He was detained based on charges from a Turkish military court, for which he already served his sentence in Turkey in the late 1980s. He came to the U.S. 13 years ago and was granted political asylum based on the fact that he was persecuted and tortured in Turkey, but now the DHS is calling him a threat to national security for the very same reasons he was previously granted asylum. No circumstances have changed nor has new information surfaced since the US gave Parlak asylum, and he has no criminal record or violations during his time in the U.S.
Parlak possibly faces deportation to Turkey, where he will be at risk of harm or even death. He is an active contributing member of our society, who brings employment and culture to our community and donates time and money to local causes. He holds pacifist beliefs and does not support or endorse violent means to any political ends.
Ibrahim Parlak Ibrahim Parlak and his daughter
was born a Kurd in Turkey a country with numerous human rights violations against the Kurdish people. In his homeland, Parlak experienced punishment and torture from the Turkish government - he was living a life of fear and persecution. Parlak was not permitted to speak his own language, observe his own culture or determine the path of his own life. He became involved in the Kurdish freedom movement, where his actions included writing for a newspaper, educating Kurds in Europe about their heritage, and raising awareness in the Kurdish community about their culture, which was being eradicated. His work was also aimed at gaining political recognition of the Kurds as a legitimate political group, free to speak their language openly, and entitled to representation in the Turkish parliament.
He opened Café Gulistan in 1994, and worked extremely hard to make it a successful establishment and community focal point. He has a daughter, Livia, age 7, who is a U.S. citizen by birth. Parlak is a member of the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce, and owns a home and restaurant in Harbert.
A local story about Ibrahim adds this: "This man has always been responsible," [Parlak's lawyer, Noel] Saleh said, adding he will appeal the detention order. "He's never fled from anything, except the persecution of the Kurdish people in Turkey."
Throughout Berrien County, local homes and merchants have posted "Free Ibrahim!" placards in their windows. This gentle man, whose restaurant's delicious food and adjoining garden of hollyhocks is legendary in these parts, has become ensnared in the house of mirrors known as the Department of Homeland Security, where he has been named as "a threat to national security for the very same reasons he was previously granted asylum."
For nearly a decade, I have eaten Ibrahim's food. I have admired his garden. I have met his family. So have thousands of local customers and visiting Chicagoans like Roger Ebert and Rev. Andrew Greeley, who also support him because they too know him.
In this situation, he is not the one behaving like a terrorist.
You Fucking lousy liberal you have no idea about what america is all about you dont want a leader just a pansy ass faggot who will bow down and give in to your every request some one who will let other countries run all over us some one who will weaken our defences (military) ship all our jobs over seas you do not want a leader just a blow hard bullshitter that would rather get a blowjob in public office than do his job!!! Us defending our country and spreading democracy is what gives you the right to spread your bullshit so called intelectual comedic media. Its people like you and The ACLU that are the demise of this country fat assed lazy cocksuckers on welfare getting a free ride off the working class you fucking dope smoking hippie commie faggot fuck. Fuck Off and Die, Thank you Thats all I had to say Fuck head.
Tom Tomorrow is told not to take this personally, Jacob Smith says in a followup letter, just like John Kerry is not supposed to take personally the attacks on his record by another coward cut from the same cloth, the chickenhawk-in-chief.
Nicholas Stachler was 19 years old when he reported for basic training with the Army at Fort Benning, Ga., before shipping out for 11 months to Iraq.
A gentle, trusting man, he had only weeks earlier graduated from high school with a handful of trophies in hockey and soccer, middling grades and hardly a clue about how to handle his money. He had held only casual jobs, baby-sitting and mowing lawns, and had never opened a checking account. The bus trip to boot camp, from the foothills of the Appalachians in southern Ohio to the kudzu-covered fields of western Georgia, took him farther from home than he had ever been.
About six weeks into his training, he tasted one of the less honorable traditions of military life: a compulsory classroom briefing on personal finance that was a life-insurance sales pitch in disguise.
As he remembers the class and as base investigative records show, two insurance agents quick-stepped him and his classmates through a stack of paperwork, pointing out where they should sign their names and where they should scribble their initials. They were given no time to read the documents and no copies to keep.
Stachler says he thought he had arranged to have $100 a month deducted from his pay for an Army-endorsed savings plan or mutual fund. When he returned from Iraq, he found that he had not been saving the money at all. He had been paying $100 a month in premiums for an insurance policy that promised him some cash value far down the road and a death benefit that was almost certainly less than $44,000, a small amount compared with the $250,000 in life insurance he had through a military-sponsored plan that cost him $16.25 a month.
