Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Sometimes the good guys win.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Among the pantheon of great conservative/Republican men and women there is one person who still garners the respect of most Americans, that's Colin Powell. To say that the man has "gravitas" is as obvious as saying that water is wet. Inspite of his role in bringing forward the case for the Iraq War, the level of respect he has been afforded by liberal America is unprecedented. This strange contradiction is due to the fact, as reported extensively by administration insiders, that as Secretary of State, Powell engaged in a vehement one man campaign inside the White House to restrain the Bush Administration. His resignation from the post in 2005 was however the only public sign of disagreement with Bush and his neoconservative cadre.
Since, his voice has been peculiarly absent from the growing critical chorus against Bush as his military sense of loyalty has bound him to the Bush Administration. Others who have left the administration over the years have nevertheless written much on the topic and have thus given voice to a man who to this day will not speak ill of the Bush administration, but whose opposition to the Bush doctrine has only been matched by his loyalty.
Today, Colin Powell broke his silence and spoke before the national television audience of NBC's Meet the Press giving an unambigous endorsement for Senator Barack Obama while equally denouncing Senator John McCain's campaign and personal judgment. While he does not go after his former boss in the White House, Powell nevertheless gives the impression of a man whose consciousness and intellect forbid him to follow the party line any longer.
Here it is in his own words:
Monday, October 13, 2008
As part of his remarks Bush said:
"You know, recently Ike hit Cuba very hard and all Americans, whether they be Cuban Americans or otherwise, grieve deeply about the damage done to the average Cuban citizen. And so my government, under the leadership of Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, offered aid from the United States to the Cuban people. But that aid was rejected by the Castros, which should tell the people of Cuba and the people around the world that the Castro people are only interested in themselves and their power, and not to the benefit and welfare of the Cuban people."
First of all lets address the hypocrisy in this here statement. According to Bush, the denial of American aid is proof of Raul and Fidel Castro's selfishness and indifference towards the people of Cuba. If that logic is correct then we can only assume that back in 2005 when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and FEMA was nowhere to be found, that Bush's decision to reject Cuban medical aid was similarly selfish and proof of Bush's own indifference towards the people of New Orleans. After all, the US seemed utterly incapable of managing the situation and while people drowned, Cuba had a ship with 500 medically trained personnel ready for deployment offered to the US without preconditions. An offer rejected by the Bush Administration.
So either Bush and Castro are equally heartless towards their people or they both placed national security concerns above the immediate crisis. Either logic can be applied, but only hypocrisy leads you to assign logic to one but not the other.
In other remarks Bush hints at something more important from his point of view:
"You know, our government has been very clear about our strategy, and that is, is that we will change the embargo strategy only when the government of Cuba lets the people of Cuba express themselves freely. We will change our policy when the people running Cuba free people of conscience from the prisons. But until then we won't change, because our message is to the Cuban people, you're being repressed by a handful of elites that are holding back your great potential. And we will not put policies in place that allow them to benefit personally at the expense of the Cuban people."
Here he is referring to an issue that has been at the forefront of Cuban American issues, while being careful not to betray the image of the US for American voters while equally addressing the complaints of the group. What is he referring to?
Immediately after Hurricane Ike hit Cuba, the Cuban American community sprang into action amassing aid packages for the people of Cuba. Everything from clothing to building supplies and food were carefully collected and prepared for shipment to the island. This was however a futile effort as the Bush administration moved to block all aid from Cuban Americans to Cubans in the island. This is the policy Bush is referring to when he speaks about not changing the Administration's Cuban Policy which has limited the ability of Cubans to communicate and send money or aid to the island nation.
In short what Bush was saying to this group of Cuban Americans is that 1) despite the crisis in Cuba, American foreign policy is more important than the people's welfare, 2) that aid can only be sent to Cuba by the hand of the American Government or its agents in the island, 3) that change to this policy as well as others will only come once Cuba accepts American preconditions.
It is true that Cuba rejected aid, aid from the American government that is, not aid in general. In fact, not only did Cuba appeal to the US government to allow the Cuban American community to send aid, but it asked the international community as well. In all Cuba has thus far received over 2,500 tons of relief from 230 international relief aid shipments worth 17 million dollars out of the 478 offers worth 51 million dollars.
Cuba asked for aid, the Cuban American Community responded admirable, the International Community responded as well, however it was the United States, Bush's Administration specifically, which turned this crisis into a political volleyball by offering aid only if it came under the name of "USAID". Now Bush takes a victory lap in Cuban neighborhoods while playing to the well-worn ears of the Cuban American elite in Miami who seem at times more interested in a photo-op with Bush than calling him out for his hypocrisy against their own brethren.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
As a collective security agreement, NATO is dead.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was first organized to counter the threat (whether real or imagined) of an expansionist Soviet Union. Seventeen years after the collapse of the Soviet Union however, NATO still exists and far from providing collective security it now serves as a tool of American expansionism.
If the NATO treaty is to be interpreted as it has historically been presented whereby NATO allies are required to act in the defense of any other ally, then the foreign relations of the United States present an ever growing threat to the peace and security of European nations. While it is undeniable that NATO did serve its purpose, NATO has transformed Europe into a buffer zone for the protection of the United States.
European security experts in whole must be considering already the threat posed by American diplomatic recklessness. After all, if the United States is going to continue with a foreign policy that has it provoking war against Russia, igniting conflict in Pakistan, threatening Iran, stoking Venezuela, interfering in Bolivia, and unilaterally invading two countries, Europe must reassess its membership in this organization for its own good.
Surely it did not escape the attention of those in the know that the United States has repeatedly shown an utter disregard for the founding principles of NATO cooperative arrangement. Article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is the most clear example which states:
"The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations."
