Sunday, November 22, 2009

California Occupied

A colleague sent a link to this site that has lots of information on the current state of tension in the UC university system.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What is ICE up to?

With talk of Comprehensive Immigration Reform coming up in a few months, why is ICE targeting employers who hire undocumented workers? Is it to make the administrative look tough once the Congress starts debating the bill?


ICE audit targeting 1,000 companies

42 Houston-area businesses among firms that must prove they comply with immigration law


Nov. 19, 2009, 11:00PM

U.S. immigration officials put an unprecedented 1,000 businesses — including 42 in the Houston metro area — on notice Thursday that their paperwork would be inspected to make sure they don't employ illegal immigrants.

The announcement marks the largest round of immigration-related business audits ever, and the latest in an ongoing Department of Home­land Security campaign to create a “culture of compliance” with immigration law among employers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Secretary John Morton said Thursday.

The audits will target businesses ICE has identified as being associated with the nation's “critical infrastructure,” which includes some industries key to Texas — oil, transportation, medicine, public health and finance. During an audit, ICE reviews the I-9 forms that all employers must use to document the eligibility of new

Comments war: UC students and non-UC students discuss the student fee hike

Comments war: UC students and non-UC students discuss the student fee hike

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LA Times - November 19, 2009 | 5:43 pm


...It seems the recent decision by the University of California Board of Regents to increase student fees by 32% has caused not only a "students vs. regents" demonstration at UCLA's campus today, but also a "students vs. non-students" quarrel in our comments sections.

The fee hike that everyone is arguing about (justifiably so) will come in two steps by fall 2010. Basic UC education fees will rise then to about $10,300, plus another $1,000 for campus-based charges and an estimated additional $16,000 for room, board and books.

No wonder there is such a heated comments war in our blogs: With the raise, the cost of a UC education will be triple what it was a decade ago. Compared to other U.S. four-year public colleges, which have raised tuition and fees by an average 6.5% to $7,020 a year, a 32% fee hike is pretty notable.

On the L.A. Now blog, the battle rages on with two parties: non-UC students -- who seem to be a mixture of out-of-college adults, community college students and general California residents -- and current UC students. The former argue that current students are being unreasonably demanding.

Balancing the budget is never easy, is it?

Here is what the non-UC students have had to say so far:

Pablo defends his own interests against the fee hike protestors: Listen up, UC students. I'm about to lose my job and I'm close to losing my house. Do you want me to sell my 10-year old car so that I can pay for your incredibly cheap tuition?

He also said: Who taught these people that they were entitled to free (or unreasonably cheap) stuff in life?

Duken4evr believes UC students should explore other means available to pay for their education: They can always go to community college like the rest of us. Screw those spoiled brat UCLA students. Hit up your rich mommies and daddies for the difference. Cry me a river. What a bunch of useless losers.

SoCalReality presents a parent’s point of view: This state is bankrupt! Your FREE education ended at High School. You want to be treated like an adult, act like one and PAY YOUR OWN WAY. The UC system already subsidizes your education with fees below their cost. What you want is continuing "Student Welfare" on the backs of us Tax Payers; go to a cheaper collage or to a Cal State like my kids. But NO, you want caviar education paid by others. GROW UP!

And Reality takes a stand about the actual educational material: IF UC wants to save some money...get rid of the worthless soft-science degrees such as gender and ethnic studies and make those profesors get real jobs instead of pusing their anti-American rants on the tax payer dime!

Then UC students took a stand (after the jump):

UCLA STUDENT expressed his/her point of view: As a UCLA student, in the thick of things, getting a student job, student loans and summer jobs are not enough. The student jobs that everyone suggests we get are not available, there are fewer of them, and they are limiting the amount of hours we can work each week. Many of these jobs are also at minimum wage. Furthermore, do you not think we already have student loans and summer jobs? We are already struggling to make ends meet, and for many, these fee increases are going to break our backs. The protests, however, are not just about the fee increases, it is also the devaluing of our degrees. In an effort to save money, they have fired all the "lecturers" at UCLA. They are also trying to decrease the number of classes we need to get our degrees. This means we are putting out less qualified less informed students. At this rate, not only will we be paying more, we'll be paying more for less. Before you ask us to stop whining, consider the reality of our situation.

