Stuff I think you should know

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Barack Obama & Rev. Jeremiah Wright

This primary is getting very bad.

'Colorful' sermons from presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama, Jr.'s pastor Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Barack Obama is also caught lying (flip-flopping) about knowing of the pastor's prior and current hateful speech and views of "Black America".

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mexico deports migrants; Why can't the US?

Mexican authorities are deporting many of the thousands of Central American migrants who were stranded when a railroad closed.

The government sent hundreds of police and soldiers Tuesday to clear out the U.S.-bound migrants, who for decades have hopped freight cars on the Chiapas-Mayab railway.

In July, U.S.-based Genesee & Wyoming decided to stop operating the Chiapas-Mayab line. Company spokeswoman Jeanette Rosado said damage to railway tracks caused by a 2005 hurricane forced the pullout.

She also said train-hopping migrants delayed operations.

''It is not the same, pulling a normal train or pulling it with 300 people riding on top,'' Rosado said.

Unfortunately, Central American migrants keep streaming into towns where they once climbed onto the trains. Thousands have been camping along rail lines, waiting for trains that will never come. Extra buses had been contracted to transport deportees from immigration detention centers to the border.

Thousands more migrants were stuck at the town of Ariaga in Chiapas state, and Salvadoran Consul Nelson Cuellar said many had started walking toward a rail line almost 300 miles away.

''That is a marathon walk'' through country where the threat of robbery is constant, he said.

Franciscan brother Juan Pablo Chavez Vargas, who runs a migrant shelter, said smugglers have encouraged them to keep coming. ''They are telling them, 'The train will come, just wait,''' he said.

Friday, July 06, 2007

BP, Exxonmobil, & Chevron Knowingly Supporting Terrorism

The announcement made by Chavez on May 1 is regarded as the culmination of the nationalization campaign. In fact, almost all international oil majors such as BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total and Statoil, but not ConocoPhillips, have agreed on the state control strategy taken by the Venezuelan government in principle. The government warned it would expropriate the assets of these companies if they refuse to follow suit. Iran is planning on building an oil refinery in Faga, in Venezuela's oil-rich Orinoco province. IRNA news agency reported on June 1, 2007 that the refinery will refine heavy oil into gasoline and other oil derivatives.

The Venezuelan president said in a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart on Monday (7/2/07) in Assalouyeh of Khuzestan province that the two countries have also agreed to establish an international import and export company. Earlier this month (June 2007), Iranian authorities gave backing for the launch of an oil exchange that traded solely in euros. Iran, the second-largest exporter in oil producing nations group Opec, insists it merely wants to build nuclear power stations, but the US claims it is building nuclear arms. Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil producer, has been trying to reduce its dependence on the US, as relations have been strained under President Hugo Chavez. In April of 2007 it signed a joint venture with Cuba - a long time opponent of the US - to revamp an oil refinery and supply unrefined oil to the country at a considerable low price.

Last week, the Iranian government began rationing fuel, causing angry Iranians to smash shop windows and set fire to dozens of gas stations in the capital Tehran and several other cities. The government says the fuel rationing will free up funding for development projects and make the country "invincible." Iran is one of the world's biggest oil producers, but it doesn't have enough refineries, so it must import more than 50 percent of the gasoline its people use. The rationing is part of a government attempt to reduce about $10 billion it spends each year to import fuel that is then sold to Iranian drivers at far less than its cost, to keep prices low. An increase in gas prices last month and the rationing have fueled Iranian discontent with hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was elected in 2005 on a platform of helping the poor and bringing oil revenues to every family. His failure to do so has sparked widespread criticism. Iranians are accustomed to gasoline at rock bottom prices. After a 25 percent hike in prices was imposed May 21, gas sells at the equivalent of 38 cents a gallon.

Just recently in 2006, the Venezuelan government mandated foreign oil companies to sign a new agreement with PdVSA on the establishment of joint ventures. Differing from the previous PSCs (production sharing contracts), the new agreement would enable PdVSA to assume a 60-70 per cent stake in each joint venture. Compared with the nationalization move taken during the 1970s oil crisis in Venezuela, this time the nationalization action doesn't sideline foreign oil giants completely. For instance, Chavez has invited big oil companies to stay as partners but with a minority stake, so all final decisions will be made by Chavez.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Misplaced U.S.-Mexico Border Fence Could Cost Americans Millions

The 1.5-mile barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border was designed to keep cars from illegally crossing into the United States. There's just one problem: It was accidentally built on Mexican soil. Now embarrassed border officials say the mistake could cost the federal government more than $3 million to fix.

The barrier was part of more than 15 miles of border fence built in 2000, stretching from the town of Columbus to an onion farm and cattle ranch.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman said the vertical metal tubes were sunk into the ground and filled with cement along what officials firmly believed was the border. But a routine aerial survey in March revealed that the barrier protrudes into Mexico by 1 to 6 feet.

James Johnson, whose onion farm is in the disputed area, said he thinks his forefathers may have started the confusion in the 19th century by placing a barbed-wire fence south of the border. No one discovered their error, and crews erecting the barrier may have used that fence as a guideline.

"It was a mistake made in the 1800s," Johnson said. "It is very difficult to make a straight line between two points in rugged and mountainous areas that are about two miles apart."

The Mexican government was notified and did what any landowner would do: They sent a note politely insisting that Mexico get its land back.

"Our country will continue insisting for the removal (of the fence) to be done as quickly as possible," the Foreign Relations Department said in a diplomatic missive to Washington.

When the barrier was built in 2000, the project was believed to cost about $500,000 a mile. Estimates to uproot and replace it range from $2.5 million to $3.5 million.

Michael Friel, the spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, said the barrier was "built on what was known to be the international boundary at the time." He acknowledged the method used was "less precise than it is today."

The International Boundary and Water Commission, a joint Mexican-American group that administers the 2,000-mile border, said the border has never changed and is marked every few miles by tall concrete or metal markers.

Sally Spener, a commission spokeswoman in El Paso, said the agency is generally consulted for construction projects to ensure that treaties are followed. The commission is working with the Department of Homeland Security "to develop a standardized protocol" for building fences and barriers.

"We just want to make sure those things are clear now," Spener said.

New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman asked Customs and Border Protection officials to build a new fence on U.S. soil before the old one is torn down.

Bingaman said he was concerned about security issues in Las Chepas, the small Mexican village where most area residents live. New Mexico once sought permission to raze the community because it was known as a popular staging area for illegal immigrants and drug smugglers.

Back at his farm, Johnson said he doesn't understand why the placement of the barriers has become an issue now since his family's fence went unquestioned for more than a century.

"The markers are in the right place, and the fence is crooked," Johnson said. "But for 120-plus years it was agreed upon that that fence was the border."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Linking the 2006 Olympic games to NAMBLA

The 2006 Olympic games in Torino, Italy are happening right now, and it seems most of America doesn’t care. I can understand since I have tried to watch the games a few nights in a row, but the coverage and the games seem to be very boring. Unfortunately, the only part that seems to be a little interesting is the curling. But the only fun part about watching curling is making fun of Canadians with my friends while we laugh about how funny the entire sport is. The only plus side to the Olympics happening right now is that the cable news network MSNBC is tied up from disseminating left-wing garbage. After seeing Joe Scarborough call for the impeachment of Vice-President Dick Cheney over his hunting accident, I promised myself never to watch the network again. His comments were so repulsive to me I had to rank them equally with the ACLU defending NAMBLA allowing the organization to molest little boys.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Brief Masonic history

The Masons are a secret society that dubs itself the world’s oldest and largest fraternity. Masons rise in rank by performing degree-work.

Prince Hall Masons, made up primarily of black men, began in Massachusetts about 200 years ago as an offshoot of the early Masonic lodges in America. The African Lodge was organized on July 3, 1776, with Prince Hall as the worshipful master.

The African Lodge grew and prospered to such a degree that Prince Hall was appointed a provincial grand master in 1791. Out of this grew the first Black Provincial Grand Lodge.

In 1847, out of respect for their founding father and first grand master, Prince Hall, the three existing African lodges changed their name to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, the name it carries today.

Today, some 5,000 lodges and 47 grand lodges exist that trace their lineage to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Jurisdiction of Massachusetts.

The Prince Hall lodge to which Spc. Donald Anthony Wilder belonged in Mannheim, Germany, falls under the purview of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction. Prince Hall lodges under the state of Washington grand lodge can be found in Germany, Iceland, Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The office of the Prince Hall in Kuwait is listed at Camp Arifjan.

The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland has jurisdiction over several lodges in Germany that have their meetings on military installations. Installation commanders determine if private groups — such as the Masons — can meet on military facilities, said Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Department of Defense spokeswoman.

Most scholars believe Masonry arose from the guilds of stonemasons who built castles and cathedrals of the middle ages. In 1717, Masonry created a formal organization when four lodges in London joined to form England’s first Grand Lodge.

The Masons perform charitable services as well. The Shrine Masons (Shriners) operate the largest network of hospitals for burned and orthopedically impaired children in the country, and there is never a fee for treatment. The Scottish Rite Masons maintain a nationwide network of more than 150 Childhood Language Disorder Clinics, Centers, and Programs.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Imam is a synonym for hate

In late December, a young Danish man flew to Beirut. In his suitcase was a package of spiral-bound booklets in green covers, neatly compiled using a colour photocopier. Their contents consisted mainly of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Ahmed Akkari, a young Islamic scholar and Danish activist, was on a mission. Having failed to get the Prime Minister to take action over the cartoons' perceived slight to Islam, he had sought reaction from hateful figures in the Muslim world, he says. The riots, he acknowledged, have placed his fellow European Muslims in a far worse position than they had previously known.

