexas post "Not a Crime: Undocumented Immigration is a Civil Offense" from December 20, 2007.


Top federal prosecutor in NJ: Being undocumented not a crime

The Associated Press
Monday, April 28, 2008; 4:16 PM

DOVER, N.J. -- New Jersey's top federal prosecutor told a Latino group it's a civil offense _ not a crime _ for immigrants to live in the country without proper documentation, a comment that a spokesman later said was aimed at a narrowly worded question.

U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, widely considered to be a leading GOP contender for governor next year, spoke Sunday in response to a question on illegal immigration at an open forum that grew heated. He said living in the U.S. without immigration paperwork is "an administrative matter" that federal immigration officials are supposed to address through deportation.

"Don't let people make you believe that that's a crime that the U.S. attorney's office should be doing something about," Christie was quoted as saying in The Star-Ledger of Newark for Monday editions. "It is not."

Christie stressed that lacking immigration documents is not a crime unless the person was previously deported...

for complete WP/AP article click here

Thou Shall Not Talk About Race in Public

Rev. Jeremiah Wright

This morning I watched the Rev. Wright as he spoke at the National Press Club. I even put it on DVR. It is not that I have so much free time to see what's on tv. It is because I believe the current controversy involving Rev. Wright is relevant to all of us - even those not voting for Obama.

On ABC's "This Week" Donna Brazile has been very direct the last couple of times she has been on their round table. The first time I heard her comment was when she said that this is not so unusual in Black churches. (and her colleagues gasped!). This Sunday she told everyone that these problems were not about Obama, they were being seen by Rev. Wright and many other African Americans as an attack on the Black Church.

This morning in his speech the Reverend kept saying that just because people were different (including their beliefs, way of life etc) did not mean one perspective was better than another. The audience was made up of mostly African Americans. The very few whites (Anglos) were not smiling. Wright did not have to play politics, as he said after the election he will continue being a minister... He doesn't have to be coy about his answers. When asked what did he think about Obama not remembering a number of the sermons - Wright asked his moderator when was the last time she heard her minister give a sermon (she didn't answer and didn't smile either).

Perhaps the polemic is really about a Black man being President. Just as the news keeps showing Wright's anger during his sermons , maybe people are afraid that Obama might someday do the same (I doubt it, Columbia and Harvard University took it out of him if he ever had it). The fear is that Obama will be angry and encourage other African Americans to be angry also. ( see blog post "Speaking out is not victimhood" March 23, 2008)

The Rev. Wright can hold his own very well. It is good that he is speaking out. My surprise is the reaction of many non-minorities. Their silence and somber expressions at the press club says it all.

Perhaps he is being chastised because he is speaking openly about what he really thinks. Negative things about other groups should be discussed in private.

more on this later.

Wright says criticism is attack on black church

The Associated Press
Washington Post
Monday, April 28, 2008; 10:07 AM

WASHINGTON -- The Rev. Jeremiah Wright says criticism surrounding his fiery sermons is an attack on the black church...Wright says black church traditions are still "invisible" to many Americans, as they have been throughout the country's history.

Wright spoke at the National Press Club Monday morning before the Washington press corps and a supportive audience of black church leaders beginning a two-day symposium...

for the complete article click here

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lawsuit filed against ICE for inappropriate procedure during raids

A few days ago in a discussion in one of my classes, one student stated "they [ICE] won't pick up Latinos just because they have darker or have Spanish surnames. They only pick up people who look illegal." I told the class that this was not so. A number of recent cases attest to ICE being more indiscriminate about who they want to detain.

the following LA Times article states that a lawsuit has been filed on the Van Nuys raid that occurred in February 2008.

"Mike Whitehead, also born in the United States, said he was detained for about 45 minutes and had to answer a few questions and show his identification before being let go."

From the Los Angeles Times
L.A. civil rights attorney files claims over federal immigration raid
Peter Schey's legal action seeks damages for employees caught up in Van Nuys workplace immigration enforcement action.

By Anna Gorman
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

April 25, 2008

A longtime Los Angeles civil rights attorney is trying a new strategy to push federal immigration authorities to change the way they conduct workplace raids.

Peter Schey filed 114 federal claims for damages late Thursday on behalf of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who were temporarily detained during a recent raid at Micro Solutions Enterprises in Van Nuys.

On Feb. 7, armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents went into the company, blocked the exits and prevented all the employees from leaving while they carried out federal arrest warrants for eight people and a search warrant as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. Those eight were arrested on criminal charges and 130 others were arrested on immigration violations.

Schey said immigration authorities treated U.S. citizens and green card holders like suspected criminals without any reason to believe they had broken the law.

"That group detention is completely unconstitutional," said Schey, head of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law in Los Angeles. "They have no individual probable cause, yet they come in like the Gestapo."

Immigration authorities said the warrants were signed by a U.S. magistrate judge, and the search warrant was issued based on the "likelihood that evidence of criminal violations would be found at the location."

"The search was properly conducted in accordance with the warrant, federal rules of criminal procedure and ICE policies," ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said in a written statement.

Carl Shusterman, a private immigration attorney, said he had not seen the claims but that ICE's changing its practices seemed like "sort of a long shot."

"How can they possibly sort out the legal and illegal employees without questioning them?" he said. "How could they conduct these raids at all if they didn't hold people at least a little while?"

But John Ayala, Southern California chapter chairman of the American Immigration Lawyers Assn., said he believed the claims would force ICE to follow the letter of the law when conducting enforcement actions.

"It's very important to remind ICE and Department of Homeland Security that the Constitution is at play and people have rights," Ayala said. "They should go in there looking for those eight workers. They shouldn't go in there on a fishing expedition."

The 114 legal workers, including Clare Cox, are each seeking $5,000 in damages.

Cox, a U.S. citizen, said she heard the agents before she saw them. Without identifying themselves, the agents told everyone to line up against the wall, she said. For about 35 to 40 minutes, Cox said, she was prohibited from leaving.

"I felt like we were being arrested," said Cox, who distributes inventory at the company. "I felt like we had no rights."

