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  • Raju
    05-24 03:32 PM
    Raju, the unemployment is at 4.7%. That is good, but how about earning power and wage increases ? I hear all the time my friends report that they can no longer afford goods and services as they did five or four years ago. There are plenty of evidence that in many sectors wages have dropped or have stagnated. Is that indication of surplus pr shortage of workers ?

    Regarding his idea of sending 15 millions of illegals out, that is not absurd. He never told he wanted to do it overnight. A gradual, slow deportation program yes, it would be probably the best way to handle this.

    I am sorry if I look negative to you guys, but my goal is to be sincere and honest about facts here.

    I think that wages have gone up drastically during the dotcom bubble and you should expect them to flatten for a few years. Also, the economy is coming out from a bust and that accounts to a little stagnation. It is simple man, the world also has to catch up. If you get the same job done for much less in coutries like China, India, Russia and romania, why do you think the wages will go up, unless there is a new technology, that absolutely needs cutting edge skills. This is the way it has been in ht past, this is the way it is in present and will be this way in future. The services and goods you are talking about will become more expensive if you want to send the undocumented workers out. And the wages may not go up that much because companies can get stuff done in other parts of the world. A reporter should talk about two sides of the issue and I have never seen Lou do that. I do not have the time/interest to find the transcripts but he had been offensive about H1s and I heard him say that H1's do not pay taxes, which is a blunder.




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  • xyzgc
    01-06 03:19 PM
    Another muslim hater who justify organized crime and killing and support the killing of innocent school kids and civilians.

    Hiding behind civilians and schools and mosques???? Don't you hear the same lie again and again year over year? If Hamas is using school kids as thier shield, then how do you think Palestenian people have elected the same people who cause their kids death rule their country?

    Don't you think?

    Nope, we hate innocent civilians being killed. Your point also seems valid. Don't know whether the attack was targeted towards civilians or not. I am hoping not.
    Having said that, Hamas must stop terrorism. If India reacts like Israel there is good chance innocents may get killed in Pakistan. There is always some collateral damage.




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  • masaternyc
    05-13 05:15 PM
    Its fair Too




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  • nojoke
    04-06 01:57 PM
    Quoting from various sources

    Slower building? �The demand for new homes in the Columbia region slowed significantly so far this year. Builders in Richland, Lexington and Kershaw counties saw a 33 percent drop to 1,082 single-family homes in the first three months of the year, according to the Home Builders Association of Greater Columbia.�
    ��We were expecting a downturn. I don�t know if I was expecting that much,� association executive director Earl McLeod said.�
    ��This is the worst I�ve ever seen it,� said builder David Beck, who has worked in the Columbia area for 17 years. �We�re just riding this to see what�s going to happen. I don�t think that it�s ever going to get back to the way it was.��
    -----------------------------------------
    ��The residential real estate industry ripple effect is a blood bath,� said David Marino of Irving Hughes, which specializes in representing tenants. �When we got hit hard in 2001 through 2003 in the tech side, the residential real estate guys took a lot of that space. Today, there�s no recovering industry sector to offset� the decline from housing-related companies.�
    --------------------------------------------------

    From ABC 30. �That foreclosure crisis is hitting the Valley hard. Dozens of new homes will hit the auction block in Chowchilla this weekend.�
    �This three bedroom, two bath home has a starting price of 280-thousand dollars. That�s about 120-thousand dollars less than its previous price. And this is just one of 43 discounted homes that will be up for auction on Sunday.�
    �Project manager Ginger Hoggarth says this auction will be very different than those that sell foreclosed homes. �They are brand new homes and you do still get the one year warranty the builder would normally offer as well as a walk through.��
    ------------------------------------------

    �When the owners default, it leads to repossession rather than foreclosure, and these defaults are not included in the foreclosure data, said Moises Loza, HAC executive director. �It�s happening all over,� Loza said.�
    �Merced County, population 246,000, underwent a housing boom over the past few years that saw developments spring up on what used to be farmland, said Rep. Dennis Cardoza from Merced. Now, in towns like Atwater, housing values have dropped as much as 50 percent, the congressman said.�
    �The skeletons of houses where construction halted when the market went bust stand across a development where houses that sold for $400,000 just three years ago are now going begging at half the price.�
    --------------------------------------

