Latinos at greater risk of Alzheimer's

Hispanics at greater risk of Alzheimer's
High rate of Type 2 diabetes makes them much more susceptible

April 30, 2007
BY ESTHER J. CEPEDA Staff Reporter ecepeda@suntimes.com
After Fatima Salmeron found herself wandering the street, disoriented and unable to find her way home, it didn't take her long to connect the dots between her late father Nicolas' Alzheimer's disease and her own frightening experience.

"I was two blocks away and had no idea where my house was," said Salmeron, of Humboldt Park. "I got so scared, I just sat down in the middle of the street and cried."

After the incident, she learned her recently diagnosed Type 2 diabetes -- in addition to the Alzheimer's her father had lived with -- placed her in a double risk category. There is a high rate of Type 2 diabetes among Hispanics. Salmeron, 45, is just one of the millions of Hispanics who have it and are therefore more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.

According to a study in this month's Archives of Neurology, of a sample of 918 patients, the risk of mild cognitive impairment -- the transitional state before Alzheimer's -- was higher for patients with Type 2 diabetes.

The risk for Hispanic patients is almost three times as high as for non-Hispanic whites -- 11 percent vs. 4.6 percent, the study said. It's made worse by the Hispanic cultural characteristics of caring for the elderly at home and reluctance to seek health care, combined with a lack of Alzheimer's awareness.

"We didn't know my father had Alzheimer's until he was hospitalized right before his death. We just couldn't get him to go to the doctor," said Salmeron, recalling many times he left food cooking on the stove, wandered off and was missing for days.

Salmeron is being cared for by doctors and gets in-home checkups by a trained "health promoter" from the Greater Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association's Hispanic Outreach team.

For information, call (800) 272-3900 or visit www.alz .org/illinois.


Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo Crusades Against Bigoted Jersey Shock Jocks

April 20, 2007

Mr. Jon Luther

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Dunkin' Brands
130 Royall Street
Canton, Mass. 02021

Dear Mr. Luther:

Dunkin Donuts is among the list of companies that provide advertising for a New Jersey radio program that has a long record of mocking and insulting ethnic groups and people with disabilities. The show is called “The Jersey Guys” and features two shock jocks named Craig Carton and Ray Rossi.

In February, the program initiated a “public service” campaign called “Operation Rat-a-Rat/La Cucha Gotcha” that has offended New Jersey’s growing Hispanic population. The Jersey Guys contend their campaign is intended to help authorities identify and process illegal aliens. But in carrying out their campaign, Carton and Rossi made comments and employed devices to clearly target it at the Latino community – regardless of whether an individual was a United States citizen, a legal alien, or an undocumented resident.

The campaign’s slogan intentionally insults the Hispanic community through word play on the Spanish word for cockroach – “cucaracha.” The hosts further promoted their so-called campaign using Mexican music. Finally, they originally scheduled the end of their publicity stunt for May 5 – Cinco de Mayo – a significant day of celebration for the Mexican community.

I have repeatedly called on Millennium Radio to end this stereotyping of Hispanics. To date, all the station has done is take down a reference to “La Cucha Gotcha” on the Jersey Guys’ Web page and the show hosts have stopped using Cinco de Mayo as the deadline for reporting illegal aliens. They recently said they will continue their campaign indefinitely. Correspondence I have sent to the station owners, however, has gone unanswered.

This is not the first time that the “Jersey Guys” have set out to insult or offend an ethnic group or a minority of New Jersey residents.

The record shows both Mr. Carton and Mr. Rossi have hurled juvenile and hurtful invectives at the mentally ill, Asian-Americans, and Polish-Americans. Earlier this month, the public firestorm created by Don Imus’ insulting and condescending reference to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team led advertisers to pull their investments his program – a major factor in the show’s cancellation and Mr. Imus’ ultimate firing. By any standard of measure, the intolerance and hatred regularly aired by the “Jersey Guys” rates as a comparable breach of decency.

I have been contacted by numerous state and regional Latino organizations -- including the New York State and New Jersey Hispanic chambers of commerce, ASPIRA, and the Hispanic Directors Association of New Jersey, among others - who are willing to join with me in calling on the Hispanic community to refrain from patronizing all Dunkin’ Donuts franchises unless your company stops providing financial support for the “Jersey Guys” program.

The alarming trend in broadcasting toward displays of hyper-insensitivity in search of ratings must end. It must be demonstrably counteracted by elected officials, community leaders, and advertisers. AT&T already has cancelled its advertising on the “Jersey Guys.” Similarly, Dunkin’ Brands must stand as a corporate leader by sending the strong message that ethnic and racial remarks can never be countenanced.

Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo


78% of Americans Favor Citizenship for the Undocumented

78% in poll call for giving illegal immigrants path to citizenship (USA TODAY - 4.19.07)

While Congress and the White House remain divided over what to do with the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants now living in the United States, a new poll shows the American public appears to have reached a consensus on the question.

