Saturday, October 31, 2009

Now that's lazy, boy

You still have almost four days to bid on the ultimate la-z-boy chair at ebay.

Almost the ultimate, anyway. True, its Briggs and Stratton engine even has a nitrous oxide booster That, and the parachute (!) are about the only features left out of the description:
Engine: Briggs and Stratton Model # 19070 Type: 5641 with electric start. Transmission type unknown and is sloppy. The vehicle has front lights, rear tag light, radio, cup holder, rear roll bars and other custom options, missing the seat cushion.
It had me going, until I read the Q and A at the bottom: what use is a recliner that doesn't recline?

I missed the cup holder at first and was going to cavil about it. Then again, that's probably why it's for sale; it's a DWI forfeiture. You probably don't need to know more. You probably don't want to know more. Okay, here's more.

Print this photo and we'll have to run you over.

More? Dennis Anderson's family is auctioning a photo of him on ebay to pay legal bills. Maybe the local VFW could look into this.
Autographed photograph of the world famous DWI Motorized La-Z-Boy style Chair. All proceeds from this auction will go to Denny L. Anderson to help him pay his fines and legal fees. Dennis is a 62 year old distinguished United States Navy Veteran. He served our county for 37 years. He defended our country so we can have our freedoms we enjoy.....Winning bidder will receive a genuine 8x10 autographed photo and a 4x6 of the chair at the race track, along with a personal note from Dennis L. Anderson himself. Thank you for bidding and god bless!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Worst newspaper?

The Kansas City Star may be the most unprofessional big-city newspaper in the United States.

I follow sports, so it has been hard to avoid the stories about Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson. Because of the vague references to "anti-gay slurs", I had not paid attention. "There is no there, there," so to speak.

Heh. Then I got intrigued because the story just won't go away, with hundreds of articles and at least one hundred blog references. What did he actually say?

Well, Star reporter Kent Babbs says he called a Twitter follower's profile a "fag pic". Okay, not nice, not a word I'd use at all. Strike it from the language. And, definitely, stop following him on Twitter. Ah, but Johnson didn't stop there. He called the same guy a "Christopher Street boy". Here's where I don't know the rules. Is that an epithet if it is false? Is it an epithet if it is true? Is it just a clever way of saying 'gay'? Is it okay if a gay guy uses it like it's okay for Johnson to use 'boy'?

Is it cause for suspension, a $600,000 fine in effect? Maybe I'm wrong, and the National Football League is not so homophobic that it makes 'don't ask, don't tell' look like a model of tolerance and enlightenment.

Oh, more tweet from Johnson: "My father played for the coach from 'rememeber the titans'. Our coach played golf. My father played for redskins briefley. Our coach. Nuthn."

Now we're getting somewhere; that's cause for a chewing out at the very least. Maybe the reporter can enlighten us further. "Johnson continued the rant," he writes (impartially), "and, in later responses directed toward Johnson's Twitter followers, contained inflammatory remarks about gays." Hmm. Someone has got an agenda here. He skipped right over the part about the coach and the team.

Time to make the Star the story: According to Babbs, the next day:
"Johnson, sitting next to second-year running back Jamaal Charles, told reporters that "I'm not talking till Thursday," his usual day of speaking with reporters.

Then Johnson turned away and whispered.

"Get your faggot ass out of here," he said.
Well, prove it Babbs. He says he can, because there is a tape:
Star reporter Kent Babb, standing immediately to Johnson’s right, heard the comment and checked his tape recorder to verify the offending words. Later Monday, several Star editors confirmed it by reviewing the audio multiple times.
The link is to a two second clip from the tape. I've listened to it multiple times also, and I can't understand the first part of his sentence. Listen for yourself.

So I'll repeat it: Babbs appears to have an agenda. Maybe the editors do too. I might believe otherwise if they post what was said before the two seconds they choose to spoon-feed to the public.

That doesn't make Johnson the victim and he doesn't wear a white hat in this movie. He was stupid, and he comes off like the typical spoiled sports star. He's probably on a shorter leash because of his earlier legal problems.

Now I've wasted as much time on this episode as everyone else.

Saipan to be scrapped in November

I hope this isn't an omen.

The (former) USS Saipan is headed for the scrapyard, according to the Navy Times. World War II is becoming ancient history, and I wonder if the name will ever be used again.

I also wonder whether it would be possible to get a piece of the ship for display on Saipan. Is anyone even interested in that? Some items will be returned to the Navy, according to the article.

Two cents worth

That's what the Navy is paying; International Shipbreaking will make its money off of the materials. Sad, the Peleliu and Nassau are the last Tarawa class amphibious assault ships still in service.

It seems I told this story before, but I won't let that stop me: I once attended the annual Marianas Visitors Bureau dinner. An astronaut-- name withheld-- was the guest of honor. He announced to the attendees, mostly Japanese, that he'd always wanted to come to Saipan because he was a fighter pilot. You guessed it, he was sorry he missed the Marianas Turkey Shoot which accompanied the Battle of Saipan. I was in the cheap seats muffling snorts as I tried not to laugh out loud.

American Video finalists

President Barack Obama's Organizing For America is airing the final episodes of its Health Reform Video Challenge. Here's how New Media Director Natalie Foster put it to me on Sept. 26:
This is your chance -- you ingenious, insightful, funny people out there -- to make a 30-second ad telling the story about why the status quo has got to go, or explaining how the Obama plan will ensure we get the secure, quality care we need without breaking the budget.

The top submissions will be voted on by the public and a panel of experts, with the winning ad aired on national television. This is your opportunity to add your voice and creativity to the debate, get some great exposure for your work, and make a huge difference.
How clever, I thought at the time. Reaching out, 'getting input' and scamming a whole bunch of free brainstorming at the same time. I've been waiting anxiously, and Director Foster says we've got the finalists:
Out of nearly a thousand excellent videos submitted, we're down to the top 20. Now it's your turn to watch the finalists and vote for your favorites -- and then we'll air the winner on national television.

The top 20 ads will also be voted on by our panel of experts and artists, including Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am, animator and director Seth MacFarlane, actress Kate Walsh, Obama for America campaign manager David Plouffe, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine.
Okay, so I might not get around to waiting while 20 videos download, but I might. It's always fun to see what's happening behind the curtain, and when one of these ads starts popping up everywhere, you can say you saw it here first. You could even vote, though I don't know how much weight you have versus the judges. The deadline is Nov. 6. Here's a somewhat random sample:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Your own little toxic avenger

My son may or may not be too old to care about Halloween, but I've got a couple of grandkids who are at prime ages for some trickery.

Those hectorers at safecosmetics.org are trying to spoil all of our fun. Ten out of ten commercial face paints that they tested had lead. Most of them had just a smidgeon of nickel, cobalt and chromium, too. Here's another story with links to the report.