    The Mountain View Voice. �Market conditions and tight money are causing some builders to shut down large housing projects here, despite relatively firm prices and brisk sales of completed homes.�
    �At least two large developments have been halted or dropped so far, after the builders were frightened off by negative signs in the housing market. Two others are rumored to face problems.�
    �Just east of Highway 237 near the Sunnyvale border is evidence of the trouble. At 505 E. Evelyn Ave., a maze of driveways makes its way around the huge lot but leads up to only four model homes on the corner. The other 147 have yet to be built, and there have been no signs of construction for nearly a year.�
    �Dave Best, the project manager at Shea Homes, denied rumors that Shea was having trouble getting bank loans for the project.�
    ��It�s not that we don�t have the money to build it, we just have decided not to put our efforts in that particular project,� he said. �When we determine the market has come back and it makes sense to build, we will continue.��
    ---------------------------------------------
    The Sacramento Bee. �After all the intellectual assessments and recital of statistics about the subprime loan crisis, a woman from Chicago asked the question on the minds of many people in neighborhoods where so many have lost their homes. She asked the question in a setting far removed from those neighborhoods, at a California conference hosted earlier this week by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.�
    ��I want to know � how many people are going to jail?� asked Yevette Boutall, director of a community development fund that works in lower-income neighborhoods of Cook County.�
    ��That�s how angry people are in communities,� said Boutall. �They want to know how many people are going to go to jail, people who misled them and got away with it and earned money on their misery.��
    �In San Francisco at the Fairmont Hotel, Boutall�s question went unanswered for the moment. But it struck a real note about people bearing the consequences of a time when mortgages and home prices went wild.�
    �Speakers at the San Francisco Fed conference uniformly estimated that 2 million households will surrender their keys to lenders in the next year or two. That was their prediction despite all the voluntary lender-government agreements, the millions of dollars for new nonprofit loan counselors and the average $40,000 to $70,000 a lender loses with every foreclosure.�
    ��I wish I had better news for you in the short term,� said Tom Cunningham, director of the risk monitoring and analysis group at the Fed�s San Francisco bank.�
    �He called the situation �unprecedented. We have never seen this before.��
    �What seemed new at the Fed conference was how few major ideas there are to stop it. Speakers defined the problem, defined proposals to help assure it doesn�t happen again. But they could not be encouraging about solutions.�
    �Speakers from the Fed, NeighborWorks America, the Center for Responsible Lending, Colorado Foreclosure Prevention Task Force and JPMorgan Chase talked about proposed legislation at state capitols and in Congress. They detailed efforts to reach out to struggling borrowers. But the big number � 2 million households during the next year or two � didn�t change.�



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  • django.stone
    09-26 07:03 PM
    I agree with 485Mbe4001 and many other folks on this thread that have talked about the results of Obama victory - USA would face socialist policies and personally our GCs could be affected by protectionist agenda. I have never understood why Indians (even 2nd generation) by default support Democrats, when all the values and rational reasons point us towards Republicans. I am libertarian in my views and a staunch supporter of republicans.

    Reasons for Indians to support Democrats -

    1. Generally religion neutral and not influenced by christian right wing
    2. Generally tolerant of people from other cultures rather than being a party of white folks run by white men
    3. Tendency to help human/environment suffering
    4. Afraid of military draft that could recruit our kids

