Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Bud Blogging

Retro Bud - he's ready for the fiesta!

Abramoff Net Widens to Snare JD

Things have been moving rather quickly in the Abramoff arena. He must be singing like a canary.

TPMmuckrakers have the latest:
In the current issue of the National Journal (not available online), Peter Stone reports that "two sources say that the Justice Department is making new inquiries into [J.D.] Hayworth’s past links to Abramoff."

I wonder if they'll let him do his new radio show from Tent City?

Tucson - El Centro del Mariachi

If a soundtrack was to be compiled of my life, this song would be near the beginning of the tracklist. I can close my eyes and still hear my nana singing it to me.

When Linda Ronstadt recorded Canciónes de mi Padre in the 1980s, she cracked open the mariachi world like a cascaron over the head of a child - but instead of a child, there was a new generation of Mexican American people full of joy for being reconnected to a part of our identity that struggles to remain alive.

Living in Baja Arizona, this is always a magical time of year with the Tucson International Mariachi Conference in full swing. The schools are alive with the excitement of young groups who will be undergoing training, and the hearts of parents, family and friends nearly burst with pride at the promising accomplishments of el futuro. As the Tucson Citizen noted earlier in the week:

Why do we love mariachi? Let us count the ways . . .
Students are inspired

5 Giving students the chance to rub shoulders with and learn directly from their musical heroes, providing young talent the inspiration to work harder. In no small sense, this conference made it hip to be a mariachi.

6 Indirectly providing incentive for students to remain in school. If kids are involved in what they do at school, they're more likely to graduate.

7 Creating a crop of better-trained music students, in part by insisting that mariachis learn to read music. This single element has elevated the level of playing and given students greater musical opportunities.

8 Getting more Hispanic kids involved in learning Spanish. After generations were punished for speaking Spanish, youngsters are now regaining their spoken cultural roots.

The final reason they mentioned is one that I understand all too well; but I can honestly say that due to the constant connection with music from groups like Mariachi Sol de Mexico, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán and Mariachi Cobre; singers like Linda Ronstadt, Pedro Fernandez, Javier Solis, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, etc. the melody of mi gente has been reignited in my blood.

So, as Tucson celebrates 25 years of Mariachi Espectacular, I tip my virtual sombrero to all the instructors who keep cultivating our cultural soil so that it remains rich as far as the eye can see.

Mariachi Vargas in 2002 at the student workshops

Thursday, April 26, 2007

John McCain: Shining Beacon of Integrity

As I mentioned yesterday, John McCain - Patron Saint of Pander Bears - loves to fool the public into thinking he's a paragon of integrity. The problem is, the Committee of Investigation for Saintly Causes is lacking material to work with.
A defiant Democratic-controlled Senate passed legislation Thursday that would require the start of troop withdrawals from Iraq by Oct. 1, propelling Congress toward a historic veto showdown with President Bush on the war.

[ruffles through file folder to see where McCain stands on this extremely important vote]

That - my friends - is what we call par for the course.

Full Role Call Vote here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Some Mid-Week Comic Relief

Nativist Movement
'Vietnamese' Anti-Immigration Group Really Isn't

First, he denied it. Then he said it was his wife's idea. Finally, white anti-immigration activist Tim Brummer admitted to using the false Vietnamese surname "Binh" in his capacity as spokesman for Vietnamese for Fair Immigration. In his defense, Brummer claimed that because he eats Vietnamese food and is half-Vietnamese "in my own mind," he wasn't really fibbing. In fact, he told a local reporter, he may even legally change his name to Binh.

Ya know, once upon a time, I was convinced 'in my own mind' that I was a vampire. That is, until my big plastic pumpkin was full of chocolate and I ditched the idea of blood for divine Hershey bliss.

What have you pretended to be in the past?

Again: Only If It's Made Retroactive

The nativists are having another temper tantrum, it seems
H.R. 133: Citizenship Reform Act of 2007

HR 133 IH

1st Session
H. R. 133

To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to deny citizenship at birth to children born in the United States of parents who are not citizens or permanent resident aliens.


January 4, 2007

Mr. GALLEGLY introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to deny citizenship at birth to children born in the United States of parents who are not citizens or permanent resident aliens.

linkage (emphasis mine)

Let me say this once again: I fully support a bill like this, as long as it is made retroactive back to the time the first ships full of invading Europeans arrived in the "New World".

Surprise of all surprises, I know, but this is coming from Georgia - with its ever-growing population of built-in tanned residents.

Still think it's not racial?

--hat tip to Spidelblog

A Quick Reminder About John McCain

You know, John McCain, who has milked his experience as a tortured Vietnam Prisoner of War so hard that the teets of that particular sacred cow are bloated and cracked?

