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  • Ramba
    08-05 03:35 PM
    Wow ! So you are saying that no one qualifies for EB2 after 2004 !

    I kindly disagree.

    I am not saying no one qualified. Most of the Eb3 jobs requirements were modified to EB2 to cut-short the EB3 line. Then, why every employer (particularly in IT) files EB2 LC, than EB3 after 2005? Why does DOL is autiting EB2 requirements for IT/Engineering jobs now?. Before 2004, even if employers requires MS+4 years or BS+8 years DOL approves the LC. Why they don't do now? It is just everyone wants to go for EB2, if they have that qualification.

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  • ghost
    07-17 11:00 AM

    We, members of IV who are on H-1B visas, can bring our spouses and children with full rights to travel. Family members are NOT counted in the quota for H-1B. Spouses cannot work as their status is dependent (H-4).

    Our agenda is to resolve the Green Card Queue. People are waiting in the queue since 2001. The current status of queue can be found at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/bulletin/bulletin_2943.html (Look under the employment based numbers)

    We do not mind waiting in the queue until we get the Green Card. The problem is that the Green Card process is currently Employer-Centric. In the sense, once the GC process is initiated (Let's say Microsoft), the employee has to stick with Microsoft until the Green Card is approved.

    Even worse, we cannot get an official promotion during the wait as this will result in starting the GC process from scratch and inadvertantly sends their application to the end of the queue. Imagine Skilled Labor (people with BS, MS and PhD degrees in Science and Math) who are waiting in the queue for more than 5 years with out an official promotion and at employer's mercy.

    The employer precisely knows that the employee is stuck with their firm until they get their GC and they can conveniently ignore our professional growth (pay raise, promotion, etc). Make no mistake:rolleyes: , on the record they always sympathize our plight but they will not do anything about it. They always want more H-1B numbers but not GC numbers. Talk about employer exploitation.

    IV wants to make the GC process employee-centric so that the employers do not exploit the skilled labor.

    The problem of mis-match between H-1B numbers and GC numbers is created because of the disconnect between two programs. H-1B numbers do not have country limits where as GC numbers have a country limit.

    For example, let's assume that out of the current 65000 H-1B visas, 25000 are from India and 25000 are from China (First come first served basis) and the remaining 15000 are from the Rest of the World. However, the GC numbers have a country limit: 10000 for India, 10000 for China, etc. This results in a queue that will only increase with more H-1B numbers and a disconnected GC program.

    IV members are not against H-1B program (we are here on this program) but at the same time the H-1B increase is not our agenda (we leave it to the exploitant employers who lobby for it). We want to make the GC process employee-centric so as to stop the employer-exploitation and not hinder our professional growth.

    I am not aware of AFL-CIO/Programmers Guild agenda but my understanding was that they want to completely shut-down the H-1B program instead of reforming it. The bottom line is there aren't enough American Citizens who have advanced science and math degrees. So, we need a H-1B program. How to make this program more effective and less exploitative is debatable.

    This thread is very interesting to me. I've kind of lived though both sides, and it is really aweful for everyone but the abusive employer.

    My understanding of Immigration Voice's agenda is that this group is really for people who have H1B visas and are in the country already to bring their spouses and children here with full rights to travel and work, make sure renewals of H1Bs happen so you can stay in the country, and, even better, to convert H1B visas to green cards.

    My understanding is that the only reason that Immigration Voice supports increased H1B visa numbers is because people whose current visas are about to expire, and family members, are counted in these same numbers.

    Please correct if I'm wrong. I really would like to get this right.

    Anyway, if I do have it right, it seems to me that the AFL-CIO position (give people green cards instead of H1B visas) bridges the core concerns of members of Immigration Voice and the Programmers Guild. Whether or not everybody recognizes this is a different story, but it is good to know where the overlapping concern is, and hopefully in long term, get people talking about a solution that really does try to bridge the gap.

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  • Macaca
    12-29 07:32 PM
    �Can�t Be Done�

    Gibbons, 70, says he learned that lesson when he tried to raise 4 million pounds ($6.2 million) from two wealthy London- based nonresident Indian investors in November 2006.

