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  • mxh72c
    07-14 08:55 AM
    CIR is coming BACK in 2009! The only change that will happen in immigration is CIR due to the pandering politics. IV and all its members focus should be ensuring CIR is not passed on the backs of EB green cards. The group most likely to be screwed over will be EB3. All our energies and money should be on CIR and that we have a seat on the table when these compromises are made.





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  • manub
    07-07 09:59 PM
    Yes I called all senators from the state and also local representative.Only local representative responded and their office contacted uscis for my EAD.We didnot contact any body for my husband`s petition .we are planning to do so this week.It is at NSC.





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  • Macaca
    05-01 06:05 PM
    A New Immigration Consensus
    A bipartisan coalition of business leaders and mayors have joined together to make the case that visa reform is an economic imperative. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703387904576279293334248326.html)
    By MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG | Wall Street Journal

    Last month, President Obama convened a diverse group of business executives, mayors, law enforcement leaders, ministers and advocates at the White House to discuss a problem that threatens America's economic future�our broken immigration system.

    We've tried before to fix it. President George W. Bush made comprehensive immigration reform a major legislative priority during his second term. Congressional leaders from both parties, including Sens. Ted Kennedy and John McCain, worked tirelessly to pass legislation. But the bill could not garner the required votes. Nor could a much narrower bill, the Dream Act, which would have granted legal status to the children of immigrants who enroll in college or the military.

    These defeats have led to a conventional wisdom in Washington that bipartisan immigration reform is impossible. But a new consensus on immigration reform has emerged in the business community that could break the logjam and provide a much-needed jolt to our economy. The idea is simple: Reform the way we attract and keep talented and hard-working people from abroad to better promote economic growth.

    In the global economy, the countries that attract the world's best, brightest and hardest-working will grow and succeed. Those that refuse them entry will not. America has long understood this. We would not have become a global superpower without opening our doors to immigrants�and we cannot long remain one without continuing that practice. Smart, self-motivated immigrants spur the innovations and create the jobs our economy needs to thrive. Between 1995 and 2005, for example, 25% of high-tech startups in the U.S. had at least one immigrant as a key founder. Those companies alone have created 450,000 jobs�with the vast majority of them going to Americans.

    Our global competitors understand how crucial immigrants are to economic growth. They roll out the red carpet for entrepreneurs; we have no entrepreneur visa. They heavily recruit our advanced-degree students; we educate them and send them home. They woo the engineers, scientists and other skilled professionals who invent new products, launch product lines, and develop the technology of tomorrow; we erect arbitrary, senseless and bureaucratic barriers to recruitment. And we do all this even as our unemployment rate hovers around 9%.

    Although each party claims to have the solution to our country's economic woes, neither has embraced a job-creation strategy based on immigration reform, which would not add a penny to the national debt. To spur them into action, a bipartisan coalition of business leaders and mayors has joined together to make the case that visa reform is an economic imperative. In nine months the Partnership for a New American Economy has grown to more than 200 members, including companies that together employ more than 3.5 million people.

    We believe in the need to secure our borders, make it possible to hold businesses accountable for verifying the status of workers, address the reality that 11 million people are here illegally and cannot be deported en masse�and increase lawful opportunities for those who want to come to this country and contribute to our prosperity. Nevertheless, our nation cannot afford to wait for Washington to get its act together and pass comprehensive immigration reform. There is too much at stake. Our economy demands that we take immediate action on the most urgent�and politically attainable�reform: making it easier for job creators to come and stay here.

    Creating a visa for entrepreneurs who already have funding to start their businesses will lead directly and immediately to American jobs. Visa reforms to improve temporary and permanent pathways for companies to fill the current shortages of engineers, scientists and other specialists�whose annual visa caps are often exhausted within days of becoming available�will spur growth at existing U.S. companies.

    Providing visas to the brightest foreign graduates of our universities will allow our economy to reap the rewards of their work. At the same time, allowing immigrants who succeed in college, or serve in our military, the chance to pursue a career and build their lives here legally will strengthen the long-term health of the American economy.

    Finally, developing a reliable way for employers to hire guest workers�who grow the nation's food, support our $1.3 trillion tourism industry, and fill seasonal gaps across industries�will help support U.S. businesses and create additional, better-paying American jobs.

