Friday, August 31, 2012
Shakedown politics may be nothing new in Chicago, however, for California businesses strong-armed tactics are being employed to push unrestrained legislative spending. For example, large businesses are told to pay up in support of Proposition 30 or face the wrath of harmful legislation by lawmakers loyal to the unions. “The governor and Democratic legislators are extorting large companies,” said George Runner, of the State Board of Equalization. “They are saying if you don’t support our tax increase on the average citizens, we will come after you.” Proposition 30 is the brainchild of California’s powerful unions and hopes voters will shore up bloated public school budgets. Their “do it for the kids” motto speaks volumes, but the “kids” in California rank second to last in the country for math and science. Opponents say the new taxpayer cash infusion will do nothing to improve test scores and promises more of the same mediocre results. Nevertheless that doesn’t stop lawmakers from currying favor with businesses that have nothing to do with education. According to Jon Coupal, of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association: “The reason that so many large businesses are supporting higher taxes today, while so many opposed tax relief 34 years ago, is precisely the same. Howard Jarvis would say that the principle inventory of these big businesses was cowardice, but he understood what was at stake for many of these firms. He explained it this way: ‘Actually, a number of people in a position to know told me that the Bank of America and other big corporations that came out against 13 wanted to support it. But Assembly Speaker Leo McCarthy let them know that if they didn’t oppose 13, the Legislature would find a way to punish them.’” Prop 13 passed anyway. Being touted as the “$100,000 or more club” companies like, Aera Energy ($125,000), Occidental Petroleum ($500,000), America Beverage Corp. ($250,000), Disney ($100,000), Warner Bros. ($100,000), Viacom ($100,000), CBS ($100,000), NBC ($100,000), Sony ($100,000), Dignity Health ($150,000), Blue Shield of California ($150,000), Anthem Blue Cross ($100,000), State Farm, California Cable & Telecommunications Assn. ($100,000), Pepsi Cola ($148,675), and Coca Cola ($186,110), are reputedly ponying up big bucks to promote a November taxpayer sales tax increase as part of doing business in the “new” California. A number of these companies declined comment regarding their support of Proposition 30. The top contributors to Proposition 30 are: CA Teachers Assn. Issues PAC $1,531,690 American Federation of Teachers $1,200,000 Service Employees Int’l Union $1,053,218 Democratic State Central Committee $1,050,489 CA State Council of Service Employees $1,008,630 CA Nurses Association $1,000,000 Pace of California School Employees $1,000,000 CA Federation of Teachers $ 800,000 United Domestic Workers of America $ 800,000 CA Hospital Committee $ 500,000 United Brotherhood of Carpenters/Joiners $ 500,000 Proposition 30 supporters boast a wide range of contributors including the likes of Peninsula Interfaith Action that donated $184.80, Personal Insurance Federation of California that donated $695.65 and Good Jobs Los Angeles that donated $1,298.03. (View the current list of donors here) Coupal says some things never change. “Ironically, all the faces in Sacramento have changed but one. Jerry Brown was governor (in 1978) and is governor now. Rumor has it he (Gov. Brown) has been working the phones hard with a heavy-handed message. And any business that is subject to state regulation and/or is under threat of a potential tax increase is likely to listen very carefully to even a polite call from the governor.” The California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris did not respond to a request for comment on this story, but a spokesperson said they never divulge information regarding any investigations. Coupal goes on to say, “I have been told personally by officers and lobbyists from many of the organizations and interests who have contributed to Brown’s tax hike proposal that they have been threatened with harmful legislation if they didn’t financially support the massive tax hike… With one party rule in California, the adage ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely.’” A statement that California residents will unfortunately have to live with since they gave Democrats a super majority in the 2010 midterm elections that ultimately resulted in the creation of Proposition 30. During that same election, voters overwhelmingly told Sacramento no new taxes. Most agree that in the current economic environment, large businesses cannot afford new regulations and the prospect of moving out of the state isn’t a cost-effective option--this leaves businesses susceptible to bullying politicians. “Look, the California economy is incredibly fragile and the state is suffering a man-made economic disaster,” Runner finished. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
There is no question the Hispanic population is the fastest voting bloc in the nation. However, U.S. Census Bureau numbers provide a slightly different picture of the Latino voter- the sought-after bloc only represents 4 percent of the vote in most swing states. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), an immigration think tank, pooled all the Census Bureau data to formulate a composite of the Hispanic voter. CIS concluded that Latino voters represent 8.9 percent of the 2012 voting electorate, up 1.5 percent in 2008. Surprisingly, the Hispanic voters only represent about 4 percent of the vote in the important swing states. “While Hispanic voters are a small share of the electorate, in a close election they could decide the outcome,” explained Steve Camarota, CIS director of research. “Of course, the same is true of many other voting blocs, such as veterans or senior citizens. It would a mistake to overemphasize race to the exclusion of other factors.” With the presidential race in a dead heat, the GOP’s immigration platform may not boost their standing inside the illegal immigration population. This week at the Republican convention, leaders unveiled a tough illegal immigration platform that includes a call to end all sanctuary cities, finish building the southwest border fence and mandate all businesses to use E-Verify. That being said, just how many Hispanic voters does Presidential-hopeful, Mitt Romney, really need? The CIS comprehensive study provides a snapshot of the Latino voter. National share of the Hispanic vote: We project that in November 2012 Hispanics will comprise 17.2 percent of the total U.S. population, 15 percent of adults, 11.2 percent of adult citizens, and 8.9 percent of actual voters. In 2012, non-Hispanic whites are expected to be 73.4 percent of the national vote and non-Hispanic blacks are expected to be 12.2 percent. To place the Hispanic share of the electorate into perspective, eight percentage points of the Hispanic vote nationally equals slightly less than one percentage point of the non-Hispanic white vote. The 8.9 percent Hispanic share of voters