Sonny's Corner


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Sonny's Corner: Weighing the Benefits and Costs: Immigrants’ Impact on Nebraska’s Economy and Balance Sheet

Juan Manuel Pedroza

The following is a recent commentary I wrote with my colleagues Rob Santos and Molly Scott for ImmigrationImpact.Org, referencing a 2008 study by University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) academics Decker, Deichert and Gouveia.

Sonny's Corner: Rwanda Rising

By Mark Gudgel

On August 9, 2010, Paul Kagame was reelected to his second of two possible terms as the president of the scenic, densely populated African nation of Rwanda. Just over 16 years removed from a genocide that took the lives of nearly one million Rwandan citizens, most of them Tutsi, Rwanda has emerged from the wreckage of a blood-soaked war as a leader in post-colonial Africa, boasting a functional young democratic government, a working if understandably unstable economy, tremendous technological capabilities and a forward-thinking mindset of progressive environmentalism. What is more, this unparalleled feat has been accomplished in large part under the guidance and leadership of a man who only two decades prior was an enemy of the state, unwanted in his own homeland.

Sonny's Corner: Fremont is burning!

By Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado

In the wake of the vote last month to approve an ordinance limiting housing access to undocumented immigrants in Fremont, Neb., I began to think long and hard as to why this has all come about. No reasonable mind can deny that the citizens of Fremont were frustrated at the dynamic changes that were and are occurring in their community, and it stands to reason that because of the perception of a flood of “illegal immigrants” that they should take steps to address this “invasion” on the sanctity of their way of life by essentially outlawing the mostly Latino population of undocumented immigrants. Here are the facts: 56 percent of the citizens who voted favored imposing the ordinance. Insofar as the turnout was a paltry 44 percent, it came down to 3,900 voters determining how the 25,000 citizens of Fremont will have to deal with the implications of the decision. This has already prompted the threat of a suit against the city by the ACLU, and it appears that the hits to the city’s budget to cover legal costs will unfold as predicted. Ironically, there are only about 1,000 Latinos in the Fremont area, most of whom reside south of the city limits. We can legitimately estimate that about half are U.S. citizens or “documented” immigrants.

Sonny's Corner: Twelve

By Sally Herrin, Ph.D.

I’m a friend of Bill W, and the number 12 has special weight for me. I associate 12 with the 12 principles of the Anonymous brand. Groups like AA and NA and Alanon and others are mental health collectives. Meetings are on the hour 14 hours a day in most large cities, and any phone or computer will get you an address. You can identify yourself or not; most attendees will follow the formula, “I am Joe, I’m an alcoholic or adult child or methamphetamine addict.” They have free coffee, and many meetings let you smoke. You can take what you need of wisdom, good sense, instructive biography, the kindness of strangers—and much, much more—from these meetings, and leave the rest.

Since mid-April, talking heads have discussed, mostly in passing, the plan of Rev. Al Sharpton to create a 12-step plan for black American leadership. This makes me wonder if there’s a connection, if the influence of the friends of Bill W may have prevailed at last. Maybe black American leadership reached a kind of tipping point and finally enough of these leaders see American society for what it is: the world’s largest alcoholic family. Statistically, enough of the best and brightest black leaders are in recovery and are planning an intervention.

Sonny's Corner

By Paul A. Olson

We are in for some sizable immigration battles in Nebraska and ultimately in the Great Plains. The demand for cheap labor appears insatiable; unemployment is lower than in other U. S. sections and the temptation to use undocumented workers high. The competition over jobs between whites and persons of color has become intense in the present economic climate. Consequently, organizations capable of enabling fear of, and contempt for, immigrant populations have grown powerful.

Sonny's Corner

By Sally Herrin, Ph.D.

Distraction is the modestly self-confessed theme of the newest book by the best writer I know personally, say, to have to supper on a Sunday evening. For those readers ever brutalized by English teachers (the language-police sort—most ETs are harmless nerds who loved to read), theme just means idea.

Sonny's Corner

By A’Jamal-Rashad Byndon

Each week as I read the newspapers, I am amazed at a number of anomalies that reflect our past and paint the realities of our current conditions. Sometimes those issues are based upon everyday events in front of our faces. In one of my African-American classes, the students received the results of their mid-term exams. Many did not do as well as they had expected. Nevertheless, what is to be expected when students have no semblance of African-American culture or history? Whites grow up in a system that is packed full of white privilege, and when they encounter an Afrocentric person, many have no ability to engage in that worldview.