    Reasons for Indians to support Republicans -

    1. Supportive of outsourcing which is one of the many reasons our home country is flourishing these days
    2. Supportive of entrepreneurship, which many if not all Indians plan to pursue at some point in their life time in USA
    3. Lower taxes so you can spend your money rather than have govt spend it for you in things you don't need (such as bear research in Montana for $3MM)
    4. Privatize social security so you can keep you own contributions rather than throw it into the common pool. Let me explain this a bit here. Indians contribute to SS all their life until 65, but never get to enjoy it as rarely we live past 65. Life expectancy of Indian women is around 60 and men is around 55, rarely we live up to 75+ like Caucasians. What happens to the money we contribute to the common pot? It is enjoyed by somebody else, if we had private accounts, you can retire around 55 and enjoy your contribution till you live.
    5. Family values of Indians very much like the value system of middle-america's republican base - religious, hard working, humility, respect for elders, american dream of owning a 3bed-2bath house with a yard, cul-de-sac and basketball etc.
    6. Aligned with Indian govt's views on fighting terrorism
    7. Allow your kid to go to private school of your choice with your tax dollars, rather than force you to send your kid to public school in your area

    Immigration

    Now coming to the issue on hand, overall roughly 60% to 80% of americans do not want any kind of immigration (check wikipedia). That is the unfortunate truth! We should all be lucky to be here due to generally business friendly laws that allows for H1B visas and EB GCs for skilled labor. If left to public, immigration would be banned. Hence, I believe both parties use this as a posturing issue during elections to their favor. khodalmd in the previous thread explained the breakdown of republicans/democrats accurately. Logically speaking, republicans can be convinced about its need to sustain economy and generate taxes as more baby boomers retire, but this logic is these days trumped by mix up with illegals.

    If Obama wins, economy/stock market would tank, more jobs would be outsourced. My fear is that during those times, any kind of immigration law would not pass. If god forbid, layoffs start to roll, then many of us may have to start from scratch, hence I call it perfect storm.




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  • NKR
    08-06 04:15 PM
    That PD was for an entirely different skill set and job. I know its the law. I still disagree. Can do that last I knew :-)

    If you go strictly by that, then allocating unused EB1 visa numbers to EB2 is also wrong. EB1 visas are meant for an entirely different skill set and job.

    EB2 guys and EB3 guys are at a disadvantage depending on which way you look at it. I guess capturing previous years� unused visa numbers is the only way to go then�



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  • pthoko
    07-12 12:09 AM
    No one??




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  • sledge_hammer
    03-24 12:26 PM
    I have full sympathy for anyone that has not broken any laws including OP and 'leoindiano". If I had the powers to approve green cards, I would give them away to him and his brother!

    The problem here is no one (consulting company/employee) bothered to make sure that a person on H-1B was allowed to do consulting. I'm not sure who dropped the ball - companies, employees, or the immigration lawyers. But someone should have raised a flag when the type of job was really a temp job. Unfortunately that did not happen.

    Now that the damage has been done, and USCIS is coming after such folks, they are upset that it is happening to them. Again, do note that I am not saying the consultants themselves are less skilled than anyone with FT job. I'm just saying that at the time they got into consulting they did not think of the various consequences. Maybe because no one ever thought that working at different locations, benching, temp nature of the jobs were all against H-1B visa rules?

    You get my point?

    face it as long as the economy is tanking this is going to be an ongoing debate. Everything goes thorugh stages of high and low and we are now expereincing the lows of having the h1b's.

    Sledge While your points are valid, remember folks do not choose consulting (nor do students) as a first choice but I have friends who were employed without any issues directly with client companies who in the midst of recession decide to fire everyone. What are you options if your GC is denied because the company declared bankruptcy? How do you justify to yourself staying with the employer when they files you under Eb3 category when you a master's degree holder from one of the 10 best universities in the US? What are the employee choices here, just pack up and leave? leave houses, friends and people you stayed with many years.

    You think they haven't searched for full time positions with other companies only to be turned back? or worse case restart the entire GC process and forgo the 6+ years?

    And the experiences I am relating are from the 2001 recession. I have already seen history repeat itself now but my more fear is that tomorrow USCIS will unfortunately hit the person who followed all the rules After all how is the USCIS knowing which are the good companies and which are bad? These very things are happening and very much can happen to you as well. Do not sit on a high perch and think it will not trickle down to me



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  • HawaldarNaik
    09-27 07:50 PM
    Any inputs on the Nov Visa Bullietin ? Will the dates move forward substantially ?