compares to veterans (12 percent), those with family incomes above $100,000 (18 percent), seniors 65 and older (19 percent), married persons (60 percent), and those who live in owner-occupied housing (80 percent). In terms of voter turnout, we project that 52.7 percent (± 0.6) of eligible Hispanics will vote in the upcoming election, an increase from 49.9 percent in 2008 and a continuation of the past decade’s long upward trend. The projected Hispanic voter participation rate of 52.7 percent compares to 66.1 percent for non-Hispanic whites and 65.2 percent for non-Hispanic blacks in 2008. Share in Battleground States: In the seven states listed by The Cook Political Report in July as “toss-ups”, we project that Hispanics will average 8.0 percent of voters in 2012, compared to 8.9 percent nationally. The seven toss-up states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia. In the four states listed by Cook as “leaning” toward one party or the other, the Hispanic vote will average 2.8 percent of the electorate in November. The four leaning states are Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. In the seven states Cook identifies as “likely” for one party or the other, Hispanics will average 9.8 percent of the vote. Excluding New Mexico, they will average 4.4 percent of voters in the remaining six “likely” states. The likely states are Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Maine, Minnesota, and New Mexico. Taken together Hispanics will average 7.6 percent of the electorate across the “toss-up”, “leaning”, and “likely” states. If we combine the populations of these states and calculate the Hispanic share of the electorate, Hispanics are projected to be 6.6 percent of the vote. The Hispanic share of voters varies significantly in the 18 battleground states. In 12 of the 18 states, Hispanics are projected to be less than 4 percent of the electorate (Virginia, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, and Maine). But in four of the states (New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona), Hispanics will be more than 16 percent of the vote. Non-Hispanic whites are projected to be slightly overrepresented (79.4 percent) in battleground states relative to their share of the national electorate. Like Hispanics, non-Hispanic blacks (9.4 percent) tend to be slightly underrepresented in battleground states. While the number of Hispanic voters in the swing states represents a much lower number than most politicos report, in a close race they can tip the scales in favor of Democrats. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
For those folks needing a little fatherly advice, President Obama has a website to answer life’s tough questions. The “Help for Difficult Financial Times” page highlights five sections; unemployment, jobs and training; family support; housing; health care and insurance; debt and credit. The Obama Administration website provides visitors with resources that are available to help anyone suffering from financial turmoil due to the recession. The website is reminiscent of the infamous “life of Julia” story that chronicles how a woman's life is significantly enriched by government program's President Obama provides and how limited government will hurt Julia’s chances of succeeding. The first topic on Obama’s “cycle of life” is unemployment assistance. He advises visitors that the government will provide help with job searches, how to support a family and how to avoid education scams. The next topic is family support. The web page provides information for applicants to apply for government benefits like welfare assistance, food stamps, childcare subsidies and information about family transitioning during a financial crisis. Next up is housing. The government lets visitors know where they can go if they need help paying rent, avoiding foreclosure or finding a new place to live. Now that Obamacare has been signed into law by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court, Americans looking for health care assistance can find it at this website. The government says anyone can get medical or stress-related treatment for their entire family, even if they do not have insurance. (Note: there is no mention of legal status in the US). Viewers are given a variety of different medical clinics they may visit to ensure all their health needs are met. And now that the government has provided a welfare check, food stamps, housing subsidies and health insurance, the final step is to make sure monthly bills are paid and fix any family credit issues. Yes, Uncle Obama’s website offers advice for Americans who need to file for bankruptcy. And this completes the Obama Administration “new” American family life cycle. Of course life can be messy and stagnate unemployment figures make it tough to find a job, but for those individuals with a computer, help is just a click away. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Today 10 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security’s new deferred action program that President Obama authored to stop deportation proceedings for the so-called DREAMers, or illegal aliens under 30-years old. The amnesty by executive order reached a fever pitch last week when California moved to give driver’s licenses to the group and Arizona’s governor wrote a state executive order that directly challenges President Obama new decree. The lawsuit’s plaintiffs include ICE Agents Union President Chris Crane who contends DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton’s issuance of the Prosecutorial Discretion Memorandum, that prevents agents and employees from fulfilling their sworn oath to uphold the law and defend the US Constitution. “The Directive and the earlier memorandum instruct ICE officers to refrain from placing certain aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States into removal proceedings,” according to a press release. “The Directive further instructs officers to take actions to facilitate the granting of deferred action to aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States. The Directive, entitled ‘Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children,’ also directs DHS personnel to grant employment authorization to certain beneficiaries of the Directive.” Many agents are clearly frustrated with the administration’s tinkering of immigration law and say the new amnesty by executive order will put more lives in danger because the program requirements are too lenient. “Both the Directive and memorandum command our agents to violate federal law and our oaths to uphold federal law. We are federal law enforcement officers who are being ordered to break the law. This directive puts ICE agents and officers in a horrible position,” said Chris Crane, veteran ICE agent and President of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council. The Prosecutorial Discretion Memorandum mirrors portions of the DREAM Act that has repeatedly failed to pass through Congress. “The Directive is an extension of the DREAM Act, which was rejected by Congress, and aims to grant an amnesty to 1.7 million illegal