Help immigrants become citizens – Albany Times Union

Help immigrants become citizens
Albany Times Union
Third, the work that immigrants do is of no small importance. I have heard repeatedly from agricultural growers, for example, that they cannot get their fruits and vegetables harvested in a timely manner without the productive work of immigrant workers


The Fight to Keep Toxic Mining—and the World Bank—Out of El Salvador

Proud of supports listening to a speaking during a World Bank Protest

Complete with a giant inflatable fat cat, protesters rally outside the World Bank in support of El Salvador’s right to ban toxic mining along its principal watershed. (Photo: Ron Carver / Institute for Policy Studies)

For miners, investors, and artisans, few things are more precious than gold. But for human life itself, nothing is more precious than water.

Just ask the people of El Salvador.

Nearly 30 years ago, the Wisconsin-based Commerce Group Corp purchased a gold mine near the San Sebastian River in El Salvador and contaminated the water. Now, according to Lita Trejo, a native Salvadoran and school worker in Washington, DC, the once clear river is orange. The people who drink from the arsenic-polluted river, she says, are suffering from kidney failure and other diseases.

On September 15, Trejo and more than 200 protestors—including Salvadoran immigrants, Catholic priests, trade unionists, and environmentalists—gathered in front of the World Bank to support El Salvador’s right to keep its largest river from suffering the same fate as the San Sebastian River. The event was co-sponsored by a raft of organizations, including the Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam America, the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters, Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club, and the Council of Canadians, among others. Over the past few weeks, similar protests have taken place in El Salvador, Canada, and Australia.

Mining for gold is not nearly so neat and clean as the harmless panning many Americans learned about as kids. Speakers pointed out that gold mining firms use the toxic chemical cyanide to separate gold from the surrounding rock, which then leaches into the water and the soil. And they use large quantities of water in the mining process—a major problem for El Salvador in particular, which has been described as “the most water-stressed country in Central America.” Confronted by a massive anti-mining movement in the country, three successive Salvadoran administrations have refused to approve new gold mining operations.

That’s where the story should end. But it’s far from over.

An Australian-Canadian mining company, OceanaGold, is suing the Salvadoran government for refusing to grant it a gold-mining permit to its subsidiary, Pacific Rim. Manuel Pérez-Rocha, a researcher at the Institute for Policy Studies, explained the situation: “Oceana Gold is demanding more than $ 300 million from El Salvador. They are saying, ‘If you do not let us operate in your country the way we want, you must pay us for the profits that you prevented us from making.’”

That sounds absurd, but it’s true: The company is claiming that under the Central American Free Trade Agreement, it has the right to sue the Salvadoran government for passing a law that threatens its bottom line.

El Salvador is now defending its decision to prevent Oceana Gold/Pacific Rim from operating the “El Dorado” mine near the Lempa River before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a little-known World Bank-based tribunal.

As several protesters pointed out, El Salvador’s decision is grounded in its need to protect its limited water supply. More than 90 percent of the surface water supply in El Salvador is already contaminated, and more than 50 percent of the country’s 6.3 million people depend on the Lempa River watershed for their water.

Francisco Ramirez, a Salvadoran who grew up in Cabañas, the region where the El Dorado mine would operate, spoke from experience about this reality. “If you look at the contaminated rivers in El Salvador, there are no fish left in the water. Not even toads, which are usually resistant to certain levels of contamination, can survive. We do not want that contamination to spread,” Ramirez proclaimed.

Ana Machado, a Salvadoran member of the immigrant rights group Casa de Maryland, another co-sponsor of the event, added: “The Lempa River is the main drinking source and an important source of livelihood for a majority of people in my country, including my family. They fish there. They clean their clothes there. If the company contaminates the river, Salvadoran life as we know it will end.”

Another Salvadorian immigrant and organizer with Casa de Virginia, Lindolfo Carballo, linked this lawsuit to larger struggles over sovereignty and immigrant rights. “This country created institutions to legally rob its Southern neighbor,” he said, referring to the “free-trade” provisions that permit corporations to sue governments over public safety regulations they don’t like. “And after they rob us of our natural resources, after they contaminate our water and land, they tell us that we are undocumented, that we are ‘illegals,’ and that we have no right to be in this country. They have no right to throw us out of the United States if they are robbing us of the resources we need to survive in our own country,” he alleged.

