Monday, August 27, 2007

Regarding Rainbows

The ACLU is working with local activists to stop the Concentration Camp conditions at the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas. If only the people who wield the official power around this country would do the same...

hat tip to Marisa

[Note: there will be very light posting over the next couple of weeks. I have a lot going on in the offline world; will be back in the saddle around September 10th. Meanwhile, check out the blogroll for your blog fix. Paz]

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nat'l Day of Action - 08/28/07

Courtesy of the tireless human rights advocates at Derechos Humanos
National Day of Action to Stop Anti-Immigrant Repression and Migrant Deaths at the U.S. - Mexico Border
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
4:30 - 7:00 pm

Federal Building
300 W. Congress Street, Tucson, Arizona

Urgent call for:

* Socially just legalization
* Justice for Elvira & Saul Arrellano
* Stop the deaths at the border
* An end to all raids
* A moratorium on all immigration detentions and deportations
* Restore and expand the due process rights of all immigrants
* Protect and expand the labor, human and civil rights of all immigrants and refugees

Cosponsored by:
Derechos Humanos, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, May 1st Coalition, Borderland Theater, Fundación México, Tucson Samaritans, Salt of the Earth Labor College, Humane Borders

For more information, contact Derechos Humanos at: 520.770.1373

Friday, August 17, 2007

From The Mailbag - Beach Impeach!

If you live anywhere near the Golden Gate Bridge, keep September 15th open - it's the return of the Beach Impeach Project.
BEACH IMPEACH III -- REGISTRATION OPEN -- Sat, Sept 15 -- arrive by 1 pm, helicopter at 2 pm

The Park Service and I have finally nailed down the timing for Beach Impeach III. Participants arrive 1 pm, helicopter overhead 2 pm, whole thing should be over by 2:30 pm.

Most of you on this list are Beach Impeach veterans and therefore understand that these events are, necessarily, a work-in-progress. So although I've not yet got all the details worked out (I'm trying to get the Beach Impeach website updated right now), I'm going ahead with the sign-up function. Below is the link -- please register:
More information can be found at the Beach Impeach website:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Migrant Murder Caught on Video

So much for being over the top. Human Hunting Season, indeed.

And this one shows a target human being being gunned down.

mariachi mama alerted us yesterday in the comments to the second video, as well as the link to a DailyKos diary that raised the flag of awareness to the kossacks. Additionally, Dave Neiwert over at Orcinus says
The recent video of a Minuteman taking potshots at illegal crossers somewhere on the Mexico borderlands was disturbing not so much for the gunfire -- the man operating the camera hadn't seemed to hit anyone -- as for the running narration he provided: he positively wanted one of the men to come within his range so he could shoot them. He wanted to kill them.
Which hits on the underlying current of this incident that spans way beyond whether it's a fabrication or a murder caught on tape - the rhetoric of hate must be stopped. These vigilante movements are dangerous. They like to pretend that they're patriots with their high-powered binoculars and lawn chairs, but really, they are just bigots roaming around the fronteralands in Winnebagos of Fury.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is calling for law enforcement to take immediate action to investigate this footage - I would also suggest contacting the congressional committees dealing with border issues and demand the same scrutiny
House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law
Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Phone: (202) 225-3951
Website: LINK

Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security
Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
Phone: (202) 224-7878
Fax: (202) 228-0464
Website: LINK
This must not go unnoticed by the United States public.

Sheriff Joe's Fatal Dose of Irony

Looks like someone finally managed to get Sheriff Joe's pink boxers in a twist.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is irate over the circulation of a doctored photo that shows him dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit and holding a noose with a Hispanic man in the background.

The picture was forwarded to media organizations Tuesday by immigrant rights advocate Elias Bermudez, who said he didn't create the picture.


"There are certain factions that would like me to go away," Arpaio said. "The more they go after me, the more I'm going to lock up the illegals."

linkage (with pic goodness)
The word 'the' - probably the most important word in the English language because it ties everything together so well. It also serves as a scarlet letter for bigots.
I'm going to lock up the illegals.
Someone call the hotline, we've got a live one on our hands.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Wisdom of Newt Gingrich

The savior of the Republican Party had this to say
Gingrich said that the "war here at home" against illegal immigrants is "even more deadly than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan."

"The federal government's incompetence, timidity and uncoordinated efforts to identify and deport criminal illegal aliens have had devastating consequences for innocent Americans," Gingrich said, in a newsletter.

Gingrich said that the "war here at home" against illegal immigrants is "even more deadly than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan."


Was the reason to
a) put Tom Tancredo on notice that he is merely a lightweight
b) out himself as an anti-war hippie surrender monkey by calling for our troops to come home
c) salivate at the thought of an all-out Brown vs. Black fight while he laughs his way to the bank with his handlers
d) signal to his doctor that his medication needs some adjustment
e) other

Border Patrol Officer Still on the Job

Note: This is a follow-up to previous entries here, here, and here.

The original post, entitled "Anatomy of an International Incident" was almost prophetic, because at the time the tension was building quite quickly along la frontera. I could sense that something tragic would happen. And, sure enough, the shooting of Javier Dominguez-Rivera occurred on cue.

