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Archive for September, 2007

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Americans Living Abroad

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Americans living and working outside U.S. borders are recognizing their growing importance in the electoral process. The outcome of the last several primary and national elections could have been very different had they been able to easily register and vote in a timely way…especially since living abroad gives Americans a keen understanding on the ground of the issues facing our foreign policy wonks.

Could You Become An American Citizen Today?

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Found on this morning written by Tim Grieve:

True Confessions

In the interest of self-reflection or self-flagellation or something, I just took the new-and-improved naturalization test unveiled this week by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

I scored 96 out of 100, which had me feeling pretty good about my bona fides as a U.S. American until I realized how the test really works. While there are 100 questions on the overall exam, any individual citizenship applicant is asked a randomly selected 10, and you need to get six right to pass. What that means: If the four questions I couldn’t answer were among the 10 I happened to get, I would have received the absolute minimum passing grade.

How can that be?

Well, let’s see. Despite having sort of studied American history under a Pulitzer-winning professor and done reasonably well at one of the better law schools in the United States, I couldn’t say, right off the top of my head, how many amendments the Constitution has. It turns out — and you knew this, didn’t you? — that there are 27, the last one providing that “no law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

Whatever. Not knowing the number of amendments is hardly an indictment of my civic knowledge. Nor, I thought, should I feel so bad about thinking that the Statute of Liberty sits on Ellis Island. It turns out — and you knew this too, right? — that while Ellis Island is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, the statue itself sits on Liberty Island.

Trivia, I said to myself.

But then there’s the small matter of Question No. 23: Name your representative. I know, I know: Of all people, I should know. And just a few months ago, I would have: I lived in Sacramento, Calif., and my representative was Doris Matsui, and her late husband, Bob, had been my representative for about a million years before that. But I moved to Bethesda, Md., in late July, and as I stared at Question No. 23, it occurred to me that I hadn’t yet taken a moment to figure out which representative represents the part of Montgomery County where we live.

Pleased to meet you, Rep. Chris Van Hollen. Having humiliated myself in public, I shall never forget you.

So that’s three wrong. How’d I miss four? I’ll put that law school education to use now and quibble. Question No. 68 asks for “one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for.” My answer: He signed the Declaration of Independence. That’s correct, of course, but it’s not one of the officially sanctioned right answers: “U.S. diplomat”; “oldest member of the Constitutional Convention”; “first postmaster general of the United States”; “writer of ‘Poor Richard’s Almanac'”; or “started the first free public libraries.”

Yeah, well, he did that thing with the kite and the key and is said to have said that beer is “proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” too. Would a test administrator give me credit for one of those? Probably not. But I’d argue, if my citizenship depended on it, that my answer about Ben and the Declaration ought to be close enough to count.

After all, an officially acceptable answer to Question No. 8 — What did the Declaration of Independence do? — is “declared our independence.”

Language And The Brain

Friday, September 28th, 2007
I just couldn't resist this. Maybe this is an explanation for why we seem to be able to tolerate the contradictions and disconsonate ambiguities in much of our public discourse. Maybe there is an inherent logic to it that is going ... [Continue reading this entry]

More On The EPR

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007
New York Times September 26, 2007 With Bombings, Mexican Rebels Escalate Their Fight By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr. and ANTONIO BETANCOURT MEXICO CITY, Sept. 25 — The shadowy Marxist rebel group that has rattled Mexico three times in recent months by bombing natural gas ... [Continue reading this entry]

The Art Of Obfuscation

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
I wondered what my Iranian friends were thinking as I sat squirming in my chair during the indelicate introduction to President Ahmadinejad's remarks at Columbia University yesterday. And I squirmed some more trying to follow Ahmadinejad's obfuscated logic. And I ... [Continue reading this entry]

Guerrilla Band Wages War In Mexico

Thursday, September 20th, 2007
When I was living in Oaxaca during the teacher strike in 2006, people would often speculate about whether the EPR (Popular Revolutionary Army) in Guerrero was also operating in Oaxaca. At the height of the rebellion, when we were expecting ... [Continue reading this entry]

Power To The People

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
It is ironic that people who suffer from the worst oppression seem to be the most able to thrive and "find themselves and their calling," a woman friend from Iran recently said to me as we were discussing the release ... [Continue reading this entry]

Vicente Fox On Bush

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
Past President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, has written a new book called "Revolution Of Hope. In it Fox found the legal fight over the 2000 U.S. election "ironic." "At our request the United States had sent election monitors to protect ... [Continue reading this entry]

Thoughts After Re-entry

Monday, September 17th, 2007
I have been back in the house in Salem Oregon nearly a month now...a house I lived in for 35 years while raising the children...after traveling for over four years. Re-entry...always the most difficult part of traveling. In Mexico, ... [Continue reading this entry]

Calderon Wants Raise

Monday, September 17th, 2007
From the Mexico Solidarity Network: "President Felipe Calderon called for a 25% raise in the presidential salary, to more than US$20,000 per month. Calderon presented the request to Congress on September 10. The presidential salary is in addition to ... [Continue reading this entry]

El Grito in Oaxaca

Sunday, September 16th, 2007
A friend's report on the grito: "My observations are that indeed the zocalo was turned into an armed camp; I counted ten policemen on each corner of Garcia Vigil, and at the Alameda, along Independencia. Given that atmosphere, I went ... [Continue reading this entry]

Mexico’s Pipe Bombs

Saturday, September 15th, 2007
My expat friend in Oaxaca says "an opinion piece by Ricardo Rocha and published in the Oaxaca Noticias on Friday the 14th of September, has a few points I think worth calling to the attention of people outside of ... [Continue reading this entry]

“El Grito” Cry For Independence

Saturday, September 15th, 2007
In two days, Mexico will celebrate Independence Day on September 17. It is traditional for the governor to enter the Governor's Palace, now a museum since the teacher strike of last year, and utter the "cry for Independence" at midnight. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Battle Of The Corn

Monday, September 3rd, 2007
An expat in Oaxaca City has reported that "yesterday the campesinos from the Frente de Communidades of the Cordillera Norte descended into the Zocalo at the center of Oaxaca. they took out all the flowers lining the cement-walled plant areas ... [Continue reading this entry]

Meet UP With Suzanne & Herb Siegel

Saturday, September 1st, 2007
Met in Forest Grove for lunch