Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Federal immigration officials, over the past year, have dramatically curtailed the controversial practice of sedating deportees with powerful anti-psychotic medication.
The move followed court challenges and a public outcry over the practice, which often involved the use of Haldol, a drug used to treat schizophrenia.
Data collected through Freedom of Information Act requests by The Dallas Morning News show that Immigration and Customs Enforcement sedated only 10 people in the past fiscal year. Haldol was used in only three cases.
Over the past six years, through October, federal immigration personnel sedated 384 deportees, an average of 64 a year, the government disclosed. Of those cases, 356 involved the use of Haldol.
U.S. officials defended the sedation policy but declined to discuss it in detail, including the frequency with which sedation has been used, which led The News to request the information through the Freedom of Information Act.
U.S. officials say the procedure is done on the recommendation of medical personnel and now requires a court order – a change made when the American Civil Liberties Union began opposing the procedure and after Julie L. Myers, then assistant homeland security secretary, learned of the cases.
"When we do ask the court to involuntarily sedate, it is both necessary to effectuate removal and medically appropriate," said Pat Reilly, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security.
Critics said there had been no effective oversight of the process, and some continue to say that the policy violates medical ethics. They praised the use of the court order and sedation restrictions.
"What you are seeing here is that the courts have proven once again that sunshine is the best disinfectant," said Wade Henderson, a lawyer and the president and chief executive officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights in Washington, D.C.
Though the agency has dramatically reduced its use of Haldol to sedate deportees, the practice remains controversial.
Haldol is used to treat schizophrenia and such psychotic symptoms as hallucinations, delusions and hostility.
It is sometimes used in hospital emergency rooms to manage acute agitation and psychosis.
Medical authorities say the use of Haldol carries potential complications. The drug can trigger such adverse reactions as muscular spasms and a condition known as neuroleptic malignant syndrome that can result in a coma and even death if left untreated.
Scott Allen, an internist and co-founder of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights in Providence, R.I., said he opposes sedation except for deportees with schizophrenia or other mental illness.
"The medical community needs to assert itself and make clear the medical ethics of involuntary chemical restraint: It is not acceptable," he said.
As for its decline in use, Dr. Allen said, "That is certainly encouraging, but it enforces the impression they were overusing forced medication in the past."
ICE established the policy of requiring a court order for involuntary sedation of detainees during removal with "no exceptions" in January. ICE said it restated a policy from June 2007.
Ms. Myers, who resigned as assistant homeland security secretary, said she moved toward a policy of "getting a court order so only in the narrowest of circumstances would we proceed like this."
She defined the narrow circumstances in which sedation would be used as those in which the agency believes that "based on the advice of medical professional, that this is the only way to have a safe and secure deportation, and a court agrees with that."
The policy went into effect in June 2007 after the Los Angeles Daily Journal reported that two detainees had been forcibly drugged in an effort to sedate them for a deportation flight.
Last year, the ACLU sued the U.S. government on behalf of the two immigrants, one from Senegal and another from Indonesia. Attorneys for the men believe both were given Haldol. The case was settled for $55,000 in total for the two, and the government admitted no wrongdoing or liability.
In November 2007, the federal government attempted to get a court order to sedate an Albanian man who resisted deportation and boarding from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, screaming he would be killed if he were sent back to Albania.
The man, a political-asylum seeker, was aided by U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, who wrote a private bill that effectively stalled the Albanian's deportation until early 2009.
The government's FOIA disclosures don't indicate whether all 384 sedations were forced or voluntary. But government officials and lawyers who have represented deportees said it is clear that a significant number were involuntarily sedated.
"Immigrants are not animals," said Ahilan Arulanantham, the ACLU attorney involved in the lawsuit against Homeland Security.
A FOIA request for government data for the five fiscal years prior to Oct. 1, 2002, was denied because the federal government said it was unable to locate any records.
The issue of sedations drew further attention in May, when The Washington Post reported its use in more than 250 cases.
The report was based in part on information from the confidential medical logs of deportees.
Even before the policy shift, the practice was used in a relative handful of deportations. In fiscal year 2007, more than 240,000 people went through deportation proceedings.
Race as a factor
The documents show that sedation was used disproportionately against Africans, leading some to suggest that race was a factor.
"The racial dimensions add a particularly troubling dimension to what was already an unacceptable regime of choices," said Mr. Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
U.S. officials deny that race was a factor.
"Nationality is purely coincidental," said Ms. Reilly, the ICE spokeswoman.
Over the six years, nearly 40 percent of those sedated with Haldol were Africans. No other continent had that high a percentage. The cases cover a period from October 2002 through October of this year.
According to the federal data, sedations with Haldol were scattered among deportees from all over Africa, but clusters can be found among deportees from Guinea, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Senegal and Uganda.
On their own
Former Dallas resident Stanley Ukeni of Nigeria was deported in October 2007 after overstaying a visitor visa by more than a decade.
Mr. Ukeni pleaded with immigration officials to let him stay in the U.S., saying he had provoked the wrath of high-ranking officials in Nigeria with human-rights work he had done there on behalf of the Ibo tribe. He said he feared he would be tortured if he returned.
According to Mr. Ukeni, immigration officials gave him a choice: He could land in Lagos, Nigeria, sedated and manacled, or he could remain unsedated, fully conscious and better able to protect himself from harm. He chose to go peacefully and avoided sedation.
In a phone conversation from a relative's home in Nigeria, Mr. Ukeni said he would like to return "home" to Dallas, where he has two small U.S.-born children with his girlfriend. E-mails from Mr. Ukeni and a letter from his Nigerian attorney asserted that Mr. Ukeni had been abducted and severely beaten several times since his return.
ICE officials would not discuss specifics of Mr. Ukeni's case.
But Ms. Reilly acknowledged that deportees are on their own once they arrive in their home country.
"When we remove a person from the United States," she said, "our authority over them ends when they leave an aircraft in their country of origin.
If you put all the different sources of funding together today- the SSI, the IHSS, the child care, welfare and Section 8 - they can make a family income of $5,000 to $8,000 a month without having to really work. That's up to $100,000 a year tax-free. They can live in very nice homes and drive nice cars but the Goverment, Nativist, Minuteman Groups and Anti Immigrants blaming undocumented immigrants when to the contrary are not eligible to receive any "welfare" benefits and even legal immigrants are severely restricted in the benefits they can receive.
As the Congressional Research Service points out in a 2007 report, undocumented immigrants, who comprise nearly one-third of all immigrants in the country, are not eligible to receive public "welfare" benefits -- ever.
In the months since the Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury found that "scam artists" are "embedded" inside the county's in-home care program, an investigation has uncovered widespread fraud, including county employees involved in the schemes.
More than 700 instances of suspected fraud have been referred to the state Department of Health Care Services for investigation, and arrests of In-Home Supportive Services employees are pending, prosecutors said.
"I think the extent of the fraud is greater than anyone ever realized," said James Baker, assistant head deputy in the Welfare Fraud Division of the county District Attorney's Office.
He said officials in the Department of Public Social Services are re-examining the whole in-home care program and protocols.
"They have started an internal review of all IHSS and DPSS employees (involved)," he said.
As the number of county residents receiving in-home care has doubled to 174,000 in the past decade, officials say fraud in the $1.6 billion program has also grown exponentially.
Last summer, the little-noticed section of the grand jury's report found that the entitlement program, which provides in-home care to elderly and disabled people, is rife with fraud.
