Is Peru Next?!?

A BBC article announced the emergence of a left-leaning former military man in the bid for the presidential election in 2006 in Peru. Is this neo-socialist movement going to completely take over South America? Latin America? America?
That would be something. For some reason the ties to the military sound eerily haunting of some past regimes in the region. According to the article,
"The former army lieutenant colonel has said he will introduce what he describes as a more participatory form of democracy and will limit investment in Peru by companies from Chile.
He has called for tighter central control over Peru's energy assets and has pledged to cut the presidential salary."
Ollanta Humala is described as similar in philosophy to Chavez in Venezuela. These stories seem to developing all over America. The big question is whether or not this will continue to develop in a peaceful way.
What ever it is that is really going on, I present this post as number 100, from a place that I hold dear in my heart - beautiful Peru.

Apparently, there's a new agent to be captured and harnessed in the fight against evil. A USA Today article describes the heretofore untapped resource of the half-inch parasitic wasp -- from detecting bombs and explosives to crop fungus and cancer.

Is it just me, or does this seem like the metaphorical tip of a monstrous iceberg of unchartered exploitation? Perhaps it's just the subtle shades of malignancy in the closing comments of one of the engineers involved in the development and research of the Wasp Hound:
The "ability to capture nature and its marvels is ... revolutionary."
Moreover, "The sensitivity of animals (and insects) to chemicals in general is probably beyond what we can comprehend. We don't really know what the limits are."
But do we really want to explore those limits?

Bolivia has a new President. Cheers to what may come.

An article from In These Times describes Evo Morales as: "a proudly left-leaning indigenous activist who defends the traditional rights of peasants to grow coca and describes the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas as "'colonization.'"
The article goes on to describe the new president's background, and offers an interview with him from November - before he won the election.

Here's some of what Morales has to say:
"The majority of people in this country--people from more than 30 indigenous groups--did not participate in the foundation of Bolivia in 1825. We have to re-found Bolivia in order to end the colonial state, to live united in diversity, to put all our resources under state control, and to make people participate and give them the right to make decisions."

Morales on the Bolivian debt, and a call for compensation for the indigenous - a first from a head of state:
"We will ask for the total [forgiveness] of the debt, negotiating with the World Bank and the IMF. We are looking into the possibility of presenting a demand that Bolivia be compensated for genocide and 500 years of oppression and violations of human rights. It would be a historic thing to do, especially for an indigenous government."

And finally, Morales on the future for Latin America:
"If the 19th century belonged to Europe and the 20th century to the United States, the 21st century will belong to America, to Latin America. I have a vision of integration, like the European Union, with a single market and a single currency and with the corporations subordinate to the state."

"I am sure that America would be better off without the United States and the IMF controlling all of its resources."

And if you want more, check out this ZNet article - writen by Evo Morales!

It appears as if change is afoot down in South America.

How about a trip to the Caribbean

From the website of Ethan Persoff, comes this amazing post:
"What better way to celebrate the holidays than with an actual comic book produced and written by the CIA. How about a comic that was air-dropped during a US Invasion? "GRENADA" is just that thing. And we promise you it's the number one Real Deal. Acquired through amicable agreement with an actual recipient of the comic and former citizen of the island. This comic pulls no punches. Just look at the picture above of islanders getting their heads banged in by murderers designed to resemble Cubans. And that's just the front cover. Rape, Murder, Lies, Beatings. All tied up in a beautifully dishonest Pro-Reagan Anti-Castro message. George Bush Sr even takes time out his busy post-hurricane Humanitarian schedule to make an appearance. This comic was never meant to be read by anyone in the United States, or anyone outside the Caribbean for that matter. Here it is for you, Click to read."

Unbelievable: Indians Killed in Brazil

I just can not believe that I live in this world. In Brazil, what Survival International called an uncontacted tribe, was apparently wiped out - killed - murdered - disappeared. People are just unbelievably short sighted, ignorant, and self involved - but that's just my diatribe. The vastness of the Amazon continues to surprise me, as there are not many uncontacted peoples remaining on the planet. These people undoubtedly harbor extensive knowledge of their environment, including possibly thousands of medicinal plants and plant combinations. Is it possible that along with the people that were killed, a novel treatment for AIDS or cancer was destroyed as well? Read the short article from Survival International. At least it appears that there will be some repercussions for this unconscionable act - 29 Brazilians have been detained on charges that they participated in a genocide. I couldn't agree more with Survival's director Stephen Corry, who said,
‘It's shocking that in the twenty-first century, with so many of Brazil's tribes gone forever, those remaining are still in danger of genocide. Brazil must take immediate action to recognise and protect the land of the Rio Pardo Indians, before it is too late.'

This Isn't News

A Global Exchange Report identifies the corrupt practices of 14 American corporations. How long until this "news" has a perceptible impact on people?

Free Trade? NO WAY!!!

OK... Here's why the shaman may be more of a visible figure to the world bank. The AP released this article by Michael Casey explaining how free trade policies are hurting small farmers in 'developing' countries. Casey refers to a report on free trade by the group Friends of the Earth which states what just begins to tell a larger story:
"Free trade policies tend to benefit large, export-driven producers, drive down prices and hurt smaller producers. Small-scale farmers are particularly vulnerable to market opening pressures and often forced from their land when it is converted to plantations or planted with crops for export"

In Latin America, and other parts of the world, where multiple free trade programs are on the table, the small-scale farmers are typically indigenous peoples. These policies can be seen as continuing the legacy of racism and exploitation of the indigenous that began over 500 years ago in the Americas - a legacy being relived in the name of 'development.'
Finally, as comments in the previous post suggested, the shaman is perhaps one of the more visible and vocal figures within many indigenous communities. He has traditionally played a leadership role, and in the continuing crises of the current day, this role desperately needs to be maintained.

DC, shamans, and the world bank...

Someone tell me what this post is supposed to be about. I ask the world... the very small part of it that may read this... where are the connections here?

Drug Policy Reform Conference

I thought I would post this article by Silja Talvi from In These Times as a follow-up to my previous post (which I never actually posted) about the conference out in California. Law enforcement officials against the war on drugs, as well as ex-prisoners of the war seem to have made the biggest news at the conference. These are definitely two groups that could help to bring about change if organization continues and grows.

Just Say No... to Walmart

If you are a WalMart shopper you should really be thinking twice about your purchasing decisions. If you already avoid the sprawling mega-centers, you should probably be thinking about doing more than that. Check out this website that will make it very clear why this corporation is in fact the epitome of the Evil Empire that the U.S. has become. This company is so unethical it is almost unbelievable. Low pay, small health care benefits, missed breaks, overworked youth, and overpaid executives are just the tip of the iceberg here.

