Blogging mostly about mundane stuff like, immigration, Workers' Compensation and other immigrant related activities.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cold as ICE

(Via: Migra Matters)

Whether it was planned or mere coincidence the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids on the Swift & Co's, meat packing plant in Greeley, Colorado, which occurred on Tuesday, December 12, 2006, the day in which for Mexicans celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe the most revered religious and cultural figure to Mexican Catholics around the world is likely to be considered an afront by La Migra on the Latino community. This despite the fact for illegal immigrants the risk of arrest and deportation are a daily possibility given their residency status.

The Greeley Tribune covered the Swift immigration raids and posted video. Click to view exclusive video.

Unfortunately the ICE raids like those at other meat packing plants tend to be largely symbolic. These types of raids while they capture mainstream media coverage and focus the public attention on the issue of illegal immigration provide no meaningful solutions towards fixing or changing our existing immigration policy which is clearly not working and a sham.

The fact that our immigration policy is outdated and requires transformation should come as no surprise to immigrant advocates and proponents of Anti-Illegal immigration laws. The current immigration policy is a sham, because it rewards unscrupulous employers at the expense of a largely exploited Latino immigrant working class.

President Bush and Congress need to fix this and pass a comprehensive immigration bill, because doing so would be good regularize millions of undocumented workers and provide them basic employment and civil rights most Americans take for granted. The passage of a comprehensive immigratoin bill is also good for our economy as it provides businesses that are dependent on secure and stable workforces access to immigrant workers who have already proven to be reliable and efficient workers.

Although some readers of this blog may take my previous statement as self-serving because I myself am a Mexican immigrant, the fact is I'm increasingly finding others who share this view like here and here. The respective links are a NY Times Editorial and
Peter Rousmaniere who hosts the excellent blog Working Immigrants.

Arrests and After Effects:

The raids at the six Swift plans are unlikely to act as deterrents towards diminishing the continued flow of illegal immigration. The fact remains that for illegal immigrants the fear of arrest and deportation is a constant factor in their daily lives. Long after this story has been forgotten the negative economic effects will continue for small towns likely Greeley, Colorado where companies like Swift are the areas largest employers.

The aftermath of immigration raids generally result in a depressed economy for these small towns as a large number of illegal immigrants move onto others towns for work. Such was the case after the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided a poultry plant in Stillmore, Georgia. The chicken processing plan was the largest employer in the small town and it's loss of illegal immigrants in the community have caused economic hardship from which the town has yet to recover. Follow up story here.

Proponents of Anti-Illegal Immigrant laws argue that immigration raids like those at Swift result in employers being forced to offer better wages that appeal to native workers to these types of jobs. However, as long as our immigration policy continues to turn a blind eye to an effective employer verification system employers will continue to seek immigrant workers to fill jobs what have working conditions and salaries that native born Americans feel are unsafe or pay depressed wages and in most cases both.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Got Illegal Workers?

The Washington Post has this article on Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney a potential Presidential candidate and a strong advocate of border fencing as well as imposing penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants. In a classic "do as I say, not as I do" scenario Gov. Romney was reportedly unaware that the lawn of his suburban home was being cut by illegal immigrants. Eric Fehrnstrom, Communications Director for Romney, said Friday that the Governor was not aware of or "knowleadgeable about the information alleged".

The statement by Mr. Fehrnstrom is classic spin. It is easy to pass the blame onto the lawn care company and indicate that they are responsible for ensuring a workers legal status. The fact is no one ever asks. As an individual one rarely asks if the handyman, gardener, nanny or janitor is an illegal worker. If we hire the individual from an agency we just ask "How much will it cost" and hold out for the best deal. Everyone is looking out for the best deal and Gov. Mitt Romney is no exception.

I would argue that as Americans we tend to be a bit hypocritical on the illegal immigration issue. We are all too happy to hire a guy to mow the lawn for $40 Dollars a month even though we are well aware that it cost some $50 Dollars a month, back in the 1990's. We eagerly consume $1.00 tacos, $1.00 Chinese food and 99 Cent hamburgers as long as we can turn a blind eye at the illegal immigrant labor which makes these prices possible, and still afford business owners a meager profit. It is simple, if I can't pass the price increase onto my customer I can always reduce the wages of the employee, if my legal employee won't take the wages, I'll find one that will. After all the employment application indicates he is legal and the paperwork he submits appears legit.

I would suggest a novel approach for Gov. Romney on how to deal with this issue. My suggestion is that he hold a news conference and just admit that illegal immigrants are in practically every sector of our industry and service sector and this can't be undone. We need to move forward and acknowledge the labor and benefits these immigrants bring to this nation. Our economy whether we like it or not has become dependent on immigrant labor, it can no longer continue it's growth path without cheap labor.