Over the next few weeks, he would hand copies of his green booklet to the grand mufti of Egypt, the chief cleric of the Sunni faith, leaders of the Arab League, the top official of the Lebanese Christian church and others. While the Koran does not forbid depictions of Mohammed, the prohibition stems from concerns the Prophet expressed that even well-intentioned images could lead to idolatry or show disrespect for Islam's founder. For his booklet contained not only the 12 depictions of the Prophet Mohammed that had appeared in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September. He also filled it with hideous, amateur images of the Prophet as a pig, a dog, a woman and a child-sodomizing madman.


Friday, February 03, 2006

From Senator Mel Martinez

Thank you for contacting me regarding the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. I appreciate hearing from you and would like to respond to your concerns.

The position of Supreme Court justice is one of the highest and most respected in the land. The decisions of this Court resonate at the very foundations of the beliefs upon which our nation is built. In Judge Alito, I believe President Bush chose an individual with impeccable academic credentials, an extensive background as a lawyer and jurist, and seasoned experienced in handling arguments before the United States Supreme Court.

Judge Alito has been well received by my predecessors in the Senate on each of his previous confirmations. He was unanimously confirmed in both of his prior appearances before the United States Senate, both as a nominee for United States Attorney for New Jersey and as a nominee to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. During his 15 years as a United States Circuit Judge, Judge Alito demonstrated the intelligence and judicial temperament required of this important office.
The American Bar Association unanimously gave Judge Alito its highest possible rating, calling him “well qualified” for the position of associate justice. The evaluation of "well qualified" is reserved for only those found to merit the Standing Committee's strongest affirmative endorsement.

The president has the right to select a nominee of his choosing for Supreme Court openings, and the role of the Senate is to advise and consent on the nomination. In this role, we have a great constitutional responsibility to ensure a strong and qualified judiciary. We must guarantee, insomuch as is possible, that the nominee picked to fill this vacancy is of the highest intellect, integrity, and character and that he or she comes to the process with no personal ideological agenda.

After meeting with Judge Alito and after listening to his testimony before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, I know that Judge Alito is a humble and dispassionate judge with a deep understanding of the law and a modest view of his judicial role in the governance of our nation. I am persuaded that Judge Alito will look to established precedents, be respectful of the doctrine of stare decisis, and use the Constitution and the law as his guideposts – as opposed to any personal or political agenda.

There are those that are troubled by what they perceive as Judge Alito not siding with the "little guy" when judging cases. As someone who fought in court for 25 years – usually for the "little guy," I understand the importance of having an impartial judge who will look at the facts and the law to reach a fair and just verdict, not a judge who will have a predetermined leaning for one side or another of a case. If the law and the facts happen to be on the side of the "little guy," the "little guy" should prevail. If the law and the facts happen to be on the side of the "big guy," then our system of justice demands that the "big guy" should prevail.

I love the analogy that Chief Justice Roberts used. In selecting a justice to the Supreme Court, he said we were looking for an umpire. We are not looking for a pitcher or a batter – we're looking for the umpire – the guy who will call the balls and strikes fairly and impartially to all litigants before the court.

Judge Alito fulfills all of these requirements, and I am confident that he will make an exceptional justice. On January 31, 2006, I proudly joined 57 of my senate colleagues in supporting the confirmation of Samuel Alito to be Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was sworn into office later that day.

Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. If you have any additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me. In addition, for more information about issues and activities important to Florida, please sign up for my weekly newsletter at

Mel MartinezUnited States Senator

Friday, January 27, 2006

Mexico has invaded the US over 216 times

A confrontation between sheriff's deputies and uniformed drug traffickers along the Texas border (1/23/06) has intensified concerns about illegal incursions into the United States by Mexican soldiers while heightening bilateral tensions over border violence. U.S. officials are demanding that Mexico fully investigate an incident Monday (1/23/06) in which several men wearing Mexican military uniforms and carrying high-grade military weapons helped marijuana traffickers escape into Mexico after almost being apprehended by sheriff deputies. Of course Mexican officials deny that real Mexican soldiers were involved, even though numerous pictures and videos have been taken inside the US clearly showing Mexican soldiers. The incident has refocused attention on the Mexican military soldiers and police personnel have crossed onto U.S. territory over 216 times in the past 10 years.

West, the county sheriff, said such incursions occur several times a month, and that he and others have been trying to get federal officials to focus on the problem. "I'm sick and tired of the federal government calling us liars," said West, a Democrat re-elected last year. "Just about every time we catch a big load (of marijuana), every time we chase them back, Mexican soldiers are there.”They're sitting there with Humvees and state-of-the-art military equipment. We're sitting there with (patrol cars). We're sitting there with limited high-powered rifles and sidearms versus machine guns," West said. He noted one case in 2002 when a Border Patrol agent reported a Mexican military vehicle inside Arizona. To avoid a problem, the agent tried to drive away but said the Mexican soldiers fired at him, shattering his back window. In another case in 2000, Border Patrol agents confronted two Mexican army Humvees a mile inside New Mexico. One of the vehicles stopped, but the soldiers in the other fled and fired two shots at the border agents.

"It was no doubt that it was Mexican military, because I've seen them and I've dealt with them all my life down here," said Arvin West, sheriff of Texas' Hudspeth County, whose officers filmed Monday's incident using cameras he bought to back up his allegations. West has said Monday's clash was among the more serious incidents, in which soldiers helping drug smugglers "are sitting there waiting with their machine guns to make sure the drugs get back OK."
The U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Antonio Garza, sent a diplomatic protest to the Mexican government Wednesday, demanding an explanation and questioning Mexico's commitment to combating violence along the border. Local authorities in Texas and U.S. Border Patrol officials have been even more strident in their criticism, saying the incursions by Mexican soldiers are very common and worrisome. They also have condemned federal officials for not taking the matter seriously enough.

While Mexico's Defense Ministry is investigating Monday's incident, a spokesman for President Vicente Fox asserted that the suspected soldiers were actually traffickers wearing fake uniforms. Foreign Ministry officials said the traffickers' equipment did not match that of local army units. Yet for all Mexican analysts, the fact that drug traffickers can operate along the border in Mexican army uniforms, even if fake, raises disturbing questions by itself.
Monday's border incident began when Texas authorities tried to stop three SUVs on an interstate highway near El Paso. The vehicles fled toward the border, where people in Mexican army-style uniforms with army-style weapons in an army Humvee appeared to be waiting for them on the other side of the Rio Grande. The state officers and sheriff's deputies had their guns drawn, as did the smugglers, but no shots were fired. More than 1,400 pounds of marijuana was found in one of the vehicles, which blew a tire and was abandoned on the Texas side, while the armed, uniformed men flanked a second vehicle stuck in the river while it was unloaded then burned the stuck vehicle before fleeing into Mexico.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

From Senator Joe Lieberman

Today I announced my decision to vote "no" on the nomination of Samuel Alito to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. I'd like to take this opportunity to explain to you why I made this decision.

As you know, the US Supreme Court, as a body, holds a uniquely powerful and autonomous role in our system of government; as the highest court in the land, it is the ultimate arbiter of many decisions which affect the lives of every American citizen. Because decisions made at the Supreme Court level have altered the course of American history, its impact on our great nation is immeasurable, and lasting.

That power, combined with the fact that individuals who are chosen to sit on the Court serve for life, makes the decision as to how one will vote on a Supreme Court nominee one of the most awesome responsibilities I, as one of your United States senators, can ever face.

At the core of our great nation is a belief in personal freedom and equal opportunity for all Americans. Those are the principles upon which this nation was founded, and has thrived. They define who we are, what we stand for, what we believe in, and what countless men and women have died protecting since before we even became a sovereign nation.

While I respect Judge Alito's intellect and ability, and his experience, it is his judicial philosophy regarding those freedoms and opportunities that I question.

As a judge, he has issued more than 350 opinions over 15 years. As a government attorney in the 1980s, he made numerous personal statements regarding his philosophy. In reviewing that body of evidence, it is clear to me that while Judge Alito may have the intellect and experience necessary to be a Supreme Court Justice, he might not protect and defend those freedoms and opportunities.

As a Supreme Court Justice, that would be, in a word, unacceptable. We, as a people and as a nation, have come too far to turn back the clock. A woman's right to choose, for example, grounded in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case, is settled law. I don't believe Judge Alito agrees with that, nor am I confident he would vote in a manner consistent with respecting that precedent.

As well, in civil rights cases, Judge Alito has repeatedly established an unusually high bar, I think too high a bar, for entrance to our courts for people who believed they've been denied equal opportunity and fair treatment based on race or gender.

As a society, we should always be looking to move forward, to become a "better people," and to set an example for the rest of the world. We tell the rest of the world every day that our nation is unique; we do that, in part, because in the United States of America, personal freedom and equal opportunity are rights for everyone, not privileges for the few.

It is in that spirit that I said "no" to Judge Alito, and "yes" to the American people.

Thank you for your continued friendship and support.

Senator Joe Lieberman

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

"Get Tough" approach to employers

Jumping into a debate they have largely avoided, top Arizona Democrats are proposing legislation that would penalize employers if they knowingly hired undocumented immigrants.

The bill drew immediate opposition from business lobbyists and some immigrant rights groups as well as a firm denunciation from a key Republican who has pushed unsuccessfully for similar sanctions.

