Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Give Thanks on Thanksgiving.

I want to thanks God and appreciate the food we are eating and the person or people who prepared it for you and us. They undoubtedly put a lot of work into the meal. I want to thanks The hands of the invisible people, the people without voice and vote, the people who asking for a change, an opportunity, for the people who are in the shadows, The Undocumented and the not Undocumented Immigrants; Those who did a great effort to put a wonderful piece of tasteful meal in our table. Thank youuuuuuuu.

I want to thank the people who make possible all the things I've learned this year and thus far in my life.

I want to thanks my Family, my Friends, my neighbors, co workers, my colleagues and God.

My God bless you and My God Bless America.

Inhumane Detention Centers in America Part II.

One immigrant detained in 2007 was Amina Mudey.
She fled Somalia after her father, brothers and sister were murdered. Amina landed in New York and requested political asylum. "The medical treatment that Amina received was absolutely deplorable. Substandard, sanction-able, and flat out malpractice," says Ann Schofield Baker, Amina's lawyer. Schofield Baker says Amina was detained in the former New Jersey warehouse facility and almost immediately was prescribed a powerful anti-psychotic drug called "Risperdal." "How did she come to be on Risperdal to begin with? I mean, was she psychotic?" Pelley asks. "Not even remotely psychotic," Schofield Baker says. "When Amina first arrived at the detention center she hadn't slept in two or three days. She hadn't eaten. She'd never been on a plane before. She was disoriented. They brought her to the facility shackled. She was absolutely petrified. And she collapsed and had a panic attack. From that, someone concluded that she was psychotic." Schofield Baker says on Risperdal, Amina was dazed, drooling and helpless. A human rights group asked her to represent Amina. She got her own doctors, who took Amina off the drug. And Amina was granted asylum. Now Amina is studying computers and English.

What was it like when you walked out of there?" Pelley asks.

"Outside was beautiful," Amina says, with the help of a translator.

"It was a tough start for you," Pelley remarks.

"America is wonderful place. I like it, New York," Amina answers in English.

Amina's alleged misdiagnosis isn't an isolated case according to an internal memo from last year, written by the head of mental health at the Division of Immigration Health Services.

"The top psychologist worried about mental health,” Priest says, as she quotes from an email he wrote: 'We need to stop looking for Band-Aid solutions for these problems.”

"The little money managed care may save in the short run is going to be dwarfed by the millions that will be paid out by ICE when the lawsuits roll in.There have been just a handful of lawsuits so far. But they know they're sitting on a powder keg

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sexual abused by Borders Patrol.


Despite some improvements in the way complaints of abuse are handled, people detained by Federal immigration agents along the United States-Mexican border are still often subject to ''cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,'' according to a lengthy report released today by the human-rights group Amnesty International.

The abuse includes beatings, sexual assault, racially derogatory comments and denial of medical care and food, said the group, which conducted several weeks of research along the border, including interviews with immigrant advocacy groups, immigration officials and people who said they were victims of brutality.

Accusations of abusive behavior by its agents have long dogged the Border Patrol, whose responsibilities include detaining Undocumented Immigrants and, in many cases, deporting them back to Mexico or other countries from which they came. The report today suggested that many immigrants were unable or afraid to report abuse by agents, and that the relatively few cases in which agents have been arrested or disciplined for such behavior represent only the tip of a much larger problem.

The report was issued exactly one year after the shooting death of an American teen-ager in Redford, Tex., by a member of a Marine patrol backing up Federal agents in an anti-drug operation. Two grand juries have declined to indict the marine who fired the fatal shot, but many groups that promote immigrants' rights say the killing was an unjustified homicide that should result in criminal charges. And the report today said that a ''thorough, independent investigation'' of the incident was still needed

''Although instances of civil and human rights violations by I.N.S. employees are not common,'' she said in a statement, ''any instance of abuse is one too many and will not be tolerated.'' She also said the agency was already carrying out several steps recommended by an official advisory panel that includes private citizens and a representative of the Mexican Government

The report, ''Human Rights Concerns in the Border Region with Mexico,'' was the first major look at the issue by the group, which has chronicled human-rights abuses around the world. It said that all detainees should be informed of their rights, in their native languages, and that they should not be ''discouraged, threatened or prevented from exercising their right to file a complaint.''

At a news conference the Texas border city of McAllen, representatives of Amnesty International and several other human-rights groups issued lists of dozens of cases in which immigrants had complained of abuse. These included statements by people who said they were struck with batons, fists or feet, often as punishment for trying to run away from Border Patrol agents; denied water, food and blankets for those detained at Border Patrol stations, and sexually abused or threatened with sexual abuse. The reports of ill treatment came from men, women and children, virtually all of them of Latin-American descent.

We are here to send a strong message,'' said Kerry McGrath, an Amnesty International official. ''We want these officials to know that the world is watching.''

The group said that complaint forms were not readily available and that ''there is a perception that I.N.S. officers act with impunity.'' And it said that while the Border Patrol had sharply increased the number of agents along the border in recent years, it had not had a corresponding increase in the number of personnel investigating reports of abuse.

Inhumane Detention Centers in America.

Since 9/11 there have been a lot of changes in how the United States deals with immigrants. One of the biggest is the explosive growth of a system of immigrant detention centers that few Americans know anything about.

Immigrants who come into the country illegally, or refugees who apply for political asylum, often go into detention, some for many months. Before 9/11, about 100,000 detainees went though the system each year. Today, with stricter immigration rules, that number has tripled to more than 300,000.

In 2004, United Nations troops were fighting militant gangs in the streets of Haiti. Eighty-one-year-old Reverend Joseph Dantica, a Baptist minister, saw his church ransacked during the unrest, so he fled to the United States and asked for political asylum. His niece, Edwidge Danticat (her last name is spelled differently than her uncle's) says he was taken straight to a U.S. immigration detention center.

"He was essentially arrested?" Pelley asks.

"Yes. I consider it an arrest," Danticat says. "Because …he had to ask for special relief for him not to be handcuffed. And they did allow him that, but told him that if he ran, they would shoot him."

Rev. Dantica raised Edwidge in Haiti; she moved to the U.S. at the age of 12 and grew up to become a prize-winning author. Danticat's recent book, "Brother, I'm Dying," recounts her uncle's ordeal.

She was waiting for him in Miami.

Asked what she was thinking when she heard her uncle had been detained, Danticat tells Pelley, "Well, I was horrified. Eighty one years old and, after the ordeal that he had been through in Haiti, I worried about his ability to handle that."

Records show that two days later, during an asylum hearing, he became violently ill and collapsed. A detention center physician's assistant failed to recognize that Dantica was in serious trouble.

"Help me understand from the records that you've seen precisely what the medic said about your uncle and his condition," Pelley asks.

"It appears that he said, 'I think he's faking,' or something to that effect," Danticat says.

It took four hours to get Rev. Dantica to an outside hospital. His family wasn't allowed to see him. In a day and a half, Rev. Dantica was dead. The medical examiner said it was pancreatitis.

Asked what she was thinking in that moment, Danticat says, "Just a series of things.

Crying, she continues, "Of course, you know, a great deal of sadness because he died so alone."
"He died without his family," Pelley remarks.

"Yeah. And after being treated like an animal," Danticat says. "Someone who was just trying to escape horrible things, who was so old and sick. Just had to die that way."

But in one sense, Rev. Dantica was not alone: he's among hundreds of sick or dying detainees inside 22 detention centers, plus some 350 state and local jails. The federal lock-ups range from a former warehouse in New Jersey that houses 325 people, to a desert facility near the Mexican border.

The centers are run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known by its initials "ICE."

Inside the detention centers, medical care is provided by another federal agency, the Division of Immigration Health Services, or DIHS. Reporters Dana Priest and Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post have been investigating DIHS.

"This is not just some deaths or just some sick people anecdotally. If you take them all together, they show poor medical judgments, faulty administrative practices, sloppy paperwork, lost medical records and very dangerous staffing levels," Priest explains.

Priest, who contributes to 60 Minutes, and Goldstein have obtained thousands of internal DIHS documents. They include investigations, e-mails, autopsy reports and complaints.

What sort of a picture did the documents paint of how DIHS is working? "
They show a bureaucracy that offers many immigrants no care or slow care or poor care," Priest says. "And they also show that the employees inside are panicked about this.