Gov. Romney should take a lesson from the nomination of Zoe Baird for US Attorney General. The Zoe Baird nomination was considered Clinton's first political blunder and Zoe Baird's chances of becoming the nation's chief law officer was over before it started. Read more at Time and

But poor Miss Baird did herself in. It wasn't just the hiring of an undocumented alien couple as nanny and driver - since 1986 a federal crime, and one particularly inappropriate for a putative boss of the FBI and INS. The quick firing of the unfortunate couple right after the election suggested a combination of ruthlessness and guilty conscience.

Surely Gov. Romney and his advisers will weather this storm. My concern is for the illegal immigrants that are unwittingly thrust into this scene. While mainstream media picks up and continues with the story will the authorities quietly pursue deportations against the illegal immigrants working on Gov. Romney's grounds?

The headache Gov. Romney is experiencing is likely to be far more damaging to the illegal immigrants involved. Gov. Romney has only his Presidential ambitions to lose, the illegal immigrants are likely to lose their jobs altogether. Below is an excerpt from the Time story on the illegal immigrant nanny and driver of Zoe Baird.

While the headache is ending for Clinton, it may be just beginning for the Peruvian couple hired by Baird. Immigration officials have ordered Victor and Lillian Cordero to appear for questioning next week in Hartford. Deportation proceedings could follow. Victor's current employer says the former driver has disappeared, leaving a note that he was returning to Peru; Lillian has not yet been located.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Immigration and Video


Type "immigration" and click search on YouTube and you will find over 2600 videos on the subject. A similar search on Google Video will net you just 581 videos. YouTube provides various tools to sort the results by date added, view counts and user ratings. The most viewed immigration video on YouTube is an animation video which places the current immigration debate during the time of the Pilgrims. The best rated is a video of Led Zeppelin live in concert with their rendition of Immigrant Song. Google Video by comparison has less videos but, I tend to find their videos of higher quality both in terms of balanced debate and education.

Although all of YouTubes videos are free, most of Google's are also free. Google has a few from the exceptional Charlie Rose his videos are here and here. The aforementioned videos can both be purchased at a cost of $.99 per video. The videos are about 57 minutes in length and in my opinion excellent pieces and well worth the cost.

The Ben Wattenberg and his Think Tank immigration videos at $2.99 are "pricey" in an era of free video on the internet, but excellent intellectual pieces that address how immigration is remaking the American mainstream. These videos discuss assimilation and contemporary immigration issues.

Lastly, the HDNet World Report: Illegal Immigration video ($.99) featuring former President Jimmy Carter are a visual feast and focus on immigration in Africa and the US.

If after diving into the deep intellectual abyss of immigration you need to clear your head just check out Zorro69's video of Snow White and El Tao Tao.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pickers Are Few, and Growers Blame Congress

(Via: New York Times)

"As they sum up this season’s losses, estimated to be at least $10
million for California pear farmers alone, growers in the state mainly
blame Republican lawmakers in Washington for stalling immigration
legislation that would have addressed the shortage by authorizing a
guest-worker program for agriculture. Many growers, a dependably
Republican group, said they felt betrayed.

“After a while, you get done being sad and start being really angry,” said Toni Scully, a lifelong Republican whose family owns a pear-packing operation in Lake County. “The Republicans have given us a lot of lip service, and our crops are hanging on the trees rotting.”

John Whiteside
of the Blue Bayou blog writes a good post on how we are repeating the same mistakes when it comes to dealing with illegal immigration. It led me to wonder how the GOP will fare with these farmers and growers who have generally voted Republican. Will these farmers and growers demonstrate their feeling of betrayal by the GOP for the labor shortages they are currently experiencing and further more for the fact that congress should have passed the AgJobs bill by now. The GOP should receive a message from these farmers this November.

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GOP Posturing for Immigration Win prior to Elections

National Public Radio (NPR) posted an article about how faced with tough midterm elections Republicans are seeking a small victory with another enforcement only bill. The small victory would come in the 700 mile double-fence along the Mexico border. The GOP concerned about projecting a policy of strict border enforcement could tout the 700 mile wall as a small victory this November.

Democrats have called the Republican stance as election-season pandering, but have not moved to block the bill, even as they continue to call for a more comprehensive immigration bill. The standoff between the parties is evident and in this story also by NPR, Illinois Democrat Senator Barack Obama comes to a conclusion. He said, "My conclusion based on the current politics is that unless the American people had a sincere sense that we are making progress on the border issues, we are not going to be able to resolve the pathway to citizenship."

