Saturday, July 2, 2011

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  • dontcareanymore
    08-05 01:58 PM
    Why, what is difference? Why was labor substitution bad. It was perfectly legal after all.

    Yes IT WAS. You either have not seen through the issue or can't distinguish the cases.

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  • Macaca
    12-28 07:35 PM
    Unique India jail outsourcing unit set to begin ( By Soutik Biswas | BBC

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

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

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

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

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

    'Expecting orders'

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Mr Nageshwar has contested his conviction in the Supreme Court.

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

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

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

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

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

    'Living in hope'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Mr Goud agrees wholeheartedly.

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

    Outsourcing unit to be set up in Indian jail ( By Omer Farooq | BBC

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  • jung.lee
    04-09 12:51 PM
    Being an energy saving geek, I also recommend buying something with a large south facing roof (for lots of solar panels).

    Mark, I looked at the pics of the roof of your house. Nice work. Being a little bit of an energy saving geek myself, and this being Earth Day month and all, do you mind sharing some details on the solar panel roofing project?

    What brand of panels did you purchase and where?
    What is the price per square foot raw material, and with installation? Did you use a specialized installer, or a regular roofing contractor?
    What is the total area (ft-squared or m-squared) of the panels?
    What is the energy generated by the panels (I am guessing something in kWH/m-squared)?

    Last but not the least, how the heck did you get snow to stay away from the panels, when it is clearly visible on other roofing tiles at the edges of the roof:)? Is this a property of the panels' surface (smoothness of surface - like glass)?

    Also, hate to dump out here - how about some details the geo-thermal system? (I admit that I know nothing about them, expect for the basic underground heat exchange concept. I did not know that a compact residential system was available).

    Thanks for sharing!

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  • Macaca
    05-02 05:32 PM
    America is bleeding competitiveness ( By Vivek Wadhwa | Entrepreneur Corner

    With anti-immigrant sentiment building across the nation, and clouds of nativism swirling around Washington, D.C., skilled immigrants are voting with their feet. They are returning home to countries like India and China. It�s not just the people we are denying visas to who are leaving; even U.S. permanent residents and naturalized citizens are going to where they think the grass is greener. As a result, India and China are experiencing an entrepreneurship boom. And they are learning to innovate just as Silicon Valley does.

    Some call this a �brain drain� others say it is �brain circulation.� It is without doubt, good for these countries and it is good for the world. But this is America�s loss: innovation that would otherwise be happening here is going abroad. Without realizing it, we are exporting our prosperity and strengthening our competitors.

    There are no hard data available on how many skilled immigrants have already left the U.S. My estimate is that 150,000 have returned to India and China, each, over the past two decades. The trend has accelerated dramatically over the past five years; tens of thousands are now returning home every year. Most authorities agree with these estimates. For example, the Chinese Ministry of Education estimates that the number of overseas Chinese who returned to China in 2009 having received a foreign education reached 108,000: a sharp increase of 56.2% over the previous year. In 2010, this number reached an all-time high of 134,800 (a significant proportion studied in the U.S.).

    Why is this important? Because, as research conducted by my team at Duke, UC-Berkeley, Harvard, and New York University has shown, 52.4% of all startups in Silicon Valley, from 1995 to 2005, were founded by immigrants. With all these immigrants leaving, and the next generation of foreign-born entrepreneurs trapped in �immigration limbo,� we won�t have as many immigrant founded startups in the future. The xenophobes who are lobbying against skilled immigration will cheer; but there won�t be more jobs for Americans; just less startups in the U.S. and more abroad. The U.S. pie will be smaller.

    My team researched the backgrounds of immigrant founders, and the U.S. immigration backlog. We learned that the majority came to the U.S. as students; 74% held graduate or post graduate degrees, of which 75% were in science, engineering, technology, or mathematics. On average, immigrants started their ventures 13 years after entering the U.S.

