December 31, 2009
December 27, 2009
December 24, 2009
December 10, 2009
Read this from
Think Progress' The Wonk Room:
While the hacked e-mails may reveal that scientists might not have nice things to say about climate change deniers at times, they do nothing to change the scientific consensus that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use are raising temperatures and making oceans more acidic. As the right attempts to use the Climategate story to derail the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference this week, arctic sea ice is still at historically low levels, Australia is still on fire, the northern United Kingdom is still underwater, the world’s glaciers are still disappearing and today NOAA confirmed that not only is it the hottest decade in history, but 2009 was one of the hottest years in history. But how did the right-wing noise machine hijack the debate?Read it all.
December 08, 2009
An Historical Perspective on the Success of Immigrants and Latinos
December 7, 2009
Washington D.C. - As a front-page story in (yesterday's) Washington Post reminds us: "Not since the last great wave of immigration to the United States around 1900 has the country's economic future been so closely entwined with the generational progress of an immigrant group." The story highlights the degree to which the children of immigrants from Latin America have become crucial to sustaining the working-age population and tax base of the nation as the 75 million Baby Boomers retire. The parents of these children most likely would not have even come to this country if not for the U.S. economy's past high demand for workers to fill less-skilled jobs; demand which was not being adequately met by the rapidly aging and better-educated native-born labor force.
The Post story also casts a spotlight on the insecurities and anxieties of commentators who feel that Latino immigrants and their descendants aren't integrating into U.S. society and moving up the socio-economic ladder "fast enough." Although these concerns are certainly understandable, they are as unjustified now as they were a century ago when they were directed at immigrants from southern and eastern Europe .
By any objective measure, the children of immigrants from Latin America are making significant progress compared with their parents. As demographer Dowell Myers points out in a 2008 report, the experience of Latino immigrants in California reveals not only the vast strides that immigrants themselves make within their lifetimes in terms of English proficiency, homeownership, and declining poverty rates, but also the degree to which the children and grandchildren of immigrants do better than "newcomers." Similarly, the National Research Council's Panel on Hispanics in the United States concluded in 2006 that "trends in wages, household income, wealth, and home ownership across time and generations point to the gradual ascension of many U.S.-born Hispanics to the middle class."
This isn't to say that the undeniable disparities in educational attainment and income between native-born Latinos and native-born non-Latinos in the United States aren't pressing social concerns. However, to effectively address these problems, they must first be accurately identified. The challenges confronting (and posed by) a poor immigrant from Mexico differ from the "Struggles of the Second Generation" Latinos whose parents are immigrants, which in turn differ from those of a poor third-generation Latino whose parents are native-born. Some of these challenges are unique to the immigrant experience, others derive from being part of a "minority" group in U.S. society, and others stem from dynamics of poverty that are not limited to any ethnic group, immigrant or otherwise.
For instance, if some third-generation Mexican Americans, like other minority groups in the United States, have encountered a "glass ceiling" in wage growth, this says more about the need for educational investment in poor communities than it does about a culturally specific lack of ambition. To treat Latinos as a homogeneous group inherently incapable of upward mobility, as some immigration restrictionists do, serves only to simplistically misidentify what are in fact a diverse range of issues. To deny the tremendous progress of Latino immigrants and their children over time is simply inaccurate.
December 04, 2009
December 01, 2009
December 1, 2009
Washington D.C. - The Immigration Policy Center has compiled research which shows that immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are an important part of Iowa's economy, labor force, and tax base. Immigrants and their children are a growing economic and political force as workers, consumers, taxpayers, and entrepreneurs. With the state working towards recovery, immigrants and their children will continue to play a key role in shaping the economic and political future of the Hawkeye State.
Highlights from Iowa include:
Iowa was home to 117,437 immigrants in 2007.
34.5% of immigrants in 2007 (or 40,473 people) in Iowa were naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote.
Latinos accounted for 4.0% (or 119,522) and Asians 1.6% (or 47,809) of Iowans in 2007.
The 2008 purchasing power of Latinos totaled $2.4 billion and Asian buying power totaled $1.7 billion in Iowa in 2007.
Unauthorized immigrant families in Iowa paid between $40 million and $62 million in state and local taxes in 2007.
If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Iowa, the state would lose $1.4 billion in expenditures, $613.4 billion in economic output, and approximately 8,819 jobs.
There is no denying the contributions immigrants, Latinos, and Asians make and the important role they will play in Iowa's political and economic future. For more data on their contributions to the Hawkeye State, view the IPC fact sheet in its entirety.
New Americans in the Hawkeye State (Iowa)
Read our blog about Iowa, post-Postville.
