Sunday, August 31, 2008
WFMZ TV reports:
Racial tensions escalated in the Schuylkill County borough of Shenandoah yesterday. Protestors gathered at an anti illegal immigration rally, while across town, a unity counter protest was held at the same time.
1. Unity Fest at the Kahillat Isreal Non-Denominational Christian Church
Families and Friends gathered to remember Ramirez and his family and to Pray for Unity and Peace in Pottsville. People gathered at the unity rally. Preaching a message of healing and hope. Pastor John Navarro/Kehillat Israel Church: "We opened the door to this - because this is a positive thing - we want not to see hatred, we want love." Dr. Agapito Lopez/unity organizer: "I think the way this community can get together and heal is to understand each other, to be in the shoes of other people."
The fliers said, "Bring your musical talents, instruments (kazoos are good!), food to share and your peaceful, positive, uplifting spirit! We will have fun stuff for the kids, music, food, movies and a message of hope, inclusivity, and peace within ourselves and our town." As advertised, the gathering was peaceful and harmonious. The community attended and Prayed together!
2. Voice of the People Demonstration sponsored by PA Pundits
The Melanie News Blog reported: "This weekend, a group called Voice of the PeopleUSA/PAPundits plans an ‘anti-immigration’ rally in Shenandoah. Although they claim not to be a white supremacist group, they have a very strong following of neo-Nazis, skinheads, white supremacists, and other such hate groups who will be here with them. This is already drawing national press attention whether we want it or not, and our image to world will be unfairly associated with a swastika."
A commenter added: "Actually the guy draped in the Nazi flag and other white supremacists that attended the Voice of the People USA rally were racists. I’ve never heard anyone call out these guys and gals at any rally. You count them for support just like everyone else in the crowd.
The Unity Festival was the truly peaceful and positive event. Thanks so much for having it. I think it was great that the mayor chose to attend your positive event and not the negative one across town."
The heinous Wendi M. from PA Pundits reported: "This speech was interrupted by none other than Crystal Dillman, the fiancee of Luis Ramirez. (Wendi M. said) Dillman and a few of her friends were holding a Mexican flag and had been standing in the back for some time. They got NO attention from anyone, so they moved into the crowd of patriots, flashing the middle finger along the way.
The crowd got upset, and started to swarm towards her. Smeriglio kept talking, even saying “I guess they don’t care about 9/11″ referring to Dillman and her co-traitors."
OTHER UPDATES: WHP Reports: School for the Charged- POTTSVILLE, Pa. (AP) - School officials say two teenagers charged in the beating death of a Mexican man in an eastern Pennsylvania town won't be returning to the classroom. Sixteen-year-old Brandon Piekarsky and 17-year-old Colin Walsh are charged as adults with third-degree murder and other counts in the July 12 beating of 24-year-old illegal immigrant Luis Ramirez. The two are seniors at Shenandoah Valley High School. Superintendent Stanley Rakowsky says their parents will have three options. The two may receive instruction at home from a certified professional staff member and earn a Shenandoah Valley diploma. They may be taught at home by someone with a high school disploma and take the General Educational Development test. Or they may enroll in a cyber school and take classes via computer.
Laurel ICE Raid Update: The Politics of the Employer´s Exploitation of Workers and Their Connection to the Administration-ICE!
When the heinous employers saw the end to their exploitation, they called in their cronies at ICE to bring in the Raids!
The primary REASON for the Raid in Laurel was to teach the workers who attempted to join a Union, "IF you try to join a Union, WE are so connected to the Administration then we will shackle you and send you to a Crony Owned Detention Center!"
LAUREL, Miss. -- On August 25, immigration agents swooped down on Howard Industries, a Mississippi electrical equipment factory, taking 481 workers to a privately-run detention center in Jena, Louisiana. Some 106 were also arrested at the plant, and released wearing electronic monitoring devices on their ankles, if they had children, or without them, if they were pregnant. Eight workers were taken to Federal court in Hattiesburg, where they were charged with aggravated identity theft. Afterwards Barbara Gonzalez, spokesperson for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), stated the raid took place because of a tip by a "union member" two years before. Other media accounts focused on an incident in which plant workers allegedly cheered as their coworkers were led away by ICE agents.