A young Marine at Camp Pendleton, Calif., for example, was sold a 20-year insurance policy last fall that gave him a death benefit of just under $28,000, plus some cash value far in the future, in exchange for $6,600 in premiums paid in the first seven years. That was more than 14 times what the same death benefit would have cost him under his military-sponsored plan.
Another product heavily promoted to military people is a type of mutual fund in which 50 percent of first-year contributions are consumed as fees, a deal considered so expensive that such funds all but disappeared from the civilian market almost 20 years ago.
The companies selling financial services in the military market try to recruit former military people to be their agents, people who can fit smoothly into receptions like the one at Fort Bliss.
Few companies have more fervently embraced this form of salesmanship, called affinity marketing, than First Command, a 46-year-old financial services company originally known by the awkward name USPA and IRA. The company said all of the 300,000 families that it serves are headed by former or active-duty commissioned officers or higher-ranking noncommissioned officers; it does not serve lower-ranking service people. And almost all of its 1,007 agents have served in the military or “have military connections.” None, it says, have been cited for rule violations.
Since the 1960s, personal bankruptcy has often been a haven for the young and struggling. Bankruptcy lawyers say younger and less-educated people tended to rack up too much debt while starting families and jobs, without a savings cushion to carry them through lean times. No government agency tracks the age of bankruptcy filers, but the rule of thumb, say those who've worked in and studied the field, was the older the group, the fewer the filers.
That's changing, as personal bankruptcy filings are hitting all-time highs. Last year, there were more than 1.6 million such filings, compared with 875,000 a decade earlier. Some experts say much of the increase is being driven by older people, many of whom have decades of work experience in white-collar jobs.
The Consumer Bankruptcy Project, which surveyed 2,400 bankruptcy filers in 2001 and 1991, found that on a per capita basis, older people are now the most likely to file. In 2001, for instance, per capita filings of individuals ages 45 to 54 increased 58%, to 11 per thousand, according to the study. "The curve is moving to the right," says Elizabeth Warren, a professor at Harvard University Law School, who co-authored the study. "It reflects a more frightening reality for a wide swath of middle-class America."
Ben B. Floyd, a personal-bankruptcy trustee in Houston for the past 30 years, says he's now seeing people "who obviously had a white-collar background. They come in looking lost." Personal-bankruptcy lawyers across the country say they've witnessed a tidal shift in their practices, seeing older clients with longer work histories. "These people didn't take their credit cards to Atlantic City," says Gabriel Del Virginia, a New York bankruptcy attorney. "It's largely because people lost their jobs or had a catastrophic illness."
Bankruptcies have doubled since the Clinton years. Is it a coincidence?
Note to the GOP: why don't you tackle the real, systemic problems of job and health security and your own fiscal responsibility before you address the high-drama but low-impact problems of abortion and gay marriage?
Ex-Enron Chairman Ken Lay wants to go to trial immediately and alone, possibly without a jury, and he's ponied up some $15 million to get it done, according to court papers filed Monday.
Lay, who faces 11 criminal charges, was indicted along with former Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling and former top accountant Rick Causey. As expected for weeks, Lay's Houston lawyer, Mike Ramsey, asked U.S. District Judge Sim Lake on Monday to separate Lay from his alleged co-conspirators and try Lay in mid-September.
The government noted in court papers Monday that Lay has set aside "a formidable war chest, transferring $15 million to a legal defense fund eight weeks before his indictment."
The gigantic sum only seems small in comparison to Skilling's war chest. Charged with 35 counts of insider trading, securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy, Skilling put $23 million in his legal defense fund.
Where did these two guys get $38 million? Could their possession of that kind of stash have anything at all to do with "insider trading, securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy"? Hmmm...
(Reminder: Martha Stewart, as a Democrat and a woman, may go to jail for an insider trade that netted her $224,000. Enron's two CEOs, as Republicans and as men, can afford to put up $38 million for their defense fund alone. God only knows what they've sequestered offshore in Switzerland or the Caymans. They've had three years to do it.)
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) - A clergyman implored his affluent congregation, including President Bush's family, to jettison their material possessions, gently mocking George H.W. Bush's struggles on the golf course to drive home his point.
The Very Rev. Martin Luther Agnew preached Sunday to a packed Episcopal church just down the road from the Bush family's seaside estate. Its oceanfront parking lot was filled with luxury cars made by Jaguar, Mercedes, BMW and Volvo, testament to the wealth of the summer visitors at this southeast Maine resort.
"Gated communities," Agnew said, "tend to keep out God's people." But, he said, "Our material gifts do not have to be a wall."
"They can very well be a door. Jesus says, 'Sell your possessions and give alms,'" Agnew said. "I'm convinced that what we keep owns us, and what we give away sets us free."
Agnew, a guest minister from Louisiana whose summer assignment ended Sunday, swung a golf club to get his message across to the vacationing congregation.
