And, yes, I DO take it personally: 08/24/2008 - 08/31/2008
Mandy: Great blog!
Mark: Thanks to all the contributors on this blog. When I want to get information on the events that really matter, I come here.
Penny: I'm glad I found your blog (from a comment on Think Progress), it's comprehensive and very insightful.
Eric: Nice site....I enjoyed it and will be back.
nora kelly: I enjoy your site. Keep it up! I particularly like your insights on Latin America.
Alison: Loquacious as ever with a touch of elegance -- & right on target as usual!
"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
Saturday photo and videoblogging from last Sunday and yesterday
yes, folks, it's a TWO-COUNTRY bonus...!
last sunday, my landlady and i went to one of my favorite spots, feria mataderos, in barrio mataderos, buenos aires... i wanted to pick up a few things to bring back to the states and also to soak in the essence of argentina one more time before flying out the next day... after enjoying the fair proper, we adjourned to an adjacent park where there is always plenty of things going on, people enjoying picnics, pick-up games of fútbol, and, of course, music, always music... off to the side, there were a bunch of folks dancing murga and i managed to get a decent video clip...
Murga is a form of popular musical theatre performed primarily in Montevideo, Uruguay during the Carnival season. A different sort of Murga groups ... also operate in Argentina (mainly during Buenos Aires Carnival), though to a much lesser extent, and the main difference is that Argentinian murga centers around dancing, and not vocals, as Uruguayan murga does.
now that i'm back in northern nevada, i'm enjoying the regular first-rate sky show of clouds and colors at sunset... here's a few from last evening...
if you look closely at both photos above and below, you will be able to see faint traces of turquoise and pink in the cloud formation...
and, of course, what would a northern nevada photoblogging session, particularly posted by ME, be without a sunset...?
While we're occupied with another mindless distraction - Sarah Palin - the endless war machine cranks inexorably forward
as much as i'd LIKE to believe that the up-coming election matters and that, if barack obama is our presidential choice, things might REALLY change, i can't read news like this without being smacked in the head with the reality that all the levers of unfettered executive power will remain in place, the stage will continue to be solidly set for endless war, and our united states constitution will still lie in tatters on the floor of the oval office as the next president takes the oath of office on 20 january 2009...
Buried in a recent proposal by the Administration is a sentence that has received scant attention -- and was buried itself in the very newspaper that exposed it Saturday. It is an affirmation that the United States remains at war with al Qaeda, the Taliban and "associated organizations."
Part of a proposal for Guantanamo Bay legal detainees, the provision before Congress seeks to “acknowledge again and explicitly that this nation remains engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated organizations, who have already proclaimed themselves at war with us and who are dedicated to the slaughter of Americans.”
The New York Times page 8 placement of the article in its Saturday edition seems to downplay its importance. Such a re-affirmation of war carries broad legal implications that could imperil Americans' civil liberties and the rights of foreign nationals for decades to come.
It was under the guise of war that President Bush claimed a legal mandate for his warrantless wiretapping program, giving the National Security Agency power to intercept calls Americans made abroad. More of this program has emerged in recent years, and it includes the surveillance of Americans' information and exchanges online.
"War powers" have also given President Bush cover to hold Americans without habeas corpus -- detainment without explanation or charge. Jose Padilla, a Chicago resident arrested in 2002, was held without trial for five years before being convicted of conspiring to kill individuals abroad and provide support for terrorism.
funny just how little of this evolving horror story surfaces in our national discourse... by all rights, the deliberate, creeping destruction of everything the united states stands for should be the lead story in every news outlet in the country and the number one issue on the lips of every candidate for public office, national, state and local... our future as a nation hangs in the balance and what are we talking about...? why, hockey mom, sarah palin, of course... how pathetic is THAT...?
