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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 08/10/2008 - 08/17/2008
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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Paraguay - Lugo's swearing-in almost eclipsed by the ceaseless spew of the U.S. propaganda machine

certainly one of the bigger stories in latin america over the past year is the people-powered, democratic revolution in paraguay that put a center-left president in office, turning latin america into a virtual bastion of populism and leaving the u.s. with only one solid ally on the continent... (hint: in what is simply too massive a coincidence to be believed, that ally also just so happens to be the principal drug-mafia controlled, drug exporting nation among the lot - colombia...)

Fernando Lugo

from the bbc...
Fernando Lugo has been sworn in as Paraguay's president, ending more than 60 years of the Colorado Party's grip on power in the South American nation.

Mr Lugo addressed tens of thousands of Paraguayans, promising to tackle corruption and deliver land reform.

The former bishop, who was elected in April, said the task of transforming Paraguay was not "impossible".

The switch in power is the latest in a series of election triumphs by leftist or centre-left leaders in the region.

Eight Latin American leaders were among the dignitaries who attended the ceremony.

Mr Lugo, who did not wear a tie but did sport a pair of sandals, addressed the crowd in both Spanish and the Guarani indigenous language from a huge stage in front of Congress.

The 57-year-old said: "Today Paraguay breaks with its reputation for corruption, breaks with the few feudal lords of the past."

The Pope in July gave his blessing for Mr Lugo to take office, granting a waiver to remove his clerical status.

The Vatican, which opposes clergy taking political office, had until then refused to accept his resignation as bishop, arguing that serving as a priest was a lifetime commitment.

Mr Lugo has indicated he will aim to steer a middle way between the kind of radical policies pursued by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the centre-left course taken by the presidents of Brazil and Chile, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Michelle Bachelet.

"I'm in the centre, like the hole in a poncho," he has said.

land reform is a challenge that has defeated populist-minded leaders more often than not...

from the buenos aires herald...

Lugo has identified his chief priority as the fight against poverty (afflicting 42 percent of over six million Paraguayans) in general and land reform in particular in a country where one percent of the population own 77 percent of the arable land.

Most analysts look at land reform from the viewpoint of whether it is feasible or not but perhaps it is worth asking whether it is desirable as ultimately in Paraguay’s best interests. Land reform could work against Paraguay’s astounding achievement in becoming the world’s fourth largest soy producer since it could destroy the economies of scale and shift the focus of cultivation. Paraguay’s two largest neighbours happen to be two of the three even bigger soy producers and it will be interesting to see which of the two Lugo and Borda [Paraguay's Minister of the Economy, Dionisio Borda] will emulate — Argentina’s grinding taxation or Brazil’s lavish subsidies?

as i sit here, a mere day's drive southeast of asunción, my heart is with lugo... he's going to need all the help he can get, particularly given the fact that, in addition to the challenge of poverty and land reform, he's also got multiple generations of a landed ruling class steeped in corruption and fully accustomed to living off the backs of the rest of the population, and you can be sure they will fight hard to keep what they perceive as rightfully theirs...

from the bbc...

The international watchdog Transparency International ranks Paraguay as one of the world's most corrupt nations.

my secret hope is that part of the land reform package will include seizing the large tract of land purchased by george w. bush as a sanctuary in case he has to make a run to avoid prosecution for war crimes...

from counterpunch, october 2006...

The land grab project of U.S. President George W. Bush in Chaco, Paraguay, has generated considerable discomfort both politically and environmentally.

The news circulating the continent about plans to buy 98,840 acres of land in Chaco, Paraguay, near the Triple Frontier (Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay) is the talk of the town in these countries.

Although official sources have not confirmed the information that is already public, the land is reportedly located in Paso de Patria, near Bolivian gas reserves and the Guarani indigenous water region, within the Triple Border.

now, wouldn't it be exceptionally SWEET if bush's land was expropriated...?

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Friday, August 15, 2008

It's still not too late to dump the bastards...! A call to action...!

thanks to ralph lopez at daily kos...

From Impeachment Left to Right

The 110th Congress isn’t over. We’re starting our work, and then we’re doing it in a period where the Congress is in recess. I’m calling everybody back. We’ve got a huge amount of work to engage in.- John Conyers on DemocracyNow Radio, Aug.14,2008

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers has taken the highly unusual step of calling his committee back from summer recess in order to investigate allegations by Ron Suskind that the Bush administration forged a letter to buttress the links made between Saddam and 9/11, and Saddam and WMD. The congressional Authorization for the Use of Force Against Iraq, the ""War Resolution" which, as far short as it fell of a congressional declaration of war, gave the invasion its constitutional legal cover, and gave Bush the authorization to invade only after he had certified to congress the existence of these two critical links. If Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, and if he did not possess WMD, the war was off.

