By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Tuesday, February 13, 2007; Page A19
Loopholes in laws and regulations sometimes seem to appear by magic, and often no one wants to claim to be the magician. But one man actually wants credit for a couple of big loopholes in the new ethics rules the House passed last month: John H. Graham IV.
Graham is the president of an organization that could exist only in Washington -- the American Society of Association Executives. In other words, he is the chief lobbyist for lobbyists.
His organization represents 22,000 association executives, from large groups such as the American Medical Association and small ones such as the Barbershop Harmony Society. When any of them are in danger of losing access to lawmakers, Graham, 57, is supposed to intervene.
Which is what he did -- proudly -- as soon as he learned that Democratic leaders wanted to ban travel provided by lobbyists and the entities that employ them. Graham dispatched his own lobbyists and several of his most sympathetic allies to meet with House staffers. Eventually they poked two gigantic holes in the proposed prohibition.
The first opened the way for lobbyists to pay for short trips -- one day as far as the Midwest and two days to the West Coast. The second permits colleges to provide travel to lawmakers without restriction, even though they lobby in Washington a lot. (See the next item.)
Ethics advocates were disappointed. "The better policy is no privately financed travel," said Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center.
But Graham was unabashed. Golf trips to Scotland should be nixed, he said, but not visits to taxpayer-funded programs or to industry-backed seminars. "We didn't want a total ban on travel," Graham said. "We were on top of it from the very beginning."
In fact, he and his lobbyists started their campaign a year ago after then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) first suggested a travel ban. That effort failed partly because of Graham's enterprise.
After the Democratic victory in last year's midterm elections, Graham's lobbyists -- Senior Vice President Jim Clarke and contract lobbyist James W. Rock -- targeted the staff of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and then met with aides to Democratic House leaders Steny H. Hoyer (Md.), Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) and James E. Clyburn (S.C.).
After one such meeting, Graham learned that the ban would prevent lawmakers from taking trips to colleges to give commencement addresses. He quickly asked the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities to join the crusade.
Graham also recruited other groups with sterling reputations, including the American Heart Association, the YMCA of the USA and the American Cancer Society. They went as a group from office to office on Capitol Hill and made the case that brief trips could not be mistaken for boondoggles, especially when white-hat interests like themselves were footing the bill.
The result: Graham has become Mr. Loophole, winning the exemptions and on track to getting them in the Senate as well.
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The Democrats' takeover of Congress had a lot of their interest groups -- labor, enviros, etc. -- elbowing ferociously for long-sought legislation for their constituents. The groups' lobbyists are feeling the pressure.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association has been working hard to reopen contract bargaining with the Federal Aviation Administration -- it feels it got the short end in negotiations last year about work rules and pay -- and wants Congress to let it do so. But it's a tough go, NATCA President Patrick Forrey said in a March 10 "National Office Update."
"I can imagine how frustrat[ed] our membership must be that our language has not been enacted to date," Forrey wrote, "considering the tremendous amount of support in PAC dollars and campaign activity we invested into the election process." No doubt. Sounds like they've got a good consumer fraud case if they want to pursue it.
"For those who believe this should be a slam dunk," he said, "let me remind you that there are an incredible amount of organizations, associations, special interests and of course labor unions that have been subject[ed] to 12 years of bad government . . . the problem is, we are all competing against each other to get our separate issues corrected."
But the Washington office is working on it. "If you could be in my shoes and talk with these very supportive members," Forrey explained, "you'd have the opportunity to realize the difficulty in undoing something that falls in a long line of things that need undoing . . . that is why it's so difficult to get the total support" from the House leadership on "controversial bills" that might hurt passage of other bills.
But not to worry. "This past week has left us very encouraged about the progress we are making in securing a temporary legislative fix," he said, with Reps. James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Jerry F. Costello (D-Ill.) having penned a joint letter to House Appropriations chair David Obey (D-Wis.) to put language in the Iraq war supplemental appropriations bill that would reopen contract negotiations.
"However, as of today," Forrey wrote, "we have not seen or been told of any language inserted" in the Iraq bill. "It appears that the final approval is going to have to come from Speaker Pelosi," he said, "so we are rounding up all of the support we can garner from" other members to get her "to give the nod."
(Last Thursday, the Appropriations Committee approved the bill without the language.)
If you are willing to take action, I am with you. Don't worry about what other people are saying, it does not matter. A man got to do what he got to do.
Let us start with taking some legal opinions. I am willing to share the cost.
