Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Puerto Rican lineup for the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Presenting Puerto Rico's finest, twenty-three in all and the hopes of a nation ride on their shoulders... no pressure. The games begin on August 8 and we'll live-blog the events.

Men's 110m hurdles:
Héctor Cotto
Enrique Llanos

Men's 400m:
Félix Martinez

Women's 400m:
Carol Rodríguez

Men's 400m hurdles:
Javier Culson

Men's 1,500m:
David Freeman

Flyweight: McWilliams Arroyo
Bantamweight: McJoe Arroyo
Lightweight: Jose Pedraza
Light welterweight: Jonathan Gonzalez
Light heavyweight: Carlos Negron

Men's Artistic: Luis Rivera Rivera

Men's 73kg: Alexis Chiclana Melendez
Men's 81kg: Abderramán Brenes la Roche
Men's 100kg: Pablo Figueroa Carrillo

Men's Double Trap: Lucas Bennazar Ortiz

Men's 100m breaststroke: Daniel Velez
Men's 100m butterfly: Lennox Silva
Women's 200m butterfly: Kristina Lennox
Women's 50m freestyle: Vanessa Garcia
Women's 400m freestyle: Kristina Lennox

Men's 80kg: Angel Roman
Women's 67kg: Asuncion Ocasio

Women's 58kg: Geralee Vega

Puerto Rico's National Basketball Team did not qualify for the Olympics

Source: Comite Olimpico de Puerto Rico

Luis Ramirez, 25, killed for being Mexican in Pennsylvania

On July 12, Luis Ramirez, a 25 year old undocumented immigrant was assaulted by four teens at 11:15pm. The teens, three of them football players at Shenandoah Valley High School had been drinking most of the night when they spotted Ramirez. According to eyewitness reports the teens began mouthing off racial/ethnic slurs at Ramirez and then proceeded to beat him. After bringing him to the ground, a kick to the head put him into a coma from which he would never awaken. On July 14, Luis Ramirez, a laborer who only wanted to provide for his wife and two children, died from his injuries.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund called for federal monitoring of the investigation and prosecution as it is suspected that a wider pattern of ethnic intimidation may exist in the Shenandoah area. The FBI and the Department of Justice are now investigating further into the incident.

At NASDAQ Dominicans protest oil speculation

The story reprinted from the People's Weekly World
NEW YORK—A group of Dominican American and other Latino elected officials with dozens of community members protested petroleum speculation here in Times Square July 30. Called by the League of Dominican American Elected Officials and hosted by New York State Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat, the protest was held outside the headquarters of NASDAQ, which trades oil futures.

“We are here to address rampant unregulated speculation conducted in the NASDAQ trade market,” said Espaillat, who is co-chairman of the league. He and other speakers blamed market speculators and deregulation of the oil markets for the unprecedented oil and gas prices in working-class Dominican American communities in the U.S., and in the Dominican Republic. The national average for a gallon of gas in the United States is now $3.89 and in the Dominican Republic gas tops $6.00 a gallon, according to some reports.

Speakers blamed the staggering gas prices on the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which opened the door to speculation on energy commodities. U.S. gas prices have more than doubled since the act was passed. The league is supporting legislation introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), which would reestablish some regulation to curb such speculation. President Bush vetoed an attempt to reform the act earlier this year. Espaillat told reporters that Congressional Republicans attempted to kill Reid’s bill by introducing offshore drilling proposals into it last week.

“This winter in New England is going to be a difficult one,” said Rhode Island State Senator Juan Pichardo, referring to predictions of high heating-oil prices next season. “We are stepping up not only for congressional action but to build an alliance with [Dominican Republic] President Fernandez.” Pichardo is the other co-chairman of the league.

In response to the global oil crisis, Dominican President Leonel Fernandez is proposing a Global Petroleum Solidarity Fund be created to assist countries with annual per capita income less than $6,000. Under the proposal, oil-producing nations would allocate 3 percent of their record earnings to the fund.

“Our goal is to let the speculators on Wall Street know, we will not be invisible. We are being impacted by oil prices not only in this country, but in the Dominican Republic,” Councilman Reynaldo Martinez of Haledon, N.J., told the World.

Elected officials from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Maryland participated in the protest and press conference. The American Northeast is home to the majority of Dominican Americans.

The crowd chanted, “Lower the prices!” as they picketed. Some held signs reading, “Talk is cheap. Gas isn’t,” and “Wall Street gets drunk and effects everyone” in English and Spanish. Some held Dominican flags, but one protester assured a curious passerby, “This is for everyone. Gas prices are killing everyone.”

