North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Sunday, August 29, 2010

First Aborigine in Australian Lower House of Parliament

A seat representing a section of Perth, in Western Austalia, is now likely to go to an Aborigine.

Several weeks ago, Australia found itself with its first female Prime Minister. Since then, elections were held, and her power base eroded to where the control of Parliament would be decided by a handful of seats too close to call (recounts are either likely or underway ...) Today, one of these undecided seats swung to Australia's first Aborigine in the lower House of Representatives. (One other has served previously in the Upper House - equivalent to the US Senate)

Ken Wyatt claimed victory in the marginal West Australian seat of Hasluck yesterday, amid revelations he was subjected to racist taunts during the election campaign. Mr Wyatt said the taunts had come in the form of phone calls to his campaign office, as verbal taunts on the streets and as messages on news websites. He said they had come from both white and Aboriginal people, some accusing him of selling out his cultural heritage by joining the Liberal Party. Mr Wyatt, who has Aboriginal, Indian and English blood, said he was disappointed by the taunts but not deterred.

When asked if he was surprised it had taken so long for an Aborigine to win a seat in the green chamber, Mr Wyatt said Aboriginal people had to make change happen for themselves. 'We can't take a notion that somebody is going to come up and tap us on the shoulder and say stand; you've got take a personal stand, nominate and go through the process of being preselected,'' he said. 'I came from a life of poverty but through my own individual efforts I stand now within the national arena and I will bring my knowledge, wisdom and skills to all the people of Hasluck.'

We often have this sort of image of modern Australian aborigines, and indeed many still live in precarious situations of poverty. Rabbit Proof Fence was a compelling film showing the racial hostility exhibited for decades against this continent's indigenous people. The film Crocodile Dundee actually showed aborigines in non-stereotypical fashion, Dundee's friend combining modern education while retaining a true connection with nature...

Today, however, inroads are occurring. Pride and confidence in their abilities to live and succeed in the modern world can be seen in younger people, as well as seasoned "elders" such as Ken Wyatt. Recent fashion show with aboriginal heritage embedded in the designs.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mother Teresa's 100th [memorial] birthday

Nuns in the same order commemorating Mother Teresa in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia

If Mother Teresa were still alive, she'd be 100 today. With the world in-between major developments and headlines, perhaps there's a bit of room to explore some reflections being made on this occasion, nearly 13 years after her death.

Here's all that made the news in the India Times: "The 100th birth anniversary of Mother Teresa was celebrated by the volunteers of Subeh-e-Banaras, a social organisation, at Bhartendu Park, Maidagin, on Thursday."

From a writer aware of a rally in New York city in Mother Teresa's honor, comes the following: "Mother Teresa rarely celebrated her birthday herself, and would, we are sure, be appalled to hear that this anniversary of her birth had been used to create such a storm." (something about a self-serving celebration for a local politician climbing on the back of Mother Teresa's memory ...)

There was a longer piece in the Christian Science Monitor, more thoughtful and broad, that noted the impact of this woman's life on the concept of volunteering itself. "When Mother Teresa began her work with the poor of Calcutta, she also opened her doors to drop-in backpackers who wanted to volunteer. One of those was Susan Drees Kadota, an American, who spent 2-1/2 months bathing, feeding, and simply talking with disabled residents. Ms. Kadota connected with one young woman, who, because of a physical deformity, had been turned out by her family. "You know," she told Kadota, "it’s really nice just to talk to people.” Kadota took it as a life lesson: “Taking time out of your so-called busy life to be with people is important and useful.”

Mother Teresa may be remembered most today – her 100th birthday anniversary – for her lifelong work with the poor. But she also helped expand the modern notion of going on an overseas mission, encouraging ordinary people taking short breaks and volunteer on vacations..." The article goes on to quote a Catholic priest who tracked volunteerism and short term missions, " ... Perhaps one of the most significant features of short-term mission – even missions lasting up to two years – is how it can change the lives of those who experience it,”

While one Indian newspaper gave short shrift, and a New York city blogger emphasized a controversial aspect of remembrance, there were numerous observances by the poor of India, and by volunteers of all sorts around the world who were nudged by the example of this modest little woman. Mother Teresa noted for her work

