Tag Archives: border

Shorter Weppner: #BlameTheHelp

31 Jul

In regard to “infected poors”, our intrepid candidate dons a new pair of clownshoes

You may remember Laura Yingling from a few weeks ago. Weppner chided Yingling  for soliciting photographs of blighted parts of the NY-26 district to “use against Brian Higgins on Twitter and Facebook”

Now, we’re meant to believe that the “infected poor” – actually, it read “infected poors” – Tweet from Weppner’s own Twitter account was actually published “accidentally” because Yingling thought it came from the Heritage Foundation.  

In other words, referring to unaccompanied minor refugee human beings as “infected poors” is ok, so long as the Heritage Foundation does it first?

Weppner then goes on to write about her love of Mexico, despite the fact that the unaccompanied minors at issue are not coming from Mexico, but through it, from places like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Weppner does, however regale us with pictures of her and her husband enjoying Mexico, apropos of just about not a goddamn thing. Except perhaps to transmit the message, ‘some of our best friends are brown and speak Spanish.’ 

“Mariachi Kathy” Via Facebook

Unbelievable is that this is the third or fourth major embarrassment for the Weppner campaign.  First it was the Jerry Zremski piece in the Buffalo News where all of Kathy’s wild and wacky conspiracy theories came to the fore. She subsequently – quickly – scrubbed all evidence of her former, WBEN-cultivated self from the internet. Next, Weppner chided Yingling for the solicitation of blight photos, and now this. 

I went back to the article Weppner/Yingling linked to, and although a bunch of quite hateful people wrote shit about “extortion”, nowhere did I see the words “infected” or “poors”.  I call bullshit. 

For someone running for a serious federal legislative office, this is beyond bush league. I expect better from school board candidates, much less congressional ones. Why on Earth would someone vote for a person whose campaign stumbles from embarrassment to embarrassment, with the staff taking the fall for it? Why would you want to elect someone who makes “careless errors” that are vicious and insulting about young kids coming here for a better life? 

Hell, even though Weppner writes that Yingling tendered her resignation, we don’t know if it was accepted or what. Presumably, Yingling is still in charge of bravely re-Tweeting hateful bullshit she pulls out of the deepest depths of the ultra-right blogosphere under her candidate’s name. 

That “infected poors” Tweet went out because someone affirmatively cut it, pasted it, and hit the publish button. See below – they went so far as to add two hashtags to it, including #NY26. One would suspect that the person who did it bothered to read it first. One would expect that a candidate would have her name on a Google Alert, and find out that the “infected poors” thing was the subject of a post and might be problematic. 

Make no mistake – the “infected poors” Tweet was sent because someone liked it and agreed with it.  It was not a careless error – it was the deliberate and thoughtful endorsement of its sentiment. 

UPDATE: It looks like this is from where Yingling / Weppner got the “infected poors” line: 

Beats me how someone is too dim to figure out that “Populo Iratus” isn’t the same thing as the Heritage Foundation. 

This is what happens when a terrible, ignorant tea party candidate retaining the free services of an ignorant tea party activist. Hilarity would ensue, if it wasn’t all such a sad example of inhumanity. 

Are you an immigrant who sought refuge in America from violence or oppression? How about your ancestors? Denigrating foreigners as diseased subhumans is all too common throughout our history. Kathy from Williamsville is just letting you know how she really feels. 

Amateur-Hour Weppner can’t mariachi her way out of this one. 

Do You Remember Tor-Buff-Chester?

16 Nov

This piece, written by UB student Brendan Ryan appeared in yesterday’s Buffalo News, and it’s absolutely correct.  For some reason, we exclude southern Ontario and Toronto from discussions about our regional future, much to everyone’s mutual detriment.

…why is it that we often fail to even consider our nearness to Toronto among that list? Toronto and Southern Ontario are bursting at the seams and the Buffalo Niagara region is choosing to not take part in this growth.

Where is the political will to harness it and usher it over the border and why is this seemingly not a priority? What are our elected officials doing to foster relationships with leadership on the other side of the border? In an economic environment in which regions compete for the firms and industries that will help them to grow and become more vibrant, it is imperative to capitalize on assets that make a region unique and that can provide an advantage to businesses considering locating there.