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken last weekend of 1,007 people found that 78 percent of respondents feel people now in the country illegally should be given a chance at citizenship. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.



Undocumented Immigrants Pay Taxes, Too!

Tax Returns Rise for Immigrants in U.S. Illegally (by Nine Bernstein, NYTimes - 4.16.07)

"...[I]llegal immigrants are sending in federal returns in what appear to be record numbers despite fears heightened by recent immigration raids around thecountry."

Mr. Lima said that he had been a police officer for 16 years in Ecuador, before the country’s economic crisis left him unable to support his wife and three daughters on his wages. He sent them about half the $12,000 he made last year, he said. “I’m not afraid,” he added. “I really don’t feel I’m doing anything wrong. I’m working and I’m paying taxes.”


Undocumented Workers are a Gift to America

I hear a lot of complaining these days about undocumented workers. But frankly, I'd trade the complainers for the undocumented any day.

Undocumented workers in the U.S. are a phenomenal people. Consider the following:

1) Undocumented workers are our hardest working people--and that by itself should be given some measure of respect in "free market" America.

2) Undocumented workers contribute disproportionately to America's economic success. Reports from California and Texas confirms this truth--although basic economic sense should have made that crystal clear.

3) Nativist propaganda aside, undocumented workers demand and receive less in governmental services. It's always been a myth that the poor in America receive a disproportionate share of government spending--the well-situated are the biggest beneficiaries. Undocumented workers are the lightest users of government services--and what they use is more paid for through the economic benefit of their labor.

4) Undocumented workers are bolstering the U.S. Social Security coffers--and while their U.S. citizen employers seek to avoid paying payroll taxes, many of the immigrants are actually making tax payments on their own.

5) Most admirably, while receiving a fraction of what typical Americans make, undocumented workers still find ways to send upwards of 50% of their pay to their impoverised families back home.

The truth is that some Americans resent people that are as hardworking and as self-less as are so many of the undocumented workers. It makes them look bad. However, if we were fair we'd be honoring these phenomenal workers and looking for ways to protect them from the exploiters and harassers.

Americans Frosty Towards Hill

In yet another indication that Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate has not been embraced by the American public, the latest Gallup Poll shows that an astounding 52% of Americans hold an unfavorable view of the senator.

By comparison, Barack Obama and John Edwards each have unfavorable ratings of just 30%.


Undocumented Workers Bolstering Social Security

Illegal Immigrants Are Bolstering Social Security With Billions (by Eduardo Porter, NYTimes - 4.5.07)

Since illegally crossing the Mexican border into the United States six years ago, Ángel Martínez has done backbreaking work, harvesting asparagus, pruning grapevines and picking the ripe fruit. More recently, he has also washed trucks, often working as much as 70 hours a week, earning $8.50 to $12.75 an hour.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Martínez, 28, has not given much thought to Social Security's long-term financial problems. But Mr. Martínez - who comes from the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico and hiked for two days through the desert to enter the United States near Tecate, some 20 miles east of Tijuana - contributes more than most Americans to the solvency of the nation's public retirement system.

Last year, Mr. Martínez paid about $2,000 toward Social Security and $450 for Medicare through payroll taxes withheld from his wages. Yet unlike most Americans, who will receive some form of a public pension in retirement and will be eligible for Medicare as soon as they turn 65, Mr. Martínez is not entitled to benefits.

He belongs to a big club. As the debate over Social Security heats up, the estimated seven million or so illegal immigrant workers in the United States are now providing the system with a subsidy of as much as $7 billion a year.

While it has been evident for years that illegal immigrants pay a variety of taxes, the extent of their contributions to Social Security is striking: the money added up to about 10 percent of last year's surplus - the difference between what the system currently receives in payroll taxes and what it doles out in pension benefits.


New York's Ed Reforms Deny Immigrant Students Equal Educational Opportunity

New York's shameful practice of denying immigrant students the same level of access to its newest schools (small academies and chartered schools) continues unabated.

In School Records on Special English Classes Are Called Works of Fiction by Critics (NYTimes - 4.11.07), reporter Samuel G. Freeman logs yet another entry into the record regarding this unconscionable denial of equal educational opportunity to immigrant students.

Here are excerpts:

“Why do we have this problem, and why is the current response so wrong?” said Chung-Hwa Hong, the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, a group that follows educational issues, among others. “The problem is too pervasive to be dismissed as a school-specific one. In every major reform initiative, like small schools, the English language learners come up only as an afterthought. The reforms that should be lifting the most vulnerable students make them into collateral damage.”

Nina Chanpreet Singh, an E.S.L. teacher at Sports Professions, characterized the school's treatment of immigrant pupils more as a result of neglect, poor facilities and inadequate funds than of any deliberate bias. She said she considered the school to be “friendly” to E.S.L. students, about 30 of its 260 pupils. But she, too, drew broader conclusions from its performance.

