Mexico Harasses Immigrants even as it Criticizes Arizona Immigration Law
Arizona’s new law directing local police to take a greater role in enforcing immigration rules has brought a lot of criticism from Mexico, the largest source of illegal immigrants in the United States. But, in Mexico, undocumented immigrants say they suffer even worse treatment from corrupt authorities. Mexico already has an Arizona-style statute requiring local police to check IDs. That clause has fed an epidemic of kidnappings, rapes and other atrocities against migrants because victims are afraid to talk to police, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission says. Mexican police freely engage in racial profiling, harassing Central American migrants.
Reports are surfacing around the Valley that illegal-immigrant families with school-age children are fleeing Arizona because of a new immigration law. Some school officials say enough parents and students have told them they plan to leave the state this summer to indicate Hispanic enrollment could drop at some schools. But there’s no way to know exactly how many illegal immigrants will depart because schools do not inquire about a student’s or a family’s legal status. Teachers and principals at Alhambra elementary schools in west Phoenix, for example, are saying goodbye to core volunteer parents, who tell them that the new migration law threatens their family stability and that they must leave. The district expects the new law to drive out an extra 200 to 300 students over the summer.
Oil Spill Containment Still Uncertain
The chief executive of BP PLC says it will be about 48 hours before they know if pumping heavy mud into a blown-out well is successful in stopping the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill. CEO Tony Hayward said on the CBS “Early Show” that his confidence level in the well-plugging bid remains at about 60 to 70%.Workers resumed pumping heavy mud into the gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico after temporarily suspending the effort to assess the situation, oil company BP said late Thursday. The latest attempt to block the well came as the government confirmed that the undersea gusher of toxic oil and gas is far bigger than what had been initially estimated, making the offshore environmental disaster the largest in the nation’s history. The U.S. Geological Survey said three teams of scientists concluded that between 504,000 and 798,000 gallons a day had been billowing out of the mud a mile beneath the sea. Initial estimates were 210,000 gallons spilling per day. That means 18 million to 30 million gallons have spoiled the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon blew up April 20, dwarfing the previous largest spill, from the tanker Exxon Valdez in 1989.
At once defensive and contrite, President Obama acknowledged Thursday that his administration made mistakes in the months leading up to a Gulf of Mexico oil spill that has reached record proportions. While defending the government’s actions since the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, Obama said federal officials slipped up three times: they failed to anticipate before the accident what the potential worst-case scenario could be from a spill of these proportions; they did not act fast enough to institute reforms for what he called a “corrupt” relationship between oil companies and federal regulators; and they were late in accurately measuring the amount of oil flowing. Obama announced a series of changes aimed at avoiding future disasters. He extended a moratorium on new drilling for six months and suspended or canceled projects from Alaska to Virginia.
House Votes to End ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
The House of Representatives voted Thursday night to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces. The vote was 234 to 194, and repeals a 17-year-old law called “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The policy permitted gays and lesbians to serve in the military, so long as they did not declare their sexual orientation. In exchange, the military brass would not inquire service members about their sexual preference. Earlier Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 to eliminate the old rule. The military has discharged some 13,000 service members since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy went into effect.
Poll Finds Anger Over Country’s Leaders
Americans are increasingly optimistic about the economy, but that brightening outlook hasn’t softened their outrage over the country’s direction and its political leadership, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds. Two-thirds of those surveyed this week describe themselves as “angry” about the way things are going in the USA, the highest percentage in the decade the question has been asked. By nearly 2-1, they would rather vote for a candidate who has never served in Congress over one with experience. The nation’s mood hasn’t eased even though attitudes on the economy have begun to turn around. About half of Americans rated the economy as “poor” in April and May, not a glowing appraisal but the lowest percentage since the economic meltdown in September 2008. Half say it’s getting better, the highest level of optimism in six years. The findings are sobering for incumbents who hope an improving economy will ameliorate the throw-the-bums-out sentiment before November.