Sen. Bill Brotherton, D-Phoenix, said it's time that lawmakers reduce the demand for undocumented workers by requiring employers to check the validity of Social Security numbers against a federal database. Most legislative bills in recent years have aimed at the "supply" of such workers by focusing on tighter border security and penalties aimed at undocumented immigrants working in Arizona.

"I felt there was a vacuum in the area of employer sanctions," Brotherton said. "I'm filling that vacuum."

Brotherton was joined at a Capitol news conference by Attorney General Terry Goddard. Gov. Janet Napolitano, who last week called for penalties on employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants, worked with Brotherton on the legislation.

Under the terms of Senate Bill 1215, employers would have to cross-check the Social Security numbers of prospective employees with the federal government to make sure the employee was legally eligible for employment. If a number didn't match the name on the employment application, the employer could not hire that person. If the check turned up that the potential employee had overstayed a visa or otherwise lost employment eligibility, that also would bar hiring.

Employers would have two options: the Basic Pilot Program administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or they could have checks done by the Social Security Administration.

Failure to make checks could bring fines of up to $5,000.

A companion bill, Senate Bill 1216, would impose fines of up to $5,000 against anyone who knowingly hired an "illegal alien."

Reaction was swift and strong.

Hiring and employment growth in Arizona would grind to a halt if employers were forced to use the federal Basic Pilot Program, said Farrell Quinlan, vice president of communications for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. The program, which checks the validity of an employee's Social Security and immigration status, is still being used on a trial basis and has kinks that would become obstacles if more than 100,000 Arizona employers were to flood it with requests, he said.

"There's a reason it's called a Basic Pilot Program," Quinlan said. "It's basic, and it's a pilot."

Currently, the federal program is voluntary, and there is no state law requiring employers to ensure their employees are legal U.S. residents. Although it is illegal to hire undocumented workers, federal enforcement is lax.

Salvador Reza, a director of the Tonatierra community organization, echoed the business complaints that the legislation could hurt the state economy.

"A lot of companies will shy away from coming to Arizona, and the companies that require undocumented workers will have to close down," he said.

Reza said that the move "looks good politically" but that the state is powerless to really solve the problem.

"What they need to do is pressure the federal government to pass immigration reform that works," he said.

Radio host Elias Bermudez, organizer of last week's massive immigration rally at the Capitol, said the bills are "another fruitless effort on the part of our legislators and our law enforcement officers to solve a problem that is not within their jurisdiction nor their ability to solve."

Bermudez, of Immigrants Without Borders, called the employer-sanction proposals a "waste of money, waste of resources and waste of time that can be better spent dealing with issues they can solve."

Brotherton was unfazed, saying the job checks moved quickly and effortlessly when his staff tested them recently.

He added that federal Homeland Security officials assured his staff that they could handle a sudden influx of hits on the computer database.

Business officials estimate it would affect more than 100,000 employers with staffs ranging from a few to thousands.

"I don't think it's much of a burden," he said of the effect on employers. "It's free."

However, he and Goddard, whose office would be responsible for enforcing the law, said they agree with critics that the solution to America's immigration crisis must come from the federal government.

"We have set up a system that encourages folks to pay a coyote (smuggler) to cross the border and then get false identification," Goddard said. "It is not fair. It encourages criminal acts and, frankly, is going to hurt the economy in the long run."

Their proposal drew a harsh denunciation from state Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, who has proposed employer sanctions for three years only to see Democrats oppose him.

"It's deception, and it reminds me of the ¡Three Amigos!: They run around, fire their gun, show it to you, but they're not ready to get into the battle," he said, referring to Napolitano, Goddard and Brotherton.

He predicted Brotherton's bill will get nowhere in the Republican-dominated Legislature and challenged Democrats to sign on with his bill. Brotherton said he intends to stick with his bill and said it will get a vote even if he has to tack it on to other bills.

Goddard and Brotherton said they support a guest-worker program, such as that proposed by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

An Arizona employment-check system could highlight the need for guest workers, Goddard and Brotherton said, because it would pinpoint employers who say they can't find enough legal workers.

Goddard said the early draft of the bill envisions up to $500,000 for enforcement plus whatever money is collected from fines.

That would be enough money to hire about a half-dozen employees, mostly investigators, and is an inadequate amount, he said.

Employers who can't prove that they used the federal databases could be subject to fines. Brotherton said he didn't have details of how that would work but speculated state investigators could be able to have federal officials run a check on which firms had used the job-check databases.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


The UN is a failure. While the United States pays the biggest portion of the tab, the UN makes backroom deals with our enemies. In 2005 UN diplomats lounged around on what looks like a 1970s Merv Griffin set by day and double parked their cars by night. "Peacekeepers" of the UN raped those they were sent to help, including children, across the world. In the 10 years since Black Hawk Down, 9 million more Africans have been killed from conflict. The last time that many people died, we held people accountable. What, if not this, is the UN for?
Where are the editorials condemning the current state of the UN? The media was too busy in 2005 trying to scuttle the John Bolton nomination because he might be hard on the UN. Had the media spent the broadcast time and column inches on UN reform that they spent chasing moonbat scandals, they could have made a difference in lives.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Terrorist State of Iran

Iran, whose president has denied the Holocaust, said Sunday it would hold a conference to examine the scientific evidence concerning Nazi Germany’s extermination of 6 million Jews. Hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has recently provoked global condemnation for saying the Holocaust is a “myth” and calling for Israel to be wiped from the face of the earth. Iran further alarmed Western countries last week by restarting its research at a nuclear facility after a two-year freeze. “It is a strange world. It is possible to discuss everything except the Holocaust,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hardline President of Iran, launched an angry tirade against the West yesterday, accusing it of a ‘dark ages’ mentality and threatening retaliation unless it recognised his country’s nuclear ambitions.

In a blistering assault, Ahmadinejad repeated the Islamic regime’s position that it would press ahead with a nuclear programme despite threats by the European Union and United States to refer Iran to the UN Security Council, where it could face possible sanctions. He added that Iran was a ‘civilised nation’ that did not need such weapons. Iran insists its nuclear programme is a wholly peaceful attempt to generate electricity.

Addressing a rare press conference in Tehran, he appeared to issue thinly veiled threats against Western countries, implying that they could face serious consequences unless they backed down. ‘You need us more than we need you. All of you today need the Iranian nation,’ Ahmadinejad said. ‘Why are you putting on airs? You don’t have that might.’

Reminding the West that it had supported the monarchical regime of the former Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi - overthrown in the 1979 Islamic revolution - he went on: ‘Those same powers have done their utmost to oppress us, but this nation, because of its dignity, has forgiven them to a large extent. But if they persist with their present stance, maybe the day will come when the Iranian nation will reconsider.’ He added: ‘If they want to deny us our rights, we have ways to secure those rights.’

US Ambassador John Bolton shows the world how to have a spine, castigating Kofi Annan and the United Nations for a disgusting Palestinian Solidarity event, held every year, that features a map omitting the state of Israel: US decries Palestinian map display at U.N. event.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton has complained to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan about an annual U.N. event where a map of pre-1948 Palestine, an area that now comprises the state of Israel, is displayed.

“It was entirely inappropriate for this map to be used. It can be misconstrued to suggest that the United Nations tacitly supports the abolition of the state of Israel,” Bolton said.

“Given that we now have a world leader pursuing nuclear weapons who is calling for the state of Israel to be ‘wiped off the map,’ the issue has even greater salience,” he said in a January 3 letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters on Friday. The letter was first reported in the New York Sun.

Bolton’s letter complained about the symbolism of Annan attending the latest International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, held last November 29, along with General Assembly President Jan Eliasson and Russian Ambassador Andrei Denisov, the Security Council president for November.

He questioned whether the United Nations could promote the event when U.S. law prohibits funding such events. Washington’s dues cover about a quarter of the regular U.N. budget.

Annan’s office was preparing a response to the letter, U.N. chief spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. He said the secretary-general was grateful that Bolton and others had brought the matter to his attention and had raised the matter of the map with the General Assembly’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which stages the annual event. It was not Annan but the committee that decided in 1981 to display the pre-1948 map at the annual event, he said.

“This gives a very unfortunate impression that the United Nations favors replacing Israel by a single Palestinian state, which is not the case,” he said, stressing that Annan regularly describes Israel as a full U.N. member and strongly disapproved of the Iranian president’s comments.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Border agents become targets

Federal officials have warned U.S. Border Patrol agents that they could be the targets of assassins hired by immigrant smugglers, according to a confidential memo obtained by the San Bernardino County Sun newspaper.

"Unidentified Mexican alien smugglers are angry about the increased security along the U.S./Mexico border and have agreed that the best way to deal with U.S. Border Patrol agents is to hire a group of contract killers," the Department of Homeland Security said in a Dec. 21 officer safety alert.

The alert states that the smugglers intend to bring members of the Mara Salvatrucha street gang -- known as MS-13 -- into the country to perform the killings, The Sun reported Tuesday.

Federal officials consider MS-13, with an estimated 30,000 members in 33 states, to be one of the most dangerous gangs in the country. It was formed in Los Angeles by immigrants from El Salvador.

The safety alert was based on an FBI report. An FBI spokes-man in Washington said he could not comment.

Michael Friel, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said he could not comment directly on the confidential memo but recalled that agents' lives have been threatened before.

"It's no surprise that these smugglers, these criminals, would be threatening our agents," Friel said. "And that would be a huge mistake on their part if they try."

On Tuesday, the agency issued a statement saying it takes seriously the risks of securing America's borders.