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  • srr_2007
    04-07 12:39 AM
    You are wrong, see my post above. Even if you stay at same employer, your H1 wont be extended if you file for extension. If extension fails, its goodbye for employee and loss of employee and revenue for employer.

    EVERYONE LOSES.

    Thanks for the clarification.



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  • amitjoey
    08-05 02:11 PM
    Good points, but let me put a counter argument. Two people , one is named SunnySurya and the other is named Mr XYZ. Both came to the USA at the same time in 1999. The difference was SunnySurya came here for his masters and the other guy came here through shady means.

    Mr XYZ was able to file his green card in 2002 in EB3 category based on his shady arrangements with his employer, whereas Mr SunnySurya continued to do right and socially acceptable things i.e. studied, got a job and then after several years this big company filled his green card in EB2 category in 2006.

    On the other hand after strugling for several years Mr. XYZ has collected enough years on his resume to be elligible for EB2. Now he want to port his PD

    SunnySurya's PD is 2006 and Mr. XYZ PD is 2002. Now if Mr. XYZ want to stand in EB2 line, I wonder what problems SunnySurya can have???:confused:



    GOOD POINT: IN my case Sunnysurya has EB3 even after waiting and doing the right things: ie: having a masters and all that. and MR. XYZ filed in EB2 with shady arrangements and got thru. so what does Sunnysurya do>?




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  • mariner5555
    04-08 11:10 PM
    I remember the 1990's UK housing crunch
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7336010.stm

    Being an energy saving geek, I also recommend buying something with a large south facing roof (for lots of solar panels).
    Hi Mark,
    a quick question - has IV thought about using the housing problem to push for faster GC processing (or for getting a very relaxed multi year EAD) ? a poll was conducted recently and as one would guess lots of legal immigrants are waiting for a GC before buying a house.
    I am not suggesting that giving GC's to legals would solve the problem but I am suggesting to use it as a selling point. (ofcourse at the micro level even if 1 house is sold ..then it helps the economy ..and if 100,000 houses are sold ..it definitely makes a difference)



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  • gomirage
    06-07 03:05 PM
    That's true. We should not look at buying a house as a sound investment because it is really not. I bought a house for my own happiness and satisfaction of a living a nice life in my lifetime.

    What would I do with the tons of money invested somewhere else while I live in an apartment? Most probably, I would just spend it on vacation, travel the whole world, or probably lose some of the returns in buying a nice home at inflated price in the future.

    I completely agree with you. Just as s side note I am also planning on buying in a year or two, as my daughter gets older and needs more playing toys. She certainly can't do that in the apartment we live in now. I will be looking for something in my current rent range.




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  • jvordar
    08-03 12:36 AM
    I refer back to my earlier posting where I said I just read the memos and the law and thought this stuff was pretty simple. USCIS quite often goes above and beyond (tax returns rfe's, pictures of company inside/outside).

    I'll give you some examples of what they have done of which I have intimate knowledge of:

    1) Questioned company on I-140 why they had more 140's pending/approved then the number of people on payroll. Asked for all 140 info., h1, L1 and even the people who got employment base greencard and asked company to justify where they are

    2) Department of state for visa stamping; if they don't trust client letter; they refer the case to department of state fraud unit in Kentucky. They will then contact signer of letter and HR of company to verify that person signed the letter

    3) Department of labor is on a real war path of checking companies compliance with h-1b based on referrals made by department of state. I can tell you that there is no way any company who is h-1b dependent can be 100% compliant with h-1b. Patni got fined $3.5 million for violations.

    4) Department of labor made a home visit to an HR person who was no longer working with the company to ask and verify her signatue on labor applications in a fast processing state when they weren't registered to do business there

    5) Department of labor verifying that people were paid the greencard wage upon greencard approval (this was in conjunction with h-1b investigation). I can tell you that some states have very high eb2 wages and people aren't even close to the labor number; companies do it anyways to keep you happy but do they run that number once you do get the greencard?