Read more about immigrant contributions in other states:
New Americans in the Grand Canyon State (Arizona)
New Americans in the Natural State (Arkansas)
New Americans in the Golden State (California)
New Americans in the Centennial State (Colorado)
New Americans in the Sunshine State (Florida)
New Americans in the Peach State (Georgia)
New Americans in the Prairie State (Illinois)
New Americans in the Hoosier State (Indiana)
New Americans in the Pelican State (Louisiana)
New Americans in the Pine Tree State (Maine)
New Americans in the Great Lakes State (Michigan)
New Americans in the North Star State (Minnesota)
New Americans in the Silver State (Nevada)
New Americans in the Empire State (New York)
New Americans in the Garden State (New Jersey)
New Americans in the Tar Heel State (North Carolina)
New Americans in the Buckeye State(Ohio)
New Americans in the Keystone State (Pennsylvania)
New Americans in the Palmetto State (South Carolina)
New Americans in the Volunteer State (Tennessee)
New Americans in the Beehive State (Utah)
New Americans in the Old Dominion State (Virginia)
November 28, 2009
The recipe is from our cookbook Pie Every Day by Pat Willard (she says she cobbed it from Sheila Ferguson's Soul Food).
Anyway, cut down on the sugar for a tastier pie. I used two different sweet potatoes: about 1/2 long ruby potatoes and 1/2 squatter golden or orange tubers.
That's not necessary - any commonly sold yam or sweet potato will suffice to make a delicious pie.
Here's the way the completed pie looked:
July 02, 2009
June 21, 2009
TWO men with advanced, inoperable prostate cancer have dramatically recovered after being treated with an experimental drug. Both are cancer-free and have returned to normal life.There is some background on Wikipedia about the drug.
The patients, Rodger Nelson and Fructuoso Solano-Revuelta, took part in US trials of a drug called ipilimumab. The researchers were so excited by the men’s recovery that they released details before completion of the tests, which involved 108 men in all.
Before treatment at the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, both men had aggressive tumours and neither was expected to survive.
Dr Eugene Kwon, who led the trial, said: “We were startled to see responses that far exceeded expectations.”
The patients received traditional hormone therapy to remove testosterone, which fuels prostate cancer. They then had one dose of ipilimumab, an antibody that boosts the immune system’s response.
Both patients saw their prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels drop to the point where they could have surgery. PSA is a protein that allows doctors to monitor prostate cancer.
When the surgeons made their incisions, they had a surprise. Michael Blute, a urologist, said: “The tumours had shrunk dramatically. I had a hard time finding the cancer.”
John Neate, of the Prostate Cancer Charity in the UK, where 10,000 men die a year from the disease, said: “If these early and small-scale results are replicated in larger trials, this represents a potentially very exciting development.”
Another bit of potential good news for we greybeards.
June 12, 2009
New York Slapstick:
The political theater taking place in Albany over the past few days is yet another reminder of the fact that New York State government is essentially broken. The fact is that, for decades, both political parties have used their control of the respective houses of the state legislature — for Republicans, the senate; for Democrats, the assembly — as political patronage machines. Unfortunately, it took a changing of the guard — in this case, the senate — for the public to learn just how bad things have become.
June 06, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are six percentage points more likely than they were four years ago to favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military, 69% to 63%. While liberals and Democrats remain the most supportive, the biggest increase in support has been among conservatives and weekly churchgoers -- up 12 and 11 percentage points, respectively.
June 04, 2009
The integrity of immigration proceedings depends in part on the ability to assert claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, and the Department of Justice’s rulemaking in this area will be fair, it will be transparent, and it will be guided by our commitment to the rule of law," Holder said. "It is important that the American people have the opportunity to participate in formulating our procedures in this area, and this new process will ensure they do.
June 02, 2009
One can only hope that the hysterical howling of right-wingers against the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is something approaching a death rattle for this profoundly destructive force in American life.
You should read it all.
May 28, 2009
May 27, 2009
Even in Texas folk and country music circles, singer and guitarist Don Walser is regarded as unique. The songs Walser specializes in aren't exactly current; he sings classic old Western swing tunes. In a sense, he's a man on a mission: keeping the old Texas country songs alive. Songs like "Cowpoke," "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," and "Mexicali Rose" are signature tunes for Walser, who is also one of the country's premier yodelers. Songs penned and popularized by Bob Wills, the Sons of the Pioneers, Hank Williams, Faron Young, Merle Travis, and Johnny Horton are all part and parcel of what you're likely to hear in the course of a typical Walser show.
May 26, 2009
This is Matthew Alexander, senior interrogator in Iraq dissecting former Vice President Dick Cheney's speech on National Security:
Anyone who served in Iraq knows that the foreign fighters did not come to Iraq en masse until after the revelations of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. I heard this from captured foreign fighters day in and day out when I was supervising interrogations in Iraq... Torture and abuse became Al Qaida's number one recruiting tool and cost us American lives.
May 24, 2009
I salute our brothers and sisters in uniform and will light a special candle tomorrow for those who lost their lives while serving in the armed forces of the United States of America. This is doubtless not different from what most American will be thinking tomorrow. I take a certain pride, as an American veteran, that we recognize those who put themselves at risk for all of us.
HEADQUARTERS GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC
General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868
1. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from hishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.
2. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
3. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.
By order of
JOHN A. LOGAN,
WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.