"Border Patrol agents and CBP officers are prepared to respond appropriately to threats either against the country or themselves," the statement said. "Border Patrol agents and CBP officers have received various types of threats in the past and have worked diligently with their law-enforcement partners to address these threats. ... The difficult and sometimes hazardous duty of securing our borders is CBPs first and foremost responsibility."

Border Patrol officials say assaults on agents increased significantly during the past year.

On Dec. 30, in an incident that strained U.S.-Mexican relations, an agent shot and killed an 18-year-old man who allegedly threw a large rock at him near the wall separating Tijuana and San Diego.

Last week, agents in Texas reported two incidents in which they were shot at from the Mexican side of the border.

T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a 6,500-member union, said the DHS alert proves agents' lives often are at risk.

"MS-13 has shown that its members have very little regard for human life," he said. "Some of the atrocities they have committed are truly unspeakable, and it worries me to know that our agents on the line are now the targets."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Immigrant population reaching new high

As the nation considers immigration proposals from Congress and the President, a Center for Immigration Studies analysis of new Census Bureau data shows that the immigrant population (legal and illegal) reached a new high in 2005. The data, which the Bureau has not yet analyzed, also show that 2000-2005 is the highest five-year period of new immigration (legal and illegal) in American history. Almost half of new arrivals are estimated to be illegal aliens.

The new report provides a detailed picture of the socio-economic status of immigrants, including estimates for illegal aliens. States with the largest increase in immigrants are California, Texas Georgia, New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, Virginia, Arizona, Tennessee, Minnesota, and Nevada.

Full article

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The US economy

President Bush has recently been promoting his proposals for a large temporary worker program as a way to effectively enforce immigration laws. As Mr. Bush presents it, such a program to address growing concerns over the flow of illegal workers would rest securely on a "win-win" basis in the following ways:

-- The willingness of temporary workers and employers to participate in the program would allow both to "win."

-- The US economy would benefit from higher productivity without increasing tax burdens for existing public services.

-- US politicians would gain support from employer groups or sympathetic ethnic or religious lobby groups pushing for such policies.

-- Mexico would "win" by exporting surplus workers who send back hard currency to their relatives.

Yet these win-win scenarios do not reflect likely realities. Decades of experience with such temporary worker programs in high-wage liberal democracies worldwide show that neither the programs nor the migrants turned out to be genuinely "temporary."

Mexico is unlikely to realize sustained benefits from exporting workers. Migrants' payments sent back to relatives wane over time, and such payments can stimulate land price inflation, conspicuous consumption of imported goods, and rising inequalities of wealth rather than stay-at-home development.

In the past, proponents have declared that such migrants would require very little in public expenditures. Yet universally, some temporary workers find ways to bring their families to join them, and then become substantial beneficiaries of existing government-financed programs such as public education, healthcare, and safety-net services for low-income residents. Politicians have also discovered - too late - that temporary worker programs really are labor subsidies to low-wage sectors such as garments, labor-intensive agriculture, and in-home personal services, retarding efforts to raise the level of national wages and productivity.

Temporary-worker programs are often portrayed as a legal and humane alternative to unauthorized migration. But they fail to acknowledge that the last major Mexico-US temporary worker program, the so-called bracero program, actually was the initiator and accelerator of today's large-scale unauthorized migration. The same is true across Western Europe, where "guest worker" programs based on similar claims were embraced during the economic booms of 30 to 40 years ago. Their "guests" for temporary work were transformed into millions of permanently resident "foreigners," who today have very high rates of unemployment and welfare dependency.

Most current proposals involve some form of "legalization" to "clear the slate" of about 11 million unauthorized residents, usually via a gradual process by which unlawful residents can earn legal immigrant status by doing farm or other work. Here, too, the record is more than clear: Such policies have a dismal recent history. In 1987-88, 2.8 million unauthorized migrants obtained US legal status. Yet despite this massive legalization, the farm labor market in California again is dominated by unauthorized workers.

Given this history, one might wonder why some US politicians are now proposing yet another guest-worker program. The subject is driven by odd coalitions of long-antagonistic regional, ideological, economic, and ethnic interest groups. Both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats see the potential to gain large numbers of additional political and financial supporters. How? Conservatives expect to draw voters who favor their traditional social and cultural values. Liberal advocates expect to swell their political constituencies by favoring income redistribution policies, organized labor, affirmative action, and so on.

Of course both expectations cannot both be right. In politics, if someone gains, someone else loses. In addition, while guest worker and legalization proposals are being promoted as panaceas to reduce unauthorized migration, all contain the very seeds of their own failure. The most likely outcomes actually would be to increase unlawful flows across the borders.

Why is a guest-worker program being pushed? Because some employer and ethnic lobbies expect to benefit substantially and rapidly. There would be costs, but these would be slower to appear, and would be paid for by the federal and local governments rather than by the interest groups that benefit. The result is politics driven by small, concentrated, and well-financed interest groups that expect to profit significantly in the short term.

People, as economist Adam Smith once observed, are "the most difficult baggage to transport over borders." Among those who have carefully studied recent experience, there is an overwhelming and concise consensus: There is nothing more permanent than temporary workers.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Syria out of the blindspot

Lebanon is facing an "increasing influx of weaponry and personnel from Syria" to Palestinian militia groups, a United Nations report said yesterday. The report, the second of two United Nations investigations into Syria's interference in Lebanon, said there had been a remarkable turnabout from Syria's long domination there. Damascus removed its troops last spring after 30 years of occupation following mass demonstrations and international pressure over the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The situation remains "volatile," the report warned, citing "a number of worrying developments affecting the stability of Lebanon, particularly in the form of terrorist acts and the illegal transfer of arms and people across the borders into Lebanon."

While couched in diplomatic language, the report's clear implication that the Palestinian groups were acting at the behest of Syria appeared certain to increase pressure building against Damascus in the Security Council. The Council's special investigator issued a report last week saying the slaying of Mr. Hariri had been plotted by top-ranking Syrian and Lebanese intelligence officers, including the powerful brother-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Assad has denied that he or his aides had anything to do with the assassination. He sent a letter to France, Britain and the United States early this week promising to prosecute any Syrian implicated by "concrete evidence."

As the report was being released, Lebanese Army commandos backed by tanks were surrounding several Palestinian bases in the Bekaa region -including one manned by a main Syrian-backed group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command - and setting up roadblocks near the Syrian border. A Lebanese officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, said the military deployment was a tightening of security because of growing fears that the Palestinian militias were smuggling arms from Syria into the Bekaa.

The report issued yesterday, by the United Nations special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, noted that the Lebanese Army had detained and deported a number of infiltrators of Palestinian origin who carried Syrian identification documents. It said "Lebanon is witnessing a momentous transformation" since September, 2004 when the Security Council adopted Resolution 1559 calling for the Syrian withdrawal and the disarmament of armed groups. But it also noted a series of assassinations and 14 bombings in the last year, for which Lebanese have widely blamed agents of Syria. "As a result of such acts, numerous Lebanese political leaders have chosen to spend prolonged periods of time abroad, for fear of their lives," it said. The report paid particular attention to the mounting tensions between the Lebanese government and the Damascus-backed Palestinian militias.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Message from John Kerry

Later today, I will deliver a major speech on the war in Iraq.

It asks a hard and essential question: how do we bring our troops home within a reasonable and responsible timeframe, while achieving what needs to be achieved in Iraq?
One thing is certain. It isn't by continuing to pursue the Bush administration's "stay for as long as it takes" rhetoric. And it isn't by blindly following their policy of cutting and running from the truth that underlies that rhetoric.

That's why my speech today will call on the Bush administration to immediately draw up -- and present to Congress and the American people -- a detailed plan with target dates for the transfer of military and police responsibilities to Iraqis so the majority of our combat forces can be withdrawn.

I hope you'll take a moment to read excerpts from this critically important call to action on Iraq.
My speech today will assert that there is no reason Iraq cannot be relatively stable, no reason the majority of our combat troops can't soon be on their way home, and no reason we can't take on a new role in Iraq, as an ally not an occupier, training Iraqis to defend themselves by the end of 2006.

Today of all days, it is important to note that instead of attacking Ambassador Wilson's report, instead of attacking his wife to justify attacking Iraq, the Bush administration should have simply paid attention to what his report revealed.

As I write this, we are waiting to learn whether the administration's attacks will prove to be an indictable offense in a court of law. But for its CIA leaks, and for misleading a nation into war, the Bush administration will most certainly be indicted in the high court of history.
Sadly, there have been a legion of Bush administration miscalculations that have left us having far too few options in Iraq.

It is never easy to discuss what has gone wrong while our troops are in constant danger. I know this dilemma first-hand. After serving in war, I returned home to offer my own personal voice of dissent. I did so because I believed strongly that we owed it to those risking their lives to speak truth to power. We still do.

In fact, while some say we can't ask tough questions because we are at war, I say no -- in a time of war we must ask the hardest questions of all. No matter what President Bush says, asking tough questions isn't pessimism, it's patriotism. If you agree, I urge you to join me in demanding a new course in Iraq. You can start by making sure as many people as possible see this speech.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

iPods are crap

Even as the iPod Nano flies off shelves, consumer complaints over Apple's wafer-thin music player continue to mount. Weeks after some Nano users griped about cracked or defective screens, a group of disgruntled buyers has filed a lawsuit against Apple Computer Inc. over claims that the device's screen can "scratch excessively during normal usage," rendering it unreadable. The suit alleges that Apple pushed ahead with the Nano's release on September 6 despite evidence that it was defective. Filed in San Jose, California, the lawsuit is seeking class-action status based on claims that one of the Nano's problems is the thin film of plastic resin that covers the screen. The suit contends that previous iPod versions were coated with a stronger, thicker resin that was more scratch resistant.

