Saturday, March 03, 2007
S&S - Before you strike a pose, check your visa
Stars and Stripes
Before you strike a pose, check your visa
By Erik Slavin, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Sunday, January 7, 2007
SEOUL — Thinking about earning a few bucks on the side as a model in South Korea? Before checking with an agency, check your visa status and check in with your command.
Most active-duty and DOD civilian employees covered by the status of forces agreement cannot legally obtain outside employment, according to a U.S. Forces Korea legal opinion requested by Stars and Stripes.
However, a SOFA-status person married to a South Korean citizen can obtain an F-2 visa or a permanent resident alien F-5 visa. Those with South Korean ancestry can apply for an F-4 visa. Those visas confer full rights to obtain employment in South Korea.
Most active-duty and DOD civilian dependents can get a Korean work visa, according to the USFK opinion. But contractors and their dependents under SOFA status cannot.
“Employment visas are for employment by a specific [South Korean] business,” the opinion stated.
In any case, military members who qualify must follow their service regulations regarding employment.
“This usually entails some form of supervisor or commander permission for the off-duty employment,” according to USFK’s legal opinion.
Multiple sources at the Korea Immigration Office gave far less clear explanations, however. Some said servicemembers and civilians cannot get employment visas, only to add that it is “not impossible” to get an E-6 working visa, which is specifically for work in the “arts and entertainment” industry.
Some modeling agencies, like Hwarang Info-tainment, say they will help the right SOFA-status prospects get legal documentation.
Other modeling and acting agencies balked at questions regarding work visas. During a festival last year on Yongsan Garrison, the POSONE I’ntl Model Agency set up a booth to recruit models from the base. Applicants filled out information forms and employees manning the booth snapped headshots.
The agency’s president, Gina Seo, declined to talk to Stars and Stripes about the business when contacted by phone in late December. She said “everybody knows about the rules” before ending the call.
On English-speaking Internet bulletin boards, a few agencies looking for models sometimes indicate that they aren’t too picky about having the right visa.
Foreigners who violate the visa requirement aren’t at risk of deportation, a spokesman with the Korean Ministry of Justice said. They could, however, face fines and first-time violators who promise not to do any further illegal work can keep their SOFA status, he said.
No one has been prosecuted in at least six months for violating SOFA status because of off-post work, a Korea Immigration Office spokesman said.
Hwang Hae-rym contributed to this report.
JO - Malaria summit and US public diplomacy
Malaria summit and US public diplomacy
Saturday, December 30, 2006
The White House "Malaria Summit" on December 14 not only promised major progress against this preventable disease, but also represented the best of American public diplomacy - the diplomacy of our deeds.
What we do often speaks more emphatically than what we say, especially when our deeds result in a better life for people in meaningful ways such as improved health and education. The malaria initiative, like so many others, sends the clear message that Americans care deeply about the lives of people across the world.
This effort harnesses and mobilises the collective compassion of our country. It combines the tax dollars of American citizens and the expertise of our government agencies with the contributions and passion of private foundations and individuals. It brings together the research of our health institutions, the reach of private companies and the hands and hearts of religious congregations.
Thanks to this combined effort, 15 countries in Africa will receive an infusion of expertise and US$1.5 billion to prevent malaria. The result is the opportunity to save the lives of 3,000 children a day and more than a million people a year who currently die from this terrible disease.
The malaria initiative is unprecedented, but not unique. History will show that President Bush and the American people have engaged in an unprecedented commitment to humanitarian causes - from fighting AIDS to educating children to feeding the hungry in some of the world's most difficult places.
Yet too few Americans, and even fewer across the world, seem to recognise the extent of these American initiatives. This fall, while I was speaking at a women's conference in California, I summarised a variety of American projects - business mentoring for women in developing countries, training for nearly a million teachers in 20 countries, scholarships for a half a million girls in Africa, the first breast cancer prevention and early detection campaign in the Middle East, and more. Eunice Shriver, the mother of the California First Lady, was in the audience and raised her hand to ask why we don't hear more about these programmes.
A short answer is that bad news tends to crowd out good deeds, although it's clearly more complicated than that. Across the world, America feeds the poor, educates the illiterate, cares for the sick and responds to disasters. We support so many different development projects, in fact, that we often get little credit for any of them. And in this time of war, such good news stories are overshadowed by the sombre news of loss.
It's understandable that our national attention is focused on our vital mission in Iraq and Afghanistan and the need to confront the continuing threat of terrorism. It's understandable that a bombing leads the news, not the digging of a well or the opening of a school. And yet, in this season of giving and good will, it's also important to remind ourselves and the world that America is actively engaged in "waging peace" by helping people improve their lives.
Americans reach out to help people in need because of who we are and what we believe. We share with others because of our conviction that all people are equal and each person is uniquely valuable. These convictions prompt us to action in the world, and when the people of the world see Americans in action, they respond.
