Please visit the new home of Majikthise at

« April 2007 | Main | June 2007 »

116 posts from May 2007

May 30, 2007

More immigration fee gouging

U.S. immigration officials announced Tuesday that citizenship application fees will double and permanent residency application fees will triple:

WASHINGTON -- Immigration officials said Tuesday they will proceed with plans to double the cost of applying to become a U.S. citizen and triple the fee for seeking legal permanent residency.

The fee increases will take effect July 30. Citizenship fees will rise from $330 to $595, plus $80 for required electronic fingerprints, an increase of $10. For legal permanent residency and fingerprints the cost will be $1,010 for those over 14. The cost now is $325. [AP]

Update: "Gouging" isn't a complaint about the existence of fees, per se.  It's a complaint about a massive fee increase levied on a captive audience with no say in the fee structure. Doubling and tripling fees overnight is gouging, especially if you're charging for an absolutely necessary service.

This particular fee hike is especially irksome because the hike is nominally intended to improve service in the future. The people who have to pay double on August 1st endured the shitty service and now have to pay twice as much for it.

New Broadway contract for musicians' union

Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians signed a 3-year contract with Broadway producers:

NEW YORK (AP) _ The musicians union Local 802 has amiably agreed to a three-year contract with Broadway producers, a contrast to the last round of negotiations that culminated in a strike and darkened Broadway for days.

Members of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians approved the contract with The League of American Theatres and Producers, Disney Theatrical Productions, and Musical Rights, Inc., following a union ratification meeting on May 16, officials said.

The contract expands the pool of musicians eligible for health care, and includes more contributions to the health plan from producers. In return, musicians gave up two wage increases during the term of the agreement. No other details were released. [AP]

Consider this an open thread for 802 members and anyone else who wants to talk about the contract.

Comments, complaints, gossip? Dish here.


May 29, 2007

Zoellick to follow Wolfowitz at World Bank

Longtime Bush loyalist Robert Zoellick will succeed Paul Wolfowitz as president of the World Bank. Having learned nothing from the Wolfowitz fiasco, United States has used its considerable clout at the bank to appoint yet another intellectual architect of the Iraq war.

Zoellick served as Deputy Secretary of State until July 2006. (Recall that Wolfowitz's girlfriend Shaha Riza received a highly unusual external assignment to the State Department as part of the lavish compensation package that Wolfowitz negotiated on her behalf.)

During the 2000 presidential campaign, Zoellick served as a foreign policy adviser to George W. Bush as a member of a group of neoconservative hawks known as the Vulcans. Zoellick may have resigned from Condi Rice's State Department rather than answer questions a pre-9/11 meeting he attended during which Tenet warned Rice about the threat of Bin Laden.

Between MacNamara, Wolfowitz, and Zoellick, the World Bank has turned into a club fed for warmongers.

May 28, 2007

Civil rights journalist mourned

William E. Peters, one of the first journalists to give national exposure to Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, has died at the age of 85:

Before the historic march and awe-inspiring speech, before the water hoses, church bombings and bullets, William E. Peters Jr. wrote an article for Redbook magazine about a then-27-year-old minister from Atlanta.

Full of candor and insight, the article "Our Weapon Is Love" introduced the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the philosophy — nonviolent resistance — that would soon help transform the nation. [LAT]

Peters also collaborated with Myrlie Evers on a biography of her late husband, assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

Robert Stein, a former colleague of Peters', blogs about his memories of the late reporter.

New species of limbless lizard-snake

Scientists in India believe they've discovered a previously unknown species of limbless lizard that resembles a snake:

The newly found 7-inch long lizard looks like a scaly, small snake, Dutta said. "It prefers to live in a cool retreat, soft soil and below stones."

"The lizard is new to science and is an important discovery. It is not found anywhere else in the world," Dutta told The Associated Press. He is the head of the zoology department of the North Orissa University in the eastern Indian town of Baripada.

While modern snakes and lizards are derived from a common evolutionary ancestor, they belong today to two entirely separate groups of animals, or orders. Snakes, over millenia, gradually lost their limbs and developed their characteristic forms of locomotion. But modern limbless lizards are not snakes, Dutta said.

The lizard was found 10 days ago during a field study in the forested region of Khandadhar near Raurkela in Orissa state, about 625 miles southeast of New Delhi, he said. [AP]

Iraq in a wingnutshell: "Hey, dickhead..."

Ace O' Spades to Juan Cole:

Hey, dickhead?  What more "reasoning" do you need than this?


