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Archive for May 27th, 2010

Mass. Senate passes crackdown on illegal immigrants

Posted by Administrator on May 27, 2010

By Noah Bierman and Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff

With one lawmaker citing President Lincoln’s respect for the rule of law, the Massachusetts Senate passed a far-reaching crackdown this afternoon on illegal immigrants and those who would hire them, going further, senators said, than any immigration bill proposed over the past five years.

In a surprising turn of events, the legislation replaced a narrower bill that was passed Wednesday over the objections of Republicans.

The measure, which passed on a 28-10 vote as an amendment to the budget, would bar the state from doing business with any company found to break federal laws barring illegal immigrant hiring. It would also toughen penalties for creating or using fake identification documents, and explicitly deny in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants.

The amendment would also require the state’s public health insurance program to verify residency through the Department of Homeland Security, and would require the state to give legal residents priority for subsidized housing.

The amendment will now be part of negotiations with the House as part of the entire state budget.

Supporters, especially Republicans, struck patriotic notes and spoke of the sanctity of the law as they spoke on the Senate floor.

“It was President Lincoln — and I’m going to paraphrase here — who suggested that respect for the law should be preached from every pulpit taught by every mother to every child,” said Senator Bruce Tarr, a Gloucester Republican.

But one supporter said that the measure was being passed for practical purposes and would hurt people.

Senator Frederick E. Berry, a Peabody Democrat, complained that one of the Republican sponsors acted like the “Patriots had just won the Super Bowl. … I am going to vote for it, but I don’t think we ought to rejoice.”

Democrats had resisted such a sweeping proposal, but spent last evening negotiating today’s measure, shortly after a new polled showed 84 percent of the liberal-leaning state’s voters supported tough immigration rules barring state services to illegal immigrants.

Sonia Chang-Diaz, a Boston Democrat who opposed the amendment, said the measure had not been properly vetted and would add undue obligations to businesses and state government when they could ill afford it. She said it would cost the state money, while programs for children and public safety are being cut and people in her city are being shot at.

“I just don’t think this is an appropriate time to be enforcing an additional cost burden on the state, doing things that are not our job,” Chang-Diaz said.

The measure would also close what supporters say is a loophole that allows businesses to register cars under a company name, without identifying the owner by Social Security number and federal tax identification number. It would also crate a toll-free hot line for anonymous reporting of companies that employ illegal immigrants.

The measure comes weeks after immigration measures failed in the House, and amid heightened debate over illegal immigration fueled by the state’s election season and Arizona’s passage in April of the toughest immigration law in the nation.

Recent polls have found that, while voters supported blocking illegal immigrants’ access to public benefits, they were split over whether the Bay State should have a law such as Arizona’s.

Thursday’s Senate amendment would also authorize the state attorney general’s office to broker an agreement with federal authorities to help enforce immigration law. That would be a stark departure for Attorney General Martha Coakley, who has increased outreach to immigrants, encouraging them to file employment complaints, regardless of their legal status. Scores of immigrants whose bosses allegedly failed to pay their wages have turned to her for help in recent years.

The legislation also would increase penalties for driving without a license, one of the main problems facing illegal immigrants in Massachusetts. In November, a panel commissioned by Governor Deval Patrick urged him to push to grant driver’s licenses and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, among many other recommendations. Patrick sent the recommendations to his cabinet for study and pledged to return with a proposal in 90 days, but the results have not been made public.

Most immigrants in Massachusetts are here legally, but an estimated 190,000, or 20 percent, are here illegally, according to the census.

Source: Boston.com

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National Geographic names Kenyan as one of the new emerging explorers

Posted by Administrator on May 27, 2010

Kakenya Ntaiya the founder and president of Kakenya Center for Excellence in her home village of Enoosen in southern Kenya

Kakenya Ntaiya the founder and president of Kakenya Center for Excellence in her home village of Enoosen in southern Kenya

A Kenyan woman  Kakenya Ntaiya is among 14 people from around the world named as new emerging explorers by the National Geographic.

The Emerging Explorers Program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring adventurers, scientists, photographers, and storytellers making a significant contribution to world knowledge through exploration while still early in their careers. Each will receive a $10,000 award to assist with research and to aid further exploration.

Kakenya  is the founder and president of Kakenya Center for Excellence in her home village of Enoosen in southern Kenya. It is the first and only school for girls in the region.

A passionate advocate for girls’ education, Ntaiya persuaded her father that she not follow traditional Maasai culture and marry at age 13.