Concerned Gaucho talked about the reality of the hikes for low-income students: I am a current UCSB student and the fee hike is going to seriously hurt my chances of remaining here. As a low-income student, I do not have the ability to ask Mommy and Daddy for money. I pray that the state will somehow compensate some federal funding because a shift to private assistance will hurt the "public" school system.

And the kiss of death, at least to any UCLA Bruin or anyone who can't afford a private school, is what John had to say: After these fees hike, it might be cheaper to go to USC than UCLA. USC at least gives plenty of financial to complete LAT article

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Limiting Access to Higher Education?

Hundreds rally at UCLA to protest expected 32% increase in student fees - LA Times - November 19, 2009

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click here for link to photos of the protest

A second day of protests roiled the UCLA campus today as the UC regents prepared to approve a 32% increase in student fees.

Groups of UC students from several other campuses arrived in Westwood to join a noisy demonstration against the fee hike, and a group of protesters was occupying a UCLA classroom building.

UCLA officials declared Campbell Hall, where the sit-in continued, closed for the day. Inside, about 40 to 50 students had chained the doors shut shortly after midnight and were issuing e-mail statements.

“We choose to fight back, to resist, where we find ourselves, the place where we live and work, our university,” their statement said. Campus police surrounded the classroom building, but no arrests were made.

Meanwhile, across campus, a crowd of several hundred gathered outside Covel Commons, where the regents were meeting. Students and UC employees chanted such slogans as “Whose university? Our university!”

Among them was Tommy Le, a fourth-year student at UC Santa Cruz, who left his campus at 3 a.m. today in a convoy of two buses headed south. Le, 21, an American studies major from El Monte, said he was worried about how he being able to afford the higher charges, starting with an additional $585 for the rest of the school year.

“It’s adding more stress and more burden,” said Le, who said he works two part-time jobs and home to help his family. The fee increase, he said, would be “a lose-lose situation.”

The full Board of Regents is expected to approve a fee hike of $2,500, or 32%, in two steps by next fall. That would bring the basic UC education fees to about $10,300, plus about another $1,000 for campus-based charges, for a total that would be about triple the UC cost a decade ago. Room, board and books can add another $16,000.

-- Larry Gordon

You can't avoid taxes if you live in Texas - legal or not

This post is especially for the person who wrote that undocumented people are leaches and don't pay taxes. I urge you to read this information before you decide to call people names again.

If live in the state of Texas, citizen, legal resident, or undocumented, you cannot avoid paying taxes. Why? Because we have a sales tax. Every time you buy something you pay a tax on it. Even if you buy clothes at a resale shop. Also, everyone has to pay real estate taxes, if you own, you have to pay taxes on your house - if you rent, the rental payment to your landlord has to cover his/her real estate taxes. Over 95% of undocumented people have regular jobs that take out taxes from their checks. Did you know that our social security system is being saved by undocumented people that are paying SS taxes but can never take them out?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More on the TEA Parties and the Resistance


