Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hurricane Katrina

I attended this talk a few days ago on Law and Social Justice concerning Hurricane Katrina and I want to share the following powerpoints with you all.

Sorry, my link tool doesn't seem to be working.


The End. Read more!

Bob Dylan and Joan Baez at the March on Washinton, 1963

Before Martin Luter King Jr. spoke, they sang

"When The Ship Comes In"

Fin. Read more!

Friday, September 14, 2007

El Grito de Dolores

When I was younger I would spend my summers in El Paso which is basically a continuation of Juarez. On September 16th when I was about 9 there was a huge celebration going on all over with drunken yelling Mexican people everywhere. It was explained to me why and I feel compelled to share the answer with you now. Just to get a peek into my heritage...

Mexican Independence Day
16 de Septiembre:
El Grito de Independencia
by May Herz

El Grito every 16th of September is the Mexican Fiesta par excellence! On this day Mexicans all over the world celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule.

As you know, indigenous peoples were the first to inhabit what is now known as Mexico. They created great civilizations such as the Olmec, the Teotihuacan, Maya, Toltec, and of course the most powerful of all, the Aztec Empire.

After Christopher Columbus “discovered” America, the Spaniards carried out expeditions to find gold and riches from these faraway lands. In 1521, about 500 Spanish soldiers arrived in Mexico, headed by an ambitious man: Hernán Cortés. At this time, the Aztecs had built a great empire that ruled over all Mesoamérica. So the Spaniards decided to direct their attacks towards them.

The indigenous nations that were under the Aztec rule were tired of the physical and economic hardships imposed upon them by this empire. This circumstance made them think that by helping the Conquerors defeat the Aztecs, they would be better off. So they decided to aid the Spaniards.

This is how the Conquest of what is now Mexico began.

On the 13th of August 1521, Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec emperor was captured. The indigenous allies of the Spaniards raided Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec empire.

They didn’t know it at the time, but they had been liberated from one oppressor and fallen in the hands of a much more powerful authoritarian.

This was the beginning of three centuries of Spanish rule. The new colony was named Nueva España, New Spain.

The years that followed were devastating. The conquerors brought with them diseases unknown to the natives. The epidemics that broke out as well as the merciless workload imposed upon the natives dramatically diminished the Indian population. There were approximately 20 million Indians inhabiting this territory before the Conquest, and after just one century of Spanish rule there were only 1 million left!

Colonial society was highly stratified. Spaniards born in Spain, occupied the higher echelons, followed by Criollos, those born in Mexico from Spanish parents; Mestizos, the mix- blood offspring of Spaniards and Natives; Indios, Native Indians; Negros, African slaves.

Each socio-ethnic group had different rights and duties. The privileged were the peninsular Spaniards. Discontent steadily grew, especially amongst the Criollos, who were always treated as second-class subjects of the Spanish Crown. It is no surprise then, that Criollos were the spark that ignited the Independence movement.

In 1808, Napoleon invaded Spain, and decided to impose his brother José Bonaparte, as king of Spain (1808-1810). The Criollos found in this circumstance the opportunity to seek their independence form Spain.

Influenced by the concepts of liberty, equality and democracy proposed by the French philosophers Rousseau, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and by the war of Independence of the United States, they decided to start a revolt. It was 1810, and their plan was to start the war on the 2nd of October. Unfortunately, their plans were discovered in early September. The movement was in trouble. They had two alternatives; either abandon their plans, or move faster and start the revolt immediately. Fortunately for our country they decided upon the second alternative.

In the early hours of September 16, 1810, father Hidalgo, accompanied by several conspirators –Iganacio Allende, Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez- rang the bell of his little church, calling everyone to fight for liberty. This was the beginning of the Independence War, which lasted 10 years.

And this is the moment that every 16th of September is re enacted in every plaza or zócalo of Mexico, and commemorated by Mexicans all over the world.

Streets, houses, buildings and cars are decorated everywhere in the country. On every street corner there are vendors selling flags, balloons, sombreros and rehiletes -shuttlecock, all with the green, white and red, our National Colors.

Flags wave from practically every house and building.

Lighted decorations are set up in every city, the most spectacular being those of the Zócalo, main plaza, in Mexico City. This main plaza of every town and city is the place where the great 16 De Septiembre celebrations take place. People of all ages come to this fiesta, to take part in the collective gaiety!