More on Memorial Day History
May 22, 2009
Rick Casey's column from my morning paper: Mayor quits job for gay illegal immigrant he loves
It was, simply put, the most stunning abdication since King Edward VIII in 1936 gave up the British throne for Wallis Simpson, the twice-divorced American socialite.Via Benders Immigration Bulletin: Cornyn jumps the shark
Only two weeks after being elected to serve his fourth term, Mayor J.W. Lown of San Angelo submitted his resignation letter Tuesday from an undisclosed location in Mexico.
No, being mayor of San Angelo is not exactly the same as being the King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India, but the reason for Lown’s abdication is the same as Edward’s.
"[W]hile the President and Senator Schumer look to the future, the panel's ranking member, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), was caught facing squarely in the other direction. Cornyn called talk show host, defeated Congressman, and notorious blowhard J.D. Hayworth to testify as an expert on the border." Frank Sharry, May 21, 2009.Via University of Texas Press: Blockading the Border and Human Rights: The El Paso Operation that Remade Immigration Enforcement
"How on earth did the United States end up deploying tens of thousands of armed personnel to defend a border with a friendly nation that poses no conceivable military threat and which is, in fact, a close ally and trading partner? In this fascinating case study, Timothy Dunn shows that it all began in 1992 with a successful lawsuit that Mexican Americans brought against the Border Patrol to end discriminatory enforcement practices in El Paso, Texas. The unintended consequence was a new enforcement strategy that ultimately became the model for the entire border, transforming what had been a local violation of civil rights into an massive infringement of international human rights. Dunn's brilliant analysis is essential to understanding the origins of a flawed border policy that went on to turn a relatively small, circular flow of seasonal workers going to three states into a huge population of settled families living in fifty states—all at a cost of more than 4,000 lives and billions of taxpayer dollars. This book should be required reading for policy makers and the public alike."
—Douglas S. Massey, Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University; president of the American Academy of Political and Social Science and past president of the American Sociological Association; lead author of Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration
From a story by Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel for McClatchy Newspapers online edition:
WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Dick Cheney's defense Thursday of the Bush administration's policies for interrogating suspected terrorists contained omissions, exaggerations and misstatements.
In his address to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy organization in Washington, Cheney said that the techniques the Bush administration approved, including waterboarding — simulated drowning that's considered a form of torture — forced nakedness and sleep deprivation, were "legal" and produced information that "prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people."
He quoted the Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, as saying that the information gave U.S. officials a "deeper understanding of the al Qaida organization that was attacking this country."
In a statement April 21, however, Blair said the information "was valuable in some instances" but that "there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."
There is more.
May 21, 2009
May 19, 2009
Irresponsible and Reckless
What are the new driver’s license rules?
Recently the Public Safety Commission passed a new rule about the issuance of driver’s licenses and identification cards for non-citizens, which went into effect on October 1, 2008. Rule 15.171 puts forth the following provisions:
Individuals with visas that are valid for more than 6 months but less than the term of a driver’s license (6 years) will receive driver’s licenses that expire on the same date as the visa;
Individuals with visas that are valid for less than 6 months will not be issued a driver’s license; and
Individuals with indefinite visas (such as applicants for political asylum or refugees) will receive driver’s licenses that are valid for one year.
Non-citizens are now issued vertically oriented licenses that say “Temporary Visitor” in red block letters, and state both the license and visa expiration dates. This change was not enacted in the Administrative Code, but in a directive to employees.
Flawed implementation indicates that DPS does not have the capacity to carry out the requirements of this new rule.
Even though the new rule states that it does not apply to citizens or Legally Permanent Residents (LPR), both citizen and LPR alike have been required to prove their status in order to renew their driver’s licenses. In fact, recently a lawful permanent resident was issued a vertically-oriented driver’s license.
It is clear that the new rule is being applied inconsistently and creating new burdens where none previously existed.
This new rule places driver’s license division employees in the role of immigration agents. The field of immigration law is complex, and many visa-holders are able to frequently renew visas and adjust their immigration status. Expecting driver’s license division employees to make sense of these complicated documents will result in complaints, confusion and ultimately unintended errors
The new rule creates barriers to obtaining licenses and identification with no public safety benefit. Creating more obstacles to obtaining a driver’s license increases the chance that people will drive without a license. More unlicensed drivers mean more uninsured drivers, which have negative public safety and financial consequences for all Texans. Furthermore, identification documents are the first tool for law enforcement to track suspects, yet the rules result in pushing many people further into the shadows.
It is appropriate to be concerned about the integrity of driver’s licenses and identification documents in Texas. However, public safety concerns will be best addressed by rescinding the rule.
May 13, 2009
You should read the entire post:
Don't be confused by these alarms from the Social Security and Medicare trustees. Social Security is a tiny problem. Medicare is a terrible one, but the problem is not really Medicare; it's quickly rising health-care costs. Look more closely and the real problem isn't even health-care costs; it's a system that pushes up costs by rewarding inefficiency, causing unbelievable waste, pushing over-medication, providing inadequate prevention, over-using emergency rooms because many uninsured people can't afford regular doctor checkups, and spending billions on advertising and marketing seeking to enroll healthy people and avoid sick ones.
