Saturday, October 31, 2009

Muslim Headscarves not allowed on Doctors in Dallas Clinic

Plano, known to be a super-conservative suburb of Dallas, now has another distinction. A medical clinic has told a physician interviewing for a job to remove her headscarf (known as a Hijab).


Muslim doc says she was told to remove headscarf

ASSOCIATED PRESS-Houston Chronicle

Oct. 30, 2009, 11:39PM

Inequities are the Same: LAPD and Scotland Yard

In a move that makes Scotland Yard look like LAPD, the officer deemed responsible for shooting a Brazilian immigrant in the London subway has received promotion. It seems like the global trend is to allow the police to mistreat and even kill immigrants without consequence.

"A top Scotland Yard officer who was personally criticised for failings in the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting [in London] has been appointed to the leadership of the Independent Police Complaints Commission." London Guardian


Menezes police officer gets top IPCC role

• Met aide to work for same body that criticised him
• Victim's family shocked by watchdog appointment

A top Scotland Yard officer who was personally criticised for failings in the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting has been appointed to the leadership of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Commander Moir Stewart will be the IPCC's new director of investigations and a member of its management board.

Menezes was shot dead on July 22, 2005, after being mistaken by armed police for a suicide bomber.

At the time Stewart was a top aide to Met commissioner Sir Ian Blair, serving as his staff officer. The IPCC report into the killing of the innocent Brazilian found Stewart had failed to tell Blair of a "major" development, which suggested the wrong man had been shot. Blair claimed he did not know this until the next day despite many inside the force soon fearing that an innocent man had been to complete Guardian article

Friday, October 30, 2009

LAPD officers not charged for aggressive behavior on May 1, 2007

In keeping with the past, LAPD is not being charged for using excessive force at an immigration rally on May 1, 2007. On that day, scores of protesters were injured, including Univision reporters. The officers used batons and rubber bullets.

Some things never change


LAPD officers won't be charged in MacArthur Park melee --

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1,000 Kids Die Every Year: Cause? No Insurance


Uninsured children who wind up in the hospital are much more likely to die than children covered by either private or government insurance plans, according to one of the first studies to assess the impact of insurance coverage on hospitalized children.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center analyzed data from more than 23 million children’s hospitalizations in 37 states from 1988 to 2005. Compared with insured children, uninsured children faced a 60 percent increased risk of dying, the researchers found.

The authors estimated that at least 1,000 hospitalized children died each year simply because they lacked insurance, accounting for 16,787 of some 38,649 children’s deaths nationwide during the period to complete article

France and its Detained Children

A new report by Human Rights Watch written by Simone Troller, tells of the tragic situation at De Gaul Airport in Paris, where from Jan. 2008 to July 2009, 1,500 unaccompanied minors are detained when arriving in France. Click here for link to report .

New York Times - October 30, 2009

French Airport Zone Poses Risk to Arriving Minors, Report Says

PARIS — Hundreds of unaccompanied foreign children arriving at the main Paris airport, Charles de Gaulle, each year are being detained in a so-called airport transit zone where they are denied the full protection of French law and exposed to risks, according to a report issued Thursday by Human Rights Watch.

From January 2008 to July 2009, 1,500 lone migrant minors landed at Charles de Gaulle and were denied entry to France, said Simone Troller, a Geneva-based expert on children’s rights and author of the 60-page report... link to complete NYT article

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Woman's Gray Hair

On the subway in NY recently, a nice guy offered to give me his seat. I think I was only a few years older than he, but I have totally white hair. He doesn't. No, I am not that old, but my genes (and who knows, life stresses) have led me to white so much earlier than most people. It has been hard to accept. I don't even have grandchildren yet. Lots of people tell me to color my hair... go back to brown, or go to blonde they say. I tried that for a few years... too much trouble, too messy, the gray grows out in a couple of days. I think it's gross to see people who color their hair and if you happen to see the crown of their head and there are the gray hairs sticking out.... it looks bad.

Why do we all want to look younger? Because being young means feeling more attractive, more desired, more admired. What happens when a women "gives up" and lets her hair go gray and her wrinkles show? Actually nothing. My husband likes me just as much (even more, he says I'm more "natural" ) - and old guys seem to flirt with me more. I don't respond, but it does feel good to know that even though I'm no longer a skinny 30 year old with brown hair, I am still ok looking.