Cox said immigration authorities could have handled the arrests in a more diplomatic and less theatrical way.

"I believe in immigration laws. I believe in everyone being documented," she said. "I don't believe in these scare tactics."

Mike Whitehead, also born in the United States, said he was detained for about 45 minutes and had to answer a few questions and show his identification before being let go. The whole experience was scary and intimidating, he said.

"It was degrading. I was born in this country," said Whitehead, a sales representative for Micro Solutions. "It could have been handled completely differently. It could have been handled with dignity."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A response to Arizona's HB 1108

Michel Foucault - this is the expression he might have if he knew about HB 1108 in Arizona

Being alarmed at the introduction of HB 1108 in Arizona is probably putting things mildly.

The legislator sponsoring the bill used the phrase "inculcate values of American citizenship." It makes me wonder if he has read Michel Foucault. This French philosopher/historian whose work is now an intregal part of graduate school curriculum (in the liberal arts), has a nifty book titled Discipline and Punish' where he rates prisons and schools in the same category - their purpose is to control and create order. Schools are not places acquire knowledge, they are where students are taught how to be good citizens.

The definition of a good citizen (in the U.S.) these days has become much more narrow and selective. It has gone way past "love of country." It is now like the people Foucault talks about - those who think the same, dress the same, and act the same.

Southeast Valley Letters Blog
Arizona Republic
April 22, 2008

Pearce needs to open his mind
I was alarmed by the excerpt from Rep. Russell Pearce's Senate Bill 1108: “A primary purpose of public education is to inculcate values of American citizenship. Public tax dollars used in public schools should not be used to denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization.”

I think I am part of a vast majority who believe instead that the primary purpose and over-arching ideal of education is — or should be — to open minds, to breed curiosity, to develop habits of critical thinking, and to lay the groundwork for a lifetime of learning. This can only be accomplished by exposing students to our world in all its complexity and diversity, and to the contradictory systems of thought and culture, which have shaped history and which are at odds currently.

In an open and unbiased way our schools must present not only as much information as possible, but guidance in how to analyze and interpret the material, how to put issues in perspective, in order that students arrive at their own conclusions and judgments. The job of education is not to serve up answers, but to pose questions, to open lines of inquiry, not to close them.

The protectionist posture and chauvinist intent of Pearce's bill suggest he's afraid of something. Why does he believe we need to directly indoctrinate our students with American values and censor whole areas of knowledge that reflect other views?

If the American way is good, even superior, then it should stand up well in comparative studies of values and civilizations. There are billions of people on the Earth, and they think and live and do things differently from one another.

To welcome the learning process about other peoples who do not share our commonly held beliefs implies no endorsement of their ways, nor denigration of our own; it is simply a necessary step to understanding the world and our place in it.

Mr. Pearce, open your umbrella! You know the saying: A mind is like an umbrella, no good unless it's open.

Julene R. Dutton, Chandler

Friday, April 25, 2008

The myth of Obama's troubles

image from

As discussed in a post "Novak speaks in half truths" (April 24, 2008) the narrative of "Obama's troubles" continues. Alex Koppelman writes in's "War Room" that Paul Krugman of the NYT is now using the word "comedown" to describe Obama's supposed problems.

Do Krugman and his cohorts have a plan? Can they be so unaware of the message their rhetoric is conveying?

My questions are:

1. Is it true that Obama is having problems?
2. Are they big problems or little problems?
3. Are Obama's travails any worse than Clinton's?
4. Is the U.S. media hoping there will be another presidential election where the winner gets less votes than the loser?
4. Does the Bradley effect occur every time an African American person is running for office?

I don't know the details of what could be wrong - or if anything is wrong in Obama's campaign. For all I know he could be doing great and Krugman's comments are just more of the nasty gossip floating around these days.

For those who are saying Obama is in trouble, could they be unconsciously projecting their own pessimism onto Obama? Hopefully this is the case, because if they are doing this deliberately so that Obama's campaign will take a nosedive, they clearly belong within the "Swift Boat" category that believes all is fair in politics and war.


Friday, April 25, 2008 19:20 EDT
Krugman asks "what's gone wrong" with Obama campaign

The New York Times' Paul Krugman hasn't been holding back on Barack Obama, and his most recent column is no exception. In it, he talks about a "comedown" for Obama's campaign and writes, "A few months ago the Obama campaign was talking about transcendence. Now it's talking about math. 'Yes we can' has become 'No she can't.'" And he says: "The question Democrats, both inside and outside the Obama campaign, should be asking themselves is this: now that the magic has dissipated, what is the campaign about? More generally, what are the Democrats for in this election?"

But the meat of Krugman's column is his explanation for why Obama has been unable to break Hillary Clinton's hold on working-class white Democrats. Krugman asserts that "According to many Obama supporters, it's all Hillary’s fault. If she hadn't launched all those vile, negative attacks on their hero -- if she had just gone away -- his aura would be intact, and his mission of unifying America still on track." Krugman offers his own theory:

[M]aybe his transformational campaign isn't winning over working-class voters because transformation isn't what they're looking for. From the beginning, I wondered what Mr. Obama's soaring rhetoric, his talk of a new politics and declarations that "we are the ones we’ve been waiting for" (waiting for to do what, exactly?) would mean to families troubled by lagging wages, insecure jobs and fear of losing health coverage. The answer, from Ohio and Pennsylvania, seems pretty clear: not much. Mrs. Clinton has been able to stay in the race, against heavy odds, largely because her no-nonsense style, her obvious interest in the wonkish details of policy, resonate with many voters in a way that Mr. Obama's eloquence does not. Yes, I know that there are lots of policy proposals on the Obama campaign's Web site. But addressing the real concerns of working Americans isn't the campaign’s central theme.

There are some flaws in Krugman's analysis. For example, he doesn't take into account the possibility that some of Clinton's votes may be coming from residual support for Bill Clinton. And Krugman's argument doesn't appear to be based on objective data, just his gut. But overall, he's probably pretty close to the mark on this one. (And I'm not trying to put down the Obama campaign here -- Obama's strategists knew where their base would be, and have largely focused their message in that direction. Clinton has done the same thing. That's what's led to what Krugman describes, I think.)