I say give the GOP their small victory and let them build a wall, fence or barrier of any sort. Let's not get into how effective it will be. I previously posted on that matter here. Last week I was reminded of just how futile the 700 mile fence is going to be when my mechanic Fernando recalled his story of how he crossed the border some 17 years ago. He stated, "I attempted to cross four times and got caught every single time. He added for 3 months I attempted to get accross. The smugglers tried to get me accross by having me go through the desert and through the mountains, over 10 foot fences and everytime I was got caught."

So, I asked, "Okay, how did you finally get her?". To which he replied, "On my last attempt, I had no more than $200.00, so I went to this smuggler that someone had recommended. Fernando indicated he was somewhat skeptical when the smuggler took him to a bar and told him let's get some beers. He said, "It was 3 o'clock in the morning and by this time we were somewhat drunk. The smuggler say's let go and we began to walk towards the border".

Fernando added: "We get within 500 feet of the border and the smuggler takes a beer and dumps it on himself. He takes another beer and dumps it on me. He takes out a fake green card and says to put it in my wallet. He instructs me to get within sight of the border agent, pull out my wallet and take out the green card.

So, as he approaches the border agent, Fernando does just that, hands over his newly aquired green card and hands it to the border partol agent. The agent looks at him, down at the card, looks over at both of them and says, "Too much Cerveza"? They smile and both respond, "Si un poco!" ("Yes. A little"!)

Thus after what began as a number of dangerous attempts to illegally cross the border, Fernando managed to just walk accross the border. He eventually settled in Los Angeles and began his 17 year stay as an illegal immigrant.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

America's Great Wall: With a Few Gaps

Jon Coppelman of WorkCompInsider writes a humorous post on the 700 mile wall our US House of Representatives recently passed by a vote of 283-138. Coppelman does a good job at poking fun on the US House of Representatives foolish wisdom and it's inablility to resolve our illegal immigration crisis. The truth unfortunately is no laughing matter and both Republicans and Democrats are equally to blame.

Perhaps they can forgiven because crisis has been 20 years in the making and no one should expect a speedy resolution. Partisan politics come into play and we should not expect too much from our legislators, especially during an election year when most want to play it safe and are unwilling or unable to risk their political capital. Few legislator look forward to making the difficult choices that will be necessary to actually fix our illegal immigration crisis, so it's easier to have things remain status-quo.

The issue of illegal immigraton is still for the most part a problem that affects someone esle. It is similar to joblessness, homlessness and poverty, they generally are a problem for other people. In my work I come into contact with illegal immigrants daily. I deal with their employers and the insurance companies of the employer. In California illegal immigrants like other parts of the country, they perform the most dangerous and physically demanding jobs and when they are injured the fortunate ones will be provide with medical benefits, recover and move on with their lives. The unfortunate ones have their world turned upside down when they are denied benefits precisely because they are illegal. The court systems have generally ruled in favor of injured workers refusing to make a distinction betwen legal and illegal thus ordering insurance companies and the employers they represent to pay up claims.

The newly adopted tactic against illegal immigrants of denying public services and benefits to illegal immigrants including the prospect of arrest and deportation can be compared to segragation efforts agains blacks prior to the civil rights movement. If the goal is to stem the flood of illegal immigration our efforts would be better served if we focused on cracking down on employers who routinely hire illegal immigrants. At this point Americans have become accustomed to the cheap goods and services that illegal immigrant affords them, even if they don't understand the complicated economic dynamics that result from this uneasy alliance. So the population of illegal immigrants is now 20 years old and we have an estimated 12+ million illegal immigrants who hang in the balance. The failure of our government to work towards resolving this matter will add an additional 800,000+ undocumented immigrants to our population. The irony and madness about creating a fortress at our borders negates the fact that most of unocumented immigrants do not illegally cross our border, but enter this country legally on tourist visas and then simply don't leave. The truth is that it is the poorest of immigrants that attempt and sometimes die trying to illegally cross our borders, those are the ones we read about dying in our deserts.

Our focus on building walls at our borders to resolve our illegal immigration problem will never work. It will never work because we can never actually seal the 1,952 mile border. Any giant 1,952 mile wall faces huge gaps in its structure. One of those gaps would be 75 miles long. The location of that gap is at the Tohono O'odham Nation of Southern Arizona whose majority of land holdings stretch for hundreds of miles along the Arizona and Mexican border. The Tohono O'odham Nation has already indicated that they would legally challenge the building of any wall on their territory. The New York Times reporter Randal C. Archibold wrote a piece "Border Fence Must Skirt Objections from Arizona Tribe" which indicates that the Tohono O'odham Nation indian territory expects to pose legal challenges to any wall on about 75 miles of land they own on the border.