Well, he squandered any opportunity to receive deference for his encounter with "alternative techniques" on the military battlefield when he caved to the Bush White House in 2005

Then came that dramatic December 15th handshake between Bush and McCain, a veritable media mirage that concealed furious back-room maneuvering by the White House to undercut the amendment. A coalition of rights groups, including Amnesty International, had resisted the executive's effort to punch loopholes in the torture ban but, in the end, the White House prevailed. With the help of key senate conservatives, the Bush administration succeeded in twisting what began as an unequivocal ban on torture into a legitimization of three controversial legal doctrines that the administration had originally used to justify torture right after 9/11.

In an apparent compromise gesture, McCain himself inserted the first major loophole: a legal defense for accused CIA interrogators that echoes the administration's notorious August 2002 torture memo allowing any agents criminally charged to claim that they "did not know that the practices were unlawful."

Amnesty International

Defenders of the Senator, who is announcing his pro-war/pro-Bush Doctrine bid for President today, will likely point out that McCain fought the White House on the torture rules; but, just like with every other maverick sleight-of-hand maneuver he has conned the people and media with - in the end, he votes with the BushCo. party line - or doesn't bother to vote at all.

He can't have his cake* and eat it too.

* Mmmmm, cake. No better time for it than when an entire U.S. city drowns in toxic stew

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Renzi Steps Down From Additional Committees

Good. Although I'm alittle befuddled as to why he didn't do so in the first place. Why drag out the headlines over a multiple-day media cycle?

Not that I'm complaining, just surprised
An Arizona congressman temporarily stepped down from two more House committees on Tuesday, less than a week after the FBI raided his wife's insurance business.

Rep. Rick Renzi (news, bio, voting record) announced in a statement Tuesday that he was taking a leave of absence from the House Financial Services Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee. He stepped down from the House Intelligence Committee last week.

The Arizona Republican said he had been "the subject of leaked stories, conjecture and false attacks" about a 2005 land exchange that is now being investigated by the U.S. attorney for Arizona.


I Hate the War

I thought (((Manny))) might like to see the city he visited through my eyes and the eyes of other Portland Protesters.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Border Patrol Agent to be Charged with Murder

An excerpt from from the statement issued by Cochise County Attorney Ed Rheinheimer:
With respect to the January 12, 2007 shooting of Francisco Dominguez-Rivera, by agent Nicholas Corbett, however, based on the extensive investigation presented to this office by the Cochise County Sheriff's Department, as well as the physical evidence itself, we must come to the unfortunate but inescapable conclusion that this shooting was not legally justified. We have concluded that the evidence shows that at the time he was shot, Mr. Dominguez-Rivera presented no threat to agent Corbett and agent Corbett did not act in reasonable apprehension of imminent death or serious physical injury.

Our conclusion is that the physical evidence does not support the explanation of the shooting offered by agent Corbett. To the contrary, the physical evidence does corroborate the description of the circumstances of the shooting given by the three witnesses who were traveling with Mr. Dominguez-Rivera at the time of his death.

more info from the AZ Daily Star
I'm sure this will make all of the Tancredo-bots heads explode in unison - screeching and howling about political witch hunts - but this is not a decision that is being made blindly. There is forensic evidence, along with an incriminating video, that does not jive with the story the Border Patrol agent told his superiors.

With this next step, our justice system kicks in, rather than bureaucratic cover-ups of wrongdoing. That should be something we all applaud.

[Ed. Note] This is a follow-up to a follow-up of a previous post.

The Copper Belt in the News

I'll update this post later, but wanted to drop a couple of news blurbs focusing on the Copper Belt here in Arizona - a region close to my heart since the family roots run deeply there.

First, the screwing that was attempted by GOPer Rick Renzi (AZ-01) to an area that he never visits, even though he supposedly represents them on the Hill.
SUPERIOR, Ariz. -- As they dig for nickel, copper and other commodities in the far corners of the earth, the world's largest mining companies, Rio Tinto PLC and BHP Billiton Ltd., are used to solving geological problems. Here, though, the problems they encountered were political.

North America's largest copper lode is believed to be buried more than a mile beneath Apache Leap, the stark red cliffs that loom above this storied Old West town about an hour east of Phoenix. Resolution Copper Co., a joint venture between Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, wants to mine it. But first it needs Congress to approve a federal land exchange, under which Resolution would swap 5,000 acres of private land for 3,000 acres of public land near its planned mine.

In exchange for supporting the bill, the local congressman, Rick Renzi, a Republican, insisted on something in return: He wanted Resolution to buy, as part of the land swap, a 480-acre alfalfa field near his hometown of Sierra Vista, according to documents and people involved in the deal.

Wall Street Journal, via AZNetroots
And this, from the AssPress (yes! skippy coined that phrase too!)
Faded copper boomtowns in the Pinal Mountains, 85 miles east of Phoenix, are about to boom again.

Soaring copper prices have companies scrambling to open new mines in the mineral-rich Globe-Miami Mining District or restart older operations that were closed when metals prices plunged a decade ago. But the historic Gila County mining towns of Globe and Miami are not prepared to handle the renewed mining activity in the area and the up to 1,000 new jobs it is expected to bring.


Tag, I'm It! And Maybe You Too?