The sermon culminated with a joke about the first President Bush's battle to chip a golf ball out of an anthill. Swinging the club in a mock re-enactment, Agnew said Bush had swung twice and whiffed completely, wiping out hundreds of ants.
The ants got together and agreed: "If we're going to live, we better get on the ball!"
The former president sat stone-faced through this parable, even as his family, including the current President Bush, looked at him and smiled.
The ex-president gamely high-fived Agnew when the priest approached the second pew.
"Brothers and sisters, what God is inviting us to do is get on the ball," Agnew said, again imploring his audience to part with their possessions.
The Bush family that gathered at the front of the church Sunday morning is wealthy by any measure. They convened here at the 11-acre family compound owned by the former president and perched on the Atlantic Ocean. It is worth millions of dollars.
The current president lists among his assets his Texas ranch, worth between $1 million and $5 million. He also has U.S. Treasury notes valued at $5 million to $8.7 million. He sold his share of the Texas Rangers baseball team in 1998 for more than $15 million.
Also in the stone-and-mortar church were Bush's three brothers, Jeb, Neil and Marvin, first lady Laura Bush and Barbara Bush, the former first lady.
The family were gathered here for the wedding Saturday of Jeb Bush's son George Prescott Bush.
Neil Bush shows up for his nephew's wedding, but nobody shows up for his.
That's what happens when you're an adulterer and a freeloading client of prepaid prostitutes while your family is trying desperately to put forth a hypocritical campaign based on "values."
John Forney, 42, of Ohio, is the third Enron official to plead guilty to manipulating electricity prices from Enron's now-defunct trading office in Portland, Ore. The crisis played a role in Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s bankruptcy and will leave California consumers paying abnormally high electricity prices for years.
"With the guilty plea of John Forney, we have now obtained convictions of the top three Enron executives most directly responsible for manipulating the energy markets in California at a time unique in our history, when the lights were going off and the grid was in danger of shutting down," U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said.
Forney, the manager of Enron's trading desk, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud -- specifically, that he promised to supply energy Enron did not have and that he improperly collected electrical grid management fees for Enron.
Enron's scheme to charge fees for services it did not provide was known inside the company as "Forney's Perpetual Loop," the indictment said.
Forney also took part in other schemes -- known within Enron as "Death Star," "Get Shorty," "Ricochet" and others -- that had the affect of inflating consumer prices.
Prosecutors also accuse Forney of concocting a scheme that involved buying energy from California and later selling it back to the state at inflated prices, making it appear the energy was generated elsewhere.
Okay, here's the part I don't get: "He faces a maximum of five years."
Thanks to mandatory minimum sentencing, the average drug offender sentence is 66 months. That average is six months more than the maximum sentence that may be imposed upon Forney, who is responsible for cheating Californians out of $45 billion.
Somehow having some marijuana or even cocaine doesn't seem worse than stealing $45 billion from Grandma Millie. But that's what you get when the right-wing reflex of mandatory minimum sentencing meets its perverse preferentiality for white-collar crime.
Shares in the Wells REIT [real estate investment trust] aren't traded on any major exchange -- so their value is difficult to determine. Investors pay a total of 14% in commissions and other fees, which effectively dilutes their capital. The REIT's management structure allows other Wells companies to pocket millions of dollars in management and other fees. And despite the goal of listing in 2008, the company could simply begin to liquidate its assets then, a process that could take years depending on market conditions. In fact, Mr. Wells has never fully repaid investors in any of his funds over the last 20 years.
Most large brokerage firms -- including American Express Co. and Merrill Lynch & Co. -- won't handle Wells, despite the hefty commissions. Mutual funds that invest in REITs don't buy Wells or other nonlisted REITs, saying their high fees and illiquidity make them a poor choice for investors. "We don't bother with those," says Steven R. Brown, portfolio manager for Lehman Brothers Inc.'s Neuberger Berman Real Estate Fund. "There's really no way to make those numbers work."
...a big drawback of the nonlisted REITs: Investors who want to sell their shares are often stuck. Mr. Wells's REIT, for instance, buys back 3% of outstanding shares a year on a first-come, first-served basis. The stock has careened around various secondary markets, trading at $5, $10.25 and $8.43 in May and June, the latest data available. At a gathering last year of real-estate executives at a posh private club in New York, Michael Fascitelli, president of Vornado Realty Trust, a giant public REIT, teased Mr. Wells on his stock's illiquidity, comparing it to a "roach motel."
"You can check in, but you can't check out," Mr. Fascitelli joked to raucous laughter, according to a person who was there. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Fascitelli declined to comment.
