.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, September 25, 2005


La Nueva Orleans -- Bush hires illegals to rebuild US

La Nueva Orleans
Latino immigrants, many of them here illegally, will rebuild the Gulf Coast -- and stay there.
By Gregory RodriguezGregory Rodriguez is a contributing editor to The Times and Irvine Senior fellow at the New America Foundation.
September 25, 2005 copyright 2005 LA Times

NO MATTER WHAT ALL the politicians and activists want, African Americans and impoverished white Cajuns will not be first in line to rebuild the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast and New Orleans. Latino immigrants, many of them undocumented, will. And when they're done, they're going to stay, making New Orleans look like Los Angeles. It's the federal government that will have made the transformation possible, further exposing the hollowness of the immigration debate.President Bush has promised that Washington will pick up the greater part of the cost for "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen." To that end, he suspended provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act that would have required government contractors to pay prevailing wages in Louisiana and devastated parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. And the Department of Homeland Security has temporarily suspended sanctioning employers who hire workers who cannot document their citizenship. The idea is to benefit Americans who may have lost everything in the hurricane, but the main effect will be to let contractors hire illegal immigrants.Mexican and Central American laborers are already arriving in southeastern Louisiana. One construction firm based in Metairie, La., sent a foreman to Houston to round up 150 workers willing to do cleanup work for $15 an hour, more than twice their wages in Texas. The men — most of whom are undocumented, according to news accounts — live outside New Orleans in mobile homes without running water and electricity. The foreman expects them to stay "until there's no more work" but "there's going to be a lot of construction jobs for a really long time."Because they are young and lack roots in the United States, many recent migrants are ideal for the explosion of construction jobs to come. Those living in the U.S. will relocate to the Gulf Coast, while others will come from south of the border. Most will not intend to stay where their new jobs are, but the longer the jobs last, the more likely they will settle permanently. One recent poll of New Orleans evacuees living in Houston emergency shelters found that fewer than half intend to return home. In part, their places will be taken by the migrant workers. Former President Clinton recently hinted as much on NBC's "Meet the Press" when he said New Orleans will be resettled with a different population.It is not the first time that hurricanes and other natural disasters have triggered population movements. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch slammed into Central America, sending waves of migrants northward. The 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador produced similar shifts. The effects of Hurricane Andrew may better foretell New Orleans' future. The 1992 storm displaced 250,000 residents in southeastern Florida. The construction boom that followed attracted large numbers of Latin American immigrants, who rebuilt towns such as Homestead, whose Latino population has increased by 50% since then.At the same time, U.S. construction firms have become increasingly reliant on Latino immigrant labor. In 1990, only 3.3% of construction workers were Mexican immigrants. Ten years later, the number was 8.5%. In 2004, 17% of Latino immigrants worked in the business, a higher percentage than in any other industry. Nor is this an exclusively Southwest phenomenon. Even before Katrina, more and more Latin American immigrant workers were locating in the South, with North Carolina and Arkansas incurring the greatest percentage gains between 1990 and 2000. This helps explain why 40% of the workers who rebuilt the Pentagon after the 9/11 attack were Latino.Reliance on immigrant labor to complete huge projects is part of U.S. history. In the early 19th century, mostly Irish immigrant laborers, who worked for as little as 37 1/2 cents an hour, built the Erie Canal, one of the greatest engineering feats of its day. Later that century, Italian immigrants, sometimes making just $1.50 a day, were the backbone of the workforce that constructed the New York subway system. In 1890, 90% of New York City's public works employees, and 99% of Chicago's street workers, were Italian.After Congress authorized construction of the transcontinental railroad in 1862, one of the most ambitious projects in U.S. history, Charles Crocker, head of construction for Central Pacific railroad, recognized that the Civil War was creating a labor shortage. So he turned to Chinese immigrants to do the job. By 1867, 12,000 of Central Pacific's 13,500 workers were Chinese immigrants, who were paid between $26 and $35 for a six-day workweek of 12 hours a day. At the turn of the 20th century, Mexican immigrant laborers did most of the railroad construction in Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.Mexican workers were also essential in turning the Southwest into a fertile region, which by 1929 produced 40% of the United States' fruits and vegetables. They cleared the mesquite brush of south Texas to make room for the expansion of agriculture, then played a primary role in the success of cotton farming in the state. A generation earlier, German immigrants from Russia and Norwegians had busted the prairie sod to turn the grasslands of North Dakota into arable fields. The major difference between then and now is that neither the American public nor the government will admit their dependence on a labor force that is heavily undocumented. When Mexican President Vicente Fox offered to provide Mexican labor to help rebuild New Orleans — "If there is anything Mexicans are good at, it is construction," he said — the federal government ignored him. At the same time, some of the undocumented Mexicans who have cleaned up and begun to rebuild Biloxi, Miss., are wondering whether they deserve at least a temporary visa so they can live in the U.S. legally.Last week, the White House said it will push its plan to allow illegal immigrants already in the U.S. to become legal guest workers. Good. Hurricane Katrina exposed the nation's black-white divide. Post-Katrina reconstruction will soon spotlight the hypocrisy of refusing to grant legal status to those who will rebuild the Gulf Coast and New Orleans.