Pichardo said in a written statement, “Without a legal framework to halt market speculation, U.S. Hispanics, as well as all the most disadvantaged groups and countries around the world will end up paying for the profits of speculators who don’t see beyond their own greed.”

Ask-a-Chola calls out Lou Dobbs as her babydaddy

Lou Dobbs, you should live up to your responsibilities and take care of Lupita!!!

Ask-a-Chola is a 'califas' based surrealist comedian... and a favorite of the Latino Insurgent. You can check out all her videos here.

Ludacris raps about Obama

Ludacris released a small rhyme called "Politics" which is causing a little bit of trouble for Senator Obama. Ludacris strikes a defiant tone to say the least with this piece and it's pretty good. But for sanitized ears not accustomed to Hip Hop style throw-downs among rappers, the lyrics are ringing every alarm bell. Click play to check out the song.

Here are the lyrics:
I'm back on it like I just signed my record deal
yeah the best is here, the Bentley Coup paint is dripping wet, it got sex appeal
never should have hated
you never should've doubted him
with a slot in the president's iPod Obama shattered 'em
Said I handled his biz and I'm one of his favorite rappers
Well give Luda a special pardon if I'm ever in the slammer
Better yet put him in office, make me your vice president
Hillary hated on you, so that b^$&%* is irrelevant
Jesse talking slick and apologizing for what?
if you said it then you meant it how you want it have a gut!
and all you other politicians trying to hate on my man,
watch us win a majority vote in every state on my man
you can't stop what's bout to happen, we bout to make history
the first black president is destined and it's meant to be
the threats ain't fazing us, the nooses or the jokes
so get off your ass, black people, it's time to get out and vote!
paint the White House black and I'm sure that's got 'em terrified
McCain don't belong in ANY chair unless he's paralyzed
Yeah I said it cause Bush is mentally handicapped
Ball up all of his speeches and I throw em like candy wrap
cause what you talking I hear nothing even relevant
and you the worst of all 43 presidents
get out and vote or the end will be near
the world is ready for change because Obama is here!
cause Obama is here
The world is ready for change because Obama is here!

Zapatistas get plug on Canadian TV

I was just watching ReGenesis, the Canadian produced drama about scientists saving the world, or North America at least. The show, which is syndicated worldwide, is like CSI without the glitz and with better science. In any case, while watching episode 10 of season 1, my eyes came across this image:

It reads "Ser Zapatista no es delito, EZLN", roughly "Being a Zapatista is not a crime, EZLN". The graffiti doesn't look real to me, but it may be. Still, it's so well framed that I'm sure whoever shot this, knew what they were looking at. So this is either an accidental or deliberate show of solidarity. I'm betting it was deliberate and I wonder if the EZLN ever saw it.

The episode, entitled "The Source" was first aired on January 2, 2005.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Army recruiters bully prospects [VIDEO]

A CBS investigation aired on July 28, uncovers the tactics being used by Army recruiters. Using threats of arrest and accusations of desertion, Army recruiters in Texas have crossed the line. Whether this is a tactic aimed at Latinos or the population in general is unknown at this time, but it points to how low these recruiters are willing to go. Watch the report here.

Obama Reggaeton Song

Not exactly the best reggaeton song out there, but I do think it is the first reggaeton song ever written for a U.S. presidential candidate. Similar to the Viva Obama video from the primaries. It comes from Check it out below.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Black Beard's Rugged Tampons

Don't know where this came from, but I'm glad lady pirates no longer have to deal with scurvy in their nether regions.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pandering McCain tries to woo Hispanic voters, bash Obama

It seems that after years of Republicans arguing how "Iraq is NOT Vietnam", McCain is really trying to make the case that Iraq IS a lot like Vietnam since it just might suit him now. Speaking before the American GI Forum, McCain again draws the Vietnam card with a little spice.

After the release of two reports one showing Obama's lead in McCain's home state of Arizona, and the other showing Obama's lead among Hispanic voters, McCain has compelled the ghost of Roy Benavides, a real true American hero and Medal of Honor honoree.

But could he not find someone alive? We don't know that Sergeant Roy Benavides would have approved of McCain, the man died ten years ago as McCain explains in his speech, only to then add...

I wouldn't want to live in a country that didn't recognize how much we needed such a good man.

He died TEN YEARS AGO, how about remembering the man a little sooner. How about living in a country where great men like Roy Benavides do not have to die on a daily basis, in fruitless, ill-conceived wars like Vietnam or Iraq. Just for the record, Sgt. Benavides died in retirement, but how many like him did not make it back from Vietnam, or are waiting to die in Iraq.

