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  • Macaca
    12-28 07:35 PM
    Unique India jail outsourcing unit set to begin (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12065555) By Soutik Biswas | BBC

    In a sprawling conference hall in a prison on the outskirts of India's southern city of Hyderabad, a dozen-odd prisoners are tapping away furiously on computer keyboards.

    It is an unusual sight: the prisoners, mostly sentenced to life for murder, are training to become workers in a unique outsourcing unit that is coming up at the impressive 43-acre Cherlapalli jail.

    They are in the middle of a typing accuracy and speed test, having been set a target of typing 35 to 40 words a minute. Other prisoners are shadowing them.

    Of the 2,000-odd inmates, nearly 70 are engineering graduates, say prison authorities.

    By end of January, they believe, India's first BPO [business process outsourcing] unit in a prison will begin working with 50-odd inmate "employees" from an in-house meditation centre which is being transformed into a factory.

    'Expecting orders'

    It will specialise in non-voice based, off-line outsourcing work like digitising records, legal documents, scripts, manuscripts and text books, and medical transcription, says K Mohan Menon, a manager with Radiant Info Systems, a US-based info-tech company which is assisting the venture.

    It helps that Hyderabad is a BPO hub, generating some 50 million rupees ($1.1m; �717,922) annually in revenues from non-voice based business alone.

    "We cannot let prisoners get online and communicate with the outside world. So we opted for an offline business. Some people and companies have already shown interest and we expect some orders soon," says prison chief G Jayawardhan.

    The convicts get a paltry 15 rupees [33 cents] per day for other work like making steel furniture or working on looms in the prison, but authorities expect to pay them 100 rupees [$2.2] to 150 rupees [$3.32] a day for working in the BPO unit.

    M Nageshwar, 37, a software engineer who worked with a company for 10 years before he ended up in prison, is leading the pack of convicts who are training to work at the unit.

    He was found guilty of killing his wife - he says she committed suicide - three years ago and sentenced to life.

    Mr Nageshwar has contested his conviction in the Supreme Court.

    "I am excited about the project. Educated people like me can easily slip into depression when they are incarcerated. It is a relief for convicts like me and a good opportunity to prove ourselves," he says.

    "Also, remember," he whispers, "an idle man's brain is a devil's workshop."

    G Rama Rao, who was sentenced to life 15 months ago for murdering a political opponent - he says it was a case of "political conspiracy" - echoes a similar sentiment.

    Mr Rao is a postgraduate in commerce from a leading university and owns a rice mill, which his family runs in his absence.

    "As an educated man, I can't find good work in a prison and get bored. I can't do all the factory work here. At my rice mill, I did my accounts on the computer. So I will use my skills to spend time better," he says.

    'Living in hope'

    Most convicts believe that their work experience with the outsourcing unit will fetch them jobs if and when they are released.

    Ravi Kumar, 26, was an army clerk for seven years, before he ended up shooting a colleague dead while he was posted in Indian-administered Kashmir.

    A commerce graduate, Mr Kumar says he has worked on computers in the past.

    "When I come out of prison, this is going to help me," he says.

    Twenty-four year old Mahesh Goud, who has been in the prison for 14 months in connection with the murder of a friend, is an electronics graduate.

    He worked in a hydroelectric plant as an electrical engineer for nearly two years, earning $280 a month till the crime.

    "I am feeling useful again. I am spending time more fruitfully. I hope this is a success," he says.

    Bank manager Ratna Babu, 53, was working with a state-owned bank before he was arrested on charges of misappropriation of money, a charge he denies.

    The case dragged on for 13 years before he was sentenced to six years in prison about a year ago.

    Mr Babu says he began learning computers only three months ago.

    "After I am free I will never get a job in a bank. I want to work for a BPO then. This training will stand me in good stead.

    Mr Goud agrees wholeheartedly.

    "It will help in my future. All of us will be released one day. All of us have to go out and find work then. This experience will help us. We all live in hope, don't we?"


