29 January 2013

LKY Bitch-Slapped Again, Again, and Again

from Bloomberg via the Irish Times

Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party lost a byelection with the widest margin in almost three decades, signalling prime minister Lee Hsien Loong may struggle to claw back support as the cost of living climbs.

The Workers’ Party’s Lee Li Lian (34) won 54.5 per cent of votes in the four-way race in the northeastern Punggol East district over the weekend, a 10.8 percentage point lead over the ruling party’s candidate.

That’s the most for a district held by the PAP since the 1984 general elections, according to data from the elections department.

Record-high housing and transport costs, public discontent over an influx of foreigners, and infrastructure strains are weakening approval for the only party that has ruled Singapore since independence in 1965.

Its policies, which have helped forge southeast Asia’s only advanced economy, are now being questioned by voters, many of whom are looking for a government that is less authoritative and more consultative.

Rethink policies

“The scope of the loss indicates that it is national and there is something fundamentally wrong with the way the PAP is operating,” said Bridget Welsh, a political science professor at the Singapore Management University. “The voters are saying they really want a rethink of some of the government’s policies.”

The results extended the loss in the 2011 general elections, when a record six opposition members, all from the Workers’ Party, were elected into the 87-seat Parliament.

The prime minister said after the poll that byelections tended to be tougher for the ruling party, and he would continue to focus on policies for the longer term that may take more time to yield results. This month his administration said it would give priority housing to families with children and provide greater childcare subsidies.

28 January 2013

Former Viet Strongman Nguyen Khanh Dead at Age 86

From the New York Times, 1/27/2013

Nguyen Khanh, General Who Led Coup, Dies at 86

Nguyen Khanh, a South Vietnamese general who briefly seized control of the government before being deposed and sent into exile, died on Jan. 11 in San Jose, Calif. He was 86.

The cause was health problems related to diabetes, according to a statement from Chanh Nguyen Huu, who succeeded General Khanh as head of a self-described South Vietnamese government in exile in California.


General Khanh’s rise to power in the 1960s, and his ultimate defeat, came during a period of deep political turmoil in South Vietnam, marked by several coup attempts in which he played a role.
In November 1960, already a major general, he helped thwart an attempt to depose the country’s president, Ngo Dinh Diem, who had the strong backing of the United States at the time.
But President Diem’s rule came to an end three years later, in 1963, when he was overthrown by a military junta led by South Vietnamese generals.
Although General Khanh had played a role in deposing President Diem, he was not selected to be on the 12-man Military Revolutionary Council that took control of the government.
General Khanh, one of many Vietnamese officers who picked up a love of poker from the French, bided his time before playing his hand.
On Jan. 30, 1964, he seized control of South Vietnam’s government without a shot being fired, throwing his old poker buddy Gen. Ton That Dinh in jail along with several other leaders of the military junta.
“The bloodless coup d’état executed by the short, partly bald general apparently took Saigon by surprise,” The New York Times reported at the time.
General Khanh had “a deserved reputation as a brilliant and driving field commander, but also as a ‘lone wolf,’ ” The Times wrote, adding, “He has no truly intimate associates among the other generals.”
General Khanh was born on Nov. 8, 1927, in Tra Vinh, a small South Vietnamese border town.
He joined the French colonial army in 1954, the year France pulled out of what was then known as Indochina. He would go on to serve loyally under President Diem.
Like other senior Vietnamese officers, General Khanh had received military education in both France and the United States and won distinction as both a fighter pilot and a battlefield commander.
But he had a stormy tenure as premier and leader of the South Vietnamese military after he seized power. His rule lasted only one year: in February 1965 he was deposed by a junta of four junior officers.
Although he was hastily given the title of ambassador at large, General Khanh would never again play a significant role in his country’s future.
He left Vietnam with his wife and four children, first settling in France and then moving to the United States.
He eventually settled in Northern California with his family, but throughout his life he tried to keep some connection with his homeland.
In 1995 he established the Government of Free Vietnam in Exile, which had its headquarters in a small storefront in Garden Grove, Calif.
Information on survivors was not immediately available.