Bush Facing his Critics in South America

Bush is facing a tough crowd down in South America during his visit for the 4th Summit of the Americas in Argentina. A reported crowd of 10,000 people led a protest through the streets with chants like: "Get Out Bush!" and "Fascist Bush! You are a Terrorist!" According to a NYTimes article,
"Leaders attending the two-day summit agreed ahead of time to focus on creating jobs and reducing poverty. In recent days, however, attention has shifted to the free trade issue and sparring between the United States and Chavez, a leftist whose government has used his country's vast oil wealth on social programs for the poor."
Venezuela's President Chavez has become one of Latin America's most outspoken critics of the Bush regime and Washington, regularly claiming that the U.S. is planning to overthrow him. His counter proposal to a hemisphere-wide free trade zone includes:
"an anti-FTAA deal based on socialist ideals. He has also pushed for regional solidarity, offering fuel with preferential financing to various Caribbean and Latin American countries."
Bush does have some support for his plan, and 28 countries in the region have reportedly agreed to restart talks on the free trade zone. Chavez, however, has a good amount of support in the region as well. We all know that the Bush plan is to benefit the international corporations that are largely U.S. based, with little concern for the economies or the people of Latin America. The question is whether or not Chavez is the man that has the interests of Latin America in his heart, and if so, how far will he be able to take his ideas?

Anthropologists in Trouble

I guess one can't have his politics and teach them too - or not as this case may be. And still, David Graeber appears to be losing his job at Yale for raising his voice in protest. I suppose I shouldn't expect anything else. As if the stuffiness of the ivory tower is not enough, this too is probably influencing my desire to find work outside of academia to an even greater extent:

Associated Press

October 23, 2005

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- By all accounts, Yale anthropology professor David Graeber is one of the brightest minds in his field. His books are taught worldwide and the London School of Economics recently asked him to give its annual Malinowski lecture, an offer reserved for the world's most promising young anthropologists.

And he's about to be unemployed.

Graeber is an anarchist whose counterculture writings are nearly as popular as his academic work. He carries an Industrial Workers of the World union card and has been arrested during anti-globalization protests.

So when Yale recently told Graeber not to return next year, it touched off a letter-writing campaign from professors worldwide, some of whom suggested that the Ivy League university is letting politics influence its hiring.

"It's extremely odd that one of the most brilliant anthropologists is being excluded from the department at Yale in such an extraordinary fashion," said Maurice Bloch, a London School of Economics anthropologist and one of many professors to write letters to Yale.

Graeber, who has taught at Yale since 1998, has appealed the decision. University spokesman Tom Conroy said the university is negotiating an informal settlement but would not discuss the reasons behind the contract decision.

Dozens of the 250 non-tenured professors at Yale come up for contract renewal each year, Conroy said, and it's not unusual for them to leave. He said some leave for personal reasons or take tenure-track jobs at other universities. Others, like Graeber, are not renewed.

Graeber, 44, is the son of a seamstress and a print plate stripper and still lives in the same New York City co-op where he grew up. "Socialist housing," he calls it. He wears cargo pants to class and is not shy about his disdain for the tenured Yale faculty who showed him the door.

"I'm both more productive intellectually than they are and I'm having more fun. It must drive them crazy," he said in an interview.

Later, he added: "I'm publishing like crazy. I'm all over the place. I try hard not to rub it in."

Graeber said he got along with his colleagues at first and passed a three-year review before leaving for sabbatical in 2001. While away from New Haven, Graeber joined groups such as the Direct Action Network and Ya Basta and began appearing at anti-war and anti-globalization protests and in newspaper articles.

When he returned to Yale, he said things changed.

"All of a sudden, people weren't speaking to me," he said.

At his six-year review, he said he was given only a short-term renewal because some colleagues expressed concerns.

"It was incredibly petty," Graeber said. "It was stuff like, 'He turns in grades late, comes in late to class.' Really stupid little things."

He said he made more enemies by objecting when some colleagues tried to kick out a graduate student. The student, Christina Moon, was an organizer trying to unionize graduate students and prepare a strike.

This spring, when his contract was up for review again, the department voted not to extend it. Like all employment decisions, it was made behind closed doors. Even Graeber doesn't get to know why.

Andrew Hill, chairman of anthropology at Yale, did not return a call for comment. He told the student-run Yale Daily News that professors should not assume they will be rehired.

Enrique Mayer, a Yale anthropology professor who was in the department's meeting, said he doesn't believe Graeber was fired simply for being an anarchist.

"I have my own opinions, but I'm gagged," Mayer said. "There are people who don't like his politics and people who don't like internal graduate student issues. That's true."

Despite being eccentric - an adjective echoed by several anthropologists and students - Graeber's classes are among the most popular in the department, Mayer said.

"If Yale can't cope with eccentric possibilities, that's rather odd," Bloch said. "It's had many in the past. He doesn't run around naked in the middle of lectures. He doesn't do anything as radical as that."

Moon, a doctoral candidate, is one of dozens of anthropology students who signed a student petition supporting Graeber. She said he is the department's most popular professor but is not liked by the senior faculty.

"He was really challenging the attitudes, the politics and the conservative views of the department," Moon said.

Since Graeber's firing, he has become a cause celebre for student union activists. It's bittersweet, he said, because he disagrees with the union's centralized organization and tried hard not to get political on campus.

"I figured, I'll be an anarchist in New York and a scholar in New Haven," he said.

Peter McLaren, a UCLA professor and outspoken Marxist who is among more than 4,000 names on a general online petition supporting Graeber, said that can be difficult. He said he was similarly fired early in his career.

"It's the professors that get active locally and in their communities, where newspapers stories come out about them. They're the professors very often that are in trouble," he said. "If you keep your ideas to your politics and your books, you're OK."

As negotiations continue between Graeber and Yale, letters keep arriving on campus. A student-run Web site supporting Graeber has collected nine letters signed by several dozen professors.

"It has also led to widespread speculation on the motives that lie behind it," University of Chicago faculty members wrote. "None of this can do anything but a disservice to anthropology at Yale and to the discipline at large."

With his job prospects for next year uncertain, Graeber didn't renew a lease on his apartment. He splits his time between his New York co-op and apartments in New Haven where friends let him sleep.

Though he said he'd like to stay at Yale, he's touching up his resume just in case. But he worries whether his reputation is tainted.

Copyright (c) 2005, The Associated Press
This article originally appeared at: http://www.stamfordadvocate

I just had to keep this going...

Snagged from the Tom Tomorrow political cartoon series through the help of another like minded blogger... Is the shit really hitting the fan?

A Call for Indigenous Rights!