Certainly the argument that recent attacks coming from the Clinton campaign account for her popularity in the demographic is problematic. Earlier this month in Salon, Michael Lind wrote:

According to Gallup, last August -- months before the mythical race baiting is supposed to have begun -- Clinton led among high-school-educated Democrats and tied Obama among more-educated voters in a multi-candidate race. Since then there has been a growth in Obama's support among educated Democrats, as other candidates have dropped out, but no augmentation of Clinton's support in general. The legions of racist white voters alleged to have been driven by subtle race baiting into the Clinton camp following the early primaries do not exist.

Additionally, I don't think there's much merit generally to the idea that a substantial number of white Democrats would hesitate to vote for Obama because of his race. (You can see the article I wrote earlier this year on the "Bradley Effect" for more on that.)
― Alex Koppelman

Face scans at airports in the E.U.?

Detail of photo: Image Source/Getty

what movie would this remind you of?
Face scans for air passengers to begin in UK this summer

Officials say automatic screening more accurate than checks by humans

* Owen Bowcott
* The Guardian - London,
* Friday April 25 2008

Airline passengers are to be screened with facial recognition technology rather than checks by passport officers, in an attempt to improve security and ease congestion, the Guardian can reveal.

From summer, unmanned clearance gates will be phased in to scan passengers' faces and match the image to the record on the computer chip in their biometric passports.

Border security officials believe the machines can do a better job than humans of screening passports and preventing identity fraud. The pilot project will be open to UK and EU citizens holding new biometric passports.

But there is concern that passengers will react badly to being rejected by an automated gate. To ensure no one on a police watch list is incorrectly let through, the technology will err on the side of caution and is likely to generate a small number of "false negatives" - innocent passengers rejected because the machines cannot match their appearance to the records.

They may be redirected into conventional passport queues, or officers may be authorised to override automatic gates following additional checks.

Ministers are eager to set up trials in time for the summer holiday rush, but have yet to decide how many airports will take part. If successful, the technology will be extended to all UK airports.

The automated clearance gates introduce the new technology to the UK mass market for the first time and may transform the public's experience of airports.

Existing biometric, fast-track travel schemes - iris and miSense - operate at several UK airports, but are aimed at business travellers who enroll in advance.

The rejection rate in trials of iris recognition, by means of the unique images of each traveller's eye, is 3% to 5%, although some were passengers who were not enrolled but jumped into the queue.

The trials emerged at a conference in London this week of the international biometrics industry, top civil servants in border control, and police technology experts. Gary Murphy, head of operational design and development for the UK Border Agency, told one session: "We think a machine can do a better job [than manned passport inspections]. What will the public reaction be? Will they use it? We need to test and see how people react and how they deal with rejection. We hope to get the trial up and running by the summer.

Some conference participants feared passengers would only be fast-tracked to the next bottleneck in overcrowded airports. Automated gates are intended to help the government's progress to establishing a comprehensive advance passenger information (API) security system that will eventually enable flight details and identities of all passengers to be checked against a security watch list.

Phil Booth of the No2Id Campaign said: "Someone is extremely optimistic. The technology is just not there. The last time I spoke to anyone in the facial recognition field they said the best systems were only operating at about a 40% success rate in a real time situation. I am flabbergasted they consider doing this at a time when there are so many measures making it difficult for passengers."

Gus Hosein, a specialist at the London School of Economics in the interplay between technology and society, said: "It's a laughable technology. US police at the SuperBowl had to turn it off within three days because it was throwing up so many false positives. The computer couldn't even recognise gender. It's not that it could wrongly match someone as a terrorist, but that it won't match them with their image. A human can make assumptions, a computer can't."

Project Semaphore, the first stage in the government's e-borders programme, monitors 30m passenger movements a year through the UK. By December 2009, API will track 60% of all passengers and crew movements. The Home Office aim is that by December 2010 the system will be monitoring 95%. Total coverage is not expected to be achieved until 2014 after similar checks have been introduced for travel on "small yachts and private flights".

So far around 8m to 10m UK biometric passports, containing a computer chip holding the carrier's facial details, have been issued since they were introduced in 2006. The last non-biometric passports will cease to be valid after 2016.

Home Office minister Liam Byrne said: "Britain's border security is now among the toughest in the world and tougher checks do take time, but we don't want long waits. So the UK Border Agency will soon be testing new automatic gates for British and European Economic Area [EEA] citizens. We will test them this year and if they work put them at all key ports [and airports]."

The EEA includes all EU states as well as Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.

This article appeared in the Guardian on Friday April 25 2008 on p1 of the Top stories section. It was last updated at 01:00 on April 25 2008.

* © Guardian News and Media Limited 20

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Arizona's HB1108 would censor books and ethnic studies courses

The Arizona Republic published an editorial against HB1108. But as we know in Houston, a newspaper's opinion generally doesn't influence public policy (remember when the Houston Chronicle and just about all the major U.S. papers endorsed the DREAM ACT?)

Some supporters of Arizona's HB 1108 have been using the word "sedition." Of course they didn't see themselves as committing an act of sedition - that would be placed on the immigrants and their teachers who encourage diversity, which is a bad word these days.

[The Arizona]" legislature is considering a bill that would ban public-school classes that "overtly encourage dissent." As a throw-in, the bill would also ban university organizations that appeal to memberships "based in whole or in part on race-based criteria."

Editorial, 04/20: Politics in classroom
The Arizona Republic

The board of the Tucson Unified School District - on a bender of indulging its taste for political activism - has invited the wrath of the state Legislature. One does reap what one sows, it seems.

Led by Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, the Legislature is considering a bill that would ban public-school classes that "overtly encourage dissent." As a throw-in, the bill would also ban university organizations that appeal to memberships "based in whole or in part on race-based criteria."

House Bill 1108 is a response to a controversy earlier this year about elements of the Tucson district's ethnic-studies program that celebrates Marxist revolutionaries and characterizes the U.S. as an oppressive nation.