    Outsourcing unit to be set up in Indian jail (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8677486.stm) By Omer Farooq | BBC





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  • Marphad
    12-17 01:09 PM
    This is exactly I hate. To divert focus of terrorism to Hindu group, Muslim leader comes out - WOW!

    Sounds like LeT informed Hindu group in advance that they are going to attack so as a by-product they can kill Karkare. Ha ha ha.

    Times Of India Headline: Antulay raises doubts over Karkare's killing





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  • hiralal
    06-21 08:19 AM
    Hello Hiralal,

    Indeed! But if the individual 'affordability' is such that you can pay the monthly payments even after moving out of US due to job loss/485 denial, and if the purchase lowers your tax bill, then it may make more sense to buy the house...

    Personally, I've always had intentions of buying real estate in US, EU and India.... have it in India, considering it in US and exploring how to buy it in EU... :) Wish had much more 'cash'... :D
    just thought I would add this as a joke :) ..Personally I have always wanted one house on the Moon and one in Mars ..Earth is too crowded and some countries have big problems in giving us plastic cards which are green in color ;) ..I just want to get away from that.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    That is a nightmare !!! unless you are bill gates, Tata, Ambani etc etc ..if u have a relative in US in the same location then maybe you can manage but still it is problematic ..on top of it, how do you earn money in say India to pay mortgage in US ??
    if my GC (or say residency in any country) is denied, I would not want any immovable property in that place ....break - ins, mntc problems, maintenance etc ..I know there are some agencies which will take care of the property for you but their fees are high. I would rather have my money in liquid form and take it with me (or have the ability to take it with me).
    as someone else said ..maybe an option would be to stay back and sell the house (at a loss I guess) ..and risk going out of status (but re-entry would be problematic).
    I had a question though ..if GC is denied and EAD is valid for 2 years ..can you stay till EAD expiration date ? (I know u have option of MTR ..but say that is denied too ) ..in other words, how long can you stay after GC is denied





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  • gapala
    06-23 10:28 PM
    Lot of folks talk about tax credit of 8000 in several threads, But, understand that a lot of us in this forum may not even get a dime in credit. There are income limits. Married and income above 170000 will get nothing.. nada. If the income is 165000, you will receive a mere 2000 and so on. Married with less than 150000 will receive 8000. For a single, the limit is 75K.

    If both husband and wife works in tech sector.. income will easily cross the limits and you will be considered too rich to buy a home and get credit... May be car credit might work for us as limits are higher... it only applies to sales tax charged on the first $49,500 of your purchase The income limit is high enough that nearly everyone will qualify. The credit starts to phase out at $125,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples. Once you reach $135,000 and $260,000, respectively, you no longer qualify for car credit.



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  • new_horizon
    12-18 08:33 AM
    i agree that organized religions were created by man, but I am talking about faith. God did not come to create religion but a way to salvation. the main message of the bible is forgiveness, and the sacrifice that God made in order to save mankind. the person the bible portrays is the man who wanted to sacrifice his life for all of us. history proves that to be true. I don't think any king would want to change that message.
    God hates evil, and both God and evil cannot exist together. Man is doomed to eternal death because of sin. but God loved us that none of us should perish, and that's how he gave us a way to escape death (not mortal). that is through the great sacrifice He made for mankind.

    Book of Romans 5:8
    "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."



    Look, your intensions may be good and I respect that, but one cannot solve one problem by creating another problem of equal magnitude.

    Isn't "religion" the reason why folks are fighting? I do not mean to offend anyone, but I think all religious books have been doctored by the kings who were in power during the last two centuries. Bible, Geeta, Quran, or for that matter any religious book of any organized religion - they are all doctored from its original version. Why? Because the purpose of these books is? Guess what? To oragnize the religion. Their primary purpose is not spirituality. Because if the sole purpose was spirituality, no one will have fought each other in the name of religion for thousands of years.