But the simple notion of spending time with others as a noble and worthwhile activity is a nice reminder for us all

Monday, August 23, 2010

Four months underground

Good news out of Chile! 33 miners working in a gold and copper mine were trapped early August when a mine shaft collapsed, and though no one had heard from them for over two weeks, contact has now been made after rescuers had drilled 9 holes in attempts to reach them. Apparently all 33 men were able to make it safely to a shelter the size of a small flat about 1/2 mile underground. Unfortunately a rescue shaft of 26 inches, large enough to bring each miner out individually, will take 120 days to drill according to the mine rescuers. Rescuers plan to send narrow plastic tubes down the narrow borehole already drilled with food, hydration gels and equipment that will allow them to communicate with relatives - including cameras and microphones.
Location of gold/copper mine where miners are trapped, but have hope.

Okay, glad to hear this, but I can hardly imagine living underground for 4 months with 32 others. Where do they relieve themselves, exercise slightly, etc? But that's just me. The miners themselves, and others who do this for a living are resolutely positive. The BBC had more detail ... "The eldest of the miners, 63-year-old Mario Gomez, sent up a letter to his wife in which he said he was sure the miners would survive. "Dear Liliana, I'm well, thank God. I hope to get out soon. Have patience and faith," the letter said. "I haven't stopped thinking about all of you for a single moment."

News that the miners were still alive was met with relief across Chile, and people gathered at the main square in the capital, Santiago, to celebrate. Outside the mine, Mario Gomez's daughter said she could not wait to talk to him. The fact that the miners will have a communication channel to relatives is expected to help them cope with the ordeal. Todd Russell, an Australian miner who was trapped 3,000ft underground in Tasmania after an earthquake in 2006, said he and a second miner who survived the collapse relied on each other for support.

"It's amazing what your body can do," he told the BBC World Service. "We survived on hope and courage, and each other, [and] we were lucky enough to have a bit of underground mine water. They're lucky that they've got 33 guys there with them that they can rely on each other," Mr Russell said.

Chile is that narrow country along the Western front of South America. From Wikipedia, it is one of South America's most stable and prosperous nations. It leads Latin American nations in human development, competitiveness, quality of life, political stability, globalization, economic freedom, low perception of corruption and comparatively low poverty rates. It also ranks high regionally in freedom of the press and democratic development.

Let's just also note that around the world, there are miners digging resources out of the ground - from the Appalachias in the US, to Russia, the Ukraine, on to China. We read occasionally of folks dying in mine disasters, but not much in-between. Perhaps mining and the men and women who work them will be a focus later on when this particular group is rescued - in November.

Chile has a wide variety of landscapes and elevations, home to a strong forest products economic sector, a vibrant wine industry, and a network of national parks and sanctuaries. Chile is home to alpacas, a smaller related version of the camel (and four of them are now owned by the Thurstons in Maine).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Migrants on the run - to Israel, to China, back to Romania

When we think of illegal immigrants, we naturally think of our US/Mexico border. A few incidents this week reminds us of borders and desperation elsewhere.
North Korean jet wreckage in China
Perhaps the most unique or non-stereotyped instance happened when a pilot of the North Korean air force yesterday tried to defect to China. Experts aren't exactly sure of the pilot's motive,as he was killed when attempting to land, but apparently it isn't the first time military personnel have attempted to flee, nor the first pilot. Imagine how much of an elite this young man was in a country of such deprivation, that not only was he trained to operate a multimillion dollar machine, but fed, clothed, and set up to live at a level far above the average North Korean. Still, China looked better than his future in his own country.

The next rather surprising desperate effort was the attempt by African's to enter Israel, through Egypt's harsh Sinai desert peninsula earlier late last week. Apparently thousands of Africans see Israel, in spite of the country living with rocket attacks and hostile neighbors all around, as a far better choice than their own homeland. And hundreds of Africans seeking political asylum or jobs in Israel try to sneak across the border each year, helped by Bedouin traffickers who charge up to $1,000 for the trip. Dozens have been shot dead by Egyptian border guards. Two of those who escaped Friday's clash were killed by Egyptian guards at the Israeli border, according to medical and security officials. In a separate incident, a woman attempting to illegally cross the Sinai border into Israel was also shot by Egyptian security forces this past week. The wound was not fatal, and she and seven others were arrested for deportation.

