From the daily archives: Tuesday, January 19, 2010

America’s support – donations made in the United States to the                             American Red Cross reaches survivors in Haiti Local Red Cross donations making a difference

(Imperial Valley)  In the aftermath of a series of catastrophic earthquakes that struck Haiti on the afternoon of January 12, the American Red Cross mobilized immediately to provide our partner society with the necessary resources to respond. Locally many residents have already made donations through our local office or have have requested additional information on how to make a monetary donation.

Truckloads of Red Cross supplies arrived in Port-au-Prince on Saturday and thousands of responders are traveling the streets providing water and first aid as well as finding lost loved ones and transporting people with serious injuries to nearby health facilities.

The American Red Cross is accepting monetary donations to support earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.  Donors may send checks to the local chapter, designating Haiti Relief to: American Red Cross – Imperial Valley Service Center, 781 Broadway, El Centro,  CA 92243, or by calling 760_352-4541.  Donors may also text “HAITI” to 90999 and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts; the charge will appear on the next cell phone bill. Donors can also make gifts by visiting www.redcross.org (will also link you to the Spanish website.)

There have been many inquiries regarding people wanting to make in kind donations however the American Red Cross can only accept monetary donations.  Local volunteer Brad Mellon (IVSC PIO) who is a Shelter Manager at National Level Disasters said, “The cost of processing and transporting in kind donations is almost always greater than the cost of purchasing those goods locally or closer to the incident.  The influx of of unsolicited donations can be distracting to relief workers on site from their already demanding critical emergency activities – feeding and sheltering the affected population.”  Mellon added, “Financial contributions are the best way to help; they allow us to support the greatest needs in the most efficient manner.”

The American Red Cross is also reminding Valleyites to make sure they prepare at home, the workplace and at school.  At this time, the Red Cross is utilizing trained volunteers and is not accepting new volunteers to travel to Haiti. If you would like to volunteer for the American Red Cross locally, please contact the local chapter at 760_352-4541 Ext 6220.

For inquiries about relatives living and who have citizenship in Haiti, please be patient and call repeatedly until the lines clear or contact other family members who live nearby. Telephone, Internet and other communication lines are often disrupted in times of disaster. People wishing to contact family, friends or loved ones can visit the Family Links website by going to the Red Cross website at http://www.icrc.org/ and then linking to http://www.icrc.org/familinks

People trying to locate U.S. citizens living or traveling in Haiti should contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 or 202-647-5225.

 

By Chris Furguson
With the theme of “Discover Treasure Under The Sea” the 2010 California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta will not have a major act during the 10-day celebration.
Instead, a series of tribute acts and returning events will fill the Grandstand this year.
News of this revelation came during last week’s Business Showcase, where members of teh Fair Board passed out a flyer listing the Grandstand’s
Cherisse Alford, a member of the Fair Board in attendance at the showcase, said that the inclusion of tribute bands was popular enough to warrant only such acts this year.
“They were really popular last year, so we chose to go with them this year,” said Alford.
Financial difficulties, however, led to the Board’s decision to not have a single major act in 2010.
“It was a cost-cutting measure,” said Alford.  “But, with the popularity of the tribute bands last year, we didn’t think one was needed this year.

This year’s Grandstand acts include:
Friday, February 26:
Hot For Teacher
(Van Halen Tribute)
Four musicians from the West Coast who emulate the David Lee Roth-era of the bands history.
Saturday, February 27:
Yesterday
(Beatles Tribute)
Performing the Beatles since 1986, Las Vegas-based Yesterday tours not only in the U.S. but internationally.

Sunday, February 28:
Youth Mariachi Competition.

Monday, March 1:
High School Madness
The annual event, going on past 50 years in the Imperial Valley, pits the seven major Valley high schools in competition.  Also performing are the schools’ cheerleading teams and some of the drumlines.
Tuesday, March 2:
Jimmie Cannon’s
Jazz Festival
Local musicians play their music for the Grandstand in honor of local musician Jimmie Cannon, who passed away in 2009.
Wednesday, March 3:
Guns & Hoses
In its second year, the Guns & Hoses Competition will pit local firefighters, police officers and other public safety entities in friendly, but fierce, competition to determine the best squad in the Valley.
Thursday, March 4:
Whiskey Dawn
(County Music Tribute)
One of California’s rising bands, Whiskey Dawn plays a mix of Country standards and modern country hits with a high energy style.
Friday, March 5:
Life In The Fast Lane
(The Eagles Tribute)
A group of musicians who keep the music of The Eagles, one of the most popular bands of the 1970s, alive.
Saturday, March 6:
Summer of Love
(60’s Music Tribute)
With music from the Beach Boys to the Beatles to the Haight-Ashbury/Woodstock era in their repetoire, this group brings the 60’s alive for your mature Fair attendee.
Sunday, March 7:
Dia De La Familia
Another returning tradition for the Fair is the final Sunday’s tribute to the family.  Activites will be provided throughout the day.