    During the last twenty years, we admitted record numbers of international students and highly educated foreign workers on temporary visas. But we never expanded the number of permanent resident visas that allow them to stay permanently. The result is that we have a backlog of more than one million skilled workers�doctors, scientists, researchers, and engineers, who are trapped in immigration limbo. They are working for the same companies and doing the same jobs as when they filed their paperwork for gaining permanent residence; this may have been 10-15 years ago. A foreign student who graduates with a masters or PhD in engineering from Duke or Stanford and joins the queue today will have to wait 10-20 years, perhaps longer, to gain permanent residence. They can�t start companies or progress their careers during the most productive period in their lives. Why would anyone put up with that?

    Indeed, a survey we conducted of 1,224 foreign nationals who were studying at U.S. universities in 2009, or who had just graduated, revealed that they believed that the U.S. was no longer the destination of choice for professional careers. Most did not want to stay for very long. Fifty eight percent of Indian, 54% of Chinese, and 40% of European students said that they would stay in the U.S. for at least a few years after graduation if given the chance, but only 6% of Indian, 10% of Chinese, and 15% of European students said they want to stay permanently. The largest group of respondents� 55% of Indian, 40% of Chinese, and 30% of European students�wanted to return home within five years. This is very different than what used to be the norm in previous decades: the vast majority of Indians and Chinese stayed permanently.

    Our surveys, in 2008, of 1,203 Indian and Chinese immigrants who had worked in or received their education in the U.S. and returned to their home countries revealed that although restrictive immigration policies had caused some returnees to depart, the most significant factors in the decision to return home were career opportunities, family ties, and quality of life. The move home also served as a career catalyst. For example, only 10% of the Indian returnees held senior management positions in the U.S., but 44% found jobs at this level in India. Chinese returnees went from 9% in senior management in the U.S. to 36% in China. The vast majority thought that quality of life, professional advancement, and family ties were at least as good at home as in the U.S.

    The majority of the people we surveyed said they planned to start a business within five years. When we published our research, many experts said that this is where returnees would face the greatest frustration�that the weak infrastructure in India; authoritarianism in China; and corruption and red tape and lack of funding in both countries would be a severe handicap. In other words, when it came to competition from startups in India and China, the U.S. had nothing to worry about.

    So, last September, we initiated a project to learn how the entrepreneurship landscape in India and China compares to the U.S. We wanted to learn why these entrepreneurs returned, what their perceptions of the entrepreneurial climate in their home countries were, what the advantages and disadvantages of working in India and China were over working in the U.S., and what types of ties they maintained to the U.S.

    We were really surprised at what we learned. In the next installment, I�ll discuss our findings.

    Standing Up for Guest Workers ( New York Times Editorial


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  • belmontboy
    03-25 02:56 PM
    is there a website/magazine where i can get list of foreclosed properties?

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  • surabhi
    04-14 02:02 PM
    I cannot agree more. I have been trying to drill this into some peoples brain but they are so adamant on renting and has made this thread into a rent vs buy argument. I finally gave up. I am not saying that this is the right time to buy. Fast forward 2 or 2+ years, lets assume the market is good. Then when it comes to rent vs buy I advocate buying a house.

    Let�s say you have a small kid and you are living in an apartment, after 10 years you save enough money to buy a big house and you then eventually you buy it. Then you ask the your kid �do you like the house?�. He will reply �it�s very nice dad, but can you give you give my childhood now?.�. Go figure out guys. If you are not planning on going back for a very long time then at-least get a life in the country you reside and when the housing market is good.

    I think the point is valid to an extent, but the original post was about buying it during I-485 implying the concern about uncertainity that comes along and about financial investment, associated risks.

    I have bought house in April 2006 while on H1. When my wife got job 2 hours away from our home, I had to take apartment to maintain sanity in life and not spend 4 hours a day commuting. For about a year I maintained 2 homes. I was looking at a 35K loss on a 285K home after factoring in selling expenses of 6% if I had to sell. And it'd take 4 months to sell. SO I just held up and luckliy she got another one closer home and we are able to come back to our home.

