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Linda Deak Remembered

Wednesday, 18 January 2006 - NEWS

Meredith Wheeler of American Voices Abroad has written this memorial for Democrats Abroad and AVA Netherlands leader Linda Deak, who recently passed away after a struggle with cancer.

I am so saddened by the untimely death of the wonderful Linda Deak.

None of us who knew her will forget the twinkle in her eye and that wonderful slow drawl, which often cloaked many a wry, sly and insightful comment.

Linda had a gift for friendship and a rare personal warmth and charm. She was a unique & unforgettable spirit and will be much missed by all her knew her in American Voices Abroad.

Continue reading "Linda Deak Remembered"

January 18, 2006 at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

History of U.S. Citizenship

Wednesday, 18 January 2006 - OPINION

A useful history of U.S. citizenship law at the Heritage Foundation. The article concludes: "Until recent decades, American public policy consistently prohibited dual citizenship. Since 1795, Congress has required that all candidates for naturalization formally renounce allegiance to their native land and any other foreign power. That requirement remains a part of national law and is an integral element of the citizenship oath. The rationale for these policies is that citizenship requires undivided loyalty to one country.

Yet today there are millions of American citizens who are also citizens of other countries. Many are naturalized American citizens whose native countries do not recognize the renunciation of loyalty that their native citizens make in the American citizenship oath. Others are the offspring of one American parent and one foreign parent, deriving citizenship from both sides, or foreign-born children adopted by American parents. Because the courts now prohibit the government from expatriating those who maintain an active citizenship in a foreign nation (some American citizens have even held political office in other countries), dual citizenship has become a fact of American life, despite statutory law.

January 18, 2006 at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

Hudson Defends Its Position

Wednesday, 04 January 2006 - OPINION

Jeremiah Norris of Hudson responds: "While the Hudson Institute may have been out of the block first with the remittance issue, we are encouraged that it has been picked up rather substantially since by others -- perhaps even among those with a greater level of credibility. I'm sure you can check them out:

  1. "Workers remittances provide valuable financial resources to developing countries, particularly the poorest". Source: Global Development Finance: Mobilizing Finance and Managing Vulnerability, World Bank, p. 28, 2005.
  2. "Remittances are a key source of finance for developing countries, and globally have risen from US $20 billion to nearly $100 billion between 1983 and 2003, long overtaking capital flows. They are now the second largest source of development finance, after FDA". Our Common Interest: Report of the Commission for Africa, Chaired by PM Tony Blair, March 2005.
  3. "The flow of remittances from migrant workers in rich countries is an important source of development finance and now exceeds total aid flows from rich countries". Source: Financial Times, Joseph Stiglitz and Andrew Charlton, The Doha Round is missing the point on helping poor countries, December 16, 2005. 

We will be coming out with another report on this subject, hopefully in late March or early April. Digging out the required information has been difficult and we try to get two reliable sources for the various data points we present. Both the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank have now put dedicated staff on researching remittances, probably because they believe it is an emerging source of resource flows to developing countries and should be measured accurately.

I think the OECD will be coming out with a report soon, showing that the US is now second to last in terms of percentage of GNP to official development assistance. We don't believe this should be the only measurement of a country's willingness to help those less fortunate abroad. And we also believe that other developed countries, e.g., the EU, give more through various non-governmental channels that goes un-reported via the OECD formats.

January 4, 2006 at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

Passports Required for Some Canada Travel

Thursday, 29 December 2005 - NEWS

A harrowing tale from passport-less would-be traveller from New York to Montreal, journalist Cathy Hendrie. Even if it's spraying your name, date of birth and passport number across the airport terminal, a passport is still an increasingly mandatory piece of equipment for international travel by U.S. citizens.

December 29, 2005 at 01:51 AM | Comments (0)

High Court a Voice for U.S. Citizens Abroad?

Thursday, 29 December 2005 - NEWS

Charles Lane reports in the Washington Post: "With President Bush's foreign policy generally backed by a Republican-controlled Congress, friction is developing with a branch of government that usually stays out of international issues: the Supreme Court.

"Both in their decisions and in public remarks off the bench, key members of the court are expressing views either explicitly or implicitly at variance with the administration's approach.

"The issues range from U.S. tactics in the war against al Qaeda to relatively arcane questions of consular access for foreigners on death row in the United States. But a common theme runs through them: concern by members of the court about America's image in the world. Where the White House has pursued policies in the teeth of international opposition, the justices have often spoken with a multilateralist accent." Click here for the full article.

December 29, 2005 at 01:44 AM | Comments (0)

New Passports Will Still Broadcast Identity

Thursday, 29 December 2005 - NEWS

The new smart-RFID chip enabled U.S. passports scheduled for introduction in October 2006 will carry your personal data in electronic form: name, date of birth, passport number, etc. The State Department has announced that the devices will include two security measures to make snooping difficult -- a thin metal shield and encryption. Unfortunately, electronics security expert Bruce Schneier wrote in a recent piece in Wired, the passports still will broadcast a unique unencrypted identification number that may later be linked back to your personal details.

"RFID chips, including the ones specified for U.S. passports, can still be uniquely identified by their radio behavior. Specifically, these chips have a unique identification number used for collision avoidance. It's how the chips avoid communications problems if you put a bagful of them next to a reader. This is something buried deep within the chip, and has nothing to do with the data or application on the chip," Schneir writes.