The agent who shot him, meanwhile, goes on with his day-to-day life even though his gun is responsible for robbing Javier's family of one of their loved ones.
Facing trial on a murder charge, Border Patrol agent Nicholas Corbett still reports for work each day behind a desk at the agency's Naco station.

Rather than placing him on paid leave, the Border Patrol has had Corbett on administrative duty, handling desk chores, since shortly after he fatally shot an illegal immigrant on Jan. 12.

Last week, Corbett took a day off for a court hearing where a Cochise County judge found there was enough evidence for him to stand trial on charges of second-degree murder, negligent homicide and manslaughter. Then, he went back to work.

Anytime an officer is involved in a shooting, they should be immediately put on leave - I don't even give a steaming turd if they're paid - as long as they are removed from duty to let the justice system do its thing.

But what should we expect? It's not like he killed a full-fledged human being - he merely took out one of those border hoppers by shooting him in the back. [angry sarcasm alert]

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

AP Offers Border Security Propaganda

Lies. Lies with an agenda.
Mexican shelters, usually the last stop for northbound migrants, are filling with southbound deportees. Fewer migrants are crossing in the wind-swept deserts along an increasingly fortified border. Far to the north, fields are empty at harvest time as workplace raids become more common.

Mexicans are increasingly giving up on the American dream and staying home, and the federal crackdown on undocumented workers announced Friday should discourage even potential migrants from taking the risks as the United States purges itself of its illegal population.

This type of political hit piece is designed to reinforce something that has become central to the identity of the United States - militarism. The might versus right mentality that takes the arrogant, easy way out of situation.

Look at Iraq. Even the military commanders concede that Iraq's woes will not be solved militarily but through political channels. Yet, there is still plenty of bloodlust running through the veins of the populace to kill of at least a few more hundred troops. There's also that little detail about the tens of thousands of Iraqi lives lost, but who's counting those? (that's sarcasm, in case any true war cheerleaders decide to read this. I mourn all needless death.)

Moving back to la frontera - every day steps are being made to militarize a region that has lived for centuries in peace. Yet, a national psyche of shadow and mirrors that would shatter if it had to consider that its military was a force that did more harm than good, is once again leaning on its titanium crutch on force.

The AssPress is doing its predictable litany of backslapping and highfives to military personnel who are bravely Securing Our Border. Did you notice what sector was missing from their literal pep rally? Let's see, Yuma got big ups for their Progress.
The biggest drop in Border Patrol detentions — a 68 percent decrease — was in the remote, heat-seared desert surrounding Yuma, Ariz., once popular with smugglers. Border Patrol spokesman Jeremy Chappell credits the additional troops and tougher security.
San Diego is mentioned, too. Unfortunately la migra there isn't doing enough because there's been a spike of invaders. Textbook answer to the problem?
The Border Patrol has responded with helicopters and increased intelligence from detained migrants.
If you've ever visited the San Diego/Tijuana metropolitan area, I don't need to state the obvious that it is inhabited by millions. Those helicopters won't be flying over sand dunes and joshua tree forests, they'll be patrolling over the suburbia wasteland of SoCal. But hey! The military makes us feel better, right?

Back to the article, El Paso gets a mention as the place that a quoted El Salvadoran migrant was caught and deported. But what's missing? Ah yes, how convenient. The Tucson Sector. Well, you're in luck because I happen to live here and this is what a person with a functioning human heart will read this week and understand that all is not well in the homeland.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent on patrol south of Sells found the skeletal remains of a suspected illegal immigrant, a border patrol spokesman said Monday afternoon.


The death brings to at least 149 the number of illegal immigrants found dead in southern Arizona's deserts since Oct. 1, the beginning of the federal fiscal year, according to border patrol and Tucson Citizen records.

I posted a graph last week that outlined the spike in border deaths that directly corresponds to the level of military presence along the line. The Tucson newspapers are also providing a great service with their tracking and mapping; and, of course, the humanitarian work of Derechos Humanos must be mentioned.

Unfortunately, many more piles of human remains will be found, more workplaces will be surrounded and seized by ICE agents hunting for prey, and families will continue to suffer as long as the United States continues to use guns and force as the Golden Rule instead of the real one.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Is that a banana in your pocket...

...or are you just trafficking some more cocaine?

For years, the Chiquita Banana Company has operated under a cloud of corruption that includes such toxic elements as narco-trafficking, union busting, bribery, financing of terrorist organizations, you name it. They are a paragon of corporate corruption that strong-arms its way to maximum profits at the expense of humane treatment of their workers and basic morality.

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now was on the beat back in 1998 when the Cincinnati Enquirer was forced to pay Chiquita $10 million dollars after exposing the rot in their business model.