It is, on the whole, a lousy piece of legislation that intrudes, foremost, on the principle of local control of education. Yes, a much-abused notion in these days of the federal No Child Left Behind act. But it remains one that must be defended. Even on behalf of revolution-spouting activist "educators."

If Tucson voters are happy with embittering some of their best students with race-based grievance-mongering and with raising up Che Guevara and Fidel Castro as role models, then it is their choice. It is an expression of their values.

The district's $2.6 million program, especially its "raza studies" component, oozes anti-U.S. bitterness, celebrates Marxist politics and raises up perceived ethnic slights as intentional acts of oppression.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne has done a terrific job of bringing the program's materials to light, including texts such as Occupied America. And numerous TUSD teachers and staff have stepped forward, telling of the bullying and intimidation with which the program's staff appear quite comfortable.

According to the program's director, Augustine Romero, the instructors are all acknowledged "progressives" who perceive virtually all interpretations of American history other than their own to be the handiwork of "ultra-conservatives."

"The concern (of critics) is that it's not their political orientation being taught," Romero said. "To sit here and say teachers don't walk into a classroom with a political orientation, well, that's the furthest thing from the truth."

Romero and his instructors ascribe, religiously, to practices espoused by Marxist- education theorist Paolo Friere, author of The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which decries traditional education methods as a dehumanizing conspiracy of evil capitalists bent on subjugating the masses.

But responding to such political cant with a state law prohibiting curricula that "overtly encourage dissent" - as HB 1108 would - simply layers politics upon politics. It is likely to smother all history and social-studies instruction with subjective mandates.

TUSD parents certainly can - and should - question their school board about the program. And they may have questions about the constitutionality of such an overtly political program.

The Arizona Constitution, in Article 11, Section 7, forbids a "political test or qualification" for hiring instructors as well as for enrolling students. Romero's raza-studies program - taught by "progressive" teachers - might have some issues with that provision.

Tucson's ethnic-studies programs clearly turn the well-intended social balms of multiculturalism and diversity on their heads. But laws passed down Tucson's way from Phoenix are not about to set them right.

Arizona's murderous grip on diversity - SB 1108

From a graduate student at the University of Chicago

SB 1108 would "ban public schools or colleges from including race-based classes or school sponsored activities"

Help fight Ariz. bill to ban ethnic student groups like MEChA, Black Business Students Assoc.

Multiculturalism is a basic American concept. We value the beliefs, traditions, customs, arts, history and folklore of the diverse cultures reflected throughout our nation. All this is being put at risk in Arizona, where last week the Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to a routine homeland security bill, SB 1108 that would prohibit students at the state s public universities and communitycolleges from organizing groups based on race (ie: groups such as MEChA, the Black Business Students Association, Native Americans United, etc.)

Please take action today. This bill could reach the Arizona House floor as early as this week.

According to newspaper reports, Rep. John Kavanagh, (R-Scottsdale), a supporter of the measure called these campus organizations, "'self-defeating' and 'self-destructive' for students."

Self-defeating? Multiculturalism doesn't limit students. It gives them pride in who they are and enhances their being fuller people by fostering the concept of America being the land of opportunity. As Cesar Chavez said, "Preservation of one's culture doesn't mean
contempt for others'."

These student groups are like any other school club or fraternity. They bring students together so they can achieve academic success. They offer a place to meet, make friends and support one another. Their goal is to help students succeed. For example, the members of
the University of Arizona's MEChA chapter visit high schools to encourage students to attend college. They hold events and fundraisers to spread the message that education is the key to success.

The bill goes one step further. It also would ban public schools or colleges from including race-based classes or school sponsored activities. Officially the language says it would ban any activity "deemed contradictory to the values of American democracy or Western civilization." However, the language is so broad, who knows what could be prohibited? Certainly Chicano studies, African-American studies & other ethnic studies programs would be put at risk.

Studies show that students who learn about their race and culture have a lower drop-out rate. In truth, if this bill passes it could cause a huge set back in our educational system.

Please take immediate action. If you live in Arizona, e-mail your representatives immediately as well as the Speaker of the House. If you live outside Arizona, please e-mail the Arizona Speaker of the House today and let him know the eyes of the nation are on Arizona.

thanks to T.L. for sending this along

Novak speaks in half truths

"There seems to be no way Clinton can overtake Obama in delegates and the popular vote" Robert Novak

Politics has always been a nasty business.

Robert Novak, the journalist who outed Valerie Plame, is telling everyone today (in his WP article) that Obama is in trouble. Of course he would be looking for the negative - that is the way Novak usually writes, he is a conservative with a mean streak.

The NYT is following his lead... I saw the word "struggle" written at least three times in articles associated with Obama, including the title of an article on the candidate.

The same is occurring on "This Week" -- Cokie Roberts (who I used to respect) and others keep saying over and over that Obama is having a bad week, doesn't have a chance, etc. etc.

It is not so much that I am for Obama - I have my moments when I do think he is right for the job and other times, despite her lying, that I think Hillary might be better. It is that I'm seeing a clear trajectory here. The media is guiding what they hope will be the outcome of the election.

This problem also represents what has always been so common - and these days it is easy to do add up the negative words, it is a clear demographic fact.

Non-minorities can repeatedly exhibit unethical behavior (nice way for calling them liars) but are encouraged and promoted, but people of color, esp. a black guy from Harvard who is running for President - are labeled by the media as being in trouble -despite that he is solidly winning so far.

If you don't believe words can make a difference, take a look at the book Brown Tide Rising by Otto Santa Ana.

Trouble Ahead for Obama

By Robert D. Novak
Washington Post
Thursday, April 24, 2008; A21

When Pennsylvania exit polls came out late Tuesday afternoon showing a lead of 3.6 points for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama, Democratic leaders who desperately wanted her to end her candidacy were not cheered. They were sure that this puny lead overstated Obama's strength, as exit polls nearly always have in diverse states with large urban populations. How is it possible, then, that Clinton, given up for dead by her party's establishment, won Pennsylvania in a 10-point landslide? The answer is the dreaded "Bradley effect."