    I definetely missed the flexibility that I'd have if I didnt buy home.

    If you rent a town home or even a single family home, you get best of both worlds of not having to commit yourself for big decision at the same time enjoying a larger home, neighbourhood where kids can grow etc etc.

    One note of caution for would-be home buyers is to budget conservatively. Utility bills will throw a nasty surprise. In a 1000 Sq.ft apartment , your utilities for gas and electricity will top $125. Prepare to spend about 500$ in winter months. Your new home's volume is 4X your apartment for a typical 4 BR home. Also garbage, sewer, water are extra which are generally included in rent.

    Ofcourse purely from an investment perspective, there are far better avenues to invest than a Home at this time


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  • alisa
    01-04 05:35 PM
    No body is going to be caught and there is going to be another attack in India and then the Bombay will become the past and we need to forget the past and we have to start all over again.
    Then you would probably be right, that this is the active policy of Pakistan, and I would probably be wrong, that these are non-state actors that are the remnants of the past.

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  • NKR
    12-24 10:58 AM
    but if a muslim rebels in lack of justice and equality�

    Thought I will stay out of this debate, but I couldn�t especially when innocents are getting killed�

    In India, Muslims have their own justice system according to their beliefs. Government sponsors Haj pilgrimage to poor muslims. We treat Taj Mahal as our symbol of love, fair enough.

    Abdul Kalam was the president of India, he is widely respected and all his lectures go full house even now.

    According to forbes, Wipro�s CEO Azim Premji was rated the richest person in the country from 1999 to 2005. He is the richest Muslim enterpreneur of the world. Many Hindus are working in Wipro and are proud of it.

    The three Khans in Bollywood are adored in India, Amir Khan�s Lagaan was India�s official entry for Oscars and now his �Taare Zameen Par� is this year�s official entry. We all will be happy if it wins.

    Azharuddin was the captain of Indian cricket team, though he was associated with match fixing and selling his country�s pride in cricket, he still roams scotfree.

    So where is the lack of justice and equality?. All the above chose to use the system wisely and prospered. They did not chose to lag behind and then rebel against the system.

    Now, If you think whoever is sponsoring terrorism are doing it in Islam�s favor, you are dead wrong, they are doing it so that they can lead a lavish life in their fortified mansions, they continue to sponsor terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and what not�all at the expense of poor brainwashed people who are mere cannon fodders.

    A poor person from Pakistan comes all over to Mumbai to carry terrorist activities and I do no understand how you can say that he is rebelling against lack of justice and equality in India. For one there is no lack of equality as mentioned above, second, who gave them authorization even if you all think there was one. That is our internal problem for crying out loud.

    Even after showing proof that the captured terrorist was from Pakistan, they are back to their old lying game telling that the person�s name is not in their official records. What next, will they give that person�s dad to India to carry out DNA test?.. hell no, they will ask for DNA sample from India and say it did not match. Seems like the trait of lying and misleading the world is in their DNA.


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  • ganguteli
    03-24 09:16 AM
    A lot of the list and questions that you are being asked is what department of labor asks when they are investigating possible h-1b violations. What they have asked you is usually in those types of investigations.

    There is a lot of things going on behind the scenes that many people are not aware of or totally clueless to.

    Many people are trying to make the GC easier for themselves whereas the real focus should be a defensive measure.

    Right now;

    VERMONT SERVICE CENTER is denying many, many h-1b's. These h-1b's are for companies who file greencards. If they are assessing that these companies do not have temporary jobs that require a degree then do you not think it is going to gravitate towards employment base greencards?

    They are figuring out through requesting of payroll records, w'2's, consulate denials, etc., that many, many people never joined companies; didn't get paid, transferred to other companies shortly upon arrival.

    It looks like USCIS/DOL have gone to zero tolerance and have devised ways to pierce through favorable rules protecting immigrant wannabe's.