Excerpt of speech delivered at the 2008 American GI Forum of the United States National Convention in Denver:

Let me close by expressing my gratitude for the contributions Hispanic-Americans have made to the security of the country I have served all my adult life. I represent Arizona where Spanish was spoken before English was, and where the character and prosperity of our state owes much to the Arizonans of Hispanic descent who live there. And I know this country, which I love more than almost anything, would be poorer were we deprived of the patriotism, industry and decency of those millions of Americans whose families came here from Mexico, Central and South America.

When you take the solemn stroll along that wall of black granite on the national Mall, it is hard not to notice the many names such as Rodriguez, Hernandez, and Lopez that so sadly adorn it. When you visit Iraq and Afghanistan you meet some of the thousands of Hispanic-Americans who serve there, and many of those who risk their lives to protect the rest of us do not yet possess the rights and privileges of full citizenship in the country they love so well. To love your country, as I discovered in Vietnam, is to love your countrymen. Those men and women are my brothers and sisters, my fellow Americans, an association that means more to me than any other. As a private citizen or as President, I will never, never do anything to dishonor our obligations to them and their families.

No story better exemplifies the sacrifices Hispanic Americans have made for our country than the story of Roy Benavidez. I have told it before, and this won't be the last time I tell it. All Americans need to hear it.

Roy Benavidez was the son of a Texas sharecropper, a seventh grade dropout who suffered the humiliation of being constantly taunted as a "dumb Mexican." He grew up to become a master sergeant in the Green Berets, and served in Vietnam. He was a member of that rare class of warriors whose service was so honorable and brave they are privileged to wear the Medal of Honor. He was decorated by Ronald Reagan, who said that if the story of his heroism were a movie "you would not believe it."

On May 2, 1968, in an outpost near the Cambodian border, Sergeant Benavidez listened on his radio as the voice of a terrified American, part of a 12 man patrol surrounded by a North Vietnamese battalion, pleaded to be rescued. Armed with only a knife, Roy jumped into a helicopter and took off with a three-man crew to rescue his trapped comrades.

When they arrived at the battle, the enemy was too numerous for the helicopter to evacuate the surrounded soldiers. It had to land seventy-five yards away from their position. After making the sign of the cross, Sergeant Benavidez jumped out of the helicopter as it hovered ten feet above the ground, and ran toward his comrades carrying his knife and a medic bag.

He was shot almost immediately, but he got up and kept moving. A grenade knocked him down again, shrapnel tearing into his face. He got up and kept moving. Reaching the Americans' position, he found four men dead, and all the others badly wounded. He armed himself with an enemy rifle, and began to treat the wounded, distribute ammunition and call in air strikes. He was shot again. He then ordered the helicopter to come in closer as he dragged the dead and wounded aboard. After he got all the wounded aboard, he ran back to retrieve classified documents from the body of a fallen soldier. He was shot in the stomach, and grenade fragments cut into his back. He got up and kept moving, and made it back to the helicopter.

The pilot was shot and the helicopter crashed. Roy pulled the wounded from the wreckage and radioed for air strikes and another helicopter. He kept fighting until air support arrived. He was shot several more times before a second helicopter landed. As he was carrying a wounded man toward it, a North Vietnamese soldier clubbed him with his rifle and stabbed him with a bayonet. Sergeant Benavidez fought him hand to hand, to death. After rescuing three more soldiers, he was finally flown with them to safety.

Bleeding profusely, and completely immobile, a doctor thought him to be dead. Roy was placed in a body bag, before anyone discovered he was still alive. He spent a year in hospitals recovering from seven serious gunshot wounds, twenty-eight shrapnel wounds, and bayonet wounds in both arms.

It took thirteen years for Roy Benavidez to receive his Medal of Honor. But it didn't seem to matter to him. He stayed in the Army. The war, and his forgotten heroism never embittered him. He spent his retirement counseling troubled kids, encouraging them to stay in school and off drugs.

"I'm proud to be an American," Roy Benavidez said as he lay dying in a San Antonio hospital ten years ago. May God bless his soul. And may Americans, all Americans, be very proud that Roy Benavidez was one of us. I wouldn't want to live in a country that didn't recognize how much we needed such a good man.

I prefer to live in a bigger place. I prefer to live in a growing America, as proud of its variety as it is of the ideals that unite us. I prefer to live in a hopeful country. I prefer to live in Roy Benavidez' America. Thank you very much.