The Authorization for the Use of Force stipulated:

Sec. 3 (b) Presidential Determination.--

In connection with the exercise of
the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President
shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible,
but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make
available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the
President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that--

(2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent
with the United States and other countries continuing to take
the necessary actions against international terrorist and
terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations,
or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the
terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

On March 23, 2003, the president certified just that:

-"I have also determined that the use of armed force against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001." -George Bush, certification to Congress to authorize the use of force in Iraq, March 23, 2003

"Armed force against Iraq is consistent with...actions against...nations...who...aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11..." are the operative words in that statement without the subordinate clauses.

After the flurry of impeachment articles embodied in HR 1345, read on the House floor on June 9, 2008, Rep. Dennis Kucinich followed up on July 10 with a single article which lasers in on the exact war lies Suskind's alleged forgery has called attention to. Not that the document is needed to show Bush lied. He admitted as much, which in a courtroom is prima facie evidence which supercedes any other.

In a press conference with Tony Blair in Jan. of 2003, Bush said:

[Adam Boulton, Sky News (London):] One question for you both. Do you believe that there is a link between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on September the 11th?

THE PRESIDENT: I can't make that claim.

THE PRIME MINISTER: That answers your question.

And on Sept. 18, 2003, on Meet the Press, Bush drove the nail in all the way:

-"No, we've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th.

Conyers' reconvening of his committee was the result of enormous public pressure, most poignantly that coming from military families wanting to know why their loved ones are dead. Despite the exquisite, shining clockwork political operation now in place at the Executive Branch, working hand in glove with the media spin machine, it's still not that easy to get 4100 Americans killed over lies. Bush knew Americans would not subject their troops to such an uncertain fiasco over 17 violated UN resolutions, or Saddam's brutal but by no means unique human rights record. If we attacked every country which violated UN resolutions, we'd be bombing Tel Aviv.

So Bush lied.

What is needed now is a full-court press by the public, especially those citizens up until now silent, to transform the Suskind investigation into true impeachment hearings. Public pressure, and only public pressure, resulted in the stunning but buried hearings of July 25, 2008. On that day only 17 out of hundreds of citizens from across the country who packed the hallway outside the Judiciary chambers were allowed into the room. As people chanted "Shame!" it was explained by Judiciary staff that the rest of the seats were taken by the media. The joke turned out to be on you, the public. Media packed the room, but not one American newspaper, not one network news station, reported the dramatic six-hour testimony which outlined some of the most serious charges which can be made against a U.S. president.

This country is now learning what many already know: that democracy is not given. It is demanded. Few politicians are interested in your right to freedom from search and seizure without a warrant, or your right to a jury trial even if George Bush thinks you are an "enemy combatant." They already belong to a class of the powerful who will merit special consideration. Some, with good reason, may argue that we already have a two-tier system of justice, for the rich, and for the poor. But like the movie says, you ain't seen nothing yet.

There is nothing partisan about impeachment. Just as politics should stop at the water's edge (except for John McCain, who injected himself into the Georgia crisis in a manner which would have earned Obama a withering barrage,) it stops when the very process by which we govern ourselves is in peril.

This is why someone like Bruce Fein, a former Reagan deputy attorney general who "trashed the Roe v. Wade abortion decision, stating that it required a "hallucinogenic intellectual flight" on the part of Justice Harry Blackmun to draft the opinion," according to, has come out as one of the most effective spokemen for a Bush impeachment. Why? CommonDreams goes on:

This is what did it: The disclosure that the National Security Agency (NSA) is engaged in the domestic wiretapping of American citizens in the United States without first obtaining warrants. The Bush Administration had crossed the line. Within twenty-four hours, Fein went into constitutional combat mode. And he hasn’t stopped since.

For Fein, there is nothing really to debate; the law is settled. In 1978, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, permitting the government to conduct electronic surveillance on citizens in the United States if it first gets a warrant from the FISA court, which exists for that reason only. The FISA court rarely has denied such a request.

Fein says:

"The President could pick and choose which statutes to obey in gathering foreign intelligence and employing battlefield tactics on the sidewalks of the United States."

Please do three things:

  1. Call Judiciary Committee members, give a message saying we know the difference between a show, and impeachment. This is fast.
  1. Participate in the campaign to reach Judiciary members' campaign contributors, to ask them as one citizen to another to withhold contributions until the member does this clearest of patriotic duties. Why this route? Because congressmen have shown themselves to be impervious to any amount of constituent pressure. Rep. John Olver (D-MA) even said, at a town meeting "Spare me, I know full well the overwhelming majority of my constituency is in favor of impeachment" as he told the packed room he would not co-sponsor any resolutions against either Bush or Cheney. We used to think that representatives were there to represent us. We have learned better. But we're not done with them.
  1. Start now to prevail on the media to cover important hearings when they happen. Participate in the advertiser boycott.