In just those two lines I have bolded we find Iraq and Iran respectively. If the goal is that “peace and security and justice” be preserved, the United States has made a joke of this document’s original intentions. Surely, any such action by any European nation would have immediately been visited by anger from its members, but the way in which the U.S. carries itself across sovereign lines and against United Nations resolutions has only been met by a deafening silence from the European Community.
Lets be clear, any treaty which endangers the territorial peace of Europe and binds European armed forces to an American command and American foreign interest policy, is an ill-conceived treaty.
Currently NATO Allies are playing a game of chicken against Russia. Would any one of these nations other than the United States, really believe that they would be in the same situation otherwise. Russia can be a bully, but it’s an honest bully. You know when Russia is bullying you, I’m afraid however that Europe has lost the ability to tell when the U.S. bullies them.
Take the installation of the missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. The U.S. claims these are meant to deter an Iranian attack against Europe, which is simply nonsense. Anti-Iranian missile facilities should be in Turkey, not Eastern Europe. The placement of these has been widely derided as an anti-Russian defense, but Europe has remained silent on the issue tacitly approving it all the while making themselves a target should US-Russian relations break down into war.
Meanwhile, the US has actively pushed for the addition of Georgia and Ukraine as full members of the NATO Alliance, a decision which will be NATO’s last. Ukraine, a nuclear power is too close for the comfort of Russia. Despite Russian protests the United States is intent on moving forward. Nevermind that the US would not tolerate a similar move by Russia in the Western Hemisphere, nevermind that the US promised not to expand NATO or that both Ukraine and Georgia are only nominal democracies. Europe remains silent as the continent bows down to America’s most aggressive foreign policy since its invasion of Mexico in 1846.
NATO as an American strategy surely served to benefit Europe when it was most needed. Now that strategy simply ensures that the only viable opposition to the US is dressed up as a threat to all European nations.
Europe must remove itself from NATO and reorganize itself as a third-party military alliance. European security and peace will only be ensured by European military independence. Let NATO die, before it kills us all.
AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Richard Trumka speaking at the united Steelworkers convention in July of this year. This is an excerpt of the speech. This is a call to arms for all workers who as he says "can't stay silent or look the other way".
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Este es el momento mi gente. Vamos a votar por el futuro de nuestra patria, nuestra independencia.
During the primaries I was an avid Barack Obama supporter, in face of the Rev. Wright "Scandal," Rezko-gate, the "cling to guns" gaffe, I remained an avid supporter. While his rhetorical skills were of course impressive, they were not to me inspiring or anything, but the points that he made, to me, always made sense. As a student of Political Science, I have come to understand that diplomacy is an incredibly powerful way to solve problems and resolve issues that effect all of us. Barack Obama was one of the few DNC candidates who said yes to meeting with leaders of so-called "Rogue" nations, without precondition. Because in his view, and in mine, creating preconditions to discussing problems is not productive, all it does is anger the leadership who think they are right. We should not negotiate out of fear, nor should we fear negotiating. My first IR professor made a big point of instilling in us the idea that you cannot change people by ignoring them. Ignoring world leaders doesn't work either. This is not naive, this is one of those few tenets of basic psychology that I can actually agree with.
I will preface the next section by presenting my recollection of the of conversation I had in Indiana with a couple of Clinton supporters. One said that he would support McCain if Hillary was not the nominee, the other said she would be undecided but thought that Obama's high-minded "overly positive" view of the world wasn't reality and that she would have trouble supporting him. Then she said something that struck me and while on my mind, I suppose from Chappelle jokes, not something I really thought would happen, "Plus they are probably going to kill him." Mind you this is Middle-America, but I thought "this is an actual possibility."
So now given that Obama will more than likely be the target of more assassination attempts than any other President in history even the one that literally stole an election circa 2000, I am glad that Sen. Obama chose a running mate that is qualified, intelligent, and passionate (although at times to a fault). Yes Joe Biden says random dumb shit from time to time but at least I know he has sat and actually thought about some of the items on that long list of problems facing the country.
...now ask yourself, seriously, what the hell is she talking about?
Now, John McCain, is 72 years old, a man who has had cancer 3 times, so although his death may not be the result of assassination it is still very much a possibility. And this is who he wants to be the President should he pass.
Check out this article by Fareed Zakaria entitled "Palin Is Ready? Please." and please tell your friends to vote Obama 08.
Side note: Rev. Wright, if you hear him in context, spits some real shit when he wants to. He pointed out a very poignant bible verse John 10:16 "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd," and somehow all those arguments I had in my Christian head about other religions being okay for other people, and being told by various "Christian types" that those folks were doomed to burn, etc. etc. were suddenly resolved. I am now making it a point to reference this verse as much as possible.
And a note to readers about the author, I also cling to guns.
