Friday, December 30, 2005

Mariah Carey: Diva???

This picture is from the UK Guardian December 17th 2005. The columnist said, "Even Nero held up his own cup."

To read the full story, go to the blog of Molara Wood. Molara is a London based, writer, freelance journalist, and a poet. I recommend linking to her blog, and returning, to read her cultural observations.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bolivarian Dreams: Venezuela the Numbers.

Let us see what the numbers say about Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan economy shrank in 2002 by 8.9%, because of the strike, and 2003 by 7.7%, but in 2004, the economy grew by 17.3% in gross domestic product, 17.8% in the non-oil sector, 18.6% in the private sector, and 11% public sector growth.

42% in 1999
47% in 2004
38.5% in the first half of 2005
Extreme poverty went from 18% in 2004, to 10% in the first part of 2005.

Education and Health Care
1998 3% of GDP invested in education.
2005 7% of GDP invested in education.
1998 57% of children enrolled in schools.
2005 70% of children enrolled in schools, now offer free lunches,all day classes,
and uniforms.
20,000 Cuban doctors and dentists, staff free clinics.
25% discount for groceries, at state run stores.
See: Resource Center of the Americas in Minneapolis, MN

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Osama's Niece.

Wafah Dufour the former Wahfah Bin Laden, is a 26 year old aspiring model and musician. Her father was one of Osama's 50 half brothers. She is scheduled to be presented in a glamour layout in GQ Magazine.

Wafah was born in US, and lived in Saudi Arabia, until she was ten years old. She lived most of her life in USA. Pressures from after 9/11, made her to drop her last name.

Needless to say, she doesn't see her father or extended family. Osama has 400 relatives, who live in Saudi Arabia.

For more info see: BBC News.

This post is a contribution, to the war against clerical fascism.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Texas To Execute Retarded Man Due To Legal Technicality.

Marvin Lee Wilson an inmate with an IQ in the low 60s, faces execution, despite it being illegal to execute a mentally retarded inmate. In Texas it's against the law for a death row inmate to file an appeal in state and federal court at the same time. His lawyer filed an appeal to federal court, at the last day it was in state court, missing a dead line. Last week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans refused to hear Wilson's appeal because his attorney missed a filing deadline. Here is what the court said in its ruling by a three-judge panel:

"However harsh the result may be — particularly in a death penalty case involving a petitioner who has made a prima facie showing of mental retardation — Congress acted deliberately in enacting a strict limitations period." This is a disturbing ruling that perverts the legal system by elevating deadlines over justice, process over fairness. The Supreme Court has ruled that executing mentally retarded people is unconstitutional. That should not be trumped by a procedural rule. Basically, Wilson's case became entangled in a catch-22 contained in the complicated legal process that governs the filing of death penalty appeals in state and federal court.

The bottom line is he faces execution, due to his lawyers errors. To read the whole story see: Texas Execution.

Public confidence in the Texas justice has been shaken with the recent revelations that the state apparently executed the wrong man in 1993. Clearly there was a rush to convict and execute San Antonio resident Ruben Cantu. Carrying out another wrongful execution further erodes trust in the system.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


God rest ye, Unitarians, let nothing you dismay;
Remember there’s no evidence
There was a Christmas Day;

When Christ was born is just not known,
No matter what they say,
O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

Our current Christmas customs come
From Persia and from Greece,
From solstice celebrations of the ancient Middle East.

This whole darn Christmas spiel is just
Another pagan feast,
O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

There was no star of Bethlehem,
There was no angels’ song;
There couldn’t have been wise men
For the trip would take too long.

The stories in the Bible are historically wrong,
O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

Tune: God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen
Words: Hymns for the Cerebration of Strife
Copyright 1990 by Christopher Raible

Thank you Thoughts That Get Stuck In My Head and Beancounters

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bolivia elects Evo Morales, an Indigenous Coca Farmer.

Evo Morales, 46, an Aymara Indian and former coca farmer who also promises to roll back American-prescribed economic changes, had garnered up to 51 percent of the vote, according to televised quick-count polls, which tally a sample of votes at polling places and are considered highly accurate. He said he is against cocaine, but for coca.

