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Monday, July 21, 2014

Sand Hill- Franco-Americans in Augusta

Sand Hill- Franco-Americans in Augusta

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Obamacare the winners and losers so far article from The Week

Republicans who are harping about the value of the private sector over government programs and claim to be fiscal hawks, have again demonstrated the hypocrisy of their obsessions.

Obamacare is the latest winner in the list of issues Republicans have wasted time and energy trying to discredit. 

Right wing political opposition is based upon the wrong minded argument that the Affordable Care Act is another "government handout".  In reality, the law has brought about important insurance reforms while improving access to health care coverage for the uninsured.

Republicans wasted millions in negative ads during their relentless attack on the law, passed by Congress, with the intention of providing uninsured Americans with affordable health insurance, in a statute deemed Constitutional by the Supreme Court

Obamacare: The winners and losers so far is reported in the July 25,2014 "The Week":

"Obamacare haters, your case just got weaker," said Johathan Cohn in A Commonwealth Fund study revealed last week (July 2014) that about 9.5 million fewer adults are uninsured than when open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act's exchanges began last fall. Many of these adults had purchased subsidized insurance under Obamacare or enrolled in "the newly expanded Medicaid program." Even better, they're satisfied customers, regardless of their politics. Even 74 percent of Republicans are happy with their new coverage. The ACA has faced nonstop "predictions of disaser" from conservatives, said Paul Krugman, in The New York Times, "none of which have come true."  Enrollment has surged past White House targets, and most people have bought policies on the exchanges at low or reasonable cost.  "The usual suspects will keep crying failure, but the truth is that health reform is----gasp!----working."

Predictions of a catastrophe from conservatives who spent millions to defeat and discredit Obamacare, simply has not occurred, said Ezra Klein in  

Indeed, many more insurance companies are joining the exchanges in 2015, and the ACA will only improve as competition increases and the bugs are worked out.  

Most important, in my mind, is how Obamacare is using the private sector to improve access to health insurance and the private insurers are joining in the program exchanges.

Obamacare: The winners and losers so far isn't totally about health insurance and coverage of the uninsured. In addition to achieving the goals of the program to bring down health care costs and increase access, the Obamacare law has proven, again, how Republicans really are the "stupid party" as Gov. Bobby Jindal prophesied. They've wasted taxpayer money to create a myth about a law that's Constitutional and, "gasp!" might even be working. 

Grand Old Party hypocrisy reigns with their party's stupidity.

I simply can't imagine how Republicans can continue to preach about fiscal austerity, when they waste millions to create myths.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Putin in a pile of problems

Ordinary Russians visited the Dutch embassy in Moscow to pay their condolences for the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine as it was flying from Holland to Malaysia. Many left flowers, reports BuzzFeed

And some left notes. This one says, simply, “Forgive us”.

It seems the Russian people are already way ahead of their heinous leader Putin in asking for forgiveness.  

Vladimir Putin, president of Russia,on the other hand, hasn't even acknowledge Russia's involvement in providing the missile and the technology that took down the passenger airliner.

Well, maybe the Dutch, who suffered the unimaginable loss of citizens in the completely unwarranted attack on the Malaysian Airliner MH17 by a Russian built missile, can possibly forgive the Russian people.  But they absolutely won't forgive Vladimir Putin.

Russians leave flowers at Dutch embassy in Moscow

As a matter of fact, President Putin is up to his cold blue eyes in a pile of problems resulting from the destruction of MH17.  

Now only did the Dutch people loose nearly 200 people in the attack, but the world lost a team of international AIDS experts who were excellent advocates for humanitarian public health. 

Putin must somehow explain how Russia will pay reparations for the unprovoked crime against a passenger airliner with heat seeking missile. Moreover, he must resign as a result of his failed leadership.  
Not only has Putin's puffed up ego driven Russia into economic stasis, he's created a useless ruble worth about "2 bits" or a US quarter. His outrageously grand spending on the Sochi Olympics drove the Russians into debt and Putin's war mongering in the Ukraine brought about US economic sanctions. Now, Putin's problems include international disdain, including the potential for a United Nations investigation. Moreover, his arrogance and lack of remorse reflect on Russians living or traveling in Asia. Many Russians live as expatriated Oligarchs in Asia. Now, they'll likely be in a position of having to pretend they're either Polish or Ukrainian, to avoid the ire of the Asians, who also lost citizens in MH17 and, by the way, don't like the Russians' bossy attitudes, anyway.

Putin is in a pile of problems. His predicament is creating pressure on him to respond. Unfortunately, Putin has been in a defensive and finger pointing mode. He's in psychotic denial of the preponderance of evidence about the Russian mistake that now puts his leadership in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, it will be a long time before Russia can recover from this totally preventable MH17 tragedy.  