After the Navy hospital ship USS Mercy revisited areas of Southeast Asia that were ravaged by the tsunami December 2005, polls showed the favourable opinion of the US rose to 87 per cent in Bangladesh. When earthquakes devastated Pakistan, American military helicopters rushed emergency relief to thousands of people. The Chinook helicopter quickly became one of the most popular toys in Pakistan, and polls showed that the favourable opinion of Americans doubled. In the case of disaster relief, America's efforts are focused and highly visible. Less well known are the things we do every day. For example:
. America is by far the largest donor of food to the people of Darfur, where we have supplied more than half the emergency food aid from the entire world. Since the start of the conflict in 2003, America has spent nearly US$1 billion feeding the hungry there.
. The US is still the largest bilateral donor of food and medicine to the Palestinian people. Although we cannot by law or principle give money to the Hamas government because it refuses to renounce terrorism, we have given US$234 million this year through non-government organisations.
. The US leads the world in the fight against AIDS, providing more than half of all bilateral Global HIV/AIDS funding. President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is directing US$15 billion over five years for treatment and prevention.
. The US is the largest donor to the United Nations' World Food Programme. Since 2003, the US has provided $1.27 billion in food aid, leading the fight against the number one risk in global health - hunger.
These people-to-people programmes deliver life, hope and a more positive image of our country. I have talked with women in our literacy programmes in Morocco, who expressed gratitude that for the first time in their lives, they can now mail a letter, read the labels at the store and best of all, help their children with their homework. When I asked a young man in one of our English language classes what difference it had made to him, he said, "I have a job and my friends don't." A Somali mother almost reduced to begging told us that our food-for-work programme had not only saved her life, but restored her dignity. At this time of year, when people are called to care for the hungry, the sick and the abandoned, Americans should know we are giving the gift of hope to thousands of people whose names we will never know. And I will continue to advocate that we do even more, because the diplomacy of deeds serves both our own national interests and the people of every nation.
Karen Hughes is undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, US Department of State.
Friday, March 02, 2007
re: "a post that cannot be ignored"
Aw shucks, guy.
Here's what he has to say:
"Consul-at-Arms has a post that cannot be ignored, and for a couple reasons.
First, the obvious. One of his commenters suggested transferring all consular work to DHS. Speaking as someone who already works for DHS, I have to ask whether it's our good reputation within the federal workforce or the great press we get about our efficiency in performing our mandates that would make someone think that the department should have another bureaucratic unit shoe-horned into our organizational chart. Don't get me wrong -- I'd love to lateral into consular work in some underrated gem of a post. In fact, I'd already be ahead of the game in visa processing, as being an immigration inspector at the start of my federal career burned all the trust and faith in my fellow man completely out of me, so I'd be more than willing to reject every visa applicant who came to my window right from day one. Maybe I could even get Consul-at-Arms to put in a good word for me with Personnel."
Hmm. Perhaps you should look into taking the exam. They're revamping it a bit but it should be rolled out fresh this summer. All your previous government time will count towards retirement, but you don't actually get to start at the top of the profession starting out, for reasons you correctly note.
I hear this not infrequently; Entry Level Officers (ELO) who had significant accomplishments or authority in their prior career fields, wanting to charge out and do great things with all the talent and experience they bring to their new career field. They gripe and wrankle under the humiliating (to them) ordeal of having to start so far from the top.
"I can understand the idea that people who have already had a great deal of experience should be able to skip the dues-paying when making a lateral over to another organization. I can understand the idea, but I don't agree with it. The idea of working your way up the ladder is still around, but why do people expect to be able to switch ladders without stepping down a few runs along the way? Experience is the best teach, and those dues-paying jobs are not there to give people a place to wait until the good jobs open up. Skills may be transferrable, but knowledge and understanding of why things happen rarely is. What may seem to you like paying your dues is an organization's way of teaching you the nuts and bolts of how that organization works. This is particularly true of some of the more complicated bodies of law, like (you knew this was coming) the Immigration and Nationality Act and all the associated regulations, policies and procedures. One of the big problems DHS is having with its immigration functions is that people with superficially similar skills -- immigration and customs are basically the same, right? They both deal with borders -- were put into positions where they lacked the knowledge to excel. Ask any INS people in CBP or ICE about the transition, and chances are they'll talk about how Customs managers were put in charge of immigration projects. There was a steep learning curve there because these new CBP and ICE had little first-hand experience with the subjects they were now expected to oversee."
Telling it like it is, keeping it real. Thank you AiB.
Back when DHS was still a concept, I was a first tour JO (Junior Officer, what are now called Entry Level Officers for self-esteem or self-actualizational or other reasons which escape me). There was a certain amount of anxiety within the ranks of the Consular Corps as no one could be sure whether we would get rolled-up into the envisioned new department that was going to be stitched together in a fashion reminiscent of certain scenes in the Mel Brooks classic film "Young Frankenstein."
I, for one, was quite concerned that we could have to wear polyester uniform trousers. I hate wearing polyester. It's all about the natural fibers. But I digress.
One thing that doesn't get a lot of notice is that DHS, starting in Saudi Arabia but slowly, consistent with the availability of qualified personnel, is extending its visa oversight role overseas. State's consular officers continue to do their work, but there is a provision for DHS oversight consistent with the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) and AiB might yet find himself working overseas in that capacity.
An aside: DHS and consular folks at the working level, especially overseas, get on quite well. We have similar goals, our missions are complimentary, and when we combine our efforts the results are quite satisfactory.