Prominent Democrats only whisper when they compare Obama's experience, the first African American with a serious chance to be president, with what happened to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley a quarter-century ago. In 1982, exit polls showed Bradley, who was black, ahead in the race for governor of California, but he ultimately lost to Republican George Deukmejian. Pollster John Zogby (who predicted Clinton's double-digit win Tuesday) said what practicing Democrats would not: "I think voters face to face are not willing to say they would oppose an African American candidate."

If there really is a Bradley effect in 2008, Zogby sees November peril for Obama in blue states. John McCain could win not only in Pennsylvania but also in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and he can retain Ohio for the Republicans. There seems to be no way Clinton can overtake Obama in delegates and the popular vote. For unelected superdelegates to deprive Obama of the nomination would so depress African American general election voting that the nomination would be worthless for her. In a year when all normal political indicators point to Republican defeat on all fronts, the Democratic Party faces deepening difficulties whether Obama is nominated or rejected.

for complete WP article click here

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The UK's Hidden Women

South China Batik Wall Hanging

In today's London Guardian, there is an excerpt from Hsiao-Hung Pai's book Chinese Whispers: The True Story Behind Britain's Hidden Army of Labour. It is about Asian migrant women who entered the sex trade in England. Below is a portion of what was published in the Guardian -

Local men have a special liking for foreign girls - but they want it cheap'

Ah-Fang, an illegal Chinese migrant, works as a housekeeper in an 'Oriental' brothel in Cheam. She earns £180 a week - a step up from the £50 she got picking leeks. And at least she doesn't suffer the degradations of the brothel's 'Misses' who sell sex for 14 hours a day. In the first of two extracts from her new book, Hsiao-Hung Pai hears what life is like for the 3,000 Chinese women who work in Britain's sex industry

One night about a year ago, Ah-Fang sat up studying the job advertisements in the free paper she had picked up in Birmingham's Chinatown. "Oriental Massage", "China Red", "One Night Passion": Ah-Fang circled them all with her pen.

"Massage parlour", as every Chinese worker knows, is a euphemism for "brothel". There are more than 600 Chinese parlours in London alone - half the number of Chinese takeaways in the capital, as Chinese like to joke. Most of them advertise vacancies in the Chinese papers.

Ah-Fang, a 52-year-old Malaysian-Chinese woman, had a little experience of working as a massage-parlour housekeeper. It was one of the less appallingly paid jobs she had had since arriving in Britain in 2005. She felt she could continue with this kind of work.

"Are you sure you can handle it?" I asked her, when she told me what she was planning. The first time I met her, she had been picking vegetables for a living, and the advertisements she was scouring were the lonely hearts.

"It isn't for everyone," she said. "It's one of the toughest and most dangerous jobs for Chinese women in England. But I'm helped by my age. Usually being old is a disadvantage in job-seeking, but in this job it's an advantage. My age is what protects me."

The next day she started to call the parlours. "Sorry, the job's gone," she was told each time. It surprised her how quickly the vacancies had been filled. So she turned to the page where the agencies advertised, and phoned a firm called Xianglong ("Fortunes and Prosperity"). After some haggling over the fee, she was eventually put in touch with the owner of a parlour in London.

Mr Lee was Malaysian-Chinese, and liked the fact that Ah-Fang was also from Malaysia. He told her she would be paid £180 a week. This was riches compared with the £50 a week she had been earning picking leeks. "At last," Ah-Fang said to me on her mobile phone as she took the coach to London, "I've achieved my dream of leaving the world of work in the Midlands. But," she said with a giggle, "I'm not sure whether I'm moving up or down the career ladder."

Lee picked her up at Victoria and drove her to her destination. Ah-Fang had no idea which direction they were going in. "Are we still in London?" she kept asking. After more than 40 minutes, they arrived in an affluent-looking suburban town, which Ah-Fang later discovered was Cheam. All she could see then, however, were rows and rows of houses, with hardly anyone about. "A massage parlour in this quiet place?" was her initial reaction.

Lee turned into a narrow lane that looked so sleepy and residential that she thought they must have made a wrong turn. But the boss parked outside a small block of flats. When he put the key in the door of a second-floor flat, Ah-Fang asked if he owned the place. He scowled and shook his head. She was later to learn that all Chinese massage parlours rent their premises: impermanence is of the essence...

for complete Guardian post click here

Former DREAMER Almost Deported Part I

Mauricio was a year old and undocumented when he immigrated from Bolivia with his parents. With a few ups and downs he made it through high school, graduating in the top quarter of his class. He became a legal resident in February 2007, which means he was a DREAMER until he was 25 years old. Mauricio attended the University of Houston where he reached the ranking of Senior.

By age 26 he had purchased a home and worked eight years at Target. He had already applied for citizenship. Then he was stopped for a minor traffic violation and the officer found that Mauricio's driver's license had expired. Than his nightmare began.

After being held in a privately run jail for a total of 13 months, deportation charges were dropped.


Cold as Ice: Family Values

April 19, 2008


Houston Chronicle


Mauricio Barragan, whose parents brought him here from Bolivia when he was 1 year old, had a bad year when he was 17.

He got a girl pregnant.

And he was convicted and received deferred adjudication for possessing a small amount of marijuana, a Class B misdemeanor. Earlier he had a juvenile drug conviction at age 15.

During the next eight years, Barragan, now 26, completed his marijuana probation successfully. He graduated in the top quarter of his Katy High School class.

He worked for nearly eight years at Target, rising to team leader in the electronics section before leaving for another job. He was described by his Target supervisor as "the kind of leader that any aspiring business would want on their team."

He faithfully paid child support and provided medical insurance for his son and has been an active father to him, spending weekends with him. He and the boy's mother have remained friends.

College student

He helped buy a house where he and his sister live with his disabled father and his mother. He paid half the monthly mortgage and utilities.

And he earned enough credits at the University of Houston to be a senior with a dual major of biology and journalism.

Meanwhile he and his sister, both legal residents, applied for citizenship, which his parents already acquired.

If we were looking for a poster boy for the criminal justice system working to turn a misbehaving youth around, Barragan would be our man.

