Groups open doors for Iraqis who helped United States

Uday Hattem is like any New Yorker. He rides the subway, loves a good slice of pizza and sometimes meets friends for a late-night dinner. Just a few years ago, Hattem lived with his family in Baghdad, where he worked for the U.S. Army as a translator. He was shot in the face and arm by terrorists for cooperating with the Americans. Now, he lives in Staten Island, one of thousands of Iraqis who worked for the U.S. military hoping to make a new life here. "It's a really special city," said the 49-year-old former factory supervisor. "You can live as you like. You can live free. New York is my home now." Hattem has had about two dozen surgeries since he was shot. He is waiting for a prosthetic eye and will soon start looking for a job. He hopes his family can follow him. It wasn't easy to get here. Several New York-based organizations are working to help the thousands of Iraqi translators seeking asylum in the United States. The Staten Island-based Global Medical Relief Fund, which helps children injured by war, gave Hattem a place to live until he recovers and finds a job. "He was helping our country," said founder and director Elissa Montanti. "It's the right thing to do." The Manhattan-based law firm of Proskauer Rose, along with Washington-based Holland & Knight, has helped dozens of Iraqi translators get visas to stay here, including Hattem. "When your life is in danger, you don't have time to wait," said lawyer Avi Morell, who added that while it can take more than a year to process the paperwork, the U.S. government has recently made a push to bring more Iraqi refugees here. More than 6,000 Iraqis have settled in the U.S. since fiscal year 2007 began, according to the UN High Commission on Refugees. The goal is to take a total of 12,000 by this fall, though it's unlikely the State Department will reach that number. Many of these Iraqi refugees will settle here. Nour Alkhal came here a year ago after being shot Continue Reading

‘I never thought I’d be talking to the President of the United States’

Big Town Big Dreams Stories about immigrant New Yorkers who make this town the great place it is "My last name in Arabic," explained Fouzia Bouanane, "is the word for 'artist.' My father would laugh about how nobody in our family is an artist. So I was always telling my daddy, 'Yes, I'm going to be a makeup artist.'" She was right - although the 43-year-old Queens resident wasn't pursuing career plans when she came to America in 1990. The native of Morocco arrived in Connecticut as part of an arranged marriage - "It didn't work," she says. Bouanane then moved on to New York City, where she found some unexpected opportunity. "I took a job with the Fox News Channel," she says, "working in housekeeping. Thank God for that. I used to go to the green rooms and put coffee and soda in there, and I would still sigh and say, 'One day, I'm going to be a makeup artist.' And suddenly I was able to go to school and work with great makeup artists there." That opportunity began with Bouanane's daily routine. As she explains, "I used to make the coffee each morning for Roger Ailes, who is the CEO of the company. He told me that he would see me each morning with my big smile and my attitude, happy all the time. I first spoke of my dream to Roger, when he asked me what I wanted for myself." Bouanane laughs at her own ambition: "I didn't know what would happen - if maybe they would fire me. But I knew one day I would be a makeup artist. Maybe it would have to be another day, but it would happen." As it turned out, Ailes was planning a paid apprenticeship program as part of Fox News' diversity initiatives. Bouanane soon became a pioneer in Fox's plan to give in-house employ-ees advancement opportunities. Shortly after becoming part of the Fox News makeup staff, Bouanane was touching up Bill O'Reilly, whose "O'Reilly Factor" is the most popular show on cable news. "I used to clean his office," she recalls, "and then his makeup artist tells him, 'Okay, I'm Continue Reading