Regardless of how Putin ends up - banished or worse, the Russian people will have to find a way to pay reparations to the Dutch and Malaysian airlines for this disaster. I doubt the families of the victims of this tragedy will be very patient with their expectations.

P.S. Additionally, when Putin goes, as he must,......Syria's tyrannical President Assad will be vulnerable, as well.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Franco-Americans: Who are they and where do they live?

Franco-Americans: Who are they and where do they live?

Acadian Roots: Images of the St. John Valley ready for CMA 2014

Acadian Roots: Images of the St. John Valley ready for CMA 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Russians living high life in South East Asia will see Rubles used for Mahjong chips

1 Russian Ruble equals 0.028 US Dollar

In other words, an American quarter is roughly the equivalent of a Russian currency ruble. 

Looking at it another way, Russian rubles might make interesting Mahjong wager chips.

Russian rubles will likely be reduced to the creating arts and crafts projects when reparations are demanded for the destruction of a Malaysian airliner, taken from the sky today, by a Russian heat seeking missile.

Was it a mistake, deliberate, terrorism or something unforeseen? Whatever the motivation, the cause will support the assessment of the cost of what Russia will have to pay to the Malaysian airlines and to the 265 victims of this airline attack disaster. Indeed, the cost will be extraordinarily high.

Russian President Putin continues to lie about his nation's persistent involvement to stir up trouble in the eastern Ukraine. He lies about this involvement because Russia can't withstand much more in the way of international economic pressure to leave the Ukraine. Therefore, Putin pretends his nation is an innocent victim of the US led international sanctions.  

Meanwhile, the Russian ruble is the value of a US "two bit" quarter, while the billion dollar bill to pay for the exorbitant Putin Olympic games in Sochi will probably never be paid.

When my husband and I visited Southeast Asia a few years ago, we were surrounded by Russians who were doing business, touring and acting like their Oligarch's rubles would last forever.  

Well, even if the Russians swarming Southeast Asia have rubles hiding in the foundation of their beach homes, their reputation among the local people (which was never very good because, frankly, they're "cheap"), will now tank. 

Russia clearly made a horrible humanitarian, and financial mistake by somehow releasing a surface to air heat seeking missile, to attack and destroy an innocent Malaysian airliner, with civilian passengers on board.  Russia will pay for this mistake. Moreover, Putin will undoubtedly be forced to face the court of international opinion, or worse, as a result. Russia may not recover from this attack.  

Worse, terrorist factions within Russia might now have an opportunity to escape their barbed wire encampments and retaliate for the oppression they've experienced as a result of Putin's pogrom of extremists . 

These are dark days for Russians as well as for the governments around the world that must respond to the attack on the innocent Malaysian airliner. 

Regardless of the intention, motivation, mistake or whatever else, the Russians will pay a huge price for this disaster.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Help for immigrant refugee children- where are pro-life Republicans?

It's impossible to understand how Republicans can call themselves Christians, when they're compulsive about deporting refugee immigrant children from Central America, rather than help them in their desperation.  

Now, sadly, U.S. immigration has deported a group of the children who risked their lives to reach Texas. Although it's impossible to know how or why the children who were returned to their original nations was determined, it seems just plain cruel to prevent these refugees from seeking asylum in the U.S. 

Where are the Christian pro-life groups, demonstrating to prevent the U.S. from deporting these refugee children?

The Wall Street Journal reports;  Pope Francis is urging the U.S. and other governments to protect the migrant children, who are flocking by the thousands across the Rio Grande and to rectify often appalling conditions at home that have set them on the road.

The pope's call comes as U.S., Mexican and Central American officials scramble to contain what President Barack Obama and others have called an "urgent humanitarian situation" unfolding along the U.S.-Mexico border, primarily in Texas.

"I must call attention to the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence," Pope Francis said in a letter, read at a migration conference in Mexico City sponsored by the Vatican and the Mexican government. The letter says youngsters cross the U.S. border "in extreme conditions, in a hopeful search that most of the time is in vain."

Where are the Right wing Christian pro-life advocates in response to Pope Francis and his appeal to help the refugee children?

Christian Science Monitor reports on child migrants 101: 
What does it take to win US asylum?

It's not enough to come from a dangerous place. Child migrants seeking to stay in the US must show they face persecution due to a specific group affiliation. That's why so many apply instead for Special Immigrant Juveniles Status.

By , Staff writer 

When it comes to the ongoing flood of unaccompanied children illegally crossing the US-Mexico border, the political battle lines have been drawn. Republicans by and large want new spending to focus on the swift deportation of unaccompanied alien children (or 
UACs, the legal term used in legislation), while Democrats aim to ensure that those eligible for asylum receive it.