Indigenous peoples in the Americas, and around the world for that matter, continue to suffer the affects of colonialism, globalization, and capitalism that have consumed the globe at alarming rates. Their voices continue to be hushed in the international community, and their needs are left unmet. Indigenous groups from throughout the region have gathered in Buenos Aires, Argentina in an attempt to document the current state of the indigenous in the Americas. The BBC reports:
"Representatives at the summit, including the powerful National Indian Confederation of Ecuador, are discussing ways of opening spaces for their participation, fighting discrimination and tackling poverty."
In the Americas, land issues are among the hottest topics.

"Their land has been taken away and they can't manage their resources," said the head of the Organisation of Indigenous Peoples in Argentina, Victor Capitan. "All this has driven indigenous people further into poverty."

They are expected to prepare a final document on the situation of the indigenous peoples in the continent, which will be circulated during the Summit of the Americas, to be held in Argentina at the beginning of November.

Keep checking back for more on indigenous movements in the Latin American region. Watch for current news along with more background info that may shed some light on what is happening in the region and why.

Living by Leviticus

This piece is a reprint from an email that I recently recieved.

On her radio show recently, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22,and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the Internet.
It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. ... End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Law and how to follow them.

1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2. The passage clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan,
James M. Kauffman, Ed.D.
Professor Emeritus
Dept. of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special
University of Virginia

Chavez Protects the Indigenous...

October 13, 2005
In yet another example of why Venezuela's President Chavez remains a compelling figure, he has come to the defense of his nation's indigenous peoples. Chavez is expelling the Florida-based missionary group, New Tribes, from the country. While he may be over-stating the political motivations of the group, it is long past due that missionaries are moved out of indigenous areas of South and Central America. According to the BBC article reporting the news:
"The leftist leader said the missionaries were 'imperialists' and he felt "ashamed" at their presence in indigenous areas of Venezuela."
In fact, New Tribes is one of the largest missionary organizations operating in Latin America, and thus can be seen as responsible for much of the cultural erosion of indigenous peoples in the region. While this is a step in the right direction for indigenous peoples, much more still needs to be done to help protect their rights. Indigenous people have been maltreated since the arrival of the Europeans 500 years ago, and such continues today.


In honor of his death almost 40 years ago, I offer this post to the legend of Che Guevara. The Cuban website, Adelante On-Line, had a nice article about Che, his accomplishments, and what he still means to thousands of people around the world. Che Guevara was killed in Bolivia on October 8, 1968 by U.S. backed Bolivian agents. He was attempting to continue the spread of the Bolivarian Revolution throughout South America. This legacy is largely continued today in both Cuba and Venezuela, and is threatening to grow even larger with changes in countries like Bolivia, Ecuador, and Paraguay. We can only hope that Mexico becomes part of this heritage as well. Here are some quotes from the article:
"Physician and combatant extraordinaire, he is a legend for many, a saint in the Bolivian mountains and the paradigm for revolutionary and rebel fighter, whose ideas live on indefatigably after his death."
"The US intelligence services and the Bolivian Army could not imagine in 1967 that the Argentine-Cuban Ernest Guevara de la Serna would come to symbolize critical thinking, struggle and dignity for a great part of humanity."
He truly was one of the last of a now uncommon breed - the revolutionary. Nobody has since put his or her life on the line in defense of the common man like Che Guevara once did. Cheers to Che, and may his spirit live on!

Is Subcomandante Marcos the next Gandhi?

An article from narconews by Al Giordano covering the upcoming tour of Mexico by Marcos compares his motives and actions to Gandhi returning to India back in the early 1900's.

"Like Gandhi in his loin cloth, Marcos and the Zapatistas who in September 2006 will follow him and fan out across the land have already pronounced that they will refuse gifts (even symbolic ones) of any kind during this upcoming marathon tour, they will not open any bank accounts, they will not be riding first-class… their vanguard, or scout, the masked Marcos, will, in a sense, live off the land… that is to say, strictly and only on the support of the simple and humble people who struggle."

The planned tour of the country will run from January 9th (2006) to June 25th, and will hit each of the Mexican states along with Mexico City. It just so happens that July 2nd is the date of the presidential elections. Could this be seen as a campaign tour?

After Marcos returns to Chiapas, unfortunately probably not as the president of the country, a second wave of Zapatistas will leave the southern state to join forces with other like minded people around the country.

"In other words, indigenous Maya – primarily of the Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal and Chol ethnic groups – with 22 years of experience as Zapatistas and a heritage of 514 years of experience resisting impositions from above and outside will go to the places and people throughout Mexico that their vanguard, or scout, Marcos recommends. Some of them will be going to live, work and organize for six month tours of duty, implanting themselves in communities, in the homes of real people, near workplaces, factories, farms, organizations and collectives, where thousands upon thousands of other Mexicans will be able to observe and collaborate, up close, with Zapatista organizing techniques and other ways of being."

The next year or so in Mexico should get very interesting. With the leftist, Lopez Obrador in the running for president, and now Marcos and the Zapatistas making a concerted effort to reach out to the rest of the country, changes may very well be afoot.

Good News from South America...

While my time is limited, I don't have much of a comment on this article, but I felt it should be posted. Finally some rational thinking is going on concerning the forgotten war - the War on Drugs. Let's hope that the talk is transformed into action and some real change occurs down in South America. Maybe it could then spread north...

Hunger Strike...

One of the many unfortunate side effects of Hurrican Katrina is that the disaster in the U.S. south has taken attention away from the rest of the bumbling fuck-ups of the current administration in Washington. For instance, a short piece from the Cuban website, Adelante On Line:
Thursday, September 15th, 2005
Hunger Strike Grows at Guantánamo Prison

Washington, Sep 15 (Prensa Latina) Dozens of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, a Cuban territory illegally occupied by the US, have joined a hunger strike, bringing the number refusing food to 128.
Eighteen prisoners have been hospitalized, including 13 who are being tube-fed.
According to their lawyers, in the latest of a series of hunger strikes since 2002 by detainees, as many as 200 prisoners were involved in the protest, demanding release or immediate trial.
Many of the inmates have been held without charge for more than three years. The Guantanamo prison holds about 500 prisoners from nearly 40 countries.
The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which has provided lawyers for many detainees, says some prisoners have threatened to starve to death unless they are put on trial or released.
The CCR has also claimed that at least three detainees were abused by the military's Extreme Reaction Force.

"rebuilding" = lining big corporate pockets

Thanks to an insightful article from Alternet, we can get a feel for what may really be happening in New Orleans. As if there is not enough money to be made on the disaster of the Iraq war, now companies like Halliburton, Fluor, and Bechtel are getting the contracts to rebuild here in our very own disaster down in the Big Easy. We live in ugly times, and it seems like they keep getting worse. I wonder, has the world always been like this?
The corporate elite of America and the West are really making a push to make their version of reality the prevailing one around the world. It looks like New Orleans is headed towards gentrified bliss while the poor will get to move into beautiful new public trailer parks. You gotta love it.