Letters for May 5: Protesters disgrace United States

Disrespect for U.S.Recently, I observed a photograph in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of an immigration policy protester flying a Mexican flag.Having spent years in Mexico working with the poor, in that time I experienced corruption in the Mexican government and the local police and the federal police. It seems many are paid off by the drug cartels. The Mexican poor are completely ignored by government policies.I cannot understand why the Mexican people will not stand up against this corruption. Instead of attempting to make their living standards better and fighting against such corrupt government policies, they just pack their bags and head to the United States border to escape the conditions.Then for me to observe the photograph of the protester flying the Mexican flag of the country they just rejected because of such terrible working conditions, I am completely perplexed. If they truly love and respect their country that much, why did they leave it?Then to come to my country and protest the laws that have been set in place by the American people is a complete disgrace against my country that many of my friends, including my family, have shed their blood for. Peter Stotzheim North Fond du Lac Wall Street’s punishmentI am writing in reference to the article published April 29 titled “Wall Street punishes airline for pay raises.”The article cites that American Airlines had net earnings of $234 million for the first quarter and the CEO of the airline, Doug Parker, decided to reward his pilots and flight attendants with pay raises. This act apparently angered Wall Street.If ever one needed proof that the “theory” of trickle-down economics is a deception, fallacy, downright lie, then look no further than this quote by CitiBank/Wall Street analyst Kevin Crissey “This (pay raise) is frustrating. Labor is being paid first...again.”Yes, this quote is brought to you by the same Wall Street elitists who brought this country to Continue Reading

Trump: Syrian strike is in ‘vital national security interest’ of United States

PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump said he ordered targeted airstrikes against a Syrian airfield Thursday in retaliation for the regime's chemical weapons attack against civilians this week."It is in the vital national security interest of the United states to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons," Trump said Thursday night. "Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria."Speaking to reporters from Mar-a-Lago, the resort he owns in Palm Beach, Trump condemned Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying he "choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children.""Numerous previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all found and failed very dramatically. As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies," he said.Trump delivered the three-minute statement with the help of two teleprompters and stuck to his script. He was surrounded by top aides, including chief strategist Steve Bannon, chief of staff Reince Priebus and daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump. Minutes earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his delegation left Mar-a-Lago following a formal dinner in advance of working meetings on Friday."We pray for the lives of the wounded. As long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will in the end prevail." More on Syria: Analysis: Trump just ordered the kind of attack against Syria that he warned Obama against Trump: Syrian strike is in 'vital national security interest' of United States U.S. launches strikes against Syria: Here's what we know Syria's civil war: A look at how we got to this point Continue Reading


Fourball: Europe 2, United States 1 Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk (U. S.) def. Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington, 1-up. Stewart Cink and J. J. Henry (U. S.) halved with Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson. Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia (Europe) def. David Toms and Brett Wetterich, 3 and 2. Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood (Europe) def. Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco, 1-up. Foursomes: Europe 2 , United States 1 Chad Campbell and Zach Johnson (U. S.) halved with Harrington and Paul McGinely. Cink and Toms (U. S.) halved with David Howell and Henrik Stenson. Mickelson and DiMarco (U. S.) halved with Westwood and Montgomerie. Luke Donald and Garcia (Europe) def. Woods and Furyk, 2-up. Match of the Day Afternoon foursomes Chris DiMarco & Phil Mickelson halve with Colin Montgomerie & Lee Westwood With both teams ringing the 18th green, Montgomerie drains an eight-foot putt in the final match of the day to steal a half-point and give Europe a two-point advantage. The U. S. is 1-up coming to No. 18 and seems to be in perfect position after Mickelson bombs his drive past Westwood's. But Montgomerie finds the edge of the green from 267 yards out and DiMarco fans a shot into the right bunker. The best Mickelson can do from a decent lie is 12 feet. DiMarco misses that, while the Euros two-putt from 65 feet, Montgomerie saving himself from an 0-2 day by holing the last. "How many times have we seen him hole that left-to-right putt coming back? " Europe captain Ian Woosnam asks. "He's done it so many times. He's got such courage. " Mickelson carries DiMarco for much of the match, including an incredible approach shot around a tree and into howling winds on No. 17. DiMarco does reach the par-5 16th in two after Mickelson hits another long drive. Montgomerie finds the water with his shot there, giving the Americans a one-hole advantage. But the 18th changes things dramatically. "That last halved match was a big Continue Reading