I also beleive (and firmly so) that the PD porting among categories should not be allowed.
I am sending you my phone number in PM. Call me when you are ready and we can discuss more. Alternatively, give me your phone number as I definitly want to follow through.
teri life mein koi accomplishment nahi hai to gussa kyun ho raha hai??!!
haan, i cracked the JEE...........aur har kaam tere se behtar kar sakta hun....work, sports, you name it........
saale insecure tu hai...........main to wohi karunga jo mere ko theek laga....
take care, BUDDY!
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Even if you are not going to file such a complaint, you might be able to use it to get the required experience letter from the past employer if needed.
And as i am re-repeating myself, if someone is not satisfied with EB3 wait times, they should of course try to file EB2 or EB1, but NOT at the expense of EB2 filers, they should NOT BE ALLOWED TO JUMP THE LINE.
What a Bull Sh** ?? Are you saying that ppl who have applied under eb2 are the only ones who satisfy the eb2 criteria and eb3s can not satisfy the eb2 criteria ??? Come on ...this eb2 and eb3 thing is highly abused by lawyers, employers or employees .. I guess, you are in eb2 but I am sure if you go line by line of the law to recheck your eb2 eligibility, you might not even qualify for eb10,11, etc ....
And as far as comparing us to President Bush, India has never lost a war yet because India never went to war with any one with out them provoking it. India always fights Justified wars and justice always wins.
So Mr. Trained Reservist,
Let's say the war is won in 15-20 days based on your expert knowledge, what is next? India occupies Pakistan? and acquires 160 million muslim population along with Talibans? You think that will end terrorism and riots in India?
Oh BTW, there is another trained reservist in the history who claimed Iraq war would be won in two weeks. Do you know who he is? Hint: he became the worst president in the history of the US.
or the job though he is not as bright as other H1b person. For example you do not need IIT graduate for QA position. For example If you want a core system software programmer in TCP/IP level or semiconductor R&D you can go brightest in the World. Bill Gates is an exception. 95% of bright people will have degree or more in current world.
There is a difference between displacing an American and hiring the best talent - if I have a job opening, I interview 10 candidates and I want to select the best.
Given the current bill, I have to wait for months to hire this candidate if this candidate happens to lack GC/citizenship. This affects my business and group productivity. Every time I wait for months to get a candidate, it affects my business.
So, what this bill is trying to imply - "hey, do not bother hiring the best talent - why don't you hire Joe, a GC holder, he can do the job fairly well even though he is not as bright as Mary, the person you really want to hire"
I feel a sense of disrespect in your voice for folks who do not have higher education (e.g., MS/PhD) - I have a M.S. but I know of a bunch of folks who are much brighter than me and have a bachelors degree. Infact, if I am not mistaken, Bill Gates still does not have a degree, so in your eyes, is he not useful/accomplished?
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You ddin't get my point. 7 year old kid gives more importance to these than a house. I am not saying playstation3 is equal to housing.:(
If you had said your child needs personal space, then it would be different. In this case you are talking about older kids. Most of us have kids younger than 5 years old.
I kindly disagree.
I am not saying no one qualified. Most of the Eb3 jobs requirements were modified to EB2 to cut-short the EB3 line. Then, why every employer (particularly in IT) files EB2 LC, than EB3 after 2005? Why does DOL is autiting EB2 requirements for IT/Engineering jobs now?. Before 2004, even if employers requires MS+4 years or BS+8 years DOL approves the LC. Why they don't do now? It is just everyone wants to go for EB2, if they have that qualification.
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GC - You can splurge a little. Even if you have to move, you are almost certain that you are able to move within the US, or will be able to come back to the US. You will get better interest rates on a mortgage and a higher percentage of financing (upto 97%). You can buy your dream home (this usually means a nice community, big house etc. etc.) Even if the value of your purchase comes down, you can afford to wait for a longer period of time.
H1/EAD - Think 10 times before purchasing a home. Take a conservative approach. If you think you can really afford a $400,000 house, purchase only a $350,000 house. Prepare to pay around 8% down-payment (some times even 20%) and you may not get the best interest rate. Plan very well for the possibility that you may have to move within the US or even out of the country. And prepare some plans considering that you may have to go out of the US and may not be able to come back. Consider the possibility of renting a town home or a single family home. In this market, you can even find homes by paying a rent which could be some times lower than the mortgage on the home.