    6) h-1b rfe's from california service center. when quota finished in one day; there was some rumors from california service center that they would be treating h-1b transfers/quota cases very harshly in that companies were engaging in speculative employment. These days if you are involved in software and you file an h-1b transfer or even extension with california service center; you have a very good chance of getting a four page rfe. One of the things they have started to ask for is a table of people whom h-1b's have been filed for. Table has to list name, social security number, receipt number, date of birth, joining date, termination date, no show, future joining date. California service center then intertwines this information with company unemployment compensation reports. I have actually seen 3 recent denials where USCIS examined the unemployment compensation reports and looked at people who may have been paid a lower wage and pulled those people's h-1b files and denied the present case saying they can't trust the company to comply with the h-1b, lca.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    These days; uscis/dol/dos really means business. I refer you to earlier posting of how evertime a company files a case; it gives uscis a chance to go through entire immigration history of a company. They have the resources and tools.

    ok now i'm really confused between AC21 and future employment debate....
    AC21 can be used after 6 months of 485 filing to change the job but then once u get GC you have to work for the original company that filed your 485 for few months?? so for e.g. if i change my job after lets say 1 year of 485 filing and lets say my 485 is approved after 3 years so now do i have to quit my new job and go back to my old employer to work for few months to get my gc? am i understanding this correct? i think i'm not... can you please clarify?? thnx



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  • eager_immi
    02-02 12:22 PM
    this info is for lou dobbs and he can search for this information in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (for all the middle-class that can get free information, most likey coded by an H1B)

    [edit] Taxation status of H-1B workers
    H-1B workers are legally required to pay the same taxes as any other US resident, including Social Security and Medicare.[2] Any person who spends more than 183 days in the US in a calendar year is a tax resident and is required to pay US taxes on their worldwide income. From the IRS perspective, it doesn't matter if that income is paid in the US or elsewhere. If an H-1B worker is given a living allowance, it is treated the same by the IRS as any other US resident. In some cases, H-1B workers pay higher taxes than a US citizen because they are not entitled to certain deductions (eg. head of household deduction amongst many others). Some H-1B workers are not eligible to receive any Social Security or Medicare benefits unless they are able to adjust status to that of permanent resident.[3] However, if their country of citizenship has a tax agreement with the United States, they are able to collect the Social Security they've earned even if they don't gain permanent residency there. Such agreements are negotiated between the United States and other countries, typically those which have comparable standards of living and public retirement systems




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  • GCScrewed
    07-13 06:04 PM
    willwin - What we are essentially saying is to artificially retrogress EB2 than it otherwise would have so that an EB3 who is waiting for 7 years gets his GC first - thats really what the spillover break up will do. Similarly an argument can be made to artificially retrogress EB1 so that an EB2 who is waiting for 4 years gets his GC first.
    Whether EB1 is presently retrogressed or not doesn't matter.
    Let's think about this for a moment. We are trying to completely negate the category preference established by law and asking them to grant GC's based solely on PD regardless of category.
    Ain't gonna happen - dont want to be a pessimist but at some point we have to call it as we see it.

    I don't think the issue is that simple. The whole thing just surfaced another screw-up of the system. The actions taken by all the agencies certainly made things worse.

    DoS suddenly interpretted laws differently than before. This just like the PERM, BEC, and last July episode. They took actions without considering people already in line. Those with good faith waiting in line have been constantly pushed around. How many people experienced being stuck in BEC while PERM approves new application like crazy? Who is accountable for all of these? They can't do things willy nilly any more. Someone mentioned lawsuit since DoS either interpret the law wrong now or in the past.

    Needless to say that the distincation between EB2 and EB3 has become so meaniningless now. How many positions really satisfy the EB2 requirements? From what I heard that most people just try to get around the system to get an EB2. One of the persons who filed EB2 told me that a high school graduate would probably be able to work in that position too.