But in February 2007, Mauricio, who is a legal resident and had applied to join his parents as a citizen, was stopped for a traffic citation and found to have a suspended driver's license.

Back to Bolivia?

A check by the officer turned up the drug charge. Any past drug conviction now requires that an alien, even one here legally, be held. So Barragan was taken to jail.

But if the drug conviction is for less than 30 grams of marijuana, a judge can rule that the legal alien can stay if his deportation would cause "extreme hardship" — not to him, but to an immediate relative.

So Barragan was locked up for eight months in a privately run jail operated for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) while the government gathered evidence to have him deported to Bolivia, which he had not seen since he was a baby and where he has no relatives.

In October, an immigration judge held a hearing in which Barragan's lawyer presented evidence of "extreme hardship," which would justify a waiver from extradition for a previous adult drug offense.

The hardship, by law, does not apply to the potential deportee. It applies only to immediate relatives.

With every politician in America talking about "family values," you might think that the courts would easily rule that it is an extreme hardship for a 9-year-old boy to be deprived of a father who was shown to be an active and supportive parent.

You would be wrong. So Barragan's lawyer, Michael Rojas, put on evidence of hardship on Barragan's son, Angel, including a psychologist's testimony that the trauma of losing his father had sent the boy into clinical depression.

Angel is a gifted-and-talented 4th-grader, but his mother, Tina Lara, said his grades began to suffer.

"The psychologist said there are a lot of anger issues, and putting the anger in the wrong place," she said.

In addition, Barragan's financial assistance had enabled her to work part-time. With him incarcerated, she had to work full-time, taking time away from Angel.

"The judge told me I wasn't suffering financial hardship," Lara said. "It was all about money. I told him if Mauricio never gave me another penny Angel would still need him."

Mauricio's parents also needed him. With a bad back and diabetes, Jorge Barragan cannot work. His wife, Margarita, taught in public schools for years and now teaches Spanish privately.

Without Mauricio's payments they could not keep up the mortgage. Foreclosure proceedings were started while he was incarcerated.

In addition, the strain of having his son jailed and facing deportation worsened Jorge's condition.

It was on the basis of the financial hardship on Mauricio's parents that the judge agreed to grant him a waiver, reinstating his legal status and ability to work.

Mauricio was ready to celebrate. But the government said it might appeal, so he was taken back to prison. On the last day of the 30-day limit, James Manning, assistant chief counsel of ICE's Houston office, filed a notice of appeal.

That would mean another five months of incarceration for Barragan, another five months of fear for his family and depression and anger for Angel.

This story has a happy ending, but that, together with further details and observations, will require another column.

You can write to Rick Casey at P.O. Box 4260, Houston, TX 77210, or e-mail him at

Former DREAMER almost Deported, Part II

Chronicle writer Rick Casey must have taken Mauricio Barragan's case to heart. He even called the ICE attorney who had presented false information on Mauricio, causing the young man to be detained an additional five months. The attorney never called him back.

James Manning, who represented ICE in this case, had filed erroneous information on Mauricio Barragan. Manning stated that Barragan was a habitual drug dealer and user, that he did not own property and never held a job longer than 8 months. Maybe Manning picked up the wrong files. This mistake - whether purposeful or not, cost Mauricio and his family another five months of heartache.As I mentioned in a previous post about the accuracy of U.S. Government records, how can we trust e-verify if this type of problem can occur? (see post "What Can't be Seen," April 21, 2008). I can't imagine this happening to an "important citizen" of Harris County. I guess guys like Mauricio just don't count. We appreciate that Mr. Casey took the time to write about this.


Cold as ICE: Falsehoods
Houston Chronicle
Rick Casey
April 22, 3008

When James Manning, assistant general counsel for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, filed a notice to appeal a judge's decision not to deport Mauricio Barragan to Bolivia, he was required to list the facts on which the appeal was based.

In three paragraphs ICE's Manning paints Barragan, about whom I wrote Sunday, as a shiftless, friendless drug user.

Barragan's "multiple drug convictions as a juvenile, his arrests and convictions for drug-related offenses as an adult outweigh any equities he may have gained during his young adult period in the United States," he wrote.

In fact, Barragan, who was brought here illegally by his parents, now citizens, when he was about 1 year old, had one juvenile offense and one adult offense at age 17, both for small amounts of drugs, both resulting in successful one-year probations.

Barragan's parents' claim to "extreme hardship," wrote Manning, centers around the claim that he "will not be able to assist his parents on an occasional basis, or to help around the house as needed."

Unflattering descriptions

In fact, before Barragan, 26, was incarcerated while Manning tried to have him deported, he was paying 50 percent of the mortgage and utilities on his parents' house. His disabled father and part-time teacher mother could not afford to make the payments themselves, and foreclosure proceedings were initiated while Mauricio was incarcerated.

Barragan "quit school to work," wrote Manning. "Since then, he has never held a job for more than 18 months and currently does not have a job."

In fact, Barragan graduated in the top quarter of his class at Katy High School and, while working, earned enough credits to be a senior at the University of Houston.

The record, including a glowing recommendation from his former supervisor at Target, showed Barragan had worked at that company for nearly eight years and been promoted to team leader of the electronics department.

"He owns no real property," wrote Manning.

Tax roles show Barragan to be the owner of the modest house in which he, his parents and his sister live.

Manning wrote that Barragan "has no significant social ties outside the home."

In fact, Barragan has lived here since he was a baby, and has never been to Bolivia, where Manning wanted to send him.

One tie of Barragan's that Manning doesn't mention is to his 9-year-old son, Angel.

Angel's mother testified that Mauricio had not only faithfully supported Angel financially, but also was a very involved father.

So why did Manning make these statements about Barragan, despite the fact that the court record refuted them all?

I wish I knew. I left messages for Manning on Friday, when a secretary confirmed he was working, and on Monday and Tuesday. He didn't return the calls.

"I thought it was unethical for Manning to knowingly write those inaccuracies," said Barragan. "If he didn't write them knowingly, it was unprofessional."

Barragan's appeals lawyer, Joy J. Al-Jazrawi, was kind. She said ICE's lawyers are overworked and can make mistakes.