I don't know the politics of this particular border. It may be that Israel and Egypt have outlined in detail the efforts that must be taken to keep the border from becoming porous. I don't know the reception given by Israel for those who cross the border successfully. But we can be sure that there are many people trying to get into that tiny Jewish state. Border between Egypt and Israel is a lethal one at least on one side.

Finally, French politics are entering a season of electioneering, and with that comes action by the leadership to show its effectiveness. President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered the dismantling of 300 illegal Roma and travelers' camps last month in a crime crackdown after urban riots in two cities, one involving an attack on a police station by Roma. Now by mid August, 51 illegal camps have been dismantled, and a first charter flight escorting 79 Roma to Romania on a voluntary repatriation scheme will leave on Thursday, August 19. Another flight is scheduled for August 26.

The action however, is complicated by European Union rules. Both France and Romania are EU members and EU rules allow free movement of citizens, the right to travel, work and settle in any country of their choice in the 27-nation bloc. Indeed, France cannot stop anyone sent out from returning after their repatriation. In addtion, an EU official stated, "If a state is deporting anyone, we must be sure it is proportionate. It must be on a case-by-case basis and not an entire population,"

There have also been rather alarmist outcries characterizing the roundup of gypsies as akin to rounding up Jews in WWII, but at a more thoughtful level, critics and Romanian officials have expressed their concerns that such actions stir up xenophobic attitudes that take on a life of their own.

The Roma, of course, have always been a population known for ignoring national borders, and living a lifestyle obstinately unique to themselves. What we probably won't see is a Roma effort to move to and live in countries that have a harsher justice code or border security protocols. Roma watch as their camp in France is dismantled.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Question of Rights and What is Right

President Obama delivering remarks to August 13, 2010 iftar dinner guests

A controversy has been brewing for months in New York City concerning plans to build a mosque/community center two blocks from the site of the 9/11 twin towers attack. Few people question the legal right for a mosque to be built, many people question the propriety of doing so. The debate has swirled higher and higher among the political levels, from local officials to the NY City Mayor, to national political pundits and cable networks, up to the White House Press Secretary. At least one of the dozen 9/11 family survivor groups, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, has publicly supported the Center (noting it is not a mosque and it is not seen from the Twin Towers site), while others consider it an affront to a burial site where victims' remains are still entombed. Finally, last night, President Obama weighed in.

At a dinner to honor Ramadan and Muslims in attendance (something regularly done by several past presidents), he declared it was the right of all Americans to practice their religion, and this was no exception. He stated, "as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances."

Initial press reactions framed the speech as strong support for the 9/11 mosque, and criticism erupted nearly instantly. Debra Burlingame, co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America was the most impassioned in her assessment, "Barack Obama has abandoned America at the place where America's heart was broken nine years ago, and where her true values were on display for all to see. ...Now this president declares that the victims of 9/11 and their families must bear another burden ... We are stunned." 9/11 mosque protesters make provocative points

Rick A. Lazio, a Republican candidate for governor of New York, and a former member of the House of Representatives, issued a statement responding to Mr. Obama’s remarks, saying that the president was still “not listening to New Yorkers.” And “with over 100 mosques [already] in New York City, this is not an issue of religion ..."

By Saturday morning, President Obama was attempting to clarify his remarks, "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there," Obama said. "I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding..."

If the President intended his remarks to teach, clarify, and somehow unify the nation over a controversial building project, one suspects it has backfired loudly. Not only will future planning and building details be less and less a local decision, the project has taken on national symbolic and ideological dimensions. The designer and promoter of the mosque has already been questioned regarding the financing - where is the money coming from to build a $100 million dollar center - and his answer was controversial and vague. The money is to be raised by American Muslims and some overseas contributions. The level of scrutiny to be given to funds that are yet to be provided will be raised tremendously considering the number of Islamic fund raising charities around the world that were found to have ties to al-Qaeda and other extreme Islamic militant groups.

