OK, I don't know Carly's last name and the tattoos were scary, but she represents a very typical immigrant story. Two years ago Irish Carly was selected to go to Hollywood by Simon, Randy and Paula, but USCIS delays on her green card application caused her to be disqualified (and I have no idea of the actual story so am just presuming processing delays were the only problem). She was back last night with a green card and some determination and she'll be in the next round of the wildly popular talent show.
People who knew me in law school might be surprised that I turned out to be an immigration lawyer. Because for a while there I was convinced I wanted to practice environmental law. I was heavily involved in environmental activism while in law school and helped to found an environmental law society at the University of Chicago Law School. But, alas, while environmental law in law school was interesting and the policy issues were exciting, when I actually practiced in the field briefly at the beginning of my career, I found it - well - a little dry. Fortunately, my first immigration case came in right around the same time and that was far more interesting to me.
But I've remained concerned about the environment over the years and was an enthusiastic purchaser of a hybrid car a few years ago when they became available in my area. And I've followed the developments in the auto industry and related public policy when it comes to promoting alternative vehicles and fuel efficiency. With oil costing more than $100 per barrel, reducing dependence is also critical to our economy (not to mention the security implications)
So I was quite happy to read this morning's New York Times and see that Israel is planning on becoming the first country in the world to test becoming an electric car nation. The government of that country announced a venture between Renault, Nissan and Project Better Place, a venture owned by Shai Agassi, an American-Israeli entrepreneur, to subsidize the sale of electric cars and provide readily available charging stations throughout the country.
Renault and Nissan will supply the cars. Israel will provide tax incentives to purchasers of the cars and begin construction of facilities to recharge the cars and replace empty batteries quickly. Mr. Agassi's company will supply the batteries which will be able to go 124 miles per charge.
Mr. Agassi hopes to have 100,000 electric cars on the road in Israel within two years. He believes that concentrating on infrastructure to support the cars is more important than concentrating on car production. If the Israel test project is successful, the venturers hope to duplicate the model in small countries like Denmark and in major cities like London, Paris, New York and Singapore.
Congratulations and good luck, Mr. Agassi.
Though I haven't thought about Bobby Fisher in some time, I was still very surprised to hear about his death on this morning's news. I was a kid in the 70s and remembered Fisher as the young chessmaster who defeated Soviet icon Boris Spassky in the "Match of the Century" at the championship in Iceland. And then Fisher, known for his turbulent personality, spent much of the next thirty-five years making headlines for controversial political positions and strange personal behavior.
Today's chess champions don't seem to have Fisher's flair for making the news. The exception seems to be Gary Kasparov who has become a political thorn in the side of Russian leader Boris Putin.
One chessmaster that stands out from the crowd and is trying to be a role model for today's youth is Jamaican immigrant Maurice Ashley, the first black International Grand Master of Chess. Ashley travels the country speaking to young people to promote chess and recently returned to his native Jamaica where he was the first Grand Master ever to play a tournament in that country. Ashley cites greats like Tiger Woods, Arthur Ashe and Jackie Robinson as his inspiration. For young African-Americans who are chess enthusiasts, Ashley is presumably their Jackie Robinson.
Rent, one of my favorite Broadway shows, will close on June 1st, after a twelve year run. It will end its run as the seventh longest running show in Broadway history, no small feat. So with Rent on the mind, it's fitting that Daphne Rubin-Vega be our immigrant of the day. The Panamanian-born Ms. Rubin-Vega starred as Mimi in the original cast of the hit show. I have the CD of the original show and my kids listen to it all the time. Ms. Rubin-Vega's distinctive vocals are one of the highlights of the show. While most of the original Broadway cast starred in the film version a few years ago, Ms. Rubin-Vega was pregnant and was the only leading cast member to miss being in the film. Ms. Rubin-Vega has had a busy career in the years since. She often performs in concerts and is also regularly acting. In 2006, Ms. Rubin-Vega starred as Fantine in the Broadway revival of Les MisÚrables and last year she co-starred with Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman in the play Jack Goes Boating.
No need to tell you anything about British-born Ringo Starr (who resides in Los Angeles and frequently records there). I was a kid in the 70s and the Beatles had broken up when I was just three years old. But my first album was Rubber Soul [thanks Sid for the catch] and I can remember sitting around after school with friends and listening to Beatles tunes for hours on end. I've had the good fortune to have had various professional connections to people from the Beatles' world over the years and I can't tell you what a kick I get out of it. I thought of Rings when I saw this annoying little story today. I say to Regis and Kelly, when you're having a Beatle on your show, you're having rock royalty. Bump one of your B list guests or cut some of your inane chit chat and give Ringo the time he deserves.
Greg Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.