12.27.2011 – Conspiracy Roundup: Border Fence Chaos (for TruTV.com Conspiratorium)

Conspiracy Roundup: Border Fence Chaos

Benjamin J Spencer
By Benjamin J Spencer
December 27, 2011 2:24PM

BorderAuthorities in Finland have allegedly discovered 69 smuggled U.S. Patriot missiles and 150 tons of explosives bound for China in crates labeled “fireworks.”

Controversy over the National Defense Authorization Act, which some civil rights groups thinks will legalize indefinite detention of U.S. citizens, is heating up on the internet right before Obama is set to sign it into law.

In related news, Twitter is again accused of censoring news about SOPA, OWS and the National Defense Authorization Act. The company has denied all previous conspiracy theories about coverups.

Some will try anything to conquer an annoying cold. But brain-eating amoeba might be a bit of overkill…

Some suspect these overwhelming displays of grief from North Koreans over the death of dictator Kim Jong Il to be mass-staged for state television. But it’s not like he’s still watching them… or is he?

How did a former British paratrooper manage to run a thriving bar in Baghdad right next door to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq? Apparently, they had one great Iraqi fixer.

These former Texans now living on the Mexican side of the border fence insist they are still U.S. citizens.

On a related note, it looks like the only immigrant population the Arizona border fence has succeeded in reducing are black bears. To be fair, the bears admitted they were here to take our jobs.

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11.22.2011 – Conspiracy Roundup: Aliens, Yeti and Dolphins (Oh My!) (for TruTV.com Conspiratorium)

Conspiracy Roundup: Aliens, Yetis and Dolphins

Benjamin J Spencer
By Benjamin J Spencer
November 22, 2011 7:14AM

Dolphins photo by Jesslee Cuizon
Those smelly Yeti are leaving their tree-nests all over Siberia again, angering environmentalists with their wanton destruction. Patience, tree huggers. Give the Yeti time to develop ecological consciousness.

In Southern Ranches, Fla, elected officials secretly kept their plan to let the federal government build the nation’s largest illegal immigrant detention center from their own constituents for a decade. The town’s immigrant activists and immigrant-fearers now agree on something: they’re pissed.

The U.S. military may soon be able to identify you – yes, you there, hiding in that crowd – by your heartbeat, with Star Trek-style life-form readers.

Could this bizarre skull, mummified in a Peruvian city, be an alien?

After receiving an unspecified number of death threats, Herman Cain is officially the first Republican candidate to request and receive permission to employ the Secret Service as security.

Egad. Do we have yet another foiled New York City bomb plot?

Bored with simply smuggling us blow, Sinaola, the largest Mexican cartel, has been plotting to deliver major strikes to U.S. targets,in Mexico City.

Meet America’s elite marine mammal fighting force!

Italian scientists conducting experiments in what resembles the Galactic Senate Chamber from Star Wars (sans crappy CGI) thumb their noses at Einstein and conclude that neutrinos are faster than light.

03.07.2011 – City Aids Entrepreneurial Immigrants – CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS

City aids entrepreneurial immigrants

New York City to start offering its free small business courses in Chinese, Korean and Russian; Latino and Asian immigrants startups grew the fastest, one study shows.

By Benjamin J. Spencer
March 7, 2011 12:05 p.m.
Entrepreneurial immigrants will soon be able to take the city’s free small business courses in Chinese, Korean and Russian, thanks to a new city initiative unveiled last week.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the plan as part of three new programs aimed at aiding New York’s immigrant entrepreneurs. The Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, in conjunction with the city’s Economic Development Corp. and Department of Small Business Services, are funding the programs.

The language component will begin “immediately” with the creation of a pilot program to translate the city’s free small business courses into Chinese, Korean, and Russian, according to EDC spokesman Kyle Sklerov. Existing Spanish language courses will also be expanded.

The initiative represents a step forward for immigrant businesses, according to Yanki Tshering, executive director of the Business Center for New Americans, a New York City-based nonprofit that aids immigrant entrepreneurs.

“It’s definitely been a long time in coming,” said Ms. Tshering. Historically, she said, there has been “a lack of awareness of the need for support for immigrant business, especially considering how progressive New York City is and the high number of immigrants that are here.”

The mayor’s actions come at a time when the percentage of new immigrant entrepreneurs soared nationwide. The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, which tracks monthly business creation, found that for 2010, an average of 620 out of 100,000 immigrants, or 0.6%, started a new business monthly, compared to only 280 out of 100,000, or 0.3%, for native-born citizens.

That gap is widening. While business creation by immigrants rose sharply from 2009 to 2010, the rate started native-born Americans dropped. The index culled data from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to come up with the figures.