26 January 2013



from:  http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/279231-immigration-reform-could-add-millions-under-obama-health-law#ixzz2J5kxjSpY

Immigration reform could add millions under Obama health law

By Elise Viebeck - 01/26/13 06:00 AM ET
Comprehensive immigration reform could make millions of people suddenly eligible for assistance under President Obama's healthcare law, assuming a final deal paves the way for undocumented immigrants to receive papers.
Illegal aliens are now prohibited from purchasing coverage through the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges, which will launch next year.

They are also ineligible for Medicaid under most circumstances, making the law's expansion of the program fruitless for people without documents. Even young illegal immigrants with "deferred action" status, known as "DREAMers," cannot access the law's benefits.
But the picture could change completely if Hispanic lawmakers get their wish — an overhaul of U.S. immigration policy that includes a path to legalization.
"We have to figure out a way in which [undocumented immigrants] incorporate themselves into the larger workforce, and into our society in general, and not be a burden," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a leader in the immigration debate.
"Do we want them to go to the exchanges? Absolutely we do — if and when they don't have healthcare through their employer," he said.
Immigration is expected to be a major issue for President Obama's second term, and advocates like Gutierrez are pushing hard to make reform a reality.
Recent polls show the public is increasingly on board. According to a CNN/ORC poll from Jan. 21, 53 percent want a path to legalization for illegal immigrants — a major shift from 2011, when most wanted Washington focused on deportations.
The consequences for Obama's signature healthcare law, as well as healthcare providers, could be huge.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said the legalization of undocumented people would benefit hospitals now burdened by uncompensated care.
If nothing changes, undocumented immigrants will be a major share of the uninsured, second only to those who are eligible but do not apply for coverage under the healthcare law in 2014, according to the Urban Institute.

More from The Hill:
• Boehner full of regret over 'fiscal-cliff' moves
• Ryan: Republicans can’t play the ‘villain’ in Obama’s ‘morality play’
• Obama to unveil immigration plan

Federal reimbursement for uncompensated care was also slashed under the Affordable Care Act, raising the stakes for hospitals that serve low-income populations.

"I think hospitals and healthcare providers would see it as a huge plus," Grijalva said, referring to an immigration policy that legalizes undocumented people and makes them eligible for federal benefits.
"The bottom line is, these people would be contributing toward their own healthcare and not being dependent. They'd be paying taxes. I'd see that as a plus rather than a negative," he said.
The idea of providing "ObamaCare" benefits to immigrants has long inflamed partisan rancor.
Most famously, it prompted Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) to shout "You lie!" during Obama's 2009 healthcare address on the House floor, when the president pledged that healthcare reform would not cover undocumented aliens.
Looking ahead, it is possible that immigration changes could upend the law's cost picture, which is already of major concern to critics.
Sarah Hale, director of healthcare policy at the American Action Forum, cautioned that it is far too early to predict whether a new immigration policy would raise the health law's tab.
"There are three or four moving parts that could push the cost one way or the other, like state choices on the Medicaid expansion," she said.
"But if there are a huge swath of people who are newly eligible for an insurance subsidy or for Medicaid, then naturally that is going to impact the budget number."
Grijalva argued that the status quo is unsustainable, no matter what the immigration debate yields.
Most undocumented workers seek care in emergency rooms or storefront clinics, which may not accept credit or insurance, he said.
"All of that, as public health officials say, does not contribute to the overall quality of health in any community," Grijalva said. "And besides, most often, somebody else is paying for it."

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/279231-immigration-reform-could-add-millions-under-obama-health-law#ixzz2J6TSuhyI
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17 January 2013