This is a follow-up to the emails I sent on Nov. 11th and the 14th RE: "Tea Parties Against Amnesty and Illegal Immigration Nov. 14 (ROUND 1)
By now you must to have heard all there is to hear about the ALIPAC's "Tea Parties Against Amnesty and Illegal Immigration Nov. 14 (ROUND 1)" , they claimed NUMBER OF TEA PARTIES FOR NOV 14: 53 -- NUMBER OF TEA PARTY AGAINST AMNESTY SUPPORTERS: 5546
Most likely you have not heard much about it afterwards, simply because there was not much to talk about them, except for a few reports coming from the progressive side, I've been checking their websites and forums to read what were their post-actions assessments, they are not even talking about them with the exception of a few of them, but mostly about the one in Phoenix where they had about 200 attendees according to an ALIPAC Forum Post written by a Ms. Connie Cone Sexton of the Arizona Republic Newspaper.
From what I've heard so far, Phoenix was their largest rally and one of very few where there is any mention of it at the ALIPAC's Forum.
But as is often the case with the Right Wing Fringe, they tend to contradict each other when it comes to numbers, they usually inflate attendance, as it is the case in this post at The Frugal Café Zone' written By Vicki McClure Davidson on April 16, 2009 (Includes photos and video, maybe you can see if there were 5,000 people there), where she quotes an Arizona Republic Newspaper account of the event, written by Matthew Benson - Apr. 15, 2009 10:43 PM and citing 5,000 attendees who came to hear "A string of elected state officials, legislators, conservative talk-radio hosts and others who addressed the assembled masses".
Another post at ALIPAC's Forum from "ALIPAC Super Hero, AirborneSapper7" (No kidding), talks about hundreds, not thousands, also links as his source, surprise!!!, which for a change seems to be telling the truth, that's where the ALIPAC 'Super Hero' (Still not kidding) got his 200 attendees number.
Also at ALIPAC's Forum, there is this report with pics of the event at Ft. Lauderdale, I can't see a large crowd there either.
But giving the same number of attendees at the Phoenix event as Ms. Sexton, is this post at ThinkProgress: Anti-immigration Tea Party activists attempt to distance themselves from neo-Nazis.(video included), (A bit more on this hmmm... issue, further down) -- On Saturday, approximately 200 people showed up to the anti-immigration “No Amnesty” tea party rally organized by American Citizens United in Phoenix. Many people were holding signs that had phrases such as “America not Amexico.”
Porter, at Immigration Clearing House, Light Turnout for ALIPAC’s Tea Bagger’s against Amnesty parties where he also reports the same number of 200 attendees at the Phoenix protest, sourcing the number to a "non-partisan article" In the Arizona Republic written by the same Ms. Connie Cone Sexton who also wrote the entry on the ALIPAC Forum mentioned above: "In a city of 3/4 of a million people, the turnout of 200 people to hear the hateful rhetoric of speakers such as Senator Russell Pearce and Chris Simcox, is negligible. This is the turnout that the Arizona Republic is reporting in a very well written non partisan article."
In this report, Porter gives numbers for 7 cities "7 Cities – 553 protesters (best estimate) Willy might get his 5000 numbers, but it is looking doubtful."
Also at Immigration Clearing House, Porter himself was on the ground and filed this report Observing Gheen’s ALIPAC tea baggers in Snead Alabama.
In spite of regular searches over the last two days, I have not been able to get much information about other events, except for this dandy one from St. Paul MN where 45 anti-immigration activists held a small rally and where Anti-Racists Steal the Show at White Supremacist "Tea Party Against Amnesty", -- created a video of what transpired there TEA PARTY FAIL!: Sue Jeffers and Ruthie Hendrycks PUNK'D, this post is a MUST SEE and SO IS THE VIDEO when the young Mr. Robert Erickson really PUNK'D them.
And now we move to California where we have reports from Modesto and San Francisco:
Modesto, our dear friend Cynthia I. organized to have a counter-protest, she did show up to find out that about only 5 TEA Partiers attended, BOoooRING.
San Francisco was another DUD for the TEA Partiers, none showed up that we could see or find, ALSO BOooooRING, except that we made the best of it, enjoying the beautiful whether we had in SF for about the 1 1/2 hours we waited for the Anti-Immigrant protesters to show up, I took a little video (Some Spanish, some English and I think there is also a bit of Spanglish) with my Palm Cell "Searching for TEA Partiers, SF Pier 39 Nov. 14, 2009" and "The TEA Party's make believe world and we had a front-row seat", in trying to be on time for the counter-protest, neither my friend Juanita, nor I, had any breakfast, so we decided to have a small (Literally) bite to eat, no, we didn't go for tacos, as the racist and xenophobic anti-immigrants TEA Partiers would have you believe, obviously I took a couple of scenes on a short video "Two unassimilable(?) Mexican Immigrants after the TEA Party DUD"
Getting back about the rift between the Anti-immigration Tea Party activists attempting to distance themselves from neo-Nazis., yeah, that one, Porter from Immigration Clearing House is on top of this one, he reports that In an ALIPAC Statement to David Duke and Stormfront, Gheen rants and Porter says on 11//13/09 regarding this, that "It seems that former Ku Klux Klan Grand Poohbah, Congressman and Presidential hopeful David Duke along with the neo nazi racist organization STORMFRONT are trying to steal Gheen’s thunder. Don’t worry Willy, there’s no shortage of hate or haters to manipulate. In an ALIPAC Statement to David Duke and Stormfront, Gheen rants:" Read about it on this post: "ALIPAC’s William Gheen refuses to share the hate!", by the way, maybe David Duke took Gheen's threats seriously, because he Scrubbed the offending page, but thanks to google's practice of making copies, you can see Duke's original post in the Cached page, if you check out the post, you will see that he was trying to be helpful, make out of this one what you will, is Gheen burning bridges gratuitously?
Needless to say, at the Stormfront Forum, they are talking about it, still trying to be conciliatory in spite of Gheen's nasty open letter, noting that ALIPAC in on Facebook and that "ALIPAC Facebook has 2,995 members. They are 99 per cent white" and that "ALIPAC and ALIPAC Facebook are implicit white communities. Period."
Something to ponder about for the Latin@s and African-Americans who make common cause with ALIPAC.
Porter also reports on 11/15/09 about "Jim Gilchrist on ALIPAC and William Gheen’s Tea Parties", it is a stinging statement by the founder of the Minutemen, himself a rabid racist calling Gheen an opportunistic who "routinely engage in repulsive, defaming propaganda, or present themselves in a very physically hostile manner", WOW! "The Pot calling the Kettle..."
In closing, I would like to mention that ALIPAC's William Gheen, is trying to re-invent and present himself as an all-inclusive really nice guy, heed the warning, this is a man with a long history of racism, xenophobia, nativism, white supremacy positions, eugenics and racial purity, who has been associated with John Tanton and other white supremacist individual, groups and organizations.
Beware, he is trying to be the perennial 'wolf in sheep's clothing'
Be well,
Aurora Grajeda
SFCA 11/16/09