Even if our government was able to overcome the Tohono O'odham Nation legal challenges, who would build that wall? Would we once again tap illegal immigrant labor just like we have done for the rebuilding efforts of Hurricane Katrina.

True Costs or Just Write a Blank Check:

The 700 mile fence would be a public works project with projected costs of $7 Billion US Dollars. If US taxpayers are to foot the bill, I'm left wondering what the final tab will be. Perhaps cost is not an issue and our 700 mile fence is realy a means us to compete with the Great Wall the Chinese built. History has demonstrated to us how effective the Chinese wall has been at stoping invasions and I have no doubt our wall won't be much different.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Summer of the Death of Hilario Guzman

(via: L.A. Times)

And so I tried to fit into my puzzle the solution of a guest worker program. Not the bracero program that Latino activists railed against, as if we couldn't improve on a model 60 years old, but a version more efficient and less brutal.

It would be premised on the notion that families remain behind as anchors to build rural Mexico. This would gut the underground of coyotes and illicit document purveyors. It would lead to a more predictable flow of workers so that employers knew what skills they were hiring and workers knew up front what they were earning. No more starting their journey here as indentured servants $7,000 in the hole. No more desperation of the kind that made $2.50 an hour acceptable.  (Read Article)

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Castaneda on Mexicos Presidential Election Results

Mexico's former Foreign Minister and presidential contender Jorge Castañeda spoke at the Center for American Progress and provided thoughtful analysis of the bruttal presidential campaign of Lopez Obrador and Felipe Calderon.

If you are interested in how Mexico's elections may impact on the US Watch the Video.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

$206-$230 Billion is the Estimate on Total Deportation Costs.

Ever wonder what it would cost to actually deport the 10+ Million undocumented immigrants currently in this nation? 

The Center for American Progress has come up with an estimate.  The estimate is here:

Using publicly available data, we estimate the costs of a mass deportation effort to be at least $206 billion over five years ($41.2 billion annually), and could be as high as $230 billion or more. Spending $41.2 billion annually would exceed the entire budget of the Department of Homeland Security for FY 2006 ($34.2 billion) and more than double the annual cost of military operations in Afghanistan ($16.8 billion).

Reason magazined pody on this has some interesting comments, such as this one:

From: Creech,

Wow, $17,000 each! So it's $1000 for a plane ticket and the rest for cops, lawyers, judges, prisons and the like?

I especially like the graphic provided by The Onion  illustrating ways Pres. Bush could combat illegal immigration.



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Emotional Immigration

Gen. Peter Pace, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, chokes up at the hearing.

Gen. Peter Pace, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman,
chokes up at the hearing. (By Joe Raedle -- Getty Images)

July 10 -- The Washington Post ran a story about the congressional hearings on immigration currently being held in Miami, Florida.  The highlight of the hearing was the dramatic testimony provided by General Peter Pace, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman as he choked up at the hearings when speaking about his Italian immigrant father and the opportunities that America has given his family.

As a former Marine (I served from 1980 to 1983), I commend Gen. Pace for his willingness to share his personal story.  I salute him for his bravery and emotion and thus hopefully demonstrate to our legislative leaders that an army of immigrants is just as emotionally connected to America as is this top Marine.

Semper Fidelis.  General Pace.  Semper Fidelis!

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

3rd World Farming. A Deadly Game.

Imagine how difficulty it would be to try to earn a living and raise a family as a farmer in the Third World.

Do you fancy yourself to be educated, smarth and resourcefull? You think it's really not all that difficult? If so, then give the 3rd World Farmer game a shot. Lets see how well and how long you and your family lasts.

How many seasons will Mr./Mrs./Miss Farmer John endure? How long before drought, disease or civil unrest devastate your crops, kill off or worse just come along and steal all of your harvest and livestock.

If you are lucky you may be able to feed your family and keep starvation and disease at bay.

I was fortunate to last 46 seasons, but my success came at a high expense which was the loss of two of my children to disease. Once I reached some measure of success, the militia stole most of my livestock and belongings. After several seasons of struggle, I was able to achieve limited success, but had to agree to burying toxic waste on my land and growing illicit crops in order to raise enough capital to properly invest in my farm and livestock.

The civil unrest in my country once again led to a loss of most of my livestock and farming tools which sadly coupled with drought ended in the starvation of my entire family.

It may have been just a game for me but, sadly for farmers all over the Third World it is anything but a game.

Via: Houtlust :: nonprofit advertising :: social campaigns

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Can I Swim in Your Pool?