    Just my observation.



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  • nixstor
    08-11 04:00 PM
    Born in Texas and raised in IDAHO speaks volumes about his stand towards immigration issues.

    perm2gc,

    I am curious why you bold everything. on usenet, writing in caps and bold is conisdered shouting and rude. I know this is not usenet but somehow I see that in most of your posts and wanted to know why you do that.




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  • leoindiano
    03-23 11:54 AM
    it would be interesting to see if you would really get an email from them and if that is really from USCIS.




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  • Macaca
    07-28 07:43 AM
    Democratic Leaders Agree on Overhaul of Lobbying (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/28/washington/28lobby.html?hp) By CARL HULSE New York Times, July 28, 2007

    WASHINGTON, July 27 � Congressional Democrats reached tentative agreement Friday night on a major overhaul of lobbying rules that would for the first time require lawmakers to identify lobbyists who assemble multiple donations and turn them over to candidates.

    The disclosure of what is known in political circles as bundling would be a central element of the first major changes made in lobbying rules in the aftermath of the Jack Abramoff scandal and other Congressional corruption cases tied to lobbying.

    Democrats, who intend to push the changes through Congress next week, say the bundling disclosure requirement and a number of other changes would shed new light on the relationship between lawmakers and those who seek to sway them on legislation.

    �This rewrites the rules as it relates to lobbyists and their influence on Washington,� said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the Democratic Caucus and an advocate for the changes.

    Democrats, who campaigned against what they called a �culture of corruption� in taking control of the House and Senate last year, are eager to finish the package next week as part of their drive to counter Republican accusations that Democrats are making little legislative headway.

    Negotiators for the House and Senate Democratic leadership engaged in talks throughout the day Friday in an effort to reach final agreement on the long-delayed bill. They hit a last-minute snag over the level of bundled donations that would set off disclosure by the House and Senate campaign committees.

    But officials familiar with the talks said that point appeared to be resolved in an evening phone call between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, putting a deal in place.

    �We have reached an agreement,� said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

    There are other potential obstacles. The details had yet to be presented to the Democratic rank and file in the House and Senate. But officials said they were confident the tentative agreement would hold, and a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi said he expected the legislation to reach the House floor as early as Tuesday.

    �We are committed to lobbying reform and we are committed to operating Congress in an open and transparent manner, and we will live up to our commitment,� said Brendan Daly of the speaker�s office.

    Because of objections by one Republican senator, the House and Senate were not engaged in formal, bipartisan negotiations, and Republican leaders said Friday they were unaware of the details of the emerging agreement and could make no judgment. But Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said repeatedly this week that Republicans were leaning toward support of the measure.

    The tentative proposal puts new requirements on lobbyists as well as on lawmakers, and orders disclosure of contributions that have become alternative ways to curry favor with politicians by giving to entities like favored charities, special awards and honors and presidential library funds. Lobbyists would also have to disclose at least twice a year if they paid for meetings or retreats.

    The measure would set a one-year ban on lobbying for former House members and senior staff members, and two years in the Senate. New restrictions would be put on lobbying by spouses, and lobbyists would be required to disclose any previous experience in the executive or legislative branches.

    Politicians would be banned from trying to pressure firms and associations to hire certain lobbyists based on partisan background � the so-called Republican K-Street project. Lawmakers and top aides would have to recuse themselves from issues where there could be a conflict because of negotiations for future employment, and such negotiations would have to be disclosed within three business days. New public databases would be established of lobbyists� disclosures as well as of lawmaker travel and personal financial data. Penalties for violations would be increased.

    Watchdog groups that have pressed for the changes were awaiting the details. �I am very hopeful about this legislation, but the final statutory language still has to be seen,� said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21.

    Bundling became a focus after critics complained it was a back-door way for some lobbyists to ingratiate themselves with Congressional candidates by collecting a series of legal donations from others and then getting credit for delivering the cumulative amount and saving the politician the effort.