Chiquita, formerly known as the United Fruit Company, is the world's largest banana producer. Among the illegal Chiquita practices uncovered by the Enquirer's investigation:

  • Chiquita secretly controls dozens of supposedly independent banana companies. It also suppresses union activity on the farms it controls.
  • Despite its pact with environmental groups to abide by pesticide safety standards, Chiquita subsidiaries have used pesticides in Central America that are banned in the U.S., Canada, and the European Union. Chiquita also released harmful toxic chemicals into farms, killing at least one worker in Costa Rica according to a coroner's report.
  • Chiquita's fruit transport ships have been used to smuggle cocaine into Europe. More than a ton of cocaine was seized from 7 Chiquita ships in 1997. (The Enquirer story says the illegal shipment was traced to lax Colombian security rather than to Chiquita)
  • Chiquita executives bribed Colombian officials
  • Chiquita called in the Honduran military to evict residents of a farm village; the soldiers forced the farmers out at gunpoint, and the village was bulldozed.
  • An employee of a competitor filed a federal lawsuit charging that armed men hired by Chiquita tried to kidnap him in Honduras.
Fast-forward to 2007 and the antics of the Chiquita Banana Company continue to be vile, at best. Fortunately, in this era of technology, we have a full-fledged campaign of online activism and journalism coming from Kyle over at Immigration Orange, who recently wrote:
It is time to boycott Chiquita Brands International, Inc. I covered Chiquita for the first time almost five months ago. Since then, I have gotten over 30 blogs to cover the fact that Chiquita pled guilty to "Engaging in Transactions with a Specially-Designated Global Terrorist". Finally, this scandal is getting the attention it deserves. The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal ran front page stories on Chiquita's indictment. The Los Angeles Times recently ran a major article, as well. While I will continue my campaign to get blogs to cover this issue, it is clear that we need to step up what I have humbly named the Campaign for International Justice. It is time to boycott Chiquita.

Now that the media has picked up on this story and emphasized it for the debacle that it is, it is time for citizens to get involved. It is time for civil society to add their voice to this story. This story has to be transformed from an elite political scandal to something that consumers in the United States care about, and something that affects people all across the globe. Newspapers shouldn't be able to cover this story with getting a quote from Citizens for Boycotting Chiquita.

I join Kyle's call for a boycott of all Chiquita Banana Products and hope you will do the same. Beyond that, though, it is time to realize that the only language the corporate world speaks is that of money. We happen to hold the power in our hands by the decisions we make when buying products. Enough is enough, take a stand against corporate malfeasance and stop the exploitation of workers around the world - in this instance, mis primos en Latin America.

Things you can do:
  • Join the boycott and stop buying Chiquita Banana products
  • Keep an eye on Immigration Orange for the latest news on the company's antics
  • Become members of the 'Citizens for Boycotting Chiquita' groups on Facebook and MySpace.
  • Spread the word to your family and friends - and tell them why you are boycotting.
Education and Action is what will finally overthrow the stranglehold the corporate world has on government and the livelihood of peoples across the Americas. This is not a partisan issue, but a question of humanity.

Discovering The New World

Columbus Day is not a holiday that I celebrate nor commemorate. It is one of those phenomenons in U.S. society that is so ingrained that to even question its validity is nearly traitorous. But, sorry, can't fight back my instincts - the very concept of celebrating a figure like Columbus is offensive.

When the ships arrived at the shores of this chunk of land, nothing was discovered. Well, at least from the perspective of the native peoples who had already called it home and cultivated its lifeforce in such a balance that the give and take of the natural cycle was allowed to do its thing.

Lately, I can't help but feel a little bit like a village man who suddenly realizes that over the horizon a new creature is trotting in this general direction. They certainly look humanlike, but there's something different.

Did you know that the Spanish Conquistadors scared the bejeebers out of native peoples whenever they initially rode up on horses? You see, there were no creatures like that around here for at least 10,000 years, so to new eyes, it looked like a centaurish animal.

We all know that the illusion was immediately shattered like a mirror when the riders dismounted. The newcomers were, indeed, humans only still different. Different ways of communicating, different sets of values, everything different. Which brings me to the point of this post.

Lots of conversation is raging about the blog world and its diversity. Specifically, the lack of it. And here is where I would like to share some thoughts that are wafting around like clouds of smoke out of a pipe. I will let Jenifer Fernandez Ancona begin, by quoting the ending of her excellent commentary over at Open Left.

One of the key ways to build bridges is for people to get to know each other better, and to find where there is common ground across issues. A sense of community is built through ideological ties, but also personal ties. This is also why more diverse voices at the planning table of Netroots Nation is important, and why deliberately bringing together bloggers and Internet activists from all kinds of different backgrounds could be a central goal of the gathering.

But that kind of multi-racial coalition can only work if everyone -- especially those with the biggest platforms who are considered leaders -- is truly on board.

Now, if you go read the comments, you'll see some defensive blow back by one the more prominent bloggers in the Progressive Blogosphere™. It's not surprising since there's been quite a bit of it displayed in all its glory this week. On the other side of the indignation coming from the most heavily-trafficked blogs are the beginnings of entreaties and conversation.

Only we're already starting to see that we don't speak the same language - even if we hold a lot of the same political values. So, how to move forward?

