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  • yabadaba
    08-11 01:43 PM

    you will have to type in cable news in the employer name box

    and change the state to Georgia

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  • nojoke
    04-21 04:33 PM
    When people are walking away from their homes, some here are suggesting it is the best time to buy :confused:
    Increasing numbers of Americans are simply walking away from their houses and mortgages, increasing pressure on banks and the economy.

    Rapid house price falls in many parts of the United States will soon leave as many as one in five borrowers owing more on their loan than the house will fetch, removing at a stroke the single most powerful incentive to keep up with payments.

    The phenomenon of "walk aways" or "jingle mail," so called because of the noise the house keys make in the envelope mailed to the bank, is hard to measure but shows every sign of gathering pace and having a substantial impact.

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  • Macaca
    01-20 10:11 AM
    Could Congress Be Waking Up? ( By THOMAS E. MANN, MOLLY REYNOLDS and NIGEL HOLMES | NY Times, Jan 19

    AMID the clamor of the presidential campaign, it�s sometimes easy to forget that all 435 House seats and 35 of the Senate�s seats are up for election this year, too. So how should Congress under its new Democratic leadership be judged?

    The public has reached a decidedly negative conclusion, based on Congress�s inability to force a change in policy on the Iraq war and the pitched partisan battles that characterized much of the year in Washington.

    But expectations for seismic change in policymaking after the 2006 midterm elections were almost certainly too high, given the deep ideological differences between the parties, the Democrats� narrow majorities, the now-routine Senate filibusters and a Republican president determined to go his own way on Iraq, the budget and domestic policy.

    Based on our research, the 110th Congress does deserve some praise. In 2007, the level of energy and activity on Capitol Hill picked up markedly. This is not surprising � when the Newt Gingrich Congress, its closest analogue, took over in 1995, the pace of legislative life sped up, too.

    In terms of both the number and significance of new public laws, however, last year�s Democratic majority significantly outperformed that Republican Congress. Only one item described in the Republican Contract With America was signed into law at the end of 1995, while most of the proposals the Democrats announced as their agenda were enacted.

    Democrats, to be sure, aimed lower in their specific legislative promises, but they managed to overcome the many obstacles in their way. Republicans in 1995 shot for the moon and ended up frustrated by Senate inaction, presidential vetoes and a government shutdown that proved politically damaging.

    The new Democratic Congress delivered on the promise of ethics and lobbying reform, and made considerable progress in reining in earmarks, which had exploded under the previous 12 years of mostly Republican rule. In fact, between the 2006 and 2008 fiscal years, the cost of appropriations earmarks appears to have dropped from $29 billion to $14.1 billion. Perhaps most important, Congress reasserted itself as a rightful check on the executive branch, significantly stepping up its oversight on a wide range of important subjects.

    But a less partisan, more deliberative and productive legislative process will have to await a clearer signal from voters in the 2008 elections.

    The chart below shows how the 110th Congress spent its time, and what it accomplished, in its first year under Democratic control, compared with its immediate predecessor and with the Republican Congress that took office in 1995.

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  • vamsi_poondla
    09-30 10:30 PM
    Rightly said. This is the case with most of us mpadapa. We too are in the process of starting Australia PR. Perth area, while not as great as Silicon Valley, according to many, is a breeding ground for innovation.

    I cannot let this uncertainty - whether Obama's immigration policy will be same as Durbin's immigration policy for highly skilled immigrants - ruin my future. I have a career ahead and want to be in control of my fate.

    When I visited Statue Of Liberty last week, I had a strange feeling. First time I suspected that it is an age old fable that America used to accept immigrants with open arms to flourish - grow and contribute back. It seems too good to be true because our GC process is so irrational. 8 years wait for becoming PR in contrast with other western democracies could do it in < 5 years with a smoother process. Something wrong here.

    If Obama becomes president can he restore the faith of high-skilled immigrant who play by the books and still have to wait for decades to get their Green Card.