Luminous is one our newest contributor to LatinoInsurgent.com, a Gradute student of Political Science and top local DJ.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Alabama Fri, Oct. 24
Alaska Sun, Oct. 5 (postmark by Sat, Oct. 4)
Arizona Mon, Oct. 6
Arkansas Mon, Oct. 6
California Mon, Oct. 20
Colorado Mon, Oct. 6
Connecticut Tues, Oct. 21
Delaware Sat, Oct. 11
District of Columbia Mon, Oct. 6
Florida Mon, Oct. 6
Georgia Mon, Oct. 6
Hawaii Mon, Oct. 6
Idaho Register at Polls
Illinois Tues, Oct. 7
Indiana Mon, Oct. 6
Iowa Fri, Oct. 24 (or on Election Day at polling place)
Kansas Mon, Oct. 20
Kentucky Mon, Oct. 6
Louisiana Mon, Oct. 6
Maine Tue, Oct. 21 (or on Election Day at polling place)
Maryland Tue, Oct. 14
Massachusetts Wed, Oct. 15
Michigan Mon, Oct. 6
Minnesota Same Day Registration at polling place
Mississippi Mon, Oct. 6
Missouri Wed, Oct. 8
Montana Mon, Oct. 6 (or same day at elections office)
Nebraska Fri, Oct. 24 (mail by Fri, Oct. 17)
Nevada Tue, Oct. 14
New Hampshire Same Day
New Jersey Tues, Oct. 14
New Mexico Tues, Oct. 7
New York Fri, Oct. 10
North Carolina Fri, Oct. 10 (or in person until Nov. 1st)
North Dakota N/A
Ohio Mon, Oct. 6
Oklahoma Fri, Oct. 10
Oregon Tue, Oct. 14
Pennsylvania Mon, Oct. 6
Rhode Island Sat, Oct. 4
South Carolina Sat, Oct. 4
South Dakota Mon, Oct. 20
Tennessee Mon, Oct. 6
Texas Mon, Oct. 6
Utah Mon, Oct. 6 or in person Tue, Oct. 28
Vermont Wed, Oct. 29
Virginia Mon, Oct. 6
Washington Mon, Oct. 4 (or Mon, Oct. 20 in person)
West Virginia Wed, Oct. 15
Wisconsin Wed, Oct. 15 (or on Election Day at polling place)
Wyoming Can register at polls
[Source: Rock The Vote]
Thursday, September 25, 2008
When the Latino Insurgent wrote to me asking for the “black female militant perspective” on world events, I couldn’t refuse after hearing that Angela Davis would be in the
Like Mondo and Ed, Angela Davis fell victim to the “bin of terrorism.” She served 18 months in prison and was placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List,” for her political views. The parallels between the terror watch of the sixties and post-9/11 shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. After all, we are fighting a war of rhetoric—Iraqi Freedom, Terrorism, etc—blanket abstractions that are expansive and flexible enough to sweep anyone within the great terror bin. I mean seriously, do we really know who our enemies are?
I’ve been reading Scott McCloud’s book on comics with my students. He talks about the differences between received and perceived information, how the more abstracted the image is the greater the levels of perception. We have to do a lot more with the information—we have to decode it and process the decoded message. We have to be versed in specialized language to some degree in order to do this. BUT if abstractions are molded into recognizable shapes then we’ve shifted back to received information. I think that something similar has happened with our war of rhetoric. That is, we have blanket, abstract ideas to which the admin attaches faces. And these faces are shaped out of what we are culturally indoctrinated to recognize as dangerous—black faces, Latino faces, Middle Eastern faces, etc. The faces that are attached to these ideas are so temporary that they serve their purpose—to divert our attention—for a singular political moment. And then they (these faces) don’t matter anymore and they disappear from the national consciousness. Case in point: when was the last time that anyone mentioned bin Laden?
To go back to that political moment, open up the terror bin, and release the prisoners of conscience who were imprisoned due to the corrupt practices of COINTELPRO is another deal, but Angela Davis has spent her life doing this work.
It’s hard for me not to agree with the parallels
Since we’re only a couple months away from the election, I’ll end on some words that Angela Davis offered in this regard. She said that we should “take seriously, the contributions of those that were active during that year.” She was talking about the year 1968—the election year that MLK and RFK were both assassinated. Although she holds both leaders in high regard, she reminded us that “we often individualize history” forgetting that it’s a “community of struggle.” She said, “We always ask who is going to lead us to freedom and we give up our individual power.”
Hispanic voter registration campaigns have always been successful, but it is the GOTV, voter mobilization phase that usually gets left behind, and it is also the one that always requires the most funding to accomplish. NCLR is taking a step in the right direction with this campaign. Check out the video below the excerpt of the press release.
From the Press Release:
NCLR LAUNCHES ONLINE MULTIMEDIA CAMPAIGN FOR LATINO VOTER MOBILIZATION
Washington, DC—Building on the tremendous success of the citizenship campaign, ya es hora ¡Ciudadanía! (It’s Time: Citizenship!), the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, today launched Yo Votaré, an online multimedia campaign to complement the ya es hora efforts and those of multiple other partners. The new website, www.YoVotare.org, will serve as a one-stop portal to connect Latinos with various unprecedented efforts to register new voters, provide voter information and education tools, and increase voter turnout in November. There are 17 million eligible Hispanic voters in the United States who can make a difference in this election.
Outlandish now has just over a decade of recordings to their name, but it is now that their sound and lyrics are beginning to resonate. If you don't know them, here is a little background. Outlandish is a hip-hop/r&b band made up of one Honduran (Lenny Martinez), one Pakistani (Waqas Ali Qadri), and one Moroccan (Isam Bachiri), who since 1997 and from Denmark have been blurring the musical lines, and linguistic lines, of what hip hop is internationally.
Here are some of their music, to help expand your horizons a bit.
Update:I just checked Amazon.com and they have heir latest album on sale as an MP3 download without DRM (every album should be DRM-free). Here is the link:Closer Than Veins - Deluxe Edition
Callin U by Outlandish...
Walou '04 by Outlandish...
I Only Ask of God by Outlandish...
Update:I just checked Amazon.com and they have heir latest album on sale as an MP3 download without DRM (every album should be DRM-free). Here is the link:Closer Than Veins - Deluxe Edition
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The role of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac in the present economic crisis is undeniably central to much of the problems faced by the financial markets. This is true. Remember however that Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac were only the tip of the iceberg. If all the blame could be placed on the failure of these two agencies then the bailout of the two would have sufficed to fix the crisis. Bear Stearns, Citybank, AIG, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, Indymac, Lehman Brothers, and over a dozen regional banks have all failed, are failing, or are about to fail withing the coming weeks. The problem as easy and convinient as it may be to try to place upon a single factor, simply cannot be dismissed so easily. Other factors such as the credit-swap industry and the overall deregulation of the banking industry are equally blameworthy.
