August, 2015

 

Trump’s deportation idea similar to 1930s’ mass removals

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for the mass deportation of millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally as well as their American-born children bears similarities to a large-scale removal that many Mexican-American families faced 85 years ago.

During the 1930s Great Depression, counties and cities in the American Southwest and Midwest forced Mexican immigrants and their families to leave the U.S. over concerns they were taking jobs away from whites despite their legal right to stay.

The result: Around 500,000 to 1 million Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans were pushed out of United States during the so-called 1930s’ repatriation.

At that time, immigrants were rounded up and sent to Mexico, sometimes in public places and often without formal proceedings. Others, scared by the violence, left voluntarily.

About 60 percent of those who left were American citizens, according to various studies on the 1930s’ repatriation. Later testimonies show families lost most of their possessions and some family members died trying to return. Neighborhoods in cities such as Houston, San Antonio and Los Angeles became empty.

The impact of the experience on Latinos remains evident today, experts and advocates say.

“It set the tone for later deportations,” said Francisco Balderrama, a Chicano studies professor at California State University, Los Angeles.

Two weeks ago, Trump said that, if elected president, he would expand deportations and end “birthright citizenship” for children born to immigrants who are in the Unites States illegally. Under his plan, American-born children of immigrants also would be deported with their parents, and Mexico would be asked to help build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“They’re illegal,” Trump said of U.S.-born children of people living in the country illegally. “You either have a country or not.”

Polls now show negative impressions of Trump among Latinos. A Gallup poll released Aug. 24 found that Hispanics were more likely to give Trump unfavorable ratings than favorable ones by 51 percentage points.

Some immigrant advocates pointed to the removal of prominent Latino journalist Jorge Ramos from an Iowa press conference last week as a metaphor for the candidate’s desire to remove Latinos from the United States.

“Mr. Trump should heed the following warning: Our Latino and immigrant communities are not going to forget the way he has treated them,” the Washington, D.C.-based Fair Immigration Reform Movement said in a statement.

Ramos, an anchor for Univision, was escorted out by a Trump aide after Ramos tried to question Trump about his immigration plan. Trump interrupted Ramos, saying he hadn’t been called on and ultimately told Ramos, “Go back to Univision.”

Ramos was saying, “You cannot deport 11 million people,” as he was escorted away. He was later allowed to return.

Trump has provided few details on how his proposed deportation effort would be carried out. The conservative-leaning American Action Forum concluded in a report it would cost between $400 billion to $600 billion and take 20 years to remove an estimated 11.2 million immigrants living in the country illegally.

The large-scale deportation Trump envisions would be impractical to enact, due to the extent to which Mexican immigrants have integrated into U.S. society, said Columbia University history professor Mae Ngai.

U.S.-born children of immigrants have been automatically considered American citizens since the adoption of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment in 1868. A Supreme Court ruling in 1898 halted previous attempts to limit the birthright of Chinese-American citizens after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

The ruling upheld the clause for all U.S.-born children, Ngai said, and there have been no successful challenges to the clause since.

In the 1930s, Balderrama said, officials skirted the issue of birthright citizenship by saying they did not want to break up families.

“But they did break up families and many children never saw their parents again,” said Balderrama, co-author of a book about the 1930s’ repatriation.


Venezuela takes census in border area as part of row with Colombia

CARACAS (AFP) – Venezuela started taking a census Monday in towns along the border with Colombia as part of a diplomatic spat that has seen more than 1,000 Colombians deported.

The countries have been locked in a row since Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro closed part of the border this month after unidentified assailants attacked a Venezuelan anti-smuggling patrol, wounding three soldiers and a civilian.

Maduro blamed the attack on right-wing paramilitaries from Colombia.

He has accused the neighboring country of waging an attack on Venezuela’s economy — a reference to the rampant smuggling of heavily subsidized food and other goods out of Venezuela, where more than five million Colombians live.

In the aftermath of the armed attack, Venezuela deported more than 1,000 Colombian nationals, prompting thousands more to flee to avoid being sent home without their families or belongings.

The census is being undertaken in six of 10 border towns in Tachira state that are under a state of emergency decreed August 21 by the president. The census will take a tally of people, homes, commercial and industrial properties, public services and economic and farming activity, the official Venezuelan government gazette said.

The state of emergency bars people from carrying guns and holding public meetings that do not have prior authorization. It also allows raids of homes and telephone wiretaps without a court order.

The crisis deepened last Thursday when the two countries recalled their ambassadors.