"They are Us" - New York Times

The NYT published a nice editorial on the children of immigrants:

Editorial November 17, 2009

Their Future Is Ours

"There is clearly a need for policies and programs to support immigrant parents and children, but the reality is as haphazard and tenuous as these children’s lives often are. Millions are growing up in mixed families, with some members here illegally, others not. Bills to help immigrant families with a path to legalization have died repeatedly in Congress, and small-scale reforms like the Dream Act, a path to college or the military for children of illegal immigrants have been stymied for years. New investments in language education, citizenship preparation and after-school and preschool programs have been derailed by economic crisis, harsh immigration politics and a general lack of attention." link to complete editorial

link to photo

Monday, November 16, 2009

Matias Ramos Writing in the Nation Magazine


From The Nation, November 23, 2009 issue

Matias Ramos, United We Dream

The DREAM Act--a bill in Congress that seeks to create an earned path to legal status for undocumented immigrant youth--failed to pass 377 days before Obama was elected. It was introduced again sixty-five days after his inauguration, and thousands of people like me--undocumented students--are still counting the days.

Our country is home to about 2.5 million undocumented youth. Only a fraction of them have an opportunity to enroll in college like I did. That's a huge loss for our economy, because college graduates earn (and pay taxes on) twice as much income as those without high school diplomas. In 2006, five years after undocumented students were allowed to enter Texas colleges at in-state tuition rates, the state comptroller reported that undocumented workers produced $1.58 billion in state revenues, which exceeded the $1.16 billion in state services they received.