How can I resist the reciprocation? Especially after James said such nice things? It's always such a humbling experience to see that people actually read what you have to write, rant, and fuss about on the tubes. James is a cool cat, someone who never fails to offer a link, comment, or tune that I can dig.

So, with that, here's some other peeps that I've come to encounter online that I'm always happy to read and hear from:

Duke over at Migra Matters: This man has opened me up to the world of policy with respect to the immigration debate. He has been a mentor, a friend, and a hell of a blogging inspiration. Migra Matters is a top-notch blog that has helped to give a voice to the voiceless and slay the propaganda that fills the airwaves.

XicanoPwr: Wow. That's the only way to describe my reaction to every post he writes and shares with a vast audience at tons of blogs. Every screed he writes is ripe with commentary and linkage that gets me lost in the vast ocean of information and human rights advocacy.

Not enough can be said about the privilege I have to have encountered Nanette in the blogosphere: every word she writes and shares with us exudes life with a healthy dose of humor and compassion. I'm humbled that she's given so much effort to build community throughout various blogs with the Sunday Tour here. I could never repay her for her kindness and friendship.

Madman in the Marketplace and wilfred over at Liberal Street Fighter: When I first encountered Madman's words, he pissed me off, but I quickly learned that the reason was because he was boldly telling Truth that I already knew but didn't necessarily want to hear. Since I realized that, I found myself seeking out his commentary and hoping that all of the things he stood in the town square to proclaim would someday come true. Wilfred has given me tons of prods to seek out movies and movements that work to bring about a more progressive world. Many thanks to them both.

The last slot goes to the king of snark, boran2: I'm thankful that you continue to share your progressivism with us through your comments, diaries, and art. Whether it's about genetically modified food, the latest encounter with the wingnuts in your real life, or the beauty of subtle shadows added to a hot rod, the invitation to "Paint us a picture of your thoughts" is one that should be embraced my the world.

There are many, many more. Obviously; but to all the commenters, lurkers, friends and family that I've encountered online:

Muchísimas Gracias

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Some Saturday Música

Esta canción is still going strong at Xicano weddings. It's physically impossible to stay off the dance floor when Little Joe y La Familia belt out Las Nubes.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Bud Blogging

[bumped up - M.E.]

First, the begging...

Then, the pouting...

Finally, the position is assumed

But at least there's cheesecake!
(Dulce de Leche, courtesy of Damnit Janet)

MSNBC Goes from Bad To Worse

Ladies and Gentlemen:

MSNBC proudly presents the dawning of a new age of television where all your darkest thoughts that society unfairly forces you to stow away faster than an inconvenient mixed-race child can be allowed to return to the public square, welcomed like a prodigal son.

Let the fear you have from all defenders of nappy-headed hos be dissipated with the veracity you've come to expect from the forked tongues of our eternally-powerful hydra.

My moon-tanned brethren, I give you the replacement of Dom Imus in the Morning:

Michael "Lord Vader" Smerconish

Some of his past hits include:

The Pyramids of Abu Ghraib
What a Bunch of Sissies*, and
I Never Met a Muslim I Didn't Deride

Media Matters has more. Much more.

* He really means "What a bunch of Pussies" but he can't say that

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I Believe That's Called A Mandate

Hey, if George can claim one based on a 50.7%/48.3% poll, and terrorize 100% of us as a result of it, then what is Congress waiting for?
While Congress and the White House remain divided over what to do with the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the USA, a new poll shows the American public appears to have reached a consensus on the question.

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken last weekend found that 78% of respondents feel people now in the country illegally should be given a chance at citizenship.

linkage (emphasis mine)
Atrios is "utterly astonished" at the numbers, and to be honest, it is somewhat surprising to me that it's that high; but one of the biggest gripes that those of us connected to the info hub had/has is the complete lack of balance within the political debate.

It is, as Nezua aptly describes, La Lente Blanca - The White Lens - working in overdrive.
BECAUSE OF THE SUBTLETY OF THESE SYSTEMS that privilege those perceived to be "White," it takes an actual about-face in translation, a swivel of the mental lens to become aware of the lens, itself. It requires a dramatic change in orientation, we may even say a breaking of the lens. The very tool of analyzation has been perverted to channel distorted information, because (again) were sane humans to meditate upon the situations required today to continue the American lifestyle, they would be shocked and disgusted. If I return to the train metaphor, I could say that were the passengers to actually sit up and look out the window, they would be horrified at the corpses along the ground. But the line to our hearts has been detoured past mirrored cul-de-sacs so that we can only see beautiful scenery.
When I started blogging a couple of years ago, I knew that a big part of the message I wanted to get out to whomever stumbled upon my words would be to tell the stories of those who are trampled by our immigration system. Personas como la familia Dominguez-Rivera y muchas mas que no tienen nombres.

The dry river beds of the desert Southwest run with the blood of innocent people everyday, yet the power structure of the U.S. is being dragged, kicking and screaming, into action to address the issue. It's like being caught in a continuous loop of the storyline in The Running Man, where reality is treated like a game yet the death is real.

