November 2007 Archives
Herkimer, NY - The Upstate Refugee Resettlement Program celebrated its 30th anniversary today in this small city along the Mohawk River.
"We built on a long tradition of immigrants and refugees in New York State," said founder Elias Ocongwe, now 86. "While the focus had historically been on New York City, we knew there was tremendous potential up here."
Ocongwe's early years as a social worker in Utica had exposed him to the Bosnian refugees who were helping to rebuild that city, and his later work brought him to Ithaca's growing Tibetan and Burmese communities. He had also studied Stickley's work in applying the skills of immigrants to their factory processes, and concluded that Upstate New York had an overlooked opportunity.
"When Elias started this, there were a lot of doubts," said Congressman Colden Smith (R-Lockport). "Most of the country had decided that immigrants were a cost and threat rather than an opportunity, and the world's growing refugee numbers looked like an especially dangerous problem."
"Rising tides of refugees," said Ocongwe, "and they could be an angry flood or a source of power, revitalizing a dying area."
The URRP focused its efforts on local Congressional representatives, getting federal permission for a series of resettlement experiments with closely monitored communities. Early successes with Kurdish, Palestinian, and Sudanese Christian communities led slowly to greater willingness to allow refugees to come in clusters of a few thousand and settle in the Upstate Resettlement Zone, made up of 44 counties in Upstate New York.
"I think Americans elsewhere in the country would have been terrified of our doing this," said Congressman Smith, "except that the 2015 Mandatory Identification and Registration Act already made it difficult for people, especially non-citizens, to move around the country for anything more than a weeklong visit. Upstate was in a hard enough economic position that we were willing to take the chance, and the rest of the country didn't see it as a great risk for them. The instant deportation rules also helped."
For his part, Ocongwe is pleased that instant deportation for most offenses ended three years ago, though one aspect remains important: "As much as I want to believe in the goodness of human nature, the risk of refugee versus refugee violence is just too great when different communities come here from the same conflict, or even just live next to each other. The threat of instant deportation has forced those communities to get along, though it's still a slow process."
Smith offered Ocongwe a tribute from the Upstate New York Business Chamber, which cited the program as "the main driver of new business here, from artisanal work to industry to food and culture tourism." Smith added his own praise, noting that "When Americans found the rest of the world unwelcoming, they still had an opportunity to experience what the world had to offer, right here in our back yard."
Waverly mayor Miloska Sulejmanovic also congratulated Ocongwe for his willingness to take on the federal and state governments. "He got us the vote in local elections, at a time when we didn't know what to do and weren't given a voice," she said.
"He had to compromise on the naturalization question, but he made sure that we were still able to participate and govern in our own communities. Without his vision, a lot of us would still be living in the camps, wondering how to fit into a world ruled by people who don't look or sound like us."
Ocongwe, who formally retired eleven years ago, told well-wishers that he planned to stay involved. "I didn't have children myself - you all are my children, and grandchildren."
TOMPKINS - A state police report confirmed what residents of the area had long suspected; the incidence of gang violence, break-ins, and stolen vehicles is up 25 percent over the last decade, following the closing of all local high schools and their replacement by e-schools.
"We used to call the schools 'babysitters,' and now I know that was true," said Tompkins County Chief Luis Valeria in a SAT-interview. "At least we haven't given up on babysitting the littler kids, or we'd have a real mess on our hands."
E-schools were originally planned to mesh with internship programs to enable students to work at their own pace from home while learning a trade or profession. However, the internship programs were unable to keep pace with students' desires to learn cosmetology rather than, say, cosmology, and higher-level internships went without interns while students in lower-level internships found that no jobs awaited them on graduation.
In addition, e-schools proved a failure at instructing students in the foreign languages needed to obtain professional jobs. Hindi and Urdu were popular, but most students were unable to complete the difficult courses, and although thousands of students took Mandarin as their first language, regional dialects were apparently impossible to master without face-to-face contact and practice.
The result has been teenagers who are left alone all day with no place to go, in theory working electronically to complete coursework, but in reality roaming the towns in pairs, small groups, or gangs.
In a related story, former principal Varushka Knight was among the spectators as the wrecking ball hit Dryden High School, the last high school standing in the region. Because the building once also housed middle school students, it was spared when many other high schools were demolished. However, by 2048, decreases in rural population made it possible to move all middle school students into the new Central Dryden Elementary/Middle School.
Like all school districts, Dryden had long since stopped spending money on facilities for high school. "We saw the handwriting on the wall back in the late '20s," said Knight. "That's why the building was in such bad condition that it was ultimately condemned, luckily not until right after we made the move to CDEMS."
[Written by Rebecca Lee Smith]
"Everybody got their gear? Flashlights? Boots? Rope? Gloves? Charges?"