"The second idea in the post was more provocative: a reverse Visa Waiver program. I don't know how that would work, but I like the sound of it. If the Visa Waiver program strips out the consular review layer of the process, the reverse could add another layer to it. Perhaps something with flaming hoops and moats filled with crocodiles. Then again, at some posts that's just how people get to the visa window in the first place."
I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote "reverse Visa Waiver program." That'll never fly. But there are some countries (and you know who you are!) where the levels of corruption and fraud and visa overstay are so significant that I sometimes wonder why we issue their nationals any visas whatsoever.
There's currently a major effort underway within Consular Affairs to realign personnel to where the heaviest consular workload currently exists. This is nothing new, CA has long kept an eye on where their people may be most productively employed and makes minor adjustments on a continual basis, adding an officer here and taking a position away there. But in the post-DRI era (where an increase in overall numbers of officers is, to put it kindly, unlikely), this is again a zero-sum game. As the demand for visa services in places like India, China and Mexico continues to grow rapidly, the shifts in personnel are becoming more substantial.
As one of my colleagues explained to me, it's not the poor peasant rice farmer in China who makes a hundred bucks a year who's causing the number of visa applications to climb. When a country's average income gets around three or four thousand a year, that's when the "Bright Lights" allure of traveling to America starts to hit hard. Personally, I think that's around the annual income where people start getting televisions and satellite dishes (whether their children are getting a balanced diet, shoes and education or not), cell phones and the like.
They start seeing American television, getting raised expectations, and hearing the stories about how much money they can make if they can just get to the United States.
3 or 4,000 dollars a year. That's when a hundred dollar visa application and a plane ticket comes into the realm of possibility.
And every single one of those visa applicants gets their very one personal interview with a consular officer.
Now there are a number of factors that go into determining whether someone overcomes the presumption of being an intending immigrant (INA Sec. 214(b) ). Income isn't the sole determining factor. But it is one that can be quantified a bit easier than some of the others and it does weigh heavier than some of the others, much of the time.
Post 9/11, every visa applicant has to show up for a face-to-face visa interview. Gone are the days when someone renewing a visa can simply mail in an application, to say nothing of the "Visa Express" option that brought so much misfortune to so many. And I don't think we should back off from that, before someone travels to the U.S., some person on our side of things needs to have physically seen this person applying for a visa so that we know they're not some complete figment of forged documentation and photo-shopped digital photography.
But maybe we can come up with some way to triage the ones who're not going to qualify before they get to the point of an interview. I'm just saying.
A more practical approach which would yield, I believe, immediate results would be to start factoring high-fraud countries out of the Diversity Visa (DV) lottery system. The DV lottery is a worldwide scheme where certain countries are evaluated as having been underrepresented in immigration numbers to the U.S. during recent years so that a certain number of thousands of visas are made available on a lottery basis. The individuals themselves have to meet certain standards, such as being high school graduates, but it really is kind of a screwy idea. This is multi-culti diversity gone quite awry, but with a little politically-incorrect tinkering could be made a bit better deal for us.
My idea is that countries which are evaluated as being high fraud risks get bounced out of the Diversity Visa lottery program for 10 years. Discuss.
UPDATE March 6, 2007:
Adventures in Bureaucracy has responded (to, er, my response).
"(H)is fears of being merged into DHS from its inception were largely based on wardrobe. Now he's got much better reasons to fear being merged into DHS! Besides, the polyester uniform pants weren't so bad. There was an allowance to buy them, it saved me heaps by not having to get them dry cleaned, and the things were virtually indestructible. And linen or worsted wool don't exactly hold up too well when you're down at the seaport boarding cargo ships."
The polyester thing wasn't my only misgiving, but it seemed to be that only I had any concern about it. As you might have noticed, I've done the uniform thing. Now, if we were going to go back to the original consular uniforms (early 1800's style naval uniforms of blue with red facings but no insignia of rank) that'd be stylin'!
One fairly senior consular officer (flag rank equivalent) tried to put my fears at rest, his words (as best as I recall):
"Don't worry about it too much. Even if they merge us into the new department, we'll end up running it within a very short time."
FSOs are nothing if not self-confident. That is something that gets selected for in our accession process. As a then-very new Junior Officer (back before that was changed to the more-correct "Entry Level Officer" or ELO) who'd spent literally years cracking the code to get into the Foreign Service, I did not relish the notion of that degree of a "bait and switch."
"(P)eople who are trying to get to the United States. The most interesting cases from back when I was an inspector often involved the frustrated middle class from places like China, India or Brazil. These were people who were willing to pay thousands -- or tens of thousands -- of dollars to get to the United States to work."
It's all about the raised expectations of rising middle (by local standards) class. They know in their bones that they can make a better life for themselves and their children if they can just make it to America. And they're right. They can. I think any DHS or Consular officer with a shred of introspection and sensitivity knows that, even sympathizes with that to some degree. We are, nearly all of us, the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren (in my case) of immigrants who came to America and made a better life.
The thing I tell people is while I don't not sympathize, while in many cases I don't even blame them, with the desires the intending illegal immigrants whom I deny a visa issuance (except for resenting the bald-faced lies somewhat, though I do try not to take those too personally, it's just business) here's the thing: I'm sworn to uphold and administer the laws and regulations as they're written. Not as I would like them to be written nor how I would re-write them myself. There is such a thing as consular discretion, but that has to be limited by the intend of the laws and regulations and is pretty limited to judgement calls within a narrow range of outcomes rather than ignoring the rules entirely.