This year there is undeniable and growing energy within our movement, coming from immigrants and citizens alike. United We Dream, a youth-led immigrants' rights network mobilizing support for the DREAM Act, was established to provide a united front made up of a few national organizations, dozens of student groups and individual students hungry for change. In June hundreds of DREAMers went to Washington for a symbolic "DREAM Act Graduation." Thousands more participated in more than 120 local actions in twenty-eight states celebrating back-to-school day in September.

We need progressives of all ages and backgrounds to join in this fight. Establishing a progressive immigration policy should be a goal not only for the Latino or Asian-American communities but for all those concerned with social justice and fairness. DREAMers across the country are saying the time is now. We know--we've been counting the days

Forum by Kristina Rizza

When the Obama campaign inspired and mobilized a wave of new young voters, youth organizers across the country rejoiced. They anticipated increased funding from donors and foundations to help bring this growing voting bloc into policy debates and community organizing. They hoped for increased media coverage for issues ranging from college costs to green jobs to healthcare reform. Instead, youth organizers have often found themselves feeling as if they're sitting on a bus that's out of service. As markets crashed, already meager funding pools got even smaller. Most media outlets chose to spotlight the absence of youth at healthcare town halls, which were often staged at empty college campuses over the summer break, rather than the thousands of environmental and education activists who stormed Washington to support reductions of carbon emissions, creation of green jobs and the passage of the DREAM Act. And with a few exceptions, the Obama administration stopped talking to young people directly.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

DC is surprised there were Blacks in Mexico

Painting by Jose Justo Montiel, 1868, Mexico

The exhibition first opened in Chicago in 2006 at the National Museum of Mexican Art. Click here to see a video on the exhibition, narrated by curator Cesareo Moreno
'The African Presence in México'

Anacostia museum mounts border-crossing mission

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 15, 2009

Telling stories that have largely been ignored: Such has the mission always been for the Anacostia Community Museum. Behind its doors, typically, are hidden treasures unearthed, tales hardly told, customs all but forgotten.

The raison d'etre of the small museum, part of the sprawling Smithsonian Institution family, remains the same, but as the Afro-Mexican faces just behind the lapis doors to the main gallery attest these days, its newest show is also a strong indication that the institution is evolving.

Witness its current exhibition, "The African Presence in México: From Yanga to the Present." It is a collaboration of six organizations, including art from the collection of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, financial assistance from the Smithsonian Latino Center and program support from the Mexican Cultural Institute, both in Washington. The exhibition does have its roots firmly in Anacostia's long tradition of exploring racial identity -- through the prisms of everything from black churches to holidays and baseball teams.

Perhaps inevitably, however, priorities are beginning to shift, what with the National Museum of African American History and Culture scheduled to open in 2015. Ahead is a balancing act, as director Camille Giraud Akeju explained, sitting in the museum's conference room in Southeast Washington. She's been Anacostia's director since October 2005, and, besides moving ahead with the already-planned exhibition schedule, she has been wrestling with the museum's strategic position.

Her first day on the job brought a slight jolt. "In the van over here, someone asked me, 'Have you decided on a new name for the museum?' " she said, smiling about an issue of no small significance. The old names -- Anacostia Neighborhood Museum, the Anacostia Museum and the Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture -- didn't work for the new day. The consensus was that it should be called the Anacostia Community Museum. "We want to interpret the meaning of community, rather than ethnicity. We want to redefine community as issues that impact on urban communities and their direct impact on Anacostia," Akeju explained.

The Afro-Mexican show, which she signed up for after seeing it in Chicago, is what Akeju calls a "segue" to that realization. This is the first show done with cultural groups from the multifaceted Hispanic community, and it's Akeju's hope that expanding the museum's mission will expand its attendance figures as well. She hopes to tackle the isolation that has long affected the Anacostia neighborhood, as well as the museum.

"Location, location, location is our biggest issue, right up there with funding," Akeju said. The museum, founded 42 years ago, has an annual budget of $2.5 million and listed 38,963 visitors in 2008.