Thanks for the pandering and platitudes.

Black, White twins to give racists headaches

A "one in a million" birth of fraternal twins in Germany has brought into the world a set of twins, one black and the other white. The twins are the sons of a white german and his Black West African wife. In a world not altogether at ease with race relations, I bet these kids will have a great story to tell in twenty years. And somewhere there's a right-wing christian bigot pulling his hairs out and screaming "this an abomination against nature!", "race-mixing!", "miscegenation!".

By the way if this had happened in Latin America, they would have just said that one was darker than the other, con un poco the platano, and it wouldn't be news. Not because race isn't an issue, but because it's very common, and not "one in a million" like the European doctors claim.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hispanic Voters favor Obama, Democrats in 2008 Election

The Pew Hispanic Research Center, the nation's most well-regarded and credible source for Hispanic population studies has just released its "2008 National Survey of Latinos" and its an interesting read. The full report can be downloaded in PDF format by clicking here.


Among Hispanic registered voters, 66% would vote for, or lean toward voting for, Barack Obama; 23% would vote for, or lean toward, John McCain.

More than three-quarters (76%) of Hispanic registered voters have a favorable opinion of Obama, and 73% have a favorable opinion of Hillary Rodham Clinton. In contrast, 44% of Hispanics have a favorable opinion of McCain and 27% have a favorable opinion of George W. Bush.

More than three-in-four Hispanics who voted for Clinton in a Democratic primary or caucus this year say they would vote for Obama or lean toward voting for him, while 8% of Clinton voters say they would vote for McCain or lean toward voting for him.

Latino registered voters are almost three times as likely to say that being black will help Obama (32%) with Hispanic voters than hurt him (11%); the majority (53%) say his race will make no difference.

More Latino registered voters say that being white will hurt McCain (24%) than say it will help him (12%); the majority (58%) say his race will make no difference.

Family and pocketbook issues, such as education (93%), the cost of living (92%), jobs (91%) and health care (90%), are most important to Hispanic registered voters. Fewer Hispanics say that crime (82%), the war in Iraq (75%) or immigration (75%) is an extremely important or very important issue to them personally.

By a ratio of more than three-to-one, Hispanic registered voters believe that Obama would do a better job than McCain in dealing with education (66% versus 18%), jobs (65% versus 19%), the cost of living (64% versus 19%), health care (64% versus 19%) and immigration (59% versus 19%). They also believe, by a ratio of about two-to-one, that Obama would do a better job than McCain on crime (50% versus 26%) and the war in Iraq (58% versus 27%).

Among Latino registered voters, 55% believe Obama is better for Hispanics, 11% believe McCain is better and 29% say there is no difference between the candidates.

Half of all Latino voters (50%) believe Obama is better for immigrants, 12% believe McCain is better and 32% say there is no difference between the candidates.

More than two-thirds (70%) of Latino registered voters are dissatisfied with the country’s direction. In contrast, 27% of Latino voters are satisfied with how things are going in the country.

Nearly four-in-ten (38%) Hispanic voters say that Latinos’ situation in the country has gotten worse in the past year, compared with just 18% who say it has improved.

More than half of Latino voters (55%) say that the Democratic Party is better for Latinos while just 6% say the Republican Party is better for Latinos.
Hispanic voters increasingly identify with the Democratic Party. Among Latino registered voters who identify with either political party or who say they lean toward a party, Democrats now hold a 39 percentage point advantage—larger than at any time in the past decade—with 65% of registered voters identifying as or leaning toward the Democrats, and 26% identifying as or leaning toward the Republicans.

Latino voters are following the presidential campaign more closely than in 2004. This year, 78% of Hispanic registered voters say they are following the presidential race very closely or somewhat closely, compared with 72% who said that at a similar time in the 2004 race.

About one-in-seven Latino voters (15%) say they contributed money to a candidate running for public office in the past year. Half of those who contributed money to a candidate say they did so using the Internet.

Among Hispanic registered voters, more than half (56%) say that they voted in a presidential primary or caucus this year. Almost three-quarters (72%) say they voted in a Democratic contest, and 21% say they did so in a Republican contest.

About the Report
The 2008 National Survey of Latinos focuses on Hispanic registered voters’ views on the presidential candidates, the presidential campaign and Hispanic political participation. The survey was conducted from June 9 through July 13, 2008 among a randomly selected, nationally representative sample of 2,015 Hispanic adults, 892 of whom report that they are U.S. citizens and registered to vote. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points; for registered voters, 4.4 percentage points.

