Sunday, February 26, 2006

Your friendly neighborhood white supremacist

I saw the first of these ribbons on a car a few months ago, since then I’ve come across them a couple of other times. It’s a picture we’re all familiar with. You pull up to a light, and start to read the messages displayed on the back of the cars stopped in front of you, and you begin to get a mental picture of its occupants. You can tell a lot about a person by reading the messages proudly exhibited on their bumpers.

This particular sticker was accompanied by the usual cast of characters; the W sticker, a few for some local Republicans, the flag sticker, a support or troops ribbon,, maybe even one about killing the unborn or taking away our guns. Frankly I’ve grown immune to them. My outrage meter, now unable to take the constant barrage of inflammatory rhetoric. But this one stuck out in my mind, not because it was so blatantly racist, but because for a moment I had that sinking feeling that perhaps I was one of a small minority of people who would find it so. This kind of racism seems accepted by many in today’s post 9-11 world, where Lou Dobbbs can nightly lecture millions on the “broken borders” and invasion from the south.

But I wonder if those who display this little gem would do it so proudly if they knew who was behind this ribbon campaign?

The “Bring Them Home and Put Them On The Mexican Border!” ribbon campaign is coordinated by the 15,000 member National Alliance, a white supremacist group out of West Virginia.

( I must warn readers that what follows contains reproductions and links to hate speech and inflammatory racist rhetoric. I reproduce it not to provide any further platform for this kind of bile, but rather to demonstrate how effectively these kinds of groups and their platforms have been embedded into more mainstream ideology. I believe that if those who display the “Put Them on the Mexican Border” stickers were aware of just what kind of people they are actually supporting, they would be repulsed. )

From the National Alliance’s description of the campaign:(PDF)

Bring Them Home and Put Them On The Mexican Border!

The brave men and women who serve in our armed forces are the victims of a deadly conflict of interest. Millions of Third Worlders are invading the US through Mexico, while the blood of our sons and daughters is spent protecting the borders of a hostile country.

Why invade a sovereign country that never attacked us? The answer: The desire to secure Israel by powerful Jewish lobbyists and advisors who wormed their way into the Bush administration.

The Arabs wage war through desperate, primitive terrorism and the Jews wage war through high-tech terror and corruption of the US government. We want no part of their war. Millions of Third Worlders invade the US, through Mexico. But our government is being run by people who are more concerned about Israel’s borders than our own.

From the National Alliance’s Statement of Principles :

Our world is hierarchical. Each of us is a member of the Aryan (or European) race, which, like the other races, developed its special characteristics over many thousands of years during which natural selection not only adapted it to its environment but also advanced it along its evolutionary path. Those races which evolved in the more demanding environment of the North, where surviving a winter required planning and self-discipline, advanced more rapidly in the development of the higher mental faculties -- including the abilities to conceptualize, to solve problems, to plan for the future, and to postpone gratification -- than those which remained in the relatively unvarying climate of the tropics. Consequently, the races vary today in their capabilities to build and to sustain a civilized society and, more generally, in their abilities to lend a conscious hand to Nature in the task of evolution.

There’s no ambiguity in the message, no mention of usual rationale for closing up the borders. They don’t allude to terrorist or security threats, job loss by native workers or economic pressures put on the system by immigrants, they don’t even revert to the old standby about the illegality of entering the country with proper paperwork. They go right to the core of their beliefs: immigrants coming from Mexico and Central America are bad because they’re brown, plain and simple. Do you think the bumper-sticker guy knows that his funny little racist joke sticker actually comes from people who believe that Jews secretly control our foreign policy and Aryans are evolutionarily predisposed to run civilization? I would hope not.

The immigration issue is one that’s highly divisive. Many people of good conscience see the issue differently, but to have groups like National Alliance spearheading the issue only muddies the waters. They play upon the fears and concerns of the American people in order to move forward their warped agenda.

The movement to close the borders has long had roots in the racist underbelly of American culture. Long before the average American was concerned about “Broken Borders”, “Clash of Civilizations” or “Death of the West”, white supremacists were targeting Hispanics and using the failures of US immigration policy to whip up racial animosities. Many of the border vigilante groups that have gained notoriety post 9-11 actually spun off out of the white supremacist movement in the early 1990’s. The Southern Poverty Law Center, the preeminent watchdog organization for hate groups has profiled over twenty top anti-immigrant leaders and spokesmen with ties to racist and white supremacist groups. Many of these leaders, now sanitized for public consumption, show up on TV news and opinion shows as pundits and experts on immigration reform.

The American people must be very careful as we engage in this debate about immigration reform. We must not let those with hidden agendas and evil motivations set the tone of discourse. The next time you see that pundit or advocate on TV spouting out “statistics” and “facts” be very careful. Read the little scroll under his or her name, see what group they really represent. They might not be who you think they are. You might want to think twice before sticking that ribbon on your car. It might say far more than you think..

I want to thank XicanoPwr at ¡Para Justicia y Libertad! for uncovering this story

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Blackwater: Welcome to the machine

In a move right out of 1984, Blackwater USA, the security company that has been a major provider of “private contractor” troops and security experts for missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently New Orleans, announced a new phase in their operation.

Starting in December, they will be providing remote controlled drone airships (see blimps) that will be outfitted with state of the art surveillance and detection technology. The airship will be able to hover for days at a time and furnish command centers with real time information about all activities on the ground.

A second generation of airships will follow that will have the capacity to carry tons of payload.

So it appears that in addition to being one of the world’s premier providers of private armies, Blackwater will be moving into the role of becoming the eyes and ears for big brother. This new capacity will allow them to monitor ground activity, direct their mercenaries, and possibly deliver ordinance, all from a remote, secure station.

And who will be looking after those, who will be looking in on us.


January 10, 2006


Blackwater Airships, LLC Is The Newest Addition To The Firm's Security Portfolio

Moyock, NC - The national security of the United States depends upon innovative and flexible solutions in the global war on terror. Blackwater USA, the world's premier security, peace and stability operations firm recently unveiled its plans to create a new subsidiary; Blackwater Airships.

Blackwater Airship's initial focus will be the development and deployment of small remotely piloted airship vehicles (RPAVs) that can operate from 5,000 - 15,000 feet, move and hover, and stay aloft for up to four days. The airships will be equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and detection equipment that can detect, record, and communicate in real time to friendly forces the movement and activities of terrorists.

Gary Jackson, president of Blackwater USA said, "This project is in keeping with Blackwater's support of peace and security throughout the world."

Follow-on phases of the project will include larger airships that will carry tons of payload in support of remote humanitarian and peacekeeping missions. Blackwater, who is already involved in stability operations throughout the world, continues to innovate in support of peace and security, and freedom and democracy everywhere.

The first Blackwater Airship will be available in December 2006.

Blackwater is committed to supporting national and international security policies that protect those who are defenseless and provide a free voice for all. Other Blackwater subsidiaries include: Blackwater Training Center, Blackwater Target Systems, Blackwater Security Consulting, Blackwater Canine, and Raven Development Group. For more information, please visit


more on Blackwater:

Blackwater: IraqFact Profile

Blackwater in New Orleans part I

Balckwater in New Orleans part II

Blackwater takes over Iraqi training

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

There's no US monopoly on wingnuttery

I have spent a lot of time investigating the native wingnuts of the US, particularly in regards to their opinions regarding immigration and immigration reform. Up until now I have been laboring under the misconception that the phenomenon - although not limited to US - had reached a zenith of ignorance and bigotry in the likes of Tom Tancredo, Pat Buchanan, JD Hayworth, Jim Sensenbrenner and Lou Dobbs that could not be matched in other civilized nations. Especially in Canada, that friendly place up north.

But now from our neighbors to the north comes an example of wingnuttery that comes close to surpassing anything our native variety have been able to come up with.

From the Coalition for a Humanistic Euro- British Canada

The coalition believes it is crucial that the founding cultures and peoples of Canada be given their rightful recognition in the affairs of the nation in all respects. We believe that British culture needs to be promoted and enhanced.