From the release: "The report also found many hazardous ingredients listed on the labels of Halloween hair-color sprays and make-up products, including butane (persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic), thiram (neurotoxic, possibly carcinogenic, used as a pesticide), alumina (neurotoxic), propylene glycol (possibly carcinogenic) and pigment green 7 and pigment blue 15, which are not approved by FDA for use in cosmetics."

Then again, they try to be helpful by recommending natural stuff like berries and avocados. There's even a link to The Smart Momma blog, so I forgive them.

Attack of the killer vaccine

This story has only one source, as far as I can tell, so maybe even Louis Farrakhan isn't this crazy:
"The Earth can't take 6.5 billion people. We just can't feed that many. So what are you going to do? Kill as many as you can. We have to develop a science that kills them and makes it look as though they died from some disease," Farrakhan said, adding that many wise people won't take the vaccine.*
That's the H1N1 vaccine he's supposed to be talking about. Then again, claiming that a New Orleans levee "may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry" doesn't indicate a firm grounding in reality.

Normally, it wouldn't matter what he says or thinks, but a lot of people listen to this wacko, only Allah knows why. They could die if they believe him.

Maher says amen

Making the movie Religiosity seems to have given Bill Maher a bad case of Christian Science, because he's against the vaccine too. He doesn't seem to think it's a plot, though (I hope). Then again, he continues to amaze me: I never thought I'd side with television doctor** Bill Frist against him, much less that I'd agree Maher's acting crazy. Of course Frist was citing the New England Journal of Medicine (Hospitalized Patients with 2009 H1N1 Influenza in the United States, April–June 2009, and Critical Care Services and 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Australia and New Zealand), while Maher "knows". I don't know how funny this is, but here's their conversation:



There's more comedy available from Glenn Beck, but I'd have to link to five YouTube videos.


* I feel a bit more confident that he actually said those things. Strange, a number of 'black' media sources didn't mention H1N1 in covering the event. Sources like FOXNews, examiner.com and a lot of newspapers just quoted the UPI story without fact-checking. The original source is The Commercial Appeal of Memphis.

Which brings us to the subject of our junk food appetite for sound bites. Yes, it's a bizarre and outrageous thing to say, but it had a context. UPI just grabbed the headline and everyone else dutifully followed along.


** That's a snide reference to his 'diagnosis' of Terri Schiavo

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dog eat dog? Well, not exactly

Nice title, eh?*

Time to Eat the Dog? probably comes from the fertile mind of a marketing guru. The authors seem too serious-- hemp clothing serious-- to tease us like that. It isn't even available in the U.S., I think. Amazon's website went catatonic. Barnes and Noble came up with some cutesy substitutes. I had to go to Amazon in the Mother Country to get a peek at the cover. Gift wrapping available (with recyclable paper, I hope).

The title continues: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, which is probably what the authors wanted. Fantastic Read headlines a five-star review at the British Amazon. Dangerously Dull, responds the one-star review:
It's possible that this book might inspire people to think a bit more about the consequences of their actions and steps they can take to live more sustainably. However I suspect the endless statistics, tables and often preachy and negative tone may have the exact opposite effect for some people, and lead them to draw the conclusion that nothing can be done anyway, that all the things that make life pleasant are unsustainable,and they might as well just give up now.

My other half has a PhD in mathematics, and after reading the introduction to this book, he abandoned it and declared that he was unconvinced that the authors had any real understanding of statistics.
The juicy, quotable stuff gets picked out in all of the articles: a large dog has twice the carbon 'footprint' (pawprint, they all guffaw) of an SUV; a cat equals a Golf**. The book of course is about appliances, lighting, packaging and a host of other wasteful habits we enjoy.

On the U.S. side of The Pond, in the Land of the Hopelessly Literal, most stories focus on the, er, juicy parts. Some bloggers never bothered getting past the title.
"The title of the book is a little bit of a shock tactic, I think, but though we are not advocating eating anyone's pet cat or dog there is certainly some truth in the fact that if we have edible pets like chickens for their eggs and meat, and rabbits and pigs, we will be compensating for the impact of other things on our environment. -- Professor Robert Vale
I haven't seen PETA's reaction.

I've had fun with this, but it's because I really do believe in sustainable living... if it's not too inconvenient and doesn't cost too much more.

* I learned about the book from a Canadian news aggregator. It's a beta website-- probably why it loads slowly in the browser-- and they seem to think hockey is as important as Iran's nuclear program, but pretty good overall.

** Save The Earth: Eat Fluffy
Barking Mad!
Reducing Your Carbon Paw Print... You get the idea.

Say hello to my little friend

Disturbed, likely to become depressed, this swirling mess of clouds is expected to pass near Guam on Tuesday, says the National Weather Service. It's about 500 miles East of Guam.
SINCE OCTOBER IS ONE OF THE PEAK MONTHS FOR TROPICAL CYCLONES IN MICRONESIA...RESIDENTS OF THE MARIANAS SHOULD CLOSELY MONITOR THIS DISTURBANCE. WEAK DISTURBANCES CAN QUICKLY INTENSIFY THIS TIME OF YEAR IN THIS PART OF THE WESTERN PACIFIC...AND WATCHES OR WARNINGS MAY HAVE TO BE ISSUED ON SHORT NOTICE.
To my caffeinated eye, it's bound to pass through the Mariana Islands, and I WISH THEY WOULDN'T SHOUT.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Advertising ague

There's a Google ad at the bottom of this page, you may have noticed. It would be more trouble than it's worth for me to actually deal with the pittance I could get as a commission, but I leave it there.

Think of it as a canary in my coal mine. Google's algorithms try to parse what's posted here for key words, guess who is reading it, then come up with advertising that will make your mouse finger twitch. Good luck with that: I don't know my next subject until I find it. It is somewhat useful to be reminded that I'm becoming obsessive about a subject, and hey, I don't want to feel like I'm getting free bandwidth from Google.

Non sequitor

Immigration seems to be on my mind these days; at least an immigration ad keeps popping up offering legal advice. Free legal advice. Sam Goldwyn is supposed to have said "A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on." I haven't been able to trace the similar saw 'Free legal advice is worth what you paid for it', but I tend to agree. Listen, by all means, but don't sell your farm without more information.

Since this is written in the CNMI, you might jump to the conclusion that I'm talking about Howard Willens in the Governor's Office and Deanne Siemer at the Department of Labor. I'm not. Well, I am, but not specifically. I really don't want to jump into that turgid, turbid and torrid river of prose.

More advice is coming as this is written. A plethora of people are discussing DOL's Umbrella Permits at American Memorial Park. I'm confused about them, with a wait-and-see reaction similar to Saipan Writer.

Beautiful ugly pictures

All of that was just a meander in my stream of thought anyway, brought on by advertisements for Chinese chemical companies when I was tracking down these Chinese photographs. Those ads, and others from chemical companies, were very poor product placement by Google. (It always seems to be about China with that company, doesn't it?)