Remembering Baghdad on the bayou and exploding the myth of Bush administration incompetence
even though i've cut WAY back on my blogging, and, yes, even though barack obama officially became the democratic nominee for president in what will be seen as one of the nation's most historical moments, i would be less than true to myself if, on its third anniversary, i didn't honor the national tragedy and monumental disgrace that was hurricane katrina...
first, let's put the lie once and for all to the myth of bush administration "incompetence"...
2. FEMA did an extremely effective job of discouraging qualified relief workers from coming to the area, going so far as to turn many back at gunpoint.
They also turned away much needed supplies like water and fuel and sabotaged local communications lines.
3. Thousands of flood victims were very effectively herded and held in concentration-like conditions within the city for many days after the flooding.
4. Though it claimed to be unable to bring food, water, medicine or transportation into the flood zone, Homeland Security did an extremely effective job of quickly hiring and deploying highly paid gun thugs to the region who were employed by companies that had made massive contributions to the Bush campaign.
5. The Bush administration and their friends in the news media did an extremely effective job of painting the victims of the flooding as dangerous and not worthy of being helped.
6. The Bush administration did an extremely effective job of erasing a carefully researched and thought out evacuation plan developed over many years by LSU and replacing it with NOTHING.
7. Post-flood law enforcement did an extremely effective job of illegally seizing fire arms from hundreds of law abiding citizens while allowing criminals to run amok.
Incompetence? Poor planning?
You've got to be kidding....
The Bush administration wanted to destroy the black Democratic voting block in New Orleans - and it did. New Orleans and southern Louisiana, one of the last Democratic hold outs in the South, is Republican now.
It wanted a justification for seizing guns and declaring martial law and succeeded in creating conditions where people would beg for military intervention.
It wanted practice holding large numbers of civilians in concentration camp-like conditions - and it got the opportunity.
It wanted to obscure the fact that instead of using the tax dollars it's collected over the decades to repair and maintain levees, it's used the money to engage in illegal foreign wars.
Mission accomplished on every score.
But they made one miscalculation.
So conditioned were administration planners by their own habitual depravity, it never occurred to them that the rest of the country would object to seeing their fellow citizens suffer so outrageously at the hands of the government.
The good news is the moral instincts of Americans still function well. The bad news is their ability to see what is being done to them in broad daylight is highly impaired.
Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast three years ago this week. The president promised to do whatever it took to rebuild. But the nation is trying to fight wars in several countries and is dealing with economic crisis. The attention of the president wandered away. As a result, this is what New Orleans looks like today.
0. Number of renters in Louisiana who have received financial assistance from the $10 billion federal post-Katrina rebuilding program Road Home Community Development Block Grant -- compared to 116,708 homeowners.
0. Number of apartments currently being built to replace the 963 public housing apartments formerly occupied and now demolished at the St. Bernard Housing Development.
0. Amount of data available to evaluate performance of publicly financed, privately run charter schools in New Orleans in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years.
.008. Percentage of rental homes that were supposed to be repaired and occupied by August 2008 which were actually completed and occupied -- a total of 82 finished out of 10,000 projected.
1. Rank of New Orleans among US cities in percentage of housing vacant or ruined.
1. Rank of New Orleans among US cities in murders per capita for 2006 and 2007.
4. Number of the 13 City of New Orleans Planning Districts that are at the same risk of flooding as they were before Katrina.
10. Number of apartments being rehabbed so far to replace the 896 apartments formerly occupied and now demolished at the Lafitte Housing Development.
11. Percent of families who have returned to live in Lower Ninth Ward.
17. Percentage increase in wages in the hotel and food industry since before Katrina.
20-25. Years that experts estimate it will take to rebuild the City of New Orleans at current pace.
25. Percent fewer hospitals in metro New Orleans than before Katrina.
32. Percent of the city's neighborhoods that have less than half as many households as before Katrina.
36. Percent fewer tons of cargo that move through Port of New Orleans since Katrina.
38. Percent fewer hospital beds in New Orleans since Katrina.
40. Percentage fewer special education students attending publicly funded, privately run charter schools than traditional public schools.