    Talks failed because of differences over expectations for returns on equity and other contract terms, he says.

    �That�s what made me think this just can�t be done,� he says.

    Indian microlenders differ from Yunus�s Grameen Bank in key ways. To protect depositors� money after bankruptcies among nonbanking financial companies in the early 1990s, India�s Reserve Bank in 1997 made it more difficult for them to meet the requirements needed to take deposits from the public. Only 36 microlenders are registered as nonbank financial companies, according to information supplied by the Reserve Bank.

    �I Feel So Sad�

    Indian microlenders themselves borrow from banks at 13 percent or more on average and extend credit to the poor. They charge interest rates that can rise to 36 percent, says Alok Prasad, chief executive officer of the Microfinance Institutions Network, which represents 44 microlenders. He says all 44 firms are registered with the Reserve Bank.

    SKS Microfinance gets funds at about 12 percent interest and lends at 24.52 percent in Andhra Pradesh, spokesman Atul Takle says.

    In Bangladesh, Grameen Bank got a banking license in 1983, which allowed it to take deposits. It charges 5 percent for education loans and 8 percent for housing loans. Beggars can borrow for free, and interest on major loans is capped at 20 percent, Yunus says.

    �Microfinance has been abused and distorted,� he says. �I feel so sad because that�s not the microcredit I have created.�

    Indian microfinance has roots in decades-old informal community financing.

    Nongovernmental organizations pioneered cooperative lending, known today as self-help groups, with seed money from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development. Encouraged by these projects, the state-backed bank worked to tie borrowing groups to local bank branches in 1992.

    For-Profit Companies

    Nonprofit organizations subsequently got involved as middlemen between the banks and the borrowers. By 2005, nonprofits such as SKS and Share Microfin had turned themselves into profit-making enterprises.

    Akula�s SKS attracted investors such as Khosla Ventures, Sun Microsystems Inc. co-founder Vinod Khosla�s venture capital firm.

    Capital flowed into the new industry from commercial banks, venture firms and private equity.

    Sequoia Capital, in Menlo Park, California, and Bangalore- based Infosys Technologies Ltd. Chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy were among the backers. George Soros�s Quantum Fund has a 0.37 percent stake in SKS.

    Private-equity investors alone have put $515 million into Indian microfinance companies since 2006, research service Venture Intelligence says.

    �Explosive Growth�

    More than half of the 66 Indian microlenders tracked by Micro-Credit Ratings are for-profit firms. Some 260 microlenders had 26.7 million borrowers and 183.44 billion rupees of loans outstanding as of March, according to the Microfinance India State of the Sector Report 2010.

    �Over the last two years, we�ve been seeing explosive growth,� says N. Srinivasan, who wrote the report. �Microfinance institutions found that it�s easy to make money. Not that making money is bad, but when you go overboard and say you require money for growth, you get into problems.�

    Polelpaka Pula, a mother of two, says she saw microlenders rushing into her village of Pegadapalli to compete for business -- with tragic results.

    Her husband, Prakash, a painter who made 250 rupees on a good day, first borrowed from a group of villagers to build a house. Each participant of the so-called chit fund contributed 1,000 rupees a month and took a turn collecting the entire sum.

    Microfinance officers from L&T Finance Ltd., Spandana Sphoorty Financial Ltd., Share Microfin and SKS began offering loans in the village starting in 2004, she says.

    The couple, already contributing to their village fund, took five more loans totaling 64,000 rupees. That saddled them with payments of 7,300 rupees a month, more than Prakash�s 5,000 rupee maximum monthly income.

    Loan Shark

    When Prakash ran out of microlenders to borrow from, he went to a village loan shark, who charged 100 percent interest.

    With no way out and debt from multiple lenders ballooning, Prakash hanged himself in November 2009, his wife says.

    The small house he�d dreamed of was never completed. Only the foundation stands next to the home of his parents, a tiny structure with a roof of palm leaves.

    Spandana says that neither of the couple�s names is in its database. The company says the media wrongly attribute harassment cases to microfinance, especially when Spandana is mentioned.