Impressive pictures from Obama's speech in Berlin

Barack Obama Speech in Berlin

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama (as prepared for delivery)

"A World that Stands as One"

July 24th, 2008

Berlin, Germany

Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen - a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

I know that I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father - my grandfather - was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning - his dream - required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.

That is why I'm here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.

Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.

On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.

This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.

The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.

And that's when the airlift began - when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.

The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.

But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city's mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. "There is only one possibility," he said. "For us to stand together united until this battle is won...The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty...People of the world, look at Berlin!"

People of the world - look at Berlin!

Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.

Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.

Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.

People of the world - look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall - a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope - walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.

The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers - dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.

The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.

As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.

Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.

In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we're honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe's role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth - that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more - not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.

So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations - and all nations - must summon that spirit anew.

This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.

This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO's first mission beyond Europe's borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.

This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century - in this city of all cities - we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.

This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.

This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.

This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations - including my own - will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.

And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust - not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.

Now the world will watch and remember what we do here - what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words "never again" in Darfur?

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

People of Berlin - people of the world - this is our moment. This is our time.

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived - at great cost and great sacrifice - to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom - indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us - what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America's shores - is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people - everywhere - became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation - our generation - must make our mark on the world.

People of Berlin - and people of the world - the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Team Puerto Rico fails to qualify for Olympics Basketball Tournament

Carlos Arroyo after the 2004 victory over Team USA
In a development that breaks my heart and angers me a little, the Puerto Rican Olympic basketball team lost on Sunday to Germany and failed to qualify for the Olympic tournament schedule. This means that representing FIBA Americas will be Team USA and Team Argentina only while Europe is represented by six teams.

This is the fourth time since 1960, the team debut, that Puerto Rico misses an Olympic tournament. The others were in 1980 because of the boycott against the USSR, 1984 and in 2000.

Certainly you can't take anything away from the growth of the sport and talent development within European Basketball. However, the Olympics will not be the same without Team Puerto Rico's performance to watch. At the moment Puerto Rico is ranked 12th in the world behind China, though without picking up any points for Olympic competition, that ranking is bound to drop.

Full Olympic Basketball Schedule after the jump...

1. Composition of groups:

Group A: Argentina, Australia, Croatia, Iran, Lithuania and Russia
Group B: Angola, China, Germany, Greece, Spain and USA

2. Preliminary Round:

10th August 2008:

Game 7 (9:00 hours): Russia vs. Iran
Game 8 (11:15 hours): Germany vs. Angola
Game 9 (14:30 hours): Spain vs. Greece
Game 10 (16:45 hours): Lithuania vs. Argentina
Game 11 (20:00 hours): Australia vs. Croatia
Game 12 (22:15 hours): USA vs. China

12th August 2008:

Game 19 (9:00 hours): Iran vs. Lithuania
Game 20 (11:15 hours): Croatia vs. Russia
Game 21 (14:30 hours): Greece vs. Germany
Game 22 (16:45 hours): China vs. Spain
Game 23 (20:00 hours): Angola vs. USA
Game 24 (22:15 hours): Argentina vs. Australia

14th August 2008:

Game 31 (9:00 hours): Germany vs. Spain
Game 32 (11:15 hours): Australia vs. Iran
Game 33 (14:30 hours): Angola vs. China
Game 34 (16:45 hours): Lithuania vs. Russia
Game 35 (20:00 hours): USA vs. Greece
Game 36 (22:15 hours): Argentina vs. Croatia

16th August 2008:

Game 43 (9:00 hours): Greece vs. Angola
Game 44 (11:15 hours): Russia vs. Australia
Game 45 (14:30 hours): Croatia vs. Lithuania
Game 46 (16:45 hours): Iran vs. Argentina
Game 47 (20:00 hours): China vs. Germany
Game 48 (22:15 hours): Spain vs. USA

18th August 2008:

Game 55 (9:00 hours): Iran vs. Croatia
Game 56 (11:15 hours): Australia vs. Lithuania
Game 57 (14:30 hours): Greece vs. China
Game 58 (16:45 hours): Angola vs. Spain
Game 59 (20:00 hours): USA vs. Germany
Game 60 (22:15 hours): Argentina vs. Russia

3. Quarter-Finals:

The information below shows only who will be playing whom in accordance with the final standings after the Preliminary Round.

20th August 2008:

Game 65: B2 vs. A3
Game 66: A1 vs. B4
Game 67: A2 vs. B3
Game 68: B1 vs. A4

The exact game number and time for the four Quarter-Finals will be known at the latest on the evening of 18th August. The games of the Quarter-Finals will be played at 14:30, 16:45, 20:00 and 22:15 hours.