"The IHSS program is not supposed to be a cottage industry for scam artists, especially those embedded within the ranks of DPSS itself," the report authors wrote. The scams "start inside the organization itself," said
John Gleiter, chairman of the grand jury's Investigative Committee and co-author of the report.
"It's the old Mafia game," said Gleiter, a retired businessman who lives in North Hollywood. "You look inside to see who is watching the chickens, and it's the fox who is watching the chickens."
County Social Services Director Philip Browning, who previously served as the state fraud director in Alabama, said fraud will not be tolerated among the department's 14,000 employees.
"It's heartbreaking to hear situations where employees have done things they shouldn't have and misused the program," he said. "I personally don't believe we have very many employees who are abusing the system, but when we do find these individuals, we want to take every disciplinary action possible and prosecute them to the fullest extent."
Growing concerns about fraud in the in-home program arose after the settlement of two lawsuits involving DPSS workers who blew the whistle.
Earlier this month, the county Board of Supervisors approved a $148,000 settlement for DPSS employee Sandra Siedenburg, who said she suffered retaliation for reporting many instances of elder abuse, theft of government funds and fraud, according to the lawsuit filed by Beverly Hills attorney Leo James Terrell. In the lawsuit, Siedenburg, who lives in Palmdale, complained about failures to investigate after she reported the incidents to her superiors.
In 2006, the supervisors approved a $250,000 settlement with former DPSS welfare case reviewer Gamil Youssef, who alleged he was retaliated against after making allegations of fraudulent activity inside the department.
Last month, the Service Employees International Union permanently banned Tyrone Freeman, former president of the union representing in-home care workers, from union membership, according to an SEIU statement. The SEIU said an independent hearing officer, former California Supreme Court Justice Joseph Grodin, found that Freeman had engaged in a pattern of financial mismanagement and self-dealing in violation of union bylaws. The union demanded that Freeman pay $1.1 million in restitution.
David Kline, spokesman for the California Taxpayers Association, said the grand jury report, the lawsuit settlements and the union president's ouster point toward the need for a statewide investigation.
"It seems like this is exactly the kind of investigation that is needed in every corner of the state because this program has grown very rapidly," Kline said. "If this much waste and fraud is going on in Los Angeles County, then we can only imagine what is going on in the other 57 counties."
In the report, grand jurors wrote that the "well-intentioned" aid program employs more than 120,000 people - mostly family members and relatives - paid $9 an hour to provide care and domestic services to elderly and disabled people.
The care is provided to people unable to take care of themselves. When effective, the program saves the state money by enabling elderly and disabled people to remain in their homes, rather than in far more costly nursing homes and medical facilities.
But county grand jurors found that the program has had mixed effectiveness: on the one hand, helping the "truly needy (and) the thought-to- be-needy," but on the other hand, inadvertently supporting criminal behavior.
"The mission of DPSS-administered aid programs is to ameliorate the plight of the poor and otherwise needy, not to cultivate their situation," jurors wrote.
Baker said his office has prosecuted dozens of people in IHSS scams costing taxpayers millions of dollars - as when people pretended to be blind or schizophrenic to receive benefits, or when some used multiple identities.
Baker said many involved in in-home care scams are also involved in abuse of programs to help the needy with child care, Section 8 housing and food stamps, as well as income assistance through federal and state welfare and Supplemental Security Income programs. In all, it may cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually in fraud, Baker said.
In July, Baker's office filed criminal charges against 21 men and women accused of an IHSS scheme that cost taxpayers more than $2 million.
Among those facing welfare-fraud charges is Kim Johnson, 40, of Palmdale. While receiving $194,000 in IHSS benefits for 24-hour protective supervision due to claimed disability, Johnson was observed driving a Cadillac Escalade, investigators said.
Prosecutors also accused Johnson and others of being involved in a conspiracy to buy a home in the Antelope Valley with profits and $100,000 in Section 8 benefits.
One of the big problems with in-home care is that people can qualify for "any type of disability," including ones "hard to really prove or disprove," Baker said.
"For instance, someone can have someone take them to the doctor and say, `I hear voices,"' he said. "The doctor writes a diagnosis of schizophrenia. They take that to DPSS or SSI, and they get benefits based on the doctor's note."
To crack down on fraud, grand jurors recommended fingerprinting, photographing and conducting criminal-background checks of recipients and providers. They also called for enhanced computer technology to cross-reference program participants and periodically reassess the recipient's actual needs.
In response, the DPSS sponsored a recent meeting with prosecutors and officials from state and federal agencies. The group drafted 29 recommendations to reduce fraud but not eliminating.
Both Browning and Baker say a big problem is that the state Department of Health Care Services, responsible for investigating IHSS fraud, has only a few investigators. Of the 747 fraud referrals DPSS made to the state since 2005, only 142 have been investigated.
A bill was introduced earlier this year to allow counties to conduct their own IHSS investigations, but it did not pass.
"Most of these recommendations are not within our authority," Browning said. "It will take the state Department of Social Services or the Department of Health Care Services to allow us to take some action."
Friday, December 26, 2008
Made your own judgment and opinion. I did mine. Ashamed to see this happen on the 21st Century. Clearly violation of Constitutional rights in Maricopa County against they own constituents.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Minnesota’s 5th District Rep. Keith Ellison and state religious leaders are fasting for 24 hours on behalf of workers from India who were arrested on immigration charges and are being held in Fargo.
Apparently the workers came to the United States after Hurricane Katrina, paying $20,000 each for the chance to work as welders and pipefitters. They said they were told they'd get U.S. citizenship.
After being held in what they called prison-like forced labor camps in the South -- and discovering that their visas were only good for 10 months -- some of the workers walked out and filed a complaint asking the Department of Justice to look into the situation as a human-trafficking case.
While waiting for action on their complaint, they began working on construction of a North Dakota ethanol plant. Twenty-three were arrested there in October by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The workers are supported by many religious and political leaders.
"I join my friends in the faith community in solidarity with the survivors of trafficking detained by ICE. We do so to bring attention to their plight and ask for their immediate release," said Ellison in an announcement of the fast.
Also joining in the fast are Lutheran Bishop Craig Johnson, 36 pastors and AFL-CIO President Ray Waldren.
Ellison, a Minneapolis Democrat, told Minnesota Public Radio: "You know, we should go after the main movers who are the traffickers."
The fasting group will speak in front of the Federal Building in Minneapolis at 2:30 p.m. today, repeating their request that the workers be released.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Fannie Mae today said that the Streamlined Modification Program (SMP) announced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) in November is now available to Fannie Mae servicers and borrowers as an option to help prevent foreclosures. Fannie Mae on December 12, 2008, provided information and guidelines to its servicers regarding the implementation of the SMP.
The SMP is designed to be a streamlined process for modifying the loans of
a large number of borrowers who are delinquent in their mortgage payment and may be able to avoid a foreclosure through the program. As FHFA has indicated, SMP was intended to help set standards in the mortgage servicing industry for conducting loan modification programs on a large scale as a foreclosure prevention measure.
Fannie Mae has been working with FHFA and 27 lenders and servicers in the
HOPE NOW alliance to implement the SMP. Under the program, borrowers who meet
certain eligibility criteria and demonstrate financial hardship may be eligible for a loan modification that reduces their monthly principal and interest payment.
The streamlined process allows a borrower to sign a single document at the outset of the workout process that both establishes a new monthly payment during a three-month trial period, and sets forth the modification terms that will take effect if the borrower makes the new payments during the trial period. The program is available to borrowers who have missed at least three monthly payments on their existing mortgages.