    �The trigger factors for suicide are manifold, such as stressful situations at home,� the company said in an e-mail response to questions about the death.

    Subprime Parallel

    SKS spokesman Takle says its staff has practiced responsible lending for the past 12 years. Its employees are not paid based on the loan size or repayment percentage.

    �This ensures against giving out larger loans than what a borrower can repay,� Takle says. A spokesman for L&T Finance declined to comment.

    Overlending in Andhra Pradesh calls to mind the U.S. subprime crisis, says Lakshmi Shyam-Sunder, director of corporate risk at International Finance Corp. in Washington, which invests in microlenders.

    �Subprime lending was initially seen as extending homeownership to poorer people, doing good,� Shyam-Sunder says.

    As the industry expanded, making a profit became more important to some lenders, she says. �Tension arises when you work on activities with both social goals as well as commercial interests,� she says, adding that it�s important to strike the right balance.

    Companies chasing profits amid poor corporate governance are undermining the intent of microfinance, Cashpor�s Gibbons says.

    �Lending Gone Wild�

    During the past five years, the number of microloans in India has soared an average of 88 percent a year and borrower accounts have climbed 62 percent annually, giving India the world�s largest microfinance industry, Micro-Credit Ratings says.

    �This is unrestrained consumer lending gone wild,� Gibbons says. �It�s not about poverty reduction anymore.�

    Sumir Chadha, managing director at Sequoia Capital India Advisors Pvt., says that without a profit motive it�s hard to find anyone who will lend to the poor.

    �Capitalism doesn�t have to be a bad thing,� says Chadha, whose firm has a 14 percent stake in SKS. �If you can�t profit off the poor, it means that no companies will service the poor -- and then they will be worse off than earlier.�

    Chand Bee�s Tale

    For Chand Bee, a 50-year-old who led three borrowing groups in Andhra Pradesh, too many loans almost became her undoing.

    She says she ran away from home after collectors began harassing her. She took out multiple loans beginning in 2005, and she names Spandana as one of the lenders.

    Some of the money paid for the funeral of her eldest son. When she fell behind on payments, she says loan officers threatened to humiliate her in front of neighbors and pressed her to sell her small grandchildren into prostitution.

    She left her slum in Warangal, where she lived with her deaf husband, some of her eight grown children and more than a dozen grandchildren.

    After living as a beggar for a year, Chand Bee returned home in early November when family members told her that the state ordinance that went into effect on Oct. 15 had suspended some collections. A Spandana spokeswoman says none of the company�s four customers in the district with the name Chand Bee has had trouble repaying.

    Almost every household in the slum of 250 people -- where barefoot children play in lanes between rows of dilapidated shacks -- has taken several loans. So many microlenders ply their trade that residents refer to them by the days they collect: Monday company, Tuesday company and so on.

    Debt Free

    Rabbani, a widow with four children, is one of the few women who are debt-free. She started a spice shop with two loans, which she repaid with her small profit. After seeing her neighbors� pains, she vowed never to seek another microloan.

    SKS says 17 of its clients have committed suicide, none because of loans being in arrears or harassment.

    �Suicide is a complex issue,� Akula says.

    Sitting in the second-floor conference room of SKS�s seven- story headquarters in Hyderabad, where posters of smiling women running handicraft and tailor shops decorate the doors of elevators, Akula says there�s nothing wrong with seeking profits.

    �What does it matter to a poor woman how much an investor makes?� says Akula, dressed in his trademark knee-length kurta shirt from Fabindia, a seller of ethnic clothes made by rural craftsmen. �What matters to her is that she gets a loan on time at a reasonable rate that allows her to earn higher income.�

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  • delax
    07-13 09:17 PM
    relax buddy,

    dont jump too much, i can see u are EB2 and trust me this date can go back anywhere without u getting ur golden card...i am EB3 and i am a pharmacist and i dont know why we are in EB3, we have much more demand than the computer people who all are in EB2. so buddy good luck if u get ur card in few months.... just pray for us....thank u...

    I hope you get your GC soon. As for me its 'wait until dark'. It'll come some day.