For example last year, 21-year-old detainee Juan Guevara was complaining of severe headaches. Soon he had died of a brain aneurysm. A staff member wrote in an e-mail "the detainee was prescribed Tylenol. The detainee was not seen or evaluated by an RN, midlevel (physician's assistant) or physician."

This internal report from 2007 was written after another detainee died of a contagious infection: "the clinical staff at all levels failed to recognize early signs and symptoms of meningitis."

This memo from 2007 sounds an alarm over staffing shortages in Buffalo, written in all caps, "CRITICAL STAFFING SITUATION OCCURRING, SITE IS DOWN TO ONLY 3 FULL TIME NURSES." In Arizona, "CRITICAL STAFFING levels. Site has reached a 48% nursing vacancy rate."

While the number of immigrants in detention has tripled since 9/11, the health services budget has grown only by 65 percent.

Priest reads from an email from the acting director of DIHS to a senior ICE official in August 2007: “We're facing critical staffing shortages at most every site. While we developed, executed and achieved major successes in our recruitment efforts, we've been unable to meet the demand."

The Widow Penalty.

This video show a segment on a quirk in US immigration law which at the moment is the subject of a class action. Legal immigrant spouses of US citizens whose immigration paperwork is still being processed, or who haven’t been married at least two years to their husband or wife, face deportation due to what some call ‘The Widow Penalty’

Everybody loves a love story - everybody it seems, except the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. In our post-9/11 world, immigration has become increasingly tough on, of all groups, widows.

A foreigner who marries a U.S. citizen is entitled to become a U.S. resident. But as correspondent Bob Simon reports, immigration wants to deport several hundred widows-and a few widowers-foreigners who had been married to American citizens when the Americans died.

Immigration claims basically that a widow is not a wife, and that if the widow did not complete the process to become a U.S. resident while her husband was alive, she cannot remain in the country.
If that sounds a little strange, wait till you hear what happened to Raquel Williams when she met up with immigration

It was once an honored rule that a foreign born immigrant who marries a U.S. citizen was entitled to become a U.S. resident. That concept is is not as straight forward as it once was. The Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS), under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), says that if an immigrant spouse doesn’t complete their application while the citizen spouse is alive, they cannot remain in the country.

Listening to the stories of the widows, it becomes apparent that it is often not possible for a spouse to complete an application while their wife or husband are still alive. And, though they may have been in the process already, many widows who have lost their spouse are still facing deportation.

Taking their case against before the courts, a group of widows being denied citizenship won. In fact, four courts ruled in favor of the widows, however, the Department of Homeland Security continues to appeal the cases at taxpayer expense.

Why CIS making this such an issue? They argue that although a foreign born spouse is eligible for citizenship, they don't consider a widow a spouse. They cite Black’s Law Dictionary, which defines spouse as "a married person”. However, as the 60 Minutes report points out, the court sided on behalf of the widows because same law dictionary defines a surviving spouse as "one who outlives the other".

The Department of Homeland Security refused a request for an interview from CBS News, leaving the public to speculate why these widowed spouses and their families are left in limbo.
Continue reading here:

Monday, November 24, 2008

U.S. museum returns Mayan jade pieces to Mexico

Announces the director of Harvard's Peabody Museum, which he intends to deliver to the country about 50 figures carved in stone green to nearly one century of years have been drawn from a sacred cenote at Chichen Itza

The director of the Peabody Museum of Harvard wants to return to Mexico some 50 pieces of ancient Mayan carved jade green, almost a century after a U.S. consul took out the one sacred cenote near the ruins of Chichen Itza.

The devices were part of hundreds of items carried by the U.S. consul Edward Herbert Thompson, who drag to the bottom of the cenote a sink flooded between 1904 and 1910 to recover the offerings deposited there by the Maya.

William Fash, director of the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said on Tuesday that the idea has yet to be approved by the authorities of the university and the museum, but found that the return of artifacts would help the Mexican specialists to better understand the artistic and religious significance for the Mayans had these pieces of jade stones and the like.

"I think it is important that many of the jades are studied here in Mexico for people who are making careful study of jades," many of whom were brought in from distant sites by ancient pilgrims to Chichen Itza in the Yucatan peninsula, in southeastern Mexico, said Fash.

These pieces could say a lot about trade, exchange and artistic models of pre-Hispanic world.

With the return of artifacts, many of which were reconstructed from pieces by the famed researcher Tatiana Proskouriakoff before his death in 1985, could also assemble an exhibit in a museum near the site where they were originally found, said Fash.

The director explained that the planned return is part of a growing trend in which museums make arrangements to return artifacts to their countries of origin in exchange for short-term loans of other artifacts. "This way both institutions earn," he added.

Thompson's collection has been the subject of dispute for a long time, along with other important artifact: a feathered headdress is five centuries old? old who allegedly belonged to the Aztec emperor Moctezuma. The headdress is in the Ethnological Museum of Vienna, which never has agreed to return to Mexico

In the 10th century the site was re-settled, and a new culture was born, a mixture of Toltec and Maya. This was the period when Chichen Itza was at its greatest. Some time afterwards, a Mayan leader moved the political capital to Mayapan while retaining Chichen Itza as the religious capital. Chichen Itza went into decline, and was eventually abandoned in the 14th century, although it remained a site of Mayan pilgrimage for a long time afterwards.

The centrepiece of the site would appear to be the main pyramid, called the castle by the Spanish. 25 metres high, it was originally built before 800 AD before the Toltec invasion. Nevertheless, it shows the plumed serpent along the stairways and Toltec warriors on the door carvings in the temple on top. This has supported counter-theories that Tula was influenced by Chichen Itza and not the other way around.

The pyramid actually embodies the Mayan calendar. The nine levels are divided in two by a staircase, making a total of 18 sections, representing the months of the haab, the "vague" year. The four stairways each have 91 steps; adding the top platform makes a total of 365, the number of days of the year. Each facade of the pyramid had 52 flat panels, representing the number of years in the "calendar round". The Mayan calendar actually had two types of year: the tzolkin ("sacred" or "almanac" year) consisting of 13 periods of 20 days; and the haab, consisting of 18 months of 20 days and the uayeb, a five-day "portentous" period. These two types of year completed a 52-year cycle called the calendar round, within which any date could be located precisely. These two counts were common to all of Mexico's pre-Hispanic civilisations. However, the Maya also had a third system, known as the long count, using units of 1, 20, 360, 7200 and 144,000 days, which could be extended indefinitely. Mayan inscriptions show the number of Long Count units which had passed from a starting point, the Mayan creation date, corresponding to August 13th 3114 BC.

During the equinoxes (March 21 and September 21), the sun makes a pattern of light and shadows along the steps of the pyramid, creating a series of triangles which appear to form the shape of a serpent crawling up the pyramid. We didn't visit Chichen Itza at the right time for this, but we saw pictures and it looked pretty impressive. The pyramid also contains another pyramid inside, containing a jaguar throne and a Toltec-style chac mool figure. To visit this inner pyramid, you have to wait in a long line in the heat with no shade, and then you only get to glimpse the throne from behind a metal fence for a few moments before you have to move on to let other people see.

One of the most impressive sights at Chichen Itza is the so-called Group of the Thousand Columns, named after the many pillars, which presumably supported a roof originally, in front of the buildings. The group consists of the Temple of the Warriors, with similarities to Tula's pyramid B, the Temple of Chac Mool inside the Temple of the Warriors, and the Steam Bath, which was used for ritual purification. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to see the Temple of Chac Mool, or climb the Temple of the Warriors, and had to be content with viewing it from a distance

The main ball court is the largest in Mexico at 135 metres in length, and has temples at either end and stone hoops high up in the side walls. The side panels of the court have panel carvings representing the ball game which suggest that the game changed over time - some of them show players with knee- and elbow-padding, while others show players using bats. The theory is that if a player hit the ball through one of the loops in the wall, his team was declared the winner. There are seven other ball courts located around the site. The temples at either end of the ball court and on one side appeared to have impressive, well-preserved carvings and decorations.

Nearby is the Tzompantli, "temple of skulls" in Toltec. It is believed that this platform held the heads of sacrificial victims. All along the walls on every side are many carvings of skulls.