The articles claim the plant was torn by tension between immigrant and non-immigrant workers, and that unions in Mississippi are hostile to immigrants. Many Mississippi activists and workers, however, charge the raid had a political agenda - undermining a growing political coalition that threatens the state's conservative Republican establishment. They also say the raid, which took place during union contract negotiations, will help the company resist demands for better wages and conditions.
Jim Evans, a national AFL-CIO staff member in Mississippi and a leading member of the state legislature's Black Caucus, said he believed "this raid is an effort to drive immigrants out of Mississippi. It is also an attempt to drive a wedge between immigrants, African Americans, white people and unions - all those who want political change here." Patricia Ice, attorney for the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA), agreed that "this is political. They want a mass exodus of immigrants out of the state, the kind we've seen in Arizona and Oklahoma. The political establishment here is threatened by Mississippi's changing demographics, and what the electorate might look like in 20 years."In the last two decades, the percentage of African Americans in the state's population has increased to over 35%, and immigrants, who were statistically insignificant until recently, are expected to reach 10% in the next decade. Mississippi union membership has been among the nation's lowest, but since the early 1980s, workers have joined unions in catfish and poultry plants, casinos and shipyards, along with those at Howard Industries. Evans, other members of the Black Caucus, many of the state's labor organizations, and immigrant communities all see shifting demographic as the basis for changing the state's politics. Over the last seven years their growing coalition has proposed legislation to set up a Department of Labor (Mississippi is the only state without one), guarantee access to education for children of all races and nationalities, and provide drivers' licenses to immigrants. MIRA organized support in the state capitol for those proposals and Evans, who sponsored many of them, chairs the MIRA's board. Earlier this year, however, the legislature passed, and Governor Haley Barbour signed, a law making it a state felony for an undocumented worker to hold a job, punishable by 1-5 years in prison and $1,000-10,000 in fines. Employers are given immunity for employing workers without papers, so long as they vet new hires through an ICE database called E-Verify. It is still not known whether the people arrested at Howard Industries will be charged under the new state law. Evans says the law and the raid serve the same objectives. "They both just make it easier to exploit workers. The people who profit from Mississippi's low wage system want to keep it the way it is," he alleged.
In the week before the raid, MIRA organizers received reports of a growing number of ICE agents in southern Mississippi. They began leafleting immigrant communities, warning them about a possible raid and explaining their rights should people be questioned about their immigration status. When agents finally showed up at the Howard Industries plant, many workers say they tried to invoke those rights, and warn others that a raid was in progress. One woman, later detained and then released to care for her child, began to call workers who had not yet come to the factory on her cell phone, warning them to stay away. "She first called her brother, and then began calling anyone else she could think of," explained her mother, who works in a local chicken plant. Both feared being identified publicly. "An agent grabbed her arm, and asked her what she was doing, so she went into the bathroom, and kept calling people until they took her phone away."
Howard Industries, like most Mississippi employers, has a long record of opposing unions. Workers there chose representation by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers on June 8, 2000, by a vote of 162-108. Employment at the plant, which manufactures electrical ballasts and transformers, grew considerably after the election, and the company now employs over 4000 workers at several locations in Mississippi. In 2002 it received a $31.5 million subsidy for expansion from the state government, and at one point state legislators were all given HI laptop computers. "The company is very well-connected politically," says Evans, who noted that its owners donated to the campaigns of former Democratic governor Ronnie Musgrove, and then to Mississippi's current Republican governor Haley Barbour.