 Census shows Asians eclipse Latino arrivals to California

Published: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 - 6:07 pm
The face of new Californians – once predominantly Latino – is increasingly Asian American, census data show.
A seismic shift in immigration has occurred in California over the last decade, with Asia replacing Latin America as the primary source of the state's immigrants.
"This is a pretty astounding change over a short period of time," said Hans Johnson, co-director of the Public Policy Institute of California, citing census data.
"For the first time in decades, the number of Asians coming to California exceeded the flow from Latin America, and it exceeds that flow by a lot – 2 1/2 times greater."
To have Latino immigrants eclipsed by those from Asia over the past five to 10 years "could represent the end of an era," Johnson said.
In 2001, 42 percent of immigrants coming to California were from Latin America, primarily Mexico, while 37 percent were from Asia. In 2011, 57 percent of new immigrants were from Asia, and just 22 percent were from Latin America, census data show.
California's new faces were on display at a swearing-in ceremony at the Sacramento Convention Center on Wednesday. Of the 774 area residents who took the oath of citizenship, about 450 were born in Asia, compared with roughly 160 who were born in Latin America, according to the U.S. Citizenship and and Immigration Services.
They included 119 people from Mexico, 100 from India, 94 from the Philippines, 63 from Vietnam, 35 from Ukraine, 33 from the People's Republic of China and 29 from Laos.
Among those celebrating their newly minted citizenship was Melody Malliet, who dressed in a crisp white suit to take the pledge of allegiance. She came here from the Philippines four years ago to marry an American citizen and is now a nursing assistant in Calaveras County. "It feels so good to be a U.S. citizen," Malliet said with a huge smile. "I'm part of the greatest country in the world."
Filipinos – the largest Asian ethnic group in Sacramento – often come here to fill jobs in health care.
The changing needs of California's economy since the start of the recession explain much of the shift from Latin America to Asia. "Part of what we're seeing is the changing face of California's labor market, which has been increasingly demanding more highly educated workers," Johnson said.
Unemployment has gone up at all levels, "but it's gone up the most for people with high school degrees or less," Johnson said. "Immigrants from Asia, particularly India, tend to be much more highly educated, much more likely to have earned a bachelor's degree."
While 74 percent of recent arrivals from India have at least bachelor's degrees, 59 percent of Mexican immigrants have less than a high school degree, and there are now fewer jobs for less-educated immigrants, Johnson said.
The census doesn't ask for a person's immigration status, but the declining Latino numbers reflect a drop in undocumented immigrants, Johnson said. A substantial number of newcomers are sponsored by California businesses that help skilled immigrants obtain H-1B visas and other types of work authorization, he said.
"High-tech firms are arguing in Washington, D.C., that the number of work visas needs to be increased because they're having a hard time finding people trained in computer sciences, and those jobs have often gone to Asian immigrants," he said.
The number of foreign students coming to California also has risen. For example, there are now more than 1,500 students and scholars from China and Taiwan at UC Davis.
Asian Resources, which helps immigrants find jobs, has seen a large influx of immigrants from Mongolia, China, Laos and India, said executive director Stephanie Nguyen.
They include doctors, architects and professors seeking a better life, added placement counselor Sheng Lo. "Over the last three years, I've seen a lot of refugees from Iraq and Iran who came here as asylees or refugees seeking political or religious freedom," Lo said. "And we had a couple from India – a teacher and pharmacist – who came looking for a better life for their kids. They learned they'd have to be retrained here."
Overall, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the number of new immigrants coming to California went up slightly between 2010 and 2011, from 257,359 to 277,304. The Sacramento area also saw a slight boost in legal immigrants, from 8,047 to 9,469, federal immigration officials said.
But the number of new immigrants coming to California from Latin America annually has plummeted 65 percent since 2001, going from roughly 147,000 to 60,000 in 2011, Johnson said.
The drop began in earnest around 2007, when California's economy began to falter ahead of the lengthy recession. Since 2006, the number of Latin American immigrants arriving each year in California has dropped by about 70,000.
Meanwhile, the number of Asian immigrants coming to California has grown, particularly from China and Taiwan. In 2001, about 129,000 immigrants came to California from Asia; by 2011, that number had risen to 160,000.
Immigrants coming each year from China and Taiwan grew 45 percent over the last decade, going from 25,000 to about 38,000. The biggest jump occurred from 2010 to 2011, when 10,000 more Chinese came to California than during the previous year.
The number of Koreans coming here each year has also grown sharply, going from about 13,000 in 2001 to 17,000 in 2011.
At Wednesday's citizenship ceremony, hundreds of new immigrants waited in line for Social Security numbers.
Huy Tran, an 18-year-old senior at Florin High who arrived from Hue, Vietnam, in 2006, said he wants to help people with asthma, something he's struggled with.
Ye Her, a Hmong refugee from Sacramento accompanied by her daughter May Saechao, 24, proudly displayed her citizenship certificate. "I've never felt this happy in my life before," she said.
© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/01/17/5120459/asian-immigrants-to-california.html#storylink=cpy