And no, there won't be any plastic surgery. I will go into the future normally, no alterations. I want to remain who I really am. If someone admires my nose or my hair, I can honestly say it's mine!

see a NYT article on plastic surgery gone wrong:

DREAMer Nightmares

The painting is famous, its called "The Scream" by Edward Munch, (created between 1893-1910)*. Yet it reminds me of the DREAMer in the middle of a nightmare. He is at the border, the Rio Grande behind him - he has been detained and may soon be send across that fence.
Below is an article a colleague sent me. It is just one more story of a DREAMer caught in our ridiculous immigration maze. Be sure to read the commentaries.

Nightmare of a Dream Student - NAM
by Roberto Rodriguez, New American Media

Posted: Oct 26, 2009 Review it on NewsTrust

TUCSON, Ariz. -- I’ll refer to her as Leticia X.

She is undocumented, but has been in this country since the age of three and is a top student at her high school. Yet, unless the law changes soon, she will be unable to continue with her studies. She tells my students at the University of Arizona that it is wrong that she will not be able to attend college next year: “I consider myself a U.S. citizen. It’s the only country I’ve ever known...” link to complete article

* sometimes paintings or other great works of art take a long time

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Are you conscious of how much energy you use?

Americans are generally oblivious of how much energy they use. How many times do you leave your computer plugged in when you aren't using it? How many times do you leave your lights on in your house? How seriously did you consider the environment when you chose to live way out in the suburbs, miles and miles from your job? Do you own an SUV?

link to image


Thirst for oil poses threat to US national security, says military adviser

The Guardian - London

October 28, 2009

Democratic senators today pivoted from the economy to national security in push for climate change bill

America's thirst for oil is a gathering threat to its national security – and the risk will grow further as the world's population touches 7 billion, a military adviser to the Pentagon told the Senate today.

In a second day of debate on energy, Democratic senators today pivoted from the economy to national security to try to make the case for a climate change bill.

The threat to Americans' security ranged from the here and now – with troops in Afghanistan and Iraq tied down by their reliance on gas-guzzling equipment – to years into the future when extreme temperatures and rising sea levels could lead to a widespread social breakdown.

"We have never before on this planet had close to 7 billion people which we will have in 2011. We have never had the unprecedented level of per capita energy use multiplied by that 7 billion people," Dennis McGinn, a member of the Military Advisory Board, composed of senior retired admirals and generals, told the Senate. "We have a whole host of indicators, warnings and trends that tells us climate change is bad for national security..." link to complete article

Persepolis the Movie

Recently my students saw the award winning film Persepolis - and found it to be very informative and interesting.


Description from movie trailer:
"Persepolis is the poignant story of a young girl in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It is through the eyes of precocious and outspoken nine year old Marjane that we see a people's hopes dashed as fundamentalists take power
- forcing the veil on women and imprisoning thousands. Clever and fearless, she outsmarts the "social guardians" and discovers punk, ABBA and Iron Maiden. Yet when her uncle is senselessly executed and as bombs fall around Tehran in the Iran/Iraq war, the daily fear that permeates life in Iran is palpable.

As she gets older, Marjane's boldness causes her parents to worry over her
continued safety. And so, at age fourteen, they make the difficult decision to send her to school in Austria. Vulnerable and alone in a strange land, she endures the typical ordeals of a teenager. In addition, Marjane has to combat being equated with the religious fundamentalism and extremism she fled her country to escape. Over time, she gains acceptance, and even experiences love, but after high school she finds herself alone and horribly homesick.

Though it means putting on the veil and living in a tyrannical society, Marjane decides to return to Iran to be close to her family. After a difficult period of adjustment, she enters art school and marries, all the while continuing to speak out against the hypocrisy she witnesses. At age 24, she realizes that while she is deeply Iranian, she cannot live in Iran. She then makes the heartbreaking decision to leave her homeland for France, optimistic about her future, shaped indelibly by her past."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

For DREAMers: What to do if you get stopped by the police

Hoping for a miracle:

A 17 year old DREAMer was picked up in Houston this week. Her friend, who was driving, got stopped by the police. When they also asked for the DREAMers ID, she gave them a false ID. She was then detained and will most likely be deported. Her parents have not been allowed to see her.

Here is the information just in case you haven't seen it yet:

What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself from Raids

El Pregonero, News Report, Andrea Acosta, Translated by Elena Shore, Posted: May 01, 2007

In light of the series of raids being carried out in the metropolitan area by immigration agents in recent months, the organizations Casa de Maryland (Maryland House) and Detention Watch Network have written a guide to protect immigrants. Among the recommendations, they emphasize the following:

• You have the right to remain silent.
• Don’t lie.
• Just say: “I need to talk to my lawyer.”

• Don’t give them any information about your immigration status.
• Don’t give them false documents and don’t carry documentation from another country.
• Giving them your name or foreign documents could be used to start a deportation process against you.