    And NO I am not an IT EB2. I am a non-STEM MBA in Finance who does not pratice engineering anymore.


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  • raysaikat
    06-24 12:04 PM
    If you can rent the same house for 50% of your monthly mortgage and on top of it never have to worry about declining home prices why would you be more happy owning it?

    You should compare only the interest part of your mortgage payment when comparing with rent.

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  • puddonhead
    06-05 05:22 PM
    Your leverage is $270,000 in this investment, and you pay 5% interest on it which is tax deductible. You don't suppose one can borrow 270Gs to invest in, per my example, S&P 500 to get 10% annually? Of course the you are able to borrow that much on a home is because it is considered relatively a safe debt for the lender. That can't be said for stocks.

    How/where else will you earn $15,000 (equity) per year by spending $13,500 (interest).

    Now we are getting into another different fun topic - how does a real estate "investment" compare with other forms of investment.

    1. Leverage = speculation = risk. By taking the leverage and buying the house - you lock in a 3-5% return and a lot of risk (for a 200k house - that would be 10k/year max). The 3-5% comes from long term price appreciation trends.

    If I did not buy that 200k house - I would invest the initial 40k and the rest of 160k gradually every month. For simplistic calculations:
    return from 40k - 5% (I can show you reward checking accounts with that rate even now). Inflation protected TIPS could be a good place if you are afraid of hyperinflation
    Earnings = 2k.

    You save 3k each year by renting.
    Running Total = 5k.

    Every year - you put in some money to your investment vehicle = mortgage amortization. So over 30 years - you would have been earning investment income on $80k @5% on an average = 4k.
    Running Total = 9k.

    So you are making 1k more by buying - AND taking a lot of leverage = risk.

    Inflation can upset this calculation - but not much. 1980 - 2008 was an unusual period of low inflation and high growth = high housing price increase. Any bets on how sustainable that would be? Typically housing price appreciation would be at or below inflation - which would favor other investment vehicles over real estate.

    I personally would need much more compelling reasons than the above to buy.

    This calculation does not take into account the flexibility in relocation if you do not buying a house. It alos does not consider the risk associated with having the largest chunk of your portfolio invested in a single non-diversified house instead of having a properly diversified portfolio.

    Probably not very relevant - but you can get a lot of leverage if you have the stomach for it by opening a brokerage account with 40k (your initial downpayment). A good semi-professional one would be IB (interactivebrokers.com). Margin accounts give a 3X/4x leverage any day. Buy a few interest rate, currency or commodity swaps with that - and your leverage can reach stratospheric levels. I know I dont have the stomach for that.


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  • m306m
    01-02 12:10 PM
    This is a very sensitive and politically charged thread that has nothing to do with US immigration related matters. I am aware that there are several threads that have been opened in the past that were non-immigration related but this thread is more divisive than most.

    Understandably there is a lot of hurt and anger that is being vented here. I am from South Mumbai and frequented the Taj (Got married across from the hotel at Radio Club) so I understand the sentiment. But I prefer not vent my political beliefs, anger and frustration here, so as not to be divisive both politically and religiously.

    Lets morn for our loss, discuss politics & religion somewhere else, and move on with immigration related matters on IV.

    my 2 cents.. (Have a safe and prosperous '09)

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  • bkarnik
    08-06 06:19 PM
    A father passing by his teenage daughter's bedroom was astonished to see the bed was nicely made and everything was neat and tidy. Then he saw an envelope propped up prominently on the centre of the pillow. It was addressed "Dad". With the worst premonition, he opened the envelope and read the letter with trembling hands:-

    Dear Dad,

    It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm writing you, but I'm leaving home. I had to elope with my new boyfriend Randy because I wanted to avoid a scene with Mom and you. I've been finding real passion with Randy and he is so nice to me. I know when you meet him you'll like him too - even with all his piercing, tattoos, and motorcycle clothes. But it's not only the passion Dad, I'm pregnant and Randy said that he wants me to have the kid and that we can be very happy together. Even though Randy is much older than me (anyway, 42 isn't so old these days is it?), and has no money, really these things shouldn't stand in the way of our relationship, don't you agree?