About 300 metres to the north along a paved Mayan road is the sacred cenote. Cenotes are natural limestone sinkholes containing water found all over the Yucatan. Some were used for drinking water (indeed some still are), but the Sacred Cenote, 60 metres across and 35 metres deep. The sacred cenote has been dredged and explored on a number of occasions, and human remains as well as artefacts and valuable gold and jade jewellery were found.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Widow of U.S. Soldier fighting for deportation.

The widow of a Galva man killed in Iraq in 2004 who has been fighting deportation for more than three years will tell her story on CBS' "60 Minutes" on Sunday.

Todd Engstrom, a 1987 Galva High School graduate, was killed in September 2004 near Fallujah, Iraq. Engstrom, 35, who was working as a private contractor for the Army, died when his convoy was bombed. His mission was training Iraqi security forces.

Diana Engstrom of Athens met Todd in Kosovo while he was there with U.N. peacekeeping forces. They were married Dec. 29, 2003. After their marriage, the Engstroms filed paperwork to gain permanent U.S. resident status for Diana. But Todd's death halted that process, because he could no longer be his wife's residency sponsor.

According to family members, Diana is scheduled to appear on "60 Minutes" with Todd's parents, Ron and Cindy Engstrom, formerly of Galva, now of Athens. The family, including Todd's grandparents, John and Pully Engstrom of Alpha, have been working to help Diana stay in the United States.

It seems unfair to deport someone just because they miss an arbitrary date. Families have been torn apart by this law and it should be changed.

Under current immigration law, an immigrant spouse of a citizen automatically faces deportation if their spouse dies less than two years after their marriage and before the survivor's permanent residency application was approved. (See, 8 U.S.C. 1151(b)(2)(A)(i)).

The bill would allow a spouse in this situation to avoid deportation by proving, "by a preponderance of the evidence that the marriage was entered into in good faith and not solely for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit." While the bill was considered non-controversial, one member of the committee, Steve King (R-IA), voiced concerns.
Rep. King, while agreeing with the sentiment of the bill, thought more protections were needed to ensure immigrant spouses have good moral character. He told the committee, "A soldier, man or woman, could get drunk in Bangkok, wake up in the morning and be married, as will happen sometimes in places like Las Vegas or Bangkok, be killed the next day, and the spouse who was a product of the evening's celebration would have then a right to claim access to come to the United States on a green card." (Des Moines Register, July 18, 2008) King offered an amendment requiring the married couple to have shared a residence together in the United States, but the amendment was ruled as non-germane by Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), and therefore could not be considered by the committee

It just shows you that when you have rhe rule of law so strictly, you forget the human element. Who would have thought when they wrote this law, that you'd have a situation where someone's married less than two years, dies protecting people from our country, but not in the armed services? The laws didn't consider those options, and that happens so many times when you're dealing with immigration questions."

Barack Obama, have co-sponsored a bill to grant Diana Engstrom permanent residency. Their legislation suspends the deportation process while the two senators round up votes.

In recent years, Congress has been reluctant to pass bills designed to benefit a single individual, and mostly they deal with immigration issues. Of the 132 so-called "private relief" bills introduced in the last Congress, only six became law

60 Minutes" airs at 6 p.m. Sunday

GOP in trouble for years to come.

Party leaders agree that the GOP has had a rough go of it at the polls in recent years.

How could they not?

Since 2004, they've gone from 55 Senate seats to no more than 43 once this year's last winners are determined, and from a 29-seat edge in the House to a 30 seat hole. And now they've lost the presidency, too.

They differ, though, on whether the heavy losses Republicans suffered in the past two election cycles were a result of unique circumstances and the ever-swinging political pendulum or structural problems that could keep them shut out of power for years to come.

GOP officials and strategists at party conferences last week offered sharply contrasting assessments of what went wrong, and of how difficult it will be to rebuild. Perhaps not surprisingly, the split tended to fall along generational lines.

Some conservative Republicans, on the other hand, are either in denial or think they can control the problem by limiting the growth in the Hispanic immigrant population. (Just ask the 14 out of 16 hard-line, anti-immigration Republicans who lost their seats this time around to pro-comprehensive reform Democrats how well this worked at the polls.) But even if hard-liners were successful at stopping Undocumented immigration and dramatically reducing the number of Hispanic immigrants admitted legally, it wouldn't solve the simple demographic fact that U.S.-born Hispanics have higher fertility rates than whites or blacks. Hispanics will become a larger share of the population for the foreseeable future, though intermarriage rates will likely diminish their ethnic identification over time.

The first thing Republicans have to overcome is a growing belief among Hispanics that they aren't welcome in the party -- or in America for that matter. According to a recent survey by America's Voice --pro-immigrant group -- two-thirds of Hispanics think that discrimination against them has increased in the last two years because of the tone of the immigration debate. Republicans have to deal with the consequences.

Republicans have nothing to lose by taking a better approach and much to gain towards America's newest immigrants. Republicans has a big challenge ahead for years to come.

Mexicans dying every day by U.S Illegal guns.

In the absence of controls that has the U.S. government to curb the illegal traffic of arms that comes from that nation into Mexico, a PRI senator, Fernando Castro Trenti urged the Federal Executive to ask the U.S. authorities a vigorous fight against of this illegal activity.

Similarly, the Senate made a drive to the U.S. Congress and their state legislatures to legislate to combat the easy access in the existing legal procedures for the purchase and sale of firearms "through a point of agreement House of the Upper House, which urged the Mexican government to take in the matter, noted the PRI legislator.

Also the chairman of the Committee on Legislative Research, First in the Upper House, called on the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, the Tax Administration Service, the Ministry of Public Administration and the Attorney General's Office to conduct all investigations needed to debug the customs of those elements infiltrated by organized crime, because not only is due to combat illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs but all those mechanisms that make it possible.

"It is undeniable that the use of firearms is an indispensable tool for organized crime and in particular for drug trafficking," with which "inflict fear and terror among our citizens, so it is imperative to focus its combat illegal trafficking Both arms and cartridges, to the serious situation of violence in Mexico today, "he said.

The chief of Mexico's war on drug gangs said Washington should concentrate on halting the flow of arms to Mexican drug cartels rather than haggle over how much aid to give Mexico's anti-smuggling operation.

Wow! So American politicians are worried about crime increasing along with Undocumented immigration from Mexico, and the Mexican government is concerned that loose U.S. gun laws are fueling violence and gun trafficking in their nation!

That is some sad irony, a tragic one to be sure.

The Reuters story continues:

Reacting to a vote by U.S. lawmakers to trim an aid package for the drug war, Mexico's deputy attorney general, Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, said an alternative would be to keep the cash in the United States and use it to curb illegal arms trafficking across the border.

"Some of us were talking, remarking that, well, this (sum of money) is all very well, but why don't we tell the Americans they could spend it on their (border security forces) to stop the flow of arms to Mexico," Santiago Vasconcelos said in remarks on local radio distributed by his office on Saturday.

Indeed, Vasconcelos claims that 97 percent of the guns used by the drug gangs come illegaly from the U.S. That’s 97%!!!!!!!!!. Woooooow

One of the sad ironies we recall of going into Mexico (and Canada) as a tourist is the presence of signs that indicate that bringing firearms into those two nations is prohibited.

But obviously, the gun industry in the U.S. is "looking the other way" and making money off of the drug cartel battles in Mexico which also spill across the border into our nation. Mexico is pleading with us to stop guns from the U.S. from entering into their nation.

We support their call, and we double down by asking that Congress stop guns from so easily entering our own communities here in the United States.

Profit based on the shedding of blood is a profit worth living without.

The Mexican government understands that – and our elected officials should too.

This, As I explained, because more than half of illegal firearms that are in our country and the park or ammunition for use come from the U.S., not only are trafficked by gangs or organized crime, but by American citizens who also have large facilities to acquire them.

But no one seems interested on doing something about it. Many Mexican police officers and Innocent civilians has been killed everyday by powerful Illegals U.S. Guns.
Nationwide, more than 4,000 people have been killed last year, according to Mexican media reports, many of them law enforcement agents doing battle with powerful drug gangs.

Sinaloa, a fertile state on the Pacific coast, has long been at the center of Mexico's drug trade. It has become a hub of violence since President Felipe Calderon dispatched an army of soldiers and federal police to take on some of the biggest drug lords.

