Monday Reads

Morning_News,_by_Ellen_Day_Hale

Good Morning!!

Don’t blame Dakinikat for the lateness of this post. I volunteered to fill in for her today and then I ended up oversleeping.

I stayed up too late watching the New England Patriots come from behind to beat the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football. I had pretty much given up on the Pats at halftime when they were down 24-0. But once again Patriots quarterback Tom Brady rallied his team and once again showed Peyton Manning who’s boss. 

Cindy Boren sums up what happened at The Washington Post:

For most of the country, Sunday night was cold. It’s the gateway to a big holiday week and, with the Denver Broncos blowing out the hapless New England Patriots on Sunday night, why not just turn in early?

Suckers.

Here’s the abbreviated version of what happened while you were sleeping: Trailing 24-0 at halftime, Tom Brady and the Patriots scored 31 points in the second half, the Broncos scored to tie it and, with Bill Belichick making another of his unusual coaching decisions, the Patriots won 34-31 on a field goal that came off a turnover on a muffed punt with time running out in overtime. But it was a decision by Belichick that set up the Patriots. After winning the OT coin toss, he chose to take the wind — a stiff, brutally cutting wind — in a move that even his captains questioned.

There was a fierce wind blowing in the Boston area all day yesterday. It was coach Bill Belichick’s decision to give the ball to the Broncos, forcing Manning to either throw into the wind or and the ball off. It worked, and the Pats ended up winning on a field goal. It was incredible–only the fifth time in history a team has come back from 24 down at the half to win a game.

So, that’s my excuse for being late with the morning post. I know you’re probably not impressed . . .

Of course the weather here in New England is just a minor annoyance compared to much of the rest of the country. CNN reports: Nasty weather wallops much of U.S. just before Thanksgiving.

The wicked wintry weather that pummeled the West Coast is now barreling across the country, threatening to wreck millions of holiday travel plans just before Thanksgiving.

The storm has already contributed to at least 10 traffic fatalities.

Nearly 400 flights have been canceled in the Dallas-Fort Worth area — not exactly a bastion for snowstorms. Sleet and freezing rain will keep blanketing parts of the Southern Plains and Southern Rockies on Monday.

New Mexico may be hit with 8 inches of snow!

And it’s headed our way next:

And after the storm deluges parts of the South with rain Monday evening, it’ll start zeroing in on the Northeast, the National Weather Service said. And that could spell more travel nightmares….

An Arctic air mass will probably keep temperatures 15 to 20 degrees below normal along the East Coast through Thursday. But even if the system fails to deliver heavy snow, fierce winds could still hamper air travel, forecasters said….

Heavy rain is expected to fall from Texas to Georgia on Monday and over the Carolinas on Monday night, with some sleet and snow mixed in for northern parts of that swath. The heaviest rain is expected across parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.

So be careful out there–especially you Sky Dancers in the southern half of the country.

In political news, the big story is the deal that the Obama administration has struck with Iran. Israel doesn’t like it one bit, and that means there will be objections in Congress. From Bloomberg via the SF Chronicle:

Israel’s rejection of the accord reached in Geneva by Iran and six leading nations over the weekend was swift. The agreement is a “historic mistake” that leaves the world “a much more dangerous place, because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon,” Netanyahu said.

The first accord since the Iranian nuclear program came under international scrutiny in 2003 eases sanctions on Iran in return for concessions on its atomic work. Its six-month timetable is meant to give negotiators time to seek a comprehensive deal to halt Iranian nuclear work that they, like Israel, think is a cover to build weapons.

Israel will now focus on influencing the final deal as much as they possibly can.

“What Israel can do during this period is push the international community toward making the final deal as tough as it can, though it should do so far more quietly than it has in the past,” said Eilam, a retired brigadier-general.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told CBS News in Geneva that the agreement doesn’t take the threat of force off the table and rejected Israel’s position, articulated yesterday by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, that the U.S. capitulated to Iranian deceit.

The agreement is “not based on trust. It’s based on verification,” with mechanisms in place to confirm whether Iran is in compliance, he said.

Kerry actually used many Congresspeople’s opposition to loosening sanctions on Iran to push the Iranians to make a deal. From Bloomberg Businessweek:

When Secretary of State John Kerry joined the nuclear negotiations at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva last Saturday, he employed the oldest negotiating trick in the book, evoking Congress as the bad cop to the Obama administration’s good cop. Kerry told Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that if they failed to reach an agreement that day, the Obama administration would be unable to prevent Congress from passing additional sanctions against Iran. Less than 24 hours later, Kerry and Zarif walked into the hotel lobby to announce that they had struck a deal to temporarily freeze Iran’s nuclear program.

In the face of criticism from members of Congress and the U.S.’s allies in the Middle East, Administration officials have insisted that the Geneva agreement is just the first step toward a more far-reaching disarmament deal. But such a deal will require that the Obama administration promise not just to forestall the imposition of new sanctions, but to dramatically reduce the sanctions already in place. And that depends on the cooperation of a Congress that has been singularly uninterested in assuming the role of good cop in the showdown with Iran.