    I guess the question I would ask is - WWJD ie. What Would Jesus Do? If you asked Jesus that are you the only son of god, WWJD? I can tell you with 100% surety that he will say - we are all sons and daughters of God. But con artists have doctored the holy book to suit their meaning and interpretation. Anyways, I do not mean to have a philisophical debate here with you being the "protector" of Jesus, why? Because Jesus or Allah or for that matter any great soul doesn't need any protection from anyone. Just as a cartoon cannot damage Allah, any discussion about any faith cannot damage the GOD. But too often we want to be seen as if "God is on MY side" because I follow CORRECT religion, and everyone else is against my team of "ME & GOD". And thats just the most absurd thing mankind could come up with in the form of organized religion. But the truth is, thats the most common view most humans take, everyone is protecting their "GOD", which actually sounds like a joke. Does god need any protection??? I mean give me a break.

    Please don't bring one flawed system to replace another flawed system.





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  • pitha
    09-26 06:24 PM
    Barack Obama the socialist with his protectionist\restrictionist measures will not create jobs but will destroy the capitalist america. In addition to "creating" jobs by stopping "JOBS BEING SHIPPED OVERSEAS", he will also "create" jobs by kicking you and me out of USA. Lookout for draconian H1b restrictions, points based system, removal of AC21 and amnesty for illegals by obama-kennedy-durbin CIR. Not sure MCcain would do anything for us but one thing for sure he wont be anti to eb folks. Just like Bush who might not have done anything for us but atleast during the july 2007 visa bulletin fiasco his administration (chertof, rice ) atleast reversed the July bulletin after the flower campaign. Durbin-obama would thrown the flowers on our face and kick us out.

    Just Kidding - reading your post i was feeling like I'm reading a comment from Fox News. However i do respect your opinion and thanks for expressing it.

    My Point is more long term - in the shorter term no major change can happen to economy even if Barack wins but eventually Economy would be stronger under Barack's leadership. He also stressed that he would stop "JOBS BEING SHIPPED OVERSEAS" which means companies like TATA or INFY or some Chinese company taking my Job ( or any American's Job ) away from US to INDIA or CHINA. If you are planning a future in US - you would not want your US job taken away by your brother at INDIA or CHINA and Barack will make sure that doesn't happen.

    The Bottonline is he will create tons of Jobs at US , so unemployment will be very low , average peoples will be happy and however loud ANTI-IMMIGRANTS scream and shout no AMERICAN will pay attention. Our EB reforms will Pass much easily and we will be able to able to lead a much happier and content life with GREEN CARD.

    Once again my Point is definitely Long Term - in the shorter duration Barack has to first fix the Mortgage Mess and do something with Iran by taking help from EUROPE.



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  • StuckInTheMuck
    08-06 03:24 PM
    haha haha..man, cant let this thread disappear!
    bump bump!
    \/\/ dump dump \/\/





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  • gomirage
    06-05 07:18 PM
    Sorry but no matter how you spin it, owning a home is better than renting. Renting is not smart. period. your money is gone every month. You are not getting that money back.

    When you own a home, the money goes towards a mortgage, and although most of it goes to interest at first, all interest paid is tax deductible which is a huge chunk of change every year. I get more money back as an owner than a renter and in the long run I save more AND own the home.

    30 year renter vs 30 year home owner? That is not rocket science.

    It's not rocket science, just common sense. In case you are aware, lot of people on this forum don't have gc in hand. What will they do if they decide to leave due to gc taking too long to come through. Ask they bank to give back the money they spend on stupid interest for 10 years for a house upside down ?

    Common sense is to rent until you are sure you're staying for good.



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  • niklshah
    08-05 08:24 PM
    "Originally Posted by lfwf
    I have seen you post before, and with this post you lost some of my respect. You need to be rational and coherent if you want to debate the issue. Not emotional and silly."

    More hollow rhetoric from lfwf... someone that fails to see coherent logic and arguments made out in posts and instead claims that there is none :). Maybe, Inglis is the prablem, eh? LOL.