"(He) does back away from his reverse visa waiver program, which is disappointing. I could totally see some posts forming gauntlets of Foreign Service Officers, armed with weapons cobbled together from obsolete office equipment. I don't know how much of a deterrent it would really be, but it would probably help the FSO's to blow off some steam."
The gauntlet already exists, complete to obsolete office equipment.
That's actually pretty unfair, while some of the legacy office equipment out their belongs in a museum exhibit, a lot of the computer stuff is nearly state-of-the-art.
But back to that gauntlet. It's the visa interview itself. In some places applicants take trains or buses or walk for days to get to their interview. We do try to make the process as humane as possible, with suprising success in some places. But the demand for visa interviews (actually for the visas themselves, but it's only the interview that's guaranteed) in places such as China and Mexico and Brazil is almost always going to grow to outstrip the resources that can be devoted to meeting.
re: "A Boy Named Jihad"
re: "The Game's Underway" & "BATTLING FOR BAGHDAD. NEW TACTICS BRING SIGNS OF PROGRESS."
"I often appreciate Peters and what he has to say, as well, as I do with his call today in the NY Post to keep faith with our military in Iraq."
"I have to think determining whether a corpse is the product of a sectarian murder or execution, or even open warfare, could be problematic. But clearly, murders/deaths by violence are down, else some media outlet would be portraying unrelated violence as sectarian."
"(T)hose who follow MILBLOGS, nor those commentators who quite some time ago realized that Sunnis would be increasingly reluctant (like Europe or East Asia) to lose the US “security umbrella” in the face of Shia political dominance."
"Peters doesn’t “know a single officer in-country who believes the reporting from Iraq gives an honest, balanced picture.” That was my experience when I was there, it would be my presumption now."
JO - Light stuff brings heavy expense
Light stuff brings heavy expense
Vaughn Davis, Observer staff reporter
Saturday, December 30, 2006
A 53-year old man who said he had landed a job in Curacao apparently took the term "packing light" too literally and was held at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston with one-and-a-half pounds of marijuana.
On Thursday, Oscar Moodie pleaded guilty in the Half-Way-Tree Resident Magistrate's Court to possession of marijuana, dealing in marijuana and taking steps to export ganja, before trying to convince presiding magistrate Martin Gayle that after getting the job in Curacao, he packed the ganja for his personal use as he did not expect to return to Jamaica.
Gayle, however, told Moodie that his criminal actions consistently created difficulties for other Jamaicans travelling abroad.
"I'm sure that it is people like you who make things difficult when other Jamaicans travel," said Gayle. "When we go away they have us queuing up in all sorts of lines and things like that."
Gayle then ordered that Moodie pay $2,400 for possession of ganja, $4,800 for dealing in ganja, and $12,000 for taking steps to export ganja from Jamaica, or else spend 30 days behind bars.
Moodie was also sentenced to two months in prison, which will run consecutive to the 30-day sentence if the fines are not paid.
JG - US magazine gets high on Jamaican soil
US magazine gets high on Jamaican soil
published: Thursday December 28, 2006
Ross Sheil, Staff Reporter
Jamaica, synonymous with ganja abroad, will in January play host to the inaugural Miss High Times Magazine Stoner Beauty Pageant.
Inviting its readers to "bust out your bongs and bikinis," the event will be held in Negril, Westmoreland between January 10 and 17. The United States-based magazine will, amongst other more legal activities, take them on a trip to a local ganja plantation in Orange Hill.
However, despite its widespread use in Jamaica, ganja remains illegal in Jamaica due in part to pressure from the U.S. Government which, since the 1980s, has supported crop eradication efforts on the island as part of its 'War on Drugs'.
"We are going to have tonnes of hot babes, we are going to have bud, we are going to have parties. It's going to be a great time," said Bobby Black, High Times columnist and host of the event, in a video entitled 'Jamaica Me High!' posted on video sharing website YouTube.com.
"Fun, sun and um, oh yes, pot," read the description.
Famous for their principled promotion of the stoner lifestyle, staff at the magazine were unavailable for comment yesterday while the magazine is closed for the holiday season.
According to their website, High Times will fly down eight 'semi-finalists' for the event which will be in its second year of running. The magazine also hosts the Cannabis Cup, which is held annually in Amsterdam, Holland. The event allows participants to judge the world's most potent varieties of ganja.
Founded over 30 years ago, High Times featured Bob Marley on its cover in 1976.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
" "state department employees" status "geneva convention" "
re: "War is All Hell from Benning’s Writing Pad"
"But the Left never dies, never admits defeat, never stops trying to enslave humanity. So the United States began to disarm. Seeking the money from the “Peace Dividend” so hard-won by others, the West began to nap, ignoring the growing and seething tyrannies, and religious Death Cults, around the world. When they attacked the outskirts of the Western world the West recoiled, and slumbered on. They spoke of righteous anger, and retribution to come, but did nothing. And the Death Cults grew bolder."
re: "Army Combat Uniform"
"The Army Combat Uniform (ACU) is the third bad idea to come out of the modern Army in the last few years. The other two, in no real order, are: issuing the black beret to every Soldier, and the introduction of the Combat Action Badge (C.A.B.). There are other bad ideas, but these are the top three that don’t include dumb ideas that kill people."