In short, what we are facing is a systematic failure. An economy-wide collapse which could very easily and quickly (if history is a guide) trickle down to the lowest denominators of the economy, ie. your job and your ability to pay your bills.
At the moment these banking/credit failures have all been contained within the framework of the FDIC (the insurance that protects your money if you bank happens to go bankrupt). Without the FDIC, all of these bank failures would have translated to the immediate wipeout of every individual and business whose money was kept in those banks. This would have prompted an unstoppable downward spiral of bankruns and loan recalls, followed by business failures, massive layoffs and unemployment. .. essentially 1929 all over again.
The saving grace of the FDIC framework however is limited and is not designed to accomodate large scale system wide failures. So as long as the collapse was gradual and fairly distributed in time, the FDIC would have been able to take care of much of the problem. But as so many economists, including Alan Greenspan, have argued, we are in uncharted waters. Simply put, the system as a whole is such a tangled web of financial institutions, one that now reaches far beyond the territorial boundaries of the United States, that predicting how this behemoth of the economy will react is impossible to decipher from our present vantage point.
All of this however is not happening in a vaccum, but instead during a record low for the value of the dollar, under record government debt, and the largest budgetary deficit since WWII. In other words, in the meantime, there will be no respite.
The bailout, all $700+ billion of it, may really be the only solution. But lets be clear about who and what is involved in this bailout. This is being presented by the Bush administration and championed by the Treasury Secretary, but this bailout propossal is NOT a creation of the Bush Administration. This bailout propossal was written BY and FOR the banks, not for you. By adding close to another trillion dollars into the national debt, which currently stands at a historic 9.7 trillion, and was expected to reach $11 trillion by the end of 2009, the national debt could easily at this rate hit $13 trillion by 2010-2011, as we are currently already amassing about $480 billion of new debt per year and increasing, without even factoring the bailout into the numbers.
This is not something that can be simply shrugged off.
In 2007, the public debt of the United States was 60% (over $8 trillion) of our GDP of $13.8 trillion. So given the current anemic rate of growth in the economy, and the unlikelyhood of any betterment of it in the near future, our national public debt will reach and overtake the 100% mark of our GDP by 2010 with this bailout added.
That 100% mark in debt to GDP is the point where international lending organization consider your country to be BANKRUPT. Were that to happen, the worth of the American dollar will be devalued to junk status and everything that is currently traded in dollar denomination will skyrocket in price. The price of oil already now fluctuates the most based on the day to day worth of the dollar, rather than on threats of war in the middle east.
This doom and gloom scenario, is actually the optimistic scenario.
The worst case scenario has a devalued dollar forcing OPEC to adopt the euro as its trade currency, forcing the selloff of American dollars from national reserve banks across the world, including the subsequent move by China (our largest creditor) to then freeze all lending and investment into the US. This of course still doesn't include the geopolitical pitfalls that could include an Israeli-Iranian conflict, an oil trade war with Venezuela, a growing possibility of involvement in a civil war in Pakistan, as well as increased tensions with trade sanctions and increased militarization against Russia. Then, take into account the seeming continuation of the neverending war on terror which is costing this country 10-16 billion dollars a month and the outlook is even more grim.
There is no easy solution, nor easy blame as the precursory events leading to this have been building for decades and will most likely be felt for many years to come.
We will eventually all feel this one, specially when we start paying for it.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Three years ago on this day the F.B.I. assassinated Filiberto Ojeda Rios. Thousands of people in Puerto Rico and throughout the Diaspora protested. Murals were painted. T-Shirts were printed. Even a reggaeton song was made. All condemning the brutal and cowardly acts of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations.
Three years ago on this day the F.B.I assassinated Filiberto Ojeda Rios. In Puerto Rico people rallied to the streets yelling "asesinos", while the Governor put on his best "I don’t know shit" face and claimed he was not aware of the assassination orders being executed in the small town of Hormigueros on Puerto Rico’s west coast. The chief of Police, an ex-F.B.I. agent himself, did the same.
In Chicago, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia and other cities throughout the Diaspora, Puerto Rican community leaders and their allies and friends held events and organized to spread the word about yet another vicious attack against those struggling for freedom and independence for Puerto Rico.
Three years ago on this day the F.B.I. assassinated Filiberto Ojeda Rios. The month’s that followed were filled with allegations, denials, and a large-scale witch hunt rounding up professors, shoe repairmen, authors, community organizers, and students whom the F.B.I. tried to tie to the clandestine Pro-Independence group Los Macheteros. After one such round up, at a well respected and much loved professor’s house, the media, who was covering the event, was trampled on and maced by the F.B.I.
Three years ago on this day the F.B.I. assassinated Filiberto Ojeda Rios. The various multitudes of pro-independence organizations that for decades had been at difference with each other were speaking about unity and collective action. This was to be the defining moment when ideologies and egos were going to be put to the back in the spirit of unity, as Filiberto himself had called for at his last speech. Socialista, pipiolo, nacionalista, Chicago, New York were all identifiers that were no longer going to mean shit. All that was supposed to matter now was that everyone wanted the same thing, the independence of Puerto Rico.
Three years ago on this day the F.B.I. assassinated Filiberto Ojeda Rios. In the time since then Filiberto has grown to become another symbolic figure that stands to inspire and challenge us.