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IT WASN'T EASY, it took too long, and it's not done yet -- but before Congress leaves for its August recess, it should have completed a lobbying reform bill that would, for the first time, require disclosure of the bundles of campaign checks that lobbyists bring in for politicians. We say "should have" because the measure -- having not gone through the normal conference committee process -- needs to clear significant hurdles in both the House and Senate. Lawmakers of both parties, in both houses, must ensure that that happens before going home to face constituents who appear increasingly unhappy about a Congress they perceive as looking after its own interests, not theirs.
The lobbying package makes important changes, some of which were written into House rules in January. It would prohibit lawmakers and staff members from accepting gifts or travel from lobbyists and their clients. It would end lawmakers' ability to fly on corporate aircraft at cut-rate prices; senators and White House candidates would have to pay regular charter rates for such flights, while House members would simply be barred from accepting travel on private jets. It would lengthen, from one year to two, the revolving-door prohibition on senators and Senate staff members; the House limit would remain at one year.
It would require that senators pushing pet projects known as earmarks make that information available at least 48 hours in advance of a vote and certify that they and their immediate family members have no financial stake in the items; earmarks added in conference could be challenged and would have to receive 60 votes to survive. Lobbyists would also have to report gifts made to presidential libraries, now a financial disclosure black hole.
Most important, the measure would require lawmakers to include on their campaign finance reports the identities of lobbyists who raise $15,000 or more for them during a six-month period -- shining a needed light on an important source of influence. Keeping this requirement part of the bill was a difficult, and important, achievement.
This agreement will be brought up on the House floor today, under rules allowing it to pass quickly with two-thirds support. Then it goes to the Senate, where it is expected to run into opposition from Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) over whether the earmarking rules are strict enough; because it involves a change in Senate rules, 67 votes will be needed for passage. Leadership from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) will be critical to ensure that the complaints of a few senators are not allowed to derail a change that is badly needed and long overdue.
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This is a true incident which happened in a college. A new lecturer (also a Bihari professor) was unable to control the class. The guys were just talking without giving any attention to him. So he wanted to send a guy
who was creating most of the problem out. But he doesn't know how to put it in English.
He went near the guy. Shouted "follow me" .The guy followed him till he went out of the class. Now the lecturer turned back and again shouted
"Don't follow me" and went inside the class..........
#Inside the Class :
* Open the doors of the window. Let the atmosphere come in.
* Open the doors of the window. Let the Air Force come in.
* Cut an apple into two halves - take the bigger half.
* Shhh...Quiet, boys...the principal just passed away in the corridor
* You, meet me behind the class. ( meaning AFTER the class )..
* Both of u three, get out of the class.
* Close the doors of the windows please .. I have winter in my nose today...
* Take Copper Wire of any metal especially of Silver.....
* Take 5 cm wire of any length....
# About his family :
* I have two daughters. Both of them are girls...(?)
# At the ground :
* All of you, stand in a straight circle.
* There is no wind in the balloon.
# To a boy, angrily :
* I talk, he talk, why you middle middle talk ?
# Giving a punishment :
* You, rotate the ground four times...
* You, go and under-stand the tree...
* You three of you, stand together separately.
* Why are you late - say YES or NO ....(?)
# Sir at his best :
Sir had once gone to a film with his wife. By chance, he happened to see one of our boys at the theatre, though the boy did not see them.
So the next day at school... (to that boy) - " Yesterday I saw you WITH MY
WIFE at the Cinema Theatre."
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The are plenty of no load mutual funds returning consistently above 5% annually return. If you want a zero risk investment you can get at least 3% (sometimes more than 5%) with ING direct, HSBC direct, and many more direct saving accounts. Last year HSBC offered 6% to compete with ING's 5%, while on the other side house prices were nose diving.
So my point is even at 3%, zero risk it's a good deal compared with gambling on a house that may never come back to original purchase price, in our life time.
Remember, this is not a one time event. This crisis has changed the world for ever. There will never ever be banks giving loans for more than 3 or 4 times income. So for prices to come back again, you are really banking on disposal income levels going up, which is not a safe bet, with the Indias and Chinas of the world proving very competitive offshore services.
This whole chaos was created in the first place by inflating the economy to find a solution to the dot com bust.
Again, we are not recommending against buying a house, which everyone should do at a point in our lives, but it's unsafe to bank on it, as a sound investment.
