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.

Terrorism close to home...

In a not so surprising development, the Cuban "terrorist" wanted in Cuba and Venezuela has ties to the CIA. How can the U.S. explain this one away? The guy bombed a Cuban passenger jet, and tried to kill Castro multiple times, and he worked for the CIA. These are clearly terrorist acts to which the U.S. gov't now has ties. Maybe we're going to invade ourselves for supporting terrorists. Of course, the U.S. is trying to divert attention away from this case by calling for the deportation from Cuba of a woman involved with the Black Liberation Army in the 1970's. They're probably just trying to confuse the masses.

Some Faces of Torture...

An article by Robert Fisk calls torture by the U.S. in Iraq, Cuba, and Afghanistan "America's Shame." Sadly, the supposedly most powerful country on the planet still employs such inhumane practices in an age when everyone should know better. It certainly sets a great example for the rest of the world to follow.

There are other kinds of torture in the world as well. An In These Times article details the effects of a carcinogenic pesticide used by banana companies in Nicaragua. It's not a pretty story.

In another type of torture, the U.S. adds all types of clauses to aid packages for needy countries. In Brazil, the gov't has rejected U.S. aid to fight AIDS because they reject the morality based clauses that come along with that aid. The mixture of religion and the gov't has reached new heights in the U.S. and it's about time somebody noticed.

the usual...

Legalization in Columbia? No, but the idea has made the mainstream press as a possible alternative to the U.S. backed drug war. It is a fact that criminal organizations make a huge amount of money through drug trafficking, and there is more and more evidence that gov't officials get involved as well. So, what is everybody waiting for? Legalization would take the profits out of the hands of the criminals.

In Mexico, it looks like Lopez Obrador is going to run for president next year, and he is definitely the front runner right now. The question is whether or not he will stick to his leftist roots.

The BBC made a documentary about Che Guevara's partner, Alberto Granado, on the now famous motorcycle trip around South America. Here is an article about it with some of Granado's thoughts about his old friend.

Scraps from the Pile...

Well, at this point, I'm just plain frustrated by the war in Iraq along with many of the policies of the U.S. administration. I do think the war was started on false pretenses, and the leak of a British memo begins to point in this direction. It's just a shame that apathy reigns. Also, there's not much press in the U.S. about the Bush trip to Europe. I wonder how he's being received by the general public over there.

In Columbia, "troubling" new developments in U.S. military involvment. Two soldiers were caught trying to supply weapons to the paramilitaries. These are the same people who the U.S. is supposedly trying to defeat by sending soldiers and vast amounts of aid to the country. I doubt it's a case of two rebelious soldiers acting on their own. Here's the NYTimes account of the story.

A BBC article on eco-tourism in Ecuador raises some interesting questions. The Achuar people seemingly have a good deal with a tourism group, where the Indians are taught how to run the business, and in 6 years, they will take over complete operations. This is done in the name of preservation, both of the indignous people, and of the surrounding environment. However, the jobs at the lodges are are the antithesis of the indigenous way of life, although this is probably better than the exploitation that the oil companies would bring to the region.

Interestingly, in Mexico, Obrador has had all charges dropped. This is probably due to his overwhelming popular support. Now, can he take the presidency in '06?

News from the South

Ecuador and Oil...
The indigenous peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon may have a battle looming in the not to distant future over what many believe are large oil deposits in the region. This article, originally from the BBC, tells some of the story. My question is, does this have anything to do with the recent ouster of the supposedly left-leaning president?

A NYTimes article talks about the mayor of Mexico City, who may be poised to win the presidency of Mexico next year. This is a man who grew up around poverty, who moved his family into an indigenous village in an effort to help the community, and who doesn't seem to have many allies besides the many impoverished people in Mexico. Will that be enough to get him elected? Also, notice the mention of authoritarian tendencies in the NYT article. Probably the beginning of the propaganda war against him.

Drug War articles...

Check out this form of resistance in Hungary. In protest of harsh drug laws, users are beginning to turn themselves in to the police in front of the national press. They hope this will bring about policy changes which are about to be reviewed by a parlimentary committee.

The U.S. could use some changes as well as drug arrests are a large part of why the prison population has topped 2.1 million people.

Also, check out the whole "issue" of stopthedrugwar.org for more articles on the topic.

A few things for May 3...

The plight of the indigenous peoples around the world is often overlooked by the mainstream media. A BBC article shows why efforts to aid the Indians can not be simple cut and dry solutions. In this case, the Brazilian Indians were granted a huge piece of land with the promised expulsion of non-Indians. Well, many of those non-Indians provide work and a means of survival to the Indians, although typically in an exploitative fashion. What are the answers here?

Some high-school students in Colorado caught some Army recruiters using questionable tactics to get new recruits. I don't understand why the use of kids by the military is not an issue in and of itself. Plus recruitment problems point to the probability that people are questioning actions by those military institutions having trouble filling the ranks.

The New York Times reports that the Chilean elected to head the OAS may not pose a big threat to U.S. interests afterall. The report ends with a quote by Insulza implying some anti-Venezuelan sentiment.

It's May!

An interview from ZNet with famed linguist and political commentator, Noam Chomsky, explains what the anti-globalization movement is really about. He points out how the movement itself is an aspect of globalization, and really it is fighting against a specific type of globalization and not the whole concept.

Marjorie Cohn, in a Truthout article, questions why nobody from the Bush administration has faced charges in any of the torture cases relating to the wars in the Mid-East. I just can not believe that torture is still a part of the human condition, although the act is still portrayed in many blockbuster Hollywood movies (see Sin City for instance). The portrayal of torture on the big screen serves to place the act outside of reality, but the U.S. and others continue to prove that it very much exists.

In a NarcoNews article, Al Giordano gives a recap of the developments in Latin America. The article ties together a bunch of previous posts on this site by connecting events in Mexico, Ecuador, Cuba, and Venezuela. A very interesting picture of democracy is unfolding in Latin America, much to the chagrin of the U.S., whose candidate for the head of OAS formally withdrew, leaving the spot to the Chilean, Jose Insulza. The U.S. seems to be losing its grip all over the globe, and very close to home.