As it grew the company hired many immigrant Mexican and Central American workers, diversifying a workforce that was originally primarily African American and white. The company has declined to comment, and released a press statement that said, "Howard Industries runs every check allowed to ascertain the immigration status of all applicants for jobs. It is company policy that it hires only U.S. citizens and legal immigrants." (We really believe this!) During the organizing drive the union filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging intimidation and violations of workers' rights. After the union and company agreed on a contract, more charges followed. NLRB Region 15 issued a complaint against the company for violating the union's bargaining rights. Roger Doolittle, attorney for IBEW Local 1317, says other charges allege that the company threatened a union steward for trying to represent workers in the plant. In June the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced it intended to fine the company $123,000 for 36 violations of health and safety regulations at the Pendorf plant, where the raid took place, and another $41,000 in fines for a second Laurel location.Tension between the company and union increased after the collective bargaining agreement expired at the beginning of August. According to one immigrant worker, who was not detained because he worked on swing shift and did not want to be identified, the union was asking for a wage increase of $1.50/hour and better vacation benefits. Company medical benefits are also an issue among workers, he said, because family coverage costs over $100/week, putting it out of reach for most employees. Mississippi is a right-to-work state, and labor contracts cannot require that workers belong to the union. Instead, unions must continually try to sign workers up as members. In past years, according to other union sources, IBEW Local 1317 had a reputation as a union that did not offer much support to its immigrant members. According to the swing shift worker, who did not belong to the union, there were just a few hundred members at the Pendorf plant, and in negotiations the company used that low membership as a reason not to sign a new agreement. To increase its ability to negotiate a contract, Local 1317 began making greater efforts to sign up immigrant members. Spanish-speaking organizers were brought in, and they handed out leaflets in Spanish explaining the benefits of membership. They visited workers at home so they could talk about the union without being overheard or seen by company supervisors. According to the swing shift worker, many began to join, especially the immigrants who'd been hired most recently. IBEW's national newspaper, Electrical Worker, reported that over 200 had signed up last April, according to Local 1317's African-American business manager Clarence Larkin. "It's a constant process to keep the union alive and growing," he told the paper. That's when the plant was raided. Local 1317 will now have to try to negotiate a contract after the loss of many of its members, who were among those detained. Those members, who joined the union in hopes of better wages and treatment, instead have been imprisoned for days in Jena, Louisiana, a two-hour drive from Laurel. ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez would not provide an estimate of how long they might be jailed, but said "the investigation of their cases is ongoing."The day after ICE agents stormed the factory MIRA began organizing meetings to provide legal advice, food and economic help. According to MIRA director Bill Chandler, Howard Industry representatives told detainees' families, and women released to care for children, that the company wouldn't give them their paychecks. On August 28 MIRA organizer Vicky Cintra led a group of workers to the Pendorf plant to demand their pay. Managers called Laurel police and sheriffs, who threatened to arrest her. After workers began chanting, "Let her go!" and news reporters appeared on the scene, the company finally agreed to distribute checks to about 70 people.The swing shift worker was so frightened by the raid that he hadn't gone back to work after almost a week, and wasn't sure he'd have a job waiting if he did. "Everyone is still really scared," he said. The Hattiesburg American reported Friday that Howard Industries sent a letter to customers two days after the raid, assuring them that production would be back to normal by the end of the week, and noting that the company has not been charged. Spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez claimed ICE waited two years after receiving a call from a "union member" before conducting the raid, because "we took the time needed for our investigation." She declined to say how that investigation was conducted, or what led ICE to believe their tip had come from a union member. The picture of a plant in which union members were hostile to immigrants was reinforced after the raid by media accounts of an incident in which workers "applauded" as their coworkers were taken away.
Friday, August 29, 2008
By DAN JOLING / Associated Press Writer Published: August 29th, 2008 11:45
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is a comely candidate with a reputation for fighting corruption, but lately her reputation within the state has been bit by allegations of mixing political and family business, and by mistreating one of the state's premier marine mammals.
. Also, the governor of the only state with polar bears has adamantly opposed listing the animals as a threatened species, despite strong evidence that global warming has devastated their sea ice environment off Alaska's coast.
. And despite John McCain's claim Friday that Palin is a budget-cutter, the governor this year oversaw 6 percent increase in Alaska's operating and construction budget, fueled by a revised tax structure and skyrocketing crude oil prices.
Dermot Cole, a longtime columnist for Alaska's second largest newspaper, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, called McCain's choice of Palin "reckless" and questioned her credentials.
"Sarah Palin's chief qualification for being elected governor was that she was not Frank Murkowski," Cole said of her enormously unpopular predecessor, who lost favor with Alaskans in part because of unpopular budget cuts. "She was not elected because she was a conservative. She was not elected because of her grasp of issues or because of her track record as the mayor of Wasilla."
Her enormous popularity in the state took a hit this summer over her firing of her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, a former Anchorage police chief. State lawmakers launched a $100,000 investigation to determine if Palin dismissed Monegan because he would not fire the governor's ex-brother-in-law, Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten, who has been involved in a messy custody battle with Palin's sister. (some integrity!!)
In 2005, before Palin ran for office, the Palin family accused Wooten of drinking beer in his patrol car, illegally shooting a moose and firing a Taser at his 11-year-old stepson. The Palins also claimed Wooten threatened to kill Sarah Palin's father. Wooten was suspended over the allegations for five days in 2006 but still has his job.