The White House has some discretion to rescind the Iran sanctions without Congress’s approval. The method for removing any given set of sanctions depends on how those sanctions were passed in the first place. If they’re the product of an executive order, as many of the existing sanctions against Iran are, removing them requires only that the White House decide to stop enforcing them. That’s exactly how Obama will be making good on its promise to Iran, as part of last week’s interim agreement, to restore access to $7 billion held in foreign bank accounts….Removing sanctions that have been passed into law by Congress, however, is a much more difficult challenge. Despite the partisan gridlock in gridlock in Washington over the last several years, bipartisan majorities have managed to cooperate on three separate rounds of sanctions since 2010, including measures targeting Iran’s central bank, which Iran will undoubtedly want rescinded. Removing those laws from the books will force the White House to go through Congress all over again. That will require overcoming the partisanship and procedural hurdles that have consumed Congress in recent years.

I have to say, Obama is once again showing he has guts. If only he would use some of that to stand firm on domestic policies. The BBC reports that the Obama administration has been working toward this agreement for months through secret negotiations that SOS John Kerry was involved in while he was still chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

I’m really curious to know what role Hillary Clinton played in these negotiations and whether she supports the deal, but I can’t find any information about that so far. Meanwhile, here’s a positive review from Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for strategic studies (IISS): The surprisingly good Geneva deal.

The deal reached in the early hours of the morning in Geneva on 24 November was better than I had expected, and better than would have been the case without France’s last-day intervention at the previous round two weeks earlier. I spent much of Sunday making the rounds of TV studios and fielding print-media interviews, explaining why opponents in Israel, the Gulf and US Congress should overcome their scepticism. The more I studied the deal, the more apparent it became to me that those who knock it probably did not want any agreement at all – at least not any deal that was within the realm of possibility.

The Geneva agreement is a good deal because Iran’s capabilities in every part of the nuclear programme of concern are capped, with strong verification measures. The terms require that for the next six months, no more centrifuges can be added, none of the advanced models that were previously installed can be turned on, the stockpiles of enriched uranium cannot increase, and work cannot progress on the research reactor at Arak, which is of concern because of the weapons-grade plutonium that would be produced there. Going well beyond normal verification rules, inspectors will be able to visit the key facilities on a daily basis and even have access to centrifuge production and assembly sites.

Moreover, the most worrisome part of the programme is being rolled back. Iran is suspending 20% enrichment, which is on the cusp of being weapons-usable, and neutralising the existing stockpile of 20% product, half through conversion to oxide form and half through blending down. Although the P5+1 had earlier asked for the stockpile to be exported, these measures will virtually accomplish the same purpose by eliminating the stockpile. Reversing these measures would take time.

Time is the essential variable of this deal. The net effect of the limits Iran has accepted is to double the time it would take for it to make a dash to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. Without a deal, the break-out time might instead soon be halved.

Read the rest at the link.

Paul Krugman has a column up about some positives on the rollout of Obamacare and California as a “test case” for the program.

Now, California isn’t the only place where Obamacare is looking pretty good. A number of states that are running their own online health exchanges instead of relying on HealthCare.gov are doing well. Kentucky’s Kynect is a huge success; so is Access Health CT in Connecticut. New York is doing O.K. And we shouldn’t forget that Massachusetts has had an Obamacare-like program since 2006, put into effect by a guy named Mitt Romney.

California is, however, an especially useful test case. First of all, it’s huge: if a system can work for 38 million people, it can work for America as a whole. Also, it’s hard to argue that California has had any special advantages other than that of having a government that actually wants to help the uninsured. When Massachusetts put Romneycare into effect, it already had a relatively low number of uninsured residents. California, however, came into health reform with 22 percent of its nonelderly population uninsured, compared with a national average of 18 percent.

Finally, the California authorities have been especially forthcoming with data tracking the progress of enrollment. And the numbers are increasingly encouraging.

Krugman says that about 10,000 people are signing up per day, and the enrollment numbers show a balance between younger, healthier enrollees and those who are older and more likely to need health care.

So . . . it’s a somewhat slow news day as we head into the holiday season, but the Iran deal will give us something to talk about while the folks in Washington take their extra long vacations. I don’t even want to think about what will happen when they get back and start clashing over the debt ceiling again.

What interesting stories are you finding out there today? Please post your links in the comment thread and have a good day despite the weather!


Wednesday Reads: Sinkholes and Chris Christie

Good $(KGrHqEOKnIE44R2dbwLBOWl4kko9w~~_35Morning

It was a busy day for me yesterday, and as usual, I am late to catch up…because of this I am writing the post this morning in a fog. So if any of the links below are repeats, I am sorry.

Yesterday Boston Boomer wrote about the court battle as BP Goes on Trial over 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Well, there were also some new developments in that other environmental disaster in Louisiana known as the Assumption Parish Sinkhole. Increased seismic activity halts work at giant Louisiana sinkhole

Officials say they have put a hold on all work directly connected to the giant Louisiana sinkhole in Assumption Parish due to increased seismic activity.

The seismic monitoring in the past 24 hours turned up what appears to be an increase in the underground movement of fluids in the area of the failed Oxy 3 cavern.

Just like in the past, officials say the underground movement is also likely connected to trees falling into the sinkhole and an increase in hydrocarbon odors.