Kill 'em All...

Here are some of the quotes that I referred to in my last post. They are from an Allen Breed AP article posted on Yahoo news.

"Lt. Gen. Steven Blum of the National Guard said 7,000 National Guardsmen arriving in Louisiana on Friday would be dedicated to restoring order in New Orleans. He said half of them had just returned from assignments overseas and are "highly proficient in the use of lethal force." He pledged to "put down" the violence "in a quick and efficient manner.'"

"Gov. Kathleen Blanco called the looters "hoodlums" and issued a warning to lawbreakers: Hundreds of National Guardsmen hardened on the battlefield in Iraq have landed in New Orleans.

"They have M-16s and they're locked and loaded," she said. "These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will.""

Like I mentioned in my previous post, it's nice to see such concern for the poor, sick, and elderly of New Orleans. Treat them like criminals for not succeeding in the corrupt capitalist American Consumer Culture.

New Orleans...

The headlines say it all I think. Anarchy, chaos, lawlessness, despair, explosions, gunfire, desperation, rage, hell, looting, fear, fights, rape, and even SOS have all appeared in top headlines describing the situation in the great City of Jazz. With the U.S. overextended in so many ways by the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been a very slow response time to the crisis. Plus, there is very little to respond with. Troops, money, and other resources are flowing out of the country so fast that there is not enough to help an entire city in need. This whole situation exposes what is so wrong with the current state of affairs in the United States. First of all, when New Orleans was ordered to be evacuated, nearly everyone with any wealth or resources was able to get out of the city. Largely left behind were the people most in need of help: the elderly, the sick, and the poor - the three segments of society that compose the ugly underside of American Culture. With the ability to react stretched thin by our "wars" in the Middle East, these people continue to suffer and die even 5 days after the fact. This inability to react shows just how vulnerable the country is. Another disaster (or attack) of any major consequence would cripple the whole country. Already gas prices have soared to over $3 per gallon in most places, and shortages are being reported throughout the country. Back in New Orleans, the battle tested soldiers home from Iraq are being sent into the city to try and regain control with the threat that they have experience shooting people, and they will probably do so in the city. I guess the governor of Louisiana thinks that if the hurricane couldn't kill the poor, sick, and elderly, the military should get in there and do it. It has taken just one challenge to expose the fact that the country and its resources are being spread dangerously thin, leaving the people exposed to the threat of the quick and very drastic end to their way of life. I would like to congratulate the government in Washington and the corporate elite that control them on a job well done. Assholes.

Chomsky on the Nation-State and Corporations

August 28, 2005
Noam Chomsky is a truly unique public figure. It seems that no matter what he talks about, he offers some amazing insight that nobody else has or expresses. His willingness to be controversial is a ray of light in this world of public figures tiptoeing around worrying that what they say could hurt their career. Writings and interviews of Chomsky are regularly featured on ZNet, and I have linked to some of his stuff in the past.

Today I would like to bring to your attention an interview in which he discusses the development of the nation-state and its relation to the corporate world. Asked his ideas about the beginnings of the nation-state, Chomsky replied:
"Well, the nation state is pretty much a European invention, I mean there were similar things, but the nation state in the modern form was largely created in Europe over many centuries. It's so unnatural and artificial that it had to be imposed by extreme violence. In fact that's the primary reason why Europe was the most savage part of the world for centuries. It was due to trying to impose a nation state system on cultures and societies that are varied and if you look at them had no relation to this artificial structure."
How does the corporate system fit into this? Chomsky:
"It's impossible to distinguish the modern dominant states from the multinational corporate system, the conglomerates that rely on them, that have a relation of both dependency and domination to them."
I urge you to check out the rest of this fascinating interview of Chomsky where he explores the relationship between the corporation and the state and the many implications of the current set-up.

Robertson calls for Assassination of Chavez

Since the notorious right-wing radical Cristian Pat Robertson called for the assassination of the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, I thought I would shine some light on what Chavez might be doing to deserve this threat to his life.
First though, a look at Robertson's words: "We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability." He continued, "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."
I have to agree with the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who commented: "It's absolutely chilling to hear a religious leader call for the murder of any political leader, no matter how much he disagrees with such a leader's policies or practices."
Robertson, a former candidate for President of the U.S.A, and current religious leader has presented a fine example of what is so wrong with the religious right who claim to be Christians yet expound words of such violence and hatred.
And now, a look at the works of Chavez according to a recent joint broadcast with Fidel Castro from Cuba. Chavez was in Cuba to attend a graduation ceremony of over 1600 doctors from the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba. According to the above linked article, "The Venezuelan president repeated his commitment to create a new Latin American School of Medicine in Venezuela, modeled after the one in Cuba, with the purpose of educating an "army" of doctors."
"Fidel Castro stated that this sort of idea, to create universities intended to create massive amounts of doctors in Latin America, is not a dream, but a reality, focused not on making money but on saving lives."
According to Chavez, "60 comprehensive diagnostic centers are now up and running in Venezuela which have attended to more than 78,000 patients and performed some 300,000 patient examinations since opening." His goal is to open over 600 of these centers throughout Venezuela "to guarantee medical assistance to those most in need that previously had no access to good health care."
These accomplishments and goals may not seem that impressive at first, but consider that these leaders are proposing and enacting a program that will provide quality health care to people of all economic classes, including the extremely poor, of which there are so many in Latin America, and this, completely free of charge. This is being accomplished through the education of large amounts of doctors and other health care workers, also free of charge. Compare this to the U.S., where doctors are becoming less and less while demanding extremely large amounts of money for their services, where the cost of educating a doctor is out of reach for much of the country, and where the cost of health care itself is out of the reach of much of the country. I don't know what Robertson is looking at when speaking of the "dictator" Chavez, but the Venezuelan President appears to have humanitarian ideas at his core. Robertson, a "religious leader" appears to be nothing more than a fascist.
Finally, check out this article that puts Robertson and others of the religious right in a similar light yet claims this may be a good thing.

The Great Democracy of the U.S.A.

Here is a short piece from the NYTimes that pretty much sums up why I don't even bother with the crooked democracy that rules the US. The piece by Paul Krugman talks about the past two presidential elections beginning with a new book put out by a reporter for the British newspaper, the Independent. The book, titled "Steal this Vote," concludes and documents that "Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election." This is largely based on evidence that election work in Florida swayed the vote away from Gore and handed the state to Bush. In 2004, a similar situation arose in Ohio where the "secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell - supervised the election while serving as co-chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio." If that is not a conflict in interests, I don't know what is. Whatever went on there, the situation was certainly ripe for manipulation. Besides throwing the whole Bush presidency into question concerning its legitimacy, the piece wants to make clear that the American democracy is not flawless and in fact is riddled with corruption. Krugman sums up the piece with this thought: "Our current political leaders would suffer greatly if either house of Congress changed hands in 2006, or if the presidency changed hands in 2008. The lids would come off all the simmering scandals, from the selling of the Iraq war to profiteering by politically connected companies. The Republicans will be strongly tempted to make sure that they win those elections by any means necessary. And everything we've seen suggests that they will give in to that temptation."