"Rather than admit the design flaw when consumers began to express widespread complaints ... Apple concealed the defect and advised class members that they would need to purchase additional equipment to prevent the screen from scratching excessively," according to the complaint.

Apple blamed the defect on a particular batch from a specific vendor that, according to the company, affected less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the Nanos that had been sold at that point. At the time, a disgruntled user launched the site as a means of complaining about the screens, which led to Apple's admission to the manufacturing problem and an offer to replace the defective devices. But the company said the Nano's screen was no more susceptible to scratching that previous versions and recommended users buy protective cases.

The plaintiff named in the suit, Jason Tomczak, bought his Nano in September. He said the screen quickly became so scratched that he could not view it. He claims in the suit that the screen was so easily scratched that even rubbing a paper towel across it left significant marks. The suit also claims that putting the Nano in your pocket with items such as car keys, coins, a credit card or the device's headphones can render the screen hard to read. Apple has reportedly sold more than 1 million Nanos since the device's introduction.

Apple replaced Tomczak's Nano because of a battery issue, but the replacement also became so scratched that Tomczak reportedly decided to return it as well. Because Tomczak and other complainants had to a pay a $25 fee to return their Nanos, the proposed class-action suit requests the return of those fees along with the original cost of the device and a share of Apple's "unlawful or illegal" profits from the sales of iPods. The firm handling the case claims that Apple deleted postings on its Web site related to the scratching problem.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Screw Syria

The Bush administration rightly reacted quickly to a report by the United Nations that compellingly links the Syrian government to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. President Bush called for the U.N. Security Council to convene "as quickly as possible" to respond to the investigation; the United States and France are reportedly discussing two resolutions that would demand accountability from the government of Bashar Assad.

The United States has plenty of reasons of its own to bring pressure on Mr. Assad, including his support for foreign terrorists and Sunni insurgents in Iraq, also not including the hundreds of tons of contraband that was smuggled across the border to Syria before the war. But the detailed report compiled by the U.N. commission clearly justifies -- indeed, makes urgent -- Security Council action. Citing multiple witnesses, documents and recordings of conversations, the investigation details both Syria's dispute with Mr. Hariri and the likely involvement of a number of senior officials in plotting his murder. It also reports the systematic stonewalling of the probe by the Syrian government.

By insisting on full Syrian cooperation with the ongoing investigation, the Security Council has a rare opportunity to enforce consequences for a state-sponsored act of political murder. The Middle East has been poisoned by such acts for decades, yet almost never have the killers and their sponsors been identified and brought to justice. No regime merits such action more than the government of Mr. Assad, who since the fall of Saddam Hussein has stood out as the most conspicuous sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East. In addition to brazen meddling in Iraq and in Lebanon, where bombings and assassinations linked to Damascus have continued in the months after Mr. Hariri's Feb. 14 slaying, Mr. Assad is a prime sponsor of terrorism against Israel.

Another U.N. report next week is expected to link his government to the support of Hezbollah and infiltration of weapons and extremists into Palestinian refugee camps in Leba non. Some apologists have argued that Mr. Assad, who succeeded his father as Syria's dictator in 2000, is the victim of hard-liners in his government. The U.N. investigation showed otherwise. Chief investigator Detlev Mehlis of Germany compiled multiple accounts of a meeting on Aug. 26, 2004, between Mr. Assad and Mr. Hariri, in which Mr. Assad threatened to "break Lebanon over your head" if the prime minister did not go along with the illegal extension of the mandate of the Lebanese president, a Syrian puppet. Another Syrian witness told the investigation that the decision to murder Mr. Hariri was made at a later meeting attended by Mr. Assad's brother, Maher Assad, and his brother-in-law, Major Gen. Asef Shawkat.

Also directly implicated is Gen. Rustum Ghazali, Syria's most recent intelligence chief in Lebanon, and its former ambassador in Washington, Walid Mouallem. Mr. Mehlis has compromising tape recordings of both of them, including a meeting in which Mr. Mouallem warned Mr. Hariri, two weeks before his death, that "we and the [security] services here have put you into a corner." Intriguingly, one senior official not implicated in the murder plot is Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan, who was found in his office last week, dead of a gunshot wound, in what officials said was a suicide.

The Security Council has a good precedent to follow here. When Western investigators linked the Libyan government to the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over Scotland, the United Nations applied sanctions to the regime of Moammar Gaddafi and kept them in place until his government accepted responsibility for the crime and surrendered two of its authors for trial. The United Nations should demand no less in this case. The Syrian sponsors of Mr. Hariri's murder must be identified and brought to justice; if that includes Mr. Assad and his relatives, so be it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Relief in pot enforcement

Telluride Colorado is a nestled town in the San Juan Mountains, home to moneyed hippies, artists and nature buffs, Telluride is a live-and-let-live kind of town. In August, the Town Council voted 6-0 to put the issue on the Nov. 1 ballot. Residents will be asked whether to instruct town marshals, the local law enforcement, to make the investigation, arrest and prosecution of marijuana possession their lowest priority. The proposal applies only to the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by people 18 or older.

Several cities already have what proponents term "sensible" pot ordinances, most notably Seattle, where voters in 2003 approved an initiative to make the possession of small amounts of marijuana law enforcement's lowest priority. Still, Telluride's vote will be closely watched, experts said, because it is the first marijuana ballot proposal since the Supreme Court ruled in June that the federal government could enforce its zero-tolerance policy on pot, even in the 10 states that permit its use for medical purposes. Colorado is among those states; the others are Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Executive Director Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said the fact that the Supreme Court did not strike down the state laws seemed to suggest "concern by justices about thwarting local control, local values."
"The great disconnect at the policy level is here in Washington, D.C.," he said. "Congress is frozen in a sort of reefer madness that states and localities are not."

Monday, October 17, 2005

Bush's missing poll points found

Republican voters don't want illegal immigrants expelled, just legalized properly, a new poll says. Facing a choice between a registration and an earned-legalization plan and a plan that included deportation and enforcement only, GOP voters favored the earned-legalization approach by 58 percent to 33 percent, said the poll, which was conducted by the Tarrance Group for the Manhattan Institute from Oct. 2 to Oct. 5. The one distinction that raised the favorable for Republicans was the including of enforcement. Other polls have shown that republicans will not support an immigration policy that does not have a clear intent for enforcement.

The poll also found that 78 percent of likely Republican voters favored an immigration policy that included increased border security, tougher penalties for employers who hired illegal workers and a policy that allowed illegal immigrants to come forward and register for a temporary worker program that eventually placed them on a path to citizenship.

Some 67 percent of respondents indicated to the pollsters that they would have a more favorable view of President George W. Bush if he supported an earned-legalization reform plan. The poll was conducted among 800 likely Republican voters. The margin of error was plus/minus 3.5 percent.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Border Police

In light of recent border politics and the post September 11, 2001 focus on real and imagined foreign threats, I have found myself thinking of Bacon’s Rebellion.

After the showdown in April between California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger praising private border patrols and President Bush condemning them as vigilantes many of us on the left were asking ourselves if this was some good-cop, bad-cop stunt. It occurred to me that the questions raised by these modern self titled “minutemen” patrolling the Mexican border bear far less resemblance to those first responders to British invasion and much more to the conflict between Bacon’s gang of men and Berkeley’s gentlemen who all felt entitled to a piece of their Virginia. While these modern vigilantes would probably prefer being aligned with frontiersmen of the mid 19th century West, the issues go back further and frankly it just seems irresistible to cast Bush and Schwarzenegger as Sir Wm. Berkeley and Nathaniel Bacon.

Berkeley and Bacon essentially started out on the same team. They were both immigrants, and they had a familial relationship strengthened by political patronage when Berkeley gave Bacon a seat on his council in 1675. Problems in the Jamestown settlement arose when Berkeley began, to put it lightly and in modern terms, tinkering with elections by stacking the deck in favor of him and his rich crony planters by disenfranchising propertyless men. This combined with corrupt taxation policies that the lower rungs of colonial men resented got their blood stirred up. The solution seemed obvious to the lower planters, get more profitable land from the local Indians.

But this was not a palatable solution to all classes of Chesapeake society. Berkeley, serving the royal crown and his wealthy peers had to worry about pesky matters like foreign relations with the Indians and the international fur trading market while Bacon, styling himself as defender of the common man simply wanted to go out to the frontier and deal with the Indian problem on his own – the Indians who were keeping him from the financial gain that he felt entitled to. In response, Berkeley like President Bush wanted to strengthen the border (with more tax dollars) rather than resort to vigilantism, a resolution that Bacon and his men found unacceptable. Their attitude can be summed up by Schwarzenegger's April comments that “Our federal government is not doing their job. It’s a shame that the private citizen has to go in there and start patrolling our borders.”

Both stories, Bacon’s rebellion and the political and popular response to minutemen patrolling the Mexican border raise a number of fundamental American questions. Bacon’s rebellion is said by some to have almost destroyed Jamestown. Illegal immigration or legal immigration for that matter since the 19 th c has been accused of destroying or at least disparaging the nation. In the case of Bacon’s rebellion, the threat clearly came from within – it was not the people of color on the fringes of the society that caused the clash between Bacon and Berkeley and their respective supporters. The eruption occurred when two leaders began acting like outlaws, one by subverting democracy and the other by offering up a violent solution.