Western New York’s direct line to Canada’s financial capital is an asset that no other region in the country can claim, yet it is almost completely ignored. We need to begin by exploring and discussing what we can gain from Southern Ontario and what we have to offer them. Southern Ontario has a diverse economy with industry clusters in aerospace, financial services, information technology, life sciences, tourism, fashion, design and a wealth of other areas. With a little imagination one can envision our region as a center for logistics between Southern Ontario, the Midwest and the East Coast.

This is absolutely obtainable and only one of the possible methods for evolving a symbiotic, cross-border, regional economy.

Part of this is due to cross-border travel hassles and the various rules and regulations surrounding residency and doing business in each respective country.  I’ve written before about the real need for a Schengen-type agreement between the US and Canada, whereby immigration rules were harmonized and there was true freedom of movement of people, goods, and jobs between our two countries.  Unfortunately, we didn’t even have the political will to cobble together a shared border management agreement for the Peace Bridge, so the likelihood of a North American Schengen is nil.

But the silence from our local political and business communities about better integrating our economy with that of Ontario is unfortunately deafening.

I Blame the Comintern and the Common Tern

5 Jun

Now that public meeting attendees have selected the three-arch Peace Bridge expansion span as their favorite, we can no doubt eagerly await the angry press conferences and lawsuits from proponents of either one of the other two proposed spans.

Meanwhile, traffic along the most direct WNY highway-to-highway border crossing – the one that doesn’t end at a 90 degree angle on the US side – has routine multiple-hour delays on a weekly basis.

Blame the common tern.

Buffalo to Get a Passport Office

19 May

From a Press Release:

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) announced that Western New York will receive $700,000 in Recovery Act funding to support the opening of a regional passport agency in Western New York. Congressman Higgins and Congressman Chris Lee (NY-26) first advocated for a WNY passport office in a letter sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on March 26th. Just days ago, standing near the Peace Bridge, Reps. Higgins and Lee announced the State Department has agreed with their request and will begin the process of establishing a passport agency locally.

“Last week we had a verbal commitment to establish a passport agency in the Western New York region and today we have a financial commitment to see this project through,” said Higgins. “Congressman Lee and I both recognize a seamless flow of cross-border traffic is important to the Western New York economy and I am pleased to work with him to make this happen for local residents.”

Why is this a big deal?

If you need a passport fast for some reason, you won’t have to go to New York City or Detroit in order to get one directly from an office. Congressional offices get these panicky last-minute requests all the time. Now, instead of sending folks 400 miles away, the local office will be able to issue it, which is an added convenience for us, seeing as we live right on the border with Canada. Kudos to Representatives Higgins and Lee for getting this done.

Nexus vs. Passport Cards vs. Enhanced Driver’s License

11 May

Those are the three wallet-sized alternatives to carrying a passport with you when you want to make a quick jaunt across a bridge to shop at Sobey’s, grab some Duty Free, or make an IKEA run. Each option costs about the same, and each one requires the same basic paperwork as a passport – proof of citizenship and residency.

I opted for NEXUS.

The Passport card and EDL provide no added value for the extra money I have to pay for the mere wallet-sized convenience. NEXUS, however, does.

Imagine, if you will, it’s a warm summer’s evening, and you’re on the QEW coming back from Toronto. It’s a weekend, and about 500,000 other vehicles have the same idea as you. On days like that, the QE can be backed up for miles. All of the bridges have one-hour-plus waits.

With an EDL or Passport card, you’re in the same damn line as everyone else.

With a NEXUS pass, it’s as if you have your own private border crossing. In order to use the Whirlpool Bridge, you have to have NEXUS. No other proof of citizenship will work.

The process is a bit more involved, though. NEXUS is a “trusted traveler” program, and you have to undergo a background check and interview process before you get the card. The card is about $50 per adult, good for 5 years. Kids under 18 are free.

I sent in our paper applications about a month ago, and received a letter a week or so ago inviting me to set up an interview at a NEXUS office – there’s one in Fort Erie, ON and one in Niagara Falls, NY. The four of us will be interviewed, photographed, and fingerprinted, and our cards will be mailed to us within a couple of weeks.

Upon receipt, we’ll be able to use them at the dedicated (and always empty) NEXUS lanes at all local crossings, and we’ll have the ability to use the empty Whirlpool Bridge, this eliminating a massive inspection headache, especially during the peak tourist season.