"The ACU does not look good. It looks sloppy. It looks like someone’s idea of what a future uniform should look like, like something out of a movie. Velcro and fancy pockets on the lower legs, the crazy pattern and colors. Supposedly the uniform was designed with the in put of Soldiers. I can’t think of one Soldier I know that actually likes the uniform. It costs more, much more than a set of BDUs, the patches and name tapes cost more. The best I have heard about the ACU is it’s comfortable."
re: "The "Embrace Diversity" Movement as Viewed by One of Its Victims"
"I'm always amused by the "embrace diversity" movement and its multi-culti crowd, who all seem to be Anglo, Upper-Middle class, suggesting that the minorities they try to embrace have all, like me, been able to scramble away. Either that, or that a passing acquaintance is enough really for them."
"Which brings me to the subject of my ethnicity. This is actually a confusing subject, as my ethnic group was hunted down and systematically slaughtered by the Turks, and no one seems to remember that we exist. Actually, I have the best luck with people knowing about my ethnic group among Classics students and professors, and Christian historians and theologians.
Somehow, the "embrace diversity" crowd never falls into either of those categories, and don't seem to have studied many ethnic groups at all, except those that become in vogue to know about and listen to reports about on NPR. As such, I'm frequently corrected by well-meaning folk who think that I've gotten it all wrong and am either Turkish or Armenian (a group which is becoming very stylish to know about these days). In fact, I am 1/2 Ionian Greek, in other words, my ancestors were Greek speaking people who ended up taken over by the Turks when they conquered Asia Minor. No one knows much about these people as they exist today, and I actually know less than I should. That, however, is because I am American."
"This isn't "embracing" anything, it's just the same old crap I dealt with in grade school, except that now it's condescending instead of flat out mean. I can hold my own against the "I'm blonde and you're not" or "Why isn't your tan going away, it's not summer anymore?" comments. I can hold my own against anything, usually. But one thing I can't help is getting annoyed when people tell me that they're trying to flatter me when they really couldn't be more insulting."
Note: This is actually a re-post.
re: "Democrats Disingenuous in Their Anti-war Rhetoric"
"Why did a majority of Democratic Senators — such as Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Harry Reid, Jay Rockefeller and Chuck Schumer — vote to authorize a war with Iraq on Oct. 11, 2002? And why is this war now supposedly George Bush's misfortune and not theirs?
The original fear of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, of course, played a role in their votes — but only a role. In the 23 writs that authorized force to remove Saddam, senators at the time also cited Iraq's sanctuary and subsidies for terrorists. Then there were Saddam's attempts to assassinate a former United States president; his repression of, and use of weapons of mass destruction against, his own people; and his serial violations of both United Nations and Gulf War agreements. If paranoia over weapons of mass destruction later proved just that, these other more numerous reasons to remove Saddam remain unassailable."
re: "Metro Section: Few More Reasons to Leave Washington" & "Why 30 Year Olds Should Not Frequent College Bars"
"Those who know me are familiar with my ability to get down. Despite 10 years of ballet & jazz training I'm not much of a dancer. But I do know how to drink, and always relish the opportunity to let off some steam by kicking back a few adult beverages on a weekend. Problem is, I can't drink as much as I used to. Over the past several years my tolerance has taken a nose-dive, and now several beverages leave me feeling sluggish and looking tired and worn out."
"At some point into the night, a dozen or so young ladies climbed up on to the bar and starting shaking their stuff for the crowd. Ho, hum, I thought. Nothing special here. But then came the judging process where the crowd seemed to be voting on which of the specimens before them was the "best" or "hottest" or whatever. To be honest, it was extremely loud in there, so it was hard to understand exactly what was going on. But young ladies were bumping and grinding with invisible partners for all to see, while drunk 20-something men ogled and cat-called."
re: "Pace: U.S. military capability eroding"
"That report concluded that "world events and regional trends add up to increased challenges to our nation's security." And it said the decline in readiness is also affected by whether other federal agencies and other nations are fulfilling their commitments.
There have been long-standing complaints that the State Department has not met its responsibilities in Iraq, particularly in reconstruction and rebuilding efforts, as well as buttressing the political development of the Iraqi government."
(Bolding added to quote in italics for emphasis. - CAA..)
Hat tip to Yahoo!News.
re: "The Final Gift From a Fallen Soldier... "
JO - Cosmetologist pays dearly for wrong image
Cosmetologist pays dearly for wrong image
VAUGHN DAVIS, Observer staff reporter
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Cosmetologist Judy Thomas must now be rueing the fact that she and her sister Tanya Phillips aren't identical twins. For although Thomas is convinced that she and her sister bear a striking resemblance, her attempt to use her sibling's British passport to leave the island last week has cost her $10,000 and a two-year suspended sentence.
On Thursday, when the case was called up in the Half-Way-Tree Resident Magistrate's Court, the prosecution told presiding magistrate Martin Gayle that Thomas, who lives in Kingston 8, went to the Norman Manley International Airport on December 21 and tendered the British passport, which bore her sister's name.