The alarming level of violence -- shootouts almost every day -- has sown panic and fear among a normally resilient citizenry.

Less than two months ending in 2008, violence reached a 99 policemen have been killed in Sinaloa.
The death toll has quadrupled with respect to 2007, when it counted in the archives journalistic killed 25 officers

According to records of the debate, the corporation hardest hit by crime has been the Municipal Police, with 37 casualties, and leaving behind dozens of orphans and widows.

The fight against crime has also claimed the death of 24 ministerial elements, who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Since the arrival of federal forces to the state, with the launching of joint operational Culiacan-Navolato last May, have also killed 14 Federal policemen .

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Your hard earned Tax Money at Illegals Hands.

R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, Christopher B. Dennis, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and Bill McCollum, Attorney General of the State of Florida, announced today that Miguel Almanza, formerly of Hialeah, FL, pled guilty in connection with a $56.7 million Medicare fraud scheme.

According to the government’s factual proffer, defendant Miguel Almanza operated and controlled thirteen durable medical equipment ("DME") companies, and three medical clinics located in Miami-Dade and Hillsborough Counties. Using these thirteen companies, Almanza and his co-conspirators submitted nearly $57 million of false claims to Medicare for medical equipment, prescription medications, and outpatient medical services.

Almanza and his partners concealed their control of these DME companies and medical clinics by recruiting "nominee" or "straw owners," who were typically paid a percentage of the fraud proceeds to sign the necessary corporate records and Medicare applications. Notably, Almanza often recruited family members from his hometown of Moron, Cuba, to serve as the nominee owners of his DME companies.

To execute the scheme, Almanza purchased the identities of various Medicare beneficiaries in Miami-Dade County, including their driver's licenses, Medicare cards, and other identification documents. Almanza would then use the patients' Medicare numbers to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare for a wide variety of high-priced medical equipment, including nebulizers, oxygen concentrators, powered air mattresses, and wheelchairs. During the early years of the conspiracy, Almanza and his partners paid monthly cash kickbacks to these "professional patients." The kickbacks were paid so that the patients would not report the false claims to Medicare. Over time, the scheme changed because Almanza and his partners found it cumbersome to pay kickbacks to dozens of patients. Consequently, Almanza and his partners began to purchase stolen patient identities from patient recruiters and billing companies.

Once Medicare paid the false claims, Almanza and his partners implemented complex schemes to launder the fraud proceeds and conceal their ultimate destination. In one version of the scheme, Almanza and his partners would distribute pre-signed corporate checks, often for amounts just under $10,000, to a broad network of so-called "check cashers." The "check cashers" would cash the checks at local banks throughout Miami-Dade County, often visiting numerous bank branches within one day so as to avoid raising red flags. The "check cashers" would keep a commission, typically about 10%, and give the remaining proceeds to Almanza and his co-conspirators.

Under a second laundering method, Almanza and his partners recruited nominee owners to open various sham corporations, including construction companies and investment firms. The Medicare fraud proceeds were deposited into the bank accounts of the sham corporations, and then later distributed to Almanza and his partners. Almanza used the fraud proceeds to purchase a home, luxury cars, and to finance other lavish personal expenditures. Almanza also used the funds for gambling at various South Florida casinos, where he often spent more than $10,000 per night.

Almanza faces a maximum term of ten years’ imprisonment for the Medicare conspiracy, and five years’ imprisonment for making false claims upon the United States .

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and the Office of the Attorney General of Florida, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan Stumphauzer

your hard earned tax dollars at Illegals hands.

Can you believe this? Well, of course you can. After all, it's the strange and sour marriage between Medicare and phony equipment suppliers.

Medicare shut down more than 200 medical equipment companies last year. Why? Because they either were operating out of their hats, with no actual business addresses, or because they had been implicated in fraud or even indicted for fraud.

Now, get this: Advance your clock to 2008. Medicare allowed 90 percent of these fake companies to go back into business because of "flawed appeals processes." Great balls of fire! If a private enterprise operated that way, it would be out of business within two days. And the merry-go-round continues, because after allowing these scam artists to go back to their scams, Medicare decided to shut them down again. And meanwhile, a number of them had the opportunity to send out spurious bills again.

The sad but undeniable evidence is that federal agents visited, unannounced, some 1,581 Medicare suppliers in South Florida. Of that number, a solid one-third — 491 to be exact — had no business operation or just weren't open because they had no employees. Nice deal, isn't it? So Medicare revoked their billing privileges again, but so what since about half of them appealed, and based on nothing but an invalidated appeal, Medicare reinstated just about all the ones who appealed. An Inspector General's report is unsurprising: Medicare's hearing officers applied "no criteria" for accepting anything offered as evidence. An electric bill or a simple statement would do it.

One lawyer — Miami-Dade not Broward, thank goodness — represented fifteen so-called Medicare providers. Seem familiar? The whole charade has been a comedy of errors.

Comedy, all right, but when these counterfeit claims hit us taxpayers in the pocketbook it isn't funny.

Every now and then, the law actually clamps down on a couple of flimflams. One of them was ordered to pay $11 million in restitution. That's a hefty amount and it gives us an inkling of the number of dollars Medicare fraud represents.

Here we are, about to enter 2009. Medicare costs are about to increase again, and anyone who deludes himself or herself that fraudulent claims (yes, by people on Medicare, too) aren't partly responsible has been living on Mars.

We should be outraged that our public servants are so casual in accepting non-evidence as evidence. But every one of us is so used to "business as usual," we've long since substituted acceptance for outrage.

The phrase, "your tax dollars at work," never has been as derogatory and uncomplimentary as it is today. Will a new administration actually do something about these suppliers who treat Medicare officials as suckers? Will exposure such as this make any difference?

Don't count on it because corruption are at the tip of the Iceberg and of course the people without Voice and Political support are always being blame for it.

These are the comments from the Nativist and Anti Immigrants Jim Gilchrist and Jerome Corsi:

The large numbers of illegal immigrants already living in the country have put an enormous fiscal strain on government-funded social service programs because many of the illegal immigrants who arrive here are impoverished and undereducated. They are then forced to supplement their low-paying incomes with social welfare benefits, including those fraudulently obtained, to make ends meet. Moreover, the willingness of these illegal immigrants to commit fraud—both tax fraud and social service fraud—compounds the problem, as they work the system to get the maximum benefit from government-funded social services….

Why we as American citizens do not speak out loudly enough against these generous Social fraudulently beneficiaries(Hospital CEO's, CFO's, Doctors, and the list goes on and on) on behalf of U.S. Taxpayers?.

GOP regret not reaching out for Hispanic Voters but no for mounting hostility toward them.

Republican party leaders regret not reaching out to Hispanic voters on the campaign trail but not regret Mounting hostility toward immigrants during the last four years pushed them away from Republicans and into Democrats.

Hispanic votes would have been enough to turn the election in Barack Obama’s favor if he had needed it.
Hispanics, who now make up 15 percent of the U.S. population according to the latest Census estimates, have traditionally voted Republican because of their Catholic backgrounds and Democrats’ support for abortion rights.

However, as the GOP became increasingly known for its anti-immigrant sentiment, she theorizes, the downward pressure on Latinos, Asians and other immigrant groups brought them together under a candidate they believed would embrace them.

The main reason driving this vote was inclusion, The immigrants made a decision to make their vote count.” Hasta la Vista Babe>........“Good citizens in the United States should attempt to treat immigrants as formal citizens; Not as informal Citizens.