In view of this, we must ask that immigration cease to be discriminatory against those who originate from the continental European area as that is where we think the protections we are seeking for founding cultures of Canada can be best demonstrated. If we continue as we are to have more immigrants who are not from these areas we are in fact demonstrating that we are being unfair to those who have founded this country and given it what has made it a “paradise on earth” for all to see and desire for themselves as an example of how to live. We must be fair to all concerned. We ask no more! We’d like the Euro as our currency.

Many of the US variety of wingnuts call for "English only" legislation to try to ensure that English remains the "official language" of the country. Our friends from the Coalition for a Humanistic Euro- British Canada do them one better …they call of English to become the "official language" of ….THE ENTIRE WORLD.

We suggest that the English language has been universally adopted as the official language of the world because the culture from which it comes continues to exhibit a fairness and judiciousness, rationality and kindliness that all peoples all over the world think right to accept. We would like to have a kindly approach taken to teaching this culture completely to those who will be altogether accepting of such great ideals. To those whose capacities are maximized and done justice to universally if we only preach the kindly message of true generosity, true fairness and kindness so that it comes from the heart to begin with, and is improved and actualized by showing the beauty of Jane Austen and Upstairs Downstairs

While Tancredo and his ilk would be quite content to build a wall to keep out the kind of people they do not want in the US …. The Euro-Brit Coalition is willing to put their money where their mouths are and provide free housing and cash bonuses to the "right people" to come in.

To this end, we advocate a pro-active approach to immigration… We would like incentives such as a free home, furniture and cash rewards to those who we should therefore be much more completely welcoming of in this country and elsewhere.

And just who would get these cash bonuses… who are the "right people"…white Europeans and South Africans, of course.

A massive influx of (especially) European,Russian, Ukranian & Mediterrenean immigration with classes to ensure cultural assimilation….We would like to see recognition for the credentials of those professionals such as Doctors from Russia, Ukraine, Romania, etc.

NO discrimination against White South Africans wishing to flee to Canada. We'd accept very high quotas indeed to alleviate suffering under new circumstances.

Some people whom the Coalition finds highly desirable actually receive personal invitations to emigrate to Canada. Most of them are of course celebrities that the founder of the group finds very appealing :

We'd dearly love to see people of the calibre of Ms. Emma Thomspon, a sensitive intelligent beautiful soul with the greatest sense of Christianly goodness. She'd be a wonderful role model for the many people we hope to attract from the continent.

Likewise the great Mr. Anthony Hopkins for whom we have the greatest regard.

Senator Hillary Clinton. A beautiful soul.

(and some others in this eclectic mix;) Jane Fonda, Alan Alda, Diane Keaton, Ann Archer, Rep. Mary Bono (Sonny's wife)

The website also makes recommendations on cars, electronics, movies TV shows and even furniture that “right thinking “ Canadians should show interest in. ( mostly very British or European)

OK .. at this point your probably thinking… this has to be some sort of small, way-out, fringe group who managed to throw up a website… no big deal, wakos throw up websites all the time. Well you're partially right, it looks like the group does not have widespread support and seems to be mostly the pet project of it's founder, Michael E. Chessman, a South Asian gentleman born in Tanzania. (yes …that’s right … an immigrant of South Asian descent… this guy not only drinks the kool-aid, he musy oen an entire kool-aid factory)


I found out about the “coalition” because it just ran a full page ad in the current issue of Newsweek. They've also taken out full-page ads in over fifty newspapers worldwide in the last five years, including the New York Times and the Daily News.

So they might be small, (like one guy probably) but they have a pretty large war chest.

The Coalition has some other "interesting" policies besides those about immigration:

Middle Eastern Policy: We have long advocated that Palestine might be settled entirely by Jewish peoples given the limited amount of available land to them. We think Israel should allow the Palestenians to continue their lives over in Jordan

Education: Boarding schools in the British style

Trade: Cultural imperatives make European (car) models a much better choice for Canadians. Perhaps Mr. Lee Iacocca could be drafted to help build Euro cars right here for us.

Child Poverty: An end to child poverty in Canada with direct supplements and school meals. Quality toys such as "Anne of Green Gables" dolls and quality metal train sets and the like.

Federalsim: An end to checkerboard style of Federalism in Canada. A strong central government as envisaged by the right honourable Mr. Pierre Elliot Trudeau during his time as Canadian Prime Minister

Code of Chivalry: A return to the recognition of the importance of the family unit. A recognition that feminism is unnatural and hurtful to children, as is the entire concept of disposables (from diapers to children). A return, basically, to the time when men were men and women knew their place in the order of things

Affirmative Action: An end to discriminatory practices which deny the best candidate for the position in favour a lesser qualified candidate… Private Clubs should feel free to be discriminating as to who they wish for their own members (freedom of association)… We would encourage, for example, men and women from universities forming their own private clubs where they may sip a brandy, attired in formal uniform and discuss the future of our nation.

In the end it appears as if the Canadian wingnut wingnuti canidus, although not as widespread or numerous as it's US cousins wingnuti americanus, is far more colorful and flamboyant than anything we have down here in the continuous forty eight.

Disclaimer: This diary is in no way intended to besmirch the people or nation of Canada. I hold the nation and it’s people in the highest regard … besides, we all might be moving up there soon and I would hate to wear out my welcome before I even arrive. So please take this dairy in the manner in which it was intended… with tongue firmly implanted in check .

Cross posted from:Migra Matters

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ruminations on the imminent demise of the Republic

It’s been a recurring theme in the progressive Internet community, this notion that with each new defeat, setback or disappointment we are one step closer to an inevitable apocalypse. In moments of despair and disillusionment the conversation inevitably turns to predictions of the coming Orwellian nightmare, with jackbooted fascists and religious fanatics dragging the nation further down the road to self-destruction. The four horsemen of the progressive apocalypse; endless war, economic instability, loss of civil rights and corrupt government always loom on the horizon ready to destroy democracy as we know it. It’s become a familiar thread that runs through our discourse, a fatalistic, resignation of powerlessness that permeates our thoughts.

While much of this sentiment is heartfelt, expressed with eloquence and quite compelling, it contains a flaw in logic that makes it not only wrongheaded but in some ways dangerous.

As a nation and a people we have endured far more troubling times and managed to not only survive, but in fact thrive. There is nothing we are presented with today that we have not faced at one time or another in our history, and triumphed over. We simply need to look at the past to see that, although faced with great challenges, the Republic and our Democracy are far from dead and buried.

There are common themes that seem to run through this new progressive fatalism:

* A press controlled by business interests that manipulate and distort the truth
* An executive branch that has usurped power and is overreaching it’s Constitutional restraints
* A Congress controlled by special interests and the moneyed classes
* A lack of regulation and control over Corporations and big business
* Growing militarism
* An economy that seems on the brink of collapse due to debt, peak oil and a diminished manufacturing base

The question now raised is: Are these concerns any different from those expressed before in the past?

“You supply the pictures, and I’ll supply the war”. Certainly that famous quote from William Randolph Hearst could not more clearly demonstrate a case where the press distorted and manipulated the facts to drive a nation to war. In fact throughout most of our history our “free press” has been little more than mouthpieces for one or another political or corporate point of view. The concept of a truly “adversarial” press that questions government policies and leadership is a twentieth century phenomenon, born from the Muckrakers of the turn of the century (who appeared in direct response to the yellow journalism of both Hearst and Pulitzer). But the notion that Edward R Murrow would take on McCarthy, or Woodward and Bernstein- Nixon, is the exception rather than the rule as far as journalism goes. So while we rile against FOX or Tweetie, believing that we are the first to encounter a manipulated and owned press, it is not the case.

Of course to talk about Executive overreach one would only have to say one word – Nixon. But that would be too easy and could be dismissed as an exception based open his unprecedented mental flaws. Instead look to Johnson and the Gulf of Tonkin, Roosevelt’s attempts to pack the court, Lincoln’s suspension of Habeas Corpus, or Jefferson’s acquisition of the Louisiana Territories. All of these can clearly be seen as a case where the executive usurped powers not given to him under the Constitution. So while the Unitary Executive is a frightening concept to deal with it is in essence just a new wrapping on an old package.

