Thursday, April 30, 2009

Houston City Council Member Must be Thinking about Re-Election

Houston City Council member Toni Lawrence complained that non residents should not be treated at Houston hospitals should they turn up with the flu.  Imagine a 2 year old showing up at an emergency room, having severe flu symptoms and the staff telling the parents, take him somewhere else, he is not from Houston.  That is nuts.

April 30, 2009, 10:04PM
Houston City Council member Toni Lawrence on Thursday called on the mayor and county judge to exert control over local hospitals accepting patients from outside the area who are seeking treatment for possible swine flu.

Expanding on comments she made a day earlier in the wake of the nation’s first swine flu-related death, Lawrence said she was not picking on people from Mexico when she said officials should place a priority on the needs of the local community and economy.

When news broke Wednesday that a toddler from Mexico who had died at Texas Children’s Hospital suffered from swine flu, Lawrence expressed indignation that elected officials had not been notified of the child’s presence in Houston. She said Thursday it would not matter to her had the patient been from Oklahoma or Canada: Local officials should be informed and have some say about the hospitals’ procedure for accepting them.

“I want to hear from the mayor and county judge what the plan is for Houston,” Lawrence said Thursday. “… We need to have a plan in place for people coming in. Just to let somebody who controls a hospital entrance individually make those decisions I think is wrong.”
White, Emmett dismiss it

Houston Mayor Bill White and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett had a simple response to Lawrence: Forget it.

“The last thing we need is politicians deciding medical policy for hospitals and doctors,” Emmett said. “I don’t think we ought to be in the business of telling hospitals who to admit and how to admit and treat them.”

Added White: “Elected officials at all levels of government should permit the medical community and epidemiologists to make decisions and provide treatment in a manner they are trained to do. I don’t envision a day when those brought via medical transport are being cleared by political officials.”

As for Texas Children’s Hospital, its executives want no part of a political dust-up. The hospital will continue to respond to children in need, they say, in a way that minimizes risk of infection.

“We’re focusing on medical assessment and medical need, on children who can’t get the medical treatment they need wherever they are,” said Ann Stern, the hospital’s executive vice president. “We’re pretty passionate about our mission and our commitment to children. We are hoping that mission would be respected.”

At Wednesday’s council meeting, Lawrence pointed out that the child was not a U.S. citizen.

“We have jeopardized the hospital district and possibly conventions,” she said during the meeting. “I know tour boats are not leaving Galveston now because they are not going to Mexico. I’m very concerned council wasn’t told about this. We need to be aware of this and continue to do things for Houston and not for anybody else.”
Some take offense

Her statements rubbed some the wrong way.

“Those comments are misplaced and inappropriate when our focus should be on treating people and stopping the spread of this illness,” said Carol Alvarado, a former council colleague and now a state representative. “We are known all over the world for providing treatment. This issue has never been raised in the history of the Texas Medical Center.”

Immigration advocates are concerned that the spread of swine flu is giving rise to immigrant bashing, vilification of Mexico and repeated calls to close the border.

The National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy group, earlier this week denounced those who blame immigrants for swine flu.

“It’s not surprising that some are implying that all immigrants are a threat to our health,” the group’s president, Janet Murguia, said in a prepared statement. “That’s standard fare on the hate group circuit.”  -  link

April 29, 2009

News media should resist baseless blame of immigrants as it covers a possible pandemic

Contact: Iván Román, NAHJ Executive Director, 
(202) 662-7178
Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Hispanic Journalists called on the media on Wednesday to be fair and prudent when covering the spread of swine flu in the U.S. and around the world, and resist the portrayal of Mexican immigrants as scapegoats for the possible pandemic.

The following is a statement from the NAHJ Board of Directors:

“We have come to expect immigrant bashing from the usual suspects – commentators who use purposefully inflammatory rhetoric to seek attention and to suit their agenda. And they haven’t disappointed, now using the swine flu as cause to decry immigration and immigrants. Immigrants, of course, have long been favorite and convenient scapegoats for some for everything from high taxes to infectious diseases. Facts haven’t much mattered.

But we trust that credible journalists will cover what is undeniably a big national story with more fairness and accuracy than we are hearing from these talking heads. We would ask that these stories be written as if facts did matter. Because they do.

The temptation even in more credible media, we know, will be to link Mexican immigrants with the spread of the disease to the United States. The consequence of too much of this will be even more anger – and perhaps even more violence – against a community no more responsible for the spread of this ailment than U.S. tourists returning from scenic, balmy vacations.

There are more than 4,000 flights per week from the United States to Mexico. Mexicans are not the only people on those flights. About 80 percent of visitors to Mexico in 2008 came from the United States. 

The Mexican immigrant community in the United States is a part of this story. But not in such narrow fashion as we’re hearing at the moment. This community is as fearful of the swine flu’s spread as anyone else. Viruses strike regardless of where you were born. And, please remember, the fear is not just for themselves but for family members and friends still in Mexico.