    Randy has a great CD collection; he already owns a trailer in the woods and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter. It's true he has other girlfriends as well but I know he'll be faithful to me in his own way. He wants to have many more children with me and that's now one of my dreams too.

    Randy taught me that marijuana doesn't really hurt anyone and he'll be growing it for us and we'll trade it with our friends for all the cocaine and ecstasy we want. In the meantime, we'll pray that science will find a cure for AIDS so Randy can get better; he sure deserves it!!

    Don't worry Dad, I'm 15 years old now and I know how to take care of myself. Someday I'm sure we'll be back to visit so you can get to know your grandchildren.

    Your loving daughter,

    At the bottom of the page were the letters "PTO". Hands still trembling, her father turned the sheet, and read:

    PS: Dad, none of the above is true. I'm over at the neighbor's house. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than my report card that's in my desk centre drawer. Please sign it and call when it is safe for me to come home. I love you!


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  • mariner5555
    04-14 04:01 PM
    Unfortunately time will never move in reverse and will move in just one direction. A childhood gone is gone. It will never come back. We all want good things for our kids. My perception of good thing is different from yours. If my kid says that he wants to live in an apartment I will move to an apartment, that’s a given.

    Exactly. now before you jump ..let me say that this may not be applicable to you. but most of the people that I know of, who have very young kids ( 1 - 5/6 year olds) ..buying a house was a wrong decision. (and common sense says the same thing). Because they bought the house - either they had to slog extra or take up 2 jobs and/or spouse has to work. some of them had a baby sitter ..who would put the kid in front of the TV all day. some of the kids are/were at home all day with their mother (but no friends) and hence they were lonely. (wife does not know how to drive or only one car) ..some of the luckier ones were the ones who could afford to put them in all day daycare
    (but in this case ..kid hardly knows his parents well). now ofcourse there are some exceptions --where the sub-division of houses have lot of likeminded people / kids of same age and hence the kids have friends.
    in my humble opinion ..the best case is where a mother takes care of the son as long as possible and at the same time the kid plays with other kids of same age ..(there are definitely many exceptions) ...and most (neutral) people would say that those who rent would be more likely to have this best case.

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  • ca_immigrant
    06-23 12:38 PM
    Here is one calculation that might give you one more reason to buy...

    This is taking into consideration bay area good school district ....

    say you are currently in a 2 bedroom paying around $1900 rent (say cupertino school district)

    you buy a townhome for around $500k putting down 20%
    so loan amount is 400k
    @ 5% instrest your annual intrest is $ 20k.
    Say 3k HOA anually...
    Property tax....as a rule of thumb, I believe (and have heard from others) whatever poperty tax you pay comes back as your mortgage intrest and property tax is deductable.
    So not taking property tax into account....your annual expense is 23k.

    now here is the nice part....
    you get 8k (or is it 7.5k ?) from FED for buying a house (first time buyer)

    If you get a real estate agent who is ready to give you 50% back on the comission you can get back around 7.5k (assuming the agent gets 3% comission)...I know those kind of agent exist for sure !!

    There is something I have heard about CA also giving you 10k for buying new homes...but I am not sure of this so will leave it out of the calculations...

    so total amount u get back....8k+ 7.5k = 15k approx..

    1st year expense = 23k
    1st year actual expense = 23-15 = 8 k

    which mean monthly rent = 8k/12 = $666 per month (it is like paying $666 rent for a 2 bedroom in cupertino school district)

    Will the property value go up ? I do not know (I wish I knew)...

    Is there a risk ? I would think yes....

    Percentage of risk ? I would think keeping in mind current prices the risk is low...

    I am not telling that you should buy or not buy....just provided one piece of the calculation....-;)

    All the best !


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  • CreatedToday
    01-06 04:36 PM
    Hamas' leader's son fleeing from them!


    Hamas position??? Huh.. Did Hamas members came and told you that Isreal shouldn't exist? Did we hear all these from those people? When did we last hear from Palestinians on thier position and what they think about Isreal? Its media and nothing but jewish media propagate this. What do they acheieve by doing these kind of propaganda??? They win people like you who would support killing on innocent civilians and school kids. PERIOD

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  • xyzgc
    12-22 03:28 PM
    Weren't you the one who said India should gift kashmir to pakistan to solve all terrorrist activities and war ?