The weather is getting hotter in L.A. and this has led to more frequent visits to our sisters home in Norwalk, CA.  My sisters home has a very large yard with a faboulous pool.  Our family has an unspoken policy which allows sisters and brothers the ability to show up unannounced, provided they bring food and drink, and partake of the pool. 

The "unspoken policy" generally results in what can only be categorized as a long-drawn-out-pool-party with any number of family and guests coming and going, without any real start or ending of the festivities.

The fact that I'm heading over to my sisters myself, also unannounced reminded me of The Swimmer starring Burt Lancaster.  Over at, the We-Make-Money-Not-Art website someone posted a beautifully shot web narrative of John Cheever’s short story.  The narrative is done by filmaker Maya Churi who also did Letters from Homeroom.  Churi's voice narrative and the story line is captivating and wonderful.  The interactive web short runs about 40 minutes, but is well worth the time.

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Fat Cat Slim

Mexico's Carlos Slim Helu is now ranked as the 3rd richest man in the world according to Forbes.  Slim Helu's Wikipedia page is here and his fortune is an estimated 30 billion Dollars.  This year Slim Helu's fortune increased by an incredible $10 billion, thanks to a growing and diverse empire that includes mostly TelMex holdings, as well as a host of retail, banking insurance, and auto parts manufacturing.  In the United States his Grupo Carso owns CompUSA and he was at one point the largest stake holder of MCI.  He bought the MCI stake for about $300 million in 2002 when the company, then called WorldCom Inc., was in bankruptcy.  In April 2005, Bloomberg reported that Slim Helu sold MCI stake to Verizon for $1.1 billion Dollars. 

Since 1996 Carlos Slim Helu's fortunes have been on an incredible rise growing from 2.7 billion to the current estimate of 30 billion.

The rise in Slim Helu's wealth has resulted from a mix of business savvy, high powered connections and Mexico's unwillingness to break up monopolies.  TelMex charges some of the highest rates for it's telecommunications services and Slim Helu's ties to Mexican presidents and politicians have resulted in his facing little competition. 

From NY Times:

"Forbes reported that the average monthly phone bill for a small business in Mexico is $132, compared with $60 in the United States."

As Carlos Slim Helu's fortunes rise, so does the attention, which he has begun to combat by casting himself as a philanthropist, a patron of the arts, as well as a citizen concerned with the welfare of Mexico and it's working poor.  Slim Helu has been known to provide scholarships to students, pay the bail money for underage first-time offenders and prevent the long wait that accompanies trials in Mexico.  He has also financed plastic surgery operations for disfigured children.

In a September 2005, Mr. Slim Helu and several other of Mexico's most powerful business leaders launched the Chapultepec Pact.  Mexidata reported:

"The most financially powerful individuals in Mexico met as citizens on September 29, at the Castle of Chapultepec, to sign an accord called the "Pact of Chapultepec."  Headed by Carlos Slim, the wealthiest man in Latin America, other participants included Banorte bank owner Roberto Gonzalez, Televisa Chairman Emilio Azcarraga, Ricardo Salinas Pliego of TV Azteca, and a host of others.  In all, according to some commentators those who signed the national unity pact represent 98 percent of Mexico's wealth."

So how much of what Carlos Slim Helu does can actually be viewed as working towards closing the gap between rich and poor in Mexico?  Not much.  Despite all of Mr. Slim Helu's generous civic actions they pale in comparison to the millions he and his business partners have contributed to the ruling party the PRI and their political campaigns.  The near monopoly power that TelMex enjoys in Mexico has resulted in what consumer advocates cite as price gouging of the poor while the ratio of telephones per 1000 inhabitants is lower than Brazil and Argentina both of which have smaller economies than Mexico.

The fact that Slim Helu's Chapultepec Pact is is being championed by Mexico's business elite and even the Mexican press and has all major presidential candidates on board, demonstrates the power that Slim Helu wields in Mexico.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Help Wanted, Will Pay $0.69 Per Hour

About six months ago I had a discussion with my friend Emerson Quevedo a Los Angeles based blogger and podcaster. Emerson who is from Guatemala creates podcasts and writes blog posts on technology in Spanish.

We touched on the digital divide and how both of us derive some level of income from using the internet. We considered how webservices such as Amazon's Mechanical Turk could be harnessed and used in Mexico and Central America as an income generator for unemployed and underemployed citizens.

I had already experimented with Mechanical Turk for about two hours and generated $1.10 for my account. Now the $1.10 hardly meets a living wage standard particularly if you live in Los Angeles, but what if you live in Mexico or Central America where the average daily wage is about $4.00 per day?