• Don’t open the door. Ask them to pass you their warrant under the door.
• You have the right to see the warrant. It should include the signature of a judge and the areas of the house they can search.
• If the agents enter your house without a warrent, write down their names and identification numbers. Tell them they don't have your consent to enter. Write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses.

• Agents have to present a warrant or have the permission of the employer to enter.
• Don’t run. This could make it look as if you have something to hide.
• Remain calm.

• If they stop you in the street without a written warrent, they can only arrest you if the agents have evidence that you are not a citizen.
• Don’t tell them your immigration status or where you were born.
• Don’t carry false documents or documents from your country.

• Write down the name of the agent, agency (FBI, Police Department, ICE), badge and identification number.
• Don’t sign any document before speaking with your lawyer.
• Contact your family, a lawyer, your union and your consulate.
• Carry all of these numbers with you. You have the right to make a phone call.
• Ask them to pay your bail and give them a copy of your “Notice to Appear”
(the document that contains immigration charges).
• The police have 48 hours (not including weekends and holidays) to charge you before they release you (immigration authorities can have an additional 48 hours). If they don’t release you, call your lawyer or community organization.
• Carry a piece of paper with you that says, in English: “I want to talk to my lawyer.”
• Make a plan with friends and relatives in case of a raid. Make sure you arrange beforehand who is going to take care of the children and elderly, who is going to pay the bail, deporation costs, and the rent or mortgage.
• If you suspect that a relative has been detained, call (202) 305-2734 to locate him or her. They will ask you for the name, date of birth and identification number (it begins with an A and is included on the green card and on your work visa).
• Keep your immigration papers, birth certificate and passports in a safe place and make sure a relative knows where they are.

Monday, October 26, 2009

25¢ to avoid Diabetes - COCA-COLA is NOT Food

Today as I was driving back from the hospital to see my brother, who just had a leg amputated because of diabetes (he is 48), I was listening to KPFT-FM - there was a show on childhood obesity.

A physician from Baylor Medical School, a Houston City Councilman, and another public health advocate (I didn't get her name or who she was) were discussing the proposed 25 cent tax on soft drinks. The politician had the gaul to say that taxing a food source is unreasonable for children in poor neighborhoods, he said that the tax would limit their food choices. The problem is that soft drinks (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Sprite, Fanta etc) are not a food source. They are just a sugar source, and a bad one at that - full of High Fructose Corn Syrup. The doctor really disappointed me when he did not whole heartedly support the tax...

Even more depressing was that the KPFT announcer said he was also against the tax.

I wonder how some people can say things like taxing soft drinks would be bad for kids. How can this be if these drinks are directly responsible for the obesity epidemic we are experiencing. Drinking plain water is much healthier, cheaper, and non-fattening.

Keeping Water from the Palestinians

A few weeks ago one of my students who goes back to visit his grandparents in Palestine every couple of years told our class that water was hard to come by in Gaza. So is medical care. Kids can have a fractured leg but Israeli hospitals won't take them. My student knows this, he saw it happen with his own eyes.

Keeping people from having enough water is beyond belief. I can't blame the Israeli's because even though Obama has made a few comments about the new settlements, the U.S. has not really done much to de-escalate the situation, or try to find a way to reduce the hate. The money we send to Israel that pays for their Army is hate money, used to buy things that kill.

The problems between Israel and Palestine are beyond logic. Now that Obama has the Nobel, could he make more of an effort to untangle this mess?

Amnesty Says Israel

Curbing Water to Palestinians

New York Times, October 26, 2009

link to image

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Obama and the Nobel

Most of my students are saying that Obama should not have gotten the prize. I can see their point, but at the same time, I don't know if Americans are fully aware of his impact on the rest of the world.


The New York Times

October 25, 2009
Questions for Thorbjorn Jagland

Peace Be With You

As a former prime minister of Norway who currently serves as the chairman of the Oslo-based Norwegian Nobel Committee, are you surprised by the uproar taking place in America over your latest pick for the peace prize?
Yes and no. I knew this would launch a big debate. But we have to look strictly to what Alfred Nobel said in his will — namely, to give the prize to the person who has done most for peaceful development in the world in the last year. So we got to the conclusion unanimously that that is President
Barack Obama.

He does want to start a worldwide conversation, to reverse the go-it-alone, cowboy current in American history.
These are your words. I agree it’s better to speak than to shoot. Obama has reduced tensions in the world to a large extent — namely, the divide between the Muslim world and the Western world, which is very dangerous. What he did was to go to Cairo and reach out to the Muslims. There must be a starting point, and this was a very important starting point.