‘Sharknado 3’ casts Mark Cuban as President of the United States and Ann Coulter as his vice president

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the voting booth ... “Shark Tank” judge Mark Cuban will play the President of the United States, with conservative author Ann Coulter as his vice president in “Sharknado 3,” producers announced Monday. Cuban, a self-proclaimed libertarian, waded into political waters in October, hitting CNBC to advise the Republican Party to stay away from social issues. And most Democrats would probably rather take their chances with whirlwinds full of toothy great whites than have Coulter anywhere near the Oval Office. But they may be a winning ticket for the third installment of the Syfy hit television movie series — a franchise that attracts no shortage of D-listers given its surprising popularity. Cuban and Coulter will be joining all-star (sort of) chums in the water that already includes Bo Derek, Jerry Springer, NSYNC singer Chris Kirkpatrick and pro-wrestler Chris Jericho. Most importantly, series stars Ian Ziering and Tara Reid will be back, after surviving the once-in-a-lifetime weather patterns twice before — in Los Angeles and New York. Ziering had told New York Daily News readers in a live chat last year that he hoped to take the CGI sharks overseas. But returning director Anthony C. Ferrante and screenpwriter Thunder Levin opted for a toothy rampage up the East Coast from Orlando, Fla.’s SeaWorld to the nation’s capital. If there’s anything that can bring Washington, D.C. Democrats and Republicans together it’s the specter of sharks raining down from the sky. Plus there are a lot of fellow Americans that will be tuning in: the New York-set “Sharknado 2” drew a record 3.9 million viewers to the network when it aired last July and generated 1 billion Twitter impressions during its initial broadcast. Continue Reading

‘The consequences will be catastrophic for the United States’: Top Russian analyst advises blowing up Yellowstone in paranoid editorial

What would happen if the Russians tried to launch nuclear bombs onto American soil, aiming to trigger a giant tsunami or the eruption of a supervolcano? That was precisely the plan one Russian military analyst laid out to combat the West, and it's fit for a Superman comic book or an Eisenhower-era James Bond caper. "The consequences will be catastrophic for the United States — a country just disappears," Konstantin Sivkov, director of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems in Moscow, wrote in the trade newspaper VPK News. His sinister suggestions, dated March 25, were translated and reported by the Sydney Morning Herald. Sivkov reportedly said he believes the multinational military alliance NATO is redoubling its forces against Russia, with America as the main aggressor. His solution: a much colder cold war. Russia's response, he said, should be "complete destruction of the enemy." He's evidently given a monumental amount of thought into how that should happen. "Geologists believe that the Yellowstone supervolcano could explode at any moment," Sivkov said, before claiming it would take "relatively small" effort to "initiate an eruption." A 2013 study found that Yellowstone's supervolcano has enough molten rock to span the Earth's surface if it erupts. The bellicose bureaucrat also names California's San Andreas fault line as "another vulnerable area" in America. "A detonation of a nuclear weapon there can trigger catastrophic events like a coast-scale tsunami, which can completely destroy the infrastructure of the United States," he said. He said the mass destruction would not only fend off alleged American antagonism toward Russia, but also make the "American elite" suffer for its country's military actions. The revenge-minded Russian has railed on this topic before, telling the Russian newspaper Pravda in December that "American society will decay someday." He also compared America's penal Continue Reading

France warns citizens touring United States: Be cool around gunslinging Americans