Republican members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration perpetuated the persistent myth of immigrant criminality with their event on “The Toll of Illegal Alien Criminals on American Families.” The event was spearheaded by Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Steve King (R-Iowa) and Howard Coble (R-NC).
Tensions ran high as witnesses ranging from bereaved family members to the President of the Houston, Texas, Police Officers’ Union, to the Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors made the case that the loss of innocent citizens is a direct result of not cracking down on “illegals” in the US. The witnesses demanded policies that would make life so miserable for immigrants, that they would be driven to self-deport. One witness even received enthusiastic applause after suggesting birth-right citizenship be repealed. But harsh immigration policies are not effective in fighting crime because—as numerous studies over the past 100 years have shown—immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are not associated with higher rates of crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the undocumented, regardless of their country of origin or level of education.
It’s not likely a coincidence that the event happened during the same week that the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) was lobbying Congress and demanding an impractical and hateful agenda of mass deportations, worksite raids, and other expensive and ultimately ineffective approaches as part of their “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” gathering. Smith even thanked FAIR for helping his colleagues connect with and feature some of the same witnesses who participated in FAIR’s rally.
Another troublesome dimension of today’s event is that contention and disregard was held for the other side of the debate. Questions were not taken from reporters. Angry attendees of the event ripped the Immigration Policy Center’s press release response out of reporters’ hands.
It is disappointing to see law-makers Smith, King and Coble–along with their fellow congressmen Darrell Issa (R-CA), Brian Bilbray (R-CA), and Duncan Hunter (R-CA) who attended FAIR’s rally tarnish the Republican brand by supporting the agenda of FAIR, an organization designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It is especially troubling to see law-makers exploit the pain of the victims of these terrible crimes to promote their political agenda. They’re absolutely right that dangerous criminals must be punished, and that immigrants who are dangerous criminals should not be allowed to enter the US or deported if they already are here. But exploiting the profound painful loss of crime victims to spread the myth that immigrants are criminals, by propagating misinformation, is simply irresponsible and disingenuous.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hope: From the time it came out, it's been stuck in quicksand.

Once touted as a potential breakthrough to help solve the foreclosure crisis, the government's Hope for Homeowners program has failed to live up to its billing so far. And there are serious doubts it ever will.

Bankers don't like it. Consumers don't understand it. Government regulators don't trust it to solve the problem. a liquidity crisis is making its presence felt on a global level. The stability of the world economy demands liquidity, and the current economic climate is in particular need of renewed cash flow. But do we also require political intervention in order to solve the present mortgage crisis?

The entire world is shaken by the present liquidity crisis. In order to stop the global mortgage meltdown, a number of well known banks worldwide have come together to auction off huge amounts of dollars. A stable economy is inherently based on liquidity. What is indispensible now is a regular and uninterrupted cash flow. The point is, is political help a need of the hour for tackling this mortgage crisis?

Market analysts believe that government assistance may not be necessary to avoid the potential crash of the mortgage market. What is the meaning of Sub prime mortgage? It can be classified as a mortgage crisis caused by a worldwide reduction in liquidity. The United States mortgage market has suffered profoundly because of the current crisis. And as expected, this has resulted in global mortgage crisis.

In 2005, We witnessed the advent of sub prime mortgage crisis. This was followed by rising rates of interest as well as a moderate fall in the prices of real estate in 2006. A clear understanding of the present mortgage crisis requires you to fully comprehend the concept of 'foreclosure'. If a home owner, in reference to the present mortgage crisis, is unable to fulfill the terms and conditions as put down in the 'mortgage' agreement, a foreclosure becomes applicable.

What is the root of the present mortgage debacle? The sub prime mortgage crisis is a fallout of a number of factors. The unpredictability of real estate prices is currently a common phenomenon. The worldwide mortgage crisis probably takes it's roots from this particular phenomenon.

The increasing popularity of high-risk mortgage loans is also to blame for the tightening of liquidity. Millions of individuals indulge in mortgage fraud nowadays. Erroneous calculation of credit scores is a significant contributor to the current mortgage crisis as well. Rigid government policies are responsible for the sub prime mortgage catastrophe as well.

Plenty of economic experts think that the mortgage crisis has helped new buyers out. Because of dropping home prices, a greater number of investors have applied for low-interest mortgage loans.

The result: Federal housing officials have received fewer than 115 applications since the program took effect Oct. 1. Compare that to the more than 3 million homeowners currently in some form of foreclosure, according to the real-estate research firm RealtyTrac.

Other alternatives are already lining up to possibly supersede Hope for Homeowners, which offers to get people facing foreclosure into affordable, fixed-rate mortgages, insured by the Federal Housing Administration.

Two new initiatives were unveiled last week:

*A home-loan-guaranty program by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., aimed at providing refinancing to an estimated 2.2 million distressed homeowners.

*A loan-modification program by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that would fast-track applications for mortgage relief.

Neither requires lenders to take a write-down on the principal of the mortgage -- a major objection the banking industry has had with the rules of Hope for Homeowners.

Lenders are wary of the deal, especially when the mortgages are held by investors who don't want the potential value of their investments trimmed. Banks fear they will be targeted by investor lawsuits.
Basically, you're trying to get them to take a big haircut on the balance of the loan, but you have to get someone who has the authority to make that decision
There's really no teeth in this program that can make that happen

There's also a catch for the homeowners: If they eventually sell their home, they'll be required to share half of any profits with the government.

Meanwhile, bankers are trying to sort out which approach to focus on, even as the government has already doled out the first 25 percent of the $700 billion banking rescue/bailout program.
But the rescue program has raised a number of open questions now about what would be best for both lenders and borrowers."

From the time it came out, it's been stuck in quicksand

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blessing of caregiving elderly love ones and their cost.

Repairing that broken heart is one of those chores in life that requires you to find your own way. You have to wander around and find your own path.
Michael Vargas.

The burden is compounded by ignorance, which found that most Americans have no idea how much long-term care costs and believe that Medicare pays for it, when it does not. Hispanic Families have always looked after their elderly loved ones. Instead, across the income spectrum, Hispanics are sacrificing to care for their parents to the limit of their means and sometimes beyond.

We should encourageing Young Hispanics and other ethnicities that Elderly love ones are from different cultural backgrounds and may have differing from their beliefs and values but the question is how can we learn their language and how we should speak to them? Well; Elderly Love ones can communicates depends on his or her culture. Thus we should expect that cultural differences should be reflected whether they are developing or typically have a disability. We should support, listen, observe, value, encourage, talk to, interact and expand as a way to develop and build their language skills. Longevity is not a problem, but a life stage for which we must be prepared physically and emotionally, thus achieving a productive old age, useful and active. Throughout history we can see that the role of the elderly within the family and society has changed. The modern world does not tolerate the revocation, is trying to combat the time and deny old age. Currently, the society we live insists on using the chronological age for many purposes social and labor, preferring to young people and relegating the elderly. The problem of "age" denotes a form of discrimination before the old man because of his age, which turns out to be so dangerous and unfounded as racism and sensismo. Lastima que ya no estas conmigo Mi Viejito, Mi Padre. Qpd.

Recenlty study released from UnitedHealth Group's Evercare organization and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) finds that more than one third of Hispanic households (36 percent) have at least one family member caring for an older loved one -a larger percentage than all U.S. caregiving households which is 21 percent (one in five), according to the Evercare Study of Hispanic Caregiving in the U.S. The study, the largest comprehensive look at Hispanic caregivers, also revealed that caregiving caused a major change to the working situation of Hispanics, which could have dramatic personal implications as the current fiscal crisis continues to unfold in the United States. Additionally, the emotional and physical tolls of caregiving might also impact the local and national economies, given that more than eight million Hispanics provide care to older loved ones nationwide.

The participants of the study indicated that additional resources and tools-in Spanish-are necessary to help them care for their loved ones. Seventy-three percent of Hispanic caregivers think it is very or somewhat important that caregiving information be provided in Spanish, with 56 percent who say it is very important. Eighty percent of Hispanic caregivers indicated training sessions that teach caregiving skills would be helpful, while more than seven in 10 would find online training in caregiving skills to be helpful.

Evercare, a leader in the fight against chronic illness, is dedicated to providing health care management and preventive care for the millions of Americans suffering with advanced or long-term illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Through Evercare health plans, family caregivers are part of the primary care team led by Evercare Nurse Practitioners and Care Managers who help coordinate care and guide members to improve their health outcomes, remain independent, and live at home as long as possible. In addition, more than 500,000 working caregivers have access to Evercare™ Solutions for Caregivers, a caregiver services and support program provided through employers nationwide or on a private-pay basis.

"Family caregivers are an essential part of our health care system yet very often they need additional training and support for the critical role they play," says Ana T. Fuentevilla, M.D., Medical Director for Evercare/ Ovations National Support Team. "Understanding the specific cultural needs and issues of caregivers in the Hispanic community is an important part of how we design our specific health plans and services for our members. Through programs such as Evercare Solutions for Caregivers, we can help these caregivers maintain their own health and stay on the job."