Lu Guang's powerful, disturbing photos brought to mind the cliche "a picture is worth a thousand words" (It's often called a Chinese proverb, but modern usage seems to be derived from an advertising slogan.) I read about parts per million of pollutants and pore over articles about their horrendous pollution, but you can almost smell and taste the chemical stew he portrays.

The subject isn't academic for people in the Mariana Islands. When we get our 'volcanic haze' warnings, it seems like it's usually a burp from Anatahan piggybacking on a noxious air current emigrating from Asia.

It's all about us

Follow the link to the photos (Please!) and you'll get a bonus: self-centered politicopaths, mostly from the U.S., arguing about socialism, communism and capitalism. Silly me, I thought pollution was caused by uncontrolled development, not ideology. They're crying 'poor me' instead of 'those poor people'.

That's another form of pollution.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hen-pecking the Fox house

Try this: define "news" for me.

It's not so easy, is it? New things? It's news to me? That's why I think President Barack Obama and company are way out on a limb declaring that Fox is not a news network.

For myself, I'll just agree with the wag who said "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it" Okay, the end of the sentence is ", and the motion picture involved in this case is not that." He was talking about pornography, but I'd give news more leeway, even Fox News.

Not that I think the attacks are particularly serious. Every President tries to manage the conversation and discredit opponents, though I wish Obama had a writer who could come up with something as quotable as William Safire's 'nattering nabobs of negativity'. (Or, I suppose, the sense of humor to suggest borrowing it. Use N3 if you're texting or twittering.)

Hurts so good

There's a symbiotic relationship here anyway. Obama probably assumes Fox viewers will oppose him no matter what he does. I thought that before I noticed how many "liberals" follow Fox closely enough to complain about its coverage of issues. In any case, he gets sympathy and support from his base by playing the victim.

Fox, of course, called the bet by declaring its martyrdom. Professional shoe-throwers like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity know a ratings goldmine when they see it. Their friends chime in, the other side responds and off we go. This little tussle looks like it will have the legs to go through more than one round of the news cycle.

Game on, as long as this quote from the New York Times doesn't indicate where the White House is headed:
In a sign of discomfort with the White House stance, Fox’s television news competitors refused to go along with a Treasury Department effort on Tuesday to exclude Fox from a round of interviews with the executive-pay czar Kenneth R. Feinberg that was to be conducted with a “pool” camera crew shared by all the networks. That followed a pointed question at a White House briefing this week by Jake Tapper, an ABC News correspondent, about the administration’s treatment of “one of our sister organizations.”
A principled stand, says the angel one of my shoulders. The devil on the other reminds me that Beck came from CNN and Major Garrett used to write for Mother Jones.

Irony Alert

That segues nicely into an article in mysantonio.com about local groups joining Basta Dobbs. CNN, like Fox, is in business and I doubt that they think a group with the Spanish name Stop (Lou) Dobbs fits the demographic for his show. Again, however, there seem to be enough critics monitoring him to provide a ratings bump. Even if they succeed, they might just be pushing him right before he jumps. He's been talking to Fox, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Nicely played

Ready to post, I discovered that Lou Dobbs wants Basta Dobbs on his show. Nice move by CNN; another lob to the backcourt after the Latino in America pieces. Roberto Lovato responded with this backhand: I'll only appear if it's alongside CNN President Jon Klein because "our issue is not with you so much as the network that provides you with a platform." Ooh, game and set, I think. Match? Well, in a word, Fox.

Where does it end? Marc Lamont Hill is fired by Fox because he's too liberal, according to some. Contessa Brewer (nice name for Hollywood) introduces Jesse Jackson as that other Rev. Al Sharpton. They're both going to land on their feet. It's entertainment, and it's news too. So take a deep breathe and buy your ticket to the show you want to enjoy.

I wonder if the housepaint was scratched.
Guam - One of the two suspects in the October 15th robbery and stabbing of a Tamuning home has been arrested.

Ugh. A story that will probably make me mad:
Rape As A Preexisting Condition

Hee. Do I really need to read the story?
Pilot of Plane That Overshot Runway: We Were Not Asleep

How do you say "Garbage In Garbage Out" in Spanish? (It looks like they're blaming the computer.)
Dallas police ticketed 39 drivers in 3 years for not speaking English

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Visa waivers approved, temporarily

The Pacific Daily News is reporting that a CNMI-only visa waiver for Chinese and Russian tourists will be approved after Nov. 28 "on a case-by-case basis".*

It might only be a breather, because the "parole" will only be available "During the period from Nov. 28, 2009 (the transition program effective date), until the date of publication of the final Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program (VWP) rule (or other date that the Secretary of Homeland Security may determine)."

Still, it's good news in the short term, and maybe we can separate the coming of federal immigration control from the coming election.

That's a pretty vain hope. Several politicians have said they are going to raise issues with Customs and Border Patrol officials who are here for an operational visit. Operational is the key word here; they're not policy makers. Here's the list printed by the Saipan Tribune:
The visiting federal officials are led by CBP Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Field Operations Thomas S. Winkowski, and CBP Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Information Technology Charles Armstrong.

Also visiting are David Morrell, executive director of the Office of Field Operations' Mission Support; Cheryl Peters, program manager of the Office of Field Operations; Richard Vigna, director of Field Operations in San Francisco; Bruce Murley, area port director in Honolulu, Hawaii; and Rocky Miner, port director in Guam.


Later in the day...
Pacific News Center has a short blurb, indifferently written, on the officials' visit to Guam:
The speaker (Judi Wonpat) says that the federalization of CNMI's immigration will require them to use some of Guam's US customs agents however it will be on a part time basis and shouldn't affect any of Guam's operations.

The speaker adds that they did not have an answer as to the viability of extending the visa-waiver program to China and Russia. They did however reassure the Speaker that they would be on track to implament the CNMI's federalization on Nov. 28th.


More...
PNC has also reprinted a Press Release (indifferently written) from Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo's office saying that the hearing on H.R. 3770 has been posponed until a later date. That bill proposes a one-year delay in implementing the Guam-CNMI visa waiver.

And...
Last, but certainly not least, PNC has the (decently written) reaction from Congressman Gregorio C. Sablan:
"I’ve been assured that all the necessary equipment to do the pre-screening and monitor visitor exits will be in place by November 28,” said Kilili. “I have been very concerned about the Department’s operational readiness, but I’m beginning to see some forward motion."


* I'm glad I stopped by Unheard No More this morning. I missed the PDN headline when I picked up the local papers this morning. The Department of Interior's announcement doesn't appear on their website yet; I'll try to link to it soon, particularly when PDN's pay-per-view time limit kicks in.

Catching the military wave

The Atlantic has a nice piece about the Guam military buildup in their November issue.