While it is clear that a number of serious problems arise when a large number of people cross national borders illegally, it seems equally clear that most of those problems are of our own making and arise out of our own immigration policies. Obviously, lawlessness on the border would decline if legal channels were available which would, in my opinion, make it much easier to detect who the real criminals and potential terrorists actually are. Although President Bush is clearly not about to make any radical immigration policy changes, his denunciation of the civilian vigilantes makes me suspicious that, just perhaps, he may have at least a faint sense that the economies of our western states are dependent on our modern subordinated labor force, undocumented workers, while the governor of California remains remarkably oblivious to that fact.

A poll released September 8 indicates that while a majority of Californians are concerned about illegal border crossings, a majority do not support private citizen patrols. The poll does not extrapolate what “concerned” actually means to those polled but the results should tell Governor Schwarzenegger that he is not in fact supporting the will of the majority by applauding these “minutemen.” He did offer a rather weak recant in late September to a group of reporters in Mexicali claiming that he would not support armed patrols and that “no one ought to harass anyone” but would not rescind his overall approval of the project.

While ultimately Bacon and his men succeeded in getting what they wanted – the people on the borders were eventually subdued -- my fondest hope is that this current conflict over how our borders should be patrolled will keep our focus on our own policies rather than continuing to scapegoat those on the edges of American society.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Just more selective enforcement

The United Nations unfortunately will get back thousands of pages of documents that an investigator retained when he quit the U.N. oil-for-food probe - but only after Congress completes its own examination of the humanitarian program, officials said. Robert Parton resigned from the U.N.-backed Independent Inquiry Committee in April, because the U.N. ignored evidence critical of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The chief of the probe, former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, denies there was a cover-up.

Three U.S. Congressional committees investigating the Iraq oil-for-food program later filed subpoenas for Parton and the documents, though he turned them over to just one - the House International Relations Committee, led by Henry Hyde, R-Ill. Volcker's probe filed restraining orders blocking the other subpoenas.

Parton has reached a three-way deal under which he will give interviews to all three congressional committees, Hyde spokesman Sam Stratman said Thursday. The United Nations will drop charges that he violated a confidentiality agreement, and Hyde's committee will return the material once it completes its own inquiries into oil-for-food and Volcker's committee itself, Stratman said. Volcker's probe was independent of the United Nations but received its funding and mandate from it. Only after its reports are released will Hyde's committee return the 16,000 pages of documents, Stratman said. "The reports from this committee will address both the substantive allegations surrounding the oil-for-food program as well as the U.N.'s ability to investigate itself," Stratman said.

In an interim report March 29, Volcker's panel concluded there wasn't enough evidence to prove Annan influenced the awarding of an oil-for-food contract to a Swiss company that employed his son, Kojo Annan. It faulted him for not properly investigating allegations of conflict of interest in the awarding of the contract. Another report earlier this month faulted Annan and his deputy, Canada's Louise Frechette, for tolerating corruption and doing little to stop Saddam's manipulations.

The other congressional probes are led by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.,and Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn. Staff for Shays and Coleman refused to comment on the deal with Parton, only saying that all crimes will be investigated.

The GOP's Border Police

Around 1900, at age 11 or so, Tom Tancredo's grandfather, an orphan, sailed, unaccompanied, from Italy to New York with a note pinned to his shirt, asking that he be directed to Iowa. In Manhattan he was told that, the ocean being in one direction, Iowa must be in the other direction, so he began to work his way west. More than two years later, having rather overshot Iowa, he arrived in Denver. Eight decades later he recalled seeing the Rocky Mountains and thinking, "If Iowa is past that , the hell with it."

Today, grandson Tom is a congressman representing Denver suburbs and voicing the sentiments of many Americans who are incandescent with anger about illegal immigration. Hence he is giving Republican Party officials nightmares about a boisterous Tancredo presentation of those sentiments in the 2008 Republican presidential primaries.

Tancredo says, "I'm too fat, too short and too bald" to be president. Actually, at 5 feet 8 inches "in my cowboy boots" and 177 pounds, he would have towered over President Madison, is 150 pounds lighter than President Taft was and has much more hair than did President Eisenhower. Still, Tancredo knows he is not going to be president and hopes "some tall guy with good hair" will make illegal immigration a big issue in 2008.

But he believes he will have to, and he recently has been to, among other places, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. He is consulting with Bay Buchanan, who, as Pat Buchanan's sister, knows something about mounting intraparty insurgencies. She expects he will run and hopes she will be Sancho Panza to his Don Quixote.

Tancredo knows his candidacy would be quixotic, and he worries that if he wins few votes his issue will be discounted. But he also knows that presidential primaries are, among other things, market research mechanisms whereby unserved constituencies are discovered and dormant issues brought to life.

Which is what worries Republican officials. They desperately want to avoid giving offense to the Hispanic vote, the rapidly growing -- and already the largest -- cohort in play in American politics. Hence the Bush administration's eagerness to get past hurricanes and Supreme Court nominations and to enactment of the president's immigration reforms.

The basic problem is that the nation's economy is ravenous for more immigrant labor than the system of legal immigration can currently provide. Furthermore, about 11 million illegal immigrants are in America. It would take a lot of buses -- 200,000 of them, bumper-to-bumper in a convoy 1,700 miles long -- to carry them back to America's border. America will not do that -- will not round up and deport the equivalent of the population of Ohio.

Tancredo agrees, and insists that no such draconian measure is necessary. His silver bullet is to "just enforce the law" -- the law against hiring illegal immigrants. Give employers computerized means of checking the status of job applicants, and, he says, the ones here illegally will go home. If only it were that simple. But the details of his plan are less important than his emphatic raising of an issue that many Americans believe is being ignored or treated gingerly for reasons of political calculation or political correctness.

He says that "The Disuniting of America," a 1992 book by one of liberalism's eminent intellectuals, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., alerted him to the dangers of the "cult of multiculturalism." Today's immigrants, he says, do not feel what his grandfather did -- "pressure to assimilate." Because most come from nearby countries in this hemisphere, they do not experience what is called the "psychological guillotine" of being severed from their old country by distance and the difficulty of transoceanic travel.

Elected in 1998, Tancredo is consistently obstreperous, meaning conservative as Republicans used to understand that. He voted against President Bush's prescription drug entitlement because he says we can't afford it, against Bush's education reform, the No Child Left Behind Act, because it is expands federal infringement of state responsibilities, and against the recent $50 billion appropriation for recovery from Hurricane Katrina because of insufficient accountability -- "Not one person on the [House] floor could tell you what it was being spent for." His proposal for paying for Katrina? "Sell 15 percent of all federal land." But not, he says temperately, Yellowstone Park.

Such high-voltage views will enable him to live off the land in 2008, depending on the free media attention that comes to a live wire. So Republicans may have found their Al Sharpton, a candidate who simply has no interest in being decorous.

Reform in California

The newly elected Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a stalwart Liberal Democrat, blasted Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for allegedly abusing California's ballot initiative process to force his political agenda on an uncooperative legislature.

Four ballot measures that deal with teacher tenure, union dues, a spending cap and redistricting are supported by the man known as the Governator. Also, Liberals in California have witnessed what happens when ballot initiatives were passed throughout the country such as laws banning gay and lesbian marriage.

"I'm opposed to all of his initiatives," said Villaraigosa, a former California Assembly speaker, who had indicated during his mayoral campaign that he was eager to work with Schwarzenegger. So much for campaign promises.

"In this instance it's very clear that the initiative process is being misused," Villaraigosa complained to the Associated Press. "These are matters that could and should be addressed by the Legislature."

One of the major ballot initiatives that has government workers and union leaders up in arms is Proposition 75, a law that would require unions to poll their memberships before endorsing candidates or contributing money and time to their campaigns.

A spokesperson for Gov. Schwarzenegger countered, "The governor decided to take the issues before voters in a Nov. 8 special election because the Legislature was unwilling to work with him." Tired of the backroom deals and lack of resolve to correct numerous state problems, a majority of Californians and Americans favor the ballot initiative approach to passing legislation

The AP quotes a Schwarzenegger spokesperson as saying, "The governor could not agree with the mayor more that the Legislature should have worked with the governor to pass these reforms. Instead, the Legislature focused on its own priorities, things like gay marriage and drivers licenses for illegal immigrants." Schwarzenegger opposes both gay marriage and California drivers licenses for illegal aliens, two issues that are crucial to Liberal-Left activist groups and politicians

Villaraigosa's comments, while not out of keeping with his political loyalties, are indicative of the Liberal mindset that giving Americans direct decision-making on political issues is a dangerous thing. In fact, Liberals prefer to bypass even legislatures in order to have black- robed lawyers on judicial benches ram policy decisions down the throats of citizens.

As he pushes his ballot agenda, Schwarzenegger has been trying to rebuild his standing with Hispanic voters who helped put him win office in 2003, but whose support has eroded in recent months. Much of that erosion is the result of people such as Los Angeles' mayor, who oppose Scharzeneggers strong stand on illegal immigration, denigrating him for daring to support tough border security and Governor's support of the controversial Minuteman Project. Political insiders claim Gov. Schwarzenegger is being maligned by a strong Liberal-Labor coalition coupled with a hostile and partisan news media.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Canadian Marijuana Surpasses Wheat as Biggest Crop

Canada's marijuana dealers are converting suburban homes and abandoned warehouses into pot farms, creating an $8.5 billion market that's three times the size of the nation's biggest legal crop, wheat. Cities such as Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto may each have as many as 20,000 pot factories according to some estimates, said Rich Baylin, former national coordinator for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Cultivation is rising because penalties are often one-eighth those in the U.S., and Canadians' acceptance of pot has risen.