The World Health Organization is raising its alert from Level 4 to Level 5, an action that will cause further temptation to overreact. If the swine flu becomes a true pandemic, we ask simply that the news industry do its job. That would be covering the story, not in the breathless fashion of the talking heads, but as a story as needful of truth, fairness, accuracy and balance as any other important story. In fact, the bigger the story, the more it needs these attributes.

With such stories as this, the news media can be part of the solution or part of the problem.” link

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

WHO Raises Alert Level to 5

New York Times - 5:15 p.m. eastern time - April 29

"The World Health Organization raised the alert level of the fast-spreading swine flu virus on Wednesday afternoon, indicating that a “pandemic is imminent,” on the day that a Mexican toddler who had been hospitalized in Houston became the first person to die from the disease on United States soil.

Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the organization, said that the “phase 5” alert out of a possible 6 levels signified that at least two countries have spread the virus by human to human contact, and that the highest phase 6 was probably imminent."

see:  "World Health Organization Raises Swine Flu Alert," New York Times, April 29, 2009

click here for link to latest statement (in English) from WHO Director, Dr. Margaret Chan

Dr. Chan's statement in Spanish:
Declaración de la Directora General de la OMS
29 de abril de 2009 
Gripe porcina

Señoras y señores:

Sobre la base de la evaluación de todas las informaciones disponibles, y después de realizar varias consultas con expertos, he decidido elevar el nivel de alerta de pandemia de gripe desde la actual fase 4 a la fase 5.

Es necesario tomarse muy en serio las pandemias de gripe precisamente por la capacidad que tienen para propagarse con rapidez a todos los países del mundo.

Enlaces conexos

Gripe porcina

Fase actual de alerta de pandemia según la OMS

Reglamento Sanitario Internacional (2005) - en inglés

Un aspecto positivo es que ahora el mundo está mejor preparado para afrontar una pandemia de gripe que nunca antes a lo largo de la historia.

Las medidas de preparación adoptadas a raíz de la amenaza de la gripe aviar por H5N1 han sido una inversión, y ahora estamos obteniendo los beneficios.

Por primera vez en la historia podemos seguir la evolución de una pandemia en tiempo real.

Doy las gracias a los países que están poniendo los resultados de sus investigaciones a disposición del público. Ello nos facilita la comprensión de la enfermedad.

Estoy impresionada por la labor que están realizando los países afectados al afrontar los brotes en curso.

Asimismo, quiero dar las gracias a los Gobiernos de los Estados Unidos y del Canadá por el apoyo que prestan a la OMS, y a México.

Permítanme recordarles que, por definición, las enfermedades nuevas se conocen mal. Es notorio que los virus de la gripe mutan rápidamente y se comportan de forma impredecible.

La OMS y las autoridades sanitarias de los países afectados no tendrán todas las respuestas inmediatamente, pero las obtendremos.

La OMS seguirá de cerca la pandemia a escala epidemiológica, clínica y virológica.

Los resultados de esas evaluaciones continuas se publicarán en forma de asesoramiento en materia de salud pública, y se pondrán a disposición general.

Todos los países deberían activar de inmediato sus planes de preparación para una pandemia. Los países deberían mantenerse en alerta ante posibles brotes inusuales de síndromes gripales y de neumonías graves.

En estos momentos, las medidas eficaces y esenciales son la elevación de la vigilancia, la detección y el tratamiento precoces, y el control de la infección en todos los centros de salud.

El paso a una fase superior de la alerta es una señal a los gobiernos, los ministerios de salud y a otros ministerios, al sector farmacéutico y al mundo empresarial de que ahora se deberían adoptar determinadas medidas de forma cada vez más urgente, y a un ritmo acelerado.

Me he puesto en contacto con países donantes, con el UNITAID, la alianza GAVI, el Banco Mundial y otras instancias para movilizar recursos.

Me he puesto en contacto con empresas fabricantes de medicamentos antivirales para evaluar la capacidad y todas las opciones para aumentar la producción.

También me he puesto en contacto con fabricantes de vacunas que pueden contribuir a la producción de una vacuna contra la pandemia.

El mayor interrogante ahora mismo es: ¿qué magnitud va a tener la pandemia, en particular ahora en sus inicios?

Es posible que las manifestaciones clínicas de la enfermedad abarquen desde las afecciones leves hasta los casos graves. Hemos de seguir vigilando la evolución de la situación para obtener las informaciones y datos específicos que necesitamos para responder a esa pregunta.

Sabemos también, por experiencias pasadas, que la gripe puede causar afecciones leves en los países ricos y enfermedades más graves, con una elevada mortalidad, en los países en desarrollo.

Cualquiera que sea la situación, la comunidad internacional debería considerar estos momentos como una oportunidad idónea para mejorar significativamente la preparación y respuesta.