In reflecting on what occurred that day I kept returning to the fact that the assassination highlighted something for me that I have always believed and spoken about and that is that the "movement’s" failure lays in its reactionary nature.
"Look they assassinated Filiberto! Let’s go out and…. do something!"
Colonialism sucks! No shit!
People know that colonialism is evil and destructive. But what is the alternative? The responsibility of the various organizations and individuals that claim to be pro-independence should be to educate and show the people that alternative.
Alternative schools. Co-ops. Health clinics. Independentista businesses. Community based and centered so that you can decentralize the government and people no longer feel they need it to survive. As they do now, and therefore support and vote for its survival. So come November when people go to vote in the first gubernatorial race since the assassination no surprises will occur. If people didn’t vote for PIP after they spearheaded the removal of the Navy from Vieques, I have no faith that they will now. Nor will this even be an issue of significance to voters on the island.
Three years ago on this day the F.B.I. assassinated Filiberto Ojeda Rios.
But Filiberto lives!
These ads are the first in Spanish using the now famous McCain gaffe "the fundamentals of our economy are strong."
Also interesting is how these ads are all essentially the same with the exception of the statistics in the first few seconds of the ads. It would be nice to see some polling numbers of the Hispanic community before and after the ads, as well as in comparison with each other state. Here are the ads:
NEW MEXICO AD:
Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, President of Argentina, spoke before a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations on September 22, 2008. After her speech a Q&A session followed, here is that portion of the meeting:
MODERATOR: Well, thank you for that thorough, you know, and far-ranging and thoughtful address. Many of the prerogatives of my job -- and ask one or two questions, then we will quickly open it up.
You've come to the United States approximately 45 days, give or take, before an election in this country. If you could advise the next president of the United States, what is it you would want to see in the way of changes or continuity when it comes to U.S. policy towards your part of the world?
KIRCHNER: Well, in terms of -- and please allow me to say I do not intend to meddle with the internal political life of the U.S., particularly only a few days away from your election on November the 4th. But I must confess that I was never this excited to follow both the primaries of the Democrats and Republicans, as well as both conventions. And this is not just because I'm now president of Argentina, but because as a citizen of the world I recognize the importance the new president of the U.S. will have in a world as ours.
What do we actually expect at the universal level from the next U.S. administration? I will say a reconstruction of multilateralism, which is not to do only with our own convictions -- which of course, have a lot to do with it, too. You know, the fact that we believe that you can give more legitimacy to the fight against terrorism or against drug trafficking, a fight which must be waged by all democratic societies, but also we think that the decision to pursue unilateral policies, as was the case with this current administration, that has had an impact on the world and has actually had a negative impact on the interests of the U.S. as a country.
I would dare say, based on the polls one sees, the image of the U.S. around the world has been negatively affected, and this is something we talked about during our luncheon. And politics is about results. You know, there might have been (good ?) intentions, but politics is about results.
MODERATOR: Wouldn't Argentina -- wouldn't Argentina act unilaterally if it felt that its national interests required it?
KIRCHNER: In terms of aggression? You mean a war?
Well, I would dare say respect for international law, observance of international law in order to accept the rules -- (inaudible) -- would prevent us from doing that. In fact, we have made a strong contribution for no country in the region to take such (status ?). Look, if that were may view, I could have justified Ecuador's responding with an aggression to Colombia due to Colombia's invasion of its territory, but my own attitude, the attitude of Argentina, has been at all times to go all the way back to undo that and to prevent the adoption of unilateral measures by Colombia against -- by Ecuador against Colombia, because there were higher interests in the region which had to do precisely with preserving peace.
Preventive action or preventive war is not something we endorse as a measure, and even less so outside the framework of international law. I believe that unilateralism has been bad for the United States. And let me point out the difference between the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan with the consensus of all nations and with the support of all nations, as opposed to the U.S. when dealing with the situation in Iraq, when even some of the allies of the U.S. withdrew their support.
I'm not talking about intentions, only about results. Again, in politics you may have the best intentions, but if the results are not good and you are left in isolation, it means that your policies have perhaps not been the best ones. I try to remain as objective as possible.
So, what do we expect from the U.S. with regard to our own region? Well, first, I would say, a different look and a different presence in a region. In a way, the United States has distanced itself from our region, and we think that there should be a different position and look at South America.
You know, this is something we raised at a meeting of the Americas, I believe in Monterrey. Back then, it was a time when the situation of emerging countries was not yet the one we now get to see in economic or growth terms, and we even talked about the help of the United States. I actually talked to a representative, who is now a senator, a Democrat. He also -- can I mention him or can I say who he was or -- (inaudible). I remember I met with him while he was still a representative; he is now a senator. And I remember he was in favor of setting up a Latin America fund to give assistance to the region with a different, more intensive U.S. presence.
The governments of the region now reflect the nature of their own peoples. Again, as I was saying earlier, presidents have never been so close to their peoples and have never resembled their people as much. So we would like more presence from the U.S. in our region. That's what we would expect from your new president.
MODERATOR: I have a lot more questions, but I will show uncharacteristic restraint and not -- people have raised their hands. Try to keep your questions short.
We'll go to Baldas (sp).
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Baldas (sp) from -- (affiliation inaudible). Madame President, you made a very strong cause for multilateralism. I think many of us here -- (inaudible). I'd be interested in your views about the working U.S.-United Nations -- (inaudible) -- multilateral framework. It seems to be quite broken, oftentimes. (Inaudible.)
MODERATOR: When you get around to Security Council reform, does Argentina believe it deserves a seat on the Security Council?
KIRCHNER: Well, you know, the reform of multilateral organizations, whether multilateral lending agencies or the U.N. itself has been a recurrent topic for Argentina and is something we mention at all U.N. addresses ever since 2003.