Caregiving has also caused a major change to the working situation of many Hispanics. The study found that more than four in 10 Hispanic caregivers (41 percent) have changed their work situation either by cutting back on hours, changing jobs, stopping work entirely, or taking a leave of absence. This is compared to 29 percent among non-Hispanic caregivers.

In fact, two-thirds of Hispanics were employed at some point while they were caregiving (66 percent), whereas only 52 percent are currently working, a decline of 14 percentage points. Although the notable proportion of Hispanic caregivers who made major employment-related changes while caregiving might lead one to believe that they would be less satisfied with the balance between caregiving and work, they are actually more highly satisfied than non-Hispanic caregivers. Nearly half of Hispanic caregivers (47 percent) report being very satisfied with their home/work balance, compared to 36 percent of non-Hispanic caregivers.

The Evercare/NAC Study revealed that Hispanics spend 17 percent more time on caregiving than non-Hispanics do - 37 hours a week compared to 31 hours a week for non-Hispanics. Hispanic caregivers also perform more strenuous activities for their loved ones than non-Hispanic caregivers. In fact, Hispanic caregivers perform 17 percent more Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) including bathing, feeding, and other personal care tasks - than non-Hispanic caregivers.

However, while Hispanic caregivers provide more care, more than half reported little or no stress from caregiving. In fact, a significant number (35 percent) indicated that caregiving is not at all stressful - compared to 22 percent of non-Hispanic caregivers who reported the same. This is an important cultural finding given that more than four out of 10 Hispanic caregivers reported living with their loved one (compared to more than three out of 10 non-Hispanics who are co-residents) - a situation that in previous studies has typically increased caregiver stress levels.
See report:

Undocumented Immigrants Draining social services?

A Clinic owner has been sentenced to 2.5 years (30 months) for defrauding Medicare 10.9 Millions which this sentence is far too light. Not only do we need to clean up this medicare fraud cesspool but we need to be sending a very strong signal to each of these criminals that the game is over, find something ethical or positive to do for your fellow taxpayers Citizens or pay real penalties. I am sure these people look at 2.5 years in federal camp as a great way to make 100x what they would have made in an honest job. With this sentencing, we continue to send the signal that white collar crime does pay. Very wrong signal. At the same time we need to expose that the real criminals which draining social services are not Undocumented Immigrants are the Owners, Hospital CEO's, CFO's,and the list goes on and on.

Nayda Freire, 61, was sentenced Wednesday to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $8 million in restitution for defrauding Medicare in connection with a $10.9 million HIV infusion fraud scheme.

Freire pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud in connection with her role as the owner of Global Med-Care Corp., a Miami-area HIV clinic that claimed to provide HIV infusion services to Medicare beneficiaries.

Freire admitted that, between April and November 2003, she and others conspired to file $10.9 million in false claims to the Medicare program for HIV infusion services that were not provided and were not medically necessary.

Patients were given kickbacks in return for agreeing to allow Global Med-Care to bill Medicare for the unneeded services.

Freire admitted that she and co-conspirators transferred $6 million to sham management, marketing and investment companies owned and operated by Carlos, Luis and Jose Benitez.

Carlos and Luis Benitez and Thomas McKenzie were charged separately with health care fraud and money laundering crimes in an indictment unsealed on June 11.

On Sept. 18, McKenzie pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of submitting false claims to the Medicare program, and also admitted his role in a $119 million HIV infusion fraud scheme. The Benitez brothers remain fugitives.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Border Patrol checkpoints are Constitutional?

The Border Patrol in Washington is burgeoning in the post-9/11 world. It's got more agents, better equipment, a new station -- and it's making a lot of arrests.

But it has also adopted a tactic that has raised both questions and ire: interior roadblocks dozens of miles from the nearest border.

Since the end of February, the U.S. Border Patrol has operated 53 roadblocks -- border agents call them "tactical traffic checkpoints" -- at the Anacortes ferry terminal, on state Route 20 near Newhalem and on U.S. Highway 101 on the Olympic Peninsula.

The statistics speak for themselves as to the effectiveness of the roadblocks:

81 undocumented immigrants taken into custody;

19 people turned over to other agencies for state crimes; and

24,524 vehicles carrying 41,912 passengers checked.

Out of 41,000+ ID checks, the haven't caught any "terrorists.

To the Border Patrol, the checkpoints are a testament to its efficacy in deterring terrorists, stopping drug smugglers and deporting undocumented immigrants. But others say the price of such enhanced security is a diminution of American liberty.

"How much are we willing to give up?" asks Lois Danks, coordinator of the Stop the Checkpoints Committee on the Olympic Peninsula. "Do we give up our freedom of movement and our privacy? If they stop thousands of people and catch 10 people who work in a Mexican restaurant, how much does that increase our security?"

Border Patrol Chief John Bates points out the checkpoints have been ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. And he says that his agents are simply carrying out their duties as defined by the law, which allows such checkpoints within 100 miles of the border. We run these checkpoints to have an impact on the organizations that bring in narcotics, undocumented immigrants or who potentially could bring terrorists or weapons of mass destruction into the U.S.," Bates said.

With organized narcotics and people-smuggling rings, "we are having an impact," said Bates, who said he has received intelligence reports confirming the checkpoints' deterrent value.

"These organizations do know about the checkpoints and that there is a heightened likelihood that they would be apprehended if they brought people or narcotics across the border."

The Border Patrol has been proactive in trying to explain the checkpoints to affected communities.

"We have a mission that we have to conduct," Bates said.

Bates and other agents heard from a largely disgruntled crowd of about 350 Olympic Peninsula residents at a recent meeting at Chimacum High School.

Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Michael Bermudez said the patrol sought to explain that the checkpoints provide "prevention through deterrence."

It was apparently a tough sell. "I wouldn't say it was a hostile crowd, but it was unsupportive of checkpoints. There were people there that no matter what we shared with them, they were not going to feel any different. But I'm sure there were people on the fence who might have been swayed."

Shankar Narayan, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, was not swayed. "I would say the overwhelming energy in the room was a mood of great concern about the expansion of Border Patrol activities on the Peninsula," Narayan said. "The question in the air was, where does this encroachment on our rights end?"
Narayan said the ACLU is exploring the possibility of filing a lawsuit to stop them.

The Border Patrol is the largest uniformed agency charged with carrying out immigration laws. It is caught in the crossfire of people who oppose laws and policies that result in deportation of undocumented immigrants who are productive members of rural Washington communities.

Danks, for example, said she opposes deporting undocumented Mexicans who have been here for years, working hard and raising children who are American citizens.

The Washington Farm Bureau also has concerns about the roadblocks' impact on agricultural communities.

"We've got these workers and neighbors who are our friends," said Dan Fazio, director of employer services at the Farm Bureau. "At what point does it not feel like America anymore?"
Remember Benjamin Franklin Quote:

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

Or the quote or George Orwell:

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

But the question should be base on the facts; So Let's see if I have this right they stopped 25,000 plus vehicles and asked 41,000 plus people for their papers only to nab 100 people 19 of whom were citizens. The statistics speak for themselves as to the effectiveness of the roadblocks:"
That amounts to a .004 rate of efficiency
. This sounds like a big waste of time and money to me. The big problem I see with this is demanding 41,000 U.S. citizens for their papers. Sounds like Nazi Germany to me, Papers please. What happened to freedom of movement; There is a serious dilemma and I could argue either side.

I thought they were set up to catch "terrorists" - that's the original idea behind the roadblocks. It's Funny how the mission changes once they're set up for it.
I'm always amazed at how easy we give up our Constitutional rights to feel safe or because we have or are in fear

There was recently a post by the excellent Radley Balko on this very topic over at Reason's Hit & Run blog. The 190 Million exception to the fourth amendment includes a map showing the affected area. From the post:The ACLU says that since September 11, 2001, the government has been steadily stretching the limits of Martinez, to the point where the Department of Homeland Security is using that case and the terrorism threat to conduct more thorough, more invasive searches at dozens of checkpoints across the country. With 33 checkpoints now in operation, we're not exactly to the point of "Ihre Papiere, bitte" Berlin yet, but the ACLU does warn that the area of the country 100 miles from every border and coastline would include about 190 million people, or nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Are you prep's for a Big Earthquake?