8th State Says Guns Beyond Feds’ Control
Alaska has become the eighth state to declare that firearms made, sold and owned in the state are beyond the reach of the federal bureaucrats along the Potomac. “The Alaska Firearms Freedom Act frees Alaskans from overly bureaucratic and restrictive federal firearm regulation, and allows our state to assume the responsibility for regulation,” said Rep. Mike Kelly, the lead sponsor on the plan endorsed by lawmakers in the recently closed session of the Alaska Legislature. The law also requires the state to defend any Alaskan who is “prosecuted by the federal government under their authority to regulate interstate commerce.” The federal government has called the move reason in and of itself for federal courts to strike down the state laws that now have been adopted in Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Idaho, Utah, Tennessee and Arizona. In its court filings in Montana – the first state to adopt such provisions and the site of a court battle over its validity – the federal government has argued that since eight states have enacted their own firearms regulations and another 21 are considering similar plans, that “would have an indisputable effect on interstate commerce.”
Ground Zero Mosque Approval Angers New Yorkers
A New York City community panel has given it’s stamp of approval to build a mosque near Ground Zero, despite a very contentious debate over the building. CBN.com reports the city board voted 29-1 in favor of the Cordoba Mosque. Many New Yorkers are furious over the idea of building a mosque near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.”The greatest terrorist act against this nation was Pearl Harbor. The second one was the World Trade Center bombing,” mosque opponent Lou Camonale said. “Now we wouldn’t normally have a Japanese center in Pearl Harbor… this is like pouring salt in the wound of America.” Before the vote Tuesday (May 25), opponents lined up to voice their outrage.”This is an insult. This is demeaning,” one protestor said. “This is humiliating that you would build a shrine to the very ideology that inspired the attacks of 9/11.”
Link Between Tanning Beds, Melanoma
Strong evidence now links tanning beds to melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer that afflicts nearly 69,000 Americans a year. People who have ever used tanning machines were 74% more likely to develop melanoma than others, according to a study of 2,268 patients reported Thursday in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Those who tanned the most — for 10 years or more — had more than twice the risk of melanoma compared with people who never used tanning beds. About 2.5% of men and 1.7% of women develop melanoma, according to the American Cancer Society.
FDA Warned Dozens of Drug Factories since 2009
At least 43 drug factories supplying medication to thousands of U.S. consumers have received government warnings in recent months for failing to correct shoddy manufacturing practices that may have exposed patients to health risks, a USA TODAY review of records shows. Violations serious enough to prompt warning letters from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration include plants using equipment and ingredients contaminated with bacteria or insects, failing to do proper testing to ensure drug strength and purity, and ignoring consumer complaints that products were making them sick. During 2002-06, more than half of inspections at domestic drug plants and 62% at foreign plants supplying the U.S. had violations that didn’t prompt warning letters, but were classified as requiring correction. The House oversight committee held a hearing Thursday into the April 30 recall of children’s liquid Tylenol and other medicine made at a Pennsylvania plant.
Arizona Tax-Tuition Program Goes to Supreme Court
Religion News Service reports that the U.S. Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of an Arizona program that provides state tax breaks for donations to private school scholarship programs. As part of the 13-year-old tax-tuition program, taxpayers receive a dollar-for-dollar reduction in state income taxes for their donations to not-for-profit school-tuition organizations. Last year, 91.5 percent of the $52 million collected in Arizona went to religious schools. Opponents, including the American Civil Liberties Union and others, argue the program violates the First Amendment, which prohibits government establishment of religion. “Arizona’s convoluted scheme is a backdoor way of subsidizing religious education,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. The Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund will defend Arizona’s tax-tuition program.
States Borrowing from Feds to Make Unemployment Payments
EconomicPolicyJournal.com has learned that 32 states have run out of funds to make unemployment benefit payments and that the federal government has been supplying these states with funds so that they can make their payments to the unemployed. In some cases, states have borrowed billions. As of May 20, the total balance outstanding by 32 states (and the Virgin Islands) is $37.8 billion. The state of California has borrowed $6.9 billion. Michigan has borrowed $3.9 billion, Illinois $2.2 billion.
- Talk about robbing Peter to pay Paul. What a mess.
Consumer spending was stagnant in April, turning in the weakest performance in seven months, while incomes posted a tiny advance. The Commerce Department says consumer spending was unchanged last month and personal incomes rose just 0.4%. The flat spending reading for April raises concerns about whether the recovery from the recession could slow in coming months if households cut back on purchases.
The number of newly laid off workers filings claims for unemployment benefits dropped last week but the level still remained higher than expected. Applications for unemployment benefits fell 14,000 to 460,000 last week. The latest level of claims is slightly higher than it was at the start of the year, underscoring that the nation’s workers are still facing tough times even though the overall economy is growing again.