She became the first girl in her village to pursue an education in the United States, where she is completing a Ph.D. Kakenya believes that education will empower and motivate young girls to become agents of change in their communities and countries.


“I want this school not only to empower Kenya’s girls, but also their mothers, fathers, and entire villages.”

For thousands of families in Kenya, seven cows are more valuable than a girl’s future.

Those cows, a typical bridal dowry in Maasai culture, prove so tempting that most fathers in rural areas decide their daughter’s education will end and marriage begin by age 13. Traditionally this event is preceded by female genital circumcision, a mutilation that remains a mystery to the girls until the moment it is performed. The girls, children themselves, will immediately start their own families and live out their days carrying water from the river, gathering firewood, and tending the treasured cows.

Now, a building rises in one remote village that could change everything: The region’s first and only primary school for girls. Its creation an act of sheer will, stubborn persistence, and inexplicable optimism on the part of Kakenya Ntaiya.

Not long ago, Ntaiya was a village girl herself. Firstborn of eight children, Ntaiya shouldered unusual responsibilities even by local standards. Her father, a policeman, worked in a distant city. His absence, the lack of an older brother, and extreme poverty required Ntaiya to plow her own fields as well as work side by side with men on sugarcane farms. Helping feed and care for younger siblings also fell to Ntaiya, and on the frequent nights when food was scarce, she and her mother went without it.

When Ntaiya was five, her parents announced her engagement to a six-year-old neighbor. “I looked at this boy,” she recalls, “whose family was even poorer than my own. I looked at all my mother’s anger and pain. I looked at this hopeless future in front of me and I said, No way.”

School was her lone bright spot. She made excellent grades, admired her teachers, and hoped to some day become one herself. “I lived in a hut made of grass and mud that we shared with goats and sheep. But I had dreams. I kept pictures of beautiful green places with nice homes and somehow knew there was a different life out there.”

In a district where even today only 11 percent of girls continue past primary school, Ntaiya negotiated with her father to be that she would only be circumcised if she was allowed to complete high school. He agreed and after graduation, she was accepted at a teachers college in Kenya and a university in the United States. But, she says, “by then my father was in the hospital, paralyzed. We had sold almost everything to pay for his care, so there was no money for college, especially in the U.S.”

Although shunned for attempting what few boys dreamed of, Ntaiya finally persuaded a key village leader to help. His sway gave her the community and financial support to continue the education that would change her life—and the lives of other girls in that same village today. Ntaiya is completing her Ph.D. in education in the U.S. and directing the school for girls she has launched in her hometown.

Ntaiya’s Academy for Girls stands in stark contrast to other local rural schools, where classrooms overflow with 70 children per teacher. Attendance is compulsory through sixth grade, but in a culture that considers educating girls a bad investment since most will leave to marry by age 13, teachers focus on boys. Social custom trains women to never look men in the eye and to move out of their way on the road. Not surprisingly, girls shrink in the classroom, afraid to compete, raise hands, or seek help. Many are held back year after year, give up, and drop out.

To reverse that trend, Ntaiya believes excellent primary education is crucial. Now in its second year, her academy has 60 girls and four teachers, with a fifth to be hired soon. The school plans to accept 30 new girls each year. “We keep class sizes very small,” she explains, “so each girl receives a great deal of individual attention. We’ve also extended the school year with extra weeks in the summer focusing on English and math.”

Kenya holds national examinations for all eighth graders. Those who score best earn entrance to top high schools, further improving their chances for limited spots at universities. “When the top 100 names from the exams are published in the newspaper,” Ntaiya reports, “no one from our community is ever mentioned. I’m going to make sure my girls are on that list.”

Along with promoting rigorous academics, her school nurtures leadership skills. “After just a few months here, they become completely different people,” Ntaiya observes. “In a girls-only environment they lead, make decisions, speak up, and gain confidence. They’re smart and thriving. They just needed a chance.”

A health course gives girls information they would not otherwise receive on circumcision, the consequences of sex and early pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and their personal rights. Already the school has intervened with help from authorities to prevent a circumcision at the request of a fourth grader.

While Ntaiya insists that families who can pay tuition do so, she also works with donors to provide scholarships for girls living in extreme poverty and at high risk of child marriage. Today she focuses on completing classroom and dormitory construction so students from distant villages can board at the school. “What I need most right now,” she says with a smile, “are bricks and cement.”

Ntaiya hopes her academy will be a model replicated in other remote areas. “I’m helping girls who cannot speak for themselves. Why should they go through the hardships I endured? They’ll be stepping on my shoulders to move up the ladder—they’re not going to start on the bottom.”