What do you make of Republicans who view the prize as a repudiation of the policies of George Bush?
No, it is not. This prize is not against anybody...


Below is an interview with an official from the Nobel committee regarding Obama's award:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Driving While Speaking Spanish

A number of people were arrested in Dallas for driving without being able to speak English.

That it happened in Dallas doesn't surprise me. There is something about that city - maybe its because that is where Jack Kennedy was killed, or because there are places in the area that don't allow (or tried not to allow) undocumented residents. At least there are police in Arlington (a city near Dallas) that are advocating to end the notorious 287G that allows city police to act as immigration officers.

Interesting that 3 years went by before anyone noticed this illegal behavior was going on. It could have been reported by the officer's supervisor or the judge presiding over the case, but everyone kept quiet.

Dallas police ticketed 39 drivers in 3 years for not speaking English

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Friday, October 23, 2009

An Author of Children's Books?

I was surprised by what I saw in the London Guardian, about Maurice Sendak telling parents who thought "Wild Things" was too scary for their kids, to "go to hell." It seems odd that the author of children's books would respond in that manner.

Everyone is telling me that the movie is great, but yes, its really sad. I haven't seen it yet, only read the reviews, but it sounds like the movie is mimicking our 21st century society of parents divorcing, re-marrying (or re-co-habitating) and kids who sort of get lost in all of the chaos of this new type of life...


Maurice Sendak tells parents worried by Wild Things to 'go to hell'

Children's author gives short shrift to concerns that Where the Wild Things Are is too frightening for children

London Guardian, October 23, 2009

Why is the Goldstone Report so Controversial?

The following article was published today in the New York Times. The Goldstone Report continues to create a polemic. The U.N. Security Council should be able to see any such report and decide for themselves.


Israel Warns Against U.N. Council Seeing Gaza Report

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What is YOUR Last Name? - racism for real

A new study done in the UK regarding discrimination regarding people's surnames while applying for jobs should be a wake up call for those of us in denial about this sort of thing. There has been plenty of talk about this happening in France, but this time someone actually took the initiative to document the problem in the UK.

"A government sting operation targeting hundreds of employers across Britain has uncovered widespread racial discrimination against workers with African and Asian names.

Researchers sent nearly 3,000 job applications under false identities in an attempt to discover if employers were discriminating against jobseekers with foreign names. Using names recognisably from three different communities – Nazia Mahmood, Mariam Namagembe and Alison Taylor – false identities were created with similar experience and qualifications. Every false applicant had British education and work histories.

They found that an applicant who appeared to be white would send nine applications before receiving a positive response of either an invitation to an interview or an encouraging telephone call. Minority candidates with the same qualifications and experience had to send 16 applications before receiving a similar response." London Observer

Undercover job hunters reveal huge race bias in Britain's workplaces

Civil servants created false identities to send CVs to hundreds of employers in sting to uncover discrimination

Rajeeve Syal, investigations editor
The Observer, October 18, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Documenting Reality: The Goldstone Report

The Goldstone Report on War Crimes during the Gaza War of January 2009 is the center of attention these days. For those that want to take a look, see below:

Goldstone Report on Gaza

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blog Action Day on Climate Change - stop eating hamburgers!!!

Sorry I missed it yesterday. I was traveling and have had a bad case of bronchitis....

This one is about eating meat.... and how that hurts the environment:

In the spirit of Blog Action Day for Climate Change, let's talk about meat. In the New York Times, Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything Is Illuminated, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, explained how he has gradually slipped in and out of vegetarianism, but now that he has kids, he's taking responsibility and kicking the habit entirely. He really got my attention with this:

Factory farming has made animal agriculture the No. 1 contributor to global warming ... Eating factory-farmed animals — which is to say virtually every piece of meat sold in supermarkets and prepared in restaurants — is almost certainly the single worst thing that humans do to the environment.

I have had a similar experience to Jonathan, having cut meat out entirely, but I slipped back into the habit. Yet, at the same time, I've cut back significantly. Meat, if it's eaten at all, shouldn't be an everyday thing. I'm cutting down more and more. But everytime I eat it, I'm doing the worst possible thing to the environment, and it's inexusable considering how easy it would be for me to quit it entirely. I'd like half of my "cut 10% of your personal emissions in 2010" to come from quitting meat. I'd like to take more personal responsibility and not contribute further to a terrible problem solely because I kind of like hamburgers. I can live without hamburgers.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Mexican Love Story

“World transformation begins with self-transformation,” he [Millan] advises. To achieve that, he says, you need a co-pilot: “My suggestion is you have somebody next to you that is willing at any time to transform the moment. That is called dog.” Cesar Millan

He is from Culiacan, they called him El Perrero when he was growing up, because he had an uncanny way of relating and communicating with dogs. He came to L.A. and by amazing luck, met the future wife of Will Smith, trained her dog - and the rest is history.