    Those who focus on where the parties differ on immigration, rather than where they both agree, have paralyzed the debate in Washington for far too long. Despite this deadlock, there is an opportunity for both parties to seize upon the economics of immigration reform and focus on what all Americans agree we need: more jobs. Leaders of both parties talk about creating jobs, but they are ignoring the voices of business leaders who can actually create them�if only Congress would give them the tools.

    Mr. Bloomberg, an independent, is mayor of New York City

    In Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio shrugs off a rough April (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-arpaio-trouble-20110501,0,3084923.story) By Nicholas Riccardi | Los Angeles Times
    Obama renews call for immigration action in Miami speech (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-renews-call-for-immigration-action-in-miami-speech/2011/04/29/AFbdHUHF_story.html) By Perry Bacon Jr. | The Washington Post





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  • pthoko
    07-11 02:39 PM
    Hi UN, Please take a look when u get a chance


    First of all my sincere gratitude to you for your patience and the time you put in to give a detailed reply to all cases.

    Here's my situation(I think a case of status violation)


    I did an L1 to H1 transfer in 2005. My L1 was valid till APRIL 2006. So my intention was to work with L1 employer till April 2006 and then switch to H1 employer.

    H1 employer also applied for a change of status, which I was not aware of that time. I asked the H1 company's lawyer whether I could continue with my L1 employer after getting the H1 and she said it's fine.

    So I got the H1B approval in Oct 2005, but still continued with L1 employer till APRIL 2006, then switched to H1.

    Recently I came to know that this could be an issue. When I was filling the G-325A form, I wondered if I specify that I worked with the L1 employer till APRIL 2006, would they catch this?? Even if they catch , how big an issue would this be??

    If I put the dates to reflect the dates to show that I quit my L1 employer in Oct 2005 itself, would this be an issue?? I guess in this case, if by any chance they ask for any further evidence like pay stubs or W2 in that period of time, I would be in trouble.



    From what I have read from the forum, A lawful re-entry should clear the violation in my case right?? I haven't filed the I-485 yet. My I-140 is pending.
    Do they catch this during I-140 stage??

    ALSO CAN THEY DENY H1B DUE TO PREVIUOS VIOLATION OF STATUS, WHILE I RE-ENTER?? This is my biggest fear now!!!

    Can I go to Canada/Mexico for stamping? where would I get an appointment at the earliest??




    Thanks.



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  • bfadlia
    01-09 06:15 PM
    The question is about common sense and not who said what... Israel might make mistakes but it has no need to bomb civilians or school compounds deliberately. It is a strong enough country that can wipe out the entire middle-east if it chose to but it does not do so probably because it isn't a failed state with an inferiority complex like most of its neighbors.

    a common sense guy like you would have dismissed iraqis claims of abuse in abu gharib.. america is a strong country, it doesn't need to molest prisoners..
    how luxurious for you to use ur common sense while victims still suffer after their stories were corobrated by unbiased witnesses





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  • pappu
    07-13 08:28 AM
    I commend the initiative. But I see a few issues with it:

    You are complaining to DOS about USCIS and DOL. That will not work. Every agency has a specific role

    You are complaining to the official who sets visa dates. He has no authority to give relief just because some applicant/s are asking for it. He has to follow the rule every month and his responsibility is only to set the dates based on the statistics received from USCIS. This official has a very specific and limited role.

    The reasons are not compelling enough. You cannot just say you are waiting long enough and thus your date should become current. Rules cannot be changed just for that reason.

    If economy was down in 2001- 2003 and you were asked to file in EB3 and people in Perm could file in EB2 is your strongest reason, it may not work in your favor. Because by law you can file again and convert to EB2 and port your date. DOL and USCIS does not stop you from doing that.

    If you are qualified for EB2 but your attorney and employer filed in EB3, then it is not a fault of USCIS/DOL/DOS. You must talk to the company and the lawyer for it. If the company or the lawyer has broken any rule or employer has exploited you, then the letter should be complain to the appropriate authority about them.

    Please also note that labor is filed based on the degree and experience requirement of the job. By law if the requirement is only undergraduate degree for the job, the employer cannot file in EB2 just because the applicant has a masters degree or more experience than needed. So you cannot really put this arguement here because it will be against the rules.