My brother sent me the link to Jeannette Lee's breezy, informative article. She covers the main issues pretty well, and it's nice to see some coverage outside of Washington's Beltway:
New planes, ships, artillery ranges, and more are all on the way. The most talked-about aspect of what’s known as “the buildup” is the pending arrival of 8,000 U.S. marines from Okinawa, Japan. The incoming service members plus their families and the accompanying civilian workforce will swell Guam’s population of 170,000 by 15 to 30 percent by 2014.

"We don’t want to be treated like a 21st-century colony," Guam Sen. Judith Guthertz is quoted as saying. "We support the buildup, as long as it’s a win-win for Guam and the military."

Stephen Roberto puts it more succinctly: "Just don’t be the loudest person in the bar."

I like the surfer story device, too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Masked ball


I almost missed the latest internet hyperventilation; that's what comes from not surfing for a few days.

Illegal aliens=spacemen. Brilliant! I came up with that when I was nine or ten years old, thinking it was funny and original. Other people rolled their eyes or just ignored me. (Most legitimate news organizations don't even use the term if they can avoid it.)

How times have changed. These days "alien" is not a word that's being asked to carry too much baggage, it's a political statement.

Either I'm too sensitive, or else I'm gettin' soft.

Activists see the orange jumpsuit and the over-sized green card as an attack on immigrants. They've been pressuring businesses to stop selling the costume. Predictably, "William Gheen, the president of Americans for Legal Immigration, said he intends to buy the costume, and calls the reaction unfounded.", says CNN. There are hundreds of other stories and comments, but they really don't shine much more light on the subject.

So wear it, or don't. Your reaction says more about you than about anything else. Hey, I was prepubescent a long while ago. I would have loved a costume like that. Oh, as a practical matter, I wouldn't recommend running around at night in that jumpsuit. It's also hard to eat, drink and breathe when you're wearing a rubber mask.

You wanna see something really scary?


Someone mentioned Bernie Madoff and Michael Jackson masks being popular this year. Which Jackson, I thought, idly... and what accessories? I'll look it up Yep, Sergeant Pepperish uniforms, gloves, wigs and... holy mother of pearl who is that masked man? Hoo, was that a bad idea.

It's so lifelike. Now I'm afraid to sleep.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This Justice isn't color-blind

Louisiana Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell is getting hammered for refusing to issue a marriage license to a black man and a white woman because he doesn't believe in "mixing the races".

Parish, state and federal officials, Democrats and Republicans all agree that even Louisiana has come too far for that. Gov. Bobby Jindal, for example says that "Disciplinary action should be taken immediately — including the revoking of his license."

I was appalled, of course, which was why I looked up the original stories. Maybe I've been on Saipan too long, watching its residents "mix" with a vengeance.

"There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage," he said "I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it." Whew. I hadn't heard a lame rationalization like that since the last rerun of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?.

But even a screenwriter would think it 'over the top' to have a character say he had "piles and piles of black friends" and come up with lines like these: "They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."

So, yeah, he's bigoted, disgusting and I find his views abhorrent.

And, yet... both stories say he refers couples of different races to another Justice of the Peace. That doesn't excuse his views, but it lowers my fever a bit.

People who know better than I say that's still breaking the law, so I suppose he'd better be put out to pasture with the other dinosaurs.

I wouldn't want him to sign my marriage certificate anyway.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

CNMI Immigration countdown

Rep. Gregorio C. Sablan's bill to delay federal immigration control for one year and Rep. Madelline Bordallo's similar bill to delay the Guam/CNMI Visa Waiver Program seem to have fallen into a cone of silence.

I've had problems with broken links to searches of the Library of Congress' Thomas database in the past and both bills are short, so I pasted Sablan's H.R. 3647 and Bordallo's H.R. 3770 here for easy reference.

Nov. 28 is only weeks away, and both bills have been referred to committee. "No news coverage" of H.R. 3647 or H.R. 3770, says opencongress.org. The Pacific News Service blurb I mentioned last week didn't include the bill number. The Marianas Variety ran a press release from Bordallo's office Wednesday, but it doesn't appear to be on their website.

Legislation that's not controversial doesn't sail through the House and Senate in six weeks, and these bills are bound to face opposition. I haven't seen this elsewhere, but an immigration attorney in Japan says "Legislative Hearing on the H.R. 3770 amendment is scheduled to take place on Thursday, October 22, 2009, at 10:00 a.m."

At this late date, I wonder how many people just want to get rid of the uncertainty.

H. R. 3770

Just the text of the bill so I can refer to it in a later post

H . R . 3770

To make technical corrections to subtitle A of title VII of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

October 8, 2009

Ms. BORDALLO (for herself, Mr. BROWN of South Carolina, Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA, Mrs. CHRISTENSEN, Mr. PIERLUISI, Mr. BOREN, Mr. WILSON of South Carolina, and Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL

To make technical corrections to subtitle A of title VII of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. STUDY.

Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall submit to the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate a report on the economic situation in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the effect of the amendments made by subtitle A of title VII of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 on the future economic situation of the Commonwealth.

SEC. 2. NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS VISITOR ENTRY PROGRAM TRANSITION.

(a) In General- Notwithstanding section 705(b) of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (48 U.S.C. 1806(b)), the amendments made by section 702(b) of such Act shall take effect on the date that is 1 year after the transition program effective date described in section 6(a) of Public Law 94-241 (48 U.S.C. 1806(a)) (as added by section 702(a) of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008). In a case in which the transition program effective date has been modified under paragraph (3) of such section 6(a) before the date of the enactment of this Act, such amendments shall take effect on the date that is 1 year after the modified date.

(b) Treatment of CNMI Visitor Entry Program- During the 1-year period referred to in subsection (a), the Secretary of Homeland Security shall administer the visitor entry program of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands consistent with the provisions of Commonwealth law governing the program that were in effect on the day before the commencement of such period.

Redactic

A made-up word, I think-- at least it doesn't come up in dictionary searches.

The root means revise or edit, of course, but I like the added echo of didactic: 'inclined to teach or lecture others too much', among other meanings.

It describes me pretty well.

I'm an active reader, and my reactions to the written word range from 'I wish I'd said that' to 'you can't be serious'. Ho-hum is the norm, which can be a good thing: it's hard to follow the play when an attention-grabbing actor is at center stage.

That's a long introduction, but I'm trying to explain why I always return to words and phrases I spot in print. It's more about me than the writer.

So... I was struck (heh) by an item in today's Saipan Tribune: "An almost $600,000 worth of federal funded water project has been completed, and now serves over 1,000 customers in Marpi, As Matuis, San Roque, and portions of Tanapag."