The grow-op business has created a rift with the U.S., where police say much of the weed is sold. Efforts by Prime Minister Paul Martin to decriminalize marijuana are a bigger threat to U.S. relations than the softwood-lumber dispute, according to a Compas Research poll of 146 Canadian chief executives in March. Almost half of all adult Canadians smoked pot at least once in their life, according to a survey last year by Health Canada. The same proportion support decriminalization of possession, compared with a third of their U.S. counterparts, a November Ipsos-Reid poll found.

This announcement came as thousands gathered on the Boston Common on Saturday to sway to gritty rock music, shop for T-shirts with slogans like ''Thank You for Pot Smoking," and rally against marijuana prohibition.

Turnout was smaller than in years past, when the event sometimes drew crowds of 30,000 or 40,000, according to police. The theme of this year's rally was "Secure the Blessings of Liberty," which Saunders described as a call to political action. His group is backing a bill that is before the state Senate and would impose a civil fine of $100 for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, rather than a criminal penalty.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Google Challenged By Chinese Government

October 4, 2005

Taiwan's government asks Web search company Google Inc. to stop calling the self-governing island a "province of China" on its Google Maps service.

China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province. It has also warned to attack the island if it insists on formal statehood. The two countries separated in a civil war, which ended in 1949. Taiwan insists it is a sovereign, independent state.

Foreign ministry spokesman Michel Lu says, "It is incorrect to call Taiwan a province of China because we are not. We have contacted Google to express our position and asked them to correct the description."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Local authorities may finally enforce the law

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison wants to expand the responsibilities of local and other law enforcement to rounding up illegal immigrants.

Hutchison plans to propose legislation today that would allow local officials to arrest and detain illegal immigrants for immigration violations.

She also planned to propose a program that allows states to license officers, marshals and F-B-I agents who want to volunteer.

Using local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws has been a divisive issue among law enforcement officers.

Some want the authority to enforce immigration laws. Others say they don't have the resources to do so. They also say doing so hurts their ability to investigate crimes involving the immigrant community or that may have been witnessed by immigrants.

Alabama, Florida and Los Angeles County have federal approval to train civilian law enforcement so they can arrest suspected illegal immigrants.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Operation North Sword 2005 against Taiwan

China on Tuesday launched major annual war games in Inner Mongolia, pitting 16,000 troops against each other in a mock battle observed by military officers from a record 24 nations in preparations for a Taiwan invasion. Code-named "North Sword 2005," the exercise was being held at the sprawling Zhurihe training base amid dry grasslands about 310 miles northeast of Beijing, the Shanghai Daily newspaper and other official media reported. Included in the mock battle was testing of missiles and targeted assassinations of Taiwanese government officials. The mock battle had several shades of reality containing live satellite video of Taiwanese officials being targeted.

Now in at least their fourth year, the exercises mark a major push toward integrated training involving the army, air force and other branches of the military in battlefield conditions. The mock assault involved hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles, more than 100 artillery pieces and a helicopter squadron, it said. It called the exercise an "rehearsed confrontation drill" involving airborne and armored brigades with no determined outcome.

Forty foreign military personnel were on hand for the exercise, but restricted saying they represented the largest number of nations invited to watch the war games since Beijing began allowing such observers in 2002. They included officers from the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Australia, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang. China has vigorously stepped-up training of its 2.5 million-member armed forces in the past five years, focusing on Taiwan, the self-governing island Beijing claims as its own territory.

With the settling of border disputes with Russia and Central Asian states, Beijing has been able to save money and manpower formerly deployed on its northern and eastern flanks and focus on its coastal regions. Rapid economic growth in recent years has also led to double-digit increases in budgets for the People's Liberation Army.

The military has been steadily trimming its vast but poorly trained troops and stressing high-tech warfare. It has ditched Mao Zedong's strategy of "People's war," which emphasized using rural guerrilla forces. China has become one of the biggest customers for modern planes and naval craft from Russia. Deployment of high-tech Chinese-made computer and communications equipment has also greatly boosted commanders' abilities to direct forces in the field.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Chinese government still forcible sterilizes

China’s Family Planning Agency yesterday admitted that government representatives in the central-east province of Shandong “had carried out forced abortions and sterilizations”. National Population and Family Planning Commission spokesman Yu Xuejun told Xingua that the commission and the Shandong family planning agency had sent two joint teams to investigate reports of forced abortions and sterilizations in Linyi city since early this year.

"An initial investigation indicates that illegal family planning practices that violate people's legal rights and interests do exist," he said. "Those who are responsible have been dismissed from duty. Some are under investigation, some are in detention. Further measures will be taken by departments concerned." Mr. Yu said the commission would train staff on the rule of law and require them to "correct any infringements of citizens' rights".

Through the year, more than 7,000 people were forcibly sterilized in Shandong province. The sterilizations were denounced by a blind activist, Chen Guangcheng, who was placed under house arrest after he charged the local authorities with carrying out the inhumane practice. Li Juan, a 24-year-old peasant, who lives near Linyi, said last week that she had been forced to abort her second child, a girl, in February, just two days before the baby was due. The population of China at the moment has reached the 1.3 billion mark and according to government estimates, it will peak at 1.46 billion in 2030.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Troops called to Northern border

The Minuteman Project, which a group of citizens launched last April in Arizona to protect the border against the infiltration of illegal aliens from Mexico, is expanding on Oct. 1. Minuteman volunteers will add the rest of the Mexican border and eight states along the Canadian border to their patrolling responsibilities. The group not only hopes to spot and report illegal immigrants trying to sneak into the U.S. It will ratchet up the pressure on politicians to take action against illegal immigration and picket/advertise against businesses who hire illegal immigrants.

Leaders of the Minuteman Project reportedly want to patrol the Canadian border in order to guard against terrorists, drug smugglers, and other criminal elements that they fear might try to slip across. The group claims it was formed as a result of "our government failing to do its most basic duty: protecting each state in the Union against invasion."

T J Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, credited the Minutemen with raising awareness of a problem that he said too many people overlook. "The key help that the Minuteman movement gives us is focusing public attention on the security of our borders and the difficult job that we have in maintaining it," Bonner said. "It's not necessarily doing the Border Patrol's job or even spotting illegals for them."

He also blamed illegal aliens for eventually causing lower wages for unskilled labor jobs. "There are plenty of Americans who want their jobs. Its just most people can't afford those jobs anymore. When the jobs paid 18 dollars an hour, there was no shortage of people willing to take those jobs," Bonner said.

The Minuteman Project has won some support in Washington; D.C. U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) introduced a bill in the House last month to train civilian volunteers to help patrol the borders. They would resemble current Minuteman volunteer outfits, but would have the added benefit of federal training and certification.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Foreign Extremists

Less than two months after the first London subway terrorist bombings, the British government has crafted policies to keep out dangerous foreign ideologues. Four years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, the U.S. has yet to restore similar policies.

Until 1990, the United States had on the law books the means to exclude or deport the kinds of radical ideologues who polluted the hearts and minds of British-born but radicalized homicide bombers and Islamofascist operatives in America.

Since September 11, one thing should be clear: Mass immigration and our loophole-riddled system have facilitated alien ideologues' agendas.

Foreign radicals, propagandists and sympathizers have always threatened American security and political order. Immigration has always been exploited by America's enemies. But not until political correctness took root did we hesitate to exclude foreigners because of their dangerous beliefs.

September 11 and its aftermath -- the unveiling of many terrorist cells, high sympathy in Islamic quarters, arrests and convictions of aliens who have used American freedoms against us -- should have taught us national security isn't possible without tightening immigration loopholes.

September 11 represented al Qaeda's most successful attack within the United States. Osama bin Laden formally declared war in 1998. Harvard's Samuel Huntington writes in his book "Who Are We?" that bin Laden targeted "Americans and their allies, civilians and military" for jihad because of U.S. power, Christianity and wealth.

Four years after the fateful attack by alien zealots, we still haven't exercised common sense by reducing immigration to reasonable, manageable levels; faithfully, consistently enforcing immigration laws; or barring entry to aliens who espouse dangerous ideologies.

The latter, exclusion and deportation due to ideology, isn't about keeping out people with novel or merely theoretical, opposing political viewpoints. Rather, we're talking about the kinds of beliefs so at odds with fundamental American political principles as to border on treason if held by a U.S. citizen. We're talking about threatening, subversive ideas. Such viewpoints don't qualify as legitimate public dialogue.

Whether the threat came from aliens promoting Jacobinism, anarchism, fascism or communism, the United States always sought to bar entry of or deport the foreign advocates. This policy helped disrupt foreign conspiracies here.

Common sense dictates we should keep out foreign extremists who spew anti-American rhetoric and whip up zealotry against this nation. They obviously can do less harm from abroad than from within the country.

Ideological exclusion policies helped keep out members of subversive groups and aliens who taught or advocated dangerous ideologies throughout the 20th century, especially during the Cold War.

With the end of the Cold War, Congress effectively repealed ideological exclusion in the 1990 Immigration Act. The First Amendment was expanded to extremes and extended to extremists -- including aliens, though they owe this nation no allegiance.

The result of ideological exclusion's repeal is that only active terrorists on watchlists might be barred from entering the United States. Those promoting radical ideology must be admitted.

But we should be able to deny immigrant and nonimmigrant visas to, or to deport, aliens who studied at madrassas, trained at terrorist camps, attended anti-America rallies, side with al Qaeda and Hamas, "worshipped" at notorious Islamist mosques. Those who espouse dangerous politics (whether rooted in Marx or Mohammed) don't deserve First Amendment protection; they certainly don't deserve a visa.