Food is always a very important part of these festivities. Literarily hundreds of stands are set up several days before and offer the traditional antojitos, most aptly described as a variety of finger foods, Mexican candies, and punch. Punch. ponche, is a drink made of fruits that are in season: guayabas, sugarcane, raisins and apples, and such a delicious aroma!

During September, Mes de la Patria, the month of our nation as it is called in Mexico, restaurants serve traditional Mexican dishes, such as Mole Poblano, Chiles en Nogada, Guacamole and chips.

During the evening of September 15, people start gathering in the zócalo. Many people walk around dressed in typical Mexican dress: men as Charros and women as China Poblanas, or indigenous dresses. Those who don't own a typical outfit, at least dress find something to wear in the colors of the flag.

Live Mariachi Music bands play to the delight of all present. There are also photography stands where one can have a picture taken, attired with a sombrero and atop a wooden horse!

The euphoria is collective and all are prepared to shout, yell and make as much noise as possible with fake trumpets, noisemakers and whistles!

As the evening advances, the plaza gradually fills with more and more people; suddenly there is practically no room to move. Excitement and euphoria reach a crescendo at the culminating moment when a government official arrives in the zócalo, at 11:00 P.M. to give the grito or cry of Independence. This ritual recreates the moment in which Father Hidalgo, gathered his followers in Dolores Guanajuato.

It is customary for our President to deliver the grito in Mexico City’s zócalo. It is in this plaza, atop Palacio Nacional, the National Palace -a beautiful colonial building where the President’s offices are located-, that the original bell rung by Hidalgo is placed. And this is the bell that is rung
every 16th of September.

The ceremony reaches the high point when the crowd joins in proudly shouting out the names of the heroes of our Independence, to end with the exciting VIVA MÉXICO!

When the grito ceremony ends, the sky lights up with multicolored rockets that shower our hearts with the pride of knowing that we are a free and independent nation.
Read more!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fidel Castro, Essay: "They Will Never Have Cuba"

They Will Never Have Cuba!

By Fidel Castro Ruz

Global Research, July 1, 2007
Socialist Voice

I hope that no-one says that I am gratuitously attacking Bush. Surely they will understand my reasons for strongly criticizing his policies.
Robert Woodward is an American journalist and writer who became famous for the series of articles published by The Washington Post, written by him and Carl Bernstein, and which eventually led to the investigation and resignation of Nixon. He is author and co-author of ten best-sellers. With his fearsome style he manages to wrench confessions from his interviewees. In his book, State of Denial, he says that on June 18, 2003, three months after the Iraq war had begun, as he was on the way out of his White House office following an important meeting, Bush slapped Jay Garner on the back and said to him:

“Hey, Jay, you want to do Iran?

“Sir, the boys and I talked about that and we want to hold out for Cuba. We think the rum and the cigars are a little better...The women are prettier."

Bush laughed. “You got it. You got Cuba.”

Bush was betrayed by his subconscious. It was in his mind when he declared what scores of dark corners should be expecting to happen and Cuba occupies a special place among those dark corners.

Garner, a recently retired three-star general who had been appointed Head of the Post-War Planning Office for Iraq, created by secret National Security Presidential Directive, was considered by Bush an exceptional man to carry out his war strategy. Appointed for the post on January 20, 2003, he was replaced on May 11 of that same year at the urging of Rumsfeld. He didn’t have the nerve to explain to Bush his strong disagreements on the matter of the strategy to be pursued in Iraq. He was thinking of another one with identical purpose. In the past few weeks, thousands of marines and a number of US aircraft carriers, with their naval supporting forces, have been manoeuvring in the Persian Gulf, a few miles off the Iranian territory.

It will very soon be 50 years since our people started suffering a cruel blockade; thousands of our sons and daughters have died or have been mutilated as a result of the dirty war against Cuba, the only country in the world to which an Adjustment Act has been applied inciting illegal emigration, yet another cause of death for Cuban citizens, including women and children; more than 15 years ago Cuba lost her principal markets and sources of supply for foods, energy, machinery, raw materials and long-term low-interest financing.

First the socialist bloc collapsed followed almost immediately by the USSR, dismantled piece by piece. The empire tightened and internationalized the blockade; the proteins and calories which were quite well distributed despite our deficiencies were reduced approximately by 40 percent; diseases such as optical neuritis and others appeared; the shortage of medicines, also a result of the blockade, became an everyday reality. Medicines were allowed to enter only as a charitable act, to demoralize us; these, in their turn, became a source of illegal business and black-market dealings.