    So I personally do not think this idea will work.

    While this mess is depressing for EB3 folks, we need to have a more compelling argument, determined membership and effective plan to get things changed.
    The root cause of the problem is limited greencard quota for EB3. And the solution is to get recapture, get rid of country limits, STEM exemption. Any single relief itself will be huge for all of us. With 179 phone calls and $16656 collected in last 3 months, I do not see that happening. It will need a far more bigger and determined effort. Such amount can be spent on full scale lobbying in just one month. 179 phone calls are nothing if we have to make a compelling case for ourselves.



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  • smisachu
    12-31 11:20 AM
    I agree to the first part. We have to make corruption a capital punishment and enforce it..
    Don't subscribe to the second part. See Hitler exported terror, which is what Pakistan is doing now and the Allies used violence in retaliation but were ultimately successful in bringing long term peace. India has never been the aggressor but we should at least defend ourselves. Pakistan is unable to shut down the terrorist camps, we have to do it or else we will keep on bleeding..



    India needs to look inwards for answers.

    We elect (those of us who actually vote) brigands, murderers and looters and expect leadership. They loot us, abuse our martyrs (re: the Kerala CM), and in turn, expect our mute subservience. Where is the interest in protecting the tax-paying citizen? Who cares? Look at how these vultures behave - Narayana Rane, Vilasrao Deshmukh, that ass-clown in Kerala. What a disgrace!

    Corruption has taken root in the administration and even some parts of our military services. Nothing gets done without someone's palms being greased first - openly and without shame. My friends in the IAS live like kings. When they visit New York, they live in the Waldorf Astoria! Meanwhile, our brave soldiers are called upon to give all they have in avoidable debacles like what we witnessed in Mumbai.

    One thinks twice before reporting a crime to the Police for fear of persecution. Journalists who catch Politicians accepting bribes on video camera are chastized. Many parts of India remain as backward and undeveloped as the day we kicked the British Raj out. Some might say they've regressed even further. I sometimes wonder if Churchill was right when he said that we'd only mess things up if they gave us Independence.

    Yet, since 50 milliion Indians are enjoying relative economic well-being, we believe that India is shining.

    Will attacking Pakistan really make India safer? Really? I have yet to see a single instance when violence was not met with more violence. Look at the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Iraq, Colombia, Peru - the list goes on and on and on.

    The fix is internal. Our freedom fighters came up against what was then thought to be an unmovable object and somehow moved it. There must be a way to leverage the tools they used with today's technology to help us bring change and conduct our affairs with dignity and courage. Attacking Pakistan will only bring to India the problems that overran them. They are pitiful.

    Peace to all.





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  • rimzhim
    04-09 12:02 PM
    Great. Maybe you should put out an ad in the newspaper. Or maybe you should say in your EB1 petition "My boss believes that I am a leader". That ought to do it. I am sure USCIS will approve your EB1 right away when they see that your boss believes that you are a leader.

    My boss too believes many things. He believes that I can walk and chew gum at the same time. Maybe I should tell my parents about what my Boss believes. That would make them proud.

    Seriously rimzhim, you are thinking that only you and a handful of others with Ph.Ds are providing service to this country and others like "Consultants" are just getting a free ride. I am not a consultant myself, but I do see really smart and capable professionals doing consulting. You need to get out of your lab more. There are plenty of consultants in IBM, Accenture etc. who are some of the best brains in IT and management and who are either on H1B or used to be on H1B.

    Quite contrary, the best brains actually prefer consulting beacuse there is more money to be made in it. Many H1Bs doing fulltime jobs start consulting when they get greencards because consulting pays more.

    If you are really a scientist, you should be doing something good with your time rather than trolling the posts of EB3 losers like myself.

    Go shake some test-tubes or something. Or go to your boss's office and he will tell you how great you are.

    But I never said I am brighter than others who don't have Ph.Ds. In fact, dumbasses like me spend time in labs trying to discover new algorithms instead of making the big bucks in the industry that uses these algorithms :)

    Really rimzhim, stick to research. I dont think you will ever be a leader and lead in anything.


    You said I will never be a leader, and so I told you what my boss thinks. I don't actually think so.