Foreign ideologues have long sought to promote their beliefs and advance their causes on American soil. They've spied, spread propaganda, stolen state and industrial secrets, tried to make converts, raised funds, organized followers and otherwise exploited American freedoms.

When Congress rewrote immigration laws during the Cold War, an administration witness said, when it comes to screening aliens who hold dangerous ideologies, we should "err in favor of American security." We should take that good advice again.

Immigration policy should become a useful tool in our own national security toolkit. We should restore robust ideological exclusion and deportation laws. That's a very practical way to disrupt foreign enemies and their potential allies. It fits squarely in the mold of the Constitution not being a suicide pact.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Money only needed for legal California Driver’s License

Veronica Rivera's scam was simple. She would park her luxury sedan at Oakland's Claremont Avenue DMV, whip out her cell phone, chat a bit in Tagalog, and the cash would flow. Her clients were illegal immigrants desperate for a driver's license. For a hefty price, she got them one, no questions asked. The operation apparently netted her and her partners inside the DMV several hundred thousand dollars. Then the money came to an end. She and her main partner, Frances Aliganga, were arrested and indicted by a federal grand jury on twelve felony charges, and now each face up to 55 years in prison.

The early-August arrests made headlines around the Bay Area, but a closer look at recently unsealed documents reveals that flaws in the DMV's policies and computer system made it startlingly easy for Aliganga to issue real drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants. The documents also raise serious questions about how many other California DMV employees also may have sold IDs to people here illegally. While investigating Rivera and Aliganga's operation, the FBI also uncovered two similar -- but apparently separate -- scams operating out of the same office. The presence of three fraudulent-license rings in one office, along with the ease with which they were able to operate undetected, suggests the statewide scope of such fraud could be vast.
The following account of the nineteen-month undercover investigation is based on information provided by the California Department of Motor Vehicles and a synthesis of three sworn FBI affidavits. One was signed by Special Agent Jason Richards, the other two by Special Agent Susan Sivok. Both are members of the FBI's Northern California Public Corruption Squad.
As with most public corruption cases, the investigation began with a tip. In November 2003, investigators learned that two illegal immigrants had received drivers' licenses at the Claremont branch, one of the busiest DMV offices in Northern California.

Once they started looking, DMV officials quickly determined that employee Frances Aliganga had processed the two licenses in May and October 2003. Aliganga had transferred to Claremont in April 2001 and was promoted four months later to a more responsible position as licensing registration examiner. The $40,000-a-year job gave her the authority to process license paperwork and conduct both the written and driving tests -- essentially without supervision.

Once they examined the two bogus records, DMV officials realized what Aliganga had done. For both, she simply typed the same fake Social Security number -- 000-11-2222 -- into agency computers. Officials immediately ran a report and discovered that she had used the same number 56 other times without being detected.

DMV investigators then interviewed several of the 56 people. Three identified a photo of Aliganga and said they had paid her bribes of $1,000 to $2,800 for licenses. A fourth admitted to paying a woman named "Veronica" $3,000 for a license and gave investigators a cell-phone number that was registered to Rivera.

In February, the FBI decided to go undercover. "I don't think there's anything more damaging than having somebody condemn themselves in their own words on tape," FBI spokeswoman LaRae Quy said in an interview.

On February 27, 2004, an undercover operative identified in affidavits as Agent 1 dialed the cell phone of Rivera, a five-foot-four-inch, 125-pound Filipina who also goes by the name Veronica Antonio. Affecting a thick Hispanic accent, Agent 1 asked about buying a driver's license, and Rivera said it would cost $3,000. She told Agent 1 to get half of the money and call her back in a week.

On March 5, Agent 1 met Rivera in person for the first time. The brash driver's-license broker, who has never worked for the DMV, flashed a page in her calendar, showing the names of some of her other clients. Business was so good, she boasted, that she had a waiting list. Agent 1 paid her $1,500 cash.

After several phone conversations, Agent 1 and Rivera met again. This time, the agent wore a wire for their rendezvous in Rivera's BMW outside the DMV. Rivera told Agent 1 she had set up a meeting inside the branch between the agent and an employee whom she called "the only Filipino lady inside." Rivera then described the employee and sent Agent 1 in. The agent walked by the long lines of people and immediately met with Aliganga, who instructed the agent to have a photo taken and sign documents.

Another DMV employee snapped the agent's photo and administered a written exam. Even though Agent 1 "intentionally marked the wrong answer on the overwhelming majority of questions," according to an affidavit, Aliganga "tossed the exam aside, barely (if at all) glancing at it." The agent went back outside and got into Rivera's car.
Minutes later, Rivera's cell rang, and she began speaking in Tagalog. An FBI review of phone records later showed that the call came from Aliganga. After another call, Rivera instructed the agent to walk back inside and go directly to the driver's-license window. There, Aliganga gave Agent 1 a handwritten temporary license. Agent 1 returned to Rivera's car and handed her the other $1,500.

Over the next several months, Rivera gave the agent several more temporary licenses as each one expired. Agents also tailed Rivera, who drove either a BMW or a Mercedes, from her Daly City house to the Claremont DMV, where she met people in the parking lot and sent them inside to Aliganga. The FBI also rifled through the trash at Rivera's home and tailed Aliganga in her Mercedes from the Claremont DMV to her home in Fairfield.
In the spring of this year, the bureau placed two more agents undercover. Agent 2 called Rivera in early May and told her about having "passed" through the US border without a visa -- essentially admitting illegal entry to the United States. A few weeks later, Agent 2 also told Rivera that a friend (Agent 3) was in town for only a few weeks and needed an ID right away. Aliganga processed Agent 3's request, while a friend of Aliganga -- 43-year-old DMV employee Brachelle Fifer of Oakland -- did the same for Agent 2. On June 9, Agent 2's license arrived in the mail inside a handwritten envelope postmarked Oakland. Agent 3's ID came in the mail five days later.

In late June, the FBI arrested Rivera, 54, and Aliganga, 53. Both confessed and said they used Fifer occasionally when Aliganga was not available. Fifer, however, appeared to be getting scammed, too. While Rivera collected anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 per license, the two told investigators that they paid Fifer only $100 each when she helped them. Fifer also was arrested and indicted. In searches of Rivera's car and home, agents also found her 2004 and 2005 calendars, which provided the details of her operation, including the names of more than two hundred customers.

It's a myth that computer crimes are usually committed by hackers. In reality, it's often low-level employees who find a flaw in the security system of a corporation or public agency. "We see it all the time: You entrust employees with too much information, especially low-paid, transient workers," said Lt. Richard Nichelman of the Northern California Computer Crimes Task Force, whose agency was not involved in the DMV investigation. "It's a safeguard issue."
Safeguards were clearly lacking in the DMV's computer system. Although the system was set up to flag the use of bogus or stolen Social Security numbers by cross-checking them with the computers of the Social Security Administration, it had one fatal flaw -- it trusted employees too much.

It's unclear exactly when Aliganga discovered the flaw, but sometime after she was promoted in August 2001, she realized that she could repeatedly use the same phony Social Security number and the computer would accept it -- and her bosses wouldn't notice. But more importantly, the system also let her override the Social Security Administration cross-check, DMV spokesman Steve Haskins acknowledged. Haskins would not say how long the flaw existed, nor would he say what steps the DMV took to fix it. Apparently it took more than one, because at some point during the investigation, Aliganga stopped using the bogus Social Security number and began using actual -- but stolen -- numbers. When asked if it was still possible for a DMV worker to get away with what Aliganga did, he said: "We have taken a closer look and we have reconfigured our system and closed the loophole."

But the evidence uncovered by the FBI's investigation suggests that Rivera and Aliganga's ring might just be a tiny part of the problem. Besides Aliganga and Fifer, two other Claremont DMV employees, Stephanie Denise Davis, 37, and Leneka T. Pendergrass, 27, both of Oakland, also were arrested and indicted for processing fraudulent drivers' licenses. Both also are accused of gaming the DMV computers, but they apparently operated separate scams unrelated to the one run by Aliganga and Rivera. Pendergrass also is accused of manipulating the DMV computer so that she could register vehicles that had not passed the state smog test.
Haskins and FBI spokeswoman Quy said the Claremont sting was a part of a wider investigation of DMV offices around the state and nation, but neither would comment on whether investigators have run reports to find out whether any other DMV employees also ever keyed in fake or stolen Social Security numbers. Nor would Haskins provide an estimate of how many other illegal IDs may have been issued statewide.

When told of the investigation and the flaws it uncovered at the DMV, some legislative leaders expressed dismay. "This is a chilling revelation," said state Senator Dennis Hollingsworth, a Southern California Republican who has opposed calls for state-sanctioned driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. "Who knows if the next Mohammed Atta may have already bought a license from a corrupt DMV employee?" Hollingsworth said that he hoped the DMV was thoroughly investigating whether fraud was rampant in the agency: "Who knows how many other times these scams have been replicated throughout the state?" Aliganga's attorney would not comment on the investigation, and Fifer's attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment. Rivera's attorney, Paul Delano Wolf of Oakland, would neither admit nor deny the evidence laid out in the FBI affidavits. But he defended Rivera's actions, portraying her as someone who was providing a service to undocumented Latino immigrants who are barred by law from obtaining drivers' licenses and California IDs. "This case is about their plight in this country," he said. When asked whether his client was really just exploiting the immigrants for financial gain, he said evidence in the case will show that "DMV employees" -- presumably Aliganga -- set the prices they charged for the licenses and IDs. He also said of his client: "I don't think the folks she helped believe they were being exploited."