Latino and Asian immigrant business startups grew the fastest, according to the Kauffman Foundation.

“The mayor is committed to these groups,” Mr. Sklerov said. “They will be a huge part of New York’s future.” Mr. Sklerov cited a 2007 Center for an Urban Future study finding that even back in 2000, immigrants made up 49% of all self-employed workers in the city. 2010 U.S. Census statistics won’t be available until later this year.

Despite their role in the local small business community, immigrants in NYC face daunting barriers, such as access to credit, Mr. Sklerov said. The city and the Deutsche Bank foundation will split the costs for a competition that will award $25,000 each to five city nonprofits that create plans to aid immigrant entrepreneurs. The nonprofit deemed to have the best plan to promote immigrant startups at the end of a pilot period will be awarded an additional $100,000.

Mr. Sklerov said the city will begin accepting plan submissions from nonprofits sometime this summer and will pick the ultimate winner by next year. The main requirement of a good plan, he said, will be inclusiveness. “We live in a large city,” he said. “We’re looking for something that’s going to work for immigrants everywhere in New York.”

The Economic Development Corp. and Department of Small Business Services are working with Baruch College, the Pratt Center for Community Development and the South Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp. to plan a business expo for local immigrant-run food manufacturing businesses. Baruch College’s Newman Conference Center in Manhattan will host the expo on May 25.

Ms. Tshering said the Business Center for New Americans was “very excited” about the initiatives. “We will definitely participate in the competition,” she said, noting that Deutsche Bank representatives keen on funding immigrant business had already contacted her organization.

The biggest step forward in the initiatives will be to give immigrant business owners more access to information, Ms. Tschering said. “And I think the mayor sincerely means that.”

02.24.2011 – New York’s Asian Immigrants MIssing Social Services – CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS

NY’s Asian immigrants missing social services

The Asian-American communities in New York City have grown too quickly for social services to keep up, according to a new report released Thursday.

By Benjamin J. Spencer
Published: February 24, 2011 – 3:58 pm
A new report from a Chinatown nonprofit concludes that Asian-American communities in New York City have grown so fast over the past decade that their constituents no longer have adequate access to social services like health care and English-as-a-second-language programs.Asian Americans for Equality, a longtime booster of immigrant education and housing equality in the city, released the report Thursday. The research focused on nine neighborhoods throughout the city whose Asian-American populations totaled 25% or more. It found that although Asian-Americans represent over 12% of the metropolitan area’s population, Asian-American-led community groups receive only about 1% of the city’s social service contracts.“Asian-American communities have really grown beyond the traditional enclaves in New York”, said Douglas Nam Le, author of the report. “The question is, are they represented? Have the community boards kept up?”

Mr. Le said traditional Asian family structures favor economic cooperation among family members, and because of high rents and low wages, a large number of family members are often squeezed into the same house or apartment to cut costs. This distorts household income reports, he said. For his report, Mr. Le analyzed data from U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Surveys, conducted monthly from 2005-2009.

“The way that these social service contracts are set up sometimes excludes certain ethnicities,” Mr. Le said. He added that in many of the city’s Asian-American families, “even though there’s relative parity in household income, per capita income is lower than the neighborhood average.”

Mr. Le said he hopes the results of the 2010 Census, to be released later this year, will help spur more affordable housing and better social service access for the emerging and rapidly shifting groups, who often must travel far from their own neighborhoods to Flushing, Queens, or Manhattan’s Chinatown to obtain needed services.

“We get a lot of calls from the outer boroughs, like Brooklyn,” said Vanessa Leung, deputy director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. Long travel times mean that “people probably are not going to seek preventative care from health clinics,” she said. “It’s an additional barrier, especially if they have to take time off work.”

The report also found many smaller Asian-American groups lacked access to English language instruction in their neighborhoods.

Kelly Magee, a spokeswoman for City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who co-founded Asian Americans for Equality back in 1974 and represents the Chinatown district, issued a statement saying that, without basic ESL programs, immigrant “access to social services, jobs, and engagement with the wider political arena is limited.”

“Furthermore, as the makeup of traditional immigrant neighborhoods evolve, it is important for long-term residents to have the capacity and organization to influence such changes, not be victimized or further isolated by them,” the statement said.

Deep cuts in city social services due to the economic downturn have only worsened the isolation, said Linda Lee, an executive director of Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York.

As one of the largest Korean-American social service groups in the city, the nonprofit runs an adult daycare center, two senior centers, a meals-on-wheels program and an ESL center. But Ms. Lee said a more than 30% cut in city funding last year led to a 100-person wait list for English language instruction.

“We try our best to accommodate the needs,” Ms. Lee said. “But it’s kind of difficult.”