Ante todo, es una oportunidad para la solidaridad mundial en la búsqueda de respuestas y soluciones que beneficien a todos los países, a la humanidad entera. Ciertamente, es la humanidad entera lo que está amenazado durante una pandemia.

Como he dicho, ahora mismo no tenemos todas las respuestas, pero las obtendremos.

Muchas gracias. link to Spanish version

Images can Mean Powerful Things

Obama shaking the hand of a policeman in London

thanks to Matthew Countryman for sending this out

DREAMers who plan to enlist: Beware

One of the options connected to the DREAM Act is for students to enlist in the U.S. military so that they can regularize their status.  This is a real threat to DREAMers, since the current suicide rate of military (active or discharged) is extremely high.

see this interview:

Democracy Now - April 29, 2009

The US military is grappling with a record number of soldier suicides. At least thirteen soldiers took their lives last month. That’s down from the twenty-four military suicides in January and eighteen in February, but still in line with the most number of suicides since record keeping began. As many as 143 soldiers reportedly took their own lives last year. We speak with Emma Prophet, an investigator at the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office. link


A scientist calls our current flu epidemic the NAFTA Flu  -  related to globalization, mass farming and improper sanitation conditions in large farms.

"The “NAFTA Flu”: Critics Say Swine Flu Has Roots in Forcing Poor Countries to Accept Western Agribusiness

As the US reports its first known death from the global swine flu, the World Health Organization has raised its pandemic threat level. Several countries around the world have banned the import of US and Mexican pork products. We speak to professor and author Robert Wallace, who says the swine flu is partly the outcome of neoliberal policies that forced poorer countries to open their markets to poorly regulated Western agribusiness giants."

The Wednesday news brought information about a 23 month old child brought from Brownsville died in a Houston hospital.  The little boy in the picture accompanying the article is not that child.  This boy is a child who has already recovered from the flu.  He lives in Vera Cruz.

CDC Says Swine Flu Death is First in U.S., Houston Chronicle, April 29, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Senate Committee Hearing on Immigration, April 30

Important committee hearing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform to be held on Thursday at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.  

For link to live webcast at the time of the hearing, click here

Senate Judiciary Committee
Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship
View a webcast of this hearing
DATE: April 30, 2009
TIME: 02:00 PM
ROOM: Dirksen-226

April 23, 2009

The hearing on "Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009, Can We Do It and How?" scheduled by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Refugees will take place on Thursday, April 30 at 2:00 p.m. rather than the previously scheduled date of Tuesday, April 28.

Chairman Schumer will preside.

By order of the Chairman

Updated Witness List

Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee,
Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Refugees


"Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009, Can We Do It and How?"

Thursday, April 30, 2009
Dirksen Office Building Room 226
2:00 p.m.

Panel I

J. Thomas Manger
Chief of Police, Montgomery County, MD
Director, Major Cities Chiefs Association
Rockville, MD

Alan Greenspan
Former Chairman
Federal Reserve of the United States
Washington, DC

Dr. Joel Hunter
Senior Pastor, Northland Church
Member, President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Longwood, FL

Red Meat, Cancer and Heart Disease

While this NYT article says red meat is bad for you, continuing medical studies confirm that any type of animal product in our diet really hampers our quest for health.  See The China Study.


"men and women who consumed the most red and processed meat were likely to die sooner, especially from one of our two leading killers, heart disease and cancer, than people who consumed much smaller amounts of these foods."

"Paying a Price for Loving Red Meat," New York Times, April 29, 2009

With Spector, Democrats will have 60

Senator Arlen Spector is crossing over to the Democratic Party.  This changes our political landscape as if an earthquake occurred.  With the potential Senator Frankel (Minnesota) whose case looks about won - this should make the 60 total, so that Democrats can override a Republican filibuster.

Having Spector as a Democrat will make the DREAM Act possible, count on it.  While Spector voted against the DREAM Act in 2007 (he said it would make Comprehensive Immigration Reform more difficult to obtain), he was fully supportive when the bill was considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2006.  He was Chair of the committee at the time.

London Guardian, April 28, 2009

One of the few remaining moderate Republicans in the United States Senate defected to the Democrats today, dealing a massive blow to the Republican party's ability to impede Barack Obama's legislative agenda, and opening the way for dramatic action on climate change, healthcare reform and other issues.

The defection by Arlen Specter, a veteran Pennsylvania Republican, puts the majority Democratic party closer to the 60 votes needed to pass most substantive legislation. All that remains for the party to achieve that margin, and with it, the ability to run roughshod over the Republicans, is the final confirmation in Minnesota of Al Franken's victory in a long-disputed Senate election.

Specter's switch comes as the national Republican party has struggled to find its voice and its policy foundation since Obama's election in November, and illustrates the party's decline since George Bush's 2004 re-election, when it controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.