    After graduating with a Electrical engg degree from a top school in India, I got a job with a world leading semiconductor company. I first came to USA almost 12 years ago on a business trip as part of a multinational chip design effort for high end Telecommunication market. I was very impressed with the group of professionals I worked with. I felt the work environment stimulated the creativity in me and brought the best out of me. After the short trip I went back to my home country but that visit left a lasting impression on me and I felt USA would be the place I can further my professional abilities. Couple of years later, I came to USA for my Masters to embark on that journey. Even though I graduated when the US economy was in recession (2001), my unique skill set was much sought after and hence I got a job with a R&D startup division of a popular Japanese company. Working with a great group of professionals brought out the creativity in me. I currently have 10 US patents. The sailing was smooth until I started my Green Card process. The outdated immigration system and the long wait in the limbo state has been impacting my professional and personal life. I am starting to doubt that my American dream is slipping away day by day. I hope if Obama becomes the president he would restore some credibility to my faith in the immigration system. But if Sen. Durbin is driving Obama's immigration policy then I fear even more long waits for high-skilled immigrants because of Sen. Durbin's aggressive stance against H1B's. Mean while I have started to look at immigrant friendly countries like Australia and Canada as my possible future destination. Due to too much headaches with immigration process my Director had decided not to hire any more foreign workers, this decision has crippled our divisions expansion as most of the interested candidates require H1's. All the new projects which otherwise would have started in USA has moved to other places all because of the broken immigration process.

    Obama has mentioned many times on the campaign trail that "his education" is the reason why he has risen to where he is now. I feel Obama is a person who values higher education and high-skilled professional and I do have great faith in Obama's skills, I hope he takes a strong stance on the need to reform the high-skilled immigration system.

    Many have been looking at the high-skilled immigrants through a narrow pin hole, even Sen Durbin has been swayed by such critics. NFAP report shows that almost 50% of the private venture backed companies started between 1995 and 2005 are founded by immigrants. Guess what Sen. Durbin and high-skilled immigrant critics majority of those immigrants would've taken the route of H1 -> GreenCard -> US citizen. The companies started by those immigrants employ thousands of Americans and millions in tax revenue. Then why is America so hostile towards the same high-skilled immigration system which in the long run benefits America. Why are Sen. Durbin so short sighted on the high-skilled immigration system? Hope Obama can look at the high-skilled immigration system with a long term perspective and persuade his colleagues in Congress to enact a legislation to fix this broken system.

    Here is the link to the NFAP report which I talked about 6.pdf


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  • lost_angeles
    07-13 03:30 PM
    Last year's flower campaign was very successful. It created positive vibes for us all around. The reason for the campaign's success was it's novelty, non-confrontational approach and it's appeal to the sense of justice of the people that mattered.

    With the EB3-I situation as it is, we definitely need to start a new and similar collective initiative as has been discussed in this thread. It is been generally agreed that the format of our initiative would be a letter, contact, and action based effort.

    Not to be preaching to EB3-I-inans, but most of us are truly in a trance where we refuse the possibility of not getting a Green Card, at least when it is meaningful. To many of us this possibility is such a catastrophic event, that sub consciously we have not even provisioned for it. In the euphoria of EB2-I advancement, we forget that the relief is most likely temporary, and we go back to square one in OCT 2008. I think everybody who is still in immigration process, should take a part in this effort. For those who are already ashore, would be a nice gesture if you too lend a hand. On a personal level, I am glad that I am waking up from my laziness and apathy to do something on my own and not wait on others to do it for me.


    I want to use this post to outline a first cut for two things --
    1. Compile a list of points that outlines the general message of what and why of we are doing.
    2. Discuss the action items that accompany our message.

    1. Points for general message --

    * We understand that immigration is a privilege and national interests are above our plight.

    * We are highly educated and experienced residents. Most of us have been living in USA for more than past 7-8 years.

    * We are in suspended limbo without knowing the timeline of what the future holds for us.

    * When we started the immigration process, it was with implicit belief in the fairness and transparency of the system. The general labor substitution, paying money for Green cards and other abuses have thwarted this belief. This point should be emphasized.

    * There were and still are lots of loopholes in the system. Till now, the process has glaringly rewarded the law breakers. As long as these distorted incentives remain, the priorities will be skewed for some.

    * We are not here to rob anybody's livelihood. It is a symbiotic relationship. If it is not true and not good for USA, let us know. You cannot let few H1 scams discredit the whole ilk.