4. Semi-Finals:

22nd August 2008:

Game 71: Winner 65 vs. Winner 66
Game 72: Winner 67 vs. Winner 68

The exact game number and time for the two Semi-Finals will be known at the latest on the evening of 20th August. The games of the Semi-Finals will be played at 20:00 hours and 22:15 hours.

5. Finals:

24th August 2008:

Game 75 (12:00 hours): Loser 71 vs. Loser 72 (3 - 4)
Game 76 (14:30 hours): Winner 71 vs. Winner 72 (1 - 2)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Venezuela's Petrocaribe expands to 18 members with Guatemala, shows strength & influence

Last weekend's 5th Petrocaribe Summit held in Maracaibo,Venezuela saw the expansion of the oil alliance with the addition of Guatemala. This is a particularly important development for the regional group as it shows a continued dismissal of American diplomatic efforts to block Petrocaribe's growth.

With the founding of the group in June of 2005, the first expansion came just months later in september when the original founders were joined by the Dominican Republic, in effect adding the region's most dynamic economy into the group. Haiti, the region's most depressed economy joined in April of 2006. The group expanded once again to include Honduras in December of 2007. With Guatemala rounding out the group's membership.

As Petrocaribe's membership grows, the groups influence in regional affairs also grows and by extension the influence of Venezuela. For the United States, whose relations with Venezuela are often strained, Venezuela's growing influence has not been welcomed.

Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados are the only two regional players who have thus far abstained from membership, though some suspect this is due to American pressure.

Petrocaribe's growth now means that its members hold a majority vote in some of the most important regional groups: In CARICOM, thirteen of the fifteen members are members of Petrocaribe. In the Asociation of Caribbean States (ACS) eighteen of the twenty-five members belong to Petrocaribe. In the Organization of American States (OAS) eighteen of the 35 members are part of Petrocaribe, or 51% of the votes. And four of the six PARLACEN members are also Petrocaribe members.

If oil is power in today's world, Venezuela is positioning itself to play the game much like the U.S. did 60 years ago.

Petrocaribe's 18 members now include:
Antigua and Barbuda
The Bahamas
The Dominican Republic
St. Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
San Vicente and the Grenadines

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Barack Obama Speech at National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO)

I'm proud to be here today not just as the Democratic nominee for President, but as the first African American nominee of my party, and I'm hoping that somewhere out in this audience sits the person who will become the first Latino nominee of a major party. You know, being here today is a reminder of why I'm in this race. Because the reason I'm running for President is to do what you do each day in your communities - help make a difference in the lives of ordinary Americans. And that's what I've been working with Latino leaders to do ever since I entered public service more than twenty years ago.

We stood together when I was an organizer, lifting up neighborhoods in Chicago that had been devastated when the local steel plants closed. We stood together when I was a civil rights attorney, working with MALDEF and local Latino electeds to ensure that Latinos were being well represented in Chicago. And we marched together in the streets of Chicago to fix our broken immigration system. That's why you can trust me when I say that I'll be your partner in the White House.

And that's what you need now more than ever. Because for eight long years, Washington hasn't been working for ordinary Americans. And few have been hit harder than Latinos and African Americans. You know what I'm talking about. You know folks like Felicitas and Fransisco, a couple I met in Las Vegas who were tricked into buying a home they couldn't afford. You know about the families all across this country who are out of work, or uninsured, or struggling to pay rising costs for everything from a tank of gas to a bag of groceries. And that's why you know that we need change in this country.

And while I respect John McCain, it's not change when he offers four more years of Bush economic policies that have failed to create jobs at a living wage, or insure our workers, or help Americans afford the skyrocketing cost of college. That isn't change.

Now, one place where Senator McCain used to offer change was on immigration. He was a champion of comprehensive reform, and I admired him for it. But when he was running for his party's nomination, he walked away from that commitment and he's said he wouldn't even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote.

If we are going to solve the challenges we face, you need a President who will pursue genuine solutions day in and day out. And that is my commitment to you.

We need immigration reform that will secure our borders, and punish employers who exploit immigrant labor; reform that finally brings the 12 million people who are here illegally out of the shadows by requiring them to take steps to become legal citizens. We must assert our values and reconcile our principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That is a priority I will pursue from my very first day.