Ironically, some of the cast members are the same.

So what needs to happen now? Aside from hauling in a defibrillator to the U.S. Capitol and shocking the Suits and Pearls out of lethargy, it is important to support the work of those agencies and coalitions that are in our communities making sure that families are not separated, basic human rights are upheld, and the dignity of the roots of those affected by the power games are honored. Groups like the Border Action Network, Coalición de Derechos Humanos and No More Deaths.

It wouldn't hurt to get out into the street on May 1st either.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

GOP Blocks Funding - Protects U.S. Torture Web

And by web, I mean extraordinary rendition, secret prisons and alternative interrogation practices - ya know, things that should be denounced by a civilized society.
Opponents of a measure that would require President George W. Bush to reveal details of the U.S. intelligence budget and operations of secret CIA prisons blocked the legislation today from a final vote.

Senator Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, led opposition to the legislation, which he said would compromise national security. In a 41-40 vote, the measure's opponents prevented its supporters from mustering the backing from at least 60 senators needed to limit debate and bring the measure to a vote.

Here is the link to the actual bill. Keep in mind that the "Trust Me" phase of the Bush Administration is still progressing strongly within the ranks of the GOP. They see no need for oversight, even though countless incidents of reckless abuse of power runs rampant from the Executive Branch.

They can't even pretend to be unaware of the scope of torture being used by this government. The misAdministration admits it readily.
Zubaydah was transferred to Guantanamo in September, along with 13 other "high-value" captives who had been held in secret CIA prisons. The New York Times has said his interrogators stripped him naked, held him in an ice-cold room and subjected him to deafeningly loud music.

President George W. Bush has denied Zubaydah and the other prisoners were tortured in CIA custody but said in a Sept. 6 speech that interrogators used "an alternative set of procedures" to get information from them that thwarted attacks against the United States.

Blogger Kevin Spidel, now working for Amnesty International, has clips of yesterday's Congressional testimony on the torture flights aspect of this evil web.

Crossposted from Left End of the Dial v2.0

Follow-up on Border Patrol Shooting Incident

From the Arizona Daily Star:
A U.S. Border Patrol agent who fatally shot an illegal entrant in January near Douglas could find out whether he'll face criminal charges within two weeks.

Cochise County Attorney Ed Rheinheimer said he won't wait much longer to review an enhanced version of a distant video of the incident from a Border Patrol surveillance camera that was sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


More than 300 pages of documents released March 26 by the Cochise County Attorney's Office revealed that Corbett's account of what led him to shoot and kill the unarmed Domínguez-Rivera didn't match witness testimony or forensic evidence.

linkage (emphasis mine)
Will keep you posted on this. In a previous entry, Anatomy of an International Incident, I described how the pressure along the U.S./Mexico border builds to a crescendo and eventually pops like a bloody zit. This shooting was one of those ruptures and, thankfully, there is plenty of video and forensic evidence available to move it beyond a "He Said, They Said" type situation.

That is the only reason that justice is being done; otherwise the Dominguez-Rivera family would have been dismissed to the bureaucratic shadow that perpetually engulfs the way border policy is carried out by the Department of Homeland (in)Security. Take this late 2005 incident, for example:
Sometimes, border crossers die at the hands of the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "We've had at least five officer-involved shootings here in recent months," said Rios. "In one case in December, a migrant climbed the fence and was shot. He made it to a hospital in Tijuana, where he died. The Border Patrol said he was trying to throw a rock at the agent, but the autopsy showed he was shot in the back."

linkage (emphasis mine)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Humanitarian Award to No More Deaths Duo

This is great news, especially for those of us who seek to bring the human rights aspect of immigration reform to the forefront of the debate.
Two young humanitarian volunteers cleared of human-smuggling charges have won a human rights award for their work aiding distressed migrants along the Arizona-Mexico border.

Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss, along with the humanitarian group No More Deaths, will receive the Oscar Romero Award for Human Rights at a ceremony in Houston on April 22.

Sellz, 24, and Strauss, 25, were arrested July 9, 2005, while driving three illegal immigrants from the desert near Arivaca to a temporary health clinic at a church in Tucson. If convicted, the two could have faced a 15-year sentence and $500,000 fine.

The award is being given by the Rothko Chapel out of Houston, Texas which has this to say about their mission:
For the last 32 years, the Chapel has provided diverse programs to engage audiences intellectually, artistically, and spiritually. This institution has distinguished itself by addressing issues and concerns before they were generally recognized and popularized. The Chapel has stressed the importance of human rights by issuing awards to exceptional individuals or groups of people not generally well known, who have distinguished themselves by their courage and integrity.
Congratulations to Shanti and Daniel, as well as the entire No More Deaths organization, for this opportunity to promote your mission of human rights. Through the telling of the stories, the humanity and desperation of immigrant economic refugees is not lost in the din of today's political discourse.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Phew, Glad My Gun Is Safe!