Analysts say even though there appears to be no additional significant threat to the general area, until the underground activity slows down again, operations directly on the sinkhole have been suspended.

The main sinkhole has reached more than 800 feet in diameter and the western wall continues to collapse.

Two weeks ago, officials reported about 5,000 square feet fell in on the southwest side of the sinkhole, officials call this sloughing.

The Texas Brine people say this is part of the stabilization process. I don’t know about the technical aspects of the whole thing…but as the BP trial gets underway, Assumption Parish residents turn to lawmakers, seeking buyouts of property near sinkhole

Frustrated Assumption Parish residents displaced by a massive sinkhole that has swallowed 9 acres of land near their homes asked lawmakers Tuesday to assist them in getting buyouts of their property.

People who packed a hearing of the Senate and House natural resources and environment committees described 200 days of disruption and uncertainty since an August evacuation order of 150 homes.

They talked of children moved from schools and scared of their own houses, retirement dreams upended and families struggling to pay two mortgages while they decide what to do with their future and with their now nearly-worthless property.

“This has taken too damn long and people need to be bought out. They can’t go back,” said Henry Dupre, an Assumption Parish police juror.

Dakinikat has written repeatedly about Jindal’s record in recent weeks, this op/ed from The Advocate focuses on his response to the big ass hole in Jindal’s backyard…Inside Report: Sinkhole critics: O, Governor, where art thou?

For months now, a vocal group of activists and residents has found fault with Gov. Bobby Jindal over his absence from the scene of the Bayou Corne sinkhole.

Why, they ask, has he not made the commonly seen leadership visit to a disaster area that, while brief, boosts morale and provides hope?

Sinkhole activist John Achee Jr., a regular critic of Jindal and state government’s handling of the sinkhole and salt dome regulation, leveled this complaint again during a Feb. 19 joint hearing of the House and Senate committees on Natural Resources.

He called Jindal’s absence “disheartening” and “very concerning.”

“This to me is unacceptable and cannot or should not be tolerated,” said Achee, a polarizing figure himself over his criticisms of Jindal and state and parish government.

In response, Jindal’s press office provided its answer, quoting the governor as saying he receives regular updates and that state agencies have put out abundant resources in response to the sinkhole under his orders.

No matter how many times your subordinates send them, though, news releases will never be the same as a handshake, a pat on the back and encouraging words directly from the governor.

This perceived inattention has given Jindal’s critics a useful symbol for the way, they say, state government has inadequately responded to the Assumption Parish disaster and regulated salt dome operators.

The absence has also fit neatly into the narrative of an insulated governor with eyes on Washington 2016 and not Louisiana 2013.

But these complaints, it seems, could be neutralized for most with one helicopter ride to the command post in Bayou Corne.

So why not?

Jindal’s press office did not respond to requests for comment.

It seems to me Jindal’s non-existent response should be no surprise to anyone who reads our blog regularly, but I don’t think a helicopter fly over is going to help things. That Op/Ed is written by David Mitchell, maybe Kat can fill us in on what she thinks about this other mark against her governor. When I see the horror stories out of Louisiana, it makes me feel my hell pit of Banjoland is a cakewalk.

Since we started this post on one GOP Gov with eyes on the White House, let us look at another governor who fancies himself as a possible candidate in 2016.   Chris Christie Medicaid Plan To Offer Coverage To Poor New Jersey Residents

Christie, a potential 2016 presidential contender who is up for reelection this year, defied conservative opponents of Obamacare by embracing one of its key components when he announced his plan to the Democratic-controlled state legislature in Trenton. So far, more than a dozen Republican governors, including Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Perry of Texas, have declared their opposition to the Medicaid expansion.

“After considerable discussion and research, I have decided to participate in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. While we already have one of the most expansive and generous Medicaid programs in the nation, including the second highest eligibility rate for children, we have an opportunity to ensure that an even greater number of New Jerseyans who are at or near the poverty line will have access to critical health services beginning in January of 2014,” Christie said.

Expanding Medicaid in New Jersey would provide new health care coverage to an estimated 291,000 people through 2022, according to an analysis released by the Urban Institute and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in November. New Jersey would spend an additional $1.5 billion and receive $15.4 billion from the federal government to finance the expansion during that time period, the report predicted.

Even the folks at Hot Air are complaining about the big man from the Garden State. You can Google this next link, I just don’t have the energy to deal with trolls today.  CPAC source: Christie wasn’t invited this year because he has a “limited future” in the GOP; Update: Sandy relief and Medicaid? « Hot Air

Hard to argue with that assessment today of all days, but … Mitt Romney’s also been invited this year. The future doesn’t get any more limited than that.

Also, since when is one’s prospects in the GOP a litmus test for whether you’re CPAC-worthy or not? Every time someone objects to GOPround’s exclusion, the rejoinder inevitably comes that it’s the “Conservative Political Action Conference,” not the “Republican Political Action Conference.” Okay, in that case, who cares about Christie’s future in the GOP? Either his ideas are conservative enough or they aren’t.

Verdict: They aren’t.

I think all those CPAC members are still pissed with Christie’s little sitcom, or after-school special, Barack and the Fat Man.

