Federal stimulus money for Oregon jobs hired foreign workers

Federal stimulus money for Oregon jobs hired foreign workers

Published: Thursday, October 20, 2011, 6:47 PM Updated: Friday, October 21, 2011,  5:47 AM
Charles Pope, The Oregonian By Charles Pope, The OregonianThe Oregonian
timber.JPGBrian Feulner/The OregonianTimber jobs were once a mainstay of the Oregon economy.

WASHINGTON — At least $7 million in federal stimulus money intended to provide jobs to unemployed Oregonians instead paid wages to 254 foreign workers, federal investigators have concluded.

The money was for forest clean-up jobs in central Oregon where thousands of experienced workers were idle. When the contracts were announced in 2009, Oregon had the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation at 11.1 percent, with rates in the state’s rural forest counties nearly 15 percent and higher.

Even so, the contractors told federal regulators they could not find enough local workers for the jobs.

That came as a surprise to local officials, who said they often got hundreds of responses to every job opening.

“This is a timber area and we hadn’t been cutting trees for years,” said state Sen. Chris Telfer, R-Bend. “It really ticked off a lot of people here.”

In a report on the investigation this week, the Department of Labor’s Inspector General found that contractors who brought in foreign workers violated no laws or regulations, but used legal loopholes to hire foreign workers.

While legal, the hiring practices appear to violate the spirit and purpose of the $840 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the stimulus, which was designed to create jobs that would jumpstart the country out of recession.

“The goal of the stimulus bill was to put Americans back to work, not foreign nationals,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who asked for the investigation in September 2010.

“It is obscene that U.S. companies were rewarded for abusing our American workers and immigration laws to undercut competition and squeeze more profits out of contracts,” DeFazio said. “Oregonians have been logging for over a century, our workforce is one of the best in the world, and these contracts should have been awarded to companies that hire Oregon loggers.”

The federal investigation looked at 14 contracts to clear federal forests in central Oregon. The contracts were controlled by four Oregon companies: Medford Cutting Edge Forestry, Summitt Forestry, Ponderosa Reforestations, and G.E. Forestry. All hired foreign workers, according to the report, though they didn’t all handle hiring in the same way.

The contractors applied for H-2B visas allowing them to hire workers for seasonal jobs, according to the report. In order to get clearance, contractors must prove the jobs can’t be filled with local residents and that pay won’t dilute local prevailing wages.

But there is a loophole. Under federal rules, notice of the job openings must be made where the job “originates.” And while the bulk of the work took place in Oregon, smaller jobs originated in other states.

According to reports by The Bend Bulletin, which revealed the foreign hires in a series of stories last year that triggered DeFazio’s call for an investigation, contractors advertised the jobs in tiny newspapers in California and Washington state for several days.

“Employers were not required to recruit U.S. workers in Oregon, and we were provided no evidence that they did,” federal investigators said. “Workers in Oregon were likely unaware that these job opportunities were available.”

In fact, although 146 U.S. workers were contacted for possible employment, investigators found that none was hired.

Contractors used another regulation to dampen response from Oregon residents, the report said. The visa regulations allowed the contractors to do all their hiring four months before work started. That made unemployed workers who needed jobs immediately reluctant to commit to temporary jobs four months later.

Despite the barriers, 29 U.S. workers learned of the jobs and asked about employment. The report did not say if they were from Oregon.

“We verified with the employers that none of these workers actually began employment with them,” the report says.

The reason?

“We spoke with two workers who reported that the employer used discouraging language, such as references to age and inquiries about speaking another language, which are not valid conditions of employment,” the report says.

The report does not address the nationality of the workers who were hired.

As required, the employers also notified state workforce agencies of the openings. But just as with obscure newspaper ads, the state postings were far-afield, with the notices sent to Arizona, California, Idaho, Washington and Wyoming.

The Labor Department did not respond to a request for comment, but agency officials have announced plans to revise regulations dealing with H-2B visas.

Congress is likely to act, too. Aides to DeFazio said he is closely monitoring the Labor Department’s proposals for fixing the problems and is not ruling out other action. And in the Senate, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden said he is watching as well.

