Immigration reform? The Republicans say – NO!

Two Republican U.S. senators said Sunday they’ll join other GOP lawmakers to block Democrats’ efforts to push ahead with immigration reform.

“I just don’t think this is the right time to take up this issue, with the border security problems, the drug wars going on across the border, 10 percent unemployment,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The push for immigration reform by the White House and congressional Democrats comes amid widespread protests and threatened legal challenges over the nation’s toughest law targeting illegal immigrants, signed Friday by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said on CNN’s “State of the Union” other issues pending in Congress must take precedence over immigration reform…

The nation would be months ahead on every issue if the Republican Party hadn’t decided to make stalling their sole political position on every issue.

Referring to the Arizona law, he said, “This is one situation where the state of Arizona has decided to take matters into their own hands. And if that’s what the people of Arizona want to do, then certainly they have that right…”

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee…said the Arizona law demonstrates the need for immigration reform.

It is fundamentally wrong to be a second-class citizen just because you have a certain accent or you look a certain way,” he said. “That’s what Arizona is pursuing.”

Reform should secure the borders and provide a pathway to permanent residence – to paraphrase Menendez.

The silliness reaches natural extremes when you confront my Libertarian friends on the issue. They’re all in favor of having people identified as Americans or not, legal or illegal. But, will oppose to the death any way of doing it – that includes them.

Tim Geithner considers the “Wall Streeter” tag absurd

I think he’d also rather be out of the spotlight more often
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner doesn’t like the fact that he’s so often associated with being a creature of Wall Street when nearly his whole career has been in public service.

In an interview on CNN’s “GPS” program on Sunday, Geithner responded sharply when asked how he felt about being portrayed as “somehow in bed with Wall Street firms” while he spearheads the Obama administration’s financial reform efforts.

“It is part of a narrative that hardened, which is that people came to view the judgments we were making through the prism of a myth,” Geithner said, adding it was untrue that he had a background that left him beholden to industry.

“So I think it’s actually very damaging,” he said. “It’s completely false, of course, and it, you know, should have been corrected a long time ago…”

Geithner was president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank before being nominated by President Barack Obama to head Treasury and that is about as close as he came to Wall Street.

He joked that he has never had “a real job” in the private sector.

“You know, basically, almost right out of graduate school, I came and worked as a very junior public servant at the Treasury, and spent my entire professional life since in some form of, you know, policy job,” Geithner said.

Most Americans have little or no understanding of the general role of the Federal Reserve. But, then, most Americans have little or no understanding of history and politics, either.

That includes the Press. Especially the flavor that views news as entertainment.

I’ve been aware of Geithner’s history of public service since he was proposed for the Treasury job. It’s the responsibility of a citizen to be informed. Especially on matters of political decisions.

I’ve been as aware – all my life – of how unproductive a task it is to explain to the public at large the realities of history, nature, science, economics, etc..

RCMP prepare for extended Afghanistan duty

Canadian combat troops are slated to leave Afghanistan next summer, but RCMP Commissioner William Elliott said Saturday he expects his personnel will have to stay behind to undertake the “huge challenge” of training police officers.

About 50 RCMP and other civilian Canadian police are posted to Afghanistan as part of a mission to train the Afghan National Police. The ANP, as it’s known, has had a reputation for roadside shakedowns and graft that Canadian officials hope mentoring, training and supervision will eradicate.

Elliott, who visited Kandahar this weekend to review the Mounties’ operations there, said he’s seen “indications from the government” that it wants the training to plow on once combat soldiers ship out starting in July 2011…

One question is whether the Tories will seek to send more police to Afghanistan to fill the void left by the withdrawal of the Canadian Forces. The federal government has been pressured by the United States to maintain a large presence in the central Asian country past 2011…

As foreign mentors try to cleanse the Afghan National Police of its venal tendencies — officers have been known to routinely hit up the subjects of their investigations for a payoff and are widely distrusted by the populace — they’ve had to adapt their teaching methods for the different calibre of the force’s cadets.

“Let’s not kid ourselves. We are working not with a modern police force, and not with recruits that would meet the standards of Canadian recruits,” Elliott said. “Many of them are illiterate, and that in and of itself is a huge challenge…”

The Canadian police contingent has also tackled the corruption conundrum systemically by helping implement a new payroll method. ANP officers are now remunerated on par with soldiers in the Afghan National Army, and they receive their wages by direct deposit to their bank account to avoid skimming by bureaucrats. It’s hoped that with more money in the officers’ hands, they will solicit less from the public.

Uh, OK. That’s a heck of an ethic determining education and a job description.

Giving a mobile voice to India’s villagers

In a remote corner of rural India, a new experiment using mobile phones is bringing people news made by local villagers. The BBC’s Geeta Pandey travels to Rajnandgaon district in the central state of Chhattisgarh to see who is tuning in.

A group of villagers sit on a shaded platform on a hot afternoon in Mirche village…

Listening to their complaints and grievances are Bhan Sahu and Budhan Meshram, who are “reporters” or “citizen journalists” for CGnet Swara (Chhattisgarh Net Voice).

CGnet is an attempt to cater to people who are on the wrong side of the digital divide, says Shubhranshu Choudhary, a former BBC journalist-turned-activist and the brain behind CGnet Swara.

“We are providing a new platform which the villagers can use to talk to each other and the outside world about issues that are important to them,” he says…And the technology, developed by Microsoft Research India and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is simple.

“Reporters” call a Bangalore number to upload a news item and a text message goes out to all the phone numbers in the contact list and anyone who wants to hear the report calls in to the same number and the message is played out…

CGnet was launched in February and Mr Choudhary says the response has been overwhelming.

RTFA. Truly interesting anecdotal tales of participants and politics, people finding a voice they know is their own.