aliens,” said Kris Kobach, the attorney for the plaintiffs. “It violates federal immigration laws that require certain aliens to be placed in removal proceedings, it violates the Administrative Procedure Act, and it encroaches upon the legislative powers of Congress as defined in Article I of the United States Constitution.” Kobach says the directive circumvents Congress and makes a mockery of the Constitution. Anti-amnesty activists believe the Prosecutorial Discretion Memorandum comes with other consequences. “Any threat of harm to our nation's immigration officers for enforcing the law is a threat against the livelihoods of average American workers,” said Roy Beck of NumbersUSA, the organization that is underwriting the suit. "Congress passes laws to determine how many and which citizens of other countries are allowed to enter U.S. job markets to compete with American workers. Fortunately during this long period of high unemployment, Congress has refused to add further competition through amnesties that would give millions of illegal aliens access to the legal U.S. job market. The Napolitano amnesty directive does the opposite. If immigration agents are not allowed to enforce the laws as decided by Congress, the wages and jobs of American workers are at risk.” For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/guns-fuel-drug-cartels-mexico © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
In an ever-changing global frontier a variety of war time weaponry provides a multitude of options for the U.S. government. The latest and greatest 21st century lethal toy, drones, use GPS coordinates to carry out precision missile strikes in countries far from U.S. soil in undeclared wars and off the traditional battlefield. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) concludes that “the CIA's drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals… at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims.” In the past, it was the terrorists who used the barbaric tactic of killing first responders; unfortunately TBIJ says the Obama Administration has adopted a similar strategy. And unlike his predecessor, George .W Bush, Obama has amped up his covert drone war. The numbers paint a startling picture of the devastation left behind when missiles hit their human targets. According to TBIJ, the total (numbers reported by the U.S. government) drone attacks from 2004 – 2012: Total US strikes since 2004: 337 Total Obama strikes: 285 Total reported killed: 2,524-3,247 Civilians reported killed: 482-852 Children reported killed: 175 Total reported injured: 1,204-1,330 The number of drone strikes in Pakistan 2004-2012: Total US strikes: 336 Obama strikes: 284 Total reported killed: 2,532-3,251 Civilians reported killed: 475-879 Children reported killed: 175 Total reported injured: 1,204-1,332 The number of drone strikes in Yemen 2002-2012: Total US operations (all): 48-58 Total US drone strikes: 37-47 Suspected additional US operations: 116-131 Suspected additional US drone strikes: 58-67 Total reported killed (all): 339-977 Total civilians killed (all): 58-149 Children killed (all): 24-31 The number of drone strikes in Somalia 2007-2012 Total US strikes: 10-21 Total US drone strikes: 3-9 Total reported killed: 58-169 Civilians reported killed: 11-57 Children reported killed: 1-3 Conversely, former President George W. Bush used the lethal remote control drones 52 times during his eight years in the White House. Democrats and the media pummeled the Bush Administration for war mongering, capturing suspected terrorists and sending them to Guantanamo Bay for interrogation. Intelligence agencies and military brass say the swift trial by drone action is an effective tool used to “kill” targets, but the consequences of remote controlled strikes take out a number of non-combatants. In the end critics argue that this form of attack in sovereign counties outside the traditional war zone lacks Congressional approval, severely limits any intelligence gathering and creates thousands of new terrorists for decades in regions already hard to control. The New America Foundation said 71 percent of the targeted drone strikes inside Pakistan’s borders took place in North Waziristan, a known tribal region that borders Afghanistan and provides harsh terrain to hide and launch attacks on U.S./NATO troops. While Obama’s “Terror Tuesday” (previous story here) continues to add suspected terrorists to the notorious “kill list,” it’s the silence from the complicit media and Congressional members that is deafening. The escalating justice by drone program directed by Obama has other consequences. In the past 27 months, 1,000 American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. It took nine years to reach that same grim milestone under the Bush Administration. So how does the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Barack Obama, explain his “kill list” and the thousands of lives he extinguished with the swipe of his pen? Furthermore, what are the parameters the Nobel committee uses to confer “peace” status? In the end, it may be wise for the Obomber-in-chief (Obama’s nickname in high school) to read executive order 12333 that has been followed by every administration since signed by President Ronald Reagan. The executive order stipulates; “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States government shall engage in or conspire to engage in assassination.” Up Next- part two: Is America safe from drone attacks? Previous drone story: http://www.examiner.com/article/we-ve-been-droned-are-kill-lists-lawful-and-prudent-1 To read Nobel Peace prize winner, Obama declares war against Libya: http://www.examiner.com/article/nobel-peace-prize-winner-obama-declares-war-against-libya For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Revenue from Consumer sales fell a whopping 33.5 percent or $475 million, further demonstrating a severe reality check for the Golden State’s recovery plan. Decades of poor leadership from the state capital have contributed to an unsustainable yearly budget which means California voters must either substantially raise taxes or cut, cut, cut. All the accounting gimmicks have failed, Obama’s stimulus dollars only postponed the inevitable, Facebook’s shares have crashed, taxpayers haven’t approved a tax hike in the past few elections as their wallets are empty, the high-speed train to nowhere will only add to the state’s budget crisis and now the nation’s leading credit industry Moody’s will make it official by bludgeoning municipal credit worthiness. The new report from State Controller John Chiang pointed out that California’s July sales tax revenue was down 33.5 percent from estimates that supported the just passed state budget. Piling onto California’s mounting financial earthquake is the state’s $9.6 billion cash deficit that jumped to $18 billion last month. “Today California quickly began trying to sell $10 billion in municipal bonds to fund the record $28 billion they need to keep the lights on,” said Chriss Street of Cal Watchdog. “With tax revenue plummeting and the state already having the second-lowest rated