Well, speaking as a Latino and for me as a person, I agree with Jenifer that the first step is to have the blogs who have been coronated by the status quo as the official spokespeople to realize that there is a problem. The other piece that should be occurring simultaneously is a commitment to listening to what has always been going on outside of the Kos/MyDD/FireDogLake/Atrios/Digby realm of existence.

There are blogs out here that specifically write for audiences using our voices as people of color. As I wrote over the summer, however, none of us can (nor will) claim to be speaking for everyone within our demographic. But we are out here doing our thing. We might not have the street cred to warrant an invitation to debate on Meet the Press or anything, and maybe the question we should all ask, is why?

If you find that question absurd coming from a random Latino blogger who averages around 100 hits a day, then you are still part of the problem.

But what have you (the plural you) got to show for your blogging efforts?

The conversation is already at a stopping point here.

A method of measurement is being asked for that does not speak the same dialect as me. Where the questioner is seeking some type of validation, I read arrogance. Pointing that out is not always the easiest thing to do, but it is necessary. Sorry. But since you, dear Hypothetical Human asked, I would like to point out an example of what I'm talking about when I mention shutting our mouths and clicking on sites that are outside of our norm.

Remember the Immigration Marches from 2006? I recall the shock that it sent over at DailyKos and other sites - lots of "how could we have missed knowing about this?" "did you see those numbers, how did they get so many?" etc etc. Well, that's because you weren't listening.

So, here we are today - 13 de Agosto 2007.

Conversations are beginning to bud now, those who have managed to "Crash the Gates" are scrambling to point out every non-white/non-male blogger that they've ever known in order to refute assertions that they lack diversity, and still I sit - wondering if we'll ever be able to figure out how to talk with one another without me being expected to assimilate to the Empire's way of existence.

to be continued...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Posole Recipe Blogging

This is one of my favorite things to eat. I was craving it, even though it's hotter than the face of the sun outside. Sopa in August? You betcha! This is a quick way to satiate the craving:

  • 2 lbs of pork whatever, chopped into cubes
  • one 1 lb. bag of pinto beans
  • one 29oz. can of Mexican Style Hominy
  • six cloves of garlic, minced or chopped
  • 4 tablespoons of oregano
  • 4 chopped up, dried red chili pods (pictured below, you should be able to get them at a grocery store)
  • salt to taste
  • chopped up cilantro and onions for garnish (optional)

Destructions - I mean, Instructions

Clean your table and dump the beans on it. Spend some time sifting through them to look for rocks and other fun things that can get missed by the packagers. As you're sifting, put the good pile into your colander, you'll need to rinse those good after you're done.

Throw the beans into a soup pot with enough water to cover the beans plus an additional four inches. Crank up the heat and let them boil for about two minutes, then turn off the heat and move your attention over to the chilis.

I recommend wearing gloves, those cheap plastic ones would work. You'll thank yourself, especially if you plan to scratch your eyes for whatever reason later on in the day. Take your chili pods and pinch off the dried stem on the end over a place that you can easily clean up. The chilis are full of seeds, which you'll want to discard as best as possible. Chilis get their heat from the seeds and veins that run through the pod.

Once your pods are cleaned out, take a knife and chop them into pieces at least 1/2 inch square. Put them aside and turn your attention over to the garlic cloves, which need to be minced. Once that's done, pull out your pork whatever (doesn't really matter, in my opinion), and cube it into square inch pieces.

This soup takes abit of preparation, but totally worth it; besides, your beans need to sit there for awhile and puff up. Speaking of the beans, now that you've got the rest of the ingredients ready to go, pull them off the stove and dump them back into your colander over the sink so the water can drain out. Rinse them again, then put them back in your pot (there's a method to this madness. I don't know what it is, but this is how I learned). Now that they are back in the pot, fill it up with water, with four inches of depth at the top. Add your oregano, garlic, pork and chilis. Turn on your heat to a medium setting so it can all simmer together. Since I'm really bad about measuring this, add enough salt to it depending on your preference.

Let the soup simmer for at least an hour. Check every once in awhile to make sure there's enough water, add if neccesary. You're making a soup here! After the beans lose their spots and have softened up considerably (check with a fork or spoon) add your can of hominy. Let it all simmer for about fifteen minutes. If the beans need more cooking, let them finish their thing.

That's it!

¡Buen Provecho!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Weekend Musings

Yeah, yeah - I'm breaking my "Don't Blog on the Weekend" rule, but I'm rewarding myself with a quiet weekend and have blogging on my mind. The question posed in the title is something that I've been pondering for awhile.

This site has evolved over the past couple of years into something I never would've imagined. Every comment, every tick of the Feedburner or StatCounter numbers, every guest post - everything is a humbling experience for me. It's nothing that I expect, but am certainly happy when it happens.

Raking through the muck each day is not an easy thing to do. It can be demoralizing and apathy-inducing, which is why I wrote the Blogging 2.0 post as some type of antidote (at least, in my view). Anyone who has met me in real life knows that I prefer to spend my energy connecting with people that 1) allow me to be me without any asterisks 2) oftentimes surprise me with fresh perspective and 3) know how to laugh or cry or teach or hug or just take that deep breath when the breeze comes through, reminding us that the earth is indeed alive.