    Obviously, lfwf's 'respect' is worth a lot ;)

    I've gotten my days worth of laughs reading these protectionist jokers' weak arguments and empty threats of lawsuits.

    LOL!



    see how stupid highly educated community is?.....the guy who started the thread is not writing anything and people are fighting......

    the guy who wrote is definately not any of us i mean he is not in green card line.......

    people chill.....

    take it easy, when ur turn comes u will get ur gc.....try to participate in IV action item and donate if u can..

    i am an EB3





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  • dealsnet
    01-10 03:39 PM
    Palestine was never a country. Even historian knows that there was a kingdom of Israel & Kingdom of Judah. The kings and the timeslines when the kingdoms were destroyed are also known. Due to numerous invasions there was a great diaspora of Jews to the other parts of the world. Even Jerusalem belongs to the Jews. The Romans under Titus burned down the Jewsish temple and killed entire tribes of Jews during the Jewish revolt against Rome in AD. 70. The modern state of Israel was in fact simply returing the ancient land of Israel to the Jews. Kashmir belongs to India. Pakistan has occupied Kashmir.



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  • jonty_11
    08-07 03:35 PM
    UN,

    I understand u had a topsy turvy ride to GC urself...and ur story is posted somewhere....Can you or someone who may know point me to it...ur GC interview and what not?





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  • Macaca
    12-27 06:39 PM
    Onions vs. Corruption on the Outrage Scale (http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2010/12/27/onions-vs-corruption-on-the-outrage-scale/) By Rupa Subramanya Dehejia | IndiaRealTime

    Are we a democracy in name only? Is the Indian electorate apathetic? Why aren�t people marching in the streets protesting the recent spate of corruption scams?

    Well, OK, some marched last Wednesday as the BJP sponsored demonstrations against corruption in the major metros. But it was hardly a spontaneous and large-scale outpouring of popular disaffection. And it was rather late at that.

    While India�s political classes and the English speaking elite are working themselves into a rhetorical frenzy over the succession of scandals that have beset the United Progressive Alliance government, contrast this to the apparent complete lack of engagement by the common man. While most Indian commentary has focused on the political intrigue within Delhi, Paul Beckett in the WSJ remarked on the fact that �this is the sort of event that in a less apathetic democracy would lead to genuinely convulsive outrage.�

    At least every five years, India is a vibrant democracy, with a high participation rate and a robust tendency to punish incumbents who perform poorly, even more so than in most Western democracies. But why do we become so lethargic in between? Where are the convulsions that we surely should be seeing?

    Recently, I�ve been posing this question to just about everyone I meet from Mumbai taxi drivers, construction crew in the neighboring apartment, Twitter followers, and whomever else I can buttonhole. Some professed no interest, saying that all of their energy and time are occupied by putting food on the table. Others expressed a sense of helplessness: �I�m a day laborer barely making ends meet; how can I influence what these big politicians do? Who will listen to me?�

    This sense of resignation needs to be questioned. If common folk felt that helpless, why would they bother to vote in such large numbers and turf out politicians they don�t like every time an election comes around? As the recent state election in Bihar demonstrates, voters are quite prepared to reward good governance and punish grandstanding populism. Clearly, as an electorate, we�re responsive and agile when we want to be.

    So what�s going on?

    One hypothesis is that people largely see this as political theater. So long as the economy is booming and there�s no direct impact on their pocketbook, it�s business as usual. Let�s not forget when existential questions such as land acquisition or the price of staples are at issue, we do see the common man coming out on the streets and expressing his displeasure, forcing governments to react. Witness the recent uproar over the price of onions.

    The estimated $40 billion loss to the exchequer from selling the 2G spectrum below its value is money not spent on electrifying Indian towns and villages, building schools and hospitals, etc. Why don�t people see it this way? It is not merely a �presumptive� loss as Kapil Sabil contended to Barkha Dutt on NDTV recently but a real economic loss. After all, a rupee not earned is a rupee wasted.