John Cavanagh, Director of the Institute for Policy Studies, explained the goal of the protest: “We are saying to OceanaGold: ‘Drop the suit. Go home.’ To the World Bank, we say: ‘Evict this unjust tribunal. It deepens poverty and stomps on democracy and basic rights.’” Cavanagh pledged to continue pressing the company to back down, promising that protesters would return to the World Bank in larger numbers when the tribunal makes its ruling in 2015.

The post The Fight to Keep Toxic Mining—and the World Bank—Out of El Salvador appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Diana Anahi Torres-Valverde is the New Mexico Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.


Italy’s prime minister: ‘Everything must change in Italy’ – Washington Post

Reuters UK
Italy's prime minister: 'Everything must change in Italy'
Washington Post
NEW YORK. Fresh from a visit to Silicon Valley, Italy's 39-year-old, Twitter-loving prime minister Matteo Renzi came to New York last week to attend the opening of the U.N. General Assembly. He spoke with The Post's Lally Weymouth about his hopes to …
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Friends of Fresh and Green Academy’s 6th Annual Casino Night

On Monday, September 15th I was honored to have been invited to check out the Friends of Fresh and Green Academy’s 6th Annual Casino Night at Connolly’s Pub and Restaurant in midtown.

Photo Cred. Amber Härkönen

Photo Cred. Amber Härkönen

As soon as I walked in I was greeted warmly by Jo Ann, a volunteer and flight attendant who had flown in that very night from London, and tempted by the spread of delicious pub food. The Casino Night, which took place in a room donated for the evening by the pub, looked professional and gave me the feeling of a twenties speakeasy with a heartwarming backdrop of photos from the Academy and the students in Ethiopia smiling brightly in blown up photographs or projected on a large screen beyond the poker tables.

Photo Cred. Amber Härkönen

Photo Cred. Amber Härkönen

Trish Hack-Rubinstein and Luyba Halkyn, looking stunning, each took a moment out of their busy nights to speak to me about their cause; The Friends of Fresh and Green Academy (FoFaGAcademy) support a school for impoverished children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Their mission is to provide students with meals, a well rounded education and adequate medical care under the guidance of the academy’s director and founder Muday Mitiku. FoFaGAcademy also supports the Mother’s Cooperative; an on-site program created to provide personal empowerment for the students’ mothers by helping them to earn their own money, learn new skills, such as hand-weaving, cooking and pottery to there-by provide for their families’ future.

While the evening’s excitement was certainly the friendly gambling tournaments, which FoFaGAcademy’s executive director Gregg Rubinstein encouraged me try my luck at, there was also the opportunity to look through a selection of photographs of the students at the school and sponsor a child. I spoke to one young woman who had generously sponsored a child and asked her what moved her towards sponsorship and she told me “I already sponsor a couple of children at a school in Peru, but what I like about the Friends of Fresh and Green Academy is that although you choose one student to sponsor, the funds are equally distributed to all the students, so everyone benefits.” At the small price of $ 35 a month the benefits can be thoroughly felt throughout the school.

Photo Cred. Amber Härkönen

Photo Cred. Amber Härkönen

After the successful night, I had the opportunity to meet with Trish one on one to talk about how she became involved with the school and what FoFaGAcademy’s plans are for the future.

As a flight attendant by career, Trish is a well traveled and adventurous woman. Looking for something to bring some more meaning to her life, when a flight attendant friend invited her to come to Addis Ababa to visit a school she was sponsoring Trish jumped at the chance.

The school, which was started by Muday Mitiku, began as a For-Profit kindergarten and pre-school in Ethiopia’s capital, but Muday couldn’t ignore the poverty around her and started to take in needy children, tuition-free. Once the paying parents began to take their children out of the school Muday made the choice to continue as a non-profit organization and deepened her commitment to helping children in need and their families.

Trish’s friend was called away to take care of another project very important to her, so Trish, with the opportunity being presented to her decided to take on the responsibility of running FOFAGAcademy and since then has decided that it was her calling. Lyuba, who had been feeling stress at work, was recruited by Trish to become part of this organization as something bigger than herself and she has not looked back. While the work is challenging for all the board members, the reward is well worth it. I have never met a group of people so passionate about what they are doing, and for such a good cause.

With the help of FOFAGAcademy Muday has been able to increase the year of education that her students can attend from the original pre-school and kindergarten, to 7th grade, which started this September. This means that the students can stay in school and have a greater education than they ever would have otherwise. The school also helps the mothers of these children by providing work opportunities, which will keep them from begging on the streets or prostitution. It also provides 3 meals a day to the children and the mothers at the school, which may not have been possible if the children ate at home.