When we look at the Congress and it’s relationship to moneyed interests we can go back to the Founding Fathers to see that there has always been a direct connection. They fact that slavery was not addressed in our Constitution is a direct result of that relationship. From that time foreword “ Whats good of US Steel is good for America” has been the prevailing wisdom in Washington. A cursory look at the relationship between Congress and the labor movement confirms this. It was not until well into the twentieth century, when labor finally became a political force, that any shift in that paradigm began.

To look at the unrestricted power of big business and corporations and view that as new occurrence is of course impossible. Laissez-faire policies have dominated our history from the start. In fact the battle between unrestricted business and the interests of society on a whole have been at odds since our inception. In fact the very notion that business could and should be restricted in any way is again a rather modern concept, first appearing in the Trust-Busting period of the Gilded Age. So when we look at today’s giant multinationals and the enormous amount of power they wield, we must realize that they are no more powerful in our time than the Union Pacific Railroad, Standard Oil or US Steel where in theirs.

When it comes to our apparent growing militarism, again we should look to the past. From the time we began our genocide of the indigenous people of this nation, through our conquest of northern Mexico, to our entanglements in the Philippines around the turn of the century, through WWI and II, the Cold War, incursions into Central and South America and the Caribbean, and various hot wars like Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm. We have almost always been in a constant state of war. The periods between wars have been few and of short duration. An argument could be made that some of these wars have been wars of necessity, and this would be true, but many others have been wars of convenience and conquest. Some like the “War of Westward Expansion” lasted over 200 years. Others such as our war in the Philippines have become nothing more than historical footnotes even though we lost more lives there then we have lost thus far in our current fiasco in the middle east. So when we decry our current involvement, and feel like we are the first to oppose and question our military posturing, we must remember that this has been going on since our nation’s inception. It says far more about our culture and national goals than about the current situation … we are a warlike nation and always have been … should we work to change that … of course… but it’s nothing new.

When it comes to economic concerns, we are far from the first to deal with economic uncertainty. Of course the Great Depression is an obvious example, but there are many more. The US treasury at one point was so depleted that J.P. Morgan had to underwrite the government. There have been numerous devastating recessions and depressions that have led to widespread turmoil and hardship. We have lost major cities, Chicago and San Francisco due to fire and earthquake. We have had our richest farmland dry up and blow away. We have seen great industries grow and fortunes made only to be rendered obsolete like the railroads or whaling. The transitions and turmoil we face today is not that far removed from those of our forebears.

If you’ve read thus far, I need to commend you first of all for putting up with the little history lesson … so I will proceed quickly to my point (there really is one, you see)


`Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,' said Scrooge. `But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!'

I realize that it’s disheartening to see our leadership galloping full fledged into the abyss. I know that it appears that we are powerless to stop them … but if history proves anything … we are not.

The astute reader has probably noted that many of the examples I have used in my little historical narrative come from the period between of the gilded age through the nineteen sixties, and this is no coincidence. I chose them because they are the periods of the first Progressives through the end of the New Dealers. When faced with many of the same problems we are faced with today, these early progressives, liberals, socialists, labor organizers muckrakers and new dealers changed the course of history. If not for them we to might have faced the same specter of fascism that overtook Europe in the same period, when faced with similar problems. Instead our progressive ancestors gave us child labor laws, unions, food and drug regulation, minimum wage and workplace safety regulations, anti-trust legislation, the 40-hour workweek, social security, civil right legislation, women’s suffrage and later women’s rights and a list to long to write of other accomplishments.

So my question to all is … do we allow ourselves to be beaten down and marginalized by our setbacks, or do we brush ourselves off and re-enter the fight. Have we really been so badly beaten down by our oppressors that there is nothing left to do but sit back and watch our Republic wallow in it’s death throes. I think not. Surely the black man who fought his entire life for the simple right to be treated as a human being didn’t give up. The labor organizer beaten down by Pinkertons and state militias didn’t waver. The starving Okie looking simply for survival didn’t crawl up in a ball and die. The poor immigrant living in a cold water flat and working in a sweatshop didn’t pack up and run home. These people endured … and so should we. We need to take up the fight of those who came before us. We have grown fat and complacent as a nation and are to willing to roll over rather than do the hard work of making a better world. Thank God those who came before us did not do the same.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Birthday ePluribus Media

Happy birthday/anniversary to a great group of citizen journalists. Kudos and congrtas.

Go sign their birthgday card HERE

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Immigration Wars: Open or Closed Borders for America?

A comprehensive discussion of US immigration and border policy hosted by The Independent Institute, a non-partisan public policy think tank, entitled:

Immigration Wars: Open or Closed Borders for America?

is a must read for anyone interested in progressive immigration reform. Featuring Peter Laufer former NBC News correspondent and author of "Wetback Nation: The Case for Opening the Mexican-American Border ", along with economist Benjamin Powell, Director of the Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation, The Independent Institute, the presentation covered numerous topics relating to border reform.

From Mr. Laufer:

Some (people) are proponents of open migration. Others want the border secured in various ways. But everybody agrees that the status quo is no good.

The next step that I come up with is that pretty much any(one) who wants to come north, comes north. That’s the status of affairs currently. That’s one of the reasons why the border is out of control. …

Then the third part of this thing is we want them to come north. Whether we admit it or not, we want them to come north. That’s why they’re coming north. And this is (what) we’ll be (discussing) here in a minute.

… since everybody’s coming anyway that wants to come, since we want them to come, since we all agree the status quo doesn’t work, why don’t we try something radically different. And what could that be? Well, we just regularize what’s going on anyway.

Because we’ve got ancillary problems on the border.

There are people we don’t want to have come up here... Drug traffickers maybe, crazed terrorists, rapists, murderers, robbers. And we can’t stop these people, because it is so chaotic currently on the border that those that we would like to keep out just are in the shadows of those that we’re embracing…


But the way I see it, people come through the border. The reason they’re not coming through the border now is because we’re not letting them in. So if they have some thing like national driver’s license …(some) kind of a card, a passport, whatever it is, and they come walking in and they wave it, and our guys say yeah, yeah, yeah at all these different checkpoints we have. We’ve got dozens of them along the southern border…

And so, they’re no longer running across the desert. They’re no longer dying in the desert. … They are coming through in some kind of an organized manner, and they’re having to show something. So the really bad guys are the ones that are still out in the desert, and they’re no longer in the shadow of this hoard of people that’s coming up.

Mr. Powell covers the topic from a more conventional perspective, arguing that an open border policy would eventually force the Mexican government to enact reforms that would cut down and eliminate the root causes of the mass migration of Mexican citizens to the United States:

Cross posted from:Migra Matters

… an open immigration policy where we allow all workers in who don’t have demonstrated criminal records or are a known terrorist threat would be beneficial compared to the status quo.


Why do they come here? They obviously come here because the job opportunities and the wages they can get here are better than what they can get at Mexico--even though they currently face a Border Patrol that’s pushing them through the deserts, risking their lives with dangerous “coyotes,” the name of the people who are transporting them across the border, and having to stay for a long time in the U.S. because they can’t freely cross back to visit their family. With all these hardships factored in, and admittedly not getting so many benefits along with their job, they’re still willing to come for these wages because it’s better than their next best alternative: staying in Mexico.


Well, that problem is not fundamentally one of American immigration policy. That’s one of bad policies in Mexico. Mexico taxes too much, spends too much, regulates too much, inflates too much, and is too corrupt. All of these things have to end to have better opportunities in Mexico.

So, why do I bring this up? In part, I think the open-border policy would contribute to making Mexico’s policies better in the long run, hopefully. There’s a well-known model of competition between governments, the Tiebout model in economics, where basically jurisdictions are concerned with their citizens leaving when they’re free to migrate to other areas because they lose their tax base, they lose workers, they lose potential defenders of their country. Well, look at what happened in eastern Europe: you had a whole bunch of bad policies there. They literally built walls to keep their people in. Mexico hasn’t built a wall, to keep people in, with bad policy; we built it for them. Let’s take it down so as they move there’s more pressure on the Mexican government to have to reform in order for it to keep its people there.