Inevitably, the “special period” struck. This was the sum total of all the consequences of the aggression and it forced us to take desperate measures whose harmful effects were bolstered by the colossal media machine of the empire. Everyone was awaiting, some with sadness and others with oligarchic glee, the crumbling of the Cuban Revolution.

The access to convertible currency greatly harmed our social consciousness, to a greater or a lesser degree, due to the inequalities and ideological weaknesses it created.

Throughout its lifetime, the Revolution has taught the people, training hundreds of thousands of teachers, doctors, scientists, intellectuals, artists, computer engineers and other professionals with university and post-graduate degrees in dozens of professions. This storehouse of wealth has allowed us to reduce infant mortality to low levels, unthinkable in any Third World country, and to raise life expectancy as well as the average educational level of the population up to the ninth grade.

By offering Cuba oil under favourable terms of payment at a time when oil prices were escalating dramatically, the Venezuelan Bolivarian Revolution brought a significant relief and opened up new possibilities, since our country was already beginning to produce her own energy in ever-growing amounts.

Concerned over its interests in that country, the empire had for years been planning to destroy that Revolution, and so it attempted to do it in April 2002, as it will attempt to do again as many times as it can. This is why the Bolivarian revolutionaries are preparing to resist.

Meanwhile, Bush has intensified his plans for an occupation of Cuba, to the point of proclaiming laws and an interventionist government in order to install a direct imperial administration.

Based on the privileges granted to the United States in Bretton Woods and Nixon’s swindle when he removed the gold standard which placed a limit on the issuing of paper money, the empire bought and paid with paper tens of trillions of dollars, more than twelve digit figures. This is how it preserved an unsustainable economy. A large part of the world currency reserves are in US Treasury bonds and bills. For this reason, many would rather not have a dollar crisis like the one in 1929 that would turn those paper bills into thin air. Today, the value of one dollar in gold is at least eighteen times less than what it was in the Nixon years. The same happens with the value of the reserves in that currency.

Those paper bills have kept their low current value because fabulous amounts of increasingly expensive and modern weapons can be purchased with them; weapons that produce nothing. The United States exports more weapons than anyone else in the world. With those same paper bills, the empire has developed a most sophisticated and deadly system of weapons of mass destruction with which it sustains its world tyranny.

Such power allows it to impose the idea of transforming foods into fuels and to shatter any initiative and commitment to avoid global warming, which is visibly accelerating.

Hunger and thirst, more violent hurricanes and the surge of the sea is what Tyranians and Trojans stand to suffer as a result of imperial policies. It is only through drastic energy savings that humanity will have a respite and hopes of survival for the species; but the consumer societies of the wealthy nations are absolutely heedless of that.

Cuba will continue to develop and improve the combative capacities of her people, including our modest but active and efficient defensive weapons industry which multiplies our capacity to face the invaders no matter where they may be, and the weapons they possess. We shall continue acquiring the necessary materials and the pertinent fire power, even though the notorious Gross Domestic Product as measured by capitalism may not be growing, for their GDP includes such things as the value of privatizations, drugs, sexual services and advertising, while it excludes many others like free educational and health services for all citizens.

From one year to the next the standard of living can be improved by raising knowledge, self-esteem and the dignity of people. It will be enough to reduce wastage and the economy will grow. In spite of everything, we will keep on growing as necessary and as possible.

“Freedom costs dearly, and it is necessary to either resign ourselves to live without it or to decide to buy it for its price”, said Martí.

“Whoever attempts to conquer Cuba will only gather the dust of her soil soaked in blood, if he does not perish in the fight”, exclaimed Maceo.

We are not the first revolutionaries to think that way! And we shall not be the last!

One man may be bought, but never a people.

Fate decreed that I could survive the empire’s murderous machine. Shortly, it will be a year since I became ill and, while I hovered between life and death, I stated in the Proclamation of July 31, 2006: “I do not harbour the slightest doubt that our people and our Revolution will fight until the last drop of blood."

Mr. Bush, don’t you doubt that either!

I assure you that you will never have Cuba!

That's all he wrote. Read more!

Assembly Approves Chavez Reforms

Venezuela's national assembly has approved for the second time changes to the constitution that aim to make the country more socialist.
President Hugo Chavez has proposed a series of reforms that he says will give more power to the people.

His critics say they are a thinly veiled attempt to concentrate power.

Once the assembly, which is dominated by Mr Chavez's supporters, agrees on a third and final draft, the reforms will be put to a national referendum.