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I am also looking for buying house in new jersey and as you mentioned all good places with good schools have hardly any effect from recession and housing down turn. But any way if you have to buy a house for long term then no point in waiting. The only thing bad times do to good places is value doesn't increase like it does in good times. Any suggestions on areas in New Jersey with good school and affordable (I mean something in 350-450k)? I know some very good areas where worst looking house starts at 700k which is out of scope.
Even in good school areas the values came down but not as much as 20, 30 or 50%. In my area, houses above 500K are not selling. But i could see multiple bidders for houses that are good and attractively priced(5 to 10%) reduction. We are probably at 2004/2005 prices right now. The most encouraging thing is people are still buying.
I live in south jersey and i know little bit about the south jersey market. I do not know much about other areas. In south jersey moorestown, mount laurel, marlton, voorhees, cherry hill are good areas to buy. Send a PM and we can discuss further about your specific requirements.
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How do I know who gave me the red's?
I too live in Fairfax county and I agree with you. My friend had purchased a home in Centerville and he paid the same price what it was listed for as the owner got three more contracts. He got it b'cause he paid 15 % down.
From last month bidding on home is more than it's listed price. When I talked to a real estate agent he told this will be until September end, due to schools re - opening, and from October things will start settling down to what was one month ago. It's good if you want to sell if you are in Fairfax but to purchase wait until schools reopen ( again if you don't had a school going kid in home ) and then go for looking one for you.
And for red marks, do not worry. There would some more here to give me red for this comment. Take the spirit from Ganguteli. I had never seen a person in IV forum changing color so frequently than him in last 3 years. Morning's he is green and evening's he is all red.
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What makes bit confusing to me is that most of the people I know (outside california) with Eb-3 and PD less than Dec 2002, have already got their GC's
Someone mentioned FOIA. Can you please share the link on how to apply for the same
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Forget the Israel Lobby. The Hill's Next Big Player Is Made in India (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/28/AR2007092801350_2.html) By Mira Kamdar (firstname.lastname@example.org) | Washington Post, September 30, 2007
Mira Kamdar, a fellow at the World Policy Institute and the Asia Society, is the author of "Planet India: How the Fastest-Growing Democracy is Transforming America and the World."
The fall's most controversial book is almost certainly "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," in which political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt warn that Jewish Americans have built a behemoth that has bullied policymakers into putting Israel's interests in the Middle East ahead of America's. To Mearsheimer and Walt, AIPAC, the main pro-Israel lobbying group, is insidious. But to more and more Indian Americans, it's downright inspiring.
With growing numbers, clout and self-confidence, the Indian American community is turning its admiration for the Israel lobby and its respect for high-achieving Jewish Americans into a powerful new force of its own. Following consciously in AIPAC's footsteps, the India lobby is getting results in Washington -- and having a profound impact on U.S. policy, with important consequences for the future of Asia and the world.
"This is huge," enthused Ron Somers, the president of the U.S.-India Business Council, from a posh hotel lobby in Philadelphia. "It's the Berlin Wall coming down. It's Nixon in China."
What has Somers so energized is a landmark nuclear cooperation deal between India and the United States, which would give India access to U.S. nuclear technology and deliver fuel supplies to India's civilian power plants in return for placing them under permanent international safeguards. Under the deal's terms, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- for decades the cornerstone of efforts to limit the spread of nuclear weapons -- will in effect be waived for India, just nine years after the Clinton administration slapped sanctions on New Delhi for its 1998 nuclear tests. But the Bush administration, eager to check the rise of China by tilting toward its massive neighbor, has sought to forge a new strategic alliance with India, cemented by the civil nuclear deal.
On the U.S. side, the pact awaits nothing more than one final up-or-down vote in Congress. (In India, the situation is far more complicated; India's left-wing parties, sensitive to any whiff of imperialism, have accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of surrendering the country's sovereignty -- a broadside that may yet scuttle the deal.) On Capitol Hill, despite deep divisions over Iraq, immigration and the outsourcing of American jobs to India, Democrats and Republicans quickly fell into line on the nuclear deal, voting for it last December by overwhelming bipartisan majorities. Even lawmakers who had made nuclear nonproliferation a core issue over their long careers, such as Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), quickly came around to President Bush's point of view. Why?
The answer is that the India lobby is now officially a powerful presence on the Hill. The nuclear pact brought together an Indian government that is savvier than ever about playing the Washington game, an Indian American community that is just coming into its own and powerful business interests that see India as perhaps the single biggest money-making opportunity of the 21st century.