Don't forget to donate: http://www.jewishfedbr.org/ and maybe to Edwards for President. G_d bless the americas.

Update: I saw a brief news update that the Davis-Bacon suspension was being pulled, and that prevailing wages would be required. Go search.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Ah, the good old days?

'Clinton,' 'Lewinsky' Brand Condoms Sold in China
By Mark Magnier Times Staff Writer copyright 2005 LA Times
11:54 AM PDT, September 21, 2005

BEIJING — A new line of condoms is grabbing headlines in China even as its sparks a debate about trademark law and promotion campaigns. The products' brand names: "Clinton" and "Lewinsky."The condoms are sold in boxes of 12, with the brand named after former President Bill Clinton priced at $3.70 and that of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky at $2.25. Guangzhou Haojian Bioscience Co. said it registered both trademarks and is pricing the brands differently to reflect the higher quality of the Clinton line."We chose the name because we think Clinton is a symbol of success and a man of responsibility. And Lewinsky is a woman who dares to love and dares to hate," said Liu Wenhua, the company's general manager."We haven't told Clinton about this yet, but maybe you could help us find him," Liu added. "We'd like to tell him how respected he is in China, so we can boost his confidence and help his career." Liu said he settled on the Clinton name after a year of research sparked by the news that the former president had been named to head an international initiative to combat HIV and AIDS. Some of the other names he considered and rejected included "First Night," "18 Years Old" and "I Miss You." They didn't have the same aura of respectability, he said.Liu added that because the names were registered with the central government's trademark office, he didn't anticipate any legal problems. But Zheng Zhangjun, a trademark attorney with the Fengshi law firm in Beijing, said given Clinton's fame and the evident intent to use it for commercial gain, the former president would have a good case to register the name as his own and thus block Liu from using it. The registration process normally takes a few months and costs around $35."Just about every foreign company operating in China faces this kind of problem," said Allan Gabor, chairman of the intellectual property rights committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. "In some ways, using Clinton and Lewinsky's names is a creative twist on an old story." In December, China strengthened its judicial interpretation, giving foreigners greater protection against those trying to steal their patents, trademarks and copyrights. But companies and other offended parties need to bring the cases to court, and that's the catch. In Clinton's case, taking that step might only give the company more publicity and undercut the former president's reputation."That might be part of a calculated strategy," Gabor said. "I doubt either Clinton or Lewinsky are going to do too much."Despite Guangzhou's questionable legal standing, advertising and public relations executives said they had to give Liu grudging credit for his strategy. He's offering a product that is in growing demand after China's grudging public acknowledgment in recent years that it has an HIV/AIDS problem. Even the stodgy state mouthpiece China Daily ran a long article about the company on its front page. On one point, however, the company may have even crossed China's wooly line on what is acceptable. In another bid to attract attention, the company has included adult jokes and Kama Sutra-style "instructional" drawings in each package. The Guangzhou city government said those are against the law.Liu said adult jokes, many involving Chinese double entendres, fit with Clinton's image."Clinton is not only successful, he's also humorous and loves life," Liu said. "Jokes mean you should love life."