"By bringing the collective efforts of FHFA, Treasury, HOPE NOW, Fannie
Mae, Freddie Mac and other mortgage industry participants together through the
SMP to confront the foreclosure challenge, we'll be able to help more families
across America stay in their homes," said Herb Allison, Fannie Mae president
and CEO. "Along with other recently announced initiatives by Fannie Mae to
reach and help financially troubled borrowers earlier, including our Early
Workout program, the SMP is a critical component of our company's foreclosure
prevention efforts. These efforts are helping more than 10,000 delinquent
borrowers every month get back on track."
Through the SMP, servicers may change the terms of a loan to reduce a
borrower's first lien monthly mortgage payment, including taxes, insurance and
homeowners association payments, to an amount equal to 38 percent of gross
monthly income. The changes in terms may include one or more of the following:
-- Adding the accrued interest, escrow advances and costs to the principal
balance of the loan, if allowed by state law;
-- Extending the length of the mortgage loan as appropriate;
-- Reducing the mortgage loan interest rate in increments of 0.125 percent
to an interest rate that is not less than 3 percent. If the new rate is
set below the market interest rate, after five years it will step up in
annual increments to either the original loan interest rate or the
market interest rate at the time of the modification, whichever is
-- Forbearing on a portion of the principal, which will require the
borrower to make a balloon payment when the loan matures, is paid off,
or is refinanced.
Highlights of the SMP's eligibility requirements communicated to servicers
-- Conforming conventional and jumbo conforming mortgage loans originated
on or before January 1, 2008;
-- Borrowers who are at least three or more payments past due and are not
currently in bankruptcy;
-- Only one-unit, owner-occupied, primary residences; and
-- Current mark-to-market loan-to-value ratio of 90 percent or more.
Servicers will be sending modification solicitation letters beginning this
month to thousands of borrowers believed to be eligible for the program. It is
critical that eligible borrowers respond to these letters and reach out to
their servicers to determine if they can receive SMP assistance. Also,
borrowers who don't receive a letter are encouraged to contact their servicer
to see if they may be eligible for SMP help. Fannie Mae will be working with
servicers to monitor and improve implementation of the program as necessary.
Fannie Mae exists to expand affordable housing and bring global capital to
local communities in order to serve the U.S. housing market. Fannie Mae has a
federal charter and operates in America's secondary mortgage market to enhance
the liquidity of the mortgage market by providing funds to mortgage bankers
and other lenders so that they may lend to home buyers. In 2008, we mark our
70th year of service to America's housing market. Our job is to help those who
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Lyrics to Lejos De Mi Tierra :
Tal vez en mi tierra no se den las cosas como yo quisiera.
Por eso mi hermano, Norteamericano, cruzé la frontera.
Salí de mi patria, dejandolo todo por que fue preciso.
Pero habrás notado, nada me he robado de tu paraiso.
Al contrario vine para la grandeza de ese pueblo hermano.
En tu dura lucha contra el terrorismo vamos de la mano.
Y me lastima y me llora el alma cuando te hacen daño.
Tú en cambio me humillas y me descriminas como a un ser extraño.
Yo en nada te ofendo cuando te propongo mi trabajo honrado.
Lo poco que tengo, ante Dios lo juro que me lo he ganado.
Ya bastante sufro con vivir tan solo lejos de mi gente.
No se me hace justo que hasta me persigas como a un delinquente.
Y no se me hace justo. No se me hace justo, y no se me hace justo!!!]
Yo en nada te ofendo cuando te propongo mi trabajo honrado.
Lo poco que tengo, ante Dios lo juro, que me lo he ganado.
Ya bastante sufro con vivir tan solo lejos de mi gente.
No se me hace justo que hasta me persigas como a un delinquente.
No se me hace justo que hasta me persigas como a un delinquente
Monday, December 15, 2008
This is my response to Steven Camarota from the Think Tank group Center for Immigration Studies regarding blaming Undocumented Immigrants as the major source of draining social services like Welfare, Medicare and MediCaid.
Wrong...For low Education just .click here: and here, Here. My main focus is to find the true and not guessing or estimate like Steve Camarota, Lou Dobbs, and so on and on. Let's focus on facts.
Estimate that 90% of Mexican and Latin American households have at least one worker. Their heavy welfare use reflects their low education levels and resulting low incomes – and not an unwillingness work.
Myth: Mexicans and Latin Americans makes heavy use of Welfare?
Facts: To the contrary, undocumented immigrants are not eligible to receive any "welfare" benefits and even legal immigrants are severely restricted in the benefits they can receive.
As the Congressional Research Service points out in a 2007 report, undocumented immigrants, who comprise nearly one-third of all immigrants in the country, are not eligible to receive public "welfare" benefits -- ever.
Legal permanent residents (LPRs) must pay into the Social Security and Medicare systems for approximately 10 years before they are eligible to receive benefits when they retire. In most cases, LPRs can not receive SSI, which is available only to U.S. citizens, and are not eligible for means-tested public benefits until 5 years after receiving their green cards.
A 2007 analysis of welfare data by researchers at the Urban Institute reveals that less than 1 percent of households headed by undocumented immigrants receive cash assistance or Welfare for needy families, compared to 5 percent of households headed by native-born U.S. citizens.
Facts: Six people suspected of allegedly defrauding child care welfare programs of more than $1 million were arrested Friday, the District Attorney's Office reported.
Total of nine defendants, including a county employee of the agency that administers welfare programs, are charged in three separate cases, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Beatrice Harvey, 28, was arrested Nov. 26 at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services office in Lancaster, where she works, officials said.
She has pleaded not guilty and remains jailed on $181,000 bail.
Harvey allegedly applied for and received more than $136,000 in aid between Nov. 30, 2001, and June 30, 2006. She allegedly failed to report that she was married and that her husband was fully employed by the county Department of Children and Family Services, the District Attorney's Office reported.
Harvey is due at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse next Monday. She is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require her to stand trial on one felony count of grand theft of personal property and five felony counts of perjury by declaration.
Those arrested Friday by investigators from the District Attorney's Office were:
Erica Manesha Dunn, 27, of North Hills;
Tammi Howard, 41, of Los Angeles;
Sannice Lavette Arthur, 41, of Los Angeles;
Cedric Dale, 41, and Darlene Jenkins, 46, who were arrested near Fort Worth, Texas.
Greta Marie Brown, 36, who was arrested in Long Beach.
Prosecutors allege Dunn, Howard and Arthur allegedly collected more than $665,000 for child care services that were not provided.
Dale is charged with orchestrating the theft of more than $340,000 of child care funds with Jenkins and Brown. The three allegedly worked with defendants connected with Harvey, according to the District Attorney's Office.
And for more Facts just click here: CIS, CIS2, CIS3, CIS4, CIS5.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Today I just received a phone call from my sister In-Law with not a good news; My mother is 86 years old and now that I am no longer young, I have friends whose mothers have passed away. I have heard these sons and daughters say they never fully appreciated their mothers until it was too late to tell them.