    How come you became a patriot and started caring about india all of a sudden ?

    Do you have any consistent opinion ?

    I think SunnySurya changed his mind. People and their opinions change. Let's ignore what he said in earlier posts.

    Gifting Kashmir will not solve anything. Now they want Kashmir, tomorrow they will want South India. Before long, we may all be converted to islam because Pakistan is an islamic republic not a secular democracy and the country is ruled by military dictators and hardliners.
    Yes, in India, there have been attacks by Hindus on innocent muslims but imagine the plight of Hindus, if it had been a muslim majority and an islamic republic of india!

    There are many good thinkers and hard-working folks in Pakistan but you can never trust the hardliners there and these hardliners seem to be grabbing power in the country all the time.

    Did you know that the original demand for Pakistan 1947 was a long stretch of corridor stretching the north and the south and the east and the west, connecting different muslim dominated pockets together?
    Which meant India was to be divided into 4 quadrants and to get from one quadrant to another, an Indian had to cross Pakistan...it was simply ridiculous!!


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  • texcan
    08-06 04:35 PM
    Two guys are moving about in a supermarket when their carts collide.

    One says to the other, "I'm sorry - I was looking for my wife."
    "What a coincidence, so am I, and I'm getting a little desperate."

    "Well, maybe I can help you. What does your wife look like?"

    "She's tall, with long hair, long legs, firm boobs and a tight ass.

    What's your wife look like?"

    "Never mind, let's look for yours!"

    This reminds me of ....priority porting circus....

    Eb2 & Eb3 guys are moving about in a Green ...
    looking for a quick check out line ........
    Eb2 says says mine is "quick, fast, exciting..." whats you line looks like....

    Eb3 says... "never mind lets look for yours "
    Lion and Monkey joke extensions have been killing me here...
    i swear, i never had so much fun on this site...ever. Great work..lets keep them coming.

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  • ufo2002
    05-24 01:30 PM
    Well.. I am usually a thread killer in many forums... lets see if this works:



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  • dealsnet
    01-08 12:18 PM
    You are furious about Mumbai tread?. Mumbai is heart of every Indian. Kashmir is our head. We cannot sit idle and tolerate our heart bleed.
    If you offended by mention about Mumbai and terrorist, I am sorry.
    Anger about the terrorist and their supporters in the name of religion.
    See the previous posts have links in you tube, and find out the way the kids are trained for hatred.

    You are best example of hypocrites and double standard:cool:. You will be very successful in your life, take my words.....

    I read your all post, the above post just makes me confused. How could you just bash one community , their beliefs ,make fun of their Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him and all the prophets ), his teaching , saying the that Mohamed has fooled his followers , let him , we want to be fools what can you do about it? and then later come up with such a statement.
    If it makes you furious , so does it to us.
    How do you justify your anger and hatred towards one community.

    I used to be very involved in all the immigrationvoice.org matters. When I was in a small town in Florida( moved to another city), there were lot of Indians unaware of immigrationvoice.org and immigration issues. I did lot of efforts to educate them and made them aware of this site and its efforts. My wallet and heart was always open for immigrationvoice.org . But after Mumbai attacks and this link, I can see the hatred towards my community.

    people have justified the killing of small kids saying that let them die today anyhow they are going to be terrorist in future. Pathetic, sad to hear this from so called highly educated people..

    I am out of this discussion , out of immigarionvoice...
    Peace Amen !!!!!

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  • Refugee_New
    01-06 01:05 PM
    Got a red with following comment
    "hey stop acting like a policeman you desperate immigrant.. think beyond your GC"
    I want to tell this anonymous fella that yes I am desperate immigrant & have been waiting for my GC from last 8 years that's why I am on this form & if you want to post this issue post it on relevant site not here FORM IS ONLY FOR EB RELATED ISSUES.

