Archive for November, 2009

Here Come the Feds…
November 19, 2009

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is about the launch a massive initiative to audit businesses suspected of using illegal immigrants for labor. 1,000 Notices of Intent (NOI’s) to Audit were sent to businesses across the country. ICE isn’t giving up the names of the businesses just yet because the audits haven’t occurred. But I did find out that 42 of those NOIs were sent to Houston businesses, with a total of 160 sent to Texas companies. All of the companies served with NOI’s are associated with “critical infrastructure”, i.e. oil/gas/water, transportation, electrical, medical. These are not the same as workplace raids, but ICE officials did say the list of companies being audited was compiled from “investigative leads” and because the companies on the list are all attached in some way to public safety and/or national security. I’ll keep you posted on any developments, but here’s some statistics of what ICE accomplished when it ran a similar initiative earlier this year…

Statistics since implementation of new ICE worksite enforcement strategy on April 30:

·        45 businesses and 47 individuals debarred;

§         0 businesses and 1 individual were debarred during same period in FY 2008.

·        142 Notices of Intent to Fine (NIF) totaling $15,865,181;

§         ICE issued 32 NIFs totaling $2,355,330 in all of FY 2008.

·        45 Final Orders totaling $798,179;

§         ICE issued eight Final Orders totaling $196,523 during the same period in FY 2008

·        1,897 cases initiated;

§         ICE initiated 605 cases during the same period in FY 2008.

·        1,069 Form I-9 Inspections;

§         ICE initiated 503 Form I-9 Inspections in all of FY 2008.

In July, ICE issued 654 NOIs to businesses nationwide in the largest operation of its kind before today—part of ICE’s effort to audit businesses suspected of using illegal labor.

Statistics resulting from the 654 audits announced in July:

·        ICE agents reviewed more than 85,000 Form I-9s and identified more than 14,000 suspect documents—approximately 16 percent of the total number reviewed.

·        To date, 61 NIFs have been issued, resulting in $2,310,255 in fines. In addition, 267 cases are currently being considered for Notices of Intent to Fine (NIFs).

·        ICE closed 326 cases after businesses were found to be in compliance with employment laws or after businesses were served with a Warning Notice in expectation of future compliance

There’s a spirit that can ne’er be told….
November 16, 2009

Those words were spoken by Marvin H. Simms, Aggie Class of 1926. These words are also chiseled into the granite wall at the entrance to Texas A & M University’s Bonfire Memorial. We have a story running tonight at ten on the tenth anniversary of this tragedy and we will be live in College Station tomorrow and Wednesday for memorial services. Before the stories air I wanted to explain the symbolism behind the memorial. I covered the Bonfire collapse in 1999 and last week was the first time I had a chance to walk the memorial. If you’ll allow me to wax nostalgic for a moment I’ll get to the point of this post. I went to high school in College Station and remember going to Bonfire. The last year I attended bonfire was 1989 and the weather was bitter cold. The reason the temperature of that night sticks in my mind is the Bonfire was so massive that if you stood too close for too long you would have to take off your sweater and jacket because the heat radiating from the structure would make you start sweating. For me, Bonfire was fun and the chance to act like I was cool enough to hang out with the college kids. For Aggies, Bonfire was a part of the school’s soul. Before I left College Station for the University of  Houston (as Aggies put it, “before you wandered off”) I got a taste of the tradition and love Aggies have for both Bonfire and their school. However, it wasn’t until 1999 I truly understood those concepts. The last time I saw Bonfire I enjoyed a tradition that was not truly mine. In 1999 I stepped back on to campus as a reporter chronicling an event of immense grief and loss. That was when the Aggie’s sense of tradition and love truly hit me. Hundreds of students crowded what was the school’s polo/rugby field to help move logs, comfort friends and pray. Less than 24 hours after the stack fell students had already planned and held a memorial service for their friends. I’ll probably be taken to task for this next statement, but I’m not sure any other university would have gone to the lengths A & M has to honor and remember not only those who lost their lives but also a tradition that is still so much a part of campus life.