Guess Fox News hasn’t gotten the memo: Same Day Christie Embraces Obamacare, Fox’s Eric Bolling Tells Conservatives He’s Their 2016 Savior

Bolling advised his fellow Republicans that they must embrace Christie as the future leader of their party.

The Five hosts noted that Bill O’Reilly told Fox’s audience on Monday that the GOP needs a leader who can articulate a conservative message and “fight back” against the press in order to move the country to the right.

Andrea Tantaros warned that the GOP has a big challenge in the effort to “fight back dependency.” She said that the future political battles Republicans will have to wage will become harder as the populace becomes more comfortable with government-backed programs that ensure financial security.

“I hate all this,” Bolling said of infighting within the GOP about the future direction of the party. “They need to get together and form one party that has a big tent for everyone; whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, male, female.”

“Bill O’Reilly’s right,” added Bolling . “You need someone who’s charismatic. He’s got to be a leader. And, this one: the way O’Reilly puts it, ‘fight back the media jackals.’ That’s Christie.”

Bolling continued to make the case for Christie as the natural leader of the Republican Party moving into the next election cycle. However, he anticipated that the party’s conservative wing will have problems embracing Christie due to the unorthodox positions on issues like global warming and gun control.

I could make a comment about how anyone would have problems “embracing” Chris Christie, but since my ass is just slightly smaller than his, I won’t.

Okay, because I’m writing this post on the quick, here are a few other stories in link dump fashion. Let’s stick with US news, shall we?

From Colorado….Threats to Dem Rep: ‘I Hope Someone Giffords Your Ass With A Gun’

Franklin Sain, a 42-year-old Colorado Springs man, was arrested last Friday for threatening Colorado lawmaker Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) over gun control legislation that she is currently sponsoring and that recently passed in the state House.

Franklin Sain is accused of threatening Fields and her daughter using racial and sexual slurs.

Fields told KOA Radio that she does not know Sain, and said “All I know is the kinds of things that he said were very inappropriate, and they’re alarming, and they were very intimidating.”

[...]

There are many misspelled words and incorrect grammar usage in the messages, and they appear as written in the affidavit, along with censoring of offensive words.

According to an affidavit, one of the letters alleged to have been written by the Colorado Springs man reads, “Rhonda Fields, mother of [Field's daughter]. Death to both.” The letter goes on to say “There will be blood! I’m coming for you, N—– B—-.”

In one of the emails, Sain allegedly wrote, “hopefully somebody Gifords [sic] your asses with a gun.”

The following is one of seven emails police say Sain sent to Fields:

“THANKS N—– C—! You really think passing nay more laws will stop gun violence? You and that other N—– OBAMA are living in fantasy land. Chicago and DC have the most strict gun laws in the nation and more people die from gun violence than anywhere. You f—ing c—s are pathetic excuse for civil servants. Hell, n—–s love shooting themselves with GATS, isn’t that what your people call it. What you have done here is creater [sic] criminals out of law abiding citizens, and put yourself out of a job. You politicians have no idea what you are even doing anyway, do you know how long it takes some to change a magazine, less than a second, so what if some with experience decides to flip out and bring their gun in with 5 or so 10 round magazines, they can do the same amount of damage. Limiting magazine sizes is stupididty, [sic] and will not work…”

Then the most unhinged of Sain’s messages also refers to Field’s daughter:

Rhonda Fields, N—– C—, Mother of —–, Death to Both, All N—– Back to Africa, F— you, F— Your Laws, I Keep my 30 Round Magazines, There Will Be Blood!, I’m Coming For You, N—– B—-

Sain told police that he didn’t mean to threaten Fields, and regrets the language he used. He has no prior record, and is the chief operating officer at SofTec Solutions in Englewood, Colorado, where he does consulting work for the government and private organizations

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino and two other Democratic Reps also received similar threatening messages.

WTF? That is all I can say.

Latest news out of South Carolina: One student dead after South Carolina university shooting

A 19-year-old student died following a shooting on Tuesday at a residence hall of a South Carolina university near the resort area of Myrtle Beach, and authorities were searching for a gunman, university officials said.

Meanwhile in Connecticut: 2 Missing Children, Grandmother Found Dead in Conn.

And over in Illinois, Robin Kelly wins Illinois Democratic primary on gun control.

The headlines for California: Slayings of 2 officers in Santa Cruz mark ‘darkest day,’ chief says

This last link is written with Georgia in mind, but it deals with immigration news hitting most states: Feds free illegal immigrants in Georgia, other states

Y’all have a great day, and let us know what you are reading and blogging and thinking about today.


One people, one planet, one pollution

I was hiking yesterday (23rd) and looked out to sea. This is what I saw.

An orange-brown band of dust? smog? all of the above? stretching over the whole horizon. There’s a larger composite picture here that shows more of the extent. (In the foreground, you can make out the Navy Seabees target practice range. That’s Anacapa Island shrouded in the distance.)

I’ve lived here for years and never seen anything like it. Ordinary Los Angeles pollution looks like this:

It’s more purple-colored, much fainter, and bigger toward LA, petering out toward the ocean. (The picture is from an old post where I was puzzling about wind direction.)