May 11, 2009
ICE Attorney Calls Due Process for U.S. Citizens "Idiotic"
"The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) owes another apology to a probable U.S. citizen, Julia Cerna, 42, whose due process rights and physical security ICE Assistant Chief Counsel Tracy Hamby jeopardized Wednesday, May 6, 2009 in a Houston immigration court."
Jacqueline Stevens, May 8, 2009.
May 05, 2009
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a favorite tool of prosecutors in immigration cases, ruling unanimously that a federal identity-theft law may not be used against many illegal workers who used false Social Security numbers to get jobs.
The question in the case was whether workers who use fake identification numbers to commit some other crimes must know they belong to a real person to be subject to a two-year sentence extension for “aggravated identity theft.”
The answer, the Supreme Court said, is yes.
Prosecutors had used the threat of that punishment to persuade illegal workers to plead guilty to lesser charges of document fraud.
“The court’s ruling preserves basic ideals of fairness for some of our society’s most vulnerable workers,” said Chuck Roth, litigation director at the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago. “An immigrant who uses a false Social Security number to get a job doesn’t intend to harm anyone, and it makes no sense to spend our tax dollars to imprison them for two years.”
April 29, 2009
Asylum seekers have better luck
with northern or female judges
Northern, female judges most likely to let them stay
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH Political Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
If you're a political refugee afraid to go back to your homeland, pray you get a woman judge or a Northerner.
A male judge sitting in a Southern court is about twice as likely to reject your asylum plea, according to research from two Georgetown University professors.
"The fact that women are more sympathetic to asylum seekers -- that is certainly a factor, and maybe Southerners don't like foreigners as much," Federal Appellate Judge Richard Posner said with a chuckle. "Maybe people in big cities are more used to having large [less] indigenous populations. Maybe it's different in more homogenous areas of the United States."
Posner has been the most outspoken appellate judge criticizing the decisions of federal immigration judges and he sits on the appellate court most likely to grant asylum pleas -- the Chicago-based 7th Circuit. Posner spoke this past week at a seminar by the Georgetown professors -- Philip Schrag and Andrew Schoenholtz who are compiling the book about how U.S. Courts handle asylum cases.
What they found was utter randomness -- some judges who refuse all asylum requests, others who grant almost all.
April 26, 2009
Senate Judiciary Committee; Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship; hearing will be webcast; DATE: April 30, 2009; TIME: 02:30 PM; ROOM: Dirksen-226.
April 24, 2009
April 22, 2009
WASHINGTON — U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano committed Tuesday to completing the final unbuilt miles of border fence, most of which is in the Rio Grande Valley.
Napolitano, once a vocal critic of the fence when she was governor of Arizona, said she intends to complete the original 670 miles Congress mandated in 2006. But she also didn't rule out building more fencing in combination with technology and manpower as a way to secure the border.
The homeland security secretary's comments came in response to a question McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez posed on the effectiveness of the fence during an international conference sponsored by the Border Trade Alliance, an organization that advocates policies to improve border affairs and trade relations.
About 620 miles of the 670 miles of planned fence are complete, and work is in progress on the remaining sections. Napolitano said she hadn't made a decision yet on whether more fencing would be needed.
Most of the work left do under the current mandate is in Cameron County, where crews have already started construction despite protests from some officials hoping to stall the work.
The combined levee-wall barrier in Hidalgo County is effectively complete.
Napolitano, who quipped as Arizona governor that a 12-foot fence would be conquered with a 13-foot ladder, now says the fence is effective "if it's done right as part of a system."
April 19, 2009
Rachell Maddow requests Thomas Starr King statue for her office April 19, 2009 by Aaron Sawyer
With California replacing Starr King’s statue with a huge 500 lb. bronze statue of the “Gipper”, Ronald Reagan, Rachel Maddow offered to purchase statue of famous Unitarian minister Thomas Starr King, once credited by Abraham Lincoln “as the man who brought in and kept California in the union during the civil war.”
“He would look great in our office. We would take great care of him,” said Rachel.
April 18, 2009
From Texas Liberal:
All of us on the left know what we’ve been told by conservatives for the last 40 years when we’ve protested our government.
“If you don’t like it get out”
“Go back to France”
“America–Love it or leave it.”
Well—Here’s right back at you folks. You lost the 2006 election and the 2008 election and we live in a country with a government taking an active role in our economy and with a President named Barack Hussein Obama.
America—Love it or leave it.
April 17, 2009
Sorry to wax eulogistic, he continues very much alive. But I sure enjoyed his standing front and center for a time. Best wishes, John!
John Madden to Ride into the Sunset:
After serving for 123 years in different capacities with NFL, John Madden has already decided to retire from his broadcasting duties. Now, he has to say goodbye to the job where his enthusiastic and down-to-earth style made him one of the most renowned broadcasters in the field of sports for three decades.