If Cesar Millan were to be a resident of Mexico in 2009, with all his money, he would have no trouble immigrating... (that's reality folks). But when he came as a young teenager, he didn't have any clout, wasn't famous yet. So he had to come sans papiers (undocumented) - Now he is El Perrero to the stars. His TV show has just been syndicated by Fox...

What can we learn from this guy?


Whispering to Rottweilers, and to C.E.O.’s -

New York Times

October 10, 2009 by Amy Wallace

Disclosure: I own 3 dogs and two cats (Flora, Laika, Guapa, William, and Bridger - and my daughter wants to be a dog trainer)

Keeping Arpaio Quiet and Benign

No one slapped his hand, not really. He has not been recalled, or asked to resign (which is a surprise), but the Obama bureaucracy has found a way to keep him contained - sort of. Changing the rules to make them more humanitarian should not be affected by Arpaio's ranting and raving. What Napolitano needs to do is take away any power he may have to conduct immigration raids... Don't let his temper tantrums guide your decisions Ms. Napolitano.
Published: October 11, 2009
New York Times Editorial

All last week the people of Phoenix witnessed public outbursts by their sheriff, Joe Arpaio, as he railed against the Department of Homeland Security for supposedly trying to limit his ability to enforce federal immigration laws. He vowed to keep scouring Maricopa County for people whose clothing, accents and behavior betrayed them as likely illegal immigrants. He said he had already nabbed more than 32,000 people that way, and announced his next immigrant sweep for Oct. to complete article

link to image - from t-shirt sold by Pheonix New Times- interesting that on the advertisement, they use people with blue eyes...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Changing Immigration Policy While Giving Out Pink Slips

New York Times
October 2, 2009
Agency Plans for Visa Push by Residents Made Legal

Although President Obama has put off an immigration overhaul until next year, the federal agency in charge of approving visas is planning ahead for the possibility of giving legal status to millions of illegal immigrants, the agency’s director said Thursday.

“We are under way to prepare for that,” Alejandro Mayorkas, the director of the agency, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, said in an interview. Mr. Obama has told immigration officials that a legalization program would be part of legislation the White House would propose, said Mr. Mayorkas, who became director in August. The agency’s goal, he said, is to be ready to expand rapidly to handle the gigantic increase in visa applications it would face if the legislation, known as comprehensive immigration reform, passed Congress.

The citizenship agency faces a difficult balancing act, preparing for a potential workload bigger than any it has faced, based on legislation in early stages of discussion that is fiercely opposed by many lawmakers in Congress. Also, the agency must work to reduce backlogs and delays that have hampered its performance.

There are no official estimates of the number of illegal immigrants who would apply for legal documents. The Pew Hispanic Center and the Center for Immigration Studies, two research groups in Washington, estimate that at least 10.8 million illegal immigrants live in this country. But a large number of those would not be eligible for legal status for many reasons, including past immigration violations.

Currently, the citizenship agency can handle applications from about six million immigrants a year, Mr. Mayorkas said, including the time-consuming collection of fingerprints and other biometric identity information. Under some plans for legalization, the agency might receive that many applications in a few weeks.

An example of the planning, Mr. Mayorkas said, is an effort to improve the agency’s ability to receive applications via postal mail at secure reception points known as lockboxes. The agency currently receives about 65 percent of applications through lockboxes, which is more efficient than receiving them through local offices. The agency is trying to move quickly to receive all applications through lockboxes.

One idea calls for illegal immigrants to start the legalization process by verifying their presence in the United States through a simple registration form mailed to a lockbox, according to officials familiar with the planning.

As part of the planning, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Mr. Mayorkas and other officials have held meetings around the country in recent weeks to gather suggestions from the public for the overhaul.

The Obama administration’s planning contrasts with that of the Bush administration, which also supported a legalization program. Some opponents of President Bush’s proposal, which was defeated in Congress in 2007, cited the immigration agencies’ lack of preparation.

Some lawmakers who oppose the overhaul have questioned whether the planning was a good use of limited resources. “There is a risk to national security that they will take their eyes off background checks of immigrants,” said Representative Steve King of Iowa, the senior Republican on the House immigration subcommittee, “while they are busy setting up for legislation that has not been introduced in any way, shape or form.”