Clang. My ears hurt, figuratively. The article is understandable: it's easy to end up with an extra "a", "an" or "the" when you're rewriting something. Maybe that horrible phrase "worth of" got added later. Deadline pressure, I suppose, and no one read the lead before the article was published. (I was also warned, in my first Journalism class, to avoid the word "over" and use "more than" instead. It can be pretty comical if it's used with the wrong verb.)

Yes, I'm probably pedantic, but I had to go back and reread this sentence: "The CNMI government, through Labor special counsel Deanne C. Siemer, special legal counsel to Gov. Benigno Fitial, Howard Willens, and Labor deputy secretary Barry Hirshbein announced on Thursday during a press conference about the new policy of issuing “umbrella permits” to an estimated 13,000 alien workers."

But hey, I want to be positive. Like a brooding, black bird of prey... "the fate of former Finance Secretary Antonio R. Cabrera rests on seven women and five men who were selected yesterday during a day-long court proceeding to serve as jury in his trial on corruption charges. Doesn't my simile add life to the story summarized in today's Flashback?

Don't worry, I'm through being redactic (the spell-checker doesn't like it) for at least awhile, but I wanted to mention DEQ red-flags 7 sites on Saipan, 2 on Rota.

Do they actually, physically raise red flags at those locations? I haven't seen flags myself, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

Friday, October 16, 2009

H. R. 3647

Just the text of the bill so I can refer to it in a later post

H. R. 3647

To delay the implementation of the provisions of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 applying Federal immigration laws to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 24, 2009

Mr. SABLAN introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL

To delay the implementation of the provisions of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 applying Federal immigration laws to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. DELAY IN APPLICATION OF FEDERAL IMMIGRATION LAW TO THE COMMONWEALTH.

(a) In General- Notwithstanding section 6(a) of Public Law 94-241 (48 U.S.C. 1806(a)) and section 705(b) of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (48 U.S.C. 1806(b)), the amendments to Public Law 94-241 and the Immigration and Nationality Act made by subtitle A of title VII of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, and the other provisions of such subtitle applying the immigration laws (as defined in section 101(a)(17) of Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(17))) to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, shall take effect on December 1, 2010.

(b) References- Any reference in law to the transition program effective date described in section 6(a) of Public Law 94-241 (48 U.S.C. 1806(a)) is deemed to refer to December 1, 2010.

SEC. 2. REPORT.

(a) In General- Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide to the Congress a report including the following:

(1) A fully detailed budget of anticipated expenditures for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 to carry out the provisions of law applying the immigration laws (as defined in section 101(a)(17) of Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(17))) to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

(2) The equipment, software, personnel, and other infrastructure needed to implement such provisions and a plan to put this infrastructure in place.

(3) The `additional layered security measures' and other changes that must be in place before China and Russia may be included in the Guam and Northern Mariana Islands visa waiver program described in the amendments made by section 702(b) of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008.

(4) A timetable for including China and Russia in the visa waiver program described in paragraph (3).

(5) An analysis of whether bonding of Chinese and Russian tourists would mitigate any potential threat that inclusion of China and Russia in such program may cause to the welfare, safety, or security of the United States or its territories.

(6) The groups of individuals who may not easily fall within the Immigration and Nationality Act classifications and for whom Northern Mariana Islands classifications may not be appropriate.

(7) The Secretary of Homeland Security's policy decisions intended to reduce fear and anxiety about what will happen when Federal immigration laws are applied to the Commonwealth.

(8) The Secretary of Homeland Security's plans for requiring any alien present in the Commonwealth on or after December 1, 2010, to register with the Secretary.

(b) Updates- The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide to the Congress updated reports on the topics described in subsection (a) not less frequently than every 30 days until December 1, 2010.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Governor says it's between him and Hofschneider

When in doubt, they say, always go with pictures of pretty girls and babies. Rep. Heinz Hofschneider appears at left, with ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, husband and child. (from his website)

Gov. Benigo R. Fitial told the Marianas Variety he expects Rep. Heinz S. Hofschneider to be his closest competition in the November election.

That's what I've been thinking based on conversations, on the number of signs and bumperstickers and on 'zoris* on the ground'. But Juan T. Guerrero and Ramon S. Deleon Guerrero certainly have their share of vocal supporters and my opinion is worth about as much as an internet poll.

I've thought from the beginning that the Governor was aiming for the playoffs: the runoff between the top two candidates if no one gets more than half of the votes. Lately, I've been hearing that Heinz/Arnold (Palacios) hope to get a majority in the first round. We'll see.

Meanwhile, you can check out the candidates on the internet. Listed in no particular order other than luck:

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and Lt. Governor Eloy S. Inos (BE) have a website, Facebook page and MySpace page

Rep. Heinz S. Hofschneider and House Speaker Arnold I. Palacios (HA) also have a website, Facebook page and MySpace page

Former Sen. Juan T. Guerrero and Rep. Joe N. Camacho have a website, Facebook page and MySpace page as well.

Former Sen. Ramon S. Guerrero and former Commissioner David M. Borja (Y2K)have a website. I wouldn't read too much into the lack of MySpace and Facebook exposure; if you look at their competitors' pages you'll notice most of them are not updated very often.

* I was going to use 'flip-flops' instead of 'zoris' for people who might not recognize the word, but no politician wants to see those words used.

Rush and the Golden fleece

Is Rush Limbaugh turning socialist?

He’s rich, so he’d have to find a business protected and regulated by the state.

Maybe he could become part of a cabal setting salary caps in financial institutions and deciding who gets to be part of the club? Well, the opportunities have pretty much played out in that one. And surely that cabal couldn’t decide who should buy a company like, say, Merrill Lynch? (Bad example: for all we know that’s what actually happened.)

Let’s see… a business where “where cooperation rather than competition is valued.” An anti-trust exemption would be nice, but health insurance is too risky these days.

Bingo! The National Football League, and as a bonus it’s still allowed to practice slavery.

I’m not saying Limbaugh is racist, in fact I thought late-night host Craig Ferguson was spot-on when Larry King asked about suggestions that he was. "Is he?" Ferguson responded. "I’ve never met the man." (He did say, and I agree, that Limbaugh has horrible taste in shirts.)

Let’s cull some quotes

ESPN says that, according to transcripts posted on his Web site, in 2007 Limbaugh said: "The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it."

Maybe that's just a sour grape aftertaste from when ESPN booted him off of Sunday Night Football for dissing Donovan McNabb: "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well."

And he was not repentant, they say: "All this has become the tempest that it is because I must have been right about something," Limbaugh said. "If I wasn't right, there wouldn't be this cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sports writer community."

Oh that Rush. But ESPN has a sweetheart deal (that anti-trust exemption dontcha' know) with the NFL, so it’s probably just business.

Which is the problem for the owners, too. I doubt that they care a whit about his views; he’s just too loud in expressing them. Many probably agree with him regularly. "Fat-cat Republicans who vote socialist," as Art Modell once put it.