John Earl Madden, who was born on April 10, 1936, is a former American football player in the National Football League, a former Professional Football Head coach with the Oakland Raiders, a football video game magnate and a color commentator for NFL telecasts. He began his pro football career as a linebacker coach at Oakland in 1967 and was named head coach two years later, at 33 the youngest coach in what was then the American Football League. Madden also led the Raiders to their first Super Bowl victory and retired in 1979. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his coaching career in the year 2006.
Cross posted from patter pensée.
April 14, 2009
Santa Monica library lets public check out walking, talking sources
Tired of books? Then consult a living, breathing source.
On Saturday, the Santa Monica Public Library's Living Library Project will feature "a Mormon, an animal rights activist, a police detective, a fat activist, a feminist, a married Jewish lesbian mom, a little person and an ex-gang member," among others. Members of the public will be able to "check out" the sources for 30-minute conversations.
Rachel Foyt, the library's administrative analyst (and self-avowed "book-cart drill team world champion"), said in a release that the event provides an opportunity for people who have special interests, beliefs or experiences to share their personal stories with interested citizens. Using the library vernacular, the human references will be called "books" and the patrons will be called "readers."
This is a reprise of an event the library held in October 2008 which was the first of its kind nationwide.
No library card is required. Reservations for the sources open at 10 a.m., with half-hour conversations running from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the main branch, located at 601 Santa Monica Blvd.
Foyt said "readers" will be responsible for returning "books" in the "same mental and physical condition as borrowed." "It is forbidden to cause damage to the book, tear out or bend pages, get food or drink spilled over the book or hurt her or his dignity in any other way."
-- Martha Groves
April 12, 2009
Stentor has a good post at debitage:
We all know about the rituals that Christians practice on Easter. But I think it's important to recognize the rituals practiced by non-Christians -- particularly those of a secularist bent* -- on this holiday. I'm not talking about the pagan celebrations of spring that were incorporated into Christian Easter practices, though some people do still practice those. I'm talking about pointing out the existence of pagan celebrations and their incorporation into Christian Easter. (A similar ritual, with slightly different liturgy, is observed at Christmas.)keep reading
This ritual has the appearance of making an argument -- #many Easter traditions have a pagan origin, therefore Christianity's righteousness is somehow compromised.# But it doesn't really function as an argument. These things are mostly said not to Christians, but to other non-Christians -- e.g. in this Pandagon thread. And I doubt many Christians who are otherwise secure in their faith are particularly troubled by these historical facts (certainly I wasn't). Either they already reject all the aspects of Easter that aren't found in the Bible (including, sometimes, the very idea of an Easter celebration), or they don't see enriching their holiday with elements from another tradition as necessarily threatening the remembrance of Jesus' resurrection (coloring eggs can be just a fun thing to do, not an act of worship of Oestre).
April 10, 2009
“GOP is a mummy-wrapped skeleton sitting in its own chilly mausoleum of bilious resentments and creepy sentimentality.”
John Batchelor says it’s obvious: His Republican Party is a corpse.
For starters (I recommend you read the entirety):
The Republican Party is dead like Lehman Brothers and Robert E. Lee, not to be revived by TARP, Rupert Murdoch, or a surge of feverish nationalism. The present financial collapse makes it plain to see that the Republican Party did not die recently at the hands of the clever Democrats, but rather in 1933 at the hands of cowards, sycophants, and snobs who regarded the awesome Democratic victories in 1930 and 1932 as a “smear” of Herbert Hoover and a “panic.” Since the Great Depression I, the Democrats have been the electorate’s default choice, the politicians who rule as if America was simultaneously a school district, a union hall, a junior-year-abroad seminar, and a PAC. The Republicans who pop up now and again thrive in the empty-quarter counties of the West or in the so-called Old South, which is better understood as Confederacy Lite.
USCIS also announced that the 15-day premium processing clock started running on April 7 for petitions that were received during the initial five-day filing window. For petitions received after April 7, the 15-day premium processing clock will start on the day USCIS receives the petition.
April 09, 2009
The New York Times has posted an interesting (and worth reading) discussion: Do We Need Foreign Technology Workers?
For the high-tech industries, particularly, foreign-born workers on temporary H-1B visas are an important labor pool. Many of these workers arrived in the United States as students and stay on through the H-1B program. Many also go on to become permanent residents and founders of startup firms. But there is longstanding criticism among some labor groups that workers on such visas suppress engineering salaries and actually make it easier for employers to move more jobs to low-cost countries like India.
We’ve asked several experts how immigration policy affects high-skilled workers and the industries that rely on them.
March 2009 - Jayme A. Feldheim, Note, Ending the Widow Penalty: Why Are Surviving Alien Spouses of Deceased Citizens Being Deported?, 77 Fordham Law Review 1873, (2009). In this scholarly law review article published in Fordham University Law School's journal, author Jayme Feldheim concludes that the Ninth Circuit's interpretation of immediate relative to include a surviving alien spouse for immigration purposes is both the superior and only reasonable understanding of the relevant statute.