    I completely agree with you GCBatman. Its an immigration forum and its strictly for immigration purpose only. I loved this site and i always admired the admins and other senior members for their service.

    But IV let its people to vent their anger against muslims and Islam. IV never tried to stop this. Anyway i am not here to vent my anger but to tell the truth that we scared to discuss.

    If we can discuss about Mumbai terrorist attack, are we not suppose to discuss kind of news which is even worse?. Are we not supposed to condemn the killing of innocent school kids and murdering of innocent civilians?


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  • xyzgc
    12-26 04:21 PM
    Look at stratfor.com

    Let us prove India is not a land of cowards, let us show that we are strong and we don't allow terrorists to attack our cities and our senate with impunity.

    Remember, even your favorite Obama would not have hesitated to attack Afghanistan and Iraq post 9-11. He maintains he was opposed to the war on Iraq, but he has never said anything about Afghanistan. In fact, nobody did.

    Most americans have supported the attack on Afghanistan, where Osama is believed to hiding along with other terrorists. Most americans oppose war on Iraq, because over 10k american soldiers have died, Isince the Iraq war began and the economy is in shambles and Iraqis are a drain on the failing economy.

    In Obama's reminders that he opposed the Iraq war in 2002, he contrasts his record with that of Hillary Clinton, who voted for the war.
    Yet a comparison of all 85 votes the Senate has held on Iraq since Obama entered the chamber shows he and Clinton differed only once -- when Obama voted to support the nomination of Gen. George Casey, the top commander in Iraq for nearly three years, to become the Army chief of staff.

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  • calboy78
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    12-27 06:59 PM
    India chasing a U.N. chimera (http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/article995760.ece) By K. S. DAKSHINA MURTHY | The Hindu

    In recent years it has become standard practice for the Indian media to ask visiting foreign dignitaries where they stand on New Delhi's claim to a permanent seat in the UNSC. If the answers are in the affirmative, there are smiles all round and the glow is then transmitted to readers or viewers as the case may be.

    Among the Permanent Five in the Council, the United Kingdom has long affirmed support, so have France and Russia. China has remained non-committal. So the United States' stand was deemed crucial. When President Barack Obama, during his recent visit, backed India for a permanent seat, the joy was palpable. The media went to town as if it were just a matter of time before India joined the select group of the World's almighty. The happiness lasted a few days until the first tranche of WikiLeaks punctured the mood somewhat.

    The revelation of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's classified whisper, describing India as a self-appointed front-runner exposed Washington's innermost thoughts on the subject. Though the embarrassing leak was subsequently sought to be played down, it opened the curtain to a larger truth which is that the U.S. and the other four have never really been interested in real reforms to the Security Council.

    Public pronouncements, positive affirmations and slap-on-the-back relationships don't necessarily translate into action on the ground.


    Jakob Silas Lund of the Centre for U.N. Reform Education states a few individuals within the process believe that some of the Permanent Five countries “are more than happy to see reform moving at near-zero-velocity speed”.

    The reforms are open to interpretation. Broadly, they mean democratisation of the Security Council to make it representative and in tune with the contemporary world. This, for some, means more permanent members. The Group of four — India, Brazil, Japan and Germany — has been the most vocal in demanding it be included.

    What is surprising, especially where India is concerned, is the hope and optimism that it is heading towards a permanent seat. In reality, a committee set up by the United Nations 17 years ago to go into reforms shows little signs of progress.

    The first meeting was held in 1994 of the U.N. group, a mouthful, called the “Open-Ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters Related to the Security Council”. Until now, this group has completed four rounds of negotiations, just on preliminaries.

    A brief peek into the past will make it clear that the addition of more veto-wielding permanent members to the Council is a veritable pipe dream. For any amendment to the U.N. charter, two-thirds of the General Assembly needs to acquiesce. This may be possible but the next requirement, that of ratification by the Permanent Five, is the real obstacle.

    Since the formation of the United Nations in 1945, there have been only a handful of meetings of the Security Council to discuss the original charter, and even that, merely to discuss minor amendments. One of some significance came about in 1965 when the membership of temporary, non-veto powered countries in the Council was increased from six to 10 and the number of votes required to pass any decision increased to nine from seven.