    * We are tied to our jobs/positions; creative juices are suppressed; creating a secondary class of indentured labor.

    * We cannot afford to do tech-speak (245, AC-21, EBs, ....) in the message. The message that we are trying to convey should be understood by the layman in 20-30 seconds.

    * We should try to empathize with groups like Numbers-USA. Yes, they too have valid points. If we agree to their points and quote their valid issues, it will take some sting out of their message and work to both our advantage; more to ours.

    * By being in this uncertain state, we cannot decide on big ticket items like buying a house, etc.

    * We request respect and dignity versus treating us like a dumb herd of sheep. Give us more clear cut direction and transparency.


    2. Ideas for action item --

    * Similar to flower campaign, we need to find a novel action that accompanies our message.

    * This action item should somehow reflect that it is selfless and for a higher cause, which creates a general feeling of well-being.

    * Some of things I thought of are -- contributing to Salvation Army / Goodwill, sponsoring education for children from low income family in USA, blood donation campaign, etc.

    * Out of this, I think blood donation provides most bang for buck. The idea sounds like too extreme and desperate. It probably is, but it sends a strong signal, also subtleness of if-my-blood-is-good-enough......
    Also other inherent benefits are it does not cost anything and is good for your health. And you can be very discrete about it, if you think of lobbying for your green card is stooping too low.

    * For blood donation or any other option that is decided, attach proof of receipts/certificates along with our letter. Alongwith a national level office (USCIS director?), this should be sent out to all local representatives, news orgs, etc.


    This is a long post and I appreciate your patience in going through it. Please post your comments on this post and add any other ideas you deem fit. I think we all should move very fast and try to drum up as much attention as possible. The ultimate goal is to get some kind of direction or relief before the end of this year.


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  • abracadabra102
    01-06 06:19 PM
    India has legitimate reason to attack pakistan or any terrorist camps in and out of pakistan. But our spineless leaders couldn't take any action on that. Its a shame on our leadership.

    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?

    Don't you think they also deserve dignity? Don't you think they also live in peace and harmony? Don't you know their desperate situation? There's no electricity, no clean water, no drianage, nothing. Whole country is like a big prison. They are going thru this hardship for several decades. Everything was destroyed by the brutal force.

    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??

    Palestine people definitely deserve a state of their own. They have been living there for thousands of years. So does Israelis. Israel is surrounded by hostile arab countries that waged war against Israel several times. Perhaps, this is the reason why Israel reacts (or over reacts at times) to any attack.

    Palestine state could have formed several years ago. International community tried real hard several times to find a closure to this issue. These efforts were always nixed by 1) Hamas thugs 2) Surrounding arab countries (and to some extent other muslim countries).

    If you want to blame someone for Palestine plight today, blame these two actors.


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  • Dhundhun
    08-05 06:43 PM

    Keep it up and going. Jokes are wonderful and quite relaxing. I think they in in need indeed.


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  • Macaca
    11-20 11:02 AM
    A Call to Advocacy for Nonprofits ( By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum | Washington Post, November 20, 2007

    Charities are sweet things, but Gary D. Bass wants them to get rough and tumble when it comes to dealing with government.

    In his new book, "Seen But Not Heard: Strengthening Nonprofit Advocacy," Bass and three co-authors argue that charities need to lobby more often and more effectively. "Democracy would be better off," said Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, a nonprofit group that pushes for government accountability.

    Most people -- and, clearly, most charities -- think of lobbyists as corporate frontmen trying to grab taxpayer largesse for themselves. They also consider lobbying kind of dirty, given the criminality of infamous lobbyists such as the now-imprisoned Jack Abramoff.

    But lobbyists come in all shapes and sizes, including the charitable sort. Bass's book, which is part of a larger effort called the Strengthening Nonprofit Advocacy Project, or SNAP, is a useful reminder of that.

    Bass has been trying to convince charities for years that they should not be afraid to lobby. He and others, including the Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest, have even devised ways to ease -- or at least simplify -- the limitations now imposed on charities so they can press their causes more aggressively.

    That's right, they are lobbying to be allowed to lobby more.

    Conservative lawmakers and a few campaign-finance scholars don't like the idea. They worry that, among other things, the ability of charities to keep their donors anonymous could lead to huge and largely untraceable infusions of cash into elections, all under the guise of lobbying.