But the product, the brand, is the important thing. "Divisive comments are not what the N.F.L. is all about," sniffed Commissioner Roger Goodell. Who needs the sermons from Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton?

“Professional scum”

Fine words, and hey, the folks he’s talking about deserve them.

Failing big-city newspapers and other news organizations are desperately cutting staff, and idiots who reference made-up quotes from Wikipedia should be the first to go. Still, I’d hardly consider a handful of dimbulbs to be ‘The Mainstream Media', but my distaste for hyperbole means I’ll probably never have a radio show or enough money to buy a piece of the St. Louis Rams*.

Which neatly brings us to the real subject: Limbaugh’s constant self-promotion. He needs a weekly outrage, daily would be even better. After all, he has a minority position in one of six groups that are having preliminary discussions with the Rosenbloom family. In spite of that, he’s gotten a ton of publicity.

* Not that I particularly care about the NFL, its roving franchises, overpriced tickets and overpaid players. (I’ve also found it increasingly hard to pretend interest in games that are played at three or four in the morning here.) The Rams came to St. Louis from Los Angeles when the Cardinals moved to Arizona. Limbaugh comes from Missouri and says he was saddened by the move.

Just for symmetry , Jim Irsay, whose daddy bought the LA Rams to trade for the Baltimore Colts so he could move them to Indianapolis, is front-and-center opposing Limbaugh.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Border control blues

Un-named immigration officials estimate that about 40 percent of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States came on legal visas and overstayed, according to the New York Times.

Those are some pretty shaky, flaky and vague statistics -- some would call them factoids. But, a million here and a million there and pretty soon you're talking real numbers (apologies to Everett Dirksen, apocryphally).

They are interesting titbits as we approach the Nov. 28 U.S. takeover of CNMI immigration.

I'm not being fair (of course), because those anonymous officials say the problem is mostly due to land borders and a million-plus people crossing them every day. Islands, with many fewer visitors, should be easier to control.

"But homeland security officials said that a series of pilot programs since 2004 had failed to yield an exit monitoring system that would work for the whole nation," according to the Times.

I went looking for Guam statistics, but couldn't quite put my mouse on them. I'll try again when I've got more than an hour to waste.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Shalom

Over in England, Israelis Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres were left off of a list of Nobel Peace Laureates published by The Guardian to accompany a story about President Barack Obama's award. Co-winners Anwar Sadat and Yasser Arafat appeared on the list.

A "technical issue", they claimed, when caught by The Telegraph and others. Those are the restrained responses; others are less charitable.

Oy vay

The Telegraph claimed last week that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comes from a Jewish family. The 'evidence' supposedly comes from the identification he's holding in the accompanying picture.

Both items are mostly only suitable for late-night TV jokes and blogger outrage, though I'll pass on Ahmadiniejad. I don't think his Holocaust denial is very funny.

Though it's no big thing to me, Revolutionary Iran evidently has other ideas. According to the story:
During this year's presidential debate on television he was goaded to admit that his name had changed but he ignored the jibe.

However Mehdi Khazali, an internet blogger, who called for an investigation of Mr Ahmadinejad's roots was arrested this summer.


"It's not something we'd talk about," said Ron Gidor, a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bidding adieu

A Utah man is facing jail time for bidding on oil and gas land he couldn't and wouldn't develop.

Tim DeChristopher is arguing that it's okay to disrupt a fire sale if it's the result of arson-- or something like that.

He's facing federal charges of interfering with an auction and making false statements on bidding forms for taking part in a December Bureau of Land Management auction, one of many regulatory and policy environmental caltrops dropped by former President George Bush on his way out the door.

Degrees of Separation That's one version of a caltrop in the photo. It's an ancient landmine that's still used today; note that one spike always points upward. My fevered brain fixed on the analogy because the article title "Legal Cost for Throwing a Monkey Wrench" reminded me Edward Albee's Monkey Wrench Gang. They used them, fictionally. (Oh, I highly recommend the book and the author, though I prefer what they're doing along the Klamath River to blowing up dams.)


A temporary injunction held up 77 of the 116 parcels in January, and new Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar withdrew those parcels from consideration in February, according to an Oct. 7, 2009 BLM report (pdf). That report recommends a handful for leasing, a handful for withdrawal from leasing and that action on the majority be deferred.

The report probably led to the New York Times article in which DeChristopher's supporters reportedly claim his actions had a role in the judicial and administrative actions. That argument lines up with his lawyer's attempt to assert a "necessity defense". That's kind of a lesser of two evils thing; the article cites the example of breaking into a cabin when you're lost in the woods. It doesn't impress most judges.

"My intention was to cause as much of a disruption to the auction as I could," DeChristopher is quoted as saying. "Making that decision — that keeping the oil in the ground was worth going to prison — that was the decision I made."

To which I would respond: "Be careful what you ask for."

No, Utah isn't in the Ninth Circuit. I thought not, but checked anyway because that would be a wild card.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Immigration Reform Evangelists

The National Association of Evangelicals has come out in favor of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Here's the text of the resolution passed by their Board of Directors.

According to their Press release, the NAE represents "40 denominations, scores of evangelical organizations and millions of American evangelicals."

They make a number of recommendations; including "There should be a clear and workable system for legally admitting an adequate number of immigrants to meet both workforce and family reunification needs", and "There must be a sound, equitable process for currently undocumented immigrants who wish to assume the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship to earn legal status."

From the Associated Press story on the release:
The group has taken stands in recent years that have run counter to Christian right views.

It endorsed an anti-torture statement in 2007 that renounced torture and "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees." Other evangelical leaders have either resisted that view or remained silent on the issue.

I was just thinking, we're always chiding moderate Muslims for not reining in their radicals...

From the release: "The NAE further calls on its members, elected officials and all Americans to participate in the immigration reform debate in a spirit of civility and respect, both for immigrants and for those with whom we may disagree on policy prescriptions."

Text of Nobel Peace Prize Announcement

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."

Obama the Laureate *

I was just putting myself to sleep with CNN** when they broke the news about President Barack Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize.

My first reaction was congratulations! That's Great, but...

What has he done?

So far, he's made some great speeches, tried to hit the reset button with the Axis of Evil and the Moslem world, and scrapped a pie-in-the-sky missile defense system (replacing it with a more workable out-of-the-box system).

His foreign policy so far could best be described as Bush-Lite. That doesn't bother me at all. Like a locomotive or a ship at sea, a country's relations with the rest of the world has momentum. You don't hit the brakes or try hairpin turns.

I like what he's been saying, and I like where he appears to be heading. We just haven't seen any results and it's certainly too soon to say the world is more peaceful.

Now I'll read the stories.

* I was thinking of "The Not-Bush Peace Prize" as a title.

** It's better than warm milk; try it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Waiving the flags

Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo wants to put the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program on hold for one year while letting the rest of PL 110-229 take effect.