When I mentioned it at home, I found out that Beijing had an Airpocalypse around January 12th and the next few days, an immense pollution event that drowned the city in choking dusty smog.


View of Beijing smog. From aworldchaos.wordpress.com.

NASA regularly tracks Chinese pollution across the Pacific, but it wasn’t usually still as thick as soup by the time it got here.

Well, it is now. I’m fairly sure that’s what I was seeing. Dirt pushed across the whole Pacific ahead of a huge storm system that also brought us rain later on. One to two weeks is how long it takes to get here from China.

This is not good.

Crossposted from Acid Test


Okay. Now it’s a heat wave.

The interior of Southern California has been slow-roasting, like everybody else in the U. S. of A. It’s so bad, people are being told to use their A/C less, to let their houses go all the way up to 78°F (25°C). The utilities have been moaning about having barely enough power to meet needs

They’ve been bewailing the temporary shutdown of the San Onofre nuke like the loss of the last drop of drinking water. (The thing has cracks in hundreds of steam pipes due to design flaws.) It provides 2200 Megawatts. It’s loss is terrible. We’re all dying out here.

A complete load of horsefeathers. I live near two natural gas power stations, and they’re barely ever even on. If it’s as bad as all that, you’d think they’d have to use them, yes? One produces 560 Megawatts, the other 1516MW. But they don’t. Especially the 1516MW one. If I see it running two days out of the year, that’s a lot. Admittedly, I don’t spend my life staring at it, so I might miss a day or two, but not much more than that. The other one seems to run maybe 14 days out of the year.

Then, yesterday I went for a hike and saw this:

view of Pt. Mugu

Nice, you say? What are you complaining about, you say? Well, look at those two wisps coming out of the two power plants. They’re running! They’re producing power!

Ormond Beach Generating Station

Half of it is down right now due to a fire, so it’s only producing about 730MW. (Notice also that line of photochemical smog.)

Mandalay Generating Station

The neat thing about natural gas plants is the utlities get pollution credits for them because they’re so (relatively) clean. So — this is just a wild guess — by not running them, they can use those credits for dirtier plants of theirs. Or sell them to other needy utilities.

Meanwhile, they can weep and wail and gnash their teeth over how we must turn the nukes back on now now now! Or else we might have to turn the A/C all the way to 79°F.


Saturday… Immigrants and Immigration

Good Morning, the sun should have come up on another weekend day, which for most of the politicians and corporate big wigs is just another day to enjoy what ever it is most politicians and corporate big wigs do.

And while they are off playing golf or raising money for the flavor of the week, I am certain there is some Latino pushing a lawn mower, or perhaps a Latina, washing their clothes and linens and taking care of the kids…If these fat cats live in Alabama, they still can have their “day labor” help without worrying about being charged with aiding and abetting the immigrants they hire.

Well, whatever the 1% do on the weekends, it is what they do during the week that has me writing about the subject for today’s post.  Getting anti-immigrant “reform” laws being proposed or passed in state houses around the south are becoming a favorite pastime of the conservative politician and big money corporate class.

I guess being two generations removed from immigrants, who came to America searching for a better life, makes me a bit sensitive to these draconian laws that are turning immigrant brown into the new south black. Some may think this is taking it a bit far, but as we have seen with the anti-woman PLUB agenda, the hate towards immigrants will only get worse.

This past week we saw one of the most severe immigrant laws in the nation go into effect. After an Alabama judge decided to block only a small part of the law, the Obama administration appealed the decision. Friday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals gave a temporary order, that only blocks two items from the law.  The court blocked a section of the law that allowed Alabama schools to check on the immigration status of new students enrolling in school. It also blocked the portion of the law in which police can charge an immigrant who did not provide proof of their citizenship.  A final decision is expected in a few months, but now according to the Washington Post:

The judges let stand parts of the law standing, including allowing police to check a person’s immigration status during a traffic stop. Courts can’t enforce contracts involving illegal immigrants, such as leases, and it’s a felony for an illegal immigrant to do business with the state for basic things like getting a driver’s license, the judges ruled.

The three-judge panel blocked a portion of the law that made it a crime for the “willful failure to complete or carry” proper immigration documents. The law does not require students show proof of citizenship to enroll, and students who do not have the right documents would not be prevented from attending school.

Liz Betancourt, 19, with her daughter, Idelfy, is scared to leave her house in Florence, Alabama. An illegal immigrant whose family came from Mexico to the U.S. when she was an infant, Betancourt lives in a state that recently instituted a tough new immigration law. (CBS News)Under the state’s new law, if she’s picked up by police, she could be deported. And during that process, which can take months, there’s no legal guarantee her daughter Idelfy — born in Alabama and a U.S. citizen — would stay with her.

Betancourt is one of many immigrants who has made arrangements for her daughter if she is deported, fortunately she has her aunt,

If Betancourt’s deported, her aunt, a U.S. citizen, would care for Idelfy so the baby could stay here.

Fear of deportation is spreading through families living here illegally. In Albertville, Alabama’s public schools, 81 of 1,100 Hispanic students have dropped out in the last two weeks.