The Obama administration says most of these migrant children likely will not be eligible to stay. “Based on what we know about these cases, it is unlikely that most of these kids will qualify for humanitarian relief,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest in a press briefing on July 7. But what exactly makes a child eligible for asylum? And under what circumstances is a judge likely to grant it?

According to immigration judges and lawyers, the laws are complex, open to interpretation, often misunderstood, and affected by several extralegal factors, including financial and legal resources available to a given applicant.

The most common way such minors are granted permanent residency is not via asylum at all, but rather by receiving Special Immigrant Juveniles Status (SIJS), which aims to help foreign children in the United States who were abused, abandoned, or neglected.

Of all migrant children apprehended traveling alone, 2,588 children, or 42 percent, were potentially eligible for relief in 2011, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Of those, 1,449 applied for SIJ status, while 785 applied for asylum. (These numbers predate the current big wave of migrant children entering alone. New Border Patrol estimates project that some 90,000 unaccompanied children will try to cross this year.)

Before a US immigration court can take up an SIJS case, a state court must find that the minor is the court’s “dependent,” typically meaning the child has no parent or guardian in the US and cannot be reunited with a parent because of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar reason under state law. The state court must also determine that returning the child to the home country would be against his or her best interests. 

This process is complicated, however, because the laws relevant to an SIJS determination vary from state to state, meaning the same child may be eligible for SIJS in Arizona, but not in Texas or California.

What’s more, most unaccompanied minors have no legal representation. Immigration court judges will advise children to pursue a certain legal path, such as receiving an SIJS determination from a state court. But, immigration advocates say, children often lack the resources and the basic understanding of American law to follow the judges' orders.

“Many of these children don’t even know what a lawyer or a deportation order is,” says Kristen Jackson, a lecturer at the University of California at Los Angeles, who specializes in immigration law. “Once … [unaccompanied children] are taken in, all are placed before an immigration judge. The question is whether they’re going to be able to access a state court, which often depends on circumstances beyond their control.”

Not all see the lack of legal resources as a significant issue, however. Some experts point to the existing process to guide SIJS applicants as proof that migrant children are getting a fair shake.

“I can’t imagine that an eligible child is going to slip through the cracks, because the immigration judge is going to go out of his or her way to look out for the interests of the minor,” says Dan Cadman, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, which opposes illegal immigration.

Standard Asylum

The second most popular program for unaccompanied children seeking permanent residency is standard, non-age-specific asylum, which aims to protect people who face torture or persecution back home.

Asylum is typically more difficult to obtain than SIJ status, and as a result, children both with and without legal representation apply for it less often. In 2013, 718 children applied for the program, according to the nonpartisanMigration Policy Institute (MPI).

To be eligible for asylum, an applicant must show that he or she has been persecuted as a result of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or social group.

“It’s hard to show that your persecution is related to group violence,” says Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of the US immigration program at the MPI. “Gang violence is not a sure win, and judges are discouraged from recognizing generalized violence” as a reason for granting asylum.

The gang-related violence that befalls children in Central America rarely falls under one of the five categories that makes a person eligible for asylum, experts say. Children need to show they face persecution due to a specific group affiliation, so living in an extremely violent neighborhood or region is often not enough.

Unlike SIJS, asylum determinations do not depend on the state where the court is located. However, they do depend on the inclinations of judges to some extent, as the provisions of the asylum law are fluid and interpretable.

According to Judge Dana Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, the persecution by “social group” criterion for asylum seekers is especially difficult to prove.

“It’s something that’s subject to evolving court interpretation,” she said. “So even experienced judges struggle to determine whether someone is eligible under that category.”

As with SIJ status, minors applying for asylum without lawyers face an especially steep uphill battle, advocates for such children say.

“There are situations that occur when minors don’t have enough connections, and as a result they might miss out on possible relief,” she says.

“[Receiving asylum] depends on whether they have appropriately expressed enough information in the court,” she adds. “This is always hard for a child in a courtroom setting," especially after a child has been through traumatic experiences.

All Americans, except for those who are among Native American indigenous groups, are descendants of immigrants.  

Therefore, it's wrong for us to turn away others who aspire to the hopes and dreams of our ancestors, who arrived in the U.S. as a result of being unable to live where they were, before immigrating.

Christians who are pro-life Republicans should demonstrate in support of Pope Francis and his call to help the immigrant refugee children in Texas. 

It's impossible to understand how pro-life groups can demonstrate to end abortions of the unborn, but remain silent and passive in the face of the humanitarian crises with immigrant refugee children in Texas.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Franco-American culture in a mural, folk art and quilt

Franco-American culture in a mural, folk art and quilt

There should be many more artistic creations exhibited by Franco-Americans.