Palin denied the commissioner's dismissal had anything to do with her former brother-in-law and denied orchestrating dozens of telephone calls made by staff and family members to Wooten's bosses. The investigation launched by state lawmakers is expected to take at least three months.
State Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, said Palin's candidacy does not change the investigation. "I think it raises its profile. I don't think it changes the steps you go through. It is what it is. You have to find out what happened," French said. The investigator hired by lawmakers two days ago told the Department of Law it was time to schedule Palin's deposition, French said.
Palin, in a move that shook up Alaska's Republican party, took on the state's long-term congressional delegation, U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, calling on them to explain why they're the target of federal corruption investigations. But she has been just as dogged trying to protect Alaska's main industry and cash cow, petroleum extraction, from the side-effects of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's decision to list polar bears as a threatened species. "Listing polar bears under the Endangered Species Act has the potential to damage Alaska's and the nation's economy without any benefit to polar bear numbers or their habitat," Palin said, a statement environmental groups call ridiculous. Polar bears use sea ice as a platform to hunt seals and the listing has the potential to disrupt future offshore drilling in polar bear territory. The disappearance of ice at such an alarming rate forced Kempthorne, who had not added a U.S. creature to the endangered species list since he took office, to declare polar bears threatened. Summer sea ice last year shrunk to the lowest level since the beginning of satellite observations, about 1.65 million square miles, nearly 40 percent less than the long-term average between 1979 and 2000. The National Snow and Ice Data Center said this week that 2008 could break that record. Most climate modelers predict a continued downward spiral, possibly with an Arctic Ocean that's ice free during summer months by 2030 or sooner. Palin contends climate models are unreliable, polar bear numbers have not crashed and they've survived other periods of warming. She has also claimed polar bears could adapt to living on land - a contention most international polar bear scientists find specious, given that grizzly bears already occupy that niche on land and polar bears have shown little ability to feed on land, other garbage or the occasional whale carcass. Palin is suing to overturn Kempthorne's decision.
Palin also claims to be a fiscal conservative, but watched this year as Alaska reaped the bounty of high oil prices and a revised tax structure. The excess has spared her from any sort of challenge to make tough budget-cutting decision, but did spur her to come to the rescue of Alaskans facing the nation's highest energy costs. Palin championed a $1 billion energy assistance package that will send each resident $1,200 to help offset energy costs, which runs to more than $9 per gallon for gasoline in rural Alaska. That will be on top of dividends from the Alaska Permanent Fund, checks to each qualified resident that are expected to exceed $2,000 this year.
I do not know very much about Palin. Here is what wiki says (summary).
Sarah Heath Palin (born February 11, 1964) is the current Governor of Alaska, and a member of the Republican Party. She is the first female governor of Alaska, its youngest, and is the first governor born after Alaska achieved statehood.
Palin was the point guard and captain for the Wasilla High School Warriors, in Wasilla, Alaska, when they won the Alaska small-school basketball championship in 1982; she earned the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" because of her intense play. In 1984, Palin was first runner-up in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant after winning the Miss Wasilla contest earlier that year, winning a scholarship to help pay her way through college. In the Wasilla pageant, she played the flute and also won Miss Congeniality. (Well McCain DOES LIKE his Models and Beauty Contest Winners!!) She hunts, eats moose burgers, ice fishes, rides snowmobiles, and owns a float plane. Palin holds a lifetime membership with the National Rifle Association. She admits that she used marijuana when it was legal in Alaska, but says that she did not like it.
She briefly worked as a sports reporter for local Anchorage television stations while also working as a commercial fisherman with her husband, Todd, her high school sweetheart. Todd is a Native Yup'ik Eskimo. The Palin family lives in Wasilla, about 40 miles (64 km) north of Anchorage.
On September 11, 2007, the Palins' son Track joined the Army. Eighteen years old at the time, he is the eldest of Palin's five children. Track now serves in an infantry brigade and will be deployed to Iraq in September. She also has three daughters: Bristol, 17, Willow, 13, and Piper, 7. On April 18, 2008, Palin gave birth to her second son, Trig Paxson Van Palin, who has Down syndrome. She returned to the office three days after giving birth. Palin refused to let the results of prenatal genetic testing change her decision to have the baby. "I'm looking at him right now, and I see perfection," Palin said.