I turn to you to give you thanks for my mother who is still alive. With your own gift of life, she bore me in her womb and gave me life. She tenderly, patiently cared for me and taught me to walk and talk. She read to me and made me laugh. No one delighted in my successes more; no one could comfort me better in my failures. I am so grateful for how she mothered me and mentored me, and even disciplined me. I appreciate her more each day. My mother does not change, but I do. As I grow older, I realize what an beautiful and pleasant person she is. How sad that I am unable to speak these words in her presence, but they flow easily from my pen. How does a Son begin to thank her mother for life itself? For the love, patience and just plain hard work that go into raising a child? Today, she needs me more than anything and I unable to assist her the same way she cares for me but Dear God you know me and know my heart, my soul, my feelings that I care even for my enemies. Dear God; Today I pray for a miracle for my mother (Candida), please touch her, and cause this problem to right itself, bring healing and deliverance, and touch her with your peace that passes understanding. Help her to hold onto her faith, as you work in her life. We give you praise ahead of time, for what you are willing to do. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The Senate GOPs sent a message to blue-collar workers when they killed the Auto Industry Loan: "We aren't the party of the working.
I'm not a fan of bailouts, but we sent over $700 billion to the financial services industry without any salary strings attached. Even middle management guys get bonuses larger than probably State Senators.
Why didn't Republicans go after the dealership system and the corporate people?
As well as AIG is offering "retention payments" from $92,500 to $4 million dollars to employees for "not quitting." I know it's standard industry practice when a company is on the market, but it's still a bonus to well paid people financed by taxpayers.
But why the Goverment do not helping Homeowners? Seems that someone has diverted the main problem to bail out Car Makers and Banks CEO's, Managements. There have been many mortgage businesses popping up in the last few years, its no wonder that a boiling point has been hit. The number of adjustable home mortgages that were sold in the last few years in the United States are now set to readjust, with a total of 370 billion’s worth of loans resetting in 2008.
Seeing Home prices drop and inventory increases from foreclosures. There are new factors in the market now that will affect your ability to refinance, but a lot of these loans were switched to fixed rate.
If you happen to live in California or Florida, you will by now understand that it is a buyer’s market of immense proportions. So many people defaulted on their house loans that the inventory of homes may take many months to clear.Causing prices to drop drastically, if you purchased during high tide, there is a possiblity that your home is worth much less then what you purchased it for. Negative equity will also make refinancing harder to get. Not all housing markets are doing badly.
Speaking with your lender is what you probably need to do to compromise your mortgage terms. In order for you to make your mortgage payment, it may be necessary to cut back on some unnecessary or necessary expenses to retained your home but what about CEO, Management's from Banks, Car Makers, Insurance companies? Do they cutting back on their big salaries, bonuses?.
There isn't any little help for you to recover in any time soon because mortgage Companies, Lenders, Banks do not want to help you to retain your home; They are making more money out your home in foreclosure. Can someone help the real people rather than systematic and unproductive Companies? If homeowners are accountable and liable for losing their homes. Why the Goverment din't find anybody accountable and responsible for their missmanagement on this crisis? Why the Federal Goverment Bail out Insurance companies, Banks, Car Makers without any restructuration program? Just remember is your money fight for it.
In an attempt to temper his aggressive rhetoric towards Undocumented immigration.
Dobbs, who has a long track record of defaming immigrants by linking them to crime, disease and other horrors, would probably like to pretend that immigrant bashing doesn't lead to hate crimes. But the facts of the Lucero case show otherwise. The teens implicated in Lucero's murder specifically declared that they were going to "go jump a Mexican" and went out hunting in the ethnically diverse village of Patchogue. Latinos in Suffolk County have long reported being threatened and physically harassed and there have been other highly publicized attacks there, including the near-beating death of two Mexican day laborers in 2001 and the burning of a Mexican family's house in 2003.
Lou Dobbs has often claimed that he supports legal immigration. This isn't the first time Dobbs has had trouble with facts. In what has now become a rather infamous incident, in 2007 Dobbs relied on Madeleine Cosman, a woman who repeatedly ranted about Latino men raping boys, girls and nuns, to argue that immigrants were largely responsible for some 7,000 cases of leprosy that had been reported in the United States in a recent three-year period. The numbers were utterly false, resulting in a New York Times column that said Dobbs has "a somewhat flexible relationship with reality."
DOBBS: You cannot reform immigration if you cant control it. You cannot control immigration unless you control the borders. Absolutely. I am also for raising legal immigration.
I am just excited about legal immigration Im more excited.
Of course, when it comes down to actually supporting legal immigration, Lou backs down.
DOBBS: Both presidential candidates support expanding guest worker visa programs, programs that bring in cheap foreign labor at the expense of American workers. Bill Tucker has our report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is no shortage of programs to import foreign workers into the American economy. It's an alphabet soup And there is not a single study documenting the fact that we need all of these guest worker visa programs. But what we do have is eight straight months of rising unemployment and we have, Lou, a Congress ready to add more visas into this mix. Zoe Lofgren yesterday introduced a bill into the House to do what they call recapture 550,000 visas at a time when the unemployment rate in this country is 6.1 percent. They want to add another half million foreign workers into this economy.
Had Dobbss staff actually bothered to do some research, instead of repeating talking points from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a designated hate group, they would have easily found that:
1.The bill recaptures permanent immigrant visas, commonly known as green cards, not guest worker visas.
2.About half the visas are family-based (for spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents), not employment-based.
3.These are not new visas, but visas already allotted by law to family- and employment-based immigrants that USCIS and the State Department failed to use from 1992 to 2007.
The bill (HR 5882) was recently introduced in the House by Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Jim Sensenbrenner and has received significant bi-partisan support. Even noted conservative Grover Norquist, of Americans for Tax Reform, wrote a letter of support for the bill, stating:
H.R. 5882 will recapture un-used green cards back to 1992, and reallocates them to reduce current green card backlog. It also allows any unused green cards to be rolled over to the following year.
Government officials see the visa recapture bill as a solution to the problem of backlogs. On April 30, 2008, during a hearing on the growing backlogs of visas, Charles Oppenheim, chief of Visa Control and Reporting Division for the State Department, expressed his professional opinion of the bill.
Mr. OPPENHEIM: The contemplated bill [HR 5882] will be the final step, I believe, and it will allow us instead of having to have unused numbers fall across to the opposite category, they can be retained for use in that category the following year. That is a tremendous step forward and will allow if for one reason there was we were unable to use the numbers this year, then we would have the following years to use them.
Rep. LOFGREN: So that would give you a little leeway in your estimates? You wouldnt have to hit perfection every—
Mr. OPPENHEIM: Exactly. It is a perfect solution.
So if everybody agrees that the bill would help smooth out the legal immigration system, why doesnt Lou support it? Maybe its because he doesnt support any type of immigration, legal or otherwise
The Suffolk County Police Department is conducting a sweeping review of police reports to search for evidence of hate crimes that haven't shown up in official statistics, Commissioner Richard Dormer said Thursday.
Dormer told the county legislature's Public Safety Committee that he launched the investigation two weeks ago. He said it will include every 2008 police report from the Fifth Precinct in Patchogue, where Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero was killed Nov. 8.
Seven teenagers who police say sought to attack a Hispanic person have been charged in connection with his death.
Dormer said reviews will continue in other precincts covering neighborhoods in Brentwood and Huntington with significant Hispanic populations.
We need to be aware and be sensitive that even if [reports are] written up as minor incidents, they may indicate that something larger is happening," Dormer said in an interview.
Dormer said he does not have a target date to finish the review and that the final results may not be made public.
Since the Lucero killing, Dormer and County Executive Steve Levy have defended the county's hate crime statistics, which list one anti-Hispanic crime in 2007 that fits criteria of the hate crimes statute.