    And please, call it advocacy. Charities don't like to use the "L" word. Only a third of nonprofits polled recently owned up to "lobbying" two or more times a month. But when asked if they "advocate," closer to half admitted to that.

    Many nonprofits also are unsure how much lobbying the law permits them to do. Only 72 percent even knew that they could support or oppose federal legislation. (They can, up to a point.)

    Bass's biggest problem is convincing charities that they not only can make their case to government, but that they really ought to do so . In effect, he needs to convince his fellow do-gooders that lobbying is not so bad.

    "Nonprofit lobbyists have been involved in nearly every major public policy accomplishment in this country -- from civil rights to environmental protection to health care," Bass said in an e-mail. "Tens of thousands of lives have been saved by passing laws that improve car safety and reduce drunk driving."

    "In other words, nonprofit lobbying is an honorable tradition," he added, "and not just the ugly Abramoff side" of the profession.

    Convincing charities of that, however, will not be a snap.


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  • xyzgc
    12-20 03:32 PM
    It is possible that India may be loser for some extent in short time. But in case of war India will come out winner if India can win decesively similar to Bangladesh war. The parliment attack or Mumbai attack deserves some military action if India is able to destroy some of Terrorist camps. But by the time India preparing for attack the terrorists will move away from their camps and success rate depends on accuracy of timing and intelligence.

    Actually for the past 20 years Terrorists(and Pakistan) lost battle as they acheived nothing by killing innocents. India became superior and biggest development in last 100 years.That is the main reason for changing tactis. Terrorists supported indirectly by Pak ISI or army tried commando attack. But still Terrorists lost battle as India somehow got some sympathy from USA and other Western Countries. I would tell Pak got frustrated as Terrorists got tired. That is the reason Pak army became reckless and indulging in Mumbai Like attacks. Everything including Kargil Pak got failure. As usual Pakistan media is patriotic to their country and they wrote one side analysis. But their media well aware that Geography of India will be huge advantage to India

    Eventually India has to try to attack Pak with international force(Similar to 9/11) if there will be another major Terrorist attack. I sincerely hope and pray God no such attacks will happen in future.

    My feelings are the same. Terrorism is leading Pakistan to destruction and Zardari knows its not working.
    Initially, Paki funded the proxy wars and now the beasts are out of control.

    India is one smug, complacent giant -terorism is not going to make a dent.
    Most of the indians are indifferent and not afraid of going about their lives.
    In Mumbai, the need for survival is intense, you can't stop people from living their daily lives.

    This whole affair has gotten so much international publicity, its blown up in the face of these Pakis.
    Muslims everywhere are under a lens eye - airports, buses, trains, any public transportation people are immediately suspicious. Its creating an embarassing situation for good muslims all over the world.

    Unfortunately, these good muslims are handful, if you look at Pakistani newspapers some of their intellectual journalists sincerely condemn all of this but the readers hold a diametrically opposite view!
    Fortunately, this will educate the readers, slowly but surely. At least it will make them introspect and retrospect.

    The Bombay mullahs refused to bury the terrorists - they don't want a round of riot, they know they will be butchered and nothing good will come out of it.

    Terrorism is not working man!

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  • dontcareanymore
    08-05 02:53 PM
    I also resent the idea that all US Masters folks are just "rich kids".

    Never said that. That was just a "story" response to a "story" post. The intent of the post is DO NOT TRY TO FRAME THE ISSUE IN ONE STORY. THERE ARE MANY STORIES.


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  • gc4me
    12-17 03:57 PM
    Is it 200 not 2000 :D

    People like Antulay are real traitors of India. Who know they may be taking instructions from Pakistan ISI? Such people go unpunish is the main reason India was slave for 2000 years.

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  • msp1976
    03-04 01:01 PM
    I wish that you would drop whatever you have in your signature....George Allen was one of the co-sponsors of the original SKIL bill...He was sympathetic to our cause...Now when he made those comments he was pandering to certain local sentiments....Conservative senators have been more sympathetic to us than democrats...It is time to stop beating that dead horse...


