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Immigrant youth shares his dreams PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Hector Salamanca   
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 13:39
We stand at the brink of a new America, one that stands up for those millions like me who are American in all but legal status.  As an undocumented immigrant, I cannot just sit and hope that a knight in shining armor will rise and fight for my cause.  Too many of us undocumented people sit in the shadows and do not stand to fight for what is fair.

I understand that some of us don’t act because we are afraid: Afraid that our mother or father will not be there to pick us up from school. Afraid of an immigration officer knocking on our doors. Afraid of letting others know of our situation and afraid how they will respond once we tell them.

I am here to tell you, do not be afraid. I am also here to tell our friends and neighbors, classmates and coworkers, “Do not be afraid” of me and the millions like me who want only to live the American Dream, to work hard, build better lives for our families and a brighter future for our communities and our country.

I, too, was once afraid. When my father broke the news to me in 2010 that my undocumented status meant that my chances for a driver’s license, a college education and a good job were slim, I felt stuck and alone. The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), which would help people like me, has stalled in Congress since 2001.

But I persevered. I began volunteering with the American Friends Service Committee, a non-profit group providing legal services to immigrants. I finished high school and began study at a community college, where I’m an honors student.

So now I am motivated by a dream, a dream similar to the civil rights activists and the community organizers who have fought for immigration reform before you and I were born. I dream of one day having comprehensive, fair immigration policies that set a path to allow me -- now a Deferred Action participant with my Social Security number and work permit -- to affordably attend college, receive a driver’s license, drive my girlfriend around for a change, and to eventually become a citizen, among other things. I dream that one day, I will see Dreamers and our allies organize in all 50 states to make that path a reality. In order for my dream to come true, my generation needs to take the lead and move our country forward.

This plea does not apply to just the country’s estimated 1.9 million Dreamers, but to all members of our generation. We cannot allow ourselves to grow content with the way things are, for when we are old, the next generation will ask us why we stood by as the rights of others were trampled.

I, too, have faith in the American Dream, because I am living it. Through hard work, I have been given opportunities for success, which is the American Dream. As a child, I read history books filled with great men and women who all struggled to keep that dream alive for all those who called the United States home.

I and many others strive to continue the fight for the American Dream, but we need help. To continue building upon the legacy of those before us, we need to stand up and fight for the rights of the oppressed. For we are the generation of hope and change. We cannot allow the flame that is the American Dream to be extinguished.

We the Dreamers, in fact, represent the American Dream for the 21st century because many of us have risen out of the abyss of despair to achieve success. We are honor students, graduates from universities and hardworking; above all else, we long to contribute to the country we call home.

The American Dream has always been to rise from nothing and become successful through hard work. For me, I want to continue my education and be the first in my family to graduate from college and to continue to contribute back to my community. I want to prove to our opponents that they can try and deny us opportunities, but we shall overcome our obstacles and surpass our goals.

If you are a Dreamer reading this, I urge you to go and start volunteering. Every time you  volunteer, you are making a positive impact on someone’s life and taking down misconceptions as well. Take courage in knowing you are not alone, for I and many others are right beside you, fighting for our opportunity to contribute and move our country forward.

I also ask those who are not Dreamers to help out in any way you can. We need a coalition of friends, neighbors, Democrats, Republicans, young and old, black, brown, yellow and white, to pass not just the Dream Act, but comprehensive immigration reform. Stand in solidarity with us, and together we can keep the American Dream alive for all those who just want an opportunity to give back to this great nation we call home.

 
Bath Fitter Expands into eastern Iowa and Western Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Andrew Zahn   
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 16:14
Davenport, IA-Iowa Bath Solutions, LLC dba Bath Fitter, www.bathfitter.com, announces expansion of
it’s Des Moines location into eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. Due to increased demand, Bath Fitter
will offer its services in the following counties in Iowa: Clayton, Black Hawk, Buchanan, Delaware,
Dubuque, Linn, Jones, Jackson, Clinton, Cedar, Scott, Muscatine, Louisa, Henry, Des Moines and Lee.
In Illinois, Bath Fitter will service the following counties: Whiteside, Rock Island, Henry and Mercer.

Bath Fitter® is North America’s premier acrylic bath, shower and wall-system company.

  • Fast, Clean and Affordable
  • Less hassle and mess than conventional bathroom remodeling
  • Exclusive one-piece seamless walls, custom made for each individual installation
  • Custom acrylic tub and shower liners installed right over your existing unit…in just one day
  • Fiberglass replacements also available, installed in two days
  • FREE in-home estimate with absolutely no obligation
  • Financing is available

For over twenty nine years, Bath Fitter® has been working to meet the custom needs of homeowners, as
well as, commercial businesses and residencies. Bath Fitter® provides specialized bathtub and shower
solutions with unique products, allowing for a precise, completely individual look that is custom made
to fit the business or home’s exact specifications. Numerous accessories available such as shower seats,
storage options, and a variety of modern acrylic finishes. When safety or ease of access is a concern,
Bath Fitter® can even convert an existing tub into an easy access shower.