The presence of the San Andreas fault was brought dramatically to world attention on April 18, 1906, when sudden displacement along the fault produced the great San Francisco earthquake and fire. This earthquake, however, was but one of many that have resulted from episodic displacement along the fault throughout its life of about 15-20 million years.

What Is It?

Scientists have learned that the Earth's crust is fractured into a series of "plates" that have been moving very slowly over the Earth's surface for millions of years. Two of these moving plates meet in western California; the boundary between them is the San Andreas fault. The Pacific Plate (on the west) moves northwestward relative to the North American Plate (on the east), causing earthquakes along the fault. The San Andreas is the "master" fault of an intricate fault network that cuts through rocks of the California coastal region. The entire San Andreas fault system is more than 800 miles long and extends to depths of at least 10 miles within the Earth. In detail, the fault is a complex zone of crushed and broken rock from a few hundred feet to a mile wide. Many smaller faults branch from and join the San Andreas fault zone. Almost any road cut in the zone shows a myriad of small fractures, fault gouge (pulverized rock), and a few solid pieces of rock.

Where Is It?

The San Andreas fault forms a continuous narrow break in the Earth's crust that extends from northern California southward to Cajon Pass near San Bernardino. Southeastward from Cajon Pass several branching faults, including the San Jacinto and Banning faults, share the movement of the crustal plates. In this stretch of the fault zone, the name "San Andreas" generally is applied to the northeastern most branch.

What Surface Features Characterize It?

Over much of its length, a linear trough reveals the presence of the San Andreas fault; from the air, the linear arrangement of lakes, bays, and valleys in this trough is striking. Viewed from the ground, however, the features are more subtle. For example, many people driving near Crystal Springs Reservoir, near San Francisco, or along Tomales Bay, or through Cajon or Tejon Passes may not realize that they are within the San Andreas fault zone. On the ground, the fault can be recognized by carefully inspecting the landscape. The fault zone is marked by distinctive landforms that include long straight escarpments, narrow ridges, and small undrained ponds formed by the settling of small blocks within the zone. Many stream channels characteristically jog sharply to the right where they cross the fault.

What Kind of Movement Has Occurred Along the Fault?

Blocks on opposite sides of the San Andreas fault move horizontally. If a person stood on one side of the fault and looked across it, the block on the opposite side would appear to have moved to the right. Geologists refer to this type fault displacement as right-lateral strike-slip.
During the 1906 earthquake in the San Francisco region, roads, fences, and rows of trees and bushes that crossed the fault were offset several yards, and the road across the head of Tomales Bay was offset almost 21 feet, the maximum offset recorded. In each case, the ground west of the fault moved relatively northward.

Sudden offset that initiates a great earthquake occurs on only one section of the fault at a time. Total offset accumulates through time in an uneven fashion, primarily by movement on first one, and then another section of the fault. The sections that produce great earthquakes remain "locked" and quiet over a hundred or more years while strain builds up; then, in great lurches, the strain is released, producing great earthquakes. Other stretches of the fault, however, apparently accommodate movement more by constant creep than by sudden offsets that generate great earthquakes. In historical times, these creeping sections have not generated earthquakes of the magnitude seen on the "locked" sections.

Geologists believe that the total accumulated displacement from earthquakes and creep is at least 350 miles along the San Andreas fault since it came into being about 15-20 million years ago. Studies of a segment of the fault between Tejon Pass and the Salton Sea revealed geologically similar terranes on opposite sides of the fault now separated by 150 miles, and some crustal blocks may have moved through more than 20 degrees of latitude.

Although it is difficult to imagine this great amount of shifting of the Earth's crust, the rate represented by these ancient offsets is consistent with the rate measured in historical time. Surveying shows a drift at the rate of as much as 2 inches per year.

What Is an Earthquake?

The crustal plates of the Earth are being deformed by stresses from deep within the Earth. The ground first bends, then, upon reaching a certain limit, breaks and "snaps" to a new position. In the process of breaking or "faulting," vibrations are set up that are the earthquakes. Some of the vibrations are of very low frequency, with many seconds between waves, whereas other vibrations are of high enough frequency to be in the audible range.
The vibrations are of two basic types, compression waves and transverse or shear waves. Since the compression waves travel faster through the Earth, they arrive first at a distant point; they are known as primary or "P" waves. The transverse waves arriving later are referred to as shear or "S" waves. In an earthquake, people may note first a sharp thud, or blast-like shock, that marks the arrival of the P wave. A few seconds later, they may feel a swaying or rolling motion that marks the arrival of the S wave.

What Do Earthquake "Magnitude" and "Intensity" Mean?

Magnitude is a measure of the size of an earthquake. The Richter Scale, named after Charles F. Richter of the California Institute of Technology, is the best known scale for the measuring of magnitude (M) of earthquakes. The scale is logarithmic; a recording of 7, for example, signifies a disturbance with ground motion 10 times as large as a recording of 6. The energy released by an earthquake of M 7, however, is approximately 30 times that released by an earthquake of M 6; an earthquake of M 8 releases 900 times (30x30) the energy of an earthquake of M 6. An earthquake of magnitude 2 is the smallest earthquake normally felt by humans. Earthquakes with a Richter value of 5 or higher are potentially damaging. Some of the world's largest recorded earthquakes--on January 31, 1906, off the coast of Colombia and Ecuador, and on March 2, 1933, off the east coast of Honshu, Japan--had magnitudes of 8.9 on this scale, which is open ended.
As the Richter scale does not adequately differentiate between the largest earthquakes, a new "moment magnitude" scale is being used by seismologists to provide a better measure. On the moment magnitude scale, the San Francisco earthquake is estimated at magnitude 7.7 compared to an estimated Richter magnitude of 8.3.

Intensity is a measure of the strength of shaking experienced in an earthquake. The Modified Mercalli Scale represents the local effect or damage caused by an earthquake; the "intensity" reported at different points generally decreases away from the earthquake epicenter. The intensity range, from I - XII, is expressed in Roman numerals. For example, an earthquake of intensity II barely would be felt by people favorably situated, while intensity X would produce heavy damage, especially to unreinforced masonry. Local geologic conditions strongly influence the intensity of an earthquake. Commonly, sites on soft ground or alluvium have intensities 2 to 3 units higher than sites on bedrock.

Earthquakes Along the Fault

Literally thousands of small earthquakes occur in California each year, providing scientists with clear indications of places where faults cut the Earth's crust. The largest historical earthquakes that occurred along the San Andreas fault were those in 1857 and 1906. The earthquake of January 9, 1857, in southern California apparently was about the same magnitude as the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. According to newspaper accounts, ground movement in both cases was roughly the same type. An account of the 1857 earthquake describes a sheep corral cut by the fault that was changed from a circle to an "S"-shape--movement clearly representative of right-lateral strike-slip. Studies of offset stream channels indicate that as much as 29 feet of movement occurred in 1857.
The San Francisco earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906, took about 700 lives and caused millions of dollars worth of damage in California from Eureka southward to Salinas and beyond. The earthquake was felt as far away as Oregon and central Nevada. The 1906 earthquake, which has been estimated at a magnitude 8.3 on the Richter Scale, caused intensities as high as XI on the Modified Mercalli Scale. Surface offsets occurred along a 250- mile length of the fault from San Juan Bautista north past Point Arena and offshore to Cape Mendocino.

On May 18, 1940, an earthquake of magnitude 7.1 occurred along a previously unrecognized fault in the Imperial Valley. Similar movement on the Imperial fault occurred during an earthquake in November 1979. The greatest surface displacement was 17 feet of right-lateral strike-slip in the 1940 earthquake. Clearly, this fault is part of the San Andreas system. Other earthquakes of probable magnitudes of 7 or larger occurred on the Hayward fault in 1836 and 1868 and on the San Andreas fault in 1838.