All the seats in the assembly are held by pro-Chavez parties as a result of an opposition election boycott in 2005.

Among the main changes to the constitution proposed by Mr Chavez last month were:

Removing term limits for the presidency, and extending the term of office from six years to seven

Bringing in a maximum six-hour working day

Increasing presidential control over the central bank

Strengthening state economic powers, allowing the government to control assets of private companies before a court grants an expropriation order.
Mr Chavez is also giving a formal role to what he calls "people power", says the BBC's James Ingham in Caracas.

Community councils will be able to apply to the president's commissions for funds and manage those funds themselves for projects that they believe are important.

Collective property will also be recognised within community groups and cooperatives will play more of a role in the economy.

Opponents have voiced concern at reforms which they say are forcing everyone into one way of doing things.

Mr Chavez's critics are also against the change to a number of terms a president can serve.

Current rules mean Mr Chavez is unable to seek re-election and will have to step down when his term ends in 2012.

After being overwhelmingly re-elected last year, Mr Chavez has pushed for key changes to bring about what he calls a 21st Century socialist revolution.

The opposition has questioned the president's intentions, arguing a new constitution is not needed as the current one was only drafted eight years ago.

Nevertheless, recent opinion polls suggest Mr Chavez is likely to win a referendum on his proposed reforms.

Story from BBC NEWS:

End of Post. Read more!

a HA and HA and HA

So the first one's probably the best. I don't need words for the second. The best part of the third one is the faces the "David Blaine" makes.

Read more!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

::ATTENTION:: The Homeowners and Bank Protection Act of 2007

Homeowners and Bank Protection Act of 2007: Model Resolution for State and City Councils

Setpember 5, 2007 (LPAC)--Implement the Homeowners and Bank Protection Act of 2007!

Whereas, the onrushing financial crisis engulfing home mortgages, debt instruments of all types, and the banking system of the United States threatens to set off an economic depression worse than the 1930s; and

Whereas, millions of American citizens are threatened with foreclosure and loss of their homes over the upcoming months, according to studies released by Realty Trac and Moodys; and

Whereas, this financial crisis is now threatening the integrity of both state and federally chartered banks, as typified by the run on deposits of Countrywide Financial in California during the month of August; and such a banking collapse would wipe out the life savings of American citizens, and drastically undermine the economic stability of our states and cities; and

Whereas, in a similar financial crisis in the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt intervened to protect banks and homeownners; for example in April, 1933 he introduced legislation as a declaration of national policy that the broad interests of the Nation require that special safeguards should be thrown around home ownership as a guarantee of social and economic stability, and therefore,

Be it Resolved, that the State of /City of/ hereby endorses the Homeowners and Bank Protection Act of 2007, as initiated by economist Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. This crisis is such that it requires emergency action that only the United States Congress has the capability to enact. Congress must move quickly to keep people in their homes and avert social chaos. This act includes the following provisions:

1. Congress must establish a Federal agency to place the Federal and state chartered banks under protection, freezing all existing home mortgages for a period of how ever many months or years are required to adjust the values to fair prices, and restructure existing mortgages at appropriate interest rates. Further, this action would also write off all of the speculative debt obligations of mortgage-backed securities, derivatives and other forms of Ponzi Schemes that have brought the banking system to the point of bankruptcy.

2. During the transitional period, all foreclosures shall be frozen, allowing American families to retain their homes. Monthly payments, the equivalent of rental payments, shall be made to designated banks, which can use the funds as collateral for normal lending practices, thus recapitalizing the banking systems. These affordable monthly payments will be factored into new mortgages, reflecting the deflating of the housing bubble, and the establishment of appropriate property valuations, and reduced fixed mortgage interest rates. This shakeout will take several years to achieve. In the interim period no homeowner shall be evicted from his or her property, and the Federal and state chartered banks shall be protected, so they can resume their traditional functions, serving local communities, and facilitating credit for investment in productive industries, agriculture, infrastructure, etc.

3. State governors shall assume the administrative responsibilities for implementing the program, including the rental assessments to designated banks, with the Federal government providing the necessary credits and guarantees to assure the successful transition. And therefore,

Be it Further Resolved, that a copy of this resolution shall be forwarded to members of Congress from the state of and also be delivered to the President of the United States for immediate implementation.

To listen to LaRouge speak of this Act and further action... please listen to the MP3.

We need an emergency implementation of this Act or else it's too late. Get in contact with your congresswoman or man and talk to them about the issue. Make them listen!