Don’t anger the Americans. The French government has been warning its citizens to be careful in the United States because residents could be packing heat. “Under all circumstances, keep calm and composure,” so as not to upset any of the gunslinging locals, the French foreign ministry advised. The travel warning is one of a string of stereotype-reinforcing tips the ministry posted on its site. French tourists should also take extra care when dealing with police, the ministry advised. “With the police, it is imperative not to make false statements, not to raise your voice and avoid sudden or aggressive gestures,” the ministry said. It’s not clear how long the notices have been on the government site, according to Bloomberg News which first picked up on the warnings. Other advice includes avoiding raunchy jokes lest the uptight Americans take offense and call the cops. “It’s recommended to adopt a reserved attitude toward those of the opposite sex,” the ministry warns. “Comments, behavior, and jokes, which might be harmless in Latin countries, can lead to criminal cases.” And don’t even think about wearing a monokini. “The Americans are very tolerant in dress material. However, the monokini is officially forbidden, even for little girls.” Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

United States ‘abandoned Cambodia and handed it over to the butcher’ during pullout 40 years ago: ex-ambassador

PARIS — Twelve helicopters, bristling with guns and U.S. Marines, breached the morning horizon and began a daring descent toward Cambodia’s besieged capital. Residents believed the Americans were rushing in to save them, but at the U.S. Embassy, in a bleeding city about to die, the ambassador wept. Forty years later, John Gunther Dean recalls one of the most tragic days of his life — April 12, 1975, the day the United States “abandoned Cambodia and handed it over to the butcher.” “We’d accepted responsibility for Cambodia and then walked out without fulfilling our promise. That’s the worst thing a country can do,” he says in an interview in Paris. “And I cried because I knew what was going to happen.” Five days after the dramatic evacuation of Americans, the U.S.-backed government fell to communist Khmer Rouge guerrillas. They drove Phnom Penh’s 2 million inhabitants into the countryside at gunpoint. Nearly 2 million Cambodians — one in every four — would die from executions, starvation and hideous torture. Many foreigners present during the final months remain haunted to this day by Phnom Penh’s death throes, by the heartbreaking loyalty of Cambodians who refused evacuation and by what Dean calls Washington’s “indecent act.” I count myself among those foreigners, a reporter who covered the Cambodian War for The Associated Press and was whisked away along with Dean and 287 other Americans, Cambodians and third country nationals. I left behind more than a dozen Cambodian reporters and photographers — about the bravest, may I say the finest, colleagues I’ve ever known. Almost all would die. The pullout, three weeks before the end of the Vietnam War, is largely forgotten, but for historians and political analysts, it was the first of what then-U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger termed Continue Reading

Edward Snowden in talks to return to United States from Russian exile: lawyer

Outlaw whistleblower Edward Snowden wants to come out of the cold to face the heat in the United States — but on his own terms. The former National Security Agency contractor — slammed by critics as a traitor and praised by fans as a civil rights hero — is working back channels with legal teams in America and Germany to come home, his Russian attorney said Tuesday. “Edward Snowden is ready to return to the U.S., but on the condition that he be given guarantees to receive a fair and impartial trial,” attorney Anatoly Kucherena told reporters in Moscow. Kucherena said the only promise Snowden has received from the U.S. attorney general is that he will not face the death penalty if convicted under the World War I-era Espionage Act. “So what we are being guaranteed is not the fair trial, but that Snowden will not be executed,” Kucherena said. “And it’s done by a prosecutor, who according to the law, is not in any way able to determine a court’s decision.” Snowden, 31, fled the country in May 2013, first traveling to Hong Kong with reams of confidential documents laying out a government mass electronic surveillance program. After leaking top secrets to mainstream media outlets, he was granted asylum in Russia. “He is thinking about it. He has a desire to return and we are doing everything we can to make it happen,” Kucherena said. Snowden has been living in Moscow with his long-time American girlfriend Lindsay Mills.  Jesselyn Radack, one of Snowden’s U.S. attorneys, said the world-famous fugitive is trying to avoid being prosecuted under the Espionage Act. If found guilty of two counts of stealing government property, he faces up to 30 years in prison. “A trial under the Espionage Act would not be considered fair,” Radack told Word of Snowden’s desire to return home comes just days Continue Reading