The porous, 2,200-kilometer (1,400-mile) border they share has long been rife with guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and National Liberation Army, as well as drug gangs and smugglers.

The Colombian gangs include the remnants of right-wing paramilitary groups that once fought the guerrillas but were disbanded a decade ago.

Maduro blames Colombian smuggling for severe shortages of basic goods in Venezuela, a problem that fueled violent protests in the country last year.

Venezuela has long used its oil wealth to fund price controls that keep goods like rice and toilet paper at as little as one-tenth the price they command in Colombia.

But it is also in the grips of crippling shortages, now exacerbated by tumbling oil prices.


Soft-spoken Carson catches front-running Trump in Iowa: poll

Washington (AFP) – Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has drawn even with front-running billionaire Donald Trump in a poll in early-voting Iowa released Monday, as political outsiders surge in the US presidential race.

Real estate magnate Trump has spent weeks dominating the Republican field, and has emerged as a credible White House candidate for many voters in Iowa, the first crucible of the 2016 nominating contest.

But with Carson’s stellar showing in a series of recent polls in Iowa and nationwide, and another survey showing Senator Bernie Sanders nipping at Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s heels, the second-place candidates are exhibiting considerable power on the campaign trail.

Trump and Carson are deadlocked at 23 percent, according to the Monmouth University poll.

Only one other candidate polls in double digits: Another political novice — former Hewlett-Packard boss Carly Fiorina, with 10 percent.

Senator Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Florida governor Jeb Bush round out the top five.

“These results mark a significant shake-up in the leaderboard from Monmouth’s Iowa poll taken before the first (Republican presidential) debate” in early August, said Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray.

At that point, Walker, of neighboring Wisconsin, led the rankings.

The calm-demeanored Carson’s favorability rating is sky-high at 81 percent to six percent, while Fiorina also shines at 67 to eight. Trump’s favorability is 52-33.

Bush by comparison is deep underwater at 32-51 percent, according to Monmouth.

Carson, 63, is aiming to become the first African-American to win the Republican nomination.

He entered the nation’s political consciousness two years ago with a speech criticizing President Barack Obama’s policies in front of Obama himself.

Carson, who despite a childhood of “dire poverty” in Detroit, rose to become one of the nation’s most respected medical professionals through his presidential campaign is seeking political “healing” and a renewed sense of compassion in America.

His campaign has been low-key compared to the braggadocious Trump, but Carson is seen as earning strong support from Christian conservatives, an important voting bloc in Iowa.

“Trump and Carson, one bombastic and the other sometimes soft-spoken, could hardly be more different in their outward presentations,” according to respected pollster Ann Selzer, who released a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers in late Saturday showing Trump leading with 23 percent and Carson second with 18 percent.

“Yet they’re both finding traction because they don’t seem like politicians and there’s a strong demand for that right now.”

Cruz and Walker are tied for third with eight percent in the Des Moines Register poll.

Bush and Senator Marco Rubio are next at six percent, while Fiorina earned five percent.

Shunning the political establishment is occurring to a degree on the Democratic side as well, according to the Register poll.

While results show Clinton ahead with 37 percent, she has lost one third of her support since May, while the liberal Sanders is now just seven points behind in the Democratic nomination race, at 30 percent.


Papal welcome at US seminary expected to be rowdy, reverent

AP – The last time a pope visited the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary just outside Philadelphia, he got a rousing, even rowdy, rock star welcome. “Viva! Viva Papa!” the seminarians shouted.

With the rector’s blessings, expect more of the same when Pope Francis arrives in four weeks at the end of his first U.S. trip.

Back in 1979, then-Archbishop John Cardinal Krol was a known stickler for ceremony. So when St. John Paul II came to visit, the seminarians knew what was expected: Welcome the pope in a traditional manner — with a refrain from a Gregorian chant — and then listen to the speech. There would be prayer, quiet reflection, peace.

It started well, anyway.

In a video of the visit, the seminarians sing when John Paul arrives. But when they catch their first glimpse of him, clad head to toe in white, the song is drowned out by clapping, stomping, cheering and whistling, a welcome that would make even Mick Jagger jealous.

“We were supposed to behave ourselves,” admitted the seminary’s current rector, Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Senior, who on that evening was a 19-year-old seminarian.

Senior doesn’t plan any edicts for Pope Francis’ visit.

Francis arrives at the seminary on the morning of Sept. 26, his first day in Philadelphia. He’ll be greeted on the front steps by the seminarians, who plan to serenade him. The next morning at the seminary chapel, he will address international bishops gathered for the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families. The seminarians will also attend, and afterward they will take a group photo with the pope.