Then as they do reform … people tend to move back as they do better. Look at Ireland, a country that for years had net out-mitration. They had a fiscal crisis, they had to reform in the 1990s and 1980s. When they did, all of the sudden since the mid-1990s they’ve had net immigrant inflows into their country, something unheard of in Ireland. It could happen in Mexico, too.

Powell then goes on to dispel many of the common arguments and misconceptions about the economic effects of immigration:

…immigrants have no net social costs over the course of their lifetime. When they first come they might be a little more like that than later, or it might depend more on individual cases, but on net they find they don’t suck up the social services.


—estimates that about $22 billion in net gain to current United States people, not to the immigrants themselves coming here—a $22 billion net gain from current levels of immigration. Now, that gain can be bigger if more people are coming in in the future


“Despite the popular belief that immigrants have a large adverse impact on wages and employment opportunities on the native-born population, the literature on this question does not provide much support for this conclusion.”


A report just came out for this fall’s crop estimated in the Central Valley that between 70,000 and 80,000 workers short of what we need to harvest the crop. That means about $1 billion in projected losses. This isn’t trivial and it isn’t crazy speculation, because something similar happened in Arizona last year. In Arizona last year the winter lettuce crop—they only enough labor to harvest 30 percent of it. They only harvested about 30 percent of it and they lost about $1 billion there too. Now of course, your response might be, sure there might be more American workers if the work was easy and the pay was better, but the fact of the matter is, the farming in parts of the United States often doesn’t justify paying the workers more and giving them more benefits to attract them there. It would mean the loss of farming if we don’t have the labor willing to work under those conditions, and that’s what was happening here when they lost the crops. It simply was even going to be less profitable to go ahead and hire people for higher wages to get the work done. So we need them here for the crops

The transcript contains far more information than can be covered here, including question and answer segments between the audience and both experts. This was an excellent lecture, and should be read by anyone interested in progressive immigration reform.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

"Secret" Air Base for Iraq War started prior 9-11

With a small ceremony on April 26, 2003, control of Prince Sultan Air Base was handed back to the government of Saudi Arabia. Since the mid-nineties it had been the premier US air base in the region and the nerve center for all air force operations in the Gulf. As the home of the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC), the base was the primary command and control facility responsible for orchestrating the air campaigns for both Operation Southern Watch in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
The timing of the closing of PSAB seemed odd, coming just weeks after the official start of military actions in Iraq. It should have, at the very least, caused unwanted logistical problems for the Pentagon and regional commanders, but it didn't. A contingency plan had long been in the works, not only for Prince Sultan Air Base, but also for the entire map of the Middle East, including Iraq.

Long before the US pullout, a new home for the operations had secretly been built in the deserts of Qatar. What had been in October 2001 "nothing more than a runway and a field of sand covered by two-dozen tents and a few warehouses", the Al Udeid Air Base was transformed in a few short months into one of the largest air bases in the world.

Published reports and official DOD statements claimed that the amazing transformation was the result of the heroic response of US servicemen to the tragedy of 9-11. A determined military had beaten indeterminate odds to transform a barren wasteland into a state of the art military base in order to "take the war to the terrorists".

The true story of the building of Al-Udeid is actually quite different. The planning for the mammoth base had in fact taken place long before Sept. 11, and actual work on the base began as early as the spring of 2001. The building of Al Udeid turns out not to be a "miracle in the desert" in response to a heinous attack, as touted by the military, but rather a required step on the path to regime change in Iraq.

It has long been accepted knowledge that the Bush Administration was working feverishly towards regime change in Iraq during the 18-month period between 9-11 and the official start of the war in March of 2003. The Downing St Minutes confirmed that the Administration was set on a path to war at least as early as mid-summer of 2002. The accounts of Paul O'Neil and Richard Clarke verified that Iraq was a front burner issue for the Administration from the very first day, and only intensified after the attacks. Yet finding hard evidence to prove that planning for the war in Iraq was taking place prior to 9-11 has been hard to find. A look at the building of Al Udied can provide that evidence.

According to published reports, the groundwork for what would become Al-Udeid Air Base was first laid at a cost of over one billion dollars in 1996 in an attempt by the Qatari government to lure the American military to set up shop in the small Gulf nation. At the time it was built, Qatar had not yet acquired as much as a single airplane to call the base home. Although they would later purchase an air force comprised of 12 French Mirage fighter jets, they would never actually station them at Al-Udeid. They were simply playing a waiting game, hoping that eventually the volatile nature of the region would bring the Americans knocking at their door. The Qatari's gamble paid off with the events of Sept. 11. In response to the attacks, the US presence in the region needed to increase exponentially. By Sept. 29, 2001, according to the official records, the first military teams arrived to begin looking the base over in preparation for Operation Enduring Freedom.

On October 2, 2001 a rapid-response team of civil engineers, the 823rd RED HORSE Squadron whose specialty is to repair and build structures such as runways and roads in remote areas, arrived. According to the accounts of the 823rd, the Qatar base "was nothing more than a runway and a field of sand covered by two-dozen tents and a few warehouses". Since there was no room in the warehouses for the RED HORSE airmen to sleep, they moved into an expandable shelter on the flightline and lived and worked out of there
They had come to begin the largest construction project ever undertaken by a RED HORSE team; a $9.1 million military construction project that consisted of building a 1,240- foot by 630-foot concrete ramp with taxiways, shoulders and lighting. While waiting for funding and approval for the ramp project, the RED HORSE troops spent two months doing other base projects, like building the operations center and helping set up the tent city.
Finally in January 2002 ramp construction began. The completed ramp, as big as 8 football fields, was finished in late March.

As March 2002 began, the airfield was still classified as "Secret".
Only a handwritten "Army Camp" sign marked its entrance. By the middle of the month, several thousand new American troops were now stationed at the base. Many of these troops were supporting the large complement of US aircraft, which included F-16 fighters, JSTARS reconnaissance aircraft, and KC-10, KC-130 and KC-135 aerial tankers. The rapid growth of the base made Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani decide he had to let his people know about extent of the American presence in their country. It was agreed that the best way to announce the presence of the base was to have Vice President Cheney visit on March 17, 2002.

Within ten days of Cheney's visit, reports were coming out of Saudi Arabia that the US was moving communications and computer equipment from Prince Sultan Air Base to Al-Udeid in anticipation of a base closing. US military trucks had been seen leaving the base 50 miles south of Riyadh, and arriving at the border with Qatar in the second week of March. It was speculated that a move was being made in response to the Saudi government's refusal to allow air raids on Afghanistan to be launched from its soil. Additionally, in the event of a Saudi refusal to collaborate in a second phase of the US "war on terror" against Iraq, the move would be needed to allow the US to effectively conduct an air campaign.

At the time US central command spokesman, Major Ralph Mills confirmed the equipment movements but insisted they represented business as usual. Mills told reporters, "This is not uncommon. This is status quo. We are moving stuff from point A to point B, this is an ongoing process." Dick Cheney also denied there were any plans to close Prince Sultan AB, claiming no decision had made to change military positions with respect to Saudi Arabia.

By June of 2002 the work on the first phase Al Udeid was nearing completion.
The US military had quietly moved munitions, equipment and communications gear to the base from Saudi Arabia. The base was now home to 3,000 troops. A huge tent city had been erected with warehouses and miles of security barriers. Miles of freshly paved runways and acres of new aircraft parking ramps showed up on satellite imagery from the period. Newly built hangers, munitions supply areas and control facilities had been hardened with concrete to withstand aerial attack, and the base now boasted the longest runway in the region at over 15,000 feet. It had become as one military analyst said; "The most capable base in the Gulf region."

On August 7, 2002
the Saudis announced that the US would no longer be allowed to fly combat missions in Iraq out of Prince Sultan Air Base in support of Operation Southern Watch. The Saudi decision had no effect on US war plans by that time, as Al Udeid was more than prepared to pick up where the Saudis had left off. A year later, Prince Sultan was closed after all Command and Control was moved to Al Udeid.