The nuclear deal has been pushed aggressively by well-funded groups representing industry in both countries. At the center of the lobbying effort has been Robert D. Blackwill, a former U.S. ambassador to India and deputy national security adviser who's now with a well-connected Republican lobbying firm, Barbour, Griffith & Rogers LLC. The firm's Web site touts Blackwill as a pillar of its "India Practice," along with a more recent hire, Philip D. Zelikow, a former top adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who was also one of the architects of the Bush administration's tilt toward India. The Confederation of Indian Industry paid Blackwill to lobby various U.S. government entities, according to the Boston Globe. And India is also paying a major Beltway law firm, Venable LLP.
The U.S.-India Business Council has lavished big money on lobbyists, too. With India slated to spend perhaps $60 billion over the next few years to boost its military capabilities, major U.S. corporations are hoping that the nuclear agreement will open the door to some extremely lucrative opportunities, including military contracts and deals to help build nuclear power plants. According to a recent MIT study, Lockheed Martin is pushing to land a $4 billion to $9 billion contract for more than 120 fighter planes that India plans to buy. "The bounty is enormous," gushed Somers, the business council's president.
So enormous, in fact, that Bonner & Associates created an India lobbying group last year to make sure that U.S. companies reap a major chunk of it. Dubbed the Indian American Security Leadership Council, the group was underwritten by Ramesh Kapur, a former trustee of the Democratic National Committee, and Krishna Srinivasa, who has been backing GOP causes since his 1984 stint as co-chair of Asian Americans for Reagan-Bush. The council has, oddly, "recruited groups representing thousands of American veterans" to urge Congress to pass the nuclear deal.
The India lobby is also eager to use Indian Americans to put a human face -- not to mention a voter's face and a campaign contributor's face -- on its agenda. "Industry would make its business case," Somers explained, "and Indian Americans would make the emotional case."
There are now some 2.2 million Americans of Indian origin -- a number that's growing rapidly. First-generation immigrants keenly recall the humiliating days when India was dismissed as an overpopulated, socialist haven of poverty and disease. They are thrilled by the new respect India is getting. Meanwhile, a second, American-born generation of Indian Americans who feel comfortable with activism and publicity is just beginning to hit its political stride. As a group, Indian Americans have higher levels of education and income than the national average, making them a natural for political mobilization.
One standout member of the first generation is Sanjay Puri, who founded the U.S. India Political Action Committee in 2002. (Its acronym, USINPAC, even sounds a bit like AIPAC.) He came to the United States in 1985 to get an MBA at George Washington University, staying on to found an information-technology company. A man of modest demeanor who wears a lapel pin that joins the Indian and American flags, Puri grew tired of watching successful Indian Americans pony up money just so they could get their picture taken with a politician. "I thought, 'What are we getting out of this?', " he explains.
In just five years, USINPAC has become the most visible face of Indian American lobbying. Its Web site boasts photos of its leaders with President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and presidential candidates from Fred Thompson to Barack Obama. The group pointedly sports a New Hampshire branch. It can also take some credit for ending the Senate career of Virginia Republican George Allen, whose notorious taunt of "macaca" to a young Indian American outraged the community. Less publicly, USINPAC claims to have brought a lot of lawmakers around. "You haven't heard a lot from Dan Burton lately, right?" Puri asked, referring to a Republican congressman from Indiana who has long been perceived as an India basher.
USINPAC is capable of pouncing; witness the incident last June when Obama's campaign issued a memo excoriating Hillary Rodham Clinton for her close ties to wealthy Indian Americans and her alleged support for outsourcing, listing the New York senator's affiliation as "D-Punjab." Puri personally protested in a widely circulated open letter, and Obama quickly issued an apology. "Did you see? That letter was addressed directly to Sanjay," Varun Mehta, a senior at Boston University and USINPAC volunteer, told me with evident admiration. "That's the kind of clout Sanjay has."
Like many politically engaged Indian Americans, Puri has a deep regard for the Israel lobby -- particularly in a country where Jews make up just a small minority of the population. "A lot of Jewish people tell me maybe I was Jewish in my past life," he jokes. The respect runs both ways. The American Jewish Committee, for instance, recently sent letters to members of Congress supporting the U.S.-India nuclear deal.
"We model ourselves on the Jewish people in the United States," explains Mital Gandhi of USINPAC's new offshoot, the U.S.-India Business Alliance. "We're not quite there yet. But we're getting there."
I think for those waiting long enough would get extra points....5 Points/year of waiting :D:D:D:D:D