When English language learners' needs are not met and “they do not receive the education they are mandated -- one of their most basic human rights -- it is a citywide and nationwide problem,” she said. “Entire generations of immigrant Americans are kept in a cycle of poverty. They do not have a means to move up in society, participate fully in society or fulfill their life's dreams.”


U.S. Latino Purchasing Power? $900 Billion!

Latino buying to shape future (by Brent Hopkins, Whittier Daily News - 4.13.07)

Latinos work hard, have money and spend it, and their vast buying power - close to $900 billion nationally this year - will shape the future of American society, including the housing market, panelists at a business forum said Thursday.

"This is a very hard-working community," said Henry Cisneros, who chaired the program presented by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, a nonprofit research organization headquartered at USC. "No one surpasses the foreign-born Latinos when it comes to work ethic."

That work ethic translates into serious dollars. According to data from a recent University of Georgia study cited at Thursday's conference, Latinos will account for $863.1 billion in buying power this year. By 2011, that will swell to $1.2 trillion.

The trick for the businessmen and academics in attendance at the two-day forum, held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, is to turn that buying power into things like homeownership and future economic development.


Interracial Marriages Surge

Interracial Marriages Surge Across U.S. (by David Crary, AP - 4.12.07)

NEW YORK (AP) - The charisma king of the 2008 presidential field. The world's best golfer. The captain of the New York Yankees. Besides superstardom, Barack Obama, Tiger Woods and Derek Jeter have another common bond: Each is the child of an interracial marriage.

For most of U.S. history, in most communities, such unions were taboo.

It was only 40 years ago—on June 12, 1967—that the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down a Virginia statute barring whites from marrying nonwhites. The decision also overturned similar bans in 15 other states.

Since that landmark Loving v. Virginia ruling, the number of interracial marriages has soared; for example, black-white marriages increased from 65,000 in 1970 to 422,000 in 2005, according to Census Bureau figures. Factoring in all racial combinations, Stanford University sociologist Michael Rosenfeld calculates that more than 7 percent of America's 59 million married couples in 2005 were interracial, compared to less than 2 percent in 1970.

Coupled with a steady flow of immigrants from all parts of the world, the surge of interracial marriages and multiracial children is producing a 21st century America more diverse than ever, with the potential to become less stratified by race.


Let's All Hate Toronto

TORONTO (Reuters) - The dislike of Canada's biggest city, Toronto, in the rest of the country runs so deep that a filmmaker has made a documentary about it.

"People in Toronto are soulless, one-eyed corporate zombies," Joey Keithley, of the Vancouver punk band D.O.A., says in the film, "Let's All Hate Toronto."

The 73-minute film, which premieres at Toronto's Hot Docs documentary festival next week, follows a character called Mister Toronto, who embarks on a cross-Canada trip brandishing a sign that reads "Toronto Appreciation Day" and steels himself for the onslaught.


AT: Having lived in NYC, I'm fully aware of the varied reasons why some people hate it--and one can clearly see parallels between it and Toronto. As world cities, Toronto and New York are more similar than dissimilar. But the question I wonder about--and I hope the producers of Let's All Hate Toronto captured--is the racial aspect of the hate. Toronto--like New York, London and other world cities--are immigrant meccas with hugely diverse communities of color. To the folks in the hinterlands, these populations are foreign. Given the fears and prejudices of people everywhere, it's probably true that a core of the folks in the hinterlands loath their version of Toronto.

BTW: I love Toronto.


Don Imus - The Fraud

This whole episode with Don Imus just goes to show what a fraud he really is. I mean, how can someone claiming to be a humanitarian so easily spit out those vile racists words against the valiant young women of Rutgers?

Don Imus is a fraud--and a racist!

The truth is that what Imus said is mild compared to what is uttered daily on America's airwaves. Cruelty, sexism, racism and bigotry of all sorts is being sold as entertainment to radio listeners and cable television watchers.

What's amazing to me is that Imus has been held to account. Perhaps this episode will help bring forth a period in America where people will begin to be held accountable for their words as well as their actions.

Hispanic Congressional Caucus: Enough Already!

The melodrama continues in the Democrat's Hispanic Congressional Caucus. It appears now that Linda Sanchez--Loretta Sanchez's kid sister and fellow U.S. Representative--has quit. Officially, they've suspended their memberships--which means they've quit until Chairman Joe Baca is replaced by someone more agreeable to them.

Are there no statemen or women in the Caucus that can convince Baca, the Sanchezes and others to do the right thing?

Here's my 2 cents:

1) Baca should step down--and he should do so graciously.
2) The sisters Sanchez should rejoin and vow to support the next leader--male or female.
3) The Caucus should give serious consideration to electing a woman chairperson. It's such a bad example that the Caucus has never had a woman chair--and that most of the men can't see their way to promoting one of the 9 Latinas to Caucus leader.
4) The Caucus needs to find more effective ways for addressing conflicts.