[Graphic in the original.]

Ace was berating Juan Cole for refusing to retract his post about the troop food shortage memo on the say-so of Little Green Footballs.

Little did Ace know that he had provided the epigraph for the whole Iraq war.

Troop food memo legit, says US Embassy

The US Embassy in Baghdad has confirmed the authenticity of a memo advising troops of delayed food delivery.

Too bad the 101st Fighting Keyboarders didn't bother to ask the embassy before denouncing the document as a forgery.

Free Republic bans Giuliani boosters

The conservative website Free Republic has banned supporters of Rudy Giuliani, according to the New York Observer:

[Free Republic has] experienced one of the biggest internal battles to rock the site since the 2000 election of George W. Bush -- a tumultuous campaign year that nearly tore the site apart, as its founder and chief administrator first cleansed commenting ranks of Bush supporters, then, later, rallied to his support.

At the heart of the latest controversy: the fight over the conservative bona fides of Rudy Giuliani.

Over the past few weeks, chaos has reigned in the “Freeper” community as members sympathetic to the former mayor's candidacy claim to have suffered banishment from the site. They were victimized, they say, by a wave of purges designed to weed out any remaining support for the Giuliani campaign on the popular conservative web forum. Another significant chunk of commenters have migrated away from the controversial site over the action, according to a number of former site members and conservative bloggers who have been tracking the situation.

In a plaintive post on the blog “Sweetness & Light,” exiled commenter Steve Gilbert, who says he does not support the former mayor’s campaign, blasted the site’s new “anti-Giuliani, anti-abortion jihad.” Since George W. Bush was elected president, he wrote, “there haven’t been any large scale [Free Republic] purges to speak of – until now.” [NYO]

This does not bode well for Giuliani's chances with the Republican base.

The fight began one month ago, when site founder Jim Robinson posted an anti-Giuliani manifesto titled: “Giuliani as the GOP presidential nominee would be a dagger in the heart of the conservative movement.” Then the virtual ax started to swing. Longtime posters to the freewheeling discussion threads, used to serious no-holds-barred web etiquette, were still stunned by the intensity of the anti-Rudy activity; conservative blogs buzzed with the development. [NYO]

Imagine if every conservative voter in America knew as much about Giuliani as New Yorkers and Freepers.

HT: Thad.

Alabama DHS labels gay groups as terror threat

The Alabama Department of Homeland Security classified gay rights groups and environmentalists as potential terrorist threats:

The Alabama Department of Homeland Security has taken down a webpage that listed environmental, anti-war, and gay rights groups as possible terrorists, according to a report from the Associated Press.

"The director of the department, Jim Walker, said his agency received a number of calls and e-mails from people who said they felt the site unfairly targeted certain people just because of their beliefs," the AP reported. "He said he plans to put the Web site back on the Internet, but will no longer identify specific types of groups."

The site described the various groups as "single-issue terrorists" who include "people who feel they are trying to create a better world." [Raw Story]

The DHS took down the page, but the content lives on in Google's cache:

Single issue extremists are generally:

  • Focused on fixing the “wrongs”

  • Fastest growing, most significant threat to at least certain segments of our communities

  • Willing to do anything for their cause including breaking the law (not excluding murder)


     Single issue extremists are not trying to fight a cheap war or overthrow our government.  In fact, they feel that what they are doing is necessary for a better world.


     Single issue extremists often focus on issues that are important to all of us.  However, they have no problem crossing the line between legal protest and change and illegal acts, to include even murder, to succeed in their goals.  In many communities, law enforcement officials feel that these groups offer the greatest organized threat to the community. 


These radical elements are found in many of the following movements:



Anti-genetic Activists (opposed to genetically altered crops)

Animal Rights




And Gay Rights Activists

Well, at least the violent pro-life fringe groups also made the list... Frankly, I'm glad the DHS is monitoring groups that espouse violence, regardless of their ideological agenda.

But what possible justification could DHS have for listing any known gay rights groups in the same company as Earth First tree spikers and clinic bombers?

Flight attendant studied law on cross-country flights

Takeoff, originally uploaded by sharply_done.

Congratulations to Eunice Ortega, a 42-year-old New Yorker who worked (and studied) her way through law school on Jet Blue redeyes.

Ortega received her law degree from Touro College's Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, Sunday.

Ms. Ortega plans to keep working as a flight attendant until she passes the bar. After that, she hopes to practice immigration law.