As the Bush Administration came to power in January 2001, the sound of war drums began beating along the Potomac. Numerous accounts from the period tell of an increased emphasis on the need for regime change in Iraq. As the political wing of the administration worked on setting the stage for policy change, the military began to deal with the practicalities of waging war. With the deteriorating situation in Saudi Arabia in general, and the possible need replace Prince Sultan AB in particular; the DOD began to make moves to find a replacement.
Since the first Gulf War, the US had had limited military agreements with Qatar. In 1992, a Defense Cooperation Agreement was signed that permitted "access and prepositioning" of US assets in the country. In November, 1995 another agreement to host "several Air Expeditionary Force deployments" was reached. Yet as of 2000, Al Udeid had been mostly ignored, but that was about to change.

In 2000 the US planned to to use Al-Udeid as a munitions storage facility
according to The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) 2000 report released in the fall of that year.

ICBL Report 2000: Qatar
Additionally, based on U.S. Air Force plans for its war reserve ammunition stockpiles in the Persian Gulf region, U.S. Gator antipersonnel mines, as well as Claymore mines, may be introduced and stockpiled at the Al Udeid area in Qatar in the near future. U.S. Air Force documents indicate that the Al Udeid storage\facility will eventually contain 142 CBU-89 Gator mine systems, each with twenty-two antipersonnel mines, and 141 M18/M18A1 Claymore mines

The ICBL 2001 report, which was
completed just prior to 9-11 confirmed that the munitions storage plan had in
fact gone into effect. Located in the remote desert region of Qatar, Al-Udeid
was a perfect candidate for this kind of usage. But munitions storage facility
would not last long. As the Bush administration came to power they had new plans
for the air base, plans that would clear the path to war with Iraq.

By March 2001 the Air Force began investigating moving operations to the Al-Udeid.
According to a Congressional report given by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the airfield was now being looked at as potential US base. In his annual Allied Contributions to the Common Defense Report , Rumsfeld stated:

"Since November 1995, Bahrain and Qatar have both hosted several Air Expeditionary Force deployments in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, and the United States Air Force recently established a limited prepositioning facility at Qatar's Al-Udeid Airbase and is investigating moving to the airfield. Qatar also hosts prepositioned U.S. Army assets at As-Saliyah."

This was the first time the use of Al-Udied as a potential base for US air operations was officially acknowledged. Back in April 2000, then Defense Secretary William Cohen had been asked about the use of Al-Udeid at a press conference in Kuwait. He acknowledge that he had "discussed ways in which Al-Udeid may be used in the future, in a crisis situation" with the Qataris, but no agreement could be reached. Obviously the new administration had more luck with the Qatari negotiations then its predecessors.

In June 2001 communications capabilities were completed at Al Udeid
According to his online biography archived at a website for those who had served at Prum Air Station in Germany, Bill Goodman (USAF Ret) states that communications work began at Al Udeid sometime before June 2001. Towards the end of his long and distinguished military career, Goodman says that while working for Air Force Central Command, he oversaw the installation of "communications capability" at Al Udeid in the spring.

"In June of 1996 ...I accepted a position on the United States Central Command Air Forces Staff. I was a Project Manager and Communications Systems Manager for Southwest Asia. I got to spend much time traveling throughout the Middle East. Most significant, and my last official duty in the Air Force was that I was project manager for an initial communications capability at Al Udeid Air Base in QATAR. I completed everything in June of 2001 and am pretty proud of what I helped accomplish there and feel like I made a difference."

Around the same period, Alaswar Technology Group Co (aka.Al-Aswar Electronic) of Hawally Kuwait supplied and installed two "60 foot guy masts, microwave dishes and allied works" in Qatar; one at the Saliyah Army Base, the other at Al-Udeid. Whether these communication dishes were part of the work Bill Goodman was doing cannot be known. What is known is that the US military had personnel working at Al-Udied long before the Sept 29, 2001 date always claimed to be the first time US servicemen set foot at the base.

In the Summer of 2001 construction contracts for the airbase began to go out for bids.
By the summer of 2001 plans to expand Al Udeid into a large-scale installation were well under way. The bidding process for contracts to do the work had all ready begun.

On August 9, 2001 bids went out for a "contractor owned-contractor operated" fueling station for both fighter and cargo planes as well as a diesel and automotive gasoline facility for ground vehicles. Also in the bid was a fueling station for mobile aircraft refueling vehicles and a commercial tank truck receiving facility.

Notice Date August 9, 2001
Contracting Office Defense Logistics Agency,Logistics Operations, Defense Energy Support Center, 8725 John J. Kingman Road, Fort Belvoir, VA, 22060-6222
Solicitation Number SP0600-01-R-0117
Response Due October 5, 2001
Description COCO Site at AL Udeid, Qatar 1. An aircraft hydrant fuel system capable of servicing both fighter and cargo aircrafts. 2. Approximately 72,000 barrels of JP8 storage capacity. 3. A ground products dispensing facility for Diesel Fuel and Automotive Gasoline. 4. A truck fill stand capable for mobile aircraft refueling vehicles. 5. A commercial tank truck receiving facility (i.e. tank truck off loading heads).
Record Loren Data Corp. 20010813/XSOL001.HTM (D-221 SN50U5O6)
(Contact info edited)

On Sept 7, 2001, according to company news releases, a contract was awarded GSCSGulf to build "administration facilities, a worker break room, ablution facilities, an outside storage area, a loading dock, FMSE facility, and a generator run up." Later in the month GSCSGulf was awarded two contracts farmed out from DynCorp. One was for a Fuel Receiving Point, the other for a Bulk Fuel Storage facility. "The projects (were) to be built under expedited construction schedules in order to ensure fuel systems (were) in-place for incoming USAF tanker squadrons deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom."Although the press release from the 30th of September mentions "Operation Enduring Freedom", bidding on the contract had to have been completed long before that date. As the release states GSCSGulf had won the contracts from DynCorp, one must assume they competed for them.

GSCS Chosen to Build WRM Support Facilities
(7 September 2001) GSCS has won a contract to simultaneously construct 10 minor construction projects in support of the US Air Force War Reserve Material (WRM) program at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Individual projects include: administration facilities, worker break room, ablution facilities, outside storage area, loading dock, FMSE facility, generator run up
DynCorp Selects GSCS to Construct USAF Fuel Systems
(30 September 2001) GSCS has won two contracts with DynCorp International for the construction of a Fuel Receiving Point and a Bulk Fuel Storage Point, both at Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The projects are to be built under expedited construction schedules in order to ensure fuel systems are in-place for incoming USAF tanker squadrons deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

GSCSGulf was awarded two more contracts during this period. Both had been won competitively, hence bids had been taken. Although it is impossible to know how the events of 9-11 affected the bid review and acceptance process, even under expedited conditions it seems highly unlikely that any but the last contract would have been initiated after 9-11 given the DOD's usual 60 to 120 day turn around time.

GSCS Wins Tent-City Site Preparation Contract
(3 October 2001)GSCS has been competitively awarded a contract for the emergency preparation of 61 acres of outside open area in support of a US Air Force tent city to be erected at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Work includes: excavation, backfilling, soil compaction, trenching for electrical cables, application of rock aggregate, construction of drainage ditches, access roads with culverts, parking areas, interior access corridors and perimeter earth berms.
GSCS Wins RMS Contract for USAF Aircraft Parking Apron Materials
(28 December 2001) Readiness Management Support L.C. has competitively awarded GSCS a contract for the rapid supply of base course aggregate (42,184 metric tons) and sub-base aggregate (73,482 metric tons) in support of construction of a new US Air Force concrete aircraft-parking apron at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar

October 2001 satellite images showed extensive work had already been completed at Al-Udeid The Oct 2001 images of runways, structures and roads show an air base far more advanced than the official story would have us believe, revealing that the base was certainly more than one month old. If this construction was part of the original Qatari project, or new US additions cannot be known. What is known is that the base was not "a simple runway and a field of sand covered by two-dozen tents and a few warehouses". Satellite images from Jan 2002, and the following June, show the rapidity with which base was completed. The clock on war with Iraq was running, and the military was in a race to beat that clock.