    Another reason could be that two-thirds of the people are poor and don�t pay much in the way of income taxes. Perhaps they don�t see the recent scams as costing them. Contrast this to the West where every allegation of government money misused is widely portrayed as a waste of taxpayers� money and galvanizes opposition. In India, the bulk of the tax base is rich individuals and corporations who, as we should expect, are the ones who�ve been screaming loudest about the recent scandals.

    A related explanation may be that there�s been a failure by the opposition parties in articulating the cost to the common man of these various scams. Broad and sweeping condemnations of corruption don�t speak directly to the fact that the money lost could have been used for productive social ends. The talking heads on cable news channels and the pundits in print seem so caught up in the minute details of parliamentary and judicial procedures that they miss the forest for the trees.

    The crux of the matter is this: government strategists have presumably deduced that none of these recent scams will be consequential at the polls. What animates the common man is not television debates between Anglicized lawyers who use fancy words but fundamental issues such as food, water and land. Despite all of our economic progress, there remains a fundamental divide between the interests of the urban middle and upper classes and of the poor, whether urban or rural.

    Until that changes, the price of onions will always be politically more salient than whatever corruption scandal is making headlines, and will dictate electoral fortunes.

    Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.



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  • meridiani.planum
    08-06 12:21 PM
    ha ha ha cannot stop replying for me the guy going up is EB2 and the guy going down is EB3, unfortunately im going down...... :p

    all until the one going down hits a trampoline and the one going up hits a ceiling. Then they reverse course. The trampoline and ceiling are the visa bulletins:

    http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/bulletin/bulletin_3897.html
    (Jan 2008: EB2India 2000, EB3India2001)

    http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/bulletin/bulletin_3953.html
    (Mar 2008: EB2India U, EB3India 2001)

    http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/bulletin/bulletin_4205.html
    (May 2008: EB2India 2004, EB3India2001)

    Dont lose heart EB3 guys, the DOS/USCIS have no idea how to move the visa bulletins. what looks good now, may not look good next month...





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  • gapala
    06-05 07:12 PM
    Guys... Do not just look at individual rent vs. own comparision, have a bigger picture on the situation that we are in. I am tired of broker's "location..location...location" thing as well.. These things are way off the reality in this country..

    Historically, we all have seen that markets goes up and some times bubbles up, and goes down for a correction, some times south into recession.. .This is quiet natural to happen.. be it housing market or money market. We all know that Housing market needs a correction from those days where prices went up by $20,000 a month for several months without any control driven by easy credit, 0 down and stupid stated income policies.. Sure enough.. market started to correct itself after the credit become tight and lot of folks who jumped on to buy house at the top of peak went under water due to drop in the value of their homes... Here comes the obama housing rescue plan.. what are they trying to do here? trying to maintiain the bubble by encouraging more credit and spending.. working against natural correction of home prices towards south.

    Now lets look at whats happening around us and see if we will have returns on house as an investment.. (For those who are without GC, this becomes important).

    The gross domestic product (GDP) or gross domestic income (GDI) of US, a basic measure of an economy's economic performance, is about $13 Trillion per year as widely reported and boasted. Of that amount, approximately half, or $6.5 Trillion, is directly or indirectly related to government spending on the Federal, State, and Local levels.. :)

    Think about that for a second, about half of US current GDP is government spending? Does it sounds like developing nation? and due to job loss, loss of interest income, strained consumer keeps cutting back..the economy will contract further and eventually the goverment spending will be a major portion.

    US does not produce any consumer goods, its all China..if you don't produce you don't sell and if you don't sell you don't make an income, and if you don't make an income you don't pay taxes...plain and simple. So, what do we do, Borrow and spend.. but remember, the interest obligations will grow to suck the dollars away from goods and services that it purchases. (Folks are in China now :D)

    Due to a struggling economy, primarily driven by consumers credit crunch, lower sales means, less revenue for government and they must borrow more money to keep the government machine spending and the economy rolling despite lower tax revenues.