Monday, September 12, 2005


Hurricane Katrina: the most displayed persons since the Civil War

Noblesse oblige? Not our president [from the LA Times September 8, 2005 copyright]
by Margaret Carlson

AS PART OF HIS political damage control over the weekend, President Bush sent his staff to the Sunday talk shows and his parents to visit evacuees bused to Houston from New Orleans. The administration officials fared poorly. On "Meet the Press," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff tried to spin a headline few saw — "New Orleans Dodges a Bullet" — into an explanation of why his department stood by for days as thousands sent to the city's convention center were trapped in their own filth, without food, water or medicine. He looked silly.But Chertoff gave a boffo performance compared with the president's mother, who left her comfortable house in the West Oaks section of Houston to tour the emergency facility at the Astrodome.While I saw a teeming mass of displaced people standing in hourlong lines to wash encrusted grime off their children in a tiny restroom sink, Barbara Bush found a bunch of happy campers experiencing a step up in their living conditions. She saw visitors "overwhelmed with the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working [she chuckles here] very well for them."Oh really? The Bushes have always made fun of Bill Clinton's lip-biting, hands-on governing, but who wouldn't prefer it to this president's upbeat platitudes. Tanned and rested from a vacation so long it would embarrass the French, Bush initially flew over the devastation in Air Force One, promising his prayers on his way someplace else. When he actually arrived in Louisiana a few days later, he reminisced about going to New Orleans "to enjoy myself, occasionally too much," apparently thinking he was at a fundraiser. He topped that in Mississippi: "Out of the rubble of Trent Lott's house … there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." Even to his detractors, the callous, puerile attitude and sheer ineptitude of Bush this past week is shocking. He got off to a slow start on 9/11 but quickly found his bullhorn and Rudy Giuliani. He's got neither here. One reason for the dismal federal performance is Bush's disdain for government. To him, it's bloated and for chumps who can't provide for themselves — with some exceptions. Bush signed spending bills filled with pork, finding $454 million for his Alaskan Republicans to build two bridges to nowhere in Alaska but not for the levees everyone but him knew were cracking. His administration intervenes but only when there are a lot of cameras and potential political gain, such as in the Terri Schiavo case, when Bush rushed back from his ranch in March to do so. And saying "it's your money, not the government's," he cut taxes for the wealthy, which means less money for boring projects like disaster relief. If Bush cared about governing, he would have never appointed Michael Brown, the failed director of a trade association that ran horse shows, to run FEMA, which the president folded into the Homeland Security Department. That agency has little to show for itself other than an ineffective color chart and long lines at the airport as arthritic old ladies remove their shoes. If Bush's first priority were managing the real crisis and not the political one, he'd fire Brown, who ignored the pleas for help from the thousands of people herded like cattle into the Superdome and the convention center. On the contrary, Bush praised his point man for the recovery that hadn't happened: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." If he keeps up the good work, he may end up like those other great officials — Paul Bremer and George Tenet — with a Medal of Freedom around his neck instead of a noose.To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, we went to New Orleans with the government we have — replete with its Chertoffs, Brownies, Cheneys and assorted other ideologues, cronies and schemers who gorge on patronage, revel in politics and brush off the mundane responsibilities of the offices they hold. They're Big Picture guys who have brought the same management skills to the Gulf states that they brought to that other gulf.The worrisome question is how much like them are the rest of us? In 2000, even his supporters found Al Gore and his 10-point plans long-winded compared with the affable frat boy rescued from a checkered career by family and connections until he was running the Texas Rangers and then Texas itself. For three years, we watched as Bush created and compounded the tragedy in Iraq, and rehired him anyway. Perhaps now we see that you better treat government with respect. You never know when your life — political and otherwise — might depend on it.*
MARGARET CARLSON is a columnist for Bloomberg News.

look for the donate button on this site: http://www.jewishfedbr.org/

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?