"The bill would delay by one year the start of the authorized joint Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program, but would still allow the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to take control of immigration in the CNMI as of November 28," according to statement reported by the Pacific News Service.

The PNS blurb doesn't give a number for the proposed amendment to Public Law 110-229 and the subject isn't mentioned on her website.

"The bill is necessary to ensuring that we protect the economies of Guam and our region, both of whom depend on the visitor industry," she adds and that's pretty much the entire statement.

CNMI Congressman Gregorio C. Sablan has proposed that the entire law be postponed until Dec. 1, 2010.

Sunday, 3:30

From what I can find, the PNS snippet is still the only source on the internet.

It's not clear what benefit Guam would get from a delay, except that Indonesia, Vanuatu, Western Samoa and the Solomon Islands will be removed from the participating country list.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy to Japan has a page on its website describing the waiver program.

The Guam - CNMI Visa Waiver Information Form CBP I-736 (pdf) and Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Agreement with carriers CBP Form I-760 (pdf) are available online.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Vanuatu earthquake

Vanuatu was hit my a magnitude 7.8 earthquake at about 8:03 this morning (Saipan time), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

There was a magnitude 7.7 quake a little bit North about an hour earlier, says the USGS.

Nearby islands reported small tsunamis: Vanuatu 0.2FT, Dart Coral 0.1 FT and Luganville 0.3 FT. A tsunami warning was sent to a number of islands and a tsunami watch to others including the Northern Marianas. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has canceled the warning and the watch.

I just caught Saipan Writer's post. Evidently the local Emergency Management Office sent a tsunami watch notice to government offices

Here's something scary: "There's quite a crowd has come down to the water's edge to see if there's a wave."

(Upon further reflection, not scary, but nominees for this year's Darwin Award. Ah, they're still in the gene pool, so just an Honorable Mention)

How about these guys? Somali pirates attack French military flagship


Another nomination

Play ball

My car has a Japanese radio, and National Public Radio is all I can pick up that far down the U.S. FM band for my morning drive.

Today from All Things Considered came the tale of a little girl who caught Ryan Howard's 200th home run. A 12-year old, with her 15 year-old brother.

The big, bad Philadelphia Phillies got together with Florida Marlins' security, trundled her off and offered a swap: cotton candy and a signed ball for the milestone rawhide.

Enter her lawyer, though I'm sure mom and dad are there somewhere in the background. They gave the ball back, eventually. Just filler, but exactly the type of story to get more comments than, say, the war in Afghanistan.

Join the fun. Who's right here? The girl's proxies (have some candy) or a player who wants a memento (through his proxies)?

A hint about where I'm leaning: in these days of overpriced sporting tickets, why not treat them as lottery tickets?

Throwing some junk

All of which is just an excuse to talk about the playoffs, my heart being with the Minnesota Twins. I love the thought of a small market team beating the Best Team Money Can Buy.

Just a thought, because this year they have about as much chance as a snowball in the Metrodome. Even with A-Rod's yearly October swoon the Yankees are by far the best team this year.

And the Red Sox meet the Angels (again?). Two more big-bucks behemoths, though the Red Sox aren't very scary this time around. Angels win for once.

Of course that's just the league where aging sluggers fade away and pitchers can't take their own medicine.

On the senior side we have the Dodgers' left fielder for comic relief, though Manny could go on a tear and start hitting again. Still, the Dodgers went from the team to beat in the first half of the season to mediocre in the second half.

Albert Pujols, arguably the best hitter in baseball, often finds a way to bail out the Cardinals' anemic offense and they have the two best pitchers in the National League not named Lincecum. A sweep is possible, though I'd rather see the Dodgers suffer a little.

The defending champion Phillies? Well, it's all about Brad Lidge, isn't it? So it's the Rockies (grr), who just have the look and feel of one of those teams on a long, improbable ride. Throw out the start of the season and they match up with anyone.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Say it ain't so, Joe

Yesterday I wrote that Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio was the 'poster boy' for efforts to have Immigration and Customs Enforcement take away some of the authority it has given to local law enforcement.

Evidently, America's toughest sheriff agreed on a local radio show (Feathered Bastard), where he was criticizing a new agreement that only allows his deputies to screen people who are already in jail on other charges. (I've got to find a new cliche'.)

I started down this path because, like other national immigration issues, the so-called 287(g) agreements are likely to become CNMI news Nov. 28, if not sooner.

The sentence this is taken from could use another rewrite, but evidently the previous agreements allowed "federally trained and supervised state and local law enforcement officials to investigate, apprehend, transport, and detain people who are living and working in the country without authorization." (Huffington Post.

According to the Arizona Republic, "The jail-screening effort helped officials catch nearly 30,000 illegal immigrants since the program began in February 2007, but it was the street-level enforcement that caused the most controversy and produced less substantial results, capturing about 264 illegal-immigration suspects."

Unrepentant, as you can see from the links, Arpaio leaked news of the new agreement in violation of its terms.

Closer to home

Congressman Gregorio C. Sablan says that the Department of Homeland Security is circulating a proposal to require "one additional form" under the coming Guam/CNMI visa waiver program for tourists.

That's a positive, but we're very much the tail of the dog on this one. "Guam" is the operative word here with the Department of Defense asked for comment while it's moving more Marines in.

"Sablan could not say whether DHS intends to apply the same policy for Russian and Chinese tourists visiting Guam," according to the Saipan Tribune.

This *should* have been posted a day ago, but I had an unfortunate encounter with party food and spent the day sitting elsewhere

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Profiles in outrage

The Southwest Border Task Force wants to cut back on local enforcement of federal immigration laws, according to Themonitor.com in McAllen, Texas.
"Our goal is to get all of the Southwest border on the same playing field and draw out the realities on the border versus the rhetoric," said Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe TreviƱo, the task force’s vice chairman.

Civil rights and Hispanic groups have urged President Barack Obama’s administration in recent months to end the 287(g) program amid mounting evidence that some participating police departments have used the newly granted authority to justify racial profiling. (That's probably true, but the reporter is making an unsupported argument by using the word 'evidence'. Tch.)

As you'd expect, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the bootcamp jail guy, is the poster boy for the alleged abuses.

There are 18 other recommendations, but I haven't seen the report posted on the DHS website yet. The article summarizes several others.

I've tried to follow what 'the authorities' are doing with racial profiling. We all do something like that naturally, even if it's unconsciously; I think it's genetic. It can be useful *sometimes* but profiling is very, very dangerous to our civil liberties.

Travel travails

There's an interesting blog in the online New York Times suggesting that airport security may have been a factor in the Olympics going to Rio de Janeiro instead of Chicago.

Entering the United States can be "a rather harrowing experience," I.O.C. member from Pakistan Syed Shaid Ali is quoted as saying.

If you've been following U.S. travel numbers, they've been steadily declining since 911. One of the reasons the Marianas Visitors Authority dreads Nov. 28.