She wrote Manning a letter pointing out the mistakes. He didn't respond, but he didn't repeat them in the brief he filed to the appeals court.

Without those trumped-up factors, however, Manning's appeal was so weak that the appeals court unanimously rejected it without comment.

But for that appeal, Barragan would have been released last October rather than in late March.

That's five months of pain for Angel and for Barragan's parents, who lived in dread that he would be deported.

It's also five months of burden on taxpayers. Instead of earning money and paying taxes, Barragan was housed at a jail operated in Harris County by Corrections Corporation of America at a cost of about $90 a day.

That's nearly $14,000.

But we escaped a potentially much greater cost. The chances of a 9-year-old boy with a loving, supportive father growing into a contributor to society are much greater than of a boy angered by having that father ripped from his life over a minor marijuana charge that occurred before he was born.

Current law required that Barragan be held and brought before a judge to he should be allowed to stay despite his prior drug offense.

But once the record showed his contributions as a son, a father, and a worker, Manning should have hastened his release — not filed a collection of falsehoods to keep him incarcerated and his family in fear.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Immigration explodes when people don't have enough food

photo from Mauritius Telecom

The potato famine in Ireland brought millions of Irish to the U.S. A large percentage of people who migrate without documents come here from Mexico and Latin America because they cannot feed their families. What are the consequences when this starts happening in most of the world?

If you think the U.S. and western Europe have an immigration problem now, wait a few months.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown reports that "25,000 people a day are dying from hunger-related causes."

World Faces 'Silent Tsunami' of Rising Food Prices, U.N. Food Official Says

By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, April 22, 2008; 2:23 PM

LONDON, April 22 -- More than 100 million people are being driven deeper into poverty by a "silent tsunami" of sharply rising food prices, which has sparked riots around the world and threaten U.N.-backed feeding programs for 20 million children, the top U.N. food official said Tuesday.

"This is the new face of hunger -- the millions of people who were not in the urgent hunger category six months ago but now are," Josette Sheeran, executive director of the United Nation's World Food Program (WFP), said at a London news conference. "The world's misery index is rising."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, hosting Sheeran and other private and government experts at his 10 Downing Street offices, said the growing food crisis has pushed prices to their highest levels since 1945 and rivals current global financial turmoil as a threat to world stability.

"Hunger is a moral challenge to each one of us as global citizens, but it is also a threat to the political and economic stability of poor nations around the world," Brown said, adding that 25,000 people a day are dying from hunger-related causes.

"With one child dying every five seconds from hunger-related causes, the time to act is now," Brown said, pledging $60 million in emergency aid to help the WFP feed the poor in Africa and Asia, where in some nations the prices of many food staples have doubled in the past six months.

Brown said the "vast" food crisis was threatening to reverse years of progress to create stronger middle classes around the world and lift millions of people out of poverty.

Prices for basic food supplies such as rice, wheat and corn have skyrocketed in recent months, driven by a complex set of factors including sharply rising fuel prices, droughts in key food-producing countries, ballooning demand in emerging nations such as China and India, and the diversion of some crops to produce biofuels...

for complete WP article click here

Jeremiah Wright and Other Victims of Doublespeak

The 2008 Pennsylvania Primary is today.

My husband surprised me yesterday by showing me an article from Common Dreams saying that when the Clinton's were having marital problems during the Lewinski affair - they were given marriage counseling by Jeremiah Wright.

I wonder why this bit of history that has not been brought up, now that Obama has needed to dust Wright off his shoulder - This is one more reminder of how politics is a dirty game.

How far will the candidates go today? Will they beat each other emotionally? Will they bring up more mis-information (lies?) -

It is fascinating to watch their double speak- I was hoping that Obama was above this, in fact I think that was mentioned recently. Yet, if he wants that much power (as Hillary) then he is already sucked into the system. I assume it must be difficult if not impossible to hold on to one's ethics or real personality when running for president.

The same can be said of McCain -- what is this about McCain saying (multiple times) Al Queda being around again - and then having Lieberman whisper to him -- was it an outright lie or did McCain really believe this information was true? Either answer is disappointing.

Questions About The Pennsylvania Primary

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 22, 2008; A04

What will it take to be declared the winner in Pennsylvania today?

1. Conventional wisdom has taken such a beating in this campaign that setting expectations for today's primary continues to confound the experts...

2. Many Democrats argue that, when compared with where they stood at the start of the nomination battle in early 2007, Obama and Clinton have become stronger and more effective candidates...

What is Obama's biggest general-election vulnerability?

3. Controversies over the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., Obama's comments about why small-town Americans are "bitter" and "cling" to religion and guns, and the candidate's liberal policy views have created a mixture that gives Republicans hope that they can portray Obama as out of touch with heartland America...

Has Bill Clinton helped or hurt his wife's candidacy?

4. As one strategist put it, if Clinton were just an extremely bright senator from New York whose husband had not been president, she probably wouldn't even be in the race -- and certainly would not have started out as the prohibitive front-runner. He helped with fundraising, with providing a political network and with giving his wife the experience of operating in the White House for eight years...

What is the most important remaining contest after Pennsylvania?

5. Indiana. It is the place where Obama, almost regardless of what happens today in Pennsylvania, could bring the long Democratic contest to a close...

Will Democratic superdelegates coalesce, or could this go to the convention?

6. Republican Ben Ginsberg wrote: "The superdelegates I know (and for some reason they seem unburdened talking to a Republican) want a way out. So they're looking for a win by either that's enough to give them cover..."

Could there still be a Democratic dream ticket?

7. When Clinton first started talking publicly about this, she was seen as audacious -- a trailing candidate suggesting that the front-runner take the vice presidential nomination. Now there are some Democrats who now believe Clinton may be open to the possibility of running on a ticket as Obama's vice presidential nominee...

Has John McCain used this period effectively to get ready for the general election?