Frankly, I've had enough. I've never been a fan of the novela--and I don't much care for the HCC's version of one. I'm tuning the group out and won't pay attention until it gets it act together and begins addressing the serious issues of these historic times.

A Majority of Catholics Support Earned Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants

Survey checks Catholic attitudes on immigration, terrorism, bishops (Long Island Catholic - 4.11.07)

Washington (CNS) — A majority of Catholics in a nationwide telephone poll said the United States should begin a program to give undocumented immigrants an opportunity to earn permanent residency.

The poll also showed that more than 80 percent of those interviewed believed world economic problems, religious intolerance, world political instability and the history of conflict in the Middle East led to terrorism.

The Contemporary Catholic Trends poll, taken every six months by LeMoyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., and the Zogby International polling firm, also showed that 70 percent either somewhat agree or strongly agree that the U.S. bishops are doing a good job leading the church. The figure is down from 71 percent in a poll taken last fall. The poll results were issued April 4.


Set hiring site for laborers

Set hiring site for laborers: Suffolk, foundations should work together on day-worker problem (Newsday Editorial, Long Island, New York - 4.6.07)

For the moment, there's a lull in Suffolk County in the rhetoric over the issue of immigrant day workers. The latest ineffectual piece of legislation in the county legislature has fallen by the wayside. This moment of calm might be the right time to begin rethinking a long-rejected idea for easing the problem in Farmingville: creating a hiring site.

County Executive Steve Levy has been adamant that the county cannot use taxpayer money to pay for a site that would be used by illegal immigrants. But nothing else has worked. There are still day workers standing on streets in Farmingville, waiting for contractors to offer them jobs.

Most recently, the legislature voted down a proposal designed to keep the immigrants off county roads in the area, on the theory that they are causing accidents by darting into the streets. Clearly, a majority of the legislators saw this approach as flawed. Even if it passed constitutional muster, it would only have moved the workers to town roads.

The bill's sponsor, Legis. Jack Eddington (WFP-Medford), says that something good may yet come from the controversy that his proposal ignited. One hopeful sign is the willingness of the Island's private philanthropic sector to put up some funding for a hiring site. But foundations can't do it alone, and they want anything they do to be part of a public-private partnership. That means the county has to do something.

Levy's hard-line stance means that the something won't be money. But it could be something else, such as the use of vacant land. Levy should at least explore creative alternatives for putting together a public-private effort, so he can ease the problem without contradicting his often-restated opposition to using taxpayer dollars.

Across the country, as Newsday's Bart Jones has reported, more than 60 hiring sites are in operation. They aren't perfect. Some workers and some contractors will avoid them. But they can get many of the workers off the streets. If Levy really wants to make things better in Farmingville, it's time for him to step back and give this some thought.


Stony Brook scholarships fulfill 250-year-old promise

Stony Brook scholarships fulfill 250-year-old promise (by Gale Courey Toensing, Indian Country Today - 4.4.07)

STONY BROOK, N.Y. - Selected students from the Shinnecock and Unkechaug Indian nations will receive four-year scholarships to attend Stony Brook University beginning this fall under a recently established Native American People Scholarship program.

The program was created at the end of December with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by university President Shirley Strum Kenny and tribal chiefs Lance Gumbs of the Shinnecock Indian Nation and Harry Wallace of the Unkechaug Indian Nation.

"The Native American people have an extraordinary legacy in the East End communities," Kenny said, referring to the tribes' aboriginal and historical territories on Long Island. "They have enriched our history, our culture and our knowledge of the region. These scholarships demonstrate our commitment to work cooperatively with our neighbors in Southampton and the surrounding areas, and to be an important resource for them."

The scholarships will include tuition, room and board, fees, supplies and health insurance. At least one scholarship per year per tribe will be awarded with a future goal of providing scholarships to as many qualified Native students as possible, according to the MOU.

Stony Brook currently has 24 undergraduate students and 13 graduate students who self-identify as American Indian.



Obama: Immigrants need chance to become citizens

Obama: Immigrants need chance to become citizens (by Jason Clayworth, The Des Moines Register - 4.7.07)

Millions of unauthorized immigrants should be given the opportunity to become U.S. citizens, presidential candidate Barack Obama said during a campaign stop Friday in Marshalltown, a city that was shaken by immigration raids at a local meatpacker late last year.

"I know this generates a lot of passions but I think this is the approach that is the most realistic for us to get out of the situation we're in right now," Obama told a crowd of about 600 people at Iowa Valley Community College in Marshalltown.

Forcing millions of families who currently live in the United States to leave is impractical, he said. Obama told the crowd that unauthorized immigrants should be given a chance to become citizens, but he said his ideas would not grant "amnesty."