Sourced from the National Geographic Website

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Degree Requirement for Job Seekers On the Way

Posted by Administrator on May 27, 2010

Nairobi — Job seekers in Kenya could soon be required to have a university degree as the basic qualification before they can be considered for employment.

Head of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Anthony Kilele said Thursday Kenya is going the India way and other fast developing countries where there is a larger number of graduates than there are jobs available. The requirement for a degree stems from the increase in the number of graduates coupled with the added number of universities and constituent colleges over the past few years.

Mr Kilele spoke as the Labour Ministry and the bureau launched a survey on Kenya’s manpower, which is expected to find out the required skills and what changes are needed in institutions of higher learning. “The beauty of this is that there is a mismatch between the skills available in the job market and what the industry needs. With this survey, we hope we shall be able to correct that,” said Mr Kilele after the meeting held at the Laico Regency Hotel.


 A mismatch in the labour market also means that people would also end up in jobs they do not like or are not trained for as there no others available. The survey would also determine what changes need to be implemented in training programmes at institutions of higher learning in order to meet the needs of the job market.

Mr Kilele said the pilot survey will involve 40 teams of 90 data collectors, who will be fanning out into the 16 districts that have been selected for the initial study. They will collect information from households, industries, institutions of higher learning and from the jua kali or informal sector. He said about Sh20 million would be spent on the research, which should go on over 25 days, and this would be used to fuel vehicles, pay allowances and cater for other logistical costs.

The results of the pilot survey will determine how the larger national survey will be carried out later this year and Mr Kilele said Sh150 million would be required for this bigger project. Respondents will be asked about their level of education and training, level of employment and whether they are in the jobs they were trained for.

Database Labour assistant minister Sospeter Ojaamong said the survey’s findings would also be used to establish a National Skills Inventory, a database of Kenya’s workers and their qualifications. “It is expected that the inventory will also help the country to determine the trends in supply of skills, skill needs by industry, skill gaps and identification and profiling of Kenyans in the Diaspora,” he said.

The results of the survey are expected to be ready by August and these together with the results of the national census will influence the course of the planned national survey.

Source: Daily Nation

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Kenyan Student drowns in Nova Scotia, Canada

Posted by Administrator on May 27, 2010

James Ochola, 18, died Tuesday while swimming in a Wolfville park. (CBC)

James Ochola, 18, died Tuesday while swimming in a Wolfville park. (CBC)

An 18-year-old student from Kenya drowned while swimming with friends in Wolfville, N.S., on Tuesday afternoon.

James Ochola had been attending Acadia University.

RCMP Sgt. Brigdit Leger said police were called to Reservoir Park just before 4 p.m. and told that four friends had gone to the unsupervised beach area and three went for a swim.

Ochola got into trouble in the water and his friends were unable to help him. RCMP recovered his body in five metres of water and he was pronounced dead at 5:20 p.m.

It’s hard for James Ochola’s sister and his friends to believe that he is gone because he was so full of life. “Tall, lanky, so social,” Rosa Ochola said Wednesday, describing her younger brother. “We’ve been kind of over flooded, in my opinion. I’m thinking, ‘Why do you make so many friends? What’s the matter with you? Now I have to entertain them all.'”

James Ochola, 18, a student at Acadia University in Wolfville, drowned Tuesday afternoon while swimming at Reservoir Park, a popular unsupervised swimming hole in the town.

James — nicknamed Odi — was a strong swimmer, but somehow couldn’t make it to shore. Wolfville police are investigating the circumstances of his death.

The first year computer science student was with friends when he struggled in the water. Foul play is not suspected. “Everybody loves him.

Rosa Ochola said her brother, James, was a popular student at Acadia University. (CBC)This is painful for a lot more people than just me,” Rosa Ochola, 25, said. She and her sister, Janet, 20, who emigrated from Kenya, know tragedy. Their parents died a few years ago, and Rosa Ochola said that, in one way, makes her brother’s death easier to accept.

“He’s with our mom and our dad. Nothing could be done — it was time. I’m sorry to become so spiritual, but that’s what happens when people are really good. They learn and then they teach us, and it’s time for them to be called back,” she said. “Nobody should feel bad about it, and just be happy that he’s not there on the other side on his own.”

Rosa and James’s friends said there is an important, and a happy date, coming in five weeks time. “We have made a pact — we are still going on and celebrating his 19th birthday party because I know he’s up there,” Rosa Ochola said.

Source: Canada Broadcasting Corporation

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