Following the debacle over hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Bush's mismanagement of the war in Iraq, voters across the country turned on the party in the 2006 election, giving the Democrats control of the House and Senate. Since then, the Republican party's conservative base has consolidated its hold, driving moderate voices from the party and pushing centrist voters toward the Democrats. In November, the Democrats won the White House and both chambers of Congress for the first time since 1994.

In a candid press conference, Specter, 79, lambasted conservative groups he said are willing to lose elections in order to "purify the party" by backing right-wing candidates.

"The Republican party has moved farther and farther to the right," he said. "I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic party."

Obama welcomed the move and told him the Democrats were "thrilled to have you".

Republican national committee chairman Michael Steele said some Republicans would be happy to see him go. "Let's be honest: Senator Specter didn't leave the GOP based on principles of any kind," he said. "He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his leftwing voting record. Republicans look forward to beating Senator Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don't do it first."

In addition to giving the Democrats their strongest Senate majority since 1979, Specter's move greatly increases his chances of winning re-election next year to his sixth term. Specter faced an extraordinarily tough primary challenge from former congressman Pat Toomey, a conservative whom he narrowly defeated in the 2004 primary. Had he been able to beat Toomey, he would then have faced a challenge on the left from the Democratic party.

Specter today acknowledged the calculation encouraged his defection.

"I am not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate," he said.

In Minnesota, the comedian and author Franken cannot be seated in the Senate until former Republican senator Norm Coleman concedes or until his legal challenges are exhausted. Assuming Franken is ultimately confirmed, the Republicans will be hard-pressed to hinder Obama's agenda, including provisions to lessen greenhouse gas emissions, expand government health insurance programmes, his $3.7tn budget, his judicial nominations, and potentially more costly fiscal stimulus measures.

Specter, who was first elected in 1980, was one of only three Republicans to vote for Obama's $787bn fiscal stimulus package this winter, alongside two moderate Republicans from Maine. He was widely derided for what fellow Republicans deemed a betrayal.

The Senate's procedural rules mean that while the Democrats held a majority, they still had to court moderates in order to win tough legislative fights. A minority can filibuster legislation, preventing bills from reaching a vote, and 60 votes are needed to cut off debate on and force an up-or-down roll call.

Specter's switch does not necessarily mean that Congress will grant Obama whatever he wishes. Conservative Democrats in the Senate will now see their hands strengthened and may seek concessions in exchange for votes, and Specter today insisted he would not be "an automatic 60th vote".

"If the Democratic party asks too much, I will not hesitate to disagree and vote my independent thinking," he said. link

also see "What Kind of Democrat Will Spector Be?" New York Times, April 28, 2009

Cases in Mexico began in February

A city in the state of Veracruz, near a pork processing plant, started seeing the virus in February. Ultimately, 60% of the residents came down with the virus.

According to the LA Times, the first fatality (known of) was a census taker in Mexico.

La Jornada announced that all Mexico City restaurants were ordered closed.

"World Keeps Wary Eye on Swine Flu,
" Los Angeles Times, April 28, 2009

"Epidemia de lucro," La Jornada (Mexico City), 29 abril, 2009

"En la antesala de la pandemia," La Jornada (Mexico City), 29 abril, 2009

"Four Year Old Could Hold Key," London Guardian, April 27, 2009

"With swine flu cases rising, borders are tightened," New York Times, April 29, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sheriff Arpaio and Other Immigration Problems in Arizona

Yes, Arpaio is a problem. He has ruined many lives and humiliated many people. Today, is focusing its program on immigration and has a long segment on Arpaio.

click here for link to the program.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

U.S. declares health emergency due to flu outbreak

Mexican swine flu deaths spark worldwide action, London Guardian, April 26, 2009
U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu

New York Times
Published: April 26, 2009

American health officials on Sunday declared a public health emergency over increasing cases of swine flu, saying that they had confirmed 20 cases of the disease in the United States and expected to see more as investigators fan out to track down the path of the outbreak.

Although officials said most of the cases have been mild and urged Americans not to panic, the emergency declaration frees government resources to be used toward diagnosing or preventing additional cases, and releases money for more antiviral drugs.

“We are seeing more cases of swine flu,” said Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control, in a news conference in Washington. “We expect to see more cases of swine flu. As we continue to look for cases, I expect we’re going to find them.” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, speaking at the same news conference called the emergency declaration “standard operating procedure,” and said it should be considered a “declaration of emergency preparedness.”

“Really that’s what we’re doing right now,” she said. “We’re preparing in an environment where we really don’t know ultimately what the size of seriousness of this outbreak is going to be.”

Officials said they had confirmed eight cases in New York, seven in California, two in Kansas, two in Texas and one in Ohio, and that the cases looked to be similar to the deadly strain of swine flu that has killed more than 80 people in Mexico and infected 1,300 more.