And we can do something more. We can tear town the barriers that keep the American dream out of reach for so many Americans. We can end the housing crisis and create millions of new jobs. We can make sure that the millions of Latinos who are uninsured get the same health care that I get as a member of Congress. We can improve our schools, recruit teachers to your communities, and make college affordable for anyone who wants to go. And we can finally start serving our brave Latino fighting men and women and all our soldiers as well as they are serving us. We can do all this. Si se puede.

But I can't do this on my own. I need your help. This election could well come down to how many Latinos turn out to vote. And I'm proud that my campaign is working hard to register more Latinos, and bring them into the political process. Because I truly believe that if we work together and fight together and stand together this fall, then you and I - together - will change this county and change this world. You know, a few years ago, I attended a naturalization workshop at St. Pius Church in Chicago. And as I walked down the aisle, I saw people clutching small American flags, waiting for their turn to be called up so they could begin the long process to become U.S. citizens.

And at one point, a young girl, seven or eight, came up to me with her parents, and asked for my autograph. She said she was studying government in school and wanted to show it to her third grade class. I asked her what her name was, and she said her name was Cristina. I told her parents they should be very proud of her.

And as I watched Cristina translate my words into Spanish for them, I was reminded that for all the noise and anger that too often surrounds the immigration debate, America has nothing to fear from today's immigrants. They have come here for the same reason that families have always come here, for the same reason my father came here - for the hope that in America, they could build a better life for themselves and their families. Like the waves of immigrants that came before them and the Hispanic Americans like Ken Salazar whose families have been here for generations, the recent arrival of Latino immigrants will only enrich our country.

Ultimately, then, the danger to the American way of life is not that we will be overrun by those who do not look like us or do not yet speak our language. The danger will come if we fail to recognize the humanity of Cristina and her family - if we withhold from them the opportunities we take for granted, and create a servant class in our midst.

More broadly, the danger will come if we continue to stand idly by as the gap between Wall Street and Main Street grows, as Washington grows more out of touch, and as America grows more unequal. Because America can only prosper when all Americans prosper - brown, black, white, Asian, and Native American. That's the idea that lies at the heart of my campaign, and that's the idea that will lie at the heart of my presidency. Because we are all Americans. Todos somos Americanos. And in this country, we rise and fall together.

Puerto Rican actress Rosie Perez and Puerto Rican singer Carlos Ponce go primetime

In case you have not heard, Rosie Perez and Carlos Ponce will appear in NBC's 'Lipstick Jungle' series in a romantic story line to span various episodes into the season beginning in late September.

While there are no details on how permanent these characters will be on the program, any exposure for Carlos Ponce into the mainstream American market will surely help his promising career even if it means that his fans will have to endure a crossover album later in the year. For Rosie, whom I could marry, this is another chance to see her shine in what I hope will be a well written role.

In all, this is shaping to be a very productive summer for Puerto Ricans on television. [See Hector Elizondo on 'Monk']

'Rodrigo y Gabriela' to perform at MileHigh Music Festival

Rodrigo y Grabriela are really great. If I were in Denver this weekend, I would not miss their performance at the Mile High Music Festival. I hope some fellow insurgents can send in a review.

From the Mile High Music Festival Website:
Rodrigo (Sanchez) and Gabriela (Quintero) are two fast-fingered, Dublin-based, Mexicans with a unique sound created on acoustic guitars. Their music is difficult to define, straddling both world and rock, and often imbued with timeless Hispano ñ classical influences. The fire in it comes from their life-long passion for metal music. This spring, "Rodrigo y Gabriela," beat both the Arctic Monkeys AND Johnny Cash to number one in the Irish charts.

Rodrigo is a deft finger-picker who can move from raging speed to sensual soul in the space of a fret, while Gabriela employs fast, rhythmic techniques. Her percussionist's thrashing of strings and drumming of the instrument's body inevitably raises comparisons with flamenco ñ which they acknowledge as an influence but swerve as a pigeonhole. The duo's repertoire flies beyond familiar Latin folk guitarists' styles because of the metal connection: their reworkings of Led Zep's "Stairway to Heaven" and Metallica's "Orion" are musts, and the presence, on "Ixtapa", of the fiery Hungarian gypsy violinist, Roby Lakatos, is inspirational.

Check out some of their music after the jump...

Check them out live at the Mile High Music Festival outside of Denver, Colorado

Friday, July 18, 2008

Puerto Rican actor Hector Elizondo to replace Stanley Kamel in 'Monk'

Hector Elizondo, better known for his role as Dr. Phillip Watters in the 90s medical drama Chicago Hope, will replace Stanley Kamel as Tony Shalhoub psychiatrist in the USA Network series 'Monk'. The role was awarded to Elizondo after Stanley Kamel's untimely death in April from a heart attack. (Stanley Kamel pictured below)

Hector Elizondo, born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, has a career that very much mirrors the rise of Hispanic actors from outlaws to more mainstream roles.