    It was all good when Consumers and Government borrowed, as long as they could find someone to lend and collectively could spend. During the bubble, banks lent to consumers freely and foreigners lent to Government until banks and foreigners realized we simply borrowed too much slowed lending as it became much more difficult to service the debt. Now banks are not lending to consumers with less than best rating and the government is forcing banks to lend to consumers by loaning banks TAXPAYER money at 1/4% and the banks loan it right back to us at 4.5 yo 5.5% now. How about that? :D:D

    Due to lack of credit for non-government sector, of US economy...private sector is becoming much poorer much faster creating an imbalance in the society. Mathematically private sector going south will continue due to the very high leverage on the Private Side as more and more dwindling dollars are simply allocated to paying interest due to less revenues. With time a greater and greater percentage of a troubled economy will be directly consumed by rising interest payments resulting in less
    government spending which might lead us to an inflation, wages will never keep up with exploding commodity prices. Then only option remains Tax increases on those who earn :)
    Because, Right now a huge portion of government spending is feeding the poor, housing assistance, and providing medical care to the poor and elderly. Once the government bailout dry up, fewer and fewer will be able to borrow, work on and pay taxes in private sector, fewer and fewer will be able to pay taxes and the burden will rest on the shoulders of those that have something to offer...all what they have will not be enough to sustain a $13 Trillion dollar economy.

    With such a scenario, house prices cannot stay up at more than 4 times the desposible income of majority (middle class) population which remains at less than mere USD 30000. You can imagine now, what is going to happen if home prices does not correct itself due to government interfearance.

    Its an individual perspective to decide to buy home.. Do comment and throw out your ideas..

    You can find my analysis of housing market on link below (india vs. US) http://immigrationvoice.org/forum/showthread.php?p=285966#post285966



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  • NeverEndingH1
    12-17 04:10 PM
    LOL!

    Since everyone is posting what they want, I guess I can also just post anything here....



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  • malaGCPahije
    09-26 09:10 AM
    I support McCain. Please do not give me reds for siding with McCain.

    I think for the country McCain is going to be better as prez than Obama. He is a more mentally strong person (clearly displayed by his POW stint). He chose not to go home when given a chance by the enemy because he did not want to leave his army friends alone. That says a lot about character.

    Obama for most presents himself to me as a lot of talk and not much action. He chose to be absent when the congress was voting on important action items during his time as a senator.

    I think what is best for America is best for the EB community too. If America is not the economically strong country we all hoped it would always be, then what good is the EB community going to get staying in America. With McCain, chances of reforms for legal immigration are also going to be much more than with Obama.

    Just my 2 cents.



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  • baala9
    08-06 10:07 AM
    I do agree that points raised by Rolling Flood is not well received by most in this forum.But I would pray that no one gets personal and keep the exchanges healthy.

    I do feel that this porting rule is a double edged sword with both pros and cons.But the question is : is it flawed enough to scrapped??

    I must add though, I see were Rolling flood is coming from.Just consider this scenario: Two guyz A&B graduate with a Bachelors degree at the same time.A decides to pursue higher studies and B takes up a job. After a year they file for B' EB3 at his work, while A is still at school.By the time A graduates and a EB2 is filed for him , B is also eligible for EB2.But here is the catch,B gets a much earlier PD than A.So was A a dumb dude that he decided to go to grad school.Does academic experience count for nothing against work experience???

    Its something to ponder upon.





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  • CreatedToday
    01-06 05:55 PM
    Checkpoints? What do you expect Israel to do?

    Given a chance, they strap a bomb in their waist and rush to Israel!!

    India has legitimate reason to attack pakistan ...

    But Palestine is not like that. They are fighting for their right. Have you ever seen or heard about how people in palestin live their day to day life? How many check points they have to cross before crossing a mile? How much time they spend waiting on each crossing?

    ...
    We have seen Isreals brutal aggression year after year. Killing civilians and kids year after year. I don't know how much more blood they need??