    They pierce through 245k by going through possible immigration fraud by listing employment in the g-325a when a person didn't get paid and may not have had employer/employee relationship (i have actually seen this where USCIS cited possible immigration fraud due to this issue to trump 245k).

    USCIS is starting to challenge companies whether they have permanent jobs instead of temporary jobs; which looks like where this particular OP is going to go through. If they determine the job is temporary then that is going to spell doom for the EB greencard for him.

    People decided they were going to poke USCIS and take complaints to senators/congressmen (whom you all think are your friends but many of you do not realize that they are not your friends) and now everyong is going to see how the system in this country works. We are currently in a new day and age with immigration. Everyone should buckle their seat belts as this is going to be a real bumpy ride.

    I have to agree with you. I am seeing some folks living in Utopia and think that they can ram their way through USCIS, Senators and congress and can easily get a bill. They think removing country caps is so easy. All you have to do is meet some lawmakers and ask them to bring a bill. Likewise some think that by sending spam emails anonymously they can get all immigration fixes done. Our population thinks it is very easy and there is no point spending any dollar to it. By sending annonymous spam emails everything will change. I have seen that we all conveniently blame IV if nothing good is happening. But we are keeping our eyes closed to the outside world.

    The reality you have told is different and people who have EAD think they do not need to care about it. All they care about is their own greencard. People on H1B think they already have a good job and a 3 year extension stamped on PP so they do not need to worry about new laws. Students think only about getting H1B through a consulting company so that they have an H1B and will worry about problems later. People on greencard do not care about people on EAD and H1 as they are out of it. ROW folks do not care for Indians as they think it is only Indians that are in trouble. Chinese do not care because they think they need to be anti-Indians because Indians are taking all the rollover greencards. So I guess we are all divided and fail to see.

    I am seeing so many denials and RFEs on H1B too and we people are all quiet. People who have EAD do not want to help people like me who have not filed I485 and make opportunities equal for everyone to stay secure.

    I think USCIS needs to start investigating all old cases that used substitute labor and cut the line. Once they start doing that a lot of people on this forum will panic. Likewise they must investigate all cases where people have filed greencards for company B and are currently working for company A and even after getting greencards never worked for company B. Revoke all their greencards and you will see lot of greencard holders coming to IV and willing to contribute and begging for help.

    So I guess unless people's houses are on fire, they will not do anything about the state of immigration problems of others.

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  • gcgonewild
    07-28 01:59 PM
    Come the November Elections, Dems could lose 10 in Senate..

    And we are back to square one.

    Dejavu 2007/2008 ;

    If this happens, no bill will pass, leave alone Immigration Reform.

    Republicans will keep sending bills and Obama will Veto 'em.

    I regret the day when Obama became the president, he is just another politician who does not give a damn about EB2,EB3....he is just worried about "re-uniting families" (aka supporter of illegal immigration)


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  • GCwaitforever
    07-09 07:18 AM
    Employers dont just go around spending thousands of dollars on H1B fees and greencard fees to hire a guy with foreign accent if a native citizen was available. And they do not underpay them, because they HAVE to pay prevailing wages based on the wages determined by the Department of labor.

    Just wanted to let you know that the employer has to pay at least the prevailing wage for a starter to qualify the petition. The employer also has to pay a median wage to the H-1B holder that is commensurate with similarly qualified employees in the company. Otherwise the employer could be prosecuted for wage violations.

    Norm Matloff's figures are faulty because he measures only the prevailing wage as a yardstick which is the bare minimum for qualification. And then he claims H-1Bs are undercutting American employees. No wonder, if you make calculations with lower figures, on the average, H-1Bs look as if they are getting paid less than American employees. To get the actual picture, Norm needs to know actual wages of H-1B employees, which is not possible because not all employers divulge employee pay. As long as the figures can be taken to one's advantage, we always will have these critics running around with distorted graphs and figures.