    Also, I have been anonymous too long. I think I need to get rid of that before posting more messages here.



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  • bharol
    01-08 12:11 AM
    Blaming any religion on terrorism is inappropriate, inflammatory, and just plain irresponsible.
    Here's some proof for you:

    MI5 report challenges views on terrorism in Britain (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/aug/20/uksecurity.terrorism1?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront)



    And I'll give you a couple specific examples :

    Al-Fakhoura School Bombed, 42 Killed, Including Children; 13,000 Homeless; Water, Medicine in Short Supply (http://www.juancole.com/2009/01/al-fakhoura-school-bombed-42-killed.html)

    Muhammad Atta was radicalized by watching the gruesome results of that attack and he was a 9/11 hijacker. (He flew one of the planes.) That attack happened to be Israel bombing a school in 1986.

    Torture trail to September 11 : A two-part investigation into state brutality opens with a look at how the violent interrogation of Islamist extremists hardened their views, helped to create al-Qaida and now, more than ever, is fuelling fundamentalist hatred (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/jan/24/alqaida.terrorism1)

    Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, for example was tortured in Egypt. He was Al Q's number 2 and known as the "brains" behind the 9/11 attacks. He was a successful doctor.

    It is not religion that makes people willing to blow up themselves and kill others. It is perceived oppression against one's people. If you look closely enough, you will find it.

    Blaming religious beliefs on terrorism is sloppy thinking that:

    inflames people
    justifies further violence
    divides people
    creates more terrorism


    The IRA, Shining Path, the Basques, and yes, Al Q, all have one thing in common: their political aspirations for their people to be freed from what they see as oppression. The Irish Catholics weren't allowed good jobs. Peruvian Marxists were unhappy with their government. The Basques were mistreated by Franco. Many Middle Easterners want the right to form their own governments, which we in the west actively prevent by supporting dictatorships.

    Invariably, when people blame religion for some injustice, there is a political or economic reason behind it. The Crusades, for example, were not about converting people, but about wealth, power and what they saw as "glory".

    Please stop with the religious scape goating, bigotry and hatred. It leads nowhere but down.

    If they don't want the religion to be blamed, they should not give religious sounding names to their organizations like JAISH-E-MOHAMMAD, LASHKAR-E-TAIBA etc and then call their killings a JIHAD.





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  • file485
    07-08 04:35 PM
    thanks UN..

    we don't mean to bug you..!!

    but sometimes these r so scary..it feels we r better off being illegal in this country..

    all this is just plain BS..when we r paying so much in taxes and SS in this country..we r still chopped and diced like vegetables ...

    btw..on the same note since you r here..does the 'out of status' count only after the last entry in to thr country..or it is still scrutinised right from the time you land into the US..

    pls post..



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  • prioritydate
    09-27 06:55 PM
    I wish Mc Cain to win this election. Republican party is good to India, pro-life, do not waste money and support same sex domestic partners. Their moral and cultural values are good. They do not increase taxes. Good for Industry.
    I will support the party not the candidates. They are good for the security for the country. Terrorist are increased in all over the world. But no more attack on American soil. Clinton ignored the security of the country and we saw what happened. That time IT revolution happened. Not because of him the economic bubble occured. But it will happen, if any body is in power that time.

    Do you what you are talking about? One more term for GOP is a disaster. McCain would do nothing but spending more money on Iraq. There is no policy for John McCain. His only aim to continue Iraq war for 4 more years, and if possible, another four more years. They DON'T support same sex marriages. Remember! they are conservatives for God's sake. Republican party is good for oil companies and big corporates. For normal people like us, and specially for an immigration community, it would be an irreversible damage.





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  • masaternyc
    01-11 01:50 PM
    Who crucified jesus, they are still on for other religions too??? including hindis, muslims, sikhs etc. Read the history, 100,000 people demonstrating in spain means nothing???
    Rally for GC was only few hundreds but people rallying in 100,000's in Spain atleast means something to me.

    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2009/01/11/europe/EU-Europe-Gaza.php



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  • pappu
    03-23 11:45 AM
    How did you verify if the call was really from Immigration services?