08 January 2013

RIP California's Gold

Another Singapore Fling


filed by Bian-lian Huang

Singapore is one of the richest -- if not the richest -- country in the world.  As its wealth skyrockets, the reverse is true for the public morality of Singapore's leaders.  The Speaker of the Singaporean parliament, a senior politico in this steamy, autocratic republic, recently resigned from all official positions because of a sex scandal.  This scandal is one of many recent sexscapades taking place among the tiny republic's politicians and senior civil servants.

Unlike the mistresses of Western politicians, Mr. Michael Palmer, aged 44, hooked up with a cutie.  I would do her too.


from:  http://www.whatsonsanya.com/news-24919.html

S'porean Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer, 44, quits over sex scandal

Updated: 13 Dec 2012
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Michael Palmer
The People's Action Party (PAP) first came to know about Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer's extramarital affair last Saturday night when he himself informed Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean about the matter and that he would resign from his positions in politics.

The next morning, Mr Palmer met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who agreed that the proper thing to do was for Mr Palmer, who is the Member of Parliament for Punggol East Single Member Constituency (SMC), to admit his mistake openly and take responsibility by stepping down.

"We took the last two days to make the arrangements to ensure that residents of Punggol East (constituency) continue to be taken care of, and that the transition is carried out according to the proper legal and administrative procedures," said Mr Teo at a press conference held early yesterday afternoon.

"On behalf of the party and of myself, I would like to say to the residents of Punggol East: 'I am very sorry that we have let you down. I assure you that we will put things right and continue to look after you'."

This was the shocking revelation made to reporters at the press conference held at the PAP headquarters in New Upper Changi Road.

The sombre atmosphere which filled the small room grew heavier as Mr Palmer, 44, shed light that it was a staff member of the People's Association (PA) branch at Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC that he had an affair with.

He provided little detail of who the woman was, instead saying that he resigned to take responsibility for a "grave mistake" he made. Wearing a severe frown, he added that his conduct was "improper" and that he had made "a serious error of judgment".

"While the individual did not work with me directly, Punggol East used to be part of the GRC and continues to work with it. My conduct was improper," said Mr Palmer. "I have resigned in order to avoid further embarrassment to the PAP and Parliament."

The PA said in a statement last evening that the constituency director of its Pasir Ris West Constituency Office, Ms Laura Ong, resigned from her position on Monday. She had cited family commitments as her reason for leaving.

My Paper understands that Ms Ong is the woman whom Mr Palmer had an affair with.

Apologising "unreservedly" to the residents in his constituency, colleagues and his own family, Mr Palmer added that he had performed his professional duties to the best of his abilities and that his actions did not affect how he carried out his duties. Mr Teo said that in the interim, the Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Mayor of the North East District, Mr Teo Ser Luck, will oversee Punggol East constituency.

MP Zainal Sapari will be appointed as the new chairman of Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council, while Deputy Speaker of Parliament Charles Chong will serve as Acting Speaker until Mr Lee nominates a new Speaker when Parliament meets on Jan 14.

In a letter yesterday to Mr Palmer, Mr Lee said that it is with "great sadness" that he accepted his resignation and apologies.

He added that it is necessary that all PAP MPs and Advisers to Grassroots Organisations "uphold highest standards of personal conduct" and for "the party to be seen to hold them to these standards". Mr Teo Chee Hean also said that while the PAP does its best to choose its representatives carefully, no selection system is foolproof.

He said: "Sometimes, problems may emerge many years after an appointment or selection is made. The important thing to do when such an episode arises is that we act properly."

Assistant Professor Eugene Tan of the Singapore Management University's law faculty said that the PAP moved swiftly to address the matter, unlike a similar incident involving the Workers' Party's Yaw Shin Leong, who vacated his seat in Hougang in February.

Dr Tan, who is also a Nominated Member of Parliament, said: "Mr Yaw's expulsion from WP was more because he was non-cooperative with the inquiry. WP did not come out to state clearly enough that they would not tolerate such conduct."
SOURCE: Asia One