    One reform should support and fight for in EB Greencards is making the application employee-centric, not employer-centric. Current procedure is in a way bondage to the employer, especially when USCIS takes a long time with multiple stages (read delays) that too not bothering about how long the application has been pending. If USCIS processing improves and they try to reach out to their customers, then a wait of one or two years for Greencard should not be an issue. Infact, I support instant GC proposal in that case.

    Regarding the claims of stealing jobs, I see tons of job advertisements weekly. Many of these ads specifically exclude non-sponsorship candidates (read H-1Bs). US citizens have a bigger market and better opportunities than H-1Bs. I am not sure how it is not possible for them to get jobs. As Logiclife mentioned, the unemployment rate is 2% in IT field. Perhaps people are not prepared to move to areas where jobs are growing. I can not specukate any more on that.

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  • unitednations
    03-24 07:56 PM

    Above case is the most frequent cited case by california/vermont service center and appeals office in denying h-1b's.

    Essentially; many years ago a nurse staffing agency was filing h-1b's and they were doing it for a specific set of nurses which actually required a degree (most nurses do not require a degree).

    The staffing agency was using one of the ways to demonstrate that the job required a degree (which is listed in 8 cfr 214.2h) that it normally hired nurses with degrees. Essentially; they were trying to circumvent h-1b for jobs that normally didn't require degrees.

    USCIS and the courts basically stated that if a person is not working at your location then you are considered a "token" employer and that the job requirements of where you are actually working is what needs to be demonstrated to see if the job requires a degree.

    Most of h-1b rfe's are trying to determine whether the petitioner is the employer or the agent (they ask for office information, project details and intertwine it to whether you have specailty occupation work at your location) or if the information on your payroll reports; your office size, pictures, etc., show that you are an agent. If they believe that you are an agent then they go the purchase order route.

    Now; uscis is totally misapplying this because h-1b is simple; job requreis a degree and person has that degree. In this particular case; nursing agency was trying to create a degree requirement for job that normally doesn't require one.

    However; they are applying this standard to all the staffing companies. I would read it and memorize it as this is quoted in every one of the denials.


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  • Macaca
    10-14 11:06 AM
    Getting Around Rules on Lobbying: Despite New Law, Firms Find Ways To Ply Politicians ( By Elizabeth Williamson | Washington Post Staff Writer, October 14, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • just_wait_for_gc
    08-11 02:52 PM
    toung is made of BS


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  • Macaca
    12-29 08:07 PM
    Watch Out for Russian Wild Card in Asia-Pacific ( By John Lee | Australian

    Just before we were tucking into Christmas turkey and plum pudding, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met his Indian counterpart Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi to reaffirm what the Russian leader called a "privileged partnership" between the two countries.

    By contrast, Australia sees little role for Moscow in the future Asian balance of power, where the former superpower was mentioned in passing only twice in the 2009 defence white paper.

    But other countries are not making the same mistake.

    If India is the "swing state" in Asia's future balance of power, as a prominent CIA 2005 report put it, New Delhi is well aware that Russia remains the wild card in the region.

    Medvedev and Singh signed more than 20 agreements ranging from agreements to supply India with natural gas, reaffirming a commitment for a third Indian nuclear power plant to be built by Russian engineers, and the signing of a contract for the joint development of between 250-300 fifth generation fighter aircraft.

    Over the next 15 years, it is estimated that every second overseas nuclear reactor built by the Russians will be in India, while New Delhi could be the destination for more than half of all Russian arms exports in the next five years.

    It is no surprise that Russia is pulling out all the stops to court India.

    After all, its two main exports - energy and arms - are exactly what India needs.

    There is a long economic and strategic history of partnership between the two countries that began in the 1950s when the former Soviet Union and India became allies.

    But just as Moscow sees new opportunities in a rising India, New Delhi still sees value in a declining Russia.

    The problem for Russia is not just the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and a patchy commitment to economic reform after the Boris Yeltsin era, but a declining population.