On inspecting the passport an airport official noticed that the photograph in the passport was not Thomas'. She was questioned and eventually revealed her true identity, saying also that the photo in the passport was that of her sister.
Thomas was subsequently arrested and charged with forgery and uttering a forged document.
After pleading guilty to both offences on Thursday, Thomas was fined $10,000 for the forgery, and given a nine-month prison sentence, which was suspended for two years, for uttering the forged document.
The prosecution suggested to Gayle that Thomas could also be charged with impersonation and conspiracy to defraud. However, Gayle opted to be lenient and added no new charges.
When asked why she committed the offence, Thomas responded that she thought she stood a good chance because "Me and mi sister fava".
JG - Phase out the Jamaican dollar
Phase out the Jamaican dollar
published: Thursday December 28, 2006
The Editor, Sir:
The letter by Michael Johnson regarding the use of foreign currency for many domestic transactions leads me to repeat my call for the phasing out of the Jamaican dollar.
The United States dollar seems to have become the de facto currency of Jamaica, since no merchant trusts the stability of the Jamaican dollar enough to quote prices in it. We should do away with the charade, and the cost of printing the currency, and outline a plan for full conversion.
My reservation still remains for the currency to be adopted. Conventional wisdom, and economic dependencies, may dictate the U.S. dollar. However, political prudence should dictate another, multinational currency, in order to mitigate the leverage inherited by the issuer of the adopted currency.
We all know that the United States uses its banking and currency regulations as a political tool against those countries with whom they disagree. Therefore, it would be wise to consider the Euro as the preferred alternative.
Regardless of which currency is chosen, I think that most Jamaicans would agree that the Jamaican dollar has outlived its usefulness.
I am, etc.,
STEFAN P.A. BRAND
(Interesting that the writer so distrusts the United States, yet resides in Florida. - CAA..)
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
re: "What We've Accomplished Thus Far......or Not."
The point of this exercise is to review the list of accomplishments and identify (using BOLD typeface) which ones you've accomplished thus far in your life.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
A Mindless Saturday Activity
What We've Accomplished Thus Far......or Not.
This is via Justrose's site. You are supposed to bold all the things that you've done... (I guess 82 out of 150 isn't bad):
01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said "I Love You" and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Built your own PC from parts
11. Hit a home run
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Visited Paris
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gotten married
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gone scuba diving
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised child(ren)
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survive
d105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Had a snake as a pet
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Broken a bone
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one 'important' author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Bungee jumped
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone's life
JO - US medics to hold annual conference in MoBay
US medics to hold annual conference in MoBay
Saturday, December 30, 2006
More than 100 physicians from region one of the United States National Medical Association (NMA) are expected in Montego Bay next year for the association's annual conference.
The five-day meeting, which will be held at the Half Moon Resort from May 24 to May 28, will cover various health topics while allowing for the conduct of the regular business of the organisation.
Members of the association recently called on Jamaica's consul general to New York, Dr Basil Bryan, at his office in midtown Manhattan, to provide him with details of the meeting.
Dr Dexter McKenzie, a Jamaican and chair of the Provident Clinical Society, an affiliate of the NMA, noted that the conference would provide a wonderful opportunity for the members to familiarise themselves with the tourism sector as well as investment opportunities on the island.
In pledging his support for the event, Dr Bryan said that the conference represented the kind of strategic linkages necessary for the development of Jamaica.
Region one of the NMA comprises the Connecticut/Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont and the Virgin Islands chapters.
The organisation is more than 100 years old and has a nationwide enrollment of over 25,000 members which, according to Dr McKenzie, is "a greatly underestimated economic force".
JG - Jamaicans, top job seekers in region
Jamaicans, top job seekers in region
published: Thursday December 28, 2006
Dionne Rose, Staff Reporter
More Jamaicans are now applying for CARICOM skills certificates to work in other member states, said the Ministry of Labour.
A senior officer in the Work Permit Department told The Gleaner that since January, the number of Jamaicans applying for such certificates had surpassed the number of Trinidadian applicants, who, over the last six years, have topped the other member states applying for certificates to work in Jamaica.
According to the ministry, since January, 211 Jamaicans applied for CARICOM skills certificates as opposed to 33 Trinidadians. Twenty-three Guyanese and 17 Barbadians have also applied.
The ministry has attributed the increase to more Jamaicans being aware of the certificates. "I don't know if they are taking up jobs but they seem to be equipping themselves in case an opportunity arise," a ministry spokesperson said.
Under the existing Caribbean Community (Free Movement of Skills Persons) Act, 1997, work permits are not required for the following five categories of workers: university graduates, media workers, sportspersons, artistes and musicians. But persons wanting to work in these member states can apply for CARICOM skills certificates.
According to the ministry, the records show that the main movement is between Jamaica and Trinidad. Most applicants so far have been persons in the age group 31-40 years and are mostly teachers, doctors and lawyers.
753 certificates granted
Since 2000, 753 certificates have been granted to Jamaicans and foreign nationals in other member states. Of this number, 303 were to Jamaicans, 184 to Trinidadians, 104 to Guyanese, 67 to Barbadians, 19 to Vincentians, 16 to St. Lucians, among others.