8. McCain has had the general- election field largely to himself the past month. He has effectively consolidated the party establishment and tamped down talk that the base doesn't like him (although he may not have solved that problem)...

for complete WP article click here

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Old Political Machine Still Working in Philadelphia

Image from WZZm13news

What would happen to our political races if the inner gears of the process would be made public? Here a Guardian reporter tells us about "local operatives" in who expect to be paid for their assistance in the campaign. Obama could face problems if he does not go along with local tradition and pay up.

Gosh it almost sounds like the Mafia.

What else happens in elections that we don't know about?


pay up or risk long battle, Obama told

* Ewen MacAskill in Philadelphia
* The Guardian - London
* Tuesday April 22 2008

This article appeared in the Guardian on Tuesday April 22 2008 on p15 of the International section. It was last updated at 00:05 on April 22 2008.

Barack Obama has been warned that his refusal to pay the traditional "street money" to local operatives to help get the vote out in Philadelphia today could cost him the crucial percentage points needed to knock Hillary Clinton out of the race for the White House.

In many of the city's poorer wards, the recipients look forward to these bonuses from Democratic officials - a hangover from the days of the party's old-fashioned machine politics - even though the amounts are relatively small, ranging from $50 to $400.

But as in other contests, Obama is relying on his own army of unpaid
volunteers to get the vote out. The Clinton team, meanwhile, is not saying whether it will pay out "street money".

There are 69 wards in Philadelphia and estimates suggest it would cost Obama $400,000-$500,000 to pay the 14,000 people normally required to help get the vote out.

Carol Ann Campbell, an integral part of the city machine, said she expected Obama to win the city, but his failure to pay could cost him the crucial margin needed to force Clinton out of the race for the presidential nomination.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer last week, Campbell defended the practice of "street money", saying: "We are a machine town." She added that there was nothing dirty about it. "The committee people and the ward leaders have to buy lunch
for hundreds of people, otherwise they won't have good workers. They have to buy coffee, orange juice and doughnuts. That's just the way it is."

Since the start of the primary campaign last year, Obama has avoided using the Democratic machine, on the assumption that it had already been tied up by the Clintons, and instead built up his own volunteer network. He has encouraged his supporters to be self-sufficient, with volunteers bringing dishes into campaign headquarters rather than sending out for meals.

The different approaches have produced a clash of cultures in Philadelphia. Obama's team on the ground is being supplemented by thousands of young supporters who have travelled from Washington, New York and other neighbouring conurbations, watched warily by the locals, some of them resentful about being denied the "street money".

Jeremy Bird, Obama's Pennsylvania field director, told the Los Angeles Times that the campaign had faced a similar predicament in South Carolina over the traditional distribution of money: "We always said that we're not going to do politics the way it's always been done because it's always been done that way."

What Cannot be Seen

detail from Ben Shahn's, "This Is Nazi Brutality," 1943

If the records cannot be seen then the government assumes the worst. Think of legal immigrants being detained because ICE officers did not see their residency documents.

The records of Guantanamo interrogations were mysteriously lost - how will the person who is the focus of the investigation get a fair trial?

- With this in mind how much can we rely on the new E-Verify program? What would happen if the gov't lost the social security records of people it wants to target?

"The former head of interrogations at Guantánamo Bay found that records of an al-Qaida suspect tortured at the prison camp were mysteriously lost by the US military, according to a new book by one of Britain's top human rights lawyers.

Retired general Michael Dunlavey, who supervised Guantánamo for eight months in 2002, tried to locate records on Mohammed al-Qahtani, accused by the US of plotting the 9/11 attacks, but found they had disappeared." - The Guardian


Torture victim's records lost at Guantánamo, admits camp general

· No evidence of al-Qaida suspect's interrogation
· CCTV automatically recorded over tapes

This article appeared in the Guardian on Monday April 21 2008 on p22 of the International section. It was last updated at 00:04 on April 21 2008.

The former head of interrogations at Guantánamo Bay found that records of an al-Qaida suspect tortured at the prison camp were mysteriously lost by the US military, according to a new book by one of Britain's top human rights lawyers.

Retired general Michael Dunlavey, who supervised Guantánamo for eight months in 2002, tried to locate records on Mohammed al-Qahtani, accused by the US of plotting the 9/11 attacks, but found they had disappeared.

The records on al-Qahtani, who was interrogated for 48 days - "were backed up ... after I left, there was a snafu and all was lost", Dunlavey told Philippe Sands QC, who reports the conversation in his book Torture Team, previewed last week by the Guardian. Snafu stands for Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.

Saudi-born al-Qahtani was sexually taunted, forced to perform dog tricks and given enemas at Guantánamo.

The CIA admitted last year that it destroyed videotapes of al-Qaida suspects being interrogated at a secret "black site" in Thailand. No proof has so far emerged that tapes of interrogations at Guantánamo were destroyed, but Sands' report suggests the US may have also buried politically sensitive proof relating to abuse by interrogators at the prison camp.

Other new evidence has also emerged in the last month that raises questions about destroyed tapes at Guantánamo.

Cameras that run 24 hours a day at the prison were set to automatically record over their contents, the US military admitted in court papers. It is unclear how much, if any, prisoner mistreatment was on the taped-over video, but the military admitted that the automatic erasure "likely destroyed" potential evidence in at least one prisoner's case.

The erased tapes may have violated a 2005 court order to preserve "all evidence [of] the torture, mistreatment and abuse of detainees" at Guantánamo. The order was retroactive, so it also applies to the 2003 loss of al-Qahtani's records.

Lawyers representing other Guantánamo detainees are asking whether tapes of their clients' treatment may also be erased. "You can't just destroy relevant evidence," said Jonathan Hafetz, of the Brennan Centre for Justice in New York.

David H Remes, a lawyer for 16 Guantánamo prisoners, said the CIA's destruction of interrogation videos shows the US government is capable of getting rid of potentially incriminating evidence.

"[In Guantánamo] the government had a system that automatically overwrote records," Remes told the Guardian. "That is a passive form of evidence destruction. If a party has destroyed evidence in one place, there's no reason to assume it has preserved evidence in another place."

More than 24,000 interrogations were videotaped at Guantánamo, according to a US army report unearthed by researchers at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

The US military office at Guantánamo did not return a request for comment from the Guardian about its taping policies. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008