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  • krishna.ahd
    12-26 08:05 PM
    I like Amma's post, pretty good, well thought out and i stand corrected, in my earlier remarks. Good Post Amma indeed...
    Thats Right , no one wants War that too at this economic conditions
    But Pak should not consider that as our weakness
    So
    Attack on terrorist camps at POK or within Pak too -
    - I belive thats what Indian Gov is planning , we all know our politician when they say no - means that is for sure going to happen
    Cut off all ties with Pak , first stop that Samjautha Exp , and all flights to Karachi
    Work diplomatic way and get it declare Pak as terrorist state
    Let Pak collapse on economic front



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  • CreatedToday
    01-07 05:27 PM
    Looks like Muhammad fooled his followers or enticed them!

    Apart from Lesbians, the virgins could be Male, Underage girls, Old Ladies or even a eunuch! :D

    You lived in India and hate India, because of your ....
    ..... . Do suicide bomb to get 72 virgins. If any one of the virgin is a lesbian, what will do ?. If the guy is old, do he get viagara???They don't know in heaven no sex. No flesh, people in spiritual state.





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  • Macaca
    12-21 09:53 AM
    Despite �High Note,� Bush Scolds Congress as Wasteful (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/21/washington/21bush.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1198249370-yXwz0kW/+W6bJYa4zIwlqA) By STEVEN LEE MYERS | NY Times, Dec 21, 2007

    WASHINGTON � Having beaten back most of the Democrats� legislative initiatives, President Bush chided Congress on Thursday for wasteful spending and announced that his budget director would seek ways to reverse some of the thousands of spending projects attached to a huge spending bill.

    Mr. Bush said he and the Congress had ended the year �on a high note,� welcoming a new energy bill, provisions to help people struggling to refinance mortgages, a deferral of the alternative minimum tax that could have affected millions of middle-class taxpayers and an agreement on a $555 billion spending plan that avoided new taxes.

    But reflecting the partisan divides that overshadowed those accomplishments, he promptly criticized Congress, citing a sluggish pace of work, refusal to adopt other pieces of legislation important to the White House and its affection for pet spending projects known as earmarks.

    �The omnibus bill was approved at the last minute, nearly three months after the end of the fiscal year,� Mr. Bush said, returning to a near-constant theme of accusing the Democrats who control Congress of fiscal irresponsibility. �When Congress wastes so much time and leaves its work to the final days before Christmas, it is not a responsible way to run this government.�

    The flurry of activity virtually ending the first session of the 110th Congress left many issues unresolved, setting the stage for new confrontations when Congress returns after the holidays. They include expanding a federal health care program for children, extending legislation allowing intelligence agencies to monitor communications and approving more spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress has so far agreed to $70 billion of the $196 billion the White House has requested in emergency spending for the wars.

    Mr. Bush offered no indication that he would be any more compromising with the Democrats.

    �Next year is an election year, but that does not relieve us of our responsibility to carry out the people�s business,� he said. �The American people did not elect us to govern in odd years and campaign in even years.�

    For Mr. Bush and the White House, who began the year facing Democratic majorities in Congress, the mood near the end of the session was almost ebullient. After shoring up wavering support for Iraq from Republicans in the summer, the White House managed to keep the party united, defeating Democratic initiatives, even if failing to win Mr. Bush�s own proposals, most prominently changes in immigration laws.

    �On taxes, and national security issues generally, Republicans are in lockstep,� the White House director of legislative affairs, Candi Wolff, said in an interview, describing the president�s ability to hold his party. �We could hold the House on most votes at 146, and therefore had the veto-sustaining strength to say that bad legislation can�t get through.�

    At his news conference, Mr. Bush said that the budget director, James A. Nussle, would review 9,800 earmarks in the last spending bill, along with 2,100 more attached to a military spending bill passed earlier.

    Mr. Nussle�s spokesman, Sean M. Kevelighan, said the administration could seek to cut or redirect some spending projects approved by Congress.

    �There are potential options available,� Mr. Kevelighan said, adding that it was too soon to say what, if any, spending projects could be eliminated or changed.

    Frustrated Democrats accused the president of hypocrisy for attacking them after years of increasing spending under a Republican-controlled Congress. They responded by saying the earmarks in current spending bill were far more transparent � and so less wasteful � than those passed by Republican majorities during Mr. Bush�s presidency.