Customers can call to schedule a free, in-home estimate. At the in-home estimate, a Bath Fitter®
representative will review the current situation and answer any questions. The company offers an
Exclusive Limited Lifetime Warranty on all of its work. Bath Fitter® manufactures its own products
and provides their own Certified Technicians, so they can stand behind every single job. No part of the
process is subcontracted.

Customer service is one of Bath Fitter®’s top priorities. At the eat job completion, the customer receives
a customer satisfaction survey, allowing customers to express their satisfaction or offer any suggestions.

Bath Fitter® has received the award for Top Performer in bathroom remodeling from Qualified
Remodeler for 11 years in a row.

For a FREE in-home estimate, please call 1-800-594-8776. For employment opportunities visit
www.bathsavercareers.com.

Fast, Clean and Affordable
Less hassle and mess than conventional bathroom remodeling
Exclusive one-piece seamless walls, custom made for each individual installation
Custom acrylic tub and shower liners installed right over your existing unit…in just

Fiberglass replacements also available, installed in two days
FREE in-home estimate with absolutely no obligation
Financing is available

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State partnering with Dwolla to provide innovative electronic payment option PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Office of the Governor of Iowa   
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 16:01

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today joined Dwolla founder Ben Milne to announce a new partnership to provide Iowa taxpayers with an innovative electronic payment option.

Dwolla is a cash-based payment network that provides real-time, low cost, online and mobile payments. Instead of charging a floating percentage and fixed fee per transaction for goods and services or the administrative headaches of checks, Dwolla’s easy-to-use network costs a flat 25-cent fee on any payment over $10.

Branstad said he was pleased to announce another step for innovation in state government, saying, “Iowa is always looking for better ways to do business, and this is a step in the right direction.”

“Dwolla is a safe, secure payment method, and we are proud as a state to be partnering with such a great Iowa company,” said Branstad. “This new method is an efficient, effective means of payment for Iowa taxpayers, and I look forward to expanding this service into additional areas within state government.”

From collecting property taxes to issuing refunds, from renewing vehicle registrations to paying government contractors, Branstad and Reynolds say the state will be identifying the potential impact Dwolla’s open, social, online and mobile payment technologies could have on every level of state government.

Today’s first integration will focus on the Iowa Department of Revenue, allowing businesses, who already pay more than $100 million in cigarette stamp taxes, the option of paying via Dwolla. The option is cheaper and safer than mailing and processing a paper check. The speed and efficiency of the system also allows participating businesses to receive their tax stamps quicker.

“Our announcement today shows there is no geographic monopoly on innovation,” said Reynolds. “Dwolla is a fantastic Iowa company that is providing dynamic solutions for consumers, businesses and now the state of Iowa.”

“The number of state and federal payments are in the billions with transactions totaling in the trillions, meaning even a fraction of savings could have a profound effect on the economy,” said Ben Milne, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Dwolla. “This partnership is about creating a more sustainable, responsive, and convenient business climate for the state and its taxpayers, both today and tomorrow.”

Eligible vendors and retailers interested in participating in today’s announcement may go to www.dwolla.com/government to learn more.

# # #

 
Loebsack Statement on the Inauguration of the President of the United States PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 15:59

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement after Barack Obama was sworn in for the second time as the President of the United States.

"As we look forward to the next four years, we have many issues that must be addressed, and none is more important than boosting the economy and setting our country on a sustainable path.  It is days like today where one sees such bipartisan camaraderie that always helps to restore our faith that we can tackle the big issues and move past the partisan politics that have for too long paralyzed Congress.  I will continue to reach beyond party lines, as I always have, to move policies that help middle class Iowans who have been struggling.  It is critical for our nation's future that we rebuild our economy from the middle out.

"The peaceful reaffirmation of power that was again displayed today highlights the truly exceptional nature of our country. I believe that our best days are in front of us and with hard work and commonsense, we will be able to move our great country forward."

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Sleeping Through a Revolution: It’s Time for President Obama to Wake Up to the True Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Monday, 21 January 2013 10:35

January 21, 2013
By John W. Whitehead

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”―  Martin Luther King Jr.

~

As one who came of age during the civil rights era, I was profoundly impacted by the life and teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. He taught me so much more than just what it means to look beyond the color of a person’s skin—he taught me that life means nothing if you don’t stand up for the things that truly matter. And what are the things that matter? King spoke of them incessantly, in every sermon he preached, every speech he delivered and every article he wrote. Freedom, human dignity, brotherhood, spirituality, peace, justice, equality, putting an end to war and poverty—these are just a few of the big themes that shaped King’s life and, in turn, impacted so many impressionable young people like myself.

Fast forward 40 years, and we find ourselves living through historic times, with the nation’s first black president embarking on his second term in office. The comparisons between President Obama and King have been inevitable and largely favorable, helped along by Obama, who spoke at King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2008, a year before taking office—accepted the Democratic nomination on the anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech—presided over the installation and dedication of a national monument to King in Washington, DC—and took his oath of office using one of King’s Bibles on the national holiday dedicated to King.