They will sing the “Domine” chant, an anthem unique to the seminary, three times to Francis. The timing can be spontaneous, church officials said.

“It’s part of our tradition here,” Senior said. “That’s our version of ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.'”

The video of John Paul’s visit provides a unique look inside a rarely seen world. Instead of seeming foreign and distant, it seems familiar: the young men excited to see a superstar, their usually stern teacher scolding them but with a smile. Current seminarian John Howarth, 29, said that’s because even the ordained “are real guys.”

“Priests don’t just sit and say Mass every day. They order pizza. They drink beer,” he said in a telephone interview after a weekend at the beach. “I didn’t come out of the womb wearing a collar.”

Howarth’s friends and family have asked what he’ll say to the pope if they meet. Howarth said he’s more interested in listening to what Francis has to say.

“I hope his words will empower us and unite us,” Howarth said. “Pope Francis’ gift lies in reaching people the church may not have otherwise reached. He has that approachability and the world is falling in love with him.”

In the 53-minute 1979 video, Krol also engages in some levity. He jokes about the quality of the seminary class, noting, “We have to do the best with what’s available. This is the best.” That line earns him groans.

Then Krol apologizes to John Paul “for the apparent undisciplined behavior of our seminarians.” That line results in more clapping and cheers.

“I can remember feeling the building shake, the happiness and joy of seeing the Holy Father literally reverberated,” said Sheila Longworth, a longtime seminary employee who watched from the choir loft. “It was electric. It absolutely consumed you.”

Toward the end of the video, John Paul stands and grants the seminarians three days off from work. Some respond by shouting “free day!” in Polish. Then they sing the “Domine.” The pope listens with his head slightly tilted, smiling.

As Senior noted, “We took the roof off with it.”


State Dept. to release 7,000 pages of emails, 150 censored

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department will release roughly 7,000 pages of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails Monday, including about 150 emails that have been censored because they contain information that is now deemed classified.

Department officials said the redacted information was classified in preparation for the public release of the emails and not identified as classified at the time Clinton sent or received the messages. All the censored material in the latest group of emails is classified at the “confidential” level, not at higher “top secret” or compartmentalized levels, they said.

“It’s somewhere around 150 that have been subsequently upgraded” in classification, State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

Still, the increasing amounts of blacked-out information from Clinton’s email history as secretary of state will surely prompt additional questions about her handling of government secrets while in office and that of her most trusted advisers. The Democratic presidential front-runner now says her use of a home email server for government business was a mistake, and government inspectors have pointed to exchanges that never should have been sent via unsecured channels.

Toner insisted that nothing encountered in the agency’s review of Clinton’s documents “was marked classified.”

Government employees are instructed not to paraphrase or repeat in any form classified material in unsecured email.

Monday evening’s release will amount to more pages of email than released in the previous three months combined. Once public, it will mean roughly a quarter of all of the correspondence Clinton qualified as “work emails” has been published. Clinton provided the State Department some 30,000 pages of documents late last year, while deleting a similar amount from her server because she said they were personal in nature.


Cuba goes all in on English, amid closer US ties

Havana (AFP) – Now that Cuba has restored diplomatic ties with the United States, teaching English in schools will be a priority, the communist party newspaper Granma reported Monday.

In the 1970s, the study of English in Cuban schools was supplanted by Russian, after the Soviet Union emerged as the communist island’s main benefactor following Fidel Castro’s ascent to power in 1959.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, English returned to the Cuba’s academic curriculum. And since Havana and Washington restored ties in July, interest in English has skyrocketed.

“The language is essential because every day we are going to have more contact” with the United States and other countries, the communist party’s number two official, Jose Ramon Machaco Ventura, told university students over the weekend.

In 2008, two years after yielding power to his brother Raul, Fidel Castro acknowledged the importance of speaking English.

“The Russians studied English. Everyone studied English, except for us. We studied Russian,” Castro said.


Anti-ISIS coalition falling short, says Canada PM

OTTAWA, August 31 (Reuters) – Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Monday the U.S.-led coalition’s campaign against Islamic State was not doing as well as had been hoped in Syria and parts of Iraq.

Harper also said Canada, one of the nations helping Iraq to fight the group also known as ISIS, would need “a long and sustained strategy” with its international partners against Islamic State, which controls large parts of northern and western Iraq.

Around 70 Canadian special forces troops are working with Kurdish peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq. Six Canadian fighter bombers are also attacking Islamic State positions inIraq and Syria.