There will be naysayers, and the Pelosians who seems to think that a super-majority of Pelosians is the answer. These are the same people who betrayed Americans by failing to stop the Iraq War, when they were given a majority to do just that. Better the Pelosians understand that doing their duty to impeach will be seen as a down-payment on regaining the trust of the rank-and-file, and the American people. Otherwise all promises are empty. Any national healthcare will be written by big pharma and the insurance companies. Presidents will continue to get their blank checks for war. As for the naysayers on impeachment, as the saying goes, either lead, follow, or get out of the way.

From Impeachment Left to Right

DIARIST'S NOTE ON COMMENTS: An awful lot of the good folks here are commenting along the lines of "I can dream that it's really true," that's great, but please don't forget to call and write as well. No one is taking care of our rights for us, we've got to do it ourselves. Conyers is not there to convince us he is going to really do something. We are here to convince him he must. I would trade every hand-wringing comment across the Internet on this topic for a one strong email to congressmen/contributors/news media.

he's right... we simply can't give up on this... it's way too important...

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Going to Denver to air your views at the Democratic National Convention? Here's where you might find yourself.

just yesterday on the And, yes, I DO take it personally blogtalk radio show, brother tim and i were discussing the descent of the u.s. deep into fascism territory and tim was bemoaning the fact that when he raises that topic with some folks, they immediately suspect that he's got his tin-foil hat on too tight... well, people, check this out and then tell me how u.s. fascism is an over-the-top point-of-view held only by nutcases and conspiracy theorists...

from raw story...
During the 2004 Republican Nation Convention in New York City, over 1,700 protesters were taken into police custody in one of the most sweeping mass-arrests in US history. Many were held on Staten Island's Pier 57, inside a warehouse which was contaminated with lead and asbestos. Some were held for days, and without proper access to food, water, outside communication or legal counsel.

In Denver, police are preparing what a local political organizer calls a 'concentration camp,' laying in wait for mass arrests anticipated during the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

On Wednesday, a Denver CBS affiliate sent a news crew to crash the police department's improvised detention facility, found in a warehouse owned by the city on the north-east side of town.

"This is a building filled with metal holding cells," described reporter Rick Sallinger, introducing the segment. "We showed up at the facility unannounced today, the doors were wide open, and we managed to shoot for several minutes until a Denver sheriff's captain asked us to leave."

Footage of the warehouse revels tall, chain-link fence capped by barbed wire, and segmented pens each bearing an identifying letter at about shoulder height.

The news crew was not invited, nor welcome. Cpt. Frank Gale of the Denver Sheriff's Department called the facility "a secured area," and worried that information related to the site would be used "by people who are potentially trying to be disruptive."

"Each of these fenced in areas is about five yards by five yards," said Sallinger. "There's a lock on the door. How long those arrested will be kept here is not known. A sign on the wall reads, 'Warning! Electric stun devices used in this facility.'"

"If 300 people are taken to Denver’s temporary detention facility within a short time frame, processing those persons at the rate of 30 to 50 per hour would take at least 6 to 10 hours," notes a letter from ACLU Colorado, sent to the Denver Police Department. "During the Republican National Convention in New York City in 2004, nearly 1,100 people were arrested in a four-hour period. If a similar situation occurred in Denver, it would take at least 22 to 36 hours to process those persons."

Area activists are not amused at the news. CBS carried its footage of the newfound jail to Adam Jung, with Tent State University, and Zoe Williams, a Code Pink organizer.

"Very reminiscent of a political prisoner camp, or a concentration camp," said Williams.

"I mean, that's how you treat cattle," added Jung. "... It's a meat processing plant."

The detention site was supposed to be a secret, said Sallinger.

i grew up in colorado and lived in denver in 2001 and 2002... i would have expected this in other cities but not so much in denver, although, given today's climate, i guess i'm not surprised to see this kind of thing pop up anywhere...

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Fiddling While Rome Burns

I feel like Yogi Berra. "This is like deja vu all over again".

As the tensions build in the Georgia/Russia conflict, it seems the bloggers are working harder for a resolution than our government officials.

For the first 5 days, Secretary of State, Condiliesalot Rice, couldn't be bothered, because she was on vacation. Fercryinoutloud, this kind of situation is exactly what the Secretary of State's job is all about.

Since she is a pianist, I'm assuming she's accompanying the Three Fiddlers, Bush, Cheney, and Gates.

The WaPo did it's journalistic fiddling with the story, After Warnings to Moscow, U.S. Has Few Options, burying it on page A-11.

President Bush announced the start of a humanitarian aid program for Georgia using U.S. military airplanes and ships, although officials said the effort so far includes only two scheduled flights. One shipment arrived later yesterday and another is to land today. He also dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for a diplomatic trip that will take her to Paris and then to Georgia's capital of Tbilisi to show "America's unwavering support."