As any chess player can attest, the game is most often won or lost in the first few moves. The Bush Administrations plan for regime change in Iraq was much like a chess game, each piece needed to be in place before the gambit. Although the grand schemes were hatched in the plush offices of right wing think tanks and corporate boardrooms, the heavy lifting was done by simple pawns in the hot deserts of the Southwest Asia, long before the first rumbles of shock and awe were ever heard.

Able to use the smoldering embers of the World Trade Center as a canard to sell a "global" war on terror to not only the American people, but to those who would fight it, the Administration was able to cover their tracks with a web of misinformation. Al-Udeid was never intended as a frontline in a war against the terrorists of 9-11. It was planned as the frontline for something far different; the "War on Terror", which was nothing more then a clever repackaging of the plans for Iraqi regime change that began with the first Gulf War.
The level of misinformation can be illustrated with a simple story coming from the building of Al Udeid:

According to the official DOD history of Al Udeid, the first fatality of Operation Enduring Freedom was a civil engineer, Master Sgt. Evander Earl Andy"Andrews who died on Oct. 10, 2001 in a construction accident. To honor Andrews,the sprawling tent city at Al-Udeid was christened "Camp Andy". The story of "Camp Andy" is oft told in press accounts about the base and is a cornerstone in the façade of the official account.
Left out of the official story is the fact that since the existence of the base was classified at the time, the military initially announced only that the fatality occurred somewherein "Southwest Asia",and his parents waited months to find out what had really happened to their son

Just as Master Sgt. Andrews parents were not told the truth about their sons' death in Qatar, the American people were never told about the planning and execution of the war in Iraq. The history of the building of AL Udeid demonstrates that the Military planners were on a path to war long before the events of that fateful September morning "changed everything".

This was originally posted on June 21, 2005 as part of an IraqFact investigation series. In light of all the revelations of deceit and misinformation by the administration that come out since that time, I thought it would be relevant still

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Faith based immigration resource

The Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform has an excellent website up with information and actions on the "Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005" (HR4437) and "The Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act" (S1033/ HR2330), introduced by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA).

Their organization Justice for Immigrants is an umbrella group for numerous Catholic charities and faith based groups working for immigration reform and providing immigrant aid and services.

Along with information and actions, the site provides links to immigrant legal services, media links, and links to all member organizations.

For action on S1003 click HERE

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Redstate Racism and the King Funeral

While the Republican spin machine and right wing punditry feign outrage over the "politicizing" of the memorial service of Coretta Scott King, a quick look over at usually somewhat civil Republican blog, Redstate, reveals the seamier side of the true racism that permeates the Grand Old Party.

From the front page:

With Regard To Today's Funeral Political Rally
By: Blanton • Section: Culture

Why is it that we have to accept the Pantheon of the Left and see their funerals televised -- from Wellstone to Mrs. King?
Why is it that those who participate in these funerals feel compelled to turn a solemn, religious event into a Def Comedy Jam spectacle of anti-Republican, anti-conservative boilerplate "known facts" and demands for handouts?

This is just further indication that the left is out of touch.

To borrow another contributor's phrase -- the media and the left treat the Jesse Jacksons of this country and the Jesse Jacksons of the Middle East with respect, compassion, and understanding. Those of us who work hard for a living to provide for our families, humbly go to church, and try to do unto others as we would have them do unto us see our values, our lifestyles, our beliefs, and our Lord ridiculed and bashed on television, the cover of Rolling Stone, and in the mainstream media.

I also think I have a clearer understanding of why the culture of so many black Americans in this country is below what it should be and is capable of being. The prominent black spiritual leaders, like Joseph Lowery, are more interested in subsidization from The ManTM than salvation from the Lord.

Feb 7th, 2006: 20:38:23

Full discussion:

As if that was not quite inflammatory enough, the comments went on to further expound upon more racists themes:

Peace By: davidba

You evidently did (not) live during the civil right era.
There was nothing peaceful about it.

If the truth be told, it was an extortion scam to enrich themselves. Mrs. King carried on this tradition. Anytime you wanted to use anything that was MLK, Jr. you had to pay Mrs. King.

Don't forget who the pupils were of this scam; Jesse Jackson, Joesph Lowery, and Hosea Williams. They practiced this extortion of Corporations all of their lives and some are still doing it.

So lets be honest, praise Mrs. King for the loss of a husband and who had to raise her children by herself, but don't latch on to a myth and try to make it true.

Funeral exceeded my expections for other reasons By: capitano

… I don't know the makeup of the King funeral attendees but you can bet a large portion were high profile Dems with an even higher concentration of race hustling poverty pimps. It was their show and if they want to defile the King legacy with no-class antics, why shouldn't it be on TV?

Clips By: itrytobenice

I saw clips of Clinton and some brown preacher. Clinton made reference to his wife's impending presidency (which hurt my heart and brought rousing cheers from the audience) and the preacher criticized President Bush for spending money on defense and lying (though he didn't use that word - just implied it) about weapons of mass destruction when there are still poor people in America.

At this point the poster is called out on the statement:

Some brown preacher? By: eastlake

"some brown preacher"
How very.... 1950s.

Another poster rises to the defense:

No, that was Brown v. Brown By: blooch

This is Al Sharpton to Howard Dean in 2004:
"Do you have a senior member of your cabinet that was black or brown?"

Dean did not, but apparently, we can take Sharpton's cue and refer to all non-African dark-skinned people as "brown"...unless he meant Latinos only, in which case we must deploy "sienna" and "umber" in our earth-tone rainbow coalition.

It really is funny to watch you "progressives" jump all over itrytobenice for picking up the wrong crayon. Why don't you throw in a lecture on the difference between "colored people" and "people of color"?

totally without class!! so what's new? By: adamsmith

President Bush come's to Mrs. King's funeral to pay his respects. Is a gentleman, as is his father and family, throughout the ceremony. They act with courtesy, honor, and class.
Some guy I've never heard of talks about not finding weapons of mass destruction and other political comments, knowing, coward that he is, that no will can take his political comments on at this event--which btw is a funderal. and Jimmy Carter, who we've learned over the past several years not only was a horrible president, without common sense, showed he had no more class than the first guy.

That crowd looked to be heavily Afro-American, and with their response and their applause, they showed themselves to be the same--no class! …

Insulting the sitting President of the US, when he has the respect to come to a funeral to honor the deceased and the causes they/she fought for--this is going to stick with me, a long, long time.

This is a crowd that as Karl Rove said, is pre--9/11. Protect the country, forget it. Every chance they get they'll just want their political ox gored, and their handouts increased.

They are a disgrace to themselves--I won't say a disgrace to America, because frankly I'm not sure they're American.

Very Fitting, Well done...Bravo! By: Braveheart

… Actually, I can't wait for the unsealing of the secret FBI King files in 2027 to reveal the truth about MLK and his less than honorable life and legacy (thanks to a liberal judge and the King family they have bought time preventing their release under FOIA... hmm, you think they have something to hide?). In the mean time, the country remains held hostage to the unbalanced and intellectually dishonest legacy of this man and his family. Pardon me if I choose not to worship at their phony altar.

Also, I can see clearly why blacks just love the Democratic party for all its done for them in perpetuating their continued pride in their own sense of victimhood. Bravo!

That sorry display at the funeral By: Tbone

is a distillation into a single drop of the reasons why the Dims are becoming irrelevant and why the majority of black Americans are doomed to poverty,ignorance and disadvantage.

Republicans can try to spin this any way they want … but their words reveal their true feelings and intents.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

HR 4437: King promised changes, but none made

Back in late December, in reaction to an outpouring of concern from church groups and humanitarian aid organizations, co-sponsor of HR 4437, Rep. Peter King (NY) promised that the bill would be reworded to guarantee that aid workers would be free from prosecution.

It looks as if Mr. King might have changed his mind.