My lapse in posts can be explained by a sudden disinterest in world news that came over me a few days ago. The dominating stories usually include stories of violence, struggles over oil, war here, war there, and then some more violence. A case in point are the stories coming out of Ecuador right now. A beautiful country straddling the Andes Mountains and dipping into the Amazon jungle, Ecuador only makes the news when a disruption to their oil supply occurs. Largely poor protesters have been able to halt production by taking over sections of the infrastructure. The protesters simply want to see some of the profits from the oil returned to the community. Now the military is involved as the disruption is hitting the pocketbooks of the European descended elites. According to the above linked BBC article, "The economic impact [of the disruption in oil production] is far worse than any war." Of course the military has been brought in to restore the machinery to the elite so that their profits continue. Amazingly only injuries and no deaths have been reported, but again, the reporting is vague: "The army has used tear gas to disperse protesters in clashes that have left dozens injured." This begins to get at what I was trying to explicate earlier in this post. The news media not only is filled with reports of violence - usually perpetrated against the poor of the world - but the focus of many reports are on the best interests of the elites, which happen to be running most of the governments on the globe. The interests of the poor are only bylines. I know this isn't really any great revelation, it's just that sometimes one needs a break from the constant and never ending injustices perpetrated by the modern west.

A Zapatista President?

After another public statement that made the AP wire, it appears that Subcomante Marcos may be gearing up to either run for president or offer a candidate based in the rebel movement. He continued his criticism against the political system of Mexico, including the leftist Mexico City mayor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is leading most of the early polls for next years elections. Marcos said the Zapatistas were to begin a country-wide tour in an effort to garner support and help to determine the direction of the group. Of course, those in the political system are discounting the efforts of Marcos and the Zapatistas insisting that they are simple a rebel group, and not politicians. However, Marcos is an educated man (he has been identified as a former college professor) and obviously has the charisma to gain the support of the people, as shown by the size and success of the Zapatista movement. The political landscape in Mexico is starting to get interesting, although I wonder if this will divide the left, and leave the conservatives in power yet again.


This is Yellowman!
So, here is something a little bit different: Earlier tonight I saw one of the all-time reggae greats - Yellowman! - and it was a free show! I first saw him in Trenton, New Jersey at City Gardens in 1989 with the ska band, Bigger Thomas. Back then he had long crazy, yellow dreads, an appearance ravaged by cancer, and, of course, yellow skin. His son was even in the audience - and was also an albino. Jamaican born, Yellowman began his life as a social outcast raised in an orphanage and constantly abused because of his albino skin. He rose to fame on tales of his sexual prowess and his catchy style which is considered the beginning of dancehall reggae. He is considered reggae's first dancehall superstar. Sixteen years after I saw him for the first time, the man has gone through another bought with cancer, and lost his dreads, but his energy was incredible, and the show was great. How amazing to be able to see a legend perform for a packed house in a small venue. Long live King Yellowman!

Zapatistas Speak Out

In a small piece that has been making many of the news services, the leader of the Zapatistas came out of hiding for the first time in 4 years. Donning his trademark black mask, Subcomante Marcos denounced all of Mexico's political parties, claiming, "They'll pay for everything they have done to us. They're a bunch of scoundrels." He included the leftist mayor of Mexico City, Lopez Obrador - the reported front runner for the presidential elections next year, in his diatribe. Marcos, identified as a former university professor announced plans for a Zapatista campaign to oppose the traditional political parties of Mexico.
Mexico appears to be in for some changes in 2006, as a leftist is the front runner for the presidency, and now the Zapatistas, who have a good amount of support from the indigenous population, are entering the race. However, one possible scenario has the Zapatista party, if it runs a candidate, taking support away from Lopez Obrador, and leaving the traditional, conservative parties in power.

Plan Colombia

Continuing the Colombian theme that has run through the last few posts, I offer this article from the International Relations Center that gives a fine explanation of everything that is wrong with the U.S. funding that goes to Colombia to fight the supposed War on Drugs. Here are some of the statistics according to the article:
5 years and $4 billion have gone to Plan Colombia
1.4 million acres of fumigated coca crops in Colombia in 5 years
21,003 acres less of the coca crop 5 years later
1 acre less for every 67 sprayed

Add to these stats the fact that the price of cocaine in the U.S. is at an all time low, and purity is supposedly unaffected. The product being sprayed in Colombia is Monsanto's Roundup, which reportedly has harmful affects on human reproduction, including an increase in premature births and miscarriages. Plus, aerial fumigation not only kills the coca plants, but most other plants that it comes in contact with, affecting not only the coca plants, but the natural and human environments around them as well. It appears that Plan Colombia as a success story, as Uribe and Bush recently claimed, is questionable at best.

As an added note, in the above linked article, Bush says that "America will continue to stand with the people of Colombia." I wonder if he knows there are three different groups warring in Colombia, and they are all composed of Colombians. I wonder which group Bush is referring to? Well, obviously the ones that do exactly as America says, which happen to be the ones that have received the $4 Billion over the last 5 years.

Chavez and Colombia

According to the Associated Press, Venezuela's President Chavez denies that he is aiding Colombia's leftist rebels. He claims the 100,000 rifles and military helicopters that he is buying from Russia is for the strengthening of his own army. Either way, this continues the development of leftist movements militarizing and organizing in an attempt to counter U.S. power in the region.

An interesting Znet article by Constance Viera describes the effects of the Colombian war on the indigenous in the country. The Nasa Indians, who live in the southwestern part of the country and number about 300,000 of the estimated 1 million indigenous of Colombia. The Nasa have recently experienced an influx of violence as the war has moved into their territory. While they have been active in land reforms in the region, the group has continually claimed neutrality in the country's war. Despite this, over 500 Nasa leaders have been killed by the groups involved, including the leftist rebels, the paramilitaries, and even rich landowners of the region. The violence of the war has swept up everyone in its path, including those who want no part of it like the Nasa.

Elsewhere in South America, reporter Ben Dangl describes the alleged construction of a new U.S. military base in Paraguay, although the U.S. denies its existence. Close to the border with Bolivia, where the leftist movement is growing stronger and stronger and a presidential election looms in the near future, many believe the base to be a prelude to U.S. intervention there. You may ask what the issue of dispute in Bolivia is? Natural Gas. The country has huge gas reserves and the U.S. gov't wants to be in a position to protect U.S. interests in the region should a leftist like Evo Morales win the presidency.