“The intervention has had the effect of largely stopping the advance of ISIS, particularly in the north of Iraq and to some degree in other parts of Iraq and Syria, not maybe as much as we’d liked,” Harper told reporters during an event on Canada’s election campaign.

Polls show Harper’s ruling Conservatives are trailing the left-leaning New Democrats, who have promised to withdraw Canada’s forces from the coalition.

“To protect our country we are going to have to have a long and sustained strategy and work with our international partners and that is what we are doing,” said Harper, who accuses his political rivals of being too soft in the fight against terror.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)


Obama considering array of options for closing Guantanamo prison: White House

WASHINGTON, August 31 (Reuters) – The White House is considering a “wide array” of options for closing the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, spokesman Josh Earnest said on Monday, declining to rule out executive action as an option.

Earnest said the best route for closing the prison would be winning Congressional approval to do so.

The White House said last month that it would soon be sending a plan to Congress to close the prison, which President Barack Obama has made a priority.

Asked if Obama would consider taking executive action to close the prison if Congress blocks him, Earnest said, “The president and his team are always considering a wide array of options.

“But the fact is the best way for us to do this is for members of Congress of both parties to work effectively with the administration,” Earnest said.

Closing the prison is likely to involve transferring some detainees to prisons within the United States. Republicans have barred those transfers and already have begun to push back against suggestions floated by the administration as possible host sites.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Aug. 20 that a U.S. army delegation had visited a potential facility in Leavenworth, Kansas, and would soon tour the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig at Charleston, South Carolina.

In response, Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said at a news conference, “We are not going to allow any terrorists” to be housed in Charleston.

(Reporting by Julia Edwards in Washington and Roberta Rampton aboard Air Force One; Editing by Eric Walsh and Bill Trott)


Guatemala’s Perez says won’t resign over graft accusations

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Guatemalan President Otto Perez said on Monday he would not resign over allegations of corruption leveled against him by prosecutors, despite mounting pressure on his government and calls for his impeachment.

A Guatemalan congressional committee on Saturday recommended that Perez be stripped of immunity from prosecution over his suspected involvement in a customs racket, paving the way for a full vote in Congress. Perez denies any wrongdoing.

Perez’s lawyers have filed an injunction against the impeachment process that could delay the Congress vote if accepted. Perez said Guatemala’s presidential election, the first round of which takes place on Sunday, should go ahead as planned.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu and Enrique Andres Pretel)


Pm Briefed On ‘Dire’ Baha Mar Finances Before Missed Opening

Source: Tribune 242

By NEIL HARTNELL | Tribune Business Editor | nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Prime Minister Perry Christie was consistently briefed from two days before Baha Mar’s missed March 27 opening about the “increasingly dire” impact this and the impasse with its Chinese partners was having on the developer’s finances.

Whitney Thier, Baha Mar’s executive vice-president and general counsel, alleged in a July 16 affidavit that Mr Christie was being kept fully informed from March 25 onwards about both the developer’s worsening financial position and status of its negotiations.

“During the period from March 25, 2015, [Sarkis] Izmirlian met and talked repeatedly, and engaged in correspondence with, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas about the status of the negotiations, and also the increasingly dire financial condition of the applicants,” Ms Thier alleged.

“On June 16, 2015, Mr Izmirlian shared with the Prime Minister of the Bahamas a confidential synopsis of Baha Mar’s understanding of the discussions between China Construction America, China State Construction Engineering Corporation, China Export-Import Bank and the applicants to complete construction and arrange new financing.”

Ms Thier acknowledged that this prompted Mr Christie to hold his own direct, independent talks with Baha Mar’s $2.45 billion debt financier, the China Export-Import Bank, about obtaining additional funding that – at that stage – was estimated to be $300 million.

Her claims raise new doubts over whether the Christie administration can claim to have been completely ‘blindsided’ by Baha Mar’s decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware on June 29.

While the Government may have been unaware of the Chapter 11 intentions, it cannot have been ignorant of Baha Mar’s tightening ‘cash crunch’, given that the Prime Minister had been kept fully appraised of the situation for over three months.

Yet the Christie administration’s response in the immediate aftermath of the Chapter 11 move was to effectively side with the Chinese, and blame Mr Izmirlian’s failure to deliver a personal guarantee as the obstacle that prevented a financial resolution for Baha Mar’s completion.

Mr Izmirlian and Baha Mar, though, were more exercised by their inability to obtain a completion date and other underlying commitments essential to the project’s conclusion from China Construction America (CCA).