Says he didn't mean to target humanitarian groups after outcry over measure aimed at illegal immigration

Newsday Dec 31, 2005
By Bart Jones and J Jioni Palmer
Staff writers

After an outpouring of criticism from churches and relief groups, Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said Friday he is willing to reword the legislation he co-sponsored that would have made it illegal to assist undocumented immigrants.

The bill calls for building a 698-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, turning undocumented immigrants into felons and permitting "deputization" of local and state police officers as immigration agents.

But it also included a provision that makes it a crime for anyone to assist undocumented immigrants to "come or remain" in the United States.

Immigrant advocates and officials from churches and relief agencies said this could lead to the imprisonment of priests, nuns, social workers, doctors and Good Samaritans who may provide these immigrants with anything from counseling to a ride to the grocery store.

King said that was never the intention of the provision, which he said targets gangs that smuggle undocumented immigrants into the country.

The measure "is not aimed at humanitarian groups at all," said King, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. "If there are any specific words they want changed, I can assure you that will be done."

King said the groups were misinterpreting the bill and that "the church is developing a persecution complex here ... If an alien smuggling ring gets a guy into the country and he stops at St. Brigid's at a soup kitchen, we're not going to lock up the pastor of St. Brigid's. They're not part of the smuggling ring."

Some church workers greeted King's words with relief Friday, although they said they were still outraged by the bill in general and do not believe they were misinterpreting its broad language.

"If we can discuss it, excellent," Yanira Chacon, a church outreach worker at St. Brigid's in Westbury, said in Spanish. "The ideal for me is that this bill doesn't pass at all."

Church and immigrant groups call the bill the harshest piece of anti-immigrant legislation in 70 years. Supporters say it would help bring under control a situation of anarchy at the border that has swelled the number of undocumented immigrants in the country to 11 million, including an estimated 100,000 on Long Island.

King said the bill is unlikely to be passed in its present form by the Senate, which he expected to add provisions for a guest-worker program granting temporary visas mainly to low-skilled workers.

However, he did say "a significant portion of it has to become law otherwise no immigration reform bill will pass the House

Newsday (pay link)
alternate link

An examination of the modified bill that was presented to the Senate on January 27, 2006 reveals that no changes have yet been made, and in fact it puts many humanitarian workers in great legal jeopardy.

(a) IN GENERAL- Section 274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1324) is amended to read as follows:

`SEC. 274. (a) Criminal Offenses and Penalties-


`(A) assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to come to or enter the United States, or to attempt to come to or enter the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to come to or enter the United States;

`(B) assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to come to or enter the United States at a place other than a designated port of entry or place other than as designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security, regardless of whether such person has official permission or lawful authority to be in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien;

`(C) assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to reside in or remain in the United States, or to attempt to reside in or remain in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in or remain in the United States;

`(D) transports or moves a person in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to enter or be in the United States, where the transportation or movement will aid or further in any manner the person's illegal entry into or illegal presence in the United States;

`(E) harbors, conceals, or shields from detection a person in the United States knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to be in the United States;

`(F) transports, moves, harbors, conceals, or shields from detection a person outside of the United States knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien in unlawful transit from one country to another or on the high seas, under circumstances in which the person is in fact seeking to enter the United States without official permission or lawful authority; or

`(G) conspires or attempts to commit any of the preceding acts,

shall be punished as provided in paragraph (2), regardless of any official action which may later be taken with respect to such alien.

`(2) CRIMINAL PENALTIES- A person who violates the provisions of paragraph (1) shall--

`(A) except as provided in subparagraphs (D) through (H), in the case where the offense was not committed for commercial advantage, profit, or private financial gain, be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;

`(B) except as provided in subparagraphs (C) through (H), where the offense was committed for commercial advantage, profit, or private financial gain--

`(i) in the case of a first violation of this subparagraph, be imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both; and

`(ii) for any subsequent violation, be imprisoned for not less than 3 years nor more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;

`(C) in the case where the offense was committed for commercial advantage, profit, or private financial gain and involved 2 or more aliens other than the offender, be imprisoned for not less than 3 nor more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;

`(D) in the case where the offense furthers or aids the commission of any other offense against the United States or any State, which offense is punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year, be imprisoned for not less than 5 nor more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;

`(E) in the case where any participant in the offense created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person, including--

`(i) transporting a person in an engine compartment, storage compartment, or other confined space;

`(ii) transporting a person at an excessive speed or in excess of the rated capacity of the means of transportation; or

`(iii) transporting or harboring a person in a crowded, dangerous, or inhumane manner,

be imprisoned not less than 5 nor more than 20 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;

`(F) in the case where the offense caused serious bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 of title 18, United States Code, including any conduct that would violate sections 2241 or 2242 of title 18, United States Code, if the conduct occurred in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States) to any person, be imprisoned for not less than 7 nor more than 30 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both;

`(G) in the case where the offense involved an alien who the offender knew or had reason to believe was an alien--

`(i) engaged in terrorist activity (as defined in section 212(a)(3)(B)); or

`(ii) intending to engage in such terrorist activity,

be imprisoned for not less than 10 nor more than 30 years, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both; and

`(H) in the case where the offense caused or resulted in the death of any person, be punished by death or imprisoned for not less than 10 years, or any term of years, or for life, or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both.

`(3) EXTRATERRITORIAL JURISDICTION- There is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over the offenses described in this subsection.

`(b) Employment of Unauthorized Aliens-

`(1) IN GENERAL- Any person who, during any 12-month period, knowingly hires for employment at least 10 individuals with actual knowledge that the individuals are aliens described in paragraph (2), shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.

`(2) ALIEN DESCRIBED- A alien described in this paragraph is an alien who--

`(A) is an unauthorized alien (as defined in section 274A(h)(3)); and

`(B) has been brought into the United States in violation of subsection (a).

Thomas/Library of Congress

As written, the bill would make activities such as providing undocumented immigrants with food, medical care, counseling, or even transportation to a doctor or grocery store a crime punishable with up to five years imprisonment.

We obviously should not accept Mr. King at his word. Hopefully church groups and humanitarian aid services will not be lulled into a false sense of security by Mr. Kings assertions

cross posted from Migra Matters

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Monday, February 06, 2006

One more piece in the "Immigration Reform" puzzle

One of the underlying problems with the recently passed "Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005" (H.R. 4437) has always been the shear impracticality of it. Let's set aside the questions of constitutionality, infringement on basic human rights, lack of judicial checks and balances and inherent racism of HR 4437, and simply examine it from a practical point of view. The bill, as written, would appear to be totally unenforceable.

But leave it to the Bush administration to turn to a familiar "friend" to remedy that situation: Halliburton

The bill, in theory, calls for the arrest and possible detention of millions of undocumented immigrants.

Mandatory Detention
Under current law, individuals who arrive without documents, including asylum-seekers, are subject to mandatory detention. Again this applies mainy to those arriving at airports or by sea. 60% of detainees are held in local jails under contract to the federal government, where they are generally not segregated from the criminal population even if they are asylum-seekers and others with no criminal record.

Under this new bill, the mandatory detention policy would be extended to all non-citizens who are detained at any port of entry or anywhere “along” the border for any reason.

“Illegal Presence” and “Aggravated Felonies,”
Section 203 of HR 4437 calls for the creation of a new federal crime of “illegal presence”. As defined in the bill it includes any violation, even technical, of any immigration law or regulation. Even if the immigrant was to fall “out of status” unintentionally, or do to paperwork delays. In essence, the bill makes every immigration violation, however minor, into a federal crime. As drafted, the bill also makes the new crime of “illegal presence” an “aggravated felony” for immigration purposes. This classification would have the further effect of restricting ordinary undocumented immigrants (including those with pending applications) from many forms of administrative or judicial review. Those convicted of an "aggravated felony" would be subject to indefinite detention and/or expedited removal.

Indefinite Detention
Indefinite detention currently applies to non-citizens ordered removed from the United States whose countries refuse to accept them or who have no country because they are stateless. Most often they come from countries without good relations with the United States.