And this from Bender's Immigration Bulletin
Sixth Circuit on "widow penalty"
"The sole issue before us is a question of law, which requires us to interpret language of the INA to resolve a matter of first impression in this Circuit. The question is whether an alien-spouse, whose citizen-spouse filed the necessary “immediate relative” petition form under 8 U.S.C. §§ 1187, 1255(c)(4), but died within two years of the qualifying marriage, qualifies as a spouse under the “immediate relative” provision of the INA. For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that a “surviving alien-spouse” is a “spouse” within the meaning of the “immediate relative” provision of the INA. Accordingly, we AFFIRM the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Lockhart." Lockhart v. Napolitano, Apr. 8, 2000. [Hats off to Brent Renison!]
Here is the opinion from the Sixth Circuit.
April 08, 2009
Relocation.com: Texas showing steady immigration despite recession
A new report from online consumer resource group Relocation.com backs up recent Census data showing that Texas continues to see a population influx as people move from other parts of the country being more seriously affected by the recession.
The report, which analyzes interstate moves involving Texas from the beginning of 2007 through the first quarter of 2009, shows that 62 percent of such moves over the 27-month period were people moving to Texas, while just 38 percent were leaving. For 2008, Texas ranked fourth in the country for percentage of moves into the state.
The report shows that all major Texas cities apart from El Paso have more people moving in than leaving.
In Houston, 54 percent of moving quote requests were incoming, while 46 percent were for moving out of the city. Austin had 60 percent of requests for moving in and 40 percent for leaving, while San Antonio had 57 percent incoming and 43 percent leaving and Dallas-Fort Worth had 56 percent inbound and 44 percent outbound.
April 8, 2009
USCIS Continues to Accept FY 2010 H-1B Petitions
WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced it continues to accept H-1B nonimmigrant visa petitions subject to the fiscal year 2010 (FY 2010) cap. USCIS will continue to monitor the number of H-1B petitions received for both the 65,000 regular cap and the 20,000 U.S. master’s degree or higher educational exemption cap. Should USCIS receive the necessary number of petitions to meet the respective caps, it will issue an update to advise the public that, as of a certain date (the "final receipt date"), the respective FY 2010 H-1B caps have been met. The final receipt date will be based on the date USCIS physically receives the petition, not the date that the petition is postmarked. The date or dates USCIS informs the public that the respective caps have been reached may differ from the actual final receipt date.
To ensure a fair system, USCIS may randomly select the number of petitions equired to reach the numerical limit from the petitions received as of the final receipt date. USCIS will reject cap subject petitions that are not selected, as well as those received after the final receipt date.
Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers, who have been counted previously against the cap, will not count toward the congressionally mandated FY 2010 H-1B cap. Therefore, USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:
• Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States.
• Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers.
• Allow current H-1B workers to change employers.
• Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
H-1B in General U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.
– USCIS –
April 07, 2009
April 06, 2009
There is information on the Internet about the ongoing embarrassment that is our country's current immigration policy:
". . . Racism has blinded many Americans to what takes place in our own kitchens, workshops, and fields. For our nation to be whole, we must acknowledge that our lives of privilege are supported in thousands of ways by people whose labor is invisible and whose suffering is hidden."There are a variety of sources for anyone wanting to stay current with these issues. A glut, almost, of information. Some of it from non-traditional sources, some of it from a religious point of view, some of it from what seem traditional, non-racist points of view, and some from other sources that I prefer not to link to.
—Rev. William G. Sinkford, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President
The Wikipedia entry for Immigration to the United States looks like a good place to get an overall picture.
April 05, 2009
NEW YORK - The surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, performed together on Saturday to raise money to help kids learn a meditation technique the 1960s icons practiced at the height of their fame.
McCartney was joined onstage by Starr for a rousing rendition of "With a Little Help From My Friends" at Radio City Music Hall at the Change Begins Within concert for the David Lynch Foundation, which promotes Transcendental Meditation.
The Beatles helped popularize Transcendental Meditation -- described as a simple mental technique to combat stress -- in 1967 when they sought spiritual guidance from an Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
"It started for us when we met the Maharishi in India and it's going to get bigger and bigger and rule the world," McCartney said . . .
Cross posted from patter pensée.
April 04, 2009
Quote of the DayYes, sure they know something is Askew . . . what was it that V.P. Askew (or Agnew or whatever . . .) said? . . .
"The American public understands something must be askew if every single Republican votes against something."
-- Minority Whip Eric Cantor, when asked by reporters why Republicans have said "no" to nearly everything the Democrats have proposed.
Oh, yeh, "nattering nabobs of negativity" . . . this guy was a real nostradomnus . . . and reflective . . . looking in the mirror type of guy . . . a member in esteem of the grand old pisser party . . .
Rocket Fuel Chemical Found in Powdered Infant FormulaKeep reading story in Environment News Service.
ATLANTA, Georgia, April 3, 2009 (ENS) - All 15 brands of powdered infant formula tested by scientists with the federal government's Centers for Disease Control were found to be contaminated with perchlorate, a component of solid rocket fuel, flares, fireworks and some fertilizers. The chemical has been detected in drinking water in 28 states and territories and at low levels in food supplies.