So far, there have been no deaths from swine flu in the United States, and only one of the people who tested positive for the disease has been hospitalized, officials said.

Still, officials said they expect more severe cases.

Other governments around the world stepped up their response to the incipient outbreak, racing to contain the infection amid reports of potential new cases from New Zealand to Hong Kong to Spain, raising concerns about the potential for a global pandemic.

Canada also confirmed four cases of the flu. Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief public health officer, said on Sunday that four students who attend the same school in that province had what he describes as “very mild” cases of the flu, according to The Associated Press.

The United States said it would use “passive surveillance” in screening travelers from Mexico who would enter the country, isolating them only if they were ill. But other governments issued travel advisories urging people not to visit Mexico, the apparent origin of the outbreak, where 81 people have died and some 1,300 have been infected. China, Russia and others set up quarantines for anyone possibly infected. Some countries banned pork imports from Mexico, even though there is no link between food products and the flu, and others were screening air travelers for signs of the disease.

The World Health Organization reiterated that it considered the outbreak “a public health emergency of international concern” but said it would put off until Tuesday a decision on whether to raise the pandemic alert level.

Raising it to level 4 “would be a very serious signal that countries ought to be dusting off pandemic plans,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, deputy director general of the W.H.O. The W.H.O. is historically reluctant to declare pandemics in sensitive member countries..
link to complete article

The DREAMers and the Blended Family

A DREAMer and her family, originally from  Ecuador are interviewed by a NYT reporter:

see "A Family Divided by 2 Words," New York Times, April 26, 2009

Blended families are not new.  My paternal grandfather was born in Monclova, MX, my paternal grandmother was born in Laredo, Texas.  My father was born in Saltillo, MX and my mother in Laredo, Texas.  My son just married a woman from Buenos Aires.  He was born in Bryan, Texas.  They met in New York City.

Even before our global society, there were these types of blended families.  Winston Churchill's mother was American, his father a British Lord (except they had no problem with a visa).  Barack Obama's parents were a "blended couple."  The thing is, Obama's father might have had a much harder time coming to the U.S. in a post 9-11 world.  

A few decades ago, the DREAMer born in Ecuador would be doing just fine, and probably would be an American citizen by now.  But the U.S. has lost its desire for new blood.  What a terrible loss.

Influenza Outbreak a Global Matter

CNN: World Health Organization is calling [epidemic]"a public health emergency of international concern."


Mexico City - La Jornada's front page:

In Spanish:
La situación por el nuevo virus es grave, imprevisible y avanza de prisa: OMS

La Jornada - Mexico City, 26, abril, 2009

Ginebra, 25 de abril. La Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) lanzó una advertencia este sábado contra el "potencial pandémico" del "nuevo virus" de gripe porcina. Es una "urgencia" en términos de salud pública, en la medida en que se transmite de persona a persona y ha causado al menos 20 muertos en México y afecta a decenas en Estados Unidos, destacó.

La situación es "grave", "imprevisible" y "evoluciona de prisa", advirtió la directora general de la OMS en una conferencia telefónica desde la sede de la organización en la ciudad suiza de Ginebra.

El virus, de origen animal, tiene "claramente potencial pandémico en la medida en que afecta a los seres humanos", advirtió. link to complete article

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mexico City Restricting Those Who Enter City - Airlines giving ticket holders a break

Children under 12, pregnant women, the aged, and persons with respiratory infections are not allowed to enter the city this weekend.

If you are planning to fly Continental or US Airways to Mexico City, be sure to check their web pages, they are now allowing ticket holders to re-schedule their flights because of the epidemic.

In Spanish:

La Jornada - Mexico City

Este sábado y domingo no podrán ingresar niños menores de 12 años, mujeres embarazadas, adultos mayores y personas con cuadros de infecciones respiratorias.

Publicado: 25/04/2009 09:11

México, DF. El Gobierno del Distrito Federal restringió el acceso a los reclusorios capitalinos durante este fin de semana a los niños menores de 12 años, mujeres embarazadas, adultos mayores y personas con cuadros de infecciones respiratorias.

La Subsecretaría del Sistema Penitenciario informó en un comunicado que la restricción estará vigente este sábado y domingo, y hasta el momento no se han confirmado brotes de influenza en ninguno de los 10 centros de reclusión capitalinos.

Indicó que las personas que sean detenidas por alguna falta administrativa o en una revisión del alcoholímetro y que presenten síntomas de la enfermedad serán remitidos a una unidad del sector salud.

Entre las medidas que la dependencia aplica dentro de los reclusorios varoniles y femeniles de la capital del país destacan la revisión de todos los internos para verificar que no presenten síntomas de la enfermedad.

También la limpieza exhaustiva en todos los centros penitenciarios; se han proporcionado guantes y cubrebocas al personal que tiene contacto con la población y visitantes a estas unidades, y prepara y proporciona alimentos ricos en vitaminas A y C.