Clearly, there are similarities between the two men. As a McClatchey news article noted: “Both battled enormous odds to build historic multi-ethnic, multi-racial coalitions—one to advance the cause of civil rights only to be assassinated in 1968, the other to win the nation's highest office. Both won the Nobel Peace Prize. Both could use soaring rhetoric to inspire millions. Both also had to overcome critics who accused them of socialist or communist sympathies, as well as black activists who maintained that they weren't strong advocates for African-Americans.”

Yet as Fredrick Harris, the director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, reminds us, “it is easy to assume that the president is an extension of King’s legacy and the civil rights movement. For black America, in particular, Obama has already joined the pantheon of great African American leaders, alongside Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Malcolm X and, of course, King. He has joined their ranks not for his activism or his efforts to break down racial inequality, but for the symbolic weight of being the nation’s first black president.”

We’d be doing King and his legacy a profound disservice, however, if we do not insist that Obama do more than pay lip service to the man he credits, alongside Abraham Lincoln, as being one of his two heroes. Indeed, Obama spent much of the last four years campaigning for re-election and will likely spend the next four attempting to establish a lasting legacy for his presidency.

If Obama wants to be remembered for anything more than the color of his skin, he would do well to brush up on King’s teachings, which were far more radical than the watered-down pap about him being taught today. The following key principles, largely absent from Obama’s first term in office, formed the backbone of Rev. King’s life and work.

Practice non-violence, resist militarism and put an end to war.

I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today—my own government.”—Martin Luther King Jr., Sermon at New York’s Riverside Church (April 4, 1967)

On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his murder, King used the power of his pulpit to condemn the U.S. for “using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted.” Insisting that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America can ignore its part in the Vietnam War, King called on the U.S. to end all bombing in Vietnam, declare a unilateral cease-fire, curtail its military buildup, and set a date for troop withdrawals. In that same sermon, King warned that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Contrast this with Obama’s use of the power of his office to expand America’s military empire at great cost to the nation, authorize drone strikes which have wreaked havoc on innocent civilians, and defend indefensible police tactics used in SWAT team raids and roadside stops. Obama’s national security budget for 2013, which allots a whopping $851 billion to be spent on wars abroad, weapons and military personnel, significantly outspends the money being spent on education, poverty and disease.

Stand against injustice.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”― Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (April 16, 1963)

Arrested and jailed for taking part in a nonviolent protest against racial segregation in Birmingham, Ala., King used his time behind bars to respond to Alabama clergymen who criticized King’s methods of civil disobedience and suggested that the courts were the only legitimate means for enacting change. His “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” which makes the case for disobeying unjust laws, points out that “a just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”

Contrast this with Obama’s ongoing endorsement of clearly unjust laws and government practices, some of which he has publicly acknowledged to be problematic or altogether wrong. For example, Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act, which respectively authorize the military to indefinitely detain American citizens, as well as spy on Americans who communicate with people overseas, whether they are journalists, family members, or business associates. Obama’s Justice Dept. has also urged the U.S. Supreme Court to grant police more leeway to strip search Americans and raid homes without a warrant. As King warned, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

Work to end poverty.

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”—Martin Luther King Jr., Sermon at New York’s Riverside Church (April 4, 1967)

Especially in the latter part of his life, King was unflinching in his determination to hold Americans accountable to alleviating the suffering of the poor, going so far as to call for a march on Washington, DC, to pressure Congress to pass an Economic Bill of Rights. In recounting a parable about a man who went to hell because he didn’t see the poor, King cautioned his congregants: “Dives didn’t go to hell because he was rich… Dives went to hell because he was passed by Lazarus every day and he never really saw him. He went to hell because he allowed his brother to become invisible. Dives went to hell because he maximized the minimum and minimized the maximum. Indeed, Dives went to hell because he sought to be a conscientious objector in the war against poverty.”

Prioritize people over corporations.

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” —Martin Luther King Jr., Sermon at New York’s Riverside Church (April 4, 1967)

With roughly 25 lobbyists per Congressman, corporate greed largely calls the shots in the nation’s capital, enabling our elected representatives to grow richer and the people poorer. One can only imagine what King would have said about a nation whose political processes, everything from elections to legislation, are driven by war chests and corporate benefactors rather than the needs and desires of the citizenry.

Stand up for what is right, rather than what is politically expedient.

“On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”—Martin Luther King Jr., Sermon at National Cathedral (March 31, 1968)

Five days before his murder, King delivered a sermon at National Cathedral in Washington, DC, in which he noted that “one of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change, and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses, that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.”

As King recognized, there is much to be done if we are to make this world a better place, and we cannot afford to play politics when so much hangs in the balance. It’s time, Mr. President, to wake up. To quote your hero: “[O]ur very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change. The large house in which we live demands that we transform this world-wide neighborhood into a world-wide brotherhood. Together we must learn to live as brothers or together we will be forced to perish as fools.”

This commentary is also available at www.rutherford.org.

 
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