President Obama, after highlighting vague historic Islamic contributions to America, ended his Friday evening remarks, with a curious mixed reference: 'we remain “one nation, under God, indivisible.” And we can only achieve “liberty and justice for all” if we live by that one rule at the heart of every religion, including Islam — that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.' Many scholars of the Koran and the Hadith say there is no real equivalent statement in Islam to that in Judaism and Christianity. In fact, the lack of reciprocal respect lies among the contentious roots of Islam, that 'Infidels' do not enjoy the same status as the Faithful — not in Allah’s eyes and not in the eyes of Allah’s servants. Not unless and until they convert.

For further pondering:
How can $100 million be raised so easily by the Islamic world, for that "101st" mosque (or Center, or combination) in New York City? Actually quite simply. At least for the portion to come from overseas, the modern world is providing billions daily in return for oil. So unprecedented wealth generated from the West has been transferred to a few Muslim nations.

Would a $100 million donation by the Imam Abdul Rauf (chief supporter of the "mosque") and Oz Sultan (program director for the "Center") to Pakistani Muslims struggling to survive their flooding woes, make a better statement of Islamic bridge building and compassion? Up to 20 million Pakistanis struggle to survive flooding, the government not oriented to effectively assisting

In what Islamic countries can Christian churches or Jewish synagogues (or centers) be found or built, even it they are meant to build bridges rather than foster their faith's tenets? Iran? Saudi Arabia? Perhaps one might point to Indonesia, Jordan or Egypt as examples of some tolerance, but that is because those governments are deliberately secularized, in contrast to those purer Islamic states where religion openly holds sway. President Obama's efforts to turn a page, and mark a new beginning with the Muslim world seems to mix fact and desire (his final remark being one example.) The truth of moderate tolerant Islam seems to be more in the imagination than in actual geographic reality.
Saudi Arabia, custodian of the holy shrines at Mecca and Medina, has no tolerance for other religions. Proselytizing for other faiths is a crime.

The President repeatedly emphasized the rights of all Americans, but what is right may be far different.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Making Up, Gaining Attention, Saying Goodbye, Struggling, Observing, and Celebrating

Midweek in early August, time for a bit of followup on a variety of news.

Colombia's Santos was sworn in as the country's new President, and admirably, both he and Hugo Chavez, Venezuela, made the effort to meet and try to patch up their serious tensions.

Chavez left, and Santos right

Wildfires around Moscow have been relatively tamed. Not before President Putin showed off his machismo, by piloting a water tanker personally, and dropping a load on one of two hundred fires burning. He doesn't seem to miss a stunt photo op.

Russian President Putin looking for smoke

Former U.S. Senator from Alaska, Ted Stevens, 86, died in a float plane crash in his home state two days ago. He was one of the longest sitting Senators from the 49th state which gained statehood in 1959. The incident reminds us of how most Alaskans rely on these planes to get around the rugged landscape.

Floodwaters from northern Pakistan are heading south, towards the Indian Ocean, swelling the major rivers, damaging cropland, and displacing huge numbers of people. Experts say 14million Pakistanis have now been "affected."

Ramadan begins August 11, when this particular new moon is finally seen. A billion Muslims will participate.

And finally, its Elvis Week August 10-16. Another whole generation of Americans and folks around the world are learning to appreciate his legacy.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Oil spill, tankers, and straits, oh my!

So glad to read that the Gulf Coast oil spill has ended. It's further good news that the warm water and wave action, plus bacteria that eat carbon all seem to be degrading the oil in the water to a much less harmful state much faster than expected. That said, the Obama administration seems unsure of how to characterize the aftermath - happy jubilation or stern oversight still. Two high level officials declared that 75% of the oil has already been degraded (but many scientists are more cautious, especially concerning possible amounts deep underwater yet that have not surfaced or degraded).

Regardless, BP put a lot of money ($20 billion minus whatever has already been paid out) in escrow to continue cleanup and make claim payouts to fishermen and businesses hit in various ways. Shallow well oil pumping is back on line, though deep water oil pumping is in various stages of hold. Supporters of President Obama's six-month drilling moratorium were generally shocked to find out that most residents of coastal Louisiana -- the people most devastated by BP's questionable handling of the Deep Water Horizon accident -- appeared more angry at Obama for shuttering rigs than they were at BP. So, there is some thought the moratorium may end sooner, as people realize that we "need" all the oil we can get (economy wise).