I will never, ever, ever understand the amount of mind control that the gun lobby has in this country, especially over the political class.

A White House spokesman said President Bush was horrified by the rampage and offered his prayers to the victims and the people of Virginia.

"The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," spokeswoman Dana Perino said

Dozens of dead at a college campus and the Warmonger in Chief sends out a dog whistle call to the NRA that they needn't worry about their weapons.

Plus, don't get me started on the irony of this man calling for the rule of law to be upheld. Get real, George.

Cue the Apocalypse

The horror
The Puerto Rican boy band Menudo, which gave singer Ricky Martin his start, is coming back as part of an "American Idol"-style reality show.

Dozens of Latino teenagers showed up for auditions Saturday at a waterfront market in Miami, the Miami Herald reported. Judges included Johnny Wright, the music manager behind New Kids on the Block, 'NSync and the Backstreet Boys, and Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough.
Do you think there will be a mullet and headband requirement?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

'allo, hola, namaste, hej! And hello, too, to the Sunday Tour!

It's that time again, kiddos... yes, that day you've been looking forward to with glee and anticipation, with red eyes and trembling fingers, with butterflies in your stomach and moths in your bank accounts... yes, you've got it.

Tax day! Well, tomorrow, that is. In the US, anyway... for everyone else, you jammy sods (which, hopefully, is not an insult), it's just the Sunday Tour! Much more pleasant!

An artist at Deano's gives a decidedly personal ... at least, I hope so... touch to his art, and at the same time discovers a never ending source of materials! And as part of the continuing effort to educate us philistines, what looks like a really cool 'art crit cinima" presentation on Language and evolution! What's this? recycling the recyclers? And, more bunny-ness!

You never know what you are going to find at katiebird's! Reluctant goddesses, daily firmings (when you are not being committed that is... or maybe it's when you are) and people who can actually understand what Bob Dylan is saying! Obviously, carrots (and *all* fruits and veggies) are good for your ears! BUT... sometimes food is not so good for you, and that's when katie turns health care plans into romance novels! I think that makes her the Queen of Odd Things, don't you?

Even though manatees were apparently first mistaken for mermaids (one has to really look closely to see the resemblance to Ariel, though, I"m afraid), or maybe even because of it, the Bush admin is threatening them. Boran has the whole story! Also, even though we missed a week, our cool car has not yet been driven off the lot - and we can see through the windows now, so yay! You know what I just noticed about the car? It's a 1959 Volvo. I wonder when Volvo decided to go from fun and interesting to boxy and ugly (but safe!)? Also.... buh-bye!

[UPDATE!] Olivia is showing us the many faces of freesia.. which is nothing at all like the three faces of eve! Well, at least I don't think so, but I don't know any freesias personally, you understand. They are pretty in purple, though. Also, dada has gone plum wild on Olivia's blog! And don't miss the budding beauties and the snowy, snowy site - even the clouds have gone freaky freesia! See the resemblance?

Nezua has some good news about PBS and Ken Burns! It seems they have (been made to) realize that Mexican Americans (and allies) do exist! Even in WWII! Okay, I"m not sure what this is about because, contrary to all appearances, Sunday is not my best day for absorbing all I read! But I think it's something to do with us all being Nezua in the garden weeding while editorializing while peeking under the bandana! Or maybe not... you decide! If you are interested in discussions of race, identity and racism, from the inside (and who wouldn't be!), I strongly encourage you to accept the gift proffered by Nezua's La Lenta Blanca (the White Lens) series. Heh... the misadventures of King Kos. And, oh, man... I hope you are hungry. If you're not, you will be after this!
Where's the recipe!?

{UPDATE THE LAST!] Artists in the midst! In the midst of what, you ask? Well, a pond, of course! Okay way, the artist isn't in the pond, it's just that pond is the subject of the art! And no, that's not a mini tsunami in the pond. Whew. Family Man has been playing around with photoshopping! It makes a good distraction from the leftover migraine pain :( Flowers work for this too! Sigh, what a pond (but it has snakes, so don't sigh too much!)

Original James is off painting the town red! (why, I wonder, were towns painted red in olden days speak about going out?). Or, maybe he's just at a conference, but... it's in Las Vegas! Woo woo! He left us some great thoughts about Kurt Vonnegut, though. So it goes! And awwww.... sniff, sniff... congrats! Wow... these two pictures definitely tell a story - although one was originally used to tell a false one. I think Jazzy James went to Vegas too! How could he resist?

There is more there (and everywhere!) so start at the top and scroll down and catch up!

Now, about Bud... I think he's getting closer! There IS a canine on site, but.... well, it's not Bud. Then again, it's also not a feline! It was nice to meet Sam, but I'm pretty certain that by now that he and Dean (not the art crit!) are conspiring to capture Bud's rug! Come home soon, Bud!

There is more here, so scroll down! scroll down!

All done! If I've forgotten you or missed anything, you need to let me know in comments!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I Wonder What Her Dreams Were?