Alejandra de la Paz, director of the Mexican Cultural Institute, said the partnership will enhance both organizations. "We want to help them link in a more direct way to the Mexican community, those who are interested in Mexico and all our constituents," she said. The organization is helping with film programs, speakers and entertainers.

Her group will also benefit from the exposure, she said. "We have found a lot of people were not aware of the institute. It is a large city so we need to be moving around, and we want to diversify our audiences."

Like the other museums, the Anacostia has extensive public programs. "We will continue to provide a stage for dialogue and continue to do that no matter what the exhibit," Akeju said. On the drawing board for the museum is a show about rivers, beginning with the Anacostia River, that may also highlight other water-separated communities; another show will examine the relationships between Korean merchants and their African American customers.

In the meantime, Akeju is being extraordinarily mindful of her museum's reputation as a key institution east of the river. With regard to the current exhibition, she was especially worried about a panel that depicts lynching and has a central buffoonish figure. In a large 2005 painting by Chicano artist Alfred J. Quiroz, two people are hanging from trees, and between them is a light-skinned black person with big lips and a top hat. "Well, there is a pickaninny with blond hair and freckles. You could say what is going on here. I thought our traditional visitor would be offended," Akeju said. She created a flier to explain the imagery and symbolism in Quiroz's picture.

It's a sign of the times in Anacostia that the flier, not to mention all the exhibition's captions, are bilingual.

The African Presence in México: From Yanga to the Present

Through July 4 at the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum, 1901 Fort Pl. SE. Call 202-633-4820 or visit

Read Philip Kennicott's review of this exhibition at

Saturday, November 14, 2009

ICE in financial trouble - will increase fees

ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is funded basically from fees. The federal government does provide financial support. The timing of "raising fees" when there may be much more business coming is curious.


Immigration officials weigh fee increase, layoffs


Nov. 13, 2009, 8:57PM

The director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said Friday that the agency is seriously considering increasing fees for immigration benefits amid a major budget shortfall.

Alejandro Mayorkas, the director of USCIS, said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle that a fee increase is considered a last resort, but is still “probable” considering the agency's steep drop-off in revenue last year and dismal projections for 2010.

A set of hefty fee increases by immigration officials two years ago sparked widespread criticism by immigrant advocates, who charged that steep hikes could price some immigrants out of citizenship and other immigration benefits.

USCIS, which relies heavily on fees paid by immigrants, closed the 2009 fiscal year with a $164 million shortfall after a sharp decline in immigration benefit applications.

The agency also is reviewing possible cost-cutting measures, including layoffs, Mayorkas said, adding that those, too, would be considered a last resort.

“Our overhead, our costs, need to be reduced,” he said. “There exists the possibility that we may have to seek a fee increase. We're considering all the options.”

Immigration benefit applications dropped off sharply after the 2007 fee increase, and talk of another cost hike is worrying immigrant advocates in Houston, particularly in the midst of the economic downturn.

“With the economy the way it is, if the fees continue to go up, you'll see a lot of people struggling to make ends meet and get that status,” said Cesar Espinosa, executive director of the Houston-based immigrant advocacy group America For All. “A lot of people are discouraged from applying for citizenship just because they can't afford it.” ..more

thanks to C.M. for sending this along

Are the TEA Party People Reacting to Upcoming Immigration Reform?

Interesting that so many TEA Party anti-immigration protests are happening the same day the NYT publishes an article on upcoming Comprehensive Immigration Reform (and two days after Napolitano's speech on the upcoming policy move)
November 14, 2009

White House Plan on Immigration Includes Legal Status

The Obama administration will insist on measures to give legal status to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants as it pushes early next year for legislation to overhaul the immigration system, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Friday.

In her first major speech on the overhaul, Ms. Napolitano dispelled any suggestion that the administration — with health care, energy and other major issues crowding its agenda — would postpone the most contentious piece of immigration legislation until after midterm elections next November.