“Right now there are 14 million job seekers in the U.S. and three million job openings.” Wyden said. “Given those numbers, there is absolutely no reason why hard-working Oregonians should be passed over en masse for Oregon jobs in favor of foreign workers.”

– Charles Pope

U.S. Troop Withdrawal Motivated by Iraqi Insistence, Not U.S. Choice

U.S. Troop Withdrawal Motivated by Iraqi Insistence, Not U.S. Choice

By Yochi J. Dreazen

                                    Updated: October 21, 2011 |  4:21 p.m.
October 21, 2011 |  1:42 p.m.

Evan Vucci/AP

President Obama speaks in the briefing room of the White House on Friday.

President Obama’s speech formally declaring that the last 43,000 U.S. troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year was designed to mask an unpleasant truth: The troops aren’t being withdrawn because the U.S. wants them out. They’re leaving because the Iraqi government refused to let them stay.

Obama campaigned on ending the war in Iraq but had instead spent the past few months trying to extend it. A 2008 security deal between Washington and Baghdad called for all American forces to leave Iraq by the end of the year, but the White House — anxious about growing Iranian influence and Iraq’s continuing political and security challenges — publicly and privately tried to sell the Iraqis on a troop extension. As recently as last week, the White House was trying to persuade the Iraqis to allow 2,000-3,000 troops to stay beyond the end of the year.

From National Journal:

NATIONAL SECURITY Waning American Influence in the Middle East

POLITICAL CONNECTIONSRocky Territory for Democrats

PICTURES Qaddafi Through the Years

Those efforts had never really gone anywhere; one senior U.S. military official told National Journal last weekend that they were stuck at “first base” because of Iraqi reluctance to hold substantive talks.

That impasse makes Obama’s speech at the White House on Friday less a dramatic surprise than simple confirmation of what had long been expected by observers of the moribund talks between the administration and the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, which believes its own security forces are more than up to the task of protecting the country from terror attacks originating within its borders or foreign incursions from neighboring countries.

The White House said Obama was pleased with the coming troop withdrawal because it kept to his “core commitment” – frequently enunciated during the campaign – of pulling all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of the year. “We never wanted a residual force in Iraq,” a senior administration official insisted.

In Washington, many Republican lawmakers had spent recent weeks criticizing Obama for offering to keep a maximum of 3,000 troops in Iraq, far less than the 10,000-15,000 recommended by top American commanders in Iraq. That political point-scoring helped obscure that the choice wasn’t Obama’s to make. It was the Iraqis’, and recent interviews with officials in the country provided vivid evidence of just how unpopular the U.S. military presence there has become — and just how badly the Iraqi political leadership wanted those troops to go home

Michelle Obama: Molding America’s Children One Menu at a Time —– bureaucratic control and socialism.

Michelle Obama: Molding America’s Children One Menu at a Time

Jeannie DeAngelis

Michelle Obama, a woman who has certainly been
‘shaped’ by what the government has provided her in the way of free meals, is
now touting the benefit of having America’s children’s bodies and minds be
manipulated by people like her husband, whose ideological bent is toward
bureaucratic control and socialism.

Mouthing words of concern over the health and well
being of school children, the First Lady said “That’s why we start with kids,
right? We can affect who they will be forever.”  These are words that should
send shivers up the spine of every concerned parent in
America.

Think of it:
Michelle Obama’s goal is to infiltrate not only the bodies but also the minds of
children who are not hers so she and her ilk can “affect who they will be
forever!”

On the South Lawn, a mere stone’s throw from where the
100 x 100 ongoing construction of a secret project
that looks like an underground bunker/possible swimming pool is taking place,
Mrs. Obama recently made her ‘nudge‘-style opinions known.  The event was a reception to
honor schools that have met the goals of the US Department of Agriculture’s
Healthier US School Challenge (HUSSC), now a subsidiary of the “Let’s Move” (our
children towards the welfare rolls) initiative.

Mrs. Obama, whose daughters attend private school,
bubbled over with exuberance about the fact that the majority of American
children are in publicly-funded incubators called public schools, where liberal
teachers and policies are standing ready to restructure “habits and preferences”
in hopes of raising up a generation of proselytes.