This was the catalyst to untying the knot in my throat
A woman who was found dead in the desert near a Southeast Side gas station Monday was an illegal entrant from Mexico, police said Wednesday.

A cause of death has yet to be determined for the woman, although Tucson police say no obvious signs of physical trauma were found during the autopsy.

I know I shouldn't do it, because every.single.time I do, I'm instantly transported to a dark place en mi mente, but I mucked my way through the comment section at the Tucson Citizen anyways regarding this latest tragedy.

How can one signal the buzzards to circle while I ponder what this woman's dreams were? or who her family is that has yet to receive the horrendous news?

How can a death be met with such callousness that wouldn't be reserved for the mangiest family pet?

How are we to bring about a brighter world when hate rots the air like the area around Silverbell and El Camino del Cerro here in Tucson?

A discussion has been ensuing over the past week on the effects of hate speech. Aside from the regular bigotry that permeates the land, the shock jocks and dittoheads also hold responsibility for the ongoing dehumanization of (perceived) enemies whether it is based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or the plot of land they happened to be born.

To hold this conversation within the confines of the web would do a disservice to the victims of whatever ire the "mainstream" has decided to bloat itself with today or any day. We must branch out to our spheres of influence and begin reclaiming ground that has been lost or conquered.

It is the only way to redirect our attention to the dreams of our brothers and sisters instead of their criminality. Especially when their corpses continue to appear, wielding mirrors at the finger-pointers when the culpability is being sought.

Monday, April 09, 2007

So, I have this book...

For a time I was afraid that I had lost it forever. I moved soon after I got it to review a year or so ago, and even after unpacking didn't find it again until recently. I'll have to think about why that happened. Still, I have the book now, even if a little late.

Almost everything about it says "This is a Serious Book".

One glance at the cover - stark white hardcover, with bold, all caps black writing - and you know that someone feels they have something important to say, that they want to be noticed. Well, and then there is the thickness of the book - it's fairly heavy, in weight... over 700 pages, some of them fold outs. Many of them photos, though, which could detract from the impression of seriousness, but no. Not these photos.

I say "almost" everything about it because, besides the pictures, when you look at the closed book from the side there is a rainbow effect, each section of the book having its own color - mostly pastels. Oh, and a bright red ribbon for keeping your place in the book as you read, should you decide to start from the beginning, go on to the end and then stop, as the saying goes. I've not yet been able to do that, but maybe soon.

The Face of Human Rights"The Face of Human Rights" is indeed a serious book, absolutely harrowing in sections, in more ways than one would expect. There are, of course, pictures of people who are starving, extreme poverty, those killed by their governments or other things, and more. Sad to say, I think we are used to those, and fully expect a book about human rights to contain them, either in picture or word form (or, as in this case, both).

That's only half the story, though, isn't it? Or maybe a quarter of it. For every action there is a reaction, and all that. Plenty of room in this book for the rest of the story, or at least a fair portion of it, and the authors/editors (Walter Kälin, Lars Müller and Judith Whyttenbach) do their best to provide that.

I steeled myself to just open the book at random and write about the first picture I saw... which just happened to be a HUGE platter (not plate, platter) containing a slab of ham in the middle that covers fully half of the platter, a pile of hashbrowns so big part of it is hanging off the edge, with three fried eggs barely contained at the other edge of the platter. This is a single serving, in a Los Angeles diner.

Just as a guess, I think this chapter might have something to do with food security. There are a few more related pictures of people who definitely have that - in abundance. Including one of a woman preparing to dig into a massive ice cream float. The woman is, of course, fat, but the people in the other photos full of Westerners gorging on food are not.

With my next random page try, a couple of hundred pages away, I landed on a swirl of colors - a Tibetan monk captured in the process of sweeping away a mandala in a ceremony. Quite a juxtaposition, that.

There is probably much to say about temporal things - which both food and mandalas are - ceremonies and contrasts, but not just yet. I find it far to easy to just traipse off after stray philosophical thoughts and ignore more substantive things so, even though this is not actually the review yet, I'll save those thoughts for another time.

There is far too much in this book to cover even in one long post, so I will be taking it a piece at a time and will try to give as much of the full flavor of the book, including its various contrasts between... well, what seem like extremes when put in context, but which (as a Westerner) would in other circumstances feel like "normal, everyday life". Much to think about. I will also scan in some pictures.

Here is how the chapters are broken up in the book:

Foreword and intro - What are human rights?

1. Human existence - The Right to Life
2. Identity of the human person - Prohibition of Discrimination
3. Adequate standards of living - The Right to Food, The Right to Health, The Right to Housing
4. Private sphere - The Protection of Private Life
5. Intellectual and spiritual life - The Freedom of Thought and Belief, The Right to Education
6. Economic life - The Right to Work, The Protection of Property
7. In the hands of the state - Fair Trial and Prohibition of Torture
8. Political participation - Political Rights and Freedom of Expression
9. Displacement, flight and exile - The Rights of Refugees and Displaced Persons

I'll take them in some sort of order, but probably not as listed.