HR 4437 would permit indefinite detention of an increased broad class of non-citizens, including:
  • those with a contagious disease
  • any non-citizen convicted of an “aggravated felony,” (see above)
  • non-citizens whose release would pose foreign policy problems
  • non-citizens charged even with very minor immigration violations who, based on secret evidence, are deemed a national security risk.


So how does the DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement plan to hold the possible millions of undocumented immigrants that HR4437 would place into the detention system? At the present time ICE runs only fifteen detention facilities throughout the continental US. Certainly if HR4437 were to pass, this small number of facilities would be overwhelmed within the first months, if not weeks of enactment.

This has always been one of the great practical stumbling blocks in this ill-conceived bill. It would take a monumental shift in ICE's capabilities to incarcerate the immigrants charged with the various new crimes as outlined in HR4437.

Thanks to Halliburton, this capability is about to grow significantly.

Halliburton Subsidiary Gets Contract to Add Temporary Immigration Detention Centers
New York Times

A spokesman for the corps, Clayton Church, said that the centers could be at unused military sites or temporary structures and that each one would hold up to 5,000 people.

"When there's a large influx of people into the United States, how are we going to feed, house and protect them?" Mr. Church asked. "That's why these kinds of contracts are there."


In recent months, the Homeland Security Department has promised to increase bed space in its detention centers to hold thousands of illegal immigrants awaiting deportation. In the first quarter of the 2006 fiscal year, nearly 60 percent of the illegal immigrants apprehended from countries other than Mexico were released on their own recognizance.

Domestic security officials have promised to end the releases by increasing the number of detention beds. Last week, domestic security officials announced that they would expand detaining and swiftly deporting illegal immigrants to include those seized near the Canadian border

Advocates for immigrants said they feared that the new contract was another indication that the government planned to expand the detention of illegal immigrants, including those seeking asylum.

"It's pretty obvious that the intent of the government is to detain more and more people and to expedite their removal," said Cheryl Little, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center in Miami. .

Once again Halliburton looks to become the direct beneficiary of Republican sponsored legislation and policy.

Halliburton's involvement in HR 4437 also raises numerous questions:

As we have already seen in Iraq, KRB has not only a terrible track record in regards to billing issues and its ability to actually accomplish its missions; many of its contracts appear to be nothing short of sweetheart deals made with the DOD. Was this another example of that?

Additionally, a serious examination of Halliburton's future effect on this legislation must be watched. As it moves through the Senate will KRB's involvement place undue pressure on legislators to prevent the more draconian measures in the bill from being thoroughly debated?

Once again it looks like we're about to see policy being formulated more for the benefit of the corporations with ties deep inside the Whitehouse, rather than for the benefit of the American people. Unfortunately it looks like millions of hard working immigrants, whose only wish is to make a better life for themselves and their families, will become the next pawns in the big money games being played in Washington.

Cross posted from: Migra Matters

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

An Open Invitation to Progressive Candidates

Over the last week the Internet and traditional media have both been a buzz with stories and discussions about the future direction of Democratic Party and progressive politics. Although varying somewhat in content and context, one underlying theme is beginning to emerge. The American people as a whole, and Democrats in particular, are tired of politics as usual and are looking for candidates that exhibit some adherence to a core set of beliefs … that have an ideology.

Daniel Henninger in the WSJ expressed this sentiment when he said:

What interests the most motivated Democratic voters now is "progressive justice," "our values," "our rights," "public needs," Roe v. Wade. What interests their GOP opponents is "big government," "spending," patriotism, the "ethics" of cloning, "activist" judges, Roe v. Wade.

At a time when the Democratic elites no longer have a vibrant ideology and the Republicans in Washington are deserting theirs, the public across the spectrum seems to be screaming for recognizable signposts, shared political principles.

The fact that the WSJ, and Mr. Henninger are no friends of progressive ideals should not diminish the potency of his assertion.

The disgust on the part of both the right and the left for politicians whose core beliefs seem to drift with the political winds has been growing and is starting to become the barometer by which all future candidacies will be judged. In the coming election cycle ones ability to deliver a cohesive message based on a firm ideology will be the determining factor for success or failure.

Democrats in particular are reaching a point of desperation. We have seen time and time again, our elected leaders buckle and waiver under pressure to adhere to some imaginary “middle ground” that does not really exist. Afraid to take firm positions, based on principal and shared ideals, for fear of alienating some notion of an “average American” that has been conceived, not in reality but rather, in the boardrooms of advertising agencies and offices of political consultants. The “average American” is far more complex and freethinking than our current crop of political leaders give them credit for.

Most people favor those with a strong set of ideals and beliefs, (even if we don’t share them), to those who vacillate and capitulate. That fact can be borne out if we look at John McCain. Before his luster wore off and he became just another Republican lapdog, many Democrats were drawn to him, not because they shared many his beliefs, but because at least he appeared to have some.

So here is my message to you:

If you believe in progressive ideals and have the courage to stand up to the purveyors of the conventional wisdom who say that the only way to win is to play from the middle, come talk to us. The progressive Internet community is large and has many resources to offer you. All we ask in return is honesty and backbone.

In the last few days calls for aid to progressive candidates have been posted on various blogs and websites and they have been answered. Ciro Rodriguez (TX-28) asked for help and in two days received $50K form the community at dKos. Others have come also, Chris Owens (NY-11) and Ned Lamont in Conn. were brought to our attention as possible candidates who could use our help. Also, we can't forget the support we are giving to Paul Hackett in his run in Ohio.

We desperately want to change not only the face the Democratic Party but the course of this nation for the future. If you are running in a primary against a Democrat who has lost his way, or in the general election against a Republican, come and communicate with us. Let us hear your message. Tell us how you plan on effecting change and what is your vision for the future. Let us know where you stand on the great progressive issues of the day.

Our resources are great. We have the ability to make local races, national, with national support from all our members. We can be effective not only at raising money but also in delivering your message. We can reach out to those in your state or district and help them effect change. But, we can only do this if you make us aware. We have found many candidates on our own thus far, but no one can deliver your message better than you can.

If you have not yet finalized your decision to run, come talk to us anyway. Perhaps our words of encouragement might make your decision easier.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

One question about Bush's State of the Union Address

"A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator -- and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale."

What exactly is a human-animal hybrid anyway?

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

When is a hostage not a hostage?

A recently released military memo, dated June 10, 2004 revealed that US occupation forces in Iraq had detained the wives of "suspected terrorists" in order to pressure the suspects into giving themselves up.

The memo released Friday, written by an officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency, complained that on May 9, 2004, he witnessed a U.S. raid team detain a 28-year-old mother from Tamiya, northwest of Baghdad when U.S. forces raided her in-laws’ home. She had three young children, including one who was nursing.

According to the memo:

Her husband was the primary target of the raid, with other suspect personnel subject to detainment as well,"

"During the pre-operational brief, it was recommended by TF (task force) personnel that if the wife were present, she be detained and held in order to leverage the primary target's surrender."

“During my initial screening of the occupants at the target house, I determined that the wife could provide no actionable intelligence leading to the arrest of her husband,” the author of the memo wrote. “Despite my protest, the raid team leader detained her anyway.”

In a separate incident, an officer from the Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division in northern Iraq discussed the detention of some Kurdish female prisoners in an e-mail exchange with his commanding officer. In it he mentioned that his commanding general "wants the husband."

The commanding officer reportedly replied back on June 17, 2004; "What are you guys doing to try to get the husband -- have you tacked a note on the door and challenged him to come get his wife?"

The first officer responded two days later that he was getting more information from the women that could “result in getting husband."

1 a : a person held by one party in a conflict as a pledge that promises will be kept or terms met by the other party b : a person taken by force to secure the taker's demands
2 : one that is involuntarily controlled by an outside influence

What part of these two actions does not qualify as hostage taking?

When one's actions become indiscernible from those of his enemy, he is no better, and has become what he originally despised. We have become terrorist, and there is no way you could ever convince me to the contrary.

Kansas City Star
Islam Online (Qatar)

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