The Memorial…

I snapped a few pictures that correspond with the explanation of the symbolism behind the memorial.

1) The granite wall at the entrance is designed to shield the peace and intimacy inside the memorial from the outside world. The area immediately behind this wall is called, “Tradition Plaza.”

2) This slab marks the year the Bonfire tradition was started, 1909.

3) This is History Walk. There are 89 granite blocks marking each year the Bonfire burned between 1909 and 1998.

4) There is a notch carved into each block at exactly 11/12ths of each block’s length. These notches represent that Bonfire burned during the eleventh month of the year.

5) The year 1963 is carved into a black slab along the walk. This represents the year the Bonfire stack was disassembled log by log after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The Bonfire never burned that year.

6) The memorial’s “Spirit Ring” represents the perimeter fence built around the Bonfire stack each year. The ring has 27 granite blocks connected to twelve portals. Each block represents a student who was injured during the collapse and the portals represent a student who was killed.

7) Bronze plaques attached to each block also represent the 27 injured during the collapse. The plaques are intentionally left blank to honor all those injured during Bonfire’s 90 year history.

8) Each portal is aligned to face of each of the fallen students’ hometowns.

9) Each portal has a sculpture of a student who died during the collapse. A list of names and corresponding pictures are below.

10) This marker represents the exact spot of the center pole in 1999. It also bears the date and exact time the stack collapsed.

11) At night amber lights surround the base of the “Spirit Ring” to represent the flames of Bonfire.

12) In order of their pictures below, here is the list of names and hometowns of the students who died during the collapse. Nathan Scott West-Belliare, Miranda Denise Adams-Santa Fe, Christopher Lee Heard-Houston, Timothy Doran Kerlee, Jr.-Bartlett, Tennesse,  Jamie Lynn Hand-Henderson, Michael Stephen Ebanks-Carrollton, Jerry Don Self-Arlington, Chad Anthony Powell-Keller, Jeremy Richard Frampton-Turlock, California, Christopher David Breen-Austin, Bryan Allen McClain-San Antonio, Lucas John Kimmel-Corpus Christi.

Need I say more?
November 13, 2009

chapo

   On Monday I posted a story about the rising violence in Juarez. Many claim Mexican president, Felipe Calderon’s plan to curb the drug violence has failed. Sheer numbers seem to support those claims. Thousands of federal officers and troops were sent to Juarez in March of 2008. In that same year the city (population: 1.6 million) saw more than 1,800 murders. This year there have been more than 2,000 murders (we still have the rest of November and December to go). “Chapo” Guzman is the reported head of the Sinaloa Cartel and believed to responsible for much of the violence in that city. Last March Forbes magazine listed Guzman as one of the world’s billionaires. This week Forbes listed Guzman #41 in its list of 67 “World’s Most Powerful People”. That’s puts Guzman ahead of people like Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev and Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez. The Mexican government lost its mind when these two items hit newsstands. Calderon angrily denounced Forbes as glamourizing drug traffickers. Both sides of this issue can be argued all day long. Personally, I think Forbes’ lists shows the power and force a drug lord can achieve. The Mexican government has to understand this fact. Adding insult to injury this week, a group of business leaders in Juarez asked for the United Nations to send peace-keeping troops to their city. Will this happen? No. I spoke with Brendon Varma at the United Nations and he says the U.N. has yet to receive this formal request. Plus, it is the U.N. Security Council that has to decide whether troops can be sent to a country and the request for troops has to come from a government, not a group of citizens or businesses. Given that Mexico is one of the countries on the Security Council it is highly unlikely the government would ask for or approve the deployment of U.N. troops. Calderon insists his country is getting the upper hand on the drug cartels. The fact that citizens in Juarez have become so desperate that they’re now asking for U.N. troops shows a complete disconnect between what the government is saying and what Mexican  citizens have to live with every day.