Levy says the county's anti-Hispanic crime figures are similar to Nassau's. Between 2005 and 2007, for instance, each county reported 13 hate crimes against Hispanics. Overall in that period, Suffolk reported to the state a total of 264 crimes that fit the hate crimes statute, while Nassau reported 313.
Suffolk also provided new statistics Thursday showing that over the same period, 25 hate incidents against Hispanics were reported to police. Not all the incidents ended up fitting the hate crimes statute, however. No comparable figures for Nassau were available.
Patrick Young, director of the Central American Refugee Center in Hempstead, said the review shows Levy and Dormer are questioning Suffolk's official crime statistics.
"It shows that the confidence that Steve Levy and Commissioner Dormer expressed a week ago was already in question in their own minds a week prior to that," he said.
State Assemb. Phil Ramos (D- Central Islip), a former Suffolk detective who Thursday called for state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate the county's hate crime data, said that although he welcomes Dormer's review, the police reports probably won't offer a complete picture of ethnic attacks.
"Field reports are very brief," he said. "Certainly it's worthy of review, but I think that more intensive review would reveal a truer picture."
County Legis. Ricardo Montano (D-Central Islip) said the review won't capture the primary problem -- that Hispanics are afraid to call police.
"If you view the local police as your enemy," he said, "you're not going to call them."
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thousands of pilgrims pour into the enormous Basilica of Mexico City on 12 December to pay their respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Mexico's patron saint is behind the conversion of tens of thousands to the Roman Catholic faith.
The Virgin first appeared in 1531 to Juan Diego, an indigenous Mexican Christian convert. He was walking in the hills through sacred Aztec ground when she appeared to him and instructed him to fill his gown with rose petals, to report the event to the Bishop of the Diocese and have him build a shrine on the spot. As he spoke the roses fell from his clothing to reveal an image of the Lady of Guadalupe imprinted on his cloak. Ever since, apparitions have been witnessed all over the Americas.
Today, Our Lady of Guadalupe is patron of the Americans and the most celebrated saint on the Pacific Rim - her shrine is the most visited pilgrimage site in the western hemisphere and her icon appears on T-shirts and the bonnets of cars, even magnetically attached to household fridges. Pope John Paul II visited twice and in 1999 declared the saint's day a liturgical Holy Day for the whole continent. Her feast day draws devotees from as far south as Chile and the northern reaches of the United States of America to pay their respects.
The Basilica is located on the spot where the vision took place, now a northern Mexico City neighbourhood called Villa de Guadalupe Hidalgo (or simply "la Villa"). Some devotees still approach the last few hundred metres on their knees. If this is not for you, there is a metro stop there (La Villa Basilica) and several buses stop nearby too. Visitors to the shrine will be able to appreciate the cloak in question, set behind a 30-ton railing. Visit her shrine and you will not be alone, but you may be blessed!
Former Grant County, Kentucky Detention Center Officers Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations in Teenager Rape Case.
Wesley Lanham, 31, and Shawn Freeman, 36, both former deputy jailers at Grant County Detention Center in Kentucky, were sentenced today on federal civil rights, conspiracy, and obstruction charges. Lanham was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 3years of supervised release, and Freeman was sentenced to 14 years in prison and 3 years of supervised release. Both defendants were found guilty of conspiring to violate the civil rights of a teenaged traffic offender by arranging for him to be raped by inmates. The jury convicted the defendants on all charges and specifically found that the defendants were responsible for the aggravated sexual assault carried out by the inmates.
"Although nothing can fully heal the wounds inflicted on this teenager, hopefully the defendants’ sentences today will bring closure to this young man and his family," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "His courage in coming forward helps to ensure that egregious acts such as this one will be appropriately punished, and facilitates the Justice Department’s efforts to ensure the integrity of law enforcement."
The case stemmed from an incident that occurred on Feb. 14, 2003, when the defendants, along with their supervisor, former Sergeant Shawn Sydnor, taunted an 18-year-old high school student who had been brought to the detention center on a speeding charge. The deputies teased the teenager about his physical appearance and told him that he would make a good "girlfriend" for the other inmates. The defendants then solicited a group of convicted felons housed in a general population cell to scare and "mess with" the teenager. After eliciting an agreement from the inmates, the officers left the teenager in the cell where he was sexually assaulted by the other inmates.
When the teenager’s father reported the incident and demanded an investigation, the defendants falsified their official reports relating to the treatment of the teenager.
A third defendant, former Sergeant at the jail, Clint Shawn Sydnor, previously pleaded guilty to civil rights and conspiracy charges and was sentenced earlier today to 90 months in prison.
This case was prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Kristy L. Parker and Trial Attorney Forrest Christian of the Criminal Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation
FORMER IRS EMPLOYEE AND WIFE SENTENCED IN D.C. PROPERTY TAX REFUND FRAUD SCHEME
Fraudulently Obtained Nearly $9 Million in D.C. Government Checks;
Used Funds to Purchase at Least Four Jaguars, a Townhouse and Vacations to the Bahamas.
Greenbelt, Maryland—U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. sentenced former IRS employee Robert O. Steven, age 55, of Edgewater, Maryland, today to 46 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, and his wife Patricia A. Steven, age 73, of Harwood, Maryland, to 70 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, for receipt of stolen property and conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with a property tax refund scheme in which over $48 million were stolen from the District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jeffrey A. Taylor.
Judge Williams also ordered that Robert Steven and Patricia Steven each pay $8,833,310.32, and, in order to satisfy such money judgment, to forfeit three Jaguar cars, two residences, jewelry and monies held in four bank accounts.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein stated, “This case is particularly egregious because Robert Steven was an IRS employee when he joined in this conspiracy to steal millions of dollars from D.C. taxpayers and spend the money on luxury items, and his wife Patricia Steven spent over 16 years laundering almost $9 million into a bank account she controlled with her husband. We seek the forfeiture of all criminal proceeds and property purchased with stolen money because victims deserve restitution and criminals must not be permitted to profit from their crimes.”
“Money laundering is not a victimless crime. The underground, untaxed economy harms the entire nation’s economic strength. IRS-Criminal Investigation is united with the rest of the law enforcement community in our resolve to financially disrupt criminal organizations that commit crimes against our society and economy,” said C. Andre' Martin, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge.
According to court documents, Robert Steven was employed with the IRS since 1975. At the time of his arrest, Steven’s position was Division Director, Modernization Information Technology Systems, and his office was located at the IRS National Office in New Carrollton, Maryland.
According to the plea agreements, Patricia Steven first met Harriette Walters, a former manager within the District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue, in the mid-1970s. By the late 1980's, Harriette Walters proposed that Patricia Steven deposit a check drawn on a District of Columbia government bank account and made payable to Patricia Steven. Walters explained that Steven would be allowed to keep a portion of the proceeds from the check, but would have to return a substantial portion to Walters. Despite knowing that Walters obtained the check fraudulently, Patricia Steven agreed and deposited the first check.
Robert and Patricia Steven opened a business that eventually developed into a clothing design business called “Bellarmine Design.” Bellarmine Design never grossed more than $15,000 in a single year. From 1990 to 2007, Patricia Steven and Harriette Walters made 67 deposits of fraudulently obtained District of Columbia government checks or cash proceeds from the scheme into a Bellarmine Design checking account maintained by Steven and Patricia Steven. The individual checks ranged in amounts from a handful of initial deposits over $4,000 each, to subsequent deposits of up to $490,000. Patricia Steven also transferred at least $344,700 to Harriette Walters.