[fast-forward about 30 minutes]

Just got off the phone with my godson and his wife, my cousin who's like a sister - they're gonna have a baby! I'm gonna be a tio! The Permanent Smile is in effect. :-D

Friday, August 10, 2007

Blogging 2.0

Let's engage in some omphaloskepsis, shall we?

It's Friday, many peeps are coming off the YearlyKos wave (not me, I was chained to my desk), and an explosion of kinetic energy has hit blogtopia (yes, skippy coined that phrase). Actually, that's quite presumptive of me to say, isn't it? I should clarify that my role has seemingly been shifted into a higher gear. I'll get to the specifics in a jif, but want to begin with some thoughts that are stewing in my head.

Blogito Ergo Sum
What is a blogger? The simple answer is: someone who blogs; but, does that mean solely someone who owns their own blog? What about the myriad commenters and faithful readers that drive the counter hits that make this worth the time invested? I recall the year spent lurking at DailyKos before getting the courage to sign up for my own account. Throughout that time, I was a faithful reader and considered myself a blogger even though I never made that move from passive to active participant. I'm sure it was fear that kept me from clicking on the 'Create New User' link - but, thankfully, got over it when Booman Tribune was launched. The rest, as the townfolk like to say, is history.

I mention my progression of involvement because I think it's important to unlocking the power that the blogging movement can have in the realm of real life. As I sit here, I'm cognizant of the fact that I went from web-surfer to devoted reader to content provider to facilitator to my emerging role as activist coordinator.

From megaphone-wielding pundit to empowered citizen
As the online political movement grows in size and accumulates some history, it's amusing to see the reaction from the various political campaigns and mainstream media evolve. With the latter there's a good deal of hostility, but what does one expect when new and vibrant competition enters the water? Many blogs were born out of frustration with traditional media voices who were/are blatant tools of propaganda or, at best, really really ignorant of how embarrasing their dismount from the shark was viewed by the watching crowd.

A curious thing has happened to change the equation, though. The blogs are attracting droves of readers that read messages and analysis that resonate with their experience, and therein lies our power. A blog with no readers will wither on the vine; but when a measly website can work the magic of congealing a community where like-minded people can gather to analyze, rant and rave on the issues del día - watch out. Which is exactly the lesson that has been learned from the official political class of this country.

In true instinctive form, they began a relationship with the blogosphere as they often do with people in real life - by letting the Almighty Dollar conduct the train. Well, after six years of appeasement and passive resistance to the Bush Administration, it was only a matter of time when a train wreck would occur under hyrda-like names of Bankruptcy Bill, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Alberto Gonzales, Military Commissions Act, and most recently - FISA.

Despite electoral successes in 2006 by the Democratic Party, many of which can be directly attributed to the GOTV and fundraising efforts of emerging leaders in the netroots, there are many important/central campaign promises being left unfulfilled [cough...Iraq....cough]. Speaking from my personal headspace, I (unfortunately) often find myself operating on a steady diet of outrage and resentment towards politicians that are supposedly on my side. Since life's narrative is a series of natural dips, cliffs, mesas, and climbs - there's a decision to be made: what's next?

The birth of an Accidental Activist
I suppose one good word to describe what we're now seeing is infiltration. It is infiltration by influence - calling, writing and engaging politicians directly; protesting in the streets (not nearly enough of it, in my opinion); and getting some type of response from the mainstream media when we coordinate a counter-message against any truthiness or outright manipulation of the facts by the pundits; direct assault - bloggers running for elected offices at local, state and national levels; joining campaigns as media and strategy consultants; and the emerging ability for bloggers to get their voices/analysis on television, radio and other traditional forms of media without any middle parties; and finally - changing the entire equation altogether.

Built on a foundation of sound analysis of policy and a growing sense of empowerment, blogs are learning that those two ingredients, topped with a cherry of community-building snark, can create a situation which is totally catching the status-quo inside-the-beltway modus operandi off guard. The days of political blogging just for the sake of blogging is transforming into a catalyst for an engaged and informed citizenry that is not afraid to demand accountability from its government.

Rants now come attached with updates bearing the contact information for an offending politico, dear causes are written and wedded with links to petitions that will be delivered to legislators, and most importantly - we're starting to organize.

Blogs United and the currency of the internet
Thanks to the effort of kid oakland, a coalition of online activists is growing that is aimed at shaking up the political landscape of the United States. The group, Blogs United, has already spent months laying groundwork via email; developed a wiki with links all over the web and a clearinghouse of great blogging how-tos; and recently launched a Soapbox community blog to make networking and coordinating more efficient.

Moving beyond the blogosphere, Blogs United also has a presence on Facebook and MySpace. It is this mixing of worlds - political blogs and social networks - that will allow the progressive movement (note: this is much bigger than the progressive blogtopia) to grow in quantity and, hopefully, quality. Coupling the efforts of these networks with our own such as Party Builder and Democracy for America, our hope for an engaged citizenry moves towards reality.