Come December 31, 2008, when the CARICOM Single Market and Economy is expected to be fully implemented, there will be no need for CARICOM nationals to have permits or skills certificates to work in members states, as by then, every category of the workforce would be eligible to move freely.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Eaglespeak linked to me, but the original language cited in the Digg citation is from a Wall Street Journal article by "David Rivkin and Lee Casey, both of whom served in the Department of Justice during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations" and cited by Marc Schulmann at American Future.
Now if only I didn't have to join Digg in order to comment and suggest a correction. If any of you reading this are registered at Digg and can bring this to copmoore's attention, that would be a kindness.
I've just got too Damned many online memberships and passwords I already can't keep track of, so I'm sort of at my limit. Still, I don't want this inadvertent plagiarism (of a sort) to stand.
re: "How Not to Fill a Foreign Service"
"Mr. Schmida is absolutely right and I'm disappointed to see that you've drunk the AFSA kool-aid. There is no rational reason to make a 45-year-old GS-15 trade lawyer at USTR or a person with, say, 15 years of experience in international project management spend 2 years in the D.R. 214b'ing an endless stream of B2 applications. One year of training at FSI is more than sufficient and any additional requirement to serve as a consular officer to "earn spurs" is ridiculous. The military analogy is not that Schmida is being asked to accept a commission as a lieutenant instead of as a colonel; it is that he is being asked to serve as a civilian employee of the base post office before then being granted a commission as ... a lieutenant. The FS should admit officers at any appropriate level commensurate with their talents and abilities. If the current population of FSOs thinks the new arrivals haven't paid their dues, then tough. They should also make the consular corps its own separate organization and not require political or econ officers to ever touch that work. Better yet, give the entire consular operation to DHS, which was the original plan before the compromise put into the Homeland Security Act." 22:03
I like Esteban San Roman.
Giving "the entire consular operation to DHS" has some drawbacks. Does this entail the wholesale transfer of FS personnel to DHS? If it doesn't, where do the personnel come from? If it does, who's going to make up the financial loss to the department?
Lots of senior FS officers swear up and down how consular work is an unmatched opportunity for learning the people of a foreign country and making that first official impression. Perhaps they've drunk the Kool-Aid (TM) too and are just spouting the party line, but I think there's something to that. Even allowing for my consular bias, I do think it's a valuable experience for entry level officers regardless of cone. But as I often say of consular work: "I love consular work, I just sometimes wish there weren't so Damned much of it."
One idea that hasn't been floated officially (insofar as I'm aware) is that of creating a FS Specialist cadre of consular specialists. I'm certain I've discussed this before here at CAA, even if only in comment threads.
My sense is that with the end of the Diplomatic Readiness Initiative (DRI), current and future intakes of FSOs are going to get smaller and smaller as the Department is subject to another cycle of right-sizing, re-engineering, and seemingly endless rounds of resource-starving. It's been done before with predictable results. So as the steady stream of incoming entry-level officers slows to a trickle, fewer and fewer ELOs will be available to assign to the ever-increasing consular workload.
In the immediate short-term, that means that non-Consular coned ELOs will find themselves working outside their actual cones for two, perhaps even their first three tours. Or the jobs simply won't be filled and the robbing-peter-to-pay-paul scramble to meet those personnel needs will get increasingly desperate.
Establishing a FS specialty where the Specialists worked only in consular jobs, perhaps even limited to visa work, received consular commissions that allowed them to adjudicate cases (just as Consular Associates were able to do), were funded out of MRV receipts, and received regular overseas assignments just like Generalists and other Specialists could fill the gap. There's considerable precedence for this sort of thing within the Management cone, as the FS Specialists who do only GSO work, for instance, can attest.
If they made the consular corps its own separate organization again, would be get our uniforms back? (Once upon a time, consular officers wore naval uniforms, blue with red facings, but without insignia of rank.)
And no offense to postal employees intended (at least not by me), but being a consular officer is about more than being a mail clerk. I can attest to that, having been, as an additional duty, the Unit Mail Clerk (UMC) for my company during our Operation Iraqi Freedom I deployment. I still hold that having a new officer do "lieutenant-level" (or "company-grade") work is not improper rather than setting them straight to colonel-level work (i.e., "field-grade") right out of being sworn into the Service. While I know several FSOs who fully believe their talents are wasted and would the people ahead of them kindly drop dead or retire so as not to impede their immediate employment as ambassadors, some of us need to learn the ropes first. More of us actually need to do that than I think realize that about themselves.
As for 214b-ing an endless stream of visa applicants in the D.R., maybe Congress needs to authorize sort of a reverse visa waiver program. Visa Waiver works by allowing passport holders from member countries to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without requiring a visa. I'm still mulling over how this would work, but reverse visa waiver would be for countries which are the polar opposite of the visa waiver countries, those nations with visa refusal rates exceeding 60-70 percent, those nations whose citizens have significant illegal alien populations in the U.S.
I'm not sure how to execute this, but the idea would be that if you were from one of those countries, you basically couldn't even apply for a visa without meeting a much higher bar than simply paying the $100 dollar application fee. Part of it would be in limiting re-applications by denied applicants to once per calendar year; currently any applicant who coughs up $100 is guaranteed an interview, which makes for very long lines in some places and even longer wait times in others.