credit in the country, if the independent credit rating agencies downgrade the state to ‘junk bond,’ California will be short up to $18 billion and default. State Controller John Chiang tried to rationalize that, even though California revenues were ‘disappointingly’ down $475 million in July.” These dismal numbers prompted Moody’s Investors Service to review the Golden State. Last week it announced it would audit the state’s financial solvency by going city-by-city to determine if the recent string of high profile bankruptcies are the new California trend. This unwelcome news concerns city managers and state officials alike because many of the troubled localities have turned to “creative financing” and easily obtainable municipal bonds to cover their economic woes. A lower credit rating would make it harder and more expensive for cities to obtain a financing. The League of California Cities jumped into the fray hoping to change Moody’s opinion of the Golden State. “Moody's has an obligation to review changing circumstances, but we would just suggest that their assessment of the framework and ground activities is perhaps exaggerated,” Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities told the Associated Press. The financial fix is in In California governor Jerry Brown’s State-of-the-State address this year he said, “Contrary to those declinists who sing of Texas and bemoan our woes, California is still the land of dreams. It’s the place where Apple and countless other creative companies all began.” California may be dreaming, but Texas is working, said Chuck DeVore, former Golden State lawmaker and new Texas resident. Defying the retread governor’s optimism, Apple opened a brand new $304 million campus in Texas and will add approximately 3,600 taxpaying jobs. Compare this to California’s very own DREAM Act. The newly enacted-state tuition is designed to assist residents of a state get a government-supported college education cheaper. “That's why the open-borders types want illegal aliens to get that break, as they do in many states,” said David North Center for Immigration Studies. However, the state’s lack of foresight has led to problems for students looking to achieve the American Dream. “One part of the state's higher education system has decided that if you qualify for in-state tuition, and want, for instance, a master's degree in computer science, you will not be admitted,” North said. “There is room only for foreign students and out-of-state Americans who pay at the higher out-of-state rates. And the former are expected to out-number the latter by a large margin.” In conclusion Nearly one-third of America’s welfare recipients reside in California. According to new research, nearly 60 percent of all government-run public school students qualified for reduced or free lunches. “Of those students, nearly 84 percent had family incomes at or below $28,665 (130 percent the federal poverty level for a family of four) making them eligible for free meals,” an ABC news story said last year. Further compounding the issue is the steady rise in welfare and food stamp usage by Californians hit hard by stubborn double-digit unemployment ranks. Combine all these factors and California has a recipe for financial disaster. According to the Census Bureau, more then 4,000 taxpaying families are fleeing the overtaxed state, most head to the prosperous Lone Star State. While these families are leaving behind great year-round weather, they are also fleeing increased lawlessness. Orange County, home to one of the largest illegal alien populations and Disneyland, witnessed riots pitting criminal gang members against local police departments. The state is even pitting neighbor against neighbor by paying many irresponsible homeowners’ entire monthly mortgage payments. (Fox News story here) Politicos love the class warfare and fairness argument, it’s used in virtually every campaign, but this time all the grandstanding and soaking the rich will not fix California’s bleak future, financial armageddon is on the horizon and a nagging question remains- is California too big to fail? Recent California financial crisis story: Poway School District takes a $105 million bond, but will pay nearly one billion in interest charges For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Today the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confirmed that they disrupted a Hezbollah $150 million money-laundering front using the now defunct Lebanese Canadian Bank (“LCB”), as well as U.S. financial systems to launder illegal drug trafficking proceeds through West Africa and then back into Lebanon. The DEA alleges the Société Générale de Banque au Liban (SGBL) agreed to purchase most of the LCB assets, including at least $150 million in funds related to that sale that are now being held at Lebanese bank Banque Libano Française SAL (“BLF”). The DEA further discloses the terrorist organization’s money was seized pursuant to seizure warrants issued last week. However, the DEA quickly pointed out “there are no allegations of wrongdoing against BLF, SGBL, or the U.S. bank that maintains the correspondent accounts.” “As we alleged last year, the Lebanese Canadian Bank played a key role in facilitating money laundering for Hezbollah controlled organizations across the globe,” DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said. “Our relentless pursuit of global criminal networks showed that the U.S. banking system was exploited to launder drug trafficking funds through West Africa and into Lebanon. DEA and our partners are attacking these groups and their financial infrastructure, while establishing clear links between drug trafficking proceeds and terrorist funding.” The Southern District of New York worked closely with DEA’s agents to flush out the Hezbollah money-laundering scheme. “Money is the lifeblood of terrorist and narcotics organizations, and while banks which launder money for terrorists and narco-traffickers may be located abroad, today’s announcement demonstrates that those banks and their assets are not beyond our reach,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “We will use every resource at our disposal to separate terrorists and narco-traffickers, and the banks that work with them, from their illicit funds, even those hidden in foreign accounts.” The federal government’s Complaint outlines the great lengths terrorists and drug traffickers take to legitimize their illegal profits. “From approximately January 2007 to early 2011, at least $329 million was transferred by wire from LCB and other financial institutions to the U.S for the purchase of used cars that were then shipped to West Africa. Cash from the sale of the cars, along with the proceeds of narcotics trafficking, were funneled to Lebanon through Hezbollah-controlled money laundering channels. LCB played a key role in these money-laundering channels and conducted business with a number of Hezbollah-related entities. Hezbollah is a U.S. Department of State designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, a Specially Designated Terrorist and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” the DEA release explained. “On February 10, 2011, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued a finding and proposed rule, pursuant to the USA Patriot Act, that LCB is a financial institution of primary money laundering concern, based on, among other things, FinCEN’s determination that there was reason to believe that LCB had been routinely used by drug traffickers and money launderers operating in various countries in Central and South America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. FinCEN also determined that there was reason to believe that LCB managers were complicit in the network’s money laundering activities.” While breaking up the money laundering schemes terrorists and narco-drug cartels rely on is a good start, it’s worth noting that little to no prosecutions of banking officials remains a huge part of the problem. Instead of jail time, these bankers continue to pay a “small fine” and issue “apologies” for their continued practice of sanitizing profits from illegal activities. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
A firestorm of publicity has ignited in Arizona after Governor Jan Brewer signed an executive order that would prevent newly “waivered” illegal immigrants from receiving any taxpayer funds that are allotted for citizens. The executive order preempts details in President Obama’s executive order that gives the so-called “dreamers” (illegals under 30 who have completed some educational program) a two-year window to stop their deportation process and obtain a work permit. Two-years ago Washington DC lawmakers battled and failed to pass the DREAM Act. The act would have given children in the country illegally a pathway to citizenship. Along with that new legal status guardians could begin collecting taxpayer benefits, like housing subsidies, food stamps and college grants typically reserved for citizens. Another reason that held up the DREAM Act is America’s stubbornly high unemployment and sluggish economic recovery. However, in an effort to gain political favor, President Obama decided to grant temporary legal status for upwards of one million people. The executive order, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, began taking applications yesterday and is expected to process approximately 1,000 claims per day. Nevertheless, Mr. Obama may have underestimated Arizona’s tenacious governor as she signed her own executive order protecting state residents and their pocketbooks. Brewer’s prickly relationship with President Obama is well documented and she said the new waiver program was nothing more than “backdoor amnesty.” The governor also directed state lawmakers to begin the emergency-rule making process ensuring Arizona officials do not issue driver’s licenses, state identification cards or other public benefits. The executive order explains the added financial burden of 80,000 “newly” waivered applicants would cost millions of dollars. “Allowing more than an estimated 80,000 Deferred Action recipients improper access to state or local benefits, including state issued identification, by presenting a USCIS employment authorization document that does not evidence lawful, authorized status or presence will have significant and lasting impacts on the Arizona budget, its health care system and additional public benefits that Arizona taxpayers fund,” a portion of the order read. The ACLU swiftly responded to Governor Brewer’s executive order. “This is yet another reason why Arizona has no business trying to regulate immigration matters,” said the Arizona ACLU Executive Director Alessandra Soler. “Brewer is distorting federal law and inaccurately interpreting state law. This order conflicts with state and federal law because people who are granted deferred action will, in fact, have authorized presence in the United States and under Arizona law people who have authorized presence are eligible to apply for Arizona state identification. She is perpetuating the myth that deferred action applicants are somehow submitting fraudulent documents and that is completely false.” The governor cites controversial SB1070 law as precedent and reminded critics that voters overwhelmingly passed the illegal immigration measure including the parts the Supreme Court upheld in June. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Another unauthorized panga boat landing at a San Diego beach leads Border Patrol agents to 15 illegal aliens who unlawfully entered the U.S. The maritime human smuggling attempt unfolded yesterday near popular tourist destination Ocean Beach. Agents assigned to the Southern California coastal border enforcement said they witnessed a fast moving panga boat with no nighttime lights heading towards Mexico. Border Patrol agents quickly responded to the scene and located a 30-year-old Mexican national male. According to agents the man was dressed “in wet, sandy clothing hiking up a path from the beach, and they arrested the individual after determining he had entered the country illegally,” said San Diego Border Patrol Agent Jerome Conlin. Border Patrol agents continued their search beneath the cliffs and located another 14 illegal aliens. “A U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air & Marine aircraft responded to assist agents in searching the area in an attempt to locate additional subjects,” Conlin said. Border Patrol reported that they apprehended 10 men and five women who admitted they entered the country illegally aboard the fleeing panga boat. “Fourteen individuals claimed to be Mexican nationals and one male claimed to be a Guatemalan national,” Conlin added. “The subjects were arrested and transported to a local Border Patrol station for processing and further investigation.” Border Patrol agents encourage anyone with information about a possible maritime smuggling activity along the Southern California coast to contact the San Diego Sector U.S. Coast Guard Joint Harbor Operations Center at 800-854-9834. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Proving to the world that they are still a major military player, allegedly a Russian submarine quietly patrolled the Gulf of Mexico unnoticed by the U.S. military. The stealthy nuclear –powered sub, armed with cruise missiles quietly traversed U.S. waters for weeks highlighting a potential flaw in America’s security. Further, the possible overt military action calls into question the so-called “friendly” relationship President Obama believes he shares with a re-elected Russian President Vladimir Putin. At a March Nuclear Security Summit Obama was caught on a hot mike telling former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev “after my election, I’ll have more flexibility.” That statement sent shock waves into the military world. The Russian stealth-like submarine that patrolled in U.S. waters is part of the SSN Akula (shark in Russian) class of submarines, according to NATO. The Russian sub has significantly improved its propellers to patrol much more quietly and was designed to destroy American subs. According to the Washington Free Beacon, the Russian incursion caused