I think we need to recreate the core, the heart of the Security Council, primarily because the U.N. -- the Security Council was created in light of the charter of San Francisco in a post-war world in which there was bipolarity. This tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, which was the hallmark of the whole second half of the 20th century, right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, made the Security Council necessary, due to the constant tension in face of the nuclear threats in the world. If someone did something outside this framework, there might be some kind of universal nuclear holocaust.
And that tension, which was always played out within the Security Council with the veto right, enabled more or less acceptable functioning of the body during the second half of the 20th century.
Now, what is the problem? When the Berlin Wall fell and the bipolarity ended, with the U.S. clearly rising above the rest of the world as the leading economic, scientific power, also in terms of its weapons and technology, becoming the absolute number-one world power, that created an imbalance which can no longer be processed within the Security Council, and this is why unilateral policies arise.
You can exercise force unilaterally when there's no other force to counteract and resist you now. This is a principle of physics, but which must also apply to politics. In other words, American unilateralism is a result of its own repositioning as the one and only world power.
But therein lies as well the problem of a possible weakening of someone who is too strong, although this may sound like a contradiction. This is why, in my own view, it is necessary to reengineer the U.N. and essentially the Security Council.
If I were to have a formula as to what the right Security Council would be to guarantee the ballot box, I might be the president of the U.S. and not the other candidates, because that would be finding the way to achieve balance in the 21st century, as was the case with the Security Council to create balance in a highly conflicted world after the Second World War.
But the fact that we need to tackle Security Council reform, that we need to give participation opportunities to the new regional players, is out of the question. We must do that. But we should also bear in mind that this breakage of bipolarity and the emergence of this undisputed power that made the current Security Council no longer as adequate.
Now, knowing that that is a problem doesn't mean that we have a solution. But it is certainly a big step towards finding a solution as part of an open debate and discussion among all countries.
MODERATOR: Yes, ma'am. All the way in the back.
QUESTIONER: Thank you, President Kirchner. Kathy Hicks (sp) with Citizen Rights Watch.
Argentina was recently elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council, a body that's been extremely ineffective at holding human rights abusers to account, in part because of the ability of abusers to say that initiatives are directed from the north. Will Argentina be a voice (of ?) leadership within the council on ongoing crises like those in Georgia, Somalia and Zimbabwe currently?
KIRCHNER: Well, you know that the policy on absolute respect for human rights is one of the basic pillars of our policy and is actually a state policy. Argentina, as you will all know, had one of the most terrible dictatorships in memory, which ended up with 30,000 people disappeared and 500 children who have not yet been found. We have already found 94 children of disappeared persons thanks to the wonderful work of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, and tomorrow there will be a ceremony headed by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
Argentina and another 73 countries have signed the Treaty Against Enforced Disappearances, which, by the way, we have given a strong boost to. We are actually, as you pointed out, on the U.N. Human Rights Council. But only four countries have so far ratified the treaty -- Albania, Argentina, Honduras and Mexico. I think over the next few days, the Republic of France will be ratifying it as well.
But the fact is that Argentina's commitment to respect for human rights is -- it's unlimited and unfaltering. And I think we have made quite a lot of progress.
Last year I had a meeting with Ann Arbour in Geneva -- with Louise Arbour in Geneva. And, you know, when talking about the Initiative of the Right to the Truth, which was adopted in the U.N., something that had been encouraged by our country, other countries that hadn't been able to advance, you know, we actually had laws that -- (new ?) obedience and -- (inaudible) -- laws, which prevented prosecution of those responsible for the genocide.
Actually Mrs. Arbour, the human rights commissioner of the U.N., has acknowledged the key role played by Argentina is the field of human rights by leading to the adoption and creation of instruments such as the Right to the Truth or the Treaty on the Enforced Disappearance of Persons, which at least are instruments to fight for human rights in a world in which human rights are violated on a daily basis.
Our commitment -- and I think here again, we may be an example -- we should always be accountable for our actions, and it is true that until the administration of President Nestor Kirchner, impunity had prevailed in Argentina.
We had some pre-democratic issues, as I like to say, because people who commit crimes may evade justice and punishment, but in Argentina, those who had committed genocide evaded punishment and the law, not because they escaped, but because one of the powers -- the legislative -- had enacted laws that afforded impunity, which, as I always say, took us back to a pre-democratic stage in our society. When the state itself institutes, punishes and legislates for impunity, it's a pre-democratic state, you know. So I think that the progress in the field of human rights made in Argentina, which has been recognized around the world, and these instruments I have referred to and any other actions we may undertake will help us along.
Let me give you some more interesting news. We're working on a worldwide genetic database to work on issues of enforced disappearances, something that we are also going to support at the international level. This is something we think all countries should adopt. And we should take concrete steps every day in this unfaltering fight for the observance of human rights.
Thank you for that question, because it gives a chance to tackle an issue which, to my country and due to its own historical experience and to myself personally and due to my political beliefs, represents a policy of state.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) -- for one more question. Is there a question on Latin America? I specifically want to make sure that we focus on this part of the world. John? Brief question and hopefully a brief answer, and I apologize for taking a few minutes late, but we started a few minutes late.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. I'm John Brademas, a member of the U.S. Congress -- (inaudible). In 1961, I made a trip to Buenos Aires as a member of Congress to look at the state of universities in Argentina, and I've left with your assistant a copy of the report. Can you comment on the -- I was not a senator, I was a congressman). Can you comment on the state of universities in Argentina today and say anything about the possibility of developing relationships with universities in the United States?
KIRCHNER: In 1961 when you visited, I was still very little, so I can't remember your visit. But Argentine universities have substantially improved, just as all of the educational system has improved through greater financing. That was also one of the achievements of the administration of President Nestor Kirchner.