"The United States stands with the democratically elected government of Georgia," Bush said during an appearance at the White House. "We insist that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected."

Then, further into the story, 'ole Johnny proves, once again, that his brain and his mouth reside on opposite ends of the continent.

McCain, speaking to reporters in Birmingham, Mich., also praised Bush's announcement but said he was concerned the cease-fire did not do enough to guarantee Georgia's "territorial integrity."

"I'm interested in good relations between the United States and Russia," he said. "But in the 21st century, nations don't invade other nations.''

He has mastered his proclivity for speaking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time. With all his fiery rhetoric against Russia for the last 5 or 6 days, the first part of that statement is laughable, at best. As for the second part, is he saying that March 19, 2003 is not in the 21st century? Or is he saying the United States, Afghanistan, and Iraq, are not considered nations?

The best part of this buried story is buried in the final paragraphs.

Bush said he spoke yesterday morning with Saakashvili and with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who brokered the cease-fire agreement. Rice will have lunch with Sarkozy at an official summer residence in the south of France, then will stay overnight in Paris before traveling to Georgia, officials said.

Apparently, Paris must have some great shoe sales going on, or she's afraid they don't sell Ferragamos in Tbilisi.

The haste with which Rice's trip was put together -- the decision was made at the White House yesterday morning just before Bush emerged in the Rose Garden -- meant that the Boeing 757 aircraft normally used by the secretary of state was unavailable. Vice President Cheney used it yesterday for a fundraising trip to Colorado, and Rice was relegated to a smaller Air Force C-40, with limits on staff, security and reporters, officials said.

The conflict in Georgia also upended Bush's travel plans. He decided to postpone by one or two days a planned vacation beginning today at his ranch in Crawford, Tex.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who is overseeing the aid efforts, plans to proceed with his vacation at the end of the week, the senior defense official said. He is not scheduled to return to the Pentagon until almost Labor Day.

So Cheney misappropriates the 757 for a fundraiser in Denver. Bush, who just got back from his Volleyball Back-Slapping Vacation in Beijing, sacrificially postpones the second half of his vacation in Crawford for a day or two. And Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates of Hell goes on vacation till Labor Day.

................and Rome continues to burn.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fifteen years of an exemplary life in the U.S. only to get thrown into a detention center and left to die

this is so wrong...
He was 17 when he came to New York from Hong Kong in 1992 with his parents and younger sister, eyeing the skyline like any newcomer. Fifteen years later, Hiu Lui Ng was a New Yorker: a computer engineer with a job in the Empire State Building, a house in Queens, a wife who is a United States citizen and two American-born sons.

But when Mr. Ng, who had overstayed a visa years earlier, went to immigration headquarters in Manhattan last summer for his final interview for a green card, he was swept into immigration detention and shuttled through jails and detention centers in three New England states.

In April, Mr. Ng began complaining of excruciating back pain. By mid-July, he could no longer walk or stand. And last Wednesday, two days after his 34th birthday, he died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a Rhode Island hospital, his spine fractured and his body riddled with cancer that had gone undiagnosed and untreated for months.

On Tuesday, with an autopsy by the Rhode Island medical examiner under way, his lawyers demanded a criminal investigation in a letter to federal and state prosecutors in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, and the Department of Homeland Security, which runs the detention system.

detention watch network has put together this handy map...
Detention Map

Welcome to the world of immigration detention, where over 27,500 immigrants are detained on any given day across the country in a hodgepodge of federal detention facilities, county jails, and private for-profit prisons.

Are there immigrants detained near you?
Click on a state to zoom in; touch a dot and get more info.

The map includes contact information for:

  • Facilities known to detain immigrants in removal proceedings (yellow dots on map)
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement district offices (black dots)
  • Legal service organizations who provide representation or referrals to immigrants detained (blue dots)

just look at the number of yellow dots... just imagine how many detainees are collectively represented on this map... appalling...

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008


ssdd, chapter MCXLVIII...

bush, bush, bush...
lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies...
war, war, war, war, bombing, war, bombing, war, war, war...
on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on...


beam me up, scottie...


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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Friday photo and video blogging on Sunday - Río Luján, Tigre delta, Argentina

i took my bike out to tigre on the train friday afternoon to do a little exploring... i've been to tigre a number of times before but this time i got a chance to see a part of the area i hadn't seen before... i rode up the costa turística along the rio luján past the tigre art museum (Museo de Arte Tigre)... it was a lovely day and i whiled away some time eating a couple of sandwiches i packed while watching the launches that are the "bus routes" of the delta ply back and forth...

Launch on the Rio Luján passing the
Museo de Arte Tigre, Tigre, Argentina

Museo de Arte Tigre

Museo de Arte Tigre

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"Why does Pakistan get all the good impeachments?"

juan cole asks an excellent question...

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