"Chip manufacturers don't like to talk about collision IDs or how they work, but researchers have shown how to uniquely identify RFID chips by querying them and watching how they behave. And since these queries access a lower level of the chip than the passport application, an access-control mechanism doesn't help," he adds.

"To fix this, the State Department needs to require that the chips used in passports implement a collision-avoidance system not based on unique serial numbers. The RFID spec -- ISO 14443A is its name -- allows for a random system, but I don't believe any manufacturer implements it this way," he says. Click here for the whole article.

December 29, 2005 at 01:40 AM | Comments (0)

Oxford Analytica Spreads Hudson Canards

Thursday, 29 December 2005 - OPINION

The ridiculed argument by extreme right-wing Hudson Institute ideologue Carol Adelman that the U.S. is actually a most generous foreign aid donor has been picked up by Oxford Analytica reporting for Forbes. Adelman maintains that private remittances, for example $50 wired home by an immigrant dishwasher, should count as foreign aid. The report accepts this proposition at face value, only cautioning mildly that remittances "may not qualify as foreign aid." The reporter proceeds to swallow without examination numerous other questionable claims by Adelman -- for example, national corporate giving statistics extrapolated from a study of nine pharmaceutical companies supplemented by an unspecified number of "direct phone calls" (what other kind are there) to an unspecified number of businesses. In fact, as Adelman herself has written, the U.S. "comes in last among industrialized nations in terms of aid as a percentage of national income." So much for the reliability of Oxford Analaytica. As for Forbes -- Capitalist Tool, indeed.

December 29, 2005 at 01:07 AM | Comments (0)

Edwards Opens Democrats Abroad India

Thursday, 29 December 2005 - NEWS

The AP reports former Sen. John Edwards opened a Democrats Abroad chapter in India last month:

'"We're going to win in 2008," Edwards, the party's 2004 vice presidential nominee and a former North Carolina senator, told a group of about 100 cheering Americans living in India.

'However, Edwards, who is here to attend a conference, refused to be drawn on his plans to run for president in the next elections.

'"I have not decided yet," Edwards said, adding that he was focusing his attention on a new poverty center at the University of North Carolina, which he is presiding over.

Continue reading "Edwards Opens Democrats Abroad India"

December 29, 2005 at 12:31 AM | Comments (0)

Asia Passes North America as #1 Tourist Destination, ScotiaBank Says

Thursday, 29 December 2005 - NEWS

CNW Group's ScotiaBank reports in its publication NAFTA Quarterly that, "All three NAFTA economies have seen a decline in their relative popularity as a tourist destination." The bank continued, "The Unites States, still the world's largest tourist draw, captured just over 15% of global tourism receipts last year, down from 18% in 1985. The corresponding shares for Canada and Mexico have both fallen roughly a percentage point to 2.0% and 1.7%, respectively, over the same period.

"According to the report, Asia's international travel receipts, totalling US$120 billion in 2004, surpassed those of North America for the first time ever. With just over 19% of the global tourism market, Asia is now the number two travel destination region after Europe. China alone has seen a more than quadrupling in its share of global travel receipts over the past two decades, to 4% last year.

"The growing popularity of 'emerging' tourism markets in part reflects changing consumer tastes and demographics. At the same time, many of the factors influencing merchandise trade dynamics are also at play, namely relative cost differentials, international currency realignments, and deregulation and privatization efforts that have encouraged much-needed infrastructure and technology investments in previously less tapped areas," says Adrienne Warren, Senior Economist, Scotia Economics. "Given that tourism markets in most of the richest nations are generally better developed, while those in developing economies are often at infant stages, these diverging growth trends will likely continue."

December 29, 2005 at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

OverseasVote Foundation Seeks Funds

Saturday, 17 December 2005 - NEWS

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Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, proposes to address the logistical and systemic problems of overseas voter participation.  All citizens of the United States, including those who reside abroad temporarily or permanently, have the basic right to a functional and accessible system for registering to vote, regardless of their status or remote location. In the age of Internet, this is possible to achieve.  In the era of expanding globalization, Overseas Vote Foundation supports the growing population of overseas US citizens in long-term civic engagement in federal elections. OVF’s initiative, the “Overseas Voter Registration Wizard,” provides accessible internet-based registration and voting methods are possible. In this manner, OVF enables American overseas votes to be effectively “brought home”.

Request for Funding: OVF is seeking financial support for the software development of the Online Overseas Voter Registration Wizard. Our innovative initiative and website will serve a proportionate number of citizens from every state and US territory because the Overseas Federal Registration/Absentee Ballot Request Forms are filed domestically with local election precincts in the state where the person last resided. OVF targets a broad socio-economic population: U.S. citizens of various ethnic backgrounds who work, study or serve in the active-duty military or their dependents. Without sustained civic engagement, democracy cannot survive.  OVF’s Online Overseas Voter Registration Wizard and Internet support team defend our democracy by encouraging the long-term civic participation of American voters around the world. In this case, we speak for an often-ignored community of voters who live abroad and are not yet organized to speak about their electoral needs with one voice.

Details: IRS Status:  Nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501c3 public charity. Address: 5544 Glasgow Place Columbus, OH 43235. Executive Director: Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat Telephone: Washington DC: +1 (202) 470 2480 . Munich, Germany:  +49 89 649 391 33. Email: info@overseasvotefoundation.org www.overseasvotefoundation.org.

December 17, 2005 at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)