I’ll do a post about what the interview process entails after we’ve gone through it.

Enhanced Driver’s License Available Today

16 Sep

Kathy Hochul’s clerk’s office has the coveted citizenship-proving-licenses starting today. You can get the information here on how to apply. (.pdf) If your license is up for renewal, it will cost $80. If it isn’t up for renewal, it will cost $40. You’ll need to bring proof of citizenship, your existing license, a social security card, and two additional pieces of identifying documents such as two current recurring bills.

Why We Need to Show Passports at the Border

14 Sep

Well, this explains everything. The Bush Administration’s post-9/11 heightening of superficial impediments to crossing the border that don’t really protect anyone from anything security is so foolproof that this happened:

A Quebec businessman whose name is one of the many that have erroneously landed on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s flight passenger watch list has decided to change his name to avoid lengthy security hassles at the airport.

Mario Labbé, an executive with a Montreal-based record company, says his Canadian passport triggers a red alert on the computers of U.S. customs agents every time he tries to board a flight to the U.S. — which is about once a month for the past seven years.

“I was pulled aside in a room … and you have to wait your turn to finally be released,” Labbé said. “An hour, an hour and a half, two hours, whatever it is after. Once I was caught in Miami like that for six hours.

“It’s always the same questions, about if I’ve lost my passport, if I’ve been to Japan — I don’t know why Japan, but in their file it was something to do with Japan.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wrote a letter to Labbé in 2004, saying he had been placed on their watch list after falling victim to identity theft. At the time, the department said there was no way for his name to be removed.

Although Labbé wrote letters to the U.S. department, his efforts were in vain, prompting him to legally change his name.

“So now, my official name is François Mario Labbé,” he said.

“Then you have to change everything: driver’s license, social insurance, medicare, credit card — everything.”

Although it’s not a big change from Mario Labbé, he said it’s been enough to foil the U.S. customs computers.

So, all we have to do is rely on the fact that terrorists traveling to the US with nefarious purposes in mind will use their real names and genuine travel documents. What could possibly go wrong? Don’t forget that every single one of the 9/11 bombers used not just passports, but sought and obtained visas to travel here.

HT Needlenose

Passport Cards

14 Jul

Add this to the potpourri of border crossing identification options available to people crossing between the US and Canada by land.

The Passport card is $20 for current Passport holders as a renewal, or $45 as a new document for adults, and $35 for kids. It is valid proof of citizenship for land and sea border crossings to Canada and Mexico, and the RFID chip inside it will activate information stored on DHS computers – it will not, itself, contain any identification information.

I hadn’t heard anything about it in our local media after seeing an ad for it in the post office downtown. It’s about half the price of a proper passport.

Raptors in Buffalo

2 Jul

As the Bills have decided to regionalize their fan base by playing some regular season games up in Toronto, there has been some movement, spurred on by Buffalo News publisher Stan Lipsey and Senator Chuck Schumer, to have the Toronto Raptors play some home games at our own HSBC arena.

Sounds like a great idea to not only bring the NBA back to Buffalo, albeit in a limited way. It would also help to further the cause of Buffalo-Toronto economic and cultural integration, from which both cities stand to benefit in some way.

Now if we could just get Via Rail to propose a dedicated high speed service between Buffalo and Toronto with pre-screening at the station so there are no border waits, and with improved transportation links in Buffalo to sports, shopping, and cultural attractions. That would be huge.

(Image courtesy Buffalo Braves’ History)

A Good Border Decision

28 May

New York’s Enhanced Driver’s License – it’s fortified with vitamin proof-of-citizenship.

New York is the second state to have an enhanced drivers’ license approved by the Department of duct tape Homeland Security. In order to obtain the new license, you’ll need to present proof of citizenship at your local DMV, and pay $30 on top of the regular charge for a license. In return, you’ll get the new license, which will have your information embedded in an RFID chip, which will be automatically read by the border patrol’s computer.

The licenses will be available beginning in August and will look a bit different from regular licenses. Now, if they could integrate this program into Nexus, it would be teh awesome.

The paranoid lunatic fringe need not apply.

(Photo courtesy Glenda @ Flickr)