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  • shantanup
    09-29 02:33 PM
    By the next Presidential Election I will have mostly gotten my green card. I know I won't be eligible to vote then, but I will still be eligible to donate to the election campaigns. I have decided right now that whatever may happen I will donate to that party which makes my journey to the green card easier and faster.

    I also have a plan B if I don't get my green card in next 24 months. I am a chemical engineer by education and profession with a US graduate degree in chemical engineering and more than 7 years of work experience in a premium organization in the oil, gas & chemicals industry. Everyone is more than aware how good the oil, gas & chemicals industry is doing worldwide. I very well know that I am a hot commodity in the job market in the whole world. Those who have traveled on Singapore Airlines must have seen advertisements in the Singapore airport displaying that oil and gas is their largest (next to Singapore Airlines) revenue making industry and they need qualified and experienced personnel. Job advertisements in the airport? Wow! Think why Alberta is the hottest place these days. I got an invitation from Canadian Government to apply for Canadian green card, citing my occupation. Australian Government has declared Chemical Engineering as the occupation with the highest demand in Australia due to their conventional mining and metals business and now the newly found gas reserves in north and west parts of that continent. This is my plan B. I have already secured an Australian Permanent Residency and that too in 6 months time. Hats off to the highly efficient immigration department of the Australian Government. In addition I already have 3 job offers there - one each in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.

    I have 2 burning innovative ideas in my mind - one related to biogas and carbon credits and the other related to water desalination. I have kept both of them on hold right now until I get the US green card. I know I will work on them but not sure which country gets the benefit - USA or Australia.

    Then why am I sticking around here in the US? 1. I have a US graduate degree, 2. Both my daughters are born here and are US citizens and 3. I can't deny that I have started to put down my roots here. 24 more months and will not hesitate to quit USA and settle in Australia. It will be tough, but can't help it being forced to do it.

    P.S. Two of my friends with similar background as mine, have left for Australia for good in August this year. They have settled in Sydney. Another acquaintance with occupation related to oil & gas, has migrated to Perth.

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  • waitnwatch
    08-06 01:49 PM
    I don't think Rolling flood is debating the eligibility of 5 years experience post Bachelors for EB2. The point here is about porting which enables one to retain the priority date from the EB3 application which maybe required Bachelors + 0 years. To balance things out why not give a person who acquires a Masters or PhD a few years in terms of priority date.

    Note that I have no personal gain from any of the above happening. :)

    ........ RollingFlood has not explained why a job that requires 5 years or more experience in addition to a B.S. does not make it eligible for EB2. Without that he is likely going to waste a lot of money on lawyers.


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  • mariner5555
    03-26 02:07 PM
    So my view is that inflation is a bigger problem that Ben B does not want to tackle in the near future(3-4 months). Well in times of inflation your savings/investment is better in real-estate than anything else. But definitely NOT cash.

    So although we might be near the bottom of real estate market, we can never guesstimate the bottom until it has passed. My advice is, negotiate hard(buyers market) and get into a deal now. As a safety net, you can ask for a long escrow(around 180 days). That way you can backout of the deal if things head south. You've only lost the deposit(subject to arbitration at least in California).

    Someone pointed out that Visa Status is a smaller issue, the big issue is if you can hold onto your investment for atleast 5 years, you are golden.
    5 years is too less (you have to hold it for around 10 yrs minimum). 2 years the prices may/will fall. 2 years it would be steady and maybe start increasing slowly after that. so if you buy a house (depends on area ....but broadly) ..a 100K investment in RE (And if we take the best case scenario) after 5 years would be worth 80, 000. if you take inflation in to account.
    in the end it is supply and demand -- supply is huge. where is the demand going to come from ?? immigration is tight and in the fast moving life -- people have fewer and fewer kids. if u want to be safe - cash is good (atleast principal is safe if you get around 4 percent return) is best to have diversified portfolio. many of my friends have put everything in RE and are worried now

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  • Marphad
    01-08 02:28 PM
    All the religeous books were written based on contemporary circumstances. I have a friend named Mansuri, mentioned to me once why muslims don't eat turtles:

    "Few animals with hard shell were not hygenic or dangerous like crocodile. It was difficult to explain each animal separately to common people. So Mohammad advised that animals with hard shell should not be eaten. "

    Another one told by my friend Maqsood:

    "There were lots of cabella wars going on at the time of Mohammad. The prophet allowed to have more than one wives so that those ladies don't go on wrong route like prostitution. "

    Above examples seem acceptable over that time. At today they are not relevant anymore. Some people still want to follow the same words spoken 1300 years before literally without applying a slightest brain. They are abused and misguided by some selfish Mullahs who have their own agenda in life.