At 9 p.m., his leading challenger, Jorge Quiroga, 45, an American-educated former president who was trailing by as much as 20 percentage points, admitted defeat in a nationally televised speech.

Bolivia has had an upsurge on political action in the last five years, starting with the April 2,000 struggle in Cochabamba, over privatization of water.

In May-June 2005, a country wide strike took place, centering in La Paz, shut down roads, held meetings and rallies, calling for the nationalization of gas. The rank and file of Evo Morales's party MAS (Movement Toward Socialism), joined in. It was a situation of dual power. On one hand was the mass movement of workers and peasants, and on the other side was the oligarchy, and sections of the army. The army was politically split. There was talk in the oligarchy of splitting up the country. It was a revolutionary situation. The masses were realizing there demands were not going to be met by parlimentary means.

There was no leadership who knew how to take power. In the last minute, a deal was reached, calling for early elections.

Evo Morales always believed in the electoral path. Morales has gone out of his way to reassure the ruling class and imperialism, even having meetings in Europe with Repsol and other multinationals with interests in Bolivia, meeting the ambassadors of EU countries and even having a secret meeting with the US embassy. His vice-presidential candidate, former guerrilla ideologist Garcia Linera, made it clear from the beginning that he thinks socialism is off the agenda in Bolivia and that he favours the development of some sort of “Andean capitalism”. Nevertheless, the imperialists and their Bolivian agents feel extremely uneasy about the likely victory of Evo Morales in Sunday’s elections. They are not so concerned about Morales himself, but they are terrified of the forces that stand behind Morales.

I believe Morales should be supported, not as a savior, but as a leader, who may be pushed by the expectations of the mass movement.

In a very significant move the US took some 30 surface-to-air HN-5A missiles from the Bolivian army. These are highly portable and easy to use missiles of the same kind used by the Iraqi resistance.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Christopher Hitchens to Debate Scott Ritter 12/20/05 in Tarrytown, NY.

The hot ticket is for the Tarrytown Music Hall debate between Christopher Hitchens, the most articulate defender of the Iraqi invasion, against Scott Ritter, the renegade former WMD inspector. See: DEBATE.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

BBC Announces Poll of Iraqi attitudes.

BBC announced results of a poll , sponsored by BBC, ABC and international news agencies, carried out by Oxford Research International. It was released 12/10/05. In all,1,711 Iraqis were interviewed throughout the country in October and November 2005.

The news has ammunition for both sides of the Iraqi occupation debate.

The poll found regional variations. The North and South of the country, had more optimism, than the center of the country.

71% Life quite better.
29% Quite worse.

Will life be better in the coming year.
64% Yes.
12% No.

Overall situation in your country.
55% Bad.
44% Good.

Priority for new government.
57% Security.
10% Infrastructure.
10% Invader withdrawal.

50% New strong leader important.
28% Democracy important.

Five years from now, what is important?
45% Democracy important
31% Strong leader.

67% Trust in religious and military leaders.
25% Politicians.

Not mentioned in this poll, earlier polls showed support for Coalition withdrawal. They also support a strong central government, despite a loophole filled constitution.

I'm presenting the complexity of the situation.

See BBC News

Monday, December 12, 2005

Flight 924: Another Take On Miami Shooting Last week.

Rigoberto Alpizar, a naturalized American citizen, from Costa Rica, did not even want to get on Flight 924, between Miami and Orlando. Witnesses saw him arguing with his wife, who literally dragged him on the plane. He was returning from a missionary trip in Quito, Ecuador. Rigoberto was a bipolar person, non-compliant with taking medication.

He started yelling, "I have to get out of this place." He carried his backpack, down the aisle, trying to get to the runway. Despite his wife's pleas, that he sick, he was gunned down by an air marshall. The air marshall said he was yelling, he had a bomb. This account is disputed by several passengers. The air marshall's position is that the wife's warnings, could have been a diversion.