With a concerned smile and dressed in a sleeveless
designer top, Mom Michelle disguised government control as a child-friendly
plate of crudités and hummus.

Mrs. Obama told the rapt group, “When many kids spend
half of their waking hours and get up to half their daily calories at school,
you know that with the food you serve and, more importantly, the lessons you
teach that you’re not just shaping their habits and preferences today, you’re
affecting the choices they’re going to make for the rest of their
lives.”

“At the reception, Mrs. Obama praised the 1,273
schools that have doubled the number of students eating federally subsidized
meals that fit the program’s criteria.”  The first lady seemed thrilled about
the increased additions to the entitlement rolls because, as she said, “That’s
why we start with kids, right?”

Mrs. Obama praised the Burlington Elementary School of
North Dakota, where she said the “teachers eat two USDA-approved meals a day
with the students.”

Praising those teachers who voluntarily eat “breakfast
and lunch with students every single day,” Mrs. Obama applauded the hovering
menu monitors by saying, “Now, that’s a sacrifice. You know it. That’s
love.”

According to Mrs. Obama, “the beauty is, is that
you’re not just making this generation of kids healthier, but the next
generation as well. And that is truly, truly powerful stuff.”

The First Lady reassured the teachers who’ve dedicated
themselves to supplementing indoctrination during feeding time by saying,
“You’re affecting not just how these kids feed themselves, but how they’re going
to feed their own children,” which, if all goes according to plan, the
government can also one day mold into government-controlled mechanical
drones.

The First Lady expressed joy that children “trained”
in these schools are having a beneficial effect on their families, saying,
“They’re changing the way they think about their health and they’re trickling
that information down to their families.”  Mom and Dad beware — God forbid one
of you should indulge in an unwholesome treat under the watchful eye of Junior.
Who knows, the next day, these trickle-down kids may be asked to
report aberrant
behavior to Michelle’s brigade of meal monitors.

Granted, helping kids and their families make
healthier food choices is an admirable goal on the part of the first lady.
However, a problem arises when liberals are in charge and make broad, vague
statements that seem to connect lunch and life choices.

Choices like: not worrying about birth control because
just like free lunch, free condoms are also government-funded and available at
school. How about the “right to privacy” and the choice to disregard the moral
direction of parents?  Or the message to relax because if that complimentary
condom should happen to fail, someone in the guidance office will gladly drive
any girl over the age of 11 to the nearest available abortion clinic, just as
soon as she downs that government-approved carton of low-fat milk.
Michelle
reiterated that “we” (whoever that is) “can affect who they (we know who “they”
are) will be forever.”

The whole emphasis on the government guiding food
choices is troubling, because discussion over healthy food has the potential to
be the perfect entree for liberals to commission public schools to prod,
persuade and hold sway over other areas such as faith, political affiliation,
and morality. With that in mind, Michelle Obama’s insistence on depositing
government-funded “free” food into the stomachs of America’s children, perhaps
in hopes of transporting liberal philosophy into their hearts, should alarm any
American whose child eats breakfast and lunch in a public
school.

Author’s content:
www.jeannie-ology.com

Mr. Obama, if we’re gonna start quoting The Beatles…

Mr. Obama, if we’re gonna start quoting The Beatles…

Stu Tarlowe

President Obama, in his remarks following the
announcement of the death of Muammar Gaddafi, said, “Libya will travel a long
and winding road to democracy.”

To many of us “of a certain age”, that phrase evokes
the Beatles tune “The Long and Winding Road.”

And, for me at least, hearing President Obama employ
the title of a Beatles tune put me in mind of any number of other Beatles tunes
that I can relate to Barack Obama and his presidency.

Mr. President, I’m Looking Through You, and
I’m seeing The Fool on the Hill.

When I think of what you’ve done, and what you’re
doing, to this great nation, I think Isn’t It a Pity.

Tell Me Why your wife Michelle acts
like Her Majesty, jetting Here, There and Everywhere with her
entourage and telling us to eat carrot sticks while she dines on Savoy
Truffle
.