4.9 million barrels of oil spilled in this 3 month incident - that is 2 and 1/2 large tankers worth, and as an earlier post noted, there's about 80 million barrels on the ocean at any given time moving around in tankers. The very large tankers are nearly a quarter mile in length.

Three supertankers such as these can carry all of the oil used by Japan in a day. Ominously, one such large tanker with a full load, was attacked a few days ago. Experts believe a suicide small vessel drove up and detonated next to the hull - apparently amateur al-qaeda types: deadly intentions, but not the skills. The tanker's hull was damaged but not split.

Where it was attacked geographically worries a lot of security experts, not to mention most of the world's leaders concerned over a more or less smoothly running global economy. The attack occurred in the Straits of Hormuz, in the narrow waterway between Oman and Iran through which 40% of the world's crude oil is exported. Oil from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, United Arab Emirates, and other Gulf states, all pass through this narrow channel - one tanker that was damaged or sunk in that choke point would make life interesting ...

That particular tanker (Japanese owned by the way), may go on after inspection, heading for Japan. If so, it will pass through another notorious strait between Malaysia and Indonesia - the strait of Malacca. If this shipping lane were to be closed, ships would have to meander hundreds of extra miles and days to get around this gap. In 2006, an estimated 15 million barrels per day were transported through the strait.

(Actually, if you look closely at the map, you can see that Thailand to the north of the strait is a long narrow strip of land. It has offered to build a "Panama Canal" type channel across its peninsula further north, though Malaysia and Indonesia and Singapore would not be too happy with the reduced traffic ...)

But let's not dwell on the what ifs, just be aware that oil powers this world, for better or worse. There are a lot of countries with security plans and guards in place for both locations, and from a scenery standpoint, the strait of malacca has some pretty nice coves.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Every gun that is made, every warship launched ...

Moving on from Iraq ... U.S. military vehicles and supplies inventoried in the desert and readied for shipment elsewhere. U.S. combat presence in Iraq will leave by the end of August, 2010, leaving "only" 50,000 troops as support for the still fragile government.

This is a rather imposing picture, just think of the resources, time, and intelligence involved in making this fleet, maintaining it, and moving it in and out of one war theatre to another. The U.S., as the world's lone superpower, can afford to do so (maybe ...) and still mitigate poverty and suffering elsewhere, even pouring further funds into research, development, and new infrastructure. So the famous observation given in a 1953 speech by Dwight Eisenhower, America's 34th president and WW II Allied Commander, still seems abstract to the average American, not clearly connected, not obviously true.

Eisenhower declared, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

The case for confirming this observation, this trade-off, might be seen more directly in other countries. Pakistan perhaps is such a case, and the most in the news these days with the major flooding in its NW region. Over 1500 people have perished in torrential rains and floods, with an estimated 4 million people now displaced.

And though the Pakistani Army has used its helicopters to rescue many citizens, this is a reaction. For while many Pakistanis live in poverty and fragile circumstances, the nation has poured resources into maintaining a large standing army, cultivated a belligerence towards neighboring India, developed nuclear weapons, and according to many intelligence sources, nurtured ties with the Taliban and Islamic hardliners in its neighbor to the west, Afghanistan. (The latter intrigue now coming home to roost as followers of this ideology are turning on Pakistani society with suicide bombs and other violent retributions.)

Pakistan has, in essence by its resource allocations, chosen not to reach into broad swathes of its mountainous Western provinces, letting tribal power to maintain a backward sway over its peoples: no education other than madrassas teaching an impoverished extreme Islamic perspective of the world, no real education or future for girls and women other than what they could expect 200-300-400 (1400?) years ago. Efforts at building a top education system, flood control, representative and enlightened governance, all of which could have helped reduce the impact of these rains of a century or accelerated a more effective response, have slipped through the decision makers' fingers.
Government school destroyed by Taliban violence.

So without making this too clean a connection, let's just remind ourselves that to at least one high ranking General who had seen the horrors of aggression and results of militancy, there is a trade-off. And in many parts of the world (including Russia above?), the results are tragic.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mexico and the U.S. - a border of convenience

Today is the third day since Arizona's Immigration Law went into effect. A federal judge, Susan Bolton, had placed a hold on the controversial aspects of the law, pending further review. Those items were clauses allowing state, county, and local police officers to ask for documents showing citizenship or legal status to be in the country, IF the person in question had been stopped for some other legitimate reason in the first place. (In a broader context, the U.S. Attorney General had earlier laid out the case that Arizona's law was usurping a federal responsibility, and therefore unconstitutional.)