Palin served two terms on the Wasilla City Council from 1992 to 1996. In 1996, she challenged the incumbent mayor, criticizing wasteful spending and high taxes. The ex-mayor and sheriff tried to organize a recall campaign, but failed. Palin kept her campaign promises, reducing her own salary, as well as reducing property taxes 60%. She ran for reelection against the former mayor in 1999, winning by an even larger margin. Palin was also elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.
Palin has NO Foreign Policy experience. She is strongly pro-life, a supporter of capital punishment. Palin holds a lifetime membership with the National Rifle Association. She opposes same-sex marriage, but she has stated that she has gay friends and is receptive to gay and lesbian concerns about discrimination. While the previous administration did not implement same-sex benefits, Palin complied with an Alaskan state Supreme Court order and signed them into law.
In 2006, Palin, running on a clean-government campaign, executed an upset victory over then-Gov. Murkowski in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Despite the lack of support from party leaders and being outspent by her Democratic opponent, she went on to win the general election in November 2006, defeating former Governor Tony Knowles. Palin's tenure is noted for her independence from big oil companies, while still promoting resource development.
On July 11, 2008, Governor Palin dismissed Walter Monegan as Commissioner of Public Safety and instead offered him a position as executive director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which he subsequently turned down. Monegan alleged shortly after his dismissal that it may have been partly due to his reluctance to fire an Alaska State Trooper, Mike Wooten, who had been involved in a divorce and child custody battle with Palin's sister, Molly McCann. In 2006, before Palin was governor, Wooten was briefly suspended for ten days for threatening to kill McCann's (and Palin's) father, tasering his 11-year-old stepson, and violating game laws. After a union protest, the suspension was reduced to five days.
On July 11, 2008, Governor Palin dismissed Walter Monegan as Commissioner of Public Safety and instead offered him a position as executive director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which he subsequently turned down. Monegan alleged shortly after his dismissal that it may have been partly due to his reluctance to fire an Alaska State Trooper, Mike Wooten, who had been involved in a divorce and child custody battle with Palin's sister, Molly McCann. In 2006, before Palin was governor, Wooten was briefly suspended for ten days for threatening to kill McCann's (and Palin's) father, tasering his 11-year-old stepson, and violating game laws. After a union protest, the suspension was reduced to five days. In response to Palin's statement that she had nothing to hide, in August 2008 the Alaska Legislature hired Steve Branchflower to investigate Palin and her staff for possible abuse of power surrounding the dismissal, though lawmakers acknowledge that "Monegan and other commissioners serve at will, meaning they can be fired by Palin at any time." The investigation is being overseen by Democratic State Senator Hollis French.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
BREAKING NEWS: OBAMA Acceptance Speech Highlights: It´s Time for Republicans to Own their own Failure! It´s Time for Us to Change America!
Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land – enough! This moment – this election – is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."
Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect.
The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives – on health care and education and the economy – Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this President. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisors – the man who wrote his economic plan – was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."
It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.
For over two decades, he’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is, you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own.
Well, it’s time for them to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America.
What is the American promise?
It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.
It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.
Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves – protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.
Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.
That's the promise of America – the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.
That's the promise we need to keep. That's the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President.
Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.
Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.
I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.
I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.
And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.
Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.
Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.
As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced.
America, now is not the time for small plans.
Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance. I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American – if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.
Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.
Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.
Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for future generations.
And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.
Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime – by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less – because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.
And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.
Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility – that's the essence of America's promise.
And just as we keep our keep our promise to the next generation here at home, so must we keep America's promise abroad. If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next Commander-in-Chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.
For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell – but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.
And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush Administration, even after we learned that Iraq has a $79 billion surplus while we're wallowing in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war.
That's not the judgment we need. That won't keep America safe. We need a President who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.
You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in eighty countries by occupying Iraq. You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice – but it is not the change we need.
We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans -- Democrats and Republicans – have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.
As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.
I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.
These are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain.
But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.
The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America – they have served the United States of America.
So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.
America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose – our sense of higher purpose. And that's what we have to restore.
We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America's promise – the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.
I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.
You make a big election about small things.
And you know what – it's worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.
I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.
But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you.
For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us – that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it – because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.
America, this is one of those moments.
I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming. Because I've seen it. Because I've lived it. I've seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work. I've seen it in Washington, when we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.