The Colombian Paramilitaries

A NY Times article sheds some light on the disarming of the Colombian paramilitaries that I discussed in my previous post. Human Rights Watch claims that the laws governing the disarming are basically a "get-out-of-jail-free card" and will prevent extradition of members of the paramilitary group to the U.S. on drug charges. Incidentally, the paramilitaries control large parts of the country and are heavily involved in the drug trade. It basically boils down to the fact that the U.S. War on Drugs taking place in Colombia is really a war on the socialist/communist group, the FARC. It really has nothing to do with drugs. I guess this should not be all that surprising considering the recent history of warmongering by the U.S. government.

Resistance in Colombia

Colombia has experienced what is essentially a civil war between 3 factions for many years now. These days the picture is this: on one side of the trifecta is the U.S. backed Uribe government, recipient of the largest amount of U.S. military aid in the world; a second prong is composed of the right-wing paramilitary group - ex-military outside of the control of the gov't and sowing terror throughout the countryside (they have been some of the biggest players in the drug trade). According to AP reports, they have reportedly begun to disarm; Finally, completing the group is the FARC, a supposed communist/socialist group of rebels that control parts of the country, and have recently stepped up their pressure on the government.
My story here connects to the previous posts about the swing to the left in much of Latin America. The above linked BBC article notes that the FARC wants to ensure that the Uribe administration meets defeat in the next election. They hope for a more sympathetic group to gain office, which would definitely be a left leaning party. This would fall in line with much of the rest of Latin America, a major blow to the U.S. especially if combined with a leftist victory in Mexico.
The other story here, of course under-reported, is the civil war. The above picture (from a site called ConflictPics) shows members of the military that have been hit by a FARC-planted bomb device. War is ugly. It affects real human beings. Sadly, this war has been made possible by the huge amount of military aid provided by the U.S. government. Things might be very different, although admittedly not necessarily better (but maybe), if the U.S. would step back and let the people of Colombia decide what is best for Colombia, as it is happening non-violently in much of the rest of Latin America.

Lopez-Obrador Getting Started

Widely favored to win the presidential elections next year, Lopez-Obrador has stepped down as mayor of Mexico City in order to focus full time on the presidential campaign. A BBC article describes him: "A staunch leftist, he said he was most proud of having put the poor first." The possibility of this movement towards the left occurring throughout Latin America finally making its way to the doorstep of the U.S. must be troublesome to many in Washington. A move to the left by Mexico could serve to create a fairly powerful bloc of leftist countries finally strong enough to counter the years of exploitation by a rich elite.
I will continue to follow this story here at
recycled minds...

On a lighter note...

Humor is a necessary part of life, and I like to try to infuse a little of that here too. Here's a joke that I found on, which you should check out if you don't know about it.

President Bush meets with the Queen of England and asks her, "Your Majesty, how is it that you have such an efficient government? Do you have any tricks to share with me on this?"

"Why, of course", replies the Queen, "the most important thing is to surround yourself with intelligent people".

To which Bush replies, "How do you know if they are intelligent?".

The Queen takes a sip of her tea and says, "It's easy, ask them a riddle." She then hits the button on her intercom and says, "Send in Tony Blair".

Tony Blair enters the room, "Yes my Queen?".

The Queen smiles at him and says, "Answer the following, your mother and your father have a child, it's not your brother or your sister, who is it?".

Tony Blair hesitates for a moment and says, "It's me!".

"Very well" says the Queen.

Bush returns to Washington and asks the same question to Vice President Dick Cheney, "Dick, your mother and your father have a child, it's not your brother or your sister, who is it?".

To this Cheney says "Let me think about it".

Cheney then goes to his advisors and asks them all to answer the question. No one seems able to answer this. Frustrated he goes into one of the toilets in the bathroom and recognizes Colin Powell's shoes in the neighboring stalls.

"Colin, can you answer this question? You mother and your father have a child, it's not your brother or your sister, who is it?".

Colin Powell immediately responds, "that's easy, it's me". To this, Cheney smiles, thanks him, and returns to talk to Bush.

"I did some research and I have the answer to your question, it's Colin Powell".

Bush gets up angrily and says, "you imbecile, it's Tony Blair!".

Terror in Oaxaca

So, the beautiful city (and state) of Oaxaca in southern Mexico is facing the brutal tactics of a newly elected right wing governor. A visit there finds the old Spanish-Colonial city, perfect weather, ancient ruins (Monte Alban), and a rich and lively indigenous culture, second in numbers only to the adjoining state of Chiapas. Of course, the governor is taking issue with any kind of action by existing indigenous groups along with those that support them. Indymedia has some articles that detail the goings on from the point of view of the oppressed. It sounds scary, as the police supported paramilitaries are reportedly running free, and doing what they do best - perpetrating violence against the poor indigenous population of the region. Such a beautiful place must still suffer the violence of the conquest now over 500 years old.

The Chomsky Perspective...

Noam Chomsky is one of the most respected minds in the field of U.S. policy critiquing. He has fairly regular columns on ZNet, and this one gives you some perspective on current U.S. policy and its roots not only in WWII, but also back in the days of President Jackson and John Quincy Adams whose presentation of the policy to rid Florida of the Seminoles is eerily similar to how the foreign adventures are being presented today.

You are what you eat...

Here's an interesting article describing the difficulties of eating a healthy diet. Being and eating healthy really boils down to eating as many whole foods as possible, and cutting out as many pre-made products - including eating out - as possible. In other words, know what you eat, and don't trust others with the control of your health. Be well...

Matters of the State...

With the nomination of a new Supreme Court Justice by the Great George W. Bush up for debate by the Congress, along with so many other world events, I have the State on the mind. This justice will be on the court for life which will end up being 20 to 30 years - minimum. The legacy of the conservative Republicans will live far longer than this administration. Especially considering that Bush will probably appoint not only 1, but 2 justices before his term is up. But I wonder how much would actually be any different in other circumstances. The war in Iraq will go on. It did not start with Bush, and it won’t end there either. The violence of the State seems to be a natural part of the organism, just like violence is a natural part of the natural world. There is something troubling about violence perpetrated by humans onto other humans on a mass scale. I suppose I would be called a humanist for thinking that we should have limits to this type of violence. Could it be that the leaders of the world perpetrate this violence as a kind of sacrifice? A sacrifice to their gods, or God? Theirs is a mysterious world of religion and ritual shrouded in secrecy. There has always been talk of secret societies of the elite, and who knows, really, if they are true - even partially. For the world of the elites is so detached from that of the everyday citizen. The public face is but a small part of the world of the elite. We don’t even know how many there really are. We do know that in many countries of Latin America, an astonishingly low number of families own a ridiculous amount of the land, and thus have an enormously lopsided influence on the power scheme in those countries. Why would that be any different around the rest of the world - even in the great ‘democracy’ of the United States?