Sonny's Corner: “Superstition vs. Investigation”

By Willa Cather

All human history is a record of an emigration, an exodus from barbarism to civilization; from the very outset of this pilgrimage of humanity, superstition and investigation have been contending for mastery. Since investigation first led man forth on that great search for truth which has prompted all his progress, superstition, the stern Pharoah of his former bondage, has followed him, retarding every step of advancement.

Sonny's Corner: Health care reform will be good for rural people

By Jon Bailey and Virginia Wolking

Conventional wisdom holds that rural people are less supportive of health care reform. Whether it be the conservatism of rural areas, the affiliation of rural areas with the Republican party or rural distrust of government, it is assumed that rural people are not supportive of health reform and thus have less to offer. However, in our work on health reform in rural areas across the nation, including Nebraska, we find the conventional wisdom flat-out wrong and often oblivious to the unique issues faced by rural people and missing the insights they have into reform.

Sonny's Corner

Most federal officials, whether they are elected or appointed, have an immediate swearing in so they can assume their office as quickly as possible after they have been elected, appointed or confirmed by the United States Senate. Shortly thereafter, a second more formal and ceremonial swearing in takes place. This was the case on Nov. 6, 2009, in Omaha, Neb., when United States Attorney Deborah R. Gilg was sworn in before friends, officials and family at the United States Courthouse.

Sonny's Corner: The importance of nonprofits to the American economy

By Robert Egger

Throughout America, in urban and rural communities alike, an economic awakening is taking place.

Seemingly out of nowhere, America’s 1.4 million strong charity sector has begun to recognize that, far from being “non” profits, they are now, quite often, the major employer in communities leveled by our country’s economic downturn.

Sonny's Corner

The play “Thurgood” ran on Broadway for over three months in 2008. On Aug. 7 of that year, the star of the play, the incomparable Laurence Fishburne, appeared on the Charlie Rose program broadcast by the Public Broadcasting System.

Sonny's Corner

By W. Don Nelson

Given the amount of hyperventilation that is taking place by some participants in the health care and health insurance reform debate, we urge continued thoughtful and civil discussions. The rhetorical food fights replayed after numerous public meetings are a disappointment. Fear and anger are not satisfactory explanations of bad be­hav­ior. The U. S. health care system is far too complex for any of us to understand without hard examination of the facts and critical comparisons of the trade-offs that inevitably will occur as any component is adjusted.

Sonny's Corner: Why Christians and environmentalists cannot support animal rights

By Stephen Vantassel

As webmaster for the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, I educate people about identifying, preventing and responsibly resolving damage caused by wildlife. For instance, if raccoons are raiding your garden or squirrels have entered the attic, I will provide informational resources to help you stop those problems. People are generally intrigued by my line of work but become unsettled upon learning that I am also a minister with a Ph.D. in theology. They seem puzzled that a minister would be teaching the public about techniques that involve shooting, trapping and killing wildlife. After all, aren’t they God’s creatures? Shouldn’t ministers be about peace and love and harmony?

Sonny's Corner - National Urban League’s The State of Black America 2009 report shows black and white equality still needs work

Contributed by Amber Jaynes

As the entire country observed the historic election of President Barack Obama amid one of the worst economic crises this nation has ever seen, these are the “best of times and the worst of times” for black America. The National Urban League released the State of Black America (SOBA) 2009 report, which shows that while the entire country is hurting during these tough economic times, black Americans are disproportionately hurting worse.

Sonny's Corner - What you believe does make a difference

By Rev. Adrian George Edgar

It doesn’t matter what religion you are. They are all the same.” This is a quote found in our local paper a few years ago. I also heard it many times when I served as chaplain in a general hospital, as chaplain in a state psychiatric hospital and from others when they learned I was a minister. I also heard many tell me they didn’t go to a church or a synagogue or a mosque, but they believed in God and that was enough. There was a time when I wasn’t sure how to respond. I wasn’t as confident as I am now.

Sonny's Corner

By Laurel S. Marsh

Many years ago I worked for the Girl Scouts. The job came with a camp attached, and one of my first tasks was to find a caretaker. I hired a recently retired farm couple, both 35 years my senior. As cell phones, calling cards and e-mail didn’t yet exist, staff that made long distance calls for their jobs kept track of them and were reimbursed accordingly. I asked for a copy of employees’ phone bills to verify the reimbursements. This is where I learned about the politics of privacy.

Sonny's Corner

After the release of information that points toward a lack of government funding, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund (LCCREF) held a press conference call to discuss the DTV converter box coupon program and steps consumers need to take to navigate the digital television transition that will occur on Feb. 17.


Immigration in Nebraska

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