Where’s the Beef?
November 2, 2009

scared cow

 

This entry proves immortality is possible via the internet. I received an e-mail this morning asking me to check out this e-mail (viewer e-mail in red)…

 

_Can you check this out please McDonald’s going to buy beef from Argentina where meat is unregulated? Thanks..

 

MUST Read about McDonalds

 

 THIS IS A GOOD DECENT MAN WHO TOOK THE TIME TO WRITE THIS AND: HE SIGNED THE STATEMENT AND: INCLUDED HIS CONTACT INFO:

 

 

 

READ ON

 

I’m sure those of you who aren’t in the cattle business don’t understand the issues here. But to those of us whose living depends on the cattle market, selling cattle, raising the best beef possible… This is frustrating. This will keep us from ever stopping there again, even for a drink. The original message is from the Texas Cattle Feeders Association American cattle producers are very passionate about this.

 

McDonald’s claims that there is not enough beef in the USA to support their restaurants. Well, we know that is not so. Our opinion is they are looking to save money at our expense. The sad thing of it is that the people of the USA are the ones who made McDonald’s successful in the first place, but we are not good enough to provide beef.

 

We personally are no longer eating at McDonald’s, which I am sure does not make an impact, but if we pass this around maybe there will be an impact felt.

 

All Americans that sell cows at a livestock auction barn had to sign a paper stating that we do NOT EVER feed our cows any part of another cow. South Americans are not required to do this as of yet.

 

McDonald’s has announced that they are going to start importing much of their beef from South America . The problem is that South Americans aren’t under the same regulations as American beef producers, and the regulations they have are loosely controlled.

 

They can spray numerous pesticides on their pastures that have been banned here at home because of residues found in the beef. They can also use various hormones and growth regulators that we can’t. The American public needs to be aware of this problem and that they may be putting themselves at risk from now on by eating at good old McDonald’s..

 

American ranchers raise the highest qual ity beef in the world and this is what Americans deserve to eat. Not beef from countries where quality is loosely controlled. Therefore, I am proposing a boycott of McDonald’s until they see the light.

 

I’m sorry but everything is not always about the bottom line, and when it comes to jeopardizing my family’s health, that is where I draw the line.

 

 

 

I am sending this note to about thirty people. If each of you send it to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300) …and those 300 send it to at l east ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000) … and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth generation of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers!

 

I’ll bet you didn’t think you and I had that much potential, did you? Acting together we can make a difference. If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on..

 

 

David W. Forrest, Ph.D ., PAS, Dipl.

 

ACAP Department of Animal Science

 

Texas A&M University

 

Phone (979) 845-3560

 

Fax (979) 862-3399

 

 

This e-mail is a hoax that has been “pinging’ inboxes since 2002. I have seen this before (except the original incarnation was purportedly sent by the Texas Cattleman’s Association). I still called the number listed for the professor at the bottom of the e-mail and a very terse message will also explain how this latest incarnation is also a hoax. Here is a statement from McDonald’s that has been verified as accurate…

 

 

Comment from McDonald’s Canada:
 
The past week has brought some unwarranted attention – in the form of a viral email – with regards
to McDonald’s Canada’s beef procurement practices which contained information that was completely
erroneous.
 
This email is a hoax.  McDonald’s Canada currently sources 100% of its beef from farms and ranches right
across Canada and has no plans today to purchase any beef from South America.  In the past the company
has purchased small quantities of beef from New Zealand, Australia and the United States, but has always
sourced the vast majority of its beef from Canada. 
  
The first email on this topic originally surfaced in the US in 2002 – at that time referencing the Texas Cattle
Feeders Association – and it has resurfaced again in 2005, 2007, and again in 2008.  McDonald’s
representatives in the US have spoken with the Texas Cattle Feeders Association and they deny any
association with the email.  In 2009, a Canadian version emerged that’s practically identical to the one that
originated in the US. 
  
McDonald’s Canada remains one of the largest purchasers of Canadian beef, and is a proud supporter of the
Canadian beef industry. 
  
We hope this clears up the confusion.