The Treasury Department said Wednesday it raised $6.2 billion from the sale of 1.5 billion shares of Citigroup stock it received as part of the government’s rescue of the bank. The sales took place over the past month and represented 19.5% of the government’s holdings of Citigroup common stock. The sales are the government’s latest move to recoup the costs of the $700 billion financial bailout.
Spain will introduce a new tax for the country’s highest-income earners in the next few weeks, part of a wider effort to raise money and cut a swollen deficit, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Wednesday. His Socialist government recently approved public sector wage cuts and other spending reductions in a bid to save 15 billion euro this year and next to bring Spain’s deficit down and calm jittery markets.
The Israeli military partially opened a West Bank highway to Palestinian drivers on Friday to comply with a ruling of the country’s highest court. The road, known as Highway 443, is a major link between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and is heavily traveled by Israeli commuters. Much of its length runs through the West Bank, one of the territories Palestinians claim for a their hoped-for state and parts of it were paved on land expropriated from Palestinians.The Israeli military, which maintains overall control of the West Bank, banned Palestinian cars in 2002 after a string of Palestinian shooting attacks on the road killed Israeli motorists. In 2007, with Israeli-Palestinian violence winding down, local Palestinians petitioned Israel‘s Supreme Court, demanding to be allowed to use the road. The court agreed that the ban was discriminatory and ordered the highway opened, despite the military’s argument that the move would endanger Israelis because it could allow militants to easily access the road and escape into Palestinian villages.
- The overlapping areas of Palestinian control within Israel is untenable and unsustainable.
Gunmen armed with grenades attacked two mosques of a minority sect during Friday prayers in eastern Pakistan, seizing control of one mosque and battling with police, officials and witnesses said. At least 20 people were killed, and worshippers were believed held hostage. The attacks by suspected Islamist militants in Lahore city targeted the Ahmadi sect, which has experienced years of state-sanctioned discrimination and occasional attacks by radical Sunnis. It has never before been hit on such a large scale or coordinated fashion. Pakistan has seen scores of attacks by groups of Islamist militants against the government, as well as Western and security force targets over the past three years.
The American military death toll in Afghanistan has passed the 1,000 mark at a time when President Obama‘s strategy to turn back the Taliban is facing its greatest test — an ambitious campaign to win over a disgruntled population in the insurgents’ southern heartland. More casualties are expected when the campaign kicks into high gear this summer. The results may determine the outcome of a nearly nine-year conflict that became “Obama’s war” after he decided to shift the fight against Islamist militancy from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Afghan insurgents find sanctuary. More than 430 of the U.S. dead were killed after Obama took office in January 2009. And soon, Afghanistan will pass Vietnam as America’s longest war. On June 7, the war will complete its 104th month.
Suspected Maoist rebels derailed an overnight passenger train Friday in eastern India, triggering a crash with an oncoming cargo train that killed at least 65 people and injured 200 more Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said in a statement that a section of the railway tracks had been cut, but “whether explosives were used is not yet clear.” Posters from the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities, a group local officials believe is closely tied to the Maoists, had been found at the scene taking responsibility for the attack.
Jamaican security forces claimed a tenuous hold over the slum stronghold in Kingston of a gang leader sought by the U.S., but only after battles that killed at least 44 civilians, the country’s official ombudsman said Wednesday. Officers and soldiers were still fighting holdout defenders of Christopher Coke, known as “Dudus,” in pockets of the Tivoli Gardens area. He was still at large after nearly three days of street battles.
New England sizzled Wednesday with record temperatures as the region experienced an unusual springtime heat wave. The National Weather Service said the mercury hit 95 degrees at T.F. Green Airport outside Providence, breaking the old record of 91 degrees set May 26, 1965. A temperature of 98 degrees was recorded at Bradley International Airport outside of Hartford, Conn., breaking the previous record of 94 degrees. In Boston, residents and visitors took advantage of the 93 degrees to enjoy the “Rings Fountain” at the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Hail pounded parts of the northeast Denver metro area Wednesday and tornadoes have been reported east and north of the city as thunderstorms sweep along the Front Range and eastern Colorado plains.
The hurricane forecast this year is the most ominous the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has ever issued — “an active to extremely active” season: Eight to 14 hurricanes are predicted, storms with winds of 74 mph or greater, with three to seven of those to be major hurricanes — those with winds exceeding 111 mph. That is the most storms NOAA has forecast since it began issuing the outlook in 1998.