For those people who do get deported, they have the option of taking their US born children with them…And what about Betancourt who was surprisingly vocal about her illegal status…

The Friday decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals here in Atlanta is only temporary. Its final decision could be months away. And Liz Betancourt — the woman interviewed in our story — was fired by her cleaning company right after she spoke with CBS News.

Not all of Alabama’s employers are happy about the new law.  Alabama immigration: crops rot as workers vanish to avoid crackdown | World news | guardian.co.uk

Brian Cash can put a figure to the cost of Alabama‘s new immigration law: at least $100,000. That’s the value of the tomatoes he has personally ripening out in his fields and that are going unpicked because his Hispanic workforce vanished literally overnight.

For generations, Cash’s family have farmed 125 acres atop the Chandler mountain, a plateau in the north of the state about nine miles long and two miles wide. It’s perfect tomato-growing country – the soil is sandy and rich, and the elevation provides a breeze that keeps frost at bay and allows early planting.

For four months every year he employs almost exclusively Hispanic male workers to pick the harvest. This year he had 64 men out in the fields.
Then HB56 came into effect, the new law that makes it a crime not to carry valid immigration documents and forces the police to check on anyone they suspect may be in the country illegally.

After the law went into effect…

…there is no-one left. The fields around his colonial-style farmhouse on top of a mountain are empty of pickers and the tomato plants are withering on the vine as far as the eye can see. The sweet, slightly acrid smell of rotting tomato flesh hangs in the air.

We had the same thing happen here in Georgia. When the Immigration law was passed in the “Peach” state, the Vidalia onion season was just getting underway. Many Georgia farmers had their crops rotting in the fields. However, Georgia’s answer to the problem? Prison labor…

But what about all those unemployed Alabama resident’s jobs that this law is supposed to miraculously save from the evil Latino?

Cash gets angry when people tell him that his Hispanic workforce was taking jobs away from Americans. Since the new law began two weeks ago only two American citizens have come by his farm asking for work.

The couple had driven two hours from a city to offer their services, but they barely lasted that long in the fields. Cash discovered that they were trying to fiddle him by notching up two baskets of tomatoes for every one they picked – as they were paid by the basket that would have fraudulently doubled their earnings.

“That’s just the kind of stuff you come across. Somebody who really wants a good job and is prepared to work hard and honest for it isn’t going to come up here for four months in the year.
“But Hispanics will do that, and move on to Florida when the picking’s finished.”

To me this law is not about saving jobs for American Citizens, it is about discrimination, and getting the brown out of the state.

There are more personal stories here at this link:  The grim reality of life under Alabama’s brutal immigration law | World news | The Guardian

Please give that article a full read, it does put a human face on all the hate this anti-immigration law brings about.

In this next article, Paul Kleyman discusses Alabama’s Immigration law: From Jim Crow to Juan Crow — a Boomer Reflects on Alabama’s Civil Rights Legacy

Last week the Water Works — in the ironically named community of Allgood, Ala. — informed local residents that they must now present a valid driver’s license or ID. Otherwise, the notice threatened, “You may lose water service.”

The warning stems from part of Alabama’s drastic new immigration law stipulating that no one can qualify for a driver’s license or any other government service in the state unless they can prove citizenship or are otherwise authorized to be in the United States — especially those who are brown or have a Spanish accent.

Just a sidenote, the temporary ruling on Friday did not block the part of the Alabama law that dealt with contracts…

The article goes on to say that Allgood’s no water for you notice is not the first time water was part of a racial divide in the southern state:

Similar images flowed through my mind during a long bus ride 46 years ago. I was on my way to join the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery. That was a time of shocking black-and-white TV pictures of police blasting demonstrators off their feet with water canons, a time of separate toilets and water fountains — legislated by other laws — for blacks and whites.

Today, Jim Crow has become Juan Crow.

Kleyman continues to describe his experience in Jim Crow South:

But the Alabama decision — coming the same week that witnessed the death of Fred Shuttelsworth, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr., and Derrick Bell, the Harvard law civil rights advocate — sent my mind rolling back through Birmingham on a chartered bus full of college students almost a half-century ago.

I was 19 and one of about 20,000 people wheeling in from around the country following Bloody Sunday. That was the police riot that left protesters like John Lewis — now a member of Congress — bloodied as they tried peacefully to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the first leg of a march to the state capital in Montgomery.

He took a bus from University of Minnesota that went south to heed Bobby Kennedy’s call.

In the ensuing days after the attack on the marchers, U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy called out the National Guard to protect marchers from the likes of the Klan and police thugs, such as Selma Sheriff Jim Clark and Birmingham’s Commissioner of Public Safety, one Eugene “Bull” Connor.

[…]

In the early morning light, I felt the bus pull into a gas station. Drowsy at first, I took in the station’s homespun blue-and-white paint job. Then I found myself wide awake at a sight I’d only read about until that moment.

Two water fountains were marked “For Whites” and “Colored.”

The signs had a deep effect on Kleyman.

I was not prepared for the jarring emotional impact that sight had on me. As I glanced over at my ebony friend and idol, Teddy (whom we on the Minnesota Daily staff all called the coolest, most worldly guy), I felt tears moisten my eyes and anger tighten my chest.