And I've seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and in those who got involved again after a very long time. In the Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a Democratic ballot, but did. I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.
This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
Instead, it is that American spirit – that American promise – that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.
That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours – a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.
And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.
The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.
But what the people heard instead – people of every creed and color, from every walk of life – is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.
"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."
America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise – that American promise – and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.
Thank you, God Bless you, and God Bless the United States of America.
Soap Opera Politics Volume 1, Issue 30
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our President.
Tonight we need to remember what a Presidential election is really about. When the polls have closed, and the ads are finally off the air, it comes down to you -- the American people, your lives, and your children's futures.
America is still around after 232 years because we have risen to the challenge of every new time, changing to be faithful to our values of equal opportunity for all and the common good.
Bail was set this morning in Schuylkill County Court for two of the teenage boys charged in the beating death of an illegal Mexican immigrant in Shenandoah. Senior Judge William Baldwin set bail at $50,000 each for Brandon Piekarsky, 16, and Colin Walsh, 17. They are charged with criminal homicide — which could include third-degree murder, voluntary or involuntary manslaughter — along with ethnic intimidation and related offenses in the July 12 beating of Luis E. Ramirez, 24. Piekarsky’s attorney, Fred Fanelli, said his client’s family will try to get money together to bail out Piekarsky. Fanelli had argued Piekarsky is an honor student and a standout athlete. He added Piekarsky is not a flight risk because he is dependent on his mother and he has no family outside Shenandoah. Nonetheless, Baldwin set several conditions on the bail for the two, including a 7 p.m. curfew, a prohibition against using drugs or alcohol and periodic random monitoring by the county adult probation office.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Frantz said the three ganged up on Ramirez in an alley because he was Mexican. Frantz said all three kicked Ramirez after he was down, causing him to slip into a coma, convulse and foam at the mouth. Ramirez never awoke, officials said. He died two days later in Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, Montour County, of multiple skull fractures, according to medical officials.
The case has drawn national attention, in part because prosecutors and witnesses have said the beating was prompted because the suspects resented that Ramirez was in the U.S. illegally. Defense attorneys have denied that race or ethnicity played a role in the crime, which they called a two-sided fight instead of an attack.They also said the scene was so chaotic that it was unclear what blow killed Ramirez, or who delivered which blows.
Plot to Kill Obama - Shoot From High Vantage Point
(link includes video confession) DENVER (CBS4/AP) ― (Summary)
Arrests: Four people suspected in a possible plot to shoot Barack Obama at his Thursday night acceptance speech in Denver. All are being held on either drug or weapons charges.
Nathan Johnson: "they didn't want him to be president" "they were going to shoot Obama from a high vantage point using a rifle sighted at 750 yards. "
The story began emerging Sunday morning when Aurora police arrested Tharin Gartrell, 28. He was driving a rented pickup truck in an erratic manner, according to sources. Sources told CBS4 police found two high-powered, scoped rifles in the car along with camouflage clothing, walkie-talkies, wigs, a bulletproof vest, a spotting scope, licenses in the names of other people and 44 grams of methamphetamine. One of the rifles is listed as stolen from Kansas. Aurora police alerted federal officials because of heightened security surrounding the Democratic convention.
Subsequently authorities went to the Cherry Creek Hotel in Glendale to contact an associate of Gartrell's. But that man, identified as Shawn Robert Adolph, 33, who was wanted on numerous warrants, jumped out of a sixth floor hotel window. Law enforcement sources say Adolph broke an ankle in the fall and was captured moments later. Sources say he had a handcuff ring and was wearing a swastika, and is thought to have ties to white supremacist organizations. Nathan Johnson, 32, an associate of Gartrell and Adolph, was also arrested Sunday morning. He told authorities that the two men had "planned to kill Barack Obama at his acceptance speech." "He don't belong in political office. Blacks don't belong in political office. He ought to be shot," Johnson told Maass. "Do you think they were really plotting to kill Obama?" Maass asked. "I don't want to say yes. I don't want to say no," he said. Johnson's girlfriend Natasha Gromek is also under arrest on drug charges.
Update later today after Feds conduct Press Conference.
Soap Opera Politics Volume 1, Issue 27
Monday, August 25, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, while Latinos make up 9.5 percent of the actively enlisted forces, they are over-represented in the categories that get the most dangerous assignments -- infantry, gun crews and seamanship -- and make up over 17.5 percent of the front lines.