    Russia has experienced periods of dramatic population decline before, from 1917-23, 1933-34 and 1941-46.

    Since 1992, and despite the absence of famine or war, Russian deaths have exceeded births by a staggering 13 million.

    With 141 million people now, numbers could be as low as 120 million by 2030.

    Nevertheless, there are strong reasons to believe that Russia can play the wildcard role in Asia's future balance of power.

    First, the common wisdom that Russia is moving closer to China in order to counterbalance America and its European and Asian allies and partners is incorrect, meaning that the Russian wild card is still very much in play.

    While Russia is preoccupied with regaining its influence in parts of eastern Europe, Moscow is also warily watching China's unauthorised movements into Siberia and the Far East.

    Beijing is about six times closer to the port city of Vladivostok than is Moscow, which has very weak administrative control over its eastern territories.

    Already, an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 Chinese nationals have illegally settled in these oil, gas and timber-rich areas.

    Beijing is also tempted by Siberia's freshwater supply, given that China already has severe shortages throughout the country.

    The Russian Far East is inhabited by only six million people, while the three provinces in northeast China have about 110 million Chinese inhabitants. By 2020, more than 100 million Chinese will live less than 100km to the south of these Russian territories, whose population will then number between five million and 10 million.

    As Medvedev recently admitted, if Russia does not secure its presence in the Far East, it could eventually "lose everything" to the Chinese.

    The point is that Russia will have as much reason to balance against China's rise as encouraging it. As the godfather of geopolitics, Nicholas Spykman, put it, the key is to control the Rimland (Western, Southern and Eastern) Eurasia.

    A small handful of long-sighted strategists in Washington, Tokyo, Moscow and New Delhi see potential for a grand alliance of convenience that can effectively constrain Chinese influence in Central, South and East Asia. How Russia plays its strategic cards in this context will go a long way in shaping Eurasia.

    That Russia may choose to tilt the balance against China in the future is also backed by diverging world views of these two countries.

    Should China continue its rise, Washington, Tokyo, New Delhi and Moscow will seek a favourable multipolar balance of power in Asia, even if it remains under American leadership.

    By contrast, China sees the coming regional and world order as a bipolar one defined by US-China competition, with powers such as the EU countries, Japan, India and Russia relegated to the second tier, something that is very difficult for a proud "Asian" power such as Russia to accept.

    Second, a declining Russia retains significant national and institutional strengths. For example, Russia will remain a legitimate nuclear military power with a large and pre-existing nuclear arsenal. It is also a genuine energy superpower and a global leader in advanced weaponry technologies.

    These factors all but guarantee Moscow a prominent position in the future strategic-military balance.

    Furthermore, Russia will retain its veto as a permanent member of the Security Council.

    Given the difficulty of reforming the council, Moscow will continue to exercise a disproportionate influence through the UN, even if it continues to decline as a country.

    Finally, Russia has that indefinable quality of seeing itself as a natural great power. This all adds up to Russia remaining a big player in Asia, with significant ability to influence, disrupt and complicate the plans of other great powers, even if it can no longer be dominant.

    New Delhi and Beijing believe that Moscow is well position to remain Asia's wild card.

    Australia should prepare for this as well.

    John Lee is a foreign policy fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney and a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC.

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  • english_august
    11-12 08:25 AM
    rheoretro Surely there is a distinction between illegal immigrants and Latinos (though I am not sure how thick is the line) but I did say that we cannot have even a whiff of support for illegal immigration be it from any country, including India.

    It is unfortunate that the legal reform package cannot be passed without the CIR and one of the reasons behind that is the tendency of pro-immigration groups to paint both forms of immigration with the same brush.

    A few days ago, I received an email from SAALT (South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow), urging me to lend support to stop passing the anti-immigration bill. Their logic was that there are millions of illegal Indian immigrants as well so we should support them. When I countered them saying that essentially you are asking us to support something based on whether they are "our crooks or not" and not on the basis of whether it is right or wrong, their reply essentially was that we know this better than you so just listen to our argument and support us.