Undocumented residents should face fines, have no other criminal records, be required to learn English and be placed in the legal immigration process - but not ahead of others already in line - to become legal citizens.


Puerto Ricans drawn to Sarasota

Puerto Ricans drawn to Sarasota (by Christina E. Sanchez, The Herald-Tribune - 4.9.07)

Florida's Puerto Rican population traditionally has been rooted along the Interstate 4 corridor in and around Orlando.

But that is changing, and Southwest Florida is feeling the effects, both with an increased Puerto Rican population and business presence.

Puerto Ricans are spreading out across Florida to places like Sarasota and Manatee in search of jobs, small-business opportunities, good schools and beaches that remind them of the island.


Mitt Stumbles Again

Mitt Stumbles Again (by Tom Bevan, RealClearPolitics - 4.9.07)

Mitt Romney made another mistake last week trying to inflate his record as a hunter, and he's paying the price. Pat Bagley took advantage of the goof with this cartoon in the Salt Lake Tribune:



Steve Levy Begs for Visas

A poster boy for America's anti-immigrant codes movement, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy is now begging the federal government to issue loads of temporary worker visas.

Why? Because many businesses in Suffolk County, New York depend on temporary foreign labor--and they face financial ruin without access to that labor pool.

Keeping the East End's tourism industry healthy is important to local officials because of its economic impact. According to the Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, tourism on Long Island is a $4.3 billion industry that generates 38,000 jobs and about $69 million in sales taxes.
However, Levy has not received a response from the federal government--and he may not.

A leading critic of the Bush administration's so-called "open borders policy", Levy now expects the U.S. Labor Department to bail him out with loads of expedited visas.

Are the chickens coming home to roost?

The result of Colorado's own anti-immigrant codes legislation is that businesses there have been crippled as well. And its agribusinesses are being told by government to use unproductive and dangerous prison chain gangs for labor.

If Levy follows Colorado's lead he'll soon be proposing to use the county's imprisoned child molesters, thieves and rapists to attend to the needs of summer vacationers. And he'll claim that it'll save county tax payers money in the process.

Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb!!!!


Passion of the Christ Re-Enactments from Around the World

YahooNews has an amazing set of photographs of re-enactments of the Passion of the Christ from around the world.

Penitents attend a ceremony where a man depicting Jesus Christ is fastened to an wooden cross during a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ during Holy Week celebrations in La Paz April 6, 2007. REUTERS/David Mercado (BOLIVIA)
Click here for the series.

Hillary Sings The Obama Blues: The Cartoon

Watch this outrageously funny cartoon of Hillary singing the Obama Blues. It's hysterical!

(Click here and then again on the Obama/Clinton cartoon for the animation.)

The animation is by Walt Handelsman, a Newsday nationally syndicated Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist.


Geraldo Rivera the Advocate is Back!

I've always liked Geraldo Rivera. Yes, he's been known to go over the top in a number of instances, but who in television hasn't?

The truth is that what Geraldo did as a young crusading reporter exposing the horrors at Willowbrook changed everything. His fearless pursuit of truth literally brought down the walls of institutionalized imprisonment and abuse of the mentally ill--and he gave new meaning to the news exposé. Few of the country's glorified 'news' reporters can claim as much.

But Geraldo at heart is an advocate and not a news reporter. Standard television has never really suited him--and trying to do it like the others has only caused him trouble. He's too passionate, too gutsy and too honest. The advocate in him doesn't allow him to adopt the aloofness and pretentiousness Americans prefer in their 'news' anchors.

But in the heated exchange recently with FOXNews bloviator Bill O'Reilly, we saw a glimpse of the Geraldo of lore. They argued over whether the tragic deaths of two young women by a drunk driver in Virginia Beach is about drunk driving or about illegal immigration. O'Reilly argues that it is and Geraldo argues that it's not.

I think Geraldo is right. The tragedy was caused by a fellow who got behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated and caused a horrendous loss. Unfortunately, that same type of tragedy happened some 350 times in Virginia last year--and few were caused by people with Spanish surnames.

Actually, large numbers of innocent women and children are slaughtered every year in Virginia and across the country and most are caused by drunk middle-age, suburban, white guys--many with numerous DUI citations. Bu O'Reilly & Company are not ranting on about that endless wave of criminality and human tragedy.

Geraldo's right that turning every tragedy involving "unauthorized" immigrants into an anti-immigrant bashing orgy is sinful.

(BTW: Notice how O'Reilly's reaction when Geraldo says that it would be a nightmare losing a daughter to any drunk driver--be they a Jewish drunk, a Polish drunk, an Irish drunk or an Italian drunk. I could be wrong, but it seems that O'Reilly wigs out right after Geraldo utters Irish drunk. Those words, so often used to degrade Irish immigrants, have clearly left an enduring mark. Just as the words 'illegal alien' are today dehumanizing and degrading Latino immigrant workers.)