You have vilified some of our most productive citizens
by calling them Piggies and making Baby, You’re a Rich Man a
term of opprobrium. You Can’t Do That.

The Free Market system works, if you just Let It
Be
. But you want to turn Wall Street into Penny
Lane
.

Your economic policies make me want to yell
Help! and Run For Your Life. I’m afraid that When I’m
Sixty-Four
I’ll still be working Eight Days a Week just to pay the
Taxman.

Plenty of folks who voted for you are already saying
I Should Have Known Better.

I hope that by the next election enough Americans wise
up and say Not a Second Time. They might even tell you to Get Back
(To Where You Once Belonged)
, whether that’s Indonesia or Back in the
USSR
.

It Won’t Be Long before election time, and I
hope you’ll be singing I’m a Loser. Otherwise, I’ll Cry
Instead
.

Who delivered the Gaddafi Coup de Grace It wasn’t Obama or the U. S. A.

Who delivered the Gaddafi Coup de Grace

Rick Moran

As I suggested on Thursday
morning,
wait to see the body before believing that Gaddafi is
dead.

Well, here’s
the video.
I won’t embed it here – pretty graphic and you only get a couple
of glimpses of a terrified Gaddafi being manhandled by the crowd. Then a couple
of gun shots and a couple of glimpses of Gaddafi on the ground
dead.

One thing is sure – the
version
of Gaddafi’s death put out by the Libyan government is a
crock.

Reuters:

Gaddafi was still alive when he was
captured near Sirte. In the video, filmed by a bystander in the crowd and later
aired on television, Gaddafi is shown being dragged off a vehicle’s bonnet and
pulled to the ground by his hair.

“Keep him alive, keep him alive!”
someone shouts. Gunshots then ring out. The camera veers off.

“They captured him alive and while he
was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed him,” one senior source
in the NTC told Reuters. “He might have been resisting.”

In what appeared to contradict the
events depicted in the video, Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council said
Gaddafi was killed when a gunfight broke out after his capture between his
supporters and government fighters. He died from a bullet wound to the head, the
prime minister said.

The NTC said no order had been given
to kill him.

Gaddafi called the rebels who rose up
against his 42 years of one-man rule “rats,” but in the end it appeared that it
was he who was captured cowering in a drainage pipe full of rubbish and
filth.

“He called us rats, but look where we
found him,” said Ahmed Al Sahati, a 27-year-old government fighter, standing
next to two stinking drainage pipes under a six-lane highway near
Sirte.

Apparently, the dictator and a few
dozen loyalists tried to make a break for it from Sirte and a NATO plane -
probably French, got them while they were in the open. The scene, according to
Reuters, was pretty gruesome with most of Gaddafi’s people burned to death in
their vehicles.

Fighters on the ground said Gaddafi
and a handful of his men appeared to have run through a stand of trees and taken
refuge in the two drainage pipes.

“At first we fired at them with
anti-aircraft guns, but it was no use,” said Salem Bakeer, while being feted by
his comrades near the road. “Then we went in on foot.

“One of Gaddafi’s men came out waving
his rifle in the air and shouting surrender, but as soon as he saw my face he
started shooting at me,” he told Reuters.

“Then I think Gaddafi must have told
them to stop. ‘My master is here, my master is here’, he said, ‘Muammar Gaddafi
is here and he is wounded’,” said Bakeer.

“We went in and brought Gaddafi out.
He was saying ‘what’s wrong? What’s wrong? What’s going on?’. Then we took him
and put him in the car,” Bakeer said.

At the time of his capture, Gaddafi
was already wounded with gunshots to his leg and to his back, Bakeer
said.

Other government fighters who said
they took part in Gaddafi’s capture, separately confirmed Bakeer’s version of
events, though one said the man who ruled Libya for 42 years was shot and
wounded at the last minute by one of his own men.

So ends the rule of one of the
strangest and most bizarre dictators of the 20th century. His death was rather
ordinary compared to the life he led – a life full of bloodshed and oppression
of the Libyan people and countless victims of terrorist attacks that in his
bloodlust, he encouraged and became responsible for.

 

 

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