When Could the Next Large Earthquake Occur Along the San Andreas Fault?
Along the Earth's plate boundaries, such as the San Andreas fault, segments exist where no large earthquakes have occurred for long intervals of time. Scientists term these segments "seismic gaps" and, in general, have been successful in forecasting the time when some of the seismic gaps will produce large earthquakes. Geologic studies show that over the past 1,400 to 1,500 years large earthquakes have occurred at about 150-year intervals on the southern San Andreas fault. As the last large earthquake on the southern San Andreas occurred in 1857, that section of the fault is considered a likely location for an earthquake within the next few decades. The San Francisco Bay area has a slightly lower potential for a great earthquake, as less than 100 years have passed since the great 1906 earthquake; however, moderate-sized, potentially damaging earthquakes could occur in this area at any time.
A great earthquake very possibly will not occur unannounced. Such an earthquake may be preceded by an increase in seismicity for several years, possibly including several foreshocks of about magnitude 5 along the fault. Before the next large earthquake, seismologists also expect to record changes in the Earth's surface, such as a shortening of survey lines across the fault, changes in elevation, and effects on strainmeters in wells. A key area for research on methods of earthquake prediction is the section of the San Andreas fault near Parkfield in central California, where a moderate-size earthquake has occurred on the average of every 20-22 years for about the last 100 years. Since the last sizeable earthquake occurred in 1966, Parkfield has a high probability for a magnitude 5-6 earthquake before the end of this century and possibly one may occur within a few years of 1988. The U.S. Geological Survey has placed an array of instruments in the Parkfield area and is carefully studying the data being collected, attempting to learn what changes might precede an earthquake of about that size.

What Can Be Done About the Faults and Earthquakes?

Even though people cannot stop earthquakes from happening, they can learn to live with the problems caused by earthquakes. Three major lines of defense against earthquake hazards are being developed. Buildings in earthquake-prone areas should be designed and constructed to resist earthquake shaking. Building codes that require attention to earthquake shaking have been improving in recent decades and constitute a first line of defense. In some cities, programs are underway to strengthen or tear down older buildings most likely to collapse during earthquakes. A second line of defense involves the selective use of land to minimize the effects of hazardous ground. High- occupancy or critical structures, for example, should not be placed astride the San Andreas fault or on landslide-prone areas. The third line of defense will be the accurate prediction of earthquakes. When such prediction becomes possible, it will permit timely evacuation of the most hazardous buildings. A major program aimed at learning how to predict earthquakes and to assess and minimize their hazards was initiated following the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 and is being carried out by the U.S. Geological Survey, other Federal Agencies, universities, and private groups

The Crossroads of the failed Immigration Policies.

For an uninsured immigrant suffering a traumatic injury or serious illness, a trip to the wrong emergency room can lead to deportation, even if the immigrant is in the country legally, The New York Times reports. A hospital in Phoenix sent 19-year-old Antonio Torres on a four-hour trip back to Mexico after he showed up in the emergency room with catastrophic injuries from a car accident, despite the fierce protests of his parents.

He and his family were in the country legally, working in the alfalfa fields in Gila Bend, Ariz. While a deadly infection spread through his body as he stayed in a Mexican hospital, his parents found a hospital in California willing to treat him and got him back into the country in a donated ambulance. He recovered despite the dismal prognosis given to him by the hospital in Phoenix.

There are no formal regulations or guidelines for hospitals in the handling of patients like Torres, and they have access to limited federal financing to pay for their treatment, according to the Times, which examined similar cases across the country. Therefore, treatment can vary widely among hospitals left to make the decision whether to treat an uninsured immigrant and bear the costs or repatriate the patient, potentially risking the individual's life in the process.

As a result of the reporting done by the Times, the California Medical Association passed a resolution opposing enforced repatriation of patients. A similar resolution is being considered by the American Medical Association.

Click here to read the full history.

Love has no Borders.

Same-sex couples walked joyfully down the aisle today for the first time in Connecticut, while gay activists planned to march in protests across the country over the vote that took away their right to marry in California.

Advocates said they expected thousands at a demonstration at Boston's City Hall Plaza later today, with gay couples and families featured to try to keep the tone positive, said Ryan McNeely, an organizer for the Join the Impact protest movement.

"We're not trying to convey an image of persecution, we're not trying to attack any specific group," he said. "The point we need to be making is that we need to bring everybody together and to respect each other, and that hate breeds hate."

Bubbles and white balloons bounced in the chilly autumn air as well-wishers cheered the marriage of Peg Oliveira and Jennifer Vickery in New Haven. They wed outside City Hall, next to a statue commemorating the struggle for freedom among captives on the Amistad slave ship.

Despite the roaring traffic and clicking cameras, "it was surprisingly quiet," Oliveira said after the brief ceremony. "Everything else dissolved, and it was just the two of us. It was so much more personal and powerful in us committing to one another, and so much less about the people around us."

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on Oct. 10 that same-sex couples have the right to wed rather than accept a 2005 civil union law designed to give them the same rights as married couples. A lower-court judge entered a final order permitting same-sex marriage this morning.

"Today, Connecticut sends a message of hope and inspiration to lesbian and gay people throughout this country who simply want to be treated as equal citizens by their government," said the plaintiff's attorney, Bennett Klein.

There was no comparison between civil unions and marriage for Robin Levine-Ritterman and Barbara Levine-Ritterman, who obtained a civil union in 2005 and were among eight same-sex couples who sued for the right to marry.

"We didn't do it with pride or joy," Barbara Levine-Ritterman said of getting the civil-union license. "It felt gritty to be in a separate line."

Today, however, she proudly held up the first same-sex marriage license issued in New Haven as about 100 people applauded outside City Hall. She and her betrothed, who held red roses, plan to marry in May.

"It's thrilling today," Barbara Levine-Ritterman said. "We are all in one line for one form. Love is love, and the state recognizes it."

Manchester Town Clerk Joseph Camposeo, president of the Connecticut Town Clerks Association, said clerks in the state's 169 communities were advised by e-mail shortly after 9:30 a.m. that they could start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
"The feedback I'm getting from other clerks is that we're all at the ready, but no one really has a sense yet of what kind of volume we're going to get," he said.

According to the state public health department, 2,032 civil union licenses were issued in Connecticut between October 2005 and July 2008.

The health department had new marriage applications printed that reflect the change. Instead of putting one name under "bride" and the other under "groom," couples will see two boxes marked "bride/groom/spouse."

Massachusetts is the only other state allowing gay marriages. Like the highest courts in that state and Connecticut, the California Supreme Court ruled this spring that same-sex marriage is legal. After thousands of such unions were conducted in California, however, its voters last week approved Proposition 8, a referendum banning the practice.

Constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage also passed last week in Arizona and Florida, and Arkansas voters approved a measure banning unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents.

Gay rights advocates are citing Massachusetts as an example at planned rallies this weekend to demonstrate why gay marriage is beneficial to families and children.

"In Massachusetts, in particular, we have a great story to tell, a great story to tell about marriage equality, that it works and that it's good," said Marc Solomon, executive director of MassEquality.

Kris Mineau of the Massachusetts Family Institute, which opposes gay marriage, said planned and past protests, some of which have been angry in tone and targeted churches, are meant to intimidate the California high court into reversing its ruling that Proposition 8 was constitutional.

"We are a nation that goes by the rule of law," he said. "No court should ever be intimidated by mob rule. And that's what our opponents right now are trying to do."
The California vote has sparked protests and several lawsuits asking that state's Supreme Court to overturn the prohibition.

A group of Southern California activists have launched an effort to have simultaneous protests outside statehouses and city halls in every state Saturday. Demonstrations have been scheduled outside the U.S. Capitol and in more than 100 cities.

Activists also are aiming boycotts and protests at businesses and individuals who contributed to the campaign to pass Proposition 8. Many of the donors are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which played a significant role in encouraging its members to support the California ban.

Mormon churches in several states have become the focus of protests and some vandalism since the vote.

Since lawyers for gay rights groups and the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco have asked the California Supreme Court to invalidate Proposition 8, same-sex couples in California are not flocking to Connecticut and Massachusetts to wed, said Shannon Minter, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

"I think couples are still very hopeful they will be able to marry here," Minter said.
Connecticut voters could have opened the door to ending gay marriage last week by voting for a constitutional convention to amend the state's constitution, but the measure failed.

Peter Wolfgang, the executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, a gay-marriage opponent, acknowledged that banning gay weddings in Connecticut will be difficult but vowed not to give up. He condemned the high court's decision as undemocratic.

"Unlike California, we did not have a remedy," Wolfgang said. "It must be overturned with patience, determination and fortitude."
The state's 2005 civil union law will remain on the books for now. Same-sex couples can continue to enter civil unions, which give them the same legal rights and privileges in Connecticut as married couples without the status of being married. Several states, including California, allow domestic partnerships or civil unions for same-sex couples.