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  • rsdang
    08-12 11:23 AM
    The UN conducted a worldwide survey. The only question asked was:
    "Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food
    shortage in the rest of the world?" The survey was a huge failure. In
    Africa, they didn't know what 'food' meant. In India, they didn't know
    what 'honest' meant. In Europe, they didn't know what 'shortage'
    meant. In China, they didn't know what 'opinion' meant. In West Asia,
    they didn't know what 'solution' meant. In South America, they didn't
    know what 'please' meant. And in the US, they didn't know what 'the
    rest of the world' meant.





    senthil1
    12-17 02:27 PM
    It is true that 99.99% of Muslims are not terrorists. But 99.99% of World's hardcore terrorists are Muslims.


    What has this to do with immigration ??? Does Antulay support EB2/EB3 reforms ? Do he mention anything about wasted visa numbers.
    This is not a place to post/preach religious, spiritual believes unless it gets you the Green Card. If many Indians visit this forum, it does not become hosting agent for your thoughts. Now don't waste your time and server hard disk space posting something back on this thread.





    Macaca
    10-14 11:06 AM
    Getting Around Rules on Lobbying: Despite New Law, Firms Find Ways To Ply Politicians (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/13/AR2007101301275.html?hpid=topnews) By Elizabeth Williamson | Washington Post Staff Writer, October 14, 2007

    In recent days, about 100 members of Congress and hundreds of Hill staffers attended two black-tie galas, many of them as guests of corporations and lobbyists that paid as much as $2,500 per ticket.

    Because accepting such gifts from special interests is now illegal, the companies did not hand the tickets directly to lawmakers or staffers. Instead, the companies donated the tickets back to the charity sponsors, with the names of recipients they wanted to see and sit with at the galas.

    The arrangement was one of the most visible efforts, but hardly the only one, to get around new rules passed by Congress this summer limiting meals, travel, gifts and campaign contributions from lobbyists and companies that employ them.

    Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) found bipartisan agreement on maintaining one special privilege. Together they put language into a defense appropriations bill that would keep legal the practice of some senators of booking several flights on days they return home, keeping the most convenient reservation and dumping the rest without paying cancellation fees -- a practice some airlines say could violate the new law.

    Senators also have granted themselves a grace period on requirements that they pay pricey charter rates for private jet travel. Lobbyists continue to bundle political contributions to lawmakers but are now making sure the totals do not trigger new public reporting rules. And with presidential nominating conventions coming next summer, lawmakers and lobbyists are working together to save another tradition endangered by the new rules: the convention party feting one lawmaker.

    "You can't have a party honoring a specific member. It's clear to me -- but it's not clear to everybody," said Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate ethics committee. She said the committee is getting "these questions that surround the edges -- 'If it's midnight the night before,' 'If I wear one shoe and not the other.' "

    Democrats touted the new ethics law as the most thorough housecleaning since Watergate, and needed after a host of scandals during 12 years of Republican rule. Prompted by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's wheeling and dealing and the jailing of three members of Congress on corruption charges in recent years, the law, signed by President Bush on Sept. 14, was heralded by congressional leaders as a real change in Washington's influence game.

    But the changes have prompted anxiety about what perks are still permissible. In recent months, the House and Senate ethics committees have fielded more than 1,000 questions from lobbyists and congressional staffers seeking guidance -- or an outright waiver -- for rules banning weekend trips and pricey wedding gifts, five-course dinners and backstage passes.

    Looking for ways to keep spreading freebies legally, hundreds of lobbyists have been attending seminars at Washington law firms to learn the ins and outs of the new law.

    At a recent American League of Lobbyists briefing, Cleta Mitchell of the Foley & Lardner law firm said that while the law bans lobbyists from buying lawmakers or staffers a meal, it is silent on picking up bar tabs. A woman in the third row asked hopefully, "You can buy them as many drinks as you want, as often as you want?"

    No, Mitchell said, not unless the drinkers are the lobbyist's personal friends, and she pays from her own pocket.

    If that rule was clear to some, two charity dinners allowed hazier interpretations.