And actually I had to vote as a senator on the bill on education financing, and for the first time we're going to allocate 6 percent of GDP to education. Of course, our GDP's substantially higher than it was at the time the law was first adopted, and now we can approach the issue of education in Argentina in quite a different way.
Universities now have larger projects. The universities and faculty get more money and better pay. We are developing a scholarship system which is aimed at favoring study choices that we consider essential for Argentina's current production model.
Argentina used to be a country with a very strong bias towards social sciences, while leaving aside hard science, which is essential for technological development. This is why we are developing a very intensive scholarship program for our high school students to be able to pursue studies in fields that Argentina needs for its production model, and this also targets low-income families with support from the government. And we are making a very strong point of this policy.
Besides, one of the economic policies that has most grown in Argentina over the last five years has been in the field of technological software and IT and telecommunications companies. Those are the companies with the largest number of birth rates, and they have grown exponentially.
Why is this so? Because our country stands out in Latin America due to its highly qualified human resources. We are the only Latin American country to have three Nobel Prize winners in scientific fields. You can check other Latin American countries and you may find Nobel Prizes for literature, but not for medicine or biology or what we call the strictly scientific world.
You know, the public, free universal education system since the end of the 19th century and the upward social mobility typical of this very substantial middle class places us in a very interesting position in Latin America in terms of the education of our human resources.
MODERATOR: Well, I want to thank President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner for getting us off to such an interesting start this week, one of the first women presidents we've ever been able to welcome a the Council on Foreign Relations. So thank you very much. (Applause.)
Sunday, September 21, 2008
By now you have probably heard of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which some still believe will kill us all. But there is another project underway called the E-VLBI which stands for "electronic Very Long Baseline Interferometery" or the "we are turning the earth into a radio dish" project.
Essentially the E-VLBI project has every radio observatory on this side of the Earth look at the exact spot in the night sky at the same time. The data then is collected in a series of supercomputers for analysis. The effect is to turn the face of the earth into one single large radio telescope. The result of which will be images 100 times better than ever received either through a radio or optical telescopes.
The project, already underway since May 22, makes the Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, the centerpiece of a united/multinational mission to explore the universe.
You are The Boss... which team would you hire?
With America facing historic debt, multiple war fronts, stumbling health care, a weakened dollar, all-time high prison population, skyrocketing Federal spending, mortgage crises, bank foreclosures, etc. etc., this is an unusually critical election year. The idea of "leadership" must be broadened from mere "experience" to include knowledge, learnedness and insight.
Let's look at the educational background of your two options:
Occidental College - Two years.
Columbia University - B.A. political science with a specialization in international relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude
University of Delaware - B.A. in history and B.A. in political science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)
United States Naval Academy - Class rank 894 of 899
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in journalism
Now, which team are you going to hire ?
The fact that Mr. Guzman is the owner and operator of various businesses around Central Florida, with vast experience in community organizing, helps to make the point that: All things being equal, if the decision faced by the American people in this election were taken from the proper perspective, the outcome would be obvious.
***UPDATE: Mr. Guzman wants all to know he is not the original author of the email.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
HERMANOS Y HERMANAS:
Aquí está de nuevo nuestra palabra.
Esto vemos, esto miramos.
Esto llega a nuestro oído, a nuestro moreno corazón llega.
Allá arriba pretenden repetir su historia.
Quieren volver a imponernos su calendario de muerte, su geografía de destrucción.
Cuando no nos despojan de nuestras raíces, las destruyen.
El trabajo nos roban, la fuerza.
Nuestros mundos, la tierra, sus aguas y tesoros, sin gente dejan, sin vida.
Las ciudades nos persiguen y expulsan.
Los campos mueren y nos mueren.
Y la mentira se convierte en gobiernos y el despojo arma a sus ejércitos y policías.
En el mundo somos ilegales, indocumentados, indeseados.
Mujeres, jóvenes, niños, ancianos mueren en muerte y mueren en vida.
Y allá arriba predican para abajo la resignación, la derrota, la claudicación, el abandono.
Acá abajo nos vamos quedando sin nada.
Dignidad tan sólo.
No hay oído para nuestro dolor como no sea el del que como nosotr@s es.
Solos estamos y sólo con nuestra dignidad y con nuestra rabia.
Rabia y dignidad son nuestros puentes, nuestros lenguajes.
Escuchémonos pues, conozcámonos entonces.
Que nuestro coraje crezca y esperanza se haga.
Que la dignidad raíz sea de nuevo y otro mundo nazca.
Hemos visto y escuchado.
Pequeña es nuestra voz para eco ser de esa palabra, nuestra mirada pequeña para tanta y tan digna rabia.
Vernos, mirarnos, hablarnos, escucharnos hace falta.
Otros somos, otras, lo otro.
Si el mundo no tiene lugar para nosotr@s, entonces otro mundo hay que hacer.
Sin más herramienta que la rabia, sin más material que nuestra dignidad.
Falta más encontrarnos, conocernos falta.
Falta lo que falta.
More at Enlace Zapatista
Thursday, September 18, 2008
On Bolivia, McCain's assertion that Bolivia is just like Venezuela and that Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez were the same, shows a level of great ignorance on his behalf. While certainly from a neo-con perspective all them "brown peoples" look the same, from planet earth however Evo Morales is fighting against a fascist right-wing movement that seeks to spit the country in half. Just days ago presidents from throughout Latin America met to discuss the violence that has erupted in the streets. And due to American interference Morales finally resorted to expelling the American ambassador. McCain however has no idea any of this is going on.