Suffolk County Businesses Pinched by Immigration Restrictions

Suffolk County, New York has gained notoriety as a leader in the anti-immigrant codes movement (see here and here).

Now comes Businesses Fear Labor Shortage (4.5.07), a report from The East Hampton Star that businesses in the resort region area--known locally as the South Folk--are struggling to find workers. Without the necessary laborers, the area's all important summer season may be in jeopardy.

Question for Suffolk Pols: Is it worthwhile casting Suffolk County as inhospitable to newcomers when it is so dependent on its hospitality industry?

MLB's Boricua Catchers

Puerto Rico keeps churning out catchers (by Kat O'Brien for Newsday - 4.7.07)

Since 1990, Puerto Rican catchers have totaled 31 All-Star appearances and have played on eight World Series championship clubs and eight teams that lost in the Series.

According to BaseballReference.com, there have been 219 major-league players from Puerto Rico. Of those, 27 have been catchers. That's a high percentage (12.3), given that close to half the players are pitchers. Major League Baseball noted that there were 28 Puerto Ricans on Opening Day rosters this week, of which nine are catchers.

At one time, Puerto Rico was the birthplace of more major-leaguers than any country or territory outside the 50 United States. Now subject to the first-year player draft, Puerto Rico has been passed in numbers by the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Among catchers, though, it remains No. 1.


The Losing Presidencies of Bush I & II

Wow! It looks like it has taken GWB about 5 years to match his dad's achievement. Both presidents George Bush managed to start with OK approval ratings (mid-50's), realize huge positive spikes in 'war-time' favorability (75%+), and then see their poll numbers and presidencies utterly collapse.

It's as if the Bushes can only do one thing. Bush Senior successfully took back Kuwait from Sadam and then proceeded to squander the public's support by coasting. Bush Junior successfully took Iraq from Sadam and then he proceeds to coast as well. The only difference is that Junior's initial combat victory was followed by an incredibly costly and disastrous occupation. But in neither case did these presidents attempt much more than their wars.

(BTW: I believe that the Clinton presidency was largely a failure as well. But the public seems to have appreciated that administration's efforts to address more than one problem--even if their solutions sometimes failed.)

Isn't there a lesson here for future U.S. presidents?

Chart: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

Spectacular Photo of a Neighbor Galaxy

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope view of the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 1672 unveils details in the galaxy's star-forming clouds and dark bands of interstellar dust.

One of the most striking features is the dust lanes that extend away from the nucleus and follow the inner edges of the galaxy's spiral arms. Clusters of hot young blue stars form along the spiral arms and ionize surrounding clouds of hydrogen gas that glow red. Delicate curtains of dust partially obscure and redden the light of the stars behind them by scattering blue light.

NGC 1672 is more than 60 million light-years away in the direction of the Southern constellation of Dorado. These observations of NGC 1672 were taken with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys in August of 2005.


Immigration Spurs Cities Growth

Newspapers across the country have been sifting through just released U.S. Census Data and concluding that immigration is the difference between a city's growth or demise.

Many demographers associate shrinking populations with economic problems, typically poor job markets, increasing taxes, decaying infrastructures and rising crime.

In Immigrants keep big cities' populations up (Washington Times - 4.5.07) found that small and large growing cities are doing so larger as a result of immigrants. If it wasn't for immigrants, cities as diverse as Corvallis, Oregon and New York City would have lost population and their ability to meet local labor demands.

Immigrants long have flocked to major metropolitan areas and helped them grow. But increasingly, native-born Americans are moving from those areas and leaving immigrants to provide the only source of growth.
Conversely, cities shunned by immigrants lose population as well as their ability to generate wealth.

In Lack of immigrants fuels population decline (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - 4.5.07), makes the point that Pittsburgh: Cleveland, Buffalo, N.Y., Youngstown, Ohio, Scranton, Dayton, Ohio, Toledo, Ohio, Rochester, N.Y., and Syracuse, N.Y. have all lost population since 2000--and they're attracting relatively few immigrants. And they have aging populations and growing levels of poverty.

The irony is that its probably only through attracting hard-working and entrepreneurial immigrants that some of these cities will prevent ruin. These cities would do well to study the pro-immigration policies of cities such as Chicago and New York.

Hill the Accelerant

In yesterday's post on the presidential fundraising sweepstakes, I wrote that the winners were Senator Obama and the country's desire for regime change.

That view has only been reinforced by other commentators here, here and here.

Another accelerant fueling the Democrats fund raising successes may be coming from within the party itself. SpinCycle's John Riley in Patti's Take (4.5.07) makes the point that Democratic coffers overfilled in part because of opposition to Hillary Clinton winning the party's nomination.

Riley's onto something. If Hillary is so beloved within her party--and if Democrats are so thrilled with the prospects of another 8 years of the 'Bill and Hill Run The Country Show', wouldn't Edwards and Obama's efforts fail to get much lift? Instead, both Edwards and Obama are breaking fund raising records themselves--and Obama actually beat Hillary in funds raised for the primary.