    Bottom line? Illegal immigration in any form is not acceptable.


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  • puddonhead
    06-05 12:42 PM
    Sorry but no matter how you spin it, owning a home is better than renting. Renting is not smart. period. your money is gone every month. You are not getting that money back.

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

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

    I doubt it is as clear cut as you make it to be. Rent vs. buy has two components in each option - the monthly cost and the long term saving/investment. Let me take the example of the apartment I live in. It would cost about 360k (I am not considering the closing cost, the cost to buy new appliances and so on when you move in etc) if we were to buy it as a condo in the market. We rent it for $1300.

    Monthly Cost:
    Interest (very simplistic calculation): 5% on 180k on average over 30 years. i.e. $750 per month. After Tax deduction cost ~$700 (you lose on standard deduction if you take property tax deduction - so effective saving is wayyy lower than the marginal tax rate).

    Property Tax: $400 per month.

    Maintenance/depreciation of appliances: assume $200 per month (easily could be more).
    Total: 1300.
    Long term investment: $360k at 3% per annum (long term housing price increase trend).
    You pay for this saving with leverage and $1000 amortization every month for the loan principal.

    Loss of flexibility/Risk : Not sure how to quantify.

    Monthly cost = $1300.
    Long Term Saving (assuming you put the same $1000 every month in a normal high yeild savings account - a Reward Checking maybe) - you will get a risk free 5%.

    So in this case you are paying the same monthly cost for house purchase vs rent. but you are losing out on the additional 2% per month in investment return.

    Plus - buying gets you into a lot riskier position.

    I have seen the proponents of buying fails to take a couple of factors into account:
    1. Real Estate, historically, is not a good investment. It is even worse than the best savings accounts available. And you could easily save your monthly amortization in better savings vehicles.
    2. Tax deduction from interest means you lose on standard deduction. In the above example - a family of 3 with 1 earner will have NO saving from housing tax deduction. They would be better off using the standard deduction. If there are 2 earners - they could try to work around this by filing separately and one taking deduction for housing interest and the other taking the standard deduction. But even that will probably not save you any money since many other tax rates are stacked up against single filers.

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  • krishnam70
    03-25 11:48 PM
    (:this is all true regarding Immigration Services calling then)
    Hey guys I also got a call from Immigration Services today on March 25 2009 .
    this is what happened
    First he started confiming he was talking to the right person
    And told My g-28 hasn't been properly signed and completed.
    Caller didn't ask me for my personal i nformation
    he confirmed my name, dob ,my last entry . address, wifes name address dob
    my parents name , my in laws name. He even told g28 it was signed by my HR manager.
    He had all the information, he didn't ask for any personal information.
    He asked if there was any other names used.
    He joked about me not smiling on the picture, he confirmed when the finger prints were completed
    After about 10 minutes of conversation he congratualed me on the approval and my wifes approval said the card should be mailed from kentucky with a week and even mentioned that USCIS online system isn't working.

    I am taking infopass tommorrow and confirming and if true I am going have it stamped

    I hope this is all true.

    If this is true

    - cheers

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  • Arjun
    07-14 08:16 PM
    I think all this mess is caused by H1B limit being 195k between year 2000 and 2004, before and after that 65k. Now when issuing H1B, they issue most of them to Indians (>50%) no country limit applies there. When it comes to GC and they put a 7% country limit and that�s where the backlog starts.

    If they (USCIS) don't want to do anything about this then they should consider putting a limit on H1B and let business look for talent in countries other than India.

    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.

    12-27 06:24 PM
    The Year That Was: Corruption Scandals of 2010 ( By Tripti Lahiri | IndiaRealTime

    This week, as we countdown to 2011, India Real Time casts a look back at the big news events of this year.