Temporary tattoo

Totally unrelated from a local paper: sounds like this purse-snatcher should just cut his hair. "The suspect was described as local male, in his late 30’s, about 5’4” tall, 140-150 pounds, wearing a gray sleeveless shirt, dark shorts, and short dark hair, covered with tattoos."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Amnesty?

President Barak Obama has told the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to plan for "for the possibility of giving legal status to millions of illegal immigrants," according to the New York Times.

I knew Comprehensive Immigration Reform was his Next Big Thing after cap and trade and health care, but this is the first I'd heard of his plans.

This is sure to start a pundit-storm. The people who are here legally, but under CNMI rules might see some hope in this.

I'm off to grab some typhoon supplies, but wanted to get something posted on this.

Shoe flies

I was hoping this shoe-throwing thing wouldn't catch on.

The latest comes from Turkey, where a student at Bilgi University threw his Nike Trainer at International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

This had better not get to the point where we have to check our shoes at the door. Maybe they could start with reporters: like Bush nemesis Muntadar al-Zeidi, Selcuk Ozbek is a journalist, in his case an editor at the left-wing daily Birgun.

I was about to move on when I noticed the irony here: a plug for Nike while shouting anti-globalism slogans. The Turkish company that claims it made Al-Zeidi's shoe is supposed to have reported increased sales.

Now fully committed to total time-wasting I found the Wall Street Journal reporting that Turkey was negotiating another loan from the IMF. "To get an IMF loan, Turkey would have to reduce its deficit by cutting government spending or boosting taxes more than the government wants," they note. More irony: I wonder what the United States would think of conditions like that.

Search for "shoe throwing" (Google will helpfully ask if you want email alerts) and you'll see it's been picked up, even in countries that don't have a cultural foot fetish. My worry exactly. Clever once, even if you disagree with the guy, it's pretty boorish behavior after that.

It's also dangerous. An Iraqi in Falujah threw a shoe at U.S. Soldiers last month. They saw an incoming object, thought it was a grenade, and shot him.

You Tube was next. I was killing time and wanted to see the clip since Turkish TV was supposedly playing it to death. Really, minor league as protests go, and he hit the poor guy who was asking Strauss-Kahn a question.

Time for bed. I can take my shoes off... and relax.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The iceman driveth

I commented in another blog that it seemed, umm, odd that the Drug Enforcement Agency would let a man they believed to be using and/or dealing ice drive Governor Benigno R. Fitial around for six* months without telling him.

Fitial thinks it's more. "They don't like me," he told the Marianas Variety and Saipan Tribune.

The Governor suspended CNMI participation in a joint task force with DEA following the strip-search of Chinese passengers on a flight from Shanghai.

"This is politically motivated," he told the Variety. "This happened before the election."

I'm not sure, and I wonder what other people think.

* Today's stories say nine months, but the point remains.

Tracks of my tears

What a difference a day can make. This is National Weather Service Guam's new track forecast for Typhoon Melor as of 1 am. Since I'm checking I thought I'd share.

They say in a 5 am bulletin that "TYPHOON MELOR HAS WOBBLED TO THE SOUTHWEST OVER THE PAST FEW HOURS. MELOR IS EXPECTED TO RESUME MOVING WEST-NORTHWEST AT 6 MPH. THIS GENERAL MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE WITH A SLIGHT INCREASE IN FORWARD SPEED OVER THE NEXT 24 TO 48 HOURS." Melor may become a supertyphoon within 24 hours, they add (IN CAPS).

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center tells us a subtropical ridge to the North is steering Melor so it moves "generally West-Northwestward".

That's close enough to make me nervous, though it looks (now) like we'll "just" get a lot of rain as it passes North of Saipan. Small comfort if we look at our neighbors in the Philippines: Katsana was "just" a tropical storm and they're still finding bodies. Typhoon Parma, by the way, has weakened a bit but is still expected to add to their misery as it passes over the Northern Philippines.

In a 3 am Local Statement the NWS reminds us not to focus on the exact forecast track.

This sure beats the old days, using a barometer to tell whether a storm was getting closer and the wind direction to guesstimate from which direction.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A shot in the foot

USA Today is saying that Officials seek to vaccinate illegal immigrants against H1N1.

That seems reasonable enough, doesn't it? Whatever your feelings about immigration, you don't want a pool of 11 million Typhoid Marys.

Ah, but check out the comments. Weird, wild, there are 700 and counting. The subject brings out the worst in so many folks that they can't see where their own interests lie.

But it won't be covered by health insurance.

Liar.

What a coincidence; a cute cartoon from an LA Times blog

Caught in passing

A truck just went by on Middle Road with "U.S. Customs X-RAY Unit" painted on its side. It looked like a mobile unit. I wish I'd had a camera.

Has this been around for awhile? It appears that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is bringing in its equipment.

Not caught in passing

I missed the Marianas Variety headline CUC studies impact of high court ruling when I was scanning headlines in the local papers online this morning. Another reason to buy the hard copy.

Pretty reasonable, though a statement attributed to Tony Muna qualifies for my joke of the day: "Because of the court decision, he said there is a possibility that customers in that period of time will also ask for an “adjustment” of their bills." Ya' think?

Good Advice

National Weather Service Guam has posted this forecast track for Tropical Storm Melor... and added in a 'local statement' that WHEN MAKING DECISIONS...DO NOT FOCUS ON THE EXACT FORECAST TRACK. Good advice indeed.

They issued a typhoon watch for Rota... Tinian and Saipan (I don't know what they mean with the dots... maybe they stand for Goat Island) at 2:00 am.

Tracking these 800 pound gorillas still isn't an exact science. They use historical data on typhoon behavior, highs and lows in the neighborhood and their possible effects, run it all through various computer models... and then cast some chicken bones.

They say it's moving at about nine mph, kinda good I guess; typhoons intensify more quickly when they slow down.

I feel like I just washed my car

It was tempting fate, I guess. Just two weeks ago I babbled this on the keyboard: "But, really, I'm trying to remember the last time I saw satellite photos of storms lined up approaching us one after another in progressive stages of development."

Melor is the third of a trio that popped up last week, lined up like a train. I almost missed it; I kept trying to check typhoon Parma, which is west of Melor. No coffee yet, and they give storms names when they intensify. (Parma is bad news for the Philippines, they don't need another storm so soon.)

I don't really do updates: witness how I left American Samoa's troubles hanging. Anyone can use a Search Engine and get better, more recent information. So check NWS Guam or the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. I hesitate to recommend the JTWC, because it's really supposed to be for government use, but it has great products.

Both sites can be incredibly sluggish when there's a storm nearby, but there's always the cable tv weather channel or, ugh, statements droned over the commercial radio stations. You could even check Angelo's site he seems to be posting a lot of storm updates lately.