    Under the tentative proposal, Congressional contenders and the respective campaign committees would be required to notify the Federal Election Commission once one individual had delivered more than $15,000 in contributions within six months or $30,000 in one year.

    The plan initially approved by the House had put the responsibility for disclosing the bundling on the lobbyist. But in the talks, Senate Democrats proposed shifting the onus to the recipient and making the Federal Election Commission, which handles campaign fund-raising reports, the repository of the record.

    But Mr. Van Hollen said House negotiators decided to consent to the change since the basic information being disclosed remained the same.

    Mr. Van Hollen said he believed that the new requirements, if they became law, could represent a fundamental change in the interaction between lobbyists and lawmakers. �We heard the message voters sent last November and we are following through,� he said.




    Macaca
    12-30 04:19 PM
    But today, as the year ends, the netroots activists who adored Reid at the start of the new Congress have begun turning on him, musing out loud about encouraging senators to oust him as leader. They complained that Reid's Senate caved - allowing continued tax breaks for oil companies, approving a new attorney general who wouldn't call waterboarding torture, breaking the pay-as-you go promise by approving a tax break without a tax hike on the rich.

    Some liberal lawmakers believe the way to accomplish their goals is for Reid to put even more pressure on Republicans to break. Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said Reid should do more to "highlight who's obstructing."

    "The one issue people have with Harry Reid, he's not embarrassing enough people," Frank said.

    Jennifer Duffy, who analyzes Senate politics for The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan firm in Washington, said the problem for Democrats isn't that they haven't delivered much more than the Republicans.

    "It's that voters don't see a difference," Duffy said. "Voters are coming to the conclusion the parties are the same - not philosophically the same, but they conduct themselves in the same way."

    Trying to end a war

    Six weeks into the new Congress, as the promises of comity began to fade, Reid pulled a dramatic maneuver: He kept the Senate in session over Presidents Day weekend for a Saturday vote on Iraq.

    Nine Republicans failed to show up, including Nevada's John Ensign, who was back home playing golf with his son. The Republican whip, Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, praised the absences, saying the senators were right to gum up a vote that his side saw as a stunt.

    The measure opposing Bush's troop surge failed to get 60 votes needed to advance. But it helped set the stage for a poisoned atmosphere that would dominate the Iraq debate for the year.

    The Senate conducted 34 votes on Iraq. Only once did a measure to bring troops home succeed. Bush vetoed it.

    Critics say Reid spent too much time on Iraq, that it became personal. He called it "Bush's war" and "the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of our country."

    By spring, as it became clear he could not find enough votes to override the president on Iraq votes, he embraced the party's left wing by putting his name on a bill to cut off troop funds.

    Vote after vote only hardened Republicans' resolve.

    Anti-war activists grew furious with Reid. All the while, the clock ticked down and other business went undone.

    "If you're going to criticize him, you can criticize him for allocating so much floor time to the debate when it was pretty clear it wasn't going to accomplish anything," Mann said. "And you can criticize him for his emotional investment."

    Could Reid really have stopped trying? Opinion polls show that more than two-thirds of Americans continue to oppose the war.

    The real question is whether Reid missed an opportunity to broker middle ground. As Republicans started speaking out against Bush's war policy in the summer months, Reid failed to entertain a more moderate bill - one without a withdrawal deadline - that could have peeled Republicans away from Bush.

    Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who faces a tough reelection in 2008, said she finds it "frustrating that those of us who were trying to find a bipartisan path forward on Iraq were unable to get votes on our proposals. I think there was an opportunity to change the course in Iraq, and to send a strong message to the president about the future direction, but that opportunity was lost."

    Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University who has written extensively on Congress, said leaders are judged by the choices they make. In his view, Reid made a mistake.

    "The criticism the Democrats have been facing is they weren't aggressive enough," Zelizer said. "I think the bigger failure was that he didn't get something more moderate through. I think it would have been a blow to the administration."

    By fall the mood in Congress shifted as news from Iraq improved. The moment had passed. Before Congress left for the holidays, lawmakers approved another war funding bill, with no strings attached.