41. Number of publicly funded, privately run public charter schools in New Orleans out of total of 79 public schools in the city.
43. Percentage of child care available in New Orleans compared to before Katrina.
46. Percentage increase in rents in New Orleans since Katrina.
56. Percentage fewer inpatient psychiatric beds compared to before Katrina.
80. Percentage fewer public transportation buses now than pre-Katrina.
81. Percentage of homeowners in New Orleans who received insufficient funds to cover the complete costs to repair their homes.
300. Number of National Guard troops still in City of New Orleans.
1,080. Days National Guard troops have remained in City of New Orleans.
1,250. Number of publicly financed vouchers for children to attend private schools in New Orleans in program's first year.
6,982. Number of families still living in FEMA trailers in metro New Orleans area.
8,000. Fewer publicly assisted rental apartments planned for New Orleans by federal government.
10,000. Houses demolished in New Orleans since Katrina.
12,000. Number of homeless in New Orleans even after camps of people living under the bridges have been resettled -- double the pre-Katrina number.
14,000. Number of displaced families in New Orleans area whose hurricane rental assistance expires in March 2009.
32,000. Number of children who have not returned to public school in New Orleans, leaving the public school population less than half what it was pre-Katrina.
39,000. Number of Louisiana homeowners who have applied for federal assistance in repair and rebuilding who still have not received any money.
45,000. Fewer children enrolled in Medicaid public healthcare in New Orleans than pre-Katrina.
46,000. Fewer African-American voters in New Orleans in 2007 gubernatorial election than in 2003 gubernatorial election.
55,000. Fewer houses receiving mail than before Katrina.
62,000. Fewer people in New Orleans enrolled in Medicaid public healthcare than pre-Katrina.
71,657. Vacant, ruined, unoccupied houses in New Orleans today.
124,000. Fewer people working in metropolitan New Orleans than pre-Katrina.
132,000. Fewer people in New Orleans than before Katrina, according to the City of New Orleans current population estimate of 321,000 in New Orleans.
214,000. Fewer people in New Orleans than before Katrina, according to the US Census Bureau current population estimate of 239,000 in New Orleans.
453,726. Population of New Orleans before Katrina.
320 million. Number of trees destroyed in Louisiana and Mississippi by Katrina.
368 million. Dollar losses of five major metro New Orleans hospitals from Katrina through 2007. In 2008, these hospitals expect another $103 million in losses.
1.9 billion. FEMA dollars scheduled to be available to metro New Orleans for Katrina damages that have not yet been delivered.
2.6 billion. FEMA dollars scheduled to be available to State of Louisiana for Katrina damages that have not yet been delivered.
when the tragedy was unfolding, i was in buenos aires watching cnn international, transfixed and alternately weeping and bellowing in anger at what i was seeing... now, three years later, we still don't have the full story or anything even faintly resembling the truth... i'm not holding my breath...
i managed to grab nearly 7 hours of kinda-sorta decent sleep on the flight - at least as kinda-sorta decent as it gets when sleeping upright in an economy class airline seat - and, had i not forgotten my jacket that i had left tucked into the seat that i had to go back for, which then put me at the very end of the line at passport control, the trip has been smooth and uneventful so far... i'm waiting to board the second and last flight here in houston, basking in the good feeling of once again having passed through immigration and customs enforcement unscathed... after the experience two years ago june, i'm sure i'll never run the ice gauntlet again without trepidation cuz there'll always be a next time...
in about 45 minutes i will be leaving my cozy little pied–à–terre here in buenos aires and taking a car service to the airport - again... my life seems to revolve around airports and i guess after so many years, i should be used to it... i'm looking forward to seeing my son and his family, especially the rambunctious grandsons, but i can't honestly say i'm at all excited about going back to the u.s... ah, well... i guess i can hold out for the month that i'll be there...
assuming i don't get hassled at u.s. customs, i'll be checking in tomorrow morning from the houston airport... chau for now...