Patricia and Robert Steven transferred at least $1,709,500 of these funds into another bank account used primarily by Robert Steven. Using these funds, Robert and Patricia Steven purchased at least four Jaguar cars, a townhouse located in Edgewater, Maryland and multiple vacations to the Bahamas.
Harriette M. Walters, age 52, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy; 10 years for District of Columbia tax evasion; five years for federal tax evasion; and an order to pay restitution in the amount of $48,115,419.09. U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia Emmet G. Sullivan has scheduled her sentencing for March 25, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. Alethia O. Grooms, age 52, of Clinton, Maryland and Samuel Earl Pope, age 61, of Washington, D.C. also pleaded guilty to their participation in the scheme. Judge Sullivan scheduled their sentencing for February 24 and 26, 2009.
Jayrece Turnbull, age 34, of Bowie, Maryland, who is Harriette Walters’ niece, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Baltimore to her participation in this tax refund scheme in which she deposited over $24 million in fraudulently obtained government checks into accounts she controlled. She faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for receipt of stolen property; 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the transactions involved, whichever is greater, for conspiracy to commit money laundering; 30 years for mail fraud; and five years and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss, whichever is greater, for tax evasion. Judge Williams has scheduled her sentencing for February 4, 2009 at 9:30 a.m.
Judge Williams sentenced Ricardo R. Walters, age 33, of Ft. Washington, Maryland, on July 23, 2008 to 78 months in prison for receipt of stolen property and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Judge Williams sentenced Richard Walters, age 49, of Bowie, Maryland, who is Harriette Walters’ brother, on November 4, 2008 to 51 months in prison for receipt of stolen property and conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with this scheme.
Marilyn Yoon, age 40, of Derwood, Maryland; Walter Jones, age 33, of Essex, Maryland; and Connie Alexander, age 53, of Bowie, Maryland have also pleaded guilty to their participation in the scheme. Yoon, the next defendant to be sentenced, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for possession of property obtained by fraud at her sentencing scheduled for December 11, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. Walter Jones faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the transactions involved, whichever is greater, for conspiracy to commit money laundering at his sentencing on January 5, 2009. Alexander faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for receipt of stolen property and 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering at her sentencing scheduled by Judge Williams for February 12, 2009.
United States Attorneys Rod J. Rosenstein and Jeffrey A. Taylor thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation; the Inspector General’s Office for the District of Columbia; the District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue, Criminal Investigation Division; the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration; and the District of Columbia Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of Integrity and Oversight for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Su and Deborah Johnston from the District of Maryland and Assistant United States Attorneys Timothy Lynch and David Johnson from the District of Columbia, who are prosecuting the case.
All human beings are born free and
equal in dignity and rights".
It is now years since the signing of the universal declaration of human rights.
Translated into more than 360 languages and incorporated into many national laws, the document condemns discrimination, slavery, torture and arbitrary arrest.
But six decades on, many of those principles are under threat around the world.
Rosie Garthwaite's report contains images that may disturb or offend some viewers.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
They are not muslims, either Undocumented Immigrants, neither Mexicans.
Two Plead Guilty to Bombing U.S. Courthouse in San Diego
United States Attorney Karen P. Hewitt announced that Ella Louise Sanders pled guilty today in federal court in San Diego before the Honorable Margaret M.. McKeown to one count of possession and use of a destructive device to commit a crime of violence, to wit: conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c). As part of her guilty plea, Sanders admitted that she conspired with others to construct and detonate a series of pipe bombs, including the bombs used against the Edward J. Schwartz Federal Courthouse in San Diego on May 4, 2008, and a Federal Express distribution center in San Diego on April 25, 2008.
In her plea, Sanders admitted that she purchased explosive material and stole pipes for the purpose of constructing pipe bombs. Sanders admitted that she and a co-conspirator constructed two pipe bombs, which were then used against the Federal Express distribution center on 47th Street in San Diego on April 25, 2008. Sanders also admitted that, on May 3, 2008, she helped the co-conspirator construct three more pipe bombs. The next day, Sanders helped the co-conspirator conceal her identity shortly before the conspirator detonated three pipe bombs at the Edward J. Schwartz Federal Courthouse.
On September 25, 2008, Eric Robinson pled guilty before United States Magistrate Judge Peter C. Lewis to the same conspiracy charge as Sanders. Robinson’s guilty plea was entered subject to final acceptance by Judge McKeown. Today, Judge McKeown formally accepted Robinson’s guilty plea. Robinson is scheduled to appear before Judge McKeown in federal court in San Diego for sentencing on June 15, 2009 and Sanders is scheduled for sentencing on August 3, 2009, both at 9:30 a.m.
Criminal Case No. 08-CR-1895-MMM
Ella Louise Sanders
Eric Reginald Robinson
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c) - Possession of a Destructive Device in Relation to a Crime of Violence; Maximum penalties: Not less than 30 years in prison
The nation's top immigration cop unknowingly used a company that hired Undocumented workers to clean his home for about three years, starting in 2005.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff hired the Maryland-based Consistent Cleaning Services to clean his home in the D.C. suburbs every few weeks for the past three years until an investigation conducted by one of his department's agencies discovered the company hired Undocumented workers.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation, which began in January, culminated in charges against the owner of the cleaning company, James Reid, who was fined $22,800 in October, according to a homeland security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. Nine of Reid's employees were found using fraudulent documents, and 11 did not produce the appropriate forms to verify that they were legally allowed to work in the United States, the official said.
The investigation has not proven that any of the illegal workers actually cleaned Chertoff's home, the official said.
The company had cleaned Chertoff's home every few weeks for $185 since 2005. Chertoff became aware of the situation in April, fired the company and recused himself from the investigation, the official said.
Company owner James Reid did not immediately return phone calls. But in an interview with The Washington Post, Reid said, "Our homeland security can't police their own home. How can they police our borders?"
The Post first reported the story Thursday. Reid told the paper that the fines he faces could put him out of business.
Chertoff spokesman Russ Knocke said contractors are responsible for ensuring that their employees can work in the U.S. legally. "As customers, the Chertoffs obtained assurances from Mr. Reid that any personnel he dispatched to their home were authorized to work in the United States," Knocke said in a statement Thursday.
The Secret Service screens all workers at the Chertoff residence. The screening includes criminal history checks, physical screening and an agent escort while on the premises, Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren said.
"This matter illustrates the need for comprehensive immigration reform, and the importance of effective tools for companies to determine the lawful status of their work force," Knocke said.
Speaking Oct. 23 on the state of immigration, Chertoff boasted about his department's record year for worksite enforcement cases - which led to more than 6,000 arrests.
He also said, "We need to make sure our own house is in order," referring not to his own home, but to the federal government, which now is required to use a federal online database to check whether the workers are in the country legally.
To solve the immigration problem, Chertoff has said the next administration will need to go back to Congress for comprehensive reform. When Congress failed to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul in 2007, the administration kicked up its enforcement of the immigration laws already on the books.
Pressure to revisit immigration reform will build quickly on President-elect Barack Obama's administration and the new Congress, from Latino supporters, immigration groups and some business interests. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said Democrats may have to give up some of their priorities - such as giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship - to get an agreement.
Before Chertoff was nominated to be homeland security secretary, President George W. Bush selected former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik for the job. Kerik withdrew his name after acknowledging he had not paid all taxes for a family nanny-housekeeper and that the woman may have been in the country undocumented.