On Spain, it is clear that either McCain did not know where Spain is, or did not know who Zapatero is. Either way he should literally slapped for his stupidity. Now, I do not expect everyday Americans to recognize Zapatero, and I have long given up on any American's ability to grasp geography. But if you call yoursel a foreign Policy expert you need to know more than me.
Zapatero is not only President of Spain but former President of the European Union, and Spain is part of the NATO Alliance. Should this not be something a foreign policy expert should know?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
The coverage, however, far from helping has instead inspired the type of mob mentality only last seen during Florida's old days of lynchings and public hangings. Everyday a group of "protesters" stands in front of the Anthony home, calling names and demanding that the Anthony family answer their questions. The situation has at times become violent and even when it is relatively peaceful, it is certainly hostile.
The local news media has in turn taken the demonstrators as another added bonus to their coverage of the events. For the media, this is the opportunity to run the inevitable film of the local village idiot explaining how much they want to "see justice done", with that implied message that if the District Attorney and the police do not ensure justice, they will.
The public expression of beliefs is always positive, I've always said, but the truth is that the underlying principles behind these people's actions in front of the Anthony home has nothing to do with justice.
These are not protesters, this is a mob, bent on their own brand of justice free from the trappings of evidence and due process.
The difference between a "mob" and a protest group is actually quite simple. As an avid protester, and veteran of large and small protests around the country, I can tell you that there is a clear distinction to be drawn between what I and others do and what these local yokels think they are doing.
Protesting is about speaking truth to power. It is about garnering the support of the masses to confront the injustice of the state, the corruption of politicians, and the greed of corporations. Protesting is about garnering enough Davids to topple the Goliaths and shout down the power of Babylon.
But these people standing and screaming in front of the Anthony home are a mob, an unruly group of bully sharks who smell blood in the water and have gathered around to pounce upon their prey. The Anthony's are a recently retired couple, which other than having taken to support their daughter in this mess, have done nothing wrong. The mob in their front yard is nevertheless ready to storm the house with pitchforks and torches in hand all in the name of "justice".
To the credit of the police, they have managed an even handed approach of ensuring the safety of both the Anthony's and their bullies, but things may not remain quite so simple.
Already this case has brought out the freaks of society from disparate search teams driven by God, to bounty hunters looking for fame and fortune, oh and the lawyers. But last night while watching the local NBC affiliate (WESH) the news coverage turned to a woman, who is so convinced that little Caylee is buried in the Anthony's backyard, that she flew down from her home in West Virginia to stand and yell at the Anthony's front door. A trip that cost her $575 according to the interview.
These people are not right in the head. But that's the mob.
Fueled by their belief in their own righteousness and the spectacle of a 'Jerry Springer' atmosphere, they are schoolyard bullies who's highest priority is to make themselves feel good. The fact that the local media treats them like they matter to the outcome of the Caylee Anthony disappearance merely fuels their fire, threatens civil society, and endangers us all.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Her name is Nilda Gomez Lopez (Pictured on the right) and she is Puerto Rico's forgotten star. Her bronze came in the 10m Air Rifle Standing. She beat Libby Kosmala, Australia's favored shooter, for the medal.
The Australian Paralympic Committee reported the battle as follows:
"Libby Kosmala fought a neck-and-neck duel with Puerto Rico’s Nilda Gomez Lopez. Coming into the 10th and final shot, Kosmala had a 0.2 point lead but her score for the shot was 10.1 (out of a possible 10.9). But the Puerto Rican shot 10.4 to beat the Australian veteran by 0.1 with a total of 489.2 points overall to Kosmala’s 489.1."
Speaking with China's Xinhua News Nilda Gomez Lopez said:
"Please forgive me if I am being illogical. I am very, very excited."
Nilda Gomez Lopez, a true Puerto Rican hero and an inspiration to everyone in the island and beyond. We love you Nilda.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Click "READ MORE" to see the other three parts to the interview.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Jessica Alba, a.k.a. my future wife, and Christina Aguilera, a.k.a my future wife, posed for celebrated photographers Mark Liddell and David LaChapelle for the Declare Yourself voter registration campaign. The pictures, inspired by bondage-like apparel, are part of an online gallery and an ad campaign to encourage the youth vote in these upcoming elections. Cause nothing says "vote" like a little bondage. (By the way... I do not see a problem with both of them being my future wives)
When Daddy Yankee endorsed John McCain for the Presidency, we laughed and made fun of both, but Fat Joe took the matter a bit more personal calling Daddy Yankee a sell-out.
From an interview with MTV-NEWS we get the following:
"I opened the newspaper and got sick to my stomach," Joe continued. "I felt like I wanted to vomit when I seen that. The reason why I called him a sellout is because I feel he did that for a [publicity] look, rather than the issues that are affecting his people that look up to him. How could you want John McCain in office when George Bush and the Republicans already have half a million people losing their homes in foreclosure? We're fighting an unjust war. It's the Latinos and black kids up in the frontlines, fighting that war. ... We over here trying to take the troops out of Iraq and bring peace. This guy immediately wants war. If not with Iraq or Afghanistan, he'll start a new one with Iran. I feel real disgusted that Daddy Yankee would do that. Either he did that for a look, or he's just not educated on politics."
Daddy Yankee, at first did not respond, his publicist claiming he was unreachable outside the country (don't you just hate when that happens).
However, Daddy Yankee has now just responded:
"McCain is the kind of man whose promises you can actually believe in. I'll support him till the end. I don't care who I piss off. This is about my ideals, not about making friends."
Daddy Yankee, who has resented that Calle 13 is considered the more intellectual artist in his genre, to his credit has tried to be more political lately but for someone who brags of growing up in the ghetto, his knowledge of politics and everyday issues seems to dwindle with every million he makes.