    �Nobody said we were going to end them,� Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a telephone interview in which he boasted of two of his own earmarks for schools and the police in his district. �We said you�d know who put them in.�



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  • smuggymba
    07-28 02:57 PM
    what did that dumb O bama do with 60 senators and 260 congress democrats in the house-------GHANTA.......he is the most useless guy on earth....

    Indians always seem to think Democrats will help them but they are like our Indian politicians only, all promises no action

    Atleast republicans listen to Microsoft, Google etc and gives some visa etc...AllObama does is warn about Indians and Chinese growth





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  • waitnwatch
    05-24 12:03 PM
    Communique,

    I would like to differ on the point of keeping H1-B numbers constant. To hire a H1-B a company has to show that they didnot get a US citizen with even the minimal qualifications for that particular job. Also the salary for the job has to be certified by the Department of Labor as at least the market rate if not higher. Under this scenario why should there be this artificial and arbitrary limit. Again most of the numbers nowadays is being picked up by the consultants so if a regular company like say Caterpillar wants to hire an engineer the numbers are just not available.

    While you do make a statement supporting no change in the numbers you justify your point by pointing to salary stagnation. Can you show a direct correlation between H1B and salary stagnation. I would more likely point to outsourcing as being more relevant to salary stagnation. If companies have a hard time hiring they would be more prone to outsourcing and it is always better to have a salary stagnated job in the US than not having the job at all.

    Finally about Lou Dobbs..... I have much better use for my time than watching him. His journalism is worse than tabloid journalism though I have the suspicion that he may have an eye on joining the National Enquirer after immigration is done as he would have nothing more to say to his current audience.

    My two cents!





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  • Macaca
    03-06 08:57 PM
    Some paras from Lobbying Bill Sparks Populist Uprising -- on Both Sides (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/05/AR2007030501370.html)

    The National Right to Life Committee and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) are locking horns -- not over abortion, but over whether thousands of top executive branch officials should have to disclose the names of people who lobby them.

    Driven by the over-the-top, clandestine lobbying of Bush administration officials by now-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Waxman's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has unanimously approved the Executive Branch Reform Act. A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that she backs the measure, which would require senior bureaucrats to report quarterly whom they speak to about government actions, and that she expects it to get a vote in the House.

    The legislation's advocates are also preparing to fight and they hope eventually to expand reporting to include lobbyists' meetings with lawmakers. Liberal watchdog groups such as Public Citizen, Common Cause and Democracy 21 yearn to give the public a clearer picture of who asks what from government officials all over the nation's capital.





    validIV
    06-25 03:36 PM
    The only way renting is not throwing money away is if you can claim it as a tax expense (business for example). Otherwise you may as well be smoking that money every month. There is no way for you to recoup rent money, no matter what logic you may claim is sound. Renting should only be used as a stepping stone, to save up enough money to buy.

    If your monthly rent is less than your mortgage and you do not believe the house price is going to appreciate in near term (both true in the area I live in) then renting is NOT throwing money away. Don't borrow lines from realtors. If you pay more for living in a comparable house and your house is not appreciating what's the return on your money that you are paying extra?





    Macaca
    12-26 08:37 AM
    Freshmen Padding Their Independence (http://http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/25/AR2007122500994.html?hpid=sec-politics) Procedural Votes Become Safe Nays By Paul Kane | Washington Post, Dec 26, 2007

    Half a dozen freshman Democrats took to the House floor one late-October morning to cast their lot with Republicans.

    Their actions went unpunished by the Democratic leadership that day, as they have on many other occasions in recent weeks. The symbolic gesture -- casting nay votes on approving the House Journal, essentially the minutes of the previous day -- would have no bearing on the leadership's agenda.

    While they overwhelmingly support that agenda, the bloc of freshmen has begun casting votes against such minor procedural motions in an effort, Democratic sources and Republican critics say, to demonstrate their independence from their leadership. The number of votes that the potentially vulnerable newcomers to Capitol Hill cast against House leaders is tallied and watched closely by interest groups and political foes.