    As academic and U.N. commentator Thomas G. Weiss wrote in the Washington Quarterly, “Most governments rhetorically support the mindless call for equity, specifically by increasing membership and eliminating the veto. Yet, no progress has been made on these numerical or procedural changes because absolutely no consensus exists about the exact shape of the Security Council or the elimination of the veto.”

    The argument for a bigger, more representative Council is undoubtedly valid but the issue is who will implement it and how.

    U.S. is the prime mover

    In today's global equation the U.S. is the acknowledged prime mover. It has already had to sweat it out to convince the other four members to go with it on several issues, like the sanctions against Iran. If more countries are allowed to join the Council the difficulties for U.S. interests are obvious, even if those included are vetted for their closeness to Washington.

    Real and effective reforms should have meant democratisation of the Security Council to reflect the aspirations of all its members. Ideally, this should mean removal of permanency and the veto power to be replaced with a rotating membership for all countries, where each one big or small, powerful or weak gets to sit for a fixed term in the hallowed seats of the Council. This is unthinkable within the existing framework of the United Nations. At the heart of the issue is the reluctance of the Permanent Five to give up the prized veto power.

    The situation is paradoxical given that democracy is being touted, pushed and inflicted by the U.S. across the world. But democracy seems to end where the Security Council begins. The rest of the world has no choice but to bow to its decisions. The consequences for defying the Council can be terrifying as was experienced by Saddam Hussein's Iraq through the 1990's. Iran is now on the receiving end for its defiance on the nuclear issue.

    Not just that, the credibility of the Security Council itself took a beating over its inability to prevent the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Having failed to convince France, Russia and China to vote for invading Iraq, the U.S. went alone. The Council was reduced to a bystander. It failed to fulfil its primary task, that of ensuring security — to Iraq.

    What this also implies is that Council or no Council, in today's unipolar world, the U.S. will go with what it decides and no one can stop it. This has been the case particularly since the end of the Cold War. “With a U.S. global presence as great as that of any empire in history, Security Council efforts to control U.S. actions are beginning to resemble the Roman Senate's efforts to control the emperor,” writes Weiss.

    Instead of trying to clamber onto a patently unfair arrangement it would have made more sense if the four self-appointed front-runners along with the rest of the world had demanded a more equitable and representative Council.

    To achieve this, academic and U.N. expert Erik Voeten suggests pressure tactics to counter veto power. One tactic is for countries en bloc to ignore the decisions taken in the Security Council. Another is for Germany and Japan, which are among the largest contributors to the United Nations, to turn off the tap.

    Despite this, if nothing happens, countries may have no choice but to look for, or at least threaten to float, an alternative U.N.-like organisation whose structure would be more in tandem with the contemporary world. Idealistic, perhaps. But this should force the Permanent Five to sit up and take real notice.

    K.S. Dakshina Murthy was formerly Editor of Al Jazeera based in Doha, Qatar

    09-29 06:22 PM
    So you are ok with "colateral damage" to your GC ? I have never seen a school force creationism on a child, as for reading its the same everywhere (i remember in india my catholic shool was at pains to teach us that Ramayan was a legend...i didnt change my religion because of that). How many wars were fought during regans adminstration? Do you remember the tax rate during the Carter years? people were shelling out 17% on home loans while banks were paying 13% interest on their CD's. Media driven pontification is ok as long as you can substantiate them with valid reasoning. (Clinton years were good for us but some say that it laid the foundation for the dot com crisis, which lead to easy credit and so on)

    I have been here since 1997. An Obama win may just restore my faith (which was severely damaged after Bush relection) in the average intelligence of a voter.

    I know that chances of passing of a bill favorable to skilled immigrants are greater with Republicans, but there are other issues far more important to me. For e.g. with a Republican win, the chances of "collateral damage" (deaths of innocent abroad) increase tremendously. I do not want that to be funded through my tax money. Neither do i want my child to read about "creationism" in school (despite paying for all that private school fees!). These issues are more important to me than tax cuts or getting a green card sooner. just my two thoughts...

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