 

By:
Kudratdeep Kaur Dhaliwal
Imagine if you found out someone who you never met was praying for you in Uganda, what would you do?  What would you think?
Could it be love and forgiveness?
That’s what prisoners at Centinela State Prison have experienced.
Hardened by a life of circumstance and the prison environment where Satan seems to reign, these prisoners have found new hope through the Kairos Ministry of the Imperial Valley.
The Ministry is made up of volunteers from different denominations of the Christian religion who come together with the purpose of showing what God’s love is.
They hold a world-wide prayer vigil where they pray for each person by name.
In the message that Kairos delivers, these inmates find the forgiveness that they so desperately need which seems to confine them in prisons of their own.
According to Kairos member Jeff Barrowcliff children of the volunteers also write letters to the prisoners.
“As often times children can come out and say directly what’s on their minds, these letters will acknowledge crimes they may have committed but they will remind them that God forgives,” explains Barrowcliff.
Many times these stories tug at their hearts and compel them to change and that’s when the transformation takes place, he says.
“They are able to forgive themselves, others and experience God’s forgiveness,” he said.
Every week program volunteers go on a 3 day retreat for the weekend starting on Thursday where they spend time with the prisoners and listen to their stories.
“Our moto ‘Listen, Listen, Love, Love’ is the cornerstone of what we do,” says Kairos member Steve Schuyler.  “The idea behind this is if we don’t listen then we don’t really care.”
The way to reach these prisoners is not to preach but to listen to what’s going on with them, he says.
“We often break the ice with general subjects such as choices, what bad choices have they made,” says Barrowcliff.   “Everyone makes bad choices but by the grace of God we’re out here.”
Taking into account that people in prison come from different faiths, one of the messages the program conveys is it is not necessary to be Christian to receive Christ’s love.
Nevertheless it is important to have experienced God’s love in order to share it with others.
According to Kairos member, Patrick Drainville the ministry comprises of people from areas all over such as Big Bear, Yuma and San Diego who strive to make a personal impression.
“Our wives will bake cookies for them,” he said.  “Usually it’s a very long time since they’ve had anything homemade.”
Showing that strangers care helps break down their hearts and tough guy barriers, explains Drainville.
Aware of the skepticism over men in prison changing, Schuyler shares a story of a former gang member.
“This guy would receive one-hundred dollars every month for food from his father,” says Schuyler.  “But this one day he told his father on the phone that he was fine and not to send him any money but to send it to the victims in Haiti instead.”
Barrowcliff says this is an affirmation of the program working and of God using them as tools.
The Kairos Ministry even has a P.O. Box designated for correspondence with in-mates.
“We have this postal angel who forwards the letters to anyone of us if we are addressed directly,” says Barrowcliff.
He shares one letter in particular, where an in-mate writes about how he was happily surprised to receive a Christmas card from him.
Expecting to find nothing in the mail for him, the in-mate was ready to be angry at God but instead he received the card and couldn’t be angry anymore.

The program is a long-term commitment where volunteers follow-up on the progress of the in-mates every week.

“It’s hard for them to accept that we continue to come back,” says Barrowcliff.  “Their initial attitude is no one cares, but we do.”
Kairos, derived from the Greek ‘Kronos’ is a synonym of time or ‘God’s special time’.
The outreach group based in Florida, first sprang up in the San Diego 20 years ago where it ministered to the women’s prison there, says Schuyler.
The ministry to the Centinela State Prison first began on January 2007.
The Imperial Valley ministry currently consists of approximately 33 members.
It continues to thrive and spread the message of love throughout America’s prisons.
It is self-funded however it does accept donations.men in prison changing, Schuyler shares a story of a former gang member.
“This guy would receive one-hundred dollars every month for food from his father,” says Schuyler.  “But this one day he told his father on the phone that he was fine and not to send him any money but to send it to the victims in Haiti instead.”
Barrowcliff says this is an affirmation of the program working and of God using them as tools.
The Kairos Ministry even has a P.O. Box designated for correspondence with in-mates.
“We have this postal angel who forwards the letters to anyone of us if we are addressed directly,” says Barrowcliff.
He shares one letter in particular, where an in-mate writes about how he was happily surprised to receive a Christmas card from him.
Expecting to find nothing in the mail for him, the in-mate was ready to be angry at God but instead he received the card and couldn’t be angry anymore.
The program is a long-term commitment where volunteers follow-up on the progress of the in-mates every week.
“It’s hard for them to accept that we continue to come back,” says Barrowcliff.  “Their initial attitude is no one cares, but we do.”
Kairos, derived from the Greek ‘Kronos’ is a synonym of time or ‘God’s special time’.
The outreach group based in Florida, first sprang up in the San Diego 20 years ago where it ministered to the women’s prison there, says Schuyler.
The ministry to the Centinela State Prison first began on January 2007.
The Imperial Valley ministry currently consists of approximately 33 members.
It continues to thrive and spread the message of love throughout America’s prisons.
It is self-funded however it does accept donations.