Used to be a group would break into the enclave without hip-waders, Tyvek, or latex. Showing up at the hospital with a raging crypto or Salmonella infection was a dead giveaway, especially after a 'break' was announced, so they had to treat it themselves. Since they couldn't access the superdrugs without even more questions, they started losing people to the XDR strains. Procedure was changed, then, even if it took most of a day to paint those suits black.
The politicians thought the pipeline was the most sensible way to deal with transport from the enclave. After all, running electric through cables the length of Cayuga County had seemed wasteful, and required the plant staff to live in no-man's land. Therefore, it was only expeditious to build a manure pipeline, several, really, from the centralized barns to the methane digesters on the northern and southern edges of the dairy enclave that had been Cayuga County. That's where the population was, of course, not counting the immigrant dorms in the center. And power was necessary -- NiMo lost their primary source when the level of Lake Erie dropped below the Falls, after the Midwest Corn Irrigation Plan.
After all, they said, one good pipe deserves another.
What hadn't been considered was the possibility of a pipeline as an ideal terrorist target. (People forget their history so quickly....) There were plenty of dispossessed former residents, angry at the use of eminent domain for private business, willing to take part in commando raids like tonight.
The target: a conflagrance of pipes that was, for a change, not within the lake's watershed.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Upstate Family Alliance
22 Genesee Street
Rochester, NY 14611
585 555 9762
Upstate Family Alliance to Join Lawsuits Against State Brainwashing System
Rochester, NY, January 7th - Calling the "Curriculum for a New New York" a "brainwashing experiment on a gargantuan scale", the Upstate Family Alliance's President, Reverend William Stanton, announced that his group would lend financial and moral support to a series of lawsuits challenging New York's imposition of a single curriculum on all of its students.
"First, they came up with wicked testing schemes to deter homeschoolers," said Stanton, "and then they decided that computerized homeschooling would be a much cheaper way to educate children. Now that they have turned our homes into their government schools, their complete agenda is clear: brainwashing our children to clear away the inconvenient values of their parents."
The Upstate Family Alliance will join lawsuits already filed in various New York State Supreme Court jurisdictions, arguing that the new curriculum was created using a faulty procedure and is riddled with errors and biases, including:
Emphasis on New York City and its suburbs with scarcely a mention of Upstate after 2010;
Comments dismissive of religion's positive contribution in the histories of the United States, New York State, and the world;
Untestable scientific hypotheses presented as fact in the biology, physics, and economics sections;
Claims that current climate patterns are the result of excessive carbon usage during our state's economic peak;
Disparaging comments about three of the greatest U.S. Presidents of the last hundred years, Reagan and the two Bushes;
Excessively violent and sexual moments in video coverage of history, literature, and health;
Constant use of Spanish in contexts where English should be the only language in use;
Tests that expect students to regurgitate the false stories contained in the curriculum;
A complete failure to allow parents and students to opt out of this curriculum.
"We intend to see justice served," said Stanton. "Our children's future is much too precious to us to turn it over to a state whose interests plainly do not serve our children well."
About the Upstate Family Alliance:
The Upstate Family Alliance, formed in 2035, brings together a variety of community organizations and individuals to remind New York State and its citizens that New York City is not and should not be the sole arbiter of values in this part of the country.
NEW YORK REALIGNMENT
Effective at midnight, January 1st, 2050, the following counties in New York State will form new state units:
NEW YORK: New York, Kings, Queens, Richmond, Bronx, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Ulster, Greene, Albany, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Columbia, Fairfield (CT), Litchfield (CT), New Haven (CT), Hartford (CT), Sussex (NJ), Passaic (NJ), Bergen (NJ), Essex (NJ), Hudson (NJ), Union (NJ), Middlesex (NJ), Somerset (NJ), Hunterdon (NJ), Warren (NJ), Morris (NJ).
NORTHEAST MOUNTAIN: Washington, Warren, Essex, Clinton, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer (northern), Lewis, Jefferson, Berkshire (MA), Franklin (MA), Hampshire (MA), Hampden (MA); all of Vermont; all of New Hampshire except Rockingham and Strafford; all of Maine except York, Cumberland, Sagadhoc, Lincoln, Knox, Waldo, Hancock, Washington, Androscoggin, Kennebec.
NORTH APPALACHIA: Sullivan, Delaware, Otsego, Chenango, Cortland, Tompkins, Schuyler, Yates, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Steuben, Chemung, Tioga, Broome; all of Pennsylvania except York, Lancaster, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Erie, Crawford.
NIAGARA-MOHAWK: Schenectady, Schoharie, Montgomery, Fulton, Herkimer (southern), Onondaga, Cayuga, Madison, Oswego, Cayuga, Seneca, Wayne, Ontario, Livingston, Wyoming, Monroe, Genesee, Orleans, Niagara, Erie.
State conventions will be elected June 7th, 2049; conventions will gather July 5th.
TROY, NY - The North Country Regiment held Troy today despite extended shelling from the Long Island Troop, amid the continuing militia battles which followed the failed stand-down of the New York National Guard.