I'm writing about this subject from another view. I have met supporters of a Minneapolis based organization, called The Barbara Schneider Foundation. To have your name attached to a foundation, usually you just give $$$. Barbara gave her life. She was an untreated mentally ill person, killed by police. The Barbara Schneider Foundation teaches first responders, how to react to a mentally ill person in crises, so violence is averted. If BSF gave the air marshalls proper training, the shooting could have been averted.

This involved the second Latin person gunned down in the war against terror. The first was Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian, killed by British police four months earlier, after the London subway bombing. Police officials are blocking an independant inquiry, since video footage, negates the police account.

The quick response, shoot first, ask questions later, needs to be more closely examined, or more innocent people will die.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Play The Dinner Party Game

You are allowed to invite to a dinner party; any four people, from any time in history, living or dead.

I'll start with my list.

Leon Trotsky

Kiera Knightly

Pablo Picasso

Carl Sagan

Who gets your invitation??????

Monday, December 05, 2005

Free The Peacemaker Hostages.

Four antiwar activists from the Christian Peacemaker Teams, who came to Iraq, to oppose the war, but stayed after the occupation, in solidarity with the Iraqi people, were taken hostage in Baghdad, on November 26th. On November 30th, a released hostage video, accuses them of being spies. The hostages are two Canadians, one American, and one British. The group that took them are called the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, a previously unknown group.

The four are people of faith, but not missionaries. They have deep respect for Islam.

The group holding them is giving the USA to December 08th to withdraw, or hostages will be killed.


The member of a Christian pacifist organization, Harmeet Singh Sooden studied literature at the University of Auckland in New Zealand before traveling to Iraq.

The 32-year-old Canadian, an electrical engineer, previously studied at McGill University in Montreal.

A friend in New Zealand expressed shock at the kidnapping but added that his humanitarian efforts seemed natural.

"That would not surprise me that he went to help somebody," said Allison Reay, manager of his school residence in Auckland.


When Tom Fox would return from his efforts with the Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq, friends say he always made time for the children at a Quaker center.

Whether it was teaching kids about opposing violence or leading hiking excursions through the Shenandoah Valley during youth summer camp, Fox, 54, was an influential and loved role model, said Anne Bacon, the Quaker meeting clerk.

Bacon said Fox and other CPT members knew the danger of working in Iraq, "but their goals are still very clear — peace belongs to all."


When Norman Kember was 18, he chose to work in a hospital rather than serve in the the military. Now 74, Kember remained a pacifist, his family said.

"He feels very strongly that the occupation in Iraq is a mistake," the family said in a statement released before Al-Jazeera broadcast a video Tuesday of Kember and three other Western hostages in Iraq.

Kember, of northwest London, was a professor of medical physics at St. Bartholomew's Hospital until retiring 13 years ago.

Asked if visiting Iraq could be dangerous, he replied: "It could be."


James Loney spent many years working with Toronto's homeless before joining Christian Peacemaker Teams, friends say.

The 41-year-old Toronto community worker had been leading the group in Iraq before he was abducted.

"He's a deeply compassionate person. He's got a real sense of how important it is to be in solidarity and support of everybody who is in need or is marginalized," said Sarah Shepherd, a friend for 10 years.

Loney was arrested in 1991 outside the U.S. consulate in Toronto for protesting the Persian Gulf War.


Susanne Osthoff, a 43-year-old German archaeologist who is fluent in Arabic, helped distribute medical supplies in Iraq.

Relatives in Germany said that in recent years Osthoff had broken almost all ties with her family — including her 11-year-old daughter. During that time, she had been in and out of Iraq.

The German newspaper Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung reported that Osthoff received a kidnap threat last summer from extremists linked to al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and that U.S. soldiers brought her from Mosul to Baghdad for her own safety.

There is a petition signed by people as Cindy Sheehan, Tariq Ali, Ralph Nader, Howard Zinn asking for their release. You can sign it at: PETITION

A German archaeologist, Susanne Osthoff, 43, also disappeared recently. On a video made public Nov. 29, kidnappers threatened to kill her unless Germany stops dealing with the Iraqi government.