Laying out the administration’s bottom line, Ms. Napolitano said officials would argue for a “three-legged stool” that includes tougher enforcement laws against illegal immigrants and employers who hire them and a streamlined system for legal immigration, as well as a “tough and fair pathway to earned legal status.” to complete NYT article

The Resistance to TEA Party Extremists


First of all, a big thank you to Modesto CA, St. Paul MN and SF CA, cities where counter-protests have been announced, hoping that in more cities, people of good will, will be standing up later on today to the lies, misinformation and intolerance of the anti-immigrant forces.
It'd be greatly appreciated in the event there is a counter-protest in your city, to please let us know.
Also, if you happen to know the numbers of TEA Party extremists who show up for their protests, hope you let us know that too, we expect them to grossly inflate their numbers, so far on their "Tea Parties Against Amnesty and Illegal Immigration Nov. 14 (ROUND 1)" Website they claim "NUMBER OF TEA PARTIES FOR NOV 14: 53, NUMBER OF TEA PARTY AGAINST AMNESTY SUPPORTERS: 5396", ( <== This is a Nationwide number) but in the words of a friend of ours, Porter: "Aurora, Thanks for the post on Willy Gheen's little gathering next Saturday. This moron is a pompous blowhard, taking credit for others work. He couldn't organize three hookers for a bachelor party with the help of their pimps. I would like photo evidence to counter what is sure to be Gheen's claims of great success. He'll be lucky if he can get a handful at each event."
So, we will see.
The best to you all and thank you for whatever you do for the people who need our help the most.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Planning Immigration Reform

Click here for link to video of Napolitano's speech


National Security

Napolitano forecasts immigration overhaul in 2010

Washington Post - Updated 3:08 p.m.
By Spencer S. Hsu
The Obama administration expects Congress to begin moving to overhaul the nation's immigration laws early next year, while improved border security and a drop in migration caused by the economic downturn make passage "far more attainable" than in 2007, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday.

"When Congress is ready to act, we will be ready to support them," said Napolitano, President Obama's "point-person" on immigration policy issues. "The first part of 2010, we will see legislation beginning to move," she said.

Napolitano's speech, delivered Friday morning at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress, was aimed at Latino advocates who have bridled at her rhetorical emphasis on enforcement in her first 10 months in office, and expressed skepticism that Obama would fulfill a campaign pledge to push for a "comprehensive" package.

Napolitano reaffirmed Obama's support for a "tough but fair" path for legal status for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, and improved flows for immigrant families and workers.

"We will never have fully effective law enforcement or national security as long as so many millions remain in the shadows," Napolitano said.

At the same time, Napolitano sought to reframe the debate from past years, saying lawmakers' earlier demands that the government improve "enforcement first" have been met, and arguing that the time to work on immigration issues is when a sluggish economy is dampening illegal migration, not when rapid job growth is fueling it.

In recent years, the U.S. government has erected more than 600 miles of fencing and pedestrian barriers on the 2,000 mile border with Mexico, and more than doubled the ranks of the U.S. Border Patrol, to 20,000 officers, Napolitano said. Meanwhile, due to a shrinking job market and increased enforcement, Border Patrol arrests last year were less than half the 2005 level of 1.2 million.

"These are major differences that should change the immigration conversation ... We have gotten Congress' message," Napolitano said. "Trust me: I know a major shift when I see one, and what I have seen makes reform far more attainable this time around."

The address was coordinated with the White House as it prepares for upcoming battles after health care legislation. It contained few new specifics, although Napolitano for the first time addressed many of the principles that Senate Democrats and her predecessors in the Bush administration previously embraced, such as toughening enforcement against smugglers and unscrupulous employers, streamlining visa policies, and requiring illegal immigrants to register, pay fines, pass criminal background checks, pay taxes and learn English.

Republican critics say changing laws to allow more foreign-born workers is foolhardy at a time when U.S. unemployment is nearing 10 percent.

"It is ironic that a poor economy is their justification for amnesty," said Rep. Lamar Smith, (R-Tex.), ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. "How can they claim that enforcement is "done" when there are more than 400 open miles of border with Mexico, hundreds of thousands of criminal and fugitive aliens and millions of illegal immigrants taking American jobs?"