Ms Thier’s affidavit reveals how, just three days after Mr Izmirlian’s June 16 negotiations update with the Prime Minister, CCA effectively tore up “many of the points that Baha Mar had understood were agreed”.

“Namely, they did not commit to a date to recommence construction; refused to commit to guarantee a future China Export-Import Bank loan facility; refused to agree to any financial consequences in the event of a failure to meet a new construction completion date; refused to waive future claims by sub-contractors (including China State Construction Engineering Corporation–owned sub-contractors) notwithstanding an agreement by Baha Mar and CCA to a total final price for the remainder of construction (a compromise sum far in excess of the amount Baha Mar believed due); required Baha Mar to waive construction defect claims; and required advance release of retainage in contradiction fo the construction contract,” Ms Thier alleged.

Her affidavit for the first time discloses ‘meeting minutes’ and previous agreements intended to settle the deepening dispute between Baha Mar and CCA that resulted in missed completion deadlines and the Chapter 11 filing.

Tribune Business can reveal that the November 19, 2014, ‘meeting minutes’ that documented the then-agreement between the two sides committed CCA to “substantially complete” Baha Mar on March 27, plus improve work productivity and project management.

Some observers might interpret that as a tacit admission of ‘guilt’ by CCA. Under the heading of ‘improvement in work productivity’, the minutes state the contractor would ensure on-time completion “by all necessary methods”.

This included “sufficient manpower, both local and international, with a minimum of 200 new Chinese workers” arriving within 30 days and working whatever overtime was necessary.

And the ‘minutes’ added: “CCA agrees to take necessary measures to enhance the on-site management to ensure the construction will be conducted in an orderly manner, and the works will be completed on time and in the required quality.”

For its part, Baha Mar was to request the payment of the disputed $54.622 million to CCA. This was to be broken down into $15.103 million (50 per cent of the disputed sum) paid immediately.

Some 70 per cent of the $45.815 million being reviewed by all parties was also to be paid immediately, with a further $15 million eventually due as a final settlement.

CCA, though, missed the completion date and all the performance milestones and objectives set out in the ‘meeting minutes’, which were witnessed by the China Export-Import Bank (CEXIM).

Mr Izmirlian, in his latest August 28 message to Baha Mar staff, made clear his continued hostility towards CCA and desire to exclude them from further involvement in the project.

He pointedly excluded them from the partners Baha Mar wants to work with, saying: “We know the Government, too, wants Baha Mar to succeed and we remain hopeful that the Government of the Bahamas will work with us. We believe working together with the Government and CEXIM bank best serves the interests of all parties.”

The Delaware Bankruptcy Court is unlikely to rule on the Chinese bid to dismiss Baha Mar’s Chapter 11 case until mid-September, well after the Bahamian Supreme Court delivers its anticipated verdict on the Government’s attempt to wind-up the developer this week.

Judge Kevin Carey on Friday urged all sides to resolve the dispute through negotiations, rather than through the courts. He also indicated that he might condition any ultimate approval of Baha Mar’s Chapter 11 reorganisation plan on it also being approved by the Bahamian Supreme Court.

Baha Mar’s ability to reorganise via US Chapter 11 procedures will depend on both the Delaware and Bahamian legal systems, and its ability to attract new equity and debt financing.

Meanwhile, Ms Thier alleged in her affidavit that Baha Mar executives travelled to Beijing three times between April and June 2015 to try and resolve the dispute.

Attached to her affidavit is ‘a statement of principles’ drawn up by the China Export-Import Bank, which indicates that the idea of having the Bahamian Government provide a sovereign guarantee to underpin any new Baha Mar financing first came from the bank – not the developer.

The bank urged Baha Mar and CCA to “focus on the big picture and, with full appreciation of the importance and urgency of the current situation of the project, treat completion and opening as their top priority”.

Calling on all parties to fulfill their obligations, China Export-Import Bank said the first step towards resolution was to determine and agree the “cost overruns”.

It added that CCA and Baha Mar should “mainly” finance these overruns from their own financial resources. If new financing was required from itself, China Export-Import Bank said this would only be considered if debt ratios were reduced and the fund secured by assets or a guarantee by Baha Mar and the contractor.

Then, as an alternative, China Export-Import Bank said its loan could be “supported by a sovereign guarantee from the Government of the Bahamas”.

The Christie administration has so far avoided committing taxpayer dollars and more debt to underpin such a risk, electing not to become so deeply involved in a private sector project despite Baha Mar heeding CCA’s suggestion and calling for it to do so.