(xposted from Stalking Sunlight)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter or Happy Sunday, all y'all!

Or, if you are in various parts of the earth, I guess Happy Monday? But who says that!?

Anyway, I have family coming over and, of course, I have left everything 'til the last minute and so I have Lots to Do! Consequently, no tour today, unless it is later this evening. Or, maybe tomorrow.

Mind you, if someone else feels inspired to do one, I won't be offended! Otherwise, I hope everyone enjoys their day, whether they are rushing around like a chicken escaping decapitation (I always root for the underdog... and underfowl, too!), or just lazing around with a good book.

(I do think Bud needs to watch out tho... I can tell by the look on Sam's face (scroll down, scroll down!) that he has plans for Bud's rug. )

Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday Night Sam Blogging

Waiting to meet Bud!

Martin Luther King's Last Year

Forty years ago this week, Dr. King presented the US with his noteworthy anti-Vietnam War speech. The speech, which was indeed a classic - and one from which Americans have yet to learn much of anything - was part of a transformation in his thinking that occurred during the last year of his life. From Ahmed Shawki's book Black Liberation and Socialism(pp. 200-204):
King began to see the connections much more clearly between racism at home and racism abroad, in particular between the economic inequities at home and the war budget. King also started to rethink his understanding of violence. He was keenly aware that the growing urban unrest in the North was an expression of the frustration and impatience that existed among Blacks - and a corresponding sympathy and openness to more radical solutions. After the Watts riots, King declared, "It was a class revolt of the under-privileged against the privileged." In 1967, he concluded, "after Selma and the voting rights bill we moved into an era which must be an era of revolution.... The whole structure of American life must be changed."

King now made clear that there was a great deal of difference between the violence of the U.S. state and the violence of those rioting in urban centers across the country, and he began to use a different vocabulary to describe his tactics, referring to "massive nonviolence," "aggressive nonviolence," and even "nonviolent sabotage."

Trying to overcome the collapse of the coalition he built to challenge Southern segregation, the apparent failure of the movement in the North, and the growing impatience among Black activists and Blacks more generally, King formulated a new strategy:
Nonviolence must be adapted to urban conditions and urban moods. Non-violent protest must now mature to a new level, to correspond to heightened Black impatience and stiffened white resistance. This high level is mass civil disobedience. There must be more than a statement to the larger society, there must be a force that interrupts its functioning at some key point.... To dislocate the functioning of a city without destroying it can be more effective than a riot because it can be longer lasting, costly to the larger society, but not wantonly destructive. It is a device of social action that is more difficult for a government to quell by superior force.... It is militant and defiant, not destructive.
King's most powerful indictment of the war came on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before he was murdered. In a speech at New York City's Riverside Church, aptly titled "A Time to Break Silence: Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam," King declared:
Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years, especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.
These kinds of views were not welcome by many of the liberals who had previously praised King in the struggle to end Jim Crow. As [Michael Eric] Dyson observes:
King's assault on America as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" elicited a predictably furious reaction from the White House. The news media was even harsher.... Richard Lentz notes that Time magazine had, early in King's opposition to the war, characterized him as a "drawling bumpkin, so ignorant that he had not read a newspaper in years, who had wandered out of his native haunts and away from his natural calling." Newsweek columnist Kenneth Crawford attacked King for his "demagoguery" and "reckless distortion of the facts." The Washington Post said that King's Riverside speech was a "grave injury" to the civil rights struggle and that King had "diminished his usefulness to his cause, to his country, and to his people." The New York Times editorialized that King's speech was a "fusing of two public problems that are distinct and separate" and that King had done a "disservice to both."
Once King began to attack a war that many "respectable" liberals had deemed necessary, he became public enemy number one among the establishment PC police of the day. Not too surprisingly, the White House, along with the elite media organs of the day began a smear campaign against their former ally.

If King were alive today and making similar speeches about the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I have little doubt that the "Support the Troops" crowd (not only on the right-wing of the nation's political spectrum, but also among the nominally "liberal" and "progressive" wings) would be attacking King as "uppity" and bordering on "treason" and no doubt being "irresponsible" to the civil rights cause.

If King were alive today, I also suspect that he too would be reflecting on how little we had learned in the last four decades.

Note: Crossposted from The Left End of the Dial.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Don't Be Biofooled

About a month ago, I highlighted the dark side to the biofuel boom. Earthside has also highlighted a couple articles that further suggest that biofuel is not the panacea it is made out to be. Bottom line is that the effects of this much hyped "green" revolution are already being felt in the form of higher prices for grains (primarily corn and wheat), leading to strained budgets for the world's middle classes and desperation for those in poverty. Not only are those loaves of bread and tortillas going up in price (I do the grocery shopping for our family - trust me: I've noticed), but the prices of milk are going up significantly. Milk? Yup. Turns out that dairy cattle are primarily put on a corn diet. Corn costs go up, so do costs for milk or any product using milk as one of its ingredients.