    Rather than abusing entire community, need to educate "spoiled kids" how they are misguided in current time. Unfortunately percentage of "spoiled kids" are very high as I mentioned in one of posts before.


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  • NeverEndingH1
    12-17 02:39 PM
    Now you may go and dig out my previous postings too!

    Ah! all these red dots are showered on me by you kinda folks for questioning this type of nonsense!

    Bring it on more (red dots) LOL


    But none of their postings (jaspreetsinghgandhi & tabletpc) had your kind of religious-politics in it!

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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


    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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  • SunnySurya
    08-05 11:55 AM
    That is correct and unfortunate...
    We have approx 35K members and not even 2k people contributed to our cause if not 100 at least $5. .

    No I don't expect that on the contary I highly doubt it will ever materialize. But if such group is formed I will definitly participate in that just because I think it is right thing to do.
    Not sure how do u expect $500 -1000 for a failing cause. If you take the pain others will happily enjoy the fruit. .

    Don't go by when it shows I joined. Do you really think that I will discuss such controverial topics using my original ID. By the way, I (the person and not my Ids) have contributed to the cause way more than you have. And I still believe that we need to continue down that path.

    By the way I have contributed $200 ( and more in line) and participated in phone and fax campaigns and got at least few more new members with contribution.

    07-23 07:48 PM
    Big Labor flexes its muscles in Congress � with mixed results ( By Ian Swanson, July 24, 2007

    The day after voters returned Democrats to power in the House and Senate last year, the AFL-CIO held a press conference at its Washington headquarters to announce that union members had come to the polls in large numbers to vote Democratic.

    They also promised to remind the new rulers of Congress that labor put them there, and that unions would be back in 2007 looking for support. So far, all indications show Democrats in Congress have been happy to oblige one of their most loyal constituencies.

    Legislation backed by labor that was left on the shelves when the House was under Republican rule has been dusted off by Democrats and moved to the floor. This includes so-called card-check legislation approved by the House earlier this year, which was the subject of a huge lobbying fight between labor and business.

    By contrast, free-trade agreements opposed by labor and negotiated by the Bush administration have been delayed, some apparently until after the 2008 election.

    �There�s been a dramatic change since January,� said Bill Samuel, a top lobbyist for the AFL-CIO who is in frequent communication with Democratic leaders. �Issues that have been long ignored are now getting the attention they deserve.�

    �I think they�ve done a fair job in recognizing what our priorities are and addressing them,� agreed Fred McLuckie, legislative director of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

    House Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) agreed with the labor leaders, but put a different spin on the changing tides.

    �The brazenness with which they�ve paid back Big Labor is astonishing,� said Putnam, who thinks the loyalty will come back to haunt Democrats next year, particularly since labor unions now represent less than 8 percent of the nation�s private workforce.

    Putnam said the shifting fortunes for labor reflect �a blatant return to the old stereotype of Big Labor bosses pulling the strings of Democrats.�

    Few Democrats, however, seem to think helping labor will hurt them. For example, only two House Democrats voted against the card-check legislation despite intense lobbying by business groups and negative advertisements in some districts. In the Senate, every Democrat voted in favor of card-check on the floor, as did Republican Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.).

    Pro-business Democratic Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.) said he has some differences with unions on trade. But he has no problem supporting card-check or other pro-union bills that he sees as helping low- and middle-income workers get a share of the economic pie.

    While card-check legislation, formally known as the Employee Free Choice Act, received the lion�s share of headlines over the first half of the year, dozens of other measures designed to help the labor movement have been inching forward.

    For example, lawmakers have attached to several bills language requiring that workers be paid a prevailing wage � and the tactic has helped highlight divisions within the Republican Party. Fifty House Republicans voted to keep prevailing-wage language in a water-resources bill earlier this year.