Robert Beneda, a 64-year-old retired engineer in Stone Mountain, Ga., invested in a 1984 Wells limited partnership fund. The fund, Wells Real Estate Fund I-B, has suspended its dividend; its units, which originally sold for $250, traded at $105 as of May 30, according to Direct Investments Spectrum, a Dallas-based newsletter. Mr. Beneda says he asked Mr. Wells at an investor presentation several years ago when principal would be returned. "He gave me this thing about 'the corn not being ready to harvest,' or something," Mr. Beneda says.
Some planners refuse to sell Wells or any nonlisted REIT because of the fees and illiquidity. Indeed, one of two main financial-planning trade groups says its members mostly shun Wells and other nonlisted REITs. "What does it have? Incredibly high operating costs; lack of liquidity; and what disclosure exists makes me uncomfortable," says Gary H. Schatsky, president of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, an Arlington Heights, Ill., trade group of about 1,000 planners, known as fee-only planners because they don't accept commissions. "It doesn't make a lot of sense."
Sprinkled around the article above are these observations:
"In an interview at his office on the company's leafy campus in Norcross, an Atlanta suburb, Mr. Wells peered over wire-rimmed glasses, straightforwardly affirming his belief in prayer as an important part ofthe company's business practice. He compared his firm's role in investors' lives to that of the patriarch Joseph, who, the Bible says, served as steward to Potiphar, an official in Pharaonic Egypt. "His job was to run things," Mr. Wells says of Joseph. "It really is a higher calling."
...the rush to add employees also brought problems. Earlier this year, for instance, a candidate for an executive-level job sued the Wells organization, alleging that during job interviews Wells executives pressed for information about his "spiritual background" and made "very direct inquiries" about his religious practices. In the suit, pending in Atlanta federal court, L. James Richards, a Minnesota resident, alleges that his response -- that he and his wife had been raised Baptists but had stopped attending church -- cost him the job.
You see, Leo Wells is a Christian nut who fires his employees for professing atheism or even having facial hair (so much for biblical authenticity).
Leo Wells sells transactions of impossible optimism to people who think they're getting ahead even when they're not. He does it at the most exorbitant costs on a track record of zero success in a folksy Christian style. He doesn't care whose rights he tramples on to achieve his self-proclaimed mission of divine inspiration.
Tom Lange, 18, of Waukesha said he was setting off an air horn during Kerry's remarks because "we want them to hear us and not hear what he has to say."
Lange said it's "probably not nice, but it's my beliefs."
Michael Gaspar, 18, of Waukesha used a bullhorn frequently before and during the rally to welcome Kerry supporters "to Bush-Cheney country" and to spur on the Bush supporters.
Asked why he was leading the Bush volunteers in loud chants while Kerry was speaking, he said, "I'm doing this to show my support for President George W. Bush."
"I have the right to speak also," he said. "I'm just attempting to get my voice heard."
There were several incidents of scuffling between Kerry and Bush supporters during the rally, including one in which it appeared a Kerry supporter attempted to throw a large Bush-Cheney sign into the Milwaukee River. Police and sheriff's deputies on foot and on horseback moved into the crowd several times and ordered people to move on and to break up their confrontations. No arrests were made, although one man was pinned to the ground by a sheriff's deputy at one point.
About 100 Bush supporters lined the Kilbourn Ave. sidewalk before the rally so that thousands of Kerry supporters had to slowly shuffle past them as they waited to go through security checks to get into the park. Supporters for each candidate exchanged chants of campaign slogans, mixed frequently with insults.
Wisconsin is a battleground state, and the best the GOP machinery can cough up is a few dozen insulting children (who if they were really true to their professed "beliefs" would be in Fallujah or, more likely, Abu Ghraib).
The kids' behavior is right out of the Rove/Ridge playbook: If you have nothing to say, say it with air horns.
President Bush's re-election campaign insisted on knowing the race of an Arizona Daily Star journalist assigned to photograph Vice President Dick Cheney.
Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the president's re-election campaign, said the information was needed for security purposes.
"All the information requested of staff, volunteers and participants for the event has been done so to ensure the safety of all those involved, including the vice president of the United States," he said.
Diaz repeated that answer when asked if it is the practice of the White House to ask for racial information or if the photographer, Mamta Popat, was singled out because of her name. He referred those questions to the U.S. Secret Service, which did not respond to a call from the Star Friday afternoon.
Hayt declined to speculate on whether Popat was racially profiled, but said she is deeply concerned.
"One has to wonder what they were going to do with that information," Hayt said. "Because she has Indian ancestry, were they going to deny her access? I don't know."
Journalists covering the president or vice president must undergo a background check and are required to provide their name, date of birth and Social Security number. The Star provided that information Thursday for Popat and this reporter.
"That's all anybody has been asked to provide," said Hayt, adding that this is the first time in her 26-year career that a journalist's race was made an issue.