concern for top-ranking military officials who point out the currently proposed $500 billion in military cuts would hinder America’s submarine detection capabilities. Another reason for the military to be concerned about the possible provocative submarine move is the Navy’s nuclear submarine base is located at Kings Bay, Georgia. Currently, the Navy keeps eight missile-firing submarines in the Georgia port. “Sending a nuclear-propelled submarine into the Gulf of Mexico-Caribbean region is another manifestation of President Putin demonstrating that Russia is still a player on the world’s political-military stage,” naval analyst and submarine warfare specialist Norman Polmar told the Beacon. “It’s a confounding situation arising from a lack of leadership in our dealings with Moscow,” Senator John Cornyn (R- TX), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee said. “While the president is touting our supposed ‘reset’ in relations with Russia, Vladimir Putin is actively working against American interests, whether it’s in Syria or here in our own backyard.” Defense skeptics question the veracity and timing of the disclosure of this Russian submarine penetration in Gulf due to the clear, shallow waters of the Gulf, US SOSUS acoustic devices and (satellites that can penetrate hundreds of feet of water to detect and track submarines) this maybe classified - so leave it to visual tracking by satellites near the surface. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Monday, August 13, 2012
According to a new Treasury Inspector General report, the IRS ignores illegal immigrants legal status and issues millions of taxpayer dollars in refund checks. The July 2012 report also said that IRS employees are encouraged to look the other way when it comes to investigating tax fraud committed by those residing in the country illegally. The Treasury Inspector General report analyzed multiple employee complaints that IRS management repeatedly blocked attempts “to fix the deficiencies in the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) application review and verification process.” Regardless of legal residency, the federal government requires everyone to adhere to IRS tax laws and issues illegal immigrants ITIN numbers in lieu of social security cards. Many anti-illegal immigrant groups contend that the issuance of the ITIN numbers only encourages more foreign nationals to call American home. Perhaps more alarming is the fact that these illegal immigrants file tax returns and collect billions in the form of tax refund checks each year. On top of that many of these illegal immigrants claim child tax credits for minors living outside the U.S. and Uncle Sam/taxpayer rewards the illegal action by giving them more money than they paid to the IRS coffers. Last year an Inspector General report revealed that illegal aliens received a staggering $4.2 billion of taxpayer dollars by using the child deductions in 2010. According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), “several members of Congress have introduced bills to eliminate the ability of illegal aliens to receive this tax credit by requiring a valid social security number, but Congressional leadership refuses to act." (See TIGTA Report 2011-41-061, July 7, 2011; see also FAIR Legislative Update, Sept. 6, 2011) Highlights from the IRS report include; creating an environment which discourages tax examiners responsible for reviewing ITIN applications from identifying questionable applications; eliminated successful processes used to identify questionable ITIN application fraud patterns and schemes; and established processes and procedures that are inadequate to verify each applicant's identity and foreign status. (View TIGTA Report 2012-42-081, July 16, 2012) For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Advertisement */ */ Due to the financial hurricane hovering over California, many cities have or intend to file for bankruptcy as a method to escape over-promised trillion-dollar union pension payments and failing public school bureaucracies. Just how dire is the Golden State’s financial woes? Bad. Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, openly added yet-to-be collected revenue from Facebook’s IPO to the state’s tax ledgers. Unfortunately for taxpayers, the Facebook bubble busted, leaving the state with even more debt. Enter the Poway Unified School District. Once a prized public school system, the district entered into a risky $105 bond to cover ongoing K-12 expenses. The interest payments for the questionable bond will be $877 million. Adding insult to injury is the insane payback details; Poway will push the cost of the bond onto children that aren’t even born yet! The San Diego school district will not begin to repay the bond until 2033, giving a whole new meaning to the term loan sharking. The “capital appreciation” bond has recently gained popularity in California because the taxpayers don’t see an increase in taxes, and current school administrators don’t have to take a “haircut” or dramatically slash yearly budgets. Even Democrats are slamming the budget gimmicks and warn taxpayers that impending doom is on the horizon if they do not vote themselves a tax increase. “One person’s gimmick or unpopular budget strategy is another person’s genuine effort to avoid deeper and deeper cuts to education, “ said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). One would think California lawmakers could recognize California’s $15-20 billion deficit is unsustainable. Sadly for the California dreamers, fiscal calamity has reached a fever pitch and Sacramento lawmakers appear hell-bent on building a $60-90 billion high-speed train to a government-made dust bowl that has become a Central California ghost town. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Using the 2010 Census Bureau statistics, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) released a detailed report that correlates high levels of illegal/legal immigrant poverty as a contributing factor for the increase in welfare programs in the U.S. Take Arizona, the 2010/11 Census Bureau data revealed Grand Canyon State’s immigrant population is one of the poorest and least educated adding to the overburdened welfare rolls. “There is considerable concern in this country about issues like poverty and the large uninsured population. But what has generally not been acknowledged is the impact of immigration on these problems,” explained Steven Camarota, CIS’s director of research. “Absent a change in policy, 11 to 15 million new immigrants are likely to settle in this country in the next decade and may further exacerbate present problems.” The new report highlighted the fact that 43 percent of immigrants who lived in the U.S. for 20 years were receiving government assistance; nearly double the rates of natural-born citizens. “Look, we know a lot of these folks are going to be poor, we get it. But don’t tell the public it’s all going great, which is the story line I think a lot of people want to sell,” Camarota said in a Washington Times story. “There is progress over time. Every measure shows