RIP Albert Hofmann

The famed Swiss chemist, Albert Hofmann, passed away today at the ripe age of 102. His discoveries have touched countless numbers of people around the world.

To Mr Hofmann - thank you and good luck.

Here's a link to an NYTimes article about him, his life, and his passing...

Bolivia: Autonomy for the Rich

Some interesting stuff going on down in Bolivia these days. With the western hemisphere's first indigenous president (Evo Morales) a bit into his term, reform has not been quite as easy as many had hoped. Still, Morales has been able to get some reforms through, and he has more on the table. He's looking to nationalize some of the country's natural resources (and the associated production), implement some land reforms, and otherwise bring more power and recognition to the indigenous people of the nation - who make up over 60% of the national population. He has allied somewhat with Chavez in Venezuela, which has brought on some heavy criticisms, the least being accusations of extreme leftism.
In this climate, the demographic make-up of the country is beginning to come into play, as the wealthier cities to the east, and the right - wing groups in particular - are pushing for autonomy, and promising revolt and violence if necessary. An interesting article by Jorge Martin describes it this way:
In effect, what the coalition of wealthy landowners, capitalist agribusinesses and key sections of the Bolivian ruling class are attempting is a unilateral declaration of independence so that they will not have to implement the laws passed by the MAS government of Evo Morales, particularly in relation to land reform and hydrocarbons.
More specifically, Martin goes on to put it in more stark and real terms:
They have used the issue of "autonomy" to mobilise mass support for what in reality is a rebellion of the slaveholders, to use Marx's expression. At the same time they have been arming thousands of young people, recruited from the sons of the wealthy and from lumpen elements, in what can only be described as the fascist gangs of the Union Juvenil CruceƱa. With a strong element of racism against the "Highland Indios", people with dark, indigenous, skin have been beaten up, lists of MAS activists pasted on the main square in Santa Cruz, a city where only right-wing political activity is now allowed. Evo Morales himself has been called a "monkey" by leading figures in the Santa Cruz "Civic" Committee.
This promises to be a challenge for not only Morales and his indigenous constituents, but also for Bolivia and South America, as factionalization and violence there could trigger much larger ripples of violence and conflict throughout the region. This is shaping up to be a battle between the wealthy political right that has held power since colonization, and the indigenous, poor, and political left who are looking for a voice - equality, rights, recognition, and more. Be sure to read the rest of Martin's article, and for more info and different viewpoints, Bolivia is all over the news right now, so check it out....

Obama's Dad on Socialism in Kenya in the 1960s

Senator Obama is a Socialist!!
Well.... not quite.
Making the rounds in the media a week or so ago was talk of an article written by Barak Obama's father in the 1960s. Some of the more conservative ilk pointed to the article as proof that not only was Obama's father a socialist, but by the Law of Contagion, the young Presidential hopeful must be as well. In reality the article by the elder Obama is more of a discussion of the political environment in Kenya in the 1960s. Further, rather than declare the senior's socialist leanings, the article is more of a critique on both the "African Socialism"of the time, and an article released by the Kenyan government titled "Kenya's Sessional Paper No. 10: On African Socialism."

You can read the original article by Barak Obama Sr., originally printed in the East Africa Journal, HERE.

And even though Obama the Younger is not a Socialist, it appears and sounds like he holds the interests of the people closer to his heart than most other politicians. Perhaps he would be a step towards a more respectful world, and more importantly at this point, a more respectful United States.

Antarctica In Pictures

After a bit of a hiatus from posting here on RM, I'd like to share something a bit different with you this time around. A friend who has been conducting research at Palmer Station in Antarctica for parts of the past two years has been taking photos and videos, setting them to music, and posting them on YouTube. He has a number of cool and interesting shots that include penguins, whales, glaciers, cruise ships, crazy European windsurfers, bones, mountains, sunsets, and more. Here's one of his videos set to a Radiohead song - and visit his channel, AlanTakesTrips, for more...

Building a New World

At Radford University, in Radford, Virginia, on May 22-25, thousands of activists, academics, journalists, poets, musicians and policymakers will converge at the 2008 "Building a New World" Conference. Leaders from many of the major efforts for peace, justice, and green economy solutions to our future will be presenting intensive workshops to further our goals for a liveable world.

In 2008 many of us understand that our nation - and even the entire planet - are in a state of crisis. The deep longing for positive, lasting change is the bedrock upon which this conference is based. How do we fix our country and our world? And how can we form one mass movement to address the crisis?

Speakers include: Cindy Sheehan, (Code Pink Founder) Medea Benjamin, Gary Corseri, William Blum, Kathy Kelly, Mike Whitney, Michael Parenti, Alice Lovelace, David Swanson, Gareth Porter, Farid Bitar, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Robert Jensen, Kevin Zeese, Antonia Juhasz, Adam Kokesh and (Iraq Veterans Against the War), Father Roy Bourgeois and many more leaders and luminaries will join thousands of people from across the country and from other lands as well, for a conference to lay the foundations for building a new world now.

More information at the Conference Website.