Finalmente, informó que en las aduanas de ingreso estará personal médico, técnicos penitenciarios y supervisores para reforzar y apoyar cualquier contingencia. link
also see: Instalan comité de emergencia a nivel mundial contra influenza,, 25, abril, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

The study’s methodology was called flawed

The Houston Chronicle has done it again.  A study by a right wing anti-immigrant group is headlined "Study: Illegal immigration costs state billions" --

A Houston Chronicle article, taken from the San Antonio Express explains that a study on the economics of immigration is not accurate.  But the headline is enough to make things harder for immigrants.  Everyone knows that most people look at headlines, and don't read the articles themselves.  So they see this blanket statement and think, "we really have to get rid of those illegals."

Shame on the Chronicle.  
here are some details from a NYT editorial describing how undocumented immigrants have helped save our social security system.  This information is not from a "think tank"  - it is a report from our own Social Security System.:

1.  growing numbers of “other than legal” workers are expected to bolster the program over the coming decades

2. many undocumented workers pay taxes during their work lives but don’t collect benefits later

3.  undocumented workers are entering the United States at ever younger ages and are expected to have more children while they’re here than if they arrived at later ages

4.  a substantial increase in the number of working-age people paying taxes, but a relatively smaller increase in the number of retirees who receive benefits

5.  taxes paid by other-than-legal immigrants will close 15 percent of the system’s projected long-term deficit

It would be more informative to read this New York Times editorial*:
New York Times - April 2, 2008

Immigration is good for the financial health of Social Security because more workers mean more tax revenue. Illegal immigration, it turns out, is even better than legal immigration. In the fine print of the 2008 annual report on Social Security, released last week, the program’s trustees noted that growing numbers of “other than legal” workers are expected to bolster the program over the coming decades.

One reason is that many undocumented workers pay taxes during their work lives but don’t collect benefits later. Another is that undocumented workers are entering the United States at ever younger ages and are expected to have more children while they’re here than if they arrived at later ages. The result is a substantial increase in the number of working-age people paying taxes, but a relatively smaller increase in the number of retirees who receive benefits — a double boon to Social Security’s bottom line.

We’re not talking chump change. According to the report, the taxes paid by other-than-legal immigrants will close 15 percent of the system’s projected long-term deficit. That’s equivalent to raising the payroll tax by 0.3 percentage points, starting today.

That is not to suggest that illegal immigration is a legitimate fix to Social Security’s problems. It is another reminder, however, of the nation’s complex relationship with undocumented workers. Would the people who want to deport all undocumented workers be willing to make up the difference and pay the taxes that the undocumented are currently paying?

It is also a reminder of Social Security’s dynamism. As society and the economy evolve, so does the system, responding not only to changes in immigration and fertility, but also in wage growth and other variables. As such, it is adaptable to the 21st century, if only the political will can be found to champion the necessary changes. Those include modest tax increases and moderate benefit cuts that could be phased in over decades — provided the country gets started soon. link

*before you think that the info. from the NYT doesn't count because it is just a liberal newspaper, you should read about how the NYT was considered more conservative than the Washington Post, the LA Times, and especially the Boston Globe.

The Story of Mexico: 2009


ZNet Interview with John Gibler about his new book

January 26, 2009
(1) Can you tell ZNet, please, what Mexico Unconquered is about? What is it trying to communicate?

Mexico Unconquered is about the ongoing social struggles that grip Mexico, the overwhelming violence of the state on the one hand and the vibrant and massive peoples' movements for land, autonomy, freedom, and dignity on the other.

The book traces contemporary social conflicts in Mexico from the period of the Spanish Conquest, through the early years of Independence, and the political chaos following the 1910-1920 Mexican Revolution, when the modern state in Mexico was reconfigured from the remains of centuries of colonialism into an autocratic one party state with only minimal and cosmetic dressings of electoral democracy.

The bulk of the book is divided between the exploration and denunciation of state violence and contemporary forms of conquest and the chronicling and study of peoples' movements and contemporary forms of revolt (rebelión in Spanish).

What does the book try to communicate? Moral outrage and social dignity. The book tries to disrobe the ideologies of the state used to rationalize horrid violence (seemingly innocent concepts like the rule of law, poverty, and migration) and to awaken moral outrage at the realities hidden under the glaze of normalcy. But instead of leaving the reader with the despair of finding such brutality under the surface of everyday reality in Mexico, the book tries to communicate the immense strength and dignity of the ordinary Mexicans taking stands against the brutality. Here the book tries to communicate the urgent importance of gripping this spirit of revolt when facing seemingly intractable enemies, of risking the impossible (to quote Slavoj Zizek quoting the Paris walls in 1968). link to complete article

Dying to be Thin: Her ribs and pelvic bones were protuding

What does dreamacttexas have to do with a thin Miss Universe contestant?  Lots.  The more Americanized our female DREAMers become, the more at risk they are to think they need to be extremely thin to be o.k.  It is one of the sad aspects of American culture.  Either we are overweight or we are paranoid about being overweight.