Source: Read more!

The Art of Sound and Vibrations

Notice there is always a perfect circle exactly in the center.


Read more!

Freeway Blogger

I found this website the other day that I've been meaning to post. It's so simple, this approach to spreading a message. We should have been doing this long ago. When do we begin? Here's an interview with Patrick, the Freeway Blogger himself.

Cosmik: When were you motivated to become "The Freeway Blogger," and why?

Freeway Blogger: I became motivated after the Gore vs. Bush decision, when I found they weren't going to count the votes. Gore vs. Bush pissed me off. I'd always been taught that democracy was a place where you counted the votes. I was taught by my father, a liberal Connecticut law scholar who loved his country. If he was still alive I don't know if I'd have put that much into it, but he was dead and for some reason the dead can place a bigger burden on you than the living, and so I decided to fight for democracy for his sake.

Cosmik: When did you hang your first sign, and where? What did it say?

FB: The first sign I put up was a mattress beside an on-ramp just after the Gore vs. Bush decision in 2000. It was lying on the side of the road and I had a can of black spray paint in my car so I spray-painted "1776 - 2000...R.I.P." onto the mattress and propped it up against a tree. It didn't look exactly like a tombstone, but I think the point was made. When I came back a few hours later it was still standing there. I couldn't believe it. A few thousand cars had passed by and not one of them had pulled over and knocked the thing down, which is all it would've taken. It was amazing to me that, during that politically charged time, in San Diego (predominantly Republican), not one person would've bothered to pull over, walk twelve paces and knock it down. Then it occurred to me - it was an onramp, they were accelerating... they all saw what it said but couldn't be bothered to stop. That was someone else's job... probably the guy right behind them. And it happened time after time after time for a couple of hours. Go figure.

Cosmik: How did you start researching the laws regarding "sign placement" in your local area? In other words, where did you get that information?

FB: Legally I knew if all those people were allowed to stick flags over the freeway, I was allowed to put up my own patriotic messages. The Case "Brown vs. CalTrans (9th Federal Circuit Court)" re-affirmed it. CalTrans still considers it their right to take down the signs, even though they still don't take down the flags, and I say let them. There's plenty more where that came from. I dare them to arrest me for putting them up in the first place though. This is America, not North Korea...not yet.

Cosmik: It appears from your site that you haven't been caught yet. How close have you come?

FB: After hanging over 2,000 signs I've been caught three times, twice with reporters, which made the police much more docile. The other time is reported in the Weblog "100 signs, 1,000 soldiers." It was pretty funny, actually. The cops don't want to fuck with me -- they just want me and my sign out of there. I'm happy to oblige them!

Cosmik: Do you have a team of folks by now (since your website went up), or are you still a "loner" in this endeavor?

FB: There are over 1200 of us now, thanks primarily to organized actions like Freeway Free Speech Day. At first I thought the movement would grow organically just on the strength of people seeing the signs and thinking "Hey! I can do that too!" It didn't happen. I'm still not sure why. Visits to the website, fueled by media and web publicity, got a few people to do it. Large organized actions really set the ball rolling, though.

Cosmik: What kind of response have you been getting to your website, and has it seen an increase in traffic since November 2?

FB: In the month before the election we had a huge spike in visitors, about a quarter of a million. Since the election it's tapered down. People are re-evaluating where to go from here. I don't blame them. Read more!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Alex the Parrot, an Apt Student, Passes Away

All Things Considered
September 10, 2007

Alex the famous African gray parrot, renowned for the landmark cognition research conducted by owner Dr. Irene Pepperberg, Ph.D., has died at the age of 31. By learning elements of the English language to identify shapes, colors and sizes, Alex shattered the notion that parrots are only capable of mimicking words.

According to Pepperberg who is a faculty member at Brandeis University, Alex was able to identify 50 different objects, seven colors and shapes, and quantities of up to six. Alex also understood the concept of bigger and smaller and same and different. Pepperberg says they were in the midst of learning basic mathematics skills.

"This was a very amazing creature," she says.

Alex also had the emotional level of a 2-year-old child, Pepperberg says. After repeating some learning trials dozens of times, Alex would become tired and throw objects off the trays with his beak. When visiting the veterinarian, Alex would go back in his cage and slam the door.

How would Alex say goodbye? Pepperberg says that she imagines it would sound something like what Alex would say to her every night before going to bed: "You be good. I love you. See you tomorrow." Read more!