Meanwhile, in Bennington, VT, the assembled governors of Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania called on the federal government to intervene in the spreading New York violence before it spread into their own states, and asked for support in dealing with a growing number of refugees.
"The Federal Government's interpretation of 'federal' seems broken today," said Governor Howard Thurston of Pennsylvania. "Their 'laboratory of the states' had a major explosion, and they don't seem to recognize that the continuing fire is a real problem."
Presidential Spokesman Charles Tutino issued a prepared statement after the governors' press conference calling for "citizens and militias to restrain themselves," but promising no immediate action because "troops are more critically needed in other theaters of operation" and because "New York State has no remaining command and control structures with which our military can reliably interact."
New York has been unstable since the Albany Detonation of January 2049, during Governor Fortunelli's State of the State address. That massive natural gas explosion cost New York nearly all of its political leadership, and started a cycle of regional blame and retribution that continues to accelerate. While Downstate remained a unit, dominated by the Long Island Troop, Upstate Guard units fragmented into a number of loose coalitions.
In Troy, shelling damaged the southern part of the city, though no ground assault followed. The North Country Regiment had claimed that they would be receiving air support in the afternoon, but no planes or helicopters were visible as of 4:00pm.
Meanwhile, Auburn Prison, west of Syracuse, saw all of its prisoners freed as the Canandaigua Division assaulted the city. The walls were breached early in the battle, but it wasn't clear whether guards had put up resistance to either the inmates or the attackers. By nightfall, Candandaigua Commandant Cody McLaren had proclaimed the city to be under his control.
Just to the north of the Pennsylvania border, commanders from Jamestown to Binghamton ordered their troops to be ready to defend their territory, but have not made any offensive maneuvers. The commander of the Olean barracks, Colonel Calvin O. Wilson, emphasized that last month's Southern Tier Compact was intended to ensure that the residents in their commands were spared the "depradations and chaos we've seen to the north and east", relying on "skilled troops, faith in God and country, and our superior knowledge of our home terrain to keep invaders out."
[By Angelika St.Laurent]
"Really? No, that can't be true!"
Kailee let herself sink on the bench. Her eyes wandered over the field of bright red flowers swinging gently in the wind, stretching from the garden down to the creek. Just five minutes ago the poppies had seemed a bright assurance of the farm's prosperity. But now?
"Not the Count," she protested.
"I just heard it on the radio," answered Ethan, slumping beside her on the bench. "I mean he was old, ninety-three. Not even Count Sam can live forever."
"I know," whispered Kailee, staring at the red field in front of her. "It's just that he's always been here."
Always wasn't quite true. She had been six, back in 2018, when Sam Bear had been elected Governor for the first time. She still remembered her father cursing that day, swearing that that drug-trading liberal gangster would wreck the state within a year. He had loaded his hunting rifle that night and placed it under the bed. It had sat there, loaded, until Mom got cancer and only the state health fund saved them from having to sell the farm.
That spring, Dad had applied for his first concession to grow poppies, and the gun had wandered back into the shed, coming out only in deer season. Governor Bear, always re-elected, had long since been called Count Sam.
Kailee had always loved the bountiful red fields full of the poppies they were allowed to grow every four years. She had never missed the chance to apply for a poppy license since she and Ethan took over the farm. Sure, hemp was good cash too, less trouble to grow, but it just didn't have the grace of poppy.
"With the Count gone, will we be able to sell the crop?" Kailee wondered, "with Billie going off to college next year and all?"
"I think so," nodded Ethan slowly. "Without comfort crops, there wouldn't be many public services left in New York."
The old root cellar had to be the most comfortable place we had slept in weeks. The cellar was dark, true, but when you're sleeping, that's a good thing. It was a surprise finding it - Dave tripped over some bricks and landed on the door. Nothing seemed to live there. It was dry enough, a reasonable temperature, and the broken shelving only covered a little bit of the space. We took the shelving outside and put it in a pile, ready to use for cooking dinner and the night's fine. Damp wood was better than the wet wood all around us.
The sheep were roaming as usual, with the collies and llamas keeping them as orderly as they could manage. There might be a few coyotes around, but we were ready for them, and hadn't lost a healthy sheep in a month or so. The dogs were good for company, too, since we hadn't seen another human in a couple of weeks, and think he might have been a thief anyway.
We'd have to move on in the morning, though, to get to the Elmira shearing by Tuesday. The beginning of our wanderings is always fun, but somehow the end of it is always a mad rush - lose track of time, then have to make up for it and more. If you're not careful, the sheep lose weight on the way in, and you won't get as much money for mutton.
The last shearing was pretty much a disaster, since my good horse had broken a leg in an old house foundation and I had to ride our aging pack horse. We got to the shearing just as the gates were closing, and missed all the fun as we scrambled to get set up. This time we'll be earlier, with time left over to raise a ruckus.
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