 

Secretary Napolitano Authorizes Activation of Reserve Coast Guard Personnel to Support Efforts in Haiti

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Release Date: January 19, 2010

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today authorized the temporary activation of up to 900 reserve U.S. Coast Guard service men and women to bolster the more than 500 Coast Guard personnel already serving in Haiti in support of the U.S. government’s response to the devastation caused by the Jan. 12 earthquake.

“Activating our reserve Coast Guard forces will expand our capacity to assist in aid efforts in Haiti,” said Secretary Napolitano. “These brave men and women will join the thousands of U.S. and international personnel already working together on humanitarian and recovery efforts in response to this tragedy.”

The action by Secretary Napolitano today authorizes Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen to order the activation of up to 900 reservists—comprised of units and individual members—of the Selected Reserve and Individual Ready Reserve for a period of up to 180 days to support DHS operational missions and humanitarian assistance efforts in Haiti.

The Coast Guard will utilize more than 100 of the newly-activated reserve personnel—who are expected to arrive within 96 hours of activation—to strengthen port security operations in Port Au Prince. Additional reserve personnel—who are expected to arrive within days of activation—will support U.S. Coast Guard District 7 and Homeland Security Task Force Southeast operations, as well as other priorities as requested to support USAID and the State Department, the lead U.S. federal agencies in the response.

On Jan. 16, President Obama signed an Executive Order authorizing the activation of a number of reserve military personnel to support targeted functions related to the relief and recovery operations in Haiti—including Coast Guard units.

Since Jan. 12, the Coast Guard, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has led DHS actions to support the larger U.S. government assistance effort. Five Coast Guard cutters and numerous air assets in the area are providing port security and air traffic control support, conducting damage assessments, delivering supplies, rescuing people in need of assistance and providing medical and other security support as needed.

 

The regulations regarding bringing cooked pork skins or rinds, also called cracklings or chicharrones, into the U.S. from Mexico are changing. Officials are urging travelers to be aware of the new requirements, and to always declare all food items to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers when crossing the border.
Pork meat and pork products from Mexico, cooked or uncooked, will continue to be prohibited from Mexico. Currently, travelers are permitted to bring cooked pork skins into the U.S from all areas of Mexico, if they are crisp and crumble easily.
Beginning January 14, CBP will begin enforcing new regulations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service requiring that cooked pork skins from countries or regions affected with certain exotic animal diseases be accompanied by an original certificate issued by an official of the National Government of the country/region of origin.
The regulations apply to pork skins whether they are being brought into the U.S. as commercial cargo or as a personal importation by an individual traveler.
Currently, CBP officers are required to ensure that the pork skins are thoroughly cooked; the pork skins or rinds must be crisp and should crumble easily when bent.
With the new requirement, cooked pork skins originating from Mexican states OTHER THAN the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche Chihuahua, Nayarit, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Sonora, or Yucatan must be accompanied by an original health certificate certifying that either: The pork skins were cooked in oil for at least 80 minutes when oil temperature is consistently maintained at a minimum of 114 degrees Celsius. Or, that the pork skins were dry-cooked at a minimum of 260 degrees Celsius for approximately 210 minutes after which the pork skins were cooked in hot oil (deep-fried) at a minimum of 104 degrees Celsius for an additional 150 minutes.
CBP officers and agriculture specialists enforce hundreds of laws at the border for other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Following other agency regulations, CBP is required to take action when encountering pork skins: importations presented without the required certification will be seized or refused entry when the Mexican origin products are from states not listed above.
As a reminder, travelers are encouraged to declare all food items to CBP officials.  Failure to declare prohibited agricultural items can result in civil penalties. Penalties for personal importations of undeclared, prohibited agricultural items, depending on the severity of the violation, can run as high as $1,000; and up to more than $250,000 for commercial importations.

 
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