The CDC researchers tested four different types of infant formulas - those made from cow's milk containing lactose, cow's milk-based but lactose-free, soy-based, and elemental formulas, typically consisting of synthetic amino acids.
Perchlorate was a contaminant of all commercially available powdered infant formula tested. Bovine milk-based powdered infant formula with lactose had a significantly higher perchlorate concentration perchlorate than soy, lactose-free, and elemental formulas.
Cross-posted from patter pensée.
April 03, 2009
Obligatory notice: I majored in mass communications (a few years back) and take a certain pride in the notion of journalistic independence . . . however (harrumph), when the phrase most often repeated during the course of a 30 minute (actually somewhat less with all the non-commercials) show is "I personally think that" . . . I really don't care what they personally think (or if I did, I'd watch an opinion show -- maybe like Colbert but I don't pay for cable) about the news, I expect them to report the news to the best of their (obviously crippled) abilities . . .
Sigh . . . look, I know this is tedium to some of us . . . not so much to me . . . but these journalists are (supposedly) the ones with the training to actually tramp through the bull-shit and present us with some facts, give us a wrap-up of the week . . . I know . . . facts are hard to come by . . . it's mostly a matter of opinion . . . bullshit! a journalist should present what was seen and heard, not what they surmise it all means. . . okay, okay past my bedtime . . . and I still (mostly) like Gwen Ifill as moderator.
April 02, 2009
The last two Tribunes I have not looked at. I have no time to read newspapers. If you chance to live and move and have your being in that thin stratum in which the events which make the news transpire,—thinner than the paper on which it is printed,—then these things will fill the world for you; but if you soar above or dive below that plane, you cannot remember nor be reminded of them.
Sources: Obama Plays Peacemaker in French-Chinese Smackdown Over Tax Havens
According to sources inside the room, President Obama just played peacemaker in a spat between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Hu Jintao, President of the People's Republic of China.
. . .
"I'd suggest we'd still be in there had he not done this," the senior Obama administration official said.
A Harris County District Attorney’s office proposal to bar illegal immigrants from receiving plea deals sparked questions Wednesday — including some from longtime prosecutors in the same office — about the legality and practicality of such a policy.
Four senior assistant district attorneys, speaking anonymously to protect their jobs, said Jim Leitner, District Attorney Pat Lykos’ first assistant, discussed the plan with about 50 prosecutors during a meeting last Friday. Under the plan, defendants in the country illegally will not be eligible for probation or deferred adjudication, including mandatory probations under state law. If the accused lies, he or she could be prosecuted for perjury.
The prosecutors also said plea papers are being redrafted for defendants to swear to their immigration status. If defendants refuse to sign, they will not be eligible for any plea bargains and their cases will be set for trial.
Lykos acknowledged that her office is examining policies surrounding illegal immigrants accused of committing crimes, but declined to comment on specifics.
One longtime prosecutor said the policy circumvents the intent of laws making probation the maximum punishment for some drug cases.
“I’m not a big fan of probation, but the law is the law, and I think we should follow the law,” the prosecutor said.
Mark Bennett, president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, said the idea may be unconstitutional.
. . .
It’s grossly unfair and, in my view, it’s unconstitutional,” said Maria Jimenez, a longtime Houston immigration activist. “There’s a double standard being placed on people here without documents. If they commit a crime, they should be held accountable. If the offense merits offering probation or deferred adjudication, then that’s what should be weighed, not the legal status of the individual. Otherwise, its unequal treatment before the law.”
some prisoners held by the U.S. military in Afghanistan have constitutional right to challenge their imprisonment in U.S. civil courts
In 53-page ruling, Judge John D. Bates of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia said that three detainees at the United States Air Force base at Bagram are “virtually identical” to detainees at the Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and so they have the same legal rights that the Supreme Court last year granted prisoners held there.Note: "captured outside Afghanistan and have been imprisoned for years without trials."
All three detainees are non-Afghan citizens who said they were captured outside Afghanistan and have been imprisoned for years without trials. Arguing that they are not enemy combatants, the detainees want a judge to review the evidence against them and order their release under the right known as “habeas corpus.”
April 01, 2009
First of all, free will is a contentious issue. A contentious philosophical issue, not a scientific one. Free will is one of those things that must, dogmatically, exist. Too often, people only care about the question of whether free will exists, when they should care about what "free will" really means. And what do we really mean by free will anyway? Does that mean that we're free from outside influences? Does it mean that we are morally culpable for our own actions? Does it mean that our actions are unpredictable? Is it necessarily a supernatural force? Definitions and details abound.No way you can stop reading this until you come to the end (so to speak. . .)
Does Quantum mechanics imply free will? It depends on what kind of free will we are talking about. If we're talking about unpredictability, maybe. But if we consider the moral definitions, I don't think science has the slightest bearing on any of them. "Unpredictable <=> morally responsible" just seems like a non sequitur to me, but hey, that's a problem for philosophy, not for physics.