    "Great leaders realize there are just moments, windows of opportunity," Zelizer said, "and I think he missed."

    Reid remains optimistic about his chances for securing Republican support in 2008. "We're going to continue putting the pedal to the metal," he said at his year-end news conference.

    But the Democrats and Reid are clearly trying to find their way under the new terms of the Iraq debate.

    Endgame

    The Senate chaplain, a retired Navy rear admiral, opens each day's business with a prayer. On the last Monday of the session, he called on God to remind the senators "that ultimately they will be judged by their productivity."

    The Senate had become gridlocked. Reid had threatened to do cartwheels down the aisle if it would help shake things loose.

    Democrats had accomplished plenty this year - raising the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, adopting the most sweeping ethics laws since Watergate, crafting the greatest college loan assistance program since the GI bill, increasing automotive fuel efficiency standards for the first time in 30 years and providing unprecedented oversight of the Bush administration, leading to the resignation of the beleaguered attorney general.

    Congress worked more days than in any session in years.

    But all that seemed overshadowed by what it couldn't do. Stop the war. Provide health care for working-class kids. Address global warming by rolling back oil companies' tax breaks. Start a renewable energy requirement. End the torture of war prisoners.

    Even passing the budget to keep the government running seemed dicey.

    "It's been a really lousy year," said Norman J. Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

    In this hyper-partisan environment, where Reid liked to say Republicans were conducting "filibusters on steroids," could another kind of majority leader have achieved better results?

    Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who was among those leading efforts to provide children's health insurance, said if not for Reid, the State Children's Health Care bill known as SCHIP wouldn't have progressed as far as it did.

    Dozens of Republicans crossed party lines to back the bill, which polls show was supported by 70 percent of Americans. Children's health care would have been paid for by increasing the tax on cigarettes. Bush vetoed the bill twice.

    Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said even if "God himself" were in the majority leader's job, it would not have been a match for Republican obstructionism. Mann sums up Reid this way: "Were Tom Daschle and George Mitchell sort of smoother, were they more effective with the Washington press? You betcha. Could they make a more compelling, favorable case? Yes. Would either of them operating in this environment have a much more productive record? No."

    By the office fireplace again

    People say running the Senate is like herding cats, with 100 Type-A personalities going in every direction. But watching the Senate feels more like being at a baseball game - so much drama happens between the big home runs and base hits, even when it looks like nothing is going on at all.

    The fire continues to burn strongly in Reid's office as snow covers the Capitol grounds. The workday is coming to a close. The Senate adjourns earlier than usual, without having taken a single roll-call vote. Christmas is almost here, and countless bills still needed to pass.

    Reid is not one for regrets, or for comparing himself to those who held the office before his arrival.

    "I can't be an Everett Dirksen, I don't have his long white hair, I don't have his voice. I can't be Mike Mansfield, I don't smoke a pipe," he says. "I just have to be who I am."

    Reid's home state has benefited substantially from his rise to the majority leader's job, as Nevada has enjoyed financial and political gains from being home to arguably the nation's top elected Democrat.

    But on the national stage Reid sees little more he can do when faced with Senate Republicans willing to stand beside Bush, even as they're "being marched over a cliff" for the next election.

    He recalls his first alone time with Bush, years ago. "He was so nice, 'I'll work with you, try to get along with Democrats.' That's Orwellian talk. Because everything he said to me personally was just the opposite ... This is not Harry Reid talking, this is history.

    "I try to be pleasant, he tries to be pleasant," Reid continued, "but there's an underlying tension there because he knows how I feel, that he's let down the American people by being a divider, not a uniter."

    He holds no hard feelings against Pelosi for setting an ambitious agenda. "Next year she will better understand the Senate than she did this year."

    In 2008 he has two legislative goals: "I would like to get us out of Iraq," he said. "I'd like to establish something to give Americans, Nevadans, the ability to go to a doctor when they're sick."

    And one day, when this job is done, "I wouldn't mind being manager of a baseball team."




    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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