And so I am coming to the conclusion that no matter how much we theorize and argue about politics in the modern world, no matter what happens, the elite will have some version of their desires as the rule of the land. A depressing thought perhaps, but I think probably the reality we live in.

Power to the People!

The Great Collapse...

Jared Diamond and the ideas from his two books, "Guns, Germs, and Steel," and his most recent, "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed," are the talk of the town in the world of the social sciences. Alternet has an interview with Diamond that touches on his thoughts and ideas about the collapse of large societies of the past and the possible collapse of the current way of life on the planet. The interview concludes in an optimistic tone, but other readers seem less convinced that the world will find a way out of the mounting problems that must be dealt with at some point - hopefully sooner than later.

Those Crazy 80's!

I can't even believe this exists. For anyone who watched the A-Team through the '80's, this is a definite must see. Mr T. raps!

Oil, Oil, Oil...

My recent move to Florida found my partner and I driving down Interstate 95 all the way from the North East U.S.. Along the way we had to fill up every 350 miles or so, plus our little Saturn went through about 2 quarts of oil in its efforts to move its overloaded chassis. Needless to say oil was on my mind, and now that we have reached our destination I desperately want to lessen our dependence on the substance that is stirring up such controversy around the globe. I'm looking for an electric scooter for getting around town, and thinking about getting a diesel car to start running biodiesel. In the spirit of this anti-oil posting, check out this link that talks about boycotting Exxon/Mobile because of its actions in Alaska.
Oil is even causing an uproar in the remote forests of Ecuador, where Indians have traveled to the capital city of Quito to join others in protesting oil company expansion into some of the last protected forest in the country.
Add to these the wars in the Middle East which are so blatantly over control of oil reserves, it is very apparent that we must convince our leaders to look for alternatives to this gooey, grimy, oily black death.

Biodiesel For Sale!

In a big surprise in my book, a possible sign of things to come may be starting in Texas. According to the Independent, a gas station outside of Dallas has started selling biodiesel fuel endorsed by Willie Nelson. Wouldn't it be great to have the biodiesel option nation-wide? In time.

Early Americans

Archaeologists in Mexico claim they have found 40,000 year old foot prints that have been preserved in volcanic ash. Most scientists support the theory that the peopling of the Americas occurred by crossing a land bridge in Alaska about 10,000 years ago. If true, this find will make the field rethink the history of the Americas, and reconsider other sites that claim to be older than 10,000 years old. The question will remain, however, who were those first Americans, and where did they come from?


well... I think the format of this page is about to evolve. I plan to continue linking articles that I find interesting, and similar to those of past entries. With a move to Florida for grad school, I may begin to add some more personal notes and ideas. In other words, some of my life will become intertwined with the news that I enjoy pointing out. Also, using a new Yahoo service, all of my linked articles should now be permanent. I'm not sure if this compromises my security, but it sucks when you click on a link and it has disappeared. So, I hope someone continues to watch Recycled Minds and starts to enjoy the story that here unfolds...

The Zapatista Party!

This pace is a bit better for me. I suppose I was a bit excited at first. I hope somebody understands. And...
The Zapatistas appear ready to renounce armed struggle and join the ranks of Mexico's political parties. Does this signal a possible turn to national politics? a presidential candidate? A strange turn of events, and one that was apparently unexpected in the international community, At least by judging the media coverage of the developments. I guess that probably is not a good indicator as to what is going on the world, unfortunately. Check out this BBC article on what is happening in Mexico.

Just Say No!

Congress votes on what to do in Columbia. Continue to send aid, or start scaling back on this infamous arm of the U.S. War on Drugs.

Coca in Peru

The Coca Wars have engulfed Columbia and even Bolivia. In Peru, where there was large civil unrest throughout the 90's, the regional gov't around Cusco has passed a law legalizing the growth of the ancient plant. This puts the national gov't in a tough position, and one worth watching as an indicator for where the Coca Wars are headed in South America as a whole. Read the BBC article.

Combating Unequal Distribution of Wealth

The U.S. continues to attract large numbers of "illegal" immigrants looking for work. A recent study offers some fresh numbers along with what many of these mainly Mexican people are doing once they reach the States. It seems that over 6 million people are working illegally in varied areas of the work force, from agriculture to dry-walling, to dishwashing. Much of the money earned by this sector of the workforce is sent home to families still living in the country of origin, like Mexico. This represents one of the few means of avoiding poverty in those areas, and just one way that people are trying to spread the wealth of the U.S. to those who are less fortunate.

"Crisis" in Bolivia

Bolivia is facing a national crisis due to protests and activism by what are largely indigenous groups. Even after 500 years, when the Europeans arrived, the indigenous peoples of this mostly Andean nation are still demanding their recognition and respect. See this CNN story, and this story for more background information on what is happening there.

No more Pot...

The U.S. gov't continues its backwards views on drugs and drug use. I just can not believe that pot smokers, especially those that benefit from the medicinal properties of the plant, are still considered criminals. The Supreme Court handed down a decision allowing federal prosecution of medical users from states where it has been made legal. Once again, our leaders show themselves to be less than adequate, and questionable as to their validity in such powerful roles.

Rogue Loggers in Brazil

In a clear example of the problems facing environmentalists who believe the Amazon needs to be saved, and logging slowed, 124 people were arrested in Brazil for their part in an illegal logging operation. Sadly, many state gov't employees had a hand in the ring of rogue loggers. They provided false permits among other things that allowed an estimated $370 million worth of forest to be harvested. These are the same people who are supposed to be protecting the forest. The power of money once again proves to be irresistible.

Zapatista Soccer!

In a great idea about how to raise consciousness about indigenous, migrant, and poverty issues, Marcos and the Zapatistas have challenged a soccer team from Italy (who have voiced support for the Zapatista cause) to a series of matches between the Italians and a team composed of Zapatistas. Znet posted a letter from Marcos that discusses his ideas about where matches should be held, and for what proceeds may be donated. While it may seem a bit farcical, there are some really good ideas presented, and events like these could greatly benefit those that live on the fringes of the wealthy around the world.

Had to See This Coming...

So GB senior wants Jeb to run for President someday. This is some sort of family dynasty. Bush Sr for 12 years, GW for 8, and how many more for Jeb?

Indian Rap in Bolivia

In Bolivia, young people are using rap music - in both their native language of Aymara and Spanish - in a form that many envisioned for rap in the U.S. in the 80's. They are rapping about poverty, coca, revolution, oppression, the police, and the government. This is happening at a time when protests are going on throughout the country over what to do with energy resources that have traditionally profited the wealthy. Rap is becoming a part of the movement to change the unequal distribution of the wealth that the country can produce. Check out the NYTimes article.