The requirements that have been placed on hold had generated multiple angry protests, huge internet website chatter, indignation, charges (of oppression, discrimination, racism, harassment, a police state, similarities to Nazi's persecuting Jews), and counter charges. Judge Bolton also "stayed" was a provision making it illegal for undocumented day laborers to solicit or perform work, and a another requirement for immigrants to carry federal immigration documents.

Arizona argues that the issue is indeed a federal responsibility, but because the federal government is NOT addressing the problem, at least one state is going to try. Interestingly, a number of other states have indicated their interest in Arizona's approach. President Obama calls this law as first proposed 'misguided' and just today, stated the effort was representative of demagogues actions. He explained that we can't have 50 states each with a patchwork set of immigration regulations, though he pointedly did not note the same for a patchwork of "sanctuary cities" who have declared themselves safe for undocumented workers, and in some cases, working actively to insure these individuals can avail themselves of free services.

What is left intact in the Arizona bill are provisions such as: It will become a crime for state officials to interfere with or refrain from enforcement of federal immigration laws. (What does that mean ???) It will also be illegal to pick up and transport day laborers across the state, or to give a ride to or harbor an illegal alien. (How is this to be enforced???) A vehicle used to transport an illegal alien can be impounded. Perhaps, these make little sense because they were meant to be part of a larger package intertwined with those provisions now on hold.

Regardless, as ABC News put it, "Bolton's decision comes as a relief to the more than half million undocumented immigrants who live in Arizona, some of whom were preparing to flee the state in advance of the law's taking effect."

So, the status quo will continue. In spite of the fact that both former President George W. Bush and President Obama, as well as Presidential candidate and Arizona Senator, John McCain, all essentially held the same position for the past several years that there should be comprehensive immigration reform: a secure border, a pathway to citizenship for those here illegally already (such as pay a small fine, and get in the back of the line for legal immigration), and strict penalties for companies who hire undocumented workers.

Editorializing now - this seems reasonable.

Who benefits from the status quo? Businesses mainly - meat packing plants, chicken and hog factories, and all sizes and categories of farming enterprises needing migrant labor in the fields. Why do I point to these? Because this is normally where the raids occur when great swathes of undocumented workers are found.... Immigration officers on a factory raid, buses ready to transport undocumented workers.

Mexico actually benefits greatly as well - in two ways. The porous border allows 6-8-10 million of its citizens to find work elsewhere and send money home. So there is a safety valve against governance that does not seem up to the task, and some US dollars coming back in return. And in truth the US benefits - better a few million workers providing cheap food for all, than a neighboring country that might explode socially without this option. Then there would be a border emergency.

So in some ways, the border constructed as it is, is exactly the one a lot of people want, even if it brings violence and trauma to some. But the status quo has consequences. If we look back at our country's history, it has many examples of racial groups being exploited - Africans as slaves and sharecroppers, the Chinese in the West, native Americans certainly. It does not do our country's "soul" any good to tolerate or live with this current exploitation, and it does no good for a whole new class of workers to learn to avoid eye contact, be invisible, accept second tier returns. (My last point, of course, is a weak one, as these are apparently small prices to pay for a much better life than "back home".)

So the issue IS complicated,and it does need a comprehensive solution. Yet with the politics in the country as they are, there is no political capital left for the current administration to use, and the issue has become a short-hand hot button among a variety of factions. Unfortunately, the status quo also allow racism to rear its head, giving space to those already looking for scapegoats and reasons for prejudice. And more troubling, the situation will likely become more explosive, with the "little people" suffering the most. Don't we have enough trauma in this country without adding a superimposed layer and cycle of immigration roundups - return to Mexico - sneak back across the border - settle in again - little kids growing up with this as their life, before immigration and border security is tackled in a genuine, compassionate and serious manner?

Let's as a nation once again be generous and ordered in our immigration stance as during the latter half of the 1800s when the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were known around the world as symbols of our ideals. How much better than the hostile yet indifferent border of convenience we have today.