Farmworkers who have Seen for themselves that there is NO JUSTICE in this World of Woes: because the People who do the Most Work seem to get Paid the Least Money for it, while those People who do the Least Work seem to get Paid the Most Money for it. Therefore, there Needs to be a more Equitable System of Good Government, which makes Farming Profitable for whomever is Willing and Able to Learn and Work.
The FBI confirmed Yesterday it was investigating allegations that a farmer fired shotgun blasts over Mexican guest workers' heads, exposed them to pesticides and paid them less than minimum wage.
The abuse allegations were outlined in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday by immigrant rights organizations.
A delegation of African Americans attempted to conduct a citizen's arrest of their boss, Charles "Bimbo" Relan, because he is violating the federal laws that define slavery, peonage, human trafficking, and servitude.
The lawsuit accuses Charles "Bimbo" Relan, owner of Bimbo's Best Produce, of forcing the workers to toil in strawberry fields in Amite, La., about 75 miles northwest of New Orleans. Relan also confiscated the workers passports so they would not flee, the lawsuit claims.
"We worked hunched over for hours, doing backbreaking work. He treated us like animals. We were not human beings," said former worker J. Jesus Martinez-Hernandez, one of 13 plaintiffs.
Hours before the lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court, FBI spokeswoman Sheila Thorne said authorities were investigating possible civil-rights violations in the case. She declined further comment.
Relan didn't immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.
According to the lawsuit, Relan oversaw field work carrying a shotgun and fired it over workers' heads "on occasion." He also shot a stray dog to death that workers had befriended, according to the lawsuit.
Relan did not spray the pesticides on workers, but in a proximity that "vapors from these pesticides came into contact with plaintiffs' skin and mouths," according to the lawsuit.
The workers were in the country legally under the H2A visa program, which enlist foreigners to do seasonal farm work for at least minimum wage.
Why it's not obviously silly for police to enforce and prevent public intoxication laws in bars. Whatever the legal justification for the policy in question, it still ought to be abandoned if it doesn't produce results than just racial profiling and lawsuits.
And I check on the internet and I found out a good evidence that there is a controversy on arresting people specially latinos. Check this site: Where it clearly denoted that 3/4 of those arrest are Latinos or Hispanics.
Shed Sunshine on Police records of drunk arrests.
By Skyler Porras is the director of the San José office of the ACLU of Northern California.
Amid the swirling controversy over the San Jose Police Department's practice of arresting large numbers of people — especially Latinos — under the state public-intoxication law, the department is damaging its reputation by choosing secrecy over transparency.
Before the city council hearing on Nov. 18, the American Civil Liberties Union submitted a formal request that these arrest reports be made public under the state open-records law. But days after the mayor and council said they wanted "broad-based community input" on the issue, the police department refused to publicly release the arrest records.
The council has directed the city manager to form a task force of community stakeholders to address this issue. But how will the task force members accurately identify the scope and nature of the problem if they are denied access to the most important records documenting it?
The Mercury News' reporting on this subject and analysis of the available arrest data have put two very simple, if uncomfortable, questions at the feet of local public officials:
Has the police department been making large numbers of false arrests for public drunkenness?
If so, are Latinos much more likely to be the victims of these bad arrests?
According to state law, people cannot be lawfully arrested for public intoxication unless they are so intoxicated that they are a danger to themselves or others or are obstructing use of sidewalks or streets. Officers must document these facts in a police report. Therefore, the obvious starting point for any serious examination of whether police are misusing this law is to review the police reports for these arrests. As the Mercury News reported, there were a whopping 4,661 of them in 2007. Fifty-seven percent of those arrested were Latinos.
The law is crystal clear that police officials have the discretion to release these records. But in the absence of a strong local sunshine ordinance in San Jose, as exists in some other California cities like Oakland and San Francisco, they do not have to do so.
The official justification for stamping these arrest reports "top secret" was the claim that they are "records of investigations." But releasing the police reports wouldn't compromise any future investigations because simple intoxication busts don't lead to any further investigation. And any prosecutions or further proceedings for public intoxication arrests that took place in 2007 were closed long ago.
Secrecy is bad policy
Chief Rob Davis has been a vocal opponent of a local sunshine ordinance that would require the police to make these sorts of records public. It's not a big surprise that a police agency would act to shield unlawful and embarrassing tactics from public scrutiny. But it's poor public policy to allow it. Unnecessary secrecy has a corrosive effect on public trust and closes doors to cooperative approaches.
Stonewalling community concerns about possible police misconduct doesn't lead to resolution. It leads to lawsuits. It leads to investigations by outside agencies — like the about-to-be-revived Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice: During the tenure of the presumptive Obama Attorney General Eric Holder at the Justice Department, the agency targeted local police departments for investigations specifically if they appeared to be stonewalling legitimate local concerns.
A well-conceived sunshine law would create a strong local legal presumption in favor of openness. Isn't it time for San Jose to adopt one?
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The long anticipated regulation changes to slash wages and reduce worker protections under the H-2A agricultural guestworker program are out. The changes, proposed by the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) were revealed on the DOL website late Monday evening but have not yet been officially published in the Federal Register.
The changes are horrible. At a time when the jobless rate is at a 15 year high, they reduce obligations for growers to effectively recruit U.S. workers before applying to bring in guestworkers for these jobs. They lower the wage rates for all farmworkers by changing the program's wage formula and, in an industry known for labor abuses, they eliminate or reduce government oversight.
This parting gift on behalf of the Bush Administration to our nation's farmworkers is irresponsible and completely unacceptable. The H-2A guestworker program is already rife with abuse. These changes will only make a bad program worse. That's why today, Farmworker Justice is releasing a special report, Litany of Abuses: Why more -not fewer-labor protections are needed in the H-2A program. This report explains the current protections within the program and highlights some recent court cases illustrating the harm caused to both U.S. farmworkers and guestworkers alike. We urge you to take a look at the report then act now to urge Congress to take action to stop the Bush Administration from formally issuing the regulations. There are reasonable alternatives to solve the farm labor crisis that have won bipartisan support. The Bush Administration's harmful changes are completely unnecessary.
These midnight regulations will put farmworkers in this country back more than 60 years. During this holiday season, with so many families facing overwhelming economic burdens, we must think about the people toiling to put food on our tables. They deserve fair wages and decent working conditions. Bush's legacy to farmworkers must be undone.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
By Stephen Lemos. Phoenix New Times.
In a surprising turn of events in the pending bench trial of nativist and noted Yosemite Sam-lookalike Buffalo Rick Galeener, the grizzled 58 year-old entered Phoenix Municipal Court this morning, and pleaded "guilty" to one count of public urination. He was ordered to pay a fine of $194. According to Chief Assistant City Prosecutor Vicki Hill, the deal had been arranged in advance, and Galeener was supposed to have made an appearance before Thanksgiving to enter the new plea, but didn't make it in because he had been feelin' poorly. His trial in Judge Deborah Griffith's courtroom was set to begin today. Urinating in public is a class 1 misdemeanor, and carries a potential $2,500 fine, and six months in county stir, where, hypothetically, Galeener might have enjoyed the luxurious hospitality of his hero, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The incident, in which Galeener was spotted making water by a local Hispanic lady Paulita Cortes and her two year old son, took place on March 8, nearby the Macehualli Work Center, just south of 25th Street and Bell Road. Galeener was outside the work center for migrant day-laborers as part of a months-long protest of the site by members of United for a Sovereign America, the most virulent anti-immigrant hate group in the Valley, and one that recently marched outside of Mayor Phil Gordon's home to protest Gordon's outspoken criticism of Sheriff Joe's immigration policies. According to the Phoenix police report of the incident, Cortes spotted Galeener around noon near his 1992 Ford Ranger truck, "exposing his penis and urinating in a container." The same report stated Galeener admitted to a police officer that he had urinated, but had done so inside his truck where nobody could see him. It should be noted there's a McDonalds and a Taco Bell just about a block away from where the incident took place.