Not only that, but as Monbiot's article points out, the rate of deforestation is increasing with negative effects not only for any living creature relying on those specific habitats (think extinction of species such as orangutans) but also will lead to a more rapid release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Aside from those sufficiently well-to-do who might squeeze out a few more years of happy motoring in their SUVs, the rest of the planet loses.

Note, the image (found at Earthside), isn't necessarily the easiest to read, but it does give some idea of the cost of biofuel.

Quick note in the margin: I haven't been able to leave comments on Man Eegee or the Eegee Board since early morning Sunday. I don't know if it's a Haloscan deal or if somehow my IPs are being blocked. Would someone check into that? Seems to be working again. Never mind.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Sunday "Bud Got a Makeover" Tour!

It's true! Our Bud apparently decided that he was tired of being a soulful eyed, waggy tailed, cheesecake begging cutie and has instead elected to become a slinky, orange ringed cat! Who probably disdains cheesecake! Oh, the humanity! Or, um... oh, the dog and cattery! We still love you, Bud, even if you do change your name to Paris or something!

When our Manny's away, the mice... well, you know, the one thing we don't have in this story is mice! Good thing, what do you think we are running here, a menagerie?

So, let's see what else has happened during the week! Are you ready to peek? Let's go!

Family Man has a great story (and a fun picture of a very small cowboy) about growing up in the (on the?) Mississippi Delta and uncles and WWII and scanning in memories - something I need to do too! Also, we need more good thoughts for his brother !

I dunno about katiebird and all this firming daily stuff... apparently it has caused her to turn into a rubber bag! Should we worry? Maybe not! Also, healthy eating... by video! Now that's my kind of healthy eating. I also enjoy watching people exercise on video... by the time they are done, I'm all worn out! And sometimes our body sneaks up on us sort of like my cat does when trying to convince me that, "no, you really DIDN'T feed me just 15 minutes ago!" Katie has thoughts on this! (not about the cat, though). AND... a good tool to print out and put on your wall... cool picture too!

Everybody still comes from somewhere! But that's not enough for NLinStPaul, no no... she also wants to know where hope comes from! She has some great thoughts on that, and others do too.... if you know, go add your own!

[UPDATE!] Nezua, The Unapologetic Mexican, has some good news and some bad news. The bad news (first, of course)... somehow, we are being Michelle Malkin! Let us cry. And the good news is... Nezua has had the cutest little nephew ever! (there may be some disagreement on this point). Well, he didn't exactly have the nephew, but still... awwww. Also, a chosen disintegration - this needs more thinking about than I can give it at the moment - deep post! And all about the political acumen, bravery and far sightedness (cough) shown by Michael Dowd.

ILJ is wondering.... so who does have that vision thing? Of the people running, who is likely to make you (or him, I should say) devote the time and effort of campaigning and supporting them? See what he has to say about that!

Boran2 highlights how, once again, the Bush admin and Republicans make take stuff one is used to thinking of as being cuckoo bananas... and try to make it policy! Also, our car is getting detailed and a shine now! Soon, it will be ready! Bush seems to think the best way to handle endangered or other species is to remove them from existence! No species, no problem. And, alas, poor MetaUlrick, I knew him well.

[UPDATE THE LAST!] Olivia has an orchid that is giving a full throated aria! Go see, if you don't believe me. Hmph! Also, she has someone else's clouds! These are not Canadian clouds, so no doubt they make different pictures and people look at them and say 'huh' instead of 'eh'! And a daisy, inner bits and all!

Arcturus thinks the game and set are pretty transparent, in the British/Iran thingy... with the US circling the perimeter. Also, segregated toilets in Afghanistan? I suppose that answers one of the "what will they think of to do to alienate the populations next?".

Original James has initiated a Ductape Signal. I hope it is answered :( Also, material letting you know what is going on with Pinon Canyon and what you can do about it! And, the only sane thing to do when faced with an insane system. Sounds about right to me! Jazzy James has returned and is highlighting (and showing where to download) The Streets of St. Louis! I bet JJ has a far better tan than Original James does!

I have something too! I tell you why I am a little teapot, and what I'm going to do about it ! Funny thing is, writing that felt like I was trying to claw my way up through murk, but by the time I got done writing that piece, and making the decisions in it, I already had a working idea in my brain and new excitement! Now I just have to figure out how to implement it, heh.

All done! maybe. Some haven't updated, some are still saying NO PEEKING, and others are doing other stuff! If I've missed you tho, let me know!

[INFO UPDATE!] I forgot that I wanted to let people know that SiteMeter has apparently been sold to another company, and it now places some pretty intrusive tracking cookies on the computers of anyone who visits a site using it. I mean, we peek, but not like that! I have Firefox, so I was able to delete them (I deleted both sitemeter cookies and the one that really does the tracking, specificclick) and then used the Firefox option to block them and so far that seems to have done the trick.

Anyway, it doesn't matter if you are using that service or if you just visit a site that does... which is most likely, as it's the stats info counter thingy of choice for blogs, but either way... it's watching you!