    In addition, the Teamsters and the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers won a provision in the House Federal Aviation Administration bill that makes it easier for employees of Federal Express to form unions, which could be a boon to the Teamsters and the machinists union. A second provision backed by labor would force the administration back to the negotiating table with air traffic controllers.

    And just last week, the House approved a bill providing collective-bargaining rights for firefighters and other first responders in all 50 states. The lower chamber also passed a Department of Labor funding bill that offers increased dollars for workplace enforcement offices like the Wage and Hour Division, which looks into claims that overtime is not being paid, while cutting funds for an office that investigates union corruption.

    In the second half of 2007, the AFL-CIO expects to push for bankruptcy law reforms as well as legislation overturning a National Labor Relations Board ruling that broadly defined workers considered to be supervisors. Overturning the decision could allow many more workers to qualify for collective bargaining rights.

    Furthermore, the Teamsters will continue to press Democrats to prevent the administration from carrying out plans to allow Mexican trucks access to U.S. roads, McLuckie said.

    Meanwhile, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which split from the AFL-CIO a few years ago, is lobbying aggressively on several broad policy issues, including an expansion of the State Children�s Health Insurance Program, according to Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger.

    The debate over ending the war in Iraq is also a top priority for SEIU members, who are even more anti-war than the rest of the nation, Burger said, explaining that the SEIU sees the Iraq war as diverting funds that could be used to provide universal healthcare and other priorities.

    Still, while union proposals have won momentum, only one union priority � an increase in the minimum wage � has actually become law. Other measures have been held up in the Senate by Republican-led filibusters or are threatened by presidential vetoes.

    While the AFL-CIO�s Samuel admits that moving from a defensive posture to offense has been exciting, he said there is frustration that labor issues have been held up in the Senate. And he insists Democrats have not given labor a blank check, even though he and his colleagues are spending more time in the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in this Congress. �You still have to argue your case on its merits,� he said.

    �For the last 12 years we were for the most part on the defensive,� Samuel continued. �It was other people who were making decisions which we were reacting to. I think now we are able to make decisions, to decide what issues to promote.�

    AFL-CIO officials meet weekly to decide which issues to push for. They are also in frequent contact with other labor leaders, who say there�s no evidence that Democratic leaders are playing favorites among the sometimes-fractious labor movement.

    SEIU and the Teamsters left the AFL-CIO a few years ago and formed the Change to Win coalition. But McLuckie said he hadn�t heard any complaints within the Change to Win coalition about access to Democrats.

    For their part, Republicans hope to use labor�s successes to portray Democrats as too compliant with union demands. For example, the National Republican Senate Committee is already trying to raise money from small businesses spooked by the card-check bill.

    It has produced an ominously scored video featuring grainy footage of Senate Democrats rallying for the card-check legislation to convince businesses to donate to the GOP next year. In the video, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tells the crowd, �We have a majority in the U.S. Senate because of you.� Meanwhile, the figure $1,389,489 flashes on the screen to reflect the contributions Reid has received from �Big Labor.�

    The video closes with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) promising to sign the bill into law when she is president, and notes Republicans need only two seats to regain control of the Senate.

    While unions are holding off on their presidential endorsements for now, the video reflects their long-term plan for card check. In 2009, labor hopes to have a Democratic president and a larger majority in the Senate, which would make business-backed filibusters more difficult.

    �I think it will be easier next time,� said Samuel, who thinks the labor agenda in Congress will help Democrats in next year�s elections. �I think these measures are generally very popular.�

    03-23 11:14 PM
    I agree he will loose his down payment or credit score in case of things going south on GC side but still he will be able to do whatever is best for his long term goals now and he will be better off in terms of equity when real estate market bounces back in 3-4 years.There are lucrative deals in the market and renting does not make any sense. There is always a risk factor and u can cover your risks accordingly. Anywaz What exactly ur going to do with Credit Score after u are kicked out from here ? So why not take risk now and play the game.
    why do you say that renting does not make any sense ?? credit score would matter if a person gets a better oppurtunity and decides to come back - screwing up yr credit is like burning a bridge. In my humble opinion real estate won't bounce back - it may limp back in majority of the areas. ofcourse housing is local ..

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