Immigrant advocates said they were pleased the administration is approaching "the moment of truth" for a debate, but said they were still watching to see it and Congress commit real political capital. Congressional watchers also say the issue faces a crowded calender in the Senate, which is set to take up health care and climate legislation, before election-season politics take precedence by mid-year.

"The president and his administration need to make it clear that immigration reform is a priority and must be acted upon during this Congress," said John Wester, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and bishop of the diocese of Salt Lake City. "Hopefully this is the beginning of a campaign by the administration to get legislation moving."

Posted at 2:45 PM ET on Nov 13, 2009

In love with Dudamel

This is a good week, Dobbs is gone and the NY Times publishes a great piece on Gustavo Dudamel on their front page. Dudamel is from Venezuela.

Click here for link to 60 Minutes video on Dudamel


November 13, 2009

Hollywood Swoons Over That Hair, That Baton

LOS ANGELES — They drew the line at the bobble-head doll.

But the Los Angeles Philharmonic shop offers plenty of mugs and T-shirts splashed with the arms-outstretched image of its new maestro, Gustavo Dudamel. In fact, his face has been plastered across town on buses, billboards and banners marching down Sunset Strip. Children mob him for autographs. (He signs them all.) Fireworks spelled out his name at a megaconcert to introduce him to the city.

In a case of Hollywood-meets-Haydn, the star factory is busy at work on a rare subject: a 28-year-old Venezuelan conductor whose life revolves around scores, not scripts. With only a handful of concerts here behind him, Mr. Dudamel is more or less making this town swoon.

“He’s a genuine star,” said Martin Kaplan, a former movie executive and a professor at the University of Southern California. “He’s young. He has amazing hair. He has a great back story. He has a fantastic name. He’s the dude!”

Mr. Dudamel has just finished his first month as the orchestra’s music director after a five-year rise that brought him unusual attention in the classical music world. As his Hollywood introduction made clear, he has penetrated the consciousness of popular culture in the way of Leonard Bernstein.

That introduction resulted partly from a carefully planned campaign, led by the orchestra’s president and chief executive officer, Deborah Borda, but just as much from the media and a public fascinated with the man himself.

What’s most striking about this Hollywood tale is the contrast between the hype and Mr. Dudamel’s unmistakable gifts, those who know him say: his conducting talent and near-innocent but deeply compelling enthusiasm for making music.

“Deborah Borda’s rollout of Dudamel was as savvy as any studio mogul marketing a tent-pole movie,” said Mr. Kaplan, the director of the university’s Norman Lear Center, which looks at the impact of media and entertainment on society. “Plus, she had the advantage of what they call in Hollywood a good product. She didn’t have to put perfume on a stink bomb.”

Ms. Borda had been tracking Mr. Dudamel since he won a conducting competition in Bamberg, Germany, in 2004. Then he was a little-known product of El Sistema in Venezuela, a network of youth orchestras created in poor neighborhoods. Mr. Dudamel had risen to lead the system’s crown jewel, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, in Caracas.

As he took on more and more important guest-conducting jobs around the world, the Los Angeles Philharmonic decided in mid-2006 that he could be Esa-Pekka Salonen’s natural successor. The transition was announced all at once, in April 2007, eliminating the usual drawn-out music-director search and giving management plenty of time to plan his arrival.

And it laid out the red carpet in a big way with a free concert called “¡Bienvenido Gustavo!” on Oct. 3 at the Hollywood Bowl for 18,000 people. The festivities included gospel, jazz, pop and blues, movie-star introducers (Jack Black: “This dude’s on fire!”) and the fireworks. Mr. Dudamel’s first conducting that day took place with a youth orchestra that the Philharmonic had established on the Sistema model before his arrival. Then he led the Philharmonic in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In a savvy appeal to the Latino population, the “Ode to Joy” text was projected in Spanish, prompting applause and a few to complete NYT article