Phoenix cops cited Galeener for misdemeanor indecent exposure, but the charge was later changed by the City Prosecutor's office to public urination, which carries the same penalty. Galeener hired a lawyer, Phoenix attorney Joey Hamby, and insisted on fighting the case, though all the City Prosecutor wanted Galeener to do was plead guilty, pay a fine and walk. A mean old cuss who has been overheard in the past referring to non-whites as "monkeys," and who has a Web site where he proudly proclaims, "I hate illegals," among other racist gibberish, Galeener refused cop to the al fresco whiz up until the last minute. Macehualli's director, Salavador Reza, said Galeener's lawyer questioned one of the cops involved in the arrest, the victim Paulita Cortes, and Reza himself, long before the trial date. "The lawyer tried to portray [Galeener] as a respectable person," related Reza. "I basically said I thought he was an eccentric and had a foul-mouth. That's about it."Reza said he believed Galeener and his lawyer wanted to prove some conspiracy against Galeener existed between the cop, Cortes, and Reza. But there was no proof of such an unlikely scenario. Told of Galeener's plea deal, Reza thought the Gabby Hayes doppelganger had gotten off easy."If any day laborer had done that in a white neighborhood, they'd probably be in Arpaio's jail as a sexual predator," said Reza. "He was cut a break. On the other hand, I think he had to pay a lot of money to his lawyer. And it showed him for who he is, somebody who's so crazed with hate, that he'll go to extremes to prove a point."Galeener's earned a certain amount of infamy for his nativist activities, getting written up by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report magazine, being parodied by pro-immigrant activists, even inspiring a Buffalo Rick impersonator at a recent Halloween/ Day of the Dead celebration, complete with a fake bottle of urine. No doubt his recent plea of guilty will only add to his unsavory reputation.
The IRS has estimated that $50.0 billion in U.S. tax revenue is lost to evasion annually. Based on data showing the value of high-net-worth individuals and the proportion of their portfolios held offshore, $255.0 billion in worldwide tax revenue is lost annually from U.S. Citizens, and more than $400.0 billion from companies Blaming Undocumented Immigrants guilty of the "outright of Tax Evasion. We need a new IRS commissioner that respects the rule of law and understands that tax reform is needed to fix the problems in the tax code.
The misguided initiative, which would require U.S. financial institutions to automatically report the interest paid to foreign investors, is contrary to U.S economic interests. Faced with a loss of privacy, foreigners will take their money out of American banks, meaning less loan money available for families and businesses.
Fiscal deficits are ballooning now that America and Europe are paying for auto bailouts and stimulus packages, so you'd think their governments would be keener than usual to crack down on tax cheats for the extra billions in revenue it could bring in. They are, but with glacial zeal.
Liechtenstein signed an agreement with U.S. authorities on Monday in which it would, starting Jan. 1, 2010, provide information on U.S. banking clients who are being investigated for dodging tax. The tiny Alpine principality is renowned for allowing the world's wealthy to hide their money and (for some) to dodge the tax man.
Yet while this all sounds like good news, it is still miles away from the easy information sharing that's needed to help stop tax evaders. The so-called Tax Information Exchange Agreement that Liechtenstein has signed is notoriously difficult to use: a similar agreement between the island of Jersey and the United States was signed in 2002, yet has been used only four times.
The problem is that American authorities need to be armed with substantial evidence on a banking client before Liechtenstein will hand over any information, and that is nearly impossible considering that most tax evaders work hard to ensure they leave no paper trail. A spokesman for the principality told Forbes.com that "fishing expeditions," in which U.S. authorities would seek significant amounts of information in order to identify tax evaders, would not be possible.
Richard Murphy Founder of tax consultancy Tax Research, said Monday's agreement would at least help act as a deterrent to wealthy people who were looking for a place to hide their money from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service or other tax agencies: they may instead opt for Dubai, Singapore or Switzerland. The move also puts pressure on Switzerland to sign a similar agreement. "It's a symbolic move and it's a disincentive, but it's not going to be used that often," he said.
More significant would be the passing of a law that calls for full automatic information exchange from offshore tax havens. The European Union published its revised savings tax directive on Nov. 13, which proposes just that, and while it could still be years before a law is finally passed, that proposal has the support of Europe's Council of Finance Ministers.
What a relief to see gas prices falling - some places are selling as low as $1.80 a gallon. There are a number of factors that can effect costs, including long term contracts, weather conditions, even global demand for different foods. Retail food prices have jumped on average 6 percent this year — triple the normal inflation rate of around 2 percent. The economics of the food business are partly to blame. Though crude oil is the main ingredient of gasoline, processed foods like cereal, crackers or cookies use only a small amount of corn, wheat and other grains, limiting manufacturers' pricing power. So why aren't food prices falling as well?
Add another economic worry to inflation and deflation: ecoflation, the rising cost of doing business in a world with a changing climate.
Ecoflation could hit consumer goods hard in the next five to 10 years, according to a report by World Resources Institute and A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm.
Companies that make fast-moving consumer goods, everything from cereal to shampoo, could see earnings drop by 13 percent to 31 percent by 2013 and 19 percent to 47 percent by 2018 if they do not adopt sustainable environmental practices, the report said.
The costs of global warming are showing up now in the form of worse heat waves, droughts, wildfires and possibly more severe tropical storms but they are not yet reflected in consumer prices, said the institute's Andrew Aulisi after the report's Dec. 2 release.
Instead, these costs are paid by governments and society, Aulisi said in a telephone interview. That could change if President-elect Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress push for a system that puts a price on the emission of climate-warming carbon dioxide, Aulisi said.
This is unlikely to happen next year in time for a December 2009 deadline to craft an international pact to fight climate change but it is more likely to happen in 2010.
These rising costs and possible tightening regulation of greenhouse gas emissions are not necessarily a bad thing, he said.
"The message we don't see in this study is that regulation is going to cost ... a lot of money," Aulisi said. "We think the analysis is a catalyst to convince companies to take greater action on these important issues."
In fact, some companies are already looking at ways to cut their emissions in advance of any new regulation, said Daniel Mahler of A.T. Kearney.
One example is consumer giant Procter & Gamble (PG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which has a team looking across the company's varied laundry, hair-care and health-care businesses to see how they can use less plastic, a fossil-based material, Mahler said by telephone.
But the changes may need to go deeper and wider, he said, spreading to the basics of how supply chains are managed.
For instance, companies that presumed U.S. transportation costs would be low and U.S. labor costs would be high had their goods made in countries where employees would work for less. But a new cost to the carbon emitted by long-distance transport could change that equation, making foreign manufacturing less attractive, Mahler said.
Within the United States, there could be a move away from big, centralized manufacturing plants to smaller, more widely dispersed ones, according to Mahler.
"That is not a little tactical change," he said. "It is an infrastructure change that we see companies ... addressing much more aggressively than they had been in the past
Under the ecoflation scenario, the world's major economies are likely to set a price on carbon emissions of $50 a tonne, Aulisi said.
That is between five and 10 times the price of carbon being traded on voluntary markets in the United States now. There is no mandatory U.S. carbon market, though the first regional market will begin trading in January