Today, I found this post by Aaron Koblin who posted on the We-Make-Money-Not-Art website a story about thousands of workers who participated in drawing "sheep facing to the left". The workers reportedly earned an average hour wage of "$0.69 per hour" for creating the sheep. The 10,000 sheep are now at The Sheep Market where they are now selling for an average $20.00 per sheep.

The fact that workers were paid on average $0.69 per hour for creating "left-facing-sheep" and that those exact sheep are now selling on the Internet for $20.00 US Dollars. The workers were paid 2 cents to draw a sheep facing to the left and spent on average: 105 seconds to draw each sheep.

This reminded me of the documentary The Corporation and the Nike internal documents that showed workers taking 6.6141 minutes to make a shirt, which resulted in 9 shirts per hour.

I got into that investigate mode and I wondered who could possibly want to exploit the thousands of "left-facing-sheep creators"? I set out on a WHOIS domain search and discovered that "thesheepmarket" is actually owned by an enterprising Aaron Koblin himself. That left me wondering how many sheep Koblin has actually sold?

I called the number listed on the WHOIS to see if I could get some answers from Aaron, but the number listed is no longer in service. As of now, I've sent an an email to Aaron seeking comment on the success of his Sheep Market venture.

Update: I received an email response from Aaron. Turns out he is not really some big faceless conglomerate just looking to exploit workers of the world, even if they are only drawing "left-facing-sheep".

Aaron wrote:

"I have not, as of writing this e-mail, generated enough income to cover my expenses, but I expect to. I'm glad to see that you're thinking about these issues. I am also interested in the ramifications of the MTurk system on the global market. Without claiming to have any answers I hope that my project may start people thinking about some of the very issues..."

Aaron Koblin studied Art at the University of California, Santa Cruz with a focus on Electronic Art, and was an Irwin Scholar in 2004. For more information about Aaron visit his website here.

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Infinite Interactive Visual Cycle (IIVC)

Via: Hector Milla: Visual infinito cíclico interactivo

Spanish: Dime si solo puedes hacer unos cuantos clicks?

English: Tell me if you can do only a few clicks?

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Got Bricks!

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While looking at my RSS feeds on "Immigration" today they led me to an National Public Radio on border fences which addressed the issue of whether such fences actually curb illegal immigration. The links then led me to Send A Brick group which claims that thus far some 8487 bricks have been ordered. This led me to wonder how much fence one could you possibly build with 8487 bricks?

Hmm....I'll have to get back to you on that one and would we need undocumented workers to build it, but I digress. Let me get back to the Washingtonian bricks, Florida Senator Mel Martinez pictured above, seems to be well on his way to replacing his wall-to-wall carpet with a brick floor.

Back on April 17th, Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin wrote a post and suggested that if brick were too heavy then perhaps one could send something a "bit lighter" such as Legos.

On May 5, 2006, someone posted a video of founders of Send A Brick, Kirsten Heffron and Chris Brown which made me consider what poor staffer or mailroom person not to mention the poor UPS or Mailman would be tasked with delivering all those bricks to Senators and Congress members.

On May 12, 2005, the Associated Press published a story related on these bricks in which Jim McAuliffe, co-owner of a new Gwinnett-based mailing company claimed that he feared the Senate and House post offices were using a technicality and refusing to deliver nearly 1,200 bricks and another 2,300 that were scheduled to arrive via parcel post. McAuliffe and Senate Postmaster Joe Collins were at odds over additional postage. When Collins was asked to comment he stated that the bricks would be delivered once a "solution" was found.

One "solution" that had not been considered was that congressional staffers were just simply leaving the bricks in the holding areas. This led me to belive that perhaps Senate and Congressional leaders simply directed their staffers to "stop bringing bricks". Linsday Mabry, Spokeswoman for Georgia Senator
Saxby Chambliss confirmed that speculation when she stated, "I don't know if we're ever going to receive the bricks".

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Lo Que Tu Quieras Oir + YouTube = 10 Mil Views

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(Via David Bravo de

David Bravo tiene un buen post sobre "Creative Commons" y su poder cuando se utilizan los blogs para distribuir contenido a "boca-oido". Un resultado es que un cortometraje de el Director Guillermo Zapata cual fue puesto en YouTube en Marzo 26, 2006, hoy tiene mas de 10,608 personas que la han visto este buen corto.

Aqui esta el enclace para ver el corto en YouTube. Aqui esta el enlace para el sitio de Gulliermo Zapata y "Lo Que Tu Quieras Oir".