Links, as we all know, are the currency of this medium. Blogrolls are a great thing because they provide some permanence to the support of another site, but even better is to write a post directing traffic to local bloggers who are writing about races in their area. It allows us all to see the issues through their eyes and hopefully gain them allies in whatever action they are seeking.

It also opens up the opportunity for us to find each other. I think we take for granted the fact that everyone knows about so-and-so writer. We should never assume anything (insert cliché here) - we could be missing an opportunity to spin a new cord of silk in the web.

The idea is to connect activists with one another to the point that some form of coordination is achieved to reach our goals. Some examples: forcing the permanent retirement of a Congressman, gathering local bloggers within a state to target state legislative races, or even inspiring someone to create an aggregator of blogs that target a specific community. We should be liberal [ahem] in our efforts to seek out and highlight writers that resonate with us. Every contact helps.

Empowering each other for a better future
Political blogging is not a spectator sport, at least in my view, it shouldn't be. Through storytelling - how is my family going to pay for abuelito's chemotherapy? - information gathering and sharing - which candidate is going to offer a healthcare plan that benefits us? - and a pulse on how to go about changing dynamics - Candidate X hasn't offered a plan, let's put pressure on him to do so - we can change this country for the better.

In order to slay the dragon that goes by the name Apathy, we must learn to use the sword of Results. It's human nature to want to see something change as a consequence of our actions. When that doesn't happen, stagnation can set in. So - let's empower each other to bring about the greatest effects of our writing. Encourage one another, link to one another, and most of all, lets take our messages away from the computers and into our homes, workplaces and communities. A fire has been sparked already in the short history of the online netroots, let's pour some gasoline on it and burn down the status quo that has left far too many people without a chance to realize their potentional.

We, The People - it was always meant to be this way.

Crossposted at Blogs United, DailyKos, and Booman Tribune

Friday Bud Blogging

This is his favorite spot - I don't know why.
He has a bigger bed

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Death by Negligence via ICE

And the drumbeat of death continues - at what point will we question as a society whether it is being done intentionally?
A 38-year-old woman detained last week by Immigration and Customs Enforcement died Tuesday while still in custody, officials confirmed Wednesday.

The woman's family claims she did not receive proper medical attention while being detained. ICE officials denied those claims.

Rosa Contreras Dominguez was detained Aug. 1 and was being held at the ICE detention center on Montana Avenue, said Dominguez's niece, Lizbeth Morales. Dominguez, who was seven weeks pregnant, had been complaining of pain in one of her legs since she was first detained, according to relatives.

Morales said that on Tuesday night, Dominguez was taken to Del Sol Medical Center after she lost consciousness at the detention center. Dominguez died a few hours after arriving. Results of Dominguez's complete autopsy report should be given to the family today, Morales said.

If a pregnant woman is not given basic medical care, how do you think an epileptic detainee would fare? This is what happened to another one of our brothers, courtesy of Kyle's intrepid blogging:
A Brazilian national, Edmar Alvez Araujo, died in federal custody after he couldn't get access to mediction for his epilepsy. According the Boston Globe, Araujo was apprehended on Tuesday by the Woonsocket Police Department after a traffic stop. He was transferred to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency due to an outstanding deportation order from 2002. ICE took custody of Araujo at 3 p.m. He was pronounced dead at the Rhode Island Hospital at 4:18 p.m.

Rhode Island Providence and El Paso - not exactly neighbor cities - yet the same type of negligence was offered by ICE. A reminder that this type of behavior is continually being rewarded by Congress with a plethora of funding.

Call your congresscritters and tell them that you abhor these human rights abuses by the network of ICE concentration camps. Here's an easy link to find their contact information.

[UPDATE] Via Kyle in the comments, here is the contact info for the Rhode Island AG - call and register your outrage regarding the handling of Mr. Araujo's situation.
Rhode Island AG's Patrick Lynch site
150 South Main Street
Providence, RI 02903
Phone: (401) 274-4400
Patrick Lynch ext. 2338
Wiki on him Pat...atrick_C._Lynch
Apparently he played pro basketball in Ireland(!!??!)

Only email I could fine was the press office

Nagasaki Remembers

Let us not forget that we - the United States - are the only country to unleash this hellacious genie. Adding insult to injury, we did it twice with a blind eye towards the innocent.
NAGASAKI, Japan, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Southern Japan's Nagasaki city held its regular annual ceremony at Peace Park on Thursday to mark the 62nd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing in 1945, with participating officials reiterating Japan's pledge to observe the three non-nuclear principles and continued efforts for world peace.

In front of about 5,700 peace activists, foreign guests, Japanese officials and representatives of the bereaved families, books with 3,069 additional names were placed into the memorial, bringing the official death toll from the bombing to 143,124.

At 11:02 a.m., the exact time of the atomic explosion here 62 years ago, people on the ceremony observed a minute's silence.


The past few years have been absolutely maddening to me. Watching the Bush Administration's abhorrent behavior has been unbearable on mostly a constant basis.