    Most of the 40 lawmakers dining on red snapper ceviche and beef tenderloin at the recent Hispanic Caucus Institute gala at the Washington Convention Center got their tickets from corporations, said Paul Brathwaite, a principal with the Podesta Group lobbying firm.

    Brathwaite said about a dozen of Podesta's corporate clients bought tables of 10 for $5,000 to $25,000 for the Hispanic dinner and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation gala over the past three weeks. The companies then gave the tickets back to the foundations -- along with lists of lawmakers and staff members they wanted to invite. Some lawmakers did buy their own tickets, Brathwaite said, but many did not.

    The rules require that charity sponsors do the inviting and decide who sits where. But "at the end of the night, everyone is happy," said Hispanic Caucus Institute spokesman Scott Gunderson Rosa.

    "The corporate folks want us at their tables, of course," said Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who sat at a Fannie Mae-sponsored table at the Hispanic dinner.

    Another provision of the new ethics law bans House members from flying on corporate jets. But senators, including the half-dozen presidential candidates among them, can still do so. Previously they were required to reimburse plane owners the equivalent of a first-class ticket, but now they must pay charter rates, which can increase travel costs tenfold.

    The Senate ethics committee decided not to enforce that rule for at least 60 days after it took effect Sept. 14, citing "the lack of experience in many offices in determining 'charter rates.' "

    The decision surprised some Senate staffers, Mitchell said, one of whom e-mailed her to say, "Welcome to the world of skirting around the rules we pass."

    "Breathtaking. . . . In my view, they're not complying with the plain language of the law," Mitchell said. "I think it should be easier for members of Congress to travel, not harder. But what I don't appreciate as a citizen is Congress passing something but then interpreting it so it doesn't mean what the law clearly says."

    The law has dragged into view several such perks that members long enjoyed but didn't reveal -- until they sought exemptions to the new rules.

    Lawmakers for years have booked several flights for a day when they plan to leave town. When they finish work, they take the most convenient flight and cancel the rest without paying fees, a privilege denied others. But after the new law passed, some airlines stopped the practice, worried that it violates the gift ban.

    Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) appealed to the Senate ethics committee to allow multiple bookings. Then Reid and McConnell added language to the defense bill that, if it passes, would extend the perk to staffers, too.

    New bans on corporate-paid fun could hit hardest at the 2008 presidential nominating conventions. The law prohibits parties honoring a lawmaker on convention days; some lobbyists say the wording means such parties before or after those days are okay. House and Senate members have asked the ethics committees for guidance.

    "That's one of the issues that's going to need some clarification," said Senate ethics panelist Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), whose home state will host the Democrats in August.

    Meanwhile, lobbyists are booking up Denver's trendy warehouse district and Minnesota's Mall of America, near the GOP convention site in Minneapolis-St. Paul, for the pre-convention weekends. Host committees for both conventions say they will honor state delegations, including members of Congress who take part.

    "I think you'll see a lot of umbrella invitations," said Patrick Murphy, lobbyist for mCapitol Management, who is planning Democratic convention parties. "Invite 'Friends of Montana' and see who shows up."

    One of the most fought-over parts of the law requires that lobbyists who bundle multiple campaign contributions totaling more than $15,000 file reports every six months. But lawyers say that a fundraiser for Hillary Rodham Clinton signals a way to avoid public reporting when that rule kicks in Jan. 1.

    Female politicos have been e-mailing each other a slick online invitation to "Make History With Hillary," a summit and fundraiser on Wednesday. The invitation encourages women to bundle for Clinton by promising them online credit for each ticket they sell. Women who have already donated their legal individual limit of $2,300 cannot attend unless they bring in another $4,000.

    "It's a universe of junior bundlers under the radar screen," said Kenneth Gross, a campaign finance lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. For the lobbyists among them, the amounts are so small that "you don't have to worry about tracking them, and it would add up to a material sum over time" -- but less than the $15,000 limit.

    If a lobbyist asked his advice on the practice, Gross said, "I'd say 'Go for it.' "



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