I just came back from Argentina.  This past year I have spent a lot of time there.  I have found that being "too thin" is what some people say is "an Argie thing."  So is plastic surgery.  Sounds like Orange County to me.  I wonder why Argentina  (maybe I should narrow it to Buenos Aires) is so obsessed...  could it be related to being a Spanish Colony that is identified as "European."  -- I would say that could cause some confusion and perhaps some insecurity.  Why else would people cut themselves up so easily and/or starve themselves?
London Independent/Reuters -  Friday, 24 April 2009

Stephanie Naumoska was well under the World Health Organisation's benchmark for malnutrition
Australia's Miss Universe competition found itself under scrutiny yesterday as doctors and dieticians questioned the inclusion of a finalist they claimed was severely underweight.

Dietician Melanie McGrice told Australia's Daily Mail that at 180cm and weighing just 49kg, 19-year-old Stephanie Naumoska was well under the World Health Organisation's benchmark for malnutrition.

"I would certainly want to be doing an assessment of her diet to make sure she doesn't have some type of eating disorder," she said.

The controversy surfaced after images of Naumoska parading in a bikini during the swimsuit competition showed her ribs and pelvic bones protruding.

McGrice told the Herald Sun there appeared to be "significant muscle wasting" on Naumoska's upper arm and legs... link to complete article

see "Australia's Miss Universe contestant Stephanie Naumoska 'too thin'," London Guardian, April 24, 2009

Fearing a Pandemic of the Flu in Mexico

A couple of months ago I spent a few days in Monterrey.  I visited a public hospital a few times, visiting a close friend who soon passed away.  When I came back to Houston I developed the worst case of the flu ever.  I also ended up with bronchitis and was sick for over a month.  I wonder if there was any connection to what is going on now in Mexico City.  

The entire nation of Mexico is alarmed over the Influenza outbreak.  Most of the newspaper headlines are about the epidemic

"WHO worries Mexico flu deaths could mark pandemic," Houston Chronicle/AP, April 24, 2009

"How Swine Flu Spreads in Humans," Los Angeles Times/Reuters, April 25, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Starting the process of immigration reform

With the economy in tatters, it may not seem like the right time.  But immigration reform is a slow process.  What we start now, will make its way through Congress in the fall.  This gives us time to convince the opposition of the need to pass the DREAM Act and other important changes to our immigration policy.
Timing Immigration Reform
Washington Post
By T. Alexander Aleinikoff
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The Obama administration recently signaled interest in beginning a discussion on comprehensive immigration reform before year's end. It might seem that a severe economic downtown is not the best time for a major legislative initiative on immigration. But starting this conversation now makes sense for several reasons.
link to complete article

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Deportation - then losing your child

The outrageous act of separating a child from his mother, ruling she abandoned him after an ICE raid where she was detained, terminating her rights as a parent; then allowing his adoption to a white couple sounds like a bad B movie.  But how often is this happening these days?  

How convenient.  White babies and toddlers are almost impossible to adopt these days.  Instead of going to China or the Ukraine, like many white couples are doing, they only need to find the lost children of deported immigrants.

In the case described in this NYT article, it was said the mother didn't contact the child or send him money.  How could she send money if she is incarcerated?  How could she contact him if she was in a detention center where it is well known that inmates are often isolated and not allowed to contact relatives outside their prison.

April 23, 2009 - New York Times
Some Immigrants Who Lose Freedom Face Loss of Custody

CARTHAGE, Mo. — When immigration agents raided a poultry processing plant near here two years ago, they had no idea a little American boy named Carlos would be swept up in the operation.

One of the 136 illegal immigrants detained in the raid was Carlos’s mother, Encarnación Bail Romero, a Guatemalan. A year and a half after she went to jail, a county court terminated Ms. Bail’s rights to her child on grounds of abandonment. Carlos, now 2, was adopted by a local couple.

In his decree, Judge David C. Dally of Circuit Court in Jasper County said the couple made a comfortable living, had rearranged their lives and work schedules to provide Carlos a stable home, and had support from their extended family. By contrast, Judge Dally said, Ms. Bail had little to offer.

“The only certainties in the biological mother’s future,” he wrote, “is that she will remain incarcerated until next year, and that she will be deported thereafter.”

It is unclear how many children share Carlos’s experience. But lawyers and advocates for immigrants say that cases like his are popping up across the country as crackdowns against illegal immigrants thrust local courts into transnational custody battles and leave thousands of children in limbo.

“The struggle in these cases is there’s no winner,” said Christopher Huck, an immigration lawyer in Washington State.

He said that in many cases, what state courts want to do “conflicts with what federal immigration agencies are supposed to do.”