How would I have dealt with the nuking of Japan if I were alive at the time?

I have no idea, but I'll be damned if I let the opportunity arise under this, or any, President in my lifetime.

tip of the sombrero to rba

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Pedro Guzman Is Alive!

An answer to many, many prayers by many, many people.
ACLU of Southern California says [pdf] that Pedro Guzman, the 29-year-old developmentally disabled American citizen mistakenly deported to Mexico in May, has been found. Best wishes to Guzman and his family this happy occasion.

I've been sitting on a post for a few days because...well, just because. Every once in a while the news becomes too unbearable to fully embrace. It is such a welcome ray of sunshine amidst the clouds that this family will be reunited. Many nights, when bouts of insomnia would grip me in a headlock, my thoughts would stray to the streets of Tijuana, imagining a mother walking and pleading for any clue as to the whereabouts of her beloved hijo.

Unfortunately, the broken/rotted/corrupt system of immigration is still in place in this country. Let the work to reform it, built on a foundation of humanity, continue con fuerza.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Hiroshima and Nagasaki - Never Forget

Look mummy, there's an aeroplane up in the sky"

Oooooooo ooo ooo ooooh(x 3)
Did you see the frightened ones?
Did you hear the falling bombs?
Did you ever wonder why we had to run for shelter
With the promise of a brave new world
Unfurled beneath a clear blue sky?

Oooooooo ooo ooo ooooh (x 3)
Did you see the frightened ones?
Did you hear the falling bombs?
The flames are all long gone, but the pain lingers on.

Goodbye, blue sky
Goodbye, blue sky.
Goodbye.(x 3)

"Goodbye Blue Sky" - The Wall - Pink Floyd - 1979

In my rear view mirror the sun is going down
Sinking behind bridges in the road
And I think of all the good things
That we have left undone
And I suffer premonitions
Confirm suspicions
Of the holocaust to come.

The rusty wire that holds the cork
That keeps the anger in
Gives way
And suddenly it's day again.
The sun is in the east
Even though the day is done.
Two suns in the sunset
Could be the human race is run.

Like the moment when the brakes lock
And you slide towards the big truck
"Oh no!"
You stretch the frozen moments with your fear.
And you'll never hear their voices
"Daddy, Daddy!"
And you'll never see their faces
You have no recourse to the law anymore.

And as the windshield melts
My tears evaporate
Leaving only charcoal to defend.
Finally I understand the feelings of the few.
Ashes and diamonds
Foe and friend
We were all equal in the end.

"...and now the weather. Tomorrow will be cloudy with scattered showers
spreading from the east ... with an expected high of 4000 degrees

"Two Suns in the Sunset" - The Final Cut - Pink Floyd - 1983
Two lyrics that I thought seemed as timely as ever. Not my favorite period of Floyd musically (they pretty much petered out after about 1975), but those two songs were high points on their respective albums.

Top photo nicked from this review of "Orignal Child Bomb", by Madman in the Marketplace.

"nuclear war / it's a motherfucker / don't you know / if they push that button / your ass got to go"

-- Sun Ra
Well, I think the thing that astonished him the most -- I mean, there were many things that he found astonishing. Remember, he went in there four weeks, almost to the minute, after the bomb was dropped, which was on the 6th of September in mid-morning, is when he arrived. And he was struck obviously by several things, by the physical appearance of the city, which was still smoldering here and there, by the surgical precision of the bomb itself. Later, he was to learn that, in fact, a great deal of damage had been done not just by the bomb, but by the fires that erupted because people were cooking their midday meal when the bomb hit, and a number of wooden residences just caught fire, and the fire spread. So, in a way, it was kind of like a Dresden.

And as he went around the ruins of the city and rapidly began visiting all of the hospital facilities that still existed, I know he was struck immediately, first by the absence of any American medical personnel there – four weeks later, there were still no doctors or nurses – and then, by the great precision and care with which the Japanese doctors had already catalogued the effects of the bomb on individual organs of the body.

And over the next few days, he was as astonished as the Japanese doctors were, of course, by what he referred to in his reports as “Disease X.” It was perhaps not so astonishing to see some of the scorches and burns that people had suffered, but to see people apparently unblemished at all by the bomb, who had seemingly survived intact, suddenly finding themselves feeling unwell and going to hospital, sitting there on their cots surrounded by doctors and relatives who could do nothing, and finding when he would go back the next day that they had just died, or that -- let's say a woman who had come through unscathed making dinner for her husband and having the misfortune to make a very small cut in her finger while peeling a lemon, would just keep bleeding, and bleed to death, because the platelets in her bloodstream had been so reduced that the blood couldn’t clot anymore.