There it was, right in front of us, in all of its banal, institutionalized expression of fear and hatred. The prosaic sight now before me was somehow even more unsettling than the televised images of police dogs, Billy clubs and flailing limbs in water.

By Alabama law, Teddy and I simply could not share the same spout for a drink of water because — because why?

There is a cultural bias in the south towards anyone who is not white. Even in my little part of redneck North Georgia, my family has experienced the unfriendly attitude towards immigrants…Having the last name of Lopez, and the olive complexion that comes from our Mediterranean Spanish and Italian roots, people here automatically assume we are Mexican. My father is an electrician and plumber and when he first moved here would call himself Loper to avoid the discrimination when someone would call him for work.

In the twenty years since he has been here, the local population has become more integrated. But there is still a lot of discrimination. One of the local cops would always hang out by the Catholic church during the Spanish Mass, then he would pull over many of the Mexicans as they left church.

We would see lots of Latin sounding names on the arrest sheet printed in the weekly paper. No insurance, no licence etc…but there always was a charge for no signal or a busted tail light. Which actually meant…brown driver of unknown Hispanic origin.

I think this attitude is what fuels the underlying hate these immigration bills glorify.  Since the Georgia anti-immigrant law hit, we don’t see those arrest in the paper. Most of the Mexicans have moved out of our community. Kids who were born here in the states were pulled out of school, because their parents feared being deported. I have mentioned one of my son’s friends, whose older brother is living with another student so that he can finish his last year of high school. His younger brother, mother and father are in North Carolina…just hoping to return someday.

Anyway, the Kleyman article ends with this realization:

The decades have rolled by like so many state “Welcome To …” signs, and the years have sped along fueled by many causes, loves and regrets, among the latter a falling out with Teddy — all my fault — that remains unrepaired.

But in the miles toward Selma that morning — and again now — I couldn’t help but think of the folk-music inquiry of those days, “When will they ever learn?” Sad to say, even after this “long time passing,” the answer remains, not yet…

No it would seem the legislators of these states have not learned anything. The latest anti-immigration law out this week in South Carolina is going to court…Groups sue to halt South Carolina’s new immigration law | Reuters

The suit contends the law is unconstitutional, invites racial profiling and interferes with federal law, according to a statement by the coalition, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center.

South Carolina’s law, set to take effect on January 1, requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest for another reason and suspect may be in the country illegally.

Under the new law, employers in South Carolina will be required to use the federal E-Verify system to check the citizenship status of employees and job applicants. Penalties for knowingly employing illegal immigrants will include suspension and revocation of a business license by the state.

“By requiring local law enforcement officials to act as immigration agents, this law invites discrimination against anyone who looks or sounds ‘foreign,’ including American citizens and legal residents,” said Victoria Middleton, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina.

I guess it would also allow for police arrest sheets to admit the real reason for pulling someone over…as I said above…brown driver of unknown Hispanic origin.

There is a good article that explains the effect this anti-immigration law has on Alabama families. Judith Browne Dianis: Missing: Alabama’s Latinos, Obama Must Act!

After Republicans won a super majority in the Alabama legislature in 2010, they orchestrated a home-grown extremist attack on immigrants. Upping the ante on Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law, the legislature passed a law that makes it a felony to enter into contracts with undocumented persons, permits police to ask immigration status (racial profiling), prohibits government transactions with undocumented immigrants and requires that schools check the citizenship status of all children (allegedly, for data collection purposes only). So, what’s the practical effect? Undocumented immigrants cannot rent a home, or get water or electric service, or a job, or obtain any government service for that matter. Immigrants will be too scared to be helpful to the police. For the past several months, families have left the state because the law also required that when undocumented parents enroll their children in school (to obtain their constitutionally protected access to free, public education), they must reveal to the school that they are in the U.S. without legal status. This part of the provision was put on hold (but not yet struck down) by a federal court on October 14th. But news of this temporary block to the law is too late for many families and it doesn’t correct the other wrongs in the law.

The impact has been devastating for families. Recent news reports document that Latino families are fleeing the state. Feeling unwelcome and scared, they are leaving in search of a place to call home, where they can go after the American Dream and get out of the shadows of society. Workers are quitting their jobs and packing up. Many families are withdrawing their children from school, and are being forced into a life on the run. Other families are preparing for the worst — deportation — and asking teachers and friends to serve as legal guardians of their U.S.-born children. Where is our humanity?

She ends with a plea to Obama to help the situation and fight for the immigrant…yeah, like that is going to happen…but I want to touch on this question she poses…Yeah, where is our humanity…it is becoming more apparent every day that we are becoming a society of cruelty.  The far right religious and economic austerity is a guise for persecuting those who do not met their ideal definition of a person or personhood. Whether it is immigrants, women, children, or former fetuses, when a government that supposedly represents the people, puts more effort into celebrating corporations as people…or passes laws that make a fertilized egg a person…it should be no surprise these draconian immigration laws are moving the discrimination agenda forward, by making cruelty an acceptable and “legal” behavior.

I wanted to end on a positive note…so this last link may give some hope for a future.  An alternative to Alabama’s direction on immigration | Care2 Causes

Despite the fact that the Obama administration deports one person every 79 seconds, the past twelve months has seen an even stronger push across US states against immigration.