The Amnesty International Report

Amnesty International just released its annual report, and they are not kind to the U.S.:
"The US, as the unrivalled political, military and economic hyper-power, sets the tone for governmental behaviour worldwide," said Irene Kahn of Amnesty International. "When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity."
According to the BBC article,
"In the 300-page annual report, the group accused the US government of damaging human rights with its attitude to torture and treatment of detainees."
Finally someone is taking the U.S. to task for the use of torture in its operations around the world. Sadly, it also appears that much of the rest of the world is following by example.
According to an AP article, the report even describes the Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp "as the Gulag of our Time." We continue to leave a wonderful legacy for our future generations. How nice.

The Loss of the Great Forest

With 20% of the Amazon cut down and counting, and the Brazilian gov't having trouble stopping farmers and illegal loggers, it seems like the days of pristine forest and uncontacted indigenous peoples are behind us. Sadly, this is a topic that has lost its luster in the U.S. with the development of wars in the Middle East and high gas prices occupying the general consciousness.

And here is one of the dangers of traveling in Latin America, as articles like these are fairly common.

Chavez, Columbia, and the U.S. press

A BBC News article: Chavez wants the U.S. to turn over Posada Carriles so he can be put on trial in Venezuela. Chavez described him as a "self-confessed terrorist" and he accused the U.S. of harboring a terrorist. "It is difficult, very difficult, to maintain ties with a government that so shamelessly hides and protects international terrorism," Chavez said. Tensions seem to be on the rise between the two countries. How far will all of this go?
There also is an arms race of sorts going on between Columbia and Venezuela. Columbia is trying to buy arms from China, Venezuela is buying arms from Russia and Spain. Could this be the buildup to a war between the two countries?
Here is an IPS article describing the state of the press in the U.S. These are definitely shady times in the States, but I wonder if it's really any different than in the past.

The Loss of Traditional Medicines

A BBC article by Steve Vickers describes the dying art of traditional medicine in Africa. The old practitioners are slowly dying off, and there is not all that much interest coming from the younger generations. The article describes how in Zimbabwe,
"As more and more Africans adopt urban lifestyles, the interest and enthusiasm for traditional medicine seems to be declining, and many now prefer the pills of Western medicine."

Vickers goes on to describe spending some time with a healer:
I accompanied Ambuya Jessie Muzhange, an expert herbalist, to a bushy area on the outskirts of Harare. Digging for roots and searching for different plants that have medicinal properties is an arduous task, requiring a great deal of skill. Ambuya Muzhange, in her 70s, picked out leaves, branches and roots that most of us would not have even noticed were there."

This type of knowledge is held by a dwindling few in most indigenous populations around the world, not just in Africa. While in the U.S., traditional medicines are receiving more and more attention by the medical profession, in Africa, where there still exists the practice,
there is no sign of medical schools incorporating the traditional approach to the Western-style medicine that they teach."

In order to survive, traditional medical practices need the support of the biomedical world through the study and examination of such practices, and the integration of them into western biomedicine.

Afghan Opium

The war on terrorism has somehow morphed into a drug war in Afghanistan, as the U.S. has now funded $780 million to the cause in the land of the poppies. Meanwhile, the drug trade is possibly the only successful business venture in the region, and provides support for thousands of families. This is yet another case of misguided U.S. policy.

More noise from Cuba...

Cuba remains in the news with the development of the case of ex-CIA operative, and terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles. The U.S. has detained the man after his request for asylum and his appearance on national talk shows. Cuba and Venezuela both want him on charges that he bombed a passenger airliner and tourist sites in Cuba. His dossier is lengthy, and there is no doubt of his connections to the U.S., making him quite the embarrassment in these days of anti-terrorist rantings. There is not yet any word on what the U.S. has planned for their ex-employee, and it is not clear if there should be word expected.

The Plight of the Indigenous

The UN declared that indigenous people are some of the poorest in the world. A UN forum wants to eradicate hunger, and improve education among indigenous peoples, and it surely has a lot of work to do.

There are still some very isolated tribal people living in the Amazon. In Brazil, they are actually losing protection, along with the forest that has been their home for millennia. Loggers want the wood, and they don't care what they have to do to get it. The exploitation and genocide of the Americas continues into the 21st century, with the indigenous being affected the most.

Fire the Activists!

Yale fires acclaimed anarchist scholar. This is yet another case of a professor getting fired for having alternative ideas to the mainstream. We certainly can't have our universities spreading anti-corporate ideas to the malleable minds of our youth. The referenced article is an interview with anthropology professor David Graeber who was apparently sacked for his activities as an activist.

Interview with Lopez-Obrador & More on Torture

In a telling interview by Jorge Ramos, Mexico's Lopez-Obrador declares his complete innocence of committing any crime, and accuses Fox of hatching the plan to disqualify him from running for the presidency.

A Naomi Klein article describes the ineffectiveness of torture as a way to gain information, but the extreme effectiveness of the practice as a way of social control. This helps explain why torture continues to be used by governments around the world.

Brotherly Protests...

Happy Friday the 13th!

Protests in Peru underscore a problem faced by people throughout the world. Local populations, especially the indigenous peoples, deserve a larger cut of the pie generated by international tourism. More equal distribution makes sense when you consider that we are all related to each other. A recent study traces human populations to a single migration out of Africa. Somehow humans have evolved into a creature that exploits and kills members of it's own family. Maybe after a few more years of globalization we will begin to realize our brotherhood.

Something funny for a change...

I couldn't resist posting this. I hope it makes you laugh.

Machu Picchu and Nuclear Destruction

The trek to Machu Picchu is perhaps one of the most amazing experiences on the planet, especially judging by the number of tourists making the trip. Unfortunately, there is a toll to pay for allowing so many people to visit the site, and sadly most of these visitors are from out of the country. Such an amazing site needs to be preserved, and the locals need to have access as well. It's too bad the $40 million per year that the site generates will stand in the way of any helpful developments.

Preserving historic sites might not be all that important if the use of nuclear weapons commences. In this FP article, Former Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, describes the potential dangers of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and his opinion that the country should move away from a foreign policy that involves the weapons of mass destruction.

Biodiesel vs. Dick

Instead of creating suburban sprawl on top of our formerly fertile farmlands, we should be planting peanuts, soybeans and corn to make Biodiesel. Biodiesel could very easily become a much bigger part of the energy equation for this country.

With the recent unanimous (100-0) approval by the senate of an additional "emergency" $80 billion, the total cost of the Iraq debacle is now over $300 Billion.

One can only imagine what $300 Billion could have done in terms of moving the country away from petroleum and towards renewable energy sources. But with Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force creating policy, and the Courts and Mainstream Media falling right in line with the administration, not only are the Iraqis screwed, so are the Caribou.