“Then things spiral out of control,” Mr. Huck added, “and it ends up in these real unfortunate situations.”

Next month, the Nebraska Supreme Court is scheduled to hear an appeal by María Luis, a Guatemalan whose rights to her American-born son and daughter were terminated after she was detained in April 2005 on charges of falsely identifying herself to a police officer. She was later deported.

And in South Carolina, a Circuit Court judge has been working with officials in Guatemala to find a way to send the baby girl of a Guatemalan couple, Martín de León Pérez and his wife, Lucía, detained on charges of drinking in public, to relatives in their country so the couple do not lose custody before their expected deportation.

Patricia Ravenhorst, a South Carolina lawyer who handles immigration cases, said she had tried “to get our judges not to be intimidated by the notion of crossing an international border.”

“I’ve asked them, ‘What would we do if the child had relatives in New Jersey?’ ” Ms. Ravenhorst said. “We’d coordinate with the State of New Jersey. So why can’t we do the same for a child with relatives in the highlands of Guatemala?”

Dora Schriro, an adviser to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, said the agency was looking for ways to deal with family separations as it prepared new immigration enforcement guidelines. In visits to detention centers across the country, Ms. Schriro said, she has heard accounts of parents losing contact or custody of their children.

Child welfare laws differ from state to state. In the Missouri case, Carlos’s adoptive parents were awarded custody last year by Judge Dally after they privately petitioned the court and he terminated Ms. Bail’s rights to Carlos.

In February, immigration authorities suspended Ms. Bail’s deportation order so she could file suit to recover custody. Ms. Bail’s lawyer, John de Leon, of Miami, said his client had not been informed about the adoption proceedings in her native Spanish and had had no real legal representation until it was too late.

The lawyer for Carlos’s adoptive parents, Joseph L. Hensley, said his clients had waited more than a year for Ms. Bail to demonstrate her commitment to Carlos, but the judge found that she had made no attempt to contact the baby or send financial support for him while she was incarcerated. The couple asked not to be identified, to protect Carlos’s privacy.

Ms. Bail came to the United States in 2005, and Carlos was born a year later. In May 2007, she was detained in a raid on George’s Processing plant in Butterfield, near Carthage in southwestern Missouri.

Immigration authorities quickly released several workers who had small children. But authorities said Ms. Bail was ineligible to be freed because she was charged with using false identification. Such charges were part of a crackdown by the Bush administration, which punished illegal immigrants by forcing them to serve out sentences before being deported.

When Ms. Bail went to jail, Carlos, then 6 months old, was sent to stay with two aunts who remembered him as having a voracious appetite and crying constantly. But they also said he had had a severe rash and had not received all of his vaccinations.

The women — each with three children of their own, no legal status, tiny apartments and little money — said the baby was too much to handle. So when a local teachers’ aide offered to find someone to take care of Carlos, the women agreed.

Then in September 2007, Ms. Bail said, the aide visited her in jail to say that an American couple were interested in adopting her son. The couple had land and a beautiful house, Ms. Bail recalled being told, and had become very fond of Carlos.

“My parents were poor, and they never gave me to anyone,” Ms. Bail recalled. “I was not going to give my son to anyone either.”

An adoption petition arrived at the jail a few weeks later. Ms. Bail, who cannot read Spanish, much less English, said she had a cellmate from Mexico translate. With the help of a guard and an English-speaking Guatemalan visitor, Ms. Bail wrote a response to the court.

“I do not want my son to be adopted by anyone,” she scrawled on a sheet of notebook paper on Oct. 28, 2007. “I would prefer that he be placed in foster care until I am not in jail any longer. I would like to have visitation with my son.”

For the next 10 months, she said, she had no communication with the court. During that time, Judge Dally appointed a lawyer for Ms. Bail, but later removed him from the case after he pleaded guilty to charges of domestic violence.

Mr. Hensley, the lawyer for Carlos’s adoptive parents, said he had sent a letter to Ms. Bail to tell her that his clients were caring for her son, as did the court, but both letters were returned unopened. “We afforded her more due process than most people get who speak English,” Mr. Hensley said.

Ms. Bail said she had asked the public defender who was representing her in the identity theft case to help her determine Carlos’s whereabouts, but the lawyer told her she handled only criminal matters. “I went to court six times, and six times I asked for help to find my son,” she said. “But no one helped me.”

Ms. Bail got a Spanish-speaking lawyer, Aldo Dominguez, to represent her in the custody case only last June. By the time he reached her two months later — she had been transferred to a prison in West Virginia — it was too late to make her case to Judge Dally, Mr. Dominguez said.

“Her lifestyle, that of smuggling herself into the country illegally and committing crimes in this country, is not a lifestyle that can provide stability for a child,” the judge wrote in his decision. “A child cannot be educated in this way, always in hiding or on the run.” link to NYT article