But first, how about classical mechanics? The universe envisioned by Isaac Newton was like clockwork. All God had to do was wind it up. The universe would proceed in a single deterministic path. Now, Newton was quite religious, if a bit heretical, but that doesn't stop more modern folks from thinking that the determinism of classical mechanics was an obstacle to religion in some way. But is it?
March 31, 2009
This day, with its limited promises for tomorrow, is at at an end and with some luck and perseverance it may hold a kept promise for someone.
Any notion of open borders is probably gone for good (not just the terror or the politics, but count how many of us swarm the planet) . . . there may yet be some stardust left for a lucky few.
And now, to seize the day (before it seizes me).
Cross-posted from patter pensée.
March 30, 2009
Will children win with Obama?
When asked whether he would seek ratification of the CRC in the Presidential Youth Debate, Obama expressed, at least, some support for that goal: "It's important that the United States return to its position as a respected global leader and promoter of Human Rights. It's embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land. I will review this and other treaties and ensure that the United States resumes its global leadership in Human Rights."Here is additional information about the CRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child).
March 29, 2009
. . . whoever you are — let me just give you ten good reasons to consider (or re-consider) including a dog in your life.
1. You’ll have someone in your life who gets you outside every single day, rain or shine. And believe me, that’s a really good spiritual practice.
2. Dogs are psyched about EVERY meal, even though it’s the same meal twice a day. Keeps you in touch with gratitude.
3. Dogs are pack animals and they need you to be there on a simple physical level. You will feel this and respond to it,and begin to understand that you too are a pack animal. You just might find that the sweetness of this awareness makes you like other human beings more. It’s kind of hard to be a misanthrope when you’ve spent the night flanked by a golden retriever or started your day with a walk with your Boston Terrier or shaggy, grinning mutt.
4. Dogs are both incredibly needy and incredibly precious in their neediness. Pay close attention to how this works and how you respond to it (with love and attention, of course!) and voila, you make come to regard your own neediness from a place of compassion rather than judgment.
5. Dogs are healers. They are a constant lesson in authenticity and unconditional regard. Who doesn’t need that?
6. Being around dogs is a reminder that much of the deepest communication between living beings happens on the non-verbal level. Dogs will help you strengthen your intuition: that doesn’t smell right to me. That’s because it probably isn’t, sweetcakes. Doggies know.
7. Dogs have work to do. Their work may look like play to our eyes, but it’s their work and it matters to them. Watch them as they go about the work that their doggie instincts assign to them, and feel the sheer joy of seeing tail-wagging, snuffling evidence that yes, life does have meaning.
8. Dogs are indefatigably hopeful creatures. They hope you have a snack for them. They hope we’re going outside now. Are we going outside now? They hope they will catch the rabbit. They hope you will praise them when they come running to your whistle. They hope that other dog in the park will want to play with them. They hope you’ll drop some of your dinner on the floor. Spend enough time around that hope and you’re gonna catch some of it. I swear.
9. Your dog loves you. If you’re lucky, your dog loves your friends and their dogs and their kids and everyone you pass on the street, too, but when it comes down to it, YOU are the center of your dog’s universe. And you did absolutely nothing to deserve that amazing status but to provide some kibble and TLC. Let me tell you — especially in today’s economy — that is one sweet deal.
10. There is a dog living in a shelter right now who needs you. Volunteers may be caring for him or her with all the affection they can spare, but that doggie needs a home. Dogs are domesticated animals who need homes and hearthfires to protect, and “masters” to love. Thousands of years have brought their species to this point. Take your cats aside and have a little conversation (I had one with Ermengarde for years before I brought Max home) and tell them that you’re going to be bringing a dog into their home (it is their home, you understand). Tell them that quite to the contrary of their expectations, a dog will be great fun and best of all, will make them seem even more elegant, glamorous and exceptional than they already are.
. . .
Of course, don’t adopt a dog if you’ll just have to crate it for nine hours a day, every day — I think that’s cruel — but think about whether or not you could reasonably include a woofer in your home. I bet you can.
As the crisis in newspaper journalism grinds on, people watching it are trying to explain how we got here, and what we’re losing as part of the newspaper economy crashes. Some are trying to imagine a new news system. I try to follow this action, and have been sending around the best of these pieces via my Twitter feed. It’s part of my experiment in mindcasting, which you can read about here.
Lately, the pace has picked up. A trigger was the March 13 appearance of Clay Shirky’s Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable. That essay went viral; it now has a phenomenal 686 trackbacks, making it an instant classic in the online literature about the fate of the press. As good as Shirky’s piece is (very very good, I think) “Thinking the Unthinkable” is only a piece of the puzzle, and mostly backward-pointing.
That’s why I’ve collected the following links. Together, they form a kind of flying seminar on the future of news, presented in real time. They are all from the month of March 2009. If you take the seminar, feel free to leave impressions in the comments. The “flying” part is simple: go ahead, steal these links. Spread the seminar. Get your people up to speed.
They are in the order I think you should read them.