This has led to Alabama’s immigration law, which surpasses all other state laws in its harshness and stringency. The law means that residents now have to prove their citizenship to secure their water supply. Others are drawing up documents to make sure that their children are looked after should they be deported.

The Care2Care article goes on to state that in 2010, one in four children was part of an immigrant family. It looks like a few states are taking this into consideration.

Rhode Island’s Board of Governors for Higher Education, encouraged by Gov. Lincoln Chafee, has approved a state version of the DREAM Act which allows undocumented students to pay in-state college tuition. Students without papers must sign an affidavit promising that they will pursue U.S. citizenship as soon as possible.

Last weekend, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the second half of his state’s DREAM Act. The first half, enacted in July, sanctioned private scholarships and loans for undocumented college students. These students, with the passage of the second bill, can now pay in-state tuition rates and apply for state aid.

Other states have versions of the DREAM Act, but because it can’t be passed at the federal level, the state acts don’t include a ‘path to citizenship.’ What they do allow is for kids who have already received a public education to obtain a college degree, earn better wages, pay taxes, contribute to the economy and give back to society.

And just last week, NY Governor Cuomo sign an executive order which makes state agency forms and instructions available in six different languages.  Even in the mid-west, some communities are bucking the anti-immigrant trend.

…last week the ‘rust belt’ city of Dayton, Ohio voted to turn their city into an “immigrant friendly” destination with the explicit goal of replenishing the city’s population. A “Welcome Dayton” program is about encouraging new businesses and spurring investment in immigrant neighborhoods. It involves ESL and literacy courses, actively involving local youth in community building and encouraging cross-cultural events.

Advocates argue that rather than marginalizing immigrants and treating them as scapegoats these governments are finding ways to integrate them because they see immigrants as vital and economically integral — crucial to the nation’s future.

Well, it is a step in the right direction, but states like California have a way to go…California Babysitter Bill: Understanding A.B. 889

Officially, Louisa Araneta* is a live-in caretaker for an elderly woman who needs help eating, bathing and getting dressed. Unofficially, she’s also a servant to the woman’s daughter and son-in-law, as well as their autistic son.

Araneta, 68, gets paid $35 a day to clean the house, cook for the whole family and attend to her primary charge. And since one shift usually spans at least 10 hours of work, her per-hour take ends up well below California’s $8.00 minimum wage standard.

[…]

An assembly bill introduced in February of this year sought to protect Louisa — along with thousands of other personal attendants like her — with provisions like overtime pay, rest breaks and the right to sue her employer if those conditions were violated. A.B. 889 became known and derided as the “Babysitter Bill.”

While it was passed in both the assembly and the Senate, A.B. 889 never made it to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown (D) because the Senate Appropriates Committee put it in the “suspense file.” A.B. 889 isn’t dead, but its suspension means that personal attendants like Araneta still have almost nowhere to turn when employers take advantage of their time. The bill’s authors have another year to amend it for review at a later date.

This August, when the bill had passed the assembly and was poised to do the same in the Senate, Sen. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) conjectured that the bill would be a job killer for domestic workers, shifting care work to institutions. As explained in his op-ed, “Unfortunately, the unreasonable costs and risks contained in this bill will discourage folks from hiring housekeepers, nannies and babysitters and increase the use of institutionalized care rather than allowing children, the sick or elderly to be cared for in their homes. I can’t help but wonder if that is the goal of A.B. 889 — a terrible bill that needs to be stopped.”

According to Marci Seville, a professor at the Golden Gate University School of Law and the director of the school’s Women’s Employment Rights Clinic.

“Domestic workers do the work that makes all other work possible,” she said. “Without domestic workers to clean homes and care for children and elders, the doctors, lawyers, business people, legislators and others would not be able to do their work.”

[…]

Isolation and vulnerability are hallmarks of the industry, especially for immigrant women who speak English as a second language. Since most work alone, scattered across residences all over California, domestic workers aren’t easy to educate or mobilize en masse.

“We can’t unionize these people because there is no big employer to organize against,” said Victor Narro, project director for the UCLA Labor Center.

There may not be a “big employer” to organize against, but…

Ironically, one factor impeding A.B. 889’s implementation is the fact that too many workers would benefit from the bill. According to the Senate Appropriation Committee’s analysis, the personal attendant industry’s labor violations are already so rampant that the state would be flooded with a “major increase in claims” that would necessitate the hiring of at least five new investigators to manage the caseload. The committee also estimated it would cost $385,000 to hire new staffers, and that’s just too much to pay in the midst of California’s budget crisis.

In an attempt to escape the domestic worker world, Araneta took a free computer course at the senior center, learning how to create an email account and write resumes to send to prospective employers. But, like millions of unemployed Americans have already discovered, “unfortunately, when you send a resume, they usually don’t reply,” she said.

“If I can find a better-paying job and a good employer, I’ll leave,” Araneta continued. “But right now, since I am a realistic person, I will suffer in silence.”

I think there will be countless numbers of people suffering in silence…and living in fear of being deported, worried about what will happen to their US born children.

So that is what I’ve found on the topic of immigration reform in America. What else are you reading and blogging about today? See you later in the comments, and have a wonderful day.