So there were case after case like this, and in a way, I think my father found them more poignant than the obvious destruction or the obvious burn victims, because here was a whole team of Japanese doctors, very able, very aware from long before the war had started about the potentials of radiation, absolutely baffled. And he had a wonderful phrase he used. He said the effects of the bomb uncured because -- excuse me, the effects of “Disease X,” which is what they were calling it, uncured because it is untreated, and untreated because it is undiagnosed.
Nerdified Link. Food for thought as we observe Hiroshima and Nagasaki's tragic anniversaries, and as we face the very real threat that the US will keep the option of nuclear war against Iran's civilians "on the table" (as the Lush/Zany, H. Clinton, and Obama gangs would say). Let us also observe as people of conscience the lies that the propaganda machine spewed in the aftermath of Hiroshima's and Nagasaki's nuking as they likely would be recycled by whichever White House regime chooses to nuke into oblivion fellow human beings. We must always remember. Never forget, never forgive.

Cross-posted at Notes From Underground.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Record That Should Never Be Broken

I know it's a constant drumbeat around here, but I refuse to let their deaths go unnoticed.
The number of illegal immigrants who have died trying to get into the United States is higher than ever this summer.

In the past few days, five bodies were found in remote crossing areas near Tucson, bringing border deaths for the year to 155, said Dr. Bruce Parks, chief medical examiner for Pima County. That is a 22 percent increase over the 127 people found dead as of July 30 last year in the area.

United States-born Americans need to understand they and their government are responsible for this deadly situation. Most will refuse to see their connection to it, but all it takes is a little googling and common-sense thinking to see it.

Let's go back to 1994 with Operation Gatekeeper:
The San Diego Sector is one of nine Border Patrol sectors along the United States/Mexico border. It is responsible for patrolling the first 66 miles of the United States/Mexico border starting from the Pacific Ocean, and covers approximately 7,000 square miles of southwest California. The Sector is located directly north of Tijuana and Tecate, Mexico, cities with a combined population of two million people. The San Ysidro Port of Entry - the westernmost entry point between the United States and Mexico - is the busiest land crossing in the country. There is no natural barrier between the United States and Mexico in the San Diego Sector. It is strictly a land border, currently well-marked near the urban areas with a steel fence but poorly marked in some remote mountainous areas where vehicle access is difficult or impossible.
If you've ever visited San Diego, you will undoubtedly feel the presence of Mexico within the city. Tijuana peers from its hillsides with a smirk of adulation and a tinge of incredulity. In reality, they are one metropolitan area with synergistic cultures, but at the top of the power structure on this side of the fortified walls - indignation - and with it a policy of militarization along la frontera; or as I like to refer to it: a band-aid to treat a severed limb.

Operation Gatekeeper had several political goals for Southern California in mind:
Although the Border Patrol internally recognized that obtaining control over any portion of the Sector would take time, its statements to the public suggested that it expected quick success. Gatekeeper was launched with an extensive media campaign that soon began reporting the results of the operation. The media campaign was driven by a host of factors, including the Border Patrol's desire to (1) inform potential crossers that easy entry at Imperial Beach was no longer available, so they should not attempt entry at this location; (2) inform citizens that action was being taken to address the overwhelming problems of illegal traffic in their neighborhoods; (3) respond to political charges - most notably those of Governor Pete Wilson in his gubernatorial campaign - that the Clinton Administration was ignoring California and its serious illegal immigration problems; and (4) to show Congress that the Border Patrol was wisely using the new resources it had received.
So. What happened after Gatekeeper was launched? This:

The graph comes from an extremely important policy brief and study (.pdf warning), authored by Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, M. Melissa McCormick, Daniel Martinez & Inez Magdalena Duarte, through the University of Arizona's Binational Migration Institute. In it, they state state the obvious for anyone that has ears open enough to hear the hard truths of the situation along the border:
Professor Wayne Cornelius, a leading scholar of immigration issues at the University of California, San Diego, estimates that the bodies of 2,978 unauthorized border crossers were recovered on U.S. soil from 1995-2004.7 Cornelius describes the body count in these terms: “To put this death toll in perspective, the fortified US border with Mexico has been more than 10 times deadlier to migrants from Mexico during the past nine years than the Berlin Wall was to East Germans throughout its 28-year existence.”8 And there is no indication that the massive amount of suffering and death along the U.S.-Mexico border will come to an end any time soon. According to the GAO, for instance, there were more deaths along the border in the first 9 months of 2006 (291) than in the first 9 months of 2005 (241).9
As you recall from the first link, 2007 is continuing this deadly trend. Militarization does not work. What needs to be explored by policy makers are the effects of trade agreements with all of Latin America.

So why did I mention the culpability of the U.S.-born American people in this situation? Well, for one, we have yet to hold elected leaders accountable for their votes against the working people. The NAFTA and CAFTA atrocities affected the livelihood of people in all regions of this part of the world. Additionally, some remain captivated by the false saber-rattling of the Border Patrol, even though it has been admitted repeatedly that they rely on propaganda and media manipulation to retain their support. The main reason, though, is that we (this includes me) continue to feed the obese corporate beast with our lifestyles.

And therein lies the catch.

Our exceptionalist and imperial attitudes as a collective people will take a lot of sacrifice and amputation to remove the havoc wreaked on the world; but we're just not there yet. It's too painful to look in the mirror and see that we are responsible for so much death and poverty. The band-aid looks much more attractive. Plus, we can sleep better at night without having to disrupt our beautiful minds.