improvement over time, but still, the situation does not look like we’d like it to look, particularly for the less educated. They lag well behind natives even when they’ve been here for two decades, and that is very disconcerting.” The Arizona statistics outlined in the CIS report are particularly alarming. · Arizona’s immigrant population (legal and illegal) grew 31 percent from 2000 to 2010 (857,000). Nationally the immigrant population grew 28 percent over the same period. · Immigrant’s account for 13 percent of Arizona’s residents in 2010, and 17 percent of workers in the state. · Of Arizona immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18), 37 percent live in poverty compared to 15 percent of natives and their children. · Immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) account for 21 percent of the state’s overall population and 39 percent of all persons in poverty. · Of Arizona immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18), 34 percent lack health insurance, compared to 16 percent of natives and their children (under 18). Immigrants and their children account for 37 percent of those without insurance in the state. · Of households headed by immigrants in Arizona, 36 percent used at least one major welfare program, primarily food assistance and Medicaid, compared to 21 percent of native-headed households. · Although Arizona’s immigrants are among the poorest in the country, their rate of home ownership is among the highest in the country at 59 percent. The rate for natives in the state is 66 percent. · The lower socio-economic status of Arizona’s immigrants is not because most are recent arrivals. Their average length of residence in the United States is 20 years. · One of the primary reasons so many immigrants in the state are poor is a large share arrive in the U.S. as adults with relatively low levels of education. · Of adult immigrants (25 to 65) in the state 35 percent have not completed high school, compared to 7 percent of natives. · The share of immigrants in the state with at least a bachelor’s degree is 21 percent, compared to 33 percent for natives. · In 2010, 26 percent of students in Arizona public schools were from immigrant households. Overall, one third of public school students in the state speak a language other than English at home. Camarota also estimates that one half of the immigrants in Arizona are in the country illegally, accounting for a little over 10 percent of Arizona’s population. However, those numbers are just estimates. A Tucson National Border Patrol Council weekly report shed some light on senior Border Patrol officials enforcement policies in the Grand Canyon State. “Agents are told to turn a blind eye to nearly everything outside mass murder, the lie that the ‘border is secure’ continues to be spread, and the American people fund all this shameful political gamesmanship with their tax dollars.” For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
The U.S. attorney’s office announced a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) involving ACADEMI (formally dba Blackwater and Xe Services) for their role in international arms trafficking. The company agreed to pay $7.5 million in order to avoid jail time. The bill of information and DPA were unsealed today in U.S. District Court in New Bern, North Carolina, during proceedings before the Honorable Louise W. Flanagan, U.S. District Judge. In the agreement, the company admits certain facts set forth in a bill of information and agrees to a $7.5 million fine. The DPA binding agreement also referenced the $42 million settlement between the company and the Department of State as part of a settlement of violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations. “Today’s proceedings conclude a lengthy and complex investigation into a company which has provided valuable services to the United States government, but which, at times, and in many ways, failed to comply with important laws and regulations concerning how we as a country interact with our international allies and adversaries,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker. “Compliance with these laws is critical to the proper conduct of our defense efforts and to international diplomatic relations. This prosecution is an important step to ensuring that our corporate citizens comply with these rules in every circumstance.” The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) weighed in on the "symbolic" win for the government. “Compliance with the firearms laws of the United States in both domestic and international commerce is essential to maintaining order and accountability,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Wayne Dixie. “Whether it is an individual or a corporation, we will enforce the provisions of the federal gun laws equally. If violations are discovered, we will move to hold those responsible for the violations accountable for their actions.” While this may be true, the U.S. government effectively rubber-stamped the defense contractor's ability to operate in the Middle East and keep their eligibility for taxpayer money in the form of coveted Department of Defense contracts. “Blackwater profited substantially from Department of Defense (DoD) contracts in support of overseas contingency operations over the past decade,” John F. Khin, Special Agent in Charge Southeast Field Office, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS). “This investigation showed that no contractor is above the law and that all who do business with the DoD will be held accountable. With this agreement, Blackwater acknowledged their wrongdoing and took steps to remedy and mitigate the damage they caused to the United States and the public trust.” The FBI also pointed out ACADEMI/Blackwater flagrantly disregarded U.S. laws and regulation, but said today’s decision served as a warning to those operating outside the confines of the law. “This company clearly violated U.S. laws by exporting sensitive technical data and unauthorized defense services to a host of countries around the world,” said Brock D. Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “In doing so, company employees were frequently in possession of illegal firearms and aided other foreign nationals in the acquisition of illegal firearms. HSI is proud to have played a role in assisting the investigation to call this company to account for its actions.” Nicholson oversees HSI activities in Georgia and the Carolinas. The Bill of Information Details “The bill of information is the result of a five-year, multi-agency federal investigation that covered an array of criminal allegations including export and International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) allegations involving the manufacture and shipment of short-barreled rifles, fully automatic weapons, armored helicopters, armored personnel carriers, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) allegations in both Iraq and Sudan, unlicensed training of foreign nationals and firearms violations. As the result of that investigation, the government has brought 17 criminal charges against the company: Counts one and two allege violations of IEEPA based upon ACADEMI/Blackwater’s export of Iridium Satellite phones and Crypto Satellite phones to the Sudan in November 2005 without the authorization of the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, as required by law. Counts three through six allege violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations, based upon several proposed or actual transactions as follows: Between October 1, 2006 and November 30, 2006, ACADEMI/Blackwater proposed to provide security services and a threat assessment, which included defense services as defined by U.S. law, to the government of the Sudan, without first having obtained a license from the U.S. Department of State; Between October 1, 2006 and June 30, 2008, ACADEMI/Blackwater provided military training related to overseas military operations to military and law enforcement personnel from Canada without first having obtained a license from the U.S. Department of State; Between January 1, 2006 and December 30, 2008, ACADEMI/Blackwater provided technical and engineering data relating to the construction of armored personnel carriers to personnel from Sweden and Denmark without authorization from the U.S. Department of State as required by law; Between October 2004 and March 2006, the company exported ammunition and body armor to Iraq and Afghanistan without first obtaining a license from the U.S. Department of State as required by law. Counts seven through 12 allege violations of various federal firearms laws as the result of the company’s possession of the listed automatic weapons without registration or permission. And finally, counts 13 through 17 allege that the company falsely represented to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives that five firearms were owned by certain individuals when the weapons had, in fact, been given as a gift to the King of Jordan and/or his traveling entourage in June 2005,” according to the FBI agreement. The Deferred Prosecution Agreement Details “The entry of the DPA permits the company to resolve the charges under conditions set forth in a contract with the government,” the FBI detailed. “The Department of Justice has entered into a DPA with ACADEMI/Blackwater, which acknowledges the company’s efforts to reform its conduct, provides for a period of supervision during which its activities are monitored, and which requires the payment of a $7.5 million fine.” The agreement also states that ACADEMI/Blackwater admits the violations of U.S. laws, in turn the government acknowledges that the defense contractor’s efforts to reform its conduct and to mitigate damages. The agreement also highlights the Department of State’s civil settlement of $42 million for violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations. The soldier-for-hire company gained notoriety in 2007 for their alleged role in the murder of 17 Iraqi civilians that led the Iraqi government to ban Blackwater from doing business inside the war torn country. ACADEMI/Blackwater continues to earn undisclosed millions from their multi-billion dollar DoD contracts. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
San Diego Border Patrol agents seized more than 105 pounds of crystal methamphetamine worth approximately $2.1 million at two area checkpoints. The first bust happened at the I-5 Border Patrol checkpoint where a 37-year-old male United States citizen was sent to the secondary inspection area after he displayed a nervous demeanor. “A Border Patrol K-9 team performed a cursory inspection of the vehicle resulting in an alert,” according to Scott Simon of the SD Border Patrol. “Agents searched the vehicle and discovered a five gallon plastic water bottle containing a greenish liquid. The fluid in the bottle tested positive for liquid methamphetamine and weighed a total of 47.62 pounds with an estimated street value of $952,400.” Once the narcotics were discovered, the suspect as well as the narcotics were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The second incident occurred near the San Ysidro Port of Entry/Tijuana. Agents with a Border Patrol K-9 dog alerted authorities that a Suzuki XL7 parked near the international border crossing contained illegal substances. “Agents searched the unattended vehicle and discovered 28 packages of methamphetamine concealed in the rear quarter panels,” Agent Simon said. “The meth weighed 57.85 pounds and had an estimated street value of $1.2 million.” In both incidents the narcotics were confiscated and handed over to the DEA and the Border Patrol seized both vehicles. To report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Beginning in mid-August nearly 1 million rural California property owners will receive a new $150 per habitable structure tax bill that was sold as a “fire prevention fee” by the state legislature. Last year the Democratic-led legislature approved and Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill requiring property owners to cover Cal-FIRE improvements. State lawmakers skirted the 2/3rds vote threshold by renaming the new legislation a “fee” not a tax. Unhappy Republican leaders said Sacramento politics continue to bury the taxpayers with higher and higher tax rates. “I've opposed this new tax from the beginning, because I believe it is unconstitutional. The Governor and Legislature simply called it a “fee” to avoid the 2/3rds vote requirement designed to protect taxpayers,” said George Runner of the California State Board of Equalization. “As soon as possible, I intend to join a lawsuit asking the courts to halt this illegal money-grab as soon as possible. Unfortunately, no one can file the lawsuit to stop the tax until after the bills go out.” Once property owners receive the “fire prevention” bill, they must pay the state-issued invoice within 30 days or face substantial late fees and fines. “California needs a balanced budget, but we should not balance it on the backs of already overtaxed Californians,” Runner said. “I will continue to do everything in my power to protect taxpayers from this unfair and excessive taxation.” The new “fire prevention fee” claims to prevent new fire hazards, but Runner says the millions of dollars collected will be used to fund Cal-FIRE's existing bureaucracy and will not expand the state's fire prevention efforts. Even though the legislature passed the law and Cal-FIRE is implementing it, the Board of Equalization is required to send out the tax bills. In mid-August BOE will begin billing the first of 825,000 Californians who own habitable structures in a State Responsibility Area (SRA). “I'm concerned that many taxpayers will lack sufficient time to understand whether they must pay this new tax. That's why I've asked Board staff to send a pre-notice to taxpayers who will soon receive a bill. While we can't stop the bills from going out, we can at least try to make sure adequate notice is given,” Runner finished. Runner established a new website (calfirefee.com) that provides property owners with more information as well as the latest news regarding this law. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.