Q: Has there ever been a politician who not only sparks massive intra-and inter-party fund raising, but also obliterates fund raising records themselves? Hill the Accelerant!

Faith Leaders Urge End to Immigration Raids

California interfaith leaders urge suspension of immigration raids (Jose Luis Aguirre, Catholic News Service - 4.4.07)

SAN RAFAEL, CA - From the steps of one of California's first missions, northern California faith leaders called for the suspension of sweeps for undocumented immigrants by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency pending comprehensive reform of immigration laws.

"I don't think the way they enforced the law is right, or just, or moral, or tolerable, especially for children," said San Francisco Auxiliary Bishop Ignatius Wang, who was born in Beijing.

"We all are immigrants some way or another, and why should we treat other immigrants as aliens?" he added. "If the government wants to secure the borders, it is right. But if they treat human beings inhumanly, it's not right."



Iraq Loses $Billions in U.S. Taxpayer Funds

While the Bush White House demands another $100 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reports continue to show that billions of tax payer dollars sent to Iraqi are being wasted and/or stolen.

Today's AP story Iraq Loses $8 Billion Through Corruption reports this shocking but all too familiar refrain: Iraq's top corruption fighter said Wednesday that $8 billion in government money was wasted or stolen over the past three years and claimed he was threatened with death after opening an investigation into scores of Oil Ministry employees.

This is not a new story but yet the U.S. continues transfering millions and millions of dollars without any assurance that Iraqi regime and U.S. contractors are held accountable.

And what exactly is the U.S. position in terms of prosecuting crooked officials?
Former Electricity Minister Ayham al-Samaraie, who holds both U.S. and Iraqi citizenship, was convicted in that case and sentenced to two years in prison. He escaped from an Iraqi-run jail in the Green Zone on Dec. 17 and turned up in Chicago on Jan. 15. Al-Samaraie has said the Americans helped him escape.
We helped a convicted crook escape and now he's living in Chicago? Say, What?

Perhaps, the AP has it all wrong and Mr. al-Samaraie is really a good guy. But given the WH's record in Iraq, it won't surprise me if he is a crook AND the U.S. is protecting him.

Who Really Won the $ Primary? Obama and the Quest for Regime Change

So who won the over-hyped but important 1st quarter money drive?

According to news reports, the winner was Hillary Clinton who vacuumed up $26 million in contributions. Second was Mitt Romney who reported scoring almost $21 million. And Rudy was 3rd with $15 million.

So, Hillary won, right? Not so fast.

1st, Hillary has the advantage of Bill's formidable fund raising base at her disposal--and she's been lining up donors for her presidential run for over 6 years. Given the circumstances, she probably had to bury her opponents--which she did not. Additionally, her contributors numbered 50,000--impressive by normal standards, but not this year.

The concern for Clinton is that like her poll ratings, she may have already reached her potential. That is, expanding fund raising base for the primaries may be limited since most of the pro-Hillary people may have already been tapped.

Romney's $21 million looks impressive. However, Romney may be a better fund raiser than a politician since he's stick stuck in single digits in the polls. He's clearly tapped into a great deal of Mormon money--which is probably not a good barometer of his appeal or potential strength.

So whose results are truly impressive?

Senator Barack Obama's results are incredible. Wisely delaying for maximum impact, the campaign reported gifts totalling $25 million from 100,000 contributors.

While marginally less than Hillary's take, Obama's fund raising is all recent. What's more important is that Obama has a greater upside in fund raising potential because he starts with a larger base of support--most of which are not maxed out--but also because he's just starting and there are potentially many more contributors which his campaign has yet to solicit.

The runner up may be Rudy. He also got a late start--relatively to Hillary and McCain, that is--and yet he managed to raise quite a bit of money--including $10 million in March alone.

However, the biggest winners are the Democrats. Their candidates collectively raised $70 million to just $50 million by the Republicans--an incredible feat and a strong reflection of the public's desire for regime change.

DNA Paints Italy's Etruscans as Middle Eastern Migrants

Geneticists have added an edge to a 2,500-year-old debate over the origin of the Etruscans, a people whose brilliant and mysterious civilization dominated northwestern Italy for centuries until the rise of the Roman republic in 510 B.C.

Several new findings support a view...that the Etruscans originally migrated to Italy from the Near East.

One study is based on the mitochondrial DNA of residents of Murlo, a small former Etruscan town in an out-of-the-way place whose population may not have changed all that much since Etruscan times.

The Murlo residents’ lineages are quite different from those of people in other Italian towns. When placed on a chart of mitochondrial lineages from Europe and the Near East, the people of Murlo map closest to Palestinians and Syrians, a team led by Dr. Torroni and Alessandro Achilli reports in the April issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics.