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1440) (the "Act"), and solely in order to provide expedited naturalization for aliens and noncitizen nationals serving in an active-duty status in the Armed Forces of the United States during the period of the war against terrorists of global reach, it is hereby ordered as follows:
For the purpose of determining qualification for the exception from the usual requirements for naturalization, I designate as a period in which the Armed Forces of the United States were engaged in armed conflict with a hostile foreign force the period beginning on September 11, 2001. Such period will be deemed to terminate on a date designated by future Executive Order. Those persons serving honorably in active-duty status in the Armed Forces of the United States, during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and terminating on the date to be so designated, are eligible for naturalization in accordance with the statutory exception to the naturalization requirements, as provided in section 329 of the Act. Nothing contained in this order is intended to affect, nor does it affect, any other power, right, or obligation of the United States, its agencies, officers, employees, or any other person under Federal law or the law of nations.
GEORGE W. BUSH THE WHITE HOUSE, July 3, 2002.
Illegal Immigrants Returning to Mexico in Record Numbers
By Kris Gutierrez 08/22/2008 --
Illegal immigrants are returning home to Mexico in numbers not seen for decades — and the Mexican government may have to deal with a crush on its social services and lower wages once the immigrants arrive.
The Mexican Consulate's office in Dallas is seeing increasing numbers of Mexican nationals requesting paperwork to go home for good, especially parents who want to know what documentation they'll need to enroll their children in Mexican schools. "Those numbers have increased percentage-wise tremendously," said Enrique Hubbard, the Mexican consul general in Dallas. "In fact, it's almost 100 percent more this year than it was the previous two years." The illegal immigrant population in the U.S. has dropped 11 percent since August of last year, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Its research shows 1.3 million illegal immigrants have returned to their home countries. Some say illegal immigrants are leaving because a soft economy has led to fewer jobs, causing many laborers to seek work elsewhere. Others argue that a tough stance on immigration through law enforcement has spread fear throughout the illegal population. "There's no question there's a variety of suggestions that people are in fact returning," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. "Remittances, which is the money immigrants send home to Mexico, have gone down dramatically over the past year. Again, probably part the economy, but also part enforcement, leading to fewer people being here." Advocates for immigrants are disturbed by the trend. Albert Ruiz, an organizer for the League of United Latin American Citizens, agrees that more undocumented immigrants are going home — but says families are being torn apart in the process. If a father is deported, Ruiz says, his family members in America are forced either to fend for themselves or follow him to a country where they've never even lived. "So the mother is saying we should return home with the breadwinner of the family to Mexico, and the children are saying, I don't want to leave, I'm a U.S. citizen, I don't know that country," said Ruiz.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon plans to help returning nationals by providing food, medical care and temporary shelter if needed. But reports are already out in Mexico that the large number of illegal immigrants returning home could drive down wages and put pressure on social services — the same concerns many Americans have with illegals living and working in the U.S.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Witness Testimony (including Eileen Burke, retired Police Officer, neighbor)
Update: Two teenagers accused in the beating death of an illegal immigrant in Schuylkill County will be tried as adults. 17-year-old Colin Walsh and 16- year-old Brandon Piekarsky had asked to be tried as juveniles - but now they've dropped their bids. They now have the right to a jury trial. Walsh and Piekarsky are accused of beating Luis Ramirez while yelling racial slurs last month in Shenandoah. He died a short time later. They are charged with third degree murder and ethnic intimidation.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Postville Update: Owners Continue to go Scot Free While Underling Latino Supervisors Plea Bargains Prove Owners´ Guilt!
GRANT SCHULTE email@example.com • August 19, 2008
A manager who allegedly helped hide illegal workers at Agriprocessors Inc. in Postville will plead guilty Wednesday to charges tied to his role in the secret operation that employed nearly 700 illegal immigrants, according to a court docket published Tuesday. Juan Carlos Guerrero-Espinoza will appear at a change-of-plea hearing at a temporary federal court in Cedar Rapids, according to the online court docket. The news came as U.S. Attorney Matt Dummermuth announced the 35-year-old plant supervisor will face charges that he conspired with his employer to hire the illegal workers. The plea bargain comes three months after federal agents raided the plant at detained 389 immigrant workers. Teig said the investigation remains open, but declined to say whether authorities would charge any other managers.