En su blog Guillermo Zapata dice:

Pues sí, hace pocos segundos Youtube acaba de marcar que Lo que tú quieras Oír ha llegado a las 10.000 visitas. 10.000 visitas conseguidas en exclusiva gracias al boca- oído, a las críticas realizadas por distintos bloggers, a los blogs que simplemente lo han referenciado, a los amigos y amigas que lo han enviado por correo, a las distintas plataformas que apoyan el copyleft, en definitiva: A la blogosfera. Nunca me había imaginado que un cortometraje modesto, autoproducido, que no se ha movido por festivales apenas, que se juega sus bazas en una historia pequeña, sin aspabientos, haya llegado a éstas cifras.

Para que ustedes se hagan una idea, si el cortometraje hubiera ido a unos cuarenta festivales y poniendo que cada festival tuviera salas de 200 personas llenas hasta la bandera, lo habrían visto 8.000 personas y en ningún caso se habría movido a la velocidad a la que se está moviendo ahora.

Los últimos espacios de los que tengo constancia y que creo que han sido fundamentales para mover el corto éstos días son.

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Alberto is "Unclear"

Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he is "unclear" whether his Grandparents legally or illegally entered the United States.

I propose that we promptly begin to torture the "truth " out of him. No, but seriously, if it is determined that the Gonzalez family were in fact "undocumented immigrants", then Congress should expedite a comprehensive immigration reform bill and thus retroactively grant the Attorney General a retro-style immigration amnesty for him and his family.

Once that is done, Bush can at a White House ceremony grant Alberto Gonzalez the first "Guest Worker Visa".

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Border Deaths

Oscar Abraham Garcia, 22, of Tijuana, Mexico, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Two deaths occurred within days of each other which have involved immigrants trying to cross the US and Mexico border.

One death occurred Thursday in the San Diego border region and it involved an alleged smuggler of illegals. The incident resulted in the death of suspected smuggler Oscar Abraham Garcia. A local NBC news channel provides the following story and video footage here.

"The shooting took place Thursday afternoon after U.S. agents surroundeda sport utility vehicle that was under surveillance on suspicion ofimmigrant smuggling, police said. The driver refused to get out,and when agents smashed the vehicle's window with a baton, heaccelerated in the direction of five U.S. agents blocking his path and"nearly pinned an agent standing next to the vehicle," said San Diegopolice Lt. Jeff Sferra."

Another incident involved the death of a 3-year-old boy this past Sunday. The boy died of dehydration after a smuggler reportedly abandoned him and his mother after the boy got sick. The mother survived after wandering through the desert for a day. The mother was picked up by the Border Patrol near Sells, Arizona and later informed authorities about leaving her son in the desert. A search team found the boys body in the Tohono O'odham Reservation.

Dr. Eric Peters Pima County's Deputy Chief Medical Examiner who has the grim task of dealing the bodies of dead migrants made this observation in October 10, 2005.
"It was a nonexistent problem five or six years ago," he said. "Now, it's to the point where we just assume it's part of our daily workload, because we don't really foresee any change in this problem, unless I-don't-know-what is done."

In that same article Prof. Wayne Cornelius, Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego said:

"We keep ratcheting up the enforcement in areas that were previously safe, and it's pushing the traffic into more dangerous areas all along the border."

As more barriers get erected and entry into the United States becomes more difficult desperate migrants will continue to place their lives in danger with smugglers who are likely to become more brazen and reckless.

The fact that congress is considering a number of measures that can potentially provide a path to legalization for the millions of illegals already in the United States may increase illegal border crossings.

The potential lack of political stability and economic instability from the upcoming July 2006 presidential elections in Mexico is likely to produce a flood of new immigrants desperate to enter this country especially given the violent incidents occuring in San Salvador Atenco, Mexico.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Stephen Colbert on Immigration

Stephen Colbert
of Comedy Central does a piece on immigration. The piece shows a few members of the Minuteman Project speaking about their efforts in building a fence at the US/Mexico border.

The comments from members of the Minuteman Project on immigration and the fence are always revealing, sometimes shocking and occassionally, I must admit, disturbingly funny.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dani. My Favorite American Tourist!

Although I was born in Mexico, I've lived in the US since turning 8 years old and consider myself an American. I've always held my birth country and heritage close at heart and fortunately my work has provided me an opportunity to visit some 28 states in the Republic of Mexico, as well as all of Central America.

Aside from the wonderful friendships and memories that these trips have provided me, I was always pleasantly surprised to encounter tourists like Dani Rotstein during my visits and work in Mexico and Central America.

For me Dani embodies the spirit of adeventure and good nature that I so admired in Americans. My first contact with Americans was in Mexico. As a child, I lived in Baja California and would often encounter American tourists who would travel into our remote region in their recreational vehicles. These Americans were often following the Baja 1000 races and as a child I'd often awaken to see these large recreational vehicles down the road from our home.