In Tuscany as a whole, part of the ancient Etruscan region of Etruria, the Torroni team found 11 minor mitochondrial DNA lineages that occur nowhere else in Europe and are shared only with Near Eastern people. These findings, the teams says, “support a direct and rather recent genetic input from the Near East, a scenario in agreement with the Lydian origin of the Etruscans.”


Also, read Illegal Roman Immigrants May be Chinese Today.


46% of Latinos Have Family or Friend in War

Forty six percent (46%) of Latinos say they have a close family member or close family friend currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

That's one of the findings of a new survey conducted by Lake Research Partners for the Latino Policy Coalition. Jim Gonzalez, chairman, Latino Policy Coalition: "It's pretty dramatic. It means that the Latino community is very connected to this war in a very personal sense."

When asked their opinion on the war, 66% percent say they believe the war in Iraq was a mistake. Only 25% believe the war was the right decision.

In terms of President Bush's latest $100 billion war funding bill, 66% are opposed the request, while just 23% are in favor.

The survey of 1000 of Latino registered and likely voters was conducted March 13-21, 2007. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

Lessons from U.S. Immigration History: Dr. Tichenor's Testimony to the U.S. Congress

Daniel J. Tichenor, Research Professor, Eagleton Institute of Politics and Department of Political Science, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, March 30, 2007.

Dr. Tichenor's testimony (here) is an informative survey of U.S. immigration history.

One point that the history makes clear is that even while nativists have always harassed immigrants, and they were periodically successful in imposing severe limitations on the country's insatiable appetite for immigrant labor, there has been--in policy and/or practice--exceptions for Mexican and Canadian workers.

In concluding his remarks, Dr. Tichenor issues this warning:

Our rich immigration history provides us with important lessons for contemporary immigration reform. First, we would do well to remember that the ideological traditions that have shaped our vibrant immigration debate since the nation's founding are driven by well-meaning and distinctive conceptions of the national interest. Second, our past reveals that each wave of "new" immigrants has been scorned by critics as incapable of successfully joining our ranks, only later to distinguish themselves among our most loyal and accomplished citizens. Finally, the origins and development of our illegal immigration dilemma highlights a series of compromises over time that fed the nation's appetite for cheap labor while creating a vulnerable shadow population and undermining the rule of law. The consequences of these compromises underscore why our generation must make tough choices to fix the system, recognizing the practical and ethical reasons for giving workplace enforcement real teeth and for giving undocumented immigrants an opportunity to earn legal status.
It's interesting and important history. Click here for a PDF file of Dr. Tichenor's testimony.

An undocumented life

The BBC News yesterday published An undocumented life, by Hani Shawwa.

It's as good a primer on America's undocumented immigrant situation as I've read anywhere. It's straightforward, factual and unromanticized account is refreshing.

French Candidates Court Immigrant Voters

Vive l'immigrant?

France's presidential candidates are courting newly empowered immigrant voters.

Immigration is a hot topic in the hotly contested French presidential election. The issue is integrating France's ethnic Arabs and Africans, many of them Muslims – and also legal residents. If done right, France could be a European trendsetter.

France is not a perfect parallel for Europe. Its immigrants are multi-generational, stemming from the colonial era. Many are French citizens by now; about 3.5 million are legal residents (200,000 to 400,000 are illegals). Europe also has millions of Muslims in its midst, but Germany's ethnic Turks, for instance, arrived as guest workers. Most are not citizens.

And yet the challenges are similar whether it's the Netherlands or Bri­tain: clashes over religious dress and practice, over political extremism and violence, over economic and social opportunity.


Coqui: Endangered in Puerto Rico and Hawai'i

Imagine Puerto Rico without its beloved Coqui?

Rafael Joglar and Patricia Burrowes, biologists at the University of Puerto Rico, report that the Coqui is disappearing from Puerto Rico's rainforests--and that it's due to global climate change. They contend that increases in global temperatures has disturbed the ecological balance necessary for Coquis to survive in Puerto Rico.

Something must to be done noe to ensure the survival of the Coqui of Puerto Rico.

Surprisingly, the Coqui has found a new habitat 5,000 miles away on the islands of the Hawaiian archipelago.

Yes, Coquis in Hawai'i!

According to here and here, the Coqui is proliferating in Hawai'i--but they are unwelcomed.

Unlike Boricuas who love the nocturnal sounds of the tiny frogs, Hawaiians destest what they hear as unrelenting noises. The coqui is a national symbol in Puerto Rico and few there would purposely harm the Coqui; but Hawaiins are up in arms over the invaders--prompting local governments to eradicate them through fumigation and even lacing their food supply with toxins.

But the Coqui--like the Taíno spirit--can not be so easily killed off. And we should never allow anyone to harm the ecologically friendly amphibians.

Here's an important mission for Coqui lovers everywhere: Organize a campaign to protect the Coqui in Puerto Rico--and stop Hawaiian efforts at extermination.