Kool-Aid (TM) smile, anyone?
S&S - T.G.I. Friday's at Heidelberg's Patrick Henry Village to close
Stars and Stripes
T.G.I. Friday's at Heidelberg's Patrick Henry Village to close
European edition, Sunday-Monday, December 31, 2006-January 1, 2007
HEIDELBERG, Germany — The T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant on Patrick Henry Village will permanently close its doors Jan. 31, according to officials at U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg.
The one USAG Heidelberg spokesman working on Friday said he didn’t know the reason behind the closing. He said he didn’t know how long the restaurant had been operating.
“Another casual dining facility, probably Winger’s, will replace it,” Thomas Heiff said.
The new restaurant could open in March, if everything went well, he said.
T.G.I. Friday’s offered cocktails along with a large menu of nachos, burgers, ribs, sandwiches, desserts and other items.
Winger’s also offers specialty drinks, according to its Web site but has a different concept: “The compact size and simple menu (50-60 items) makes Winger’s extremely cost-effective to own, open and operate,” the site says.
JO - We don't need the US
We don't need the US
Thursday, December 28, 2006
I am confused, very confused. I am not sure I am the only one feeling this way, but I am trying to understand the mentality of the Jamaican people as to why they seemingly like to be embarrassed by the United States so many times.
The new US embassy took months to be built and it was constructed with no care whatsoever for the visitors - mainly those trying to get US visas. Nevertheless, no Jamaican, not even the government, has the power to direct them as to how they should build their facility. But we have the power not to use it.
Why must we Jamaicans who are constantly being disrespected by these despicable people behave as if the US is the land of milk and honey? I for one am allergic to this "milk and honey" that the US possesses, and as such I will not be so foreign-minded like many people and act as if I am a parasite that needs the US to survive when in truth that country is the true parasite of the world. If other Jamaicans could open their eyes, all the rubbish that we have been through with the US would be eliminated.
The US fails to realise that its economy was built by immigrants whom they so despise - the same foreigners who put them in the position that they now enjoy and flaunt in their naturally disrespectful manner.
Not only are those people disrespectful and unapologetic about their behaviour, but they have no concern for others. How can we be in our own country and be treated in this manner? We should let them stay by themselves in their building and hear our voices only via the media.
I hope they all know that their apocalypse is at hand and soon that "great nation" will look back at their pathetic and parasitic lifestyle and mourn, wishing that they could have it back.
James Edwards, Jr
Monday, February 26, 2007
re: "The enemy has a vote"
"I don't think the enemy is going to go along with this. Will Iranian-backed Shia Militias and Saddamist Insurgents stop attacking the US Military because Congress will not allow our Soldiers and Marines to fight back? Does AQI, or any other belligerent group in Iraq wear uniforms so that the military can distinguish whom they are allowed to fight, or defend themselves against?
Besides the fact that the US Congress, under the Constitution has no authority to dictate any tactics to the Commander in Chief on how to conduct a war, the Congress certainly can't tell the enemy whom they are allowed to fight."
re: "Five Years After 9/11: What Needs to be Done?"
"This long war will test our national will and resolve, and we are proving inadequate in conveying the magnitude of the threat to the American people and in generating the level of commitment it will take to win this war. This war will need to be won, and it is winnable."
"The fact that there have been no further 9/11s since is not enough to claim victory or the execution of a successful strategy. In fact, the enemy may actually be gaining strength.
. . . . Al Qaeda has transformed into a network of “franchises” that subscribe to the basic bin Laden philosophies and ideals but execute operations without his approval. This may be a more dangerous situation than the centralized model."
"Bin Laden and his principal spokesperson, Zawahiri, are beacons of near mythic proportions for the Islamic extremists. These leaders retain access to international media to broadcast and reinforce their philosophies and calls to arms. Their themes resonate with a sizeable Muslim population, far more broadly than just with the Al Qaeda organization and its franchises. The U.S. is the Great Satan. Its influence and culture and belief systems are a threat to Islam. It is the duty of righteous Muslims to participate in jihad against these influences to protect the faith. Those who are martyred in jihad will enjoy rich rewards in the afterlife. These are but a few of the themes."
"The enemy is dedicated. It rallies around a set of central themes; it is patient and persistent. Bin Laden understands us. He is open in saying the war will continue for generations. His goal is not quick victory, but rather to produce a massive movement based upon shared purpose that will unite true believers in jihad and eventual victory."
"The base from which the movement draws manpower is growing. There is a “youth bulge” in many Muslim nations, with significant portions of the population under 25 years of age. The group of young Muslim men who are trained in madrassas is growing. These schools emphasize rote memorization of the Koran and offer only a very basic education. Young people schooled in madrassas do not have the skills to be successful in the modern world. Their prospects for meaningful employment are dim. Their ability to meet the basic Muslim-dictated ability to care for a family is limited or nonexistent. Countries in Europe have sizeable populations of disenfranchised and unemployed Muslim youth. They are isolated in enclaves, rather than assimilated."
Read the whole thing.
And somebody please explain to me how this officer was allowed to retire.