    Such is the political life of many of the 42 freshman House Democrats, a sizable number of them moderates and conservatives who must straddle the fence between supporting their party's interests and distancing themselves from a mostly liberal leadership as they gear up for their first reelection battle next fall.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other members of the party's leadership are happy to tolerate the independence on procedural matters. Less than three hours after opposing the late-October journal vote, the same six freshmen sided with Pelosi as Democrats tried, and failed, to override President Bush's veto of a bill to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years, legislation that Pelosi has called her "crown jewel."

    "I'm viewed as an independent. I'm viewed as a conservative Democrat," said Rep. Jason Altmire (Pa.), the first freshman to regularly oppose his party's leadership on the journal vote.

    Like several others, Altmire offered no explanation for voting against all but one of 18 roll calls on the routine measure, adding that he had no "pre-planned" rationale for the votes. "I'm certainly not going to win or lose my reelection based on my journal votes," he said.

    But the first reelection campaign in his conservative-leaning western Pennsylvania district could be a tough one. Bush won there by a comfortable nine percentage points in 2004. Districts such as Altmire's fueled the Democratic takeover of the House last year. They are blue-collar in attitude and red-hued in politics, particularly on issues such as abortion and gun rights.

    Dubbed the "majority makers" by Pelosi's leadership team, the freshmen have become a major front in the Democrats' battle to sustain and expand their majority next fall.

    Stuart Rothenberg, an independent analyst and author of the Rothenberg Political Report, said Republican hopes for shrinking the Democratic majority begin with what he calls "snapback candidates," who rode into office under the last election cycle's optimal conditions for Democrats and now face their first reelection contests.

    Protecting the 42 freshman Democrats, the largest partisan class since 73 Republicans took office in 1994, has been the top priority for key Democratic strategists such as Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.). The freshmen get special treatment from leaders, including a weekly meeting with Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.). And they receive frequent advice on how to vote from Emanuel and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

    Seven of the rookies have more than $1 million in cash on hand, and according to Rothenberg, more than half are in safe positions to win reelection. In addition, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee holds a more than 11-to-1 cash advantage over its Republican counterpart, a potential financial backstop for endangered freshmen.

    But the political environment has turned toxic in recent months as Democrats have been stymied in their effort to take Congress in their self-proclaimed new direction. Opinion polls show public approval ratings for Congress mired in the 20s, considerably lower than Bush's rating.

    In recent months, Democrats in battleground districts have been criticized by Republicans, who have tried to paint them as close to the new House leadership.

    "While these Democrats might claim to be independent voices for their districts, the differences between them and Nancy Pelosi are purely aesthetic," said Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. This year, the GOP committee launched a Web site to track the percentage of votes that 28 of the freshmen cast with Pelosi, whom Republicans say will be a polarizing figure in conservative districts next fall.

    That is why procedural votes are important to freshmen, according to Democratic aides. House Republicans this year turned to a procedure known as a "motion to recommit," offering what is typically a routine method of sending bills back to committee as politically charged amendments. With a wink and a nod from Emanuel and Hoyer, some endangered freshmen frequently vote with Republicans on tricky GOP motions to keep their votes from being used against them in 30-second campaign sound bites.

    Some freshman Democrats have taken the idea of voting against their party leadership on procedural votes one step further, opposing mundane matters such as the journal vote.

    Altmire has sided with the opposition in 17 of 18 journal roll calls this year. Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) has cast 15 votes with the GOP. In the spring, only a few freshmen voted against the journal, but one recent vote drew 13 freshmen in opposition, and in another, 11 voted nay. Now a half-dozen or more regularly oppose whenever a roll call is held.

    Democratic leaders acknowledge that they have encouraged the freshmen to sometimes vote with Republicans on politically difficult issues, but deny that they have had any input on the Congressional Record votes.

    "We've given them very simple advice: Make sure you vote your district," Van Hollen said.

    As a result, Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), for example, has one of the lowest party-unity voting scores -- less than 84 percent -- of any House Democrat, according to washingtonpost.com's congressional database. The average House Democrat has voted with the majority on 92.5 percent of all votes.

    "They're trying to create separation. Our guys did it in '95 and '96," said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), a member of the GOP class of 1994.

    At the time, freshman Republicans saw congressional popularity plummet during a budget fight that led to a series of federal government shutdowns. Fearful of being tied closely to then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), many freshmen also began voting no on the journal in a similar effort to distance themselves.