The mothers also have a cooperative which started with 20 women and has grown to over 80 who make paper beads, hand-woven scarves, pottery and are even starting to make some clothing with the fabric they are weaving themselves.

Photo Cred. Amber Härkönen

Photo Cred. Amber Härkönen

Photo Cred. Amber Härkönen

Photo Cred. Amber Härkönen

Through exposure in the press, FoFaGAcademy has received sponsors in water purification from and student teaching volunteers from AIESEC. They are hoping to collaborate with more organizations to give these children and their families a better life in Ethiopia.

Look forward to their Springtime event; Dancing With The Stews

Check out the school and donate here

Follow FoFaGAcademy on Facebook

This post was written by Amber Härkönen


Ban sought on children working on tobacco farms – My9NJ

Ban sought on children working on tobacco farms
In 2012, the Labor Department withdrew a proposed rule that would have banned children under 16 from several kinds of agriculture work, including tobacco farms. In their letter, the lawmakers, all Democrats, urged a narrower ban that would deal solely

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MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Critics of EU-US Trade Negotiations Voice Concerns During “Stakeholder” Event in Chevy Chase

WHAT: Environmental, labor, consumer and family farm advocates critical of the pending Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will gather at10:30am this Wednesday outside the negotiating round’s “stakeholder” event to speak with interested reporters.  Interviews can be scheduled for other times using the contact information below. 
“These negotiations cover far more than the tariffs and quotas normally associated with ‘trade,’ delving deep into environmental, consumer safety, financial, public procurement and other public policy areas,” said Arthur Stamoulis, Executive Director of Citizens Trade Campaign. “The world cannot afford for this pact to become a back-door means of deregulation.”
WHERE: Outside the J.C. Penney Main Building
National 4-H Youth Conference Center
7100 Connecticut Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD
WHEN: 10:30am, Wednesday, October 1, 2014
VISUALS:  Activists with t-shirts and signs will also be at the 10:30am availability for photographs and b-roll.
  • Manuel Pérez-Rocha, Institute for Policy Studies. Associate Fellow. Expertise in TTIP’s repercussions outside the U.S. and Europe.
  • Jeffrey Chester, Center for Digital Democracy. Executive Director. Expertise in digital privacy, digital trade, data flows and consumer protection.
  • Michael Dolan, Teamsters. Legislative Representative. Expertise in labor, public procurement, geographic indicators and services.
  • Celeste Drake, AFL-CIO. Trade & Globalization Policy Specialist. Expertise in labor, procurement and investment.
  • Karen Hansen-Kuhn, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Director of International Strategies. Expertise in agriculture, GMOs, food safety and regulatory
  • Carroll Muffett, Center for International Environmental LawPresident and CEO. Expertise in chemicals, the environment, international trade and investment.
  • Ilana Solomon, Sierra Club. Responsible Trade Program Director. Expertise in energy, the environment and investment.
  • Melinda St. Louis, Public Citizen. International Campaigns Director, Global Trade Watch. Expertise in investment, regulatory cooperation and consumer protection.
  • Marcus Stanley, Americans for Financial Reform. Policy Director. Expertise in financial services and consumer protection.
  • Rep. Sharon Anglin Treat, Maine State Representative. Co-chair of the Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission. Presenting on behalf of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. Expertise in state concerns regarding regulatory harmonization, the environment, climate, chemicals, procurement, food policy and
  • Ronald White, M.S.T., Center for Effective Government. Director of Regulatory Policy. Expertise in the U.S. regulatory process and environmental health regulations.

The post MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Critics of EU-US Trade Negotiations Voice Concerns During “Stakeholder” Event in Chevy Chase appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.


Air France Pilots End Two-Week Strike – New York Times

Wall Street Journal
Air France Pilots End Two-Week Strike
New York Times
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New rule streamlines reporting requirements on veterans’ employment and hiring for federal contractors

The U.S. Department of Labor published a final rule that reduces reporting requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors who hire and employ veterans under provisions of the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.|||||||

Getty’s New Mobile App is a Free Portal Into Millions of Shareable Photos – Entrepreneur (blog)

Entrepreneur (blog)
Getty's New Mobile App is a Free Portal Into Millions of Shareable Photos
Entrepreneur (blog)
Six months after unlocking its vast trove of images with a groundbreaking embed feature, Getty is hoping to make its roughly 100 million stock photos even more accessible to consumers with a brand new mobile app entitled Stream. Users can now browse …

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