    We�re not sure we can say it was the best of times, but sometimes it certainly felt like the worst of times, at least for the Congress-led government, which saw a series of corruption scandals unfold on its watch.

    Here are the top five scandals of 2010, in chronological order:

    Tharoorgate: In April, then junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor, a first-time MP from Kerala, was forced to resign after Indian Premier League founder Lalit Kumar Modi raised questions on Twitter about the equity given to a woman close to Mr. Tharoor in a consortium that successfully bid for a new franchise for an Indian Premier League cricket team.

    Mr. Tharoor denied that he stood to gain financially from the team, which was to represent a Kerala city.

    The ruckus led income-tax authorities to examine the ownership holdings in the league�s other teams. Meanwhile the body that regulates cricket in India began to look at Mr. Modi�s financial dealings with regard to the league and also relieved him of his post as IPL commissioner.

    By the end of 2010 Mr. Tharoor and the woman, public relations executive Sunanda Pushkar were married. It also looks like a team from Kochi will play in the next season of the Indian Premier League.

    The Commonwealth Games: The Games, estimated to cost $6 billion, were plagued by allegations of financial mismanagement, instances of work safety violations, construction accidents and extreme delays in the preparations.

    At one point it seemed possible that the Games may not take place at all as visiting delegations complained of filthy and incomplete worker accommodations and health concerns around dengue stemming a surge in mosquitoes in Delhi as a result of heavy monsoon rains this year.

    It looked set to be a national embarrassment but a snazzy opening ceremony smoothed things over and roused some sporting spirit from Delhi residents, though there continued to be reports of disorganization, including around ticket sales and with getting real-time results from the events.

    After the event, the prime minster promised a full investigation. On Friday, the Central Bureau of Investigation agency officials searched the office and residence of Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi, chief Games organizer, and his assistant. Earlier, two other organizing officials were arrested.

    2G: The scandal over the potential revenue lost from from giving discounted spectrum to telecom companies in 2008 is the biggest of them all.

    The Controller and Auditor General said in November that the flawed allocation may have cost the government $40 billion in lost revenue, and the size of that figure has stoke public ire and given the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party loads of ammunition to attack the government.

    Ahead of the report being tabled in Parliament, Telecom minister A. Raja stepped down on Nov. 14, though he maintains he did nothing wrong. The Central Bureau of Investigation questioned him on Friday and Saturday.

    The 2G scandal led to even more wastage of taxpayer money than the $40 billion the audit report mentioned. The stalemate between the Congress and the BJP over the opposition�s demand for a parliamentary inquiry led to a parliamentary session that, according to some news reports, saw less than 10 hours of work take place.

    Tapegate: Just as the storm of criticism around the Congress Party�s record on governance was at its height, news reports appeared in two magazines that shifted the spotlight away from Mr. Raja and the spectrum allocations and on to reporters instead.

    The news reports carried transcripts of leaked phone taps of conversations between top reporters like NDTV�s Barkha Dutt, Hindustan Times columnist Vir Sanghvi, senior editors at various business dailies and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, who represents the Tata Group and Reliance Industries chair Mukesh Ambani. The conversations were tapped by the income tax department after a tip-off that Ms. Radia might be a spy.

    The leaked conversations led many Indians to feel jaded with the news media, so far a fairly respected pillar of Indian democracy for its sting operations on officials. They accused influential journalists of being too close to corporate and political interests and of concealing the real news. Ms. Dutt and Mr. Sanghvi have said they did not pass on any messages on behalf of Ms. Radia, and that she was just one of many useful sources.

    This scandal made bigger news on Twitter than in the Indian press at first, and distracted attention away from the 2G investigation for a good month.

    Loan-fixing: And if all that wasn�t enough, in late November came the news that eight people had been arrested, including officials from the state-run Life Insurance Corporation�s mortgage arm, state-run banks and an investment firm. The Central Bureau of Investigation said the men collaborated in a conspiracy to funnel loan money to certain firms in exchange for bribes.

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