From his wikipedia biography

* A Mexican bandit in Valdez is Coming (1971)
* A Puerto Rican janitor who, along with his pregnant wife and four others, got stuck on an elevator with Archie Bunker in a 1972 episode of All in the Family
* A psychopathic killer in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
* Hassan Salah, a devious First Secretary of the embassy of fictional Arab country Swahari in Columbo: A Case of Immunity (1975)
* A dogged detective in The Fan (1981)
* A middle-class family man in The Flamingo Kid (1984)
* The agent of a struggling stand-up comic in the short-lived television series a.k.a. Pablo (1984)
* As Tom Hanks's boss in Nothing In Common (1986)
* As Bernard Thompson, manager of the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, in Pretty Woman (1990)
* As defense attorney Sandy Stern in The Burden of Proof (1990)
* As Dr. Dio Gottlieb, a psychiatrist in Final Approach (1991)
* As Coach Ed Gennero in Necessary Roughness (1991)
* A Greek coffee shop owner in Frankie and Johnny (1991)
* Joe, The head of the queen's security service (and future husband of the Queen) in The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
* Twice in The Rockford Files, Once as former detective Frank Falcone, "Freeze Turkey" and earlier in the series as a Korean War buddy that hires Jim Rockford to find a love interest - he gets killed halfway through that episode. (1973–1980)
* As Chief of Staff Dr. Phillip Watters in Chicago Hope (1994–2000)
* As Javier Del Campo in the made-for-tv movie Borrowed Hearts
* As Wan Shi Tong on Avatar: The Last Airbender
* As Cardinal Sebastian on The Celestine Prophecy
* As Detective Jon Flint in Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)
* As Bill, the Harvard crew coach, in How High (2001)
* Martin Naranjo, the widowed father of the three girls in Tortilla Soup (2001)[4]
* As Izzy in Georgia Rule (2007)
* As Ben Padrow in Music Within (2007)
* As the dying patriarch, Pancho Duque, of a family-run sugar and rum company in Cane (2007)
* As Don Leo in Love in the Time of Cholera based on the Gabriel García Márquez book (2007)
* As Adrian Monk's new therapist Dr. Bell in Monk (2008)

Stanley Kamel's role was not explored much in the series, to have such a talented actor be underused is a real shame. I hope the show's writers will not make the same mistake with Hector Elizondo's role as Dr. Bell.

Stupidest Presidential Poll EVER!!!

Thanks to the hard-hitting journalists at the Associated Press and Yahoo News we get this headline: Poll: John McCain looks like best in show among pet owners. To be accompanied by the following analysis by reporter Randolph E. Schmid:

"[The poll] leaves McCain looking strong, since the majority of homes have a pet."


John McCain is at best 10 points behind against Barak Obama in most national polls, but hey pet owners like him, so he must win now.

What is the message here? Is Schmid making the argument that pet ownership is all that matters? or that pet owners are somehow too dumb to look into the issues? Is there an attempt here to create a backdoor issue that may resonate with some voters?

"Well, if voters identify with a guy who owns pets, it's easy to see why they'd like the Arizona senator.

He has a veritable menagerie, including Sam the English springer spaniel, Coco the mutt, turtles Cuff and Link, Oreo the black and white cat, a ferret, three parakeets and a bunch of saltwater fish."

Next AP-Yahoo News will begin polling for presidential preference based upon your favorite color in a bag of M&Ms, stay tuned.

Latino Insurgent Classic: Swedish Chef and Mexican Lobsters

Lobster desperados rescue one of their brethren from becoming dinner... I choose to see this as a statement against the death penalty... you are free to interpret it as you wish... Bork! Bork! Bork!

Total Eclipse on August 1st... Northern latitudes are so lucky

While I doubt anyone this day and age will be sacrificing any virgins or captured slaves as offerings to the gods, it is worth remembering that not long ago events such as this drove Europeans to burn witches, Mayans to mass decapitations, and convinced any number of Christians that the apocalypse was near. Nowadays we can just enjoy it for the spectacular natural event that it is...

However, I you were to take this opportunity to pickup some new hobbies like human sacrifice you might want to follow the exact path of the eclipse. And to help you in your decent from civilization NASA has just the right website to watch it live by webcast here:

The Latino Comedy Project's "300" parody

I did find this funny.