The sight of these Americans would set into motion the adventurous spirit of a 6-7 year old and I would then enlist my friend Memo and together we would drum up the courage to approach them, which would often yield us a bounty of candy, chocolates, small toys and once a boxed Disney puzzle.

One time an American man gave us a box of thick rubber bands. He looked at Memo and I and said in his broken Spanish that he would pay us 1 US Dollar for every Horned Toads we could bring him. Memo and I, quickly set out and promptly brought back a bag filled with some 6 lizards from which my take was treasured 3 US Dollars.

Once home I told my parents about our adventure and that American and his lizards. My folks were a bit perplexed at the fact that some American would actually pay good money for a few lizards, thus my story took a bit of retelling to be believed, but nevertheless they were quite pleased with their entrepreneurial son.

Somehow Dani's video and his American spirit brought out those memories. For that I say, "Muchas Gracias, Dani!"

Song: "Para No Verte Mas" by
La Mosca Tse Tse

Monday, May 08, 2006

Hurt My Hand, I Can't Play Baseball!

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My work as a Workers Compensation Consultant in California has me working with workers who are injured performing some of the most labor intensive and back breaking type of occupations.

Trust me when I say that none of my injured workers want to be off of work, where the maximum benefits they can receive while on disability is $336 per week. Once they are medically released the can receive $246 per week. Therefore, the Jeff Bagwell disability claim caught my attention because of the astronomical (no pun intended) disability benefits associated with the claim.

Mr. Bagwell plays for the Houston Astros and his stats page on Major League Baseball has him on a 15-day DL as of Mar 25, 2006 (Bone spurs/arthritis, right shoulder).

The sport of baseball has routinely obtained disability coverage for their players and the Astros paid $2,409,343 in premiums for such coverage on Bagwell. Jeff Bagwell made about $18 million last year.

$86K a day!

The disabilty coverage for Bagwell means that the Houston Astros are to receive $85,748 for each regular season day that Mr. Bagwell misses due to his total disability.

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Modified Duty?

Under normal circumstances in any Workers Compensation claim the employer is required to explore Modified or Alternate work assignments, this is called "reasonable accomodation". The worker is often provided assignments that fall within their current physical restrictions.

The offer of Modified or Alaternate work can be permanent or temporary and it is designed to provide the injured worker the ability to continue working and therefore minimize their loss of earnings, since they can not be paid less than 15% of their pre-injury wages. A worker who returns to modified or alternate employement who is not at home on disability also contributes to the employers bottom line thus making it a win-win situation.

Unfortunately for the insurance carrier, the Huston Astros play in the National League, where there is no provision for a "designated hitter". In looking into Bagwell's disability his physical restrictions would likely prevent him from throwing a baseball, but he could potentially be offered a modified or alternate position which would allow him only to bat.

However, the "designated hitter" option is only available in the American League and thus such "reasonable accommodation" can't be made for Mr. Bagwell.

I wonder how much an actuary would rate premiums for my star programmer who just injured his hand playing bass guitar in his rock band?

(via: WorkCompInsider)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

De La Hoya and Swiss Banker look to KO Arum and King

De La Hoya unleashed a barrage of shots to knock out Ricardo Mayorga at 1:25 ofthe sixth round Saturday night and capture the WBC super welterweight title.

De La Hoya will now look to towards one last fight before finally retiring from boxing. He looks to face Floyd Mayweather, Jr.,the top pound-for-poundfighter whose father trains De La Hoya. Mayweather, the welterweight champion (147 lbs.) would most likely have come up in weight at 154-pounds to face De La Hoya in what would be arguably one of the biggest paydays for both fighters.

Win or lose De La Hoya will exit boxing as one of its most charismatic and entertaining boxer in the sport. Whatever the outcome don't be surprised if De La Hoya ends up signing Mayweather tos his increasing stable of boxers at Golden Boy Promotions which now numbers over 40 fighters including Bernard Hopkins, Marco Antonio Barrera and Sugar Shane Mosley.

De La Hoya hired Richard Schaefer, a banker, Swiss born and Swiss reared and former managing director and deputy executive officer of UBS, the global financial services company based in Zurich. The New York Times published an article on Shaefer here.

As dominant boxing promoters Bob Arum and Don King face retirement, both are in their 70's, an opportunity opens for a more corporate entity to enter the fray. De La Hoya looks to bring a more transparency and accountabilty to the sport of boxing. Those moves are likely to attract more corporate sponsorship and distance the sport from its seedy side that is often associated with Don King.

In 2003 Golden Boy Promotions brought in revenue of 5 Million and that figure is now an estimated 100 million.

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